Holiday Message 2018

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

We hope 2018 has treated you well and that you are looking forward to a joyful holiday season. The year has been great for us, but not without challenges. Here’s the summary of what’s been going on with The Ackers this year.

Music has continued to be a big part of our lives. Sarah stopped singing with the West Seattle Big Band in December 2017, but that didn’t mean she stopped singing. She went straight into singing in a big concert with the women’s ensemble from our church in January. She also performed in a trio, Trillium Soul, in November, to a full house. She still sings weekly with our church choir and joins Katie in the ukulele band. In September, Katie started taking music lessons with our church music director. She’s learning music theory, incorporating the piano, ukulele, and voice in each lesson. And, in October, she started playing the French horn in band at school.

Katie is our Renaissance girl. In addition to music, she loves science, writing, reading, baking, and basketball. Katie was fortunate to be asked to join a Girls on the Run afterschool program starting in March. She learned great interpersonal skills while training for a 5K two days a week. On May 20th, Katie and Ben ran in the official Girls on the Run 5k. They crossed the finish line with huge smiles on their faces!

In May, we took a trip to the Olympic National Park, staying in a cabin at Lake Crescent Lodge. We usually vacation with grandparent support, so we were pleased to know we could manage a successful vacation with a 2:2, parent to child ratio. We enjoyed Rialto Beach at sunset. The kids dug in the sand and played in the mud while Ben and Sarah took photos. We “hiked” through the Sol Duc Valley and the Hoh Rainforest. The rainforest was surprisingly dry and packed with tourists. We enjoyed a chilly boat tour of Lake Crescent. While the family time was wonderful, Ben and I delighted in a late-night dinner date at the lodge after the kids were in bed.

In May, we also had the exterior of our house painted. It was a big project. Repair work was needed to replace rotted trim on one side of the house, stone facade on another, and caulk between hardy planks that had shrunk all over the house.

The summer was full of camps for both kids. Kyle stuck to day camps and sports camps through the Y. He enjoyed the soccer and flag football camps the most. Katie’s camps were quite diverse – basketball, STEAM, musical theater resulting in a production of Oliver in which she played Dodger, baking at a cooking school, and overnight camp through the Y. Kyle spent a week at Camp Grandma Jennifer and both kids spent half a week at Camp Whit, with Sarah’s parents. Even though Ben had to spend half the time in Washington D.C., Camp Grandma and Camp Whit gave Sarah and Ben much needed “date days”.

In May, Ben was promoted to Vice President in his company, focusing on finance, business strategy, and innovation, following 21 years of employment. Along with helping to run the company, he also continues to work on several exciting projects. But, as is often the case, he is unable to share details.

Sarah continues to work as the Volunteer and Engagement Coordinator for our church. She helped to establish a knitting/crafting group that meets weekly and has thoroughly enjoyed getting back into cross-stitching. Sarah has struggled with pain and swelling in her knees for the past year. After trying physical therapy and acupuncture without sustainable results, she started working with a naturopath, a nutritionist, and a Rolfing therapist. She’s having improved overall health with an anti-inflammatory diet and supplements of magnesium and turmeric. The pain is still there, but much less than a year ago. Next up…getting back to exercising on a regular basis.

In September, the kids started back to school. Katie is in 4th grade and Kyle is in 1st grade. Katie loves that her curriculum included a novel writing month. Her initial 900 word goal has been blown out of the water. Her novel is up to 3,000 words as we write this message.

Kyle loves to play tag and hide-and-seek, especially the kind where the person hiding jumps out to scare the seeker. At school, he likes making new friends, playing on the playground, PE, and art. He played indoor soccer for the first time in the spring and seemed to enjoy it. He’s a great runner! He ran the most laps for his grade during his school’s annual jog-a-thon. He has incredible physical stamina (when he wants to). Beyond these things, life for Kyle this year has all been about assessments and interventions. In November 2017, Kyle’s kindergarten teacher told us that Kyle was not tracking academically like his peers. After meetings with the school administration in February and April, we decided to have Kyle assessed privately by a neurophysiologist to help us get a jump on understanding what was causing him to struggle. We are so thankful that we had the resources to get the assessment. We learned that Kyle is dyslexic, has a high level of anxiety, and ADHD–specifically inattentive type. We learned that his working memory, the part of short-term memory that is concerned with immediate conscious perceptual and linguistic processing, is severely impacted. In short, he is a bright kid with many layers of learning disabilities.

Knowing this information before the summer started, we were able to hire a tutor to work with him through the summer and have seen steady improvement. We worked through the fall with his school to create an individual education plan (IEP), which was finally put in place for him mid-November. Again, we were so thankful to have the resources to hire an advocate to help us understand dyslexia and ADHD and to navigate the special education system. She was invaluable. At the beginning of the summer, the only word he could spell was his first name and he could only name 6 letters by sight. Mid-November 2018, he was reading short, simple sentences and was able to name 20 letters by sight and could recall the sound of all but two letters. He is receiving special education services through the school and continues to have a tutor twice a week. He regularly brings tears to our eyes as he overcomes his learning disabilities.

We are looking forward to having Spencer, Kate, SJ, and Jennifer with us for the Christmas holiday. Decorating the house for a toddler again is a fun challenge! In 2019, we look forward to more basketball, music, tutoring, reading, vacations, and, hopefully. some plumbing improvements.

Sending you hope, love, peace, and joy,

Sarah, Ben, Katie & Kyle

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