Thursday, July 31, 2008

A New Year for All the Platos

Max starts Early Childhood at a new (closer) school in August. Ignatius starts junior high as a sixth grader in August. JoLynn starts at a new school as a Reading Specialist for K-2 in August. What a whirlwind of newness our house will be.

Max ended his summer school career for 2008 today. Many of the stakeholders involved say they have seen a lot of progress in him over the summer. I am thrilled, but not naive enough to think we are finished. We have only just begun. He is speaking, which is something I feared would not come or would come and then go. Next step: conversation. The give and take of dialogue is something that I have to say I took for granted. Ignatius has his struggles, mainly with the flow; his dad still struggles with pregnant pauses as he formulates thoughts. Me? I usually don't let people stop speaking before I begin. I will have great celebration when I can converse with Max. I am, however, thrilled at what he can do. We are blessed.

As unbelievable as it is, Ignatius begins sixth grade in August. Well, it's unbelievable as far as how fast the years have flown. He definitely puts us through the perils of parenting an adolescent. He is testing his boundaries as far as what he can and cannot say and can and cannot do are concerned. My goodness... that sounds eerily NORMAL?! If there's one thing I can say with confidence, it's that JoLynn knows sixth graders. He is, officially, acting like a sixth grader. Segue to my news...

I accepted a position today as a K-2 Reading Specialist at Irving Elementary. This is a very good thing for the family... it means a later start time in the day, it means I won't be teaching sixth graders and then coming home to one with no patience left, it means I can get reacquainted with the age level that started my interest in education. Seeing as Max will need assistance with some of the very same things, I am anxious to learn everything I can to help struggling beginning readers. My friends and I often talk about the miracle of reading. As a parent, you are innocently doing your day-to-day when suddenly, almost magically, your four or five year old starts reading... really reading... decoding... comprehending... and you scratch your head and say, "How'd that happen?" So many things make that happen, and once that switch is flipped, it's like an Electric Light Parade.

For some children, though, the switch is more of a dimmer switch. They will get there, but in a slower fashion. There are many reasons for this, and many tactics that are used to intervene. So, I will be able to help move the dimmer switch, while at the same time learning how I will get Max to that miracle moment.

The staff at Irving has a wonderful reputation. I am really excited to be a part of that. However, I cannot cover up the feelings of sadness I have due to leaving BJHS. The teachers there are outstanding. Some of them are very close friends of mine. I will be in the same district, but in a different building. We will not participate in the day-to-day events... the laughter, the tears, the aggravation, the joys, the UNBELIEVABLE support of colleagues. But I know how to get in touch with them all. :) I also look forward to a new group of colleagues to help me learn and grow. So here's to "moving my cheese," again! Heck, I think someone ate my cheese about 15 years ago and just didn't tell me. :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cancer's Unexpected Blessings

Those avid readers of mine know that my friend, Marilyn, was recently diagnosed with cancer in her brain. The other day, she encouraged me to read Tony Snow's commentary on his cancer. I thought it was insightful, and that others might want to read it as well.

It can be found at the Christianity Today website following this link:

Monday, July 28, 2008

One more reason for me to dislike Chuck E. Cheese

A news story and my poetic response.

AS IF... by JoLynn

AS IF a child with autism needs another reason to feel different
AS IF parents of children on restrictive diets enjoy having to pack up food when they go to restaurants
AS IF Chuck E. Cheese does not service thousands of children a day
AS IF Chuck E. Cheese needed to call the police on a mom wanting to feed her child
AS IF Chuck E. Cheese couldn't come up with menu items for children with this need (1 in 150, right?)
AS IF Chuck E. Cheese pizza actually tastes good
AS IF there needs to be one more hurdle

Sunday, July 27, 2008

My Little Fish

I just can't believe how uninhibited Max is in the pool. He's one crazy dude.
Here are some photos of him from Saturday.

You will notice that he is pretty much swimming/floating to me from the side of the pool. He loves having his head underwater and kicking.

I have also included a photo that cracks me up. We were in Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and he was walking along, one hand on his hip, the other on his chin. I love my iphone for these moments.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Garage Sale Blues

We are having a garage sale tomorrow and Saturday. I think this will be our third in sixteen years. Every time I have one, I remind myself of why I don't want to have one. All depends on what you make. Last time, we made $25. That was after all the hooplah you make to get people there. I suppose it was $25 I didn't have before.

This one is particularly difficult, as I am selling a lot of baby stuff. The strollers, the infant carseat, the playpen, the crib... all up for grabs. With all of our renovating in the basement, our storage space is at a premium there. Plus, surely someone else can use what we are storing in the basement.

However, the finality of that is... it's really the end of the baby road (unless God has a strange sense of humor). I "got" that intellectually, but moving the "stuff" of infancy hammered it home.

Don't get me wrong. The thought of being preggers again sends chills up my spine. I was not a happy pregnant woman. I have never been good with nausea, and having a period of my life when a doctor says, "You need to sit and prop your feet at work," was laughable. But I think there's some trigger in a lot of moms I know that makes the realization that you are done with that part of your life a little bittersweet.

So, here marks the day that JoLynn said, "It is finished." Hmmm.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Run, Forest, Run!

Our local Autism organization, McLean County Autism Society, is hosting the 2008 Autism Walk/Run. Proceeds benefit the society, which does a lot of great things for the families in this area. For example, it was through its e-mail communication that I heard about a series of "new diagnosis" meetings through the Autism Program at ISU. I have been attending for the past two Thursdays for free, and it has been a very helpful set of meetings. They also establish things like movie mornings at local theaters and play dates and local gymnastics clubs.

The run is September 21, and Ignatius, some friends, and I are forming a team. You will hear more from me about it, I am sure.
Here is an update on "the boys."
Max continues to thrive at summer school and day care. When Ignatius and I were stretching after our walk/run tonight, he counted with us. He even stretched, too. Show-off can touch his toes. His speech continues to be delayed and give-and-take of conversation is not really there. However, he does listen to commands given to him, which is excellent. He also has become a water lover. Now he holds on to the side by himself!
Ignatius is enjoying summer doing his favorites: PC, Wii, PS2, and pool. We are reading the novel, The Giver, together, since neither of us had read it. It's fantastic so far. He sees a counselor weekly for his anxiety issues, and is still on the waiting list for further evaluation for Asperger's. The developmental pediatrician also wanted us to consider OCD once the anxiety was a bit more under control. It waxes and wanes. Lucky for him, he has two parents who are very familiar with it.
So that's their scoop. Over and out. May I be able to drag my out of shape body out of bed tomorrow. :)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Weekend Events

This weekend was a fast and fun one. Lots of goings on.

Max took his first two trips to Anderson Aquatic Center with me (on Saturday) and with me and Ignatius (on Sunday). He absolutely loved the slides in the toddler pool. He wanted to go on the bigger slides today, but I had to convince him that those were for "big, BIG boys." He has no fear... he probably would have gone down the slides. We went in the larger pool, and he was like a fish. At 3, Ignatius clung to me for dear life in a pool. Max would almost rather have me let go. He likes to kick and float. Gotta get this kid some lessons.

Ignatius had Tae Kwon Do testing on Saturday. It lasted quite a long time because they had several black belts testing. How fantastic for him to see, as he has a goal of ninth degree blackbelt. One of his instructors had to try to break 5 cinder blocks. She broke 3 the first try and 2 the second. Perhaps she wanted to NOT break her hand! The slide show shows photos of Ignatius breaking a board with a kick. He makes it look so effortless now. His first tries way "back in the day" were quite unsuccessful.

I love the shot that Scott got of Ignatius "high-fiving" through the line of instructors after he received his purple belt. Thank God for my new Nikon D60. :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Survival of the fittest

We're going in to day three of summer school with no more bus mishaps. Hooray!

Ignatius has his last day of Kids' Feast tomorrow. I get to go and watch presentations. I am pretty excited to see what the week has generated. They worked a lot in groups.

He has suddenly become quite a humorous poet. I am trying to get him to post his poems on his blog. I'll let you know if he takes me up on it. They're great, but I'm biased.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way Back to Daycare

Here's today's series of events.

1. If you read previous entries, you know that I have been feeling sad about having to keep to Max's routine. I was taking him to daycare, letting him ride the bus to summer school... all to keep him in that routine.

2. Today he toddled off to daycare. All arrangements had been made. He had a change of clothes, Pull-Ups, wipes, and breakfast money.

3. I went about my morning, took Ignatius to Kids' Feast, did some shopping, got rained on, had lunch with my husband. Not a bad Monday morning.

4. I was sitting and crafting at home. No one around. The peace that comes from clear thinking.

5. At 1:05, my phone rings. It's the daycare. Max was supposed to be back at 12:30. Another bus dropped children off. They were contacting the transportation department at the school district. They wanted me to know.

Yes... you may pause to gasp...

So my three-year-old child with communication difficulties is "missing?" I felt as if someone was pulling out my lungs through my belly button.

6. I call the transportation department. No answer.

7. I call the school where summer school was held. No answer. (Of course not. It's been over for almost an hour.)

8. I call the transportation department again. With calmness only from God, the words come out of my mouth, "My name is JoLynn Plato, and I am trying to locate my three-year-old son, Max. He has autism and he was not returned to his day care yet from summer school."

9. I am on hold. Panicking.

10. Call waiting. The day care. They got in touch with someone... finally... who found the bus, which had broken down (including its radio).

11. Back to transportation department. I finally get off of hold. I explain that the daycare has found the bus (before the woman answering the phone knows it, apparently).

12. I call Scott, hysterical. He calls the transportation department to say all that I was unable to say as I was in some odd shock. (Me... speechless... hard to wrap the brain around)

13. Ten years have been shaved off my life.

There's so much more that could be said, but I think anyone reading this is probably already thinking exactly what has been floating in my head for the last 7 hours.

So he gets an even bigger hug and kiss before bed tonight.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

"Every Day is the Fourth of July!"

Does anyone remember that song from Rudolph's Shiny New Year? Every Fourth of July, that song goes on and on in my head. I don't know any other words. Basically, the context has Rudolph traveling through time to find the Baby New Year before the new year begins. Baby New Year was born with great big ears. When people laugh at him, he leaves that place in sadness.

One of the places he visits is a land where it is always Independence Day, 1776. They sing this song when he is there. He is having a lovely time when, alas, the flag comes down the street during the parade and everyone wearing a hat takes it off. Out come the ears, and the laughter, and poor Baby New Year is again off in sadness. However, before then, the song is so happy!

Segue to my Ode to July 4th. I love July 4th. It's the smack dab in the middle of summer holiday. Many people are either genuinely happy or drunk. The weather is ideally nice and hot. Cook outs... sparklers... fireworks. Ah.

Here are pics from our July 4, 2008. The window cleaning shows were too funny to pass up. Max wanted to help his dad. His face when he's squirting the Windex is hysterical, in my humble opinion. The rest pretty much speak for themselves. The car shots show the fam as we watch fireworks. We were at a spot in town where we could see four different huge fireworks displays. I missed the big booms (I know... knowing me as a six year old you're as shocked about that statement as you are that I actually eat onions now, too). Scott disagrees. And of course, there were the idiots, I mean, "patriots," in my 'hood who bought way too many fireworks from God- knows-where (they're not "sold" in IL). Otto was given some doggy Prozac for the night.

I hope your Fourth was at least relaxing.

Friday, July 4, 2008

" a big boy"

For some reason, this teaser works for many things in Max's life. Lately, it has worked beautifully for potty training. He will "pee pee" or "poopie on the potty like a big boy." Incentive enough. He has been doing a lot better with this. Also, he wants to sleep in his "ni-night room like a big boy." So, I start my Independence Day with this entry about Max's recent independence.

He starts summer school on Monday. As part of his IEP, we agreed, even before he started Early Childhood in the district, that he would attend summer school to keep that routine of going to school. It's hard, as after our trip I really just wanted to keep him home. However, it is in his best interest. Also, the kid loves riding the bus. It is in a different school with a different teacher, so I am crossing my fingers that all goes well.

He will be seeing a pediatric neurologist in September. This was in response to his learning of things and then seemingly "losing" them. In the last few days, his color recognition has flourished. He recognized that the letters on my shirt were pink. He noticed on Wednesday that not only was there a red letter on his shirt, but he could name the letter: U! It is things like this that we pray he "keeps."

He's also started a new routine. It all started with early morning brightness. Scott woke up Monday thinking it was later than it was because the sun rose with a certain brightness that day that jarred his biological clock. He decided to go in to work and come back and get Max for day care (Max loves going with his daddy. I could not intefere with that if I tried.). This has worked wonderfully. Max and I sleep a little longer, and Max is able to be slowly and playfully nudged awake. Scott can head off to work relatively stress-free for about an hour. Max's disposition since he started with this has been great. The transition at his day care has been quite calm.

As for me and my elementary job hunt, it seems to have slowed. There's really only one elementary from which I await news. The job option there is waiting on funding. So, I continue with my summer as if I will be back in sixth grade. Not such a bad gig, in my humble opinion. With this new morning routine, we might be OK with a 7:45 start time for me. We shall see. I will be where I am supposed to be. I am really happy with either prospect. I teach in a great district.