Saturday, December 29, 2012

Long time no see.... again :(

I need to begin with an apology.  If anyone, besides some members of my family are reading this blog, it's been a long time coming.  A couple of reasons why, some ups and downs in the classroom, which have made me stressed and sometimes unhappy.  I have never been good at change, even when it is a good change.  I just don't have a good history with change.  Another reason is my now 2 month bout with trigeminal neuralgia.  I have had it travel from one side of my face to the other and it has made my mouth and teeth so sore that it was hard to enjoy all the wonderful Christmas treats my daughter helped me make this year.  I have just been too depressed to write I think.

On the other hand, though, we did have a great Christmas.  Both my daughters, their husbands and my two beautiful grandsons were here on Christmas Eve to celebrate Christmas with us.  My wonderful husband made eggplant lasagna for the vegetarians in the house and a glazed spiral cut ham for us meat eaters :).  He also made potatoes and parsnips and corn.  He tried to make a loaf of home made bread in the bread machine, but it didn't rise, so I tried to whip up some biscuits that never rose or browned because they were baked in the oven, under the lasagna :).  We all laughed about it, though, and my son-in-law even used them as a conveyance to eat the delicious preserves given to me by my wonderful Paraprofessional :) .  Isn't that part of the fun of Christmas?

So, I guess I am in a better mood now, the pain has abated, thanks to a timely call back from my neurologist's P.A.(gotta love that) who put me on some good medication and a lovely Christmas with my family which includes some snow and a nice long break with my wonderful husband.  Poor guy is suffering with a cold along with my daughter and her two sons.  I blame it on going to the pre-school Christmas program, which we of course would not miss for the world.  I am hoping I have been around enough school children to miss it altogether :)

Some pictures: :)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving Joy :)

Well, we missed our Thanksgiving dinner at our house, but it happened to be for a very good reason!  We sat at the hospital all day waiting the arrival of our new grandson.  Early in the evening he arrived, Maxwell Edward Utley weighing in at a grand total of 9lbs. 12 oz. and measuring at 22 inches!  As one of my friends said "he is as big as our turkey!"

Late that night we took a tired little Jack home with us after having a late dinner at Ruby Tuesday's (thank you Ruby Tuesday for being open and for that nice young waitress, who waited on our table until at least 9:00 and was unfailingly sweet to us) By the way this was at the Ruby Tuesday's nearest the Inova Birthing Inn :).

The next day we took Jack to Monkey Joe's, in Winchester VA, where he received a free Icee from the Manager for "being a new big brother" and we stopped at Martins to make a bouquet of flowers from Jack to his Momma.  We had to get pink and purple as Jack requested, instead of the standard blue for a boy, because Jack knows his Mommy's favorite colors :)

Of course all weekend I bragged on my new grandson and my wonderful daughter and of course I heard the standard "well as long as he is healthy, that's all that matters" at least 2 or 3 times.  After the third time, I really thought about it.  What if he wasn't healthy?  What if he had Down Syndrome or a congenital malformation or a heart problem?  Would I be just as happy?  Would I still be bragging and/or would I share that with strangers?  I know I wouldn't love him any less, if he was ill, of course I would be worried and if he had a chromosomal difference such as Down Syndrome I would be a little sad only because I know it's a harder row to hoe for his family. With greater difference comes more adjustment.

I am pretty sure I would share this information with strangers if only because as I have gotten older, I have become more outspoken.  And because I know, like many others don't, the joy of being with children who seem different to others. 

Of course this is not the story with Max, so I didn't have to think about it at the time I was sharing my news.  Maybe next time though, I will say something like, "The most important thing isn't that he is healthy, it's that he is here and we have one more person to love in this family."



Sunday, November 4, 2012

Just want to share :)

Please watch this Ted presentation by the photographer Rick Guidotti.  He has done some amazing work with kids with differences and his enthusiasm and love of what he is creating is palpable.  It's about 18 minutes, but you'll be happy you took the time :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Tirade, well kind of

As most of you know, I am a special education teacher.  When I was younger and in a 2 year college, I was studying to be an elementary school teacher.  Why?  Because everyone told me I was good with children, so it was easy.  Then I took a couple of psychology classes including on one on abnormal psychology.  I found it very interesting and still it was easy.  So then I went on to a 4 year college and majored in elementary school and special education.  It was interesting and easy.  Then I took a class on finding employment for adults with moderate to severe disabilities.  At the same time, I was working for United Cerebral Palsy as a teacher for adults who had been institutionalized all of their lives and were getting ready to be sent into the community.  I enjoyed this, enjoyed my students and knew I could do this.

Many years later now, I have been teaching students with moderate to severe disabilities, mostly multiple disabilities for something like 18 years now.  I like it but here comes the reason for the "tirade".  I can't tell you how many times I have been told, "You must have so much patience" or "I could never do what you do".  No, I don't have patience and if you mean the times I get peed on, pooped on or thrown up on, no one really wants that to happen, it just does.  These comments are often made by other teachers or substitute teachers.  Just tell the truth, you don't want to teach these students and you aren't going to if you have anything to say about it.

So don't.

I have news for you though.  You may be cutting off your nose to spite your face.  You will be missing out on the hard work, but that hard work makes very real changes in the lives of your students.  You will be missing out on the mess, but that mess can be what it takes to teach your student real life skills that may be the difference between a life of choice and one of submission.
You definitely miss out on the chance to work with families who know how to appreciate you for what you do.  And you learn, learn, learn every day in more ways than you can possibly want to :).

I am the lucky one.  Yay for me!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hard Times/Good Times

Well, we're getting into the second half of the first quarter of school.  I love my work, but it is hard work.  I have some new students with new challenges.  Something nice though, is that the students I have had for a while now (for some it's their third year with me) are really showing growth and maturity.  Children who didn't know how to play with a toy are playing with toys, children who didn't know how to stay in a seat, are staying seated.  Some can eat their food with a fork and spoon independently.  Some can wash their hands, some are beginning to talk.  The steps were small at first but over the longer time period, they have become mighty!

On the home front, my daughter, Krista is now in her 34th week of pregnancy.  She looks beautiful and the doctor says she is giving them an easy job.  We just had a baby shower for her with just her friends, her sister and myself.  She says she was surprised, I hope so :).  We can't wait until Max is born!

My husband just got back from Canada where he had a very enjoyable but cold visit with his brother, sister-in-law and our niece.  He says he has lots of pictures (I haven't seen them yet) and brought back quite a few gifts like the pooping bear keychain he gave me :).

My grandson Jack is still wonderful and he did visit with us last weekend.  We are always so amazed at how smart and handsome he is!  (You would think he was related to me or something).

I will leave you with one of my favorite songs from my very favorite singer, just because it makes me happy.  I hope it makes you happy as well.




Saturday, September 29, 2012

Do I Like Fall?

Hi, I am doing this post as part of a Writer's Workshop.  The subject I chose was "10 Things You Like About Fall". 

Well, first of all, Fall is not my favorite season.  Summer is, followed closely by Spring.  I hate the cold and love the heat.  However, there are a couple of things I do like about Fall.

#1. This guy has his birthday in the Fall.  No, he doesn't look like this anymore, but I can remember   when he did.  He is going to turn a big old 4 this November.
#2.  He is going to have a little brother, also in November.  Two very good reasons to like the Fall :)
#3.  I do like Fall decorations.  The colors are warm and pretty.
#4.  Fall foliage in Northern VA is amazing!  Every day I see it on my way to work.
#5.  School starts.  I don't always like getting up at 5 am, but I do enjoy my job.
#6.  Christmas is coming, with 2 grandchildren, this should get even better :).
#7.  I am keeping my fingers crossed for some snow days this year.  We had none last year :(.

Ok, that's is where I kinda run out of steam.   Like I said before, I really don't like the cold and right now all of the stink bugs in the world are trying to get into warm places, like inside our cars and houses!!! Double and Triple Yuck!!!!!

Here's to a pretty fall, a snowy winter and an early advent of Spring!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Life, school and a visit from Jack.

     Well, here I am 4 weeks into school and Friday was the first day we had a full load of 8 students.  8 students, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist and two assistive technology trainers.  Which makes for a very crowded classroom, sigh :(.
     It's been a very busy month, getting used to a new computer program for IEP's, which is not quite ready for us to use, getting used to new students and their parents, getting used to a new principal.  Change can be difficult and is always exhausting in my opinion.  It doesn't mean I won't be happy about the changes, just that I take a while to get used to new things.
     Last weekend I brought Jackson home with me.  He was not very happy about leaving Mommy and driving to Nana's house with Nana.  It's amazing how much it hurts your heart to hear your grandchild cry :(.  He eventually brightened up enough to find Iron Man in Target to buy and to tell me he didn't want to eat out, he wanted macaroni and cheese at Nana's house.  So that's what we did and he was delighted to find out that Pop Pop had been busy shopping and that there was now a new box of dinosaurs to play with and a put-together batcave with a miniature batman.  He already is the owner of a large castle like structure which contains a firehouse and police station.
     We spent a wonderful morning at the Air National Guard Air Show.  Jackson loved looking at the various aircraft and was thrilled to be sitting in a helicopter!  The best part however was the hangar set up as a children's play area with many bounce houses and slides which he loves, especially if there are other children to play with :).  We then went to the zoo on Sunday, but Jack wasn't really into it, he said he wanted to see the lions, but once seen, he gladly walked on.
     He is getting to be such a big boy and almost cuter than one child can possibly be :).


Sunday, September 2, 2012

A New Year

Well school and started and the kids are back :)  I started out with 5 students who were coming back from previous year/years and then found I had two more and then one more.  8 students are all I can have, 8 students and 2 full time para professionals.  This is because the needs of my students are usually greater than those of students in a more typical early childhood special education class.  And believe me sometimes 3 adults are definitely not enough!  Just to get the kids into and back out of the classroom takes more than 3 pair of hands.  I have to go outside the classroom to get enough help.  Thanks goodness our speech pathologist has some free time to help us.

It's been a difficult start of the year.  Although I stayed in the same school, I was moved to a new classroom and have a new room mate.  I ha vethe only classroom for students with multiple disabilities which shares a classroom with another ECSE class.  We have a lot of equipment besides the wheelchairs we need for out children.  All the kinks are being worked out, though.

It is easy to forget how much new students change the atmosphere of your classroom.  It takes one or two years for many of my students to learn the routines and expectations.  Now these have to be taught all over again to the new students and of course they come with specific learning needs of their own.

And of course it didn't help that I was sick all week :(.  I went to an amazing outdoor concert given by Jason Mraz with my 26 year old daughter, Holly and evidently the high levels of pollen had their way with me.  I have been coughing and wheezing ever since.  I was coughing so hard that I had to go to the doctor to check on my sternum that I broke last year.  I presently have an order for an xray to use if it continues to hurt or gets worse.  I also have instructions from my doctor to not lift anything heavy!  Ha, like that's going to happen :)

All in all, it's been a tiring week and I am truly glad to have a 3 day weekend. I know it's going to be an amazing year.  My experienced students have grown and my new students seem to be a lot of fun.  I am very lucky to be able to love the work I do.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Whoops They Did it Again! A film review

My husband and I went to see the movie "The Expendables 2" last night.  I had had a hard day at work and then therapy for my knee. so we planned to meet at a local theater where you can watch the movie and eat your dinner at the same time.  It's nice, you choose your meal from a menu, they even include alcoholic beverage, which my husband enjoys because, being English, he misses his Woodchuck Cider, which he can't find in a lot of places.  A "waiter" comes and gets your order and then delivers it while ducking down through the rows so that he/she doesn't impede anyone's view of the movie.  The food is definitely not high class, think cheese fries, wraps and some desserts, but it's fun.  Another great perk of this theater is there is always a small clip at the end of the previews (not really previews, they use old clips of the stars of the movie or clips from pictures similar to the one you will be watching) that stresses that you are to turn off your cell phones, no ringing, no texting and NO talking during the movie.  It's usually presented in a humorous manner, but they really mean it.  If you are sitting next to someone who is disruptive, all you need to do is write down your complaint on a piece of paper and stick it in the slot so it stands upright, exactly they way you order your food and a server comes and collects it and takes it to the management.  The management will then warn the offender once and if they cause any more trouble they will be removed from the theater without their money back.  I assume this is something they felt the need to institute because they do sell alcohol, but whatever the reason, it makes for an enjoyable viewing experience.

Anyway, there we were, my husband and myself, happy to see each other after a busy day and watching the movie.  Now, this is not the type of movie I usually want to see, but it got a high rating on Rotten Tomatoes and I didn't mind it.  The experience and the prospect of a date with my husband was what I had been looking forward to.  However..... about three quarters through the movie, the heros ( Stallone, Stratham and some other actors I don't know as well so I can't give you their names off the top of my head) were in a village, facing some suspicious village women who were protecting their young boys from the evil villain.  When asked who they were, our heroes answered, "American", "English", "Asian" and then..... wait for it...... the next guy answers "tard".

Why!!!! Why does someone feel the need to do that, couldn't you have said "ugly" or "sexy" or something else which would have caused viewers to laugh without using that ugly word which hurts, devalues and dehumanizes people with intellectual disabilities?  And what made it even worse, in my mind is that Sylvester Stallone is one of the writers of the movie and he has a son diagnosed with autism.  I don't think that automatically makes him a caring wonderful human being, but I would think it would make him more sensitive to using a word like that in a movie that he not only co wrote, but starred in.  Can he not fathom how that hurts people when he does this?  For me, the use of that word made the film not only sub par but insufferable.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Back to School.....


We (teachers) start back to school tomorrow.  No kids, just teachers scurrying around like mad things trying to get everything back in line before our reasons for being come back.

My room is a mess!  We used to have 4 early childhood special education classes in our building, 2 classes shared a classroom each, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, with a little bit of overlap.  My class is the first ECSE classroom for students with multiple disabilities to share a classroom with a less restrictive class.  So anyway, they split up the classes that were sharing classrooms, moved two to another school and shoved all of my equipment, materials and such into the other ECSE classroom. 

Most of my students stayed with me for another year, but I am getting two new students.  One family has already been in (last year) to observe me and my classroom and the other has not.  I cannot even imagine the amount of courage it takes for these parents to send their very young, non verbal and probably physically fragile child to a brand new person in a brand new place.

I feel the weight of these parents worries.  I am afraid I will make an inadvertent mistake and frighten these parents into thinking I am not paying enough attention to their child.  I don't want that to happen.  I want them to feel as though their children are with people who will care for them exactly as if they were our own children.  In some respect, I actually pay more attention to my students than I did to my own children.  After all, this is my job.  I also hope that they will know that I will feel a real affection for their child and will want their child to be the very best he or she can be.  That's a lot to expect of a parent, though.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Did you know that there is a virus called Cytomegalovirus that causes few if any symptoms in healthy adults, but can cause lasting and and serious consequences in a child being carried by a woman who catches this virus for the first time?

Many people don't know anything about cytomegalovirus and most people have already been exposed to it by the time they are adults.  They probably didn't know they had it, how often do we get mild viruses and never really know where they came from.  But if you are a pregnant woman, who hasn't spent much time around young children and has gotten CMV for the first time, you have exposed your child to a virus that can cause him/her to have cerebral palsy, hearing, visual and mental disabilities.

According to "Stop CMV-The CMV Action Network", " CMV is the most common congenital (meaning from birth) viral infection in the United States. 1 in 150 children is born with congenital CMV in the United States. More children will have disabilities due to congenital CMV than other well-known infections and syndromes, including Down Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Spina Bifida, and Pediatric HIV/AIDS."

Since CMV is present in bodily fluids, pregnant Mothers, daycare workers, teachers and nurses are at a higher risk for passing it on to their unborn child.  Universal precautions should be used to help decrease the risk of passing CMV from child to adult.

Currently there is no vaccine available to prevent congenital CMV.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

This film will leave an "Indelible" impression

I just watched the trailer for the film "Indelible-the film" , India's official film for the World Down Syndrome Congress.  I enjoyed seeing people with DS living in a different culture than what I am used to.  I have had a few students with Down Syndrome in the classes I have taught, not too many because I usually teach students with moderate to severe multiple disabilities.  Like most of my students, each one of these kids have been very different from each other.  Sometimes this has been a function of their disabilities, but just as often it's been a function of their family and/or their culture.  This has been the same for all of my students as many of them have shared diagnoses, which is something I am always attentive of, but that diagnosis is rarely as important as their personality or the family they grow up in.

If would be a boring old world, if we were defined by only our physical beings.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Headaches and Communication

Ouch!  I have a migraine this morning.  I have chronic migraines and take a plethora of medication to try and stop them from arriving.  Sometimes they are so depressing, no one likes to wake up in pain, I would say, when you have to go to work, but who wants to be in pain when you don't have to go to work either.

I always worry about my students who aren't able to tell me when they are in pain or maybe just feel plain weird.  Especially those with seizures or who have had changes in medications.  Since one of the medications I end up having prescribed to me are anti-seizure meds, I have some idea how they can stand you on your head, make you dizzy, tired or even make food taste lousy.  But how do you know when this is happening to a child who can't speak?  How often do I or anyone else think they are being stubborn or "non compliant"?

  Communication is a beautiful thing.

This picture communicates "cute".  And he makes my head feel better :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

P**p :)

The magazine The Complex Child, has an entire edition on poop this month.  Now personally I am not as interested in that subject as some of the Moms and Dads of my students are, it was never a problem I remember having with my own children, but I can definitely understand why this could be a huge worry for parents of children who have issues with their bowels in any way shape or form.

I do work on toileting in the classroom, we have an adaptive toilet that the children sit on each time they need to be changed or use the bathroom and we work on their dressing skills, as well as the other self help skills, such as hand washing.  We change the majority, if not all of my students, standing up and although I know this can be a difficult skill for some of my assistants to learn, I really feel as though it is more respectful to the children and also lends itself to learning new adaptive skills

Do we have messes???? Oh yeah :) we have messes sometimes, but really it's not that big of a deal and usually creates more laughter than tears.  This also happens when children throw up on you as well :)  I will never forget having a student barf all over me after I picked him up because I didn't think he felt well.  He didn't!  And he just kept barfing and barfing and my assistants just stood there with their mouths open in shock until I quietly asked them, "Could someone give me a towel?"  At least I think I was quiet. :)   His Mother  bought me vanilla scented lotion as a reminder of the vanilla Pediasure her son had just imbibed minuted before I picked him up. (She knows who she is :)

Here is the link for this month's The Complex Child.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Just try and see what happens.

I saw this video on my Facebook page.  It was posted by Circle 21-Down Syndrome.  It made me cry with happiness just watching it, so I thought I would share :)  It was the 2009 winner of Tropfest.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

11 days to go.....

I am starting to gear up for the start of school.  We are getting a whole new system in place to write u IEP's and so on the first day we will be doing training on that system.  It's supposed to be much easier.  I hope so, it would be nice to only worry about what is in the IEP and not how the paperwork works!

I hate that summer vacation is almost over, but part of me is glad to get back into the classroom.  I definitely need structure in my life and I love watching my students change and grow throughout the year.  To some people the changes may not seem all that large, but every step a student makes towards independence and self determination is a huge milestone in my book

I am starting to get together my list of supplies for the parents of my students.  I usually ask for paper towels (you know the kind that actually absorb:), tissues and diaper wipes, both for bums and faces.  This year, I am also going to ask for an 8 pack of large sized crayons, a 4 pack of play doh and a self inking stamp with the child's name on it.  The last item may seem a little strange, but I would like even students who cannot write their name  to be able to lay claim to their work.  I think pride is a good thing when you have accomplished something.  I also think that the more they see their name in print, the better.

I haven't decided what to do about snacks this year.  Typically I just buy snacks and when I was teaching elementary school, my students used the money for their community based instruction to shop for snacks when needed.  If you are a preschool teacher, what do you do?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Off the Path :)

relaxing on their first day at the beach
This has nothing to do with teaching, just wanted to share some pictures of our vacation at the beach.  We were joined by my daughters, their husbands and our grandson!

beach shoes    


Who Decides?

Recently I read a blog concerning the care of children born with either Trisomy 13 or 18, which are syndromes considered "incompatible with life".  The blogger was concerned that because the child, who was born with Trisomy 13, had a "Do not intubate" order, although the parents wished the child to be intubated if needed.  This was a child born without the common heart and brain issues that many infants with Trisomy 13 have.  The parents did not find out about the order until after the death of their child.

One of the things the Mother of this child mentioned was that before Trisomy 13 and 18 were identified, children born with these syndromes were much more likely to live than after these disorders were recognized.  In my mind this means that the medical establishment predetermines what sort of lives these children will have.

My first question is,who are these people who have the ability to predetermine the quality of life of another human being?  My second question is, if we feel that their quality of life will be so poor, what are we doing about it?

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against doctors for the most part.  But let's face it, most deal with a huge amount of information about diseases, illnesses, etc.  They are very knowledgeable people.  However, most know little about children with special needs and what they are capable of.  They also know very little about the quality of life of most of these children. I am not sure if I actually expect them to, however since they probably do not, I also do not want them to decide what my or any other child's quality of life may or may not be in the future.

I was at a TASH conference many, many years ago when I was pregnant with my second child.  I don't remember what session I was in, but there were many nurses in it who said they had witnessed a doctor simply let a child die immediately after birth because the doctor had decided the child would have no decent quality of life.  I made my husband, at the time, promise to be in the delivery room no matter what happened.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Getting A Whole Lot of Nothing Done!

Well,  I was going to try and write my blog daily, obviously that hasn't happened.  I have done some house cleaning and the other night actually was able to clean my upstairs carpet.  Good thing too, because along came that mysterious and evidently not rare enough storm that knocked out our power from Friday night until early Wednesday morning :(. 

Of course this had to happen during the week when temps were at record highs in the area and even though we have a pool, that my husband had just shocked the heck out of, you can only swim in it for so long when the pump's not working.  We eventually spent Tuesday night at a nearby hotel, which was heaven :).

Our poor doggy though was miserable because when the electricity did come on, all the bells and whistles of the security system and the smoke detectors were wailing away and there were no people at home to turn them off.  It's hard when you don't have opposing thumbs!

So I suffered a lot of internet withdrawal and now have a really good excuse for not writing my  blog. 

On Monday, I get to go to the doctor's with my daughter and see "pictures" and hopefully discover the sex of our soon to be second grandchild.  Modern technology is wonderful when it's working :).

Monday, June 18, 2012


Our poor baby! He evidently decided he could do skateboarder tricks without a skateboard!  He does things like that, he tries to do things he is not really physically ready to do because his little brain just doesn't get that yet :)

As parents and teachers of children we are always worried that our children will do this, try and do something they aren't ready to do in some way, either mentally, physically or socially and hurt themselves.  It's extremely hard to be brave enough to let them try and stretch.  And of course there are those times when we do have to say "no, that is too dangerous".

When your child has special needs it is easier to be scared and worried.  After all, we are in a situation we may have no experience with and we may not know anyone else who has had these experiences either.  And in the end we will drive ourselves crazy, should we have let him/her try? And if they do get hurt, we will berate ourselves forever more for allowing it.

This is one of the reasons I like to see listserves and other parent groups.  There is nothing as helpful as other parents who have been in the same situation giving us support and advise when we need it.  Although if your child has an unknown disability, knowing what the name of the disability is doesn't really change who your child is, but  knowing other parents who share some of the same issues that you do can help.

As for our grandson, I think a padded room might help :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012


The Angelman Syndrome community is one I feel fast ties to.  My first foray into the world of listservs and parent groups was the Angelman list.  I have had 8 students with AS, some I have become very close to as well as their families.  Most people with AS have amazing personalities.  There has been a study that shows that people with AS actually keep eye contact with others longer than the average person, and you can guarantee that usually there is a smile on that charming face.

Unfortunately, with the this syndrome also comes a seizure disorder.  This can be a veritable monster, pulling down families, stopping progress and sometimes even making kids lose skills they have already accomplished.  Some people end up with nonconvulsive continuous seizures, I have witnessed these quite a few times myself.  Sometimes children have to be put into comas in order to let their brains "rest and reboot". 

Right now there is a little girl named Kelce who has been in a coma and her parents are getting ready to take her off of life support.  I can't imagine what these parents are going through or what the other parents on the list are thinking.  After all, this could easily be their child in this situation. Having had a child almost die myself, I remember a little of how that feels, but at least that was a one time incident, not something that could happen at any time.

As special education teacher it behooves us to remember that the parents of our students may be going through these types of life altering events at any time.  When we wonder why the child doesn't come to school with their afo's, more diapers or and of those things that make our lifes in the classroom just a tad more difficult, we need to remember what really counts.

I am saying my prayer for Kelce.

                                                         Click to show "Angelman syndrome" result 13       

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Time to relax......sorta

The end of the school year ..ahhhh.  The end of the year at school is always brutal.  You have to tie up all of the loose ends, make sure everyone and everything is going to where it is supposed to be going for the summer.

Then I have all of my doctor visits that I have put off until the summer, finishing that root canal (oh joy!) my neuro appointment, for my migraines and other various parts of my body that need to be checked :)  No rest for the wicked, evidently.

Today, however, I have decided to take it easy and enjoy my "9 weeks of vacation" that my husband keeps telling me about.  I don't know why, but that doesn't sound like the infinite summers I used to have as a child, the number 9 is pretty darn finite :).  However we are planning a week long vacation to the beach with my daughters and their familys, plus two days at the beginning for my husband and I to have some alone time.

Father's Day is coming.  I know there are a lot of wonderful fathers out there.  I didn't happen to have one, but I did have a loving grandfather for part of my childhood, so I was lucky on that count.  That man up there, in the picture, the one I married 12 years ago, well he is learning to be a grandfather.  And unfortunately for him, he has to do it surrounded by others who have either been life long parents, new parents and other relations.  But I have to say he is doing a wonderful job.  He plays with Jack at the park, makes him a pirate's booty chest, filled with beautiful jewels and seashells (courtesy of Michaels) and rides a bee at the park with him :)  I am very proud of him and happy that Jack gets to grow up with him around. I think he deserves a "Happy Fathers Day" for that, don't you?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


"Normal is a setting on a washing machine", normal has nothing to do with people.  People come in every variety, more than we can ever imagine, greater than we will ever know.  Unfortunately people who are different make other people uncomfortable and even afraid.  Why are they afraid?  We are often afraid of things we do not understand or who do not fit our definitions.  Unfortunately, we don't like to be afraid and so we see these things/ people as abnormal, different, wrong.  If people were allowed/ exposed to others who were different from themselves, they would gain knowledge and comfort.  This sounds like a good reason for inclusion doesn't it?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Not a Downs syndrome kid

I truly hate when I hear someone say, "he is a Downs Syndrome child".  First of all, it is Down Syndrome and most importantly, he is a child first and he just happens to have Down Syndrome.  People, especially educators really need to remember that they are dealing with a child.  A child with parents who love them and siblings who care for them.  When we look at a child as a syndrome, we forget they are a human being.  We forget to treat them as we would want our child treated.  We forget that they have their own special talents and traits.  That their family has much more to do with who they are than does a rearrangement of chromosomes or metabolic issues.  Yes, it is important to know about medical, behavioral and educational issues that are associated with specific syndromes, conditions and disabilities, but that is only a gross picture of a person, each is an individual and must be experienced as such and cherished as such.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

End of the year

I am sorry I haven't posted lately.  When I am feeling stressed, I find I don't feel like writing.  Anyway it's almost the end of the school year.  Although I am glad to be getting a break, I am always afraid I won't get everything done.  I always do, but it always weirds me out. 

I will miss the kids, especially the ones who will be going on to a kindergarten program next year (all of my girls :( ).  And I will see all of them at least twice this summer to check on them when they are in the extended school year program.  I check to make sure that they get to the right classes and that the teachers know as much about them as I can throw at them. 

Chris and I had a great weekend.  It was my birthday on Friday and Chris made me an angel food cake and brought it and a balloon to school to celebrate my birthday with my class.  He also invited my daughter Krista and Jack which was lovely.  Then we went to Pittsburgh to visit Holly and Kane.  They showed us an example of the new apartment they will be getting in August, Ikea and then took us out to dinner at The Melting Pot, extremely good :)  We left the next morning after brunch and came home and enjoyed our pool.  The next morning Chris had a 5K in Brambleton.  I went over and picked up Jack and we went back so that he could bounce in the bounce house and watched his Pop Pop run.  Then he had his face painted like Spiderman (he did it very shyly).  After he went home and showed him Mommy and Daddy and promptly wanted it washed off, he said it itched :)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Flight of our Hummingbird: This morning

 I read this blog Saturday afternoon.  I can't imagine how it must feel as a parent who has to go through this, although as a teacher it happened to me too many times, but I know it cannot be the same thing.  I may care, even love, but my heart doesn't hurt nearly as much as that parents' does.  I tell parents that this is what makes me a good teacher.  I don't have the Mommy/Daddy heart when it comes to their child, although I have had experienced it with my own children.  Because I am more emotionally detached, I can expect their children to do more, more often and more consistently.  I remember how awful it feels when you expect your own child to do something, and then you worry that you asking too much and what will it do to their feeling of self worth.  I remember feeling frustrated with them and then angry with myself.

I suppose children need to encounter people who love them in all sorts of different ways in order to grow up into healthy adults.

The Flight of our Hummingbird: This morning

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Grand Opening!

Today was the opening of our new playground at school.  Accessible to all students, encouraging inclusion and most importantly friendships.  I took my grandson, Jack and my husband played the part of "Mario" (unfortunately a very hot and sweaty job :).  There was also a "Hello Kitty" and an "Elmo", all big hits with the kids.  A music man, balloon animals and a choo choo train ride rounded out the activities along with the piece de resistance, playing on the amazing playground.

Special thank you's go out to a Mother with a vision.  I believe a good time was had by all :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I have linked to a post to a blog called "Flight Platform Living".  In it a Mother blogs about her life, her family and about one of her daughters who has a genetic disability called Smith Magenis Syndrome.  Smith Magenis Syndrome is caused by a deletion on the 18th chromosome.  Some of the characteristics of SMS are;  issues with sleep, engaging personalities, varying degrees of intellectual delay, impulsivity, aggressiveness and attention seeking behavior.  They also often self injure, which is a very difficult thing for a parent to see.  I had a student in one of my classes with SMS and found him to be a very challenging child to teach, but yet couldn't help but love him.  I ended up taking him home with me one weekend, because his Mother had never had the chance to be away from him for 9 years.  Many people have never heard of SMS, even doctors I have spoken to have not often heard of it.  But if you read this blog, you will see what wonderful people they can be.

Flight Platform Living: Sometimes Life Hands You A Roller Coaster When All You Asked For Was A Carousel!

Flight Platform Living: Sometimes Life Hands You A Roller Coaster When All You Asked For Was A Carousel!

Monday, April 16, 2012


Wow, we just had the most amazing accessible playground built at our school.  Colorful, safe, beautiful, fun and fully accessible to all of the children who attend our school.  It was the brainchild of a parent of one of my students and I know she spent many sleepless nights worrying over it, stressing about it and stepping outside of her comfort zone.

The end result is worth it.  And she did it, not just for her child, but for every child at that school and those who will come after.  I hope she realizes how much that says about her as a human being and a Mother.

I didn't get to take any pictures of it today.  I was too busy playing with my students on it :)  What a happy day!  But this is something I am happy about as well :)


Sunday, April 15, 2012

I was really hoping to make this a daily thing, but I let the week overwhelm me :(  Lots of  transition IEPs to do.  Some of them have been difficult because not everyone agrees with the types of placements I think my students should go to.  So I have had to host a myriad of consulting teachers, be very careful how I word my IEP's and am generally stressed out.  I am not great at confrontations, but I really want the best placements for these kids, and I don't think anyone can really know how they learn, or what they need like their parents and I do.

The other problem, of course, is that even though a placement may have the correct name, the "flavor" of the classroom can always be problematic.  So much depends on the teacher, the other students in the class and the administration.  This is when the parents need to really advocate.  If they feel their child is not getting the best education, or needs more help, perhaps there needs to be more staff in the room, they are the ones who really have the power to make a difference.

On a personal note, once I let myself get physically run down, I don't seem to be able to make it up until the weekend.  I was doing a home bound student for another teacher, but I am finding that no matter how I go home from his house, it never takes me much less than 2 hours.  That means I leave home at 6 a.m. and don't get home till 6:30 p.m.!  I have realized I just can't do it and resigned, I don't think the other teacher was very happy about it, but I have started to feel this year that I need to be a little more self protective.  Especially since I had a car accident at the beginning of the school year, destroying my beautiful little red Kia Soul and breaking my sternum.  Not a very nice way to start the year :(  Now I have a silver Soul, but I still feel the sternum from time to time.

On a happier note my husband bought me 2 tickets to the Jason Mraz concert in August!!! My younger daughter Holly will go with me.  My husband went with me last year and managed to read a book through the entire concert :)   I will spare him this year.  You can see how much he loves me :)

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Happy Easter and good-bye to my Spring break :) :(  I can't say it was all fun or what I wanted (think root canal :), but I did get a bathroom painted, spend time with my husband and visit with my daughter, son in law and grandson!  This was actually the first Easter that Jackson "gets".  He had to have things like Easter baskets and hunts explained to him, but he certainly got into the spirit of things once he understood.

Time to stop messing around and work on finishing my progress reports for my students.  Most have done well this quarter and I don't mind doing the reports because it always gives me the opportunity to stop and think "is this goal really serving this child?"  and if it isn't, then maybe it's time for a review and revision of the IEP.  Luckily, I also get lots of input from therapists who allow me to bounce ideas off of them.  I love therapists in general, they are such a big help when you work with students who have a myriad of issues and I like the ones I have this year an awful lot, they are just plain excellent professionals with my students.  I am a lucky teacher :)

Hope you all have a good holiday too, don't eat too many of those chocolate bunnies!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Well obviously I am still not consistent with this blog business :)  Been off from school, but had an excruciating time concerning a tooth the endondist thought was bad, but wanted to wait and make sure she had the right one.  I went back this week to tell her I was sure which one it was, although I was not in pain, I could tell it felt different.  Then I went back home with a prescription for an antibiotic and a promise for a quick appointment to fix it in the very near future.
Unfortunately, that set the tooth off and and spent that night taking vicodin and holding my face on a heating pad waiting for the sun to come up, so I could call them first thing. Bless them, they had me come in first thing that morning and did the first half of the procedure.  Anyway, didn't I have fun during Spring break?

I have also managed to put off working on the two IEP's I had promised myself I would do over the break.  I actually don't mind writing IEP's, but sometimes I drive myself a little crazy making sure it is what I think that child needs for the coming year.  It's a big responsibility and although IEP's are never written in stone, a meeting can be called at any time by the teacher or parent to revise it, I do want it to be a true statement of what I think this child will be able to accomplish in the next year.  It also drives the direction in which the child's education may be heading, although I admit, being in preschool now, I feel as though there is a little more wiggle room to figure out what's coming up for him/her by future teachers.

So I spent a couple of hours researching and writing goals for one of my kiddos who will be transitioning to another school.  I want them to see beyond her surface/physical limitations and see what a bright child we all (her present teacher and therapists) know she is.  Even if I wrote a bad IEP though, (shudder!) I know her personality and intelligence would shine through.

Here is an Easter video from Jack because it makes me happy :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Wow, it's been a long time!

If you look at the picture above, you can see how long it has been.  Jackson is now 3 and just moved back into the area after spending a year with his parents in Georgia (the longest year of my life, I think). 
I am now in a new job and a new school and this is my second year there.  I still teach student with multiple disabilities, but now they are preschoolers.  I decided my back might last longer with the little ones :)  I do miss my elementary school students, but try and keep up with them as much as possible on Facebook. 
We are heading into the home stretch here at school, I am on Spring Break and I have a lot of paperwork to do to make sure those of my kiddos who are transitioning on without me get to where they need to go.  It's not easy and I hope I get what I want for them.  I have been teaching most of them for 2 years now and feel as though I know what kind of program they will do best in.  That doesn't mean other people won't have different ideas.
I will try and keep up with this blog again.  Although, since I just got my "hot off the press" copy of Bloom by Kelle Hampton, I will be a little busy, in a good way :)