Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Prepping for another year of school 2014-2015

The Summer has flown by, curriculum has been ordered, new markers, pencils, and glue have been purchased and it is time to plan and get organized!

I have been asked several times about our schedule, which worked really well for us last year, so I did a little bit of tweaking for the upcoming year, and I'm ready to share.  This is what our days will look a flexible kind of way:

Notice it is in dry erase marker, so it can easily be erased and re-tweaked!  As for the highlighted areas, here is an explanation:
Mastery:  I don't want my children to just finish their work.  I want them to "get it."  They need to learn the information, and it needs to be committed to understanding.  If they do not master their work, then their work will suffer in the future because they will lack knowledge/understanding.  I would rather them take more time on an assignment to make sure they completely understand what they are doing than to skim over an assignment.
Be Flexible:  This is just a family motto!  We have nine people living here, so flexibility is a MUST!  The times on this chart are not written in stone, but rather a guideline to keep us moving throughout the day.
Practice Excellence, Not Perfection:  If I were to expect perfection from my children then I would be in grave error to the well-being of my children.  What I do expect is for them to always do their best!  I continue to remind them that we "do all things for the Glory of God."  Let's face it...right now it is more about pleasing mom and dad, but the concept is being instilled in them to always do their best, and to give God the glory in all things accomplished.

You may look at this chart and wonder what ZONES might be.  This is what it looks like, and then I will explain:

ZONES are my way of keeping the house as tidy as possible throughout the day, so the mess doesn't overwhelm us when the evening comes.  Think about it...if you have a few dishes on the counter then it is easy to wash those few things by hand, or put them in the dishwasher, but if your counters are full of dishes it can be a bit overwhelming.  It's the same for our children!  If they only have a few things to pick up then it isn't so bad, but if we waited all day then there would be a lot of gnashing of teeth  whining and complaining. If we keep it fairly maintained throughout the day then it isn't so bad.

We have broken our home into ZONES, so that one child takes care of one zone.  I had found that there was a lot of conflict between children, if I sent two or more into a room to clean.  One child always felt that he was doing a majority of the work.  And, he was!  When each child was accountable for their own zone then the conflict was bypassed, and each child had to be self-motivated and disciplined to get the job done.

Expectations of ZONES:
Living room:  Pick up shoes, clothes, toys, and anything else that belongs to others and place in a box at the bottom of the stairs.  These items are to be picked up by the rightful owner by the end of the day. They are to also straighten the school table, and look under the sofas for any sippy cups, or whatever found its way under there, and place sofa pillows on the sofas.  Vacuum, as needed, but definitely before the weekend.

Play room:  Self-explanatory!  Clean up the play room!  The three littles are expected to help since they are the ones who probably made the mess.  Vacuum, as needed, but definitely before the weekend.

Bathrooms/Kitchen:  For the bathrooms they are expected to wipe down sinks, faucets, and toilets. Bathrooms get vacuumed/mopped by the weekend, and mirrors get cleaned, as needed.  Their kitchen responsibilities are vacuuming/sweeping after each meal, mopping, as needed, help clear the table, and wipe down the table after each meal.

Van:  The van could get dumpy pretty quickly, but if we stay on top of it, then it isn't too bad.  We stay home a lot, but those who have this zone need to make sure the van gets cleaned out after we go somewhere.

Trash:  This is always Ian's zone.  He is five.  He empties all of the bathroom and bedroom trash cans.  He thinks it's pretty cool to be helping!

Dishes:  Again, self-explanatory!  This has been Lauren's zone for a few years, but Franklin is moving into a rotation with Lauren next week, so they will have the job a week at a time, and will take another zone when they don't have dishes.  Lauren is excited to move into the regular zones and not have to always do the dishes.  Of course, her dad and I help her frequently because the girl needs to get outside to play in then evenings!

Kitchen helper:  This is everyone's favorite!  They get to help me cook, and serve dinner.  I love the one-one-one time I get with each of them, and enjoy teaching them to cook.

Anyone who is not my kitchen helper for the week has a Buddy.  The three littles love this because they get special time with one of the biggers.  They get to read, or play with legos, or make things with play dough, or jump on the trampoline, or whatever fun activity they can come up with.  Buddytime is when I am cooking and need to make sure that little ones are not getting into mischief.  I love the relationships that are budding during this time, as well.

Here are our bookshelves that are nearly ready for school...with the exception of their new school books. There are lots of books for reading, and research, and learning!  The two older children have their own black box for their own schoolwork.  Ari, Miles, and Ian each have a white box, but may need to go up in size to a black box this year.  We'll make that decision when their new books get here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ian's trip to Cincinnati...Otolaryngology

Roger, Ian, and I left for Cincinnati Monday afternoon, so we could spend the night close to the hospital where we would be taking Ian the following morning.  We could have left home really early Tuesday morning, but we weren't familiar with the area and we would have had to pass through rush hour traffic somewhere between here and there.  We didn't want to miss the appointment!
We are so pleased with our new doctor.  We got there, registered, and were seen by the doctor at the exact time of our appointment!  We didn't have to sit and wait for an hour!  Amazing!  I had typed out a timeline of all of Ian's illnesses and surgeries, and the doctor was grateful.  We talked for a few minutes and then he said, "Let's go to the other room.  I'm excited to see what's going on in there!"  I love his interest in Ian's case!
He took us to another room with special equipment that would allow him to magnify things to see better, but also enabled us to see inside Ian's ear on a TV.  It was really cool!

The appointment:
Both of Ian's eardrums are retracted.  That means they are both being sucked inward.  This, typically, happens when there is fluid in the inner ear, which Ian has in both ears.  There was mild retraction in the left ear, and more severe in the right ear.  The doctor does believe Ian had a cholesteatoma, which is a growth in the inner ear that can do a lot of damage.  After looking in Ian's ear, and looking through the CT scan, he sees no evidence of a cholesteatoma at this time.  The cholesteatoma was removed when Ian got tubes in his ears 3.5 years ago.
The doctor said that Ian's ears look "pristine" when looking at the CT scan.  This is great news!  The bones are there, and they are not damaged.  He has no abnormalities in his ears.  Ian's eustachian tubes were cloudy on the CT scan, which could be the reason that he has trouble with fluid in his inner ear.  As he grows this should resolve, but it is a problem right now.  This is the reason many kids need tubes when they are young.
We did another hearing test in audiology because the doctor was concerned with the results with the tests from the February vs. March testing.  There was a big difference between the two tests.  The results from yesterday showed very similarly to the March testing, which we thought was more accurate anyway.  Ian has severe to profound hearing loss in his right ear.  With fluid in his left ear at this time, he also has minor hearing loss in his left ear.  We talked to the audiologists who talked to us about doing a hearing aid consultation.  With fluid in his ear, and severe hearing loss, including nerve damage, they were unsure if some hearing aids would be helpful because they thought the sound would be distorted and make things worse for Ian.  It is possible that a bone conduction hearing aid may be beneficial for Ian.  We may do the consultation in the future, but our doctor suggested we wait for now.

There is fluid behind both ear drums.  This does affect his hearing.  It won't matter much for his right ear since his hearing is so bad, but now he has a hearing deficit on his left side, too.  Ian may need a tube in his left ear to bring his hearing back up to normal in that ear, so he at least has good hearing in one ear.  The tube would release the fluid, his ear drum would no longer be retracted, and his hearing would be restored.

Ian has nerve damage in his right ear.  The nerve damage, alone, brings Ian's hearing down to a minor to moderate hearing loss.  The doctor thinks Ian may have been born with this damage.

Something is wrong with a bone, or bones in Ian's right ear.  The bones are not vibrating together like they should, which is creating the severe to profound hearing loss.

The doctor is confused by Ian's case.  He cannot see anything to indicate why there is severe hearing loss in his ear.  He is wondering if a small cholesteatoma is hiding in there.  We will go back in 6 months to see if anything has changed, and to see if there is still fluid in Ian's left ear.  If so, we will likely need to go back, so Ian can get a tube placed in his left ear.

Placing a tube in his left ear is likely.  The right ear is not so easy.  The doctor could explore and look for a cholesteatoma, or anything else that could be causing problems.  He could also fix the bones.  Even if he fixes the bones, Ian will still have significant hearing loss because it will only bring his hearing up to the level where the nerve damage allows hearing.  Yes, it is much better than where he is now, but he could probably wear a hearing aid that would bring his hearing up to close to normal.  We're not sure that surgery is the best option.
We have some questions to go through in the next several months...
Do we get the tube in the left ear?
Do we do surgery to fix the bones in Ian's ear, and then get a hearing aid to bring his hearing all the way up to normal?  When not wearing the aid, he could still have much better hearing than he has now, but still not good hearing.
Do we forego surgery altogether, and try to find a hearing aid that works for Ian?
Can we find a hearing aid that will work for Ian, without distorting the sound?

Conclusions for now:
Do nothing.  That was the doctor's suggestion.  We love that suggestion!  We love it that we are not being pushed into surgery!  No further damage will be done, so we have time to think through everything.  We will go back every six months for a while.  At our next appointment, the doctor will look again for a cholesteatoma.  Ian will also go back to audiology for another test to make sure his hearing is the same, and to check his left ear to see if we need to get a tube.  If there is still fluid and hearing loss in his left ear then a tube is probably going to be the answer.  We need to maximize his hearing in his left ear.  The doctor believes that homeschooling is a huge benefit for Ian.  Woohoo!  Kids who go to school, and have a hearing deficit, typically experience an academic decline when they reach fourth or fifth grade.  The doctor said we probably won't experience a decline since Ian will be home.  Wonderful!

Ian is happy, and healthy, and developing very well, which is really great news!  His speech is good, and he has no learning disabilities, so we don't need to rush into anything.  We feel so good about waiting to do anything, and going back in six months.  We are really happy with our new doctor.  He is excellent!  It's good to have some answers, and peace of mind.