Saturday, June 30, 2012

Absentee Mommy

Well, that's not really true....more like Absentee Blogger.  It's just been one of those weeks.  Lots going on, but nothing to really talk about.

But we did start something new this week for Ballerina and Music Man.....swimming lessons.  Our neighboring community has a pool that we have joined.  Big Brother has joined the swim team and one of the swim team coaches offers swimming lessons (well, they both do, but we are going with the one who has more experience).  So, on Thursday, Ballerina had her first lesson and on Friday, Music Man had HIS turn.

Things didn't quite go the way I had pictured. I really didn't know what to expect, but I mentioned that what I was after was to teach them how to be safe in the water.  Ballerina didn't want to be in the lesson and, after the first 10 minutes, decided she had had enough (lesson was 30 minutes).  She really has no desire to learn to swim and the instructor was really at a loss about what to do.  Music Man's lesson the next day was a little different......he DOES have an interest in learning, but he really does his own thing.  She's not really sure what to do about either of them.

She has given me a book (which she is using this weekend) to try to figure out how to teach them since they really don't show much interest. She's really not sure we should be spending the money for these lessons because she doesn't know what they are going to get out of them.  So, I'm going to review the book and see if I can get some ideas.

But I've learned from experience that they don't always learn these things from me as well as they learn from a "teacher".  The lessons are $15 for each half hour lesson, so we are giving her $45/week for all 3 kids to get a lesson (Big Brother both NEEDS and WANTS them).  It's money that can definitely go towards other things and that's something to consider.  But it's important for them to learn.  And I want to see them joining the swim team next year (even if they aren't competitive) because I want them to be part of this "group".  And this team is INCREDIBLY supportive of it's members with disabilities.....we have several with ASD diagnoses or developmental delays who are apparent, and others whom I question if they have issues.  To be a part of a neighborhood group with that support will really be good for both of them.

So, I have some thinking to do.  And I need to do it before Thursday to make a decision whether these lessons should continue.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Big Boy

Yesterday, we tried an experiment......we tried to send Music Man to a camp day at The Little Gym.  Ballerina went last year and it was successful, but since Music Man wasn't potty trained, it wasn't an option.  Since he really doesn't like the classes there (unlike the other two), I didn't have much hope for him enjoying this experience, but I felt he deserved to try it.

He and Ballerina went together yesterday afternoon.  From 1:30 to 4:30, they were going to be there, without me or Big Brother, in our little experiment.  Things looked good when we left....they were both going into the gym and doing their "thing" -- we know Music Man really doesn't want any direct contact with people (except myself, Dad and his twin [and SOMETIMES Big Brother]) so when he isolated himself, I left just simply realizing "That's Music Man".....

The three hours past without a phone call.  So I knew that there wasn't any disasters going to pick them up (that would have warranted a phone call).  When we arrived, Big Brother and I saw Ballerina sitting with the group getting ready to leave for the day.  Music Man was no where to be seen, but he wasn't causing any trouble.  Then they showed me the moment.....

As I've written here before, Music Man's biggest problem with The Little Gym is the Air Track.  It's loud and a popular game and he just wants nothing to do with it.  He always leaves the gym when it comes out and he doesn't want to go back in until it's GONE.

Well, they pulled it out yesterday.  They were prepared for him to leave the gym and the puzzles were waiting for him in the lobby.  But he didn't leave.  He covered his ears and waited.  When it inflated, his ears were still covered.  Then the music turned back on and the ears were briefly uncovered.  Then he saw everyone jumping and he inched his way over.  Then, before anyone knew it, he had climbed on and ran across.  By the end, he jumped across about 6 times before it was time to put it away.

When we left, I asked if we should plan to give him more of the days we had purchased.  It was their feeling that he wouldn't do well going every day, but he should definitely come back.  So, while Ballerina is going Monday - Friday after ESY (Extended School Year) is done, Music Man will going Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

So, our experiment was a HUGE success!!!!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Time To Get Serious

I have tried several times to lose weight and get into shape.  Most of the times, I give up before I even start.  Sometimes I stick with it for a while, but get frustrated with the lack of progress.  Other times I see success but then see excuses to stop and I end up back where I started.

Something happened at the beginning of the month that made me realize that this has got to stop.  We went to Split Rock Resort in the Poconos for the weekend.  We took advantage of some of the on-site activities including an indoor water park.  The kids had a BLAST!  And they loved to go down the tall tunneled slides.

Unfortunately, those slides were 4 stories high.  They would all just run up the stairs without a second thought.  Me, well, I'd get up the first one fine and then the struggle would begin.  Especially when I was tired from doing this over and over and over again.  I found excuses so I could catch my breath after every trip, but that didn't always work -- Music Man figured out he can run up there again and again.  Thankfully, Big Brother recognized I needed a moment between trips and he helped to run interference, stopping Music Man from going up a third straight time.

That shouldn't be his job though.  At least not at this point.  Big Brother is 7 years old and he should be able to play as much as he can find the time.  It's MY job to keep Music Man from hurting himself and having fun.  So the time has come for me to do something.

I made a recent purchase from Amazon.  I bought Big Brother Lego Harry Potty (years 1-4) for the Wii and I bought myself The Biggest Loser for the Wii.  This is an exercise program that is designed to work for all fitness levels, all ages, all weights.....unlike some of the other games I've seen, I should be able to do this, at least at my own pace.

I am going to get into shape.  Who knows how far I will take this -- perhaps I will manage to run a 5K or something at some point (yeah, right!).  But no matter what, the time has come to get serious, and hopefully by writing this here, I will realize that I can't back out!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pre-K Graduation

Yesterday was the last day of school for all 3 of my kids.  For Big Brother and Ballerina, it went pretty much unnoticed -- just a normal day with an early dismissal.  But for Music Man, there was a Pre-K Graduation Ceremony.  The program he attends is called MPAC (Montgomery Primary Achievement Center) which is run by The ARC of Montgomery County (Association for Retarded Citizens).  This program has been in existence since 1957, but starting in 2010, the public school system created a program comparable to what this program offers, so this is the last graduation class of MPAC.

It was VERY nice and sweet.  There were about 12 children graduating to begin kindergarten next year.  Music Man came in with his classmates and stood against the backdrop to perform "Copy Cat" and "We'll All Go Traveling By" before being presented with their certificates.  Then they were all called up individually.

Music Man was the first person called who followed instructions -- stop on the podium and bow to the applauding audience.

After he received his certificate, he sat with me for a while and watched a slide show displaying him and his classmates this past school year.  It was very cute and the kids all had fun calling out their friends' names when their faces appeared on the screen.

We had a piece of cake before leaving and took a moment to take some pictures with his teachers.  He had an excellent year and will be seeing these teachers again next month for ESY (Extended School Year) before leaving for Elementary School next year.  But this was an amazing preschool experience for him.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

School Is Ending

We are rapidly approaching the end of another school year.  Tomorrow is the last day of school around here.  It's a half-day.  Music Man will be done after his pre-K graduation (around 11) and Ballerina and Big Brother will be in school until 12:30 before heading home.  Then I will have 2 kindergarteners and a 2nd grader.

It's funny, but blogging has helped me figure out our summer.  I was writing a guest post last week for Multiples and More (will likely be published in July) talking about the stressors of changing routines in an Autism household, and as I was writing it, I came up with a strategy to cope with it all.  Now that I have a plan, summer doesn't seem so scary.

You see, we need a schedule.  That schedule can change from day-to-day, but we need to know what we are doing every day.  And that's not too hard -- you just have to make sure you have a plan when you wake up.  For example, for the month of July, Ballerina and Music Man will be attending ESY (Extended School Year) in the mornings.  Their respective buses will arrive at a predetermine time and drop them home at a predetermined time.  Once I know those times, I know how long I need to keep them occupied.

Big Brother will be going to full-day camps for most of July.  Whatever activities I plan for the twins, we need to be done in time for me to put them in the car and go pick up Big Brother at whatever location his camp happens to be.  That should leave us between 1 and 3 hours, depending on which camp Big Brother is attending (one ends at 2 the other at 4).  When it's only 1 hour, there's not much time, so we can make that free play.  When it's 3 hours, we can have our own "school".  I purchased a couple of activity books for Kindergarten at Sam's Club over the weekend and we can pull worksheets from there to work on together.  We can work on reading, writing, math, fine motor (holding pencils), coloring......whatever the day's "assignment" will be.  Then we can have some free play before getting into the car.  If it's not too hot, perhaps we can spend that free time in a park or going out for ice cream (Big Brother doesn't have to know).

Then, after Big Brother comes home, the routine is pretty clear.  It'll be time to head to the pool for swimming lessons for the twins (hopefully) and swim team practice for Big Brother.  Or perhaps there will be a meet (depending on the day).  Then we come home and do our evening routine before bed.

July will be exhausting, but I think it will be manageable.  August will be a little harder.  You see, camps and school will be over and creating a daily schedule will be more important.  But I did purchase a week's worth of camps at The Little Gym of Germantown for both of the twins.  Ballerina did this last year with no difficulty -- hopefully Music Man will enjoy it as well.  But, if not, both weeks will go to Ballerina.

And it's still possible we'll take a short vacation or two.  My parents would love to spoil (oops, I mean host) their oldest grandchild (Big Brother) for a few days.  And we are considering a possible trip to Hershey, PA for a weekend to go to Hershey Park and  Dutch Wonderland (but we are still in the "maybe" and "thinking" stages).  It's unlikely that the kids and I will spend the week with my in-laws as we have for the last few years this summer as it's getting harder and harder to make this trip without Dad and he really doesn't have the time to take off from work (especially since we are planning a road trip in October to attend my brother's wedding in Michigan).

In other words, this summer is already shaping up to be better than the last couple of summers.  And it's not because we aren't taking that trip or that the kids are growing up and are getting easier to handle, but because I wrote a blog post and really thought through what I wanted to do with them this summer.  I am more comfortable with things going into the summer than I have been since before learning the twins are Autistic and that has made a HUGE difference in my attitude.

So, for the first time, I'M READY FOR SUMMER!!!!!!!!!!