Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First Week of School

Lucas is now a "Busy Bee" at the Debbie School.  I can hardly believe how easily he transitioned to this class as he begins his last year at the Debbie School.  Although he's in a new class with new teachers, they moved all the kids from the "Tigers" together so many of his friends are still the same, including his main squeeze, Cecilia.  Here he is with a few friends on his first day.  The second photo is of Lucas in mommy's sunglasses...he likes to try on my shoes too...hopefully he'll outgrow this phase ;)

Friday, August 21, 2009

"Tiger" No More...

Here's Lucas on his last day in the "Tigers" classroom at the Debbie School. Doesn't he look like such a big boy! He's pictured with one of the teaching assistants, Odalys, and with a few of his classmates who will join him in the "Busy Bees" class. The school is a mix of kids who are typically developing and those with special needs. Lucas' last year at the Debbie School starts Monday!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

We celebrated Tom's 38th birthday yesterday with a lovely dinner of tapas and sangria at Chef Michelle Bernstein's Sra. Martinez in Miami's Design District. My niece, Kristine, turns 16 today so she and my sister joined us to celebrate the two Leos. We enjoyed the "Miami Spice" menu which included croquetas, tortilla Espanola, and some very tasty salads -- Tom loved the foie gras (duck liver pate) -- better him than me. We ended the evening with a simple cake and Lucas' favorite new song, Happy Birthday to You.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lucas at 34 Months

Lucas is now repeating so many words that I can't keep track! It's very exciting. What's most interesting is now that he's talking up a storm, he's barely signing anymore. He still enjoys watching "Signing Time" but now he's saying many of the words, instead of signing them. He now asks for "Tatel" (otherwise known as "Rachel" the talent in the "Signing Time" series) and "sings" through about half of the theme song. His articulation is improving, but blended sounds such as "bread" still sound like "bed" and letters which are made in the front of the mouth such as "n" and "l" are difficult -- when you ask him his name now, he usually says "cas" -- again the "l" is a difficult sound for him to produce. At school, he knows most of his friends' names and can identify them.

Lucas is using the 3-word phrase "I want [eat or outside or TV, etc.]" throughout the day; often in a demanding tone. He's taken a real liking to the "Brown Bear" book series and says "I see [horse or cat, etc.]" as we read the story which is just starting to translate to the real world. He is learning his colors -- his favorites are blue, red, and purple and he can identify those correctly in about 75% of cases. We use colored bean bags with the name of the color on it to reinforce this skill. He's got numbers one to five down, and is learning to count to 10, although he tends to skip either seven and/or eight. We use a great online tool called "Starfall" where Lucas is learning his letters too -- he knows about 10 letters he can identify and say, such as d, b, z, v, w, m. His favorite words include "mom" "wow" "ouch" "yeah" and "no" -- not to mention "let's go". He is getting more and more independent by the day -- he knows what he wants all the time and is quick to tell you "no" if you're not doing as he says/wants. Lucas is starting to take off his shirt and pants, and gets aggravated when we try to help. He also likes to tell you "bye" if you're crowding him -- his little way of saying "piss off".

Lucas has been getting so much better at following commands. He now can often follow a two-step command -- without my asking him more than three times! He's liking playing with his friends more too and is initiating play.

Lucas is starting to "run" more and walk at a faster pace so he can keep up with us. He's also getting more proficient at catching a ball...he can usually catch a big ball and in about 1 out of 4 throws, he can catch a smaller (about 6/8" diameter) ball. We're going to pick up a whiffle bat to start getting him accustom to swinging and improve his hand-eye coordination.

His favorite play things (in addition to balls) are his safari animals, sea animals (in the tub), putting together 3-piece magnetic animal puzzles, doing matching games, and he now loves his Magna Doodle. He's starting to scribble using his thumb up and holding his colors more steadily (I didn't know this was a big deal, but it's a milestone -- no longer using the thumb down when writing). A source of continued frustration for us is blowing...he loves bubbles, but is often more interested in dipping the wand and pulling it out of the bottle than in actually blowing bubbles.

The potty training is still a struggle, but that's mostly my fault. We haven't had the time or energy lately to put in the effort (I'm feeling all kinds of guilt about it too). Lucas has asked to use the potty successfully a handful of times in the past few weeks, but we don't push it. I'm going to do a boot-camp of sorts (using the "Three Day Potty Training" method) before he turns three --I mostly want to experiment to see how he (and I) do (I will most likely need some Xanax before I attempt it since it calls for taking the child to the potty each time he starts to have an accident -- luckily, we have wood floors throughout).

I know I keep saying this, but it's amazing how much and how quickly they grow, change, and much learning taking place. There are days when I want to fast forward everything (like getting him out of Pull-Ups!), but then I realize, the time is going by way too quickly as it is. I think it's probably one of the reasons some people have other be able to experience all these amazing moments over and over again. I'm already missing the little bean he use to be, but loving the little boy he's becoming.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Panama City Beach

We spent a long weekend in Panama City Beach with our dear friends, the Blackfords. They rented a spacious, new, beach-themed condo overlooking the Gulf -- it was a 3/3 so we had our own bathroom and a comfy king-sized bed we shared with the kung-fu-kicking Bean. We had such a nice, relaxing time.

Highlights included lots of beach time catching up over beers, swimming in the warm Gulf water, Lucas jumping from the side of the pool (for the first time), the best tacos EVER at Bud & Alley's Taco Bar in Rosemary Beach, Tom's mango lobster tails and cilantro rice paired with a fabulous Shiraz Rob and Jenni picked up in San Francisco (they'd been saving it since their 10th wedding anniversary three years ago so we were honored), and watching the girls, Emma and Anabel (otherwise known as Lucas' entourage), playing and having fun with Lucas. The girls spent much of their time "catching" fish and collecting buckets of shells. Another fun fact is that Lucas has really taken to Rob...he'd already warmed to him quickly earlier this year, but this time Lucas would wake up in the morning yelling "Rob" throughout the condo and when he first spotted Rob in the mornings, he'd run to his must be Rob's magnetic personality!

Although it was a hellacious 9-10 hour drive each way, it was well worth it. More pics will be added to my Facebook account soon.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

These Shoes Were Made for Walking

Lucas actually put one of Tom's shoes on himself and I helped him with the other one...he was having so much fun walking in Daddy's shoes...wouldn't you agree? I know, I know, the kid needs a haircut!

Thumbs Up 4: Special Education Law & Advocacy Workshop

What a terrific investment of my, I attended a Special Education Law and Advocacy Seminar co-sponsored by the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council and the US Department of Health and Human Services, Disabilities Division. The presenter was Pete Wright, an attorney specializing in special education who argued one of the most famous special education Supreme Court cases, Florence County School District IV v. Shannon Carter -- ruling unanimously for Carter, the judges held that if a public school defaults and the child receives an appropriate education in a private placement, the parents are entitled reimbursement for the education that should have been provided by the School District. Pete and his wife are also co-authors to some of the most informative and widely read books on special education -- I was lucky enough to get copies of the Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition and Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition free of charge for attending the conference.

The seminar is a MUST for any parent of a child with a disability -- I have been in the dark and hugely intimated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2004) and the associated laws, regulations, etc. But, as Lucas will be three in October and we will face his first IEP (Individualized Education Plan), I thought it mandatory to attend the workshop and am so glad I did. I feel much better informed, prepared, and armed. Pete guided us through the essential elements of the law and helped decifer some of the more cryptic language. Again, it was a very worthwhile investment of my time...I'm bummed Tom didn't attend. I will share this information with him and other friends/parents of kids with disabilities who would benefit from even a basic understanding of the law so we can help advocate, protect, and even defend our children's rights to a free appropriate public education.

The purpose of I.D.E.A. is (among others): to ensure all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living. [Amen!]