Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Ballerina

On Sunday, the dance studio where Ballerina takes dance lessons was holding an Open House.  They are preparing to start their second year and are, I think, still trying to find students to fill out the classes.  The Open House was from 12-6 and when Ballerina dressed for the day, she wore her leotard with the skirt.

When she saw me bring that in for her to wear, the grin spread across her face from ear to ear.  She KNEW she was going to go to the dance studio that day.....even though we had told her, this confirmed it.  She couldn't wait to go.  Every 5 minutes, she was asking if she was going to "Dance".  It even distracted her during her gymnastics class that morning.

But at 2:00, I brought her to the studio.  I said "Hello" to the owner who was working in her office, Ballerina put her shoes in the cubby and came to me to put on her ballet shoes (which were too small, at least when she wasn't wearing tights) and then run into the studio where her classes were held last year.

By the time I got in there, she was already standing in front of the mirrors dancing.  She was performing her show routine from last year (which she refused to get on stage to perform at the recital). She was making faces in the mirror and having so much fun.  Then I pulled out my secret weapon -- her iPod.  On this is the video "Wiggle Dancing In The USA" and it contains the song, "Music Box Dancer".  She has watched this particular song often and has learned the dance by heart.  And on the moments where the video turns away from Dorothy the Dinosaur (who is the dancer here) to pan to the band, Ballerina has made up her own choreography.

When she stepped into that dance studio, you could see the look on her face that screamed (with a HUGE smile), "I'M HOME!".  I suspect we'll be enrolling her in dance classes for a VERY long time!!!!

But I nicknamed her very well.....she most definitely is my Little Ballerina!!!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Making a Bad Situation Worse

Last week, we turned on the news to learn of a tragedy in Aurora, Colorado.  A young man walked into a movie theater and started shooting.  All together, this person's actions led to the murder of 12 people and wounding 58 others.  My heart goes out to everyone touched (directly and indirectly) by this senseless act of violence and I hope they are able to quickly find peace.

This tragedy was compounded by Joe Scarborough, the host of the MSNBC morning show, Morning Joe.  On his program on Monday morning, he made the following statement..... "As soon as I heard about this shooting, I knew who it was.  I knew it was a young, white male, probably from an affluent neighborhood, disconnected from society -- it happens time and time again.  Most of it has to do with mental health; you have these people that are just somewhere, I believe, on the autism scale....I don't know if that's the case here, but it happens more often than not.  People that can walk around in society, they can function on college campuses -- they can even excel on college campuses -- but are socially disconnected."

There is nothing to support Mr. Scarborough's allegations.  Autism, in any of it's forms, has never been linked to violence, especially not on this scale.  Autistic individuals are NOT sociopaths.  Autistic individuals have difficulties understanding social cues.  And they are more often the victims of violent crimes then are the perpetrators.

An autistic individual made a video following this program yesterday.  He starts of by introducing himself saying, ".....I am an Autistic individual and I am NOT a murderer."  Kerry goes on to explain the many faults of the broadcasted statements and the harm that they have on the efforts to educating the general public about Autism.

I join with many others in asking Joe Scarborough to retract his statement.  A petition has been started on change.org that is trying to reach 5,000 signatures (currently over 4200).  I urge you to join me.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Swimming Lessons are Done!

Yup, they are.....for the summer at least.  I wrote a blog post about how things have been going for the SPD Blogger Network a couple of weeks ago and it was published there today.  I wrote a quick comment to amend the information that I originally wrote with how things happened, so people could see the complete picture.

Swimming lessons turned out to not go as I had imagined they would (but then again, in my world, what does?).  I had expected them to both really enjoy it and have them take off in their own ways.  By the time we got to the first lesson, my goal rapidly changed from "teaching them to swim" to "how to be safe in the water".  This made things a little more difficult for the teacher because she is VERY good at teaching kids how to swim.....by the time they come to her, they already know how to be "safe".  But she promised to try her best and I promised to continue working on what she taught them.

We had a total of 4 weeks of lessons scheduled (so a planned 4 lessons for each child).  By the 3rd week, we realized that Ballerina was NOT going to learn from these lessons (directly) and we gave her time to Big Brother (who was struggling on the swim team because he's not a particularly strong swimmer).  But Music Man was showing us that, even though it may not seem like it during the lesson, he was taking in EVERY word.

For example, this past week, after he submerged himself to go under the rope, he began to bob in the water.  He would duck down and nearly sit on the bottom of the pool.  He'd look around, smiling (I checked because I wanted to see if he had his mouth closed [which, of course, he didn't]) and when he was done, he came back up.  He'd recover for a moment (no coughing or choking -- just catching his breath) and then go under again.  I decided to call the game "Spring" and throughout the rest of our time at the pool, I would announce to him "SPRING" and we would go under together.  I also started THROWING him (not far -- just a few inches) and he would allow himself to submerge and then came up when he was ready.

Music Man had his final lesson yesterday afternoon.  I told the instructor about our new game and she turned into a bubble game -- she had him blow bubbles with her when he went under the water.  And she noticed that he tended to blow bubbles from his nose rather than his mouth.  You see, when teaching kids to swim, they start with the bubbles from the mouth, but when you start to work on teaching them the strokes, you change how they exhale from the mouth to the nose.  And he's doing it already.  And he blew bubbles about 50% of the times she asked him to (which is a HUGE improvement).  They kicked around the pool, they blew bubbles at each other, they played with the "elephant" (a styrofoam noodle with a hole running through it blowing water through the hole), and worked on moving the arms as if to swim freestyle.

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She asked me to work on a few things with him between now at the end of the summer.  She suggested working on getting him to do scissor kick (because right now he's kicking more like he's riding a bicycle) and to get him to use the arms.  The rest is just continuing what we've started.....the bubbles, the willingness to submerge, and just allowing him to have fun!

There is an organization locally that I know has a swimming program for children with special needs.  During the summer, they offer swimming lessons, but I don't know if that will continue once the summer ends.  I hope they do, because they would be a perfect organization for him to continue to spend time in the pool.  Ballerina loves her dance, and that's her special activity.  Based on what we learned this summer, swimming is Music Man's special activity.  If I can find the resources (both internally and externally) to keep this going during the school year, I will.

Friday, July 13, 2012

ESY Begins

As I've mentioned in previous posts, ESY (Extended School Year) was a week late in starting due to the severe power outages that affected our area the first week of July.  But it began for both Ballerina and Music Man on Monday (July 9).  They both climbed on the bus and headed off to "school camp".

Ballerina seemed to have enjoyed herself all week.  She came home happy with completed worksheets and a smile.  The notes thus far have been positive and hopefully this will prepare her for her first day of kindergarten in a general education classroom on August 27.

Music Man really didn't want to go.  He was enjoying the non-structured time he was experiencing at home the previous few weeks.  He didn't want to climb on the bus.  He didn't want to see his teacher.  He just wanted to spend his entire vacation (and likely beyond) playing on the computer or on his phone.  But climb on the bus, he did and headed off to ESY.

Shortly before the end of the session on the first day, his teacher called me.  She called to warn me that he was coming home in different clothes.  I'm thinking, "He's finally had an accident at school.....oh, well.....it was bound to happen".  But no.  He was coming home in different clothes because he was COVERED head to toe in PAINT!

You see, they put a mat on the floor, covered it with water and then put paint in the water.  Then they had the kids play in it.  They had done this a couple of times during the school year, but they just couldn't get Music Man to participate.  He's a big strong boy and refused to be coerced.  So he always watched from the side.  But on Monday, he was watching with great interest.  So, when he wasn't expecting it, his teacher gave him a push and before he knew it, he was right in the middle of the paint.

According to his teacher, he was a little shocked, but intrigued.  And after a moment or two, he was having more fun than ANYONE!  He got the paint EVERYWHERE -- on his clothes, between his toes, in his hair, you name it.  And he had a BLAST.  His teacher took some pictures and sent them to me.

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Sometimes we all just need a little nudge.  Music  Man, well, he always needs a nudge.  But when we try new things, we may find a new favorite thing.  I was so proud of Music Man for trying something new!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Potty Training Music Man -- Consolidated Post

To all my readers,

Potty Training Music Man was a struggle.  It truly was a BATTLE of wills.  We tried so many things before initiating our own "Potty Training Boot Camp".  But it worked out for all of us in the end.

I'm consolidating the posts I wrote as we were going through this process to make it easier on anyone who would like to read and learn from our example (the good and the bad).  But before you start, ask yourself a VERY important question......ARE YOU SURE THAT YOU AND YOUR CHILD IS READY FOR POTTY TRAINING?  Because if the answer is "NO", this will not be successful.  And once you start, you CAN'T go back!

Good luck to all of you starting this process.  I wish you a quick success and a diaper-free life!!!!

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(image taken from http://spiffybaby.com/resources/tag/potty-training)

I originally tried to actually copy the texts over, but that wasn't working.  Instead, I'm providing each of the links to all of the posts I wrote.  Hopefully you will find this helpful.

Pre-Amble (originally posted February 16, 2012)

Day 1 (originally posted February 18, 2012)

Day 2 (originally posted February 19, 2012)

Day 3 (originally posted February 20, 2012)

Follow-Up Post 1 (originally posted on February 23, 2012)

Follow-Up Post 2 (originally posted April 18, 2012)

Follow-Up Post 3 (originally posted July 9, 2012)

This is our story as of right now.  If anyone here is about to embark on Potty Training Boot Camp, I wish you well!!!!  Just remember, before you start, you need to be sure that your child is ready for this.  Because once you start, you CANNOT back down.  When it comes to the Battle of the Wills, YOURS has to prevail.

Good luck to all of you!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Potty Training Update

I realized a few days ago that it's been a while since I've updated you on our potty training efforts.  As you recall, Music Man eventually learned that he's better off putting urine in the toilet but he hadn't made that jump for his feces.

Well, we haven't made much progress since then.  From the day we sent him to school after boot camp (February 22) until the end of the year, he never had an accident while at school (but he has had several at home).  We don't trust him to anticipate so we remind him to go every 60-90 minutes and it works well.

But we are still at a loss about what to do about his BMs.  We were working on it for a while and have decided that we just need to back off for a while.  We'll clean him up as needed.  He clearly knows that this isn't the way it's done.....he never has an accident at school (or camp).  So, for now, we're just going to deal with it.

I know that's not the wisest thing, but we are preparing to introduce some serious changes.  Music Man will be attending a new school and this school is much larger than what he is coming from.  He will have many expectations placed on him by his new teacher (who really expects A LOT of the kids in her class [and she gets them to achieve it all too!]) and I too will have many hopes for him once he adjusts to his new environment.

So, we really haven't made forward progress, but we haven't slipped back either.  I wouldn't even say we've held steady because we have been able to extend how long he can go without going to the bathroom without consequence.  We were even able to make a road trip without any problems.

So, he's doing JUST FINE, but he's really not ready to take the next step.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Making a Difficult Decision

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Yesterday, I received a phone call (well, a message) from Music Man's teacher.  His school was opening for the day today.  Transportation would be provided.  I then checked my email and Ballerina's school was also going to be open.

First, I think I need to fill in a gap.....I previously spoke about the schools being closed due to the power outages from the thunderstorm that came through our area last Friday.  They were initially closed on Monday and Tuesday.  Then, they would be closed as planned for 4th of July.  But they were supposed to open on Thursday.  Well, on Wednesday night, the decision was made to keep the schools closed for the rest of the week because many still didn't have power restored.  But apparently, enough schools have now had their power restored that they made the decision to open those schools who's power had been restored.

This poses an interesting dilemma.  You see, today is Friday.  So, they would be going to ESY program for the first time this year today, and then have the weekend.  Then they would return on Monday.  I am going a little batty as these kids have been home since June 12.  And we are getting a little punchy.  I would really like for them to be with their friends.  I would really like to have these 3.5 hours without having to worry about them (Big Brother would still be home, but I can send him to the basement while I take a long shower).

What's a Mom to do?

This Mom made a decision.  She actually made it last night, almost as soon as she heard that the schools would be open this morning.  She decided to keep these kids home for one more day.  Friday is a bad day to start a new Monday thru Friday routine.  This is likely to introduce far more problems than the number of problems it will solve.

So, Ballerina and Music Man stayed home.

Hopefully, on Monday we will be able to get our new routine going and it will start off on the right foot.  Because, right now, all 3 kids are going to camp on Monday morning.  Ballerina and Music Man may be done after the morning, but they all need to be doing their own "thing".

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Whine Whine Whine!!!!

Yeah, I'm whining.....but I'm doing it in my blog......so SUE me!!!!!

I'm faced with disappointment.  School has been out for nearly 3 weeks (come Tuesday) and the kids have been home.  And I've been home.  We've been playing Wii, playing on the computer, the phones, doing some homework, and various other activities since then, and things have gone reasonably successfully.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App  Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App   Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

But I was really looking forward to July 2 when ESY would start for Ballerina and Music Man and Big Brother would attend "Tech Bounce" camp at BounceU.

Then Friday night happened.

I live in the DC area.  If you aren't aware, the DC area was hit by a MASSIVE thunderstorm on Friday night with hurricane force winds that has left MILLIONS without power, trees were ripped from the ground or snapped on the trunk, and destruction everywhere you turn.  We have lost our tree in this, but fortunately, we were lucky in that it just fell across our yard (and our neighbor's yard) rather than into the road or (God forbid) in the house.

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We really were quite lucky.  So many people I know lost power in this 100+ degree heat.  It's also very humid so the air conditioning is pretty essential this weekend.  But we didn't lose power.  And, like I said, we may have lost a tree but it didn't damage any people or property (other than the tree).

We were on a mandatory water restriction for nearly 2 days because the filtration facilities and pumping stations were without power.  That was lifted earlier this afternoon.

But the schools are without power.  Therefore, Ballerina's and Music Man's ESY has been canceled for tomorrow and Tuesday.


I was really looking forward to having those 3.5 hours these next two mornings to find my energy again.  And it's not going to happen.  At least not yet.


So, I need to find some activities for my twin monsters to do these next couple of days.


Oh, well......sometimes, that's just the way it is.