Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Clothing and Shoes for Girls

Clothes shopping for children is extremely complicated. 

Bee-Bee is a very tall girl - right now, she is measuring 49 inches and she is only 5 1/2.  Right now, her current size could be a 6, 6X, 7, or 7/8.  It all depends on the manufacturer.  Last night, we were at our local Kohl's and some of the young girls section went to 6X and some went to 7, head over to the girls section, and they start at a 7.  The size 7 sweatpants from the young girls did not match the size 7 from the girls section, yet they were made by the same Kohl's company. 

Now Bee-bee doesn't like sweatpants, however it was the ONLY non-slutty clothing I would agree to put her in.  Yes, for some reason, slutty is in for the 5-7 crowd.  Don't get me wrong, I don't mind a little black on a child - I find black leggings and an bright colored tunic adorable.  But rhinestone black leggings and a skin tight (even at a size 8) shirt, that will barely cover her bottom that has more rhinestones?  Yes, we stepped away quickly.  If it's not the black, it's the fake shirt underneath the sweater look.  I've never understood why an adult choose that, never mind for a kid.  It will never look like a true layered look.  It will always look like a sweater with fake sleeves and a collar sewn in...oh and did I mention that it was in black?

Right now, we are very blessed that she is in love with her smocked dresses and any dress that twirls and spins around and shows off her leggings underneath...yes, I make her wear leggings as she wears Princess undies (the only character clothing I will ever purchase her - character clothing is another whole rant of mine).  I have told her that she has to wear leggings under her dresses, because if I ever get a call from school that she was showing the "Princesses" to others, I would be mortified. ;)  Last night, seeing her skip down the aisle of Kohl's in her back to school, apple smocked dress made me smile - she still is a 5 year old.

And shoes...for some reason, Bee-bee thinks that wearing her white summer sandals with her brightly colored socks that Nana-bee bought her is amazing.  I've tried to tell her a million times (ok, maybe only 10) that her new found "look" is not a great style.  She has two pairs of good, sturdy school shoes - black maryjanes (with no rhinestones, twinkle lights, or glitter) and a pair of sneakers that I was blessed to find with elastics and no laces (who knew they stop making velcro shoes at size for my size 1 kid!).

Last night, she was trying a bunch of shoes on while we were shoe shopping for Cha-cha.  I almost died when I saw her putting on high heels that pretty much fit her foot.  All of the shoes were slip ons and therefore right up her alley.  She saw the Twinkle Toes shoes, but oh man, $45 for a pair of sneakers that light up the night sky is just a little too much to pay.  For some reason, her last pair that I got on a huge sale, ripped at the toes in just a matter of a few weeks.  Yes, they are adorable, but not if they are going to wear out so fast.

Sadly, Bee-bee didn't get anything new last night.  I reminded her that she has a closet full of new dresses still and leggings to be worn underneath them.  She smiled and said, "Oh, yeah!" when I reminded her.  My 30% off coupon went to Cha-cha and his new sneakers and 2 outfits.  His only requirement for clothing?  That it be comfortable and have a graphic of a car, truck, digger, airplane, or rocket ship.  Very easy to do in a 4T! :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Apraxia Walk 2011

Yesterday was an emotional day for me...we headed up to another state to walk in the 2011 Walk for Children with Apraxia of Speech.  Our state doesn't have a walk, so I chatted with Sharon from CASANA and she asked if I would like to start one in our much as I would love to not have to drive an hour and 15 minutes out of my way, I don't have the time to do organize a walk.  So instead we headed up and met with over 100 other supporters at a beautiful park on the ocean.  It was comforting to know that there were other kids just like "Cha-cha" (what our proud son now calls himself - a wonderful nickname for the blog instead of "Little Man").  There were parents, siblings, and family members there who had been through the same stuff like us - the testing, the waiting, the therapy, the tears, the cheering, the tantrums, the questions...very overwhelming.

We had some wonderful family members there to help support our "Chatterbox" team - Hubby, Bee-bee and Cha-cha, Nana-bee, Great Auntie J and Uncle P and their dog, Pepper (or Pep-pep as Cha-cha calls her), Gramma and Grampa K, and Auntie K and our cousins V & E.  It was great that they could all join us!

At the beginning of the walk, Cha-cha grabbed my hand and started off...and a beautiful monarch butterfly flew over us and that's when I pretty much started to lose it...butterflies and bees appear at very random, yet significant times of my life (I'll never forget seeing a bee in Bee-bee's nursery a week before she was born - in December, or having a bee go up my veil on my wedding day and to have a butterfly land on my wedding bouquet an hour later)...of course I would lose it again at the end when they read the book, "My Brother is Very Special" - I book written from a sister's point of view about her younger brother with CAS.  Hearing about how kids don't want to play with him because he can't talk, hearing about the obstacles the brother has to face - like other kids taking away toys because the brother can't tattle, going to therapy instead of football practice - this is the long road ahead of Cha-cha. (Although secretly, I'm excited that this could coincide with football and he won't be able to play)  It was good to hear from other parents who are also working through their struggles of accepting and dealing with CAS.

The mile walk itself was pretty uneventful - lots of bright orange shirted big and little people walking, running, biking, riding in wagons and strollers, going around a beautiful common by the ocean.  Bee-bee pushed her stroller with her baby Jewel and Cha-cha pretty much walked and ran the whole thing with only a short neck and shoulders hold-y from Daddy.  I think his favorite parts of the day was collecting rocks, going down the twirly slide and digging in the sand.  I don't know if he knew we were walking for him, but later on in the day, I asked him my routine of questions..."Who's mommy's boy?"  "Me!" he yells..."Who does mommy love?" "Me!", I glanced at hubby before asking the question I've never asked before and asked Cha-cha, "Who has Apraxia?" and he beams and yells, "ME!" 
Cha-cha walking - he wanted to show off his new digger shirt instead of the Apraxia orange one :)
A touching moment for me was observing the mothers of the children with CAS.  Despite the fact that their child has difficulty speaking, the mothers are very in tune of what the child's needs and wants are...I met other mind readers like me!  One of the coordinator's son, who has CAS, was fussing and someone called out, "What's wrong?" and she knew that the little bit of marker on his hands were bothering him.  Another mother who was speaking in front of all of us just glanced over to her son and said, "Can someone please take him to the bathroom?" into the microphone.  I don't want to take away from the fathers or other supportive family members - but mothers always have a sense of intuition - even if your child doesn't have a disability.  Thankfully, that intuition kicks into high gear when you have a non-verbal child and you start to possess that mind reader-rockstar quality to the 10th degree.

It was a beautiful day...I appreciated spending time with our family, taking in the fresh air, and seeing other families just like ours. 

Thank you to all of you who made donations on our walk page - I was actually the third place "winner" of the most donations...the Chatterboxes were the 4th place team over all!  CASANA will use most of that money to train SLPs, public schools, and other professionals about Apraxia and how to help treat children who have it.  Sadly, many SLPs do not have the proper training in the techniques to help children with Apraxia.  CASANA hopes that not only can we find a way for kids to not have apraxia, they also want people to be educated about it and know how to treat it.  Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Whirl Wind Wednesday

We are in the middle of the week - WEDNESDAY!  My things are going fast - I don't think I've ever been this exhausted...well, yes I have, but it's been a long time since I felt this way.  School is in full swing and I am so happy that I made some big changes in my teaching career last year.  Teaching a new grade level has been refreshing and fun.  Even today when I was getting tired of asking a few students to do the same thing over and over - I reminded myself that I was enjoying where I was, who I was working with, and loving my new students.  I had a parent phone call after school that made me smile and it sealed the deal that this is where I'm suppose to be.

At the same time, our after school life is a little crazy - two different pick ups, therapy, art lessons, and now I'm trying to throw swim lessons into the mix - add the "regular" things like lunch making, dinner, baths, homework (for K! eeek!), and bedtimes and I'm lucky to sit down by 8:00pm. 

Bee-bee is loving school and when I find time to find my cord and upload pictures, I have a few cute ones of her first day of K.  She loves her teacher, she loves learning her letters (that she's already learned), and she loves commenting on other kids' behaviors...yeah, that one I need to put to rest soon.  Being a teacher, I love how she comments on how her teacher runs her classroom - she is fascinated that the tables have the same color chairs, so the teacher only has to call out, "Will the yellow chairs please line up..."  She loves her mailbox at school where she gets her daily forms for mommy to fill out and return the next day (seriously, how many more forms can I put my name, phone number, and emergency contact on?).  Yes, I think we have a future school teacher on our hands.

Little man is plugging along.  I think he is finally opening up at school.  They are hearing more sounds and more word attempts than the first week where all I think he did was sign and gesture.  He really is a trooper.  Yesterday, we have no idea how this happened, but he was bit by a nasty mosquito at least 15 times on his face/head and back of his legs.  He looked like he was left outside overnight for 10 hours, yet he was inside all night, sleeping right next to me (yeah, this bedtime/sleeping thing requires a whole post in itself).  Hubby ran some benedryl over to him and he seemed fine all day - never once scratched or complained.  The "blessing" of his SPD means that he doesn't feel light pain.  He could get a minor cut/scratch or bite from a bug and not feel it.  He currently has a scratch on his foot and we have no idea how it happened - all we know is that it happened at home and between a certain time frame, but when it happened, he never shouted, cried, yelled, or showed us.  I just noticed it on his foot with a little blood.  We go to his pedi on Friday (yet another thing to add to my afternoons) and I'm hoping she can help us out with these ballooning bug bites and seeing if she has ideas of his lack of feeling minor pain. 

Other than that, we are plugging along - he is definitely pushing himself more in his therapy and he really loves his outside therapist, Emily.  All I have to say is, "Do you want to see Miss Emily?" and he is running for the door.  When we get there, he insists on pressing the elevator button and I pretend I don't know where I'm going and he thinks it's the best thing on earth as he shows me where to go and yells, "ka!" (come) as he runs down the hallway.  We're really lucky that we found her.

We have a big weekend coming up - more about that later!  Time for the Whirl Wind Wednesday to start! :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Back to Work...

The end of summer is a tough time for me - anxiety starts to creep up around the beginning of August as the back to school sale signs come out (this year, they started around the 4th of July).  I am blessed to have a job as a teacher - in this area of the US, it can be pretty hard to find work as an elementary school teacher - I really like my job, I love working with kids and I love seeing children grow and learn...however I'm doing that with someone else's child and not my own kiddos.

My dream job would be to be paid the same salary and work part time teaching - it's just not possible for us to live with out my salary.  Living where we do - close to a major city with an expensive housing market, and living within 2 miles of our jobs, we are very fortunate.  However, going back to work is nerve wracking after having two wonderful months off of "work" with my children (because even though my 7-3:30 job is over, my job is a mother is never over).  Every fall it's hard.  Hubby always comments that my worst two months are September and June.  It's true, the stress level is high, trying to coordinate schedules and child care is crazy - and I can pretty much guarantee that both children will come down with some weird illness within 3 weeks of school (two years ago, it was the first day of school) and require me to take a sick day.

I think what makes this year different is having a child go off to Kindergarten.  Luckily, her teacher is a parent of two former students I had the pleasure of having.  This parent is a wonderful mother, so I know Bee-bee is in very good hands.  I know that she will be just fine there - my biggest fear is that her creativity will be stifled.  She is a naive child in the sense she has been sheltered from  Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel - she's pretty much been a PBS kid.  Seeing commercials for cleaning products on Animal Planet intrigues her and she begs me to buy them so our house will sparkle and shine.  I commented to hubby the other day that I fear our house has more technology than the school she's going to.  He was kind to point out that since we do have the tech in the house, she will be fine.  During our visit in June, they had 1980s Letter People on the wall and no active school website or blog.  Despite these setbacks, they still produce children who are successful, so they have to be doing something right...right?

Another fear of going back to work, and I know I've discussed it on here before, is Little Man - seeing his progress, I fear him regressing.  I think that last week, he managed to get through the three days with just gestures and signs.  I doubt he actually said a word all day long.  One of his teachers commented that he got angry with her and he did a fantastic job signing go, no and then help - all words he has "sounds" for.  I gently reminded that he can use sounds and should be prompted to use them.  His sleep has already been messed with - he's napping at school anywhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes.  This summer, he barely napped - which meant he was in bed by even putting him to bed at 7:30pm, he's rocking it out in his toddler bed until well after 10pm. 

(One of our 10:30 rock out sessions)

Even though I miss my children greatly when I'm at work, the time goes by very fast and I work with wonderful kids who challenge and teach me.  Working with my students helps me be a better parent, just as my own two children teach me to be a better teacher.  For example, before this summer, SPD was just something I read about on IEPs or was talked about in conversations with specialists and examples of strategies were given to me to use in the classroom.  I had no idea that there was SPD with an underresponsive subtype.  I spent a lot of my summer reading about kids with Apraxia and SPD, as well as other neurological impairments - having a child with special needs has pushed me to learn more about the subject.

So as I head back to set up my classroom tomorrow, I have many mixed feelings - I'm excited about my new grade level, new grade level teammates, and brand new school.  I'm excited about hosting a student teacher in my classroom.  I'm excited about building a classroom community with new students from other schools.  I'm excited that my Big Girl is excited about Kindergarten and learning.  I'm excited that Little Man is getting social interaction with language-rich peer role the same time, I'm sad that someone else gets to experience my kids for 6+ hours a day...I know it's important for our children to grow wings and be part of a "village" so they learn and grow - but it's hard not being there to see it happen first hand.  At least I have my late afternoons, evenings, weekends and vacations to saviour my children - for that I am truly grateful. :)

Here's to a wonderful summer - we laughed, we played, we learned, we created...we frolicked at the beach, played at nature's playgrounds, and saw friends and family.  Here's to a great school year - may it be productive, enlightening, educational, and fun!

Big Sister Interview

Bee-bee starts Kindergarten on Thursday, and I thought I'd interview her for the blog.  When I told her, she asked, "What's a blog?"  I told her it's where mommy writes down her thoughts for others to read and she said, "Oh, that's good."  Here are her thoughts...

What was the favorite thing you did this summer?
Canobie Lake Park!  I liked the flume ride when you go down in the log and get wet.

What's your favorite movie right now?
I like Momma Mia.  I like the wedding part and the S.O.S. song.

What's the best thing about being a big sister?

What's the hardest part about being a big sister?
I have to watch him and make sure he doesn't get into my things.

What's your favorite thing about your house?
I love my new bedroom.
What are you most excited about starting Kindergarten?
Lunch.  I'm excited about buying my own lunch.

What are you a little bit nervous about?
I'm a little nervous about...I don't know.

What's your favorite food?
Cereal and milk in a drink bowl.

What's your favorite drink?
Apple Juice.

Favorite toy?
Jewel, my American Girl Bitty Baby.

What do you hope for?
To buy things at the American Girl Store.

What do you enjoy doing?
Playing with my American Girl things and doing projects.

Yup, that's her in a nutshell!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Generosity and Kindness of Others

Up until this year, I have never really participated in charity walks...I did the education walk in my school district, but it just required a one time donation, not asking or begging the people I work with or friends and family for kind of fundraising.  I'm lucky that my husband runs a sports card and memorabilia show, so in the past when we walked for a friend who has MS, he was able to put together a charity table to raise money for our walk.  I have never been good about asking others for money. I think in high school, I just paid the $50 for the two boxes of chocolates I was suppose to sell in Keystone Club ( I wonder if my mom ever found the leftover boxes when they moved).  Well, earlier this year when my good friend's son passed away from Neuroblastoma, she mentioned she was getting a team together for a walk to benefit the hospital, and sure enough, I was asking for money...thankfully, with technology it's very easy to ask and post the link on Facebook. 

Since Little Man's diagnosis of CAS, I looked around for a charity that supports children with CAS and their families.  I was so grateful to find CASANA and learn that they have walks all over North America.  Surprisingly, they do not have a walk in Boston - the nearest walk is in Portsmouth, NH or Connecticut.  I contacted about a walk in Boston, and I was asked if I wanted to plan it...well, I have too much on my plate right now with going back to work, figuring out schedules and keeping a house - I really couldn't say yes.  So we'll drive up to NH for the day to join up with other families who have children like Little Man and walk to honor them.  My main goal in doing this is to meet people face to face who are going through the same issues that we are and to celebrate these precious children.

I have been blown away by the generosity of our friends and family and some people who have never met our little guy in person, have graciously donated money in his name to help support CASANA.  It brings happy tears to my eyes to know that people care to support this important organization.

I have to say, this is not the only way to support the children who have Childhood Apraxia of Speech and their families - or other developmental disabilities that families are dealing with.  Recently, just spending a night out with another mom and old friend, who has gone through different but similar processes of EI and transitioning to public school was amazing help and support to me.  Talking, shedding a few tears, and knowing that we're not alone in this process was very therapeutic for me.  Lending an ear and being an outside supporter can be amazing help.  Recently a friend I hadn't spoken to in a long time wrote me to tell me what a great job we were doing and reminding me to make sure I take time for myself was very good for me to hear.  Of course I hear it from the people around me - but hearing it from someone I haven't really seen in over 6 years was so uplifting.  Finding caregivers who can be patient and willing to be able to care for a child with any developmental disability can be extremely tough.  We often lean on grandparents for that support, but it can be just as tiring and difficult for them.  Thankfully, Bee-bee's old at home daycare provider was able to provide time for me this summer to get things done at home and at work.  She has all the care and patience in the world to work with our two kiddos - although I sometimes wonder if the older one was more of a challenge. ;)  Knowing that people are praying for us is also very comforting.  In high school, I was very active in many Catholic and Christian communities, and thanks to Facebook, I have been able to reconnect with many of them.  Getting little comments or emails of hope or encouragement helps when things aren't going so well, and hearing the praise and congratulations when things are going well keeps the positive energy going.

I have to say, having a child with CAS is not a terrible, horrible, bad thing - even though sometimes it may feel or seem that way.  Yes, it is not something you want your child to have - but looking at the other disabilities and illnesses out there - we are blessed.  Knowing the other people who are in "Holland" with us, sometimes I feel like I did make it to Italy.  I feel fortunate to have the help and support of my husband, my family and friends.  We're lucky that I'm in the education field and in this day and age with computers and technology, we can do research, connect with others and find applications and programs to help our Little Guy.  We are fortunate to have jobs that provide us with insurance and means to pay for additional therapies to help him.  I know I feel lucky to have such a creative child who works so hard to show us what he wants to say and he has a big sister who is a great role model of communication.  Our family has a wonderful teacher in this little 2 1/2 year old body, who teaches us that there are other ways of communicating your needs, wants and love instead of saying it. :)

Today I'm taking that advice from my long lost friend...pedi and back to haircut for mom, (all alone) is on today's agenda! :)