Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Baseball Season

When you have a spouse who works in Athletics, your life is sort of lived in seasons.  In our house because of Chris' job, we go from soccer season to basketball, lacrosse (that's a new one that was added) to finally baseball season.  Both of our kids have been raised so far in this atmosphere and both have adopted the 'love for the game' that Chris has to be doing his job.  In the spring and summer, Chris works an "extra" job at the local minor league baseball stadium that he has been doing for over 10 years now.  The kids have really taken a liking to visiting Daddy while he's working there and they are now at an age where it is "easier" (a very loose word to use) to bring them as they are following directions and really enjoying themselves.  The nice thing is that since it's essentially down the road, I can go for a little bit, get a little dessert, walk around and watch the game, and then head home as its nearing bedtime.  

Since the team started this spring, we have gone to two games and the kids are loving it. 

Just like she did with basketball, the first thing Kailey says when she walks into the stadium is "Mommy, can I have my popcorn please?". 

For the first game this year, I brought the wagon to get them into the stadium and to "control" them when I was concerned that they weren't listening.  However, they actually proved me wrong in showing me that they are REALLY good listeners and the wagon became more of a nuisance than the original purpose.  The second game I went sans wagon and it actually went REALLY well.  In order to walk through the parking lot, they must hold my hand and then they have a tiny bit more freedom once inside.  However, in busy areas of the concourse they have to stay with me and hold my hands. 

It's nice to have a local alternative for the summer AND to be able to hang out and visit Daddy!

Plus we even get some "special" privileges  as Daddy works up in the press box/production room. 

Looking forward to enjoying this season with the kids!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Potty Training...Nightmare

Those that have been following this blog know that we have been at this potty training business for a solid two years now.  There has been nothing in my now 5 years of being a mother that has been more trying and left me feeling like an utter failure more than potty training.  Granted, I have not yet gotten to the "heart" of placement for Colin for next year so maybe I will change my mind, but even with all that we have researched and discussed so far with that...potty training is DEFINITELY worse in this moment. 
Here's a recap:
Colin: we started with this when he was around 3 to first expose him to the potty and start discussing it.  He was not communicating anywhere near close to what he is now so we were missing a vital component in having him use the potty.  We had one really rough spot early on where we decided to back off for a bit but once we resumed we have been going ever since.  Through the past two years we have definitely made progress in that he is pretty much a scheduled potty user.  We have really great days where our schedule works and he stays dry all day and even communicates here and there when he has to go but then we have days like today where I feel like we have gone so far backwards.  He does pretty well on the schedule at both schools but if the schedule is slightly disrupted, so is the dry pull-up.  

Kailey: Her old daycare started for her right around the age of 2, maybe even earlier.  By the end of that school year, she was staying pretty dry and we were following through at home.  When the summer came, so did the accidents to the point it got so bad we had to go backwards and put her back in pull-ups (I know, this was probably really bad to do but the accidents were so bad!).  At the end of the summer, I did the 3-day potty training method with both kids and by the end of day 3, Kailey still wouldn't go poopies on the potty, but did really well independently with staying dry and going by herself.  However, even with our consistency, the same thing happened again.  She is so horribly stubborn right now so that half the time I want to cry or scream at her because I just don't get it.  When I ask her why she didn't go on the potty and instead had an accident, she will tell me "because I don't WANT to go on the potty". 

I'll be honest.  I am burnt.  I've been reading another book on potty training that was recommended to me and while there are lots of great valid points, I feel like a failure because the book basically told me I was.  There have been so many things we did wrong with this and it's so frustrating! I KNOW my children will not still be wearing pull-ups at 10, but getting there is a battle.  It's tough because I feel like it doesn't help that I can't be HOME every day to devote to this makes it very challenging.  Colin definitely has his issues as to why he's not there yet but I STILL don't fully understand why he's not doing better because he does get it for the most part.  Kailey is just plain stubborn and totally knows what she's doing.  I have so many great suggestions and at this point, I really need a nice stretch of days to devote.  I think that while I will keep the routine going, I am going to have to wait until I get out of school to do a "boot camp" again. 


Disclaimer: I chose beautiful, sweet photos of my children to look at while writing a post on a subject that has caused me more angst than ANYTHING else in raising children!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Take Your Child to Work Day!

At our last faculty meeting, some fellow teachers brought up the fact that April 24th was take your child to work day and asked permission from our principal to take advantage of the day.  I was excited at the possibility of bringing Colin in, especially because I talk about Colin all of the time (and Kailey too) in reference to respecting people's differences and why it's important to be careful of word choices.  My students love hearing about him and ask about him a lot.  While I was a little bit wary of him making it through the entire day, especially because at one point I have three classes in a row, I decided to give it our best shot and take my chances.  
I honestly can't say that Colin surprised me because I knew that he would enjoy the attention from the other kids and exploring a new place but I was so pleasantly surprised that we really had an AWESOME day together.  He was so great, so well behaved, so social, and gave the students exactly what they wanted....high-fives, hugs, pounds, and hand shakes. 

 Before the day started, he was very open to meeting my coworkers and shaking hands to introduce himself.  He didn't even need me to prompt to provide his name upon meeting new people.  Prior to the students arriving he kept asking me where the "kids" were and when they would be singing and dancing.  I don't think he quite got the fact that these were middle school "kids" that I had (and that I teach science and not music), but he had them wrapped around his finger anyway. 

During part of my day I have library duty and our friend Mer hung out with us (who Colin knows very well) and another friend's kids were there.  He snuggled right up on the couch while they were watching videos on Mer's phone. 

Coincidentally, I was starting my genetics unit today so I took some time to explain to my students the difference between a "normal" karyotype and one for someone with Trisomy 21.  They asked a lot of great questions and compared the difference between the two.  I should never have worried about keeping him occupied because during my classes that I was "lecturing" and then doing an activity, he literally sat there attentively listening to what I had to say.  If I would look at him he would point to me and tell me to keep talking.  The kids loved it because then he started making finger puppets on the screen at the end of their notes.  They certainly didn't mind the distraction.  At the end of each class, he would give everyone a high-five on their way out, which they loved. 

I wish I could have taken a picture during one of my class periods of 8th graders because at the beginning of the class, he went right over without me saying anything, and sat at this desk (above) with another girl).  I found it interesting because he was still a little shy and wasn't quite ready to do that in any other class.  He sat there with her for the whole 45 minute class and worked on using his scissors while she did her work.  Every once in awhile he would say something to her and then go back to work.  It was hysterical to see this little boy sitting in the middle of a class of 8th graders. 

He truly proved that he is an observer today when Mer came to visit us and he made her and I sit at the desks while he drew on the board and kept asking us to tell him what it was (he was drawing circles over and over).  He was essentially "teaching" us a lesson which was incredibly cute. 

I was so proud of him today for showing just how well behaved he can be, using language appropriately (I had to remind myself to stop jumping in for him to "translate" because a lot of the times he WAS understandable), socializing the right way by shaking hands and giving high-fives, and introducing himself.  He paid attention during class, whispered when he wanted to ask me a question, occupied himself when he was getting a little tired and was just really, really good. 

It truly was a GREAT experience having Colin there with me today.  He was so much fun! 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

More Birthday Fun!

This year we decided to try a "friend" birthday party at an outside location.  After one of our numerous ice cream store visits, we learned that they host birthday parties and decided to give it a whirl since our kids love ice cream so much.  We figured it was a bigger year for Colin turning 5 and would be fun to try. 

We told the kids about it pretty far in advance to it was a hot topic in our house.  By the time the day actually got there, they were so excited and couldn't wait.  
The ice cream shop gave them the "special treatment" as their names were up on the sign when we pulled up.  
As can be expected with a group of 3-5 year olds, it was a little chaotic at the beginning of the party as they greeted their friends and then ran around together. 


Once we got them all settled, our "guy" for the day split the kids into two groups and gave them a tour of the back of the ice cream store and took them to see how where they store the ice cream and how it gets made.  
They even give the kids a little sample to try right out of the machine (which actually tastes the best then!).  

When the tour was over, the kids had pizza and then were served their own selection of ice cream which they were able to decorate with lots of different topping choices (I think they enjoyed that the best!).


 Overall, we had a really great time and the kids really enjoyed themselves!  It was definitely an experience!  Thanks to all of Colin and Kailey's friends for making it so much fun (and for all of the great gifts too!).  


And as always, thanks to Jorie for her photos! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spring Break Fun

Over spring break we were able to set up a little mini-trip to the Inner Harbor in Baltimore so that we could take the kids to the Aquarium.  It also worked out perfectly that we were able to time our trip with good friends of ours who often make blog appearances.  We were really excited as we haven't done something like this in awhile. 
We timed our trip almost perfectly so that we could meet at the rest stop in Delaware and follow each other the rest of the way to the zoo in Baltimore.  Thanks to technology and a traffic-free ride, our kids were really good in the car and were really happy to see their friends.  However, this picture came very shortly after Kailey broke a piece of jewelry in the rest stop gift store that was thankfully was written off as "damaged goods". 

Chris and I really made a big mistake as we forgot an essential item for a place that requires a lot of walking...the umbrella strollers.  Generally, they are really good about walking, however, Colin doesn't have the same stamina as other kids his age and often tires a bit more easily.  

 We knew we didn't have much of a choice so we were just going to "wing it".  It wasn't as bad as we expected however, Kailey was wearing newer shoes and got a pretty big blister while walking around.  I felt guilty after I told her several times (after she was clearly limping) that she needed to walk when she kept asking for "up".  We did have to alternate carrying the kids but for the most part, we made it. 

Kailey really enjoyed the animals but Colin has a legitimate fear with animals and even though they were behind fences and blocked from him, he still was very nervous and often wouldn't go to close (he stayed AWAY from the giraffes and elephants.  I guess they were just too big for him). 

After the zoo, we hung out in our room while the kids happily ran around playing.  It's really, really, really nice that our kids get along with each other so well.  My kids especially liked the novelty of going over to their "friend's room" to play.  We were right next to the Orioles stadium, so it was about a 10 minute walk down to the inner harbor where we got dinner.  Considering we were rolling with 5 kids, they were really good and dinner was exceptionally yummy.  Colin even tried Chris' shrimp and ate a lot of his pasta dish!
 With MUCH THANKS to our friend Jorie, she was able to get a lot of great pictures of the trip.  I especially love this one as it caught a cute moment between Zach and Colin. 
 After dinner, the plan was to tire the kids out and let them run around to ease the transition to bed that night.  We have had some past "not so good" experiences with sleeping in the hotel room with the kids, but after a busy day and an active evening, we really didn't have any troubles at all. 

 When I look at the next picture I have to laugh...it is by far one of my favorite pics from the whole trip. 

The next day, after an early breakfast, we braved the pouring rain and made it down to the Aquarium. 

Overall, this was a much better experience for Colin because I think he felt more comfortable with the animals being more "contained" than they were at the zoo. 

He was much more interested in checking out the different tanks and even talking about the things he saw inside. 

After lunch together, it was time for us to head back home but we had so much fun on our little mini-vacation.  We are so grateful that the kids have such great "lifelong" friends in Liam, Kaia and Quinn.  When I look at some of these pictures, I can't get over how much they look like mini-adults! 

Thanks guys for a super fun time together!  We love you!




Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy 5th Birthday Colin!

A couple of years ago, I would have thought that writing Colin's 5th birthday post would be incredibly emotional for me.  Even a year ago I would have expected myself to have a harder time writing this birthday post compared to any other one.  What I am feeling today is just excitement, pride, and most especially, totally in love with a little boy who stole my heart when he first entered this world. 

Chris' and my journey together with Colin has been one that has certainly had its ups and downs, but mostly its ups.  While I can still open up that little box that contains those feelings we felt when Colin was first born and brought with him a diagnosis of Down Syndrome that we weren't expecting, they often stay tucked away the farther away we get from that day.  While Chris and I were incredibly scared, Colin literally showed us the way and today we are wishing our little boy the happiest of birthdays. 

We are turning a big corner as Colin turns 5 in that he will be heading to Kindergarten next year.  We will be starting a new chapter together and although it once again feels a little scary, we know that Colin will continue to show us the way.  We will just continue to champion for him and love him unconditionally...

Happy 5th birthday Colin! Words cannot express how much we love you, how proud we are of all that you have accomplished, and how happy you make us.  Here's to many more years of wonderfulness! 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Special Olympics Strider Bike Program

Because of Colin's involvement in the Special Olympics of NJ Young Athlete Program, he had the opportunity to participate in a pilot program for Strider Bikes.  Prior to the start of this program, I had never heard of a Strider bike before so I was unfamiliar with the idea behind.  However, the goal is to teach children how to ride a two-wheeler by first learning how to balance and steer before learning how to pedal. 

We were very excited to take advantage of this opportunity because Colin does enjoy trying to ride his tricycle and he is very motivated by gross motor activities.  His stamina is not as long as most kids' are, but, he is always willing to try and last as long as he can. 

The program started this past Saturday at the Special Olympics facility and because the kids' had their birthday party that day, I was unable to go with Chris and Colin (Kailey and I were getting ready...that post will soon follow!).  

When we explained to Colin where he was going and what he would be doing, he was really excited to get his helmet and bring it with him. 

The program started with some basic warm up activities.  While Colin is not always interested, it is important for us to have Colin participate and follow directions.  We do this because we hope that it follows through in all aspects, especially school. 

After warm up, the goal was for the kids to get used to simply holding a handlebar and then work on steering the handle bar in the different directions that they are going. 

They played some basic "follow the leader" activities so that they could learn to steer as they were moving in different directions. 

Because the Strider bike uses your feet to navigate, the bike had to be adjusted to Colin's height so that he could use it appropriately. 

I was so happy to hear from Chris that Colin did really well following directions and getting introduced to the bike. 

In the video at the end of this post, you will see some of the specific things they did with Colin to get him to use the bike through a certain "course" but it was really neat that he was able to use the bike and follow directions to go in certain directions. 

The goal of the first week was just to get the kids introduced and to practice some basic things.  We are really looking forward to seeing where the next 4 weeks will take us and what Colin may be able to accomplish at the end.  Maybe we will skip a trike and go right to a big boy bike!