Yes, it’s true, Apollo’s hair is cut and he is getting ready for Kindergarten. Why? Why after homeschooling for so many years are you suddenly packing your youngest off to kindy? It’s a fair enough question with a complicated answer. So here it goes.
One of my first thoughts when Apollo got his feeding tube and we were told he would likely need it for years (maybe even for the rest of his life) was, “boy am I glad he won’t be going to school and I’ll never need to deal with a feeding tube and school“. So, yes, it feels odd to be in this position….but here’s the deal. Could I homeschool Apollo? Of course. I could teach him to read (he is so close!) and count and add and subtract. He could bake with me, go on walks with me and take trips to the library with me. But I know, deep down, that would not be best for him right now.
Apollo, despite being the youngest of 14, has had my undivided attention more than any other child (my firstborn included). Apollo is very attached to me…in an unhealthy way. He still doesn’t sleep through the night. The psychologist we saw back in December 2013 explained we can’t expect him to stay in bed all night alone if he never has a chance to practice being alone (i.e.: without me) during the day. He only wants me at bedtime. And he usually falls asleep with his arms around my neck and his legs clinging to me like a little monkey. Sweet? Yes. Endearing? Yes. The best thing for a five-year old? Probably not.
Apollo’s anxiety spills over into everything. When his siblings were off at school this spring, he was terrified to be alone in the quiet house with me. He wouldn’t sit across the room from me. He wouldn’t even sit beside me on the couch, he had to be on top of me. He wasn’t exploring or experimenting as a four-year old should. He was missing out on life because he was afraid to touch the floor! We have been doing what we can to work on his anxiety. We started sending him to Sunday School at church and to his own class at MomSpot twice a month. This has been hard work for him, and he has made mild progress, but needs more “practice” away from me.
Apollo at Texas Children’s Hospital in 2012.
At school he will have a bus ride with his siblings, a school day with other kids. He will eat away from his family’s watchful eyes. He will learn to be a kid, not a medically complex sick kid. This is so important for him right now. Out of necessity he has always been treated differently. We have catered to him and made him the center of everything (because we had to for his survival).
When you are in the hospital for 10 days with a two-year old, he is going to be the center of your universe. Of course he is! And that is as it should be.
But what does Apollo need now? He needs to know he is safe without me or a sibling in the same room with him. He needs to learn to take ownership of his hunger and meals. He needs to gain the confidence to learn and explore. He needs to overcome five years of not just being a kid. School for Apollo will be therapy.
Just don’t tell him that.
Apollo had his check up with his pulmonologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital yesterday. Dr R is our favorite doctor at Children’s. He has been the one from the beginning who listened to us, who values our opinion and considers us experts on Apollo (not all doctors do). He has advocated for Apollo and he encouraged us to take Apollo out-of-state (sooner rather than later) to have his second double aortic arch division done. He has been Apollo’s champion for the past four years.
Apollo’s breathing has been better this past year than it has ever been. His trachea is growing and healing and now that his tonsils are out, he is able to eat and grow. He is sleeping better (though still not all night, and he won’t go to bed alone).
Yesterday Apollo hit another milestone on his medical journey…he had his first ever lung function test. The doctors have just been waiting for him to be old enough to follow directions. He did well…for his first time. Unfortunately he is still learning, so the results were considered inaccurate. Crazy that they didn’t have me working with him and practicing at home…but the doctor encouraged us to do that in the future. The good news? His peak flow is within the range of normal! Can you imagine who miraculous it feels to be told anything with Apollo’s airway is “within the range of normal”? His exhalation was too short, but they couldn’t measure his actual ability (hence the need to practice).
Apollo was not happy about the long wait between his lung function test. LeapPad for the win!
Apollo gets his blood pressure taken in both arms to make sure his patched left subclavian artery is still doing its job.
Dr. R examined Apollo and gave us the best news we’ve ever had. His breathing sounds great, his weight is great and Dr. R was thrilled with his progress. He asked about school and warned us about all the nasty germs it entails. I told him his siblings had been going to school the last few years and he was happy about that as preliminary exposure. He asked if we were still using the feeding tube, and I told him he has it but we hadn’t used it in a few weeks.
“Good!” he said. “Get rid of that plastic in his stomach and no one will ever know he was ever anything but a scrawny kid. Bring him back next year and if he’s still doing well we may just have to put him out to pasture and make room here for some sick kids”.
I cannot tell you how much joy it brings me to suggest that in a year he may not be considered a “sick kid”?
Apollo still has issues. He tires easily, he has extreme anxiety and eating is still a chore. And on that note…I have registered him for Kindergarten at the local elementary school his siblings attend. Yes, I could homeschool him. Of course I could, but I don’t believe that is what is best for him right now. I will save the details for another post.
- edited to add: we aren’t pulling the feeding tube yet, but we are working in that direction.
If you are new here, you may want to read Apollo’s Story to get caught up.
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School starts in one week for my kiddos. This is only my second *big* back-to-school moment. For most of my parenting years, all or most of my children homschooled. We usually celebrated Not Back to School. Life has changed a lot in the last five years. I am in a place that I never imagined. Some of those changes are good; some not so much. We are planning to send Apollo to Kindergarten at the same school as his siblings (more on that later…after today’s visit with his pulmonologist and his first lung function test!) <— How’s that for a milestone? My only homeschoolers this year will be Enoch and Kalina (Tilly will be at the community college again).
Yes, life has taken me to a place I didn’t expect.
Back-to-school means hectic mornings and somehow trying to feed everyone, make sure their hair is combed, their clothes are clean and their backpacks packed. The other day Kalina and I made these fun homemade vanilla pudding cups for breakfast. Yes breakfast, they are protein packed and we served them with fruit.
Homemade pudding is extremely easy to make. Just mix it up, fill adorable little mason jars, slice some fruit, and you have a delightful breakfast surprise. I served this up with Quaker® Real Medleys® Yogurt Cups.
Vanilla Pudding Cup Recipe
1/3 cup + 1 tsp powdered milk
1/3 cup + 1 tsp corn starch
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup milk
Bring to near boil, simmer for 3 minutes, pour into little jars, let sit in fridge for several hours.
These pudding cups can be pulled out for breakfast or school lunches. We enjoy adding fresh berries, or fried apples and cinnamon. Served next to Quaker Real Medleys they make a delicious breakfast treat.
I really, really, really wish we would have had these Quaker Real Medleys on our recent camping trip. Real Medleys is a delicious blend of yogurt and multigrain granola with real fruit and crunchy nuts. You just stir in cold milk and end up with yogurt and granola! We took traditional yogurt that was kept cold in our cooler full of ice. The containers got wet and soggy and the labels peeled off.
These would have been so much easier. You can find Quaker Real Medleys them in the Walmart cereal aisle next to the instant oatmeal and breakfast bars.
What do you serve for breakfast on school days? We often make toast, instant oatmeal (I have a recipe for this!) or eggs. My kids are old enough now, I have them make their own breakfast while I sip hot coffee.
For the vast majority of our 20 year marriage, our parenting has revolved around little kids. We had a baby before our first anniversary, and 10 babies by our 10 year anniversary.
When this is what your family looks like, your life obviously revolves around bedtime, nap time, sippy cups, fuzzy-feet pajamas, trips to the library and lots of cuddles. This isn’t what our family looks like anymore. For the first time the balance has shifted and we have more “big” kids than “little” kids. We currently have four teenagers, and by November we will have six! On October 13th, Tucker will turn 10 and we will have only one child in the single digits. Wha?????
As the numbers and ages of our children shift, Chuck and I have come to realize that our priorities need to shift as well. Instead of staying home because of bedtime or naps, it’s time to bring the (former) little kids into some big-kid activities.
Chuck and I have spent most of this year talking about how we prioritize our teens and their needs in our family. How can we spend more time with them? How can we support them more? With four grown children moved out of the house, we understand that our time with the teens we have left is short. Very short. We have decided to shift our priorities and make sure we are spending plenty of time with our teens, pouring into them and getting to know them better. As we all know, teens are growing and learning and making new friends. They are exploring the world. Between school (community college for our teens) and work, they are gone a lot. Because of that we are trying to make the most of the time we have with them.
Our kids with special needs take up a lot of our time and energy and we wanted to make sure we weren’t passing over our teens because they were old enough to look after themselves. So we have been focusing on our teens lately. We set up our teen-only snack bin, we have been encouraging them to bring their friend’s home. And we have made on more huge leap: we have withdrawn ourselves from scouts (Enoch will stay long enough to attain Eagle Scout) and become youth group leaders at our church.
It was Chuck’s idea to give up scouts. He found himself several times this year planning camping trips and hikes that he can only take his boys on. His time is limited and he wants to spend what free time he has with the family, not just his sons. He has decided that his time would be better spent planning events and trips the entire family can be a part of. We now only have three children too young for our church youth group (Avi, Tucker and Apollo). Those three have been granted VIP access to come along to youth group and events.
Youth group starts up again mid-September can Chuck and I (and Avi, Tucker and Apollo) will be there too.
Times change, and sometimes our priorities need to changes as well.