December 14, 2010

Anna's IEP Meeting

So here's another big update that everyone has been waiting for :)

I am going to go step by step through this to make sure I don't miss anything.

Special Education:
     Anna will continue to work regularly with the special education teacher as long as she is working on an IEP. Which could be forever based on something else that came up in the meeting.

Speech Therapy:
    Anna will continue to receive speech therapy but since she has been making great progress with her speech she is going to go from getting speech once a week to getting it 3 times a month. Not a huge change, just one session less per month basically.

Occupational Therapy:
     Anna will not be receiving OT directly. The occupational therapist will work with Anna's teacher to see how Anna is doing and special arrangements will be made. Anna seems to have a hard time with writing on the regular handwriting paper that Kindergarten kids use where it has the dotted line in the middle. She tries to write either in between the dotted line and top line or in between the dotted line and bottom line. She doesn't understand that she is supposed to use the whole space and uppercase letters take up the entire space and the lowercase letters are only supposed to take up the bottom half of the space... So, what we are starting to try is when she is writing on the paper, we are going to highlight the lines on the space where she is supposed to write. So if she is writing a line of capital letters (like when they are practicing a particular letter) we highlight the top solid line and the bottom solid line. If she is writing a line of lowercase letters, we highlight the middle line and the bottom solid line.  If that doesn't work, Anna will get special paper that doesn't have the line in the middle and only has the top and bottom solid lines. Although we aren't sure if that will work either because we think if we go that route then she will want to use the whole space for all the letters. That was the biggest part that we looked at as far as the OT went. Everything else there was pretty average.

School Psychologist Evaluation:
     This is the one that really hit me hard. Anna is a very touchy, feely kind of girl and always has to be touching someone. It's just how she is. Unforunately, it's not acceptable for school. She also constantly has things in her mouth that are not food. She is 5 years old and is way too old to still be putting toys and stuff in her mouth. She also has been chewing on her clothes since she started school which I was not aware of. She does not do it at home and I was really shocked to learn that it has been going on all year long. So, the school psychologist and Anna's teacher both feel like she is having a very difficult time adjusting to the school setting, and they feel like there may be some sensory issues. So our next step with the psychologist for now is to look into Asperger Syndrome.

So that is where we are with everything regarding Anna and school. It's really rough right now. I didn't realize she was having such a hard time. She comes home and is excited to do homework and she has never really had anything bad to say about school. So there wasn't a whole whole lot of good in this IEP meeting, but I was happy to hear that she doesn't need direct OT and to hear that her speech was improving... While I sound like I'm "down" about all of this, I'm not really that upset. I feel like we are finally  moving forward and figuring Anna out. There are still other things to "figure out" with her and things that need to be handled between school and home. I am kind of at a point where I am so overwhelmed with all the information that has been thrown at me in the last few weeks that I just don't know what to do at this point. So I am just going day by day, waking up with every day being a new day.

Anywho, there's the update on my Anna Banana :) There may or may not be more updates on things between now and Christmas, so just in case, I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas :)

December 13, 2010

This past weekend

Well, some of you saw some statuses on Facebook last night or the night before and maybe even on Friday that may have been a little bit "questionable" or concerning. So I thought some of you deserved an explanation as to what the statuses were about.

The main one I would like to discuss is the one that said, "It's a shame that one person can ruin everything for an entire family"... So, here is the reason behind that status.

If you read back a few posts, I think there is one that has to do with Anna's dad getting out of jail and me giving him the benefit of the doubt and letting him and Anna meet and try to build a relationship... Well, long story short (and that's how I plan to keep it for now) it was a mistake and Anna's "sperm donor" (as far as I'm concerned right now) will not be seeing her until there is a court order that says that I have to allow him to see her. I told him while he was still in jail that once he got out, he would have ONE CHANCE to prove to me that he is changed and if he did one illegal thing he was losing Anna. Well, he did something illegal and I'm leaving it at that. No, he is not back in jail, but I'm not taking that chance with my daughter. She hasn't had enough time to attach to him and she hasn't asked about him in over a week and I am just going to leave it that way. If she asks, I'm not really sure what I will tell her. I will have to figure that out here soon though.

So, that's the short version with minimal details, but that's about how it is. There will be no further contact with Brian until there is a court order saying that they have to have contact whether it be visitation or phone calls.

End. Of. Story. :)

By the way, I'm happily ticked off about this whole situation. I'm happy that I (for now at least) don't have to see him, but upset because this may affect his entire family who has been there for the kids and I since day one unlike her father. Brian's Aunt Katie, Uncle Mike, his sister Tammy, and his grandfather have all been a part of my kids' lives and it really upsets me that because of Brian, right now we can't visit the rest of Anna's family who loves her and wants to be in her life.

So, that's the update that everyone was waiting for. I will also be posting another update in the morning about how Anna's IEP meeting went today, but I would like to give everyone a chance to see this update first :)

Good night!

December 8, 2010

Mommy Melt Down Time!

Where to begin... Where to begin...

Let's start with Anna's first referral this week and her first referral ever. After thinking about it, I don't think she should have gotten this one, but ya know, it happens... She got a referral for chewing on her shirt and not wearing it properly. I'm sure she was told numerous times to keep her shirt on the right way and apparently she didn't listen... She also chewed on her shirt until it was soaking wet. When she got home, it was still wet and the shirt smelled disgusting...

Then we come to today. Two days after the first referral and she has another one. Today she pushed someone down off the playground equipment. She went to talk to the Assistant Principal for this one... Then I get the mail... Well, in the mail is a nice big manilla envelope that says "To the parents of Anna Dillard"... I open it up and it's the results from some testing that was done at school by the school psychologist... Not only are they concerned about ADHD (not just ADD, ADHD) but maladjustment issues and PTSD. Not really sure what the PTSD would be from, but it says that specifically in the letter. So there will be a lot more evaluations and testing done...

Now, here's the melt down...

Why can't I just have a normal child?

Why do we have to go through all of this? Why can't she just be a normal happy child like Caleb is. Caleb doesn't have any of these problems! What did I do wrong? Was it even something I did? Is this all something I could have prevented? All I have gotten over the last 2 weeks is "This is wrong with her, this is wrong, that's wrong, this is going to have to be looked into further, this needs to be evaluated, this needs..." I don't want to hear what else is wrong with her. Tell me what's right with her. Tell me what I can do to help her. Tell me what can be done to make this better. Just tell me something good.

I'm so tired of negative and bad... I just want her to be normal and be a happy, care-free child like she should be. I guess that's all for now ...

December 3, 2010

Just some thoughts

I just have a lot of things going through my head right now and would like to share them :)

1. Our perception of beauty. I had this discussion with a friend who is going through some hard times in life right now and it really irked me. Have you ever noticed how Hollywood has shaped our perceptions of what is beautiful or handsome? For a girl to be considered beautiful, she needs a fake tan, hourglass figure, she needs to look anorexic, have big boobs, and blonde hair. For a guy to be considered handsome, he needs to have a 6 pack, decent muscle tone and definition, fake tan, dark hair, light eyes. Am I the only person bothered by this? Unfortunately it's the world we live in and there's not much we can do about it. Most men will always think Pamela Lee (or whatever her name is now) is drop dead sexy, and most women will always think Johnny Depp is drop dead sexy. Thank you Hollywood for defining pretty for us. The song "More Beautiful You" by Jonny Diaz comes to mind here...
    "Little girl fourteen flippin' through a magazine, says she wants to look that way.
     But her hair isn't straight, her body isn't fake, and she's always felt overweight.
     Well little girl fourteen, I wish that you could see that beauty is within your heart.
     You were made with such care, your skin, your body, and your hair are perfect
     just the way they are...
     There could never be a more beautiful you! Don't buy the lies, disguises, and
     hoops they make you jump through. You were made to fill a purpose, that only
     you can do. So there could never be a more beautiful you."

I just wish that we all could realize this. The way Hollywood has skewed our perceptions of what people need to look like is disgusting. Barbie dolls don't help much either because they are the IDEAL beautiful. I have heard 7 year old girls say, "I wish I could look like Barbie! Then I'd have lots of boyfriends!". Is that what you want to hear your 7 year old daughter say? How about your 5 year old daughter? Yeah, it starts earlier now. I don't remember caring about my weight or anything like that until somewhere in middle school. Now girls in first and second grades are saying they want to have boyfriends and all those other things that they shouldn't even be thinking about. It really disgusts me sometimes...

Okay, that's the end of the "beauty" rant. Next rant, taking things for granted.

2. What do you take for granted? The stove that cooks your food? The door that you lock at night to keep people out of your house? The bed you sleep in? The blanket you cover up with? The comfort of your own home? The people you haven't talked to in years that you used to be close friends with?

How about we ask a different question. What should you take for granted? NOTHING. Nothing should ever be taken for granted. I know I am guilty of this, and many of us are. We don't take the time to stop and think about how life would be if we didn't have all these things that we take for granted.

How would you feed your family if you didn't have a stove? How would you protect your family if you didn't have a door that locked? Where would you sleep without a bed? How would you stay comfortable without a blanket? Where would you go if you didn't have a home? How would you feel if you found out someone that you were mad at because of something they did in middle school died and you never got to reconcile things with them?

I am going at this more because of the homeless people that I see and hear about on a daily basis. These people don't always know where they are going to sleep at night. They don't know if they are going to wake up in the morning. They don't know if someone is going to come and take the few things that they own in the middle of the night. They don't know how they are going to stay warm in the winter or cool in the summer. They don't know where they can "live" while they are homeless. They have NOTHING. What really irritates me about how people talk about the homeless also has something to do with the paper that I wrote earlier. Blaming the victim. That's right. I hear social workers and other "social welfare" type people say things like, "He's homeless because he's an alcoholic..." "He's homeless because he's addicted to drugs..." "He's homeless because he's lazy..." But what I don't hear is, "He's homeless because he didn't have the support he needed to get off drugs and turn his life around.." All we do is "blame the victim" by saying that it is the homeless person's fault that they are homeless. That's not always true and we need to realize that. Maybe Person A is homeless because she got laid off from her job, her unemployment ran out, she couldn't afford her mortgage. Maybe when Person A became homeless she lost everything she had. Her husband, her children, her dog, her cat, her fish, her bird, her soft, warm bed, her blankets, her pillow, her security, her safety, her life. Her. Life. She lost all of that stuff that she took for granted and maybe now she is too depressed and too ashamed to seek the help she needs. We as people, as christians, as non-christians, as people who have hearts, need to get past all of that and find out if there is anything we can do to help these people. I'm not saying to bring them into your home if you're not comfortable with that. I'm not saying to give them $100. Buy them a soda at McDonalds. Or even just take them a bottle of water. And as you hand it to them, just say, "I was wondering if there is anything else I can do to help you." If they say no, then it's whatever. You can't force them to let you help them.

I don't think I have EVER posted a blog like this or been this deep in thought at 11 at night, but there was NO WAY I was going to bed with all of this in my head. Something told me that someone needs to read this and that my time spent on typing this blog will be beneficial to someone other than myself.

This holiday season, I challenge each and every one of you to make an attempt at helping at least one homeless person. Females always need those female things that we ALLLL know about (and take for granted). It may seem a bit awkward, but can you imagine how much a homeless woman would appreciate them? I'm sure hygiene products would be helpful for any homeless person as well. Give them a can of soup (that has the tab on top that you open it with, they probably don't have can openers) and a bottle of water. They might be able to make that can of soup last them an entire day.

If you're REALLY feeling good about helping some homeless people, go to Eder park behind Good Will in Elkton, right off of 213, on ANY day at 4:00 p.m. and help feed the homeless that live in those woods. Take some hats, gloves, and scarves to hand out. Take some books for them to read. Take some crackers for them to take back to their tents or whatever else they might have for shelter there. There is a whole community of homeless people right outside our doors and I bet you drive by at least one of these people every single day and don't even think about how far they walk in a day.

Just take time out of your life to think about all the things you have, and try to imagine life without them. Stop taking things for granted, open your heart and your mind, and help one homeless person this holiday season and see how it makes you feel. I know every time I have helped a homeless person, I have almost broken down in tears because of how good I felt. I've been on the verge of tears the entire time I've been typing this blog.

I think my keyboard hates me now. Please take this blog seriously and not just as me "venting" about things. Help a homeless person, realize that you are beautiful no matter how you look. God made you the way you are for a reason and God doesn't make mistakes. Stop taking things for granted, think about someone other than yourself, and give with an open heart and open mind to someone in need and help them enjoy this holiday whether they have a home or not.

The end.

A paper I had to write

This is kind of a rough draft of this assignment, but I just wanted to share this. It is a paper I had to write about "blaming the victim" in reference to domestic violence.

Sarah Dillard
“Blaming the Victim”

                Blaming the victim is a major problem in our society today and has been for a long time. In the late 1970’s through the 1980’s there was an infamous case of a man named Joel Steinberg who abused his girlfriend and two illegally “adopted” children. When one of the children ends up dead, Joel and his girlfriend are both originally charged as criminals. What the detectives failed to see was that his girlfriend, Hedda Nussbaum, was a victim. She was afraid of Steinberg and what he would do to her if she told anyone what had happened to little Lisa.
                The short version of what happened is this: Joel gave Lisa a devastating blow to the back of the head that knocked her unconscious. He carried Lisa to the bathroom and lay her down on the floor then went out to dinner with some friends. Joel told Hedda that he would get Lisa up when he got home. Hedda was abused to the point that she had broken ribs and she had to ask permission to eat. She was afraid to call 9-1-1 because she didn’t want to show distrust or a lack of loyalty to Joel. Instead, she would check on Lisa in the bathroom and make sure she was still breathing. She never called 9-1-1. When Joel got home later that night, he went in to check on Lisa and she stopped breathing shortly after. Joel called 9-1-1 and had Lisa rushed to the hospital. By the time Lisa got to the hospital she was already brain dead and was put on life support. Lisa was taken off of life support and died immediately two days later. At this point, Joel was charged with 2nd degree murder and it was shortly after this that the prosecutors realized that Hedda was in the same position as little Lisa had been. She was being abused and was afraid to call 9-1-1. Hedda was granted immunity for her testimony against Joel.
                Society likes to blame victims of abuse for their abuse because they don’t leave their abusers. The fact of the matter is that when someone is being abused, they hope that the abuse will stop. They hope that their abuser will change. They realize that the beatings are sporadic and they just “deal” with the beatings. Abused women sometimes stay with their abusers due to a lack of resources. In all honesty, in New York City (Manhattan specifically) there are currently at least 20 domestic violence shelters in New York City. Unfortunately, I am an unable to find out how many there were 30 years ago. Victims of domestic violence also stay with their abusers is a lack of finances. Before Nussbaum was abused, she was a children’s book author and illustrator. She wrote two children’s books and had great potential. Unfortunately, she was fired shortly after the abuse began due to her shoddy attendance at work; granted, her lack of attendance was due to the abuse. Since she was fired from her job, she did not have her own income and had no money to be able to support herself without Steinberg. Another thing that may have kept her there was the children. She wanted to be able to comfort the children and she knew that escaping with the children wasn’t a possibility so instead of leaving the children to deal with the abuse on their own, she stayed with them to comfort them when the abuse happened. There are many reasons that an abused woman stays with her abuser and, unfortunately, society doesn’t see many of these reasons unless it is a person who has been in the situation before.
                Nussbaum was blamed for her abuse because she didn’t leave. She was blamed in part for the death of Lisa because she didn’t call 9-1-1. She was blamed for the abuse of the baby in the house as well because she never called anyone. The reality is that Nussbaum was a victim herself and was afraid, may not have had the resources she needed, and wanted to stay with the children. Nussbaum had nothing to do with the death of Lisa. She did what she could to help her after Steinberg hit her. However, at the same time, Nussbaum didn’t want to do anything that would anger Steinberg and make him abuse her or either of the children again that night.
                Blaming the victim is a serious problem that needs to be dealt with. It seems like the only way to get people to not “blame the victim” for their abuse and neglect is to educate them, or for a person to be in the situation for themselves. This is a very difficult social problem that needs to be dealt with and fixed. On average, 1,500 women are murdered every year as a result of domestic violence. This should not even be a statistic and unfortunately when most people see this, they will say, “Why didn’t she leave?”

December 2, 2010

Last Night

Never a good way to start a blog post right? What a cliche title :)

Anywho, this blog will have nothing to do with sex or alcohol, it wasn't that kind of "last night"...

Last night I was in the ER as some of you know from reading on Facebook. I woke up from a nap around 2 in the afternoon feeling a little hungry... I ate a PB&J sandwich, got Anna off the bus at about 2:20 and by 2:30 I was in excruciating pain and could not get out of the fetal position. My upper abdomen was so sore... I called the ask a nurse phone number from Anne Arundel County (I love them!) and told the nurse what was going on and she said if I couldn't stand up straight and was in that much pain I needed to go to the ER. So I called my mom (who has been a MAJOR blessing to me this week) and told her. She came home early from work and took the kids and I to the ER. We were there for about 3 hours total. They did some blood work and an ultrasound of my liver, gall bladder, kidneys, and pancreas and came up with nothing but elevated liver functions. Elevated liver functions wouldn't be making my abdomen hurt... So I have to go to the G.I. and to my primary doctor tomorrow and see what else we can do... They suggested following up with the primary about the elevated liver functions because there are a number of things that can mean.

Anywho, I just wanted to let everyone know what was going on since my mom had made a post about it, and I had some pretty weird posts last night as well.

Thank you all for caring enough to read this :)