Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Preschool Graduation

Conner graduated from preschool last Friday. He went to three different preschools in 3 years (4 if you count camp) but finished up at a perfect place for him. The graduation included the kindergarten and the 2 classes of 4 year olds. Conner's class got to do 2 songs first and then at the end all the kids were on stage with their teachers to do a few more. They received certificates from one of the Rabbi's that comes to school every Friday. Conner did an awesome job on stage and although I'm not sure he was singing too much (he has a bit of stage fright!), he did do some of the hand motions. He was able to be on stage by himself with his classmates and we were really proud of him. His papa and aunt (cousin) and cousin along with me, David and B were there. Afterwards, they had some snacks in the class and then Conner stayed to play with a few friends for the rest of the day.

Lining up on stage getting ready for their graduation performance

the hand motions for the song were something about shaking their hands.

Conner standing next to his good buddy for the "ahavah" song.

Obviously SHE knows the hand motions a little better than Conner!

getting his preschool diploma and shaking the Rabbi's hand!
got the diploma...a Preschool Graduate!!

The whole preschool on stage. Behind Conner are some of the wonderful teachers that made this year such a success for him!
One of Conner's awesome teachers who helped him down the steps. Conner absolutely LOVED "Miss Erika"!

Conner's "advocate" who helped make this year such an amazing success for him. Even though she was there for him, she also helped him to become so much more independent. We are forever grateful to Miss Julie and we are so glad to have one more year with her. She has made such a huge impact in Conner's life.

Conner on the playground after school. This is such a good picture of him...I can see a smile AND his eyes all in one picture!
Conner playing Mini-Golf at the camp at the last day of school picnic. I'm so glad he will be going to camp here!

One of the most fantastic preschools around. Miss Robin was so great with Conner and taught him so much. We are so grateful that she was Conner's teacher this year and gave him such a wonderful school year.

The school that Conner attended this year was so great for him. He had two wonderful teachers and a wonderful 1 on 1 (advocate). I feel so lucky that he was able to have this experience. When the year began, I really had no idea what to expect but all my hopes were exceeded. Conner is doing so many things that he wasn't doing before. There are things that are still really hard for him, but socially and behaviorally, he did so great. He made some really nice friends and although he was only at the school for a year with them, it gave me hope for his future schooling. Conner especially loved the girls he met this year and those are the only ones he wants at his birthday party!  The full inclusion program at his school is so perfect for him. He had the opportunity to be with typical kids and gain some really important skills and was treated just like everyone else. I know none of his teachers or administrators will ever read this but to all of the individuals that helped us this year, that had any interaction with my special boy, I am forever grateful to you for your kindness, warmth and compassion. You all are such a wonderful group of people and Conner has learned so much from you.

During the last week of school, we met with the Director of the Special Needs program and also went to a parent meeting for Camp (at his school). Initially, Conner was going to the preschool camp first session and regular camp (for kindergarten) 2nd session but the more we talked about it, the more we thought it was better for him to be with his friends in the "big" camp all summer. So we made the switch and Conner will be in the kindergarten camp group. I'm excited and anxious for him to have this experience. I'm hoping he'll love it!

It was such a good year that Conner will attend the same school for kindergarten. Right now, it's a really small class. Hopefully they will get a couple more kids, but I'm hopeful that he will have just as good of an experience.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

June 6, 2012

I don't know why the past few days have been so tough. Maybe it's because Conner is getting older and I'm getting a little more sensitive. Maybe I just expect more from other kids and parents. Maybe I'm just scared about the future. But we went to a place today that we have been before to play. It's a pretty new place and Conner had a good time the last time we went. Conner loves playing with other kids, but he doesn't mind playing by himself, especially if he doesn't know the other kids. Anyway, long story short, the kids were mean. They couldn't have been older than 5 and the mother was sitting right there. You know that I gave those kids the stink eye...I glared at them if they even thought about saying something to Conner. But I did hear some comments like "he can't do it, he can't run, he doesn't know his name". When we got home, I was telling David about it and Conner said, "that boy was rude". I don't know...I think I just have higher expectations for people. I thought that the world was becoming more accepting of kids with different abilities. Boy was I wrong.

Monday, June 4, 2012

BREAKTHROUGH!! - June 4, 2012

Tonight when I was reading to Conner, he started doing something that has been SO hard for him. Conner can count but when it comes to counting things he just never seemed like he knew how to do it. He would always just point and count aimlessly. Part of me wondered if he just can't concentrate long enough to make it make sense. It gets frustrating for him, for us, for teachers. Well, we were reading a book and all of a sudden Conner started pointing at things and counting. He was being silly and saying "3, 0, 1" and I said, let's do it together. He replied "I want to do it by myself" and he showed me correctly. Then we proceeded to count fingers, toes, ears, cars, etc. And then I said, "can you count by 10's?" and he just did it. This might seem small to some people, but to me, it was huge. Feels like a big breakthrough. He's getting it. It's a step.

June 3, 2012 - Teary

Today we tried to take a family walk. Conner started out so excited to put on his roller skates (the kind that go on shoes) and Brennan was riding in a little car with a push handle. We started out with Conner being upset that we couldn't locate his knee pads (it's actually been so long since he's warn the skates, we can't even remember if we ever bought any). We FINALLY got the whole family out the door and Conner wanted one of us on each side of him. He kept saying "this is trickier than I thought it would be". So we made it to the neighbors' house (by this time Conner was already on the grass) when we decided to get his bike instead.

So David ran back to the house with the skates and got his bike. He knows how to ride his bike with training wheels. He rode it great last summer. He has ridden it great this year. But he has these special pedals attached to the pedals of bike that we use to secure his feet so he doesn't have to worry about his feet, he just worries about pushing with his legs. And the pedals have come off the bike. They've been off for a while, but every time he gets back on the bike, he melts down over the pedals. As he struggled to ride his bike and was getting so upset, my eyes were welling up with tears. We try to stay strong, to not show emotions, to just keep encouraging him, but sometimes it's so hard. It's hard to watch him try so hard to do something that is so easy for other kids, something that even last week he seemed to know how to do. It's like every time he gets on the bike, holds a pencil/crayon, eats with a fork, etc. etc. etc. he has to relearn the skill.

I mean, we are so lucky that we are working on riding a bike with Conner. He walks and talks and does so many things. But as a parent, you want your child to be just like everyone else. Today just happened to be a hard reminder.

I think I was super sensitive because I saw a mom of a kid that's in Conner's class. To be fair, I'm not 100% sure which of the girls in the class is her daughter, but I know she's in his class. Anyway, she was shopping for birthday party favors. And Conner wasn't invited to her birthday party. He hasn't been invited to a lot of the kids parties this year. I don't know why I care. It's saved us a ton of money this year. But I care and it makes me sad. I want Conner to have friends and for everyone to love him as much as we do. I guess I'm just feeling down today.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Conner - May 29, 2012

Conner is changing so much these days. While he is still a carefree and fun little guy, he is asking a lot more questions and talking about "when he was a baby". At night, all of a sudden, he wants us to read the books we read to him when he was a baby and in the hospital. I don't know how he knows which books those are, but he found Runaway Bunny (a board book) that we read when he was brand new and he wants us to read it to him. He told David that when he was a baby, he was "this big" (showing him the palm of his hand). He also asked me about heaven. I honestly have no idea what to tell him. I'm not good at that kind of stuff. It makes me teary. But Conner's happy go lucky attitude (most of the time) makes me smile at the same time. This all seems like such a mature subject for him, considering how often he is talking about Disney World and stinky girls but I guess he is ready to talk about more serious stuff sometimes too.

We have had a rough few months with Conner's health. He's actually handled it all just fine. No hospitalizations this winter and only had to use albuterol for a few weeks on and off. After RSV in December though, it has been one thing after another, including the stomach flu, sinus infections, hand foot and mouth and strep throat three times in the last two months. Not sure it's actually ever going away completely. Anyway, the ENT said the next time he gets strep, he wants to talk about getting his tonsils out so last week when he had another fever and red throat, we went to see him again and he thinks it's time. I only wish we had done everything last year when we took out his adenoids. So on June 12, Conner will have his tonsils out. The doctor will also check for any regrowth of adenoid tissue (or something like that!) and remove that. He is also going to remove his tubes that have been dislodged for a few months. The good news is that even though Conner has been sick and the tubes have been out of place, he still hasn't had an ear infection so we might finally be done with those! These last few months have really taken a lot out of Conner. He hasn't had as much energy and has been really had some rough days. I'm really praying that this procedure helps him. We are also hoping that maybe he will start to sleep a little better after the tonsillectomy. Fingers crossed.

Conner is having a great time at school. Although he doesn't know the kids as well as at his old school, he has had a lot of fun with them. He will be with a few of them next year when he goes to kindergarten there. The great thing is that the class is very small and that Conner will get a lot of attention (which he really needs). And we are pretty sure that he will keep his same "advocate" (aka shadow, para-pro, etc.) over the summer and next year. She has been absolutely fantastic with Conner. Since he doesn't need as much help with social or behavioral stuff, she works with him on academics which I love. I feel so fortunate that we have such a wonderful person looking out for Conner. As much as I tell her, I don't think she can truly know how much she has helped him this year. It has been an adjustment for us, for sure, but Conner has been happy and that is the most important thing. It's so hard to believe that the school year will be over in just a few days. Then two weeks off before camp starts. Hopefully Conner will be recovered in time for the first day. 

I want to add a few photos, but there is a huge glare where I am and I can't see the screen well, so I will get some up soon. I had some more stuff I've been thinking about lately, but I'm just happy to get something posted on this blog!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Brennan turned 1! - March 8, 2012

Brennan turned 1 on March 8. It's so hard to believe how fast she is growing up. She is getting to be less of a baby and more like a little girl every day. In her 11th month, we went to take Valentine's Day pictures...both kids together was a bit challenging, as Conner has a pretty short attention span and Brennan's nose was really runny. We did get a few good shots though.

Brennan's 1 year stats:
Height: 30 inches, 80th percentile
Weight: 21 lbs, 15 oz, 76th percentile
Head: 46 cm, 90th percentile

So, Brennan is HUGE! She just keeps growing and growing. She is so different from Conner. I think he was 2 before he weighed 22 lbs! She is super happy most of the time, even while teething. On her 1st birthday, she still had just the 4 front teeth but a few more were getting ready to come through. Brennan has started eating mostly table food. On her first birthday, she was still taking 3 bottles and just eating 2 meals a day. We were having a hard time changing her schedule just because she just seemed hungry all the time. As soon as she turned 1, we started working on getting off the bottle. I waited until her 1 year appointment to switch her to milk. She handled that transition fine. We went straight to 1% milk and although she is okay with it, she drinks mostly water. She is getting plenty of whole milk through yogurt and cheese and is getting the majority of her dairy products that way.

She loves to eat and is hungry all the time. She never seems full. Keeping her busy helps...she is definitely a "bored" eater...when we aren't keeping her busy, she's hungry. I really didn't think that could happen so young, but it seems to be the case with the little one. She really likes the normal baby stuff like puffs, baby mum mums and yogurt melts. She also really likes Greek Yogurt, grilled cheese and pancakes. She is not a huge fan of green foods and will pick around everything on her plate to not eat anything green. She does really like fruit and she does get as many vegetables as we can get in her. She loves the pouches (like Gerber Grabbers and stuff like that) with fruit/vegetable purees (like applesauce).

Brennan started really walking a few weeks ago. Her first steps were around 10 1/2 months, but by her first birthday, she was mostly walking. She hadn't quite figured out how to get to standing without pulling up on something but she was pretty much done crawling. She's a naughty little one and gets in to everything! She seems to understand "no" because she usually pauses when I say it but usually just keeps on getting in to stuff.

Since December, Brennan has had a rough time with colds and being sick. She had a few ear infections and colds that seem like they are never ending. You would never know if you didn't see all the snot on her face. Many mornings, she wakes up and her hair is literally stuck to her face. It's gross.

Playing at the JCC Gym

Playing at the Hands On Museum

On Brennan's first birthday, we spent the morning at the Purim carnival at Conner's school. We had lunch together and played in the afternoon. We headed to Red Robin where Brennan had her first ice cream experience...I think she liked it! We had a party for her a week that for another post.

This little girl loves dollies, stuffed animals and really anything soft. She also likes a lot of Conner's toys. Her favorites are his "cellphone", his Lightning McQueen car/electronic game (I think she just likes hearing the sounds) and a bag of Little People animals that were my nephews, then Conner's and now Brennan's. She goes straight to the bag of animals in the morning, makes someone open them for her and she plays with them all day. Brennan has a great personality and I can't wait to see how she changes over the next year.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


These are some posts that I have been wanting to write:

*Brennan turns 1
*Brennan's Hungry Caterpillar Party
*Dance Marathon
*Friendship Circle happenings
*Conner's Parent Teacher Conference
*Therapy and the state of our health

Why am I so behind? I just can't seem to get motivated at night to do this and during the day, I'm usually attached to one or two little ones who won't give me a free minute. This morning, I happen to have a few hours to myself, so I went to Panera with my computer, all ready to tackle this blog because this serves as a reminder to me of what has been happening with us and I am not doing a very good job with it. Of course, their internet is down and it only took me an hour to figure out that I could not get it to work on my computer. So I headed to Starbucks and by the time I got situated, I only have 15 minutes...which for me is not nearly long enough to formulate my thoughts.

So for now, I will just have to settle for a reminder list of all I want to write about.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Brennan at 11 months

11 months! It has gone by way too fast. Babyhood is basically over for our little one. She grew up so fast. I can't believe that almost a year has gone by. I haven't savored it as much as I should have. Time just got away from me. But I love every minute we have with Brennan. She is such a sweet girl and I love her so much. Our kids are so beautiful. I honestly have no idea how I got so lucky. When I'm feeling down and sad about stuff, I just have to take one look at that little boy and little girl and it's impossible not to smile.

Brennan took her first steps on January 20. She was almost 10 1/2 months old. I was totally shocked. I figured it was a fluke, but ever since then, she has been doing it more and more. In the last week, she has been walking more and more. She still crawls pretty fast and falls down after a while, but she is definitely gaining confidence and walking more. She loves walking and hates falling! She is mischievous and gets in to everything. She still loves pulling all the pieces off of puzzles and she has been playing more with some of her toys. She especially likes the ones that make music and will dance to mostly anything. It's pretty cute! She still is holding tight with those 4 teeth. No new ones this month. She finally recovered from RSV and has been feeling good.

Brennan sleeps pretty well. Most nights she sleeps about 12 hours, but she is not the best napper. She usually screams when she gets in her crib but calms down in a few minutes. She sleeps great in the car, so I have started bringing a book along with me and I will sit in my car for hours if it means she will take  a good nap. She pretty much goes with the flow though and is pretty easy going.

We signed up for a Kindermusik class. Brennan loves it and seems to really like music like her brother. She squeals when she gets to shake the eggs or play a drum. She is the only girl and some of the boys are pretty aggressive. She mostly sticks right next to me which is fine. It's only a few more weeks and then we might try something else. I was hoping to just get her around a few other kids and this is a great start. We went to a friends' first birthday party at Gymboree and she took a long while to warm up. She was NOT a fan of the parachute which was something Conner loved as a baby! We also had a 1st birthday party at Lifetime. Brennan had fun hanging out with the big kids!

Brennan has started eating more table foods. She still likes baby food and I don't mind giving it to her because I feel like it's nutritious. She likes the squeezable little smoothies and will suck one down in 10 seconds. She loves pancakes and veggie burgers and has tried eggs. The latest foods we tried are rice and spinach pie. Both were big hits. It's nice to think that pretty soon, I can make one thing for both kids to eat for dinner!

She is doing great and getting to be a big girl. It's so sad that she's growing up so fast, but so rewarding to see what an amazing girl she is too.

Conner at 4 1/2

So Conner is 4.5. That happened a few weeks ago. It is so crazy to think that he will be 5 in less than 6 months. It is really amazing how much he has been through, overcome, and accomplished. I'm sure the big 5th birthday will be a big time of reflection for us. 

The last 6 months have been pretty big for Conner. I have teared up a few times thinking about how great this year has been for him. We have had to make so many decisions and with every decision, I think it will get easier, but it really gets harder and harder. I'm hopeful that this year we have been making the right decisions for Conner to help him to accomplish as much as possible. It seems so strange that life should be so serious in preschool, but it really is. I feel like the more we do now, maybe some day, we won't have to do quite so much.

The details are that Conner is now up to about 34-35 lbs, depending on the scale and his clothes. That means he is up between 1-2 lbs since his 4th birthday. Not sure where this puts him on any charts, but he's pretty good in that department. His height is good too. No worries there. He eats and eats. Some days, I have no idea how it's possible that my little man can eat as much as he does. They provide him a fantastic lunch when he goes to school on MWF's so on those days, sometimes he doesn't eat a ton of dinner, but overall, he does great. He no longer really likes macaroni and cheese or hot dogs but will eat them occasionally. Noodles aren't his favorite any more either, although he will eat them. He likes a lot of fruits, vegetables and cheese. Sometimes, I feel so strange feeding him what he wants for dinner but we do our best to get a balanced diet in him. The only foods he really does not like are chick peas and olives. No big deal!

He still loves anything to do with cars, trucks (fire trucks, dump trucks, etc.), trains, tractors, anything really that moves, he likes! He loves running around, playing outside, and horses. Conner loves being a big brother and he is pretty awesome at it. He loves playing with friends and he especially loves time with his older cousins and any other older kid that will give him attention! He loves music and has become especially interested in classical music. He likes singing in the car (and I love it too...hearing him sing his version of Honky Tonk, Badonkadonk is great! He is also a huge fan of Freeze Frame and We Got the Beat!).

Conner continues to be followed by a slew of doctors. The only ones that we see every 3 months now are the GI and Pulmonologist. That's mostly because they both prescribe medications. Conner made it through RSV and did okay with it. He ended up on 3 weeks of antibiotics because he just couldn't kick the sinus mess, but he did okay with some extra breathing treatments and inhaler. He will probably need reflux meds forever. He still has days when he spits up. Everything else is pretty much every 6 months to year and hopefully we can some day get rid of some more of them.

Conner is doing great at school. In fact, we just had his second parent teacher conference of the year. I am continually grateful to his teachers and his advocate (shadow) for providing Conner with such an amazing school experience. His teachers are so wonderful and I feel like they really care about him. His shadow is beyond perfect for Conner. As his teacher told us, they were made for each other. We were so unsure about school in August and now looking back, I know this was the perfect decision for us. Conner still has some goals to reach. Many of his difficulties at school have to do with his fine motor skills. This is his biggest area of weakness and a big part of schooling so we really worry about it. Fine motor skills affect writing, eating, crafts, dressing and undressing, etc. So lots of stuff that he needs to be able to do for school. He also has a very short attention span. At this point, it's hard to say whether that is just a maturity/developmental thing that will catch up, or because if things are too hard, Conner won't do them, or the worst case scenario would be that he has trouble actually learning. It is very possible that Conner has some learning disabilities and we will continue to be on top of this stuff to make sure he gets all the help he needs for school.

We still don't know exactly what we are doing for school next year. We do know that Conner will not be attending public school kindergarten yet. We are pretty certain he will be at the same school as this year and either repeat the 4 year pre-k class or do their kindergarten class (followed by a year at the public school kindergarten). It's so early to know where Conner will be by September. Noone can predict how much further Conner will get. He is picking stuff up, I'm just not sure if it's enough and we don't want him to feel overwhelmed in kindergarten. We will probably register him for kindergarten to secure him a spot and then if we feel he isn't ready, we will move him back to the 4 year old class. Right now, we are in a lottery for camp also (same place as school and same camp as last year). We have him signed up for 1 session in the 4's and 1 session in the big camp with the kindergarteners. Hopefully he will get selected for both and he will get to go to camp all summer. We are hoping that he will get to keep his most amazing advocate with him all summer too and we are pushing for her next year too. I can't imagine school without her. I feel like they have built a great relationship and I would love to continue it.

Conner has been on a good long break from therapy. He has been on a break from Physical Therapy since September of last year. We went for a recheck in January and we are going to go back again in a few months. There will probably be a few things to work on in the next 3-6 months, but right now, things are as good as they can be. Conner needs some time to grow and get a little stronger and hopefully we won't need PT for a long while. He's been on a break from Speech and Occupational Therapy since November when we ran out of sessions (insurance) for the year. We felt like speech was okay because he has been in a speech preschool and he gets speech at the public school. We actually went for a re-evaluation and he did well that it was iffy whether our insurance would even cover it any more. They ended up approving 24 sessions, but we are still on a waiting list. Our schedule is pretty hectic so it could take a while to get in. It is pretty incredible that our little guy who didn't start talking until 3 1/2 is now talking up a storm. He is called a chatterbox at school and getting in trouble with some of the other kids (the teacher thinks this is a good thing...I would prefer if he was an angel all day!).

Occupational Therapy is an area that Conner really needs. He was on a waiting list for a while and we finally started up 2 weeks ago. So far, the therapist is just doing some evaluations and checking out where he is, but already she has given me some great tips and we are going to try to get some ideas that they can work on with him at school. We don't really know this therapist yet, but hoping that she works out for Conner.

Conner is still a super busy little guy but it actually works for him. I find on the days that he isn't busy, his behavior is a little iffy. So MWF he goes to school all day. T/Th is speech preschool for 1/2 day. Tuesday he does OT and Thursday he does speech at the public school. That's just the serious stuff. We have been trying to make time for more fun stuff too.

This year, we started getting Conner involved at the Friendship Circle. But when your child is involved there, then it's just natural that we got involved too. Friendship Circle is such an amazing place and it has been such a great complement to all the other things we are doing with Conner. We just started a Sunday program that is 2 hours. Conner gets dropped off and picked up. He loved it last week and hopefully it will be a great activity for him. On Mondays, he has a Friend @Home. His friend happens to be a 14 year old boy who is a freshman in high school. Conner absolutely adores him and is so excited about his friend coming over that he sprints out of school on Mondays. On Tuesdays, we do another activity there. This one is just an hour, but Conner has two amazing volunteers that play with him and he loves it. The people there are so great and they treat Conner so well. He absolutely loves it. It is a place that brings out the absolute best in him and he is so confident when he walks through those doors.

Nothing is ever easy but with school and Friendship Circle, I feel like this has been a great year and Conner is making huge progress. My hope is that the progress continues and that Conner finishes out this school year just as great as he started it.

Happy 4.5 to our little super hero!
this is the best picture I could get with his 4.5 cupcake!