Thursday, January 29, 2015

Blizzard of 2015

So while this storm failed to live up to the hype in many areas, we were not spared its wrath. It was a blizzard here and it gave us quite the smack down. This storm, however, was not as momumental as the blizzard of 2013.  (Hey look, the girls are still wearing the same snow pants.  That's how we roll around here.)  All in all, the blizzard of 2015, or Juno, dumped about two feet of snow in our yard.

Storms of this nature usually tend to cause me stress because of work and commuting. (Remember Hurricane Sandy?) Luckily, work is currently hovering in the low stress category, due to people, so my inability to appear in the office for two days was without issue. I arrived home Monday night around 6:00 and by that point, we had about an inch or so of fluffy snow blowing around. There was a travel ban (no driving) beginning that night at midnight and it had already been announced that the commuter rail trains would not be running on Tuesday so even if I had been crazy enough to hike the 1.25 miles to the train station with arctic winds blasting snow in my face, my efforts would have led me nowhere.  School for the girls was canceled for Tuesday and then again for Wednesday. This now tacks on two additional days to the end of the school year, which messes up my optimistic vacation planning. What was I thinking? A winter in New England without snow days? Not gonna happen.

Here's what our world looked like Tuesday morning.  The storm was forecasted to last for the entire day and into the night.

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And a few hours later . . .

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The entire morning, Allie was begging us to allow her to play outside in the snow.  "Yeah, well, sweetie, it's a blizzard out there."  I brought them outside for five minutes, which was enough to satisfy their curiosity.  Anna declined the adventure.

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Another round of snow blowing in the afternoon . . .

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Our street was finally plowed out at 5:00 that night, which lead to, you guessed it, more snow blowing.

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The day after . . .

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I'm surprised we still have a mailbox.  Our neighbor's met with an unfortunate snow plowing incident years ago and just hasn't been the same.

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Unfortunately, it was so frigid outside, the girls weren't really able to enjoy all the snow.  With temperatures at 15-20 degrees, no one lasted long.  Anna opted to stay in the second time they ventured out.

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My return to the office this morning was not so pleasant as it involved a commute that took more than two hours.  Forty-five minutes of which was spent just waiting for a train to show up and when it finally pulled into the station, it wasn't even the train I had been waiting for, which was supposedly only 15-25 minutes late. More snow coming tomorrow, just in time for the commute.  Ugh.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snowfall #1

We are in the midst of a blizzard right now so expect to see more snow photos later this week.  This little storm was supposed to arrive Saturday evening but apparently, I hadn't seen the most updated forecast and we were surprised to find a snow covered landscape Saturday morning.  I rushed outside to take these pictures.  I knew that the snowy trees wouldn't last long as this was a snow-rain-snow-rain type of storm.

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The girls had appointments to have their teeth cleaned mid-morning.  Thank goodness no dental problems as of yet but it appears that avoiding the orthodontist may be impossible.  Sorry, kids, for the hereditary crowded teeth.  After the dentist, we went out for brunch.  Yummy.

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The girls were super excited to play outside in the snow, their first opportunity of the season. It's awesome now because they can dress themselves in their full snow gear without assistance.

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I love that new missing tooth smile.

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And here's what you do when you don't have a mudroom.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Cool it now

I had to work last Monday, the holiday, and Rich was home with the girls.  He had a wake to attend that evening, so after catching an early train, I scurried over to the dance studio to trade vehicles and duties.  Allie had hip hop practice and as I positioned myself to watch her through the one-way mirror, I realized that, sadly, it was the first opportunity I'd had to see her class this year.  They are practicing for the dance recital in May and I was quite impressed with how well they knew their routine thus far.  The dance recital this year is '80s themed, less the big hair (well, I hope less the big hair) and as a child of the '80s, I'm loving it!

For each class, there will be two dances for the recital but they've only been working on the first.  I have been able to catch the last half of their ballet class most weeks so I'm familiar with the choreography for Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper) and I quite often break into my own rendition of the song, which causes Anna to yell out, "Shush!  No singing."  Guess she doesn't like it.  Allie's hip hop class has been working on their routine for Cool It Now (New Edition) and thanks to YouTube, we were able to show the girls the music video.  Their reaction was hysterical.  "Whaaaat?  That's a boy singing!  I thought it was a girl.  Why does his voice sound like that?"

We had some excitement here Friday night.  Emily finally lost a top front tooth that had been loose forever.  Apparently, she announced that she was sick of it, marched into the bathroom and returned with the tooth in her hand.

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Growly face

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The note she left for the tooth fairy:  Please don't take my tooth.  Just leave me a coin.  I lost my first top tooth.  I am excited.  (She wants to bring the tooth in for sharing this week at school.)

We had our first "significant" snowfall of the season this weekend.  (Pictures coming soon.)  Total accumulation in our area was only about four inches or so, which really isn't much at all but enough for the kids to play in.  The roads were a mess because of the rain mixing with the snow.  Back in the fall, all I kept hearing was how bad this winter was going to be and we all kind of chuckled at that prediction and our mangy four inches of snow on Saturday.  Yeah, so I woke up this morning to discover that there's a blizzard warning beginning tomorrow night.  What?!?!  

Suburbia at nightfall (pre-snow)

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Yeah, well, maybe it's your breath that smells like garbage.

Anna's annual IEP meeting was scheduled for this week, as it normally is each year, but with year end stuff going on at work, the timing wasn't looking good for me. We usually push the meeting into February so that I can attend but there are already four days in that month where I will either be late or need to miss a full day of work due to appointments for myself and for Anna. These meetings are always scheduled for a time in the middle of day which means that I need to be absent from work for a full day. So anyway, we decided that because we are pros at this now, Rich would be the parental representative for this meeting. What could possibly come up?

We've known all along that there could be "side effects" such as learning difficulties related to Anna's hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus, an accumulation of fluid in the brain, is a common occurrence in those with spina bifida. Anna has a shunt in place to keep the hydrocephalus in check but she still developed in utero with excess fluid in her brain. Thankfully, she hasn't had any issues with her shunt since it was intially placed after birth and then revised a few days later. Her hydrocephalus, just like everything else that goes along with spina bifida, has sort of become a normal part of our lives. We know the symptoms of a shunt malfunction and because she is old enough now to easily communicate those symptoms to us, we rarely give her hydrocephalus more than a passing thought. Yesterday though, a few observations of her behavior and habits were discussed during the meeting which lead to me frantically scouring the internet, becoming a hydrocephalus expert and long story short, some of what we thought were merely Anna's quirky personality traits fall into the realm of hydrocephalus side effects.

Kids with hydrocephalus process thoughts in a different manner. Many have difficulty with math. Many can see all the parts but can't put those parts together to make a whole. They may have difficulty with their fine motor skills. They may have messy handwriting. They may have problems with organizational skills. The list goes on and on. I read a few paragraphs discussing disorganization and hydrocephalus and it was as if the article had been written specifically about Anna.

Anna's a bright girl. We've been told this by her teachers and right now, she's where she should be academically for a second grader but the fear is that with each passing year, the difficulties may compound. We've always known this. In fact, it's been on my mind a lot lately as I try to hash out my Life Plan. I've been asked why I don't take a few years off from work and then find something else later. Take a break, so to speak. Financially, could we do this? Yes. But I've always known that fifth, sixth, seventh grade is going to be a whole hell of a lot harder than second grade and so here I am, continuing to work and plan for the future. Anna's doing well right now. She's holding her own but little things came to light yesterday that appear to be related to her hydrocephals - the way she organizes (or doesn't in this case), how she follows instructions, the misconception that she's being inattentive.

At the same exact time Rich was meeting with Anna's team at the school, the girls were on lunch/recess break. Anna's class and Allie's class ended up outside before Emily's so Em wasn't there when this happened but thank goodness Allie was, not only to stick up for her sister but to confirm exactly what happened. Apparently, this group of girls including Allie and Anna and Anna's friends from her class were near or passing by the garbage dumpster which happened to be giving off a dumpster-like odor. A girl in Anna's class said to Anna, "The smell must be coming from your diaper. I know you wear diapers." Allie told her that no, Anna doesn't wear diapers and it seems like it broke up from there. My first reaction was, "Why didn't you say it's your breath that smells like garbage," but of course, my kids won't say things like that. I have a smart mouth and I know it's not the way to resolve certain situations, including this one.  Anna was quite upset last night and while my heart was on the verge of breaking, I cuddled with her and remained strong.  And calm.  I think this girl has said something to Anna before but I never had enough details to go to her teacher with it.  All I could think was this ends now.  And it has.  It's over.  The school handled it very professionally and Anna received an apology.  They'll be speed bumps along the way, I'm sure, but Anna needs to know that she's better than that.  

I think back to when the girls were two, three, four years old. Working was difficult because of logistics and lack of sleep and an aching heart from missing time with my kids. That all still exists right now but it has multiplied. There's always a feeling of hustle and bustle. Rushing. Me helping with homework at 8 PM. Bigger kids = bigger issues.  It's not going to get any easier.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

This past week or so

mainly in photos.

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Remember when they all shared that closet and it looked like this?  It only needs to hold clothes for one kid now and that kid is taller so that second row had to go.

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She borrowed a book about MLK from her classroom library last week.  I love, love, love how they are interested in people and places and things.  

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We went out for breakfast over the weekend and as we combing hair and pulling on shoes, Allie appeared with her book, saying that she was bringing it so she would have something to do while we waited for our food.  Excellent idea, sweetie!  So they all brought something to read/do.

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Emily is currently reading Little House on the Prairie.

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And Anna brought along her Junie B. activity book because she "doesn't like to read."

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