Friday, May 30, 2014

End of School Year............

Well, it's the end of school here at Family of 4 house.  We will have a middle schooler and 5th grade special ed day class student.  The girls' school is going magnet as well.  We had to fill out an application for it, so not sure exactly what that means for us as BGA is not exactly grade wise, in the magnet program.  I wish the teacher had explained more but she's easing off, now that school is ending.  That's fine with me.  I have enjoyed getting to know her and appreciate all she has done to help BGA this year.  We have seen so much progress from her, it's nice to see it and to see the compassionate person she has become.

School ends next week.  There will be no summer school for LGA this year.  Her teacher said that only the kids who really need it will be going.  I thought FASD and brain/retention issues would be a qualification but teacher says that the resources teacher who teaches summer school, has them play a lot and the focus is not on keeping up with what they have learned.  I disagree with this because we had to start (well the teacher did) from scratch last year and go over the stuff LGA learned and then get her back up to where she should be.  Last year I seriously thought we'd have some medication changes (to the more heavy duty 'mood' disorder meds) because the behavior was off the charts.  However, lots contributed to that, being in with the older kids (grades 4-6) and having some of the kids tease her (teacher moved her and some of her classmates to the smaller playground at recess and behaviors improved) some boys in the class who were teasing her, the teacher being out for Core classes and having her husband sub (a tall sort of intimidating older gentleman who LGA does not really like).  I didn't know some of this but from Aug to Nov we had real issues and it was so hard.  I was not prepared for it.  But once the teacher was back in the class, playground issues were taken care of, LGA started to take off.  She started to read and make lots of progress on that and writing sentences, doing some math, etc.  I was so happy to see her progress and home life settled down.  Her progress earned her 3 awards yesterday!!!  3!  The child who never got awards got 3!!  And two reading awards with certificates to her favorite buffet (shudder!) place.  I was so proud of her!
Her awards were honorable mention (which is the award they give when kids reach about 70% of their goals, for her I am not sure what % it would be but there must have been a good jump for her) a school pride award and perfect attendance.  Some people on FB have mentioned how did she get perfect attendance, etc.  Well, when you have a special ed kid it's very important for them to have a routine and to be at school, learning.  Some joked I needed a break (well yes, when you have kids that have issues it's nice to have that 6 hours when they are in school to gear up for a possible afternoon that might be tough, dealing with any school issues that come up) and maybe I do.  But I also feel she benefits from her routine being as close to structured as it can be.  I have taken them out when they are truly sick, but she's very rarely sick. I have taken them out for a special event, if we have them, but we don't very often. So perfect attendance for her.  She got two reading awards one last week and one this week.  I couldn't be more proud of this kid. Truly.  She has done so well.  What a way to end the year.  Her behaviors according to the teacher have been great.  She is learning to ignore kids who bother her and that is HUGE.  Wow.  BGA has a hard time with this concept, however is making progress in that regard as well.  Good stuff here, people.  6 yrs in the making!  6 yrs next month we have had the girls.

BGA got two awards but we don't have them as her teacher kept them I guess thinking she might lose them. I text the teacher (long story but we had homework issues so it was easier to text her and find out what homework was needed.  I got to know teacher who was adopting her grandchildren so we talked about the process, etc.) so I asked her what the awards were but she did not tell me.  I know BGA said one was an attendance award and one was a Principal award.  No honorable mention (which is below the honor roll award) so the grades probably slipped a bit.  They will slip next year for middle school as focus and organization is a hard issue for her.  We may need to adjust meds for that.  But I think (and here again I missed BGA's awards assembly and when they announced the principal's award in LGA's assembly I was distracted emailing Dave to tell him what awards LGA got, that I didn't really pay attention to what that award was about, never thinking BGA might get it for her grade) she got the Principal's award, but she couldn't remember either.  BGA goes to her last dance today after school.  Then she will sing Let It Go with the first graders (she really does not want to do this so unless her leadership teacher will play piano and sing with her she's stuck with first graders as teacher says several people want to sing this song) on Monday.  I am proud of her, she's in the kids club (the peer group led by the counselor) and in the leadership group for last semester this year and all of next year. BGA is ending the year on a good note too.  She will have struggles in middle school, and peer issues continue to be something we work on, but she has made progress and that I contribute a lot to the right teacher fit.  The leadership teacher is the teacher she had last year, who while she's a bit whacky in my opinion, she has a good heart and loves BGA a lot.  That's made a difference for her.

So, summer is going to be a challenge with no summer school and the girls are fighting a bit lately and it's gotten a bit more physical, mainly LGA who lashes out a bit more physically and BGA used to take it and now fights back a bit.  I am looking for ideas to keep them busy.  We are looking into activities like swimming and BGA wants to play tennis or basketball.  I have bought some Groupons for roller skating, and a local reptile museum (ewww for me!) and there is the free bowling and $1 movies at Regal Theaters.  There might be some play dates and a trip to the Jelly Belly factory.  But summer is when I truly feel my parenting begins.  They are here 24/7 and I cook/make 3 meals a day, etc.  They are great at doing chores and helping out there so housework took on a whole new meaning.  The OCD for LGA comes in handy because she is an excellent cleaner.  It takes her awhile but it gets done well.  BGA has started complaining about doing chores whereas before she was all into it.  This is the first time in 2 yrs I have really had to plan out the summer.  But as they are older it's a bit more fun taking them places, etc.  We do still face LGA's issues in public, but if I time it right and read her cues I am getting better at redirecting her fits/tantrums in public.  I am optimistic for the summer and sort of dreading middle school for BGA.  But as always we will be involved more than parents probably are, with her teachers and helping her succeed.  Each time we have stepped back and given her responsibility, we have had to get more involved and work together with the teachers.  We feel we will do this for the rest of her school years and we are ok with it.  We have met some great and supportive teachers.

Here are our latest pics.  Some more of the grey/white growing out progress as well.  Fun pics and the smiles are wonderful, I love how LGA is smiling these days.  Here's to a fun summer for us.  :-)

Photo: Awards!!

Holding her awards.  SO proud!

LGA took this one of me on my phone.  She asked me to pose and told me what I should do, "Take a bite of ice cream mom."  She's actually very good at taking pics, I think a small camera will be part of her birthday this year.

"I want to take your pic mom, you always take mine."  I wasn't sure when she snapped it, so wasn't smiling, oops.  But she got me in focus and good angles, etc.

Photo: Another view.
About 2 inches of white on top.  Grey in back and middle of hair.  Still liking the blonde though. Who knew??
Photo: New haircut.
New hair cut, didn't have it blown dry, but liking the shorter length and bangs.

She won an award in the weekly raffle.  She got an Elephant Bar restaurant kids meal.  SO happy to use it.

Photo: Happy girl with her reading award to hometown buffet. More about that later.  Family dinner time.  Priceless.  So proud and I love this girl SO much.  Congrats Angel cake!
This was her reading award at the buffet.  She filled her plate high but didn't eat it all.  But she got to do it herself and we talked about not wasting food next trip.  A root beer float with more ice cream than soda filled out her meal. See the Fanta Orange too. Oh well, special occasion.  We don't do soda in our house.

Photo: Sundae she made herself.
She made her own sundae and really enjoyed it, LOL.

Friday, May 9, 2014

My Daughter The Runner.........and Mother's Day 2014

My daughter (BGA) was a runner at the end of last month.  Her school competed in a track and field event with other schools, grades 5-8.  I was really proud of her for competing.  She tried out last year but her grade had to forfeit because they didn't have enough runners.  She was really disappointed (I was too but had hurt my back last year at this time and was in pain for about 3 weeks so was not looking forward to going and sitting out in the heat).  This year she tried out again and made the team.  Here is a brief description of what the event is about:

Do you think you’re the fastest person in (name of town) and you’re between the ages of 9 and 14?  Well, here is your chance to prove yourself . If you have been in the Kennedy Games before, then you probably already know that it consists of track and field events.

The Kennedy Games is a fun day for kids where they can compete with other students from different schools in the area. Every student gets to run an event depending on the number of athletes on your team. There are many different races you can participate in. Just to name a few, there is the 50 yard dash, the 220 yard dash, the 440 yard relay. There are also several field events. 

There are so many different events.  One of the most popular events is the 440 relay.  The 440 relay is a track event where 4 girls/boys run with a baton and pass it on to their teammates. This time a single runner has to run the entire track against other runners from different schools.  If running isn’t for you, then you might want to try-out for the softball throw, soccer kick, or the long jump.
            The Kennedy Games is a chance to show off your running skills by racing against many students from the school district.  This fun day consists of many events that will entertain you and the people in the stands that are watching.  This year it will be a little different, because the races will be separated into two days instead of having all the events on one day.  This is a great and exciting day to participate in.    

So our girl competed in 5 events for her school.  She medaled in all 5!!!  She got 3 bronze and two gold.  One of her gold medals was in the long jump.  I was so proud of her and cheered her on.  LGA came with me as well as the girls' godmother and her step son.  He was probably bored I am sure but he cheered BGA on and I appreciated that.  LGA was bored towards the end as we were there from 7:30-4:45.  Dave had to work but he met us in the parking lot and we all went to dinner together. I thought it was cute that BGA wanted to ride in the truck with Dave so she could tell him all about her day.  

Here are some pics from the day.

With 4 of her medals.  Yes, that's a big pimple on her chin.

BGA is on the far left, look how small she looks compared to the other kids.  

BGA got a lot out of it and was really team oriented and really enjoyed the experience.  I think she wants to run again next year.  I don't know if she will go out for track as she is also interested in tennis and basketball.  This is the first time she has really been interested in any sports.  She has no interest in soccer or baseball but LGA seems to have the baseball interest which makes me (a baseball fan) happy.  I am also happy for BGA's tennis interest and Dave's happy for her basketball interest (and volleyball if she goes for that). 

We are getting ready to finish off the school year and then BGA heads to middle school (where did the time go???).  I know it will be harder for her to focus and get organized so we may need to adjust some meds and look at tutors for her.  She starts out slow at the school year and then when we get involved with the teachers and get her back on track she pulls her grades way up.  But middle school is a whole other cup of tea.  I am not sure how that will go.  

LGA is doing well.  Not sure if she will attend summer school or not.  Last year the summer school teacher (who LGA had at her first school as a pull out resource teacher, which is what she is doing at this school as well) let the kids play and have a lot of fun.  With special needs kids it is sometimes about having fun, but the purpose of them going is to keep up with what they have learned so they don't regress (as LGA did).  LGA had to go back and re-learn stuff that she knew at the end of the school year.  SO LGA's teacher said she was not sure if she'd recommend summer school this year so I have no idea if LGA will go or not.  It was sort of a mixed bag.  BGA loved the time alone with me and LGA was jealous of it.  If no summer school I need to sign them up for some summer activities this year.  We skipped last year and the year before my mom passed away and we were in S CA half the summer.  This year we need to get signed up for some stuff.  

Mother's Day is always a mixed holiday for me as well.  The first few years the girls were home it was a hard holiday for all of us.  No one really made an effort (Dave would do it from the kids TO me, not anything from him to me, as he claimed that I was the mom and the girls were my kids so they should give me something) and I usually have to say what I'd like to have (ie hints) and then sometimes I get it sometimes I don't.  But this year the kids are excited about it.  However, it's just the girls and I as Dave has to work all weekend (apparently some loads got missed for that 'barter' store that his company distributes for, so both office managers have to work.  He could have gotten stuck with nights but I am glad he didn't).  So the girls and I need to decide what we are going to do.  I have different feelings of MD as my mom passed away during the weekend of MD 2 yrs ago.  It's sort of a hard time for me and I found myself getting a bit depressed this week.  The weather didn't help as it was cooler and cloudy and dreary and I just was in a funk. I have sort of pulled myself out of it, but it was hard to do.  I really wanted to stay in bed and watch tv or sleep.  But with Dave working longer hours and having two energetic kids I could not do that.  I decided that we will do something, I just need to figure out what that will be. BGA was sick with a mild cold during the week and now either LGA has allergies (a possibility as it's been windy all week) or she's getting a cold.  I am really hoping it does not travel any further in the house.  So not sure what our plans are for MD but I am trying to remember my mother and also enjoy the girls' excitement over celebrating it with me as well.  There were so many years that they didn't want to celebrate it and acted out, that I need to enjoy that they do want to celebrate this year.   I think we will have fun as we usually do.  I think some haircuts for the girls are in order as well as maybe a movie and lunch.  I would do mani/pedis but they pick the polish off and I'm just not willing to spend the money to do that when they are just going to peel off the polish.  So we'll figure something else out and maybe a family dinner as well.  

I hope those of you celebrating with your families have a great weekend. For those who are not a mother yet I hope your time comes soon.  And for those of you missing your mother this holiday I wish for you peace and fond memories of times past to help you through the day.  I know I have some fond memories of times past with my own mother.  

Pretty proud of my girl and her track meet.  It was fun to attend an event like that as a parent.  I have never really done that before and it was a nice experience.  I wonder what other activities she will want to do in the future?  All I know is I will be rooting her on from the sidelines.  :-)