On being "that mom".

Monday, April 29, 2013
Ok. So where to start. Most people reading this blog know that I was an ECSE (early childhood special education teacher) for 4 years prior to my "I never went back to work after my maternity leave with Claire" time. You can read about my official resignation here: http://hackberryadventures.blogspot.com/2012/04/on-giving-it-all-up.html

I definitely missed the adult interaction time at first, and then went through phases of resentment, mostly at my near 80k student loan debt, that was sort of being "unused" at that point, but continually draining the bank account.

Then, flash forward to last May where every penny of that debt was used to get Henry much needed help with his social anxiety and sensory issues (read ASD: Autism in the education sense): http://hackberryadventures.blogspot.com/2012/06/on-other-side-of-fence.html

With his four months at the preschool in Chaska (where he only went two mornings a week), he hadn't spoken a word to a peer, and as far as I know, to a teacher either. He'd nod his head yes or no for things, but that was it. He'd play near kids, but not once did I get a note home saying he was making friends. It breaks my heart.

So, really, when I think about that, I don't think current staff/placement is totally to blame, but this mama has about had it.

As much as I never would have dreamed of it back when I was teaching, I have become "that mom". There are a few different types of "that mom" I encountered over the years. In my old line of work, you'd get a variety of reactions/acceptance levels/denial/etc for whatever the end result of an educational evaluation would be. Some families were beyond happy to get the help their child needed. Some needed some extra hand holding. Some families did everything (or didn't do everything) they could to NOT get the help, as in the end, some didn't want the help or the labels that came along with it (which will FOREVER boggle my mind, as I can't see not WANTING your child to get help).

Then you had the moms who would fight to the death (usually in tears) to get everything they could. I've definitely turned into the latter. We've now been at this new preschool for 3 months, where Henry goes every day, Monday-Friday. You can read more about the details of the start of the new preschool here: http://hackberryadventures.blogspot.com/2013/02/our-new-normal-school-feeding-therapy.html

Like I said, we've been here for 3 months, going for 2.5 hours a day, every day. I've never been 100% happy with his placement. In Chaska he was in an inclusion setting where he had 15 other typically developing kids to model social skills and play after. Here, he's in a room with 9-10 other kids, all with their own varied special needs. This small district simply doesn't have the programming that our old district, or the surrounding larger districts around here do. Thank you stupid district lines.

He will tell his teacher goodbye now for a sticker, or sometimes for an entire pack of fruit snacks. She started by having him do it with me there, then at the door before they came over to the car, then inside the door, etc. But that's it. I think he'll answer "mama" when she asks who's here to pick him up.

No playing WITH a peer (although he has talked of possibly chasing on the playground), no talking to a peer, no circle time participation, and really, I don't know what else they do beyond that in the 2.5 hours he's there. He doesn't tell me much anymore and the teachers don't either.

When I was a teacher, I would send a little daily journal home with at least 1 good thing that happened that day. If it wasn't every day, it was at least 2x a week. In the 3 months he's been here, I've gotten a hand written note home twice. Twice in 3 months. I hear almost every day that he "Had a good day" and the teacher rushes off to wherever she goes to next (I guess lunch, so I understand), but really? A good day when he started was no crying. A good day after a month would be seeing a smile. A good day now? I want to hear that he's interacting. I want to hear that he's enjoying himself and seeking out peers.

We had his official IEP meeting (or ARD as they call them down here) right before spring break at the beginning of March. The ARD was up on a projector and was mostly written out already, but was there for my parental feedback before it was finalized.

Imagine my surprise when there was a goal on there for Henry to count to 10, label numbers and label the letters of the alphabet. Umm, say what? I most certainly shared with them at the start of his time here how bright Henry was, but that information clearly didn't carry over. I had to re-write the goal to say that Henry will use his voice to share the knowledge that he ALREADY KNOWS and (HAS KNOWN FOR 2 YEARS.)

That's my other beef. Even though they wrote in something about Henry getting more 1:1 academics at his level, I'm not sure that's happening. Aside from not having proper social models, that is my other big fear, that he's not getting enough academic enrichment in his current placement. We also discussed the possibility of Henry spending some time in the regular classroom. At the time every one else in the room said he was just getting comfortable and they didn't want to push it by overwhelming him with a new room (he'd likely start by going in for circle time or play time, like some of the other kids in his current room do).

I was told we could revisit it later.

Well, here we are in practically May, and when I drop Henry off, he still has all sorts of anxiety, shown in his body language, frowning face, and unwillingness to even kiss me goodbye or say goodbye for that matter. The teachers have to carry him out of the van every day.

As little as he seems, the clock is ticking. He WILL go to Kindergarten in the fall 2014 when he's five (despite what any "hold summer birthdays back advocate" has to say about it), he's going. So this next preschool year is crucial in him gaining more social confidence and skills.

So almost two weeks ago I asked about him getting some time in the other classroom. I was met with "Oh, that would be a great idea to get some typical peer models!!"...said to me in a way that sounded like it was the latest, greatest, newest idea (which it obviously wasn't). I also asked about what specifically is being done/taught to help with his social skills, and I've never really gotten a straight answer.

They should be doing small groups/games, etc, but I don't think they are. It shouldn't be a choice anymore for Henry to just nod his head. In my time as a teacher, if a child had the ability to speak, there were things you could do to get them to speak, even if just a word. It was an expectation. A child isn't going to reach their goals if you don't push them to increase their skills. I feel like the expectation for Henry to actually talk is very, very low and they aren't pushing him enough.

Oh, and I found out in the past few weeks why Henry is constantly telling me he had Goldfish for snack. Because that's one of the few things they offer that he eats. And they give it to him if he doesn't want what the rest of the kids are having. *headdesk*. They know he's in feeding therapy. You'd think it'd come up as a question of "Mom, how would you like to handle this? Henry doesn't eat xyz. at school." But nope, I had to bring it up.

I feel like I have to do all the work. Which is fine, I'm his parent, and I'm not wasting that 80k I spoke of above. But I was a better teacher than this. I followed through on scheduling meetings and requests like this from parents were top priority. And if I said we'd revisit something in the future, I wouldn't pretend like I never said it and wait for the parent to bring it up again, and then act all surprised like it's the best idea ever. I sent notes home. I CALLED when something major and awesome happened with a student. I did everything I could to help my students make gains.

What bothers me the most though, is that in the 3-4 times we've discussed Henry's participation in the regular classroom, whether it be the end of this year, just briefly for circle time, or next year where it could be more full time, I always ask what his ECSE teacher help would look like. And every time I'm met with "I'm not sure" (from two different professionals).

Alright. We may be in a new state, but there are state laws, and FEDERAL laws, for crying out loud, that are in place for kids with special needs to get their needs met via their IEP/ARD (whatever you want to call it.) If I opt to put him in the regular classroom next year, his ARD needs to be met, no question about it. So does this make me leery to even put him in that class? Yes, absolutely. Because clearly, something isn't adding up.

So that's my afternoon rant. I've become that mom. The probably perceived "annoying" mom who will stop at nothing until she's happy with her child's situation but never really seems happy.

But, if you dropped your child off at school every single day for three months and you don't even get a smile, or I love you because he's too anxious about the teacher talking to him and the school day itself, you'd be unhappy too.

Unfortunately for me, it seems there are very little options for anything much different than what we are experiencing now. I'm doing some checking, but I'm not holding my hopes up for anything yet.

In the end, I want Henry to make a friend. I want him to just run up to someone and start talking to them or playing with them without me being there to encourage it. I don't want to see the constant anxiety in his face during social situations anymore. I want him to be excited about playing with other kids and having fun. So, if it means I have to be "that mom" until progress is made, than I guess will be.

*I'm not going to spell check this.* :)

Sweet Pea #3, Baby Norah @ 24 weeks

Thursday, April 25, 2013
I failed my 1 hour glucose test. That's the big and crappy news this week. I failed it with Claire as well. I had to, and will have to again, take the 3 hour glucose test.

Essentially, it goes like this, from what I remember.

I have to fast. Asking a pregnant woman to fast is pure torture alone.

I go in (sans kids, somehow), get an initial blood draw. Drink yummy sugar drink and lay around for an hour.

They draw my blood again. I get woozy. I feel like I'm going to throw up.

I go lay down for another hour. Feel like death warmed over and like I'll vomit at any second.

They draw my blood again.

Go lay down again, this time, with something next to me in case I do vomit at any second. Try to distract myself with a magazine/phone as I lay there feeling 100x sicker than my sickest feeling day in first tri.

I almost run into the wall on my way to get my blood drawn one last time.

Feel as sick as possible.

Eat some crackers, go home, and eat real food. It'll be fun.

I passed the 3 hr with Claire, here's to obviously hoping I pass it with Norah as well.

My mom and I cleaned out the nursery this past weekend. What that means is I essentially put a ton of stuff in our game room with the *hopes* to have a garage sale soon (mostly Henry's clothes, any boy related stuff we don't use/need anymore).

Next on the list is to paint (I've finally picked a color or two), and then purchase a crib/dresser/changing table. I have a pretty vision in my head, so we'll see how close it comes to that. I'm also hoping to convince Ryan to paint Claire's room ;)

Oh, and both heartburn and Braxton hicks contractions have decided to join on the fun this week.


and a comparison look at the 24th week. Pretty much the same as I was with Claire. maybe a little bigger. I measured 25 weeks last week at the 23 week appointment.


Sweet Pea #3, Baby Norah @ Week 23

Friday, April 19, 2013
Definitely feeling it on the grapefruit front. Feeling heavy, but so grateful. The recent surge in frequency of kicks is the best.thing.ever. I'll miss that about being pregnant.


Claire's 18 Month Bluebonnet Session

Monday, April 15, 2013
Now that I'm a Texas photographer, I was obligated to take some photos of the kids in the
bluebonnets just like every other photographer and family does in Texas. Due to the weird weather all over the country, Texas included, which has been a little on the cool side for longer than usual, these pretty little things are late to bloom and were only blooming in one spot around the Northern Dallas area--the JCP headquarters.

It was really pretty, but crawling (literally crawling) with photographers and families doing mini sessions on this Sunday night. But, you'd never known. I worked some post processing magic on a few of these.

These serve as Claire's official 18 month portraits, so let's get to that.

At 18 months, socially, she still loves big brother. Loves imitating him, laughing with him, making him laugh, following him around and doing and having whatever it is he is doing or having (today, she had to bring her new Dora backpack with in the car when we took Henry to school). Snuggles, hugs and kisses all around for mommy, daddy, and Henry (when he lets her). She gets shy when strangers talk to her (like the Target cashiers) and will say "Mama, mama" and then give me a snuggle. It's cute. Over Disney, became a daddy's girl and was happiest in daddy's arms on the airplane and on the many bus/transit rides we took to and from the airport and parks/hotel. At this point she really wants nothing to do with the other kids when we have play dates, but neither do the other kids her age, so I'd say it's pretty typical.

Cognitively, she is identifying(and even saying a few colors: yellow, purple, pink and blue). I think she still knows triangle and circle, and "knows" that it says Claire above her crib. She has labels for most all common objects, some are just harder to make out, and some are so obscure (i.e. "dip-i-dip-i-dip-da" for "computer", just as Henry did). She follows and understands basic directions (surprisingly, more so with Henry it seems at times)such as wash hands, get a diaper, put away the toy, time to eat, etc.

Language wise she continues to add new words daily, and has recently been repeating back her name (comes out "Care"). Her FAVORITE new word is "no". I wish I had a penny for every time she said it during the day. We all get told no, repeatedly, for various reasons. And it's so cute, that's it is just so hard not to giggle every time. She's also been REALLY loud the past few days with all her gibber jabber, and says "more" and "please" consistently when signing them.

She runs, bumps into things, falls down, is *this close* to being able to get on the couch by herself (she's mastered the patio furniture), and she can do it if she has the ottoman to lean up on. She wants to do stairs by herself, both going up and down, and is getting more and more clear on doing every.other.thing. by herself. She gets mad if you don't let her, gets mad when she doesn't get it, and gets mad when you then try to help. A little bit of a temper lately ;)

I can't believe we're on the downward slope to 2 years now. So onto the photos. Henry was slightly more cooperative than Claire. You can see that there is pretty much not one.single.picture of her looking at the camera. Way too busy for that. But, I managed to snag one of them together, a bunch of just Henry, and some still cute, even though she isn't looking ones, of Claire. Enjoy.

P.S. If you actually read this post, please comment or like the link on FB. My stats tell me I still get a number of hits on each post, but far less people comment or like. Just let me know you read this blog, that's all :)

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This one will get printed on a large canvas. 2013-04-15_026 
The outtakes. and looking for lady bugs. 2013-04-15_008 2013-04-15_010 2013-04-15_013

Baby Norah, Week 21

Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Along with all the below, I'm large enough that people are commenting and asking when I'm due. The nice checkout lady at JCP last week said, (and I quote), "Your kids are so cute. That's number 3 there, right? You look like you haven't gained any weight, no?"

Thanks for the confidence boost, but no, that wouldn't be the case. I don't remember what I started at, and despite trying to eat as healthy as I can (and recently added doing a VERY modified version of Jillian Michael's 30 day shred with Ryan), that scale just keeps on keeping on with a higher number every time I step on it. You can definitely see it in my face already in this picture.

Meh, for what it's worth, in total I've hung on to about 8 pounds from my PRE Henry pregnancy weight between Henry and Claire, and if the likelihood of Norah being our last holds out, you can bet I will literally be working my ass off after Norah is here, as it seems the butt NEVER gets the memo that it doesn't need to grow as much as the belly. Clearly, my right hand is strategically placed. ;)

45 pounds with Henry, 35 with Claire. I'm not worried. I'll be a whale no matter what by the time 36 weeks rolls around. And I'm consistent in pumping out 8 pound healthy babies, so there's that too. :)

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