Sunday, December 15, 2013


Seven.  This child is seven years old.

It seems as though no time has passed at all since he was a tiny little newborn, but at the same time, it sometimes feels like decades.  I supposed that's just the way of things, though.
So what have we been up to lately?  Well, we've had another meeting of Team Stephen, and we've increased his time in the general education classroom, to equal half days.  In addition to the group learning time he's been spending in the class, we are adding in literacy centers 3 days a week (starting at one, working up to 3), as well as PE, art, and music.  After seeing how much Stephen has matured and blossomed over the last month, we are very excited to see how he does with this additional time with his typical peers.  His beloved special education teacher, Mr. G., said that Stephen has a buddy in the Kindergarten class who has taken it upon himself to be Stephen's "helper" when he sees that he needs it.  With friends like that, I think Stephen will continue to do well.
Pa came to visit before Thanksgiving, and we had a good time together.  He was only here for a short time, but hopefully we'll be able to see him again soon!

Stephen continues to enjoy swimming, and his latest accomplishment is the ability to float on his back without any assistance.  He is able to get himself into a floating position now, as well.

We went to see Santa last weekend, and saw a "Caring" Santa as part of a program designed for special needs individuals to see Santa in a less stressful environment.  This was really good for Stephen, because we were able to make an appointment, and he didn't have to wait in line and get upset about that.  Stephen was even able to use his talker to tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas (legos and books, FYI).
So we've had a great couple of months out here.  Stephen's growth these last few weeks has been nothing short of amazing, and we are all just so happy.  

Friday, November 1, 2013

School, Soccer, and Halloween!

Whew!  Between my school, and all of our Stephen-y activities, October was a busy month!  We finished soccer, made some school changes for Stephen, and had a fun time with Halloween.

Stephen finished his first season playing soccer this month.  He acquired two new buddies after the first session, both of whom are studying to be speech pathologists, which is exciting!  He needed a lot less assistance by the end of the season!

 After the last game, all of the players got medals, but Stephen wouldn't wear his.

 We are looking forward to seeing our girls again when soccer re-starts in March!

Stephen also had a Special Olympics "Stars of the Future" event this month.  Stephen did really well, and was much more confident in his ability to participate in the various activities.

Obviously, we also did Halloween.  Stephen dressed as a Green Lantern this year, and was thrilled!  I was at school, but Erik took Stephen out to trick-or-treat, and said he did really well!  Again, he used his "talker" independently to say "trick-or treat, thank you," and "Happy Halloween!"  We are so proud of him. 

We made some changes at school for Stephen his month too.  After multiple meetings with "team Stephen," we have started transitioning Stephen into a general education setting (also known a inclusion).  For now, he is spending an hour each morning in group learning in a Kindergarten classroom, with an aide.  We opted to have Stephen repeat Kindergarten this year because there were some state-wide curriculum changes and we felt that he might struggle with the 1st grade curriculum while also trying to learn how to behave in a traditional classroom setting.  So far, Stephen is performing MAGNIFICENTLY!  The teacher sends home the curriculum the weekend before so that I can program his talker for him so that he can participate appropriately, and he does that very well.  In fact, when called upon one day this week, Stephen read a book OUT LOUD to his class.  We are just thrilled with how well he is doing in this classroom, and in his other class as well.  The current plan is to have him spending half-days in the Kindergarten class starting in January.  It's all been so exciting!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


We thought it would be a good time for Stephen to start exploring the world of organized sports.  At almost 7, we figured he was ready to learn, and we decided that soccer would be a good place to start - he loves balls and running, so it seemed logical!  We found a buddy league that meets on Sunday afternoons for skills work, and then 45 minutes of scrimmages. 
Our first week, Stephen had one buddy, and was a little hesitant, so Daddy went out and helped.  Stephen has demonstrated an excellent aptitude for dribbling the soccer ball in a straight line.  Steering and big kicks are works in progress, still.

This is just to give a good shot of how cute Stephen was in his soccer uniform.  He loves it.

Our second week, the first buddy wasn't there, so we were assigned TWO buddies, and they are awesome.  These two young ladies are speech pathology majors at a local university, and are so excited to work with Stephen (and he LOVES them!).

(Stephen was trying to read what his shirt was saying while he was supposed to be scrimmaging.  Silly boy!
 That second week, he scored his first goal!  I wish I had gotten a picture of the pride on his face, because he was so excited.  During week 3, he scored 2!

Our other new accomplishment is this:

Not totally independent yet, but he's been doing really well floating like this, so he's finally starting to relax more.

Soccer runs through mid October, but then starts up again in April, so I think we'll stick with it.  He has been telling us with his talker that he likes playing soccer.  We love that he's having so much fun and learning new skills in the process!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Team Stephen

This sweet boy started First Grade yesterday.  First Grade.  I can hardly believe that he's old enough for that, and yet, he was more than ready.

We met "Team Stephen" on Friday for the first time.  All but one member of the school team is new to us, and I think this is probably going to be to Stephen's advantage.  Every single person on his team believes in Stephen's abilities and intelligence, and our hopes for his future, which makes it a lot easier for us to send him off on the bus to his new school each day. 

Stephen has an iPad with his speech program on it available to him at all times during the school day, and even on his first day, he was communicating well with his teacher, and advocating for his own needs.  He also made sure to show off everything that he learned in Kindergarten last year, and impressed his teacher quite a bit.  Stephen is currently in a combination of special education classes and inclusive (typical) classes and activities, and once everyone has gotten to know each other, and we figure out what kind of supports Stephen will need, we will meet in a month to make a new plan for Stephen.  With the ability to communicate better, Stephen is much more confident and sure of himself, which has been such a joy to see.  This kid just amazes us every day.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Summer fun

We've been having a lot of fun this summer...
Learning how to do the back float (finally!!!) - Stephen is so funny about floating on his back.  He is very confident, right until he feels his teacher is starting to move his hand... then he starts to laugh and tries to swim away.

We've been playing outside with no shoes on.  This is a new thing for Stephen this summer - he used to only want to play when he had shoes on, but now he'd prefer to be barefoot.

 We've enjoyed a few lazy days when it's been raining...

 AND!!!  We finally made it to the dentist so Stephen could get his space maintainer put in!  This is the before picture.

And... after.  Stephen was sedated during the procedure, and took a nice, long snooze after it was over.  We stayed at the office for a little over an hour afterwards, and then we came home and he slept for a couple more.  I don't have any good pictures, yet, of him smiling with his new tooth - not because he isn't smiling, but because I'm not fast enough with the camera, and he's always on the move.  Stephen is THRILLED to have his "tooth" back and doesn't mess with it at all.  It is a resin "tooth" connected with wires to his back molars, so we are being very vigilant in his brushing. 

 We've also spent some time at Frontier City with Stephen's grandparents... they usually don't come to visit in the summer...

Which leads me to my next little bit of news!
Back in May, Mom and Dad sold their house!!  They decided to move here to be closer to us, and help out with Stephen while I return to school next month to pursue my Master's Degree.  Thanks to Erik's job, I can attend an accelerated program, and in a year, will have a Master's of Education degree in Applied Behavioral studies.  They close on their new house here next week, and we are all very excited!  They have been living with us for the last month of so, which has also been fun.

So that's what we've been up to - swimming, and fun!!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but over Spring Break, we were planning on going with Pa and Kim to Walt Disney World... except Stephen had his accident, and couldn't travel for a few weeks.  Luckily, Pa had gotten travel insurance for the trip (he said it was the first time he'd ever done that - wasn't THAT lucky?!?!), and we were able to reschedule. We left last Tuesday, for 5 days in Orlando filled with sun, fun, and a lot of rain!

I'm not going to bore you with a lot of details of our trip.  Basically, we had a ton of fun, and went on a lot of rides.  Because of Stephen's physical challenges, I rented a stroller to be delivered to our hotel, and thank goodness I did!  That place was huge!  We also had it tagged as a wheelchair, because we know he would not be able to stand in long lines and just wait there without wanting to be picked up, and he's just getting a little too big for that.  That was also a good decision for all of us, I think.


This coloring picture is a BIG DEAL!  Stephen really struggles with holding things smaller than a thick marker, and in the past was not able to use enough pressure to make a good mark.  Also, he hasn't really ever enjoyed coloring, so having him do this voluntarily, even though it was only for a few minutes, was impressive.


Stephen was absolutely thrilled with most of the characters that he met.  Stephen loves characters, and he's such a cuddly guy, so it was perfect for him.  With the exception of Mickey, Mike and Sully, Stephen met all of these characters at Character Meals, which kept us from having to wait in too many lines.  He also went on pretty much every ride for which he met the height requirements, and was especially thrilled with Test Track in Epcot - a super fast and smooth car ride.  And then of course there were the teacups...

Overall, we had a really great time.  It rained quite a bit on Thursday, thanks to Tropical Storm Andrea, but we soldiered on in the parks anyways - the rain cleared out quite a bit of the crowd, so that was pretty fun too.  While there, Stephen discovered a new love - Star Wars!  He went on Star Tours 4 times, and we plan on watching the movies throughout the summer.  He also made excellent use of his "talker," letting us know when he needed a snack, or when he was tired (that one was a first - normally he'd just pass out during an activity rather than admit he was tired), and communicated verbally a few times too.  We only had one glitch while we were there; we ordered a gluten-free pasta meal at a nicer restaurant, and they made a mistake and brought out something that was not gluten-free, which affected his behavior pretty significantly.  I guess this settles our questions as to whether or not his improved behaviors over the past 18 months were due to maturity, or diet!   So, we had a great time, and hope to go back in the not-too-distant future!!

Friday, May 31, 2013

My heart

These guys...

These guys have my heart. 

And this guy... he's officially on Summer Break.  He is now a first grader!

We had a little bit of drama surrounding his class placement for next year, since there were not appropriate programs at the school he'd attended since turning 3, but we got it worked out, thanks to a little creative thinking.  Basically, Stephen is going to be participating in 2 separate special education classrooms, as well as a typical classroom.  Hopefully this will allow him to get all of his therapy needs met, while allowing him the opportunity to spend time with typical kiddos for peer modeling.

I should warn you... this next part is a little raw....  The last few days of school were very, very hard on us.  As many of you know, last Monday, May 20th, an EF5 tornado came through Moore, OK, leveling two elementary schools.  LEVELED.  This was about 15 miles from our home.  While this was happening, my own baby was at HIS school, in a tornado shelter.  And by tornado shelter, I mean bathroom.  Most schools in Oklahoma City do not have underground shelters, due to cost and the way the ground is.  Stephen was terrified, and spent much of that night and the next day seeking reassurance from his parents and teachers that everything was ok.  There were a lot of hugs and kisses given out.  I'd love to tell him that he shouldn't be scared, but this is just a fact of life.  Tornadoes ARE scary, and he should take them very seriously. 

I know that this blog doesn't reach a lot of people, BUT, if you want to help the people of Moore, you can donate to the United Way, Red Cross, or Salvation Army.  If you wish to help in a different way, get in touch with me, and I'll give you more resources.  In the meantime, I'm going to hug my baby tightly, and get ready for more severe weather today.