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

Friday, March 11, 2011

Third Time's the Charm

This week, Mairead had her third 'first day of school' this year. We have been trying to find the ideal situation for her and we hope that we are finally there. She looked so pretty with her little dress and pigtails. Well, not so little dress, this is a 6x! Thanks to Beth for the cute dress. How did she get to be so grown up?

She was excited to start on Wednesday. I think it went great! She was excited to go, which was great. We were waiting outside for the teacher to come and get the kids and Mairead kept inching toward the door. She said, "Hey, I know. I have a great idea. How 'bout, go inside?" Super cute! The teacher came out and lined up the kids and told them that Mairead was a new friend. They all said, "Hi, Mairead," and though I had to prompt her, she said, "Hi, everyone," while making eye contact. Awesome! The teacher took her hand and led everyone to class. Mairead did look back to see if I was coming, but she didn't get upset. She was in a great mood when Dave picked her up and even tried to tell us about her day. Something about 'circle time, I see numbers and letters.' She was SO exhausted. It will be a strain for her to get used to the 2.5hrs a day 4 days a week, so we'll have to take it easy on her until she gets used to it.

I did go in and introduce myself to the nurse, tell her Mairead's story, etc. She was super nice and was going to go to the classroom to meet Mairead and put a face to her name.

The ONLY possible bad news is that I think she may have had another absence seizure on Wednesday. It looked just like the last one that my mom and I witnessed, but was only about 10 seconds. She just stared off to the right with her eyes fixed. I called her name several times and jostled her shoulders with no response. Then, she just snapped out of it as if nothing happened. There's nothing we can really do; I just wrote down the date, time, and circumstances and how long it lasted. Next time we see the neurologist we'll just talk to him about it. I hope I am wrong and it was nothing, but it was definitely noticeable.

But, that first day was still a HUGE win for us-- we have been working SO hard for this for so long. I teared up a bit as I walked away from the building because this moment has been so long in coming. It was such a relief for me. It's only been three days, but she seems to be doing great! No hesitation at all going with the teacher- in fact, she gets really excited. We wait outside for the teacher to come get the kids and she is all excited and impatient, waiting to go in. One of the best parts has been that both yesterday and today, little girls came up and said hi to her, and today, one girl told her mom, "that's my new friend, Mairead." Cue me fighting back tears. Mairead still needs prompting, as in, "Can you say hi to Sophia?" But then she looks up at the girl, smiles, makes eye contact, and says, "Hi." Amazing.

Yesterday, she came home and kept talking about hummingbirds, how they hum, what color they are, that they suck on the apple juice (?), they have a beak, etc. Today, she asked, "I have a banana in my lunchbox, mommy?" Just her awareness of needing something in her lunchbox for school is so big for us.

Three moms have introduced themselves, made small talk, etc. That never happened at the other program. No one knows anything yet about Mairead's challenges, etc, so I just hope all these positive relationships keep going once other kids notice that she is a little different or needs extra help, etc.

It's only been three days, but things are already so much better for us. Mairead seems happier, the boys are on a great schedule, and I can actually get things done around the house since I have 2- 2.5 hours of her at school while the boys nap. I feel so much more in control of our life.

Thanks, everyone, for being so supportive- the past year of fighting for this has been so hard on us, and you have been amazing. Again, I know this placement will not immediately solve all of our problems- Mairead still has a lot of challenges and I still have a lot of concerns about her education, health, etc, but I really believe that this is the beginning of much better things for us!

The boys have been incredibly funny and cute lately. They are starting to really play with one another and communicate a lot more. Last night, they were playing 'cymbals.' I assume that I have the Fresh Beat Band to thank for that new vocabulary word.

Today, I gave them a bath and each boy had a cup. Ben would fill up his cup while Jack waited patiently, and then Jack held out his own cup. Ben would pour his cup into Jack's, and then when it was full, one of them would say, "there, perfect!" Or, "there, all finished!" So cute! I scooped Ben up and wrapped him in a towel and held him for a minute to keep him warm. He peeked out from under the corner of the towel and said, "Kiss, Mommy?" Are you kidding me? Talk about the little moments that make life great.
I hope that all of you have a great weekend- thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Twins Turn Two and HUGE news!

The past week has been incredibly busy and just plain incredible. On Sunday, the boys turned two. I know, you are thinking, "how can they possibly be two?" Well, they are. Seems they just keep growing up no matter how much I want them to stay little. We are really excited for all of the fun 'kid' stuff we can look forward to, but I am still a little sad that I won't have any more tiny babies to hold. At least my guys still like to be held. Jack still loves to rest on our shoulders and Ben has a new habit of running up to me, hugging my legs, and saying, "Aww, hi, Mama." And, if I am holding him, he turns to me, says, "Kiss?" and leans in. If I ask Jack for a kiss, he leans over for a smooch. They are so adorable.

Anyway, we had their party on Sunday and it was a really nice afternoon with family and some close friends. Thanks to everyone who could make it- the kids really had a great time. We are so lucky to be surrounded by so many great people. Our theme for the day was 'fire trucks' because the boys love them so much. Our centerpiece was this toy fire station that belonged to us when we were kids. Seems like it has held up pretty well!

My mom was the creative one who came up with the table decor. Very cute.

You've gotta have fire hats for all the little fire fighters in training.

Mairead l-o-v-e-s balloons. Loves them. She carried around this bunch of them for pretty much the entire day. And then she took them to bed that night.

Ben is in blue for all of these pictures-- my mom gave their hair a little trim the other day and it seems that they now look more alike than ever. At their two-year appointment yesterday we found out that Ben is still just about a half inch taller and that he weighs only 2 ounces more than Jack. The doctor said, "they are truly identical, aren't they?" She was very pleased with how they are doing. She was very impressed with their language skills and she thinks that though they are a little on the smaller side (25th percentile) they are just perfect.

Jack and his two favorite things- a handy dandy notebook and a basketball.

I have mentioned it before, but they are seriously obsessed with little spiral notebooks. They have them in their hands constantly and scribble furiously to write down 'clues.'

Though it was the twins' birthday, my mom got a present, too. A while ago, she had asked my brother to take her father's desk and turn it into a kids' table for the dining room. Brian brought it over for the party and it came out beautifully. We have run out of room at the 'big table' so now the kids have someplace to sit!

Mairead is showing off her nail polish. And her beads, and her high heels. Maybe we do have a 'girly' girl on our hands after all.

Katie made these adorable tee-shirts for the boys. They love tools and run around 'fixing' things in the house while yelling, "Fix it! Can!" Thank you, Bob the Builder.

Jen and Mike and Brian and Christin gave the boys these cars. In past blog posts I have posted a picture of them sitting in a broken cozy coupe at the playground- they love them. Now, they have their very own! The boys don't even seem to care that the cars move. They are happy just to sit in them and yell, "Car, Car!"

Even Lily got in on the fun.

We all had such a great day. And, we are lucky to have these little guys in our lives every day- they are so fun, so smart, so warm, and just amazing. Happy birthday to my boys!
And now, for the HUGE news... Starting on Wednesday of this week, Mairead will be enrolled in an integrated pre-K classroom at a local public school. Four days a week, through the end of the year. And in September, she will return to that same class for a full year of pre-K. Our prayers have literally been answered. This is all we have been trying to do for over a year now, and it has finally, finally happened.
We had made a decision that the program she was in was just not working for us. The people had been very nice and accomodating, but the schedule was just awful- the boys had NO life. They had to nap at 10am so that I could drag them out of bed to drop her off, only to pick her up an hour and fifteen minutes later. We had no time for playdates, story hours, etc. It was really a strain for me and for the boys- they need socialization, too! So, after much deliberation, we decided to pull her from the program and just do our best to educate her until September.
I called the director of the playgroup to tell her that we are pulling Mairead because it's just not fair to the boys, really a strain on us, have to make a decision for our whole family, etc. I was thanking her for being so kind and so accomodating and she said, "Well, I can absolutely see why this would be so hard with the boys. Would you be interested in a spot in the regular integrated preschool with a better time slot?"

Um, what? Is that not the EXACT thing I have been asking for since May of 2010??? She says, "well, a spot recently opened up at (local school) in the integrated preschool and we could offer that spot to Mairead if you like."

WHAT IS HAPPENING??? I have been FIGHTING for a spot in the integrated preschool for a year and dreaming of a spot in this particular school, and she is just miraculously offering me the spot I have been begging for. I was literally speechless.

This new program would be T-F and be from 12:50-3:30. I could do something fun in the morning with all the kids (playdates, story time, playground, etc), get them home for lunch, bring Mairead to school, put the boys down for a normal nap time, and Dave could pick up Mairead (most days). It gives me the classroom experience that I want for her AND the free time to spend with all of my kids. I seriously feel like I am dreaming and that there is some mistake here.

We must have a guardian angel somewhere because this is NUTS. The negatives are that 1- M would be in her third school this year. BUT, she would be in the same school next year AND it's Pre-K-8, so she would be there until high schoool, so that's not too much of a negative. 2- she would have a new SLP and I love her current one. She is awesome, gives me the real deal on things, M loves her, etc. That part is sad. 3- the new program (at 2.5 hours a day 4 days a week) is a LOT for M and will probably be a source of stress/anxiety for a while (more to come about that). I hate the idea of uprooting her AGAIN and stressing her out four days a week. Just sucks that sometimes what is 'best' for our kids is also SO hard for them.
But, there are SO many positives. It's an integrated preschool with an experienced teacher and assistant in the classroom plus Speech on site. The time slot is perfect for the boys, the school is 2 minutes away (like, I could walk them down in nice weather), and it's preK-8 which gives her such stable environment. Could this really be happening.??? I cried when I hung up the phone- I was just overcome at the idea of her actually being in a real classroom with at least some of the supports she needs. I really can't believe this is going to happen for her.

Dave and I visited the school and met the teacher yesterday. We loved it. It is such a happy looking little school. The teacher is incredibly nice and seems very informed. She was also very sympathetic to our situation and reassured us that Mairead would be great, but I didn't feel like she was just telling me what I wanted to hear. Dave was able to go to the site visit, too, since he had taken today off to help me take the boys to the doctor. He doesn't usually get to be involved, so this was nice for him.

Mairead will be in an integrated classroom of 14 kids. 9 are typical four year olds, 4 are four year olds on IEPs, and she will be the only three year old (just random- not by design). I like that she will be the youngest- she does better with older models. She will get her 60min of Speech Therapy within the classroom instead of as a pull-out.

The timeframe is perfect- I still have time in the mornings to do some fun things with all three kids, and then the boys can nap at a normal time while M is at school. Dave can pick her up 99% of the time, so I just have to handle drop-off. I don't have to go IN the school for drop off, so if I get a good parking space, I can just leave the boys in the car while I walk her up to the door (teachers come out to get the kids). The school is close enough that once it warms up, I could actually put all three in the triple jogger and walk her down there.

I don't even know what to say about all of this. This is what we have been fighting SO hard for, and it is finally, finally going to happen. I wanted to share our good news with all of you who have been SO supportive throughout this struggle. I know that some of you are still fighting the fight to get your kids what they need, and I hope that you girls will get your miracles, just as we did.

I know that this placement does not solve all our problems- M still has a LOT of challenges ahead of her, but at least she is in a school that can help us to face those challenges in the best way possible. Our focus for almost a year now has been to get her in the right educational environment, and now we at least have that set for her. We are so thankful and so lucky. Thanks to all of you for your amazing support. I hope to share that she has a good transition back into school (she has not been to school since February 17th) and that she is thriving in her new environment. Thanks to all of you who sent prayers, good thoughts, etc. We hope that this is the beginning of great things for Mairead and for our family. I can't tell you what a strange feeling it is (in a good way) that we don't have to fight any more (at least for now, lol). Thanks!