Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Day At The Beach

I stopped at the beach a couple of weeks ago to watch the waves and ended up enjoying the wildlife.  I love to watch the shore birds dodge the waves. 

Looks like one guy got a meal.

Lots of ghost crabs were out running around too.

The cicadas were out singing their songs.  They were so loud as you walked through the vegetation on the dunes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


A couple of months ago, Rachel got a new carseat.  Instead of the five point harness, this one uses the seatbelt to strap her in.  Recently, Rachel figured out how to unbuckle herself.  As I cheer her on with her newly acquired fine motor skill, I cringe at the thought of her being in control.  Fortunately, she does not tend to do this when are going down the road and just uses her new skill to get out of her seat when we are stopped, thank goodness  The other day, I had to stop and run into a store.  I left Rachel and Allison out in the car watching a movie.  Shhhhh!  Don't tell anyone!  When I got back into the car, this is what I found!  

Apparently, Rachel did not want to stay buckled in her seat and would not stop walking around the car and messing with the movies screen.  Allison decided to take matters into her own hands and strapped Rachel down.  I guess she figured if she put all the belts on Rachel, it would take her a while to get them all off.  Rachel just seemed resigned to being strapped down and was just watching the movie. 

Monday, September 19, 2011


Rachel recently had to have one of her top front teeth pulled.  I was trying to get her to smile so that we could show of her new tooth that was coming in.  Let's just say that she was quite tired of me saying, "Smile!" by the time I took the last shot. 

How is this mom? 

How about this?


You want me to do what?  Pull my lips back like this? 

Okay mommy......I am done!! 

Maybe you can see in one of the last pictures where her new tooth is coming in.  Rachel smiles all the time when we are talking or being silly, but for some reason she just will not smile in front of the camera.  Maybe next tme.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Disheartened But Gathering Steam For The Next Move

August 10, 2011
Rachel started off the year on a relatively good note..........this is the first entry to her daily communication book. The teacher seemed ready to take on the challenge and we were all excited about the new year.

For the next week however, the notes were repeatedly about the trouble Rachel was having on the "big" kid playground and that she refused to go down the slide.  I was relieved that this seemed to be the most pressing concern and figured that the classroom part was going okay.

August 30, 2011
However, the notes quickly become more negative about Rachel's behavior in the classroom. 

After this note I had to respond to inform the teacher that Rachel cannot write or draw.  I thought the fact that Rachel was scribbling was great!  I also wondered why Rachel had the puppets in the library.  There is no note to tell me how they tried (or did not try) to keep her from getting the puppets.  I had Rachel placed in the regular classroom in order to teach her that she has to follow rules and am now wondering if they are even trying to get her to follow the rules or are they just letting her wander around and then complaining about what she does.  

September 13, 2011
I think what bothers me the most here is the statement that Rachel "won't" listen.  Rachel will listen when she is interested in what you are saying.     

At this point I wrote a note to ask about what was being done to help Rachel follow the class rules.  The teacher said that she uses redirection and time out but that Rachel will not stay in time out.  I have suggested that the teacher uses the "first we do this, then we can do that" to try to keep Rachel on task and that the use of a visual schedule would probably help too. 

September 14, 2011

This entry just breaks my heart.  I was so hoping that Rachel would rise to the occasion and fall into the first grade class with minimal problems.  I at first felt that I had made the wrong choice to push for her to be in this classroom, but after talking with friends in the Ds community here, I am beginning to realize that maybe the school is making the mistake.  Maybe we are all making a mistake by not providing Rachel with the tools she needs to succeed in the classroom.  Maybe the teacher lacks the tools to help Rachel adapt to her new classroom.   

September 15, 2011

To think that the teacher is writing to me that she could not get Rachel to give her the cupcake just really frustrates me on many levels!  First of all, it sounds like a little kid being a tattle tale.  Secondly, the teacher appears to do nothing to make Rachel hand over the cupcake.  The part about explaining to Rachel that they are going to read for social studies and Rachel not listening, makes me think that the first grade teacher lacks the skills necessary to help Rachel be the best she can be in the classroom.  Yes, I think that Rachel needs the explanation, but at this point, just telling her it has to be done is not enough.  

These entries really make me feel like the teacher is done.  She seems to be saying that she is unable to do anything with Rachel.  I requested a behavior analysis about the second week of school.  I know that some of the observations have been done and I am anxiously awaiting to hear what he has to say.  I am hoping that he has some very helpful advice.  

I am also prepping to go to battle for Rachel in the very near future.  We should be having a meeting soon to assess how things are going and to discuss the findings from the behaviorist.  All the notes have insinuated that Rachel cannot handle the new environment.  Maybe she can't-actually, I am pretty sure she can't-handle the regular classroom on her own.  But I think that with an aide she could be relatively successful.  Also with some modifications to the way they staff deals with Rachel, I think things could go more smoothly.  I am surprised how little some of the teachers seem to understand about teaching our kids.  I know that in some cases the teacher has done the best she can, considering that she has 18 other kids to keep control of.  Often what Rachel needs, the teacher simply cannot provide and still be a teacher to the other kids.  I hope that she is still interested in having Rachel in her classroom, if she gets some support.  This school district is adamant that the cannot provide aid to Rachel when we have mentioned it in the past, so the next few weeks may be somewhat interesting.  Please send up prayers and good thoughts that we are able to work out this situation and get Rachel on track for a great rest of the year!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Surf's Up

Hurricanes have been spending a lot of time off our coast this hurricane season.  Fortunately, they have not really caused us any problems.  Three weeks ago Irene was creating some big waves that were really pounding our coast.  Below are some pictures I took that week.  Needless to say, Allison has not had her new surfboard out in this rough surf. 

Happy Birthday Take Two

I am so far behind in posting.  Geez, these photos are almost a month old.  I know I posted about Allison's birthday party, but that was the first of August.  We had a little family party on her actual birthday and she got her presents form us, which were a surfboard and a sewing machine.  The surfboard has yet to make it's inaugural run, but the sewing machine has gotten some use.  I actually sewed a pair of pajama bottoms.  Allison said she wanted to do it, but somehow I got drafted into doing nearly all of it.  Mind you, I have never sewn a thing in my life, so I am learning along with Allison.  We still....or shall I say, I still......need to make the pajama top.  That material looks like it will be a little harder to work with, so I have not been to eager to try that, just yet.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Big Sisters Rock

Allison has always had a motherly instinct when it comes to Rachel.  Leah....not so much.  As a matter of fact, not at all.  But that has changed somewhat over the last year.  Leah freaks out if I let Rachel get just a few feet away from me when we are out of the house.  She nearly has an anxiety attack if I tell her to leave Rachel alone!  I guess she really does care after all :-)  That, or she thinks I am the worst mom and cannot be trusted to keep up with my own child. 

Leah rescues Rachel at the beach.      

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Better Late Than Never

I am nearly three weeks late with this post!  It has been a little hectic around here lately.  The girls went back to school August 10.  Rachel is now in first grade.  Leah is in fourth, and Allison is in seventh.  We pushed really hard with Rachel's IEP team in the spring to get Rachel in a regular classroom as much as possible.  She is now in the regular classroom for everything except math and reading.  It has not been going very well, but I will post more on that another day.  Leah is enjoying her year so far.  She is very happy to have several good friends in her classroom, and she is liking her new teacher.  She is doing great with her classwork and homework.  I hope she keeps up the good work.  She will have to start writing soon and will be tested on the statewide writing test in February.  I am a little concerned, as she is not as strong a writer as Allison was at that age, so I hope that she makes great strides in the coming months.  The teacher promises she will.  Allison had to move on to her next step in her education journey.  Our school district has middle schools that contain seventh and eighth grades, so she had to change schools this year.  Not only that, but she is now changing classrooms for every class and she has seven classes.  We spent the better part of three hours the week school started wandering around the school campus learning the layout and locating all of Allison's classrooms.  She seems to be handling all of the changes very well.  She got off to a rocky start and had several days where she battled anxiety, but she seems to have settled down and is enjoying her new teachers.  She has become much more independent with her school work and tells me she is doing well on her tests.  I have not seen any of them yet, though.  Hmmmmm.  Below are the obligatory "first day of school" pictures. 

Meet Bugsy

I always end up with the strangest animals.....I had a cat that I could not teach to potty in the litter box;  a cat that went to the litter box but winkled right where the top and bottom of the box came together thus making a mess that would drip out the back of the box (grossed out yet?).  I had  a dog that was so allergic that the vet said he won the award for the most allergic animal he had ever seen (in an allergy test he tested positive to 31 different allergens!).  After a year of giving him desensitization injections, he was no better off and he was on steroids daily for most of his life just to keep him somewhat comfortable.  Now I have a guinea pig that has had respiratory problems for over six months.  I took him to the vet around the end of April, because he seemed to be getting worse.  We have been back to the vet about every two weeks since then, changing up medications and doses trying to cure this little guy.  We have done x rays and lung aspirates-yes, you heard that right.  It was not cheap and it came back negative for any bacterial growth.  This pig is worth a couple of hundred dollars at this point and he is not much better than when we started.  The vet we have been seeing now wants me to take Bugsy to the vet school in Gainesville (three hours away) to see what they have to say.  Okay.....I don't have time to take a day off and drive up there and back, and I really don't want to pay for more tests that will possibly tell me nothing.  But after investing so much already, I hate to stop now.  The poor little guy seems to get worse when he is off the antibiotics, even though they don't get rid of the congestion.  Sometimes he seems pretty uncomfortable and there have been times that I thought he might not make it to the next day.  Today, I decided to try one more thing.  I have taken out all of the paper bedding that we have been using and replaced it with a fleece material to try to eliminate as much dust as possible from his environment.  We will see how that goes. 

Here is Bugsy getting one of his respiratory treatments.  He gets these twice a day and it takes about twenty minutes.  Fortunately,  he is a sweet little guy and sits nice and still for them.  He also takes his two oral medications very well. 

During Bugsy's treatments, Conan likes to try to get into the guinea pig cage.  One night, I decided to let him and see how far he would go.

Turns out he wanted to get in the cage to eat the timothy hay.  It made him sick so he is not allowed to do that anymore.  You might think that the guinea pigs would be afraid of the cat, but they aren't.  Actually they are very curious and often try to touch noses with him when he comes up to the cage to see them. What is even more funnier is that if the pigs are out of the cage, the cat will run from them! 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Happy Birthday To Allison

August 19 was Allison's 13th birthday!  I am now a mom of a teenager.  I still cannot believe it.  Allison has always hated that school starts before her birthday, so she requested that her party be before she had to go back to school.  We had the party on Monday August the first.  Looking back in retrospect, I think Allison was actually just trying to get two parties!  Of course we could not just let her actual day go by without cake, so we had another small celebration with family on Allison's actual birthday. 

I hope this is lucky thirteen!  For years I have heard horror stories about teenagers, so I am entering this stage of motherhood with just a tad of trepidation.  Wish me luck!

Leah gave the pinata such a whack she knocked it off it's tether and sent if flying across the yard. 

The girls wanted to play this game with toilet tissue where you race another pair and try to get your person wrapped up like a mummy first.  They had a great time, but do you see all the little white spots in the pictures below.....that is the dust from the tissue.  My house was covered in a fine layer of white dust after this was over.  My whole house!!  

That is Leah all wrapped up below.

Rachel thought the girls were pretty funny.  I am thinking that she was wondering why she gets in trouble for using too much tissue, but big girls can wrap their whole bodies in it. 

After the game the girls proceeded to shred the paper and play in the huge mess.  I guess when you live in Florida and don't have piles of leaves in the fall or mounds of snow in the winter, paper makes for a pretty good time.  Sad, isn't it?!?! 

Hopefully, this will be the first of many posts that will posted in rapid succession over the next several days.  I am going to try to catch up with what is going on around here.  I will need some really good luck for that too!