(Grab yourself a cup of coffee - this is a long one!)
Whew! Just 4 more weeks of school left before summer break and before we wrap up Lily's first year of school. In a lot of ways it has flown by. In a lot of other ways it has painfully dragged on. This year we faced a lot of challenges (and we continue to face some) that has tried to drag us down, slow our momentum, block our way. But we are prevailing in this first year of homeschool (with the help of a God-sent co-op program).
The year started off with Lily getting glasses just before school began. Her vision was worse than 20/400 in both eyes - that's beyond legally blind! And after a few months into school, and a few months into wearing her glasses, her vision strengthened to 20/70 with her glasses - still legally blind (considered low vision) but strong enough for her to succeed in school with no visual impairment aids. My little girl is a trooper! Now her vision with her glasses is 20/25 in both eyes. Dr. G is striving for 20/20 or better and he tells me we will get there by the time she is age 10-12 years old and that's without glasses. Praise Jesus that Lily's vision problem is completely correctable!
Just two months into school my pregnancy with Charlotte turned risky with threats of pre-term labor. I was sidelined many days with contractions coming 4-6 times an hour. When those occured I had to lay down and rest and hope they calmed down. School was placed on the back burner on many days. I was on medication and restricted activity to control the contractions. Praise Jesus that the pregnancy went full term and Charlotte is a happy, healthy, little girl!
And then a week before Christmas, Lily fell and broke her arm. This involved an overnight stay in the hospital and surgery the next morning to place pins in her arm and install a cast. She wore her cast for 3 weeks. During that time she struggled to bathe, dress herself, get comfy in bed to sleep, do school work, and many other things. We lost even more time doing school. Despite this hurdle, praise Jesus that Lily was able to keep up with her learning and continued to grow in her knowledge of math, reading, writing, science and social studies!
Just a few weeks ago Lily faced another hurdle when we were instructed to place drops in Lily's eyes to dilate them 3 days before her next eye exam. I don't know the exact reason this is needed, but Dr. G gave the orders and we followed them. Unfortunately, dilated eyes become very blurry and especially with vision up close. This added another challenge with school work. Her vision remained blurry for at least a week following her eye exam. We made some accommodations to help Lily see her school work. At home I wrote all her lessons very large on a dry erase board. We skipped handwriting lessons that week because it was a huge frustration for her. It was apparent that she couldn't see the lines on her handwriting paper. For her days at school, I transposed all the problems on her worksheets onto plain white paper with a very large, bold Sharpie marker. Her teacher said it really seemed to help her. Praise Jesus we got through that week and Lily even got a cute new pair of purple glasses with a new lower prescription (+6.50 instead of +7.50 as before).
During this school year, and even before then, we have observed Lily having problems with certain things. These problems have become more pronounced with the added expectations of having to learn to read and write and remember facts and processes. Her teacher at River's Edge is noticing and now even the room moms are noticing what we've observed for many months now. After being strongly advised by our pediatrician, we took Lily to be evaluated. The results are not complete yet because we still lack a language/auditory evaluation, but the preliminary results are pointing to dyslexia or some sort of auditory processing disorder. We praise Jesus for placing in our path the most fabulous, experienced, intuitive, knowledgeable, kind-hearted Occupational Therapist this side of the Mississippi! Her name is Mrs. Kathy. She explained that these initial evaluations are a process of elimination. Lily scored on a 5-year-old level for visual integration and a 4-year-old level for visual-motor integration. She is 6 years old. The language/auditory eval next week will help us get a fuller picture of what could be causing the delays. Kathy is familiar with Lily's history since she worked with her 3 years ago when she was going through feeding therapy and occupational therapy due to sensory processing disorder. Kathy observed that Lily could use a little bit more help in maturing the nervous system in regards to the vestibular system. Sensory therapy is an amazing thing! If you've never dealt with this sort of thing, it will blow your mind how complex the brain and nervous system are and how certain activities can greatly affect a child whose nervous system lags behind in development. I cannot explain it, but I'm so grateful to God for placing the right people in our path who have a very deep and thorough understanding of this and who have devoted their lives to helping "sensory" children. We praise Jesus that we will be on top of these issues before they cause major frustration and delays in Lily's abilities at school!
We look forward to summer break! I foresee lots of outdoor adventures and some lazy days (for the kids that is. I'm way too busy with 4 kids to relax). I was making small talk with the wife of our co-op's administrator today, Mrs. Moe. She spoke such truth, and I'm certain she didn't even know it was what I needed today. As she was walking away she said, "the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). This verse has resounded in my heart and soul all day as I have struggled with a mixture of thoughts and emotions about our first year of homeschool. Some of these thoughts and emotions are from the deceiver himself, some are from my weak sin-nature, and some are from the heart of a mom. I praise Jesus for surrounding us with amazing people who bring encouragement, understanding, and words of Truth at just the right time!