"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"

Saturday, August 6, 2011

It's official - we will be extending our stay in Atlanta...

So the last few days have been very low-key, just me and my boys. We've been to the chiropractor three times, we've played at PLAY place, done some swimming, and have all had some daily down time. We found a new, super cool park near our house, and had some delicious treats at Yogli Mogli. Getting back to our "regular" routine has certainly helped with Aidan's behavior. He has still had his moments here and there - the occasional quick thunderstorm, that comes on strong, but blows over rather quickly. Just a regular summer day in Georgia, I guess. While I miss ALL of our girls, I must admit that it's been rather nice to have some time with just me and my guys.

Wednesday, I had a progress report meeting with Dr. Pete while Aidan was working hard at his session. (He earned his star for GREAT exercises at home - he did an awesome job Wednesday morning, doing his exercises mostly by himself, and doing a LOT more on his OWN than is required! I sent a note in to Ms. Susan, and she rewarded his efforts with a star for the wall! He was VERY proud of himself!)
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My meeting with Dr. Pete went well - Aidan is making great improvement in ALL areas! YAY! However, it appears he is going to need more time in the program to reach total success. We knew that getting him all the way there was going to be very tough in 12 weeks, so this didn't come as a real surprise. Dr. Pete was willing to give us three extra sessions at no cost, before we reassess Aidan's progress and make a final determination on whether or not he needs an additional 6 weeks in the program. We will definitely be in Atlanta through the end of August, and more than likely, through mid-October. Aidan has worked SO hard, and we have ALL made so many sacrifices to make this happen - time, energy, effort, money, dividing our family - we want to see this ALL the way through. We're not going to be satisfied with just getting inside the red zone - this Mama wants an all out TOUCHDOWN, spike that ball and do a little dance, and the only flag on the play had better be for excessive celebration! We are going to need a lot of help to make this happen, but I am confident that we will find a way to make this a reality for Aidan. We are so very lucky to have such a wonderful group of family and friends, loving us and supporting us every day on this journey - we don't take that for granted, and are eternally grateful for all of the love and support that we have received along the way!

So, what does this mean for Aidan and school? Well, no one really had an answer for me here in Atlanta, so I contacted Anna Pierce, the guidance counsellor (and member of Aidan's IEP team) at May Howard, and explained our situation. Mrs. Pierce jumped right in, making phone calls and asking pertinent questions on our behalf, and she got in touch with me in less than a day! The great folks at May Howard have put a lot of thought, time, and energy into Aidan's placement for first grade, and everyone wants him to be successful in school. They have a lot of understanding and appreciation for what we've been doing with and for Aidan, and are willing to work with us so that we can complete Brain Balance, without losing anything that we have put in place for Aidan this year! Aidan will attend the first day of school at May Howard, and then we will return to Atlanta so that he can finish the Brain Balance Program. There is lots of paperwork to fill out (sometimes I feel like Dr. Seuss' "poor Mr. Potter, T-crosser I-dotter") but we will get it all done and turned in. Aidan's teacher will keep me abreast of what the class is working on weekly, and we'll keep the folks at May Howard in the loop with Aidan's progress, so that Aidan's return to school will be as smooth as possible. Thanks Mrs. Pierce, and everyone at May Howard! We are looking forward to a GREAT year in first grade!

So how was the rest of our week? Well, Thursday was pretty hairy. I let Aidan stay up a little late to watch a movie on Wednesday night, and paid for it big time Thursday morning! Epic battle over exercises and vitamins - GRRRrrrr! Lesson learned - bed time is FIRM, during the week anyway. After lunch and a rest, he turned it around, though. Our neighbor told us about a great new park, very close to our house, and we've been playing there a LOT this week. The kids love it, and I have been amazed with how well all THREE of them are playing with the other kids. Aidan is especially blowing me away with this new found skill - asking other kids to play with him, taking turns, and really paying attention to his surroundings and other kids that may be in his path. It has really be awesome to watch this particular change taking place. He is extremely helpful with his brothers, inviting them to play along with his new friends, and really looking out for his brothers. He noticed immediately on Thursday, when Ashwin climbed through the fence and attempted to take off towards the parking lot! I was really proud of him (and very grateful that he called my attention to this - Ash is SUPER FAST!) Here are some photos from our park adventures!
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The big boys love this crazy cool spider web climbing thing!
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Aidan climbed ALL the way to the TOP yesterday, and was very proud of himself!
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Look at Aidan GO on the monkey bars! He is getting SO strong, and his coordination is improving daily!
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See what a great job EVERYONE is doing making friends?
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Yesterday, the boys were very excited because MIMI came for a visit! We had to immediately show her our new park, and everyone had a blast!
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Twice this week, the boys have gotten MAIL! It's a HUGE highlight to our day 'round here! A big "THANK YOU" to Reta and Nanny (twice!), Aunt Tara, and Mimi for the love!
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And, of course, we've been to our FAVORITE place, Yogli Mogli, a time or two!
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We've also played quite a bit at PLAY place - this place is super awesome and the boys LOVE it! Look at Aeson, doing a flip into the foam pit!
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Ash loves the trampoline!
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Aidan earned yet another trophy for the Brain Balance wall on Friday! Lucky number 13 for him! GO AIDAN!
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We got another great surprise late last night - DADDY! We thought he was coming up today (Saturday), but he couldn't wait to see us and made the trek after work! He was super tired when he got here, so we let him sleep in this morning. No easy feat, as the boys couldn't wait to see their Dad! Mimi and Daddy are at the pool now with the boys, giving me a much needed (and much appreciated) moment to myself! THANK YOU!! And we've got BIG plans tonight! We are taking our little Brain Balance star to the Loft at Center Stage in Atlanta for Nic Cowan's CD release party! Aunt Gloria is coming with us too, and Alana is keeping the little monkeys at the condo! Mimi even offered to spring for a hotel room for Andy and I, so we can play after the show, and she's bringing Aidan home after the concert! We are so very excited! (Nic is one of our very favorite new artists - please check out his website at www.niccowanmusic.com and his fan page on facebook - he is AWESOME!)

So now you're all caught up with the Pence Family! We hope everyone has a great weekend, and I promise to fill you in on our fun weekend as soon as humanly possible!

Much love,

Allie

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Our most relaxing weekend in the ATL...

So it's 9:30 pm on Sunday night, and I'm sitting here trying to think of what to tell y'all about our weekend. Nothing special happened, and we didn't go anywhere extra cool or have any exciting adventures to report. We've had no company, as all of my helpers were busy doing other things...Gogi and Alana are on vacation, and Hannah and Delanie have been at their dad's house. It's been just me and my boys all weekend. We've run errands, made art projects, taken daily rests, did a little shopping, and had a very nice lunch AT A RESTAURANT! We've been to the pool, watched a little TV, gotten tons of cards and pictures ready to mail, and have all gone to bed on time these last two nights. Pretty mundane. And then it hit me - pretty NORMAL!! Brain Balance is truly AMAZING!

Now I'm not going to try to get you to believe that all three of my kids have been perfect little angels all weekend long, because that certainly wouldn't be true. But they are kids, and kids aren't supposed to be perfect. Aeson is a big-time drama king, and Ash is still smacking people in the face for no reason, just playing - NOT cool! In fact, Aidan had a couple of rather intense moments on Saturday, causing us to scrap early afternoon pool time, and to leave the pool a little earlier than planned in the evening. But Saturday night, after the kids had all been bathed and were getting settled for the night, Aidan climbed up in my lap and apologized for his outburst at the pool. The next words out of his mouth literally had my jaw on the floor. He said, "Mom, I didn't like having to leave the pool early tonight. Tomorrow, I'm gonna try to keep my head screwed on straight so we can do fun stuff and not have to leave early." HOLY COW! Know what's even more amazing than that? He did it. We had a GREAT day today, doing totally normal, every day things, and he was AWESOME! Ta-da!

So here's the rundown of our very mellow weekend...

Saturday morning, we hung out at the condo and stayed in our PJ's until around 10 am. The kids watched a little TV, did some coloring, and made some cards and drawings to put in the mail. Check out my little budding artist!
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This one is for Lydia - apparently, their love is already a roller coaster!
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That is snow you see falling in PawPaw's picture, because "he lives in Virginia, Mom, and sometimes it snows there." Duh!
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We decided to venture out to the post office, as we desperately needed stamps and wanted to mail Daddy his surprise package. We also planned to hit the CVS for some diapers, and other household supplies. In and out at CVS, no problem. (!) Finding a post office with Saturday hours? No so much. At the third post office we tried, there was a sign on the door that listed the handful of locations with Saturday hours. Most of them appeared to be IN Atlanta, and we had already agreed that we weren't venturing into the big city for anything this weekend. (Sorry Daddy - we already have a plan to hit the post office on the way to Brain Balance tomorrow!) So we headed home for lunch and a swim. Well, Aidan had a little moment, so no swim. Instead, a nap and we ALL fell asleep! (HEAVEN!) We headed to the pool when everyone woke up, and had the pool to ourselves. We had a great time swimming and playing for an hour or so, and then Aidan had another little moment. He couldn't get it together, so we left. We checked the mail (for the second time that day) on the way home, and had a nice surprise - cards from Aunt Cassie and Kayley, and Uncle Skip, Aunt Pamela, Colleen and Daniel! It is really astounding how excited my boys get when they get MAIL!
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And you WILL get an immediate response in return. See? This one is for Cassie (she never reads my blog, so I doubt I'll spoil the surprise...;)
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Aidan even made a special surfing picture for Uncle Kyle - even though, ahem, we haven't yet gotten a card from our favorite monkey...I'm SURE it's in the mail, though!
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We had baths and dinner when we got home, and worked on putting together the puzzles that the boys received earlier in the week from Screptock/Sheffield/Greene clan. Aidan did a great job on his puzzle, and was very proud of his efforts! The boys wondered how they could keep their puzzles forever and ever, and I let them in on a little secret - puzzle glue! In fact, if they were good in the morning, we would go to a craft store for puzzle glue! I officially became the smartest, coolest mom in the world - I knew about puzzle glue AND I would take them to get some! YAY! (This lasted for about 5 seconds) Shortly before bedtime, Aidan had his A-HA! moment. It's really amazing, watching the lightbulb turn on when something really sinks in! Bad behavior = loss of fun, and I don't like THAT! I can't wait to put his Brain Balance behavior system into place - I think it is REALLY going to make a difference!

Sunday morning, the big boys woke up around 7:30 am, and we let Ash sleep for another hour or so. We had breakfast, and hit the road to Alpharetta around 10 am, in search of puzzle glue. We also needed some new markers and Toys R Us was having a sale, so we started there. We found the North Point (I think) shopping center, complete with Toys R Us, Office Max AND Michael's craft store. Oh boy! We went to all three places, and everyone was good as gold. It was truly amazing. No drama, no whining - well, Aeson had a little moment in Office Max, but it was short lived. We got new markers, lots of note cards, most of Aidan's school supplies, a few other odds and ends, and of course, PUZZLE GLUE! When we were done shopping, everyone was hungry. I found a California Pizza Kitchen restaurant nearby, and amazingly enough, when I called, they told me that the DID have gluten free pizza! Score! As I pulled into the parking lot, I thought to myself, "Am I crazy?" We have had such an awesome morning, do I really want to attempt to take them all three, by myself, into a RESTAURANT? I decided to roll the dice, and we all headed in to the restaurant. The place was packed (uh-oh) but we were seated immediately. The kids were entertained with their crayons and little coloring books. Our waiter was great, the food was super fast and delicious, and the kids were practically perfect.
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It was almost a totally surreal experience. When I think of our (very few) past restaurant experiences, even with only 2 kids, it makes today seem even more unreal! (I should also mention as a side note that Aeson spent the entire day today in big boy underwear, and did not have a single accident until we were at the pool this evening - thank goodness for swim diapers!)
After lunch, we headed home for a little downtime. The little boys slept, and Aidan just chilled and read a few books. After rest, the boys colored the wooden masks we found at Michael's today for a dollar! Ok, so they are Halloween masks, but who cares? It was good, cheap fun!
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We ate dinner a little early tonight, and headed to the pool. I was just getting ready to back out of our parking space, when Aeson shouted "STOP Mama! See the bootiful buttafly?" I looked up, and right in front of my car was a gorgeous butterfly dancing around some flowers. Ace asked me to take a picture, and I managed to get a pretty good one, I think.
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We all sat in the car and watched the butterfly dart around the flowers for a minute or two, before it fluttered up and away. A glimpse into the mind of a child is a beautiful thing, and sometimes we all need to take a moment or two to watch the butterflies dance. Thanks Ace!

Much love,

Allie

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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!