"Love me when I least deserve it, because that's when I really need it."
~ Swedish Proverb, from Dr. Robert Melillo's book, "Reconnected Kids"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Best Day EVER, thanks to Brain Balance!

This post is going to be short, sweet, and to the point. Brain Balance has truly changed Aidan's life, and I want the whole world to know it. This was Aidan's daily behavior log today. December 14, 2011 is definitely a day to celebrate!
IMG 2882

So far, in first grade, today was Aidan's BEST DAY EVER!! In the middle of the last week before Christmas break (probably the least structured time of year thus far) Aidan had his first OUTSTANDING day!! Remember the chart for Mrs. Fruits' students?
IMG 2464

Aidan's day was SO awesome, he is at the TOP of the chart!! Andy and I are SO proud of our little man, and so grateful to Mrs. Fruits (General Ed. teacher), Mrs. Harriott (SpEd teacher), and Ms. Kaimal (para-professional) for all of their hard work and dedication! We are so very fortunate to have such a caring group of people on Aidan's IEP team at May Howard!

So today's fantastic news got me thinking about this time LAST year, and I pulled out my (enormous) IEP folder from Kindergarten. This is what I found for December 14, 2010 - a record bad day for Aidan.
IMG 2883

You probably can't read the note that accompanied the behavior chart, so I'll summarize it for you. After a very lengthy assembly that morning, Aidan had great difficulty keeping his hands to himself. When the para-professional tried to put him in time out, he kicked her several times and then threw the time out chair at her. The principal was called, and Aidan spent the remainder of the day in her office. (He subsequently was not allowed to participate in the fun-filled "Polar Express" themed afternoon with the rest of the Kindergarteners.) WORST DAY EVER!

Wow, what a difference from this time last year to today! What's our secret? BRAIN BALANCE!! This program has truly changed Aidan's life, and it is by FAR the best investment we have ever made in his future. Dr. Pete Scire and Jennifer Williams - we are so very grateful for all your compassion and dedication to our entire family, especially Aidan. We could not be more thrilled with Aidan's progress, and excited to share his success with the world! Brain Balance is an AMAZING program, filled with driven, compassionate people with hearts bigger than the world!

Thank you, Ms. Jennifer...
IMG 2152
Thank you, Dr. Pete...
IMG 2379
THANK YOU, Brain Balance!!
Bb logo


Much love,

Allie

P.S. More to come very soon! Turkey Day in Virginia, a dinosaur birthday bash, and more! :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The gratitude blog

As we prepare for Thanksgiving later this week, it occurred to me that I haven't properly acknowledged and thanked everyone who made this amazing Brain Balance journey a reality for our family. To say that the last few weeks have been crazy would be quite an understatement, but that is still no excuse. As I sit in the car, headed to Virginia for the Thanksgiving holiday, this seems like the perfect time to reflect and give thanks for all of the love and support that we have received these last few months. Here goes nothing...

First and foremost, I would like to thank Dr. Pete Scire and Jennifer Williams, the directors of the Brain Balance Centers in Roswell and Suwanee, respectively. Your program is amazing, your staff is hard working and extremely dedicated, your support for parents is like nothing I have ever experienced, and the results achieved with Aidan have completely changed his life, in all the best ways! I have never met a more dedicated and supportive group of people, and it has been my privilege to work with each of you ~ Dr. Pete, Jennifer W., Dr. Ed, Lisa, Susan, Justin, Jennifer, Summer, Susan N., and anyone I may have forgotten ~ thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!
IMG_2379.jpg
IMG_2152.jpg

To Dr. Robert Melillo ~ thank you for creating this life-changing program for our kids, and for giving the parents such an active role in helping their children recover. As a parent who was told by more than one doctor that there was "no cause for concern" or that this was "just a phase he would grow out of," I really appreciate the way that your program treats the parents. Your directors LISTEN, they understand that no one knows a child the way that a parent does. In the Brain Balance Program, parents are supported, encouraged, and required to actively participate in helping their children reach their full potential. The Brain Balance Program is truly a team effort, and the results are amazing. Thank you, Dr. Melillo.

To Zac Brown Band ~ thank you for supporting and actively promoting the Brain Balance Program. I will never know if we would have ever heard of this program, if not for your concert in Charlotte, NC last August. We hope y'all keep spreading the word about Brain Balance at your shows ~ people ARE listening, and kids ARE getting help because of it. You guys are changing lives, with your music and your message. Thanks again for giving Aidan a special graduation night that he will NEVER forget! We can't wait to see y'all again on New Year's Eve!
IMG_2447.jpg

To my grandparents, Mema and Mepa Jones ~ we would be lost without you! Andy and I could NEVER have afforded to relocate to Atlanta without your very generous offer to use the condo in Sandy Springs. You have helped us in SO many ways, most especially with your unwavering love and support, and we are so very grateful. We love you both so very much!
IMG_0934.jpg

To my Mom and Dad ~ thank you for the love, the financial assistance, and most of all, for raising me to believe in myself and trust my own instincts. I could not have done this for Aidan without your love and support.
Christening 1250.jpg

To Aunt Gloria, Uncle Bill, Alana, and Aunt Kris ~ thanks for everything this summer and fall! Dinners by the pool, fun trips to Stone Mountain, babysitting, picnics at the park - we have had a blast spending time with y'all! Alana, thanks for all of your help with the little monkeys. I am SO glad we all got to spend this time together! Gogi - I miss our porch time already! Thanks for keeping me sane...;) Let's keep in touch, ok?
IMG_0938.jpg
IMG_1031.jpg

To Hannah and Delanie Fancher - you ladies are life savers! Thanks for spending part of your summer monkey-sitting! We had lots of fun, and we miss y'all very much!
IMG_0232.jpg

Remember our refrigerator in Atlanta?
IMG_1411.jpg

Well, we had LOTS of people send us cards, pictures, and letters. We even got a couple of packages too. Getting mail was a true highlight for the boys - they wanted to check the mail every single time we passed the mailboxes - and they would get SO excited anytime there was mail for them! And even on the most trying day, a glance at our refrigerator could always make me smile! Knowing that SO many people were thinking about us, loving us, and supporting and encouraging us was just the best feeling for ALL of us. I would like to very sincerely thank anyone and everyone who took the time to mail something to us in Atlanta. Every card meant so much to us, and we have saved them ALL. One day, I hope we will have a truly awesome scrapbook of our Atlanta Adventure to share.

We did have a couple of pen pals that rate a little extra special recognition. We would especially like to thank Nanny and Reta (Buddy and Hudson too), the Screptock/Sheffield clan (Uncle Skip, Aunt Pamela, Colleen, Daniel, and pups), and Mimi and Papa for being such faithful pen pals! We loved all of the cards and letters that y'all sent, and we hope you liked the cards and artwork that we sent in return! Finally, we would like to bestow the MOST FAITHFUL PEN PAL award to...TEAM WALLACE! Molly, Brandon, Lydia (Aidan's girlfriend) and Jude (Ace's bud) ~ thank y'all SO very much for ALL of the letters, pictures and notes that you sent us! Getting mail was always fun, but getting mail from Team Wallace was super exciting! Now that we're back home, we'll have to work on getting that rock band together - you bring the Queen, we'll bring the Bon Jovi! You guys ROCK!
lyd and Aidan.jpg

To Aidan's IEP team at May Howard ~ I know it hasn't always been easy, but I appreciate more than I can say the willingness of this team to ensure that Aidan have a successful year in first grade. Thank you all for working with us so diligently while we were in Atlanta, and for working so hard to make sure that Aidan's transition back to school went as smoothly as possible. Mrs. Fruits, Mrs. Harriott, Mrs. Pierce, Ms. Kaimal, Ms. Colwell, Mrs. Colby and Ms. Taylor ~ Thank you very much for ALL of your help and support. I think we are off to a GREAT start, and I look forward to a fantastic year!

To everyone who helped out with Aidan's Brian Balance tuition fund, we appreciate your generosity more than we can say. We could never have done this alone, and we are so fortunate to have so many friends and family members in our corner. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

And finally, we would like to thank the two people who made our Brain Balance dream a reality for Aidan - Buddy and Jackie Pence.
SAM_0019.jpg

Jackie, I hope that you know that your final gift to Aidan has changed his life forever. Our entire family is grateful for your gift of Brain Balance, and we hope that we have all made you proud. We love and miss you every single day. Buddy, we love you so very much. Thank you for loving and supporting us along this incredible journey. We could NOT have done this without your love and support.
SAM_0251.jpg


Hug everyone a little tighter tomorrow, as you gather around to feast. We hope everyone has a safe and very Happy Thanksgiving!

Much love,

Allie





Sunday, November 13, 2011

Aidan's 1st week of school!

The last couple of weeks have been hectic, to say the least! In the midst of moving back to Savannah and trying to get unpacked, we've had an IEP meeting, Aidan's triumphant return to first grade, Halloween, and a few very important birthdays to celebrate! Sheesh!

On Monday, 10/31/11, I had a great IEP meeting at May Howard for Aidan. His IEP team and his teachers have been WONDERFUL thus far. (Remember the amazing package that we got from Mrs. Fruits and her class during our last week in Atlanta?? AWESOME!)
IMG_2374.jpg

A LOT of thought and planning went in to Aidan's placement for first grade. It was evident that Aidan having a successful and fun year in first grade was a goal that we all shared. The IEP team was very interested in learning exactly what Aidan had been doing at Brain Balance for the last five months, and very excited to see all the progress that he has made! Aidan's sensory breaks will continue throughout his school day, especially prior to times of instruction. These breaks will pair short bursts of aerobic exercises with either Brain Balance music or specific smells to stimulate his right brain. (The aerobic exercise increases oxygen to the brain, the music and smells provide stimulation, and the combination decreases fatigue and calms behaviors.) I thought the meeting was very positive and productive, and I look forward to a GREAT year for Aidan!

Since it was Halloween, that evening Mom, Andy and I took the boys trick-or-treating. The boys were too cute in their costumes, and everyone had fun!

Aidan - the Zombie
IMG_2471.jpg

Aeson - the Indian
IMG_2470.jpg

Ashwin - the Cowboy!
IMG_2469.jpg

And they're OFF!
IMG_2472.jpg


We didn't stay out too late trick-or-treating because Aidan had a VERY important day the next day!! His first day of school! How did it go, you ask?? Just like this...
IMG_2481.jpg

In case you can't read the note, it says, "Aidan had an awesome day! He worked hard, listened and followed directions, and participated in class. He was a good friend by sharing his red crayon and picking up someone's pencil for them. I am SO proud of you!" ~ Mrs. Fruits
P.S. Aidan also wanted to tell you that he colored in 13 boxes today! WOW!

(Each child has a chart on their desk for their Friday treat. Throughout each day, Mrs. Fruits will have the children color in a box or two at a time for doing something good. Sometimes the whole class gets to color in a box, but most times, the box-coloring is done on an individual basis. If you color in enough boxes to get into zone A by Friday afternoon, you get a Friday treat! FYI - 13 boxes is well over half way to a Friday treat - and a LOT for one day!)

Day #2 - "Aidan had another good day. He tested a few boundaries but responded well when redirected. He moved his clip to "Think About It" a few times, but was quick to correct his behavior and was able to move his clip back up both times." ~ Mrs. Fruits

Mrs. Fruits has this super cool behavior chart in her room, and each child has a clip with their name on it. Everyone starts in the middle on green, "Ready to Learn." Students move up or down throughout the day, depending on their behavior. Mrs. Fruits makes it clear to her students that there is always opportunities to turn a bad day around and move back up the behavior chart. Even if you do something really bad that lands you on "Parent Contact," she tells them that she will not write the note to send home until the very end of the day. YOU control what the note says - if you turn your day around, the note will reflect your effort. Mrs. Fruits brought this chart to our IEP meeting and explained it to me, and I was VERY impressed!
IMG_2464.jpg


Day #3 - Aidan had a great day in class today! He raised his hand to participate and didn't call out much. He pushed a few kids on the playground today, but when we made some rules for the game, he followed the rules and played nicely." ~ Mrs. Fruits

Wow, just WOW! Way to go Aidan! We are so very proud of you!

Now, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about. Well, to really show you how amazing this first week of school was for Aidan, we would first have to rewind to just over a year ago, to the end of Aidan's first week of Kindergarten. Every day that week, I had received notes from Aidan's kindergarten teacher, complete with sad faces and her hopes that he would soon "settle into the routine." On Friday of that first week, I had a parent/teacher conference with both the general education and the special education teachers, and the principal in attendance. After recounting in GREAT detail all of the issues and problems that they were having with Aidan in the classroom and especially on the playground, the general consensus was "We don't know WHAT to do with Aidan, but if something doesn't change very soon, he is going to hurt someone." That week forced us to find another way to help Aidan, and what we found was the Brain Balance Program. Just over a year later, look how far my boy has come, thanks to the Brain Balance Program! And his own hard work and effort! This program is truly amazing!

And if this wasn't enough excitement for you, we also had THREE very special birthdays to celebrate recently! My baby boy, Ashwin, turned TWO! I can't believe how fast my baby is growing up!
IMG_2381.jpg

In keeping with tradition here in the Pence household, immediately following the second birthday comes...the first haircut! Check out my very handsome, and very grown up big boy!
IMG_2486.jpg

Ms. Reta, my grandmother, celebrated her 88th birthday and we had a fabulous family dinner in her honor!
IMG_2454.jpg

And finally, my Mema turned 85 on 11/11/11, and we surprised her with a luncheon to celebrate!
IMG_2525.jpg

IMG_2526.jpg

Lots of excitement for the Pence clan!

I recently discovered that my blog is now featured on the Brain Balance Centers website. I would like to thank Brain Balance Centers for sharing Aidan's story, and I hope that our family's journey with Brain Balance can help other parents learn about this life-changing program. Please feel free to share this blog with anyone that you think it may help.

Much love,

Allie





Friday, November 4, 2011

Aidan's Brain Balance Graduation Celebration - a special night for Aidan with Zac Brown Band!

So it has been one week since we packed up the van and headed home to Savannah for good! It is great to finally be home and have our whole family reunited and under one roof again! We barely had time to unload the van, before Andy, Aidan and I headed to Jacksonville, FL for a VERY special night! It was Aidan's Brain Balance Graduation Celebration and a truly unforgettable night for our family!

Now, if you're familiar with my blog and our story, you know that we have BIG love for Zac Brown Band. Not only are these guys tremendously talented musicians, but they ALL have hearts bigger than the world, with room for all of their fans! ZBB promotes Brain Balance at their concerts, and it was at a Zac Brown Band show last summer (August 21, 2010 in Charlotte, NC to be exact) that I first learned of the Brain Balance Program. Just like this...


Never thought a concert could forever change my life, but that is exactly what happened. A little over a year later, Aidan has made such a tremendous amount of progress - a true miracle for our entire family! So it seemed very fitting that Aidan's Brain Balance Graduation Celebration should take place at a Zac Brown Band concert! He was SO very excited! We got there early - we had signed up to Z-Team before the show (That would be street teaming, Zamily style). We met up with T-Bird, our fearless Zamily leader, and she gave us our instructions. Our job was to greet everyone at the show, and make sure they ALL got a ZBB/Landshark koozie. (Aidan Pence was paying VERY close attention, as you will see later.) Thanks T-Bird!
IMG_2394.jpg

Our tickets to the show that night were a gift, one that we are extremely grateful for! We were also given an opportunity to meet the entire Zac Brown Band! This was Aidan's reaction to THAT news...
IMG_2397.jpg

Before the show, we attended a legendary Eat and Greet, with amazing food by Chef Rusty Hamlin and the entire Zac Brown Band in attendance. At the Eat and Greet, we got the opportunity to introduce Aidan to Zac, Jimmy, Chris, Coy, Clay, Hop, and Wyatt - and it was AMAZING! Aidan and I went down the line, receiving big hugs, high fives, and tons of congratulations and kind words from each of the guys in the band. (For the record, I didn't cry this time, but I feel certain I had a big goofy grin plastered on my face!) The food was fantastic! Melt-in-your-mouth pork and beef tenderloins, golden beet salad, a parsnip puree that had Andy raving (he had no idea what a parsnip was, by the way), cole slaw, green beans, and a smack-your-mama good chocolate/peanut butter dessert! AWESOME! After we ate, Aidan and I got to check out "Cookie," Chef Rusty's traveling kitchen! I thought we were going to get a peek inside - we got a full blown TOUR! I've worked in restaurants with smaller kitchens. Cookie was super cool, and both Jessica and Chef Rusty had fun showing Aidan around!
IMG_2409.jpg

IMG_2411.jpg

Hangin' with the cool kids on "Cookie!"
IMG_2413.jpg

Aidan and I were greeted with big hugs by Mike Rizzi - Sonia Leigh's awesome drummer! He even taught Aidan a new secret handshake. Mike called Will Harrison (Sonia's guitarist) and Nic Cowan over for high fives and photos with Aidan! Awesome!
Will, Aidan and Mike
IMG_2401.jpg

Aidan and Nic
IMG_2402.jpg

Mike and I
IMG_2407.jpg

Aidan was looking for Sonia, and as soon as Mike found her, he brought her over! Aidan was THRILLED!
IMG_2414.jpg


We got a few more photos at the Eat and Greet. Uncle Kyle drove up from Daytona to celebrate with us! Yay!
IMG_2415.jpg

Aidan wanted a photo with Mr. Jack Daniels (ZBB's new tour sponsor), and I was happy to oblige.
IMG_2403.jpg

And Andy wanted a photo with Massif, Zac's bodyguard.
IMG_2417.jpg


Then we headed out front to Z-team, a job that Aidan took VERY seriously. He was SO proud to be "working for the band," and no one was getting past him without a koozie!
IMG_2419.jpg

IMG_2423.jpg

Several people wanted their pictures taken with Aidan - too cute!
IMG_2426.jpg

IMG_2427.jpg

Z-Teaming was definitely a family affair that night!
IMG_2428.jpg

Even Uncle Kyle got in on the action!
IMG_2430.jpg


We missed all of Nic Cowan's set that night, and a chunk of Sonia Leigh's because we couldn't get Aidan to STOP passing out koozies. He was having SO much fun. Andy finally had to pick Aidan up and throw him over his shoulder to carry him to our seats for the show! The show, as always, was AMAZING! Zac Brown Band NEVER disappoints, and we had a blast singing and dancing the entire time!
IMG_2432.jpg

IMG_2443.jpg


About halfway through ZBB's set, a lady tapped Andy on the shoulder and asked if we were Aidan's parents. When we said yes, she handed us a set of drumsticks - Mike Rizzi's drumsticks from Sonia Leigh's set that night!! I told Mike at the Eat and Greet what section our seats were in, and he made sure to find us and have the sticks hand delivered to us! How awesome is that?? Look at that grin!
IMG_2434.jpg

Rizzi, YOU are AWESOME!
IMG_2448.jpg


After the show, I met up with Wyatt for a big hug and one last treat - Aidan's Brain Balance Graduation photo, signed by Wyatt and the entire Zac Brown Band! What an awesome keepsake for our truly unforgettable night!
IMG_2447.jpg


To Zac, Jimmy, Chris, Coy, Clay, Hop, T-Bird, Wyatt, Chef Rusty, Massif, Sonia Leigh, Will Harrison, Adam Holliday, Mike Rizzi, and Nic Cowan - Thank you ALL so very much for giving Aidan a truly memorable night to celebrate his Brain Balance Graduation. You guys (and gals) ALWAYS go above and beyond to make your fans feel like a real part of the magic, and it shows in everything that you do. The Pence Family really felt like the red carpet got rolled out for us last Friday night, and we had the BEST time!

I should also thank my Mom and Dad for keeping the little boys so that Andy, Aidan and I could celebrate! And a BIG thank you to my Aunt Gloria and Uncle Bill for the wonderful hotel room in Jacksonville!

And to everyone else out there, if you're not familiar with Zac Brown Band or the artists on Zac's Southern Ground Record Label, treat yourself and download a new cd or two today! Sonia Leigh, Nic Cowan, Levi Lowrey - they're gonna be HUGE! The only thing equal to the talent of the Southern Ground Artists is the heart and love for their fans! You will NOT be disappointed!

Check out the link to the right for Zac Brown's passion project, Camp Southern Ground. Or go to www.zacbrownband.com and click on "letters for lyrics" to write a letter to a soldier stationed overseas. Join the fan club, the Zamily, and spread the Zac Brown Band love. These guys support Brain Balance, because they believe in the program and they know that it works. They support our troops and appreciate their sacrifice. And they are building a summer camp for kids with special needs, to give these kids the same opportunities to play and have fun that other kids have. Amazing talent, great love for their fans, and big ol' hearts of solid gold! The Pence family LOVES Zac Brown Band!

Until next time,

Love, Peace and Chicken Grease

Allie
There was an error in this gadget

The Brain Balance Motto

We Believe that Within Every Child Resides...

The Body of an Olympic Athelete...
The Brain of a Scientist...
The Mind of a Poet...
The Hands of an Artist...
The Ear of a Composer...
The Heart of a Saint...

NEVER Stop Believing That Your Child Has Unlimited Potential!