Monday, May 23, 2011

Our Ambitious Summer Bucket List-2011 Edition

After brainstorming with the girls, we have put together our Summer Bucket List! Summer official starts tomorrow afternoon and we are all so excited to be able to spend more time together and cross off some of the activities on the list.

Without further ado, here is our Bucket List *drum roll*

Visit Dinosaur Journey in Fruita
Step back in time at the Montrose Historical Museum
Burn off some energy at Banana's Fun Park
Make friends with the animals at Pueblo Zoo
Go for a swim at the Aquatic Center or Ouray Hot Springs Pool
View flora and butterflies at Western Colorado Botanical Gardens
Learn all things locomotive at the Ridgway Railroad Museum
Swim in the Ridgway Reservoir
Go on a hike in the mountains (I know several kid-friendly trails)
Visit the Climbing Tree Children's Museum
Fly a hike, up to the highest heights
Go camping & roast marshmallows (This will be a first for the girls, if I can make it happen)
Take in an outdoor concert/performance
Go to the drive-in more than once
Hone our pottery-painting skills at Amazing Glaze (This will most likely be accomplished via Caitlin's 8th birthday party in July)
Go to a National Park or National Monument (We are lucky to live close to several of both)
Join the library's summer reading program (Heading out today to cross this one off, with suggested summer reading lists in hand)
Watch fireworks (Hopefully from our traditional spot in fabulous Ouray, CO)
Ride a train (Day Out with Thomas for Cara's early birthday in June will cross this one off)

So, that's OUR list, what's on yours?!

Monday, May 16, 2011


In a previous post, I mentioned that I was going to talk to the principal at Caitlin's school about possibly moving her into the 4th grade next year, thus skipping 3rd, due to the material not being challenging enough to keep her from being bored.

Well, I did have a meeting with the principal back in mid-April and I addressed my concerns to her. Turns out, she had been aware of Caitlin's academic progress and had a feeling that I would be coming in to discuss acceleration. We sat down and she informed me of how the process works and also the options that we have for Caitlin. I was relieved to see that the school does have a method for dealing with acceleration requests and also has other options available if acceleration is determined not to be the best fit for the child.

The process is pretty grueling, surprisingly. First, Caitlin would be tested using practical intelligence testing methods to determine where she was academically (problem solving and reasoning being a big component). These tests were broken down over a few weeks as to not overwhelm Caitlin nor to make her miss too much classroom instruction. Caitlin said that most of the questions were very easy for her. The next step was to have her meet with the school psychologist so that he could determine her social and emotional readiness for acceleration. The counselor also sent home several behavioral surveys for me to do about Caitlin so that they could get a complete picture of her. The final step of the acceleration process is a team meeting which consists of myself, the principal, the gifted & talented coordinator for the district, the school's gifted & talented teacher, the school counselor, Caitlin's teacher, a 3rd grade teacher and a 4th grade teacher. Everyone will share their findings and then we will come to a conclusion of what we think would be the best plan for Caitlin for the fall.

Regardless of the decision to accelerate or not, Caitlin will be in the Gifted & Talented program next year which includes both pull-outs with the G&T teacher and collaboration with the classroom teacher to make assignments more challenging for her. In addition, Caitlin will be "clustered" within the classroom with other G&T peers. Caitlin & I both are hoping for acceleration into the 4th grade, but if that doesn't seem to be the best place for her, all things considered, it is kind of comforting to know that there is a back-up plan in place. Should everyone agree that acceleration is best, she will be put into 4th grade, in a "cluster" there as well and she will be continuously monitored by the G&T teacher as well as the school counselor to make sure that the transition is going smoothly.

The acceleration team meeting is on Wednesday and I am anxious to hear what everyone has to say and for a decision to be made. Caitlin's best interests are in mind, so I feel that either way, she will be challenged next year.

Kindergarten IEP implementation

Last week, Cara & I met with her current therapists from preschool along with the therapists at the elementary that she will be attending in the fall to discuss implementation of her IEP in the elementary setting.

I was so pleased to find out that Cara will be getting more services this fall than she ever has before. Physical & occupational therapy will be increasing to twice a week for 45 minutes and speech therapy will be up to 180 hours/month. Cara will also be doing pull outs into the special education classrooms for several hours a few times a week. In addition to therapy services, Cara will also be sharing a special ed para-pro with one other student in her classroom. This is wonderful for her as she really needs that help and support in order to fully participate in classroom activities.

A few things that have changed on her IEP are that she needs more monitoring when using the restroom (she will not wipe unless told to, etc) and that she will be watched carefully on the playground since Cara still does not have the greatest balance in the world and she requires a larger base of support than other kids.

The subject of busing was also brought up. I mentioned that I kind of feared for Cara's safety on the bus that Caitlin currently rides because it is a full & rowdy bus even though the driver does the best that she can. Oftentimes, there are 3 kids to a seat which could make a difficult task out of Cara finding a seat herself and really put a spotlight on her. The bus stop is also about 8 blocks away from our house, which can be a bit much for Cara as she still suffers from muscle fatigue due to her cerebral palsy. Currently, Cara rides a bus to preschool that only has maybe 20 kids on it with an aide who helps the children to & from their car seats. I have to help Cara up the steps most days as well. Her bus stop is right outside of our complex and not a long distance for her to walk. So, when I voiced my concerns, the special education coordinator said that it wouldn't be a problem to line up special transportation for Cara. The bus will most likely stop in the same location as the preschool bus did and their will be an aide on the bus to help Cara into her seat. Caitlin will also be able to ride the bus with Cara, if she wants to do so. I do worry that Caitlin may be embarrassed to ride the special ed bus, but we will see how it goes. RIght now, Caitlin says she'd love to ride with Cara.

We have not found out whether Cara will be in morning or afternoon Kindergarten nor who her teacher will be. They still have to do staffing and wait until all new students to the district have registered. I have requested that Cara be kept in morning Kindergarten as that is what she's used to and it would be less of a disruption to the routine that Cara thrives on. Hopefully, her therapists and school personnel will take that into account when they make their decision.

All in all, I feel that Cara will be in good hands this coming school year and will be getting the services and help in the classroom that she needs to succeed. Cara, of course, is very excited to be going to "Sissy's school". It will be nice having both girls at the same school.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Wish all my momma readers a very Happy Mother's Day. I hope that you are enjoying your day and spending it with the ones you love.

I am one very spoiled and well-loved momma. My girls gave me fresh flowers, homemade cards, paper flowers and a vase. More importantly though, they showed me their love. I feel very blessed to be a mom to my two precious princesses & love them more than they will ever know.

Here are some pictures from the day so far:

Fresh flowers that Caitlin picked out for me. I've had those vases for years and this may be the first time they've had real flowers in them!

Paper flowers that Caitlin made in a vase made by Cara.

Front cover of the card Caitlin made for me at school.

Top Ten List. I love this!


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