Thursday, March 22, 2012
For those of you that have followed our journey you are very well aware of the fact that the last two years I was completely frustrated at home with Cruz trying to work through the ins and outs of day to day with a very frustrated and anxious 2 year old that didn't know how to communicate. My only break came when I would go to the gym for some alone on the eliptical to try to work on choreography in my head. Mind you these trips took a good hour or two ahead of time to dress both kids, pack up, get them in the car, drive out, unload and get both across a large parking lot, checked in, taken to the childcare area and then after a grueling work out do it all in reverse again. It was the only time I knew Cruz would be forced to interact with other children, most of whom he didn't know. I would anxiously linger by the window after dropping him off and picking him up only to find him sitting in the corner by himself and not interacting with anyone. I was desperate to find anything at all I could take him to that could possibly provide therapy or at the least give him a guided chance to be with others his age. I would have literally just handed my check book over to someplace that could give me the opportunity to meet other moms whose kids had similar issues. I knew nobody. Some of you were very kind to put me in touch with other people whose kids were special needs but most of you live in other states. Fortunately, via family friends I got in touch with Deb Fusek. Deb started The Reach Effect Foundation (http://www.thereacheffectfoundation.com/), an organization that helps connect parents of special needs to local resources. Deb agreed to meet with me for coffee and I felt like I had finally found another mom that had been through some of the same scenarios as us. It gave me a touch of hope. We continued with our weekly therapy for Cruz last summer and I decided I was finally ready to get back into business. I had been freelancing choreography for the last three years but realized it was time to have my own space. We opened POINT Performing Arts (http://www.pointperformingarts.com/), offering ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary and hip hop for all ages. Long before the doors had opened I noticed Cruz's love of music. He is always humming, singing, and drawn to music. I knew that as soon as we got our feet on the ground we would need to provide some type of setting for special needs kids. For months Jason and I talked, prayed, planned, and tried to come up with the right scenario for a special needs class. In January I contacted 417 magazine about advertising. They were getting ready to run their Summer Camps issue and I had only a few days to submit before the deadline. They sent me the link from last years magazine and I was shocked to find that in the Special Needs section there was only 2 camps listed. Camp Barnabas, and The Red Cross had a diabetes awareness program. Stepping out in blind faith I went ahead and advertised for a summer day camp and we threw in a tid bit about special needs as well. I wasn't sure what exactly it would look like but I knew that we were going to do something. I called Deb that week and arranged a meeting at the studio. I layed out my vision and my desire to see something that kids could come do and something that parents could connect during. We talked about several different scenarios and I asked Deb if she had any interest in being involved in this program in any way. Thankfully, she was interested and we agreed that we needed to find someone amazing to either create a program or run it. I knew that this had to be a licensed person to make it legitimate. We both began contacting everyone we knew. Deb hit the jackpot. Brooke Allen, BCBA, LBA, had already been contacted by parents interested in a social skills class and had created a curriculum for a summer program. All this said, the "SUPERSTARS" summer special needs program has been created. Our tagline is "REACH.CONNECT.POINT"! Through this 18 session program will help prepare kids for the class room and focus on social skills. We will even incorporate some movement and music/dance breaks. It has been amazing to see how quickly all of this has come to fruition. Brooke already has families lined up ready for the program. We will "REACH" our little Superstars! We will "CONNECT" our Superstars with eachother! We will "POINT" them towards a brighter future! We are working around the clock now to finalize our plans for our fundraiser on May 3 at Highland Springs. We will have a sit down dinner, live dancing, silent auction, and inspirational program allowing people to make donations through The Reach Effect Foundation. Our goal is to raise enough money so that we can lower the cost to families. Most insurance companies won't cover these types of classes and out of pocket therapy usually ranges from $70/hour to $200/hour. Our goal is to bring that cost down to around $10-15/hour. We are looking for businesses that are interested in being corporate sponsors and donating financially or that are willing to donate items or services to our silent auction. We have an amazing committee that has been formed to help make this whole thing happen and I feel so blessed to be working alongside people like Deb and Brooke. As soon as we knew that Cruz had special needs, we knew we wanted to do more to get involved in the community. We weren't exactly sure what that looked like but we knew God had big plans for the little guy. You can read more about that in other blogs, like "I know that I know that I know" and "Superman". We felt immediately that we were given this little guy to learn from him and in turn help others. It's amazing to think of all of the times Cruz has pushed my buttons, how drained I felt, and how I longed for some type of program that might help him. It's amazing to see how God stirred it in our hearts and immediately brought people into our lives like Deb and Brooke. Its amazing to see how doors keep opening left and right to get this thing ready for this summer. And its amazing to think of how many families are going to be blessed, how many kids, siblings, and parents are going to be able to grow and connect. If you are interested in being involved or donating, please contact me! We'll keep you posted...
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
On Wren's actual birthday we went to the zoo. It was on a Friday and Friday's are the hardest day of the week. There's no bus ride, no school, no work, no babysitter, just mommy, Cruz, and Wren. The kids take out any reserved frustration from the entire week on mommy on that day. So I took a daring chance and loaded them both up and we went to the zoo ourselves along with the constant reminding threat that if they don't listen we will go straight home. The air was slightly chilly and invigorating, which made the animals more active and pushing the double stroller up hill less daunting. There was hardly any visitors there which was incredibly peaceful the only sounds heard were of the animals, or my children who often stuttered their way through naming the animals and singing songs. Cruz did his best to listen to me. He insisted on walking instead of riding, which was initially scary. He tends to run off and climb things and I just foresaw having to get zoo keepers to rescue him from the hippo exhibit. He did very well and walked almost the entire trip. Wren of course loved having a such a wide stroller that she laid down, crossed her ankles and folded her hands behind her head. The queen was pushed all around and only left her throne at each animals exhibit and quickly jumped back in to whisked to the next stop. Even when it was only a few yards away she made sure to buckle her strap around herself. It was our first zoo trip in probably 8 months or longer and it was so fun to see the kids recognize animals and their names. They loved feeding the giraffes, whose tongues where literally like 15 inches long.
The animals were very playful today and we were treated to a private show between the bears. Upon arrival, we couldn't find them until we heard a snap up above our heads. They stayed up there for like 20 minutes playing. It was incredible.
My sensory seekers left with their cups full. Lots of physical activity, lots sights, smells, and sounds. Lots of touching, we fed all the animals in the petting zoo. Lots of climbing as we played on the playground. It felt like a successful day trip... surely they will take naps today.... nope. Hard as I tried back and forth between rooms to keep them in their beds, after a couple of hours of trying I called off the war and let them run around outside. Surely after another hour or two they'll be able to take a nap.... surely not.
Still, they got their fill and our usual 'Friday Failday' actually seemed like 'Friday Funday'. We still had some meltdowns but I am realizing that Cruz needs extra extra extra sensory input. I need to plan things on Fridays that will stimulate him. That's why when we are out in public people don't seem to notice that there is anything different as he seems content. However, leave him at home for more than an hour and he will literally climb up the walls and scream and have angry fits. Much like the monkeys we saw caged up at the zoo. Perhaps Fridays will become zoo days so I can get my monkeys out of our cage and let them explore.
Friday, March 9, 2012
Two years ago at exactly this time, Wren Frances was born. When I found out I was pregnant with Wren, I cried. Not sweet loving tears of joy for another little bundle from heaven. I cried because I was terrified. Cruz was not quite 6 months old and wasn't sleeping through the night, wasn't gaining weight, cried all the time and I was still breastfeeding. I didn't know how I was going to handle two babies. It wasn't planned and we knew we would just have to pray for the Lord's help. My pregnancy was fairly smooth up until delivery day. The surgery was scheduled for March 9th and we arrived at the hospital bright and early. It was such a nice change this time being able to schedule for people to watch Cruz and actually be showered and prepared ahead of time. I was absolutely terrified about the surgery since Cruz's had been an emergency c-section. It had been a nightmare experience and I had nine months this time around knowing what was ahead of me. I spoke with the very kind anesthesiologist about all of my concerns. He assured me all would be different this time around as it wasn't an emergency, different drugs would be used, etc... long story short...
True to her character, and not letting her brother out do her, she made a very dramatic first appearance by stopping her heart monitor and requiring an emergency c-section that scared everyone half to death, mostly mommy since daddy wasn't even in the room yet!
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
I love this time of year. The anticipation for something fresh and new begins to creep in. Hints of spring flirt with your heart and you have to look twice or you'll miss noticing that some perennials are budding. I was so thankful for such a moderate winter this year. We had nothing to complain about. But there is something so promising and hopeful about being able to open up all the windows, sweep off the porch, and rake up the leaves. Tiny green blades of grass are crowding out the crud that is left behind. The evergreens in all their faithfulness stay truly green throughout the winter and I am thankful for their loyal companionship. Tiny sprouts are popping up around the yard full of life waiting to burst. I just know that any day now the same robin that has nested on our front porch will return once again for our third annual ritual of nesting. If only I could set up some formal invitation for her to know that she is more than welcome to live with us. Maybe an extra pile of twigs or seeds on the front porch? Yesterday was our first family day outside. Our neighbor girls came over to play with the kids. Our kids are in heaven when all these blonde girls come swarming around. They are so good with the kids and it gives mommy a few moments of time to fold laundry