Monday, September 30, 2013

Back to school and other musings

The end of summer flew by and we've been busy ever since.

These walls are so FUN to touch!!!!
I was happy to get in a few final field trips with the girls - it was our very last Field Trip Friday until next summer.  Our girls Field Trip Fridays started about 4 years ago and consisted of me and the girls exploring our community.  We visited places big and small - anything from visiting museums and parks to walking around our neighborhood looking for different types of leaves.  These days were the highlight of my week where I just had fun with the girls and let the housework and laundry pile up.  Emma had off on Fridays in pre-school so our tradition continued while Julia was in school, but this year Emma will be in school full-time Monday-Friday so our Field Trip Friday will take a hiatus for the school year.  

Look at me!!

A brief rest
Since it was our last Field Trip Friday we made it a super cool field trip and visited the Magic Gardens where everything is covered in mosaics.  It isn't fully wheelchair accessible but we were able to make it work for us since Emma is still so little.  She loved touching the walls and the mosaics and the artist even stopped over to say hello to her and thank her for visiting.  I had no idea he was the artist at the time, though, so I didn't get a photo but I'll try and get one next time if he is there.  Afterwards we visited Chris at work and Julia took a peek at her 2nd grade classroom and got really excited for the start of the school year.  It was a perfect Field Trip Friday!

Julia is such a good photographer
We finalized Emma's initial IEP and placement.  Our district has half-day Kindergarten and we decided to send her for a full day instead of only the 1/2 day that she would normally attend. She will be in a Multiple Disabilities classroom (MDS) - I want to go on record that I HATE THAT NAME!!!! - for the morning and will receive all her therapies during that time and will attend the mainstream afternoon Kindergarten class with her one-on-one aide.  She gets many therapies - PT, OT, Speech, Hearing, and Vision and fitting all them in during the regular 2.5 hour Kinder class would be too much interruption in my opinion.  Emma doesn't like to get pulled out or work with therapists when her friends are around!  So we decided to give this set-up a try for her first year at elementary school and see how it goes.  

The feedback so far is that she is doing really well and LOVES the mainstream Kindergarten class!  She appears to be keeping up with her classmates and is fitting in just fine.  The pace of the class seems to hold her attention better and she is less distracted than in the MDS classroom.  Wow!  That is a pleasant surprise!  I went in to talk to the class for 10 min. one day about all things Emma and to answer any questions they had and I was told "I think Emma is so cool!" and "Emma is my best friend!"  sprinkled among the many questions they had so I think she is fitting in just fine with the children!  And, the other day I picked her up from school (she typically takes the bus to/from school) and when her class walked by for dismissal I heard so many of them say "Hi, Mrs. White."  It really caught me off guard because I still forget that I'm Mrs. White {most of the girl's friends call me Ms. Kristina} and I'm not used to Emma's classmates actually talking.  It was such an eye-opening and wonderful experience for me.  So many things about Emma in the mainstream classroom have shown me the positive impact inclusion in our schools makes to our community.  The last few weeks have made it crystal clear to me that we made the right choice for Emma's kindergarten year and all the work we are putting into the mainstream setting is completely worth it!

You're new.  Let me check you out.  Ok, we're friends.  Did you know the bus ride is my favorite part of the day??!!
I'm ready to go.  Don't worry about me, Mommy.  I'm not a bit afraid and don't need to give you a second glance :-)
Julia started back to school and is now a 2nd grader.  How these girls are growing so quickly is beyond me!  I love to watch her grow and mature and I love hanging out with her.  She is just so amazing!  I love the way she is connecting her world together and the conversations we have at bedtime.  The time when the girls arrive home from school is my favorite part of the day with bedtime cuddles and chats with Julia a close second.

A friend I met through this blog - LOVE how this blog has introduced us to so many wonderful families! - told us about some local swim classes for children and siblings.  It's held in a heated pool at a semi-local facility/house for adults with cerebral palsy and it's something our children can do together and they really love it when they can take classes together.  This summer Emma made huge gains in swimming with a float ring (the $1 floats you can get at the drug store) around her body and she loves to swim "laps" in the pool.  So we figured it is a good time to start lessons again.  Julia is a strong swimmer and has been for a while but she loves swim lessons so we enrolled her to work on her technique a bit.  Both girls love the lessons but I think they enjoy the last 5 min. in the hot tub more :-)  Who wouldn't want to end a swim lesson with a soak in the hot tub?  I just might sign myself up for the next session...just kidding.


Here is a photo I just have to include.  I took it on Back to School night.  Emma's artwork is circled in yellow here.  I just LOVED seeing her art alongside her classmate's work.  Such a proud moment for me!
Emma's artwork hanging outside her classroom.  She said "I hope that I learn to read" when asked what she wanted to learn in kindergarten.