Nathan is Hebrew and means "gift from God" - we couldn't have been more blessed than to have been chosen as his parents!

Thank you for keeping up-to-date with Nathan. We hope you visit often and enjoy experiencing our son's journey as much as we do. Please feel free to leave comments.

We love hearing from everyone!!!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

My First Day at Toddler School

In preparation for Nathan's big debut at toddler school, he got his hair cut, mommy bought him lots of new school clothes, and Mommy & Daddy made him his very own school bag! When I was looking for patches to put on his new bag I discovered, there was almost nothing for boys!!! I was able to find some sport patches but that's it ~ there were two aisle of patches for girls!! I'm going to go back and see if I can find some music patches. Nathan loves music so that would be fitting. Daddy did the hot gluing and burned himself more times than he'd probably care to admit! :-) It was a fun family project for our big boy!!Daddy met us at school and had the honor of taking his little boy to his first big day!!! I love this picture. When we arrived at the classroom, Nathan walked in and walked away from us! He was like, "see you later mommy and daddy ~ I've got friends now!" We stood there talking to his teachers for quite some time while Nathan played with the other kids in the classroom. At one point he turned and noticed us, ran over to his daddy and when Danny picked him up, he wanted to be put right back down and off he went. He was interested in playing with the other children ~ it was awesome!!

After about 10 minutes, I returned to the classroom and heard his teacher correct him for throwing toys ~ yep, that's a problem! Nathan throws everything. I'm glad to have his teachers working on this too.

After we left the school, I went home picked up and then hit the gym!! At about 11:15am, my phones rings ~ it was school! Not good. I was totally frightened. What could have happened? Did Nathan choke on his apple (snack for the day)? Did he fall in the indoor play area? Within seconds my head is swirling. No, he fell asleep!!! Oh thank God that was it!

My first motherly instinct was to go pick him up but then I thought, Nathan needs to get used to this and if I go get him he's only going to wake up anyway. Knowing how this would all play out, I asked his teacher to wait a few minutes and wake him up ~ see how he does. If he's still cranky ~ I'll come get him. We can ease into this slowly. No problem. Then I asked her if she had a camera? Yep! I could resist!! lol

Sleeping beauty...

About 30 minutes later my phone rang again ~ it was the school letting me know Nathan had woken up on his own about 15 minutes later and was "happy as a clam!" YEAH! He just needed a power nap. He gets up to darn early. It's almost 6:00am now and he's been stirring in his room for about 20 minutes now. How is he going to get through today? His teachers also took a few more pictures of his first day!! I was so excited! They are doing colors for the month and this weeks color is yellow ~ Nathan actually needs to wear something yellow to school today. How cute! This is exactly what I wanted for Nathan ~ little friends and a fun learning environment.When I picked him up he was very sleepy and a little upset. His teachers shared with me that he had a great day. They also shared the cutest story~ when Nathan was very tired and a little upset during the morning another boy came over to him, (while he rested his head on the teachers shoulder) rubbed his back and began singing twinkle twinkle little star!! The teachers were really moved by the show of compassion for their new fellow classmate. So sweet.

I'll keep you posted! So far ~ so good!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Toddler School & More

Over the past few months, I've been searching for a good toddler school for Nathan ~ not a day care ~ a toddler school. I make this distinction because there seems to be some confusion about the purpose for Nathan's attendance and to me the difference is important. I resigned from the Senate to raise Nathan myself but it's now time for him to play with some other little ones in a constructive learning environment.

Because Nathan has Down syndrome, he is entitled to "free" toddler and preschool programs at specifically designated locations. I was suspect that these schools wouldn't be what I envisioned for Nathan but I decided to take a look anyway. I was right! The first establishment was actually spooky! It is located close to our home but in the basement of an old building. When we arrived, I had to find the school and ended up in the boiler room ~ no lie! Once we turned around and found our way we were given the tour and the toddler room where Nathan would attend was clean, structured and well staffed but there were no windows, only one unhappy and sick child who was enjoying a donut for his snack, and several rooms for children that need "quiet time." Note - one child and three workers ~ donuts for snack ~ quiet rooms? This was not the program for Nathan.

Over the summer, we had placed Nathan's name on the waiting list of another toddler program that came highly recommended and last week we went for a visit. My first impression was ~ it's a real school, the doors are locked and there are cameras! So far so good!

We began our tour and I was immediately pleased with the bright fun classrooms and the cleanliness of the floors and rooms. Our guide explained that the schools teaching philosophy centers around ~ "learning through play" ~ I love that and Nathan responds well to that type of learning environment.

When we reached the toddler classroom the first thing I noticed was the snacks the children were eating ~ bananas and milk!!! The next thing I noticed, was the ratio of students to teachers ~ there may have been about 9 children and three teachers. We were told that the school does not meet the minimum state standards for ratios ~ they exceed them in a good way. All teachers in the classroom have college degrees ~ an art teacher and music teacher also visit a few times per week to do extra fun projects. The school also has almost no staff turnover.

When we ventured out to the playground area my attention was drawn to the staff ~ they were actually interacting with the children on the playground! This has not been my experience at other facilities and it matters to me.

As of a few weeks ago, they had only one day available but then a few days ago they called and said they would have two days. The days are perfect duration ~ just 3.5 hours. Danny and I both really liked the program and we've decided to send Nathan this week to toddler school!

With that said, I've had two weeks to digest this decision and I'm having second thoughts. I'm fearful that these teachers won't treat Nathan the way I would. They won't cut up his food into tiny bits, help him with his drinks and make sure he is really safe on the indoor and outdoor playgrounds. I've decided to call the Program Director and speak to her about my fears and address my concerns before he begins. Putting Nathan into the hands of strangers is terrifying. I plan on spending amble time in the classroom to make sure everyone is adjusting.

Putting Nathan into toddler school also means he must have the MMR shot that I've been avoiding due to the connection with autism. I know it's not "proven" but my doctor and I had decided to wait until Nathan was two before giving it to him.

On another note, Nathan is into everything!!!! It's a catch 22 because we need to teach him to stay out of the drawers but the simple fact that he's doing this is fantastic! It's typical toddler behavior and it's cute. He knows he's not suppose to be in these drawers, so he grabs stuff and runs and as I get close to catching him he throws it!!

This next picture is Nathan in our wine cooler! He likes to open and close the door ~ he's only taken a bottle of wine out once. I watch him like a hawk now.

The next picture is of Nathan's newest toy ~ he actually has two of these toys ~ one is a pony and this is a zebra. They bounce, move in a complete circle and play music. We brought the pony over to Grammies house. Nathan gets on and off by himself and is really enjoying this toy!