Friday, August 16, 2013

A Week of Grief & Relief

Our first complete week back to school! Except it wasn't - we took vacation on Thursday to celebrate with my mom what would have been my dad's 72nd birthday.  Even though school just started last Wednesday, it felt wonderful to take a vacation day that was entirely school free.  We have rarely done that.  Usually, Amber works on something in the car, or has something small to do in the morning before whatever fun event is planned.  Thursday, it was simply a no-school day.

Besides the vacation day, the week had a shaky start and I wasn't sure how things might progress.  Last Sunday Amber's remaining gerbil, Sunflower, died.  We knew she was getting old and recently recognized signs of her slowing down. Sunday morning it became apparent that she would not survive the day.  Fred decided Amber should not be home for the passing, and we left in the early afternoon for lunch.  Before leaving I cracked sunflower seeds and hand fed them to Sunflower along with dribbling water into her mouth.  We all took turns petting her and making her feel at ease, since she could no longer open her eyes.  Sun-Sun settled down to die and we left her in peace.

Amber took the death very hard and cried much of Sunday night prompting me to throw out most of Monday's school plans.  We had school lessons on Monday, but after a very late start and only some of the most basic subjects.  Fred and I are extremely proud of Amber for talking about her feelings and actually crying.  It is something she worked hard to be able to do.  Last summer when Sunflower's sister, Pipsqueak, died it was part of a set of traumatic events that led to Amber repressing all emotion.  Pip died the same day as my father, Amber's beloved grandpa.  Needless to say, we were concerned how she would handle Sun's death.

Happy pictures of pets.
(Left) One of these items does not match.  Biscotti might think he is a pony.
(Top-R) Rosetta and Milori are rarely apart, and always adorable.
(Bottom-R) Biscotti is defending the doorway to my bedroom, his special domain.  No kittens allowed.  (And the harness means he was recently less than civil to a kitten and had to be restrained on the leash.  They aren't yet always a happy kitty family)

By Tuesday, Amber was still sad, but in her words "I can carry on now."  Hooray!  We managed to progress through all of our scheduled lessons the remainder of the week, although we didn't stick to the schedule a single day.  I have found that if Amber needs to sleep late it is best to let her.  We also noticed that Amber has a much better attitude when we keep the extended lunchtime break in the schedule, even if school started only 90 before that break.  Yes, it means we don't catch up to the schedule and need to school later into the afternoon.  However, that free time around lunch makes a world of difference in our whole day.

Literature remains Amber's current favorite subject, followed by religion and ancient history.  Biology got a boost this week with a crystal growing lab.  I am tickled pink that I remembered we had a crystal growing kit sitting in our "rainy day, fun projects" stash.  It made the experiment so much easier and cleaner.  Of course, I didn't take pictures of the setup, and the crystals are currently still growing.  Perhaps next week we will have proof that we can grow something in this house.

Amber has been greatly enjoying our discussions in religion and even happily worked on a creation project from Homeschool in the Woods' Old Testament Activity Pak.  I waffled if I was going to use this resource in ancient history or religion.  In the end, I decided to just use it wherever we needed a pick-me-up.  Amber was still feeling poorly early in the week, so I suggested the project instead of religion discussion.  Amber enjoyed making the creation booklet significantly more than expected.  

A sad and crummy feeling girl:
(Top-L) Working on her creation booklet
(Bottom-L) History in the kitchen with three lazy kitties, and a favorite stuffed animal
(Right) Crummy tummy means crawling up the stairs. 

For everyone who has been praying for Amber's health, we appreciate it.  This week we did finally see an improvement starting midweek.  Our weather has been unseasonably splendid the last couple of weeks and all sane people have been spending every possible second outdoors, except my child.  She actually refused multiple firm suggestions that she play (or read) outside. That all changed Wednesday when Amber asked if we could play outside after school.  Seriously, did she think I was going to say no?

We played catch, two-square, basketball, and blew bubbles.  I asked Amber what changed her mind about being outside and she replied "My tummy isn't as crummy today and I want to be in the sun."  I nearly cried.  Thursday, Amber reported that her tummy felt even better than the day before and she made it through the whole first week of dance without any problems.  I'd even go so far as to say she enjoyed the exercise at dance; she certainly was bubbly after pointe technique class.

Feeling Better?

(Top-L) Dance classes resumed!
(Bottom-L) Playing catch in the yard
(ignore the weed jungle behind us; the new builder is finally building (after 7 years) in the lot behind us, but hasn't mowed since April... they are building tiny houses too... mismatched subdivision now... whine)
(Right) One girl happy to be outside, and almost healthy looking!

It appears Amber's new medication kicked in and is doing the trick, yet we are still praying that she continues to improve and doesn't have any setbacks.  The next GI doctor appointment is Monday, and it can't come soon enough.

Next week also starts the remainder of Amber's activities: handbell choir and flute lessons.  It will be the real test of our lesson schedule to see if it can stand up under the pressure of making it to all the activities on time.  I'm sure there will be tweaking, but so far it has looked good.

We are hoping for a good weekend with time to celebrate more family birthdays and maybe see a movie.  Have a great weekend!

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  1. OH Praise God that she is feeling better this past week! So sorry about the death of her pet. Our cat is showing signs also... (16 yrs old). Not even sure how to prepare them...any suggestions? Enjoy the week and the SUN!

  2. I'm so sorry to hear about Sunflower, but it sounds like you made it through the week and Amber did WELL with her grief. What a sweet girl -- you are a GOOD mom, Christy.

    I always enjoy seeing what you're doing with Amber.

  3. I just found your blog, so I am new here.
    Sorry about the death of your cat. But I am glad about the improvements of grief in your daughter.

  4. So sorry about Sunflower! It's so sad to lose our beloved pets. Glad to hear that Amber is feeling a little better. As for the tiny houses- I want one. Actually I want two connected by a covered screened in deck so that Bethany will still thinks she's inside. She doesn't like to go outside much and I want to be out all day!

  5. Thank goodness for meds that are helping! What a blessing. So sorry about the loss of Sunflower. We are watching a rat and dog that seem to be nearing their ends. I have a feeling we will loose one of them in the next month (hopefully not both). We will continue to pray.
    Blessings, Dawn

  6. SO awesome to hear she's improving. Hopefully she'll keep heading in that direction.