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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Summing up the Summer '15


Summer is here! Five children home and accounted for!
Did I mention having twins is challenging?

Did I mention having twins on the autism spectrum is even more challenging?

Did I tell you we finally got brave and removed their crib rails? So they can roam about the room freely? Dumping drawers of toys and jumping on each other and removing mattresses and slamming doors? :)

Did I mention potty training ASD twins is really super fun? AND REALLY GROSS??

Well just in case I didnt....it is. IT IS!
I will try to sum up our summer so far but I will tell you right now, this post will not read smoothly. My mind is as jumbled up as our calendar.



We finished up a great school year, Luke is changing from adorable to handsome before my eyes. He's smart and funny, albeit easily distracted and many times unfocused.   We really wanted to get the kids involved in some activities this summer, and because my Jamberry biz has been such a blessing, it's given us enough money each month to commit to some specialties for the kids. So Luke is taking this awesome sports class called Weston Speed Academy. The Speed Academy teaches general sports readiness and physical endurance, character building and innovative physical training. Sounds fancy right?! He loves it. We're thinking with this class all summer he'll be more than ready to try flag football in the fall. And swimming is going well too, and Juliette is happy to attend her swimming lessons with Luke, and also take gymnastics classes. I am also looking into piano lessons for both of them because Jamberry is giving us that cushion in our budget to do things we couldnt do before!
The twins had an awesome year with their early intervention teacher, Miss G, who really was sent from God. They were with her and her awesome aids M-F, from 9-3pm. They learned so much, as did I. I suppose I'll never stop learning with these two.
But all good things must come to an end. Miss G was pleased and proud to tell me she was recommending them to move out of her classroom in the fall, and into a different PReK teacher's class (one who still has a special education degree but her students are a little less dependent than those in their original class). Remember, they were born Sept 13, so they aren't VPK eligible until Fall 2016. So I was kinda hoping they'd stay with Miss G for another year because she was so great with them!
When she told me, on the last day of school, that next year they'd be moving onward and upward, I smiled...but inside I wasn't jumping up and down. This teacher REALLY took care of the boys, and clearly loved them. She paid special attention to their personalities and made their school year very fun and simple, and encouraged Ryan and I IMMENSELY for doing a great job with them at home. She moved me to tears with a thank you card she delivered on that last day.
I just want her to teach them forever, is that so much to ask?
But apparently they dont need her intense intervention techniques anymore, and it's time for them to be challenged in new ways. We'll be meeting a new teacher in the fall, hoping she will fall just as hard for the boys and love them with the same devotion.


We took a couple weeks break after school let out,  and then started a cool Extended School Year option that allows them and their classmates to continue attending school for 4 weeks over the summer to keep them from regressing over these months at home.  (at a new school though-- with new teachers)
There are some transitional tears but they like it for the most part. But that first day drop off was hard.
On the first day I was running 10 minutes late(surprised?), so I had to bring them into the cafeteria instead of into the classroom.
*NOTE: they have never had to eat in a cafeteria. In the school environment we just left, the 3year olds with ASD got to eat IN their classroom, in the safety of the known and predictable.
So this was entirely new to them.It was loud, LOTS of people, and I should have known better. Jackson immediately stuck his fingers in his ears and started crying, and did NOT want to come in. I brought them over to their table and tried to console jackson, who just melted into the floor, fingers in ears, crying as loud as could be.
Lincoln looked at his brother, his bottom lip quivered and stuck out, and he started to wail with the same decibel commitment. I watched the heads in the cafeteria swivel in our direction, and several older children drop their breakfast and put their hands over the ears.
Some of them even dropped their head to their knees in anguish. I felt awful, for the twins, for the teachers, for the other students...everyone was a victim.
I tried to console Jackson but he couldnt collect himself. The aids (thankfully some of them having already worked with the twins from their class all year long) came over and helped J get to the table and sit, but I left quickly knowing my presence wasn't helping. I walked out as fast as I could without running, my head drooped a little so those passing me couldnt see my tears collecting, and jumped back in the car.
The teacher and I decided for now it's best for the boys if I just bring them AFTER breakfast, and have them come straight to the class.

Some of the days Jackson cries when I leave. Some he doesn't. Overall I know the boys like going, they are happy when I pick them up and they aren't always sad when I drop them off.
We've also added 3 hours of speech therapy into their week, so 3 days a week we go pick up the twins, bring 1 to speech therapy, go home with 4, then 45 minutes later we get back in the car and switch out the twins, go home for 45, then go back to pick up the twin at therapy.
FUN! :) But the therapist is very nice and great with them and they seem to enjoy being with her.

Since the boys had such success in Miss G's class, I tried to replicate at home a visual schedule that they used in class. I printed and laminated over 75 little visual cue pics to help schedule our day. But it was a lot to keep up with. Just from wakeup to lunch time there were over 12 cards on their schedules. All day I spent moving things up and adding more schedule until it was bath and bed. There's one for potty time, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, trampoline, tv, ipad, brush teeth, get dressed, bath time, playdough, pool, puzzles, etc. I included Luke and Juliette, so their pics had chores, learning, playstation, computer, make bed, etc. After 2 days of it I was beat.
I couldnt keep up with it. It was Levi walking over and tearing down the pics, the twins grabbing the parts of the schedule they liked and trying to do them out of order, Juliette reminding me that I forgot to put swimming on the schedule since it was a swimming day...
Just too much.
The speech therapist suggests I only keep 4 activities on the schedule at a time--anything else and it's overwhelming. I may try to downgrade.  But currently the long pieces of velcro sit vacant on the wall--a reminder of the system that I implemented, that failed.
Miss G's Schedule





We just finished Vacation Bible School at our church, I taught the PreK music classes. It was fun! Tiring, but fun. I'm grateful for the chance to serve and be part of my kids' church activities, but I'm also grateful VBS only ran until noon each day though. :) PreK energy is no joke.

I'm teaching a Mommy and Me class on Saturday mornings for the summer, ages 0-1 and 1ish to 5. Ryan watches our 5 kids so I can go and facilitate this learning group with moms in the community. The awesome Buggy Bunch, (nonprofit in Treasure Coast focused on faith, family, fitness, and fellowship) pays me to teach the class and provides us with great educational instruments and learning toys. We talk a little about educational and developmental milestones during the formative years of 0-5, but mostly we just have a good time playing with bubbles and parachutes, and singing songs together. :)
I'm NOT made to teach PREK children but I can fake it til I make it.

In Danielle's personal bubble, I'm working Jamberry with serious aspirations to provide a steady part time and someday a full time income for us. Sounds like crazy-talk but I know it can happen if I work on it. If you know me, you know I say this with all modesty, but I am made to lead and teach. I find great joy in it, and since I joined Jamberry in September 2014, my team has grown from just me, to currently 87 women.
87!!! The company has an incredible compensation plan and it's simple, which attracts women who want to add to their income, but it's also a network of beautiful people, and it provides a social outlet for many of us who thirst for that. Others join my team just because they love the product and want a discount for themselves.
But to put it simply, the reason my team has grown is because the cute little nail designs are just easy to share, fun to wear, and girls just want to have fun.
Ryan supports my Jamberry goals because I showed him where I am, where I started, and where I hope to go, and he believes I am capable of the highest levels of leadership. He supports me so much so that he'll fold an extra load of laundry or do an extra load of dishes, so I can get online and work my jambiz when he comes home from work.
Yep. He's awesome. I also told him I'd buy him a boat someday if he keeps it up.
He continues to hold me up when I'm down and he keeps all of us in check. He gets to work early and most nights he stays late, because his work ethic is like no other. He takes on tons of jobs at work, and kills himself to make deadlines, to keep clients happy and to respect his employers. He comes home smiling, so I dont get too upset that he also leaves us smiling, because I realize he isn't happy to distance himself from us, he's just happy in general. He greets the kids with hugs like he just got back from deployment, he throws a tshirt on and takes them all out back to jump on the trampoline. In his spare time he is at home depot picking up materials to fix windows, buying shelving to create an office space for my jamberry biz, or presently getting wood to build twin beds for Jack and Linc.  Sometimes you can find him mowing the yard or working on his dad's car. He also tries desperately to squeeze a new experience in every weekend for Luke and Jbelle, (twins can sometimes be included depending on the activity) whether it be exploring a new park or beach, or taking a new route on bikes. I'm just left to sit here and wonder how I got so lucky.

Levi is Levi. He is walking and super smiley and loves loves loves when he's read to. He holds up his finger to show his age, he points to his head and hair when prompted in certain songs, and he sticks out his tongue on cue. He waves bye bye, and he calls Ryan "dada". His head is still enormous but it's pretty symmetrical. :) He continues to have follow ups to monitor skull growth until he's 4 or 5.


Last thing before I go...
Next weekend we start a new Parker tradition. This is the brainchild of my dear sister Brandi who realized about 4 years ago that our siblings will soon be too spread out geographically to see each other regularly, and she surmised that the only time we'd ever be together in one place would be for weddings or funerals.
So the plan was set years ago. Starting in 2015 and every 5 years after:


ALL PARKER CHILDREN AND THE TWO PARKERS THEY CAME FROM MUST SET ASIDE A MODEST BUDGET FOR A PRESCHEDULED WEEK-LONG REUNION (SPOUSES AND THEIR CHILDREN INCLUDED) TO OCCUR EVERY FIVE YEARS IN THE MONTH OF JULY.

So this will be our first go at it. We've rented a big beautiful house in Winter Haven Florida, and Mom, Dad, Brandi Danielle Julie Samantha Kimmie and DJ (and spouses, and children) will be arriving on July 4th to spend a week together.
I dont remember the last time I had a week long vacation, if ever. I'm not sure if it will actually feel like a vacation (if you've ever traveled with and displaced young children you know what I'm talking about) but I'm excited to see my people!!! 
Best believe, there will be an epic blog post in the near future to highlight our time together. 
Thanks for keeping up with the McLeans through this mediocre blog, I DO love to write and keep everyone in the loop, so thanks for caring to read all about what's happening in our cuckooforcocoapuffs family. Ryan is a pretty private person but he supports my blog and letting you guys in (I THINK! I honestly dont think he can read to the end of my blog posts...he falls asleep).

Jackson finally smiles when he knows I want to take a pic of him!
Jackson
Lukas and Lincoln



 I dream of the kids getting older, of when things will be easier, of when life will slow down and Ryan and I can enjoy an easy day without crying, without potty chairs, and when sleep is less erratic. But in reality...when things slow down and the kids are grown I will cry and mourn these exact days being gone, when chubby babies have grown into adults  and there are no more diaperbags needed, my heart will break with the heavy truth that our precious season together as a young family is over.
So I can't dream of the future and wait for bluer skies.
I just have to remember how quickly life is moving and how amazing and beautiful this part of our story is becoming.
I pray even as you read this you consider the beautiful parts of your life and focus on those. Look past your figurative dirty diapers and focus on something amazing that is happening right before your eyes. Changing your perspective changes everything.

 Don't wait.