Thursday, September 27, 2012

An Amazing Night and Speaker

Last night I was so incredibly lucky to have seen Dr. Temple Grandin herself. As in in person. And listen to her speak of her autism as well as children with autism, sensory disorders, etc and how to best work with them and help them.  Such insight can be gained by listening to someone who has actually dealt with the things that many of us find so very hard to understand or even believe.  Just A. May. Zing.

Although our lecture last night isn't posted (that I know of) you can see a similar one below.  I HIGHLY suggest taking an hour and watching it!!!!  (Especially YOU Mom! - Think you may find it fascinating like I did!)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Comes in many forms.

My kids are so much braver than I in trying new foods!

Take for example our new local buffet.  Last Tuesday Olivia and I went to try it on a "date" night.

She tried SUSHI!  (Loved one of the two she tried!)

Photo: Sushi!

And FROG LEGS!  (Breading was too spicy for her)

Photo: Trying the new buffet... Amazing! Olivia's trying frog legs! Date night for us girls!

And tonight Braeden and I went for our "date" night... to the same place!  (Can you tell they've been dying to try it?!  What is it with kids and buffets!?) :)

And HE tried SUSHI!  And loved one of the two HE tried!

Brave... because no way was I sticking any of that stuff in MY mouth! LOL
Monday, September 24, 2012


Well, we had our meeting today regarding Braeden.  It's so very hard to be at meetings where there are definitely things as a parent I'd LOVE to say, things that maybe even NEED to be said, but at the same time could jeopardize my job because they'd criticize co-workers, bosses, friends.  So I bite my tongue and choose my battles and speak when absolutely necessary with carefully phrased words.  BUT, mind you, I would NOT hold back if I thought it were truly placing Braeden, or any of my kids, in a negative placement or light.  And today was no exception.  I spoke up about how I thought "we" (read: they) had let this get out of control by not meeting soon enough, by not having a plan in place once we began to see behaviors, by not doing what needed to be done.  But bit my tongue on just how wrong I thought this was.  We (they) set him up for failure and now they don't want to pay the "cost" and ride out the behaviors to get them under control, but would rather he be "gone".  The consensus was that a regular education placement just was not / is not the best placement for Braeden at this time.  But instead from fighting it because I see how he was set up to fail, I agreed because when it comes down to it, I don't think the regular ed. setting IS the best placement for him.  Maybe not in the future, but at least for now.  So my list of questions has begun in order to prepare for visiting these placements.  I'm glad I have a couple of days to wrap my head around this and prepare questions.  Anyone out there have things they think I should ask, or wish you had asked in a similar situation???

Aside from this, I am working on contacting Easter Seals to get a complete work up done for/on Braeden.  It will include not only an intense work up with regards to Autism possibilities, but also input with a specialized OT, pediatrician, etc.  I myself wonder not so much about Autism as I do Sensory Processing Disorder.  The work up covers approximately 6/7 hours of testing, info gathering, etc over a span of a number of days and sounds like a highly in depth look into "who" Braeden is and how he best functions, including write ups for school, etc.  I have spoken with another parent who had this done and was very impressed, but know too it could be a wait to be started.

That all said, it looks like the Special Ed Director, School Psychologist, and I will be going to three separate placement options and touring/asking questions on Wednesday.  Obviously Braeden knows nothing about this yet.  Of the three placements, just going into the visits, I am 90% sure I am not interested in one of them.  Regarding the other two I'm at a standstill and will be very interested in seeing them up close and personal.  They both hold strong Pros and Cons for me right now, so we'll see how they play out.

I know that the smaller class size, less chaos, accessibility to sensory items, work reduction, etc will be so beneficial to Braeden.  I do worry that his day will be done before mine and what I will do with him during that time between our two programs.  I just continue to pray that although I may not see the end right now, God knows all about it and has it mapped out perfectly.  It's one step at a time.
Sunday, September 23, 2012

"Invisible" Disabilities

School is well under way now.  Olivia is doing so very well and is absolutely loving middle school!  She was quite worried for a while this summer... how will I find my classes, how will I make it to class on time, how will I remember my schedule, who will be in my classes with me, etc.  But she loves it!  She is doing so very well and has taken to the freedom and responsibility like a champ.

Liam as I spoke of in a recent post is doing great as well.  I'm VERY glad we held him back a year.  He is still very behind in his skills and learning, but he is coming along well in so many other ways!

And then there's Braeden.  And the reason I've been so quiet on the blog the last couple of weeks.  I have many posts that travel through my mind, but I have just been exhausted emotionally and physically to spend the time blogging.

The first couple weeks of school Braeden did wonderfully.  He occasionally butted heads with his teacher, but she is a great fit for him, knows how to talk with him, when to push him, when to let things slide.  He had a bit of trouble going to other classrooms (we have a semi block schedule at the end of the day), but nothing horrible.  A couple of times he escalated and was angry, but was able to be redirected.  HOWEVER, he also, in the midst of "fight or flight" "flew" a couple of times and walked out of the classroom.  Last year at this time he began doing that and they cracked down on it immediately.  If he left without asking, he was immediately taken to "time out" which often ended up in a restraint, but after a couple of weeks he was "fine" and had a great rest of the year.

He's in a new school.  My school.  Right across the hall.  And the first couple weeks it was all about seeing mom, hugging mom, etc.  He has a new social worker, new principal, new everyone, and they have been trying to appease, build rapport, and feel him out.  So when he walked, no one stopped him.  They went after him, tried to hang with him, talk to him, etc.  They came to me and asked me to step in and talk him into coming back to class.  It was not working.  They were creating a monster.  

It all came to a head Friday September 14.  He wouldn't go back to class.  They weren't "stopping" the behavior and I felt we were spiraling out of control and was surprised no meeting had been called.  But I'm the parent.  Not the special educator.  So I was asked to take him home.  And I had to then stop him from leaving where he was.  And when the principal said, "Yes, you need to take him."  His mind (which I found out soon enough) went to "Take him to the hospital" and he FLIPPED out.  So I was the one then restraining my now flailing, kicking, biting, and completely overloaded 8 year old.  In front of coworkers.  And students.  With tears falling fast and furious.  Because I can do this over and over to students in need of help, but my own son, when I feel he's been set up to fail, is just too much.  And as we went into a nearby room to calm down, he said the word "hospital" and I realized what he thought.  I told him we were not going there and he was immediately calm and comforting me.  Saying all would be ok.

So we went home.  At 1:00 in the afternoon.  And no one called me.  And no one called over the weekend.  And Monday came and still no meeting was called, no plan put into place.  Monday went ok.  He got through the day and stayed where he needed to.  Tuesday I finally emailed to ask about a meeting myself.  I shared how scared I was that everyone was being set up for failure.  We agreed to meet sometime that day.  And not 10 minutes after school began, he was out of his room refusing to go back, hiding in places around the school, running through the courtyard.  I was called in again.  Left my own class again.  To go sit with him with a book and hope he could come "down" and go back to class.  He did, where he stayed approximately 4 minutes.  And was under my desk.  When I called the office to let them know where he was it was another 15 min or so before anyone came in.  The principal said he was ok to stay in my room (WHAT?!).  That or I would need to take him home.  So we stayed.  He got some work done, read under my desk, joined my class for a few things, ate lunch with me, and got through the day until his meeting at 3.  His social worker from last year came, thank goodness, and laid it out for them.  You have to nip it.  You have to let him know exactly what will happen, and that doesn't mean going home or staying in mom's room.  It will get much worse before it gets better.  It was agreed another special educator and the principal would be the first two contacted.  I was to be left out of it. (Finally)

So the past few days have been very rough at school.  Braeden is doing well with the other special educator.  He is well versed in disabilities and Braeden has been a puzzle to him. :)  And.. the best thing hopefully coming out of this is that he is seeing and saying the exact things I've tried to say the past couple years but no one listened.  ADHD is definitely a part of Braeden and who he is... but I KNOW there is more than that.  Last year I went to a workshop on Autism.  I've been to workshops on this a lot.  I've taught many along the spectrum over the years.  And when I went I was ready to hear some things about Liam based on some of what we were seeing in him at the time.  But I was SHOCKED to hear about Braeden.  SO much of what they were discussing was Braeden, exactly.  Sensory issues... Going from 0 to 60 in anger in 1 second flat because although calm on the outside things are boiling inside... poor social skills with peers... talking about random subjects (She spoke of visiting a classroom and a boy in front of her turned around and asked if she knew about Pluto, the planet... that is so Braeden with other topics!)... Lack of eye contact (though not always)... and on and on.  I was blown away.  So I asked our special ed director if our district's Autism consultant could observe him sometime while she was in district.  And was told yes, but it never came to pass.  Never happened.  And now, this is exactly what this new teacher is saying too.  It makes so much sense, and puts so much of him into a better perspective.  His escape is just that, escape from the overstimulation.  He has 25 other students in his SMALL classroom.  Transition times are LOUD and NOISY and he can't handle it.  Transitions are hard anyway, but this makes it so much worse.  He has a tremendous fear of heights.  He is also extremely sensitive.

We meet again tomorrow morning.  I just pray that the team can listen to what is being said and not just to what this could mean money wise for our district.  I hope for Braeden's sake that we are on the right track.  There are a couple administrators that don't "get it" at all.  And the fact that they're bosses of mine is making things very difficult.  For me.  And I want to focus on Braeden and what will possibly be the best for him, not just for now, but also looking ahead at the future.

I wish people could better understand "invisible" disabilities.  A student who looks like every other student but who has trauma or issues with their brains due to prenatal exposure or autism or ADHD or so many other issues... it makes things so much harder for them to get what they need educationally.  I pray for our meeting... that people have open minds to what is being said and recommended.  That pocketbooks don't rule decisions but student needs do.  That others in my place of work are sensitive to the fact that I'm his mom, and not just another teacher when it comes to him.  That God's plan can be made clear in all of this.
Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saturday Favorites - Pinterest Edition

Thought today I would share some of my recent Pinterest pins that I just can't wait to try!

Brownies with pretzel crust. umm yum. salty and sweet.

You can find these yummy looking brownies with a pretzel crust HERE.

I guess I wouldn't want to JUST make dessert, so to start I might make this delicious looking casserole BEFORE we devour the brownies!

Chicken and Biscuit Casserole. 1 pilsbury biscuit tube 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup (regular sized) 1/2 cup of Sour Cream 1/2 stick of butter, melted 1 can of peas 2 cups cooked chicken, 1 cup mild cheddar cheese 3 TBS milk Bake 375 35 min.

Chicken Casserole can be found HERE.

Or maybe we'd be in the mood for something a little lighter?
In that case, these mozzerella sandwiches to dip in spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce sounds tempting!

Grilled Mozzarella Sandwiches, serve with a side of marinara. Why have I never thought of this!!

Sandwiches found HERE.

And maybe a side dish to top off the meal?
 Maybe something like these to-die-for looking carrots???

These carrots are amazing! Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes with some seasoning and a little olive oil. Then drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of honey, and about 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. Pop them back into the oven for about 5 more minutes to achieve sweet, salty, still slightly cruchy perfection!

Carrots found HERE.

I'm thinking a fall drink might be in order as well,
Hmmm... maybe something like this "sparkling apple cider"?

2 cans frozen apple juice concentrate & 2 liters club soda = Homemade "Martinelli's" sparkling apple juice!!    love the apple slices

Sparkling Cider found HERE.

So much for food, there are SO many other things to find on Pinterest!!!

Maybe I'll bring some of those next week, but for now...
Need some great ideas for folding the dollar bills the tooth fairy leaves?
I LOVE these!

Folded Money...from the tooth fairy

Folded money found HERE.

And hopefully will still be able to use them sometime, Liam has yet to lose a tooth, but soon!?
Monday, September 17, 2012

Outdoor Saturday

It was SUCH a gorgeous day Saturday! So I was very glad our day consisted of many outdoor activities!

First off was Olivia's soccer game! 

Then a bit later was a family picnic with our church family.  There were SO many activities for the kids to do, lots of yummy food, and great conversation!

Can you tell who won the obstacle course!?  :)  (Fake pout, I don't think she knows how to pout if a camera's around!

Part of our church (we have two buildings) is on a college campus and we used their warming house for our get together.  We loved watching the band march and play on their way to the football game!

This is what happens when you have an afro and walk too close to a pine tree! :)

Then we were all given free tickets to go to the game!  We didn't stay long, but saw part of the first half and halftime.  It was the kids FIRST live football game and they were entranced!

So much so that THIS one wasn't too happy to leave. :(  We'll go again buddy! :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Satuday Favorites


Lunch bags and boxes have been a buy-a-new-one-every-year-because-they-get-gross thing around here.  But not any longer!
Just prior to last school year, Olivia and I found these two green "BYO" lunch bags on MAJOR clearance at Wal*Mart.  Something like $3 each.  We bought them and used them for Braeden and Olivia's lunches all last year.  They are GREAT!  They're made of neoprene which means if they get dirty, if Olivia spills soup inside, if Braeden's applesauce gets all over, you can throw them into the washing machine and they are literally good. as. new.

So this year Oliva and I bought ourselves the girly ones below and the boys are using the green ones.  We also have two "mini bags" that are exactly the same but smaller that we use if someone forgets their bag at school, and that will be great for a cold snack.  They were major clearanced as well; one is purple and one is purple with colored polka dots.

Something else that I've been trying to "perfect" is packaging of items to go into those lunch bags.  Mostly we've used plastic sandwich containers and snack size baggies for veggies, fruit, pretzels, etc.  But I wanted something different and more economical.

I FINALLY found the perfect solution!  These are by Rubber*maid (no, they don't pay me and neither does BYO!).  The large one has two removable sections that are perfect for a sandwich and a side.

There are also smaller containers for additional sides. 

And they snap/lock together! 

There are even smaller ones for sauces/dressings/etc but those were out of stock when I found these.  (At Tar*get by the way.)

And finally... a new recipe I bet your family will LOVE as much as ours does!

BBQ Cups!

1 pound ground meat (I used turkey)
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1 can cheap refrigerated biscuits
shredded cheese (I used Mexican blend)

Preheat your over to biscuit can directions.  Brown your meat.  Drain and add BBQ.  Line muffin pan sections with biscuits.  Fill each with meat mix (you will have some leftover).

Top with small amount cheese.  Place in oven for time stated for biscuits.  Remove, allow to cool, and enjoy!  My kids DEVOUR these!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Kindergarten Re-do

I haven't really spoken to the fact 
that Liam is repeating kindergarten this year.

A little background:
Liam first came to live with me at 9 months old.
He had already lived in two other homes, neither of which was stimulating and enriching in any way.
At 9 months he couldn't even sit up,
he could only make one sound,
wasn't standing,
wasn't crawling,
Liam was quite delayed.

But it's amazing what a stable environment can do.
And within ONE WEEK...

He was sitting...


And crawling...

One. Week.

language came at a MUCH slower rate.
And although he graduated OT and developmental therapies early on, he has still been far behind his peers in so many areas.

So last year we tried kindergarten.
And it didn't work.
Add to that the fact that we had a really rough time at home and Liam personally had some things to work through, and we ended up pulling him out of full day kindergarten, placing him in half day preschool/half day kindergarten along with speech and OT.
It was not the best solution, but it is what it is.

So we are re-trying kindergarten.

I know we haven't been into this year very long, BUT

* last year when Liam would come home he would talk about the adults that he saw and the food that he ate.  Period.

*this year he talks about "level one voices", learning, skills, and friends

*last year he hated going to school, it was a source of discontent each day

*this year he LOVES school, he gets excited when he asks if there is school the next day and I say yes, and gets bummed when I say no

*last year he had the many staff members who worked with him wrapped around his little finger (not in a good way)

*this year he is learning he doesn't always get his way and that school is for following directions and learning

*last year was rough in many ways

*this year I am cautiously optimistic that we are on the right track!

Prayers for a great rest of the year!

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About Me

I am a single mom to four amazing kids; each of whom just happen to have been adopted. The first three were adopted through foster care, and we just completed an international adoption from Haiti. Our family has grown through adoption and I am all the more blessed to know each of my children. I worship a mighty God, teach Special Ed, love bargains, and am inspired by Pinterest... come along with us for the ride!

Olivia - 14

Olivia - 14

Braeden - 11

Braeden - 11

Liam - 9

Liam - 9

Macy - 5

Macy - 5

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Orphan Crisis

• 147 million orphans in the world
• 50 million orphans in Africa 
• Every 14 seconds a child is orphaned by AIDS
• 16,000,000 have been orphaned by AIDS
• Every week, AIDS claims as many lives as American fatalities in the Vietnam War
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• Malnutrition is associated with the deaths of 5 million children under the age of five
• Every 2 seconds an orphan dies from malnutrition

Hence the title of my blog

Little Did I Know

Little did I know that the road would be so rocky
Little did I know that the trip would take so long
Little did I know that my heart could hurt so much
Little did I know that God is never wrong

Little did I know that love could be so powerful
Little did I know that a dream so far could go
Little did I know that God would place the right ones
Little did I know that my heart, so large, could grow

Little did I know that a dream has it’s own timing
Little did I know that this day would finally come
Little did I know that four souls would be sent to guide me
Little did I know that they would choose to call me mom

But God knew all along and He had a plan to follow
God knew all along that my dream would soon come true
God knew all along that we five should be together
God knew all along that I’d share it all with you