Monday, December 31, 2012

Reflecting on 2012

Family Love & Laughter!
November 2012

It's natural (and, yes, a total cliche') to reflect on the previous year as we move on to the new one. Indeed, our family was truly blessed and endured natural changes.

The biggest change for our family was Ashley graduating from high school and starting college in Orlando, Florida this fall. We are so proud of her (straight A's her first semester!), but miss her terribly. Brielle really misses her big sister. It was a rough initial adjustment, but we've found a new routine.

We made several trips to Orlando to visit what eventually became Ashley's college campus. Brielle and I traveled to Washington state (twice to visit my parents). Brian, Brielle and I went to our hometown in Champaign, Illinois to go to my 25th high school reunion. Brian traveled to Shanghai, Germany, Brazil, Geneva and Poland (and Pennsylvania) for work. When he travels, Brielle loves sleepovers with Mom. Ashley went with friends to Panama City, Florida. But, mostly, we loved just being together at home!

Brielle now boasts that she is taller than me (only by an inch, at best) making Mom the shortest member of the family. Brielle got her braces off last May and now has a sparkling smile!  Brielle was (thankfully) healthy all year. Her only "medical event" was Botox injections in her salivary glands. Two months later, it seems to have only a small lasting effect -- very disappointing.

Brielle made great strides academically. She finally learned her basic addition and subtraction facts and is working with double digits. This is a HUGE success! She's been struggling with this skill for years and years making little or no progress, but this year, it's just clicked. And she accomplished this without much complaining or cheating (most of the time). She continues to do well in Social Studies, Reading and Language Arts. I have had the privilege of homeschooling Brielle the last three years and it has bonded us together in new and special ways. We had our biggest homeschooling adventure this spring when we spent a day without any technology. But, every day is an adventure together!

One very important part of homeschooling for Brielle is working on "life skills", those simple things that young people should learn to become independent (cooking, cleaning, laundry, money skills, shopping, etc.). Although Brielle will never become independent (live on her own without some assistance), we still focus on those skills. She's made big strides in this area this year, the most exciting was learning how to make her own breakfast from start to finish!

Brielle stayed busy playing baseball, participating on a cheerleading and dance squad, and started a new dance class. Special Olympics Bowling also just started up again. Of course, listening to music (and usually dancing along) or watching some of her favorite TV shows and movies is what she loves the most!

Life is an adventure in learning and I truly learn new things every day parenting and teaching a special needs teenager. I had several interesting insights this year. As she gets older, Brielle has new insights as well.

Brielle and Me
May 2012

My biggest accomplishment this year was finishing the rough draft of my book about our experiences with Brielle. I'm working on re-writes and hope to be done and looking for a publisher by early next summer.

One of my goals for 2012 was to start this blog dedicated to my experiences parenting Brielle. I hoped to keep up with regular posts. However, I've been slacking on in recent months. I plan to do much better with that and share information and insights that will, hopefully, help others. I am most proud of my post about the "R" Word and hope that it will be only one of many I can be proud of by this time next year.

It was a great 2012 for our family with very few disappointments or "bad times". I pray 2013 will be even more glorious!

Blessings to you and your family! I hope you'll follow my blog and comment if something strikes you. I love feedback!