Saturday, January 22, 2011

Update....long overdue.....

Ok, my friends, it has been a very long time since I have been on here. I have my kids were having struggles and I had gotten very intense about helping them and sad about what we were going through and frankly didn't want to broadcast these teenage years for all to see.

#1 is doing great! He is enjoying school, his new room downstairs, his time at the Hoover Rec....his life EXCEPT, he is not all that respected by the other kids in our household. That must feel pretty crappy at times. He is so sweet and congenial and does just what I ask him to. I am hoping that he can get a job in the next few months and branch out a little.

Now for the painful part, #2 had been diagnosed with mild ADHD (inattentive) last year, but we never really treated it. I finally started to feel that he might be depressed about 2 years ago, but wasn't able to get the pediatrician to agree. It got worse, summer (last year) he was very quiet and didn't leave the house or make plans at all. That was ok with me, but he just wasn't LIVING. Finally I took him to a Psychiatrist and we got him on meds. He is finally after about 6 months on meds (about 20 changes along the way), better. He is still not living to his potential, but he is doing homework, and for the most part, participating in the family (not always in a positive way, but that's another story). He is apparently very talented with music (just won't practice to progress), and as we knew all along, very smart (but doesn't work hard with academics).

Because I was concerned about #3 also (just didn't seem happy), I took her along to "Josiah's" doctor. All of her symptoms turned out to be due to an anxiety disorder (NOS - that means not a specific anxiety disorder) and she is on meds also. She is doing much better, but still has ups and downs. During the summer, she started to get very serious with her art. She did one little class with colored pencils producing a really awesome polar bear picture (above), but mostly honed her "clay craft". She got a clay oven and a few tools and worked every day with clay making random little creatures. I am hoping for her to try other materials, but she is enjoying art in school right now. Her academics are so good right now and she has grown so much in every area. She got taken off her IEP and is on or above grade level (mostly above) in every academic area. She works so hard with her schoolwork and doesn't like to get less than an A. She made all As except for Science (not her favorite class right now) on her semester report card. She also got accepted into National Junior Honor Society. She is beautiful as well. Her eyes are so dark and pretty....we all know that didn't come from me. We are still working on getting her to be more social. She is speaking up more at school and church, and making friends more easily. She is warming up to others some....still a struggle.

#4....where do I begin....he just turned 12 yesterday.....I am so scared to have 4 teens (or basically). He is very teenagery in his moods, but because of his struggles with disorganization, etc., we finally put him back on ADHD meds. He is so severe inattentive and can't make himself focus for ANY of the school day....the meds have helped tremendously with his work. His teachers love him - he has so much personality- and this helps. They are realizing now (with meds) how super-smart he is and how much he can do if he is "on task". Of course, the meds contribute some to the teenagery mood, but there is no great gain without some small loss. He is slimming up and growing (a little - still the shortest person in the school). He is the one of our four who is truly a friendly soul and loves to be with people. He does well with adults and younger kids, though probably better than his own age. He loves being a leader which doesn't seem to happen at school, though. I am not sure why.

Kevin continues to be very busy with work. It is going ok, I think....he doesn't talk about it much. We had the annual office party for his team. It turned out very good and he was very helpful with me being so stressed....he did trays, helped in a million ways...he is such a good guy, sweet and kind, my best friend and a very fun lover!

I am still volunteering a lot with Bumpus Library (middle school), band uniforms, ESL at Hunter Street, I love all these and can't seem to give up one of them. I am home on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays and that is enough for me. My friends keep me busy with lunch out and scrapbooking. I am desiring to get started on quilting. A friend from scrapbooking will help me get started. If I can find a sewing outlet, I will be so happy...I miss my fabric stuff....

The family is growing, changing and I am philosophically figuring out that maybe the Keeters' struggles are from the fact that we are not "born and bred" public school material. I am rethinking my decisions to put them in school. It was very good for me....I found a good friend group and activities I love.....but I need to think about what is best for them. We will be in prayer about where and when to send them elsewhere. I want a full life for them.....that is my goal. I am hoping to figure this out with God's help. Please pray with me about this.....

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Missing my blog!

I miss blogging....even now when I feel I have nothing to say, I just have to say I miss the outlet of my blog. My kids are fine, even better than fine, they are great!

#1 is doing his thing in more remedial classes instead of the contained room most of the day. He is also riding horses at a therapeutic riding center. One day, he didn't get to ride because of rain and he was disappointed, but said, "Well, we can look around anyway."

#2 is busy, busy, busy with lots of band stuff! He was also involved in a robotics challenge that UAB puts on called the BEST competition. He was going into school early AND staying late every night but Wednesday nights for band....things were so busy, we almost forgot about academics! He didn't do so well in at least one of his classes, but we are working on bringing that back into focus. He enjoyed so much the robotics stuff and looks forward to doing that next year, but that is over for the year, thank goodness. The band thing goes on and on and keeps me almost as busy with uniforms once a week and chaperoning their games and trips at least once a week and often twice. That hopefully is winding down as football season enters post-season playoff games. This week is Homecoming and he wasn't interested in asking anyone to the dance, and although his friend asked a couple of girls for him, they already had dates.

Hoover's band is very good and works very hard, so everything they do is intense! They had special procedures for most everything they do! They host a huge marching festival every year at Regions Park that is wonderful. But with all of this activity in our family, right now we are feeling a little drained and overloaded. I, in particular, look forward to things quieting down a little and a few family nights and date nights thrown in there. He is having fun, though, which is something we didn't have much of last year.

#3 is continuing to thrive at school in her little zone. She desires not to be involved in very much at all and likes staying "low-key". She is making very good grades and is holding her own with friends and making some new ones. She continues to be the friend of a lot of little Indian girls at her school. I still find this so unusual, but they are sweet, unworldly (for the most part), girls from more strict, strong families. I can only suspect this is the reason. She clicks with them and I am fine with that. She does have some "American" friends, mostly those who march slightly to a different beat. They are not "run-of-the-mill" teenagers.....maybe a good thing! She continues to have trouble bonding with girls at church. She has a good relationship with our female youth leader, but the friendship of others at church pretty much eludes her. Also, she doesn't have the need for people as much as someone like me does (again, maybe a good thing).

#4 is doing moderately well in school, except for his being stubborn and wanting to do things his way. He is very smart and creative with many gifts that elude most people. However, he continues to have difficulty with getting thoughts on paper (and he has lots of thoughts, let me tell you). Spelling continues to be a problem for him and he is letting that keep him from expressing himself. I know, lots of you would have suggestions for this, but we have tried them all.....

Church has been a little bit of a "bummer" lately as my good friend at church (the one that taught me about the inside of a gym) has left, and my favorite pastors have gone back to their home church. I will miss these people so much, but both of them have "spoken into" my life in such a wonderful way, that I will hold their memories dear. I grieve, but will heal. I know that both of these are doing what God asked them to do. My church will go on and I will meet and bond with others. Here, for some reason, has been the hardest place for me to find people to bond with Is it me? Is it something inherently wrong with me? I have such good friends everywhere I go except church. That makes me very sad. In every other place we have lived in, my church was my life, but here it is not. My life is very much outside of my church. Maybe God can change that.

As always a bright spot in my life is my marriage. "Darling husband" is so helpful and loving and kind to allow me to pursue my wishes and dreams. I thank God for his willing spirit to help me and the kids so much while continuing a challenging job. I fear I ask too much of him at times...

Monday, September 28, 2009

I LOVE Mushrooms!!!

For some weird reason, I am truly obsessed with mushrooms and photographing them. There is something for me about their snowy white color, their textures (all varied and different) against pretty green grass. I haven't gotten a really great picture yet, but that hasn't stopped me from trying. I will post more me, I have a LOT!!
Things are much more manageable this week with me having at least part of two days "off". That means that I don't have volunteering that I feel like I HAVE to do. The kids' bathrooms were a must-do, though and then I really wanted to see friend S. She came over and we ran around a little bit (to Target) but mostly we just talked, at WW meals together, and caught up. I miss her and am desperately feeling like with her stuff and my stuff, we are drifting apart....

Back to the bathrooms....I strongly feel that the kids should clean their own spaces and would love for that to happen, but so far, it has not. They occasionally clean their rooms usually under severe duress, but the bathrooms always wait for "dear old mom"....

When we were homeschooling, there was so much "free time" that I didn't feel the least bit bad making them clean their rooms and even do major chores around the house. Now that they are in school all day, and then have extra-curriculur activities and homework, I almost feel guilty asking them (or in all reality making them) do their chores. I say almost because I do ask, but it still doesn't always get done. I have pleaded, threatened, taken away privileges, taken away allowance, etc. and still their rooms and bathrooms are messy. They just don't care. They are angry when I take things away, but not uncomfortable enough to clean them!! Well, there is some point where the "health department" would be concerned (if they knew enough to come knocking) and that is when I step in and clean. So, almost an entire box of Clorox wipes and lots of bleach (not to mention other cleaners) later, I am satisfied (and the "health department" is kept away for another couple months). Seriously! IT WAS THAT BAD!!!

I am mad, though! Mad enough to tell them that they are either going to pay me to clean their bathrooms or do major chores of mine to make up for it. We will start with them doing the stairs, baseboards and vacuuming my room. Those are things they can do and should! Don't know when this is going to happen, but no "screen time" until they have done it!!

Hopefully they will want to chip in and help more....probably not, though....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It has been a long time since I have blogged regularly. Things at night are so busy with soccer, homework, picking up #2 from band practice, meetings for school, church, #1s group, and the list goes on and on. The days are not much better. I have been volunteering a lot at the elementary, ESL once a week, band uniforms, etc. My library volunteer gig is taking a back seat to these and I have been slacking on going to the gym. The most difficult thing for me is knowing what to give up. I am feeling a little over-committed. I can't give up Weight Watchers, but I had decided to go back to Ladies Prayer on Tuesdays and that was my regular WW day. So, I was going to switch to Thursdays, but that is the band uniform day (once a week, every week - you wouldn't believe how much work goes into these uniforms). Then I considered going to WW on Wednesdays (it meets very early), but I can't get there with taking #2 in early for Robotics Club.

Speaking of #2, he is over-committed too. He is going early every morning for Robotics and staying late every night for band except Wednesdays and on Wednesdays he does Robotics after school. His homework and classwork are suffering. He has two grades he needs to bring up.

The uniform gig is very time-consuming, but it is "fun" and the ladies have welcomed me with open arms....probably b/c they love having more help! The work is not necessarily hard, but time consuming and sometimes tedious. There are 230 or so uniforms to maintain, clean, swap out between white and black overalls, "chickens" to swap (the little feathers that go on the top of the hats), hat boxes to check....then we all go out for lunch. Some days they go back for more, but like today, I had to "beg off" to go do laundry at home.

This year is difficult with the kids' homework. #4 is taking a very long time each night and his spelling is killing us both. He struggles as usual to get it all down in writing anyway, and with his spelling being so is very hard at times. He is holding his own, but his grades are not wonderful, either.

#3 is doing the best, probably, but she is in the easiest year. She is hanging in there right now with all As and Bs. She had one C but so far has been able to bring it up.

#1 actually has had some homework and a project, so I am looking forward to having him involved more in the family's nightly regimen. He is so bad about hiding out when he doesn't have work to do. He has one class he has so far refused to work in and although his grades are based on participation, he has an 11 average in there. (That is out of 100 by the way!) We are working on getting him to work in there. Of course, it is English.

Why, oh why do all 4 of my children have such difficulty with this area. #2 didn't seem to be as bad until he got in high school. Now, he is struggling in this area, too.

I am worn out mostly, but not sleeping the best in the world. Why am I up right now? I drank tea for lunch and can't sleep. Why did I drink tea? So I could get my work and their work done without getting fatigued. I just traded fatigue for insomnia and the jitters.....

What do I really need? Time with my Father. Time to unwind with someone who really understands. Let me go get that taken care of.....and pray for me that I will be obedient when he tells me what to do and what to say "no" to.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Routine - Sorta

Things are settling in. School is becoming routine. I still hate the institution of school...not sure why, but it just takes so much out of our family. For us, though, it is a trade-off between taking more out of our family, or more pressure on one family member - me.

I relish the days when the things I have to do from 8-3 are basically what I want to do! I get to go to lunch with my friends, work out, shop if I want to (and can fit it in), and volunteer. I stay very busy, of course!!

The 3-9 or so is not how I would choose to spend my time - HOMEWORK, but it is a necessary "evil". There are also nightly meetings....this is really getting bad. Every night we have extra curricular stuff AND I have a meeting to go to. Sometimes this gets very hectic! Hopefully the school meetings will slow down. Some of that is because I have kids at four schools. That just adds up to more going on.

Band is pretty much all-consuming. He is kept after school four nights a week (one for a game) and I am working concessions, Band Boosters meetings, picking him up from practice, etc. It is a fun way to spend time, though, at least for me. Not sure he is all that "into it" right now.

So, on we plod through the school year. It isn't so bad. I am hoping it will get better. And having a pretty "happy" child is a change from last year. #2 is soooo much better. There are still issues, but he is not being pushed around so much. If I can get all of them to put out more effort on academics, we will be cruising. No one except me really cares about them doing their best. That is really my only complaint.

So far we have avoided the flu. I don't know how long that will last. They all have URIs or something right now, but nothing serious. Thanks, God!

I will blog my trip, I promise. I want to share so much, it is just hard to know how much anyone really cares to read. I will try, though. I do want to share some pictures. Maybe that is a good starting place.

Talk to you later....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Been a LONG time...

It has been soooo long since I blogged, not sure if I can get back into it. The summer is officially over, the school year has begun, and I am on a treadmill turned up WAY too fast!! I have friends with lots more kids than me, but right now, I can' t imagine handling more after school activities than I am. Josiah has band after school every weekday except Wednesday, Elisabeth and Isaac have piano, Benjamin has social skills group, Isaac has soccer, on and on....and right now are all the parent nights for four different schools...and volunteer opportunities....and Weight Watchers, and church commitments, and working out...never mind the cluttered house that we live with every day!

Whew! I know it will get better. My big setback came in the form of a wonderful mission trip to Peru that encompassed the first five days of school. When I got back, I landed into a pot of boiling water full of commitments and homework and band, band, band.

I will blog later about my mission trip, but let's just say that it was a great experience that I wouldn't take anything for, but it was not great timing for me. On the bright side, the kids did great and Kevin handled everything beautifully.

#3 really shone and became very responsible making supper, helping #4 with homework, and getting him ready for soccer practice. I was VERY proud of her. Not that there won't be bumps in the road, but overall, she is a different child from last year and definitely a different child from the year before. She is more responsible, helpful, kind, loving, and fun!

More about band - #2 ended the summer in band camp every day for two weeks. It was grueling, but amidst the heat, rigor and difficulty, I could see that he was rising to the challenge. He was happier than I had seen him in a long time this summer, and band camp did not squelch that at all! He met new friends, renewed old friendships, and just endured stuff that he had not wanted to endure last year. The band thing is more than we could have imagined as far as time commitment for him and us. There is chaperone training, uniforms to hem, plus just committing every Friday night to games. We are enjoying it, though. He says he will not be able to do band next year, but I think he might decide to. He is feeling the crush of academics and the other things he wants to do like Engineering Academy. Next year, he feels that he has to take Latin II (he is taking I this year), Driver's Ed, Computer Applications (required course), plus his regular load and Engineering Academy is an elective. This will probably mean that he has to take a "zero period" class which makes for a long day. I know if he wants to, he can do it, but he doesn't want to right now.

The classes he is taking are going to get challenging for him, but so far, he is wanting to do well and make good grades. He has not needed any threats or coercion like last year. He just gets home and gets on it. It usually doesn't take him long to get it done, either. He still has time to play video games, Legos and have some family time. It helps that the older two have a whole hour in the morning after the "little ones" get off to hang out. We can use this for study time when he has tests, but for now, he can play a little video games or something fun.

I am still pinching myself that so far he has not been bullied or picked on. His attitude is different and he is handling things differently. He has changed. He is happy. He will still try to convince you that he is not, but we know differently! He is noticing that other people are teased and they are ignoring it. He has a "posse" of people who are in the band to hang out with.

#1 is keeping us on our toes, too. He is feeling his teenaged years a little more every day and feels the need to exert his independence. No wonder! He is 18, after all!! He is still the sweet, gentle lanky guy from last year, but he is wanting his own way more and deciding more and more what is right for him. We are mostly ok with that. I want him to grow up, but I need him to know with that comes responsibility. He is still volunteering at the zoo and having a good time with it. He loves seeing the animals and being around the zoo people. We are still hoping for some employment opportunity there eventually. Who knows?! I do know that it stretches him and gives him something to do that is his own! That is very good for him! He has his chores and his group. I am looking for him to take more initiative with stuff around the house, but that hasn't happened yet. He still waits to be told.

The hardest case for me right now is #4 and his homework issues. He comes home tired of sitting and doing work. Plus, he is very resistant to writing at all (even though it isn't that much of a hardship). So homework with him looms very large in the midst of all the other stuff going on after school hours. I really "earn my keep" getting that done. Last night, #3 and #4 were arguing at the homework table because he was whining and she wanted him to be quiet and I couldn't get him to do his work at all. It ended up with them on the floor doing his homework together...don't know how this happened, but I was cool with it! She has matured so much that she can see that he and I need help! She can step in and manipulate him into doing it. She sometimes helps him too much, but the good thing about her helping him is that it helps her to go over those little math concepts, problem-solving, etc. He listens to her when he won't listen to me. He is also complaining about social issues, but I am pretty sure these will iron themselves out.

Sweet husband and I are fitting in time for each other when we can and trying to keep it sane. I keep telling myself that I will settle in and get reaquainted with my life in the fast lane. I just need time. I am still very fatigued at times from not getting hardly any sleep for about 12 days. It will get better. My body is still recovering. I have been to work out twice since I got home. Hopefully this will help me to recover.

Well, time for me to head to Ladies Prayer. I will blog my trip later.