Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Widow Wednesday--New everyday life

For the next few months things were very monotonous. The girls were staying with my parents at this time and I would go every day to see them. It broke my heart that they were staying there and I hated to leave them every day. Ray couldn't handle the noise (even the little bit they would make) or them trying to play with him. He didn't have the energy or the strength and asked if they could just stay with them. He liked to visit my parent's house and almost every day we would go over there to see the girls and eat dinner or just get out of the house.

My days consisted of keeping the house clean because I was worried any little germ could potentially be fatal. We were also constantly emptying bags of fluids. My house began to have a "sick" smell. If I did bring the girls over I made sure they sanitized like crazy and everything was clean. If we had gone to a play place I would bring them in and strip them down as soon as we entered the house and throw them straight in the bath. If you ever wonder why I am so bothered by bringing kids sick to activities this is why. I remember one day taking Lily to her gymnastics class and the other little girl was visibly sick and running a fever. She was crying and her nose was running. The mom told us she couldn't handle being in the house one more day, she had had sick kids for 2 weeks at home. I never told anyone our situation but at this point I couldn't help but tell her how if my daughter now got whatever it is that her daughter had it could land my husband in the hospital or kill him. She was so apologetic and said she never thought of it like that. I still to this day keep my kids home from activities if they aren't feeling right because it isn't worth it you never know who you can come in contact with.

His mom stayed with us for the first little while too. After a short time we realized it wasn't really necessary. He would just sleep most of the time or watch tv. My days were filled with just hanging around in case he needed something.

Monday was chemo day and also Summer's dance class. In the beginning his mom and I would go with him. Sometimes it would be a quick trip just for chemo, other days it would be a very long day with fluids or appointments. He would sit in the chair and sleep and we would read. It was so hard going to these appointments and getting into the waiting room and being the youngest ones in the waiting room. Majority of the patients were quite a bit older and doing "well". Most would be beating the cancer with treatment and not just prolonging their life with it. It was a hard thing to do every week. After a while his sister decided to come too and three people sitting in a room didn't make sense. I started to take Summer to her dance classes every now and then. It was refreshing to be doing something "normal" and to go back to being a mom. I felt like I was missing out on so much by not being with them but also struggled with not being with him. I talked to him about it and he agreed it didn't make sense for everyone to go and I was doing the right thing.

During this time he became sicker and sicker. Weight continued to drop and he began throwing up everything he ate as the tumor wrapped around his intestines and the food had no place to go, but back up. They decided at this point to put a tube down his throat that came out his stomach and whatever he ingested would go through the tube and into a bag that would have to be emptied. He reminded me of a doll. Everything you put in came right back out. He also had to be put on food bags for nourishment. I remember him being in the hospital and all upset and the nurse telling me he wasn't dying and that this would help him. Every time things progressed I knew we were closer to him dying. I continued to be an anxious mess.

I wasn't trained in the medical field I couldn't hook up food bags and disconnect them. I couldn't clean the tubes, etc. What if I messed up and killed him? At the very beginning of his journey his first chemo appointment he couldn't even walk and was out of it. We found out he had been given the wrong dose of medication and his blood pressure was so low if he wouldn't have come in for chemo he might have died. He ended up needing a ton of fluids that day. I asked for an outside company to come in and assistant with all training because we were all too invested and I wanted to make sure feelings didn't get in the way of doing what was right. Now my days were even more structured around caring for him. I had to wake up at a certain time every day to hook up his food and go to bed at a certain time every day to take it off. He lived on 7-11 Slurpees one of the few things that he could tolerate that wouldn't make him sick.

Every now and then he would get a craving for some type of food because he could no longer eat. One day he was craving Salsarita's burrito. He insisted I take him to get one and he was going to blend it up and drink it. Can you imagine wanting something so bad you would be willing to blend it up and drink it? I remember going into the restaurant and the stares from the employees and customers. He probably weighed under 100 lbs at this point and had ashy skin. I just remember asking for extra sauce because we needed to blend the burrito and make it more of a liquid and the lady looking at me like I was crazy. He did end up blending the burrito and drinking it. Now when people ask me why I let my kids eat junk all the time...this is why. What if one day they can't have it?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The "it" coat for fall

I am completely obsessed with coats. I mean, we live in Michigan! No one sees your outfit most of the time anyway, they only see your coat. I am always cold so I look for coats that are warm and also a bit longer. This coat became popular last year, but I didn't jump on the train of owning one. This year I was browsing Forever 21 and happened to see this coat and at a great price point. I knew this could be dressed up or dressed down and is super neutral. I have pretty much not taken this off since I bought it. 

It is warm and I can wear my chunky sweaters under it without a problem. I wore this jacket for multiple photos the day I was shooting outfit pictures, so you will probably be seeing a lot of it in blog posts. Since it became quite popular last year I have been seeing it at all different price points this year. I am going to link a few more options of this coat beneath. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Shein Kid's Clothes Review

I did a Shein review the other day, but wanted to do a separate review on the kid's section. If you know me, you know I am always looking for new trendy retailers for the girl's clothes. As I was surfing through Shein's website I noticed a new kid's section and was instantly excited! I grabbed Lily (my little shopper) and we started to go through the section. They have so many amazing things at a great price point.

Lily has worn Shein for 1st day of school, school pictures, and now for my holiday promo shoot. Like the adult clothes, I measure the girls and order according to the chart and so far everything has been accurate. They have worn all the items a few times each and only one piece I had to resew a seam it came undone. I was worried about the pearl pants and those have gone through the wash (hung to dry) quite a few times and none of the pearls have fallen off.

I actually own the same button up Lily is wearing in a few of the pictures and was planning on doing a mom and me shoot but haven't had time yet. As I was looking through the site they actually have quite a few items in both the kids and the adult section. I love to dress the same as them, when they let me ;)

The first photo was taken as part of my holiday promo shoot for my photography business and I am in LOVE with Lily's outfit in that one. The jacket is adorable with the fur trim. My favorite item that Summer has is in the bottom photo. The white lace dress is so pretty and is a nice, thick, soft material.

Would you guy's want me to do a post with some of my other holiday photo outfit picks? Or other items we have saved? Leave me a comment!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Widow Wednesday--The best advice given to me

After Ray was diagnosed and we talked with the doctors the next few days were a blur. He decided he was going to fight even though his prognosis wasn't good and it would only prolong his life we were told. So appointments were scheduled and things started to move along. In all of this, it was always a waiting game. We were told he couldn't be seen at Karmano's for a few weeks. The anxiety of all the waiting and not knowing was always terrible. With some help he was able to be seen much quicker. Beaumont told us he could go home if they weren't going to treat him but first they were going to put a port in. A port for anyone that doesn't know is a small plastic like round disk that is surgically placed under the skin that connects to a vein so that chemo and blood draws can be done through it.

I was very unprepared for what life was going to be like. The girls were staying at my parents since there was so much back and forth to the hospital. They were my daily routine and now they weren't home. I couldn't eat. I felt nauseous constantly and couldn't even think of food. I felt like I was floating. I lost 5 lbs in a few days. I insisted on getting a job...I mean how would we survive and live? I was angry because I had quit my job that I loved to be at home even though I didn't want to at the time. I wanted to work one day a week and at this point all I could think was how I would have a job to go to if I had. Mainly though, how were we going to go on without him? Thoughts of who would walk my girls down the aisle played through my mind as if it was happening tomorrow and everything else he was going to miss and we were going to miss. I was constantly on the verge of tears.

Ray came home from the hospital for a night to go back early the next morning for his port. When he came home I didn't know how to act around him. He was sick...what do I do? What do I say? How do I help him? I went to sleep next to him and felt anxiety like I had never felt. Would I hurt him sleeping next to him? Looking back this was so crazy to think but I don't think I could think at this point. I ended up going into my closet and sitting on the floor and trying to calm myself down. Over and over all I could think was why didn't they find this sooner? We did everything we were supposed to do. My heart was beating so fast I felt like I was going to have a heartache. I knew from being a counselor it was anxiety and I knew what to do...I mean I taught this to people! After about a 1/2 hr I was only getting worse and now I was angry because I couldn't calm down and was also in tears. I called my parents and asked them to take me to the urgent care.

My Dad picked me up and gave me the best advice anyone did the entire time, "You can't change the past, you can only focus on the future. Nothing you do will change what has happened." I constantly had to remind myself of that the entire time and still now till this day.

They ended up running a bunch of tests and like I thought, it was just anxiety. I was so embarrassed, I was trained on how to help people with this and I couldn't even help myself. I was prescribed the lowest dose of an anxiety med and sent on my way into my new way of life for the next 8 months.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Shein Review

I see people asking all the time about Shein and how the sizing runs, quality, etc. I thought I would do a review since I have been ordering from them for years.

Sizing-- I always check to see the exact measurements of the items I am ordering. You can select the size and it will tell you what they are. I have found them to be very accurate. I also always wash them in cold water and hang the items to dry so that they don't shrink.

Quality-- I find the quality to be the same as something from similar priced retailers, for example Forever 21. I check to see what the material is that the item is made from and try to scroll the pictures to see if it indicates quality. The higher priced items also seem to be made of a nicer material than the super cheap ones and wash up nicer. Every now and then I order something and it wasn't what I was expecting, but majority of the time I am pleased.

Shipping--When I first started ordering from this retailer years ago, the shipping took FOREVER! They have really upgraded the shipping in the last little while. Usually normal shipping takes about a week and the expedited comes in the couple days. I have never not received my items. I also ordered a pair of shoes this past summer and they shipped from the US and came super quick.

Kid's Line--They recently added a kid's line and I am in love. The items are super trendy and not like what you will find in other stores. This works out perfectly for Lily because she doesn't like to wear what everyone else is wearing. The price is also cheaper than the other stores we normally shop at for her.

Right now they are offering free shipping on their site and I have a coupon code for 10% off your first purchase or $10 off a $90 purchase. I also have a few outfit posts coming up with items from Shein so keep checking back!

Click below to start shopping or browsing!
10% off your first order!
$10 off a $90 purchase with Halloween10!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Fall Traditions

It is so hard to believe summer is over and Halloween is almost here! The fall is my absolute favorite and I always look forward to making new memories with the girls. Time goes by so quickly and I really try to make every minute count. I thought I would do a post rounding up some of our favorite fall activities. The girls were all in because they knew if I did a post I would more than likely want photos and treats would be involved.

1. Yate's Cider Mill--We love going to Yate's all year round, but it is the best in the fall. I am obsessed with donuts and you can't beat the warm, fresh oily donuts and cider. After we get treats, we walk the trails. The girls like to take the path by the water and I can usually hear them talking and laughing through the trees. It is so nice just to breathe in the nice cool fresh air and if you go during the week or in the mornings it is fairly quiet and peaceful.

2. Tillson Street-- This has become a tradition for us to visit almost every year. This was our first time going while it was still light out and we still had fun. Usually we go at night because everything is lit up and making noises, etc. One house even had thriller dancers doing shows. If you haven't been to Tillson it is a must do, the kids love it. It is a street in Romeo that has historic homes on it that all decorate for Halloween. People will just drive the street, but I suggest getting out and walking. As it has become more popular it is more and more crowded. We have found going about a week before Halloween you beat some of the crowd and pretty much everyone has decorated by then. A is a don't have to walk in a line! You can walk around the line that people tend to start making as they are going house to house and get through it much faster. We always end our Tillson trip with a trip to Panera for hot chocolate after to warm up.

3. Pumpkin Carving-- The girls love to carve pumpkins and just one more reason I wish their Dad was here to do it with them. I am terrible at carving pumpkins and he was quite the master. One Halloween he carved a pumpkin with both their foot prints and names on it.

4. Spending the Night Class Party-- If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram then you probably already know about the spending the night class. After Ray died, my sister started staying at my house once a week to play with the girls and spend time with them. It also gave me a bit of a break. Summer would always plan crafts and activities for them to do and slowly started to run it like a night school and hence the name. It slowly evolved to also include parties for all the holidays. We don't do birthday parties at our house so they like to go all out for these. They plan crafts, games, snacks, decorations, etc. They look forward to these every season and I know this will probably turn into one of their favorite memories when they are older.

5. Trick or Treating-- Since I have to stay home and pass out candy it has been a tradition that Uncle Mike, Aunt Laine, Aunt Sara, Jonny, and Uncle Paulie take them out. They absolutely love it! We usually have a pizza dinner and off they go. I am sure it is much "cooler" to be out with all your fun aunts and uncles instead of lame Mom haha. Plus this way I get to stay in the warm, dry house.

This rounds up our list of some of our favorite traditions. Anything that you enjoy that we are missing out on? Leave me a comment below!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Widow Wednesday-- Finally a diagnosis

I will never forget where I was at, what I was doing, or the feeling I got during the phone call. It was Christmas Eve 2009 and I was sitting in Summer's bedroom while her and Lily were playing dollhouse. They were 1 and 2 at the time. We were taking a break from preparing for hosting Christmas Eve dinner that night. I just remember him saying, "They found something and it isn't good, but I don't want to ruin your Christmas." Ruin my Christmas? I am pretty sure it was already ruined he was in the hospital missing Christmas, that by itself had already ruined my favorite time of the year.

I just remember sitting there on the floor, against the closet doors crying while watching the girls play. They both came over and were hugging me because they knew something was wrong. How was I going to get through a house full of people knowing something was wrong? How could I not just run to the hospital to be with him? It was so unfair that he was alone in the hospital on Christmas Eve. I remember just telling myself I had to pull it together. I don't like to show my feelings in front of people or talk about them so I knew I had to just act like everything was ok or I would lose it. How I made it through that day, I will never know. I remember at the end of the night all the guys going up to the hospital to visit him, none of us knowing that would be his last Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day I took the girls to see him. I still cry at the memory of that day. Santa came and brought 1 big gift and left a note that the rest would come when Daddy felt better. Little did I know Daddy would never feel better. The girls not understanding what was really going on. All the pictures of the girls with their Daddy on his last Christmas are in the hospital. I have struggled with this time of the year ever since.

The official diagnosis didn't come for a few days later. We met with the doctors and were told it was Stage 4 stomach cancer. I just remember not really believing it. There had to be something they could do. He was young and healthy. Why? How? He had been in the hospital so many times they had to be wrong. How did they miss this? He was determined he was going to fight it.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Easy outfit idea

On most days I like easy outfits. I like to look put together but comfortable and without a lot of effort. This outfit fits the bill. This jacket just screams fall to me in this yellow velvet. I love the little added details of the bell sleeves and tie waist. I think I could easily throw this over a lot of other outfits. 

The tank and jeans are both from Nordstrom Rack. These jeans are my absolute favorite, I own them in black, white, and blue. They are stretchy, high waisted, and super comfortable. I have a hard time finding jeans that are short enough and these are just perfect length. I buy a lot of my everyday items from Nordstrom Rack. The quality is usually good, but without a steep price tag. 

Can I just talk about Target for a minute? I mean I love Target...who doesn't? I don't normally shop for myself there though, but lately that has changed. I have been finding so many great items at such good prices. Add in cartwheel or a sale and it seems like a steal. Since they have added these new designer lines I have been finding so many great things. I picked up these booties and they go with everything. They are super comfortable and just the right height. 

After we were done shooting these blog photos and I noticed something on top of the electrical box next to me. I had to stand on my toes to even see what it was and I found these. To most people this wouldn't mean anything, but these were Ray's favorite Halloween candy. When we would go buy candy he would make sure we bought these to hand out so if we had extra he could eat them. I will do a whole post on signs, but I just wanted to add this to today's post because I feel that these couldn't have been placed here for any other reason. This street is even off the main street and we were the only people on it at the time. I have received a few since starting the blog and will share, but want to dedicate a whole post so for now I will just share this one. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Transitional Outfit for fall

Leopard Playsuit//Boots (old, linked similar) //Wallet Clutch//Earrings & Glasses (Forever 21)

Fall is so hard to dress for...anyone else feel this way? I mean cool in the morning, cool in the evening, hot during the day or one day cold and the next warm. I love wearing playsuits for these days. They can be dressed up or dressed down and layered to add warmth. I could think of so many different ways to style this. Plus, I am obsessed with leopard and the floral print with, yes add to cart!

This could easily be worn with tights under it and a fur vest to make it a little warmer. It could also be worn with booties if you aren't a fan of knee high boots. If it is a warmer day even a pair of sandals would be cute and make it a comfy outfit. I added a pop of color with my sunglasses and wallet but it could even be added by wearing a cute pair of pink booties

I bought the wallet to match a purse before traveling this summer and just can't seem to switch back to a normal wallet. I absolutely love this wallet. It comes in 35 colors and is just the right size. It is also cute enough to be carried as a clutch. 

I am going to link a few more playsuits that I have in wishlists if you are looking for other ideas. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Widow Wednesday--The story from the beginning

Ray was the football player in high school, his Dad described him as "rough and rugged". He was a middle school math teacher in Detroit, doing what he loved...helping kids. He felt connected to this population, he felt they were a lot like him. A lot of the kids needed extra help or some tough love and he was a perfect teacher. When he wasn't teaching he was maintaining his Dad's properties. Between the two jobs he was always working and planning for the future. Lazy was not a word in his vocabulary. He was dedicated to work never missing time. 

In the summer of 2009, we decided to take a trip to Vegas. It was our first time leaving the girls and doing something for us. I had a really tough time deciding to book this trip. We had talked about doing something multiple times and before I would click "book" I would stop and cancel it. We did everything with them. While on the trip he kept complaining of his stomach hurting and going in the bathroom and coming out without going. This was the first symptoms that I can remember. 

That fall he went with my Dad to all the Michigan football home games. They would tailgate all day and then go to the game. Ray would bring a bottle of Pepto Bismol to every game and down the whole thing. At this point even my parents were noticing something wasn't right. 

He started to miss a few days of work here and there, which was completely unheard of for him. He was starting to have the stomachaches all the time with no relief. He was eating less and less. As a teacher, he was required a check up every year and to maintain his shots. He was always good about going to the doctors and wasn't someone to shy away. He decided to make an appt to see the doctor and talk about how he always had a stomachache. 

Our primary care physician gave him a referral to the GI doctor because she agreed his symptoms warranted a visit to a specialist. The GI doctor ordered a colonoscopy and told us he thought he just had IBS. So away he went with a script for the colonoscopy and meds for IBS. 

After the colonoscopy was preformed, the doctor came out and told us everything went well and he didn't see anything abnormal and to follow-up with GI doctor as needed. I was so relieved by the news, until he couldn't even get out of the bed because he was in so much pain. I watched as 80 yr old people around him got up and walked out. My tough, never complaining husband had tears in his eyes. They kept reassuring us it was the gas they pumped into him and he just needed to relieve the gas it was causing pressure. After waiting a while they wheeled him to the car even though he was still in just as much pain. After we returned home he was white as a ghost and now running a fever. We knew something wasn't right. He called the number back to the clinic and they told us the same thing they did when we were there...relieve gas. This just didn't seem right, so we called our primary care physician and she agreed, this wasn't right. He shouldn't be running a fever and needed to go to the ER. 

This was the first of many ER visits over the next month or so. They kept him overnight for observation and sent him home to follow-up with the GI doctor. We made another appt. to see the GI doctor and were seen by his assistant again that just upped the meds. 

At this point he was losing weight, but his midsection was getting bigger. He was actually measuring it with a measuring tape. He had no energy, and was barely eating. I was eating more than he was. He was also running fevers on and off almost daily. One night he was changing a light in our foyer and became so weak and pale he had to sit down. 

Thanksgiving came and he barely ate. Anyone that knew Ray knew this wasn't normal. A few days later his pain again was so bad he asked me to take him to the urgent care. The urgent care doctor did a few tests and determined it was his appendix. They prepped him for surgery and sent him to the nearest hospital for the surgery. When he arrived at that hospital we were told the doctor read the reports and it wasn't appendix. They were going to keep him for observation. The next morning he was discharged again with a follow-up with the primary care doctor. 

We were frustrated and without answers. It was now a few days before Christmas. Again we were at our primary care physician's office and she was as frustrated as we were. She told us because of it so close to the holiday the specialists were all on vacation so her only option was again to have him admitted to the hospital and to write to not leave without a diagnosis. This was the only way to be seen by a specialist. She called the hospital to let them know we were on the way. 

Monday, October 8, 2018

Halloween Costume Reveal!

I was torn if I wanted to share before Halloween, but then thought maybe others are looking for inspiration. Every year the girls have an idea about what they want to be a whole year ahead. Some years they have coordinated costumes to match a theme, others they just picked out a costume. The years that they have coordinated we rotated who got to pick the theme to be fair.

This year was a little different. Lily had decided she wanted to be Blair Waldorf (Gossip Girl character) and Summer a bank robber. They told my brother over lunch one day, and he told them they always have cool costumes they needed to up their game! Thanks Uncle Mike, guess who has to put the time into these "cool" costumes!? After much thought and some pinteresting by Summer, they decided on the Grinch and an Elf on the Shelf.

For the Grinch we ordered a Santa jacket and bought the hat and mask. We ran to Joanns to buy green fur and I sewed the pants, gloves, elf shoes, and attached all the fur to the mask and hat. Green fur was all over our house till it was completed...what a mess...but so worth it!

The Elf on the Shelf we pulled inspiration from pinterest to put the costume together. I bought her leggings and a red shirt and sewed her the white skirt, shoe covers, and gloves by making up my own patterns. The Elf on the Shelf website had a tutorial for making the collar. I ordered a cardboard fireplace online and after putting it together staple gunned wood to the bottom and added wheels for it to move. We bought dollar store decorations to add to the fireplace. The tights are stuffed with batting to look like legs. It was worth all the work when it was done because Summer is thrilled with her costume.

I decided to add a few other pictures to this post of costumes they have worn in the past just for fun!

Last year in a homemade Cousin It and Wednesday costume

 Lily's favorite Disney character...Alice! Summer rocked the Mad Hatter, she has the perfect hair for it.

What happened to Old Navy selling cute, warm costumes? These were a go-to for us when they were little!

Thanks to my cousin for letting us borrow the Dorothy costume that she had sewn many years before!

Can you tell someone loves the Grinch? I have been told Lily comes up in searches for Cindy Lou Who online! We put her whole costume together by scouring the internet for pieces that looked like what she wore in the movie. She even won a costume contest from the company we ordered the wig from. My little Summer was an adorable chef in her dance costume from the year before. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Widow Wednesday--Single parenting a child with a learning disability

This again touches on something that is a bit personal and has been a struggle for us. A struggle because it impacts my girls, but also if effects me and parenting. I wanted to share this because October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. Ray had dyslexia and it runs in his family, so it had been on my radar as something that the girls could have. Although he was a math teacher, school had been tough for him. He excelled in math, but the rest was a struggle. I, on the other hand, have always been an excellent reader and have always enjoyed reading. I never understood how he couldn't just do it. I mean don't you just look at the word and sound it out?

Lily was speaking in sentences at 15 months and constantly bringing us books to read to her. I thought she was going to be just like me. As she got a little older she would could a kid that was talking in sentences at 15 months stutter? She had difficulty counting, with shapes, and her A,B,C's. When she entered Kindergarten letters weren't within the lines and backward. On occasion, she would even write from right to left. Then came the first conference, she was slow in reading and writing and she couldn't rhyme. The teacher asked for me to continue working with her and suggested tutoring. Of course! Anything to help! I was frustrated at this point because I was a tutor! How can my own child not be learning and be having so many difficulties. I immediately put her into tutoring with a specialist. At the end of the year I asked if I should retain her and was told no. A lot of this was normal and kids develop at different rates. As school progressed she seemed more and more behind. Her testing was where she was supposed to be for grade level on state tests. I questioned is my child doing well on these and struggling so bad? I kept her in the tutoring and working with her at home. It was exhausting. She was frustrated, I was frustrated. I continued hearing, just work with her more. How much more?! She would tell me she didn't feel good every morning because she didn't want to go to school. My heart was breaking for her. This continued year after year. Every year I brought up dyslexia and every year I felt like the teachers were looking at me like I was crazy. Being a single mom I already felt at a disadvantage because I didn't have anyone to discuss this with. I didn't have another parent to fight the fight with me. To make me NOT feel crazy and like maybe I didn't know what I am talking about. I also didn't have the parent that had struggled with this and could help me understand.

Finally I had had enough. I knew what was happening wasn't "normal". I never went through school like this. I also knew dyslexia was probably the cause. I had gone to school for school counseling and never did I learn about dyslexia. Why? I finally decided to dedicate time to understand dyslexia and what it really is. Anyone that knows me knows I throw my heart and soul into doing something if it is something that interests me or I think is important. I want to know and learn everything about it. I spent months researching and reading books. Looking up articles and trying to understand. Things that I didn't even think could be related to dyslexia were finally explained. My child not knowing left from right, days of the week, yesterday and tomorrow, getting lost, saying words wrong after constantly being corrected, rhyming, stuttering, the list goes on and on. Reading about dyslexia was like reading about Lily. From dyslexia I learned about dyscalculia and this explained her even more. I also learned why the school would never pursue it and kept pushing it off...they didn't want to deal with it and it is listed as a medical condition so they don't have to. They won't even test for it in the State of Michigan. I would need to do a private neuropsych test to confirm what I already knew probably costing in the thousands of dollars. Most schools aren't equipped or providing services that are even appropriate. I realized that unless I helped her she wouldn't get help. I researched what would help and discovered the Barton Reading Program an Orton Gillingham based program. We started it right away and within a short time I was seeing improvements. Years and thousands of dollars in tutoring later and finally something was working. To think if someone would have put us on this path in the beginning maybe I wouldn't have a child that hates school and would be farther ahead.

I had a teacher during this time that agreed with me (first time) and understood my frustrations. She fought for help in the school. For the first time I didn't feel alone. I had her tested for learning disabilities and she didn't qualify for services...she didn't even come close to qualifying or being at a level she could be retested. Even to get the initial testing was a fight. They tried to just "accommodate" in the classroom and observe her. I sat in the meeting by myself with the panel of school professionals and explained dyslexia while they all just kind of looked at me.  Again I was questioning myself. Is there a downfall to this? Am I wrong about this? Again I was feeling alone. She was now in the bottom percent in state testing. This was also explained through my research, many kids are at the top when they enter school because the computer reads the problems to them and as they get older they have to read it. Most of these kids are intelligent and can answer if it is read to them. This was also the answer I received year after year of asking if holding her back would help, she is smart and would be bored. With the constant pursue from her teacher and her state scores the school finally tested her for a specific learning disability...reading...and she qualified. She is finally receiving services at school and at home. The child who hated reading read 40 pages in a book to me last night.

As a parent it is so hard to watch your child struggle, but as a single parent you don't have the other person willing to fight for your child just as hard as you. You don't have the help when they are frustrated and you are frustrated because they are frustrated. You don't have that shoulder to cry on when you are watching your child constantly feel beat down and have to go someplace day after day that they hate and feel like a failure at. I do know though, that I feel that much more pride, that I didn't give up and continued to fight for what I knew was right. Sometimes I think why can't something be easy, but then I think it is because I can handle it.