Sunday, January 30, 2011

Vintage Sunday

This is amongst many reasons Luke will need donations toward future therapy bills...notice the different sets of jammies...I entertained myself quite a few days with this orange soccer headband.
Luke will be starting basketball soon. I may need to bust this headband out again...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Include Me

A few weeks ago, I posted about Ella's inclusion classroom. I got quite a few good responses but particularly enjoyed this one from an anonymous friend. Want to read it? Here it goes:

Way back in the late 70's, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, my mom signed me up for my only preschool experience. It was a research study through OSU that was (I think) part of the beginning of the inclusion classroom movement. In my class there were deaf children, blind children, kids with various developmental and learning disabilities, and the 4 'normal' kids. (imagine that - ME a normal kid!) I remember being paired with different kids for specific tasks. I remember enjoying my time with the deaf children very much. My best friend was Joel. He had Down's syndrome, and I loved him. We laughed a lot, as 4 year olds will do. I remember helping him with climbing on the jungle gyms and following directions. I remember him helping me to draw; he made the most amazing pictures! He could draw anything I asked him to draw. Though I don't know what ever happened to Joel, I still have some of his artwork.
The lessons that I learned over those 2 quarters of preschool when I was 4 years old I still carry with me:

If I can help people, I should. Plus, I like to.
Everyone comes to life with their own set of talents and needs - even me.
We are all in this life together, and we all can make it through if we remember that.

31 years later, I am a nurse. Some of my dearest patients have been Down's / deaf. I am not afraid of the communication barriers or the behavior. I always volunteer to take care of them and I consider it a privilege.

Ella is a sweet kid, and she is extremely intelligent. The lessons about unconditional love for people that she learns in her current educational environment will serve her well for the rest of her life. This experience will teach her things she may not fully grasp for a long time. That's okay. She will use them anyway.

I picked up Ella from school the other day. She was jumping up and down and bursting at the seams to tell me about Jason* who had gotten a green card that day. A green card is the best you can get for behavior in the classroom. Jason had never ever gotten a green card for behavior and he is the child with the most limitations in the classroom. She said he was so happy and clapping and said he was going to tell his Mom and Dad when he got home. I asked her if she told him he did a good job. She said the entire class cheered and clapped for him and gave him a group hug.

Too sweet. Me likey.

*Names always are changed unless I know the parent/kid enough to know they wouldn't mind being blogged about

Need a good cry? View the video. Not sure what you're watching? Wait until he takes his helmet off at :47

Our friend, Hannah, has no more pain

She was bold.
She was unashamed.
She told her story.

May she also rest in peace.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Diff'rent Strokes For Diff'rent Folks

Meticulously sorting her beads...
Protecting the beads...
(sound it out) "Sin sr le" protecting the sharing here...

I had a request recently from a friend asking for posts about techniques I use with the kids (you know, the ones that don't include me screaming "Grow up! You're acting like a child!" and "You make Mommy want to drink!" and "Is it time for me to go to work yet?!" and, well, you get the picture.) Here goes.

Sharing is a hard concept for kids. Heck, it's a hard concept for some adults--who am I kidding. I used different techniques for both of the children because I've found that they have two very different personalities. With Ella, I can appeal to her innate sense of right and wrong. She's definitely a play-by-the-rules kinda gal and has a pretty black and white view of what to do. From the time she was very little, I could reason with her when something like sharing was expected from her. I would sit her down, explain that "sharing is caring" and that this was something she needed to do. She would nod her affirmation of understanding my request and the exchange of goods would be completed because she knew it was the right thing to do. I realized this was a unique feature to Ella when my friends threatened to slash my tires and spit in my food if I didn't shut up about it. She's always been very in tune with the needs of others even to this day. Each day when she goes to school, she wears 2 pairs of gloves. Is it because her hands are cold? Nope. It's because she wants to be the girl that has an extra pair at recess for the child that forgot theirs at home.

When Luke came along, he had a different view of sharing. It involved more of what I would term "crying," screaming "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!," and falling over in true drama queen fashion. Toddlers and Tiaras had nothing on this kid. If I tried to sit him down as I had with Ella, he would politely nod and act as if he understood. Once back to the situation, he acted like we had just discussed the price of tofu at the grocery because there was no sharing, no caring, and this resulted in much crying (mostly mine).

Around the time that he was 2 1/2 or 3, I retreated from the previous "sharing is required" policy with Luke and developed a new and improved technique. This included telling him that he didn't have to share anything he didn't want to.


Before you grab your pitchfork, torches, and mob mentality, listen to the rest of it.

New policy went a little something like this: He didn't have to share anything he didn't want to share but everything had consequences. With food, I would start out giving him small portions of things like chips. He didn't have to share his chips with Ella but if he didn't share, he would not get any additional bites of it for himself. No seconds, not "just one more" apple slice, not even one more itty bitty piece of popcorn. Yes, there were plenty of screams of "WHOLE ONE! I WANT A WHOLE ONE!" when he couldn't have more than one piece of an apple. If he wouldn't share a truck, that was fine by me but he would have to play in another room away from everyone else. Somehow this worked for Luke's personality. I think it allowed him to feel like he had the tiniest bit of control which is very central to his personality. I was very clear each time we ran into this issue that in no way was I requiring him to share anything with anyone but that there were consequences for his actions. When he was old enough, I would make him repeat back to me in his own words why he couldn't have any more of a particular food or why he had to play in another room. I wanted to make sure he understood that I wasn't being mean to him but that what was happening was a direct result of his own choices. For a social child like Luke, playing in another room was torture.

I recently explained this policy to another Mom at Ella's ballet class and felt very judged by her. The look on her face was of utter disbelief that I wouldn't just punish my kid into submission or physically force him to share by taking away what he already had. But think about how you feel as an adult when someone takes something away from you. Your boss take away your bonus? No more raises? Corner office downsized into a cubicle? It pisses you off and makes your judgment cloudy, right?
What do you all think about this? Quirky? Stupid? Right on?
Disclaimer: I'm not saying that either of these techniques are the only ones to follow. The thing I'm trying to get across is that sometimes you have to guide the rules to be most appropriate to each child. Or just say to heck with it and drink the rest of that big bottle of wine.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Happy Campers

I decided to invite Myles and Chase over last night for a little impromtu living room sleepover. Add one tent and you've got a lot of happy kids. See also below...

Start by pulling up some Netflix on the Wii....
Add a little fire in the fireplace for that authentic camping experience...

Stuff the tent to the brim with pillows, stuffed animals, blankets and kids...


Monday, January 17, 2011

Vintage Monday...

Jinjyfest 2011

We had our final round of gingerbread house making this weekend at our house. It was a reunion of some college friends plus some new ones.

Here is my friend, Daryle (think this one's bad, Monty? Just be thankful I didn't get out the ashtray pictures, baby.). He did a lot of watching of football in the living room with Aron in lieu of gingerbread house making but that's ok. We'll still invite him back next year....or at least invite back his lovely wife, Jennifer, and their darling daughter, Breonna.
Here are our new buddies, Arlene, and her son, Vincent. Vincent quickly learned the most important lesson in making a gingerbread house: Make your Mom be labor and you be management. It works well for Ella. Luke watched the festivities and ate more than he actually participated.
Ella with her bud, Auntie T.

Breonna with her Mom (seriously, couldn't you just squeeze on those little cheeks?!)

Frosting covered fingers +Ella+Tori=2 happy chicas

Vincent smeared together some frosting and sugar thus making a nice little sugar scrub for his hands. We told him he had a future in spa ownership. He thought we were crazy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Prayers needed

Hannah took this darling pic of Luke when she was his teacher at our church's VBS this summer.

Prayers needed for my friend, Hannah. Luke was lucky enough to have her for his teacher for our church's vacation bible school this past summer. She has had a recent recurrence of cancer and our hearts are with her.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I...don't care....what my teacher's think...I'm gonna be a supermodel...***

***Can anyone name the movie this song is from? Tori, I bet you can!

I took these a while ago and I love them but it kills me how out of focus he is. Stupid, crappy camera.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Baby, you're a firework...come on let your colors burst...***

***lyrics attributed to Katy Perry

I recently picked up the latest edition of the school newsletter. I don't normally read it very closely (bad parent) but for some reason I decided to read it from cover to cover (and not just look at the pictures). I saw a picture of 10 or so students from the elementary school with a tiny little Ella standing among them. I read the article that went along with the picture and it turns out Ella's artwork has been on display in the local art gallery for the entire month of December.

WHAT?! I just found out about the display on Friday of last week (12/31)! I called yesterday to see if they still had it up even though the exhibit was due to change on 12/31. As luck would have it, he had not changed the display yet and he said it was ok to come. I dropped by earlier today and took a few pictures.

I asked Ella if she knew what "Crayon Resist" was. She said she didn't know so I asked her about how she made the picture. She said she colored these flowers/leaves with crayon then used some type of watercolor paint on top of what she had already done.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

I resolve to (fill in the blank here)

I must say that I'm pretty darn proud of myself for sticking to my resolution last year. Almost all of my bath and body products are used up (with the exception of the newly acquired shampoos and conditioners courtesy of my mo-in-law's gift card). On the heels of this success, I'm going to set another goal (I hate the name resolution. It lends itself to being broken in less than 2 days for some reason) for myself. This year I'm going to eat at least 8 servings of fruits and veggies each day. By default, I'm hoping that the kids will do the same. As a family, we do a decent job of getting all of those servings in but I want to do even better.

What do you want to do different in 2011? VOTE NOW!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New blog

I just added a new blog to the side. It's a coworker/friend of mine who recently started writing about his kids. He adds an interesting perspective and first hand knowledge about raising 2 kids with special needs. It's definitely worth taking a moment to click into it and see what he has to say.

This topic has been specifically interesting to me as of late because Ella is in an inclusion classroom. If you're not familiar with this concept, it's a classroom that combines general education kids (like Ella) with special education kids. There are 4 kids in special ed and 14 kids in general ed in her classroom. At the very beginning of the year, Ella didn't think much of the fact that there were 2 teachers in her classroom and that some of the kids were assigned to one and some were assigned to another. Once the school year started trucking along, she began to pick up on differences between the two sets of kids. I don't think that she completely understands and I find it difficult to explain to her in terms that she can understand. There were probably some kids in her class in special ed last year when she was in kindergarten but the gap is much more pronounced this year because the kids are learning at such a rapid pace. Also, her inclusion classroom is a looping classroom. This means the entire class will stay together along with the same teacher for both first and second grade.

Does anyone have any input on how to help Ella understand differences in others? I'm looking for books I could read to her, books I could read, or another reference on how to deal with this topic. I googled to find kids books but most of what I found was either on Down's syndrome or autism. I want something a little more generalized than that.

Most importantly, I don't ever want her to be the kid that makes fun of others. Knowing her kind heart and sweet nature, I don't think this would ever be an issue but I want to address it before it becomes a issue. I'd love any advice on the topic.

Ellie Bellie Boo Boo

She's growing up. That's right, blog readers. She's growing up and there's nothing we can do about it. Me no likey. Me no likey at all.

I took her to the pediatrician's office the other day for her 7 year check up. She was 50# which is the 50% for her age and 4'1" which is the 70%. Translation is she's a little tall for her age at an average weight. Not quite sure how she has ended up on the tall side of the chart but if you ask Aron he'll tell you all about how he used to be tall, too.

While there, Ella also happened to have a cough and a bit of a cold. Whenever she gets a cough and cold, she wheezes when she breathes. The doctor had previously prescribed a Pro-Air albuterol inhaler to use as needed. For this visit, Dr. B listened a bit more to her lungs and decided to diagnose her with a mild, intermittent asthma based on what she heard and my description of her symptoms. Her right lung tends to wheeze more than the left.

Other than the breathing issue, Dr B said Ella looked wonderful. She asked about her development and her school. I told her she was doing great and is even the best reader in her class. Her artwork was also featured in a local art gallery along with 10 or so other kids from her school. She's doing so well and we couldn't be more proud of her.

Super fun

We were lucky enough to get to hang out with quite a few people over our Christmas break. Among those people, were our friend Jenny and her son, Tommy (you may remember them from posts such as this one) and our friend, Steve. I don't think that Steve has been to our house since 2006 (view this post) when he was in the process of moving to San Jose. He recently moved to Phoenix and he decided to visit once again (must be something about moving that makes him want to see us). He continues to think that loud and annoying presents are fun. I think it's more fun to accidentally stomp on these loud and annoying toys to kill them.

While they were here, there was a lot of goofing around and jumping on the couch cushions.

Yup, that's Steve...
My kids showed Tommy how to rip all the cushions off the couch and jump around, jump around, jump up, jump up and get down...
"...and then you toss the cushions on the floor, Little Tommy..."
"...and jump around like crazy..."

See that blur? Yup. Tommy.

My dainty little flower getting ready to jump...