Friday, November 15, 2013

It's Happening!

It's happening! Just got a call from the social worker at Sanders (Kaitlyn's school) that she will be starting full time at Western Hills Middle School on Wednesday, Nov. 20th!

Kaitlyn will go to school at Sanders Academy on Monday and Tuesday. This will give her those two days to say her goodbyes to her classmates and teachers, and to mentally prepare herself for Wednesday.

On Wednesday Kaitlyn will walk the halls of Western Hills as a member of the student body, not just a visitor. By starting on Wednesday, she'll have a more gradual transition. A three day week followed by a weekend, and then another three day week, as that second week is shared with Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving she will begin her 5 day weeks like everyone else.

It has been a long hard journey, but now our girl is "coming home"! I pray that Kaitlyn will grace the hallways and classrooms of Western Hills with a sense of entitlement, because she has worked damn hard to get there.

Kaitlyn, we love you to the stars and back and I hope that you are as proud of yourself as we are.

Little by little, step by step, making my way every day.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

I've Caught the Bug

This is probably not the most interesting subject matter for a lot of people, but I write what moves me and today it's picture taking.

It seems that I've caught the bug. The shutter bug that is. Lately I'm finding myself noticing the light and colors all around me like never before. The sunrise and sunsets have been particularly captivating the last week or so. The most gorgeous shot I've ever seen was one I was unable to capture on camera because I was driving the car and I was in the city at the time so I couldn't just pull over and stop. Josh tried to get it on his phone for me, but the tail lights from the other cars were interfering and all he got was red tail lights. The light changes so quickly at sunrise and sunset, that seconds can make all the difference in the world to getting the shot you want or not.

Yesterday morning as Alexa and I were on our way home from dropping Josh off at the train station, I was awestruck by the way the light and colors in the sunrise were playing in the leaves of the trees and giving them almost an ethereal glow. I wanted to stop and take pictures so badly, but on a school day, I just don't have the time to stop, and I wanted my good camera rather than the one on my phone (though that does take some lovely pictures sometimes). 

I promised myself that if today was going to be sunny and I could get up early enough, I would go out and get those pictures I missed out on yesterday. Now the light was just different enough that I didn't get exactly the shots I would have captured yesterday, but it was definitely beautiful, and well worth not rolling over in bed and going back to sleep. Every time I thought I was done and ready to go inside, I would see one more chance for a good or fun shot that I just couldn't resist. It was so much fun, and I felt so energized! Of course, that could partially be because it was about 30 degrees outside and I was in my pajamas and a light jacket. Ha ha! 

Most everything I do is for my family, and I love taking care of them, but everyone needs something that they do just for themselves. Taking pictures just may be my thing. I don't have to take magazine quality pictures, and other people don't have to love them as much as I do. I just have to enjoy taking them and looking at them afterward. My photo shoot this morning was the most fun I've had in quite a while.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Tale of Hope

I can't believe how long it's been since I last wrote a blog entry. I was just looking and it's been since July of last year! 

Since last year so much has happened and a lot of the time it felt like there were way more downs than ups. Writing is usually very therapeutic for me, but the only way through this past year has been for me to hold things in and not address any of it. The situations were just too intense and overwhelming to even write for the sole purpose of venting my stress and emotions. Now that we've come to this point, I feel like I can finally write again. What a wonderful feeling!

The last entry I posted was right before Kaitlyn went into Bradley Hospital (a Children's Mental Health Hospital) at the end of July of 2012. The main reason she was in the hospital was to get her off one of the medications she was taking. This medication was having a negative effect on Kaitlyn, and so it made sense to make sure that she wasn't going to have adverse reactions to coming off the medication. That was a tough week for Kaitlyn, and for all of us. Josh was working in Boston every day, commuting home the usual 2 hours, and going straight to the hospital so we could visit her. Kaitlyn hated practically every moment she was there, and we left usually after spending only a few minutes with her because she was so angry that she had to be there and was upset that she wasn't going home with us. She also couldn't tolerate being around her sister and Kaitlyn's anxiety and stress would go through the roof very quickly.

After a week in the hospital, Kaitlyn went straight into a partial hospitalization program at Bradley Hospital. She was to go and participate in group therapy and individual treatment as well. She had to be there from 3-7pm every weekday. Kaitlyn hated this program even more than she did being in the hospital. She would vomit all the way there just about every day (she went for about 3 1/2 weeks), and she was extremely angry and said she didn't want help, and you know, she really didn't.

Five days after Kaitlyn's last day in the partial program, she started middle school. She had a great first day and I thought things were starting to look up. When she got off the bus after that first day, she was laughing and seemed to be happy for the first time in a very long time. The next morning, I drove Kaitlyn to school because she was an emotional wreck and her anxiety was through the roof. I dropped her off, with instructions to go directly to the guidance office so she could talk to someone with professional training. I let Kaitlyn know that I would go park in the lot and wait for a while to see if she or the staff needed me. Within ten minutes Alexa and I were headed into the school guidance office. From there, we went directly to Bradley Hospital to have her evaluated, and ended up leaving her there. This was a much shorter visit, just about 4 days I think. 

The day after Kaitlyn was released from BH, she started going to another partial hospitalization program, this time she was there from 8am-2pm, and she was MUCH happier about going. As Kaitlyn neared the end of her time at BH, they gradually reintroduced her back into school, sending her for a few hours a day, then to the program for the last couple hours of the day.

The first day Kaitlyn went back to school with no BH time, we met first thing with the guidance department staff. There we met a woman who told Kaitlyn that she could come and tour her school if she would like. That school was Sanders Academy, a small therapeutic school for middle/high school students who are unable to manage a "regular" school setting, due to mental and/or emotional setbacks or disabilities. Kaitlyn said she would like to see the school. We went the next day at noon for a tour and the following day Kaitlyn became a full time student there.

The first quarter was a bit difficult, with Kaitlyn's avoidance issues and anxiety causing her to vomit every morning and trying her best to not have to go to school, and then happening less and less as the year progressed. Kaitlyn missed 18 days of school the first quarter, but second quarter she only missed a few days, and third quarter she missed two, and I believe only one day fourth quarter. 

At Sanders Academy, Kaitlyn's grades improved quarterly. First quarter she had 4 C's and two B's, and by the end of fourth quarter she had straight A's. She also made great strides socially and personally. In mid June, Sanders holds an awards ceremony to reward the students and recognize their hard work over the school year. Kaitlyn received NINE awards that day. The awards she received are:

Most Improved Attendance
Artwork Displayed at Arts Fest 2013
Most Organized (at school, though not at home - ha ha!)
Most Positive Role Model (for her class)
Best Overall Academic Performance
Most Enthusiastic Student
Most Positive Attitude
Most Enthusiastic in Academic Achievement
Social Growth

If you know me well, you know that I am NOT a crier. I think I cried just about every time Kaitlyn got up to get a certificate that day. She's come so far! Every day things that you and I take for granted, don't come naturally to kids like Kaitlyn and the others like her. Some days just getting to school and managing to stay the whole day is a big accomplishment.

Two weeks ago, we went to a meeting at the school to discuss the possibility of transitioning Kaitlyn back into the "regular" middle school setting. I was going to wait until we know for sure one way or another whether she's going back or not, but I'm feeling excited and so optimistic that I just couldn't wait any longer. On Tuesday (10/22) Kaitlyn is going to Western Hills for a half day trial, and then being bused to Sanders for the last half of the day. If that morning goes well, we will meet to discuss her transition from Sanders to Western Hills. The plan right now is for Kaitlyn to be a full time student at WHMS beginning second quarter (Nov. 4th). Our girl has come SO FAR in the last year. She is so vastly different today from this time last year!

The staff at Sanders Academy have given us HOPE. A year ago I never would have believed that Kaitlyn would ever be leaving Sanders for another school. I was sure that she would be there until her graduation. Their patience and perseverance, kindness and caring for Kaitlyn has helped her tremendously. Thanks to them, Kaitlyn has helped herself by working so hard to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. She is going to have to continue working this hard always in every aspect of her life, but we now have a bright, shining hope that she can do it. If all of us were as strong as Kaitlyn, we would all be truly exceptional people. 

Kaitlyn, I love you more than life, and I am incredibly proud of you. You are my shining star and I can only aspire to be as strong a person as you.