Sunday, April 28, 2013


The number of acronyms in the special ed process is enough to make anyone’s head spin. In fact, crazy acronyms aside, the entire process can be overwhelming at times. The past few weeks we have spent in contact with our local school district nailing down Charlotte’s individualized education plan (IEP) for next year. I have been anticipating this for months (while years really, as I started thinking about it way back when we moved and were looking at school districts), and am extremely happy to report that it went really well.

I have read many blogs posts about other people’s experiences with the process and they were extremely helpful. I also was thankful for my education background, and my posse of education friends and former colleagues whom I was able to bounce questions of before and during the process. 

Each school district is different, and the way the process is handled is not always the same. Because Charlotte does private therapy, and not our county’s birth-three program, there wasn’t a formal transition from therapy to district services. Instead, I started by sending a few emails to the special education director from our district.  She put me in contact with the school psychologist and asked me a few questions about Charlotte and our thoughts on what next year would look like for her. Our district does not have an onsite Early Childhood program, and historically have sent children who need EC to a neighboring district. This option was presented to us, but so was sending Charlotte to a local preschool and providing the support and therapies she needs there.

The process formally started a couple weeks ago with three mornings of assessments. The meetings took place in our home, in an effort to have Charlotte in her most natural environment. The first day the school psychologist and a PT came, the second morning an OT and a Speech therapist, and the third morning the school psychologist returned with an EC teacher. It sounds like a lot; however, it was nice that it wasn’t overwhelming for Charlotte. The meetings were short, and I believe each person was able to accurately observe who Charlotte is and what her strengths and weaknesses are.

The officially IEP meeting was held this past Wednesday. Before the meeting, we were given four questions to think about regarding Charlotte’s strengths and what goals we had for her (long-term and short-term). Missy and I sat down the day before and pretty much wrote what we thought IEP should look like (the benefit of having someone in your life who not only does this as her profession, but knows my kid as well as her own). Mike and I went into the meeting prepared, and though anxious, we really didn’t need to be.

We are very encouraged by the outcome of the meeting. Charlotte will be attending a local preschool next year, with many peers who will also attend the same elementary school with her some day. She will receive the therapy she needs—OT, PT, and Speech in an inclusive setting (with the exception of one pull out session per week, separate from her preschool time), as well as have the support of an EC teacher and/or paraprofessional when needed. For Charlotte, I don’t think this placement could be any better. She is very social and learns best from watching others. Her IEP goals are realistic and for the most part, pretty meaningful. I was also impressed by the willingness to change these goals if necessary (since nearly 4 months will pass before she actually starts school, some of the goals may already be met by then).

I am thrilled our first experience with this process went so well, I can only hope the same for the future! Now if only I can wrap my head around putting my eldest son on the school bus for his first day of Kindergarten and dropping my little girl off for her first day of preschool on the same day....I may be shedding a few tears come September! 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Nesting. Sort of.

Just a few weeks until the baby comes and things around here have been a bit crazy. The term "nesting" really changes meaning when you are about to have your fourth child. Back when I was pregnant with Katherine and Will, "nesting" meant I went into high gear freezing cookies in anticipation of visitors after the baby came home, washing and folding piles of newborn clothes, and making sure my sock drawer was organized.

These days, I have come to the conclusion that visitors aren't going to get snacks when they come to meet the new baby, I really only need a couple newborn outfits,  and I could care less what my sock drawer looks like. Instead, the past two weeks have been wall-to-wall meetings and appointments, trying to fit it all in before the new boy decides to join us. In addition to multiple medical appointments--new orthotics, eye doc, annual cardiologist check--we have also been trudging through the special education process with our local school district in preparation for Charlotte's third birthday (which has added three additional meetings in the past week to our crazy schedule for assessments). Add in weekly OB appointments for me and weekly therapy for Charlotte and we are beat.

Thankfully, things look like they will slow down a bit this week. With the exception of Charlotte's IEP meeting on Wednesday afternoon, I think we will be back to normal for a couple weeks.

I am also super grateful for Charlotte's much improved attitude towards medical professionals. Remember this?

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This was Charlotte's reaction to doctors and nurses back in October during her hospitalization and for months following it. I couldn't even take her to my doctor appointments without her crying/screaming.

Thankfully, those days are behind us, and she has been amazing the past few weeks.

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(hanging out watching Elmo during her ECHO)

Maybe a hospital bag will be packed this week and a carseat installed, and if not, no worries I didn't have those things done when I went into labor with Charlotte, and we survived.

Enjoy your Sunday!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Is anyone out there?

I am not sure how many readers I have left. I realize I am averaging 3-4 blog entries a month, and that often readers disappear when a blog is neglected. I have been reading a lot of my old entries lately and realized how much I really enjoy having them to look back on. I am hoping to get back to regular blogging (or at least Wordless Wednesdays to start!) after the baby is born.

Lots has been going on here; so much, that I don't really know where to start. I am coming up on my final three weeks of pregnancy and feeling good physically, but "done" emotionally. It seems as during the past few months there has been a lot of stress in our lives, and finding time to really think about what is good and important has been hard to find.

Until tonight. Katherine and Will are obsessed with Wheel of Fortune lately. Dinner, showers, and homework all have to be planned around Pat Sajak, and if for some reason we can't fit it all in, the DVR has to be set to record Channel 5 at 6:30PM. It is fun to hear them talk about how they can't wait to watch, and Katherine is actually quite good at figuring out the puzzles.

However, tonight Wheel of Fortune wasn't on. Katherine was devastated and couldn't understand why the guide said it was going to be on, and yet it wasn't. It was preempted because of the coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings. As I sat and tried to explain this to my 7-year-old, it hit me that this is one of the moments that I dread as a parent. Trying to explain why such evil exists in this world; why time after time there are individuals out there who think it is okay to kill and hurt innocent people? Obviously our conversation was short, and not many details were given--just that there was important news that needed to be on instead.

Tonight, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. I am hugging my children and my husband a bit tighter. As the five (well, six really!) of us sat reading books on Katherine's bed tonight, I was able to focus on what is important. Life is crazy, and such a roller coaster at times, and sometimes it is hard to look past the evil that exists. However, we must try, because on the flip side, there is so much good in this world as well.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spring break fun.

It is super cold still in the upper midwest. In fact, we still had snow on the ground during much of this spring break. It made doing fun, outdoor activities a bit tougher this year, but we powered through. We did hit the zoo one day, and even though it was a bit chilly, the kids had a good time. One more day until school starts up again for the older two! Hoping for spring weather in the near future; I can no longer zip my winter coat thanks to my expanding belly and my growing feet would love to slip into a pair of flip flops.....

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Happy spring....I think?!