Face of hope

Face of hope
Courtesy: TIffany Kay Photography

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Let the Light Shine

The summer flew by quickly and there were lots of happenings! After we returned from our Nationals trip, we had some time at home to get things ready for school (yes, school.  It starts in early August here....which... is good.  By August and 10 weeks of summer, we are ready for it.. and it's way too hot to be outside!)  We made one more trip back up to the DC area to see my parents, my brother and his son and had a great time.

While we were there, the girls participated in another competition - this time it was the Nations Capital Feis.  We usually go back each year because it's near my family, and also the competition is put on by my Irish dance school I attended growing up, so it's fun to go back and see everyone.

My girls and me with my former dance teacher

When I say "the girls," this time I mean ALL my girls.  The feis had a special needs competition and so of course we signed Meagan up for it! She sits through so many countless hours of dance practices, shows, and other competitions, that it was definitely a great opportunity to let her be part of it all.  We weren't sure how she would do being up on a stage and with the loud music directly in her ear (she has a lot of sensory issues with louder noises) but she actually did great! It took her a little bit to get warmed up, but then she started kicking her legs, moving her feet, and at the end even did a cute bow.  The audience was wonderful and started clapping to help get her in the mood.  After she danced, she went with my husband to find her name on the results sheet and got her trophy! It was such a wonderful experience and a nice way to include siblings of dancers who may not have the same opportunities to do activities.  Again, the Irish dance community stepped up and made Meagan's day! We are so grateful for that.

Ready to go!

Finding her name

Kissing her trophy 

Once back home, it was time to get back to school! All the girls were very excited.  If you remember, we pulled them from their old school last November.  It was a midyear change, but they did great.  This year, they got to start with everyone on the first day which was exciting.  All the girls had a wonderful first week and love all their teachers.  I really can't say enough about this new experience for them - the teachers, the care and concern from the staff, and the organization and parental involvement is such a breath of fresh air.

All ready for back to school! 
(And yes, that's Dudley... he's still hanging on...)

Most of all the treatment of the children is amazing - as it should be at a school.  I have seen the girls transform, and most especially, Kaitlin, (who was the most damaged by her old school), realize that she is in fact smart and that she does love to learn. Just today, Kaitlin's teacher sent me the following picture.

The students had to write about their greatest gift ever received this year and Kaitlin wrote "To get into Mrs. S's class"..... To see this made my day.  I'm so happy she is in such a good environment with a teacher who actually loves her students and builds their confidence daily. It's a gift.

With back to school also came catching up on some "business" side of things.  Now that Meagan is starting to use her walker, we want to encourage her to do so whenever we can.  Because of this, it was finally time to go and get a Handicapped placard for the car.  Trying to have her navigate through busy parking lots just isn't safe - and since she can't go very far, by the time we would make it inside somewhere, she would be completely worn out.  We got Meagan's doctor's notes together and filled out the forms, and went to the county office where they issued her a tag.  She insisted on holding it, but we had a little problem when I wanted to hang it up in the car - she wouldn't give it back! Ha.... she said "No, M for Meagan!" when she saw the writing.  So, for that first ride home, Meagan held her placard the whole way. Once we got home, she finally let me have it to hang up.

As a gentle reminder, I want to use this opportunity to remind people to not abuse the handicapped parking spaces. If you park in these spaces even for a second to run in somewhere etc..., you could be blocking someone who really needs it.  In addition, if you are a caregiver like myself, don't use the sign when you are alone.  If Meagan is not with me, I do not use the handicapped spaces.  It is for HER, not me. It's not what it's meant for, and truly disrespectful to those who need it.  I only say this because I have seen this happen over and over again, including a few times now when I needed to park with Meagan.  Also, try to remember not everyone's disability is visible - there could be heart issues, or severe arthritis issues..etc..that bar people from walking long distances.  So while we shouldn't allow abuse of these special spaces, it's also important if someone has a placard to respect that, even if they look "normal."  We just don't know everyone's battles.  Thank you!

Another "business" item to check off was Meagan's follow up with Dr. R.... yep, you read that correctly... 'follow up.'  This was the first summer Meagan has been able to enjoy it with her family. The whole time.  No surgeries.  No hospital stays.  No ER visits.  And for the first time in many many months, she has finally made it to a regular follow up appointment.  She had another scan and an exam by Dr. R.... everything looked stable and she is released to not come back for a year.  A year.  We haven't even had 6 months without a surgery - so those were amazing words to hear! Of course we got a photo with her two most special doctors who have helped her through so much.  It is truly because of their innovation last year that she is able to function comfortably and have this long break from any issues.  We are so grateful to Dr. R and "Elsa" Blaire for their excellent care.

This has been quite a long update! I didn't do a great job keeping up with the blog towards the end of the summer, but those are actually refreshing words to write.  It means I was too busy keeping up with our girls and especially Meagan as she embarks on new things! Sometimes, no news is good news.  But even when there are no crises, surgeries, or hospital visits, any news about Megs and her zeal for life is good news.  So we share it, and hope it brings you as much joy as it has brought us. What she does or doesn't do really isn't important - because it is her special soul that makes her who she is...and the light that little soul gives the world is undeniably infectious. 

Meagan's post dancing interview :)