First week of first grade

August 31st, 2017

These follow-up photos of Verity, with a couple extras thrown in, appear here in response to a request from a faithful blog reader.  <smile>


Verity solemnly examining a fairy garden at the Penn State Arboretum, which we visited while staying at our friends’ cabin in the mountains for a week recently.  Thank you to another blog reader for this suggestion!



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And here’s Verity at her locker on the first day of school.  I drove her to school the first two days while a seat belt was being installed in her bus.




This was at the end of the second day.  So far, she seems positive about the whole idea and hasn’t shown any resistance to going back.  There have been some kinks to work out, as one would expect from the first week of sending three somewhat complicated girls to three schools in two school districts with three different bus schedules!  But overall, a good beginning to this next phase of life.




And here’s the photo Laura captured that I forgot to include in my last post!

Sweet girl.


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9 Responses to “First week of first grade”

  1. KMT says:

    How do you do it? People ask me that all the time and I just tell them it’s not humanly possible, but something God is doing. But really, how do you do three kids in three schools? Did they all start on the same day? I would have had three starting in three different schools for the first time in the USA and I didn’t know how I’d possibly get all three to school or who to be with, so one went to school and the others are still homeschooled. Turned out, it was the only decision I could have made because the oldest didn’t get a bus worked out and in order to get her to school, I wouldn’t have been here to get the others on their bus, even if I’d wanted to.

    Are you still homeschooling your other kids?

  2. Kelly Sangree says:

    Why isn’t Verity allowed to rock? My adult autistic friends have explained that it’s very helpful to be allowed to stim as needed.

  3. Susanna says:

    Thanks for your question, Kelly. If you look at the comments to the previous blog post, titled, “Not Autism,” I give further explanation which may interest you. Verity would choose to spend nearly 100% of her waking hours stimming if we didn’t intervene. We cannot believe that would be developmentally healthy for her. And she responds well to intervention. She doesn’t stim to calm herself when she’s upset, she stims when she’s bored. It’s as if she can’t think of anything better to do, most likely because of her cognitive delays. It’s natural for most of us humans to gravitate toward the least challenging option, and that’s also what we observe Verity’s stimming to be. So…no worries; we provide plenty of opportunities for appropriate and enjoyable sensory input for her. :)

  4. Susanna says:

    KMT, you have a very challenging set of circumstances on your hands; much more challenging than mine. I have an enormous respect for you and my other single special needs mom friends. It’s so hard to know how to answer your questions, because our solutions and routine aren’t likely to be applicable to your household. We just had to come up with a system that works for us. Katie attends a classroom in a neighboring district, because ours doesn’t have a MDS classroom at the middle school level. She started two school days before Josie and Verity did. All three girls ride the bus. It is disruptive to our homeschooling day to handle it otherwise, and yes, we’re still homeschooling Jane, 15, John Michael, almost 12, Peter, 10 1/2, James, 10 1/2, Stephen, almost 9, and Ben, a very precocious 4 who is quickly learning to read and write. Eighteen-month-old Nathaniel still takes a long nap in the afternoon while Ben has a quiet rest time, and praise the Lord for that. :) The four boys all fell behind, some by as much as two years in some subjects, during the past several tumultuous years, but are nearly caught up. We’ve been accomplishing bare bones schooling over the summer and now are making strategic plans to begin adding in extra subjects.

    If you only consider the four walls of our house inward, our household is now as functional as it was before Verity was born more than 7 years ago (followed by the addition of five children over the next five-and-a-half years). Now our outdoor property, on the other hand, is still a wreck! We deliberately started homeschooling very early this year in order to buy time next spring to work outdoors while the three girls are still in school. So maybe a year from now, I’ll be able to say that we’re functional outdoors as well. :)

    Since the devastation wrought by Tommy’s life and death in our family, I have become much more aware and realistic. Out of that, I have been slowly and intentionally been rebuilding a life that’s as balanced and happy and healthy as possible. Joe and I have deliberately worked on or relinquished whatever conflicts with that goal. God has begun a new work in my husband and in our marriage as well, for which I thank Him with all my heart. I am no longer able to multitask as I formerly could, and that has felt like a disability at times, but I’m adapting. I have let SO many former ideals go, don’t try to accomplish all I used to, and deliberately let go of false guilt over it. I refuse to develop a martyr complex and allow resentment to grow. If someone offers to take something off my plate, I accept the help if at all possible and thank them. I’m protective of everything that keeps our family, our children, our marriage and me emotionally stable and healthy. Because I have experienced bouts of physical PTSD reactions to emotional shock, I avoid stressful situations and people when possible and put my heat shield up before encountering risky situations. I no longer allow myself or others to bully me with expectations or criticisms. I don’t care nearly as much about what other people think of me or our family. I know my limits and respect them and am much more tolerant of human error in myself and those around me. I am grateful to God for the level place we’re in and very content to embrace and make the most of where He has us right now.

    The outer changes we have made to reach a stable place are equalled by the inner changes He has wrought in us. Who knows what He has for us down the road? We’re open to it, and by His grace, we’ll be ready for it.

  5. Emily says:

    That was my suggestion–so glad you got to go! We were just there too. It would have been cool to run into you (although probably weird to you!) One of the most beautiful places I know, and so thoughtfully done!

  6. Emily, thank you so much for thinking to mention it! We enjoyed it all, but the children’s garden was really something!

  7. Missy says:

    I love seeing that bold dip of a toe in the lily pond! She is just amazing. I was so happy to read your response to KMT. Your thoughts and writing are a blessing to us.

  8. Cassandra says:

    It’s amazing to me how just seeing Verity in the school setting, makes her look more mature.

    The Verity with the umbrella picture is worthy of going on a canvas.

    Did I ever say this? I admit easily that I was slightly out of control with my daughter’s clothing. I don’t regret a thing. Many of those images are burned in my mind forever – I was able to execute outfits I had always dreamed of seeing my girl in. But then she rightfully started to make her own choices which lean toward tom-boy-ish. Such irony. I would practically get her any clothing item she wanted and she wants none of it. At least she looks with joy on how coordinated her outfits once were :).

    Three bus schedules, three schools, three girls – it can only go up from here!~

  9. Cassandra says:

    I just read your post to KMT, and to all of us. Bravo!
    The ways you have changed are evident even in your writing – your narratives.

    I’m just so sorry that this insight was so hard won. That always seems to be the way, doesn’t it? It’s good to hear you are less concerned with what others think of you because goodness knows, you must field a lot of opinions. It can be discouraging (understatement) to hear a well meaning person suggest maybe the kid who was adopted placed too much burden on “your own children.”

    I suppose we’ve all had it happen once, where we are stunned by a friend’s comment because you realize she never really considered your (0ur) adopted child as legitimate of a family member as the others. You think you know somebody, and that they know your heart and its aligned wth theirs. And then, BOOM! They make a comment that makes you realize she might consider your child a poor transaction, rather than a human worthy of being loved. I was once devastated by such a comment. Eventually I realized her comment spoke more about her than me.

    KMT – what sort of curriculum do you use for your special needs children? I’d love to hear. We also homeschool. It’s not easy. I say this without malice or regret but my special needs child has been more work than 10 typical children. I’m not exaggerating, either.

    Be well,

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