This blog is an update of the life and activities of my beautiful son adopted from Baton Rouge, LA in August, 2008 and my amazing daughter adopted from Baton Rouge, LA in November 2014.
Back to School 2013
First day of school 2103
Mason gives two thumbs up to _Cloudy with a
Chance of Meatballs 2._ I asked him for two days if he would go to a movie. He
said yes. Then when we got there, he wasn't so sure. We've tried movies a
couple of times, and he didn't like them. This one, however, is just fabulous
and engaging. Even if you can't follow the story, you can enjoy the visually
stimulating giant food.(And we all know how much Mason likes food.) Mason did
some dancing in the aisle and talking back to the screen. He doesn't care if
other people sit in a chair. He's not going to sit when a movie calls for
dancing and joyful outbursts.
Mason has been taking horse riding lessons
in Eau Claire. We are planning to go every Tuesday night until it gets too
cold, which could be any day now. So far he tolerates staying on the horse for
20-30 minutes. The instructor leads the horse and encourages Mason to do things
like pet the horse, tell the horse to stop and go, hold the horn, hold the
reigns, brush the horse, etc. Mason is willing to do these things. My job is to
be the support coach who runs along the side and keep Mason on the horse. So
far he is using his legs and has a pretty good sense of balance. My hope is
that he can learn to ride alone so that we can each ride a horse together.
Mason is not able to take instruction and have the attention span for something
like dance classes that most kids his age would do. However, horse riding is
something that keeps his interest, and he can follow simple commands with
support. I feel that it’s also therapeutic for me to be around horses. The
horses and smell of the barn bring back fond memories for me. When I was Mason’s
age, I had my own pony named Frosty. My dad used to leave me alone on Frosty
while he did yard work. I remember that as soon as my dad was out of sight,
Frosty would stop moving. I would have to sit there waiting for my dad to come
back and get Frosty moving again. I think my dad bought be some spurs.
Horse riding in the rain. Mason stuck with it even though he was cold and wet and his little hands turned blue!
Mason started kindergarten at Wakanda
Elementary. I did not want Mason in kindergarten because he did not go to 4K
last year. With his late summer birthday plus Autism, he is way behind the other
kids in the class. Then I found out that Wakanda was going to offer a special
class for Autistic kids, so I got very excited and thought he would get special
instruction. Well, we are over a month into it, and my excitement bubble has
burst. Mason is in an inclusion class with 23 other kids. The little class I
thought he would be in is like a closet that a few Autistic kids go to for a
few minutes of small group work during the day. Mason has an aide with him most
of the time, but I’m sure he’s pretty lost and overwhelmed. At night he says, “No
school.” He’s even asked to go back to daycare, and that’s unusual because he
didn’t like daycare. The worst part of it is-I get very little communication
from the sp/ed teacher and none from the regular teacher. The first week of
school, I spent a few hours each day trying to help Mason feel supported, and I
could see that the teachers and aides were overwhelmed. After a few days of
trying to understand the routine, I was frustrated because Mason rides a bus
specifically routed for the Autistic kids. He leaves at 7:30 in the morning and
school doesn’t start until 8:45. Then, the bus picks up him and other kids in
the program an hour before the rest of the school gets out. Mason gets home at
3:00, and school is still running until 3:30. This makes scheduling my work day
difficult, and I think it unscrupulous that he’s being shorted instructional
minutes. The director of pupil services at the district said that the kids on
the morning bus are supposed to be starting class early, but they don’t. They
just play outside. The sp/ed teacher says she thinks socializing outside is
important. I’m sure Mason is playing outside, but socializing-no. Okay, I’ve
been a teacher for a long time. I can tell when people are not telling me the
truth. I’m not at all sure what if any experience or special training the sp/ed
teacher has. After four or five days of bringing Mason to school and staying
until 10:00, the sp/ed teacher rather abruptly told me that Mason does better
when I’m not there. Yep. Maybe she does better when I’m not there, but I know
that isn’t true for him. He didn’t turn five, start kindergarten, and suddenly
become a different child. He still has good and bad days, and the elementary
school is not the right placement for him. A small class of no more than eight
students where he got a lot of one on one instruction would be the right
placement for him. I’m just not sure where to go from here. I’ve been
participating in a parent education and support group called Unwinding Autism. I’ve
been able to participate in weekly phone calls with specialists. The other
callers and experts give me valuable feedback on how to handle behaviors, etc.
And they all agree that I need better communication with the teachers at
school-who so far have stonewalled me. On one of the Unwinding Autism calls, I
confessed to the other callers that every day I have a heavy, sad feeling that
I’m not doing the right or best things for Mason, and I don’t even know what
else to do. All of them said they feel the same way.
Mason loves to climb. We go to the park every evening.
School started and that means it was
Minnesota State Fair time. We went on a weekend with Suejung, Yvin and Ian. We
had a great time eating our way through the day. There were too many people
there, but we still had a fun time. We all liked watching the events in the
horse arena. I saw team barrel racing for the first time. I remember being at
the fair five years ago. It was just a few days before I left to pick up Mason.
I was thinking about him, and all the fun things we would do together like go
to the state fair. Even though not everything we do turns out to be “fun” or it’s
just a lot of work, I still like being with Mason, and I appreciate that he’s
willing to try things even though they are difficult for him. Mason is a fun
person with a good sense of humor. Sometime anxiety masks his enthusiasm, but
he keeps trying. Mason is a tenacious and determined person, and I love that
We have a three year old girl in the house! She's 90% sugar and spice and everything nice, and 10% awful. She's a dancee, singer, and actress extraordinaire. She's starting dancing lessons in January, but she's already been watching Youtube videos of kids dancing, and she loves to follow along.
I call this one Friday night selfie. Both kids like to take pictures with the iPhone. We enjoy making art with the Prizma app.
I captured Brendan making Lucie laugh. Audrey loves to be close to Lucie. Brendan loves everyone in the family because he's a doodle. Olive, she prefers me, but Lucie gives good pets. The kids: not so much. Olive is still making a rush for the door whenever she can. I have to enlist neighbors to help me get her back in the house. The other day, we were going somewhere, so we got in the van and drove about twenty miles an hour up the hill into the cul-de-sac. Olive ran behind us. She's like a grey hound. We couldn't catch her, so I started …
Lucie Sarsa, from Bordeaux, France, had a tremendous year at Menomonie High School. She was always on the honor roll, she played basket ball in the winter, and she ran track in the spring. She had never participated in track before, and she found out that she was really fast! She really liked her theater class, and she made many good friends among the international students. We had a great time throughout the year hanging out with the exchange students. Some of our favorite activities were the international potluck dinners in the homes of the host families. Nilufar Umarova from Tajikistan also became a close friend of our family. Nilu's culture is so drastically different from our own. She teaches us to be frugal and humble and appreciate the things that we have. Lucie teaches to navigate the complexities of life with grace and to live in the moment.
Lucie didn't want us to show any emotion in our goodbye at the Chippewa Valley Airport. She is excited to get on with her life…