On Monday, Mac started school. It was a day she, and her parents, looked forward to for weeks. She carefully picked out her backpack, lunchbox, first day of school outfit, and requested a family trip to IHOP to commemorate her next step. I could be sad, I could cry, I could voice my frustration that "it all just happened too fast". I could. But I honestly didn't feel that way. I began to feel a little like everything is happening too fast, but our journey with her isn't over, it's just different now. I was too excited to see her move on to school to be sad. And my heart spilled over with pride to see her excitement and confidence.
Mac has always been an accelerated learner. We have always proudly boasted new things she has learned or skills she has acquired. We have also always struggled with a plan for her education. We do not have the income for private school at this time and after careful reflection, feel that mainstream public school is our best option. That being said, in preschool and looking forward to elementary school, I was worried about her being challenged enough. She learns quickly, she learns vast amounts of knowledge, and she just plain "gets it". Two years ago we found a preschool program that would allow her to attend the 4/5 year old class instead of the 3 year old. This past year we placed her in a different preschool program, in a 4/5 class in order to learn how to function in a larger group and in a group that would transition well into the school district. Part of the way through the year, she received one on one attention from her high school buddy teacher in addition to working on other assignments with her peers. Throughout her life we have worked on learning with her, sometimes formally with lessons and workbooks, and sometimes informally. She soaks it all up.
We spent two mornings at the beach on our vacation. Both on the way to Orlando and on the way back, we stopped in Destin overnight and for a couple hours playing in the sand and in the water. We like the convenience of our hotel, the same one we stayed at two years ago, because of it's close proximity to the water. We only have to walk 100 feet or so to get to the white powdery sand which is helpful for adults and kids!
We did a little research about Disney's accommodations for kids with special needs to prepare for our trip. We are glad that are needs are limited with Johnny, but there were a few concessions we needed. These are what we were offered and what we used, other families may need more or less depending on their situation.
We drove the 15+ hours to Orlando with our three kids last week. I, like in most things I do, researched ways to keep kids of all ages entertained and over prepared for most scenarios. I was glad to have way more than I needed than not having enough. I have a few tips here which worked for our family, ages 5,4, and 2.5.
Today the girls school hosted an early Mother's Day tea in their class. We were invited to the school for playtime, circle time, a cute song, a delightful craft, and a meal with our kids. Matt took the day off so he could take Johnny to therapy and I was happy to devote time to my sweet girls. They delighted in showing me their classroom and introducing their friends. Apparently Keegan has made a great friend with one of the older girls in the class and it was fun to watch them hug and play. At circle time they were tasked with introducing us and telling what their favorite thing to do with mommy was. Keegan shouted out "playing and snuggling" and Mac curled into a ball and refused to answer. I was able to get enthusiastic nods from her in response to "playing basketball and reading". The craft involved making a flower picture with all of our painted handprints and they both loved painting my hand and helping me press it on the paper.
Today Johnny and I took a nice long walk around a "lake" at a local park, then met friends to play on the playground. There were several kids playing on the structure, running across the bridges, climbing up the stairs and ladders with ease, and going both down and up the numerous slides. Undaunted by the older kids running around, I plopped Johnny down in the mulch, stayed a few steps behind him, and let him explore. He quickly made his way over to the stairs, climbed them with ease, and scootched his way over to the tallest slide on the structure. At the top, I saw his happy grin and waited for him to decide if he wanted to back down or be adventurous and take the slide. It wasn't a difficult decision for him, he wiggled his bum to the edge of the decline and waited for gravity to take over as he leaned his body forward, anticipation crossing his face with a gleeful smile. We did this, and other slides on the structure several times. All the while, big kids ran past him, over him, and a few times, nearly through him.