Friday, May 21, 2010

The Last Day of School

As unbelievable as it seems, Nora's preschool career is officially over. This was the last week of school, and while each day at school was themed in celebration of the onset of summer, I feel like something was missing. Or worse, perhaps the onset of summer isn't worth celebrating.

But really, I need to shake this glum feeling and focus on the incredible year Nora had both socially and academically. I couldn't be more proud of my star student! Nine short months ago, she started her second year of preschool knowing how to write her name and count up to 20 or 30. Now she can read, write sentences with a little help, and count to 3200. Of course I'm biased and prone to brag, but even the teachers were astounded at the rate in which she progressed. For the summer, Ryan purchased her a 1st grade math book, and already she has sat down to do math problems just for fun. I continue to read her Magic Treehouse chapter books before bed to increase both her vocabulary and her (art) historical knowledge base.

I suppose I feel like something is missing, or perhaps a little blue, because the daily routine of getting ready for school and singing all the way to the next town is over. Or maybe the fact that Nora is growing up means I am missing my baby. Most parents feel bad taking their kids to school in September; I feel bad for taking her away! She loves school so much, not just the academics but also her teachers and friends. She almost started crying on the way home when she realized she wasn't going back on Monday. I hope that attitude changes. Because while she has thrived at school, and while we both will miss the comfort of the routine, I think there is also much to be said for lazy summers and sleeping in, for digging in the dirt and the sand, and for eating berries off the bush. And don't get me started on Ollie's custard!

Maybe its silly to miss school after all, because if I'm not mistaken, there's a lot of sleeping-in in the near future. Hmmm....

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Emily Update

My God where did the past month and a half go? Its been a blur, simple as that. Its been a bunch of ups and downs too (and no Renee, unfortunately none of them were in my marital bed).

On the one hand, I had the blessing to teach the best bunch of students I've ever had, period. Who knew that bringing coffee to class was like winning the golden ticket? Note to self: there is no reason to ever teach non-caffieinated persons again. Conversely, it has been hard dealing with the death of both my grandparents in such a short span of time. There's so much to say about that, but considering this blog is supposed to be about not taking life so seriously, I'm going to skip that subject for the time being to give you all a long overdue update on Emily's therapy progress.

As the days and months have ticked by, Emily has been attending therapy regularly, three sessions per week. Her schedule has changed slightly; she now has speech and OT on Wednesday and group/music/developmental therapy on Thursdays. To say her speech therapy is going well is the understatement of the year. Emily just loves Miss Shelly, and will do anything and everything to please her. Just the mention of Shelly's name leads to smiles and claps, and when Shelly enters the room, Miss Em does somersaults! Its just too much cuteness for one kid, really. Thinking about it makes my smile muscles hurt.

We hardly even need the PECS book anymore; only when Emily is tired (like first thing in the morning) or if she needs something that she doesn't ask for all of the time. I'm still using PECS to teach her new words, although the toilet picture isn't working yet. Nonetheless I think its one of the best things to ever happen to Em. I would highly recommend this type of tool for anyone with a child who has a speech delay.

Her language is really beginning to flourish. Its not uncommon for Emily to use small sentences throughout the day. We have been working on verbs for the past two weeks, and she can say things like, "Shoes off!" and "Swing!" and "Go night-night". She has mastered many animal names and sounds, and can verbally identify the primary and secondary colors. The most exciting thing is the fact she has started using those little language words that make all the difference in the world, things such as "the", "a", and even the pronoun "I". The icing on the cake: she is learning to say "Please". Once she starts talking, I'm going to have another mini-me on my hands!

Occupational therapy is also fantastic. Miss Sue has so many wonderful things for Emily to do. OT is conducted in a gym like environment, so there's swings, a slide, a mini-basketball game, a bike, even a climbing wall! When exposed to a lot of the large, gross motor activities, Emily still has the tendency to freak out and become very disorganized. Sometimes as a parent its really hard to watch, because the disorder in her brain is apparent on her face. However, as the weeks have gone on and she's become familiar with the environment, she is able to better handle the situation. We have also discovered through these sessions that, when placed in an unfamiliar environment, there are a few things that calm Emily down in less than a minute: a silky blanket, a bottle to suck on, tight hugs that imitate swaddling, and (surprisingly) small toys, especially matchbox cars. She loves them! To think I used to kick her out of Nora's room for playing with all of the small toy sets in there, simply because they weren't age appropriate. I was taking away the one thing she needed to feel at peace! Thank goodness for Sue. Otherwise I would still live in tantrum central.

Finally (yes this long post is almost done but geez I have a months worth of stuff to say!), music therapy rocks. Pun intended. Emily is my little singing superstar. Everyday she and Nora sing all of their favorite hits, including the ABC song and Jingle Bells. She also sings the songs with Miss Angie, and when she strums the guitar, she strums in time to the beat. I couldn't be happier for her. Part of the reason she has this group therapy is to help prepare her for school, and I am quite sure she will do well in an academic environment. I also hope when she gets a little older she will be able to take some kind of music or voice lessons. The kid has soul.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

In Loving Memory of Joan Scholten

Only 16 days after my Grandfather passed, my Grandmother Joan Scholten left this world to be with him. I've always been taught that when you die you die alone, but I would like to think they have found each other again. I love you Grandma Mom.