The CHERISHED Life of Heather Leigh

Friday, May 30, 2008

She might not ever even be a "C" student

As most of you know, this is what (in her infinite wisdom) Jordyn's 3rd grade teacher told me as we were trying (and failing) to identify why Jordyn had such a hard time in school. At the time the comment was made, I was so wrapped up in trying to figure out what it was that was preventing Jordyn from "getting it" that I didn't have time to dwell on the comment itself, and although it temporarily devastated me, the comment didn't really bother me, personally. If anything, the comment was more of a catalyst for me to get to the bottom of this and it thrust me into action. If the teacher and the school couldn't figure out what was going on with Jordyn (which, I think, really is their job to do, but because she wasn't the bottom of the barrel, she didn't warrant enough of their attention and resources), I had to take matters into my own hands.

Independent tests followed by a CAPD diagnosis followed by a 5 page document of recommendations from an audiologist friend of mine followed by an IEP with the school followed by a year's worth of Resource Room time accompanied by an awesome 4th grade teacher and an awesome 5th grade teacher seemed to improve her grades and prepare her for 6th grade and the beginning of Middle School.

Although, I must say, as she embarked on her middle school career, "She might not ever even be a "C" student" was always there in my head. Will she flunk out of Middle School? Will she be able to attain those elusive "C" grades? Will she get frustrated and give up and turn bitter? She is approaching the teen years, after all, bitterness is a key component of teenage angst.

The first quarter of 6th grade came and went, and Jordyn passed! Not only did she pass, she made the honor roll!! Her name was in the paper!! OK, so where's my "proud parent of an honor roll student" bumper sticker? My friend Stacey informed me that you only get one of those if you are on the honor roll every quarter and then you'd get the sticker at the end of the year. Shucks. There goes my dream of getting one of those stickers. After all, "She might not ever even be a "C" student".

Then came the second quarter. Honor Roll.

Third quarter. Honor Roll.

I'm seeing a trend here.

Then, it happened. Fourth quarter. Honor Roll. We got the letter in the mail inviting us to attend the Academic Honors Awards ceremony and Wednesday was the big night.

Jordyn was soooooo excited to be a part of honors night. She works VERY hard to get the grades she gets and academic pursuits do not come easily for her. With the exception of studying for spelling tests, she has done all of the studying and assignments on her own, so this was an especially monumental honor for her, considering she did all of the work herself.
She was afraid she might cry during the ceremony (and embarrass herself), but she ended up only getting a bit misty eyed, which she was able to blink back before the drops fell.

In addition to her Bronze awards the teachers nominated her and about 10 other 6th graders as recipients of the most improved academics award for which she received a nice blue ribbon.
And when she commented to me later that evening about "only getting BRONZE" awards when all of her friends got SILVER, I simply told her that now she has a goal to work towards next year. (Bronze is a GPA of 3.0-3.49 and Silver is a GPA of 3.5-3.99)

I don't ever expect Jordyn to make the honor roll, but I do expect her to try her best, to work diligently, to behave appropriately, to have a positive attitude, and to put forth a fair amount of effort. I would much rather have my child be a C student with an awesome attitude and wok ethic than a straight A student who's a pain in the ass. And when I sent that comment in a thank you email to her teachers (although I said rump instead of ass) her social studies teacher replied with this email, and it brought me to tears:

"It has been a pleasure to have Jordyn in my class this year. She is such a sweet young lady. I am a true believer that you don’t need to be a straight A student to be a very successful adult. Jordyn has everything it takes to be very successful, enthusiasm, diligence, common sense and most of all kindness. She will go far!"

And she really is a sweet and kind soul. How did I get so lucky?

It was such a special night for her, for all of us. My parents came to watch. My sister and my nieces Bailey & Bella came to watch. I hooted and hollered when they called her name (hold all of your applause until the end - puh-leeeze! As if!)

Then we returned to our house for a celebratory ice cream cake from Coldstone Creamery. Midnight Delight, which was absolutely delicious!

Way to go Jordyn! I am so proud of you.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Backyard Nature Adventures

My good friend and fellow blogger Mindy always has these wonderful posts about nature; frog noises, turtles, birds with white feathers, etc. and so on. And these nature observations occur primarily in and around her very own nature-inviting home.

Following in that vein, I have several nature observations of my own to share from the last couple of weeks as I was channeling my inner Mindy.

First, the bunny. One day a couple of weeks ago, Jordyn came home from school to find this baby bunny (notice the quarter in the lower right corner of the photo to give you a perspective of how small this little guy was) snuggled in a corner between where our main garage wall and our secondary garage wall meet.
This is on our cement driveway, so it's not like he was in a comfy or cozy spot. Where was this baby's momma? We instructed the kids - DON'T TOUCH IT or his momma won't want him anymore and he'll die (that's the theory for birds, isn't it? It oughtta apply to bunnies, too, right?) So, we went to dinner, then to Meijer, came home a couple hours later and he was still there. To appease a VERY concerned Jordyn, I called the humane society, but got their voicemail as it was 15 minutes until their quittin' time. Worried that the bunny might be cold over night or exposed to the prowess of a hawk, Kev made a make shift shelter for the bunny. Some grass, a few rocks, some leaves. He also set out some food for the poor guy, a radish, a cauliflower floret, and a celery stalk, plus a small bowl of water. I tried to tell Kev that the bunny would not be interested in this selection of food, but he didn't listen to me. The next morning, the bunny was gone, and the shelter and food were all still there. Did he find his momma? Did a hawk find him? We'll never know. If you've seen this bunny, let us know.

And speaking of hawks…what kind of bird is this?
I thought it looked like a hawk. Kev says it's a turkey vulture. This does not look like any of the vultures that I've ever seen depicted in any Disney movies. Let me tell ya, though, this sucker flies low and is obviously stalking some prey. He flies low enough that we were able to convince Liam that HE was the turkey vulture's prey (since he was the smallest of us outside at that moment). It freaked him out a little bit until he realized that (as usual) we were just teasing.

And speaking of birds, we've got a boat load of geese. Part of our kids' responsibilities is to go scare them off the beach when we see them down there. Thursday night, Jordyn & Liam were gone, so this task fell to Owen. Happily he ran down the steps to the beach telling the geese to go, but they were slow to respond. He got within five feet of the birds and was shouting up to me "I gonna pet him, mom, I just gonna pet him." One goose was hissing at Owen and I was yelling down to him, "No, don't pet him, he's mean, don't pet him!" Then we saw why the geese were slow to remove themselves from our beach and why they were hissing at Owen…they had a little flock of babies with them which took them some time to herd into the water and out of harm's way (a.k.a. the geese petting Owen monster).

Cute baby geese right? Wrong. Kevin totally wanted to get out his BB gun so that he could pick them off one by one. Now, before you go getting all PETA on me, he didn't follow through on this desire. I simply said that he wanted to do that. And here's why:

Part of my Memorial Day weekend yard work chores involved scooping this stuff up out of our lawn, off our beach, and out of our landscaping. Goose poop, EVERYWHERE. Gross.

Although not quite as gross (in a shivery freaky kind of way) as this lovely spider we found on our deck. Since spiders enjoy eating other, more pesky bugs like mosquitoes, we always leave the spiders alone. Besides, we would have needed a tranquilizer gun to get rid of this friendly arachnid. A quarter in this picture would have been nice to show perspective, but there was no way I was getting that close to this guy.

And finally, more birds. If you look closely, you can make out two very small, very faded, black blobs near the top of the photo. What type of birds are these?

Fighter jets.

On Memorial Day itself, we had several fly overs by at least 6 pairs of fighter jets. The first flyover was so low and RIGHT over our lake, that you would have thought they were going fishing. Unprepared with no camera in hand, we just stood out on the deck and clapped and clapped and waved at these beautiful birds. Most of the other fly overs were further away, but every time I tried to get a somewhat close up shot, the planes were out of my view finder before I could even press the button. Excited about all these planes (oh, the sound of their engines can really pump up one's adrenaline) I called my mom to tell her about this. "Well, honey, I'm sure they're just on their way to the parades." Uh, yes mother, thank you. It's not like I thought the homeland was turning into a war zone or anything. Although Jordyn thought that for a brief moment.

Pretty soon, I'm gonna be hugging me some trees. :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

12 year old Kevin

This weekend, I was doing some spring cleaning in the kitchen, wiping down all of the cabinets (when it comes to spring cleaning, we have WAAAAY too many cabinets to actually complete the task of spring cleaning the entire kitchen, but I digress). When all of a sudden I see a blur of Kevin flying past the kitchen window.
He is in a hurry, this is urgent, and he's carrying something. What is it? One of our kids? Did someone get hurt? Should I call 9-1-1?
He throws open the door from the deck into the kitchen and hollers for me to come and look. That's when I see it. A very big bass and a very big grin.

Kevin had been outside doing yard work when the call of the lake diverted his attention. Two casts. Two catches. And both of them were big like this one.
He was soooo excited that he had immediately flown up the steps from the beach, skipped up the steps to the deck, to run into the house to show me (and the kids) his prize. His sense of urgency was due to the fact that he needed to return the fish to the lake before it died.
He ordered me (in a very excited manner) to Get the camera! Get the camera!

I got the camera. And captured this shot of 12 year old Kevin, holding up one of his greatest passions in life.

Seeing him this happy absolutely warms my heart. Now get back to that yard work. :)

Friday, May 9, 2008

1 in 115

That's how many pregnancies result in a stillbirth, which is defined as the intrauterine death and subsequent delivery of a developing infant that occurs beyond 20 completed weeks of gestation. (A loss prior to 20 weeks is termed a miscarriage or "pregnancy loss".)

Why would I know or even mention this obscure fact? Well, unfortunately my sister-in-law just lost her baby the other day at nearly 40 weeks gestation (she was due sometime this month). They went to the hospital yesterday so that she could be induced and then have to labor & deliver a still born, full term baby. I can not even imagine.

So, I googled the topic for some advice on what to say or what to do and I came across this statistic. 1 in a bazillion is too many. 1 in 115 is WAAAAAY too many.

During my googling, I found an organization called The Missing Angel Foundation which is an organization to help fight stillbirth, the destroyer of dreams. We will make a donation to this organization in the name of their Missing Angel, which I think would be a great way for us to show our love and support to Brian & Tara.

Words won't take away their hurt. Flowers won't bring their baby back. Even a donation won't ease their pain, but maybe it will help spare others in the future.

All I can tell them is that I'm sorry. Deeply, unbelievably sorry for their loss.

And, while I KNOW that life isn't fair, it doesn't stop me from saying or feeling like this is really way way way unfair. Cruel. Horrible. Painful. Unjustifiable. Nonsenseical. Unfathomable. It's just. not. right. Period.

My heart breaks for them right now.

Please keep them in your prayers.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Happy Early Mother's Day

What a treat! When I got home from Di's last night (Jordyn & I had gotten our hair did) the boys had drawn me some lovely pictures for Mother's Day. Kevin had also taken the boys to Meijer to let them pick something out for me. Liam picked some roses (that Kevin thought would look stellar in a Hard Rock Cafe Hurricane glass from Boston - for a vase). And Owen picked out a little plant.

When I walked through the door, the boys came running to me shouting HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! It was completely unexpected and I was thrilled.

Liam took this pic of me & Owen.

And OWEN took this pic of me & Liam (this was only shot number four, he did pretty well with some coaching - "Point the camera up...down down...Ok THERE right THERE!" )

And here is Liam's sweet note.

I hope Kevin doesn't think he's off the hook to plant my 2 pots on the front porch and my 2 pots on the back deck (which is what I asked for!!) :)

Love those boys...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Shock and Awe

That really is the best way to describe my reaction to not winning the Mega-Millions lottery yesterday. Who is not getting the memo that I'm supposed to win? It's baffling.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


I can't believe that my baby Owen just turned four at the end of April. He is such a fun and unique little four year old. I love it.

This is the first family birthday that I've actually been home for in the last year. I missed Liam's birthday in August (that was day one of my traveling gig to NJ). Then in Nov and Dec I was on the road for Kev's birthday and then also for my birthday & then Jordyn's. It was such a treat to actually be HOME for a birthday, that we really did it up.

We started by going out to dinner ON his birthday and we let Owen pick the restaurant. Chili's (big shocker there). Liam wanted to tell the waitress that it was Owen's birthday today and we made sure to tell Liam to tell the waitress on the down-low so that it would be a surprise for Owen. No sooner did Liam finish whispering this "secret" to our server (and he did a really good job at keeping it on the QT) than Owen piped up and proudly told the server "It's MY BIRTHDAY today!" At the end of the meal, Chili's brought Owen out a spectacular sundae and sang Happy Birthday. Owen REFUSED to share his sundae with Liam until he had had enough of it and then he said Liam could finish it. He kept showing us how old he was. Kind of Boy Scout-y, but totally cute.

On Saturday, we used some of my Marriott points to rent a hotel room in Farmington Hills, specifically so we could take the kids swimming in the pool. We asked my sister's family to join us in the swimming and we all had a great time. After splashing around, we got dried off and dressed for dinner. Kevin took us, my sister's family, and my parents to a pizza joint he used to haunt back when he worked in that part of town called Tomatoes. It was DELICIOUS. Every single morsel of food that was ordered for our party was eaten. Yum-Oh!

Back at the hotel, we celebrated both Owen's fourth & my nephew, Jacob's tenth birthdays since their birthdays are one day apart. My sister (or maybe it was Bailey…actually, I think it was Bailey) made a delicious-oh chocolate chip cookie in place of a cake that we ate with the ice creams of choice from the birthday boys - Vanilla for Owen and Cookie Dough for Jake. A few presents were opened and then we said our goodbyes.

The hotel room was actually a suite because when we checked in I said to the front desk lady "Got any free upgrades today?" Apparently, it doesn't hurt to ask because they upgraded us for free, which made the whole hotel experience that much better. Having room for a family of five to spread out sure is nice.

Sunday morning, we had breakfast and then checked out of the hotel and headed to Walled Lake where we had planned to catch the Michigan Star Clipper one hour scenic train ride (since Owen LOVES LOVES LOVES trains). We got there early to watch the dinner train depart and to our surprise, they let us board early so that our one hour train ride turned into two hours. That's what you get for being friendly with the nice engineer named Sam.

The train didn't go more than 10 mph due to some regulations and even though Owen asked why we were going so slow, he really didn't mind all that much. His face was glued to the window for the first hour of the two hour train ride. He was fascinated. The route wasn't especially scenic, but it was thrilling when we passed over roads where the traffic had to stop and let us pass. Owen waved at all of the cars proudly as he sported his Thomas the Train Engineer hat that my mom had given him the day before. I think he really lit up the day of many automobile travelers since many of them smiled and waved back at him.

Towards the end of the ride, the conductor/owner brought Owen a peach cobbler from the dining car along with the dining car's saxophonist, George, who played Happy Birthday to Owen. What an unexpected treat.

This was more than a birthday, it was a birthweekend.