Sunday, September 14, 2014

Crazy start to our school year!

There's no other way to describe it but crazy.  Then again, most everything related to our family could be described as crazy!

We took a few mini vacations this summer, the latest being the week before school started.  This also happened to be the week of Teacher Orientation, which meant that I missed a couple of much-needed prep days.  I had gone in for a couple of half days to find out how many students were on my roster and see if I needed more desks/chairs.  Turns out, I had 17 students signed up!  Seventeen!!!  The most I'd ever had in one class before was 11 students!  Katie and I spent some time getting extra desks and chairs out of the storage container, then snagging desks and chairs from other classrooms too.  Finally, I had 17 desks and chairs to fit.

Then, of course, I had another student sign up.  Now I had to find another desk and chair!  And I was getting uptight because I didn't have any decorations on the walls.  And I hadn't put together any lesson plans for the first few weeks of school.  And I still needed to put nameplates on the students' desks.  And then I had a student withdraw but then got a new student added.  And, and, and!  I was getting more stressed as the time ticked down to the start of school.  Thank God for my Katie and Ashley who helped me decorate the classroom, pull out quizzes and tests for the first few subjects, track down last-minute desks and chairs, and generally did anything I asked of them!  What a blessing those two have been!

Of course, getting ready to start school and actually conducting a class with a million students are two different things.  I found myself in the first two weeks getting farther and farther behind in my lesson plans.  We didn't have science for nearly a week!  Even with Katie as my teacher's assistant, there was a mountain of grading to do each day, and it seemed like we finished each day with a line of students at my desk so I could check their homework slips while parents lined up outside the door to collect their children.  At least five times each day I found myself repeating the mantra, "I can't keep doing this.  I've got to find a better way."

Thank God for procedures and routines!  It took a lot of discipline on my part and tons of prayer, but by the middle of the third week of school, things finally jelled.  By now, the students knew what to do as soon as they entered the classrom; they knew how to set up their papers; they knew what classwork they could start on without waiting for me to teach that subject.  We finished reviewing the cursive alphabet which meant I could assign each day's work for the students to do on their own.  We even had a forty-minute block after art on Thursday in which to catch up on science!  I had to shift the first science test (scheduled originally for last Friday) to tomorrow, but, other than that, we are all caught up.  Praise the Lord!

Our children seem to be having a good start to the school year as well.  Amanda is taking a break from classes right now.  She moved out of the dorms and into the house of a friend and her family; the mom instantly began treating her like one of her own kids!  Mandie might be able to take some classes in the spring, but until then she'll work and get caught up on bills.  Katie, being a senior this year, is excited to only have a few classes, giving her extra time to work with me and help other teachers as well.  Ashley is enjoying no longer being a lowly seventh grader; she's gotten pretty good grades so far.  Emily has the best teacher in the whole world this!  I am excited to have my youngest in my class.  She's done a great job, too, of being a student in my class, not my daughter; she even remembers to call me "Mrs. Ostrander" instead of "Mom."  And Dale is doing really well.  He's gotten good grades on quizzes and tests so far and seems to be thriving at his PACE work.  Again, praise the Lord!

The end of July, we were able to get in to see Dale's neurologist.  Chad got to go this time too.  As always, the doctor was amazed at Dale's condition.  We always ask, "What comes next?  What can we expect?"  And he always answers, "I really couldn't tell you.....we just don't get many cases like Dale's!"  Dale continues to be a miracle case, but we know it's all God.  The doctor ordered another EEG since the last one on record was from December 2011.  That was scheduled for the second week of August, and it went well.  When the doctor got the results, he told us the EEG was clean---no sign of seizure activity.  So the doctor told us to start backing Dale off his anti-seizure meds.  We did this for about four weeks with no sign of difficulty and then BAM!  Out of the blue, Dale had a seizure.  Right at the end of school Wednesday.  His poor teacher was scared half to death!  I'm so thankful she was with him and that there were no other students in the room at the time.  She stayed with Dale until the seizure ended and then got help.  From her report, it seems like the seizure was of normal length and with normal occurrences (arms drawn up---posturing; abnormal breathing---he sounds like he's pulling in short, sharp gasps; inability to talk).  Dale did bite his tongue in two places during the seizure, but he's fine now.  Our preacher came and got me; by the time I got there, Dale had begun the loud crying that signifies he realizes he's coming out of a seizure and hates that it happened again.  He told me later he was hoping the seizure was just a dream.  It took a bit longer for him to regain the ability to hold his head up and such; but only a bit, and it had been a while since his body had dealt with a seizure, so I imagine he was extra drained from the experience.  By the time we got home, Dale had regained the ability to walk, so he was able to get into the house just fine.  I made sure he rested for a good while before resuming normal activities.  He even went to church that night!  He's shown no sign of adverse side effects since the seizure, and we're back to a regular dosage of pills.  Life continues......

This was an extra-long post, but it's been extra-long since the last one so there was more to tell.  Thank you so much for each of your prayers.  To anyone but the most hardhearted athiest, it is obvious that God not only cares about each of us but also knows what it best for us.  Thank You, Lord, for Your blessings on our lives, even when we sin, even when we fail You, even when we're too busy doing our daily thing to even see Your marvelous hand at work.  Thank You.

Isaiah 60: 19 - 20  "The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee:  but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.  Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself:  for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended."