Thank you all for sharing in the lives of our three amazing children- Mairead, Jack, and Ben. We hope you visit often!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sesame Street Live

Today, Mairead was treated to a very special outing courtesy of her uncle and soon to be aunt. Brian and Christin took Mairead and Christin's niece, Ailish, to Sesame Street Live for the second year in a row. The girls had a great time-- thanks, Brian and Christin! It's great for these two little ladies to spend time together since they will be flower girls at the wedding in just a few months.

They had fun watching the show, holding hands, and going out for lunch after. Ailish came in to the house for a bit so they could spend extra time together,. Ailish was very sweet and kept saying that she wanted to see Mairead and to play with Mairead. There was even an adorable hug when it was time to say goodbye. Thanks for a great day!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow Cute

Today brought yet another foot of snow and yet another snow day for Mairead and Dave. Mairead has gone to school a total of seven days this MONTH! We are happy to have Daddy home with us, though, and thankful that he shovels us out of this white stuff every time.

For the first time this winter, we were able to really get out and enjoy the snow. Usually it is either snowing too hard or is too cold for the kids to go out. And, we really need nice paths to walk in since the snow is definitely over the boys' heads at this point and too deep for Mairead (or a grown up!) to walk in.

They loved it. Mairead was so excited to make a snow angel. She usually practices on the bed in the nursery. There is a fluffy white comforter on that bed and she will lie on top of it, close her eyes, and say, "Look! I making snow angel!" Very cute-- but even more fun in real snow!

Who is this child? Seriously. I can't believe how old she looks here. She is three and a half now and time is going so fast. I need her to slow down just a little bit!

The boys had a lot of fun exploring. Because the snow is so high, the paths made by the snowblowers are like a little maze for them to run through. They can hardly see over the edges! There was a lot of slipping and falling, but they were really great about it and got right back up again. Fyi, Jack has a red and gray hat and Ben a blue one.

Nana taught Mairead how to make a snowball and have a snowball fight. Funny, I don't have any childhood memories of her encouraging us to throw snow at our siblings...

After we were nice warm inside, Brian came over and there was more excitement. Due to all the snow buildup on the roof we have some major ice issues, so Brian broke it up and shoveled the roof.

Are you appreciating this? Brian was ON the ROOF. Right outside the windows. And he had a shovel. His niece and nephews thought it was pretty awesome.

After Brian left, Jack was crying and saying, "Brian? Brian?" He didn't want him to go!
Other excitement today included the snowblower breaking right when Dave was at the toughest part of the driveway, and a major water main break that has left us without water now for the last 17 hours. They expect us to have water sometime late tonight, so we really hope that happens. It is not easy to get through the day with three kids and no running water. I can't even tell you how grossed out I am about not properly washing dishes, hands, etc. I have been bringing in snow, boiling it, and using that to wash hands, brush teeth, etc, and we have a ton of bottled water for drinking. And I am using sanitizing hand wipes on everyone every two seconds. I am also melting snow (since we literally have tons of it) to keep refilling the toilets so we can at least use those. Baths and showers, though, are not happening. So disgusting. And, I use water for lots of distractions. Lately, the kids have been having a bath pretty much every day just to keep them busy. I throw all three in the tub with some foam soap, some toys, etc, and they play in there until the water gets cold and they are forced out. Not today! Messy activities are out, too, since I can't wash them completely, and we definitely did NOT have spaghetti for dinner. I really hope it comes back soon!

The kids have been really great about being trapped in the house so much. I do try to break up the day with different activities, but it's not always easy. They find ways to keep busy, though. Often, it involves running laps on the first floor. Today they were running around and Ben yelled, "Jack! Are you, Jack?" Jack responded, "I coming!" and when they found each other, Ben said, "There you are, Jack!" I mean, how incredibly cute is that?

They even spent some time working on a coloring book together. One would color a bit and say, "There!" and then lean back while the other colored for a minute. It was really nice to see them sharing and playing together.

Mediation is definitely a go for Monday morning. When I think about it, I pretty much feel like I am going to throw up because I am so anxious about it. I am trying not to get my hopes up since the school department has been so resistant to offering any kind of meaningful support, but I just can't help but hope and pray that this is finally it and they will actually concede. Not sure how I am going to sleep between now and then, but at least it is coming up quickly and I don't have too long to stress about it.

Hope you all managed to dig out safely-- stay warm!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Some updates

Sorry I have been MIA- Dave and I actually went away this past weekend. Together. Without the kids. This was a first for us! Thanks to my parents for babysitting- we had a great time! We really did miss the kids, though. When we were leaving, we told Mairead that Mom and Daddy were going bye-bye, and she got upset and said, "No. Mom and Daddy and Mairead and Jack and Ben go in the car and go bye." It was so sweet but so sad! She did great the rest of the weekend, though.

She is also doing great with the potty training! We are taking it slowly, but at home, if she is wearing elastic waist pants that she can manage herself, she goes to the potty every time! She still can't communicate the need ahead of time so this is what we need to keep working on , but I'll take this, for sure!

The boys are so fun-- they are constantly coming up with new ways to be cute.

Ben is a serious pacifier addict (but we have limited it only to nap and bedtime) and both boys are like Linus from Peanuts with their blankets (again, trying to limit them to bed time). This weekend while we were away, it was about an hour before bed and Ben was very sad that we were not here. He was whining and instead of saying 'blanket' and 'pacifier' (both of which he can say), he said, 'blankifer.' How freakin' cute is that? He did it again yesterday-- love it!

Jack is all about numbers lately, but he doesn't seem to care which ones are which. When he sees numbers or 'counts' things, he points to an item at a time and says, "one, two, seben, six, nine!" He does the same thing with letters and is SO proud of himself. A lot of them are 'D' but 'W' is both boys' favorite for some reason.

As far as Mairead's IEP situtation, it looks like mediation will be held on Monday. I am freaking out about it. We want this to happen in the hopes of moving forward, but I just don't know if I can take another meeting at which we present piece after piece of evidence as to why she needs more help and then they refuse. I just keep getting my hopes up and then end up disappointed. We need this to be successful or else we are going to have to hire an attorney and go to a hearing about this. We did NOT want this to happen but we will do whatever we have to do in order to get Mairead what she needs and deserves.

I am still going to write a letter to the Board of Ed to request a due process hearing and keep it as a 'back up' in case we don't get what we want on Monday. I mean, I called the mediator on January 5 and it is now Jan 26th. We finally have a date, but I am tired of waiting and tired of people not returning phone calls, etc. Granted, there have been a few days when offices were closed due to snow, plus MLK day, but still. Just call me back. I looked it up and a mediator does have 30 days to schedule a mediation, but I am sick of waiting and sick of wasting time. So, I have the forms ready to go in case Monday does not work out.

It really makes me angry to know that the schools have basically succeeded in doing what they wanted, which was to NOT place her for the 2010-2011 school year. All these delays will result in her MAYBE getting placed for March-June, but they didn't have to provide services from Sept til now, so I feel like in that way, they won. But we have no choice but to keep fighting, so fight we shall.

I really did not want a hearing over this, but they have wasted enough of my time and definitely too much of Mairead's time, so this is how it has to be.

Wish us luck- we can use good thoughs, prayers, voodoo, whatever you've got!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wanted to share this

Typically, everything written here is in my own words, but a friend shared this post from another blog and I thought it was so well done that I just had to share it. The link to the blog is included if you want to check it out. The writer captures the perspective of mother struggling with what I and many of you might be struggling with. Or even if you aren't, you may be a friend or family member or teacher of someone who can relate.

Welcome to the Club


My dear friend,

I am so sorry for your pain.

Don’t worry; no one else sees it, I promise. To the rest of the world, you’re fine. But when you’ve been there, you can’t miss it.

I see it in your eyes. That awful, combustible mixture of heart-wrenching pain and abject fear. God, I remember the fear.

I see it in the weight of that invisible cloak that you wear. I remember the coarseness of its fabric on my skin. Like raw wool in the middle of the desert. You see, it was mine for a time.

I never would have wanted to pass it on to you, my love. I remember so well suffocating under the weight of it, struggling for breath, fighting to throw it off while wrapping myself in its awful warmth, clutching its worn edges for dear life.

I know that it feels like it’s permanent, fixed. But one day down the line you will wake up and find that you’ve left it next to the bed. Eventually, you’ll hang it in the closet. You’ll visit it now and then. You’ll try it on for size. You’ll run your fingers over the fabric and remember when you lived in it, when it was constant, when you couldn’t take it off and leave it behind. But soon days will go by before you wear it again, then weeks, then months.

I know you are staring down what looks to be an impossibly steep learning curve. I know it looks like an immovable mountain. It is not. I know you don’t believe me, but step by step you will climb until suddenly, without warning, you will look down. You will see how far you’ve come. You’ll breathe. I promise. You might even be able to take in the view.

You will doubt yourself. You won’t trust your instincts right away. You will be afraid that you don’t have the capacity to be what your baby will need you to be. Worse, you’ll think that you don’t even know what she needs you to be. You do. I promise. You will.

When you became a mother, you held that tiny baby girl in your arms and in an instant, she filled your heart. You were overwhelmed with love. The kind of love you never expected. The kind that knocks the wind out of you. The kind of all encompassing love that you think couldn’t possibly leave room for any other. But it did.

When your son was born, you looked into those big blue eyes and he crawled right into your heart. He made room for himself, didn’t he? He carved out a space all his own. Suddenly your heart was just bigger. And then again when your youngest was born. She made herself right at home there too.

That’s how it happens. When you need capacity you find it. Your heart expands. It just does. It’s elastic. I promise.

You are so much stronger than you think you are. Trust me. I know you. Hell, I am you.

You will find people in your life who get it and some that don’t. You’ll find some that want to get it and some that never will. You’ll find a closeness with people you never thought you had anything in common with. You’ll find comfort and relief with friends who speak your new language. You’ll find your village.

You’ll change. One day you’ll notice a shift. You’ll realize that certain words have dropped out of your lexicon. The ones you hadn’t ever thought could be hurtful. Dude, that’s retarded. Never again. You won’t laugh at vulnerability. You’ll see the world through a lens of sensitivity. The people around you will notice. You’ll change them too.

You will learn to ask for help. You’ll have to. It won’t be easy. You’ll forget sometimes. Life will remind you.

You will read more than you can process. You’ll buy books that you can’t handle reading. You’ll feel guilty that they’re sitting by the side of the bed unopened. Take small bites. The information isn’t going anywhere. Let your heart heal. It will. Breathe. You can.

You will blame yourself. You’ll think you missed signs you should have seen. You’ll be convinced that you should have known. That you should have somehow gotten help earlier. You couldn’t have known. Don’t let yourself live there for long.

You will dig deep and find reserves of energy you never would have believed you had. You will run on adrenaline and crash into dreamless sleep. But you will come through it. I swear, you will. You will find a rhythm.

You will neglect yourself. You will suddenly realize that you haven’t stopped moving. You’ve missed the gym. You’ve taken care of everyone but you. You will forget how important it is to take care of yourself. Listen to me. If you hear nothing else, hear this. You MUST take care of yourself. You are no use to anyone unless you are healthy. I mean that holistically, my friend. HEALTHY. Nourished, rested, soul-fed. Your children deserve that example.

A friend will force you to take a walk. You will go outside. You will look at the sky. Follow the clouds upward. Try to find where they end. You’ll need that. You’ll need the air. You’ll need to remember how small we all really are.

You will question your faith. Or find it. Maybe both.

You will never, ever take progress for granted. Every milestone met, no matter what the timing, will be cause for celebration. Every baby step will be a quantum leap. You will find the people who understand that. You will revel in their support and love and shared excitement.

You will encounter people who care for your child in ways that restore your faith in humanity. You will cherish the teachers and therapists and caregivers who see past your child’s challenges and who truly understand her strengths. They will feel like family.

You will examine and re-examine every one of your own insecurities. You will recognize some of your child’s challenges as your own. You will get to know yourself as you get to know your child. You will look to the tools you have used to mitigate your own challenges. You will share them. You will both be better for it.

You will come to understand that there are gifts in all of this. Tolerance, compassion, understanding. Precious, life altering gifts.

You will worry about your other children. You will feel like you’re not giving them enough time. You will find the time. Yes, you will. No, really. You will. You will discover that the time that means something to them is not big. It’s not a trip to the circus. It doesn’t involve planning. It’s free. You will forget the dog and pony shows. Instead, you will find fifteen minutes before bed. You will close the door. You will sit on the floor. You’ll play Barbies with your daughter or Legos with your son. You’ll talk. You’ll listen. You’ll listen some more. You’ll start to believe they’ll be OK. And they will. You will be a better parent for all of it.

You will find the tools that you need. You will take bits and pieces of different theories and practices. You’ll talk to parents and doctors and therapists. You’ll take something from each of them. You’ll even find value in those you don’t agree with at all. Sometimes the most. From the scraps that you gather, you will start to build your child’s quilt. A little of this, a little of that, a lot of love.

You will speak hesitantly at first, but you’ll find your voice. You will come to see that no one knows your child better than you do. You will respectfully listen to the experts in each field. You will value their experience and their knowledge. But you will ultimately remember that while they are the experts in science, you are the expert in your child.

You will think you can’t handle it. You will be wrong.

This is not an easy road, but its rewards are tremendous. It’s joys are the very sweetest of life’s nectar. You will drink them in and taste and smell and feel every last drop of them.

You will be OK.

You will help your sweet girl be far better than OK. You will show her boundless love. She will know that she is accepted and cherished and celebrated for every last morsel of who she is. She will know that her Mama’s there at every turn. She will believe in herself as you believe in her. She will astound you. Over and over and over again. She will teach you far more than you teach her. She will fly.

You will be OK.

And I will be here for you. Every step of the way.