Sunday, August 31, 2008

Soggy and Quiet Sunday

We have been feeling the far reaching wind and rain bands of hurricane Gustav for the last two days and it was especially windy and rainy today. We feel very fortunate though that this particular storm will not hit South Florida but we are always fully aware of the fact that if we do not get hit then some other area will. We are keeping the people of the gulf coast in our thoughts and prayers.

Marc was sweet enough to shop with the DD for our Labor Day BBQ tomorrow while I went to the mall. He is an amazing husband and he knew that I needed a little R&R along with a little retail therapy. I got home just in time for him to leave for work so I am back on the job again. As I mentioned recently, Ethan has been VERY out of sorts lately so being on the job has gotten a bit wearing. The last few days has been chock full of temper tantrums and crying. My theory on this personality meltdown is two fold; first he is fighting a cold and secondly, he is really beginning to speak a great deal more and I am a firm believer that when a child enters a new developmental stage their brain becomes a bit disorganized so to speak and all of their emotions become magnified. I remember this with Justin. My theory is not as solid with Katie as she can maintain composure through most situations. She does have outbursts too as she is a normal three year old but she is definitely the easiest and most pleasant personality of the three. Sorry Justin and Ethan but I have to tell it like it is.

Today has been a great deal easier. I was not here for some of it and that helped but seriously, he does seem a lot happier today so maybe we are over this hump.

On to another subject ~ Justin and Judy ~ Justin is back in law school for his second year and Judy is searching for her first teaching job since she graduated in May with her Masters in Education. This is a very stressful time for Judy as the job market for teachers here in South Florida is tighter than a drum. With all of the budget cutbacks brought about by the catastrophic downturn in the real estate market and subsequent recession, it is almost impossible for a new teacher to get a first job. Judy did manage to finally get an interview due to her tenacity at a very large elementary school, where a friend of hers is teaching. It was a tough panel interview but she got positive feedback from it and we are hoping with all of our might that she finds out next week that the job is hers. I am really hoping that this works out or that something else comes about soon so that they are under less pressure

Update on my mom ~ Mom is still in pain and she is having a hard time getting comfortable. I think being in the house is also getting to her. She is supposed to come to our house tomorrow for the BBQ but she is not sure if she will make it. I am urging her to come as I think seeing her grandchildren will lift her spirits. I know my mom very well and I know that I am right about this.

I took some more photos today with my new camera. I really like this camera and am enjoying learning how to use it to it's fullest potential. Enjoy the photos and I will be back tomorrow as I am a woman of my word :-)

Camera not in focus but I had to get this shot quickly ;-)

A little snack after nap

Love this picture of our beautiful boy (I know Nana and Grandma will want it too)

Ethan had woken up earlier from nap and already eaten his snack but here is Katie sharing with her brother after he asked her for some of her snack

All done!

Let's ride our bikes now that the rain finally stopped!

and play a little ball....

As Katie says...I threw it up high in the Sky!!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Went Shopping Today

I took Tammie's advise and went over to Circuit City to check out their camera sale. I did my homework beforehand and found the camera that I wanted in my price range. I really am coveting one of those uber slick SLR cameras but for now my pocketbook instructed me to wait a bit. I had (lost) a VERY small Canon Power Shot SD400. It did the job for a few years but as it got older it really was not cooperating with me the way it should have. It's final insult was to walk away from me all together...ROFL

There were a few things that I wanted from my new camera and those items were a good zoom lens and higher mega pixels. This one zooms to 16.9x and has 9.1 mega pixels and it is a good point and shoot with intelligent auto focus - one of us has to be intelligent and it might as well be the camera. It has a great big LCD screen and still is housed in a compact frame. Even when I finally get my SLR I will still love to have this one as my "throw in the bag" and go camera. The camera that I purchased is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5.

I have just started playing around with it and have not "fixed" any photos in the auto mode but here are a few of the DD today. I also am putting on the blog an impromptu video clip of Katie singing her Blessing over the Bread that she learned in her temple preschool. This is what she is saying for those that are not Jewish ~

Ha-motzi l'chem min ha-eretz. We give thanks to God for bread, Our voices rise in song together, as our prayers are humbly said. Baruch atah Adonai Elohenu Melech ha-olam, ha-motzi l'chem min ha-eretz...amen.

Our Little Chihuahua, Gabby taking a nap

Look at that head of hair

Just up from her nap and still a little drowsy

Coloring together very peacefully (Katie has her Steak and Shake hat on)

Uh oh, things might get sketchy here now that our Starr is putting in her 2 cents

See what I mean!

Check out the lower lip from yesterday's fall :(

Bubble bath

Love that look

Now we are in our PJ's watching our Ni Hao Kai Lan Video

I am not sure that Katie looks really comfortable while she is watching but she is happy so who I am to say? Notice that the hat is still on...

I have a lot to learn about the camera but I really enjoy that, so Mom there will be more photos tomorrow. I hope that you had a more comfortable night than last night.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Highlights and "Low Lights" of the Day

Highlight - The DD woke up easily and were mostly cooperative with our morning routine. Marc took the kiddos to school, brought me home a bagel with a Diet Coke :) and we had a nice calm few minutes before he left for work. That is always a highlight!

Low light - Being called by Ethan's teacher to be notified that he had fallen flat on his face and busted his lip open at school. She informed me that he never threw his hands out to save himself. That is due to his poor startle reflex. You can read more about why he has that problem here. The teacher said that he had less chance to catch himself though as he was holding his lunchbox when he tripped and fell. His poor lip looks awful. She did comment though about what a tough little guy he is; that he had hardly cried. I filled her in that being that tough at three is not a good thing. It just means that he has had way too much experience with pain.

Highlight - Going over to see my mom today and getting her out of the house a bit (we went to lunch). Mom is already going stir crazy. She does not do "house bound" well. She needs to though, as she is in a lot of pain and has to stay on the pain meds for now. We had a lovely time and I had to keep my sense of humor in check because every time she would laugh she would groan in pain.

Highlight - Picking up the DD after school. First I get Katie and then we shoot across town to get Ethan. Both of them always run into my arms and make my day with their happy greetings! They are also happy to see each other. I informed Katie on our way over to get Ethan about his fat lip so that she would not get upset when she saw it. She took one look at him and said "you are gonna be OK little buddy" and hugged him.

Low light - "Little buddy" has a bug working on him; probably caught it from sis. He is uber whiny. He has always been a big crier here at home to try to get his way but we are on a "fishman" like crying jag. Patience is the word of the day here ;-) He is also causing lots of fights with sis over toys as well.

Low light - I am pretty sure that I lost my camera. I have turned the house inside out looking for it. Thankfully, all of my photos were already downloaded into my computer. The last time that I remember seeing it was at our FCC luncheon at a local Chinese Restaurant and they say no one has turned it in. As everyone knows, I am in the Real Estate Business so buying a new camera was not on my short list....eating is....ROFL!

Highlight - The long weekend is here and we have lots of activities planned including a labor day BBQ here at the house; should be lots of fun. I will also be on the lookout for a good labor day sale on cameras so if you hear of any great deals let me know!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Biggest Fan has Taken a Fall

I am a very lucky lady indeed. Besides having a wonderful hubby, children and friends, I am also lucky enough to have parents and a sister that always have my back and are my biggest fans no matter what I choose to do. They are also all avid readers of my blog and let me tell you that if I am not blogging enough in their eyes I hear about it, most especially by my most vocal fan; my mother!

My mom is the person in my life that views me with rose colored glasses. I tend to think that most people have such a person in their life that does that for them; I cannot be the only lucky one!! The woman thinks I am flawless; that alone makes me smile from ear to ear when I think about it.

Well, now I am going to have to be blogging a great deal for my number one fan as she will be stuck at home quite a bit over the next few weeks. Unfortunately, she took a bad fall last night and broke three of her ribs :-( Marc and I had just come home from Ethan's school open house and we received a call from my dad that he had just taken her to the emergency room since she had fallen and was in a GREAT deal of pain. I knew that the fall must have been a bad one as my mom is tough as nails in the pain department. She never complains when she is ill or is hurt. Unfortunately, there have even been times that she has had an accident and hurt herself and did not tell us until waaay after the fact. She never never likes to complain but this time was different. My sister even knew it was different as she wanted to jump on a plane to be with mom when she heard that dad had taken her to the ER. Mom was not only in horrible pain but was having a hard time breathing. I ran right up to the hospital after getting my dad's phone call and by then she had talked the doctor and my dad into not staying in the hospital for observation where they would have liked her to stay....what a piece of work..... STUBBORN is really too easy a term for my mom!

Mom is home now in a great deal of pain and pretty much housebound so.........

Mamasona, (that is my pet name for her) there is only one thing to do for this girl's number one fan and that is to grant your fondest wish ~ so I will hereby swear to blog every day with the cute and funny things that go on in the Dynamic Duo's life until you are out running around town again like you always do.

I will keep you entertained; I promise :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Proof that music really does soothe the savage beast..oops, I mean three year old

They say that "Music soothes the savage beast" and today I walked in on a scene that showed me that it can soothe about 10 savage three year olds.

I arrived at Katie Starr's preschool early with Ethan in tow (there is a day off at Ethan's public school today due to voting day here in Florida) to pick her up early as she had her follow up doctor's appointment today for her bronchitis. After going to the office to sign her out, I first peek in the door to catch the teacher's eye before walking in as I do not want to disturb the class. The two teachers and ten students are all sitting around a large table eating their lunch. The head teacher waves at me to come in . As I entered. I noticed how peaceful and serene it was in the room. I then realized that the teacher was playing classical music. I commented on how nice it was and she told me that she always plays classical music so that they are exposed to the it and that as an added benefit it sets the scene for a calm meal experience. What an amazing idea!! Since I was ahead of schedule by a few minutes she invited me to stay while Katie finished up. I was so impressed with the way the children were all sitting so nicely and eating. These were some of the socialization skills that they are working on this year. Sitting down, staying in your seat, facing forward to the table, saying please and thank you, using your manners, etc. They are not allowed to share amongst themselves due to a couple of reasons, chief among them food allergies.

Katie was so excited to see Ethan and I and she left her seat to come over to us but the teacher reminded her about staying in her seat and she listened well. Katie asked the teacher if she could share her lunch with her brother (who had already eaten) and she said yes, since it was her brother. It was so sweet.

I know what it is to keep my two little's on the straight and narrow during meal time so I must say, I was truly impressed. Beethoven anyone?

Note: Katie got the "all clear" from her doctor at the appointment. When the doctor asked Katie to place the ear thermometer in her ear by claiming that she should say hi into the telephone, Katie adamantly informed her "That is not a telephone; that is a thermometer!" Everyone in ear shot dissolved into fits of laughter. On the way way out, when offered a sticker, Katie asked the nurse if she could please pick one for her brother and then did not ask for one for herself. The nurse reminded her of course. Katie has a beautiful heart :)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Birthday Fun

Marc is officially my age again and boy am I happy about that. He is four months younger than I and for those four months he never stops rubbing it in. He turned 40 something :) on Friday.

After the DD woke from their nap, Justin and Judy came by to bring Marc his gift (two very handsome shirts) and helped us to partake in cake and celebration.

Marc holds up one of the shirts that J & J gave to him

C'mon Daddy; you can blow them out, it's easy!! (Marc loves Strawberry Shortcake)

Eating our cake and enjoying each other's company (Ethan is behind the Chef's hat)


Then I took out the birthday boy and our friends, Shannon and Alan out to a fun meal at the melting pot....yummy! A huge thanks to my mom who came over to watch the DD.

Our wonderful friends (Shannon and Uncle Al)

Me and my Birthday Boy

Forever friends

What's this?? Could it be what it looks like?? No, it was just cuff links for Marc...phew!! Shannon and I were a little worried. What will these two do next?

Update on Katie Starr

Katie is doing much better. She is still on the nebulizer machine and will be through Tuesday but she is feeling good. This was such a fast moving bronchial infection; quite scary how fast it hit her. She was not at all happy about taking her breathing treatments to say the least. I finally resorted to a little bribery (M & Ms) hey, you gotta do what you gotta do to get the job done!! That seemed to help her look at it a bit differently and after that she was just fine about taking them.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Update on Ethan

A huge thank you to all who responded to me in the comments section as well as through e-mail. I have received so many responses and your care and concern for our little guy and for us really touches me deeply.

OK, here are the steps that we have taken and the information that we have ascertained thus far:

When asked about the four hour dirty face, the teacher told Marc that they have the children clean their own faces as part of the program and that she feels it counterproductive to clean after them. She feels it diminishes what they have done in their own eyes. Marc told her that he disagreed. For her to expect a child at this developmental age to keep their own face clean was probably not a reasonable expectation and that there are ways to help a child to become independent while still assisting them when needed. He told her that we expect that assistance for Ethan.

We have found that the reason that Ethan has come home each day this week without eating his snack is that he is sleeping so soundly during his nap that they allow him to sleep into his snack time. He is a "Champion Sleeper" and since nap and snack are the last two activities of the day we agreed to have him continue to sleep and give him his snack when he arrives home.

We asked for a conference, to which the teacher replied that she would like to wait until a couple of weeks after open house next week so that she can further assess his needs appropriately and therefore we can discuss the plan of action she has for him. We are definitely OK with that.

All of these negative feelings would most likely have been avoided if she had set up the meet and greet we requested before school started. I have little doubt that she is very good at what she does (I have had parents that have had their children in the program tell me that she is excellent) but it was important to Marc and I that Ethan have a certain level of familiarity when he began school on Wednesday. There was no reason for him to feel as afraid as he obviously felt. We have also spoken to two dear people in our lives who are teachers; one of whom teaches the exact same program in another school here in South Florida. Both felt is was inexcusable that this teacher did not hold a meet and greet orientation for the children that were new to the class.

We do plan to address that with her at our conference; if for nothing else that this does not happen to another family.

Now on to the positive news ~ Ethan is enjoying himself immensely. He is now happy to go in each day and greets his teachers with great gusto. We receive a report each day outlining what he does and the teacher asks us for feedback each evening regarding his activities so that she is alerted to anything that may effect him the following school day. We really like that type of communication. Best of all; he has been there all of three days and he is engaging us more than he ever has and making himself understood in many more situations. That has us very excited to say the least.

I know in my heart that everything is fine. I am so happy to be able to have this forum to express myself. It is important to bounce our feelings off of objective friends who will tell us the truth. You affirmed what I already knew; that it was not just OK to advocate for Ethan but in fact it is our mandate as his parents.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Not quite the way we planned it; but is it ever the way you plan it? This is gonna be a long post friends...

Today was the first day of school. Katie Starr was going back to her half day preschool program that she attended for half of last year. It is an awesome program. They love Katie and we love the director and the teachers.

Ethan is beginning a program that he has transitioned into from the early intervention program into the school board of our county since he is now 3 years old. I had heard great things about this program but as of day one I am less than impressed. My negative feelings began with the fact that even though the entire elementary school where the preschool program is housed has a meet and greet day before school starts, they did not have one for the Preschool program. This program is for children like Ethan, who are speech and developmentally delayed. Does that make any sense??? It doesn't make any to me at all!! I was told by the county that the teacher would meet with me to discuss Ethan and his challenges before the year was to begin. We did not even so much as get a phone call until we called the school ourselves. The teacher told us where to go once we got there, etc. It was us that tried to turn the conversation to Ethan. Even then she basically said that she would meet with us at the open house two weeks after school started. Now call me crazy, but should I feel comfortable with the fact that my 3 year old who is more like a 2 year old (that is why he is in the program for goodness sake) has not laid eyes on his teachers before and I am supposed to leave him there? I have been upset about this for days but at all of my friends and families urging, I decided to see how it all played out and not project too much. OK, I can do that...breathe in...breathe out.....oooohhhhmmmmmm....

The big day arrives and we get the DD up and out of their beds. Here you can see how pleased they look about getting up early after their leisurely summer (snicker)

We get them ready to go and I take Ethan to school.

I find a place to park (that's another story for another day) and I walk into the cafeteria where I have been told to drop him off and I find a table full of preschool children and teachers. I have been told to drop him off for breakfast since eating breakfast and lunch as well as snack is part of the developmental facet of the program. Since Ethan has eating issues, you can imagine how comfortable that makes me feel. I ask how he gets his breakfast and one of the aides tells me that I should sign up for a credit account so that the children are not carrying money. Since no one told me that BEFORE school starts I hand over the cash to the aid and tell her I will set that up as soon as someone tells me where to do that. At this point Ethan has that "deer in the headlights" look that I have seen many times before and always when he is feeling vulnerable. I try to speak to the teacher about Ethan and she listens with half an ear. I realize that this is probably not the right moment as there is always controlled chaos on the first day of school. I tell her that Ethan's snack is in his lunchbox and it is labeled. I ask if I can sit with them while they eat and she urges me to leave as it will be easier on him and they make the eating a very social event and it would not be a good idea for me to stay. I turn to Ethan who is staring off into the distance and I give him a hug and tell him "mommy is going to go now but I will be back very soon; I love you baby" and he does not even look at me. I kiss him and walk towards the door with tears blinding my eyes. As I look back to wave at him he is completely gone; vacant. He has taken his mind to that safe place that he goes to when he is overwhelmed. He learned that coping mechanism well while he was in the orphanage. He just blocks out the world and he retreats into a place that he feels insulated from fear and vulnerability. As I pull out of the parking lot I realize that he is unsure as to whether I am coming back!! This upsets me to no end. I know that this is something that he needs to do and that logically even though I am not comfortable yet it will all be fine. Not a great feeling; let me tell you.

I drive home and prepare to take Katie to school as Marc is leaving for work.

Katie went to bed with a slight cough the evening before and she still has it. It does not seem like anything to worry about and there is no fever. I take her in and tell the teacher to keep an eye on it. If she spikes a fever I will come back and get her as I am working from home today. Katie is not pleased to be in a new room with new teachers. Miss Starr is VERY capable of telling me she is not happy, which she then does. She did not cry but she was not a happy camper. This is such a very different reaction that Ethan's. His is one that is carried over from his abandonment, illness, pain and neglect. Hers is the typical three year old reaction of I would rather be with mommy than at school on the first day. I give her a hug and she refuses to kiss me. I tell her "I love you sweet girl; I will see you soon" as I walk to the door. She runs after me telling me that she wants a kiss as she giggles. We kiss and I leave feeling very satisfied that all is OK with my girl.

I try to work all morning but my mind keeps drifting back to our children; especially Ethan.

At 1:15 I head over to Katie's school to get in the car line. I pick Katie up and she is happy as a clam. Unfortunately, her cough has worsened. We drive over to Ethan's school before the 2:00 dismissal and head into the cafeteria to pick him up. We wait in the designated spot and we both search the sea of children and teachers for Ethan and his teacher. Finally, we see them. He runs to me with a happy and relieved look on his face. I laugh because his face is full of chocolate. I ask the teacher if he had just eaten the chocolate pudding that I packed for lunch and she says "No, he ate that at 10:15 which is when they eat lunch" She goes on to tell me that he ate very well. All I could focus on was that he face was covered in chocolate and had been for almost 4 hours. It seems weird to me that they would not have cleaned him up or had him clean himself since part of the program has to do with health and sanitary habits. I take him home and see that his snack was never touched and he was ravenous; he was crying for food. I know I sound petty and ridiculous but this is my baby. He is such a little guy and he cannot fend for himself. These people are supposed to be top notch in their field and I am just not feelin it!! I even started to think that maybe they never even bought him breakfast at all and that was why he scarfed down lunch at 10 am. Needless to say there will be further discussion on all of this tomorrow.

Sea of children and adults
Katie wanted me to take her pic while we waited for Ethan
Here he comes with his teacher
Chocolate face
Katie not feeling well after school

I settled them down for a nap and kept hearing Katie coughing over and over. Marc came home and I decided to call her pediatrician as my trained mama ear knew that this cough was a bad one. They told me to bring her in right away so off Marc went with her while I took Ethan to his swimming lesson.

She has bronchitis and is on nebulizer treatments. That all escalated from no symptoms to full out bronchitis in 12 hours....lovely. We meet at home, Marc runs to the store to fill the prescriptions and get us dinner. After dinner was breathing treatments and bed. Both of us will try to get to bed early as we were up until 2:30 am last night because Marc performed at a wedding and I was pretty much up until her got home....we are pooped! Hopefully, Katie will have a restful evening.

Thanks for listening to my vent. Believe me when I say that I am not "that mother" you know the one that is never happy about her child's teacher. I just aways need to be that little guy's advocate. Who else cares the way we do? We need to make sure that he gets the help that he needs to make it in school and in life. Things need to improve quickly.