Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Here is the article that was posted on Angelman Today :)

Now if I can only live up to it :)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

And So it Begins...

The new year has begun.  Unexpectedly, I have only two students in my class right now!  Fortunately I have had plenty of time to create data collection sheets and get the beginning of the year paperwork done because of my low numbers and my two students are getting plenty of individual time and teaching.  Unfortunately, in some ways it is much easier to teach a "class" of students.  Hopefully a few more will filter in as they are entered into the preschool system.  In our county, students can begin early childhood special education classes at the age of two and start as soon as they reach that birth date.

For the first time since I started teaching the preschool class for students with multiple disabilities, I have been able to set up a field trip!  We will be going to the "Circus of the Senses" which is held by the Big Apple Circus.  Every year it comes to our area and holds this special show for children with disabilities.  It is a one hour show and typically has acts such as the clowns, the trapeze and trained animals such as horses and dogs.  It features braille programs, head phones and sign language interpreters for those who need them.  I used to go regularly when I taught middle school and elementary school special education students and I am so excited to be able to go again :).

In other news, I am now a published author!  An online magazine called "Angelman Today" has published my article "Does Your Child Have a Good Teacher". in it's back to school issue (it's on page 13 :).  After reading it again, I wish I had done a better job of writing it, but I do believe in what it says.

Gotta love that face :)

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Great Thing About Summer Break!

Summer is almost over for me :(.  Unexpectedly, I have actually gone in a few days, to do some work and set up my room.  This is something I have never done before, since my school is an hour away from my home. I will miss this summer, especially because.....

I got to spend some time with babies

Only the furry one kept me up at nights, the patriotic one lives with his parents :).  And I spent some time with their big brothers.

My darling husband took off the last two weeks so we could spend some quality time together :)

And we spent some family time together celebrating my eldest daughter's birthday.
We had a new deck put up around our above ground pool and enjoyed basking in the sun while reading and listening to audio books.
All in all a pretty good summer minus all the dental surgery :(. 

But a new year beckons with a lot of new ideas, and with the help of Pinterest I hope to make it a "craftier" year as well :),

Thursday, August 1, 2013

No Time for Posting:)

Of course I have never been the best of posters :).  I read so many insightful and interesting posts from others, especially Parents of kids with special needs and the pictures, OMG the pictures!!  It is more than a little intimidating!  As a matter of facts I just realized that I had comments on a couple of my posts, so I had never published them.  That's how often I get comments 😯.  Thank you all were kind enough to let me know you felt about what I had to say!  Rest assured they have now all been published.

I admit I am not a great (or even very good) writer, but I am extremely interested in and dedicated to what I write about.  Some people seem to feel I am an idealist.  That I should stop caring about my students when they leave my classroom, but I find that difficult to near impossible.  Most of my students are non verbal and their parents are in a situation they probably didn't plan on.  On the other hand, this is what I do for a living because I choose it, it excites me and I enjoy what I do.  It's like that adage, "enjoy what you do and you will never work a day in your life".  Except when I have to get up at 5 in the morning and we get NO snow days 😁.

Anyway, I have also not been blogging because I got a new puppy for my birthday.  My birthday was in May, but I had to wait until near the end of July.  Wow!  You forget how much an 8 wk old puppy is like a young child, middle of the night feelings and he puts everything in his mouth!!!  Fortunately and unfortunately, they grow up much quicker.  I love the smell of puppy breath and the feel of soft puppy fur, even at 3 in the morning 😊.

Friday, July 19, 2013

My Sweetie is Famous!

My husband, Chris just became part of an ad campaign for a back up company called "Spanning".  Chris is the Manager of  Messaging and Collaboration for the R.H. Smith School of Business at the University of MD.  Spanning is thinking of doing a "white paper" and interviewed Chris as someone who was successfully using their services.  So now, when you go to their website, his smiling face is the first picture you see.  Pretty cool!  I'm just saying :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Magical Chromosomes???

When I was getting ready to go the the periodontist this morning (yay! not:), I heard a piece on the News about "Tim's Place", a restaurant in Albuquerque, NM.  This was one of those "feel good" pieces you sometimes hear on the news.  The hook concerning Tim's place is that the owners' son, Tim, has Down Syndrome and offers free hugs to all of his customers.  He is evidently at over 32,000 and counting.

Now, while I think this is a great concept and I would certainly go to Tim's for the camaraderie and one of his famous hugs, I kind of resented what the news commentators were saying about Tim.  Evidently they felt that Tim was so loving and friendly because of that mysterious extra chromosome he just happens to have.  You know, that extra friendly, loving chromosome.

I resent this supposition because it seems to be saying that the addition of a single chromosome automatically means that you are going to be a loving, happy individual.  There is no respect for the individual himself.  No respect for how his family nurtured him and raised him or how his life experiences manifested themselves on his personality.  In short, you are basically saying he has no control, no self determination on the kind of person he is or will be.  Ouch!  That's pretty condescending.

Personally, as a teacher, I know some kids with Down Syndrome who can be kind of cranky, even spoiled!  Horrors, that would mean they could be just as wonderful and awful as any other kid.  That would also mean that if they are horrible, it doesn't mean that every child with Down Syndrome is horrible.

No two persons with DS is any more alike than any two persons without it.  Yes, there are some medical issues and learning styles that are more common with individuals with DS, but there are other people without DS who have some of these same medical issues and learning styles.

 Stop using that broad brush people!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Blog Post that May Explain Some Things.

I was just on facebook and one of the Mother's of my former students posted the link to this blog by Regie Hamm.  Regie is a songwriter and happened to win a contest for the show American Idol.  His song was chosen and was sung by the winner, David Cook.

Regie is also a Father.  A Father with an adopted daughter with Angelman Syndrome.  Angelman Syndrome is caused by a chromosomal abnormality.  I have worked with or taught at least 8 children with Angelman Syndrome and they are some of my favorite people :).  People with AS typically do not speak (there are variations of the syndrome and there are people who do speak) and most do not walk.

This is a link to a blogpost written by Regie.  I think it might be a very good description of what a lot of families who have children with significant disabilities go through.

How's Your Daughter

Monday, July 8, 2013

Just Something to Make You Smile!

Gritting My Teeth

I am psyching myself up for the new school year.  I have lost most of my students to the big pond of elementary school and have only two 3 year olds left in my class to start with.  I am pretty sure, though, that my class will fill up pretty quickly.  I can have up to 7 preschoolers with 2 full time para professionals.

Last year I got a new "room mate".  Let's just say it became quite an acrimonious relationship.  My room mate does not really like sharing her room and I was told quite plainly that a typical early childhood special education class (hers) should not have to share with an early childhood special education class for students with multiple disabilities.  Sigh :(..  Granted we do need a lot more space for our class since we have more equipment and children with mobility and sensory issues.  However, some of the concessions I need are in order to make my students safe and give them the opportunity to meet their goals.

By the end of the year, I was so tired of the whole thing :( and my assumption is that I will be back in the same situation next year.  This year, though, I will be asking for more.  I need space for common core vocabulary to be put up where my students always have visual access to it.  This is a new concept for my classroom, but something I am really buying into.  At the end of the year I tried using "common core mats" (just pieces of heavily laminated paper with the words, "more", "my turn", "help" and "done"on them), and saw dramatic results in just 3 weeks with a few of my students.  I want to go bigger and bolder right from the get go this year. 

I don't expect this to go down well.  Wish me luck :).

Monday, July 1, 2013

Whoopie! I hit the Jackpot :)

What I Bought from an Online Yard Sale!

    I just posted this picture on Facebook,
Do you see all that?  Button pushing, bead popping, block stacking, small motor manipulation heaven!  And all for $25.00.  There is no way you can get that much "stuff" with the money given to you each year for your classroom, especially since you have to buy it from catalogs :(.  It can take you up to 7 years to sufficiently build up the things needed in a classroom like mine, never mind the very specific items needed for specific students.  This doesn't count things like paper and paint, special brushes and scissors. 

I also spend money perusing the dollar store for craft ideas, and the grocery stores for adapted style forks, spoons, cups and bowls.  It seems like the newest craze has been to make these items for "regular" (pardon the term) babies much more like the adapted items I might find in special needs catalogs, but much cheaper.  I do searches online for "honey bear cups" (if you don't what they are, please ask me:) and have found them for about $8.00 a piece, if I really look.  Luckily, some people at school are bringing me their used honey bear containers and by adding some fish tank tubing, I can make my own (thanks A.M., you know who you are :).

I also ask my parents for paper towels, tissues and wipes for bums and faces.  Especially in the winter, little faces get chapped from runny noses and the cold and the wipes make it much easier to wipe them gently.  My parents have always been good about complying when asked.

So next time you are cleaning out your playroom, think about any special education teachers you might know.  Most of us would be happy to take some of your old stuff off of your hands.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer Days

Summer has begun....

     As usual you start the summer out with all sorts of plans and projects to accomplish, then you get to the end of June and start to panic because so few of these things have been done! 

I did though, have a wonderful time surprising my middle child, Krista with a visit from her little sister (this made her cry:)for her 30th birthday.  I came along to do some house cleaning for her while they all went out to a family day at her husband's place of work and then stayed to babysit while the girls went out for a little bit of retail therapy, poor me :).   Then later that afternoon, my husband joined us with an ice cream cake (a family favorite) and we all went out to Bone Fish Grill for a birthday dinner.  Holly spent the night with her sister and then came back to our house the next night to spend the evening and night with us.  A bonus for us!  We made watermelon martinis and ate Pepperidge Farms cookies out on the deck watching the fireflies and chatting. Ahh :).

Chris has been able to spend the whole week off with me.  We got a little pool time and have been to the movies at the Alamo to see "World War Z".  It was a much better movie than I was expecting!
Saturday I am going to a birthday party for one of my former students.  I had him from his last summer of preschool until the fourth grade.  Now he is turning 13.  I can't wait to see him and get one of his very famous (for those of us who know him) smiles and hugs :

So no, I haven't gotten a whole lot of stuff done around here, but all in all, summer has been pretty terrific so far.  Of course once I finally get my tooth situation straightened out, I am sure I will be much better.

Oh..... and on the weekend of the 13th, I am getting my new puppy :).

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Kickstarter campaign worth looking at...

Just a quick post to bring attention to a kickstarter campaign for a product to help those of us who deal with drool on a regular basis.  These are shirts which take the place of bibs, which we know are not always appropriate.

As asked, I got this info from a great blog named, "Single dad, disabled daughter".


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Rewards that have Accrued

A couple of days ago I was perusing facebook and saw a photo posted by the Mom of one of my former students.  Evidently she held a get together with a bunch of other kids with special needs and their parents.  One of the Moms contacted me to let me know how big my former students have gotten.

I commented back to her and then there was some friendly back and forthing about why I had not been invited (:)), who I needed to visit, who had me first, yadda, yadda.

I enjoyed seeing the picture and being included in the dialogue.  I was talking about this with my husband and realized that as much as I love these children, one of the things I have not thought much about is how much I enjoy their parents. None of them are the same, they all have their strengths and weaknesses, some have family support, some don't.  Some of them I talked to almost every single day, some I rarely spoke to,except during IEP times.  I am not a very outgoing individual, but by teaching and caring about their children, I feel connected to their worlds. 

I teach for selfish reasons, I enjoy it.  Another professional I recently told me that I was too attached to my former students.  I disagree.  Even teaching preschool, I am responsible for my students four hours a day, five days a week.  I teach them many of the same things we all teach our children, communication, socialization, emotional and daily living skills.  How do you teach well without caring and when do you cut that off?

I wish I could post their picture, but that is not my right. Instead I will include a picture of my poor doggie, Oz.  He went to the vet expecting the best (he loves people and other dogs) and got 4 shots for his trouble :(.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Teachers enjoy summer break as much, if not more than students!

I am so Summer is finally here :).  For once, I had my paperwork done early and so was able to check out on a Saturday morning.  Then I was able to go and pick up Jack  and take him home with me for what I hoped would be a two day visit.  Unfortunately, this has been the year of the "over sexed" plants and poor Jack felt miserable after playing outside and wanted to go home the next day :(. So we took him home after a quick stop at McDonald's.  Jack is such an enjoyable child and reminds me so much of his Mom (as I keep telling her when she bumps heads with him).

Yesterday we made a 3 hour trip to Richmond to choose my birthday present, a new corgi puppy!  He is only 3 weeks old right now, so I still have to wait over a month to get him.  That's ok, though since I would rather he learn good manners from his Mother and the other puppies than get an unsocialized puppy.  We did the same thing with our dog, Oz, he was 12 weeks old when we got him and I have never had a more well behaved dog.  It was a lovely ride to Richmond and I love taking car trips with Chris.

Friday, I have to have "minor" dental surgery.  Of course, when it's on you, dental surgery never seems minor :(.  It's supposed to be under conscious sedation and my dentist's periodontic surgeon is doing it, but all I care about is to have no pain!  We shall see.  Once that's done, I have to have the tooth capped. (Yay).  I have had a horrible year with my face and mouth this year.  I attribute it to the stress I was having at work.  I won't go through that again, 

To make me feel better, here is a picture of "Angus". 

Sunday, June 2, 2013


                    I just read Dave Hingsberger's latest blog and it struck me once again why it is important for our children to be taught inclusively as much as possible.  Sure, there are times when we think, "Wow, if we were in a self contained school, everyone would know how to help, everyone and everything would be more accessible to ourselves and our kids.".  That's not the point though, our community, schools should and can be accessible (thanks to an amazing Mom at my school, our playground is accessible and inclusionary).  Our students need to be out and about in the classes, hallways, cafeteria and with their peers.
     I truly believe this can be done with everyone getting the education necessary for their growth and enrichment while not sacrificing the emotional and social aspects of being one community. It will definitely take a paradigm (I love that word:) shift, but it is both necessary and doable.
     It's hard, when you grow up, to realize that sometimes you are just wrong.  Believe me, I have experienced it myself more times than I would like. But sometimes, we're just wrong.

 By the way, this big boy in the picture comes to my classroom and plays with my students whenever he can.  He asks his mother and myself why some of the kids do things that he doesn't understand and we give him answers.  He accepts and moves on. His world view is much richer than mine was at  his age.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

One week, two days... but who's counting?

I have to say this was not one of my favorite school years and I am so looking forward to summer vacation.  But this picture really makes me happy!  Hopefully I will be able to spend more time with these two amazing little guys and it will put me into a better mood.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The End of the Year Rush!!!!

    Well here it comes, a little over 4 weeks until the last day of school.  Whew! (she dramatically wipes her forehead) :)  Two more IEP's, end of the year paperwork and cleaning up the classroom.  I am always happier once all of the paperwork is done.  Then I really feel like I can relax.
      Chris just got home from a week away in Texas for training while I stayed at home and broke another tooth :(.  Unfortunately this is the one with the root canal that I just finished paying for, fortunately, it looks like it can be saved :).  I hate anything painful in my mouth and have pretty much managed to avoid it, except for the removal of my wisdom teeth, but after 55 years of clenching from stress, some of them have finally had enough.  The silly thing is that I was just getting ready to be fitted for a mouth guard, but now I will have to put it off until the new crown is finished. Fun times.!!
     Weather around here has been very strange.  First it's cold, then it's hot and it continues to rain and rain.  And the pollen has been horrific. I feel as though I have had the world's longest cold.
      Today is Mother's Day.  I have phone calls from all 3 of my grown up children, even the one wandering the US, managed to find a phone to call me on :).  I am lucky to have them.  Maybe this summer I can actually get around to scanning some more of their pictures to my computer (yeah, yeah) and maybe we will finally get around to painting our bedroom.  Who knows, I have a whole long summer to look forward to, definitely one of the perks to being a teacher.

Me with my oldest and middle child.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spring is Here, sorta...

Well, the weather around here doesn't exactly know what it is doing yet.  One day it a glorious 75 and last night there was a freeze warning and my husband very sweetly covered me head to toe in an extra blanket while I was trying to sleep in.  Thank heavens for him :)

I just came back last week from a wonderful conference in Atlanta, Georgia entitled, "The Young Child with Special Needs".  I love a good conference with knowledgeable and interesting speakers and this one had it in spades.  There were were developmental pediatricians, speech pathologists, nurses who specialize in particular areas of special needs and nutritionists.  There were questions and answer sessions.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself and since my husband came with me we were able to spend the evenings going to various restaurants and just spending time in Atlanta.  It was a nice break.  My husband, Chris, decided to once again walk on the wild side and went zip lining.  I'm rather glad I was at the conference when that happened.  I was just as happy to see the film footage and not see it in person.
                                                                           (dinner at "The Spence")

Now it's back to the real world where there are last minute IEP's to write, transition meetings to attend and the ups and downs that transpire in teaching the children I am happy to be teaching.  Of my 7 students, 5 will be transitioning on to various types of kindergarten classes, only two will stay in preschool another year.  I will miss the others, but it's time for them to be taught by other teachers who will see them as kindergarteners and not young preschoolers.

On the home front, our grandchildren are growing and thriving, thanks to their parents.  The youngest is a happy, chortling child with very expressive eyebrows and the eldest is pretending he is a pirate and causing an uproar in his preschool class by saying, "stinky diaper" and making all the children have to put their heads down on the table because of the ensuing giggles :)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Playing with Videos

Still on Spring Break, getting ready to go back for the last couple of months tomorrow.  Luckily, tomorrow is a teacher workday, which means we get to work on report cards.  This is helpful to me since most of my students needs to have input on their progress reports from at least 2 to 3 therapists besides what I need write.

Today, however, I spent some time working on making a video of our vacation.  I am definitely not the most creative person in the world, but with the programs that are available, it's almost easy :)


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring Vacation in the Cold

We just got back from a wonderful vacation in the UK.  We spent three days down in Cornwall with my mother-in-law, Jan.  And if someone ever tells you that it feels warm down in Cornwall in the Spring, they are probably lying :).  It's always a pleasure to spend time with Jan.  She is the most amazing woman, turning 70 and enjoying life, keeping busy and getting ready to take a trip to India.

We then spent two nights in Bath in a delightful manor house and went to the Thermae Spa.  We were able to enjoy the hot springs on the top of a building in freezing temps.  We had such a good time in Bath, our lodging was comfortable, beautiful and the food was great!

Lastly we spent a night at an amazing place called Oakley Court in Windsor.  It looked like a castle, sitting alongside the Thames.  It had been used for movies in the past such as the original Dracula and Rocky Horror Picture.  The grounds were beautiful and just like everywhere in this frigid countryside, the grass was green, the daffodils were blooming and the trees were beginning to blossom.  We also took a tour of Windsor Castle.  It is an amazing piece of history and I enjoyed actually seeing works from amazing works of art and an actual working castle.  I am not usually that interested in history, but this was so much better than I had imagined.

Both Chris and I needed this break from work.  It's been tough this year and we were both no feeling our best.  He had a crummy cold and I had to have a molar pulled out the day before we left.  Evidently I have been clenching my teeth so badly at night, I had split a tooth clear in half!  Thank goodness I have an amazing husband who plans the most wonderful vacations and who I love to spend time with.  No one has ever made me laugh the way he does.

And now I get to enjoy spending some time with my beautiful grandsons and their parents on Saturday for Easter.  I am a lucky woman.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Transitions, coughs, sneezes and fevers!

It's that time of year.  Time to decide what children will be having extended year services (services during the summer), transitioning students from preschool to kindergarten and in our case, the time of runny noses, coughing attacks and fevers.  The kids in my room are dropping like flies with the flu.  Unfortunately, they are contagious before they have the fever and are usually at school then, so we are all exposed to the flu.

I am not sure if some parents realize that there may be children in the classroom who can't afford to get illnesses like the flu :(.  Also, I wonder if they think about the quality of teaching their children will be receiving if some or all of the staff are sick at home!  Coming to school with a cold is understandable.  After all, a cold can last from 10 days to 2 weeks.  But viruses like the flu are different.  And then you need to consider the fact that a child with an illness is more susceptible to any other germs or viruses which may be lurking at school.  At the end of this school week, we only had 3 of our 7 students present.

My grandson, Jack, had the flu too :(.  That's to be expected when you start going to school (preschool) for the first time.  Better that than getting every illness in kindergarten!  Luckily little Max is entirely breast fed still and managed to miss the more serious symptoms.  He just keeps getting cuter and fatter :).

Monday, January 28, 2013

One month later....

    I am so not good at keeping up with a blog :(.  I think it's been the combination of illness  (trigeminal neuralgia and colds) and changes in my class.  I know you can't keep a child home just because they have a cold, but unfortunately that means we end up having to get subs for our sick staff and that always disturbs the flow of the class.
     Luckily today we have a day off, icing on the roads, so I have some more time to recover from this nasty cold, but unfortunately one of my wonderful paraprofessionals will be out sick tomorrow with a 2 day fever not related to the flu :(.
     Enough kvetching :) being home means I get to spend some time online shopping for my two wonderful grandchildren.  There is nothing much better than buying little boy and baby clothes.  Our youngest grandchild, Max is growing so fast it's not funny.  At 2 months of age he weighs 13lbs. 8 ounces!  Which means he is now into 6 month clothes :).  He is completely breast fed and sleeps like a champ unlike his brother who still fights to stay up at night and gets up early in the morning.  I always find it amazing that siblings are so different, right from the start of their lives.
Smiling Max

And look at poor Jack! :(  This is what being a daredevil on the couch does, a major meeting between face and coffee table.  Poor buddy :(