Category Archives: Kids

A Whole New World

iep4At least that’s what we’re hoping now that J is 3. It’s not that turning 3 has any particular special qualities our middle child was supposed to wake up with, but since he qualifies for special education services, by law in the commonwealth of Massachusetts J is now attending our town’s integrated preschool.

It’s a double-edge sword being told your child needs special services. I admit I fought for this. I’ve been asking for at least 2 years to get him help and was largely ignored by our previous pediatrician. So to have the process occur and have him accepted into the program has made me feel validated. The process was swift due to the timing of his birthday, so it’s been kind of difficult to wrap my head around. However, I have to share I feel so much better knowing that I’m not completely crazy after dragging him to doctor after doctor after doctor trying to figure out what is going on. This has also made me sad because I wanted more than anything to be told “there is nothing wrong with your son.”

The old pedi kept saying B was doing too much talking and that J would “catch up.” But we knew we had a bigger problem on our hands than the older sibling who does all the talking when we learned he wasn’t hearing anything. I mean, if you can’t hear then you won’t talk. And if you basically couldn’t hear anything the first 15 months of your life, then you’re at least a year behind.

And that’s what the assessments – yes, more than one assessment – confirmed. While J is able to do some things above his actual age, more often than not his level of development is below average. Specifically, he’s more like a 23 month old instead of his actual age of 35 months.

Reading that made me feel sick, but I admit it wasn’t a complete surprise. If J had not continued to miss certain milestones or demonstrate some speech shortcoming – none of which were perceived by his old pediatrician as particularly problematic – we might never have looked into private, specialized services. Our experience is a testimonial to be your child’s advocate and go with your gut. Even if that means getting bad news it’s really good news, because no news is even worse, in my opinion.

Sweet J at the end of his first day of school.

J at the end of his first day of school.

Now that we had a diagnosis and a plan and J is formally in the system, I want to focus on the long-term. Unfortunately, that’s not really the way it works. Our short-term goal is to make sure he’s prepared for Kindergarten. We do not want to hold him back a year because he’d be in the same class as his younger brother. And while that’s not the end of the world, it is not ideal. So we’re working hard to make him better. J will continue with speech therapy from Gift of Gab 2x a week, but he’ll also receive speech therapy at his new preschool 3x a week. We will also work with him at home on his speech and vocabulary.

Today was his first day and it was a long one starting at 8:30 at his current playschool before heading over to the new preschool. But when I picked him up this afternoon he was all smiles. His wonderful, patient, kind new teacher included a progress note and said he did great. Seeing him looking like this makes me feel better about all that has happened and the bumpy road it took to get here.

Yes, it’s a whole new world for us. It’s a special one, too.

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Goodbye, Huggy Bears. Hello, Lovable Lions!

ImageI cannot believe B’s first year of preschool is over tomorrow. We are so fortunate to be part of the Wilder community and I’m thrilled about the relationships he made with his classmates plus the new connections M and I made with the parents in his class and with the school altogether.

It takes a very special person to be teacher, but especially a preschool teacher. When I was Parent of the Day back in the fall, I was able to see first hand the love and genuine desire to help teach and prepare my child. It was a wonderful experience and I came home absolutely exhausted. (How B does not take a nap everyday after preschool I will never understand!)

This year I served as a Room Parent with a few other mothers and with the help of all the Huggy Bear parents we gave the teachers some lovely, thoughtful gifts during the year. I helped organize the end of year gift and think it turned out adorable: a plush spa robe plus a gift certificate to a nearby “Best of Boston” spa. Each present was wrapped up and topped off with a copy of the class photo which has the signatures of every child in B’s class. I customized it with a note to the teachers that reads:

Thank you for a year of learning and fun.
We hope you enjoy some rest and relaxation.
We love you!
Huggy Bears
2011-2012 

After all these wonderful women have done to help nurture and love our children for a few hours a day every week, showering them with an appreciative, relaxing gift was a treat for us. Plus we need them relaxed, rested and ready for our kids next year!

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Shark Week is Jawesome

this little gem of a pic won me a shark week prize pack

My family drinks the Shark Week juice. Hmmm, I guess that would technically be chum. But regardless, we love Shark Week. Love it. I have to thank KPop, B’s Godmother and my best friend, for the obsession. Remember that movie BIG with Tom Hanks? Yea, KPop is the living-breathing modern version. She is a rockstar at her job and I swear it’s because that woman has the soul of an 11 year old boy! Her connection to Shark Week is what got our family excited about it, but B has taken things to a whole new level. It’s to the point where he wants watch shark shows, wear shark-related clothing, and yes, even eat shark food. I’ve had to get really creative with the menu to get my boy to eat! So although he’s been on a bit of a bug/reptile kick of late, he always comes back to his first love: sharks.

It’s barely spring but B knows once it’s warm out we’re heading to the beach, and to him the beach means sharks! Although Mother Nature has been somewhat cruel with the her warm-weather teasing (this morning started off cold & windy), I’m already thinking of ideas for Shark Week. Last summer we hosted a Shark Week playdate. Yes, a playdate all about sharks for lots of little kids. They loved it! Because of the Summer Olympics, Shark Week has been pushed back into August, which means more time to creatively plan.

the loot provided by Discovery

all the kids came in their bathing suits

even the littlest ones got in on the fun

Doesn’t that look like a lot of fun? I have Discovery to thank for the jawesome Shark Week party pack I won after submitting a photo of B at Sharky’s Cantina in Martha’s Vineyard. The party pack helped pull everything together! But it’s easy to plan your own Shark Week party playdate. Here are some other great ideas:

I love these adorable cards from @SweetDee

INVITES

If you want do a little more than notify everyone via email, jazz it up with MeebleMail. You could also send out a digital invite. Personally, I’m a fan of pingg but there are so many these days that any water-themed version would be just fine. You could also send an adorable note after the party. These handmade I Love You More cards from @SweetDee on Etsy are too cute for words!

you can find nemo... in their bellies! yum!

FOOD 

I love Tex-Mex so Chips & Chum was an easy one for me. Simply put out a bowl of your favorite salsa and pop in a couple of blue corn chips to represent shark fins. Our playdate last year was on a hot day so the chumsicles were a big hit.  These can be store bought or made with love and lots of chunky, red fruit. I also served dinner and opted for an easy meal that most kids enjoy: Mac & Cheese. To tie it into my beach-theme I used varying sizes of shells to mix things up a little. The folks at Pepperidge Farm came up with the brilliant idea to make Goldfish Bread. Look at how cute they are as individual pizzas. These are the perfect size for little kids and they’re fun, too! And if the chumsicles aren’t enough,  beach-themed cupcakes like ours or even with blue shark fins will be the hit of the party!

at the park or the beach, bubble refills are a must!

GAMES & ACTIVITIES

I’m a huge fan of bubbles. On land or under the sea, bubbles are always fun! Also, very important: baby pools. I think they are a must-have for any summer shindig. Whether you fill it up with babies or beer, they’re super cute and incredibly useful. My boys love hide & seek so we renamed it Finding Nemo. The hiders were clown fish and the seeker was a shark! Sidewalk chalk is another fun item to have for warm-weathered parties. The kids can draw on the driveway and when it gets too hot they can dip back in the baby pool.

jawesome cover-up from @thetrendytot

DON’T FORGET

Have the kids show up in their bathing suits, ready to get wet. Make sure to show everyone where the sunscreen is and take into consideration sunscreen that kids with nut allergies can also use. They all need to slather it on – even on a cloudy day! Put out your beach towels (even the ugly ones!) because someone will likely forget to bring one or it will be soaked from the sprinklers. If you plan ahead you could even pick up a one of these great shark cover-ups from @thetrendytot on Etsy. My boys would love to wrap up in this when it’s time to eat. And find a good splash-free zone to play some tunes. Good music always sets the tone and MTV put together a great Shark Week themed playlist!

SHARK WEEK PLAYLIST 

Weird Fishes/Arpegg by Radiohead, Barracuda by Heart, Fish Heads by Barnes and Barnes, Shark Attack by Split Enz, Teeth by Lady Gaga, With Teeth by Nine Inch Nails, Swim (To Reach the End) by Surfer Blood, Sharks by Morphine, Season of the Shark by Yo La Tengo, Hammerhead Shark by David Lee Roth, The Ocean by Led Zeppelin, King Of the Beach by Waaves, Another One Bites the Dust by Queen, Honorary and Obvious Pick: Theme From Jaws by John Williams

And in case your child is anything like mine, they’ll want to play with sharks long after the party is over. Discovery Kids has a great new Shark iPad app available on iTunes. Hmmm… Does anyone know about a waterproof iPad cover?

Are you a Shark Week fan? Do you like to celebrate it with your family? What other Discovery programming do you enjoy? 

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Park Playdate

digging in the sand

Friday afternoon playdates are the best. It’s the last weekday hurrah for the kids before the daddy’s are home to play with them all weekend. Plus, we’ve been smart mamas and serving dinner to the kids so it’s a two-fer: they get to eat and wear themselves out at the same time!

I’ve been getting together with some girlfriends and their kids – all mixed ages – for a several weeks now. It’s great because I’m getting some quality time with real friends and the kids are having a blast, too. Most of the kids are close in age, but there’s a definite spread although none of them seem to care.

This particular Friday we went to the park behind Town Hall. With the summer-like temps on Wednesday & Thursday we thought for certain it would be really nice, too. Um, yea, it started to actually snow at one point. The kid’s didn’t care though. In fact, they loved it – even when their hands were starting to turn purple! It’s funny though what some kettle corn snacks and juice boxes can do to divert their attention and provide a little more energy for 30 more minutes on the playground.

B and his bestie were all over the slides. J & C took a calmer approach (which made it easier for me to keep tabs on my crew) and played for quite some time in the sand box.

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Crafts: Oh So Eggciting!

So I *think* I’m crafty but I’m not one of those really crafty moms. No disrespect to those who are. I love the idea of craft projects but I detest the mess that typically comes with it. And let’s be honest, kids this young with paint would probably make even the craftiest of parents shudder. Thanks to Pinterest I’ve collected a good amount of adorable ideas for various holidays and general Super Mom type projects, but it’s hard for me to pull the trigger and actually do something. Instead I prefer to share my finds with Mary Poppins, who is much craftier than me (and yet another reason why I love her so much) to help me execute activities for the boys that won’t make me question my good intentions once we’re underway.

With Easter coming up and the cold, dreary weather outside, we painted giant Easter eggs. The boys were better than I would normally give them credit for. And by that I mean they didn’t start painting the walls or each other. B was disappointed there was no blue paint and requested we fix that for next time. Wow! Mommy for the win! I’m so happy he had enough fun this time to request a next time! Look at what we made…

Do you find inspiration on Pinterest, too? What kind of crafty activities do you do with your kids? Are you like me and usually leave these type projects for sitters and school? {Yep, I’m not embarrassed to admit my motherly shortcomings.}

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