Wednesday, August 27, 2008

First Day of School

Well, today was the big day- Corinne's first day of preschool. I'm happy to report that there were no tears (at least not from her. Dadda and I may have teared up a little) and she really seems to like it. She's got her own aide, Mrs. H, who will be with her all the time, except when she's with her OT and speech therapist. That helps a lot, because at no point is she left to fend for herself. For now she's only going half days (2 1/2 hours) 5 days a week, but we will add another hour when she seems like she's ready for it, which I suspect will be sooner rather than later. Eventually she'll be up to 6 hours a day, 4 days a week.

So for today we have managed to get out of her (with the help of her daily notes) that she painted, did circle time, sang "open and shut them" (to which she exclaimed with delight "Steph sings that song every day!", referring to how one of her EI providers taught her that song this summer) and an unidentified song about a bean bag. She ate a pretzel and did a snowman puzzle. One boy cried because probably he missed his momma, but she, Corinne, did not cry. Upon picking her up, her first words to me were "I want to take a nap, momma" (even though it was only 11:00) and some concern that I had forgotten my bag (I dropped off a change of clothes and diapers that morning).

Upon arriving home, Corinne decided that her favorite stuffed animal, Shamu, should be exiled to our front walkway, where she left him until nap time, retrieved him for nap only to return him to the outdoors again after nap. She even left him there while we went to the grocery store, despite my warnings that someone might take him. I wish it could have been her pacifier, the beloved Boobah, instead. I'm sure there's some sort of psychology at work here regarding feelings of abandonment that I'll try not to dwell on.

So there you have it, a nicely uneventful first day of school. Hopefully she will continue to like it. In the meantime I must admit that I'm loving my 2 1/2 hours of freedom!

new classmates (Corinne at far right)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Vacation Week

We just finished up our family vacation week. We were originally going to stay in a cabin up in New Hampshire, but then I went and got all pregnant, and we decided that the money was needed more than the "escape". But Pete still took the week off and we had a nice, relaxing time and did a number of half day trips. We went to a barbecue for our playgroup, a birthday party for Corinne's friend Hannah, the drive in, which was a surprising success. We found a great double screen place not too far from our house and loaded up the Family Dorkster with Corinne's mattress, couch cushions, blankets and stuffed animals. Then we got ourselves some Chinese take out and ate in the back of the van while watching Wall-E, which Corinne really liked. She was nice and calm during it, although she proved she isn't quite ready for the regular cinema by talking in a fairly loud voice for the first hour ("Momma, what's this one's name?"; " What's that one called?"; "Hi Dadda!", etc, etc.). Then we turned the van around facing forward and Corinne slept in the back while Pete and I watched Bat Man. We'd definitely do it again.

We also went to the Southwick Zoo, which was way better than Stone Zoo that we went to a couple weeks ago. I liked the monkeys, which were really playful and funny. One kept reaching his arm through the bars to hold people's hands (Herpes B, anyone?!) and would then lick his hand. Pete liked the camels because there was a one hump one who kept biting the humps on the two humpers (we think he had hump envy) and they would make this really loud, pissed off noise.

Corinne liked the turtles, especially the regular, boring old kind that are in every pond in North America. She went back to them again and again and squinked herself silly. Go figure. Nothing else impressed her nearly as much.

Next we went to the Big Bugs exhibit at Garden in the Woods. There were thirteen great big bug sculptures made of organic materials- very cool.

We also went to our old favorite, the DeCordova Sculpture park. Here's Corinne, admiring the pine cone people. As a big fan of pine cones, this exhibit really spoke to her.

So all in all a great week. It was nice having Pete home every day and he really loved being able to spend so much time with Corinne. Today it was back to school shopping for Corinne and I to get ready for the first day on Wednesday. Stay tuned...

(Corinne and Turtle, driving the Family Dorkster after flower picking with Dadda)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Another Jungle Mural

I actually "went to work" this week. I was paid (by someone whom I didn't even know, no less!) to paint a few jungle animals for a nursery. I'm hoping this job will lead to some more, as the woman had a very large extended family with lots of kids, and they asked for some of my cards. I'll need something to keep me busy once Corinne starts school (which is next week, by the way. Eeek!) It took me about 2 days to do this one, which is pretty good for me. I'm getting much faster, and time is money, people. I've got two craft fairs coming up in September and October, so stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fish Party

Corinne had her super terrific fish birthday party, and it was a big success. The weather held out until just as the party was ending, the food and decorations were prepared with minimal stress (thanks and big props go out to Diane for making most of the food, Mom and Nana for help with the clean up, and Erin for the decorations) the games ("Pin the Tail on the Whale" and "Pass the Octopus") went off without any meltdowns, and everyone, including Corinne, seemed to have a good time. She kept saying "I having a fish party!" The only bad thing were my rancid cupcakes (sorry David!), but the Nemo cake was delicious, if I do say so myself!

Corinne was quite smitten with her special present, her very own fish tank. She named them Dory and Nemo.

Opening presents

Nemo cake (two tubs of frosting. Mmmmmm)

A shark ate my baby! (Note the giant mosquito welt under her eye. Again.)

Monday, August 4, 2008


This is my first late night blog post. It's 1:30 in the morning and I just can't sleep.

Little Miss Corinne turns the big 3 on Thursday. We have big plans- lots of family and friends coming for a much anticipated Fish Party (no sushi, sadly. But a fish shaped cake, at least). We're all very excited about the big day, but it is also bittersweet, because in the world of Early Intervention services, turning three is synonymous with the end. Wednesday is the last day our "friends", as we call them, and rightly so, will be coming to our house.

We've been preparing Corinne for this week for awhile. We made a "goodbye book" and talked a lot about it to help her understand that this phase of her life is ending and school is beginning. Gift cards have been purchased and thank you cards have been written. And although I spent a lot of time drafting and personalizing each one, I still don't feel like they quite capture the depth of our gratitude. How do you even begin to thank someone who has given you the gift of a happy, mostly well adjusted child? Corinne is like a typical three year old in every sense of the world. She's active and inquisitive. She runs and jumps and does splits and spins. She asks questions about any and everything. She's silly and clever and makes us laugh every day. She tells us often that she loves us with words and affection. She is the ultimate autism success story, the best case scenario that we ever could have hoped for (there is actually a therapist in her playgroup who is new this summer who thought Corinne was the "community child", the normal kid invited to group to be a sort of role model for the special needs kids. She couldn't believe Corinne is on the spectrum, based on what she was seeing. Can you imagine how much it makes my heart smile to hear something like that?!) How do you ever pay someone back for making that happen? Sure, Corinne is an extraordinary little girl who has overcome a lot. Sure, Pete and I recognized the problem early and got help asap, and have made "fixing" Corinne our number one action item for Loser Family, Inc. But more than anything Corinne is who she is today because of the efforts of these wonderful women who have come into our home and our lives and have loved Corinne and worked tirelessly with her as if she were their own child, not just another kid in a long string of kids that make up their work day. Through what appears on the surface to just be play, they have taught her how to interact with and enjoy the company of others. They have taught her (and us) how to work through her frustrations and fears. They have taught her to be confident in her speech and her movements. She looks forward to their visits and has her favorite games with each of them. We see each of them at least twice a week, in a nice laid out routine that has been familiar and comforting for Corinne. This had been our life for the past year and a half. We have shared with them our success stories, our fears and concerns, and our proud moments. It's so hard for it all to end. On the one hand it feels like this is the natural progression, that it is ending just as Corinne is ready for the next phase, because Corinne really is so ready to start pre-school in a few weeks. But on Thursday morning when we wake up and Corinne asks "Momma, what we doing today?", expecting a list of "well, first Debbie, then Denise's playgroup, then lunch and nap, then Gayle, then Dadda comes home...", it's going to seem so strange to say "I don't know, baby, what would you like to do today?" (thank God Diane and the girls are coming up on Wednesday night for a few days, which will help ease us through this transition. I only wish we could both slosh back a couple bottles of wine!) As hard as it was times to be locked into such a structured schedule, I am going to feel a little bit lost without it, and a lot lost without the people who comprised it . I have become as attached to Corinne's providers as she has. I interacted with them more than my own friends, hell, more than my own husband! It's like having a good friend move away (hint, hint, S@L!). You vow to keep in touch, but it just isn't the same as hanging out with them. You feel an empty spot in your life where they once were. And you all know how I feel about people I care about leaving my life. More "essences" to add to the little jar.

So that's why I'm up and blogging in the wee hours of the morning. It's going to be a difficult and emotional week (not to mention my pregnancy hormones are raging as it is, but that's a topic for another post), but at least I can look forward to what's next. We feel so optimistic about Corinne's future, so for that gift, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you Denise, Debbie, Gayle, Stephanie, Katie, Jamie and Monica (and Laura and Kerry, who moved on a few months ago, but were just as big a part of Corinne's success). We will never forget any of you for all that you have done for Corinne and for our family.