Parenting a spectrum of girls

Posts tagged ‘family’

Thankfulness…days 7,8,9

Yes, I know, tomorrow is day 9…so you get a preview 😉

I am thankful for my biological family…my parents, my sisters and my grandparents.

Like most people of my generation (end of GenX), I do wish I had that neat little nuclear family, but I think our parents were the divorce generation.  I do have memories of growing up with all my family under one roof, though, since I was a Freshman in High School when my parents finally divorced.  I love those memories…I pick my favorite memories and use them as guidelines for what I want to do/be/provide for my kids.

I have one sister who is 2 years younger than me, and boy we did not get along as kids!  Now, of course, we are very close and even only live about a mile from each other.  I can always count on her to help me out in a pinch, or just to talk about anything.  We don’t get to spend much time together now that we are both working mommies, but we cherish the time we do get together.  One of the most awesome things is that we are almost opposites as far as temperment, what we enjoy and want out of life, we have different politics and different socio-economic statuses.  But what really matters is that we are sisters…we have a special bond that I am so thankful for.

I also have a sister who is 20 years younger than me (and 2 1/2 years older than my oldest daughter).  She is technically my half sister from my mother, but she is my sister.  She is really  more like a niece, and she and K have played together for years.  Today she got to spend the day with my younger daughters and me and we had a blast.

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I have enjoyed getting to watch her grow up…I was even my mom’s birth coach so I was there when she was born!  Again, we have that bond of sisters.

My mom and I are pretty close, and she lives in the same town also.  She has been such a big help to me and my family, and the girls love spending time with her.  She has been absolutely amazing through everything we have been through with M, always willing to learn more about her most recent diagnosis and accepting her readily for who she is.  She is the person in my family I am most similar to, and she is always there to listen, but also understands when I just don’t want to talk.

My dad lives in Tennessee, but I usually get to see him once a year.  I love my dad, he is such a sweet person.  The girls adore him, too.  They call him “silly Grandpa” and talk about him all the time.  My dad has also been there when I need him and always looked out for me and my family.  In a lot of peculiar ways my husband is a lot like my dad…so I guess I picked well.  😉

My maternal grandparents have both passed away years ago, but growing up they were my favorite people on the planet.  They were the most wonderful, caring, amazing people.  Their house was the place I knew I had unconditional love.  Writing about them is actually making me very sad…I miss them so much…they really showed me God’s love and sometimes I long for my Grandma to hug me and make me a gross peanut butter, butter and jelly sandwich.  The love they had for each other was also an amazing, rare thing to witness.  I think Heaven will be just like being a little girl in my Grandma’s lap in her purple arm chair watching Jeopardy.

My paternal grandparents also live in Tennessee, and I see them also about once a year.  They are loving, always quick with a prayer and a kind word.  I feel like I am “home” when I visit them, and it is always so hard to leave.  My Grandma’s cooking is better than any restaurant and I just love to sit and chat with her, or fish with my Grandpa.  They always make sure we have what we need and are very generous, giving people.  They also have a long, wonderful love story, and my husband and I got married on their 53rd wedding anniversary.

I have been blessed with a wonderful family who all love me and are there for me if I need them.  Not everyone can say that, and I am thankful for my family.

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Thankfulness- Day 4

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Today I am thankful for the team of people who have helped M progress to where she is today.  In this picture, taken yesterday, she had just spontaneously climbed into my lap to cuddle!  This has not happened at all until very recently.  She also used to freak out about having her picture taken…now she likes it!  This morning we stopped at Starbucks on the way to a play date with her best friend.  On the way out a gentleman held the door open for us, and I thanked him.  Then as she passed him, M looked at him and said “thank you”.  That was huge!  Certainly more than I could have expected or asked for.

M absolutely still has struggles.  Sounds bother her a lot and she has recently started flicking her hands in front of her face (a new stim) when she is overwhelmed, especially when A is crying for any reason.  Her drawing and writing are considerably behind what is developmentally appropriate; she still can not even trace shapes.  But thanks to her OT, her dyspraxia is far less severe…she can dress herself for the most part, ride a bike with little help, and actually play with toys and use imagination (though she still prefers sorting to actual playing).  Thanks to her psychologist and psychiatrist we have seen drastic improvements in her behavior and sensory problems, and even to some extent with socialization.  Her daycare teachers & director from birth to 5 provided her a safe place to develop and be loved for who she was.  Her teacher, parapro & dean at her school this year have been amazing with her.  Though we went through 3 parapros in as many weeks, the end result couldn’t have been better, and M is able to stay on “green” (good behavior) almost every day.  Even the Early On program locally, though they did not feel she qualified for services due to her age appropriate language development at age 3, gave us good resources, suggestions, and the social worker and OT came to our home to give us some guidance and materials.

And of course, our amazing friends and family who have been there for us every step of the way.  Especially those friends who know exactly what we are going through and have been a tremendous resource (yes you Rachel, Kim, Amber, Courtney & Suzette).  It really does take a village, and the bigger the special needs the bigger village you need.  We have been blessed with a big, wonderful village that have helped all of us grow together.

September…aka torture for special needs parents

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Our family this weekend in South Haven, MI

                                    

Ah, September.  Apples, Leaves turning colors, crisp fall air and my favorite…Pumpkin Spice Lattes.  And, of course, school.

I have always loved back to school time.  It comes during my favorite time of the year, and just the smell of new pencils and wearing new school clothes is exciting.  I loved school growing up…not the social part (I didn’t have a lot of friends and got bullied a lot), but learning, after school activities and talking to teachers were always things I loved.

The year my oldest daughter started school I was a little sad to see my baby growing up, but she shared my enthusiasm for school and learning.  Due to her high intelligence she really needed to be in school as soon as possible, and she was also very social so she couldn’t wait to be a “big kid” and make new friends.  This year that same “baby” is leaping to another milestone and starting middle school as a 6th grader.  😥  She is ready, though!  She is in the advanced program and they will work with her at whatever level they need to.  She was ready for something more.  I am nervous for her, though.  I still have nightmares of being late to class because I can’t open my locker or find something in there I need.  I also know she likes to joke around and it borders on disrespect or sassiness, and that she gets super excited and talks too much.  Hopefully none of these things become an issue, and I’m sure the teachers expect that the incoming 6th graders will take a little training on the new, higher expectations.  I am grateful that I can check up on all of her grades and assignments online, even though I am sure that will not be an issue.

My youngest is much like my oldest.  She is starting preschool this year and is super excited about it.  She is laid back, very intelligent and extremely social.  While I am sad that she is old enough to be starting preschool (especially since she is the BABY!!!)  I have no worries about her at all.  She could charm the rattle off a snake and has enough intelligence to make her dangerous 😉  She, like my oldest, needs to be in school and is going to the same wonderful preschool the other started out at.  My only regret is that I can not drop her off at the classroom tomorrow morning since I promised my middle daughter I would stay with her.

Yes, M.  The middle child and source of 90% of my back to school anxiety.  Poor M has had an awful summer as those of you following my blog or FB page know.  She has been extremely anxious about starting Young 5s Kindergarten.  Unlike her sisters, she attended preschool as part of her day at daycare at the same center she attended since she was 8 weeks old.  (And for the record, it was the perfect place for her.)  I am glad she felt so safe in her cocoon of daycare, it made our life (and hers) much easier for years.  But venturing to the world outside daycare was a terrifying idea for her.  Then we found out her Y5 teacher was leaving a few weeks before school started!  We followed all of the ideas for preparing your child with autism for school.  We made multiple visits to the school, played on the playground, met the office staff, did social stories…none of it helped.  She insisted she was not going to school.

Then we were notified that a new teacher was hired, and off we went to meet Mrs. H.  She was amazing!  A special needs child’s dream!  The previous teacher left the notes I had provided on M (bless her!) And Mrs. H read them and greeted M right off with knowledge of her home life and preferences like “this must be your sister A, I heard you guys are best friends!”  She asked me questions, asked if I had questions, showed M around the room and concentrated on things M is interested in (like fire trucks and Junie B Jones books) and let her choose where she wanted to sit.  When we left I said “M’s new teacher is wonderful and so nice!” And M shook her head yes.  I asked her if she was excited to start school and she said yes, except she’s still afraid to learn to read.  We can work with that!  She now goes back and forth saying she is or is not excited for school to start but it’s a big improvement and if asked she always agrees that she really likes her teacher.  At open house (where we were only able to stay about 15 minutes because we had to rush to K’s open house) she enjoyed finding things in the classroom, but her behavior was very typically autistic.  She did not acknowledge that there were (many) other children and adults there.  You would have thought there was no one else in the room!  She did, however, frequently run up to Mrs. H and interrupt someone to tell her things or shove something in her face for her to look at.  She is not scared of her teacher (yay!), but she is obsessed with her (uh oh!)

Tomorrow will be interesting for M.  She picked her outfit (within the uniform type dress code), packed her bag and lunch and we are even bringing snack for everyone, so the surprises should be kept to a minimum.  She has her headphones, chewys and fidgets packed and her sleeping bag for nap.  I am dropping little sister (whose class starts at the same time) off early to daycare so I can stay with M until she gets settled (or until the teacher shoos me away), and I have the day off just in case I get “that” call that all us special needs parents anticipate and dread.  Today has been very rough.  I think she just wants to get the first day over with.  I just hope she doesn’t run out of the class or threaten to break anyone’s bones (like she threatened A with yesterday).

And I too am starting back on Wednesday, after a month off between my summer and fall classes.  I usually look forward to school myself, but this semester I am taking 2 requirements that are going to be easy and boring, but I just have to get them over with.  The professor might be able to make Communications fun, but I don’t think there’s much they can do about Intro to Early Childhood (especially when I’m already half through with my ECE degree!)  And of course we are also starting Robotics for Kaity and Dance and Soccer for Margaret.  Welcome back, busy schedule!  😛

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