Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cara's Annual IFSP Review

Today, Cara had her annual IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan). This is the plan that outlines goals, strengths and weaknesses of each child and family receiving services through the state. Cara receives her physical and speech therapy through Developmental Pathways which is an agency that is contracted by the state to carry-out it's Early Intervention services.

At this review, we set some new goals for Cara in areas of fine and gross motor skills--things that we would like to see Cara doing by the time she turns 3. We listed skills such as independently and consistently feeding herself using a fork or spoon; learning to hold a pencil or crayon correctly; learning to gallop and to ride a tricycle; and for her to have a better sense of self perception and awareness. In addition to identifying these goals, I worked with Cara's service coordinator and physical therapist to think of ways to help Cara meet these goals. We have a lot of hard work on our hands but as long as Cara continues to progress as she has in the past year, we should be able to add these skills to her list! We will be doing the speech and communication part of the review with Cara's speech therapist on Monday.

The other part of the review was the transition plan. When Cara turns 3 in July, she will transition out of Part C of Early Intervention services and into Part B. Services will go from being provided in the home to being provided in a school setting. That being said, we have to start transitioning Cara into preschool and/or Head Start, if she qualifies. We are to schedule a comprehensive evaluation with the school district's early intervention program to see if she'll qualify for their FREE preschool program. Basically, Cara will be thoroughly evaluated by a speech/language pathologist, physical and occupational therapist as well as an development/behavioral specialist. Based upon their findings, we will know whether Cara qualifies. There doesn't seem to be any doubt that she will qualify given that she is behind on several benchmarks for her age. If we qualify, Cara will be eligible to go to preschool 2 days a week for a few hours a day. Therapy will, most likely, also be included in her school time. Whatever therapy she is determined to need, the therapists will provide at the preschool.

In addition, if this evaluation deems that Cara will indeed need supportive therapies in the school setting, an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) will be written for her and a meeting held to develop this plan and inform our family as to how it will be carried out.

I am also to call Creative Options, another service provider, to see about their qualifications for the Head Start program. If Cara meets their qualifications, she may also be able to attend Head Start a few days a week and further benefit from that instruction and socialization.

It seems that time in flying. In 6 months, Cara will be 3 and we'll be sending her to preschool! Where has the time gone? When I look back over the past year and all that Cara has accomplished, I am simply amazed! She has overcome so much and just blossomed. I cannot wait to see what these next 6 months bring!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This Day in History

Today is January 20, 2009:
On this day, history was made. President-elect Barack Obama was officially sworn in as the Nation's 44th President.

We sat, we watched, we exclaimed, we gasped, we cried, we were moved.

This was a remarkably historic day for the United States. Not only did the first African-American (though truthfully, he's mixed) become President, but we his election comes a tide of change. We, the people, have truly come together as ONE. We are inspired to make this country a better place and finally, we have just the man in the Oval Office to help make that a reality.

Change has come!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Family Outings

We are really very blessed to live in the Denver metro area, with it's abundance of places to go and things to see. Making memories with the girls is so much fun! Here are a few places that we've visited so far this month.

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science. It was their monthly free day, so we decided to take advantage. After struggling to find a parking spots and dealing with the crowds, we headed to the space exhibit followed by the kid's Discovery Zone and finally up through the Animals of North American displays. It was so much fun to explain things to the girls and to watch them explore and get excited at seeing certain things.

Museum of Nature & Science Collage

We are members (thanks Mom & Dad) of the Denver Zoo, so now, we can go for an hour or to see a particular animal without feeling guilty of wasting money. We went this past Saturday and focused on the bears and primates. We marveled and how much we have in common with primates and loved watching a newborn baby monkey explore his new home. The weather in Denver was perfect for our zoo visit, about 60 degrees, so we were able to see a lot of the animals roaming around outside. Heck, it felt like spring and we walked the zoo without coats!

Denver Zoo Collage

What have you been doing with YOUR families?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Wheel-Reinvented

To my fellow Mac lovers/users:

MacBook Wheel

Play, laugh, dream! :)

(Thanks Mary, for sharing this.)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Simply Life

Lauren just blogged about trying to live a minimalistic life in the space that you've been placed in. That got me thinking about my life now as compared to how I always envisioned myself living.

When I started college, I must admit that my parents almost needed a UHaul trailer to bring all of my possessions over the mountains. I brought everything but my kitchen sink. I couldn't be without the comforts of home, of course. I blew through my graduation money on things that seemed so important at the time.

In my sophomore year, after thoroughly enjoying a social issues class, I switched my major from history to sociology and along with it, my world view. As I read more about situations within our own country and abroad, the more I was determined to change my ways and learn how to be happy with less. At this point, I was surviving on less than $400/month (room & board paid for, of course) and driving a Dodge Dynasty. I was letting the simple things satisfy me and developing some life-long friendships. Through volunteering, I was realizing how very blessed I was to have a family who loved me, to be in good health and never having to worry about having a place to sleep or food to eat. I also realized how much unnecessary "stuff" I had and began to slowly adapt to the idea that keeping it simple wasn't stupid. I remember donating a lot of things to the Human Society Thift Shop and feeling so much freer afterward.

During my senior year, our main assignment was to write a thesis on how we viewed ourselves, our journey to that point in our lives and where we saw ourselves in the future in terms of social service. I searched high and low for something that grabbed me, talking for endless hours with my professor as he suggested reading materials and mentors to talk to. Finally, by chance, while shelving book for my work/study, I came across a book and submerged myself into the concept of simple living. Being happy with less, was it really possible or was it a far-fetched hippie notion? The more I read, the more it appealed and the more it made sense. Most things that we own are simply that, things. They rarely have a special attachment and oftentimes lose their luster very quickly.

But, more than that, simplicity requires a return to your roots and inner reflection. It is quite a journey to look inside yourself--seeing who you are and then developing who you want to me. This journey has been called a journey towards home, to one's core. Through my reading and reflecting, I discovered that who I was wasn't who I thought I wanted to be. I wanted to be someone who lived life, not just one who let it pass by. I wanted things to move me, not to be moved to buy things. I wanted to make a positive impact on the world and make it a better place. I wanted to truly embrace simplicity and it's adjacent minimalistic lifestyle.

Upon graduation and getting married, I sold off 80% of my belongings and moved to Michigan from Colorado. I had every intention of living out the lifestyle that I had laid out in my senior thesis paper. Ben & I rented a small apartment and I set off to furnish it very simply but tastefully. Then, somewhere along the way, my "road map" got tossed aside and consumerism took over. Eating out replaced home-cooked meals, instant gratification replaced careful planning and purposeful purchasing. Before I knew it, our apartment had been filled to the gills with "stuff". I really couldn't even tell you why we had some of things that we seemed to have to have at the time.

Fast forward to today. We still live in a culture where we want the latest and greatest in everything--cars, cell phones, iPods--but at the same time, we are the same people who are going green, living the urban lifestyle and the smaller, more simple life. There are magazines and websites devoted to small spaces and the organization of those spaces. Sparse furnishings and accessorizing is the trend these days. I have to say, this trend really does appeal, once again, to my inner being.

We are a family of 4 living in an 1100 square foot condo. We own computers, iPods and cell phones. We have "stuff" overflowing into our garage and storage closet. Toys loom everywhere! We outgrew this place within months of moving in. But, why is that? Why must we have so much that we can't happily exist in this space? Families in other countries (and even our own) live in much smaller spaces very happily. Unfortunately, we have got caught up in the whole American materialist world. Stores showcase all the things that we HAVE to have in our lives and we feel like we're failures if we don't have it. Never mind the fact that we have something similar that would do the job just fine. In some ways, I wish we could be convinced to buy what we need instead of what we want, but I'm afraid that we've become accustomed to needing more than we really do need.

As I look around our condo, I find myself we really need all of this? Do the kids need so many toys, many of which never get played with? Mind you, I just donated a huge trash bag full of toys before the holidays to weed things down--but now, I realize, that was only to make room for the new toys they received as gifts. I mean, some days, I think my girls would be just as happy with crayons, an empty box and their imaginations. Is it necessary to have decorations adorning every surface? Just because we inherit something, does that obligate us to keep it forever?

I saw an article recently that made me think about all of this. A family found out that they were going to lose their home and would be forced to live in their 20 foot trailer until they could get back on their feet. Each family member--two adults and three kids (11, 7 and 3) were allowed to bring one suitcase and then one box of things that were special to them. Here's the question, could you do it? The way our life is right now, I can assure you that we couldn't! But, if forced to, it certainly would shine a light on to what we truly needed and the things that made us happy.

Maybe this family is on to something. Get rid of only want you desperately need and the things that make you happy or tell a story of who you are. The rest is just "stuff". This is easier said than done, I know, especially with children who seem to think that every toy is as essential to their lives as water. I will, however, make this pledge. I am going to evaluate everything that comes into our house--outside of the basics like food and clothing--to see if we really need it. Then, when something comes in, something must go out. I am also going on a mission for organization. What we do have and need to keep will be as organized as possible. This, apparently, is one of the keys to a simpler, less stressed life--knowing what you have and where it is. Thus begins my renewed attempt at a simple, purposeful life.

Call this a resolution if you want...I'm calling it a way of life.

4 of 4

I should be telling you about our adventures on the Western Slope, but I'll save that for another day.

I found this little bit of fun over on Judy's site. Here's what you do:
- Go to the folder in which you keep your digital photos.
- Choose the fourth folder.
- Find the fourth picture in that folder.
- Explain.
- Tag four people.

Here is my 4th picture, in my 4th folder.

This whole folder is dedicated to our excursion to downtown Denver for the 5 Points Jazz Festival. 5 Points is one of many "ethnic" (in lack of a better word) neighborhoods in Denver. This particular neighborhood thrives with African American history, pride and culture. We ventured downtown both to hear the music, see the art and also meet my wonderful fellow hydro-mama, Vidya, for the first time.
The picture is of the Blair-Caldwell Library, a branch of the Denver Public Library, which is smack-dab in the middle of the 5 Points District. We stopped in to browse their collection and ended up discovering that they had a great board book selection, so we came home with bags full of books. I also found out that they have a great permanent exhibit on African Americans in the West on the 3rd floor of the library. Caitlin, Cara and I walked through the exhibit, learning what life was like for African Americans at pinnacle times in our nation's history (homesteaders, infantrymen, etc). If you're ever in Denver, I highly recommend that you stop by and visit the library and this exhibit.

As for the four people I'm tagging:
Four people who have digital photos, need blogging material, and want to share.


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