Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Just wanted to let you know that sometime this evening Bird on the Street will be moving over to her own domain. You will be re-directed if you come here, but if you read me in a reader you will need to update the address. Starting tomorrow, my blog will be located at: www.birdonthestreet.com and I'll have RSS enabled over there as well.
My Facebook page will continue to receive updates.
See y'all over there!
Monday, July 26, 2010
- My talk at the library about social media was SO FUN! It really ended up being a rather long discussion about Facebook, but I knew the answers to everyone's questions and got good reviews from the audience.
- As a result, the library has asked me come back and do some more talks. I love this. I loved teaching and while this is a lot easier than my last gig, it's still a complete blast.
- I *think* that I've found myself a small job that will run through the months of Sept-Nov. I can work from home and it's very part-time, but it's nice to have something to do while Charlie is in preschool.
- A lady from the parish called to tell me that they will be considering Charlie's case to determine whether or not we may need more assistance in the home. This has caught me completely by surprise because I was told he would be seven or eight before they offered something like that. It's just a "consideration," but I'm still impressed.
- My blog design--things are going fabulously--I'm hoping I'll be able to share things this week, but you never know. Still, I'm excited!
- The Bird on the Street Facebook Page--today we hit 110 "likes." I am over the moon. When I started the page I was hoping for a couple of people. This has just exceeded my wildest expectations.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
The extremely talented Alexa from Flotsam posted a little piece the other day about how she’s been blogging for five years. I’ve been blogging since late 2005, so not as long as Alexa, but I definitely related to her description of how blogging used to be a rather secretive and perhaps weird thing, and how now it’s become more socially acceptable. I’m assuming this must be true since even my mom reads blogs these days.
Alexa did a little recap and I feel inclined to do one of my own. Please humor me in my nostalgia.
Homes Owned: 2
Places Lived: 3
Days hospitalized: 3
Days Charlie was hospitalized: 43
Personal surgeries: 1
Charlie surgeries: 6
Days Husband was Deployed: 126
Hurricane evacuations: 1
Trips to Little Rock: 3
Blog Posts: 904
Books Read: 97 (to the best of my recollection)
Weddings Attended: 5
Weddings I Stood In: 2
Internet Friends met in Real Life: 7
Pounds Heavier: 10
My life has changed volumes since I started blogging, but the record is nice to have—even if there are some parts I can’t bear to read. What have you been up to?
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Some of you may remember that Charlie got evaluated for preschool back in April. Or something. I can’t remember. What am I, his mother? Anyway, since Charlie is such a “complex” child, they thought it would be best for me to bring him to the special education center where he could meet with all the evaluators at the same time.
When I arrived, one person asked me questions while the others did things with Charlie such as show him switches, evaluate limb stiffness, and generally put him through the paces. I noticed that they seemed to be shielding me from the evaluation and were most-definitely not interested in hearing my ideas on the best way to test him. I’m a mom. We’re a pain. It’s our job. Best keep me at bay.
We got the results of the evaluation a few weeks later. OT and PT were spot-on. He actually came in as “moderately impaired” in OT, which was a pleasant break from all the “this child is so behind even a rocket pack can’t help him.”
We were told that Charlie had the cognitive abilities of an eight month old. I know this isn’t true—I’ve got experts and my own two eyes to tell me so. I realize that kids have off days, testers have a specific set of questions, blah, blah, blah. I don’t want to read it, but I understand that it’s not a message sent from God. So, I sucked it up and headed over the pages of “suggestions.” Now, if your kid is completely normal, you’ll be unfamiliar with this—lucky you. Basically, they provide you with a list of activities you can do to stimulate them in the areas where they’re lacking. It’s usually pretty easy stuff that you can work into your daily routine.
Alternately, it could be a list of completely inappropriate activities that clearly have nothing to do with your child. Perhaps something cut and pasted from another child’s IEP.
Guess which one we got? I’ve actually never seen a suggestion list that was so clearly not for my child. Multiple items suggested that Charlie “tell” me things even though he’s non-verbal. Other items were for much older children. Believe it or not, my nerd self actually looks at educational benchmarks for preschoolers. This stuff was for a Kindergarten kid or older. One of Charlie’s therapists actually said, “they should be embarrassed.”
I get it. It’s the end of the school year, you’re tired, and you’ve got a stack of papers to fill out. I’ve been there. But come on, you’re gonna tell me my kid is horribly behind and then give me a list of suggestions I couldn’t possibly use? Have you really gotten that jaded?
So today, when I saw that same evaluator at Walmart—what do you think I did? Did I smile? or wave? Or maybe stop to chat? Did I put on my big girl panties and let bygones be bygones?
I pushed my cart in the other direction as fast as I could.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
This was definitely one of my favorite units—there are just so many great things you can do with kids that involve jungle animals.
Unit on the Jungle
Goals: The child will be able to recognize each of the key terms.
Wall elephants. We had so much success with our recent faces on the wall that I created some elephants to go on the wall next to Charlie’s changing table. This provides TONS of learning activities throughout the week. Every time he’s on the table he begins reaching up and grabbing whatever we’ve placed there—and we in turn tell him its name. Fantastic reinforcement. This may become a regular part of our units.
Jungle room. This was another on-going learning activity. I decorated the entrance to Charlie’s room with some green crepe paper (also known as vines) and a monkey made out of crepe paper and sticky-backed foam. Every time we go in and out of Charlie’s room we mention the vines, the monkey, and how it’s just like a jungle. Funny hats. I found these hats on the aisles of Michaels and who am I to make things harder than they already are? Dad and I donned the hats and acted like fools. Then we put the hats on Charlie, which he did not find nearly as amusing.
Handprint Monkeys. I’m planning on doing a much more detailed post on these guys for No Time for Flashcards, but basically, we used Charlie’s hands and paint to make monkeys. This was a pretty cute activity if I do say so myself and Charlie’s monkeys are now hanging on my fridge.
Paper Plate Tiger. I got this one from Allie at NTFF. Again, why re-invent the wheel? We let Charlie paint the “tiger” and then I gave it a little face. Super cute and fun!
Book We Enjoyed
I’m tempted to lie here and say that we enjoyed a more advanced book, but the truth is, we liked Touch and Feel Jungle Animals edited by Nicola Deschamps. What can I say? Charlie needs a little incentive to actually look at a book. We’re working on it, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Video We Enjoyed
I know, I know! Videos aren’t the best. Studies show that if you sit with your child and interact with the video, they are more likely to get something out of it. For me, I just get tired of forcing Charlie to look at books and this way I have yet another way of reinforcing the information.
Signing Time Volume 9: Zoo Train. The kid is already wild about Signing Time. Zoo Train was a natural fit for this unit and it was available at my local library. I’m calling that a win-win situation.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Not long before I found out I was pregnant with Charlie, a good friend of mine announced her own pregnancy. Our due dates ended up being just one month apart.
My friend delivered a healthy baby boy at thirty-seven weeks. In her hospital pictures she was still in full makeup as she held her new bundle of joy in her arms.
Charlie was born a month later via emergency c-section. Half-dead on arrival, I never held him in my arms and spent the rest of the morning alone and crying.
The differences in our experiences didn’t end there. My friend nursed her son until his first birthday. At three months he went into daycare and she went back to work. I wouldn’t dare say things were easy, but they did seem uneventful. Meanwhile, I scuttled back and forth to the hospital for endless appointments and was nursed by a yellow machine named Madela.
In most areas, I have accepted this unusual life that I have been handed. I know how lucky we are. My child is alive, he crawls, he eats, he laughs, he sits. We have so much.
When it comes to my friend’s child, Stephen, I’m not quite so Zen. For whatever reason, he gets to me. I mean, I love my friend and her darling son, but sometimes it’s hard for me—harder than it is around other kids.
Stephen goes to daycare, so he’s not the product of some hyperactive mother hell-bent on perfection. My friend is an extremely laid-back type who lets her child be who he is. Her son is what you get with the regular amount of effort: He walks, he talks, he drinks from a straw. It’s not like he’s solving quadratic equations or anything. And yet, I cannot look at a picture of him without wondering what my Charlie would be doing without the pile of medical garbage he deals with, without wondering what he would look like if he could stand on his own. Or wonder what his voice would sound like.
I can deal with a lot—I deal with insurance companies and appointments. I deal with questioning eyes and worry. I deal with state agencies and impossible decisions.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
A while back I got the crazy idea that Charlie needed to learn a little bit about sports. It was probably World Cup Fever or something, but I started getting a little worried that Charlie would be completely ignorant of sports because of his physical limitations. So I decided to do a Unit on Sports. This Unit was shortened because we were getting ready to go on vacation and I ended up spending a lot of time packing, shopping, etc.
Unit on Sports
Key Terms: Baseball, football, basketball, soccer ball
Rolling. I got these big sports mats at Target for a 1.50. If you’d like, you could make something similar with felt. I put Charlie in the middle of the two mats and then I would say “let’s roll to the baseball!” Charlie’s into rough and tumble so this was great fun for him. When Dad got home, he took it even further and Charlie was flying to the baseball and basketball.
Mini Basketball. Charlie has trouble with throwing. He throws things to the side, but doesn’t know how to throw in front of him. I used this unit as an opportunity to work on this particular movement. He was not comfortable, but I really think that this will help him with other activities like eating with a spoon or fork. As an added learning opportunity, we “threw” the balls near and far.
Sorting. You know what this is—we sort a lot around here. I took one of those party packs with balls of all different types and we sorted two. I think next time we may sort three because it feels like we’ve done this a LOT.
Like I said, a brief lesson! I had several other things planned, but we didn’t get to them. Some other fun possibilities would include:
“Kicking” a soccer ball—if your child doesn’t stand, help them kick a soccer ball while lying on their backs.
Counting—take a selection of sport items and count them.
And as always, songs, and books make great learning tools.
Edit: In a moment of serendipity, I see that Tara has posted this great piece about doing traditional kid stuff with her non-traditional kid! Perfect compliment to this post.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
In no particular order:
1. These red plastic cups I found at Walmart. People like to hate on Walmart, but where else ya gonna get plastic cups? These look about a zillion times classier than the hot pink tumblers we’ve been using for the last few years. Squint hard and you can see the bubble pattern at the bottom that makes them look like antique glass or something. LOVE it!
2. Pelicans. The Gulf thing is still bad, bad, bad, but I’ve seen a few Pelicans recently and that has improved my mood tremendously. I’ve also seen pictures of them releasing cleaned birds on the Atlantic coast, and while I miss them, I’m glad the birds are finding new, clean homes.
4. Charlie’s voice. He doesn’t seem even a little interested in walking these days, but I DO think talking is starting to look good to the C-Man. When he’s really upset, I can ask him to talk to me and he babbles something. I don’t know what, but it’s a start.
5. This video of Caleigh testing out a power chair. I’m dying of jealousy. I can’t imagine what Charlie would do in a chair like that. Honestly, he’d probably head right on over and lick the TV—gotta have priorities, right?
6. My blog redesign. You heard it here first—Bird on the Street is getting a facelift, ladies and gentlemen. I figure I spend enough time on this space, I might as well spend some money and make it look just how I like. I’m really excited.
6. The Blogging With Substance Blog Award that Mo has given me. That means a lot. Substance. All this time I thought I was just word vomiting on the page.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Have you met the Gulf Coast?
Have you seen her inviting white beaches?
The Gulf Coast is my beach of reference. I’ve come as a child, delighting in post-thunderstorm waves crashing around me. I’ve come as a teenager, too cool to actually enter the water, worrying about tans, boys, and beverages. I’ve come as a young adult—eager to relax and leave my so-called stresses behind. Now I come as a parent, introducing my own child to the waves and the excitement of finding the perfect sea shell.
This trip is colored with worry, though. I worry that the oil in the Gulf will ruin things, cut short the cycle of sharing this place with future generations. I worry that Charlie won’t remember this trip to see the beautiful beaches. I worry that this place will never be the same.
I hope I’m wrong.
But I ’m not sure.
Friday, July 2, 2010
Charlie was fully vaccinated through two months of age. I’d heard about all the controversy surrounding vaccines, but frankly, we’d been through so much the last thing I wanted was to land in the hospital with some random, totally preventable illness.
When Charlie was four months old, we were in the hospital having a shunt installed to drain cerebrospinal fluid off of his brain (good times). When he was six months old, he started having some very serious seizures, and vaccines were contra-indicated for the treatment of those seizures. So was going out in public. Again, fun times. Really, the first six months of Charlie’s life was one big party. If by party, you mean major medical event.
So Charlie was around one year of age before I got around to even thinking about vaccines again. At that point, after having spent some time in Seizure Town, I was pretty wary of vaccines and the associated risks.
So we waited.
And then suddenly, without me even noticing, Charlie was three with preschool looming before us. Louisiana is pretty lenient with regards to vaccinations and public school, so it was really up to me to decide how much, how many. etc.
I ended up finding this really fantastic book for any of you guys who aren’t sure about vaccinating or who maybe want to delay or even space out your child’s vaccinations. It’s called The Vaccine Book and it is authored by Dr. Robert Sears. What I like about it is that I didn’t feel pressured to do one thing or another—rather, he gives you a lot of options. He gives you a schedule for getting all your vaccines on a slow schedule, he suggests a reduced schedule for people who are nervous about it, he even provides you with the traditional schedule. The book tells you what additives are in vaccines and what the potential risks are.
We’re starting with the reduced schedule and Charlie got his first two vaccines in almost two years last week. He hated them. It wasn’t so much that they hurt—he seemed more mad that somebody DARED to do that to him. Twice. I guess I can see his point.
We started with some of the ones that prevent meningitis and will be moving on to DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) in about a month.
So if you have questions about vaccines, please check out this book! It saved me a ton of research time by putting everything in one place and it did so in a way that didn’t sound crazy and reactive.