Friday, May 25, 2007

Diva Takes Center Stage

Last weekend was Recital weekend for Diva and her ballet class. The show was amazing as usual. Over 20 acts with dancers ranging from age 4 to adult. Diva was in the Wildflower act and I, as usual, was a backstage mom. I have a feeling that I will never see Diva perform from the from the audience, but I don't mind because it is so much fun to watch these little girls conquer their anxiety, pour their hearts into the show, and bask in the excitement of the performance. Diva was old enough to dance both the Saturday and Sunday shows this year and she and her class did a great job. Coming off this performance, she can't wait to go to dance camp this summer and wants to take Jazz as well as Ballet next year (so she can have two costumes at the recital :0).

Rock Garden

With the same passion he has for water, Little Frog has a new obsession - Rocks. Everywhere he goes, Little Frog finds, inspects, mouths, drops, and collects rocks. The picture above is our front yard now affectionately referred to as the Rock Garden. We also find rocks in the living room, the playroom, the bathroom, our bed and the car. We are reminded of our first child - a tri-colored cocker spaniel named Chopin (named after both the composer, Frederic Chopin, and the author, Kate Chopin). She was an avid rock hound who never missed an opportunity to add to her rock collection. At least she broke the ice and gave us a good sense of humor about living in the stone age. Chopin was gone long before Little Frog was old enough to remember her. I think they would have been great friends.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

YOGA Frogs

We are becoming a family of Yoga Frogs. Little Frog's Auntie M is a few hours shy of becoming certified as a yoga instructor. She is hoping to work with Little Frog this summer. I've dabbled in yoga for years - never finding the time to make it a part of my regular routine - something I am still trying to do this year (belated new year's resolution). Diva Frog has never taken a yoga class, but has learned several poses in her ballet and gymnastics classes. She can also put her foot straight up over her head with very little effort. Little Frog's Grandma took her first yoga class last week (and her second one today). So it was not a stretch (sorry about that) when I suggested that yoga be part of Little Frog's IEP. Fortunately for me we have an amazing new physical therapist at school. He is young, quiet and exudes calm. He is very knowledgeable about sensory processing issues and has already begun to use Little Frog's physical therapy time to work on them. When I got a copy of the draft IEP, he had added imitating a yoga pose as a goal to address imitation skills, complex gross motor planing, and body awareness. YEAH!

Today, after the IEP meeting I told him that I had started working on a short yoga sequence with Little Frog: Mountain Pose, Forward Fold, Lung, Downward Dog, Cow Pose, Child's Pose, reverse the sequence back to Mountain Pose. Little Frog and I worked on imitating Mountain Pose, the beginning and the end of the sequence. Beyond that, I modeled the sequence over and over while Little Frog watched from his swing. Within six repetitions, he knew when the sequence ended and waited until I returned to Mountain Pose to request another push on the swing.

Little Frog's Physical Therapist said he had given it some thought and wanted me to add another pose to the sequence, one that would be challenging but not unfamiliar and would give Little Frog a sense of his body. He asked me to add Frog Pose - how appropriate!

Second Chakra Excercise - Frog Pose
1. Come into a squat, up on the yoes, pressing your heels together.
Have the knees bent and spread apart, and the buttocks resting on the heels, which are off the ground.
2. Place the fingertips on the floor between the spread knees.
3. Inhale and keep the fingertips on the ground. Lean into your hands and push up, straightening your legs. The buttocks will raise in the air, while the head goes down. Try to bring the nose as close to the knees as posssible.
4. Exhale, come back down, letting the buttocks strike the heels. The inhale and exhale should be powerful.
5. Start off with eleven frogs at a time, and build up to twenty-six, fifty-four, and eventuall one hundred and eight frogs.

Monday, May 14, 2007


Here in Western Washington we have a very special family who, 40 years ago, took some puppies to their son's special needs class. They quickly discovered that most of the children had never really been around animals. They invited the class to come to their family farm to see real animals up close. The kids had a wonderful time and some amazing connections were made. The Corey's decided to continue to offer their home for the field trip. Soon other schools heard about the day and asked if they could join in. Before long, the project had to be moved to the county fair grounds. The Corey's asked their friends and neighbors to pitch in and farmers from around the county showed up with their tractors, horses, bunnies, chickens, barbecues, and families to spend the day with special needs children.

Today was the 40th annual Corey's Special Day at the Farm. With the help of several service clubs, our special ed PTO raised the money to send 7 buses with 100 (pre-school to high school) Students and 60 Teachers, Paraeducators, Therapists and Parents on the 1.5 hour trip. Schools from 4 different counties are invited to participate. There were horseback and pony rides, hay rides, a petting zoo, tractors to climb on, a cowboy clown making balloon animals, llama's and other animals to pet, the army reserves were there to pose for pictures and let the kids climb all over their rig, a roping demonstration and class, musical acts, tee-shirts, pictures and a hot-dog lunch all free to every special needs child who attended.

The kids had a blast. Everyone participated to the level they felt comfortable with. Nobody noticed much when there was crying or tantrum or unusual behaviors. It was a very liberating public experience. Over the years, the volunteers have also come to love this event. Many have commented that working at Cory's Day has completely changed the way they look at disability.

This was Little Frog's first year to attend. He was not too sure about participating, and waiting in line was a little too much to ask. But he seemed to be taking it all in. He did ride a pony for about five seconds. The volunteer helped him get down and brought him back to his teacher. Later, when we asked him about riding the horse - he got the biggest smile on his face!

Thank You Corey Family - you have created quite a legacy.

Saturday, May 12, 2007



10. Being able to say “because I said so” with authority. You would think it would work with my employees too.

9. A good excuse for eating extra treats – someone has to finish that ice cream cone before it melts all over the mini van.

8. An easy out from awkward social situations, “I’d love to, but Diva’s ballet class, Little Frog’s therapy, need to be home to check the homework and read the bedtime stories….”

7. Checking homework and reading bedtime stories. The great feeling you and your child get when you explain a new concept so they understand and aren’t frustrated anymore. Getting to revisit your childhood friends – Good Night Moon, Winnie the Pooh, Laura Ingles Wilder, Where the Wild Things Are, Horton Hears a Who, Hop On Pop, The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Make Way for Ducklings, A Wrinkle in Time - all over again and experience them like the first time through your child’s eyes.

6. Playing – really playing like you did when you were a kid. I have Little Frog's Autism to thank for this also because play has become so important and I truly have license to let go and play.

5. Singing to and with a very forgiving audience.

4. watching them grow, mature, overcome developmental and social obstacles. I think I feel even more proud when they succeed (and sometimes just trying is success in and of itself) than when I succeed.

3. Perspective – being a mom shifts what I find important and/or necessary – and I like who I am all the better for it.

2. The Secret Mommy Handbook – I feel I understand my own mother much better now that I have passed the initiation. Now we can even share the secret handshake!

1. Unconditional Love – My love for my children is the closest I’ve come to experiencing unconditional love and I am in awe of its power.

Happy Mother's Day to Moms everywhere!

Welcome Home

The view from our Condo in Waik0loa on the Big Island of Hawaii.

The Ocean Beach across the street at the Hilton.

One of the Dolphin Quest Dolphins with a Trainer at the Hilton.

One of the Many pools at the Hilton (we took this picture for Diva Frog). We had Daddy Frog's Birthday Dinner at the Provision Company (pictured here above the pool with the blue roof) the night we arrived. It is one of our favorite places to watch for the Green Flash just as the sun dips below the horizon.

I'm Back!

Hawaii was wonderful, as usual. We went earlier in the year this time and the cooler weather (if you can call 80 cooler) and smaller crowds suited me just fine. Daddy Frog swam and snorkeled to his heart's delight, and I just did things for "ME". I packed one whole suitcase with reading materials, exercise DVDs, art supplies, and music for relaxing. Daddy Frog thought I was crazy, but being the supportive, and extremely intelligent husband he is - he said nothing! And I used every bit of what I packed :0) I even packed my ballet shoes for the one real ballet class I take every year from Ms. Virginia at the Kohala Spa at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. I treated myself to uninterrupted Pilate's and yoga sessions, a Dan Brown novel, and drawing , while Daddy Frog swam with the dolphins (not the ones at the hotel program - the real, wild dolphins who came into a cove on the island to rest and play). In the afternoons we found each other and ate, shopped, wandered, and soaked in the sun together.

A week definitely goes by too fast, but we were eager to get home to see the kids and feeling a little guilty about leaving the grandparents in charge for so long. The kids did great but were ready for mom and dad to be home. Diva had play dates with her two best friends thanks to their wonderful moms who knew I was away. She also went out to dinner with her very cool Auntie M. Little Frog has most of the week off from school and his speech therapy was also cancelled. He got Grandma to take him to the beach and spent lots of time outside with Grandpa. Grandma said that shortly before we returned she took the kids back to our house to play with their toys. Little Frog wandered around the house calling mamamamama, and acting a bit upset. But when I met him as he got off the bus, he was all smiles. It took him a little while to process his emotions, but by the next day he was all hugs and giggles.

Diva, of course, was thrilled to be picked up at school by mom and dad. I was greeted by several of her classmates who said "You're Back. I knew you were coming today." Diva's teacher let her leave class early since she hadn't seen her mom for a whole week! She was very glad to see us, but her thoughts quickly turned to what might be in our suitcases. She was not disappointed - we found the perfect swimsuit she was longing for.

We were relieved to hear that the week went smoothly for the kids and the grandparents. It was nice to know we were missed and even nicer to know that the kids are able to cope without us knowing that we will return shortly. We have Daddy Frog to thank for that. He insisted from the day Diva was born that we needed to keep our annual couple's vacation as long as it was possible to do so. The kids have gotten used to us taking short trips and week long vacations since they were babies. And we are blessed to have two sets of grandparents who are such a big part of our children's lives who are willing and able to take them for a one week stretch. We don't know how much longer this arraignment will last, but for now it seems to do everyone some good.

Of course, the kids are never really off my mind. Things I learned on vacation: (1) Little Frog is a strong Right Brain processor who would benefit from spacial and gestalt (as opposed to discreet) approaches to education. This came to me as I read and worked my way through The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. (2) Pialte's might be the ticket to helping Diva hold her handstands for a longer stretch - scoop the belly!