Monday, September 21, 2009

September (aka - post for Rachel)

I LOVE fall. Perhaps not as much as my friend, Rachel, but I do love it. This post is a tribute to the start of the fall season, and to one of the people who understands me and my life like probably no other person can. Love ya, Rachey :-)

Yes, I live in the country:
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For 3 years now, Rachel has been raving about how great it is to have her front porch decorated for the fall. She goes all out every year, and is quite the homemaker and gardener, so this is small potatoes compared to her efforts. But, like I said, I do LOVE all things fall, AND I had the time this year because the boys are in, I'm giving it a shot, and here's what I've got out front so far:

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And just some early fall shots from a recent walk:


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Yay for Fall! Yay for Rachel! I'm so grateful for your friendship :-)

Parish Picnic

Wow, am I ever behind on this. These pictures are from Sunday, August 30th, when our church held it's annual Parish Picnic (indoors, even though it was a beautiful day? I'm confused...)

It was a delicious concoction of food and friends, and unfortunately, we had to leave a little early due to the fact that I worked that afternoon.

Xavier - happily anticipating lunch:


Bennett, talking with his super duper kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Williams:

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Mmm. Cupcakes. (Benny's favorite.) :-)
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Status updates

Here are some facts and thoughts about how the boys' first several weeks of school have gone...

Part of me has looked so forward to him going to school a full day, and another (big) part of me has viewed it with much reluctance and anxiety. From the time we realized Xavier had a developmental disability, we wondered how and where he would go to school. Preschool worked out so beautifully, but I have always been so stressed over how his transition to elementary school would go.

I am relieved beyond imagination that things have gone so well. Perfectly, actually. As in, I couldn't have asked for things to go any better. :-)

Xavier has unbelievable people surrounding him all day. His primary paraprofessional, Miss Lauren, and kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Garbinsky, are compassionate, interested, caring, and excited to have him around. He has classmate helpers, that help him do activities, and relay information that I write in a logbook for circle time (what we did over the weekend, etc.)

The kids in his class are learning about what it means to have a disability, and that its okay to be different. Another paraprofessional that works with him everyday, Mrs. Smith, told me a cute story that happened out on recess. Tons of kids (15 or 20, she estimated) were in a jammed in a circle up against his wheelchair. (He's a bit of a curiosity other children are physcially disabled...) The kids were all asking Mrs. Smith why Xavier can't walk/talk etc. She explained on their level that his muscles aren't strong like theirs, and his brain isn't able to let him figure out how to talk, but he's trying to learn. One little girl (a first grader) leaned over and touched Xavier's shoes. She said, "Boy, he may not be able to walk, but his shoes sure are clean!!" How funny. I love answering kids' questions about Xavier. They're questions even adults have, but don't ask because of the 'filter' we develop as we mature. But children's questions are so innocent and special because they honestly care about the answers. I also love that they tend to look for the positive in anything - yeah, he may not walk, but that means his shoes never get dirty! We should all take a lesson from kids and their way of thinking...

Xavier's favorite class is music (no surprise there.) He works with Mrs. Kerr who is a terrific interventional specialist, and Dylan, a little boy who I have yet to meet, but I look forward to the opportunity to do so. Dylan is in 4th grade and works with Xavier everyday. I'm told the two are developing a special friendship, and it makes me so happy to hear about how much fun they have together.

Overall, X seems to be a little happier these days, and I can't help but attribute that to all the attention he gets from his peers, and activity he does. He's still continuing with OT, PT, and SLP. He's having fun, and that's the most important thing to me. :-)

Hooray for Hazel Harvey Elementary and Chippewa Local School District in Doylestown!

I remain very happy that we chose to send B to kindergarten this year. He's grown so much in just the last few weeks, its mind-boggling. He's gaining social skills, and learning so much academically. Most notibly - he can actually READ simple books. He knows many sight words now. I'd write them all out, but I realize that would be boring and take up way to much space. Suffice it to say, he can read Dr. Seuss books almost all by himself. :-)

Ben has developed a solid friendship with a few kids in class, but he talks the most about Alex. He tells me they like to watch the recycle truck come to pick up the papers and bottles during recess. He was also very troubled when Alex got stung by a bee out on recess and is now terrified of almost all bugs (bees cause him to scream and run now...) There has also been a 'hugging incident', where Ben came home with a bump on his forehead and a note in his bag explaining that he and Alex had been hugging each other so intensely that they had fallen on the ground and knocked their heads together. :-)

Ben is learning to add, can write all the sight words he knows how to read, and got a 5/6 on his first spelling test. All this both amazes me (its like magic to see him read!!), and makes me happy...but the best part is, when I wake him up in the morning to get ready, he says, "Mom, is it a school day?!"...and when I say, "It sure is!", he shouts "YES!!!" and leaps out of bed. Can't get a better gauge on how school is going for him than that! :-)

Here are some pictures I've been hanging onto from before school started when Ben and I dropped off his enrollment papers. He's so proud to be a big kindergartener!!


(this next one makes me laugh...he made me take this because he thought this sign was just as important as all the other ones I had taken pictures by...even when I told him what it said. Heehee ;-)

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009


The last week of August was a big one for us. Xavier and Bennett faced a humungo milestone - their first day of Kindergarten...and I'm delighted to say that they both made the transition better than I could have hoped. I don't think I give them nearly enough credit for adapting to new situations. I'm writing this post at the beginning of their third week, and I'm still happily surprised that they're doing so well with their new routine. What isn't surprising is how much they love going. I knew they would. What 5/6 year old boys don't like being around a bunch of other kids their own age and learning? These are the easy 'school years', I'm imagining. And I plan to enjoy every second of that.

Ben's first day was Monday, August 24. It was a just a 1/2 day from 8:25-11:30, helping the kids (and the parents?! ;-) adjust for the full days ahead. He picked out his outfit the night before.


He said - "MOM! Take a picture like this, I want to see how my backpack looks." (Complete with require ID tag from the school :-)

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Here's Bennett, figuring out the whole "where do I go every morning?" business. This is in front of our church (which is right next door to his school), and I think he was confused, because when we go to Mass, we park in a different lot. Hehe.

He requested I take this picture too.

Clara and Ben. Clara has been so wonderful looking after Ben and making his transition smooth. She's in second grade, but they eat lunch and have recess at the same time. Clara also keeps an eye on him in the gym after school, where all the "pick-up" kids wait for their parents to come collect them. Love that girl.
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Here's Bennett strangling Gabe. With Avery and Cooper as witnesses.


Waiting at his table for his teacher, Mrs. Williams, to come get him and his classmates, Cooper, and Linus.

And off to class he goes!!
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His first day was super. Heck, his first weeks have been super! I'm sooo glad we made the decision to have him go to Kindergarten this year (even though he's a "young 5", with a June birthday). Preschool would have just been way too repetitive for him. He loves school and is ready for the challenge of making new friends and learning new things.

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Xavier's big first day came on Thursday, August 27th. Here he is, all dressed up for the occasion. Notice the look goes from "unsure to ecstatic".




We dropped off Bennett first (as is our routine everyday), and then drove over to X's school (its close, you can see Hazel Harvey Elementary from the parking lot of SPPS, and viceversa.) I had just moved him from his carseat to his wheelchair, and he was not too sure about everything.
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But then some kids went by, and a bus pulled up (he likes to hear the big diesel engine), and that made everything better.


After that, I pushed him to his Kindergarten classroom and helped his paraprofessional, Lauren, get him set up for the morning. He needed a little music to get him settled down (he was unsure and anxious, which came out as whining.) Here is a picture I quickly took as I left. Just look at him gazing up adoringly at Lauren and holding her hand.
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Xavier had a super first day. Unbeatable, really. We knew he'd love school, but the overwhelmingly positive experience he's having and the enthusiasm of the school/teachers/paraprofessionals to support him through all the challenges to come has really exceded our expectations.

Can't believe both my boys are in all-day elementary school. This is nuts. As an aside, all of you might be wondering what I'm doing with all my "free time". Well, to start, I'm tackling every organizational/thorough cleaning project I've looked at over the past six years and said..."Um, yeah...I'll have to get to that later." After that's all said and done (which I'm projecting will take another couple of weeks from now - HA!), I'm not sure what the plan is. Read ... Search for/listen to awesome old/new music ... Have lunch with friends ... Learn more about photography, for sure. The list goes on and on. And on. And on. And on. :-)