Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Choose a Party

 Today Riley's class celebrated Valentines Day, Mardi Gras and the 100th day of school.  We can chalk some of that insanity up to the crazy Catholics.  We can't party during lent and since that begins tomorrow we have to cram it all in today.  Thankfully my mom was able to spend the majority of the day with Riley and keep him out of too much trouble.  He had a few melt down moments but overall had a fun day. 

Getting everything ready for the day took some work with Riley.  We counted out 100 goldfish crackers for him to take to class.  10 rows of 10 so we could practice a lot of counting.  Counting by 10 is hard work. 

We've been trying to work on Valentines for a few days because I knew that Riley's wasn't going to sit down and willingly write his name 19 times.  Seriously should have started a week ago but we at least spread it over the weekend.  He did it!  All by himself because I may be more stubborn than he is. 

Getting to use the box like a table made it fun enough to sign a few.  Just a few though.    Rex decided he didn't want treats with his Valentines so it was just Riley and I making marshmallows this year.  Riley loves to help me in the kitchen. 

He loves to stir and  mix

After the ingredients are mixed marshmallow making is pretty boring.  Waiting for it to boil to a softball stage gives us a bit of time to work on other projects...

Like making cookies. 

Riley loved mixing it with his hands. 

We of course had to taste the cookies... did you guess they were chocolate chip. 

This is what big brother looked like the entire time we were working.  He has been plowing through the Percy Jackson series since Christmas was excited to be finishing book 4. 

Thankfully I was able to talk Rex into helping on day two of marshmallow fun.  After you make the marshmallow fluff it has to set up overnight.  Its pretty boring in the shape of a cookie sheet so we like to take a cookie cutter to it and make fun shapes.   We added coca to the fluff for yummy chocolate marshmallows. 

Riley loved making hearts and was so proud he could do it all by himself.   He worked so hard to press that cookie cutter down SOOO hard so he could pull out the heart. 

See mom I did it all by myself. 

They had to stop and pose for a minute. 

Apparently I stopped taking pictures at this point in the project but we did finally get enough hearts to send to school.  We put them in a little baggie and tied them to the Valentine cards that Riley signed.  I love that Riley is able to do most of the work this year.  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Special Olympics Young Athletes Fun

Today Riley and I went to our local Special Olympics Young Athletes program. 

Young Athletes™ is a unique sport and play program for children with intellectual disabilities. The focus is on fun activities that are important to mental and physical growth.

Children ages 2 1/2 to 7 enjoy games and activities that develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Young Athletes is an early introduction to sports and to the world of Special Olympics. The children learn new things, play and have lots of fun!

Our group meets on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month and the kids have a lot of fun. Our schedule has let us go more often lately and its always fun to see our friends and catch up.    

A fast version of Head Shoulders Knees and Toes gets the blood pumping so the kids are ready to play. 

Followed up with some parachute fun.  The kids all think its hysterical when the parents hold the parachute and the kids sit under it.  We all fall down is a lot more fun when you get to be hidden under the parachute. 

Sitting in line for the obstacle course with his buddy Beau. 

Coach Marie giving Riley directions

Some times waiting in that line is such hard work a kid just has to take a break.

Riley is quick to cheer for himself when he kicks a goal!

Throwing the ball through the hoop.  He makes it!

The new camera doesn't make me a good photographer. 

A crowd favorite is ribbons and snacks at the end! 

Riley's speech therapist Marie and her sister Liz but a lot of time and effort into making the program a success for the kids.  I'm now that our friends know how much fun we have lots of you will be coming to join us.  

Monday, February 4, 2013

Counting to 100

Next Tuesday Riley's class celebrates the 100 day of school.  We are supposed to send a bag of 100 of something and send it to school with Riley.  Suggested items are cotton balls, pennies or marshmallows.  I wish we could bag up the laughs that Riley has provided over his kindergarten journey these first 100 days.  I'm sure I could fill up a bag with the blessings and acts of kindness shown to Riley and our entire family during this kindergarten adventure. 

  The transition back to school after Christmas vacation has been extremely challenging. It seems like we just haven't been able to get our routine back and  has  had an impact on Riley.  Everyday it has been something new, bigger and better in the creative ways Riley has misbehaved at school.  It has been frustrating beyond belief when I know that Riley is capable of so much more.  His behavior choices were not only frustrating and distracting but at times putting his safety at risk. 

Some days it is almost hard to believe that it is even possible for one small boy to make such crazy choices.  Friends have told me that they love to check my FB updates on Riley because its like reading the comics.  Most of the time I'm able laugh at the craziness that is our life, but the last few weeks I haven't laughed much at the goings on at school.  Something about your son hitting one of your friends kids, and not to mention one of his very favorite people, that just doesn't settle well.  Thankfully he didn't actually hurt anyone or himself during the craziness of last week.  My close friends sent many encouraging messages and offered wine and chocolate to help (they know me well).

A few of these message stuck out. 

And remember for all the stress he causes you, not only does he thoroughly entertain most of us, but Riley teaches everyone around him empathy, patience, acceptance and how to love with your whole being!

...think about how much he has done positively.  He is a guy with Ds in a regular Ed classroom that in a school that has never provided for a child with his needs and has adjusted very well. 

I'm so glad my daughter is in Riley's class.  We want our children to accept everyone and believe that this is what the school is about. 

Some days its good to be smacked in the face with the truth.  Especially when its your friends and they are telling you that your kid is pretty amazing.  It is hard at times because we want so much for Riley and we push and push to make sure he has access to everything he needs but sometimes we forget to listen closely to Riley.    He doesn't always have the words to tell us or his friends what he wants but when we slow down and listen to the messages he is sending with not only his words but his actions he is easier to understand. 

Lately Riley has been sending lots of messages.  Some louder than others.  I think pulling his hearing aids out and throwing them or hiding them is a pretty clear message.  Friday we picked up the new molds and the repaired hearing aids and his compliance has improved drastically.  He still didn't want to wear them at school but thankfully Gramma is on duty tomorrow so I think that will solve its self. 

We have been able to put a few extra supports in place during the school day and he is already making better choices.  Thankfully Gramma has as much fun in kindergarten as Riley does and will be spending some time in his classroom.  My niece loves her cousin and needs volunteer hours for her college courses so she will be spending several hours with him on Fridays.  A classmates mom extended her lunch duty volunteer time and spent some time with Riley after lunch.  Just being able to stay in from recess makes a positive difference in his day.  I hope to continue to add a few supports to give him and his teacher the extra help they need during the day. 

All the extra work and stress of having him in a school that isn't required to meet all of his needs causes some people to  question our decision.  Why don't we just move him to public school where they have to meet his needs???  Some days I question our decision and I think it is something we will always be evaluating but for today this community is where he belongs. Would he have a school where he can walk through  the hallway and have every single student know him and want to be his friend? Maybe, but probably not. Might he learn to write faster if he had more one on one teachers?  Yes, I'm sure he would.  Would he be able to recite the Lords Prayer with his classmates and pray for his Gramma's dog each morning ?  No, he certainly would not. 

You see how easy it would be to fill up that bag with 100 blessings in our world.  So next time I'm a wreck over Riley calling someone butt face feel free to call me a butt face and remind me to count to 100.