Along the lines of “out of sight, out of mind” that is! In my experience, anyway. I forgot to blog and you’ve probably forgotten all about me and my silly little soap box! But in its own way, my short-lived absence was necessary in helping to get me to a better place — healthier and happier (if not just as busy as ever)!
While I’ve been incommunicado (again) — like everyone else, busy busy busy with the end-of-school-year activities, transition to Summer and, yes, going to the gym at the crack of dawn (literally) 5 times a week — I’m diligently working on me and my attitude toward life! You may recall that this is why I started this blog in the first place. Way back when, I knew I needed my very own happiness project to focus on the good stuff in my life (and there’s LOTS of it) especially when things get tough, to acknowledge and then let go of the bad stuff (which is getting less and less all the time) and to do what I could to make the world a better place in some small way (for me, this mostly happens in the form of advocacy).
So what’s shakin’ in my part of the world? I’m tired and invigorated all at once. By hitting the gym between 5 and 6am I’ve lost some precious sleep along with about 6 lbs. It’s a great, if not slow, start! But, more importantly, I feel better physically AND mentally. My weakened and way-too-tight lower back (the result of nearly 7 months of modified bed rest during my twin pregnancy) suddenly doesn’t hurt and my clothes fit a little better. The number on the tag is still higher than I want but I recognize that I gained this excess weight and lost strength and stamina over the last 1o years (happily sacrificed in favor of child-rearing) so it’s a slow process no matter what direction I’m headed. Still, the gym helps start every day on a positive note by doing something good and healthy for myself! And, I’m finding I have much more patience with the kids and with the Sarge! That’s an added benefit I won’t soon give up!
And how are my beautiful kids? The Old Soul finished up fourth grade with a big happy bang! She had stellar report cards from Gen Ed and Project Extra, the gifted program, and more importantly, got through the last few months of her year without any tears (down from 5x/day at the start)! She is now poised to begin 5th grade on a happier note with her 504 accommodations in place to help keep her ADD- and school-related anxiety down! The Boys graduated kindergarten but instead of moving on, we chose to repeat. I’m a big believer in building a strong educational foundation. So, instead of having them struggle to keep up for the next 12 years, we’ll stay put one more year to strengthen the basics before moving up! (Maybe the nearly 200-year-old foundation of my house has taught me something valuable after all)! But THIS time, as I told the CSE administrators, I would absolutely NOT accept anything but full inclusion. As a matter of fact, I let the CSE administrators know, in no uncertain terms, that My Boys would NEVER, EVER, E-V-E-R be in a contained class again. The whole split-schedule thing did NOT work for us on a number of levels. The most critical being lack of significant academic gain AND peer-introduced, undesirable behaviors that I am now spending my Summer UNteaching The Boys. No easy task! (And the basis for errorless learning!)
As it turns out, after 2 1/2 days, I’ve decided that Summer school is not our gig! In a nutshell, it’s a contained program with no opportunity for inclusion at any level. But that — as we say here in NY — is a whole ‘nother story! And I’m NOT going there today. Instead, I picked up one of those fancy leftover ipad-1 tablets for a great price, downloaded some pretty cool special needs apps including OT, PT and Academic applications that The Boys really enjoy, and we’ve taken back our Summer… without the school!
But, I still have some “school” work to do for September. I owe our district’s new Superintendent of Special Education a letter requesting that next year’s special ed staff and My Boy’s gen ed teacher and aide receive special training offered by LIU’s Center for Community Inclusion. The program is set up to teach general and special educators how to successfully implement an inclusive education for children with disabilities, and participants earn required continuing ed credit so it’s a win:win for all. Additionally, I’m pushing for this training to include a special focus on best practices in educating children with Down syndrome. This because I’ve recently been informed that there are 5 incoming kindergarteners with Down syndrome in our district (besides my 2). Sadly, I understand that the newbies are ALL slated to be in the “contained” class. (That means that the inclusion movement — a best-practice supported by research and state and federal laws — has not quite taken hold in my own home town! But, I’m working on it.)
On the advocacy front, we’re hoping to hold the first meeting of the Western Nassau Support Group for Parents of Children with Down Syndrome in September. Further, I’m in the midst of my NYS Partners In PolicyMaking (PiP) training… an elite training that teaches the legal aspects and history of disability law and fosters partnerships between New York State lawmakers, legislators and parents of children with special needs to ensure that we are all moving toward practicing what the laws preach, together. (Many states have PiP training; look into it in your state!)
As for blogging, that’s been inadvertently put on the back-burner because of this crazy-busy end-of-year/beginning-of-Summer schedule with my beautiful children. We’ve been swimming nearly every day, have gone on one camping trip with two more scheduled for August), kicked off our Summer concert line-up with James Taylor at Tanglewood and an Eagles tribute band in the park, and are halfway through our swim lessons at the local pool where all 3 of my little fishies are doing wonderfully! Now I just have to find a way to squeeze in another hour of sleep.
How’s your Summer going?