Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Off Year

For the first time in over 10 years, our cherry tree has zero cherries. The drought and cold were tough, and when combines with a damp and chilly blossom time the tree conserved its resources and concentrated on survival.

So this year, we have our memories, and hope for a better season next year.

It's disappointing, but sometimes there's a reason for an off year.

               remembering on ... Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Who Needs an Alarm Clock?

Between the neighbours who gun their cars at 5:00am, and their cars' noisy engines, which in turn wake James, I will never need an alarm clock again.

Fortunately, I have had a constant presence of cats in my life. Over time, they trained me to early morning wakings and corrected my habit of sleeping in.

Even more fortunately, James wakes up happy. He is infectiously gleeful, almost instantaneously upon waking. There are worse ways to start the day.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Open House Whirlwind

End of year is a crush of activities and events for the kids and their schools. Visiting James' classroom was a treat.It was fun to see projects I'd seen part way through completion and some surprises.

James is sitting at his aide's table, pretending to be her.
I loved the sea/tide pool theme. It matched the play they'd recently put on. The blue file cards contain wishes the kids wrote down for their world. Awesome!

The play! James was a lobster (left, or stage right)

Picasso project

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Bowling Party for the Win

I finally did something I'd wanted to for years: throw a real birthday party for James. OK, I am almost 5 months late, but this year I did it and I am so glad I did.

Chronic issues: A birthday that lands 10 days into the new year, after everyone is wiped out (on so many levels) from the holidays; autism; winter bugs making the rounds; financially drained after holidays and big sister's birthday; weather that confounds outdoor (and less expensive) parties.

This year, however, James has had an awesome group of classmates and really expanded socially. Even with finances and other things stressed to the max in our lives, now was the year to do it. During end-of-year inventory sales, I purchased party items (plates, napkins, cups, and a fabulous collection of party bag toys) for an 8-kid party with a theme James would love: Angry Birds. I figured I'd wait for some nice Spring weather or find an reasonably-priced indoor solution.

Then life happened.

Then it was April and the end of the school year approached. Then I got sick. Somewhere in that mix, I realized our local Bowling Alley was my answer.

I seized Back-to-School Night as an opportunity to grill some parents of James' classmates about best weekend potential for a party. Surprisingly, Memorial Weekend was the response. I took a my lunch break from work and made out the invites, with the help of a freshly purchased yearbook (which is James' new treasured item) and popped them into the student folders that go home each week. On my way back to work, I stopped off at the alley and reserved the earliest block of time on Saturday for the party and find out the particulars.

I'll post later more detail about James' party. The most important thing to share is: it was a success. About half the kids invited were able to come. The fact that people trickled in was not a big deal because ... the kids already there were bowling, which James enjoyed a lot.

Because the lanes were booked for a party over a period of time, shoe rentals were included and the kids could just keep on playing as many games as they wanted. The noise level was down because it was so early in the day and we had pizza ready and drinks available from the cafe by the time the kids were ready for their first break.

Setup-clean-up were super easy. The staff at the bowling alley were very helpful. And it was so much less than booking a party elsewhere. So my stress levels were very low on many counts.

The kids loved it. All of them. Including the birthday boy. Especially the birthday boy. Which is how it should be.

Friday, May 23, 2014

School Project: I Like This!

This came home in James' backpack as my Mothers' Day present. Woah!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Epilogue: Field Trip

Sounds like it was a complete success. Mom was a big worry-wart for nothing.

James went with his aide, a notebook with activities I made in it, his school's yearbook, and a friend's mom helping keep a weather eye out for him.

He came home overflowing with information about the solar system and the fun bus ride. When I came to pick him up at his Nana's house, he was zooming about, looking for Clues!!!

Even this morning, watching his face alight with excitement to be off on a trip with his classmates while pulling on the class t-shirt, I knew it was going to be okay.

PS: Heck, even the weather cooperated!

Throwing Back to 2005 ...

Hard to remember what life was like 9 years ago for us. These photos make me smile:

Oh my goodness, how he loved that balloon! He'd giggle and flirt with it. When it bounced about he'd kick and wave his feet and hands. My grandmother would have said it was the Irish in him.

So many things to touch and tug on that cow. It'd make him laugh so much.

Nap time on the beloved John Lennon Imagine gym mat. Miss Sylvia Daisy Pouncer sits curled at his head.

James was about three months old here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Too Much Everything

James' school held it's annual carnival on campus. It was a day full of games! Food! Activities! Running! Outside! Also: Noise. Sensory overload.

Yup, he spend a good chunk of the day in the resource room.

Not feeling great about the all-day field trip to SF coming up. I had planned to chaperone, but being sick for a week deep-sixed all my PTO. I hoped to plan a strategy with his aide, but guess who has been sick with the bug we had? I feel bad about that, as this bug really knocks you off your feet and makes you feel weak and woozy for at least a week. I am very nervous about the field trip, which is in 2 days.

Now his teacher thinks I am going on the trip, due to a miscommunication. Let's see: all day trip through the Academy of Sciences, tons of noise and fun with classmates while on foot, with things he will find interesting (but which will overwhelm him at times)  ... with a long bus trip to and from San Francisco, and an return ETA of about 4pm, which is 1.5 hours longer than a school day.

Oh, and it's supposed to be hot. James melts in heat and melts down in traffic jams. Plus, when he's tired, he's more prone to car sickness.

Common sense says cancel. But it's not fair to James, having to miss out on the trip. It cost a lot of money too, which I can't get back.

I'm giving it through today to come up with a miracle solution .... failing that I will have to figure out a Plan B for James on that day. Not setting my guy up to fail, especially for something that should be fun.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Third Grade: Allegro Tempo

Another school year is not so much winding down as it is rushing to the finish line: field trips! Plays! Open House! Teacher and Staff Appreciation! All the field trips we wanted to take this year but couldn't because we were cramming for the state exams!

And for James' school district: Campus tours! Because our home district is almost completely cluster schools. This will be my first campus with NO prior experience. If I wasn't so busy, I'd be a wreck (but I'd probably have already toured the campus and requested a teacher). Open house for this campus is this week. I am so there.

Extra topping for James: Transitional IEP. OMG, I cannot believe they actually brought to the table the suggestion that he go straight to the special day class. I was, however, gratified that most of the room  shot it down decisively. Very politely too.

The rest of the meeting was spent going over his aide's notes,  me advocating for his wonderful aide for next year and reminding the group that all the wonderful First Grade notes were completely ignored with disastrous results during the last campus transition to Second Grade. It was a pleasure to hear how each person talked positively about James, and I have food for thought for the coming Fall IEP, as well as some serious academic homework.

I feel so incredibly lucky that he had a strong, creative, and supportive teacher for this entire school year. His classmates have been a mom's dream come true: inclusive, inquisitive, energetic, and generous. His aide has been an essential partner to James' success in school. She gets that he's a visual learner, smart, and wants to engage with his peers. She's a fun person to be around, and all the kids love her. In consequence, James has really grown socially this year, and I loved discovering more of his personality coming out.

Still advocating for my guy, who learned from those around him and is still most motivated to be with and doing the things kids his own age do. Hoping for the best for next year. And enjoying this one, while it's still here.