Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year

It's amazing to see how much the kids have changed from the beginning of the 2013 to today.  Happy New Year to you and your families!!  Here's to many blessings ahead for everyone in 2014!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Behavior Issues

Over the past 3-4 weeks, we have begun to see some behavior issues in Colin that started out subtly and then have grown to become more obvious as time has gone by.  I am growing increasingly frustrated and discouraged because I can't quite figure it all out given Colin's difficulties in communication.  In the past, when we have seen stretches like this with behavior issues, there has been an underlying cause that was "communicated" through these behaviors.  While I do believe that the holidays and lack of a strict routine and schedule play a significant role, I do believe there must be something else going on as well.  
Despite the fact Colin's public school has been closed, the daycare has remained open for many of the days over vacation.  Chris and I thought it would be best to send the kids a few days (3) over the break to try and keep their "routine" as normal as possible.  However, we have been finding that drop off, particularly with Colin, has been rough with lots of tears (normally he takes the bus there).  In addition to the one biting incident prior to the holidays, we have been told that Colin has pushed and/or hit two times (mostly  his own sister) which has warranted a time out (rightfully so).  Even prior to the holidays, his teacher has reported that the resistance to the potty has been great often causing him to go "limp" or completely resist going for them.  Because of this, he will often hold it and then soak through his pants when he does actually go.  I had a discussion with one of his teachers who has told me that she has remained firm through this process.  I am actually starting to wonder if we need to loosen up a bit at school to see if that allows him to regroup in this process.

In Colin's defense, he is unable to effectively communicate the same way most of his peers his age and much younger are able to do so.  We often see times where he pushes or hits simply because he is trying to get someone to stop/start walking or to keep them from invading his personal space.  For example, there are a lot of times that we will say "time out" or "freeze" when we want the two of them to stop walking and if Kailey doesn't listen but Colin does, he will put his arm out to gently push or nudge her to stop.  I have seen him push someone away when he is not comfortable with them being so close to him.  

I also think that Colin is testing us (at home at school).  Generally we feel that Colin is a well behaved child and we are very consistent with him when it comes to following directions and discipline.  We have always felt very strongly about this.  We have found that although it may take repeating the instructions 1, 2, 3 or more times, he will follow through as long as we are consistent.  We see "fruits of our labor" when we instruct Colin to apologize for misbehaving when we make him stay in time out until he is ready to apologize, even if this takes longer than we would like.  

It is really hard to show up at daycare and be approached with a list of "bad" behaviors that Colin has done in a day, like today.  When I got there today, he was in time out crying because he had pushed Kailey on the slide (according to her he pushed her so he could get by which tells me that maybe he was trying to communicate that HE wanted to go first [not that it makes it right]).  I cried when I got home because I feel bad for Colin that Kailey (and 3 other kids) came running to me today to tell me that Colin pushed Kailey and so and so yet Colin can't even tell me in his own words what happened.  He's been crying much more than is typical for him (he is generally not a crier and if he does, it's short-lived).  I'm not sure if this is all frustration on Colin's end or if there is something else I can't figure out but I am hoping this is a phase we are going through.  I feel discouraged because I know and understand some of these behaviors because he is my child, but not sure if other people can recognize and understand the same thing to work through. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Friends and Potties

The other day we had a long overdue play date with some of Colin and Kailey's first friends at their old daycare.  Both sets of siblings were in each other's classes and always got along so well.  We have always been so grateful for Lilly as she has always been such a good friend to Colin.  It's funny because they all haven't seen each other in quite a bit of time now but picked up right where they left off in playing with each other. 
At one point while we were at their house, I went in one of their bedrooms to check Colin and Kailey's pull-ups and realized at the same time Lilly was telling me that Colin didn't have a pull-up on.  Lilly told me that she asked Colin if he had to go potty, he said yes, and he went for her (they had set up the stool in front of the potty for him).  She even told me he got a little on the seat so she cleaned it up for him.  I was in awe that this had gone so smoothly, all without our knowledge. 
Now that Christmas is over, I feel like I can be a little bit negative again to tell you that potty training is awful.  It is so awful that the other night (the night BEFORE our play date with Lilly and Finn) I started crying as Colin resisted going again before bedtime because I feel like we have gone NOWHERE.  Like, even  my quote unquote TYPICAL child is a nightmare with all of this.  

I honestly have no idea what to do or try anymore.  I understand that this progress will be different for Colin than Kailey; however, then we see tiny little miniscule glimpses that show us Colin knows exactly what he is doing.  In the past few weeks (I'd say about 3-4 weeks) Colin's whole demeanor about the potty business changed and he became extremely resistant again.  I have decided to remain forceful because we are at a point now where I don't think it's appropriate to back off simply because he is fighting it (he's 4.5 for goodness sakes).  So we'll stay in the bathroom through the tears until he will eventually go.  I know his "schedule" well enough to know what times he should be going and when there is no point in bothering.   He's even taken up hitting me when I carry him to the bathroom (no one else) and some times I'll get mad at him for hitting and other times I pretend as though he's not doing it.  Much like with anything, he will occasionally surprise us and it will generally go smoothly and/or he will stay dry all day on this schedule.   Even when there are tears getting him there, as soon as you praise him for going, he is happy.

Kailey is a disaster, herself.  We have tried EVERYTHING with her because rewards work on her for most things.  She loves her sweets and chocolates so we have tried telling her she can have a Hershey kiss for going on the potty and the "special chocolate" (aka, caramel filled Santa) for staying dry AND going.  It works one time and then she's wet again.  I tried leaving her in underwear all day the other day and she could relatively care less when she was wet. 

With ALL of the challenges we have faced with Colin we knew there was an end in site and we knew he would eventually accomplish those challenges.  Not only do I feel like we are NEVER going to get our children potty trained, I feel like an utter failure in trying to get there.  

Some days I remain positive and just keeping pushing through (it is part of our routine after all) but other days I can't believe it is THIS bad.  I try to "keep my cool" with them and lose it in private but it's becoming increasingly harder to do that.  Any and all suggestions would be welcome!!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013

It is really  hard to sum up how fabulous the past week has been in words.  Celebrating Christmas this year was filled with lots of love and family and while crazy at times, it really was a wonderful time.  I almost had this feeling of sadness today that it's all over, especially after the last of the family left and we were left with the destruction that two little ones have created.  There's so much preparation that goes into the holidays and then it all goes by so quickly.  As I look through all of my pictures, I feel like it was hard to capture all of the little parts of the days we spent celebrating.  I feel like I missed so many opportunities of the kids opening presents or candid shots of family together because of enjoying it all myself.  I chose some of my favorites to show glimpses into our 2013 Christmas week celebrations...



Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

The holidays have been in full swing around here with all of the different Christmas related events we have been participating in so far in December.  It's been a lot of fun with the kids because they really seem to "get" what's been going on.    Unfortunately, there seems to be a fear associated with Santa but they don't seem to mind him from afar.  We've seen Santa quite a few times now and each time the reaction is pretty much the same.  We even tried to get them excited when we heard Santa coming around on the fire truck and then realized that we were supposed to sign up and never actually saw him.  
Waiting for Santa, although he never came
We've tried some new things like baking cookies to decorate them (although I'm not much of a baker it was fun watching the kids getting into it). 

Helping Aunt Kimmy
I was even shocked that Colin even got into the decorating because usually any kind of crafting is not his thing.  However, that also is a testament to the progress he has made because his attention span for these kinds of things has greatly improved.  

The Christmas season has also brought some unexpected gifts with Colin.  After getting home from grocery shopping the other day, he asked us for a banana and went and sat on the couch and ate at least half of it.  He acted as though he eats bananas every day.  
We also made it through a whole basketball game of Daddy's the other day which was fun but all Kailey cared about was her popcorn.  She got it and was one happy girl. 

Uncle Pat came with us too!
 Today marked the first day of our Christmas celebration as my brother and his wife were up from North Carolina.  We had a lot of fun together! 

Looking forward to the rest of the next few days!!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Transition to Kindergarten

Last Thursday, Chris and I attended Colin's IEP and planning meeting for his transition to Kindergarten.  We knew going in that we were going to discuss some of Colin's progress so far this year and then talk about the process that lies ahead in terms of educational and psychological testing, touring possible locations for him to attend, and then making the final decision. 
Despite the fact I feel like we have a pretty great relationship with our team (and that we knew what to expect), I was still extremely nervous going in.  However, as soon as we started talking, a lot of those nerves immediately dissipated.  Colin's teacher discussed his progress he has made since our last meeting but also highlighted some of the areas where he still struggles.  While no "official" recommendation has been made, the discussion of a self-contained special education classroom came up with the idea that he would best be suited to also participate for part of the day in a mainstream classroom.  

So proud of himself after setting the table
 However, Chris and I have a challenge ahead in that we need to find the most suitable classroom (or classROOMS) that will meet all of his needs.  Our district has taken all of the kindergarten special education classes and placed them in a different school than all of the mainstream kindergarten classes.  That means that even if Chris and I were open to spending parts of the day in a mainstream classroom and parts of the day in a self-contained/resource classroom, the option isn't there. 

What that leaves us with is then two basic options: a full day in a self-contained classroom OR a full day in a mainstream classroom with an in class support teacher for parts of the day (specified time for literacy and math).  I'll be 100% honest; I do not feel that a full day in a self-contained classroom is the most suitable choice for Colin (nor will that be the option we select).  However, I am also not sure that a full day in a mainstream general education classroom is the most suitable option either (but I also think it can be done with the right "plan").  

Came out in Daddy's clothes; he loves his Daddy SO MUCH
I cannot guarantee that Chris and I will ultimately make the best decision for Colin even though we will try our best to look at all of the options to make our choice.  In order to make the best possible decision, we have been doing the research in talking to classroom teachers who have had special education students in their classroom (particularly those with Down Syndrome), talking to parents who have mainstreamed their children with DS for most of their education, and reading special education law.  

Breakfast with Santa (who also just happens to be a Special Olympics volunteer!)
According to the law, special education students should be placed in the least restrictive environment and provided with services such as support staff that will modify the curriculum to fit his needs.  Chris and I strongly feel that the most inclusive environment is the best option for Colin, but we are also realistic enough to realize that some of his academic challenges may need support at a slower pace.  

To find the best option for Colin, we feel it is necessary to start out in sending a letter to the district to let them know (the higher ups), that they are placing limitations on our child before he even has an opportunity to attend Kindergarten simply by segregating the special education students.  It is horrible to suggest that in the year 2013, the place they have found to fit these additional classes are in a separate location than their typical peers.  While I know I am probably preaching to the choir, the benefits for all students to work together in the same community REGARDLESS of academic achievement due to a disability far exceeds what they will learn IN the classroom in terms of academic content.  While we have a challenging road ahead I think we have the foundation to make a decision which we will weigh in with the other "picture" that we get about Colin; progress in the classroom, testing (which falls to the bottom of the pile if you ask me), and where we feel Colin will be successful.  Stay tuned...my letter is written and after some edits, will be sent to the director of special services and the superintendent of schools. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Holidays

This holiday season has been one filled with lots of magic so far when seeing it through the eyes of a 2 and 4 year old.  We have been trying to fill the month with meaningful events  but have also been aware that too much is never a good thing.  All season long, we have been snapping pictures of Colin and Kailey while asking them to pose in different spots to chronicle the 2013 holiday season.  Today I got THIS picture while trying to get them to pose in front of the Christmas tree and I can't stop looking at it and laughing...
This Saturday we had a rare day of together time where we spent getting the Christmas tree FINALLY decorated and even got some lights up on the outside of the house.  

 It's fun to watch how much they understand and enjoy the little things this year when it comes to getting ready for Christmas. 


They have been watching Polar Express over and over again and want to see anything associated with Santa Claus.  We have a state Park locally with an old train ride with Santa experience and Chris and I were so excited to take the kids last night.  We were anticipating how much they were going to LOVE seeing Santa and ride a train much like Polar Express. 

We went earlier in the day to get the tickets and they were so excited to ride the train.  

They were so excited getting on the train but NOT so excited when Santa came walking through.  
So to add to what the holiday season REALLY looks like to me, it snowed today.  Last year, Colin didn't enjoy the snow so much but today it was a lot of fun!  

I often forget how observant the kids are because I was totally shocked when Colin laid down and made a snow angel.  WE have never showed him that before but I noticed on Mickey Mouse today that one of the characters did.  


I can't wait to see all of the things that are still yet to come this month!