Friday, July 29, 2011

Home, sweet home.

We bought a house today! I am exhausted, and we have a loooong day of moving ahead of us tomorrow, but I wanted to post a few pictures from today.

We spent the day painting and pulling out carpet. The kids are super excited about their new rooms. We are excited and anxious to move everything from storage tomorrow. More to come soon.

Thanks to everyone who helped us out today, and all those on the schedule for tomorrow. We are so lucky to have so many people willing to give up their time to help us.

Katherine's new "Fresh Pink Lemonade" room.


Thrilled to see her dollhouse after a few months in storage.


Charlotte's "cucumber" room. I don't think she will know what to do with her own room....


Will's "blueberry" room (we convinced him blue is the new orange since the room was already painted blue!).


Katherine already found a nice place to sun bathe in the backyard. 


Home sweet home.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ten days!

In ten days we will move into our new house! We are all beyond excited; the past six months have been  quite the adventure. I don't recommend selling a house, moving to a temporary location, and buying a new house with three small children in tow. We could have never done it without the support of our family; we thank you all!

Charlotte is SUPER excited to finally have her own room. Okay, I lied. I am SUPER excited for Charlotte to have her own room! She has been in our room (at first a crib, and then a pack and play because we had to take down the crib when we put our house on the market) since her birth. It is time for this girl to have a room to call her own.

Things are falling into place; we found a house we love, in a school district we are happy with....this makes the last six months of chaos worth it.


Charlotte is not a fan of the heat, but loves the water. The past week has been a bit rough on her, but as long as she can splash around in a baby pool she is good to go. Here is my summer beauty.


Stay cool everyone!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"That" parent

We have a few years until Charlotte starts school. A couple more years without worrying about IEPs, placement, goals, assessment, therapies, ...and oh so much more.

There is no doubt Charlotte will be in a special ed program throughout her academic years; her 47th chromosome pretty much guarantees her that. She will have an IEP (individualized education plan...basically a road map for her education) from age three until she graduates. We will attend countless meetings, talk with many teachers, therapists, administrators and specialists. I am also well aware that during those years there will be many times we will have to advocate for Charlotte's needs and fight for what we believe is best. After all, we are the experts, we are her parents.

Being an educator, I feel lucky to have some knowledge of the special education laws and processes. I have worked with many students with disabilities, attended IEP meetings, and collaborated with special education teachers and therapists.

All of my experiences have been extremely helpful in choosing a school/special ed program for our children. However, I am now on the other side of the table. When it is your child who is the center of the meeting, and not your student, views tend to change a bit. Even though I am not currently a practicing teacher, I do believe having Charlotte has changed me as an educator.

"Difficult" parents often obtain reputations in schools, and are known by all teachers. They are the ones that often have high demands, and come across as needy. They may call a lot, email daily, request things that may require extra effort and time. They quickly become "that" parent. As I reflect on the years I spent teaching, I can recall many difficult parents. However, I now realize, many of those parents only wanted one thing; what is best for their child.

I miss teaching, some days more than others. In a few years I may go back, but for now, it isn't a possibility. I am grateful to be able to live vicariously through Missy. We spend a lot of time talking about her teaching experiences, beliefs, thoughts, new research, etc. Since Charlotte's birth, these conversations have meant a lot more, as Missy is a middle school cognitive disabilities teacher. She is hands down, one of the best teachers I have ever met (and I have worked with some pretty amazing teachers). I have never known someone who gives so selflessly to her students. She truly treats each one of those student's like they are her own. She advocates for each one of them, and makes sure each student gets their needs met, even if it means more work for her. The parents of her students trust her, and rely on her, because even though they may be "that" parent everyone warned her about, she looks past that and recognizes all those parents want is what is best for their child.

I read this blog entry today. As I read it, I started to tear up, because I was reminded that not every teacher is like Missy. Many teachers need to be reminded to please, look past my child's disability and see her for who she is, and not for what she has. Don't see Down syndrome, see Charlotte. And please, don't generalize...not all children with Down syndrome need this or can't do that.

I was reminded that I may be in for quite the battle. Being the parent of a child with a disability is not an easy thing; I would like to think that we will start this journey in a good place. I feel comfortable with the school we have chosen. Obviously, with Charlotte being so young, I couldn't look at a particular teacher or program. What I did find, was a very progressive school which strives for full inclusion whenever possible. I also made sure that all of our children will be attending the same school, regardless of ability.

I am ready to become "that" parent if I need to be. I will email daily, call frequently, and do whatever it takes to make sure Charlotte has the same opportunities that every other student has. I will be polite, but am prepared to someday be the parent who teachers talk about in the teacher's lounge.

On a completely unrelated note, I wanted to post this picture for those of you not on FB. I wanted to take a picture of the three kids yesterday, and Charlotte got extremely mad when Katherine grabbed her, forcing her to stop eating her first popsicle. I guess you could say she really likes popsicles. (I apologize for the poor photo quality, it's a cell phone pic).


Friday, July 8, 2011

Rub-a-dub-dub, two girls in the tub.

Charlotte's new favorite activity is bath time. We recently moved her from the baby bathtub to a ring she can sit in. The new apparatus also allows us to bathe her with her siblings, which she absolutely LOVES. Summer in our house means daily baths, as there aren't many nights the kids aren't covered in dirt, sand, and chlorine from the day's adventures.

As soon as we walk into the bathroom, Charlotte starts to squeal and swing her arms in excitement. She immediately pulls herself up on the bathtub and tries her darnest to climb in the tub while the water pours in.

Once in the tub, the smiles and giggles continue for the duration of the bath. The older kids think it is a riot, and watching the two (or three if we are real brave) of them in the tub brings smiles to our faces, even on the days when we are tired and cranky.




Monday, July 4, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

Sophie visitation

Last weekend, we had a very important trip to make. We had to go visit Sophie.


Sophie wasn't able to make the move with us to my parents house. They have a very aloof cat who would not have been happy if we brought our 70 pound black lab to stay for the summer. Luckily, Kate and Bill graciously offered to provide a temporary home for Soph.


Luckily, frequent visitation is available, and Sophie is in doggie heaven. Acre upon acre for running, and the full attention of two animal lovers. She may not want to come home.


We had a great visit last weekend. The kids love visiting Kate and Bill, and there is always lots to do.




Sophie was excited to see us, and though a bit confused at why she wasn't coming with us when we left, seemed to be in good spirits. Kate made a great dinner, we enjoyed the beautiful weather by eating outside (something not possible too often in WI!). Good company, good food, good drinks.




*Notice Charlotte's foot on the table? That's how she sat the entire dinner.

Overall, a great visit. Some good news to share; looks like we may be able to bring Soph home in about a month. If all goes well, I think we have a house! Closing is set for the end of July. We are all very excited to empty out storage and start settling in what we hope will be our "forever house." 3 houses in 7 years, I think we are done :-).

Happy Independence day! Enjoy your weekend!