Thursday, September 29, 2011


As I was watching for Haley's bus I heard a conversation between her Dad and her Big Sis.

Haley's Dad:  "Last night when you and Mom were out Haley and I were talking about Lion King.  I said, 'Mufasa' and she said 'Simba,' then I said 'Mufasa' and she said 'Simba' and then I said 'Mufasa' and she yelled 'Bonzai!'"

They both cracked up.

Haley's Big Sis:  "When Haley and I walked down to Starbuck's I asked her about her teacher.  She talked the whole way down there.  I don't know what she was saying, but she was talking.  Then after we got our drinks at Starbuck's all she said the whole way back was 'Mmmmm. Good.'"

They laughed some more.

I love that.

They were talking about her, but it wasn't gossip.  It wasn't malicious.  They were sharing. 

We share around here.

We like to update each other on Haley's progress.  It helps if she does something or says something to know if we are the first one to see it or hear it, or if it is a pattern.  We like to keep each other up to date and we like to hear when she is learning and growing.

All three of us are in her corner.  All of the time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's working!

Things I have been saying to Haley's Big Sis for years, that I haven't said to Haley: (until recently)

"Put your shoes away after you take them off."

"It's time to set the table."

"Go upstairs and change your clothes."

"If you want to buy something at the store you had better bring your wallet."

"If you are chilly go put on a sweater."

"If you want to be paid you had better take out the recycling."

These are all things that I have said to Haley's Big Sis over the years, with mixed results.  When I say them to Haley, she follows through. 

It is refreshing. 

I don't know why I waited so long.

I am not saying that her Dad has the same results with the same words.  She still gives him the teenager grunt.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

So soft...

When we visited Grandma and Grandpa a while back Haley's Grandma gave me a top and a sweater.  She didn't specify why she didn't want them she just told me if I wanted them that was great and if I didn't she wouldn't be offended.

I took them home and tried them on.

They both fit, but they really weren't my style.

I had a feeling that they would be someone's style, however.  Haley's.

I put them in her room and waited.  Sure enough, a little while later she brought me the sweater.  She stood there holding it with a question on her face.  I told her that it was from her Grandma and she immediately wanted to put it on.  She rubbed the sleeve and declared that it was "So soft!"

I mentioned that it smelled nice, it still smelled like Grandma. 

That did it.

That sweater became the most important article of clothing that Haley owns.  That is saying a lot, because Haley loves clothes.  Haley also has a drawer full of t-shirts depticting her favorite trains and steam engines and yet this sweater is her favorite.

She wants to wear it all of the time.  Even when it is not appropriate.  I hate seeing her walking around in a sweater when it is 80 degrees, but she does it.

As soon as she comes home from school she gets the sweater and puts it on.  Then she walks around rubbing the sleeve up and down saying "So soft..." and "Smells good..." even though it has been washed numerous times and no longer smells like Grandma.

One day Haley's Big Sis asked me why I don't put the sweater on her to go to school.  I hadn't really thought about it, but I really didn't really have an answer for her.  So the next day I made sure that Haley's outfit would coordinate with the sweater and I put it on her.  I buttoned the top button and sent her to school.

She came home with the sweater still on, even though it was very warm.  I realized that I should write this post about the sweater (Grandma doesn't know yet how important it has become) and I wanted to take a picture of Haley in it.  Haley was not in the mood to get her picture taken, but I got one smile.

This is Haley rubbing the sleeve.

She wanted to wear it again the next day.  She picked out a shirt that went pretty well with it so I let her.  She wanted it buttoned all the way up.  When she came home it was really too warm to wear it and I tried to explain that to her.  She wouldn't take it off.

A little while later she came up to me and patted her stomach proudly.  I could not figure out what she was trying to tell me.  She wanted me to follow her.  I did.  She pointed to the sweater on the chair and patted her tummy again.  I realized that she was trying to show me that she had taken the sweater off.

"Oh, you took the sweater off?  Is that more comfortable?"

"Yeah, better." she said.

Luckily Haley wanted to wear something else this morning. 

The other top that we got from Grandma.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rain Went Away

After Haley got dressed this morning she started looking for Rain.  Rain is one of Haley's favorite Schleich horses.  She was looking around her bed.  Her room is fairly clean though, and it was obvious that Rain was not on the floor.

Haley started to get upset.  As she does when one of her many horses goes missing.  I did not want her to be upset right before she left for school so I assured her that I would help her look for Rain as soon as she was ready for school.  We still needed to fix her hair and brush her teeth.  She complained as we did that (meaning that she grunted and moaned the entire time.)

Then she followed me around as I looked for Rain.

I had just cleaned the house a couple of days ago and I remember carrying a lot of horses from downstairs upstairs, but I didn't specifically remember Rain among them. 

Rain was not with the horses that are lined up on the half wall at the top of the stairs.  She was not in the stable, which for some reason was in my bedroom.  She was not with the horses that were napping on my desk, so gently tucked under the table cloth.

I looked under the couches.  I looked under the pillows and blankets on the couches.  I was convinced that she was not downstairs, so I went back up to Haley's room.  Haley didn't follow me.  She sat down on the couch to watch Beauty and the Beast.

Haley seemed to think that Rain should have been around the bed.  I flipped the covers.  Then I pulled the mattress away from the wall and there she was.

I carried her downstairs and when I walked in to the room Haley looked up.  She smiled.  "There she is."  she said.  I handed the horse to her and headed to the kitchen. 

"I happy now."


"You are?" I said.

"Yeah."     "Smiling."     "Laughing."

It was like she was saying.  Duh, Mom, this is what it is like when I am happy.  I am smiling and I am laughing.  She said other things too, but it was hard to hear her over the sound of the angels in my head singing the Hallelujah Chorus.

She said a full sentence.  A sentence that I had never heard her say before.  A full sentence.

I happy now.

Me too.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mama does not dress her funny

"I am not sure that Haley should dress herself," her Big Sis said.

She has a point.

I have made it my mission for Haley to look good since she was very small.  Of course, how a baby dresses is entirely up to it's parents.  Then when they are toddling around they are still very much looking the way that their parents want, mainly because they are still buying their clothes.  At a certain age kids learn to dress themselves and they also learn the combinations that they like.  That is a fun stage. 

I have seen a little girl wearing a cowboy hat, striped tights, rain boots and a tutu.

Not Haley though.  I have dressed her for most of her life.  Literally. 

She has only recently learned to dress herself and she still has some issues with it.  I made an effort last year to purchase only elastic waist pants for her so that it would be easier. 

She is very interested in fashion and she is a bit of a clothes horse. 

She has an advantage too.  She has gotten hand-me-downs from her Big Sis all her life and Big Sis has pretty good taste.  I have had to nix a few things before they made it from her room in to Haley's room though.  Namely things that didn't really fit, things that bordered on inappropriate for her - age wise, and things that just didn't seem like Haley.

Haley started picking out her own clothes many years ago.  I would open the "top" drawer of her dresser and ask her to pick a top or I would ask her if she wanted to wear pants or shorts.  After those decisions were made I would finish putting an outfit together.  I would make sure it matched.

I decided a long time ago that Haley would always look good.

My child would not have; a snotty nose, dirty clothes, disheveled hair, food on her face, messy glasses or clothes that don't fit.  She is at a disadvantage in life already.  I was not about to handicap her any further by allowing her to look like she was not cared for.  I wanted her to look good.  To look loved.

I am sure you have seen kids that don't look loved.  They walk around looking like no one cares what they look like.  That was not the way my child would look.  I care.

Haley doesn't.

If an outfit came to her as an outfit she will keep it that way, but if clothes come to her as separates that is how she treats them.  She is usually kind of picky about the top.  Then she opens her "bottoms" drawer and pulls something out.  It might not match.  It might not go.  It might really clash.

Sometimes I let her wear it - on the weekend - or - in the summer - if we are not going anywhere.  A lot of times bottoms don't make it the whole day anyway. 

If we are going somewhere I gently suggest a different choice.  I don't make a big deal out of it.

Today Haley was standing at her bedroom door when I came out of my bedroom.  I asked her if she was going to get dressed.  She said "Yeah."  I told her I would help her with her bra and then she could get dressed.  I did that and then I went back in to my bedroom.  A little while later I walked in to her room and she was on her knees with her face on her bed.  She heard me come in and looked up at me.  She seemed a little upset. 

"Do you need help with your shorts?" I said. 


They had a zipper and a button that needed to be done up.  I did that and then I looked over at her bed.  A shirt was on the bed that did not go with the shorts.  It was another pattern and another color. 

I said "Haley, you have a nice blue shirt that looks really good with those shorts, lets get that one for you." 

She let me.  She doesn't care.  I do.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Everything is Fine

I have been really stressed out this past week.  I have been a mess since I found out that Haley's new school didn't have her scheduled to be in Life Skills.  I have been beside myself with worry. 

That is not an easy thing to come down from.

Tuesday night I went online and was able to look at Haley's schedule. She had Life Skills listed for every period. So that was good.

On the first day of school Haley's bus arrived right when the bus driver told me it would.

I didn't follow it.

Once Haley was on the bus, I immediately emailed her teacher and asked him to contact me as soon as he could and let me know that she was there and how she was doing.  He called me 45 minutes later. 

He reassured me. 

He understood. 

He said that he doesn't worry about the schedules, because they usually change. (That didn't help much.) 

He told me that he read the letter I had written and that he and Haley had already bonded over the 4449. So everything was good.

He asked me if I would be involved in some decision making about what the class would do this year. I told him I would be happy to. 

I hung up and relayed that information to Haley's dad and then I cleaned the house for the rest of the day.  I was still so pent up I didn't know what to do with myself.

Haley came home from school just like she always has.  I asked her how school was and she said "Fun." 

Her sister told me that they did in fact see each other in the cafeteria.  Haley was aloof.  Her Big Sis was a bit offended.  I hope that will get better.

So it worked out.  I am better now.  Everything is fine.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

An Introduction

School starts tomorrow.  I didn't get a phone call.  I called the school and lit a fire under a new person's behind and at least I got a call from the bus driver, but I am still concerned about what will happen to Haley once she gets to school.  I am planning to follow her bus and follow her in.  I thought it might be a good idea to write the teacher about my daughter, since I didn't get to go to the school and meet him in person.  Here is the letter that I am sending with her tomorrow.

Hi, my name is Haley.  I am very shy.  I can speak, but it might be a long time before you will have any evidence of that.  I don’t speak in full sentences.  I tend to use nouns mostly.  There are some other words that I like to use a lot, like Cool, Awesome, Silly and Fun. 

Sometimes when I am excited I put lots of words together.  My mom likes that because it means that I am thinking, not just repeating.  I did that just yesterday when I started talking about spending the weekend with my Grandma and Grandpa and I put it together with going to the Zoo, even though those two things didn’t happen at the same time.  I said a long string of things like “Grandma.  Grandpa. Tractor ride.  Walk Tree Farm.  Zoo.  Train ride.  Animals.  Lunch.  Bird show.  Goats.  Store.” 

My Grandma and Grandpa are very important to me.  We have to drive for about three hours to see them.  I like to visit them, but we don’t get to do it very often.  When we are there I get to drive my Grandpa’s John Deere tractor and walk around their forty acre tree farm.  They grow big trees there that they make in to studs to build houses.  My other Grandma lives far away, it takes several days to get to her house, but when I am there I get to see trains go right by her house.

I like school.  I really like structure.  I do so much better when I follow the same routine every day.  My big sister goes to this school too, she is a junior.  It will be fun if I get to see her in the hall or at lunch time.

I like all kinds of food, but I do a lot better if I don’t have milk products or wheat products.  My mom makes my lunch when I come to school.  I can have snacks at school, but it would be best if they didn’t have dairy products or wheat in them.  I don’t know the difference though.  I will eat anything.

My mom has been trying really hard to get me to use the bathroom by myself this summer.  At home I go in to the bathroom by myself and pull down my pants and sit down and then I knock on the door so that my mom will come in and help me.  If she tells me what to do I can do it, I just don’t do it on my own yet, so I will need some help and some prompts.  I can dress myself; I learned how to do it last year when I had to dress down for PE.  I don’t have any depth perception so I need to sit down to take off and put on my pants. 

My lack of depth perception means that I just take new situations and new places slow.  I have gotten pretty good at adapting, but you might notice that I get really careful at steps and I look for handrails, I need them.

My favorite thing in the whole world is trains.  I really like steam engines.  My favorites are the 700 and the 4449 which are both housed in Portland.  My mom and dad take me to see them whenever they are on display or running.  I also really like the train ride at the Oregon Zoo.  When I am at home I like to watch videos of trains going by and videos that feature trains and the people that work on them.  My dad takes me “train-watching” almost every Sunday.  We sit by the tracks and watch trains go by.  It is really fun for me and my dad.

I love all kinds of animals.  I have a lot of plastic animals (mostly horses) and I like to carry them around in purses.  I also like to play with my horses and my wooden stable that I got for Christmas.  I have dolls too that I like to dress and undress and redress.

I really like to watch videos.  My favorites are The Road to El Dorado, Spirit-Stallion of the Cimarron, and The Back to the Future films- especially the third one.  I like most Disney movies, but my favorites are The Fox and the Hound, Lion King, 101 Dalmatians (all three) and Oliver and Company.  I love the Pixar short Geri’s Game.

I like to use the computer.  I play Zoo Tycoon, Lion King and Spirit.  I also like to look at YouTube videos of movies that I like.  I like to fast forward and repeat them.

I am almost always happy. 

Sometimes if I want to do something and I am not able to I get very upset.  If I get upset I usually repeat what it was that I wanted many times and I get louder and louder.  I sometimes scream at a really high pitch.  I have been known to fall down on my knees and cry.  I have never really gotten very upset at school, though,  I usually save that for when I am at home.

I am excited to be back at school, but I don’t do very well with transitions or change, so I might be extra shy and quiet for a while.  Once I am comfortable I will be a good student.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Assume Nothing

The transition from grade school to junior high was smooth.  I knew which school Haley was going to.  I received letters and phone calls from the school and her teacher.  The bus driver contacted me a week ahead of time to let me know when to expect her.  We got to go to the school and meet her teacher and get a feel for the classroom.

The transition to high school?

Not so much.

We received a newsletter.  Actually we received two; one addressed to Haley's parents and one to her big sister's parents.  We received a couple of recorded telephone messages telling us that freshman were to pick up their schedules on Wednesday evening. I have not heard from the bus driver.

I called the school and asked if the Life Skills teacher would be at the freshman orientation.  No.  I asked if the Life Skills classroom would be open.  No.  I decided that it didn't make much sense for us to take Haley to this event if there was nothing there for her. 

We didn't go.

Thursday morning I got a call from the school.  Haley hadn't picked up her schedule the night before, was she going to be attending school this fall?  I told them that I had called the day before and found out that the Life Skills classroom and teacher would not be available to us so we decided not to attend.

"Life Skills?" she said.

Yes, I told her, my child is in the Life Skills program. 

"Well, her schedule shows that she is signed up for Introduction to Visual Arts, Math, Physical Education, Multimedia Exploration, Integrated Earth Science and English." the secretary said.

"Well," I said.  "That is amazing!  As fun as that all sounds I don't think it will work.  My daughter is in Life Skills and she needs a full time one-on-one para-educator."

She told me that I needed to bring my daughter to the school and pick up her schedule and get this straightened out.  So I got Haley dressed and we went to her new school.

I picked up her schedule. 

It did indeed list all of the classes that the secretary had read to me over the phone.  She directed me to the counselor's office, where there was quite a commotion going on.  It seemed that they were up to their eyeballs in problems, but finally Haley's assigned counselor came out. 

She assured me that everything would be fine on the first day of school.

I asked her to call me as soon as she had something official to show me.  I told her that I wanted to meet with the teacher and to walk through the classroom.  She told me that I might be able to do that on Tuesday, but she couldn't be sure about that because the teachers would all be very busy. 

I left with the assurance that I could expect a phone call soon verifying that they indeed had my daughter's IEP and were prepared to have her in their Life Skills program.

That was Wednesday.  This is Friday night.  I didn't get a phone call.

So Tuesday morning they will get a phone call and if I am not confident that this has been fixed I will be going to school with Haley on Wednesday morning because there is NO WAY I am letting her go to that school by herself.


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