366 in 52 [2016] ~ Week Forty

The thing about having kids with special needs is that you celebrate “inchstones” instead of milestones. I haven’t gotten any phone calls from the high school or the middle school this week. That is a victory.  I haven’t gotten any alerts from txConnect about missing assignments for Dominic. There have been a few text messages and emails but for the most part, either the teachers have given up communicating with us (which is quite possible) or the kids are doing a little bit better. Each week is a bit better than the week before. So I celebrate those little moments. Because my kids are fighting with every fiber of their beings to have those each and every success.

Anna’s notebook home is a horror story of how she melts down every morning turning over tables, emptying the classroom(s), hitting, cursing, and crying… but I’m not hearing about it until she gets home. I still haven’t gotten an ARD date. I’m still getting daily alerts how she’s missing second period in school and it’s counted as an unexcused absence. I’ve asked multiple times for a district specialist to observe her and haven’t gotten any feedback. I requested that cameras be installed in her classrooms and that’s supposed to be in process, but I haven’t gotten an update. I had to call transportation again because Anna was getting dropped off last, sometimes as late at 5:30 (school lets out at 3:55 and it takes us 20 minutes to get there). The district head told me that the bus is supposed to run the route the same for the morning and afternoon, so whoever is picked up first is dropped off first. Makes sense, right? The kids that are getting picked up last in the morning and get to sleep in 45 minutes later than my kid would then get dropped off later in the afternoon. But that wasn’t happening. They were reversing the route. So the kids that get picked up after 7:45 are home by 4:45. How is that fair? Our pickup time is 7:07 and Anna has been dropped around an average time of 5:15. My constant complaining to the district head got them to change the route ONE day last week. The transportation guy said that the other parents complained so they went back to the regular route. Well I then went off on him… I said either hire more drivers, get more buses, separate the middle school and high school kids into different buses, do SOMETHING, or I was going to the media. I’m so tired of playing by the rules and having Anna suffer as a consequence. This is her third year in this district and the afternoon drop off time has always sucked because we are the furthest away. Last year I gave up and picked her up every day. So far this week, she’s been dropped off before 5:00… we’ll see if that lasts. I don’t like getting angry or threatening people, that’s not who I am. It’s like they don’t really take the well-being of these children into consideration when the administration is deciding how to spend funds. My next battle will be to fight for an ARD to get Anna a 1-1 aide. She is still struggling with her behavior every day and she isn’t making much progress on her IEP goals. However, during summer school when class was only 4 hours long and there were only a few students, Anna did great. So it is possible to have her succeed if we structure the day differently. I am worried that I’m going to have to get a lawyer involved. I am NOT backing down this year.

Day 273 ~ Primary Colors

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Curtis was in Minneapolis so of course Anna had a bad day. I haven’t been spending very much time with my mom lately, so I took her out to lunch at one of our favorite healthy restaurants in New Braunfels, Naturally. Best salad ever! When we arrived, there was a train stopped on the tracks behind the restaurant. I immediately was taken with the three red diamonds signaling the end of the street, the red stop sign, the red lettering on the train, and the red no parking sign. Combine those pops of red with the green grass, blue sky, and yellow train… and you’ve got a perfect congruence of primary colors. My instructor from Elements of Design would be so proud.

New Braunfels street photographer

Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/6.3 | 1/400 | ISO 50

Day 274 ~ Hollie at Hobby Lobby

Friday, September 30th, 2016

The New Braunfels Art League invited artists to submit work for a juried show, ARToberfest. Submissions were due Friday. I had reprinted my favorite image, Lost in my Head, on paper instead of canvas and wanted to get it matted and framed, along with another image, Reaching for the Sun. (By the way, the SAPL San Antonio Print Lab has incredible service and a high quality product… highly recommend!) Hollie at Hobby Lobby helped us chose the perfect mats and my mom picked out the perfect frames. Hollie’s work was sheer perfection (she has an art degree and it shows!). Both images were matted, framed, had paper backing added, and professional wire hanging for under $120. They looked amazing. I dropped them off at the Art League in the early afternoon and rejections were to be picked up on Saturday.

New Braunfels art street photographer

Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/2.8 | 1/250 | ISO 640

Day 275 ~ Anna’s Turn

Saturday, October 1st, 2016

Time for haircuts again! Anna and I talked about how she is taking out her hair clip, hair tie, or bow everyday and losing them at school (at least a dozen so far). We talked about trying bangs again but at the last minute, she decided against them. But she did get a cute short cut. Heather Hudson with Studio 1063 is AMAZING, especially with my kids. I love her, I adore her. She is so sweet and does such a good job. Dominic is waiting his turn in the background playing on his phone. And of course, Anna is listening to Fall Out Boy! Later in the afternoon, I got a call from the New Braunfels Art League and my heart sank. I thought one or both of my images were rejected for ARToberfest. Not at all! Actually, both images were accepted and one of them won a ribbon… they were calling me to tell me to attend the reception this Friday. Cool!!!

New Braunfels special needs child photographer

Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/2.8 | 1/250 | ISO 2500

Day 276 ~ What a View!

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

While Dominic was playing Dungeons and Dragons at Cole’s house with Colby, Curtis and I took Anna out for a while in the afternoon. We stopped at the New Braunfels Feed and Supply, then hit up Dairy Queen for a weekly treat. We enjoyed our treat at the Faust Street Bridge, which none of us had ever visited. Wow. It’s a stunning pedestrian bridge spanning the Guadalupe River near Business 35 and Seguin Street. The view is spectacular. You should click the link and read about it… the engineering of it and the history is fascinating.

New Braunfels landscape photographer

Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/6.3 | 1/400 | ISO 50

Day 276 ~ Picture Perfect Timing

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

While walking back to the car, I wanted to get a shot of the Faust Street Bridge and just how pretty it was. Perfect timing, a father was walking down the middle of the bridge hand-in-hand with his daughter. I thought with the strong sunshine and deep shadows, this image would be perfect in black and white.

New Braunfels street photographer

Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/6.3 | 1/320 | ISO 50

Day 277 ~ Shampoo Practice

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

While the kids were at school, I got a haircut with Heather Hudson. My hair is completely gray now. I’m having mixed feelings about not coloring it anymore. I think it ages me about 5-10 years and I’m not sure I’m ready for that. I wish I didn’t care! After I picked up the kids, I read an article on Facebook called 5 Lessons our Adult Children with Disabilities Need Us to Learn. It REALLY resonated with me. I actually reposted it (which I rarely do) and tagged my immediate family in it to help me. I do not push Anna enough to do things on her own. I vowed to step back. Anna made my smoothie for me for dinner and during her shower I encouraged her to wash her own hair. She has a hard time with motor planning and gets soap only on the crown of her head. I held a small handheld mirror close so she could see herself, then did hand-over-hand to show her where the shampoo still needed to go. By the end of the week, she’s getting more soap over her ears and near her forehead. Granted, her hair may look a little greasier than normal this week, but she is trying… and so am I.

New Braunfels special needs child photographer

Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/2.2 | 1/200 | ISO 2500

Day 278 ~ Death of a Cactus

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

I realized that the week was almost done and I hadn’t broken out my macro at all. Seriously why am I so busy when the kids are in school??? So I carved out some time to explore the backyard. I found this old cactus near our property line that was decaying on the top. Seeing pretty wildflowers in full health and bloom all around it was sort of poignant.

New Braunfels nature macro cactus photographer

Nikon D750 | 105mm | f/5 | 1/250 | ISO 400

Day 278 ~ Daisy Brigade

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

The African Daisies have been in full bloom under the rose bush for the last few weeks. I kept meaning to get out there and take some pictures… they are so pretty. Way to go, mom! She has such an eye for landscaping and gardening. This feels like a spring image to me… hard to believe it’s October already.

New Braunfels nature macro daisy flower photographer

Nikon D750 | 105mm | f/13 | 1/500 | ISO 200

Day 279 ~ Claw Machine Master

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Wednesday was an early release day which meant that both kids got out two hours early. I scheduled a counseling appointment for Dominic in San Antonio so that he wouldn’t miss any school, so I picked up Anna then we got Pickle and headed to SA. Elva was happy to see us all and asked if Curtis could come next time. We talked about Dungeons and Dragons, peer friendships and conflicts, and Dominic’s ARD from last week. I told her how the school is offering him 1-1 counseling, 30 minutes once every two weeks, so that Dominic can see Elva one week in SA, then the school counselor the next week. They have some very specific goals for him too. Identify triggers which makes him leave class or shut down, come up with some coping strategies to deal with those triggers, then implement those coping strategies. He will also have a safety plan at school as well as a few other supports to help him manage his depression, anger, and self-sabotage. It was a good session. Curtis had to go to Houston just for a lunch meeting and we all ended up back in New Braunfels around 5, so we met at Willie’s Icehouse for dinner. Dominic can usually win a toy from their claw machine and he had been doing well in school for this week, so we gave him a few bucks to try. No luck this day though!

New Braunfels child photographer

Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/2 | 1/200 | ISO 1600

Day 280 ~ Work Day at the Art League

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

The New Braunfels Art League is run entirely by volunteers. You can enter special shows regardless of membership status. If your work is accepted for a special show (like mine was for ARToberfest), you have to volunteer one day that month. You can become a general member by filling out a membership form and paying dues.  You can become a displaying member and hang year-round in the main gallery by going through the jury process which happens only once a year in November. If you score 12/15 points, you can become a displaying member and you also become a docent and work one day a month as a regular shift. I have to chose three images to submit for the jury process… it’s like trying to chose a favorite child! I have over 3000 images on my Flickr stream and thousands more on my hard drive. I would love some feedback… do any of you have favorites? Since my work was accepted for ARToberfest, I chose to work on the 6th. The regular docents for the first Thursday of the month were Joy and Tammie, both of whom were lovely and welcoming. I worked a day at the Art League in August so it wasn’t quite as intimidating. But the gallery was quiet, only a few visitors and no sales. I’m so excited to find out which of my images won a ribbon and if it will be an honorable mention or 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place! Stay tuned!

New Braunfels art gallery photographer

Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/2.2 | 1/200 | ISO 1250

I felt like God kept putting specific articles and posts in my Facebook newsfeed for me to read this week. In addition to 5 Lessons our Adult Children with Disabilities Need Us to Learn, I also saved these two articles: The Horror Stories are Real. Don’t Give Your Child a Smartphone and Stop doing these 8 things for your Teen this School Year. Dominic didn’t finish his math homework last night because he needed something that he left at school and Curtis and I refused to take him to tutorials this morning so he could finish before class. He had a week to complete the assignment and he left it until last night. He will need to accept the consequences. But then I worry… does he need the extra support? Will this send him into a tailspin with his assignments and send him into a bad depression again? He’s only 12, there is still a lot of time for him to learn these lessons. It’s so hard. There is so much guilt that comes from being a mother. Am I doing too much? Am I not doing enough? How much is too much? It’s no wonder I feel anxious sometimes.

One day at a time. Thanks for reading.

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