Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

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May '14

May Recap (Part I)

So we’re going backwards here.

I decided I wanted to get a grill. I generally dislike cooking but really like the taste of all things grilled. I wanted to learn.

John and I saw a Weber brand grill (which is a good brand) at Costco for over $100 less than regular retail price. We returned a few days later to buy it, after researching, and it was gone. All sold out here and at every Costco in the area.

I felt disappointed, but we decided to get a different, more expensive grill that was at least in stock. However, just as John was going to get the propane for it in the store we passed a special vendor that was selling Traeger brand grills. The company is based in Oregon and also has an office right here in the small town where we live. The price was right, about the same as the Weber one we had looked at. It’s not propane but fueled by wood pellets. Essentially it creates a little fire at the bottom of the grill and the heat is circulated by a fan. The wood pellets come in different flavors like hickory and mesquite and apple, and you can do additional things like smoke meat and make jerky or even bake pies and cookies. We went for it.


Today I became One Who Grills and made us some cheeseburgers, all by myself. I have to say, they tasted great! Nice and smoky and yummy. And it wasn’t hard.



I even tried a batch of cookies. The first batch I burned but the second came out just right.


My parents recently moved into the area. We’ve seen them a lot in the last week and a half, and my kids are in heaven. I think they think Grandma and Grandpa’s house IS heaven. Where else do you get tractor rides on the riding lawn mower?

(Elizabeth didn’t love it.)

(Wes liked driving.)

(Carissa loved everything.)

(Just look at her huge grin.)

Tonight at G&G’s I lost Wes and then found him and his cousin in the back of Grandpa’s truck.


The cousins played “house” together (which Carissa happily played with her cousins, making pretend dinners, while Wes tried to find ways to climb out of the truck). Savannah helped the four of them pose for a formal picture or two.




…and then a couple silly ones.



Meanwhile Elizabeth sat in the wagon, just hoping someone would come along and pull her in it. She sat there a long time.


(I think it is funny to watch these cousins playing “house” together. Wes isn’t really into playing pretend but he tried. I think the funniest parts to me are watching Carissa make noodles and hearing Ashleigh say, “Ok, I’ll be the mom” like it’s the worst job ever.)

Carissa finished her first year of preschool. This is the same preschool Wes attended. It’s taught by a special ed teacher and includes a mix of kids with special needs and “typical” kids like Carissa who can lend examples. She did so great at school. She started when she was just barely three years old, and she was a little shy and timid. She was too afraid to use the big potty at school for months (it flushes loud), and the teachers had to coax her with m&m rewards. She not only got over that, but she also lost her shyness. She loves preschool. At the start of the year she would come home and not say much (I figured because she was tired), but by the end of the year I would pick her up and she’d launch into telling me what they learned about or what she ate for snack. Her writing has improved a million-fold. She learned to write her name all by herself, then she reverted to writing it backwards all the time, but with some more practice she writes it perfectly now. I remember one time near the middle of the year she told me how she can write her name, but she’s not so good at S’s because they all come out like Z’s. But she’s got it now. She’s also become quite the artist, and her teachers would use her drawings as examples to other kids of how to draw people.

The end-of-year party was a cookies and milk gathering for parents to come and recognize the kids. Wes and Carissa loved the cookies!


When the class gathered for a photo, every time I looked into my camera to snap a picture there was Wes, front and center. I kept pulling him away and he kept sneaking back in while I picked up my camera. It’s amazing I don’t have a picture of Carissa’s class with him in it.



Meanwhile our Wesley graduated from Transitional Kindergarten. This is a special ed classroom where all the kids have an IEP (a specific contracted plan with the teachers) and some special need. Wes has done really well at school this year. He went from barely being able to write the letters in his name (they were very wobbly and never in the right order and usually all over the page instead of in a straight line) to writing his name really well, in a straight line. He usually plugs a “6” on the end because he’s “Wesley 6 my birthday.” He’s learned to sight read a bunch of words and was maybe the best kid in his class at reading sight words. His teachers told me that he is sweet, happy, and sociable, saying “hi!” to everyone. Sometimes I’d get bad reports about him wrestling or pushing, but overall his teachers had very positive things to say. Next year Wes enters mainstream school and regular kindergarten.

John and I went to his kindergarten program, and my parents came too. Wes looked so handsome and did a GREAT job singing (which he loves), dancing (ditto), and reciting “Humpty Dumpty.”





Hot weather calls for swimsuits and the wading pool.



Carissa likes to paint her nails. One day we both did our toes the same shade of green.

…and she did her own nails in sparkly purple (her other favorite color besides pink).


A typical scene at our house during summertime. All are holding a form of frozen treat in their hands.


Also a common sight in the summer: eating lunch on the front porch.


Carissa on her way to preschool.

One day Carissa’s class learned about stuff from the movie “Frozen” and she came home withe makings of a snowman like Olaf. I helped her put it together. And then faster than snow can melt, it was gone. Yummy.


Carissa drew this picture of me and wrote my name “Mom” all by herself. I think it’s the first word I’ve seen her write independently besides her name. Since then I’ve also seen her write “go.”

I don’t know what Elizabeth is doing. Probably following the example of her older brother and sister.

Didn’t I say that heaven is at Grandma and Grandpa’s? This was the first time we took the kids to visit after my parents moved here.



Oct '11

Waiting for the Bus

A three-day-a week ritual.

When Wes knows it’s time for school he waits by the window and says, “Bus! Come!” When the bus arrives he runs to the door and hops (literally) down the front steps. I used to walk with him down the steps all the way to the bus, holding his hand. But Wes won’t hold my hand anymore. Instead, I stand on the porch and watch him go.

He is four years old now, after all.

Sep '10

Out of the Woodwork We Come

First off, here’s our resident princess.

She’s nearly five weeks old now, growing, and I think her blue-black hair is starting to go more dark brown/black.

This week I start teaching Zumba again. I’m looking forward to it and hope I don’t keel over in the first hour from lack of stamina. Five weeks postpartum might be a little early to start, but I hope it will be good. I’m following a new eating schedule that so far I love. It’s helping me feel healthier, more energetic, and I’m starting to lose a little weight. All good things.

A lot of big changes lately for Wes. He turned three on September 12. First, he got a bouquet of balloons from my folks. He went nuts over those.

His occupational therapist (whom we love) brought him a terrific and timely gift of a memory matching game. We’ve been working with him on matching, and he’s doing so great. Instead of flimsy cards, the pictures are on more of a cardboard material so Wes can’t destroy them as easily. There are pictures of balls (his favorite toy), and even of pretzels (his favorite food)!

We took him to an indoor bounce house place. Wes is completely in his element there. He jumps off everything and is braver than I am on the really tall slides. Here he is climbing with his cousin Savannah.

For his birthday I made cupcakes, more for the tradition of it than for Wes to eat. He’s not into cake. Too bad, as these were cream-filled chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter cream frosting.

I bought him some pretzel M&Ms that he ate instead. But we still lit a candle and sang to him, and John blew out the candle for him. Maybe next year he’ll know how to blow on things.

But he does know how to open presents, and he got to do that.

Now that Wes is three he starts preschool. He’s been there twice so far and, as far as I can tell, he likes it. He doesn’t really talk, so I actually have no idea what he truly thinks of it, or what exactly he does each day, but the teacher has a blog where she posts highlights of what they’re learning about.

I know he likes riding the bus. We sit outside on our front porch and wait for it to come. When it pulls us, Wes jumps up and walks down the steps and gets on the bus without even looking back. And when he comes home from school he is tuckered and takes a great nap. So far, preschool is good.

Sep '10


On Friday John and I took Wes to his preschool classroom to meet his teacher and new speech therapist and to do an IEP. I have no idea what IEP stands for, but it amounts to goal setting and a bunch of paperwork. Starting preschool marks the transition for Wes from his therapy services for ages 0-3 into the services for school-aged kids. Now he’s part of the school district, and he’ll be there for a long time. He starts next week.

His teacher is a special education instructor and his class will have about nine kids, six with special needs and three typical. The special needs vary from the mildest speech delay on up. I think Wes will be the only kid in his class with Down syndrome.

I have heard glowing reports of his teacher, and I liked her when I met her. I think Wes will love preschool. While we spent an hour going over paperwork Wes got to explore the room and play with all the toys. Pretty much he was in heaven.

School will be 2 1/2 hours twice a week. If his teacher finds he would aid from more days a week then he’ll go more often. But he only qualifies for two days a week based on his test scores.

Wes will get picked up by a small school bus. In addition to the driver there is a helper who sings songs with the kids and brings toys for them to play with. I’ve heard that kids love riding the bus. It will also make the transition easier for both Wes and me since I won’t have to drop him off at school.

The schedule for his days looks like this:

11:00-11:05 Arrival and sign-in
11:05-11:25 Large group calendar/Singing time
11:25-11:50 Lunch/Independent book time
11:50-12:00 Large group story time
12:00-12:10 Large group lesson
12:10-12:50 Indoor play
12:50-1:00 Large group lesson
1:00-1:15 Centers/Small groups
1:15-1:30 Outdoor play/Gross motor skills work

I need to get Wes a backpack and a lunchbox or cooler. I can’t believe I’ll be packing him a lunch to eat away from home like a big boy when he’s still so little.

The IEP meeting involved me, John, his new teacher, his new speech therapist, his old occupational therapist, his old physical therapist, the typical preschool teacher, and a school representative. We sat in tiny chairs around a tiny table and talked about what help Wes qualifies for and what types of goals would be good to work on this year. Everything is documented on paper.

Last month Wes was evaluated by his therapists and, like I said, he scored well in many areas. Anything 7% or lower qualifies for special education and therapy services. Here’s what his results look like:

I. Social/Emotional Development 27%

II. Adaptive (self-help) Skills Development 14%

III. Physical/Motor Development
A. Gross
1. Stationary 37%
2. Locomotion 16%
B. Fine (Object Manipulation) 37%
C. Total 23%

IV. Language/Speech Development
A. Receptive 1%
B. Expressive 1%
C Total 1%

V. Cognitive Development 12%

So the only service he’ll be receiving especially is speech therapy, about 15 minutes each class.

Although he scored 12% in Cognitive Development, one of the subcategories was Perception and Concepts and he scored just 1% there. Not surprising to me. So they’ll be working with him on that. But he did well in the other subcategories: Attention and Memory (25%) and Reasoning and Academic Skills (37%).

Goals that his preschool teacher will work on with Wes this year:

1. Wesley will transition and remain in a requested area independently in 4/5 transitions across 3 successive sessions. (To begin, he will remain in a requested area with visual/verbal cues.)

2. Wesley will tolerate a variety of sensory stimuli and textures in 3/4 trials for 3 successive sessions.

3. Wesley will find a match for a variety of pictures and objects, including but not limited to colors and shapes, with 80% accuracy for 3 successive sessions.

4. Wesley will point to a requested picture or object including but not limited to shapes/colors with 80% accuracy for 3 successive sessions. (To begin, Wesley will match a variety of pictures and objects including but not limited to shapes/colors with 80% accuracy for 3 successive sessions.)

Goals that his speech therapist will work on with Wesley this year:

1. Wesley will correctly identify spatial concepts (e.g., in, on, out of, etc.) on 4/5 trials over 3 consecutive sessions. (To begin, Wesley will use 2-3 word phrases to identify/name objects including but not limited to spatial concepts on 4/5 trials over 3 consecutive sessions.)

2. Wesley will correctly name objects in pictures in 4/5 trials over 3 consecutive sessions.

3. Wesley will answer simple wh questions and yes/no questions with 80% accuracy over 3 consecutive sessions.

I’ll be interested to see him learn how to stay in his requested area (he’s so independent and adventurous), learn to point to requested objects (which is hard for him), and pick up more speech from being around other kids who talk. I also hope he’ll learn to not be afraid of the sound of scissors and tape because they’ll be using scissors every day in school.

So that’s preschool. And that’s our boy growing up.