Monday, August 29, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
I enjoy it and these photos make me laugh out loud because I think about how he examines each one after I take it and admires himself. I know we are going to buy him his own camera for Christmas so he will stop trying to take mine.
Several people have asked me how school is going for the boys. Brendan is just loving it but is having a difficult time with the schedule. He can't understand why he doesn't go to Kindergarten every day. We have a color coded calendar that shows his Kindergarten days in blue and the other group of kids in yellow, so he can visually see what is going on. But, like many of us, he doesn't understand why it has to be so complicated!! HE can't wait for his next day of school.
Aidan loved his first day of school and I am told he is doing well. I wish I could be a fly on the wall and see what is going on, though. There has been a lot of turmoil involving school these past few weeks. The main thing is that the school district opened a new elementary school this year and many staff members from our school left to go to this new building. We lost the principal, the intervention specialist from the cognitive disabilities learning center, and all of the Kindergarten teachers. So, there is a lot of learning that all of our new people need to do and there isn't anyone left who has experience dealing with what is going on. They somehow need to organize the schedules of 16 children with cognitive disabilities, 6 of whom are in Kindergarten with the insane every-other-day schedule, with the two new teachers (3 kids with disabilities in each class). So far it has been a logistical nightmare. I can tell they are trying very hard. I have gotten at least 4 or 5 calls from the principal in the last 2 weeks and I have spoken to her in person just as many times. The teacher is young and ambitious and she will be great with the kids, but she really doesn't know much about IEP's yet. I can tell she is interested in learning, though. I remain optimistic about half of the time, and the other half I am in tears at this point. I'm just hoping everything comes together soon. There are really a lot of kids in Kindergarten and so many new people. They don't have a handle on the kids needs yet. I've also had very dramatic emotions...at times I'm worried they are switching the kids Kindergarten days and I am going to have to reorganize every therapy appointment we have scheduled; then I'm worried we are switching Kindergarten teachers and I will have to get Aidan prepped all over again; then I'm worried because they think Aidan should go 5 days a week; then I'm worried because they are trying to pull him from class when they shouldn't be; then Aidan wouldn't even touch his lunch the first day; before school even started I had to make what felt like a trillion phone calls to track down a harness (seat belt) for the bus; then the bus shows up on the wrong day, etc., etc., etc.. This will all get figured out soon and will hopefully be a distant memory. I only hope Aidan makes it through!! Like I said, they are making a real effort. I'm sure the principal doesn't have to be calling me every day, right?? The good news is that the kids probably don't realize what Scotte and I are going through, except I have spent many hours on the phone this week and Brendan doesn't miss a trick. He hasn't asked any questions about it yet, though!
Well, that is my school update in a very condensed form. I don't want to go into too many details, but I'm trying to convey a little of the confusion going on. Wish us all luck!!
Thursday, August 25, 2011
The kids were settled in when I left the school this morning and I got to watch them in gym class a little bit. Aidan was sticking to Brendan like glue! I'm sure they will both branch out once they know the other kids.I can't even begin to describe the emotional roller coaster of the last few weeks trying to get everything in place for Aidan's first day (Brendan's, too, but obviously things are a little more complicated for Aidan). It has not been smooth sailing; my friend and I have both commented that we feel like our emotions can not be normal and we need medication!! However, I feel like our school has a great principal and the teachers seem highly motivated. I am hoping the details will all be figured out in the next few weeks and it will be smooth sailing from here.
(See Brendan's face above where he is posing with his teacher? Whenever I ask him to smile for the camera lately this is what I get!)
Saturday, August 20, 2011
We did have a lot of fun, and that's what matters the most. We only had one day to spend there because Scotte is super busy with his new job and he had to be back at work. Next year we plan to go again and we will be spending several days. The park has a lot of rides and a lot of water activities, so we would like to plan a "dry" day and a "wet" day for next year. I'm not sure yet what it would be like to be dry at Sesame Place, but we weren't wet from the water rides. We were wet from the pelting rain. It actually rained hard the entire time we were there. The good news is that we didn't have to wait in line at all. Of course, Sesame Place is extremely friendly for kids with disabilities and Aidan wore a special bracelet that would have allowed us to bypass lines...if there were lines. This happens to be a huge perk to having a child with a disability. Most amusement parks have a similar policy, and frankly we probably wouldn't be able to go otherwise. Thank you!! So, while it was nice to not have the crowds and lines, it probably would have been okay either way. However, we spoke to a family who had been there the day before and they said it was so crowded you could barely move with 2-hour waits for most rides. I can't say I'm sad we missed that. When we were there it was pretty relaxing and the kids didn't have to have our hands the entire time. So, our kids woke up with fevers and the rain was coming down hard. We loaded up on ibuprofen and then hit a store for some ponchos and a few waterproof bags (if you're ever desperate check the "Sporting Goods" section). Then we were set to go. We get the most awesome parents award for dragging our feverish kids around in the rain all day.Aidan knew we were going to "Sesame Street," but it was priceless to see his face light up when he saw the Christmas display at the entrance. I wish we lived nearby so we could visit the Christmas events they have going on. We spent at least 8 months last year watching either "Elmo's Christmas Countdown" or "Sesame Street Christmas Carol." Aidan knew we were finally in the right place.We met a lot of characters but we found it difficult to get good pictures with the rain pouring down. We saw Bert and Ernie, Telly, Prairie Dawn, Abby, Zoe, Cookie Monster, Count, etc., but this is our best picture from outside. We were so glad we had plans for dinner with Elmo and friends!
Luckily there were several shows for us to go see and for the most part we were under cover for these events. The "Elmo's World" show was even indoors and we were able to take a break from our raincoats and dry out.The shows were very cute and much fun was had by all. Plus, the crowd was super tiny so we were up close and personal. I love this soggy looking photo of us in Elmo's World. Brendan had already changed into his dry shorts so his clothes don't even match, Scotte and I both have soaking wet legs and knees and I think we were all shivering (something I almost forgot about during our recent heat wave).Many rides were closed but we snuck in a few. We were able to ride the roller coaster, the tea cups, the carousel and one water ride. The lack of riding was quite disappointing. We rode for awhile, then had a quick lunch and discovered that most rides were closed. We saw that many water rides were still open, and logic told us that a little rain made no difference to a water ride. So, we changed our soaking wet selves into swimsuits and hiked over to the water rides only to discover there was only one ride open. They had closed most of the rides while we were changing. Liam had fallen asleep in the stroller at this point, and Aidan was so cold he was blue. I took those two back and very carefully dried and reassembled all of our bodies back into our semi-waterproof states while Scotte and Brendan rode the water ride several times. Phew, that was not worth it but Brendan was hysterical that they closed the water rides and we could barely console him. After he and Scotte had their fill of riding, we got him warm and somewhat dry again only to discover the poor boy had another raging fever coming on. So sad.
If you watch this little video of the carousel, and you think it looks like we are the only people on the carousel, well that's because we were...I am so grateful that we booked dinner with Elmo and friends. It was dry in there and it was by far our best photo opportunity of the day.
All of the characters loved on the kids and each sang a song. At the end Elmo sang and the kids all danced around the room with him. The kids loved it!! They closed the park early that day, but luckily they didn't cancel the dinner. The room was only half full so we had ample opportunity to enjoy the characters.We were all really worn out after this day from battling the water, but we feel that overall it was worth it. The kids experienced several rides, lots of shows, many characters, and they ended with buying prizes in the shop. Aidan immediately picked a large Super Grover; Liam chose a small Snuffy and small Super Grover, and Brendan picked a hat and mug (he likes to drink tea and hot chocolate with me).I think that even if Brendan has completely outgrown Sesame Street by next year (the characters are still rock stars in our house between Aidan and Liam) he will still love the rides and water attractions at the park. We plan to head back next year and hope for better weather. This weather still allowed us to have a good introduction to the park without the crowds. Fortunately the kids didn't realize what they were missing out on with many things being closed.
I am so behind in letting people know about the Buddy Walk this year! Partly it's because Scotte and I have decided to do things a little differently. We have been amazed at the support we have received over the years, but in these tough times we feel badly asking our friends and family to donate every single year. It cost our little family over $100 to register for the Buddy Walk this year; we think that's a lot and Aidan is ours!!! So, after much discussion, we have changed our game plan a little bit. We have decided to go all out for the Buddy Walk every other year and have our big tailgate and hound our friends and family to join us. So, this year we have registered our team and we are walking as a family, but we won't be making it a huge event. Next year we will be back in the game, and then the following year we will take it easy again.That said, we welcome anyone who wants to participate to join us and register to walk with Team Aidan. We will be walking together and then letting the kids participate in all the activities and stopping by to chat with some of the friends in our Down syndrome community. Anyone is more than welcome to join us on September 18 at Crew Stadium as we celebrate Aidan this year, but we won't be having a tent or tons of food. I am late, and registration needs to be completed by the end of Sept 4 to guarantee you will have a shirt! (View event day information here)
I know that Scotte and I make charitable contributions every year, and I'm sure many of you do, as well. If you are still looking to make donations this year, we think making a donation to Team Aidan would be a very worthy cause!! Your donation helps fund the following things:
- $100 will fund two New Parent Packets for parents who have a newly-diagnosed baby with Down syndrome.
- $200 will fund a full recreational scholarship to enable a person with Down syndrome to participate in health and fitness activities to improve their quality of life.
- $250 will enable a self-advocate to attend our Adult Mini-Conference.
- $300 will fund a workshop for parents on a topic such as IEPs or potty training.
- $500 will fund materials, babysitting and refreshments for a DSACO support group for one year.
- $1,000 will fund a presentation to health care providers on diagnosis delivery through our Changing Lives program.
We would also love for you to consider donating to another Down syndrome organization that has become very near and dear to our hearts: Buddy Up Tennis!! Nearly every Saturday morning you can find Aidan on the tennis court with his tennis buddy having a fabulous time, and learning tons of skills to boot. They work not only on tennis skills, but Buddy Up tennis has pretty much replaced physical therapy for Aidan as they work on many types of fitness activities. He is learning a life skill and having a great time doing it. This program is equally important in enriching the lives of all the young men and women who volunteer their time every weekend to work with so many of our friends in the Down syndrome community.Buddy Up Tennis is completely run and funded by volunteer and charitable contributions, and your donation is tax deductible. Just $50 sponsors an athlete for an entire month, and any donation is welcome. Please check out their website!!
As always, thank you for supporting Aidan!!
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Our first tourist attraction was Hershey's Chocolate World. Such fun! However, I have never been somewhere so crowded in my entire life. I actually feared for the safety of my children. We couldn't bring a stroller in, and Liam has to do everything"self." It was a battle to carry him through there, but he was not allowed to walk for fear that he would be crushed.The tour was impressive and I have a new respect for the Hershey name. I am not a fan of a plain old Hershey bar, but I raid the Halloween baskets and steal every Reese's Cup and Kit Kat I can find. I can't deny that I'm a Hersheys fan!!
Brendan has been talking a lot about the concept of a "factory" now. He has been making tomato factories and airplane factories while playing this week.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
We really enjoyed the safari park. We spent the first hour on the drive-through safari where we and many other cars of people offered alfalfa pellets or carrots to a bunch of very hungry large animals. It was interesting to see these animals so closely. They were not shy at all.
Then we enjoyed a picnic and saw a few more animals before the kids got to ride a pony and a camel. Liam was too short and he was extremely disappointed. I felt awful because I think he would have enjoyed this part more than anyone.Unfortunately, our camera was on some strange setting during the animal rides and we didn't notice until afterwards. Oh, well. We plan to take the kids back to this park sometime when it is cooler and possibly less crowded because they loved the whole experience. We don't have most of these animals at the Columbus Zoo, so it was perfect for my little animal lovers. After this my little travellers slept on the entire drive back to Columbus....a fabulous end to our weekend getaway.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Our trip began with a drive to Sandusky. Luckily this was fairly uneventful minus the repeated questions of "Are we there yet?" or "How many more minutes?"