Friday, October 10, 2014

Outside the Classroom

So, I'm sitting here this morning, outside the speech teacher's room at the elementary school where Owen will go next year. I'm watching all the kids file in for the start of the school day and it's suddenly easy to imagine my beloved boy marching through these same halls in just a matter of months. But also, really difficult. Because I worry about him and how he will conform to all the rules of a "big kid" school. 

Although he turned five this past summer (the age that the state of Georgia requires attendance in kindergarten, as I was repeatedly informed shortly after our move), his dad and I decided to stick with our plan of enrolling him in pre-k to give him the advantage of an extra year of growth and maturity. In order to do that, we had to find a private school (in our case, a preschool/day care facility) that would accept him in their pre-k program at the age of five. And despite my reservations, I've been pleased with the Georgia state-funded pre-k program and his teacher. It's a lot like the preschool setting he's familiar with, but it's five days a week, full days, and the curriculum seems to still challenge him.

So why am I sitting outside the speech teacher (or specialist?) office at the public elementary school? To be followed by an appointment with the "Instructional Support Teacher" (whatever that is) and later, the school psychologist?

Because we're trying to get to the bottom of things. Of Owen's behavior problems. Of his emotional instability. Of his gross motor struggles. To name a few. 

And as I type that out, it occurs to me that you might be thinking, "what five-year-old doesn't have difficulty with all of those things?" And that's certainly valid. But let's just say that I know - and have known for some time - that Owen's struggles go just a bit beyond the boundaries of what is normal for his age

After a turbulent summer, we have decided to pursue the assistance of occupational therapy to help address our concerns. We're starting there and will remain open to any/all suggestions, referrals, and outcomes. 

The public schools offer free assistance with such matters, assuming he qualifies for the program (and a subsequent IEP), which is why we are here today. 

In addition to the individual assessments performed by the three persons mentioned above, his pre-k teacher and I have also filled out evaluation forms that asked us to describe Owen's behavior (on a scale of never/sometimes/often/always) with things like, "has a short attention span" (always), "disrupts the play of other children" (always), "seems to take setbacks in stride" (never), "is easily soothed when angry" (never), "seems unaware of others" (always), "has poor self-control" (always), "is easily distracted" (always), "annoys others on purpose" (always), etc. I could go on, but I just picked out a few that struck me (these were from his teacher's version) of the 100+ questions.

I also have an appointment with a private OT next week because, regardless of whether he tests into the school's assistance program, I still feel he can benefit from working with a professional. 

I thought about posting some examples of specific behavior or situations that exemplify my concerns, but decided against it for now. And besides, most of my readers (if I still have any) know all about it and have likely even witnessed it themselves. (His explosive behavior leaves an impression on most who witness it.)

My prayer for Owen is that he would find peace within his own head, heart, and body. And that he would know that his mom and dad here on earth, and his Heavenly Father above, love him from the deepest parts of our hearts. And we always will. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Who are those masked children?

Ok, so keeping up with the blog again has proven to be more challenging than I thought. (Or maybe it's been exactly as I had thought, hence the two year hiatus.) Anyway, here's a couple cutie pics of the littles on this fine Thursday afternoon. They are wearing the masks I made for them at MOPS this morning. Fun times. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Life interrupted

Hello again, dear readers (if there are still any of you out there)!

I am here to announce that I plan to start blogging again. After Nora was born, life got (expectedly) hectic and I decided to give up on it (save for a couple of brief, photo-less posts), and eventually even took the blog down from public view. (I always kept it active, but only visible to me, in the hopes that I might get back to it someday.) Well, that someday appears to be now. I have been reading through the years' worth of posts the past couple of days and it was so much fun to go back and reflect on time gone by. It reminded me of how special it is to document the milestones and funny, memorable moments in my family's life. And how cathartic it is to just write again. It's been a couple of years since I've written anything substantial, but I'm feeling the pull to get back at it, so... here goes!

(And hopefully I can get photos to upload again. I was having issues with that...)

So, just to dive right in, we have moved. Again. We are currently living in Johns Creek, Georgia (near Atlanta) and have been in our new home for about six weeks. So far, I really like it here. There's a lot of things to do with the kids and the town we live in is pretty affluent, so public spaces are clean, schools are excellent, the people are friendly and educated, and life moves at the pace with which I feel comfortable. Things were beginning to feel a little stagnant for us in Muscatine and, although we loved many things about our life there (namely our friends, church, kids/moms groups, and proximity to family), we decided it was time for a change. So, here we are.

We bought a two-story house (which I've always wanted) and did so sight unseen (for me anyway). Ryan was here working out of a hotel since the beginning of June and, although I did come down for one house-hunting visit at the end of June, it wasn't until July that we found one we love. I got to "meet" the house for the first time only hours before we went to closing (a daunting task that really tested my faith in my husband!) and I am happy to say that I couldn't be more pleased with the house. It is lovely and we are having fun adding our own little personal touches. Hopefully I'll have more to share on that progress in the coming weeks.

Owen, who turned 5 in July, is doing very well in pre-K at a nearby preschool. There was a bit of a learning curve for me, adjusting to Georgia's school requirements (primarily their policy that if you're 5 by Sept. 1, you must go to Kindergarden), but we worked it all out and were able to "hold him back" a year, prolonging Kindergarden for another year. We struggle with lots of personality/behavior issues with Owen (these have been ongoing for the past few years), but he is certainly starting to mature and - although he's still quite hyper and LOUD most of the time - we enjoy more and more moments of intelligent conversation with our bright, and quite funny, little man.

Nora is 2 and is just as cute as can be. I am so sad that I haven't recorded all the milestones of her first couple years the way I did for Owen, but I suppose that's often how it goes for second (and subsequent) children. She is always smiling, plays quite well on her own (usually with baby dolls and princess costumes), and loves her big brother. Her vocabulary is superb, just like her brother, and we always get lots of "oohs," and "ahhs" whenever we go out because, I must say, she is absolutely adorable!

That's about all the time I have for now. Just wanted to get some of the basics out of the way. I hope to be back soon with lots more good stuff to share, here in Peterson land (coming to you now from hot and steamy Georgia.) Stay tuned...

Friday, January 11, 2013

8 months old

Time for another "dump post" of random milestones in Nora's development. She is currently 8 months old and sometime between my last post (at 7 months old) and now, the following things have happened:

She crawls! This momentous event actually started shortly (as in just days) after my last post, and has evolved from a "stretch for an object until she eventually reaches it," to a belly wriggle, to a combination army crawl / regular crawl. (And it's still evolving every day.) But one thing's for sure...this girl is on the move! She definitely gets where she wants to go, and relatively quickly! Just today I had to make a quick dash to pick her up before she made it right up to the top of the basement staircase. Time to invest in a good baby gate (the one we have is terrible for everyday use) and make sure the house is up to par on baby-proofing. She definitely keeps me on my toes!

She can also push herself back up to a sitting position now, so really, other than pulling herself up to standing (which I'm sure will be part of my next post!), she moves every which way she pleases.

Nora has already voluntarily given up her pacifier, just about a month or so earlier than her brother did as a baby. Neither one of them was ever a big user of it anyway, except at nap and bedtime. Both of them just started to reject it when I would offer it, so I decided not to push it. If she doesn't need it, why force it on her? She is not, however, the rock star sleeper that her brother was (and still is). While she is sleeping through the night (and thank God for that!), she often ends up crying herself to sleep (if she doesn't fall asleep while nursing) rather than lying quietly and contentedly in her crib like her brother did. And if she does wake in the night (or at nap time), it can be tricky to get her back to sleep. There's this odd balance of waiting to see if her crying will subside on its own, versus going in there and sometimes picking her up, other times just stroking her back and soothing her, and other times nursing her, that I'm still trying to figure out. On the nights when she does wake (which I'd say is about 50% of the time), I just dread it because I have no idea what is going to work! It's really just trial and error, I'm afraid.

She's been babbling for quite some time now and I'm not sure when we first heard her say that same first word that Owen said, "dada," but it was a while back. Anyway, it seems like it was a long time before Owen assigned meaning to that term, but I'm fairly certain that Nora actually knows who Dada is now. She starts saying it whenever Ryan walks into the room and even when she hears the garage door open when he comes home at lunch time. So cute!

Another greeting she learned recently was the wave. I don't recall trying to teach her this, so she must have just picked it up on her own, but she'll give me this cute little wrist roll when she sees me from across the room and I just die. Love it!

Nora LOVES her big brother. LOVES him! (And he loves her, too!) I could never have imagined how much they would adore each other at this stage. Both of them simply light up with joy at the sight of one another. And, while there is the occasional incident when I need to intervene, they actually play together pretty well. The other day, I witnessed her tackle him (in a sweet way) and climb all over him. And to Owen's credit, he is super sweet and patient with her when she does that kind of thing. He totally tolerates her pulling his hair and seems to understand that she is doing it as an act of affection, not violence. I just melt whenever they put their little faces right up next to one another (they both initiate this!) as if they are trying to hug and kiss one another. Heart melting!!!

And while I'm at it, here are a couple things going on in Owen's life these days...

He seems to be doing well in preschool and his teacher appears to really enjoy him (which is fortunate!) He also started his very first gymnastics class today at the Y. It went ok — he has A LOT to learn, not the least of which is to pay attention to his teachers! — but I think it will be good for him. He tried peeing while standing for the first time today. (Sorry if that's TMI. This is my life, folks.) Although he led me to believe that this is the way he does it at school, so perhaps he learned that one (by watching the other boys?) on his own.

And something interesting I finally tried this week (I've been meaning to do it for some time) is to organize all his toys into a "toy rotation" plan, where I only leave out some of his toys to play with until he grows tired of those and then I pack those up and bring out some other ones. The idea is to 1.) contain the clutter, 2.) eliminate toy burn-out (getting tired of the same old toys), 3.) create a sense of fun and excitement when the old toys come back out (like getting new toys!), and 4.) create space and opportunity for him to fully enjoy the toys he already has. I used this link to help get me started, but then I kind of just winged it (is that the correct past tense of that phrase? Or is it, "wung it?" LOL!) to make it work for us. We'll see how it goes, but so far, I have to say that he does seem to be getting much better use out of the few toys I left out. And I do mean "few." I was a bit apprehensive at first because, despite what Ryan always says, he really doesn't have that many toys, so I was afraid that only having out a dozen or so playthings at a time would be boring for him. But we've gone downstairs (where I have officially moved all of his toys) every day since doing this and he has played with almost everything that's out — some of it stuff that he hasn't touched in months! It will probably also be a good way to weed out some of the things that he really never plays with (Goodwill, here we come). And other than a minor meltdown when he saw me packing the other 2/3 of his stuff away in Rubbermaid containers (I had planned to do this during naptime, but it wasn't long enough that particular day), he hasn't missed his other toys at all. He's not asked about a single thing that's packed away yet. It's only been about three days now, and I don't know yet how often I will switch things around, but I think we'll just play it by ear and see how he does with what he's got and go from there.

That's it for now. Still haven't looked into the maxed out photo storage issue yet, so I'm sorry to report there will be no photos again this time (which is really too bad because I've got some good ones!) One of these days maybe I'll figure it out.

Friday, December 7, 2012

An apology to my daughter

It's no secret that I've been terrible at keeping this blog updated since Nora was born. But sadly, I also have been remiss in my documentation of her milestones elsewhere. She doesn't even have a baby book. And I am pretty sure that some day, she's going to be disappointed in that fact. So, this post isn't much, but I wanted to at least take just a moment to document a few quick things that she's done recently. And apologize. I'm so sorry, baby girl. You are SO loved! But I have been spending much more time enjoying you (and your brother) than writing about it.

At six months (sorry I don't have specific dates, sweetie), Nora was able to sit up on her own. This has been a huge relief to me because it means that when I set her down (although she still much prefers to be held!) I don't have to lay her on her back. Now she can sit up and play with toys within her reach. She is also starting to reach out beyond her immediate area and grasp for toys just beyond her reach. This sometimes results in her toppling over, but it also makes me believe that she's not far from learning how to crawl. (Although, as I recall, I thought the same thing about her brother and he ended up being a late crawler, so who really knows.)

She also started officially sleeping through the night (as in, no longer getting up one or more times before 6 a.m.) at around six months. Not to invest too much time in comparisons with her brother, but Owen was a rock star sleeper and had this down muuuuch sooner. But she's so sweet, I just love her anyway!

She's been spending much less time breast-feeding and has an increasingly growing appetite for other foods. I've made and fed her all kinds of fruits and vegetables and, with the exception of bananas and avocados (which I intend to keep trying), she likes just about everything.

And just yesterday (at 7 months old), I discovered her first tooth poking through. Just like her big brother (and right about the same time), it's just a sharp, jagged little thing on the bottom gum. You can't even really see it, but I can feel it. (I'm getting a little nervous about breast feeding someone with teeth, but I'm sure it will be fine...right?) I wouldn't be surprised if some other teeth aren't far behind this first little guy because she's ALWAYS got her hands in her mouth and you can just tell she needs to gnaw on something, like, all.the.time.

Ok, that's all I can think of for right now. I'll try to dump this kind of info on here every so often as new stuff happens, but don't hold your breath for regular updates, y'all. I'll do my best, but.....

I was planning to put a few photos on here, too, but apparently I've run out of storage space for images, so I will need to look into that before I can post anymore photos. Bummer. Who has time for that???

Monday, September 17, 2012

Back in time...

Last night was our first official photo shoot as a family of four. Our photographer, of course, was our beloved Jackie Petersen. I can't wait to see how they turned out!

In the meantime, however, it occurred to me that I never posted any of the pics she took of us from our last shoot as a family of three. So, let's all take a step back in time and enjoy the following from a few months ago...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Farewell Fond Friend

I have postponed sharing this news for the past week because I think I've been in denial. I keep thinking that he can't really be gone.'s time I face the facts. We have lost a dearly loved member of the family.

Mr. Lion.

(You may recall hearing about him in this previous post.)

I'm saddened to report that Owen's most loved stuffed pal, Mr. Lion was inadvertently left at the park last week (at least, that's what I think happened to him). I remember Owen asking if he could bring him with us and I told him he could, but that he had to stay in the car. (That was pretty commonplace, actually.) And I am certain that our friend did not come with us (knowingly) into the park. But sadly, he never made it home. So, my guess is that he must have fallen out of the car as we were getting in or out of it, and none of us noticed.

I called Ryan immediately once I realized he was gone and he did a quick drive-by of the parking lot to search for him. And I also drove back there that afternoon (after the kids had napped), but alas, he was nowhere to be found. I even called the parks department after a few days to see if anyone had turned him in, but that was a dead end, too.

I'm pretty sure that I am far more upset about this loss than Owen is. We have misplaced Mr. Lion quite a bit in the past, so O's been pretty understanding about going to bed without him on occasion. And now that he's gone for good (gah!), he's really only asked about him once or twice and has seemed perfectly fine with our answer: "We lost him at the park, buddy. He's gone." (Sniff, sniff...)

As it turns out, Owen has two other stuffed lions that seem to have replaced (in my opinion, the irreplaceable!) Mr. Lion as his favorites. So, maybe it was time for  Mr. Lion to fade out of first place anyway.

But when I lie in bed at night and think about the fact that we'll never open up a box of Owen's special memories and pull out raggedy old Mr. Lion someday...well, it just makes my heart ache. I'm serious, y'all. I may or may not have actually shed a tear over this.

I really am still in denial. I keep hoping that we will miraculously find him stuffed inside some random box somewhere (also commonplace) and will all laugh at how we thought he was gone forever, but here he is...back with us once again! Oh, how I hope that happens...

In the meantime, let's all take a moment now to remember the good times (in reverse order) that we shared with our dearly departed pal, Mr. Lion.

R.I.P. Mr. Lion (2010-1012). You will be missed.