Friday, May 3, 2013


So we went roller skating the other night...
Andrew's very first time roller skating at a real roller rink.
At first, I wasn't sure how he'd do.  Those are some heavy skates!  And lots of skills are needed...
Like balance.  Coordination.  Determination. Perseverance. 
If there's one thing Andrew's got... it's determination.  Fight.  Spunk.
He finally got brave enough to let go of daddy's hand.
And every time he stumbled... he smiled.  And got right back up again.
This little man had to have fallen over 25 times (not to mention had his fingers run over a few times when they were on the floor like this!)  And this was seriously his face the entire time.  Smiling.
He was having the time of his life.  If there's one quality that Andrew possesses, it would be perseverance.  This little boy knows how to endure stumbling blocks... and get right back up again, and continue to smile.  Roller skating was just one of the many ways he has demonstrated it.
He even did the "limbo!" (Flashback to the 80's for me!)
It might have helped a little bit that one of his best pals, Isaiah, was there.  And he is a FIRST grader.  A big kid.  And can I tell you how happy it makes my mama heart that this precious child accepts and loves our son for who he is.  Even though he's "different."  Bless his heart.  He has no idea how much that means to our family or to Andrew.

Kindergarten is coming to an end.  This has not been a great year for Andrew.  To be honest, I'm relieved he has less than 20 days left.  I haven't talked much on the blog about his year, mainly because it's been difficult and I like to try to stay focused on the positives.  But as I thought more about it, it's a positive that he's managed to persevere through many challenges that Kindergarten presented.
Without getting into many details just yet, let's just suffice it to say, I feel like this year (school-wise) hasn't been very effective.  He has shown little to no growth in the academic sense.  Many factors are contributing to this, of which there are too many to get into right now.
As you know, Andrew has a moderate to severe hearing loss (yes, it's gotten worse the past few years over time)... this greatly affects his learning.  He is a smart boy.  We know this.  How else could he come up with phrases like "MOM!!  Deal with your daughter!" when Kerigan is powering through and making a tornado of his toys.  But, at school, if he's not completely engrossed in learning, he's been tuning things out.
Important things.
His teacher and many others have been working to figure out what is going on.  We know there is a common pattern of learning disabilities and other factors such as ADHD when it comes to heart kids.  And I am certainly not saying that these are the things affecting our boy.
I'm just saying... I don't know.
His whole life Andrew has had little mannerisms that we would always just chalk up to "that's our Andrew!"  No one has ever been concerned before.  Both his preschool teachers were completely amazing, and they have both been helping us this year with ideas and thoughts, because neither of them were concerned with these things the past two years.  So all of a sudden, he's in Kindergarten, and he's at a standstill.
Another road block, if you will.
We will get through this.  Of this I am certain.  We have two appointments with specialists this summer to try to help us get to the bottom of what is hindering his learning.  I think it is definitely God's perfect timing that we are leaving our current school district and moving to a completely new school in a new place with a new teacher.  Sure, his IEP will follow him, and perhaps we will be adding back his academic goal that we excitedly but hesitantly removed at this same time last year.  I can still remember three years ago, sitting on the other side of the table at his first IEP meeting, thinking... my son is going to have an IEP.  Always knowing that we would do whatever it took to support him and help him grow and succeed, we signed the papers.

But man, it was hard.  Here I was a teacher, signing forms for my son to be served in a special education setting.  Talk about swallowing your pride and putting yourself in someone else's shoes.
I can remember sitting there in that meeting, clarifying that once we signed the papers, that it could be removed from his record at any time.  They assured us that when he started Kindergarten, he may not need it anymore.  
At that time, Kindergarten seemed like an eternity.  He still had to get through open heart surgery.  Then the dreaded thought that was never spoken...
Would he even live to experience Kindergarten?
Yes, these are the things that heart families face.  It's reality.
Today, I could honestly care less that my son has an IEP.  In fact, I embrace it.  I am grateful for it.  I now realize that the opportunities it has presented, are what's gotten him this far today.

And, by the way, he did make it to Kindergarten.  And he's more determined and spunky than ever!  So I say look out future... Andrew is on the way and it's bright!
I am confident he'll learn how to read.  He'll learn how to write the sounds he hears when he says a word.  He'll learn to add and subtract, count to 100.  These are the skills most kids his age are learning to do.
But besides that, Andrew has to learn how to do so many more challenging things.  Like learn how to hear.  How to know when to stop and rest if his heart is beating too fast, or he's too hot or too tired.  He has to learn how to focus on the most important of the many conversations and background noises that are constantly going on around him.  Just imagine sitting in a classroom with the teacher talking, children talking, the fans blaring, pages turning, pencil sharpeners buzzing, and the millions of other noises that take place in a kindergarten room on a daily basis.
He has to learn how to live.  To survive. 
And there aren't many other children in his class that can say that.
He's a true superhero.  And he's the smartest little boy we know.
We have another road block coming up next week... his cath.  We leave for Iowa City on May 9, the cath is May 10.  You may remember a couple of years ago where we were desperate for answers, and we received grim news following his cath... then last year when that all changed and a miracle took place... 
We are back to square one.  After an appointment last November where we learned his pulmonary arteries have once again narrowed, we are continuing to ride this roller coaster with confidence and determination. 
How could we not when he has taught us so much more?  He deserves nothing but our hopes and dreams for a successful cath.  So that's what we're going to give him.  We appreciate all the love and prayers you could send for our sweet boy.
This is just one more road block.

Because really, everything you really need to know...

You learn in Kindergarten.

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