Thursday, December 16, 2010

Alex's Drawing

Alex has been drawing and writing on the chalkboard a lot lately.  He draws in perspective, even though no one has taught him to do so.  This is one of his earlier drawings, from October.  I put his model on the shelf next to him so he could see it while drawing.  It's fun to watch what comes out of the imagination of his.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Alex is Back at CRC

I should have posted this sooner, but it's been a crazy month.  After that call from the OT last month I requested another meeting with the school district about Alex's placement.  I went into the meeting with the intention of making sure he was going to get the occupational therapy he needed.  I thought that Alex was okay where he was, despite the fact that the district placed him in a classroom without a bathroom, with a teacher who didn't even know what the spectrum is.  Other issues I was unaware of came out during the meeting.  There was a door to the outside in Alex's classroom, which he repeatedly opened.  Alex was being singled out by being walked through the school to the nurse's office to go potty.  They were having phys ed on a stage (which even the PT was concerned about).  To top it all off, when I asked his teacher during the meeting "What are you doing to help Alex develop his functional communication and social skills?" she just said to me with a blank look on her face "I'm not sure what you're asking me."  I don't blame the teacher, or the school. I blame the district. What were they thinking with this placement?

I was surprised when the CSE chair agreed to my request to move Alex back to CRC.  I never thought I would get him into an out-of-district placement without a major fight.  Thank God for my wonderful advocate and for all that I've learned at work that has made me a better advocate for my son.  Alex was back at CRC a week later.  He is very happy and is doing incredibly well.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Movie Night

Spencer is having a long awaited movie night.  On occasion he is allowed to stay up past bedtime to watch a movie that Alex would not want to watch with him (in other words, non-animated and non-Sound of Music).  He's watching The Dark Crystal, eating popcorn, and drinking Aunt Heather's World's Best Chocolate Milk (so named by my nephew C).  He asked for Labyrinth, but I talked him into trying another Jim Henson classic.  And he's enjoying it, of course.  That's my boy!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Junk Food Cravings

I'm learning that I can quell my cravings for junk food with much healthier and satisfying choices.  Craving queso dip and corn chips?  Have some fat-free cottage cheese and salsa with multi-grain tortilla chips.  Dying for a cinnamon roll?  Indulge in a bowl of oatmeal with lots of cinnamon and a little butter and sugar.  My taste buds are satisfied and so is my body.  Nutritious calories go a lot further than junk food calories.

I don't do "diet" food, by the way.  No artificial sweeteners.  No low-fat junk food loaded with artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.  And no low-fat sweets in a box: they always add more sugar to make up for the flavor loss caused by cutting the fat.  Those so called "healthy" snacks may help a person lose weight, but eating them can actually make a body less healthy.

Oh, and if I really want junk food, I'm going to have real junk food.  Everyone needs to be naughty once in awhile!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew

I was asked to read this today at work.  It is a wonderful expression of what it is like to be a child with autism.  From the book of the same name by Ellen Notbohm.
Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew
by Ellen Notbohm  

1.  I am first and foremost a child --  a child with autism.  I am not primarily “autistic.”  My autism is only one aspect of my total character.  It does not define me as a person.  Are you a person with thoughts, feelings and many talents, or are you just fat (overweight), myopic (wear glasses) or klutzy (uncoordinated, not good at sports)?  
As an adult, you have some control over how you define yourself.  If you want to single out a single characteristic, you can make that known.  As a child, I am still unfolding.  Neither you nor I yet know what I may be capable of. Defining me by one characteristic runs the danger of setting up an expectation that may be too low.  And if I get a sense that you don’t think I “can do it,”  my natural response will be:  Why try?

Sensory integration may be the most difficult aspect of autism to understand, but it is arguably the most critical.
2.  My sensory perceptions are disordered.  This means that the ordinary sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of everyday that you may not even notice can be downright painful for me.  The very environment in which I have to live often seems hostile.  I may appear withdrawn or belligerent to you but I am really just trying to defend myself.  Here is why a “simple” trip to the grocery store may be hell for me:
My hearing may be hyper-acute.  Dozens of people are talking at once.  The loud speaker booms today’s special.  Musak whines from the sound system.  Cash registers beep and cough, a coffee grinder is chugging.  The meat cutter screeches, babies wail, carts creak, the fluorescent lighting hums.  My brain can’t filter all the input and I’m in overload!
My sense of smell may be highly sensitive.  The fish at the meat counter isn’t quite fresh, the guy standing next to us hasn’t showered today, the deli is handing out sausage samples, the baby in line ahead of us has a poopy diaper, they’re mopping up pickles on aisle 3 with ammonia….I can’t sort it all out; I’m too nauseous.
Because I am visually oriented (see more on this below), this may be my first sense to become overstimulated.  The fluorescent light is too bright; it makes the room pulsate and hurts my eyes. Sometimes the pulsating light bounces off everything and distorts what I am seeing -- the space seems to be constantly changing.  There’s glare from windows, too many items for me to be able to focus (I may compensate with "tunnel vision"), moving fans on the ceiling, so many bodies in constant motion.  All this affects my vestibular sense, and now I can’t even tell where my body is in space.
Receptive and expressive language and vocabulary can be major challenges:
3.  Please remember to distinguish between won’t (I choose not to) and can’t (I am not able to).  
It isn’t that I don’t listen to instructions.  It’s that I can’t understand you. When you call to me from across the room, this is what I hear: “*&^%$#@, Billy.  #$%^*&^%$&*………” Instead, come speak directly to me in plain words:  “Please put your book in your desk, Billy.  It’s time to go to lunch.”  This tells me what you want me to do and what is going to happen next.  Now it is much easier for me to comply.
4.  I am a concrete thinker.  This means I interpret language very literally.  It’s very confusing for me when you say, “Hold your horses, cowboy!” when what you really mean is “Please stop running.”  Don’t tell me something is a “piece of cake” when there is no dessert in sight and what you really mean is “this will be easy for you to do.”  When you say “It’s pouring cats and dogs,” I see pets coming out of a pitcher.  Please just tell me “It’s raining very hard.”
Idioms, puns, nuances, double entendres and sarcasm are lost on me.
5.  Please be patient with my limited vocabulary.  It’s hard for me to tell you what I need when I don’t know the words to describe my feelings.  I may be hungry, frustrated, frightened or confused but right now those words are beyond my ability to express.  Be alert for body language, withdrawal, agitation or other signs that something is wrong.
Or, there’s a flip side to this:  I may sound like a “little professor” or movie star, rattling off words or whole scripts well beyond my developmental age.  These are messages I have memorized from the world around me to compensate for my language deficits because I know I am expected to respond when spoken to.  They may come from books, TV, the speech of other people.  It is called “echolalia.”  I don’t necessarily understand the context or the terminology I’m using.  I just know that it gets me off the hook for coming up with a reply.
6.  Because language is so difficult for me, I am very visually oriented.  Please show me how to do something rather than just telling me.  And please be prepared to show me many times.  Lots of consistent repetition helps me learn.
A visual schedule is extremely helpful as I move through my day.  Like your day-timer, it relieves me of the stress of having to remember what comes next, makes for smooth transition between activities, helps me manage my time and meet your expectations.  Here’s a great website for learning more about visual schedules:
Don’t let autism cause you to lose sight of the whole child.  Self-esteem is crucial.
7.  Please focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can’t do. Like any other human, I can’t learn in an environment where I’m constantly made to feel that I’m not good enough and that I need “fixing.”  Trying anything new when I am almost sure to be met with criticism, however “constructive,” becomes something to be avoided.  Look for my strengths and you will find them. There is more than one “right” way to do most things.
8.  Please help me with social interactions. It may look like I don’t want to play with the other kids on the playground, but sometimes it’s just that I simply do not know how to start a conversation or enter a play situation.  If you can encourage other children to invite me to join them at kickball or shooting baskets, it may be that I’m delighted to be included.
9.  Try to identify what triggers my meltdowns.  Meltdowns, blow-ups, tantrums or whatever you want to call them are even more horrid for me than they are for you.  They occur because one or more of my senses has gone into overload.   If you can figure out why my meltdowns occur, they can be prevented.  Keep a log noting times, settings, people, activities.  A pattern may emerge.
10.  If you are a family member, please love me unconditionally.  Banish thoughts like, “If he would just……” and “Why can’t she…..”  You did not fulfill every last expectation your parents had for you and you wouldn’t like being constantly reminded of it.  I did not choose to have autism.  But remember that it is happening to me, not you.  Without your support, my chances of successful, self-reliant adulthood are slim.  With your support and guidance, the possibilities are broader than you might think.  I promise you – I am worth it.
And finally, three words:  Patience.  Patience.  Patience.  Work to view my autism as a different ability rather than a disability.  Look past what you may see as limitations and see the gifts autism has given me.  It may be true that I’m not good at eye contact or conversation, but have you noticed that I don’t lie, cheat at games, tattle on my classmates or pass judgment on other people?  Also true that I probably won’t be the next Michael Jordan.  But with my attention to fine detail and capacity for extraordinary focus, I might be the next Einstein.  Or Mozart.  Or Van Gogh.
They had autism too.
The answer to Alzheimer’s, the enigma of extraterrestrial life -- what future achievements from today’s children with autism, children like me,  lie ahead?  
All that I might become won’t happen without you as my foundation.  Think through some of those societal ‘rules’ and if they don’t make sense for me, let them go.  Be my advocate, be my friend, and we’ll see just how far I can go.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Alex is Drawing

Up until two weeks ago I had never seen Alex draw anything but scribbles.  When I visited his class I was shocked to watch him draw a truck.  Not the greatest drawing, mind you, but definitely a truck.  He was very careful and focused as he drew it.  Three days ago he drew a person on the chalkboard, copying from memory what my mother had drawn a few minutes before.  This is what it's like with a child with autism: you never know just what might be going on inside the mind of your child.  Alex is constantly surprising me.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Shoe Box

I just decided to use an empty shoe box to store some extra school supplies in.  As I confirmed that it was long enough to hold a 12" ruler I realized "My babies would have fit in here when they were born!". 

Take a moment to take a good look at one of your shoe boxes.

My boys really are miracles.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Letter From Spencer's (Public) School

 Excerpts from a letter from Spencer's kindergarten teacher:
We continue to support and encourage independence and decision making. . . . Your child is beginning to independently select work that they have had lessons on.  Others are beginning to request lessons of interest and of course we will follow their lead.
When have you ever seen a letter like this home from a public school?  A school that wants to teach my child what he wants to learn in the way that he is best able to learn it?!  I love this school and I love his teacher.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

And so the struggle begins

Alex's new OT called me on Friday to tell me that he would be sending home an IEP modification form for me to sign.  He said, and I quote, "It's physically not possible for me to provide OT at the rate specified in his IEP.  I'm only in the building twice a week."  He wants to reduce Alex's OT to two groups and one consult per week: no 1-on-1!  No way I'm signing off on that.  The district might be able to pull that with some parents, unfortunately, but not with this one.  No way, buddy!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Not Planning on Sleeping Tonight

Tomorrow is Ally's first day of kindergarten.  New school and new teacher after 2 1/2 years with the wonderful Rita.  I'm so nervous and excited.  I know myself: I can't sleep when I feel this way.  So. . . I'm not even planning on trying.  At some point my body will give out and sleep will take over.  I'm not going to fight it the way I usually do.  Thank God I don't have to work tomorrow.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Alex's Toileting at School

It's quarter after five on Friday and I just got off the phone with the CSE chairperson.  She assured me that the staff at Alex's school can indeed take him into the boys' restroom.  She added his need for toileting supervision to his IEP while we were talking and said she would send me an updated copy.  One less thing to worry about.  Maybe I'll actually be able to sleep tonight!

Where's the School Bus?

It's Friday afternoon.  School starts Tuesday and Monday is a holiday.  I haven't heard from the bus company yet about when Alex is going to be picked up Tuesday morning!  So I finally get in touch with them only to find out that they want to pick him up at 7:30 AM every day!  I think I'll be driving him to school.  I don't even know what time the school day starts there; I'm assuming sometime between 8:45 and 9:00.  The school hasn't sent us anything.  I guess SE students often get left out of the loop in this district.  All these unknowns are driving me nuts.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Good Day!

I talked to an advocate at a local organization this morning about the issues with Alex's placement.  I'm meeting with her tomorrow.  Just feeling like I'm doing something productive about the problems brings me some relief from my anxiety.

We visited Spencer's kindergarten class this afternoon.  Wow!!!  I'm in love and so excited!  It's incredible!  My dream school for him!  Imagine, a public Montessori school!

To top it all off, when we got home I had a letter in the mail informing me that we got our respite funding!  Woo hoo!!!!

Alex's Kindergarten Class

We visited Alex's new school today and met his teacher.  She seems nice and open and willing to learn, but she knows nothing about autism spectrum disorders.  When I mentioned "the spectrum" to her on the phone last week she didn't know what I was talking about.  On top of that, there is not a bathroom in the classroom.  They had no idea that Alex had a one-on-one for the last two years and that he can't go to the bathroom by himself.  The aide told me she is not allowed to go into the boys' bathroom with a student.  In Alex's CPSE meeting we made it clear that toileting is one of the things he needs support with.  I feel so sick and so sad and so stressed.  I hate this!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Alex Talk

Alex just came into my room with his cup and said "I want some milk, please." Totally independent request!!! And with good manners no less!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Spencer's Statue

Spencer's Statue, originally uploaded by doublethefun.

He's very creative, making this statue out of random things from his room. Love the legs. And the sun visor on the head.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I'm Tired

I'm usually a pretty optimistic person, but I'm having a hard time this week.  I hate to complain, because I'm grateful that my boys are as healthy as they are, but I'm tired.  I'm tired of taking a 5 year old to the bathroom every hour because he doesn't know when to go himself.  I'm tired of fighting with him to get him there.  I'm tired of fighting with the other one to wash his hands after using the potty.  I'm tired of cleaning up pee from two 5 year old boys who can't seem to get most of it in the toilet.  I'm tired of having to give Alex what amounts to feeding therapy at every meal.

I know there are people who have it a lot worse.  It's just hard this week because Spencer got a diagnosis and we're realizing that we really need to put a lot of time and energy into helping him, too.  I thought he was going to be my "normal"* child, after he got over the delays due to his prematurity.  I thought he would be the easy one, but he just keeps getting harder.  I know, I know: now we have a diagnosis and can get the help we need.  I'm just tired right now, tired of working so hard.  Parents of typicals have no idea how easy they have it!  I wouldn't trade my kids in for any others, I just wish I could have an easier day once in awhile.

*Normal is overrated, and non-existent anyway.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Interactive Alex

The boys are watching a movie they've never seen before.  A character was being chased by a rock monster.  I heard Alex say "Oh no! . . . Be careful! . . . Run!"  I've never heard him talk to a movie like that before.  Pretty cool!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Struggling with Spencer's Diagnosis

I'm having a really hard time with accepting that Spencer is not a more typical child.  I know it sounds awful, and it's just something I'm sorting through, but I was kind of holding on to the hope that at least one of my boys would be more typical.  I kept thinking that his behaviors were just the effects of his age and some sensory issues.  They were becoming more problematic at home but I thought it was just a stage he would outgrow.  I had no idea until this week how much of a problem his behaviors at school are.  I don't know if I was just in denial, or if his teacher and I just weren't communicating enough.

I was thinking to myself this afternoon "How am I going to parent two kids with special needs?" and then I thought "The same way you have been, silly!"  The diagnosis doesn't change anything.  It just gives us tools to use to help Spencer.  I have to accept that he needs that extra help.  I have put so much time and energy into helping Alex.  Now I need to split my attention more and give Spencer what he needs.  I'm just feeling overwhelmed by it all right now.  Need to take some deep breaths and do some more reading.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spencer & ADHD

Spencer was diagnosed with ADHD on Monday.  I wasn't surprised, and I'm not hung up on the label.  It will help him to get the services he needs and help us learn how to parent him better.  I'm reading up on it now and just came across this on Dr. Sears' website.  It's as though I could have written it about Spencer.
Johnny, 8 years old, seemed to hear the first instruction given by the teacher but often missed the next two. He had an excellent memory for things that interested him, like baseball players' names, or the exact words of a television commercial, but seemed completely unable to learn his multiplication tables. Sometimes he had trouble getting started on his schoolwork. Once started, he would abandon it long before it was completed to sharpen a pencil, start on something else, or just sit and play. This seeming inability to attend to an assigned task for any reasonable length of time was quite confusing to his parents, as they had observed time and again how Johnny could play for hours with his building set or video games. Yet it was a struggle to get him out the door for school each morning because he was easily sidetracked. His mother would find him still in his pajamas and sprawled on his bed with a hand-held video game 15 minutes after he had been sent upstairs to brush his teeth and get dressed.
His report card said, "More effort needed." His parents felt he was fooling around at school and tried taking privileges away to punish him. Johnny had been examined by the family doctor and tested by a special education teacher and neither one found a problem with his attention span in these one-on-one situations. His parents felt Johnny was the brightest of their four children by far, but he was failing the third grade! "He's just so creative." they said. From nowhere he comes out with these fantastic ideas! When he gets into inventing something, his energy seems endless, but he won't stick to any of his school assignments unless we really sit on him. When he's working on something that is not his own creation, he is a real scatterbrain. He irritates his teacher because he says the first thing that comes into his mind. He jumps from one idea to the next. He just doesn't think things through."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Favorite Moments of the Day-Mother's Day 2010

Alex, drawing on the easel with markers, declared himself "Alex and the Purple Crayon".

Alex is in his bedroom playing, I'm in mine on the computer.  He starts his usual do-do-loo singing and I recognize the tune: the William Tell Overture.

Yes, life with a child with autism is hard sometimes, but moments like these remind me of all that there is to rejoice about.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Kindergarten For Alex

This morning we had Alex's CSE meeting to determine his placement for next fall.  After much discussion it was decided that we would try placing him in the 8.1.2 class at our district elementary school.  It is a self-contained classroom with eight students, one special ed teacher, and two teaching assistants.  He and Spencer will be at the same school, which I am happy about.

I'm nervous, however, about the staff's ability to meet Alex's intense needs in the classroom.  Will they be able to give him a break when he begins to feel overwhelmed, or provide appropriate sensory input when he's having trouble focusing or sitting still?  The speech therapist from the school assured me that she was confident of the staff's ability and willingness to do so.  The placement will hopefully strike the balance between meeting Alex's therapeutic needs and allowing him exposure to typically developing peers, which he has really benefited from in his current program.

It's a gamble no matter where he's placed.  We can only do our best to find what we feel is the appropriate placement for him and then hope it really is.  My intuition tells me that we've made the right decision.  Only time will tell.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Not Easy Like Sunday Morning

It's a rainy Sunday morning.  Seemed like a good day to make waffles, eggs, and Canadian bacon and sit down to a relaxing breakfast with the family.  Except that two five year old boys decided to throw tantrums all through breakfast.  Mike and I ate while pretending that we couldn't hear anything but each other.  Alex came out of it but Spencer is still going.  No matter what I do he just won't let go.  Getting up before six a.m. is not a good idea, boys.  So much for a relaxing, rainy Sunday.  I think the television is going to get some extra use today. . .

Thursday, April 22, 2010


We were listening to one of our favorite children's albums on the way home from school today.
Spencer: "Mommy, did God make the animals, too?"  Me: "Yes, honey."  Spencer: "He should have made a squalb so we could see what it looks like."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Where In The World Will Alex Go To School?

Alex's CPSE (Committee on Preschool Special Education) meeting is in two weeks.  This is the meeting at which the school district will determine what placement is appropriate for him when he transitions to kindergarten in the fall.  I got a letter from CPSE a few weeks ago asking for permission to have a psych ed evaluation done to aid in the process.  Okay, fine, I signed the paperwork and sent it back.  Last week the school psychologist showed up to evaluate Alex at school, without an appointment or any forewarning.  I didn't even know about it until it was over and done with.  Ally's teacher had no time to prepare him for the interruption in his day.  The psychologist didn't take any time to get to know him and appeared not to have even read his file.  She wasn't able to get any data for the tests because he was "non-compliant".  Well, what did she expect?  He's autistic, he didn't know her, and he had no forewarning.  To top it all off, last week was a horrible week for him, between potty training and getting over a bad cold.

The psychologist's conclusion was that the district doesn't have a placement for Alex right now.  She thought the 6.1.2 class in-district would work for him, but it's already full for next year.  She doesn't think the class at our local school, which is an 8.1.1, is right for him, but I've heard wonderful things about the teacher (she used to teach at Spectrum Services), and all of the children in the class are on the spectrum.  The district is required by law to provide the appropriate program for your child, but where do you go and what do you do with the child while you're fighting with the district and state to give him what he needs?!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Potty Training Update

Potty training Alex is going well.  I'm so glad we decided to follow the protocol that's used at the center where I work.  We've been doing underwear only for 8 days now (other than in the car).  Yesterday there were zero accidents!  For the last two mornings he has woken up dry.  He gets it, he really does!  I don't know when he'll be able to sense on his own that he needs to go to the bathroom, but I know that will come.  He knows how to hold it between scheduled potty times, and that's big!  The emotionality that came with the big change from diapers to underwear seems to be subsiding.  He's adjusting to the change and has become more comfortable.  Potty training an autistic boy is not as terrible as I feared: we just needed to find the right plan and make the commitment to do it.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Alex and Spencer are Five Years Old Today

At this hour five years ago I was going into an OR to have my babies delivered via emergency c-section.  They were just 24 weeks 3 days old gestationally.  That means they were born 16 weeks early.  It was scary, but I never believed for an instant that I would lose them.  Today they are happy, healthy boys.  They still have some delays, and Alex is on the autism spectrum, but their issues are nothing any parent of full-term babies might deal with.  I am so blessed to have these incredibly strong, wonderful children.  Here's a little photo history of their lives so far.

Alex the night he was born. 18 oz., 12.5 inches
Spencer the night he was born. 17.5 oz., 12.5 inches
The first time I got to hold them both together. They were 11 weeks old.
Ally's hand in mine. He was a week or two old.
Spencer at just over two months, about a month before I got to take him home.
First birthday
Second birthday
Third birthday
Fourth birthday
Fifth birthday - my super boys!!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Potty Success

It's two days until Ally's fifth birthday.  We've been working hard on potty training for a couple weeks, putting him on the potty every 20 minutes or so, with no success.  Today we went to see the ophthalmologist up in Albany.  I put him on the potty there and he peed!  Later we went to lunch at a restaurant: he did it again!!  Still later we were shopping at Christmas Tree Shoppes: a third time!!!  We dropped our friend off at her house an hour and a half later: he was still dry and did it a fourth time!!!!  We got home an hour later: still dry and peed in the potty for the fifth time today!!!!!  Five times in five different locations!  Way to ring in your fifth birthday, Ally Bear!  Guess we don't have to worry about him being uncomfortable using the potty in strange places.  Woo hoo!!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

New Gourmet Treat

Spencer was walking around the house this morning singing "Veggie snails, veggie snails, veggies snails, veggie snails."  What's that Spencer?  Soy escargot??

Friday, March 12, 2010

Alex's Newest Spelling Word

Alex spelled a new word on the fridge this evening. I asked him what it says and he sounded it out. I think it was just a coincidence and I don't think he knows what it means, but it is so funny to hear him say it. Maybe he read it on the cover of Cosmo in the check-out line at the grocery store . . . this reading thing could be dangerous!


Alex just pooped on the potty! He'll be five in less than three weeks and I've been kicking myself for not being more consistent with the potty thing. There are plenty of children at the center where I work who are lower functioning than him but are potty trained. I want so badly for him to be trained by September, and I'm afraid the longer we wait to do it the harder it will be. But I think he's ready, I really do. I'm so excited!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sending My Boys to Public School

I called the local elementary school and made appointments for kindergarten registration today. It's hard to believe that Alex and Spencer will be five at the end of this month. Where did the time go? For awhile, probably when they were 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 (the worst of the younger years, IMHO) I wished that they would stop growing so fast and be my babies for a little longer. Now I'm really enjoying their growth and learning. We have so much fun together now. They understand so much more and are curious, funny, and so smart.

I'm a little worried about what public school will do to them. As I've learned in my educational administration studies, public schools were created in part to socialize our children into the particular beliefs and values of our culture. Intentional or not, schools have a homogenizing effect on our nation's children. I don't ever want Alex and Spencer to lose their individuality, don't ever want them to become uncomfortable with being who they are. I don't want them to be afraid to admit that they don't know something and ask questions. I don't want them to feel that they have to pretend to like something because if they don't they'll be "weird". We are a family of wierdos and we try to let them know every day that it's wonderful that they are unique. I hope that message will ring stronger for them than any message they might get at school.

There is also such a strong focus on standards and assessments now and that worries me. School should not be all about learning facts and skills. Children need to retain their thirst for knowledge, their creativity, imagination, and ability to think for themselves. I don't want my children to grow up to be people who need someone to tell them what to do. I want them to grow up to be people who think outside the box, who question and challenge, who explore and create. Critical thinking and autonomy are lost when children are told what to do and how to do it all day every day. Unfortunately our nation has become so focused on outcomes and competition in the global economy (which are important, I agree) that raising children who are great thinkers is neglected.

So here we go on the adventure of public education. I have a feeling I'll be a very involved parent! Like every mom, I want my children to live to their fullest potential, and I'll do everything I can to help them be the best possible people they can be.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January 19, 2010

This morning Mike asked Alex to come to the table for breakfast. Alex whined and said something to Mike (he can't remember the exact words) to indicate that he needed a new diaper. He was poopy! This is the first time ever he has let anyone know he needed a diaper change! Whoo hooo!!!

I noticed this morning that Spencer looks even taller next to Alex than he did a month or so ago when he was measured an inch taller. I put them back to back and I swear he's got close to two inches on Alex. He's a Spencer sprout!

I'm beginning to think I have ADD. I can't concentrate on one task for more than five minutes. My mind is always wandering and I can't keep track of my thoughts. I can't remember something somebody told me two minutes ago. It's making schoolwork exceedingly difficult!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Paging Dr. Conklin

Spencer diagnosed me with an "ear injection" this morning. "I have an ear injection?" I asked. "Yes," he said, "because your diaphragm isn't working." Guess during all our anatomy talks I forgot to mention that your ear is nowhere near your diaphragm. Sigh...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Our Not So Simple Lives

How do you teach children not to take what they have for granted when we live in a society where most people have so much more than they need? I feel as though most of the children I know have a sense of entitlement about things. I understand our inner desires to be comfortable and be entertained, and I see how our society feeds into this. From within and without we are pushed to have more and live better. There are children all over the world who live with so much less and aren't any less happy. Our children place far too much value on things: video games, computers, television, toys, etc. I wish I could make my own kids understand that we don't need stuff to lead happy and fulfilled lives. I'm influenced by the same forces as everyone else, but I long to live a more simple life, both for myself and as an example to my children.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Growing Sentences

A few days ago when I asked Alex why he was upset he tearfully replied, in a spontaneous five-word sentence, "The Leapster TV is gone." Just yesterday he uttered a spontaneous ten-word sentence: "I want to get into the van and go home." Only problem . . . we were already there!