Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Buddy Walk was great. It seems like people get there earlier every year, as we realize that there is so much fun before the walk too. We all arrived around 11:20 - Laura and N parked behind us, and my parents of course parked somewhere else. Met up, got our t-shirts and put on our bandanas. Then it was time to wander the festivities and say hi to friends.

I took Sofia to watch the show: Rachel Coleman from Signing Time was the special guest. Sofia had a blast watching and signing along:

 The walk itself was fine. We did bring the wheelchair (Sofia scream "Yeah! Purple Chair!" when I took it out of the garage), so she rode most of the time. Travis pulled the wagon along, but Lilie actually walked a lot. The wagon was mostly used for lugging the backpacks and snacks.

My parents kind of kept to themselves, but we had a nice time. We missed having the Burg family with us; hopefully they will be back again next year (they had other commitments this time).

After the walk, we relaxed and had our picnic and listened to the Ayla Brown concert. We were sitting near the snack table, and David knew one of the organizers, from the Learning Program (Sofia's "reading school"). So when it was time to clean up, somehow we managed to walk away with 3 boxes of 50 snack packs of potato chips and 2 boxes of popcorn! (Boy, the wagon was REALLY useful for that!).

I fell asleep in the car on the way home, and then back to sleep until 7pm! David said he tried to wake me and couldn't.

So it was a late evening, but productive. David and I booked our December vacation!

We're going to Six Flags Great Escape in Lake George NY for 3 nights. Then down to my uncle's house for Christmas day, and then into New York city for a few days.

We had thought that Sam would be going to Israel with Prozdor, but when I told him about the trip, he said he'd rather come with us! As long as he wants to travel with us, I want him with us.

Monday was Columbus Day, and the public schools were closed, but MWJDS not only had school, but had "Bring a Friend To School Day" and Open House. It was really successful, even with very little advance planning. We had 7 families come look at the school.

Micah had to go to school in the morning. Sam was supposed to volunteer all day in the kindergarten class, earning some of his Community Service hours for high school. Of course, he decided to sleep late, so he went in with me and Sofia at 1:00.

Work has been busy but good. I have so many different roles I play at school: I'm the WebMaster, technologist, office support, Torah reading teacher, Tefillah helper. It's fun. We're working hard to get ready for the Gala in December. We're also upgrading our main database; I had a couple of conference calls about it this week. It's gonna be really cool. (I'm such a geek). And we've had some problems with the internet connectivity in many of the classrooms, so I've been trying to work on that, too.

Monday after school, Micah was supposed to have a soccer game. Unfortunately, he had his finger in a metal brace (because it was injured on Friday), and the ref wouldn't let him play. The metal was apparently a possible danger. Poor kid was bummed, but too afraid of getting the finger hurt to take off the brace.

Tuesday I took Micah for an x-ray at lunchtime. Fortunately, the finger does not appear to be broken. But he still couldn't play baseball on Tuesday afternoon. Which, for me, was lovely and relaxing, but was a bummer for him.

Wednesday was a long day. Work, I was supposed to have Mazal Tots (the preschool program I run), but no kids showed up. Oh well ;) After school, Sofia had swimming. Micah couldn't do gymnastics, so at least he got to soccer practice a little earlier (usually he's late on Wednesdays). I found him a ride home, and took Sofia home for Sam to feed her dinner and put her to bed.

Then I raced to Sam's high school for Open House. Whew! That was wild. I was a little late, so I missed the introduction, and instead went directly to the Learning Center. His LC teacher printed me a schedule, and then I had to go to each of his classes, in order. They even rang the bell between "periods".

His history teacher is great, apparently one of the best in the school, super nice and glad to have him in class. Sam loves history, and has a 98 average. Then I went to Math. Not thrilled. And Sam is not managing to advocate well for himself yet. He's struggling, and needs help. We're working on it.

Then I had the most lovely conversation with his science teacher. Older gentleman, totally overwhelmed with his workload. He said he's only got about 75 students, but at least 50 of them are on IEPs. And as much as he likes Sam, he thinks Sam should move up to a different class. Sam has a 92 average, and that's with missing two assignments (which he still has the option of making up).  So we're in discussion with the science teacher, the guidance counselor, and the Learning Center teacher, trying to find the best class to move him to.

English was good, too. The students were supposed to write a 4 paragraph paper; Sam instead wrote 3 pages! Both English and History think Sam will not need the supported classes next year. Whew!

Anyway, when I left the Open House, then I headed over to the Gala meeting (which fortunately was at a lovely Mexican restaurant that served margaritas).

Thursday was cool. Micah gets picked up at 6:15 on Thursdays to go to Minyan, but I still had to srive three other girls to school. Acupuncture, then work. And since Micah did not have baseball, I had my new babysitter come pick up Sofia from MWJDS and take her to swimming, and Micah and I went home early! My student came early, too, so he was done by the time Micah's guitar teacher arrived, which was good. I think I should probably make that time change permanent. The whole evening felt so much more relaxed!

Friday, I drove Micah to school, ran some errands, and went to the gym. Shower and then got some decent time in recording Torah and Haftarah tracks for my students. Then the cleaning ladies arrived.

I went upstairs to tell them something about about the bathroom... and slipped.

I landed on the bathroom floor. Fortunately, nothing cracked, but I landed kind of with my underarm and back on the edge of the tub. Ouch.

I'm SO sore now. I think I bruised a rib.

Friday afternoon, babysitter took Sofia to ballet and I took Micah to his soccer game. This time we wrapped his finger with tape, so he could play. Then home for Shabbat and quiet night at home. The boys fell asleep before Sofia!

Today, Reading School for Sofia. Then in the afternoon, Micah had another soccer game. I LOVE his coaches, who are willing to drive him home! Which meant I had an hour to myself. I went to the Natick Open Studios and wandered around the art studios.

Unfortunately, my whole body aches so badly. Ugh.

I got home at the same time as Micah. And now he's out again. His coach took him (along with coach's son and another teammate) to the NE Revolutions game at Gillette Stadium. (He just called and asked if he could sleep over his friend's house!) So I'm home with Sam and Sofia, watchin an Adam Sandler movie... oh joy...

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Our Buddy Walk bandanas for tomorrow

A Week From Hell, and Looking Down the Tunnel

Wow, this was some week.

Last Friday, I had to take Sam into Newton, to drop him at the bus at Hebrew College. He was headed up to Camp Yavneh in NH for the Prozdor 9th grade Shabbaton.

So my neighbor picked up Sofia from school, and our new babysitter, R, took her to ballet class. I got home around the same time they did, and Sofia just about collapsed in my lap. She and Micah spent 20 minutes fighting over the real estate of my lap (really, kids, there's plenty of room for both of you!).

And then Sofia popped a fever.

So I missed my synagogue choir concert, for which I had been practicing for a few weeks. Kinda bummed, although it was nice to be home with my two little ones (David was still away, and now Sam was, too.).

I got Micah a ride to soccer - I thought his game was at 9am, but it was really at 2:30 - and Sofia and I just relaxed at home. She did not get a fever again; in fact, she was quite bubbly and bouncy. So when Micah left for his game, I took her over to the mall (I had to pick up my laptop, which was at Apple being repaired), to get her makeup done.

Sofia LOVES getting her makeup done. And Mama, being a total non-makeup person, is not much help. So she dressed up in her fancy outfit (purple leggings, purple dress that is too short to be a dress, silver sparkly shoes, purple headband, and puppy-dog pocketbook) and off we went. When we go to the mall, she marches over to the makeup ladies, who go totally gaga over Miss Cutie. We started at Nordstroms, and then went over to the MAC store (not the Apple store; it's makeup!).

And the MAC lady notices that one of Sofia's eyes is all goopy.

Ugh. Her nose had been stuffy all day, but now her tear ducts are clogged, which means allergic conjunctivitis.

The lady made up lips, cheeks, and one eye. I debated getting Sofia an emergency eye appointment, but really, I already knew what we needed to do, and already had the drops ready at home.

So we go home, and I wrestle her to get the drops into her eyes. NOT fun. We settle in for a quiet evening; Micah is exhausted from his game, too.

And then I get a call - from Camp Yavneh. Sam has had an Allergic Reaction to ... something. We have no idea what it was. Closest guess is something on the grass (they were rolling around on the field). His eye is all puffed up , and he has hives all over his body.

They gave him Benadryl, and asked that I pick him up at 9:30 am at Hebrew College the next morning, but when I spoke to him, he really wasn't feeling well.

So off I went to New Hampshire.

Got up there in about 2 hours. He was feeling a little better, but still looked horrible. We stayed for Havdalah and a quick bite of dinner, and then raced home. Stopped in Haverhill to get another EpiPen, since I had forgotten to bring Micah's and was sufficiently nervous without it.

Sunday morning, took Sam to pediatrician, who said to stay on the Benadryl for 48 hours. Which he did. Lots of sleeping; missed school on Monday. But by Monday evening he was fine. Whew.

Tuesday was normal (except that by now, I also had to use my eye drops, since she's shared the conjunctivitis with me.). Wednesday started out fine...

...until Sofia's school called to tell me her eyes were all goopy and watery and she was very "droopy". So I left work and picked her up. Assured the nurses that she had been on the eye drops since Saturday, but she really did look droopy. So we came home. She got right into pajamas (and tried to get me into pjs; I had to put them on over my dress). I gave her Benadryl, which helped. I napped, and Sam napped when he got home. Sofia never napped, but she relaxed.

I had a party that I was co-hosting that night (my dear friend V left MWJDS a few weeks ago to work in the real world again, and this was her going away party), so I left the boys in charge. They did fine.

Thursday, back to normal.

Friday...I have a day off from work, so I relax a bit in the morning (having gotten Micah a ride to school), and then go off to the gym. And when I get out of the gym, there is a message from Sofia's school nurse...

Sofia has eaten berries from a bush by the playground.


I rush to school. The custodian has brought in a sprig, and Mrs. B and I go online to figure out what Sofia has decided to snack on.


Which can be poisonous in sufficient quantity.

Which fortunately she did NOT eat. She only had one or two berries before Mr. C., the principal, caught up to her (he had been chasing her; I taught him "Red Light", too!).

Nurse and I spoke to Poison Control, who confirmed what we were reading online. Gave Sofia a glass of milk, and they kept having her drink water the rest of the day. She had a little tummy ache, but otherwise was fine.


The boys came home from school, and I went back to get Sofia. When I got home, Micah had injured his finger while they were playing football. At this point (Saturday) we think it's a sprain, but it does hurt a lot.

And while I was taking care of Micah's finger, I also had to help Sam, who had an infected finger that needed lancing.



Looking Down the Tunnel

I've been mulling over this part of the post for a few days. Bringing Sofia back to her classroom on Friday helped contribute to the post, too.

At the public school, Sofia is mostly in the "sub-separate" class. What this means is that she is assigned to the Inclusion Class for second grade, and goes with them for Music and Art and PE and lunch. But all her Learning is done in the SubSep room, in individual or small group work.

When we first considered putting her in SubSep, I was scared. There was a little boy, D, with Autism, and he has a hard time making eye contact. His behaviors are different from normal.

I was assured by our wonderful SpEd team that they worked hard with all the kids on not picking up each others' less appropriate behaviors. And so far, it's been fabulous. Sofia continues to be her own person - which is pretty significant already, so who needs to copy someone else's behaviors.

But what I am noticing now is about me.

Now, when I go into the public school, most of the kids fade into the background. They are a large herd, a mass of brightly colored clothing and bland personalities.

What I see, very clearly and sharply, are the handful of kids from SubSep. I see them as they walk down the center hallway together. Some can walk independently - Sofia and her buddy H like to skip. One girl is in a wheelchair, and it might take her a while to respond to a "hi" or "bye". D still needs to have one of the aides hold onto his arm, or he tends to wander quickly away. Sofia has speech with N, and the speech teacher (who is my friend) says the two of them use so much sign language together, she is fearful of what they might be plotting against her.

But I see these beautiful children so crisply compared to the rest of the school. They each have their own personalities, their own behaviors. They smile in their own way and in their own time.

I see them coming down the hall, individually with an aide or in a small group. Most of them get dismissed from the front of the school, rather than from "walkers" dismissal, since they are likely not to stay put without watching. It works for me (especially because I have to grab Sofia and race to get Micah twice a week).

I feel that Small Group learning is best, not just for students with special learning needs, but for ALL students. On Friday, when Sofia and I finished in the nurses' office, I took her back to class. She wanted to go to her Inclusion classroom, so we popped our heads in.

There had to be more than 20 kids, all sitting at desks in straight lines, all learning in the ONE way the teacher was teaching.

That's not true learning. That's parroting.

When I took Sofia into the SubSep room, they were playing Simon Says. They each have their own way of ... being. RL, the girl in the wheelchair, was standing, but needed to be supported by the teacher. H was bouncing around next to them. The boys were all rolling on the floor - Sofia joined them. They were all having fun, and all responding to the other teacher's "Simon Says" commands in their own ways. They each got their own commands, too; a customized version of the game.

It was just so much more appealing than the regular classroom.

So I am grateful for the ability to have my children in smaller classes. Sofia in SubSep. Micah at the day school (so far; he wants to go to a bigger school next year because he wants to be with more friends. That's a whole different post...). Sam is in the supported classes at the High School, and doing great. He has a 98 average in History, and nearly as high in English; the two topics he needed the most support for last year! And he's in the Learning Center, which means that even when he is in the bigger class for Honors Geometry, there is still someone looking out specifically for him. He still gets his testing accommodations, which make all the difference in the world for him.

I am just so glad it's going well, and I wish all children could have the opportunities my own kids have.

Ok, Buddy Walk tomorrow. Gotta get some rest.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Just So Busy

Ok, first the update on the Math saga.

Right after I posted on the blog, I went to the high school to have a meeting with the Learning Center teacher and the Guidance Counselor. The LC teacher is terrific, and has totally fallen for Sam's great work habits and sweet demeanor. She wishes she could bottle him and apply his style to all the other LC students.

Anyway, since the math teacher totally ignored Sam's testing accommodations, we went through the list and the LC teacher had a nice long to do list for take-away.

On the next test, Sam got a 90.

And then three days later, I got a letter from the Team Liaison, requesting they re-evaluate Sam to see if he really needs special education services!

I'm thinking the 43 and the 90 is pretty clear empirical evidence. So, no, no testing at this time.

He's doing great in everything now. He has a 98 average in History (which my mother think means that the class is too easy for him). He is very proud of how hard he is working. And he is enjoying school.

Micah, however, is having trouble, especially with the new Hebrew teacher. They are just not connecting well, and Micah...can be... difficult... I'm dealing with the lead teacher and the director of education now, to try to make things work. Micah's standard fallback is "I have a bad memory." Well, either he does or he doesn't. The Director of Education happens to also be a Neuropsychologist. So we will figure it out.

Sofia is doing great. We watched Iron Man 3 last week, and my blood-thirsty little princess is now also a Monster. She wears black pants and a black shirt (with a pink cupcake on it). As long as she stops saying "I hold guns; people all bloody" everything is fine.

I think we are nearing an agreement on my work hours. Looks like I will be working 20 hours a week! Some of that is flexible hours, which covers the tremendous amount of time I spend nights and weekends doing work for school. It's exciting, though. I really like the new Director of Institutional Advancement (aka my new boss for 90% of the job). We work well together.

My b'nai mitzvah tutoring has started for the year, too. I have one student Monday evening and one Thursday evening. Plus I'm reading Torah for an upcoming bar mitzvah, same parasha as Micah's bar mitzvah will be next year. Oh, and at some point we have to get Micah started, too.

David has been away for the past 3 weeks. He went to Costa Rica, then Berlin Germany, then Poland, and now he is in Auckland NZ. Coming home Sunday, but then leaving Tuesday for a few days. Just crazy schedule.

Our after-school schedule is nuts, too, but my new Mother's Helper is suppose to start on Thursday. I already have most things worked out, but it will be great to have help.

Mondays: I work 1:00 -  4:00. Sofia comes into the office to play on the computer when school gets out at 3:15. Micah goes to his friend's house. At 4, I take Sofia to gymnastics, then have a little time to run an errand, then pick up Micah, then pick up Sofia, drop Micah at soccer, and come home. He gets a ride home from soccer, so I can teacher at 7 at the house.

Tuesday is our free day so far, although starting next week for 4 weeks, Micah will have baseball games. I work 8-1.

Wednesday, I work 8-1 again. Just enough time to go to the gym before I pick up Sofia and then go back and pick up Micah. Sofia has 4:30 swimming and Micah has 4:30 gymnastics, fortunately both in the same building. Sofia and I only have to wait about 15 minutes for Micah once we are done changing from swimming. Race to soccer (he's 20 minutes late), then bring her home, then back to soccer field to pick him up.

Thursdays, back to MWJDS 1-3:50. Take Micah over to baseball training; the mother's helper will pick him up. Quick errand or ice cream with Sofia, and then more swimming. We can then go right home (rather than having to go back to get Micah, which we were doing). Quick eat and another student at the house. Sam will be home to cook!

Fridays, Sofia has ballet at 4:10. Which usually will be fine. This week, however, I have to take Sam into Newton to get him to the Prozdor bus so he can go for the 9th grade Shabbaton at Yavneh.

Whew. Oh, and seemingly endless soccer games on Sunday, although I know it's only another 6-8 weeks. And monthly DS reading school for Sofia.

My brain is starting to jangle around in my skull...