Thursday, August 31, 2017

Navigating the 504

Apparently creating a 504 is easy for some and more difficult for others.

We were initially told by our principal that a health plan would be a better option for Bella. I trusted her and agreed. Then, after doing my own research, and a lot of it, I disagreed. A 504 would legally protect her and give something in firm writing that would help us to help her.

We were told that "if she qualifies"... I'm not sure how she wouldn't "qualify". If you read the legal language, she "qualifies"... Here is what I sent over to her school: According to the Dept. of Education website, the exact wording is "cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal..."
She was born with a congenital limb difference, which is an anatomical loss affecting her musculoskeletal system. This is documented on my prenatal record, her health care record, as well as easily visible to all.

I'm thankful for the Lucky Fin Project, Born Just Right, and Camp No Limits. Those places are primary places of support for our family in times like this. The people that are part of those sites bend over backwards to help, give advice, give guidance and support. It's essential when navigating things like this. As an "experienced" mom of a child with a limb difference, I'm still learning.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because this is already a trying process. It's taken a lot of effort and energy on my part. I'm working hard to make this happen for Bella. We need to have some things in place to help her continue to be successful in school, without injury and without overusing her right hand. Remember, that if your child has ONE hand, that hand does 100% of the work, 100% of the time.

I'm not saying your child needs a 504 just because they have a limb difference. I'm saying that my child does. She had a neck injury last year at school that could have been prevented. She also has complained over some soreness in her right hand, palm and fingers. I want to be sure I'm doing what's best for you. She's almost in third grade and so far, we've made no adaptations in school for her. This year, there will be some changes. This year, we have thought about some adaptations that will keep her safer and also keep her right hand in good order so that she doesn't cause injury at a young age. Any pressure we can take off of her right hand, we will. Talk to text is something our school utilizes currently so I'm hoping that she will be using it more so save her hand. That's something that can be "built" into our 504.

I want to do anything I can to help our community as well. Our official referral was sent over and now we are waiting once again. I'll keep you posted on the process as I find things out. If you have any questions, comments or advice, feel free to share! I've had a hard time finding 504 information for kids with limb differences. Most of the information that I search is popping up with kids that have ADHD.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Back to school, already?

Our back to school list is posted. I've already done some shopping. I might be slightly obsessed with getting the best deals possible AND buying some extra. I can't believe it's time for back to school. Part of me loves the routine, part of me is dying that this means summer is coming to an end.

I keep seeing parents post on Facebook about back to school and supplies. I'll share with you our back to school list.

Parents are seriously complaining about "50 pencils?" and "15 glue sticks". Really? I mean I found a 24 pack of pencils for $1, buy three and you are well over your 50 mark. Have you had a kindergartener AND volunteered in the classroom? Holy glue sticks. Kids leave the caps off, glue dries out. They also use it every day for gluing word work, it's a lot of glue people!

Why do I care? I care because are you bringing your negative attitude home to your kids? What sort of excitement are you creating? I never once heard my parents complain about back to school shopping or school supplies, not once. Here's the thing, your attitude wears on your kids. The good and the bad. They are watching you.
(Obsessed with wolves and beyond thrilled about his wolf backpack!)

My mom especially brought TONS of excitement for back to school. She ahh'd and oooh'd over our supplies and how fun it was to get new stuff. She made the process of packing our backpacks fun. Maybe that's where my love of back to school comes. My mom even makes it fun for MY kids! She offered to take them to buy a new outfit, lunchbox and backpack. She's crazy :) I promise that my kids are excited to get a "date" with her. Date days are the best days.

How much have I spent? So far, about $10 on each kid. I'm almost done. I still have to get spiral notebooks. My advice, start early, watch sales, buy what's on sale then wait for other sales, get a little each week.

Why am I sharing this? I'm sharing because it doesn't have to be a big expense. However, I'm mostly sharing because as an educator myself, don't we want our kids to have plenty of all of the tools that they need to be successful? Don't we want to arm them to succeed? Do we want them to have to worry about too many broken pencils or not enough erasers? No, they are kids. Excite them about education. Be the one that pushes them to do their best. Be their biggest support and the most positive energy in their life.

At the end of the day, 50 pencils should be the least of your worries.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Backpack shopping tips

1.     Pick the right size- I’ve always opted for a normal size backpack, not the kid size.

2.     Pick something durable- Yes the elmo one is SO cute, but it’ll wipe out after just a couple months of school. Then, you’ll be buying another $15 backpack that will meet it’s death soon after… by the end of the year, you’ll have spent at least $30 on backpacks.

3.     Pick one with decent straps- The straps are what they feel on their shoulders, the more padding, the more comfortable. They should be adjustable so you can fit your child correctly, curved straps are also more comfortable for daily wear.

4.     Pick one your kid likes- This ensures that they won’t freak out after a few months. The other thing about character backpacks is that my kids are over that character pretty quickly. We’ve always picked a design that’s more neutral.

5.     Zippers, snaps, buckles- does everything work with ease? Highly important. We bought a cheap backpack that had a zipper that lasted for 2 months. We’ve also had threads break and get caught in the zippers.

Have fun with it! We picked Grayson a bag that was out of our normal qualities and it failed. It was the perfect style with a wolf on the bag but it wasn’t durable or comfortable and the zipper was a big bummer. Bella, however, has had the same bag for two years. She was able to get another bag at a rummage last year that was the same brand but a different style. We typically stick with Jansport because their quality is amazing. I’ve had the same Jansport bag since I was in nursing school, 15 years ago! Are you kidding me? That’s serious quality. That bag went through the ringer and back.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Struggle bus

Anyone else riding the mom struggle bus? We started the day with two out of three kids asking for crepes and one kid asking for a breakfast smoothie. I did just that, I made a breakfast smoothie for all three kids AND crepes for all 3. I was in the kitchen for about an hour, prepping homemade crepes, smoothies and doing dishes.

Next up, tears. Tears from not enough Nutella on a crepe, tears from having no more Nutella, tears from a tummy ache from too many crepes, tears from having to turn off cartoons, tears from not JUST mangos in the smoothie, tears from a sibling touching you, tears from a sibling touching another sibling, tears from having to help clean up the house… yeah so lots of tears.

Some how, some way, the kids managed to play for a solid hour without fighting. They made a mess from hell from they were quiet. That could mean trouble, big trouble. In the moment, I opted to take it… my house wasn’t burning down (yet!) and my kids were quiet. Sometimes you take the quiet and the mess, because we all know they typically go hand in hand.

Then I opted to create some sanity for myself, prep for the gym. That would provide me with a good soul lift, a good sweat, the feeling of being strong and in control. I also decided to pack swim suits and pool stuff, just in case.

Well, just in case came… and went. People were losing their shit once again before we left the house. It was like trying to wrangle three wild circus animals into a cage… did I mention that they are different animals and aren’t even in the same circus? Oh and they eat each other?! You laughed, you know you did. That’s how it felt.
Today, I rode the struggle bus. At the end of the day, I sat on the back porch and cried while my husband held down the fort. Thank God for being partners in this madness. I was able to sit there and cry for as long as I needed too. He was supportive. I’m thankful for having him on my team and being my biggest support.

Today, the struggle bus pulled into the station at 7pm when their little butts hit the sheets. Today, I did the best I could. It didn’t seem good enough. I felt like I failed more times than not. Today, we all made it out alive. Today, I did the best I could. Tomorrow is a new day.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Be the change

Bella has a way to make everybody feel like somebody. I'm not sure where exactly she gets it. No one is overlooked when she is around. She is genuinely concerned about everyone. She really has a way to make people feel included and loved when she's around. It's one of the things that I adore most about her.

I challenge you to take a little lesson from my girl. I learn daily from her. I learn how to really put myself out there to make people feel included. Last night at a playdate for my soon to be first grader, there were many parents I didn't know. While I'm usually pretty social, I tend to stick around the people that I know best. Last night, I thought of Bella. At that playdate, I walked around and tried to introduce myself. I tried to at least have some sort of conversation with people.

 I want Grayson to have the best opportunity in school. I want parents to know me and feel comfortable having their children at our house. I want them to feel like I at least tried to connect with them. Part of him having great opportunities is how engaged I am as a parent. Be engaged with your kids, meet their friends, meet the parents, talk to them all. Part of me engaging with the kids is getting to know their friends. It allows me the ability to know their friends, know how they are being influenced at school and have their friends feel comfortable with me.

Again, take a lesson from my girl. Be the change!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Bike victory!

Like I said in this post every day is a new day. We went on a play date yesterday and there was a strider bike that Bella decided she wanted to try.

"Mom, this isn't that hard!" I smiled and watched.

"Mom, we should take the training wheels off of my bike." We had a little conversation about how she first needed to work on her confidence and comfort so that bike riding was fun. Once that happened, we'll take the training wheels off.

Last night when we got home, Bella wanted to go on a bike ride. The boys were losing their minds one at a time so I opted to stay with them and have Ryan and Bella go. She came bursting into the house when they returned

"MOM, come watch me! Watch HOW FAST I CAN GO!" she was beyond excited. Fast for her is different than fast for Luca (his whole life is at a high speed level!)

I went outside and watched, I videoed and took pictures. I told her how proud I was of her. She talked about how she felt confident and comfortable.

"Mom, I'm getting WAY better at this. I feel so good riding my bike. It's fun and I feel comfortable now!" I was proud. I was proud that she had initiated bike riding, that she initiated speeding up a little, that she didn't get off and pull her bike... that she persevered and kept going.

Proud mama moment, proud daddy moment and most importantly, she was proud of herself!

CAMP NO LIMITS all booked!

This picture was taken just last weekend while we were camping. Bella and I were walking around the camp ground just the girls. Dirty from...