And the award goes to….

ME!

Best Mom Ever!

When the boys grumble or complain about something I’ve done or made for them, I usually reply with, “I’m sorry, I think you meant to say, ‘Thanks mom, you’re the best mom ever'”

Yesterday they each said it on their own, in separate instances, without prompting, for something they were genuinely grateful for.

I couldn’t ask for a better reward.

(I’m writing this now as a reminder since lightning might not strike twice…or at least soon.)

A supercalifragilisticexpialidocious morning

6 weeks has passed since my last post. A lot of good has happened to/for me and the boys peppered with some not so good days.

Today, despite the winter rain and gray skies we are having in the desert, I’m having a great morning. I got woken up by instant messenger just before my alarm. Normally that would make me crabby but when I got done talking with the friend and the alarm went off, I was already wide awake.

I found little j in the kitchen already making his breakfast. J woke up without complaining and I didn’t have to yell even once to get him moving. Plus, he’d slept in his bed all night.
Little j then said he was going to make his brother’s oatmeal for me so that I could have more time to start on lunches.

In the meantime, another friend started messaging me and put a smile on my face for the day.

Both boys and myself were ready a few minutes early which made getting through the rainy day drop off lines easier.

Getting to work early meant I didn’t have to rush my devotional time while eating my breakfast.

In this moment, I’m grateful for a peaceful rainy day.

A miracle day

I worked half a day today. I told the boys last night that they would have some responsibilities to take care of while I was gone. When I left for work, I left a checklist of chores plus thier rooms to clean. Last night before bed, J started on his room all on his own. Little j was busy in his when I woke up. When I got home, they were making their lunches and that wasn’t even on the check list. All their chores were done and their rooms were age appropriately cleaned. Then I found out that J helped little j with one of his jobs because they were worried I’d be home before he could finish.

Now they are outside playing chase/hide and seek/cap guns together.

If I ignore the fact that J was sneaking electronics at 430 am, I’d call it a perfect day.

Warp zone (or who wants to make a Halloween dream come true? )

Last night J came out of his room and told me he needed to write some stuff to Captain Barnacle. I wasn’t really paying  attention except to notice that he had his special pen that has a 3d fuzzy bird body on it (a gift from his elementary school parapro.) Lately he has been writing down summaries or verbatim dialogue from his favorite shows. I don’t discourage it since any initiative he takes towards handwriting instead of avoiding is a good thing. So, when he was done writing, he told me he needed an envelope. I asked him where he was planning to send it. He said he needed the mailman to send it through a warp zone to Captain Barnacles. After much discussion about how our local post couldn’t do that, I compromised and told him to put it in my work bag so I could mail it from the office.

After he went to bed, I got curious and decided to see what he wrote down. Turns out he wrote an original letter. 

image

This morning I asked who Captain Barnacle was. I assumed he was from Jake and the Neverland pirates and thought it might be an easy costume. I was wrong. He’s from Octonauts. Also, even though J acknowledged that they are animated fiction, he is fully convinced that a warp zone could bring them here.

If you perhaps get the letter in the warp zone, want to dress up for Halloween, and trick or treat with the boys, let me know. The octonauts link above will take you to meet the characters, but for reference here is captain barnacle.

image

Let the fall break fun begin

The advantage to my kids being in a district that starts school in July is that we get a 3 week fall break. This way the kids are in school during the super hot months and have a break when the weather is tolerable. I still have to work over the next few weeks and the kids each have a project to do for school but for the most part our evenings and my days off will be relaxing and fun. We’re probably going to do some in town field trips on Wednesdays so if you want to join us, let me know. Thankfully J finished the quarter on a high note and won’t be in trouble to start the break.

The Unified Team

Or how we’ve spent most Saturdays in the last year.

Last summer there was a post on a community facebook forum looking for neuro-typical swimmers to swim on a special Olympics team as Unified Relay partners. I had been looking for something Little J could do in the sports and athletics department. Truthfully most things out there would have overwhelmed our schedule and J would have hated being drug along. But I thought that if we went to Special Olympics for Little J then we might convince J to go to. J was pretty resistant until he found out a) There would be medals and b) If he went to State, he would get to miss school AND stay in a hotel. Hotel sold him on it. 

So we started going every Saturday morning to practice. The great thing about the Special Olympics schedule is that there are only short Saturday practices, a local competition and a state competition for each sport. The time commitment fit into our lives nicely. To top it off, Mrs. S’s son T also wanted to do it. T is older than my boys and has other special needs but he and Little J are really good friends. Little J is allowed to participate as a partner which means he does not have any solo races. He is fine with that. J races in two races by himself because he was not a motivated relay participant. 

unified so1

T got gold and J got silver in one of their races

State Unified relay Team with their coaches

State Unified relay Team with their coaches

After the local competition for swimming last year, the bowling season started. They decided to enter a unified 4 person team for the first time. So J, Little J, T and T’s sister Lala competed together. They were terrible but they had a great time. They got better as the season went on, better but not good. However, they did build stronger teamwork skills which was good since our two families spend so much time together. One of the cool things for the kids at the tournaments/meets is that the police department does the presentation of medals. They also do a torch run to raise funds and light a torch at the opening ceremonies.

2013 Unified Bowling team

2013 Unified Bowling team

After bowling we were firmly into the Vail Trailblazers family. We had a fun banquet for all the families and then started Basketball practice. Little J and Thomas decided to be on the team and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I didn’t force J to to play because his bad attitude about teamwork would just bring everyone else down. Besides, he’s probably refuse to put his book down and get off the bench. Our team didn’t do well at the local competition but they won a hard fought gold medal at State in March. Little J loved basketball so much that I offered to find him a team to play on in the “off season” but he turned me down saying the Trailblazers were his only team. 

Unified so BB

After basketball came track but the boys couldn’t participate in the meets due to Little J being in Odyssey of the mind so just T and Lala went. However, J and Little J have decided they will definitely be doing it next spring with their friends.

That brings us full circle back to swimming. We are back in the pool this summer with Little J and Lala on unified relays. J swimming two races, T swimming 2 races and a relay. I started the summer as a parent volunteer while they worked on getting some new coaches on board. Those coaches never showed and I am now on the roster as a coach. (I do have a background in competitive swimming) I’ve been spending 2 hours every Saturday in the water with the team. If you want to cheer them on, their local competition will be at the Edith Ball Aquatics center on September 6th.

It has turned out to be a great year for us. Little J loves being on a no-stress team and J benefits from the exercise even if we have to coerce him. I am so grateful that we have found this group of people. There is support for the special needs and behaviors in our family, there is fun for Little J and his friends, there’s a sense of team pride without all the stressed out time commitments. If you’ve been looking for something low key for your neuro-typical kid or something challenging for your special needs child/adult and want more details, just send me a message. There are unified opportunities for all the sports our team does and a few other sports that other teams train for.

Starbucks + Sushi + Swimming laps =

Stress relief.  Broadway show tunes on Pandora helps too.

image

J finally had his first rough day at school. It took 4 weeks for there to be an incident bad enough for them to call instead of email me. First of all,  4 weeks from the start of school is a record. 2 weeks was the previous record.  Secondly, he was able to turn his behavior around with in an hour after I coached the staff through the script of what discipline he’d have to look forward to if he didn’t change his attitude.  And last of all, the rest of the day was not lost after a bad morning. Three cheers all around.

The week has been minor stresses heaping up on each other with this morning being an extra heap. So tonight I’m glad they are with their dad and I can spend some time destressing by the pool.

Captive Audience

Until J was in 2nd grade, he took the school bus/van to school and was picked up by a sitter. It wasn’t that I couldn’t take him to school, it was that he couldn’t handle the separation from me at the drop off. He needed the time on the bus to calm down so he could start his school day off well. 

When he started 2nd grade, Little J started Kindergarten. Since we didn’t live in the regular bus zone (J qualified as part of his IEP), Little J needed me to take him to school. It was impossible for us to time J getting on a bus and Little J getting a ride from me so I just drove them both. Everything worked out fine. 

I have found that I am grateful for the times before and after school that I get to spend with them in the car. I have a captive audience. They can’t hide in their rooms, there’s no electronics calling their names, and the distractions are minimized. On the way to school we talk about how they plan to make it a great day. For J it is often about how he can make good choices (how he can correct bad ones from previous days) and how he can branch out socially. For little J it is usually about time management. On the way home they each get a chance to tell me what they ate, test scores, homework, behavior issues (they get a chance to fess up before I read any notes.), etc. 

Now that they are at different school and different after school locations, I get about 10 minutes alone time with J each morning and evening. It doesn’t really seem like much, but for a tween boy who doesn’t like to have actual conversations that aren’t movie/book based, it is the perfect amount for him. 

I don’t worry about Little J not getting alone time in the car. That kid likes to talk to me. He usually still has plenty to tell me at bedtime when I am tucking him in. And when he gets up to get water 5 minutes later. 🙂

And P.S. J now exits the van with a quick goodbye and slams the door shut, We’ve come a long way from needing a parapro to physically carry him into the school because he was trying to get back to the van (and me).

Coming out of retirement

Not me,  J. Last year he told anyone who would listen that he was retiring from school. Middle school has been in session for 2 weeks now and several people have asked him how it is going. Instead of replying with negative, “I wish I didn’t have to go. ” or “I hate it” or “I’m retiring. ” he now says,  “It’s going great!”
He really likes the online math and science classes he gets to take on a laptop in the library. He is staying caught up or ahead in social studies and language arts thanks to having some extra “study hall” time built into his day. He also gets to spend plenty of time looking at books while he is in the library.
The staff is still walking on egg shells with him but he really hasn’t given them a reason to challenge him. I’m going to meet with the inclusion specialist next week to go over some things we didn’t think of before school started. Overall though I’m really pleased with the transition to a new school. It would seem J is too.

The secret unlocked

For years J has struggled to get up for school. I chase him around the house waking him up from unusual places multiple times in the 40 minutes allotted for getting dressed, hygiene, eating breakfast, packing his backpack, etc. For the same amount of years electronics has been forbidden before school. It was reserved for children who had a good day at school and got their homework and chores done.

Earlier this week, by some miracle,  both kids woke up before their usual time bright eyed and bushy tailed. They were both ready more than 20 minutes before we needed to leave. J was starting to show signs of slowing down. I’ve learned that if he falls back asleep at home after being ready or in the car, it is an uphill battle to keep him awake at school. So I let them each have 10 minutes of computer time while I finished getting ready. We were all happy and there was less yelling that morning.

That night before bed, J asked if he could have computer time the next morning if he got ready early. I told him yes as long as he also slept through the night and didn’t try to sneak electronics in the middle of the night (that is a whole nother battle at our house). He agreed.

This morning little j was ready almost 30 minutes early.  J was ready 10 minutes early. He gave me a little grumbling when I tried to wake him up but as soon as I mentioned computer time for kids who are ready early, he was wide awake.

I did have to add a new caveat to this though. On the way to school he started yawning and saying how tired he was. I reminded him that he was wide awake just a few minutes ago.  So computer time before school is a treat  but if he is going to fall asleep in school it will have to stop.

image

His current obsession is the maps app. He is checking possible routes for a package he ordered and the shipping info says has been delayed.