Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Birthday Party

Yesterday was Y's birthday and last day of school. We celebrated by having a small party in school. It was very sweet, even though Y kept asking when we were going home. To him, Mommy and Abba at school means he gets to leave early :)

My trio having their birthday cupcakes. A insisted on missing camp to come to the party. Sisterly love

Y and his beloved Abba

And check out M in his fancy hat and glasses. I loved the look and he almost stole the show looking so cute!

Birthdays are times of joy but also always a time of reflection for me. Of how far Y has come and how far we still have to step at a time. My life was profoundly changed the day Y was born, although I guess any parent would say that about the birth of their child. We have learned a lot on our journey and I am sure there is more to learn. What I can say is that Y is such a happy and lovable child. All the teachers and therapists at school have remarked on this and we are greatful that everyone can sense and appreciate his "chen".
I have more to say but I will instead leave it to Sheva, who has a great post on her blog about her daughter's first birthday. Thanks to my mother-in-law for sending this my way.
I will keep you posted on the iPad developments. I am hoping to buy it next week and will be taking recommendations for educational and communication apps and hopefully giving some myself.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Quick solution

So after losing sleep and being aggravated for several hours, I was able to resolve Y's IEP issue pretty quickly this morning. It was a computer error and something they can fix without calling new meetings or getting approvals from supervisors. I am relieved and also feeling a bit silly for wasting all my time and energy freaking out. I have unfortunately had bad experiences before and have learned to expect the worst. I guess I need to work on my attitude/anxiety level a bit. I will add it to my never-ending to-do list.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Good/Bad News

The good news is Y is famous- check him out on p. 16 of the Jewish Week. Unfortunately, the online version of the article does not include his picture. It also doesn't identify him by name...but he looks very handsome. His birthday is also coming up. I cannot believe he will be 6 already. With the help of our prents/in-laws, we are planning on getting him an  iPad because it supposedly has great communication and learning apps. I am excited about this and hope it will be a useful tool. I am definitely open to hearing suggestions about what type of iPad to buy and any app recommendations you may have.
Now the bad news: I discovered tonight that there is a big fat mistake on Y's IEP- all his therapy services are being provided in a group instead of individually, NOT what we had agreed at the IEP meeting. Needless to say I am very very angry and also annoyed at myself for not checking his IEP sooner.
I guess assuming that someone will actually implement the services they have verbally committed themselves to is a big mistake. A lesson I should have learned by now- always second guess the Board of Education and if someone went too smoothly, that means that it will not actually happen.
Excuse me while I go scream and cry and figure out a plan of action!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Video-Free Week

While last week was the no-pacifier week in our home (still going strong thank  goodness), somehow this week has become video-free week. I have posted about the kids and their video-watching habit before. We don't own a TV, but let the kids watch on a small DVD player, of which we have had numerous, because they kept on breaking them.

I was becoming increasingly frustrated by this DVD-habit because of 2 things. Mainly, it bothered me that my kids had become addicted to the video. They were constantly requesting videos and while I did not always give in to their demands, I still felt that they were watching too much and that it had become an obsession.

Secondly, I was unhappy with the way they treated the DVDs. They manhandled them, scratched them and threw them under the couch. I have paid numerous fines at the library (our main source of new DVDs because I don't want to buy them) for broken or lost DVDs. Not to mention the fact that they had actually broken the DVD players several times. I wanted them to learn some sort of responsibility, age-appropriate obviously. Meaning if you lose or break the videos or players, you will not get any more.

So Monday morning, when they woke up and right away asked to watch a video (which we never do anyway because Y needs to be downstairs for the bus by 7 40 and there is no time!), I decided something needed to be done. Taking my cue from The Berenstein Bears and Too Much TV, I declared "Vide-Free Week" and told them there would be no videos for a whole week. I don't really think that Y. or M. really understand that concept, that they cannot watch for a full week. They just understand that, right now, at this moment, Mommy is saying no.So far we have gone four days without videos. The kids have asked for it and complained, but I think they are getting used to it. While they have said that they are "bored," they are also finding other ways to amuse themselves and stay busy. And of course we are still at the park almost every day.

 I am not really sure what I am going to do when the week is up. I think I will let them watch again but try to set up clearer rules and stick to 30 minutes a day max, if not every other day. It was also good to see that not only could the kids manage the break from videos, but that I could too. I was relying on the DVD player as a quasi-babysitter way too much, mostly to get things done around the house (laundry, cooking, etc) but also just to have a break. I think that is okay sometimes, but I do not want to become too dependent on it either.

If anything, I hope this week helps both the children and me find a better balance and see that there are other ways for the kids to be entertained and for me to have a few minutes to myself. What are the TV/Video rules in your home? 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mommy needs a Time-Out

I really do love my kids but lately they have been driving me a little crazy. M is still in his "I do it" phase although it doesn't really seem to be a phase...just our new never ending reality: I want to walk, I want to open the door, I want to cut my own food with a knife, etc. A is trying on a new persona of being defiant ie doing the exact opposite of every thing I ask her to. Y still has not figured out personal property and keeps grabbing other people's bycicles, strollers, trikes and food at the park. He is also still obsessed with chasing pigeons.
When you put the three of them together, they come up with all kinds of crazy mischief like getting in the bathtub after they are already in pjamas and getting wet all over again, spreading pieces if schnitzel all over my bed, trying to make kiddush by themselves and spilling a full bottle of grape juice...
I'm not just complaining, I'm trying to say that, sooner or later my patience quota for the day is full.
Last night, after a long day of running after them, I was attempting to put them to bed and was being completely disregarded and ignored. It was only 7 15 and I felt like I was going to either scream or cry. Neither was a particularly good option. So I decided to take a step back. I informed my husband that I was officially done and went into our bedroom and locked the door. I spent the next hour just reading blogs and vegging at the computer, finding the bedtime struggles my husband was now engaged in slightly amusing from the distance of a locked door.
Eventually they settled down and eventually I too calmed down and came back out of my room. I was lucky that my husband was home, because otherwise I would not have had the luxury of just checking out. But even if you can't totally walk away, just taking 5 minutes to your self can make a big difference and help you calm down. Sometimes evene Mommys need time-outs.
And scheduling real down time is super important too. That is why I am going to try and squeeze some yoga into my week somehow, even with all my other appointments, meetings and general craziness.
What do you do to relax/get away a bit?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nachas Week

Today was A's last day of school. It sounds so cliche but the year really did fly by. In the week leading up to the end of the school year, she was quite busy with school events.
Last Monday was her ballet recital. A. had been taking ballet after school all year and she got to showcase her talents.
Here is my little ballerina with the trophy she got for completing the course

Then this past Tuesday was "graduation". Because they had been learning the Hebrew Alphabet all year, the theme of the graduation was the writing of a Torah. Each child was a letter and said their part about the specific letter and then wrote that letter into a Sefer Torah. They also sang some cute songs. Needless to say, she performed very well and made us very proud.

Writing her letter "ayin" in the Torah
 Here she is holding her certificate and then celebrating with us after

In other news, Sunday night we took Mr. M's pacifier away. It was an impromptu decision, based on the fact that we had yet again lost the last pacifier in the house and couldn't find one at bedtime. This has been something I had been talking about doing for a while now, I just needed some motivation. M. surprised us by going to sleep without a fuss that night and continuing on pretty seamlessly from there. Now, 4 days later, he is still asking for it but less frequently. We also haven't had any major meltdowns or tantrums about it, which I am thankful for.
On some level, as much as the pacifier was for him, it was also a crutch for me, something to calm him down and keep him quiet when necessary. I felt the same way when I stopped nursing him at 15 months, this fear of "now what am I going to use to pacify him?" Thankfully, he still has his shmattas, otherwise known as my headscarves that he uses as his "loveys"and takes with him wherever he goes. Both he and I are not ready to give up on those quite yet!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Links Edition

I have a post coming about all the fun things going on in our family, among them M. being pacifier free for over 48 hours and A.'s graduation. For now, I will just share some interesting links though:
  • Love That Max has an interesting interview of a young athlete with Down Syndrome who will be attending the World Special Olympics in Greece in June. Kayla has an impressive resume and seems very talented and articulate.
  • My Shtub has a great update about her health and also some amazing pictures of her children.
  • Melissa had a hilarious post about the insanity of life as a mom. Warning: there is some strong language and cursing, but it is so true!
  • Here is a medical update about Rina bat Rut, an adolescent who was hospitalized with pnemonia.
  • Lastly, I found an article about parenting that really resonated. Jenny Weisberg had a piece about defiance in children and finding ways to empower them. This is something we are dealig with at home recently, so I might try implementing this at home.
Have you found anything interesting online recently? Please share!

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    Weekend Update

    With only a half hour to go to candle-lighting, I will give you the abridged version of the last few days:
    - We had a lovely international meal Tuesday night and met interesting young women from all over the world- France, Tahiti, and Australia. When we open our home to people we don't know, we are often enriched by meeting new faces with new perspectives and interesting stories to tell.
    - I woke up Wednesday morning to my kids having made kiddush for themselves and an entire bottle of grape juice all over the kitchen floor. Thursday morning I woke up to a box of breadcrumbs that was creatively distributed all over the apartment.
    - I made a really yummy cheese cake, thanks to my good friend and the recipe of her rebbetzen from seminary.
    - The 100 degree weather made it hard to entertain the kids and keep them quiet while my husband was catching up on sleep from learning all night. Solution- Chabad's ice cream party. Ice cream, a playground and air conditioned rooms inside was about as good as it could get. Aside from the fact that either Y or M kept wandering off and I got scared they were going to get lost in the crowd of people and go for a walk down Amsterdam.
    - Thursday we actually made it to shul just in time for it to be over. Then we had company and braved the heat to go to the park. After dinner we had A's Har Sinai cake for dessert and spoke about shavuos and sang Torah-songs. That was actually really sweet, to try to get the kids connected to the holiday.
    -Today it was back to their routine- which meant school for the kids and cooking/laundry for me. I have to admit that I took it easy and mostly bought take-out for shabbos. I did, however, do 5 loads of laundry. I also treated myself to a pedicure and now my toes (that nobody ever sees) are a cool purple shade, although my husband pointed out it's more like lavender. Or maybe lilac. Either way, very relaxing and a fun splash of color to look at.
    - Now I cant believe it's Shabbos again. Looking forward to a quasi-normal week next week. Although nothing is ever quite normal around here. Have a wonderful shabbos

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Closed for the Holiday

    Shavuos begins tonight so I have been too busy to post and will be lighting candles very soon. Hope to have some cute stories for you on Friday.  A shiur I listened to recommended learning one piece of Torah that you really feel connected to, so that is my goal, to find some time for that in the next 48 hours.
    Will report back on that as well. In the meantime, wishing you all a wonderful yomtov. And if you have a few minutes, please say a prayer for Rina bat Ruth, a teenage girl with Down Syndrome who has been in the ICU for severe pnemonia for several days already and is still in need of our prayers.

    Saturday, June 4, 2011

    Fun with the Board of Education

    How does the Board of Education frustrate me? Let me count the ways
    1) You submit paperwork to request an increase in services for your child and then call your administrator for 3 weeks only to find out that your child's file has been passed on to a different administrator without anyone thinking of informing you.
    2) You then call the other administrator and keep leaving messages for about 6-8 weeks straight without getting your call returned
    3) Finally on your 10th message you threaten to involved a lawyer and voila, you get a call back THAT SAME DAY
    4) The administrator informs you that he can only process your request if you submit new goals
    5) You spend the next week begging therapists to write up new goals for your child and fax them to the Board of Education as soon as you can
    6) The administrator says he will approve the requested services- victory!
    7) Two days later you get a message that the IEP was sent out but returned because they have the wrong address. You explain to them that you moved 18 months ago and have given them your updated address about 10 times and ask that it be mailed to the correct address.
    8) You finally get the new IEP in the mail and discover that
    -your child's name is misspelled
    -the correct address is printed ON THE IEP so it is unclear how it got mailed to the old address
    - NONE of the new goals you worked so hard to submit have been included in the new IEP
    - There is a mistake on the last page of the IEP because it doesn't list the increase in services that you asked for and that was approved
    Then you scream and wonder how somebody who spends all day formulating and approving IEPs can be so inept at putting one together. And you start formulating the voice mail you will be leaving for your administrator on Monday....To be continued