A "shout out" for Kids R Kids of Round Rock

Ethan and Aiden started at Kids R Kids preschool at the start of the year and I can't say enough good things about it so far. They go twice a week (on Tuesdays and Thursdays) from 8-5. The first week of leaving them was a little bumpy - as we expected - but now, for the most part, they soon forget I'm gone. Even after their long day, they fuss about having to leave school and come home.

I am loving the free time I get to tackle my ever-growing list of things I want to accomplish this year - although having them attend a school where you can log-in to watch them from home tends to cut into my productivity at times.

I absolutely love the staff at KRK. Before they opened, and before we even moved, I contacted the owner to discuss what the school had to offer. I wanted to make sure I was finding a place that was more than just a "daycare", and more importantly, one that could both meet the needs of my boys and challenge them to not just have fun throughout the day, but actually learn. Between the owners heart of gold and the state-of-the-art facility (she gave us a tour of a different KRK location) it didn't take us long to know we had found the right fit.

In just a few short weeks, the boys have already started to take off in many ways. Aiden's speech and language development has dramatically improved. So much so in fact that at his recent evaluation to transition him from the state therapy program to determine what school-based services he would require, it was decided that he is meeting or exceeding all age-appropriate developmental goals. Now I know that is most likely due to the fact that we have done speech therapy sessions once a week for the last 2.5 years, but I've truly seen an increase in his verbalization skills just in the past few weeks, which I think can be attributed to the communication-rich setting of his classroom.

And the boys are becoming more social (if that was even possible), making friends and telling me silly stories about their day together. Being in a classroom has helped Ethan to settle down a bit and learn how to follow directions. When we toured the school, I noticed how nicely the kids were all sitting in their seats at snack time and I had to laugh. I warned the teacher that THAT would definitely not happen with my boys - they'd surely be up and running around, throwing their cheerios and causing a commotion. "You'd be surprised - most parents think that will happen with their kids - but we rarely have that problem," the owner assured us. If the school didn't have cameras where we could watch the boys throughout the day I might not believe that to be true - but sure enough, Ethan, my rowdy, full-of-life Ethan, proved me wrong. Now I just need to figure out how Ms. Patty can get him to sit a full 20 minute story-time and I can't get him to stay still for longer than 2 minutes at the dinner table.

I'm super pleased with both the level of learning and the quality of care they are receiving at Kids R Kids. I can't wait to see how they continue to develop as months go by - and I love collecting the cute drawings and crafts that will fill their keepsake boxes for many years.

PS - Ethan's class will be on the news this Tuesday! They were the only Pre-K class in Texas asked to sing a song on the steps of the Capitol building in Austin. We've been working hard on the song and I will be there to catch it on film so I can share it with everyone! Stay tuned :)

Want to know? Just ask: A message to the general public

A few weeks ago I was out and about with the boys - running errands, getting their hair cut, having lunch - and we stopped in to JoAnn Fabrics to browse.

I ended up with a cartful of "procrastination projects" (you know, the ones you have the best intentions of starting/finishing, but instead end up in various stages of completion in random drawers and closets throughout the house) and as I was checking out I noticed the employee taking interest in the boys. They aren't ones to fade into their surroundings, so it was no surprise to me that they were drawing attention to themselves. They were pulling things out of bins, begging for candy and making my blood-pressure rise as usual.

"They're so cute. How old are they?" the check-out gal asked.

"Irish twins - 3 and 2," I said in a way that was meant to explain and possibly excuse their behavior. This usually elicits responses like:

"Oh I have twins - they're grown now - but I remember how hard it was at that age" or
"I have [insert #] boys. Honey, don't worry, it does get easier"

Not today. She seemed a bit young to have kids, perhaps in high-school from my best guess, so I was a bit caught off guard when she said, "Your little one...can I ask you a question?"

"Sure," I said.

And then, as matter-of-factly as anything, she asked, "Was he born with his condition?"

We exchanged dialogue for a few minutes - me giving my best summation of what is hard to sum up in casual conversations such as these, her nodding and asking probing, yet appropriate and welcomed, questions. She bagged my items, smiled at the boys and wished us well.

I walked out of that store a very happy customer. Despite the fact that I don't "see" Aiden as all that different anymore so having it brought to my attention is a reality check of sorts, this girl handled herself how I wish everyone would. You see, I forget sometimes that Aiden's differences are still obvious to others. I have no doubt it's because I surround myself (and have had the pleasure of being surrounded by) people who really and truly see past his physical differences. But when I do notice an adult stare at a restaurant or a child giggle at the playground, I find myself wanting to talk about Aiden. To share with them a little bit about why he is the way he is. To tell them our story in hopes that they can learn a bit. To spread awareness. To make them see that he is more than his hands, his different face. And yet, most of the time, the opportunity is not there because they do not ask. I could just proactively launch into my spiel, but I don't think my audience would be receptive to some stranger bombarding them with information because I saw their lingered glance.

I don't know if I speak for all parents who have children with differences, but I'm guessing that most would agree they ENJOY talking about their kids. We have stories unlike anyone else. We could talk for hours about the doctor visits and surgeries, the challenges we face, our child's accomplishments. We WANT to share a glimpse into our life. For this will educate others and, in turn, empower us.

I don't get upset when Aiden's differences are brought to my attention out in public. I understand that people will be curious, and may spend a minute or two looking intently at his hands. What does upset me is when their inquiring stares are obvious enough for me to notice, and yet they catch my eye and turn the other way. If you want to know, just ask. Maybe not everyone will be comfortable enough to go into details with a perfect stranger. However, if it is clear that your intentions are good, I will bet that you will earn respect from that person for caring enough to give them the opportunity to share.

Mind Maintenance

I know I'm neglecting my little writing spot.

I know because I hear it every day from my faithful blog readers (i.e. my mom, my sister...yep, that's about it, my mom and sister)..."Why haven't you..." "You really need to..."

I know, I know.

I have about a million things swirling around in my head as potential blog posts. And it's a strange thing because it's for that very reason that I've put it off. I need to sort through the clutter (both in my mind and my house) to develop a plan.

My intentions for this year were to accomplish many things, and while it is only mid-January, the tasks that I have looming ahead of me seem to negatively impact my motivation to JUST GET STARTED ON THEM ALREADY!!!

So please excuse my brief absence while I do a little "mind maintenance", if you will. I promise to make every effort to put blogging back at the top of my priority list.

2010 By The Numbers

2: Princesses kissed by Ethan at Disney World.
1: The number of Ricky's idols we were able to meet by chance.
7: Times per week I read the post shared here which although written by a complete stranger, offers a proverbial pat-on-the-back when I need a little pick me up.
3.1: Miles I signed up to run in my first ever 5k race in March.
2.5: Miles I actually ran (the other .6 was spent walking in a blurry haze trying not to throw up...)
42: The number of times Ethan ran off the field while playing his very first soccer game.
16: Times Ethan got the "hot spot" during his first year of preschool :)
5000: Pennies raised by a sweet 2nd grade class for Aiden and our family.
19: Number of months our house in Indiana was on the market before it sold and we could finally move to Texas!
A BAZILLION: Number of times I've heard Ethan sing "You've Got a Friend in Me".
13: Months spent planning Little Fire Big Heart.
30,000: Dollars raised at the 1st Little Fire Big Heart event for Children's Craniofacial Association.
14.5: Hours it took for me and Ricky to drive to Texas when we moved.
?: Hours it would have taken with 2 kids in tow (thanks Mom and Dad for flying down with them!)
1000+: Calories consumed at the Texas State Fair.
2: Number of truck loads of ice it took to create a snow hill for sledding in our neighborhood.
COUNTLESS: Number of girls' hearts Ethan is going to capture and subsequently break when he chooses someone to marry one day.
100+: Trips to Urgent Care, the pediatrician, specialists or the pharmacy for the boys' ear infections, eye exams, tummy aches, breathing issues and stomach bugs.
ZERO!: Number of surgeries Aiden had to undergo this year! WAHOO!

Goodbye 2010 - it was a year of many accomplishments and good times. I'm looking forward to accomplishing even more this year!

Happy New Year to all!