Thursday, April 29, 2010

You can't scare me, I'm a mom.

You've seen the t-shirts, especially if you are on Triangle Mommies and let me tell you that is mostly true. As moms we take a stand and don't ever let the mama bear out of the cage that is just bad news on everyone's part. Moms aren't easily intimidated and we tend to know what's best for our kids. We pride ourselves on knowing what is best for our children.

But there is nothing like entering a room of "experts" that surround you and tell you what your child needs in a class room environment to make you second guess everything you thought you knew. If you don't have a child with an IEP consider yourself lucky. You don't have to put on the full set of armor to fight for your child. Kindergarten is an exciting time for kids who are typical. First, you get to talk a lot about it and they will ask questions and will be very excited. You worry a little but in the end typical johnny will be just fine, kindergarten is a milestone.

For those with special needs kids, kindergarten is especially scary. It sets the tone for the rest of their academic careers. Will the teachers understand his needs and meet them. Does the school really care about what's best for your child?Will the kids notice all of his quirks and still like him or will he be "that" kid that they avoid. Will they actually follow what is written in the golden IEP. Joshua is going to have a hard transition and really struggle for several months as he learns a new routine. I want to go hold his hand and help him through it like only a mommy can but I have to let go.

His IEP meeting was on Tuesday. I've spent the last few days processing everything that happens. It really is amazing how intimidated they make you feel when you sit down. I had a friend with us who was our parent advocate (she did a great job) and his current therapists and 4 people who did not know him from his new school. 12 people in total.  There were several times during the meeting that we were shouting (not really but you felt like it) he needs more resource time and he can't be pulled out you have to go in the classroom and work with him. In the end we compromised and ended the meeting with the understanding that 4 weeks into school we will be meeting again to review his IEP. LIke I've told many, I don't feel victorious but I don't feel defeated either. All I can do now is rely on God and know that he has it all under control and just trust that as long as I'm in there advocating Joshua will be okay.

His school is year round and he was placed on track 2. This is good for him there will never be more than 3 weeks out from school so less likely that he will regress. He will start school on July 9.  He has three weeks left of preschool. After that we will have 7 weeks together before our world changes forever. How quickly it does pass.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Just stay positive :P

Well, I'm a little over a week away from Joshua's big IEP meeting. We are transitioning out of preschool services and jumping into Kindergarten. Yes, that is right my sweet little baby will be starting kindergarten this year. I'm torn between excitement and nausea. If I think about it too much I get overwhelmed with nausea. How is it possible it is time for this. First off when he was born I looked ahead and figured out when he would start Kindergarten and it was 2011 not 2010. I decided that he would be held back the first year because he would be one of the younger ones and I wanted him to be older and more mature. I still feel this way! However, because Joshua has autism and relies on services through Wake County I am being forced to put him in Kindergarten this year, otherwise, no services. So here I am preparing for the inevitable my big boy starting kindergarten. It's scary I won't lie to you. I don't know how I'm going to handle it.

But the first step is the big IEP meeting. Two important things are going to happen that day, one we are going to figure out all the services he will get. Secondly I will finally find out what track he has been assigned too. We have a lot of plans made for the summer. They are all set up so if we need to cancel we can but I really don't want to cancel any of them. I am way too excited about them. So I am hoping for track 4.

I have a friend who is going to the meeting with me to help advocate for Joshua. She recommended that I prepare a positive profile on Joshua outlining his strengths. If for no other reason but to remind me of everything positive about him during the meeting because being in these meetings where deficits and negative things are discussed it can really bring you down.

Sounds easy enough huh. Well, I'm struggling. Some of the things I think of don't really mean much in the educational aspect.

For example, He's great at giving hugs and he is so cute in the morning when he first wakes up and forgets that he prefers to annoy his sister and instead talks sweetly to her and shares and really takes on the nice big brother role. Later in the day, he remembers that torturing her is so much more fun. :)

He is adorable when he gets excited over something and starts flapping his hands. Which reminds me, I just ordered a shirt for him that says "I get flappy when I am happy" I can't wait for it to get here.

So here I am trying to htink of his positive things like problem solving and how well he does with puzzles. His pretend play is emerging, he was walking around some patches of dirt that matt recently spread grass seed on and I asked him what he was doing and he said he was "pretending to water the grass!" He is initiating more conversations with his peers and you can see in his eyes that he loves his friends and tries so hard. I'm actually going to have to rely on other poeple to actually  help me with this profile because they see things I don't. I'm not sure why but they do. I guess I'm so caught up in the day to day struggles and trying to get through the afternoons where being locked out of my house is just part of the routine. I have learned to carry my keys with me. So always seeing his strengths is difficult.

For now,  all I can do is my best and hopefully that will be enough for Joshua to succeed.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Camping trip

Okay it's been a few weeks since I last blogged. I think about blogging. I even have funny stories in my head that I want to share but by the end of the day after I pulled out my last hair and got the kids to bed and the laundry done, the kitchen cleaned and the house back to normal I can't for the life of me remember what was so funny.

Matt and I love tent camping. We used to go all the time when we lived in Maine. We have really cool gear from L.L. Beans and awesome gadgets and stuff. We like to rough it to an extent. As long as there are bathrooms and showers withing 500 ft of me then that's all I need. Oh, and a cooler with lots of food and snacks. Flashlights are good too so I need those as well. Marshmallows and hot dogs. Lots of blankets and warm clothes and fire wood for the fire. Oh yeah those little metal sticks to use for roasting said marshmallows and hot dogs. And comfy chairs to sit in by the fire.  Oh wait, I need my Iphone, books, music, and air mattress. Okay, that's all I need, really. (I'm sure I'm forgetting something ;) ).

So we set off this weekend for our first camping trip with Joshua and Emily. We went last year but it was a disaster for several reasons so we'll call this our first official camping trip with the kids.

Here's how it went. We got to the camp site and Matt fixed up the camp while the kids played nicely together and we all sang Kumbaya by the campfire and roasted marshmallows and stayed clean. Nobody fought and everybody did exactly as they were supposed too. The kids sat at the picnic table entertaining themselves while me and Matt relaxed by the fire having nice conversations and listened to soft music and the sounds of nature all around us and we all just soaked it in. 8pm came and it was time to gather the munchkins for bed and they hopped happily to the tent and put on their pajamas and went right to sleep. Such angels. Matt and I sat by the fire and shared a romantic evening together. It was beautiful. We climbed into the tent after the fire went out and crawled into our snug sleeping bags and cozily slept until 7am the next morning. The best sleep evar.........okay....wait....who's writing this bullshit? Oh my bad....that's HOW I PICTURED IT IN MY HEAD BEFOREHAND. :)

The reality of the situation was we had a lot of fun but it was exhausting and a lot of work. The kids did fairly well although I thought I was going to strangle Matt every time he told them to stop doing something or not to get dirty. Hello, woods + kids = dirty....get over it sweety. 

Most of the evening was spent reminding the kids to stay away from the fire....joshua you're too close....emily what did we just say. The fire is hot get away. Sigh....repeat.  The kids were exhausted and went to sleep pretty easily on Friday night. Matt and I stayed up until about 10 and then crawled into the tent. The kids slept on pallets on either side of our air mattress. Hey they are little they can rough it ;). Matt and I have really really nice sleeping bags that are rated for -15 degrees. I have come to a realization (although matt says he was quite comfortable and even sweaty at times during the night) that these temp ratings only mean that if it is cold out and above -15 you won't die, you may still be cold, it's not gonna feel like you're sitting by a fire but hey you're not gonna die of a little cold right. Ugh. So the whole night I was freezing.  I was all cocooned in my mummy bag and shivered most of the night. I was worried about the kids although they had lots of blankets and stuff on them and Joshua slept like a log. Emily got up at some point during hte night and snuggled into daddy's sleeping bag which was all nice and toasty. (note to self-lose weight so I can fit into Matt's sleeping bag too for next trip).  I woke up every hour counting down to the time the sun would rise again.

The problem with me and being cold through the night is it makes me have to pee. Right here Right now I will tell you at 2 am in 40 degree weather I was praying really hard for a penis. Men are so freaking lucky.  I held off for as long as I could and around 2:30am I couldn't hold it anymore and had to get out of the tent and walk the 500 feet (felt like a mile but it wasn't too far up the road) to the bathrooms.  I stumbled through the darkness to the restrooms and walked in. OOOOOOOHHHH....the bathrooms are heated.....the thoughts that ran through my head at that moment. How wrong would it be to grab my sleeping bag and camp out in here......okay gross but the thought did cross my mind ;). Like I said it was freaking cold. I do my business and sit there for a few minutes thinking about the cold walk back and reminding myself that no you can't stay here all night. I get back to the tent and suffer through the next few hours. Finally, it's time to get up. We survived the first night. I thought for sure we'd give up and pack up a few hours later and leave but nope we persevered.

Saturday was a great day. It was absolutely beautiful out. The reason we planned our trip this weekend was to coincide with an event held at Camp Royall, a campground owned by the Autism Society of North Carolina. They were having a family fun day for families who have kids on the spectrum. They had a bbq, open gymnasium with all kinds of games and activities, an art center, a zip line for the kids, hayrides, and more. Can I just say right now that I think the NC Autism Society is awesome and do a fantastic job supporting families in the area. They host summer camps at Camp Royall every year for kids on the spectrum. It is expensive but it's 5 nights with a 1:1, 1:2 ratio for the campers and although Joshua actually is old enough this year, he's still too young in my eyes to send him off overnight for a week although tempting. So now I day dream of the day when that will happen, plus I need to start my piggy bank fund so I can afford to send him there. He had so much fun doing the games. The zip line was awesome and both Emily and Joshua rode on that. The only part he hated was when we went to the campfire sing along. He doesn't like singing songs. Oh well. They are hosting it again next month so we are going to do this whole camping experience over again.

That afternoon we headed back to our camp site and got the kids in their swim suits and headed to the beach. The weather was perfect. The kids had fun and loved it. We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows and hung out around the campfire and it was nice. That night I stayed a bit warmer and I had matt help me really cocoon myself in my sleeping bag and cinch (is that a word) the head part and zip it as high as it went. I was completely buried inside the sleeping bag. I even lasted until about 4:30am before I had to pee and the only problem was I couldn't get out of the bag. I was in there really good. Finally after wrestling with it and flopping around like a fish out of water I was able to get out. Although I stayed warmer that night I was happy when Matt got out of bed first with Emily and started a fire. By the time I got out of the tent Matt had a wonderful fire going. :) I sat by the fire until about 10am before I was warm enough to move around to help pack up camp. Matt got motivated to pack up around the same time but his motivation was his Iphone battery died. Guess that signaled the end of our camping trip. ;).

We had a good time and lots of good memories and we are crazy enough that we are going to go back next month and do it over again.