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...