Thursday, 21 August 2014

Back to school

Have I mentioned recently how long the summer holidays have been, and how much I am looking forward to the boys going back to school???

Well the day is nearly upon us.  I tell you, 12 weeks is just too long for a summer holiday.  Since the stress of getting Isaac into Oliver's school has now passed, I have been doing my darnedest to get organized.

School uniform was ordered after we got back from holiday.  Isaac luckily didn't need much, as when we first ordered Oliver's when we got here, we ended up with duplicate orders (long story…).  So there has been uniform sitting in Isaacs closet, virtually unused.  Oliver only needed new shorts and new t-shirts.  I will not be buying beige bottoms for them again, they are a nightmare to keep clean, Isaac has some of Oliver's beige trousers, but they will both be in navy shorts to begin.  I can pick up the trousers from a store in the mall when they actually need them!

Isaac shares a closet with Sebastian, and there was just no where to hang his uniform.  So I commandeered one of the hall way closets upstairs for both their uniforms.  


The top shelf has bottoms, then t-shirts and jumpers hanging, then 2 boxes with their underwear in, as the both need plain socks for school, and neither have many of these!  Hopefully it will make getting dressed in the morning easier, and changed after school quicker.  We shall see….

As Isaac is now doing full days, I came up with a little lunch chart bellow.  Nothing special, just a table with their names and 5 boxes for what they want in their lunch boxes.  Then a section below.  I printed it, cut the food items out, laminated it, then stuck magnetic tape on the back so it sticks on the fridge.  This is to make my life easier when making their lunches, but also to help with Isaac's word recognition, to get him reading as soon as possible.

They even have somewhere to hang their bags and keep their shoes.  Last year, their shoes were just going in the generic shoe box by the door, and bags into the cupboard.  That cupboard is a bit too full now (I am hanging on to junk, now I have space to keep it!), so they have a peg each in the utility room, and a basket each for shoes and other important things they may need for school.  


I can put their lunches there, and they can pick them up in the morning.  Should work…..

Isaac met his teacher this morning, and got to see his classroom.  Considering he has been saying all week that he didn't want to go, he was brilliant.  He was polite, friendly and courteous.  I certainly took the good Isaac to school this morning. He really did me proud, and I think his teacher was quite taken with him.  We got to the drop in session at a good time, as Isaac had free run of the room, and his teacher was able to speak to him and me well.  I am so excited for him.  I really hope he enjoys it, I think he will.  His old school really set him up to succeed, and I think he will do so well in this school.  Cuteness alert:  For the first 3-4 weeks, the older pupils have to go and get their kindergarten siblings for car pool, make sure they have all their belongings and wait nicely with them for the car pool number.  Love it!! Oliver is going to take great pride in collecting Isaac, and Isaac will love seeing Oliver at the end of the day.  

Isaac even got to meet a couple of his class mates, and a kid he did baseball with last year is also starting in his grade, but in a different class.  Isaac has 13 in his class, including him.  Think it is the same across his grade, which means an intake of about 50.  Roll on tomorrow for their hour induction, then Monday for their first proper day….

Oliver is much better.  Still in a bit of pain, but able to run around and pretty much be back to his usual self.  I have been in contact with his new teacher regarding his ear, and she bass been very accommodating about him missing P.E and recess, and about positioning him in a good spot in the class so he can hear well.  I know he still has wadding in his ear, but his hearing seems worse again.  Hopefully this will improve with time.  I am looking forward to meeting his teacher tomorrow.  

Sebastian is also moving up a class.  This week they have been moving them slowly.  Monday he did an hour in his new classroom, tuesday was an hour and a half, and yesterday was 2 hours.  in fact, I picked him up from his new class room yesterday.  Interesting.  The girls in there seem very young, and it was quite chaotic, but I am hopping that improves with time.  He also goes to 4 morning from 3 next week.  I may change pick up time to nearer 12 to give him more time on class, and me more time to do work.

Having met his teacher tonight, they seem very nice.  All young, but well experienced.  After chatting with them, I feel very confident that Sebastian will be happy in that room.  Seeing as I was the only one to turned up to that session, I was able to get a feel for all of them, and I like how they say they handle things and what they are planning to do this year.  They are also really keen to support him with his speech which is great.

All in, I have had a great day today meeting Isaac and Sebastian's teacher.  I hope they are going to settle in well and enjoy school.

Here goes.....

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Oliver's operation - round 2

So Oliver had to be at the hospital at 11.15 yesterday morning.  I stayed home with the other 2 and took them to Dollar Tree and for a McDonalds.  

Oliver was eventually taken in for surgery at 2pm.  Poor boy had not eaten since 9pm the previous evening.  Lucky for Paul, he had taken lunch with him.  We arranged to swap over at 3.30, as this should be half way through the operation.

We did the swap, and Paul took the boys home leaving me as the only person in the waiting area, along with the 2 receptionist.  I took my lap top so was able to do some Uni work.  About 5.45, one of the nurses from the recovery area came out, and asked me to come through, as it shouldn't be long.  

Oliver's doctor eventually appeared about 6.45.  Another epically long operation, over 4 hours.  Dr Alexander explained that when they opened him up, they had found a small amout of cholesteatoma hiding by the ear drum, in a place they could not see using the camera.  It was really small, like a couple of millimeters.  But the fact it had grown back made the doctor chose not to reconstruct the ear bones (it was a hard decision, apparently).  He worried that if he had reconstructed the ear bones using the titanium plates that the cholesteatoma would have come back again, leading to a much more complicated operation to remove.  It would basically involve removing the wall of the ear candle next to the mastoid bone, and would leave Oliver with a large ear cavity, and issues with water getting to the inner ear for the rest of his life.  Having since looked this up, it is not nice.  It has cosmetic and auditory implications forever.  In 60% of cases, after the first removal, cholesteatoma does grow back, but because it is being checked for, not to the same extent.

The doctor also fitted a tube from his ear canal to his nose cavity to enable fluid to drain more easily.  He found dried blood in the ear cavity from the last operation, which would not have helped the healing process.  He also took some cartridge from his ear and put it at the base of the ear canal for the prosthetic to be fitted to next time round

The doctor is confident he got it all this time.  Oliver has a follow up in 10 days time, and returns to school in 9.  He is not to do any P.E or recess for 2 weeks.  And no water in the ear till the follow up at least.  Again every one was really nice, we came away with 4 prescriptions. One anti-nausea, one antibiotic, one very strong pain killer and one for ear drops.  The ear drops begin in a few days time, everything else being administered now.

The nurses were interesting this time. 2 men, both skin heads, one lean, one not so lean.  They were keen to get him moving, unlike the ladies last time.  We were out in just over an hour.  And Oliver was not sick in the car.  He saved that one for when we got home.  

Last night was very unsettled.  Oliver slept on the sofa, then we moved his bed into our room (thank good ness for big houses).  He was sick a lot last night, and barely kept any water or medication down.  He had some toast to morning, and has been snacking ever since.  He is currently on the sofa where he has been most of the day.  He is in quite a bit of pain, despite the medication, so we are doing our best to keep him comfortable.  The next few days will be very lazy, but I managed to get the other 2 out today.

Isaac and I hit up a community yard sale near by.  We spent $12 and came away with a toys dragon, Jenga, 2 books, 3 car magazines, a Clemson baseball cap, and 2 sets of Melissa and Doug wooden toys.  A pretty good haul.  Then we went and checked out Simpsonville Farmers Market.  A lovely little market, where I picked up some spicy hot habanero chilli peppers for Paul.  Watch this space for what I do with them!

Sebastian went for a hair cut this afternoon.  She didn't do a great job, but I had a coupon so it only cost $10 with tip.  Makes a nice change from the fortune I normally spend on him at specialized children's salons.  

I will keep you posted with Oliver's progress as the week goes on.  Don't think there will be many photos on #yearofoliver for a few days......

Friday, 15 August 2014

End of Summer holidays….

Ok so technically its not…. The Greenville school system starts back next tuesday, and my boys have an hours induction on the friday, then 2 half days on the following Monday and Tuesday, before being in full time (till Labor day weekend, the first week in September).

But…. Oliver has his reconstructive surgery tomorrow.  You may remember back in February when he had the cholesteatoma in has right ear and had to have it removed during a tympanomastoidectomy. We have to be at the hospital for 11.15 tomorrow.  The doctors plan is to put him under, open the ear up through the same incision, and remove the plastic that is behind his ear currently.  His ear drum is starting to curve into his ear canal slightly, so the doctor may need to take some cartilage from his ear to stop it protruding any more.  As long as the cholesteatoma has not returned, three small titanium plates will be placed into his ear canal, to mimic the bones that had to be removed last time round.  Then it should be as simple as closing him up, and letting him come round.  

As horrible as all this is, we are very fortunate.  Dr Alexander is awesome, and I have every faith in the staff at the hospital.  I was able to request this particular date, as it means Oliver barely misses any school.  His follow up appointment is on the 2nd half day of school.  He won't even miss any recess.  When I explained my reasons for this particular week, Dr Alexander was very understanding.  He says he will probably just glue it this time, with no need for bandage strips.  Purely cosmetic, thinking of his return to school.  I just hope that 1) the doctor is running on schedule, 2) the cholesteatoma has not returned and 3) that Oliver doesn't feel as rotten the next day.  We will see…..


This summer has felt incredibly long, and hard.  I was thinking about it, and comparing it to last year.  Last year we had Paul's parents visit at the beginning of June, Oliver did a week of camp, we went on holiday at the beginning of July, then my dad came in August.  This year we have had no-one!!!!  Yes, Oliver did camp again, and we went on holiday.  But our holiday was very active to say the least.  

I have struggled this year keeping the boys amused, but I think I have managed it ok.  What with the big holiday, money has been a little tight around here, so there have been no visits to soft play etc.  We have mainly been doing cheap/free things.  Because the boys completed their summer reading log with the library, they got free tickets to the baseball.  It was good fun, but very hot!!! 

We have done lots of park trips and getting together with friends.  I don't think the falafel with school has helped my positive attitude towards the holidays either.  But it is sorted, and I shall try and enjoy next week of doing very little with the boys.  I foresee lots of watching films and playing computer games.  

What has also made it hard is my OU work.  Although I made a big effort to get ahead before holiday, since then it has been tricky to dedicate myself, and find the motivation.  I have 7 weeks left, and in that time I have another assignment due 10th September, and an end of module assessment (EMA) due 2nd October.  The assignment I am not too worried about.  My EMA though….It is a website of up to 3000 words on a project of my choosing (I am about half way through in rough, gonna have to watch my word count!) , then review my webpage, then write a 2000 word report on a document the OU have chosen.  This is not easy.  I have been doing well to keep up with the work load, but will be glad when the boys return to school and I can fully knuckle down.  But in the long term, this is my last big OU course, almost like a dissertation module, I only have 2 more short course to do and I will have a BSc Open Degree (Hons) in Chemistry, Psychology and Environmental Studies.  There is light at the end of the tunnel…….

Will update again next week about how the operation goes, and the boys return to school...

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

School Stress

As I mentioned in my last post the last couple of weeks have been a little bit stressful…

About 2 weeks ago, Paul got a message from International HR, advising us that our contract extension was 99.9% definite.  I know I said to all at Christmas that we would be back next year, but Paul's company love him so much that they want to keep him here another year.  Ok, not quite, but it has been made possible for us to stay another year through a few movements within the group.

Our date for returning to the UK is now 30th August 2016.  While on the communicator, the lady mentioned that we would now be eligible to get Isaac into Oliver's school, and would we like to?


This all began 2 weeks before Isaac was meant to start at his old school.  Cue a lot of crazy phone calls.  I was in touch with Oliver's school administrator on the Monday to begin the process.  I filled in the online application, and awaited phone calls regarding testing.  The group testing at school was scheduled for the thursday, but had to be changed for the following Monday.  We were lucky enough to get the individual testing at Clarity on the Wednesday of the same week.  Funnily enough Sebastian already had a doctors appointment that day.  So the Wednesday afternoon we trotted off to Greenville for the testing for Isaac.  I like Clarity, I think they do a good job (probably cos they have never under-assessed our boys!).  The lady said it would take 45 minutes to an hour.  25 minutes later, he was done!  

This made us early for our doctors appointment, so we stopped for some cakes on the way!

Sebastians doctor is awesome.  Basically school had been querying his Hep B vaccination not being up to date, so she readily agreed to write a letter explaining that he was on a catch up schedule, and that immunization will be completed by September.  Then we had to talk varicella (chicken pox).  Oliver and Isaac both had severe chicken pox back in April 2011, when Seb was 3 months old.  Seb got a couple of spots, so I presumed he had immunity.  Unfortunately, school wanted proof, so the doctors had to take blood.  It took 3 nurses and the doctor plus me to get blood from him.  Not nice… But I was able to pick up the boys Immunisation Records ready for school, so that was something…. And an appointment was made for his next Hep B.  We also discussed his speech.  Although it is a lot better than it was, and he talks a lot more, there are still very few consonant sounds, so she referred him for speech therapy, again.

Friday morning, I had to go and see Isaacs teacher at his old school, and explain the situation.  She was very sad, only a week from term starting, and she may be losing one of her pupils.  I explained that it was best for the future for Isaac to be in a more structured environment, as that is what he will be in when we return to the UK.  I thanked her for all her hard work, and asked if she could fill in a form to send to the new school.
I came away from that meeting feeling a little, teary, which I had not expected.  It is a great school and Isaac has met some lovely people there, but we feel he is ready for a change that will facilitate his learning, and hopefully get him more interested in reading, and learning academically.  

Last Monday we trotted off to Oliver's school for Isaac's group testing.  I say group, it was him and the Lower School Director.  Oliver and I sat outside, and I could hear some of what she was asking.  After, she said he was very good at listening, needed a little work on fine motor skills (just like Oliver) and really good with numbers.  We were able to hand in the immunization records, and get his passport photocopied, so that was most of the paperwork, just waiting on Clarity results.

And then we waited…. and waited…… I eventually called Oliver's school Wednesday morning to ask for a progress report.  Clarity report was in, we just had to await the boards decision....  School called me back about 4pm that afternoon.  


Such a relief.  Thursday, the day before his old school started back, I had to call them and let them know he would not be there.  They were very understanding, and wished us all the best.  I fully intend to stay in touch with that school, as I would like to volunteer in the Middle School once my degree is done.  

I received another call on thursday, this time from the doctors.  Sebastian is not immune to chicken pox, so needs to be immunized.  That was yesterday afternoons fun task, 2 jabs.  Took 2 nurses….

We have since received the Clarity report ourselves, Isaac is average in nearly all areas and above average in number and math skills.  

We always knew he was awesome….

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Photo drop of what we have been up to…..

So we have been home for about 5 weeks.  The longest 5 weeks of my life……  Remember that big plan of things I wanted to do this summer??? Me neither.

I have tried my best to keep the boys amused, but it is hard work!  We have checked out some new parks thanks to the Park Hop. We didn't complete it, but it was fun to visit new cheap places

Isaac and I went blueberry picking when Oliver was on camp, and Seb was in school.  We got quite a haul, though Isaac got bored quite quickly. We did take Oliver a couple of weeks later, and he enjoyed it more than I thought he would.

I made my first (and second and third….) batch of blubbery muffins from what we picked.  These have become a staple breakfast for me

Oliver did a week of camp.  It was based at his school, and was a math camp.  He really enjoyed it.  He got to do all different types of things.  It was an all day camp, which was great for all concerned!

Isaac and I went bug hunting.  Honestly, this boys is obsessed with bugs.  We managed to catch some centipedes and 2 grass hoppers.  The centipedes died quite quickly, though we kept the grass hoppers for about a week.  One of them changed from a beige color to green while we had him.  Very cool.

We have also been peach picking, again while Oliver was on camp.  We went to Fishers Orchard.  So many peaches, and loads within the boys reach

We filled this basket in about 30 minutes.  We might even go again soon. I am not the biggest fan of peaches, some thing about the fuzz.  But they are yummy in muffins, and smoothies.  I have a load in the freezer ready to be used.

We took a trip to the zoo, where we saw the tarantula moving.  First time in nearly 2 years I have seen it move.  Freaky…..

Oliver Isaac and Seb completed the summer reading challenge from the library.  What a glut of prizes!!!!  They each got a medal, a magnet, a voucher for free food at Taco Bell, and a free ticket to a baseball game at Greenville Drive (more to come on that later)

We have been to the pool a lot, when the weather allows us.  Isaac even made a friend.  He spotted this frog in the water, and it swam straight to him and jumped in his hand.  He was able to carry it out at release it.  Real nature boy!

Thats it for now, I do have more to write about, but wanted to make this short.  Of the 5 weeks we have been home, the last 2 have been exceptionally stressful.

More on that next time!