Tuesday, January 24, 2012

IEP Recap (except not)

Oh wait, did I say the first real IEP meeting? Well apparently not. This was the Eligibility meeting. Meaning that this was the meeting where we went over all the evaluations and determined whether Nicky would be eligible for ESE services and classroom accommodations.

Basically I went into this hoping that everyone would be on the same page as far as Nicky's abilities and potential, but I was also ready to fight for his rights and needs too. As it turned out, we were all very much on the same page I think.

It was agreed that Nicky is a very amiable, friendly, lovable child who presents as extremely bright and exceedingly distractable. He notices everything, things others can easily tune out (like a cricket that was in the classroom, a set of wind-chimes in the school psychologist's office, etc.) All the areas in which he was tested showed his difficulties in staying on task, focus, attention and impulsivity. Even though he tested very well, and usually either average or high-average in areas, he still had to be redirected and refocused often.

The one area in which he had a noticeable weakness was writing. As a committee, we waffled quite a bit on whether to qualify him under having a learning disability in writing. The cutoff for it was 83 and he scored an 85. But in the end I pointed out that I thought he is not dyslexic, and rather than having dysgraphia I think it's likely that at this time his struggle with writing and drawing has more to do with his difficulty in focus and attention.

So he qualified under the label of ADHD. I pointed out that he hasn't been officially diagnosed with this yet, as we haven't taken him to a psychologist and done all that testing, but the school psychologist said with the evaluations the teachers and I filled out and the observations and evaluations she did, she was comfortable making that diagnosis. I'm happy about. This means he qualifies for ESE services and unlike the Developmental Delay label he received in Florida, ADHD will not drop off at a particular age, so he can receive services as long as they are needed.

I was concerned because I feel he shows much stronger evidence for ADD, without the hyperactivity component (compared to many of my former students where the hyperactivity was so prevalent). But in both the teachers' and my assessments while the evidence of inattentiveness was higher there was still significant evidence of impulsivity and uncontrolled activity which would qualify as the hyperactivity component. And she pointed out that now they really just have the ADHD label and then just qualify it as being with inattentiveness or hyperactivity or whatever. So I'm fine with that label.

This of course does not require or in any way mean we're looking at medicating him in any way at this point. Right now I'm concerned with getting him the classroom accommodations he needs to help him enjoy school and learn at his grade level. When he's older, and can have more of a say in how he's feeling and whether he wants medical intervention, then we might consider going that route. But right now, for him, there isn't enough of a behavior/learning issue to medicate him.

So, now we'll have ANOTHER meeting, the REAL ACTUAL IEP meeting in a few weeks. OMGWTFMEETINGBBQ!1!

And in the meantime we'll be working on Nicky's sight words (of which he only recognizes 3 and he apparently should recognize 10+ at this point) and his writing/drawing. We have some ideas. I have gotten a copy of the dolce sight words today that I'll be turning into flash cards for him. And we have that roll of adhesive paper that turns a flat surface (wall in the kitchen is the plan) into a whiteboard for using dry erase markers. That should help make it more interesting for him. And then we are also thinking about those pads that have a pen/mouse that use a drawing surface that works with the computer. I can't remember what they're called, and they probably cost a ton, but we're thinking of things like that. Aunt Liz had a good idea to see if his Nintendo DS has a game that uses the stylus like that. I'll have to look into it.

And the girls are doing fine. The end.

(Well it was starting to feel like a novel and the girls hadn't gotten much playtime in this post yet.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Prepping for the first real IEP meeting

Nicky's IEP meeting is tomorrow. We received the results of his evaluations today in a packet he brought home. I haven't had a chance to sit and read it yet. Maybe it will be my bedtime reading tonight.

I'm taking in my datasheets showing how we're using his daily behavior charts at home, and showing how they're giving us a way to measure his progress. We've had them for two weeks now. The first week he was 55.5% on task. Last week he was 75% on task. Quite an improvement. He received another 6/9 stars today too. Troubling was that today's sheet included his first problem in "walking with hands and feet to self" because he hit a kid in the head with his lunchbox. Lucky for that kid it was a soft-sided bag, but still we jumped on him about that. It was one of the two kids he's been having trouble with for months now though so I don't know what the story is there. I'll bring it up in the meeting as well. But that is really the first outward aggression he's shown (that has been reported to me).

Tom read through the evaluation already and said something about his teacher thinking he had Asperger's, but I'll reserve judgment until I see that. I'm sure they can't make a diagnosis in there, so it shouldn't say anything like that. Although there is a scale that looks for markers for Autism/Asperger's I believe.

I'm sure I'll have more to say AFTER the meeting. Right now I just want to make sure I have my ducks in a row and am ready to stand up for Nicky and his needs.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Blog-Silence Broken

Back to the blog!

This past week of silence brought to you by:

The Letter G

For Grammie's visit! My mom was here all week and so I spent my evenings chatting and enjoying her company instead of hanging out on the computer. It was a really nice visit. She had so much fun getting to really talk and exchange ideas with Nicholas, and of course watching and interacting with the girls too. She was pretty much the first person on the scene each morning as the girls awoke since she was sleeping downstairs where the kids rooms now are. Tom and I are upstairs now. So she really got to see the girls in all their jumpy-jumpy glory in the mornings! They are definitely happy morning babies!

From the weekend with Aunt Jessie, Aunt Liz and Grammie. Lily has the bottle (yeah, I know I know)

And the number 4

The office was under construction this week, and so to avoid the potential dust and noise, I worked four days of the week from home, only going into the office Friday. It was interesting to work full time from home. I've done it before for the odd on-call thing, or to finish up a project, but this was my first real full-time working from home and it was honestly not a whole lot of fun. Although it was nice to basically roll out of bed and over to the home office, that really just meant I went way too long without a shower and washing my hair. And it was really nice to finally get dressed and get OUT of the house Friday!

The office was completely done by Friday, so I totally missed all the construction. My desk was a little dusty, and they'd even had it covered in plastic, so I was happy I wasn't there during all that (dust is my biggest allergen and can kick off my asthma). But I don't forsee me wanting to turn into a telecommuter any time soon. It was too hard to ignore the noises of the kids from downstairs (and to hope no one could hear them when I was on the phone, even though the door was closed). And it was also too hard for me to STOP working at the end of the day. The first night I went back to it and worked for an extra three hours or so in the late evening. My perfectionist personality is much better suited to working in an office where I have to LEAVE.

But now I'm back to the office during the days and back to mommying in the evening, and then blogging in the late evening (while Tom plays his latest MMORPG). So never fear, a blow-by-blow descriptions of the following will be forthcoming:
- how Nicky's behavior plan is shaping up (his IEP meeting is Tuesday!!)
- how the upstairs den/downstairs den rearrangement project is going (new project conceived after midnight last night and already well underway)
- what my biweekly meal planning is starting to look like

I'm sure you'll be riveted. It's pretty compelling stuff I'm sure.

And today's photos of choice?

Nicky at our lunch date:

And the girls enjoying leftover spaghetti (I did not teach them this!)

Lily on the left

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Date Night!

We've had a great visit with my sisters Liz and Jessie. Liz is getting married in April, so we all went with my mom to help her pick out a wedding dress. It only took about 3 hours and I think maybe even less than 10 dresses to find the one perfect for her. Of course I'd share the photo, but then we run the risk of her fiance seeing it. Can't have that!

Last night, Tom and I went out on a lovely date. WE ate at a Mexican Restaurant we'd never tried, or heard of for that matter. And it was great! It was a little place called El gran Rodeo, and we'll definitely be going back. I even took photos of the lunch menu to have our lunch group see if they'd like to add this place to their rotation.

After dinner, we thought about going to a movie, but there isn't really anything we wanted to see. So we'd talked about me needing a coat for my upcoming business trip to Chicago at the end of the month (and I am going to need a coat!) and decided to check out Lane Bryant. I called them and they had a grey peacoat in my size, so we went to check it out. It was pretty, but obviously more of a fashion coat, not really a "keep you warm in a Chicago January" kind of coat.

The girl there recommended a few other options, and one was this K&G place right next door. I'd never heard of it, but turns out it is a lot like a TJ Maxx or a Ross, where they have a lot of discounted clothes and other stuff. There really wasn't anything my size in the women's jackets (although they had a lot!) so we decided to check the men's side. And I found the perfect jacket! It's wool and warm, and has a built in fleece liner and hood, lots of pockets, and the liner zips closed then the wool overcoat buttons. And it fits! That was imperative. I think I'll be warm enough in that. AND it was ony 40$ on clearance. SCORE! Oh, and it's grey with a black liner and will match my typical business travel wardrobe and boots. Sweet. We also picked up lined gloves for both Tom and I. All that for just about 60$. My dad had sent us $ for Christmas, so Thanks for the coat and gloves Dad!

By this time it was 9pm and we wanted to stay out a bit longer (we don't often have a babysitter to watch the kids, much less THREE of them!) so we headed over to Barnes and Nobles. I've had a 25$ gift card for there for a few years from a birthday at some point. We also wanted to look for things for the kids from my dad. Tom got a really nice puzzle of the painting The Last Supper. It's been a long time since Tom and I worked on something so unplugged. That should be fun.

For Nicky we picked up a memory game that is all photos of puppies (he LOVES puppies) and a phonics Brain Quest thing where he can use a dry erase marker to fill in the missing letters of words. I think this will be a lot more fun for him than writing full words all the time, and will focus in on beginning, ending and vowel sounds better too. We have to keep things fun by alternating his writing homework with "games" like this and I think this is going to be fun. Thanks Dad for Nicky's games!

That still leaves 20$ for the girls to get a little something from Dad, so we'll do a little shopping today, probably for some cute, warm clothes.

So all in all, a lovely date and we only had to shell out our money for dinner! Sweet!

Liz and Jessie will be leaving today, but Grammie is staying till next weekend when we fly her back to Florida. Poor Grammie is freezing up here because, being from Florida, she doesn't really have VA winter clothes. But we'll keep her covered up in babies to help her keep warm. They're good for that.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New furniture now!

So new car yesterday, new kitchen table today! We finally have a real, round table that fits in the kitchen. Waiting for two more chairs, which Tom will pick up tomorrow, but we have a table and chairs in the kitchen and then also have chairs up in the computer room too. This is good because I think Tom was getting tired of carrying dining room chairs up and down the stairs when needed.

I'll have to get a photo of the new dining area up soon.

Next is a new desk for the computer room! Coming probably this weekend. And then we'll actually be able to use the folding table that was originally for Nicky's desk, for him to either do homework or have his computer on it. Not sure yet how we'll make it work. We have to rearrange things in the computer room to account for the large dining table, Nicky's folding table (maybe), the large computer desk that is coming, and the treadmill. It will all fit, but I think Tom would appreciate me having a plan so that he doesn't have to move the furniture around later.

Where is all this new furniture coming from? Our office is renovating! And unlike working at the state university, here they can actually sell, toss or give away surplus furniture. Sweet! I'm really enjoying this whole working-for-a-private-company thing. :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cars, Smiley Faces and Jumpy Jumpy. It's been a busy day.

We have a new car! I only have the photos Tom sent me last night from the dealership while it was being cleaned, but I'll have more soon I'm sure. It's a 2009 Ford Flex. I've only sat in it for a moment when Tom brought the kids to work so I could see it, but it seems very nice, and roomy! We actually have Nicky and one carseat in the wayback and then the other carseat in the middle row. Not sure if it will stay that way yet, but it makes it easier for Nicky to get to his seat in the wayback since the middle row has to lean forward to slide. We'll see how that all works out after we've had some practice with it.

Nicky had a rough day at school today. Only 3/9 smiley faces. But we went over the behavior sheet and his chart. I'd mentioned it to him this morning before I left for work, and as soon as I told him about earning a nickel for each smiley face or sticker, he said "I think I want a dime." LOL. I'm raising quite the little negotiator. But I'm sticking with a nickel for now. I told him we'd talk about a raise when he started earning lots of smiley faces/stickers.

And now, for your viewing pleasure: "Jumpy Jumpy" as performed by Gabi and Lily

That was this morning. Tom sent me that video at work. So cute! Lily is on the right here. That's how they spend their mornings while waiting for someone to come get them up. They'll play like that for quite a while actually.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hey, that email thing works!

So I wrote that email to Nicky's teacher last night, and lo! Today I find in Nicky's folder:

A green dot day
A daily behavior sheet
A weekly progress report for last week


The behavior sheet might change later I would guess, but right now it breaks the day into 9 time periods. Today he received smiley faces and/or stickers in 5/9 of them. I am charting that as being 55% on task today. Now we're talking my language! I'm the one who charted approximately 19,000 TTC cycles and charted all my food/carb/medicines/blood sugar/asthma readings for all of the two pregnancies. I know data crunching.

So I've put together a weekly sticker chart we'll record on every day at home. I'm only putting stickers on our chart where he earned smiley faces/stickers in class. Then we'll tally them up each day and week and he will earn a nickel for each one. (So a max of $2.25 a week.) It was time to consider an allowance anyway. And later we can look at adding in daily chores to our home chart. But right now I'll finally be able to track his progress towards the 90% on task goal we have for him this year.

I'm very excited.

So I'll share my charts with you. Cause I'm just that geeky. I'm sure they'll morph as needed, but this is my current draft.

I feel hopeful that Nicky is going to be able to make good progress and we'll see it and be able to recognize it with him.

I love this boy.

Monday, January 09, 2012

You know those annoying parents who email their kid's teacher?

So I finally sent Nicky's teacher an email to get out these frustrations. I think it came across as professional, courteous, assertive and knowledgeable. I worked hard to make it that way, even though I stopped to take deep breaths and somehow did not spontaneously burst into flames even once.

Figured I'd make today's post about this since I spent so much time on it and I've already shared most of my frustrations about the situation here anyway. Ms. P is his teacher, Ms. K is the ESE teacher who co-teaches part of the day in the classroom, Ms. B is listed as the ESE Paraprofessional for K-1, and Ms. F is the school psychologist.


Ms. P,

I'm hoping the school copier is back in working order so that you'll soon be able to send home daily behavior sheets for Nicholas. Honestly it's to the point where the red dots are nearly meaningless when it comes to giving him feedback. We all know being on task is extremely challenging for him and so him really earning a green dot for the day is nearly impossible. I give him a lecture about whatever the notes on his calendar sheet says, but it's not nearly as meaningful as specific feedback could be with a daily sheet. It also encourages us to only focus on his negative behaviors and thus he is getting no positive reinforcement from us at all for the times when he's doing the right thing. Hopefully he is getting that at school sometimes, but even so, a daily sheet will help us all provide more of an opportunity for positive reinforcement, which is the strongest behavior modification tool we have.

If it will help expedite the process, I would be happy to either print out and send sheets in his folder for you to use, or if you can give me a sketch or description/list of what activities should be included on a sheet, I can design one and print it for you. I know you're busy with all the other things on your plate, especially with the end of the grading period, so I'm happy to do what I can to help.

Speaking of the grading period, I would appreciate it if you will share this email with Ms. K and Ms. F and Ms. B if she is also working with Nicholas. I answered the three psychological batteries that came home last week and hope that we are nearing the completion of his re-evaluation so that we can convene a true IEP meeting with all interested parties soon. If Ms. K or Ms. F have an estimate of when that might happen, I'd appreciate it. I also read over his IEP progress report today and while I'm glad to have it, I would like to see if we have more measurable results to report at this time. (Perhaps the results from the latest PALS evaluation are not in yet, so I'm jumping the gun there.) I think for the academic goals, the PALS results would be helpful, or something similar, and for the behavioral goals I think the behavior sheets could be designed in such a way that we can actually use them to help evaluate his percentage of time on task.

Sorry this is so long, but I appreciate your reading this.
Thank you

Sunday, January 08, 2012

No minivan yet, but found photos are nearly as good!

No new car today, but there are a few now they're looking at. The Dodge Journey, the Ford Flex and the Honda Odyssey (but it's hard to find those in the price range, year and mileage we want right now).

In the meantime, I was looking on a flash drive I had in my purse and found a bunch of photos JM took while here right before Halloween of the girls in their little witch hats. So cute! I added a bunch to October for you. Enjoy!

We made good progress on Nicky's room today. His room, moving our stuff and the computer stuff upstairs, and taking down the tree are the goals for the week to finish before my mom's arrival Friday. I'm really looking forward to their visit! Liz has seen the house, but Mom and Jessie haven't been here yet, and it's been about 6 months since they saw the kids! They're going to have so much fun with them!

Time to be a two car family again?

I'm not sure if this is a good idea or not, but we're looking to finally get the minivan we've been needing. While it would be easier if we traded in the volvo, we really need a second vehicle so that I don't leave Tom stranded all day while I'm at work.

I've figured out the financial aspects and it will work. But I still don't relish the idea of taking on additional costs.

But we're looking into it. And even have a particular minivan in mind. We'll see what happens.

It sure would be nice to be able to fit all the kids in one vehicle and not feel like we're getting in and out of a clown car. It's been a while since we had two vehicles. A little over two years or so I guess. It's probably time.

In the meantime, last night I finally caught up on the backlog of photos and videos from my phone! That means that there is now a December folder to peruse and even a January folder has been started. At some point I'll move the movies from September, October, December over to the Movies folder too. But not yet. Enjoy!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Blogging: The next best thing to weight loss... or something like that

Friday! You're here! Welcome back.

Tom's gone to play Dungeons and Dragons with his buddies leaving me with the kids to feed and get to bed. And I'm happy to say that I had them all in bed, teeth brushed, story read (and NO bottles) by 8:30.

Feeling awfully proud of myself.

Now I've spent a good 3 hours reading up on blogs that I've gotten so far behind on. Somehow over the last year twitter and facebook took over reading and writing blog posts. And I have to agree with blogger Jodifur that I miss reading and commenting on good old fashioned blogs. I'm trying to get back into the habit of at least sitting down at my computer to give myself a chance to blog each evening. (I hadn't been on my computer regularly since moving.) I think this sounds like a reasonable New Year's Resolution, so I'm going with becoming more involved in blogging on both sides of the blog. Hm, I might be too tired to be glib. My eyes are a little bleary after 12+ hours of screen time today.
Besides, the other resolution would just be the old "lose weight" thing and that's just so DONE. I mean, not like I've actually DONE it, but that I've DONE the resolution part. Just not the follow thru. Well except that one time on Weight Watchers before the twins when I lost 40lbs and then celebrated by getting pregnant with twins and gaining it all back.

Yeah. Done.

So my mom and sisters are coming to visit next weekend. Super exciting stuff. The bed is still not fixed. Darn it. But I have high hopes for this weekend. And I have my grocery list and dinner menus planned out for the next week.

My life. It's riveting I know.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Seeing Red (Dots that is)

Today was another "red dot" day for Nicky. His teacher sends home a colored dot each day on a calendar sheet in his folder and we have to initial it each day. Green for a good day, Yellow for some difficulty, and Red for a bad day. He's had a red dot every day since going back to school Tuesday.

For a while we tried to tie rewards and punishments to the dots. But after a while it just seemed to be pretty pointless. I've lectured him about specific issues when they bother to include a note describing a particular behavior. But without some more specific feedback from the teacher it's hard to really tell what he's doing well and where he's struggling.

None of his behaviors are aggressive or outright defiant. They're just the same issues we have at home, which are even more annoying at school I'm sure. He's off-task, easily distracted and can't focus worth a damn. We did resolve the bullying issue I think. No complaints on that front, although I should ask him pointedly about it soon.

But right now I'm waiting for the teacher to create a daily behavior sheet that will help us pinpoint specific times of the day or activities where he has the most trouble so that we can be more specific in our feedback to him. So far they say they have a laminated one they use with a dry erase marker each day, but that the copier is broken so they don't have ones to send home. THIS IS NOT HELPING ME. That's been the answer since I spoke with the teacher in early December. Hopefully the copier will be fixed soon. Otherwise I'll ask her to email me a copy of the form and I'll make her some copies and send them to school for them to use. I mean, REALLY?

Sorry. A bit frustrated.

I just spent a good hour of my evening filling out evaluations for Nicky's school evaluations they're re-doing. These are the ones we met about back in October. Apparently he hasn't been enough of a behavior problem for them to be finished yet. Hopefully soon though. I think it will help if we have another meeting and really discuss what will help him. Here it is the middle of the year, I think it's past time we set some goals and make a plan for him.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

More movies up!

September and October are all updated now. Phew. Now just have to get December under control and we'll be caught up.

Question of the day: Guess what happens when you try to move a queen size poster bed on your own?

Answer: it breaks. Damnit.

Now we'll just see if Tom can fix what I did or if we're out of luck and putting the boxspring and mattress on the floor. On the good side, well we wanted to buy a cherry kingsize bed anyway. Guess that will be a higher priority for tax return $.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Holiday Brain Dump

We've made it thru the holidays! Whew!

Highlights are that the kids had a great Christmas. Nicky received three new Nintendo games and a fort building set from Santa. The girls received a tent of their own, puppy backpacks (that are also harnesses for Mom and Dad's sake) and ladybug nightlights.

That was just from Santa. They received a bunch of other wonderful things from our extended family out there. Thank you everyone! I have the best of intentions to send thank you cards, but realistically I'm just darn thrilled I managed to get the christmas cards out this year, BEFORE Christmas day AND with photos in them! WooHOO! One step at a time.

I figure if we keep this up we'll end up back on folks' card list. We missed out on a lot of cards this year because we moved without telling everyone where we went. So be sure to update your address books with the new address when you get those cards!

This was hopefully our last lean Christmas now that I have a much better paying job. Thank goodness for gift cards! Nearly everything we bought was paid for with gift cards I'd been hoarding over the last year or two. Even though it was lean, it was still wonderful and the kids really enjoyed themselves. Nicky and I played Santa for Tom. We got him a DVD he'd wanted and an awesome drill bit that sharpens pencils. Because honestly, why use a pencil sharpener when you can use your drill??

Tom played Santa for me and brought me a lovely sparkly that caught my eye while we were out having a shopping date on Christmas Eve Eve at Kohl's. Hey, Santa got a deal! It was only $20 marked down from $80!

For Christmas dinner we were in a bit of a pickle for funds as we discovered on Christmas Eve Eve that we had no $ and 7 people to feed for a week. But we managed to pull together what food we had in the house and a list of cheap and yummy meals and spent 50$ on the Walmart card to feed everyone. We had Turkey Tetrazzini for Christmas dinner made with leftover turkey we'd frozen from Thanksgiving (thank you 30lb turkey!). We had a big pot of awesome spaghetti with homemade meat sauce, hot dogs, tuna casserole, black beans and rice and frittata rounded out the meal plan for the week. No one went hungry and we all had lots to eat.

Nana and Kris had a great visit with us and really enjoyed the kids. It worked out well to have them staying downstairs and having the girls upstairs with Tom and I. Nicky was going to stay upstairs, but he ended up spending most nights with Nana. It actually got us rethinking the room arrangement while they were here. And we decided to move Nicky downstairs to the room Tom and I had been sharing and have the second floor set up as a master suite with the two rooms and bath up there.

We moved around furniture Monday after Nana and Kris left Sunday. Not quite all settled in yet, but the girls are back in their room along with the twin bed, Nicky is actually going to have to sleep either in the twin with the girls (his preference) or in the queen bed in his new downstairs room for a while because Tom and I spent one night back in the queen bed and then decided we'd rather be squeezed into the double bed with the comfy mattress than on the queen with back aches! So we're keeping the double bed hostage upstairs until we have the $ for a new bed.

This will actually work out well as we have more company coming in less than two weeks. Aunt Liz, Aunt Jessie and Grammie are coming to visit! Liz and Jessie will only be here for about two nights, but Grammie will stay for a week and then we'll fly her home. This visit is courtesy of Aunt Liz's move to North Carolina later this week. My mom is driving with Liz and her fiance Michael up to NC, then Jessie's coming over to NC and the three of them will drive mom up here. This is great because it's been so long since Jessie and my mom have seen the kids, and we're so far away right now it seemed like it might be even longer before they could visit. So with the new bedroom arrangement we'll have a room for Grammie to stay in and Nicky can sleep in with the girls.

So how's that for a post? Sorry for the brain dump, but until I get my blogging act back together I figure this is better than nothing! Next mission, try to upload the Sept and Oct videos and photos from my phone! Then maybe even December!