Friday, April 19, 2013

National Organ & Tissue Donor Awareness Week: Meet Alexa!

April 21- 27, 2013 is Canada's National Organ & Tissue Donor Awareness Week.

We have our own experiences with being on the transplant list in 2011, but right now, in light of Donor Awareness Week, I want to introduce you to Alexa!

Alexa (age 4)  has Citrullinemia and is waiting for a liver transplant.
Alexa is 4 years old.  Isn't she adorable!?  She is on the liver transplant waiting list here in Ontario.  Similar to OTC (what my boys were affected with, and I am a carrier of), she has a urea cycle disorder called Citrullinemia. This means that her family needs to ensure she eats a very low protein diet and take specialized medicines and amino acids to ensure that ammonia toxicity does not happen.

Ammonia toxicity kills brain cells, and can result in catastrophic neurological damage.  It can also result in death, but we aren't talking about that right now!

For Alexa, getting a new liver would mean no longer having to worry about normal childhood illnesses and viruses such as colds, flu, chicken pox, etc causing permanent damage to her brain.  She has had a number of hospitalizations needing specialized medicines to bring down the ammonia levels when she contracts what would normally be mild illnesses for children.

Alexa is a Toronto Maple Leafs fan!

Alexa is from Toronto (see her Maple Leafs jersey!) I met her mom Shanna for dinner one night in the fall when I was visiting Toronto.  We talked the night away about transplant issues, urea cycle disorders, and low protein diets among other things!

In Ontario, you can sign up to be a donor by registering with Be A  Use my link here to register to support Alexa and in memory of our son Kyle.

To learn more about Alexa and her family, you can go to their blog:

Friday, April 5, 2013

Education Options We've Been Offered (Gifted vs French Immersion)

A couple of weeks ago, I received a phone call from the principal of another school in our area, wondering if our daughter might be interested in attending there next year.  She met the criteria for the gifted program, and she has a choice of staying within her own school and having a slightly adapted program, or switching schools into the gifted program.

The fact that she met the criteria was not a surprise to us.  Every teacher she has had over the years has commented that she probably fits into the "gifted" category.  My husband was in gifted as a kid, and I was always one point away from meeting the criteria, but instead, I skipped two grades (grade 1 and grade 8).

The gifted program in our city is very small.  It is currently one classroom of students ranging from grade 5 to grade 8.  They are sometimes broken up into grade level (5/6 vs 7/8), and for that reason there are 1.5 teachers designated towards this class. 

We went on a tour earlier this week, and I was blown away.  It seems fabulous.  Heck, *I* want to be in the class!  The 5/6 portion of the class only has 6 children.  One in grade 5 and the rest are in grade 6.  They were working on a Carmen San Diego type exercise. (None of the kids know Carmen San Diego, but the teacher being about my age knew that I would understand the reference.)

With world maps, atlases, and Netbooks on hand, the kids were working in pairs to figure out where they were going.  They had a list of about 15 countries, had to figure out where the countries were, then figure out what currency the country used, and then they had to convert a certain amount of the currency into Canadian dollars.  The teacher was helping one of the kids in writing down the answers for his work.

The class has some kids who are strictly "gifted", and others who meet the dual diagnosis of gifted and learning disabled.  You can be gifted in some areas, but learning disabled in others, which many people don't realize.

Our daughter joined one of the groups for about an hour working on this assignment.  She loved the class, and has decided she would like to switch to this school.

The one downfall to switching is that she will have to leave the French Immersion system as this program is only offered in English.  However, since my husband speaks French he can teach her.  Busing is provided, which is great, because if it wasn't offered we wouldn't be able to realistically get her to and from this school.

She could start at anytime, but I think we've decided to have her finish her year out, and have her start in September.