Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back to School Wordless Wednesday

 So this week is the first week of school. Of course, I neglected to be organized enough to print out beautiful here's the lazy mom's way, on the white board!
These were also done AFTER school, because I was in such a rush in the morning to get the kids to school, I forgot to take pictures.

1st week of school halfway done! WOOHOO!!

Top 5 Back to School Tips

Back to school can be a difficult time for many kids, especially for kids with special needs. Some kids are nervous about new teachers, new students, old students, changes in schedules, different classrooms, a different routine. But for MY special need kiddo, going back to school is the best! It represents a return to his friends, and return to his schedule, the stability of routine, the familiarity of school and classrooms, the school personnel (especially the specialists that work with him), and the opportunity to learn new things. He has been looking forward to this for weeks!

So, maybe your kiddo isn't quite as psyched about going back to school.  Well, you're not the only one! My other two aren't excited at all! But to help all of us out that do have those kids that are struggling, here is my list of Top 5 Back to School Tips:

  1. Let your kids pick out their own school supplies. Although it took much more time, I took each of my 3 kids separately to buy their school supplies. We also went to separate stores so they really did get not only their own things, but their own style. They couldn't wait until the first day of school to show all of their classmates the cool new things they got.
  2. We slowly started waking up 30 minutes earlier all the way back at the beginning of August, each week moving the alarm up. I have kept the bedtime the same all summer long, although not quite as strict about actually going to sleep...just the staying upstairs. But during the summer, some of us were sleeping until noon! I didn't want to have to fight that battle on the first day of school. 
  3. Write a letter to your child's teacher introducing your student, especially if your child has special needs. Open House night can be very chaotic and the teacher will be trying to digest so much that it makes it much easier to have everything written down for them to refer to later on.
  4. For those special needs kiddos, make sure you have your comfort items lined up. Get together the weighted lap pads, the cushy seats, the squeeze balls, the pencil toppers, and whatever other comfort items your child uses. Make sure it is included in your child's IEP that he/she needs these items and that the teacher understand this.
  5. Set up a nice place for your child to do their homework. Let your child be included in deciding where it will be. My boys cannot do homework in the same room and I obviously cannot be in two rooms at the same time. One does not want to hear anything when he does his work...the other needs to have music or tv in the background or he can't concentrate. 
Hopefully, some of these will help you and your kiddos have a great start to the school year and everyone will look forward to school, rather than dread the first day! If you have any more tips, I'd love to hear them!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Best Birthday Ever!

So, I've been missing in action for a while! Sorry. The last couple of weeks this summer has really had me scraping the bottom of the barrel emotionally, physically and every other way you can think of. As the start of school approached, life started to settle down a little. My birthday came and went (which honestly, I could care less about!) but that always bring about the dreaded family get together. Not that I don't like my family of course, but because we never know what to do. Should we just stay home? Should we go to my parents? Or should we try going out to a restaurant?

With Jonah, going to a restaurant is always difficult because of his allergies. There are 2, count them, 2 restaurants in town that we can go to that will accommodate his allergies. So, of course, it's always safest to eat at home. Even at my parents we run into allergy problems because their house has cross-contamination everywhere and we literally bring everything to cook, down to butter, salt, tin-foil, etc!

For Ethan, the sticking point is more the restaurant. There's always tons of people, the lighting is weird, and it bothers him that he has to think about what he wants to eat but then they don't give it to him for 10 or 15 minutes. It is usually a stressful event and is that really something I want to deal with for my birthday?

Ultimately I decided that we would try the restaurant.

Despite kids fighting throughout the day and my waking up feeling like the hunchback, by the time dinner arrived we all rallied, put on smiling faces and good manners in pocket, and met my parents at the restaurant. The dinner went great! Everyone ate all their food, no one complained, we even ordered dessert! It was the most pleasant meal we've ever had with the kids in tow. After we ate, we went home and grabbed our puppy and headed back out to PetsMart. Before you knew if, we were like a real family...the kind that eats dinner out, does a little shopping and then back home. It literally felt like a dream!

I know plenty of families who do things all together all the time. No one has to stay home because of the meltdown potential. Or because there will be too many people and it might be too much to handle. Or because there's just nothing on the 1000+ items on the menu that your child can eat. But that has been our life for as long as I can remember.

Our perfect night will not happen every time we go out, but it was so wonderful for just that one night. It was the best birthday gift ever!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Introducing Child to Teacher

So who is ready for school to start? I am, that's for sure! But the kids? Probably not! As much as I try every summer, my worksheets or learning experiences just never seem to duplicate "school" for the kids.

Especially for Ethan. He has in his mind that "school" can only be in held within the walls of school and taught by a teacher. That is one of the reasons I am so happy he will be going back to school. It is hard with a child that has a learning issues during summer because you are always worried that they might lose some of the skills they have learned during the school year.

One of our main transition issues at the beginning of the school year is meeting a new teacher. We haven't done this in a couple of years because the last year, he simply moved up with his previous teacher, so I'm a little out of practice on how to introduce your child to a new teacher. This can be done with any child, but it is especially important when you have a child with special needs of any kind. Sometimes teachers just look at the labels and never look at the child and this is the way to get beyond that. I thought that since it was my first time in a couple of years, I would share some pointers with you and we could do it together.

  • Don't go overboard with all the great things about your child. If you do, the teacher will just stop reading! Just hit the high points. With Ethan, it's probably going to be over 2 pages this year, but no more than 5. I will probably make a letter for Jonah this year, as well, due to his medical issues. His letter will average around 2 pages. But keep it manageable. Teachers don't won't a bunch of work right at the beginning of the school year. 
  • I know that for our teachers, today is the first day that teachers are having workdays at school, but they are not mandatory. Tomorrow morning is the first meeting with the principal, but again, not mandatory. I also do not even know who their teachers are yet, but I hope to squeeze that info out of someone tomorrow. Open house is not until Thursday night, so at some point this week, I will find out and try to hand deliver these letters and be available for a personal meeting.
  • Include any information that the teacher needs to know. Remember, most teachers do not have the IEP handy, so this would be a "go-to" back-up. 
  • Include your child's strengths and needs. Give examples when needed and give suggestions and solutions.
  • Provide teacher tips, personal observations, techniques that have worked in the past. If you have any forms or documents that you have previously used successfully, you may want to share them with the teacher. If you focus on the techniques that can make things easier for the teacher to cope in the classroom, that would go over better than insisting on what your child's rights are. Remember, you have to work together.
  • Stay positive in your letter...don't make your child sounds like they will be impossible to deal with. Make sure you give all your contact info, including the best way to get in touch with you. Stay friendly in your tone and be helpful. You are the expert on your child...don't be the pleading and pushy parent.
  • You can also include a small picture of your child, if you want. But it is probably a given that the teacher will learn who your child is soon enough.
  • Keep a copy or notebook of all your correspondence with the teacher or other school staff.
  • If you don't hear from the teacher within a couple of days of school starting, reach out and see how things are going. 
If you have any more suggestions, I'd love to hear them...or if you have an example to share, please do!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back to School on Etsy

Etsy is always a great resource for unusual items and when I get bored with the usual, that is where I turn. I recently made a Back to School Treasury List on Etsy filled with lots of one of a kind items. Here a couple of the best items...

Do you participate on Etsy? If so, let me know your store or include me in your circle so I can see what your favorites are. Have you found any unusual back to school items on Etsy or anywhere else? 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Back to School Pins of the Week

My kids have one more week before school are some pins to hold you over until then...

Source: via Meredith on Pinterest

Just in case anyone even thinks of messing with my kids!!

Photo idea for the 1st day of school...

Creative lunch idea...

1st day of school gift for the teacher...
Source: via Meredith on Pinterest
Now that you have tons of spare time, here's a new book from Gretchen Rubin. I still haven't made it through here last one, but I guess there's always hope!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Too Cool For School

I love back to school shopping. Of course, I'm not the one having to sit through classes, take notes and tests and do all the studying! But what I really love is all the cool school supplies that they come out with every year. They seem to out do themselves year after year and although my boys gravitate toward the same lego/robot/car theme, I love anything different! Here are just a few of the unique theings I found, either through emails or just scouring the internet. None of these are affitilites or anything I benefit from...I just think they are cool! :-)
Talking Bubble Sticky Post-It notes
Decorative Patterns Masking Stickers Set
Insulate Lunch Bag
Animal Tabletop Vacuum

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Blog Shout Outs

Every once in a while, I just like to give a shout out to some of my favorite blogs. Please visit them and let them know that I sent you.

Some of these are funny blogs, some are mommy blogs, some deal with asperger's and special needs...but all are great, very well written and I try to read them all everyday! If you have a favorite blog, let me know what it is!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mom's Mingle Blog Hop

Join up for Mom's Mingle Blog Hop!

Menu Plan Monday

Somehow, I am very organized this week and have a great menu planned. Plus, part of my plan for the week is to have my boys practice packing their lunches every day. My goal is for them to pack a different lunch every day and for them to actually EAT the lunch that they pack! Hopefully, we will get 1 or 2 new lunches to add to our usually lunches that we use during the school year. I know they get tired of the same old thing every day. My youngest, who has severe food allergies, also gets teased tirelessly about the food he brings. For some reason, the other kids say HIS food is gross...but I've seen the food the school serves and his homemade food is WAY better! It's just that it's different and you know that different isn't better when it comes to peer pressure! It's a pity that even in 2nd grade there is peer pressure, and yes, that is even considered bullying to an extent.

Anyway, here's the menu:

  • Monday: Fish n'Chips - in honor of the Olympics in London, we are having beer battered fish with skinny slices of potatoes, baked in the oven with a little bit of olive oil.
  • Tuesday: Cottage Pie - another homage to London and the Olympics, but with our own take. Ours will be made like a chicken pot pie, with ground beef and with green beans and mashed potatoes on top.
  • Wednesday: Breaded chicken breasts, brown rice, and broccoli with cheese
  • Thursday: Baked potato and Salad (We wanted a meatless meal, so this is it.) Everyone will get to choose their potato toppings and what they want in their salad, as well as their dressing.
  • Friday: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans
  • Saturday: Tacos with chicken and cheese
  • Sunday: Homemade pizza

Some of the new things I'm trying to get the boys to think about for lunches is how to use for wraps. We are big on bento boxes and have several, so I like things I can cut up and pack in little sections, so I try to get them to think in those terms. We have not used tortillas a lot before, but the boys are just now starting to like them, so I want them to see all the ways to use them. Anyone have any fun ways that you use them in lunches?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Olympic Crafts

My youngest, Jonah, and my oldest, Lindsey, have been loving watching the Olympics. But of course, watching only last so long before they want to get up and do something. But we don't have an Olympic size pool at our house or a boxing ring or a tennis court so what can I have them do. As always, I look to Pinterest and here are some things I found.

So do you have any great crafts that you have pinned for the Olympics? I'd love to see them! Leave me your Pinterest name and follow me here.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Be a Stella & Dot Stylist

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Kids Cooking

We only have a little less than a month left for our summer vacation. That leaves me with mixed feelings. I wonder if I've given my kids enough of a vacation, enough fun, and enough memories. So let's cram a few more things in for this last month and really make the summer one to remember!

One thing I really wanted to teach my boys this summer was to cook. Now, I'm not talking about becoming a chef like Emeril. But each one of my sons has certain things they like to eat and there I times I really dread making it. So I wanted to teach them over the summer how to make these things to help me out and to make them more self sufficient during the school year.

For Ethan, it is a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Sounds easy enough, but for a child with sensory issues, spreading peanut butter can really be very hard. He has a very difficult time knowing exactly how much pressure to use on the bread. But we practice with plastic knives and toast...we practice and practice...

For Jonah, it's mashed potatoes...not the real potatoes, but the instant kind. It's one of those foods that Jonah could eat non-stop, over and over, from sun up to sun down. The main issue is that it involves measuring and heat and being that he's only 8, he is still too little to cook that by himself.
My daughter does really well in the kitchen...can cook when needed and at least gives recipes a try. She even cleans up after she cooks! Of course, that is her assigned chore, so that is expected of her anyway. If I was going to teach her one thing, it would be how to make coffee...but that would require her to get up earlier than me in the morning for it to matter!

What are some things you let your kids cook or what do your kids help you cook? I would love a recipe or two!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lego Wordless Wednesday

Lately Jonah has been interested in these Lego architectural sets. I don't know if your kids have ever tried them...they don't sell them at Target or Wal-Mart. We found them at Barnes & Noble. The first couple of ones were around $20, but the bigger one was $40 or $50 and was his birthday present. He would really like the Tower Bridge of London, but he tells me that is "Hundreds" of dollars so we'll wait on that.
Burj Khalifa
John Hancock Center and Empire State Building (with headless people waiting in line)
Farnsworth House (designed by Mies van der Rohe)
Personally, I like the architectural interest my boys have's much better than the previous interest of play fighting and nerf guns!
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Wordless Wednesday