Thursday, January 19, 2017

Adjusting with a new baby

Well, the new baby isn't so new anymore - she 7 months old and thisclose to crawling! But when something (or several things) changes so dramatically, it can take a little while to find your feet again.

For example, sweet little Charlotte was born in June. Having a breastfed baby along for things isn't so bad, but it does reduce available hands.

Instead of regular homeschooling this year, I switched Daniel to a public cyber charter school, because at the 6th grade level I was beginning to feel unequal to teaching all his subjects. We went with Commonwealth Cyber Academy (CCA), and they provide a laptop, curriculum, and teachers free of charge, and send an internet reimbursement check quarterly. However, there's a learning curve with any new software, and a further curve when you've been freewheeling for three years and now there's daily accountability checks. Good, but new challenges.

Catherine started the year in the local public high school, but due to the depression, self harm urges, and anxiety she's been fighting, she came to me and asked to transfer to the cyber school as well. She explained that while she loves being around friends, she really needed me to be present to monitor her behavior for now. God bless her for being mature enough to make that call! And she has been doing much better recently, for all those wondering - medications, therapy, prayer, and support are all clearly helping. I love having all the kids at home, but having them home and having to get them through their work while figuring out how to keep the house from being a pit? You guessed it - another challenge.

Daniel got his official autism diagnosis three months ago. We weren't surprised, but it's nice to have the diagnosis, because now we qualify for so much in the way of programs and help. We've enrolled him in an after-school program Tuesdays and Thursdays (they feed him dinner and provide transportation, thank goodness) to help him with processing problems and social skills.

Because Cathy is home full time but remains a social creature, we've had to step up our extra-curriculars. She participates in drama club at the high school on Tuesdays, we've added a Tuesday morning karate class with other homeschoolers, she gets academic help at a drop-in center in Midtown Harrisburg through the week, and meets with a teen social support group on Wednesday evenings.

Thanks to Gram, little Tristan (who's 4 now!) goes to preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the afternoon. With Daniel in the after school program, Tristan in preschool, Daniel and Cathy in karate, and Cathy in her programs, Tuesdays are my day where I feel like we just spin our wheels and get nothing accomplished. Thankfully Gram often drives Tristan to and from preschool, or I'd just buy a wi-fi hotspot and a microwave for the van and we would live there on Tuesdays. Also thankfully, our therapy team for Catherine comes to us at home when we have time, which saves my patootie.
When we finish this level of therapy I think we're going to get a case management worker for one or both of the older kids - a CM can help with setting and transporting to appointments and making sure the paperwork is kept up so nothing falls through the cracks. I wish I had one of these just to keep me on track!

Naturally, Charlotte goes everywhere and does everything with us, which up till now has been pretty easy. But since she'll be mobile in the next few months, everything is going to have to be re-calibrated again. She's been so easy - arm babies just smile, eat, and need diaper changes - mobile babies and toddlers need to be entertained, exercised, and naps may not just "happen" anymore.

Jake just got a new job that pays a bit better and will guarantee daytime hours instead of moving him to a night shift! It also means he works a M-F 8 hour day schedule now, whereas before he worked Wed - Sat, 10 hour days. It's nice to have him on the guaranteed schedule, but I used to schedule my appointments on Monday because he was home, and Tuesdays were a little easier because we could divide and conquer with the kids. Now I rely on Gram for the Tuesday help more than ever!

Clearly if I would take some time and plan my week out along with meals, I would fare a lot better. But up until lately I've been in survival mode, getting through each day with the help of God, relatives, Jake, and stress-relievers like novels and red wine (I'll admit it). No, it's not ideal, but survival mode doesn't lend itself well to logic and good planning. And even the Outlander series doesn't last forever, so the stress relief has to change.

So, enter the bullet journal. I'm going to TRY to get a loose menu plan going, see what activities can be shifted to other days, and start re-baby-proofing the house. And Daniel's new bedroom should be done in a month (Cathy's is done, finally, and we moved her in right around Christmas). Reliving the crowding in the boys lives will help all of us mentally, and we'll be that much closer to getting the house ready to list so we can move to a nicer school district.

Oh, moving? That's another post. I have enough other baby steps before I worry about that.  ;)

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