Autism Moms

I read an article this morning that kind of upset me. I will link to it, but I am not sure what to say.  The author has valid points.  Her history is hers and it shouldn’t have been this way for her.  But, the generalization that all “Autism Moms” are the way her mother was, is pretty offensive.

http://www.thebullshitfairy.com.au/blogs/autism-advocacy/61242245-i-sacrificed-my-life-for-you

First, I don’t like the phrase “Autism Mom”.  I am just a mom and prior to reading this article, I don’t know that I had ever heard anyone use the term – though I have seen a meme or two. My son has a name and he is not Autism.  He is Mickey and he is on the Autism spectrum.  I don’t care so much about the phrasing “Autistic” or child with Autism, and Mickey uses them both interchangeably, as do I.  I am not special nor is it about me.  Mickey has to live with his Autism day in and day out.  My only job (other than to love/feed/shelter/clothe him) is to try to help him obtain the skills he needs to do that.  Am I doing everything right?  Doubtful. Have I made mistakes? Absolutely.  Am I doing anything right? I hope so.  But, it isn’t about me.  I am not special because my beautiful boy in on the spectrum.

Did I sacrifice my life for him?  No.  Would I? Yes and without complaint.  My life is what it is because of my kids – both of them – one with Autism and one without.  I haven’t sacrificed anything of any importance to me (other than maybe sleep) and that was the deal I made when I chose to become a parent.  That would be true if Mickey was on the spectrum or not.  Is it somewhat harder to parent Mickey than your typical child?  Yes.  But it is also more rewarding when he accomplishes something that he has struggled with. Does he have approximately 20 times more appointments (therapists/Doctors/specialists) than his sister? Yes.  Does Mickey know that he is harder to teach or parent with than a typical child?  Yes, he does. He is fully aware that he has some challenges and that makes things harder for him and sometimes the people around him.

I do not want to discount this woman’s past.  Her mother obviously made her feel this way.  The words “I sacrificed my life for you”  should never have been uttered along with several of the others.  They are painful and cruel and abusive.  But, when I look at the picture with all of the phrases that hurt her, I stopped to think. Have I ever asked Mickey to look in my eyes? Yes (he doesn’t, he looks at my face though so that I know I have his attention and that is what we have taught him to do). Have I ever asked him to stop moving so he could focus on what I was saying? Yes.  So, maybe someday he writes a similar article about me.  I don’t consider those phrases alone to be abusive though.

I get frustrated and I vent to my mom, my best friend or my therapist. But my best friend also vents to me about her NT children. But, it is important to note that I don’t think it is about me at all. Sometimes I am venting about Minnie, some days it is Mickey and some days it is the two f them and their incessant arguing.  Sometimes we are enjoying a particular quirk, sometimes it is brainstorming ideas on how to deal with a new concerning behavior.  I am part of two support groups and I don’t ever see other parents taking this line either.  I see parents who are frustrated or desperate to help their child.  I see parents who are burned out from dealing with the frustrating aspects of Autism 24/7 – and deny it or not, there are frustrations for the caregivers.  I also see parents celebrating when their child eats a food that they couldn’t before, or ties a shoe or has an excellent day at school. I don’t think any of us think it is about us.  We are celebrating our child’s accomplishment or lamenting a struggle or trying to find ways to help our child through a situation. I think most of us are just doing the best we can to help our children.

My son is not broken and I do not want to fix him.  He is not less than.  I do not resent him in any way.  I wake up every morning grateful that I have both of my children.  Do I wish he didn’t have Autism?  That is a tricky question, but my answer is no.  What I wish is that things were a little easier for him. That every single task that most of take for granted didn’t have to be some damn complicated for him.  I wish he could make friends easily, that his perseverations didn’t sometimes prevent him from sleeping and being able to do school work or enjoy anything else and that he could control his frustration so that he didn’t have full blow anxiety attacks. I don’t wish that he was like everyone else.  I don’t wish away the quirks and thought processes that make him awesome. And he is awesome.

That felt like rambling, but when an article starts with “You may have noticed I have unofficially declared war on Autism Mom’s™”, I had to look further.  Am I an “Autism Mom” that has been declared war on?  Maybe, but I will not use that term to describe myself because I am just a mom – a mom who has a child with Autism.  Because this woman’s mother is nothing like the mothers of children with Autism that I know. I think this has little to do with an Autism Mom and much more to do with an abusive narcissistic mother who made her daughter feel flawed and less than.  Her mother used her daughter’s Autism to make it about her and to make her daughter feel like a burden.  And that is heart breaking.  But that is crappy abusive parenting. Period.

On the opposite end of the parenting spectrum…

I had a previously scheduled parent teacher conference with Minnie’s teacher.  There are some concerns with attention and short term memory.  Nothing to get crazy about, but the teacher said we should watch them.  It is perfectly lovely though to go into a meeting with no stress.  Academically she is struggling a bit with reading (fluency – her decoding is fine), but we put supports in place at the first of September for that.  Her teacher raved about how sweet and helpful she was.  She kept saying how determined she is to get something – she works hard and is an “absolute joy to have in class.”  I get the impression that she has enchanted her teacher and I get it.  Minnie is quirky and funny, she loves to help, takes her role as peacekeeper seriously, she always chooses the underdog to play with and it breaks her heart to see someone sad.

We will work on the other stuff.  I will try some essential oils to maybe help her focus.  Her teacher says she isn’t hyper, so we can try less distracted seating and other options before we go down the road to meds. It is funny because my mom mentioned that she was seeing the same thing. I haven’t seen it as much, but I think it is because of Mickey. When I compare (and I know I shouldn’t), Mickey’s ADHD is off the charts severe, so her attention challenges seem minor.  But, we want to be careful not to ignore it because it can make things so much harder for her than it needs to be.  Her course work is all over the place with grades.  It isn’t even subject specific, so we can’t necessarily attribute it to lack of understanding.  Inattention makes more sense.  She works hard, but perhaps harder than she has to because her ability to focus is compromised.  Her report card was all A’s and B’s, so this isn’t severe enough yet to truly worry about.  Just to monitor.

These are issues that are still relatively minor and I am glad they are coming up early, rather than later.  Our meeting was 20 minutes long.  Almost everything was positive.  I left there feeling secure that we are working towards good things and that ultimately, Minnie will be fine.  A far cry from 4+ hour IEP meetings where we have to delve into every aspect of Mickey’s day and every piece of his behavior.  There were no behavioral concerns at all, other than she can occasionally be a little too chatty with her friends.

Buses and Breakthroughs

Friday afternoon was a comedy of errors and Mickey wasn’t laughing.  While I seem to spend a lot of times talking about his challenges, I want to take this opportunity to celebrate a success.  So, Friday morning his bus showed up with a substitute bus driver. That alone could always be enough to throw his entire day, but the kid handled it like a champ.  Friday afternoon though, the substitute bus driver didn’t show up.  Mickey rides a special needs bus, as do all at his school. Since the driver didn’t show, the kids were combined onto another bus. He is usually home by 3 pm, never after 3:02.  Well, it was one of the days that he is coming home by himself and I am usually home by 4 – 4:15.  The number 1 rule on the list of rules I gave him was to call me as soon as he gets in.  He has. Every time, without fail.  But, 3:15 came with still no call.  Then 3:30.  I called the phone (he doesn’t carry it – it stays at the house) and he didn’t answer.  That had me concerned.  By about 3:40, I had called the school, but there was no answer.  I was looking up the number to the county transportation to call when the phone rang. It was transportation and they had tried to take Mickey to his old daycare – apparently the transportation change made about 3 weeks ago, hadn’t been relayed to the driver of the other bus.  Mickey told them, but they took him there anyway.  Mickey insisted that they call me.  He says he stayed calm.  They called and confirmed that he was right.  To cut this lengthy story short(er), he didn’t get home until 4:12. Nearly an hour and 15 minutes after his normal arrival home and one hour and 45 minutes after he got on the bus.

Normally, this would have sent him into a complete tailspin.  I fully expected reports of horrid behavior, but when he called me, his biggest complaint was how late for snack he was.  He said “Momma,it was a whole bunch of miscommunication. I got really mad in my head, but they were being really nice, so I kept it in my head and didn’t say anything. I kept my cool and used my coping skills.  But seriously, please make sure I am never that late for snack again”.  This folks, is a triumph. He was mildly annoyed that my arrival home 5 minutes later didn’t give him much screen time (which he only gets during that hour-ish that I am not home), so I gave him an hour, just because I was so proud of how he handled the situation.  He also thought it was very funny that there were 8 missed calls from me.  He pointed out that rule #1 was to call and he would have called if he was home.

We also talked about the other thoughts I had.  What if he had been dropped off but he lost his key or it broke off or something (the key is sewed on a retractable key chain in his backpack, so the lost key scenario is relatively unlikely).  His response was “I would have just gone next door. No big deal”.  I added that he should call me from there and he said “I probably would have thought about it, but now I will remember that”.  All in all our stay home experiment is going well.  He showed maturity and handled the adversity well on Friday.  Different bus driver, different bus monitor, a driver who didn’t want to listen to him, a significant disruption to routine and schedule.  And he was cool as a cucumber when he got home.  So, Go Mickey.  I am proud.  Take that Autism.

P.S. I lodged a complaint with transportation.  I was not handling it as well as he was.  I didn’t know where my kid was and wouldn’t have, if they hadn’t called to confirm his story that he wasn’t supposed to go to daycare.  If Mickey was non verbal or not as functional as he is, what then? Would they have dropped him at the daycare?  Thankfully, I am confident the daycare would have taken him and called me, but my goodness. If Mickey couldn’t have stood up for himself, what then?  Why were parents not notified that some of the kids would be an hour+ late getting home? I was not a happy Mom.  Obviously, this is not the norm, nor have we ever had a situation like this before.  We adore his bus driver, but the transportation department needs a better plan when someone is out sick.  They need to notify parents and help set the expectations of the kids – most of these kids would struggle with that level of disruption – especially with no communication or notice.  This was completely not acceptable, but I am choosing to focus on Mickey’s success and I am dealing with the other with the adults who should have handled this better.

IEP Meeting results – 4 hours and 22 minutes and that wasn’t even a record

In previous posts I have given some of our goals and objectives for Mickey and why we were doing the attempted reclassification meeting yesterday.  Let me sum up my overall strategy for Mickey so that you can understand where we are coming from:

I want the absolute minimum amount of meds and accommodations required for him to be successful. The reason is that I want him to grow up to be as self sufficient as possible and unfortunately, the real world will not bend over backwards to accommodate his needs.  It is not my objective to make him “normal” or make him conform, but he has to learn to function in polite society if he is going to be able to achieve the dreams he has for himself (college – Notre Dame – GO IRISH!, marriage, adopting children, having kids, becoming a professional Elvis impersonator and being the front man in his band are just a few of those dreams as they stand today). I absolutely think all those things are possible for him and then some, but it will be harder for him to achieve than it is for his sister or another NT child. It is my job to help him get there or as close to there as possible.

I set the bar high – for both behavior and grades.  I expect him to do his best.  I am 100% willing to move the bar as needed – I do want him to be and feel successful. But, I will not make life easy for him by setting the bar low and letting him skate through. What this means for me though, is that we have to address each issue as it comes up and get him whatever help is needed to reach the bar, not lower the bar every time there is a struggle.

I fully acknowledge that there are challenges to his behavior and that some days he can be a royal pain in the rear.  I will openly admit that he is not the easiest child to teach (or parent).  What I ask of his educators is that they push him, help him, and watch for the cues that he is giving that things are going off the rails – before they actually do. I ask for communication so that we can work in tandem to get through each situation, as it arises.  I back them up, nearly without fail, and I expect the same.  I will reinforce consequences and rules at school – we don’t allow treats or rewards or screen time on bad days, etc.  Truly bad days get additional consequences at home.  If I hear he said or did something inappropriate or disrespectful to another child or teacher, we will review a social story and have Mickey do an apology letter, that kind of thing. I am extremely actively involved in his education, because we have learned that he is only successful if we are 100% consistent across both platforms and he understands that the consequences are expected. This is how we got from a child four years ago that had never completed a full day of school because of behavior, to a kid that hasn’t been suspended in nearly 2 years.  This is how we got from a kid that was never expected to work at grade level to a kid that normally exceeds grade level standards. This, a ton of therapy, a wonderful team at his school and most importantly the work that Mickey has done.

I don’t usually dread IEP meetings, though they do make me nervous.  I am a very laid back person in most areas of my life, but I am rather relentless when it comes to doing what I think is best for Mickey.  I am open to ideas and suggestions, but – see above. There does seem to be an inclination in special education to make the child’s life easy because of a “disability”.  To bend the world to fit him, and to some degree this is needed. The hope for this meeting was that we could change Mickey’s classification to Autism, versus Emotional Behavior Disturbance or Other Health Impairment.  The reason we wanted to reclassify is that our county’s Autism program would open up many additional educational settings, when we are ready to leave our current one.  The other two classifications only leave us with one option (other than current placement) and it is a school that Mickey had a horrible experience at.  A school that Mickey will never be successful at, because he is scared to go back there.  He has sabotaged every attempt to move him from his current school because the thought of going back to his former school is a deal breaker for him. So, we hoped to reclassify him to open up other school options, since we all agree he doesn’t need the restrictive environment he is in now.

Well, we weren’t able to reclassify him.  Our county requires 3 areas of significant deficits to qualify for the Autism classification and while he has an undisputed diagnosis – from the school psychologist and private practitioners, his communication skills are to high for him to qualify.  So, he only has significant deficits in 2 of the 3 areas.  My heart sunk – not because I wish that he had deficits in all three, but because it was a huge blow to our choices.  But, I fought.  And we, after phone calls all the way up to the director of special education of our county, found that he doesn’t actually have to be reclassified in the Autism category to qualify for the TRIAD Autism program – he just has to have an undisputed diagnosis.

So, we got our options.  We aren’t transitioning yet, because September was rough and he is just getting back to his norm. But, we want to involve him more in his process and get him to buy in to his plan. The reason is that he has a pretty great understanding of his issues and he knows that, because he does have the coping skills and ability to use them, that moving to what he calls a “regular” school really hinges on the choices he makes.

The school social worker has been working with the kids in his class on their IEP objectives.  She started this by asking if everyone knew what an IEP was and she was shocked that only Mickey understood that he was in special education, only Mickey knew that he had an IEP, only Mickey was able to articulate why he was in special education and why he had an IEP. He was even able to list a couple of his objectives. Everyone in his class is fully verbal and at their age and functioning level, should have some understanding of their challenges, but the other 6 kids did not. Mickey sums up the reasons he is in a Special Needs school like this “I have Autism and ADHD, some of it may have been caused by the choices my birth mother made when she was pregnant.  It makes it hard for me to always make good choices.  I am impulsive and sometimes lose my cool and need help with those things and reminders to follow directions”.  I think this comes from being honest when he asks me questions.  He knows he is different than some of his peers.  We worked hard in therapy to make him more aware of other people, and the fallout of that was that he is now aware he isn’t the same. He doesn’t feel “less than” because he isn’t.  He knows he has to work harder to get through a day and keep control than his sister does.  He also understands why.  I don’t know that he knows what Autism or ADHD mean, but he knows what they mean for him and that is good enough.

So we made the decision to involve him further in the IEP process.  We are going to give him a quantifiable plan that he can work to start the transition process.  Example: You must be able to use proper coping skills to manage stress 80% of the time and then spell out what that means.  For him it will probably be something like 8 out of 10 times that you get frustrated or angry, you were able to manage it without losing your cool and document that some way. 80% master on following directions with no more than 2 prompts, etc.

He asked his teacher to speak to her in private when she returned from the meeting.  He asked her what the results were.  His exact question was “were we able to reclassify me and open up other options?”.  Her response was “we got you other options”.  He smiled.  He then asked “is XXXX (his old school) one of those options?” She said “No.  We have completely ruled out XXXX as one of those options. There is no chance of you going back there – it is off the table”.  Mickey’s whooped with glee and said “then lets gets started on what needs to happen to get to one of those other options”.  That tells me that the concern that XXXX was still on the table was keeping him from working toward transition.  He understands so much of this that he has to buy in to the decisions we make because he is the one that has to live with them.

We made some other decisions too.  His low grades in Language Arts and Science were not because he didn’t understand the material – it is him rushing through the work and not using time wisely.  So, all failing papers or tests will be sent home for him to redo, not necessarily for a grade, but to teach him that it would have taken less effort to do it right the first time.  We are rewording his goals a little so that when we have his TRIAD placement meeting we are placed in the right location.

So, it was nearly 4.5 hours.  It was stressful.  I didn’t get everything I want, but I think we got everything he needs.  We added a few objectives, but the only service we added was time in the sensory room during his breaks, rather than just breaks.  We reduced his overall OT because his handwriting has improved, we dropped all speech therapy because of articulation improvements.  He gets extended testing time, but has never used it.  We keep it because we hope he will use it eventually.  He gets preferred seating because of his hearing loss and inattention. He gets frequent breaks and he isn’t required to sit, as long as he stays in his area (a box taped on the floor around his desk). That is it.  His objectives are to manage stress appropriately, follow directions in one prompt, improve peer relations, ask appropriately for teacher’s attention – those kind of basic behavior objectives.  His only academic objectives involve math problem solving and he is at 78% mastery with a goal of 80%, so we are almost there with that one.  He still has one for written expression and one for legibility – we are not as far on those two.

That was long and a lot of information.  My record IEP meeting was 9+ hours spread over 2 days.  This was half that and pretty average for us, but it was extremely collaborative as we tried to figure out the best solutions for Mickey.  Mickey was pleased with the outcome, his team at school thinks we made good choices and so do I. I hear IEP horror stories all the time and I am immensely grateful that with the exception of 1 particularly nasty one at his old school, every single meeting we have had feels very much like a team of people who are highly invested in Mickey succeeding and is willing to think outside the box to make that happen.

IEP meeting coming

Back in March we held Mickey’s last IEP meeting.  His entire team was in agreement that we don’t need the restrictive setting we have now.  But, apparently getting out of the program he is in, is no small feat.  Just a little history on the GNETS (GA Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support) program that he is currently in:  First of all, the program has been great for Mickey.  The small class size, low overall student body count, the amazing teachers who are equipped to deal with anything Mickey or his classmates throw at them (sometimes literally). The bad news is that the Department of Justice has declared the program a violation of the kids’ civil rights.  The school does not offer many of the advantages offered in a more traditional school.  They are separated from typical peers exclusively.  The school offers no separate PE, Recess, Music or Art.  My son has not been outside at school, other than to get on or off the bus in 18 months.  His teacher does do some music lessons and art, but she is neither a music nor an art teacher.  There are NO extracurricular activities – no fall festivals, no fun runs, no spirit nights, no band or chorus, no clubs and no after school program.  They day is basic and adheres to strict schedules and routine. There are lots of scheduled breaks for the kids, but they don’t have class parties or special crafts, etc.  His school houses less than 50 kids in a building that is a shuttered school that the county deemed too out of shape to keep using.  Their lunches are shipped in from the local high school. No more than one student is allowed in the restroom at a time and there must be an adult posted right outside the door. He rides a bus with high school students and has had the same teacher for 3 grades now. When asked what grade he is in, he can’t remember because there is no distinction for him from on year to the next.  His class houses 3 years of students (currently 4th, 5th, 6th graders). These kids aren’t criminals – most are on the spectrum somewhere, but have not done well in a traditional environment.

We moved there for what was supposed to be 6 weeks to accommodate an outpatient program we were doing.  That was 18 months ago.  My biggest issue with the program is there is no clear entrance or exit criteria.  Mickey should have started the year somewhere else, since we determined two months before school was out last school year that he was ready to be moved.  Yet, we are now three months into a new year and we are just now getting the meeting to determine placement.  Realistically, he may not move until January, if at all this year.

The purpose of the meeting is to determine what path we want.  Our county offers 3 paths – one for kids classified OHI (Other health Impairment), one for EBD (Emotional Behavior Disturbance) and one for Autism (called TRIAD).  Mickey qualifies for all 3 paths.  We started out with an OHI classification, but were erroneously moved to EBD, which is what his current placement is.  I wish desperately that we could have been TRIAD from the beginning, as I think it would have made a huge difference for him, but we can’t go back.  I want him to head down that path though.  I think it is a good fit for him – small class settings in a traditional school, with the option to participate in areas such as math, art, music, PE, with his typical peers as he is able.  He very much wants to join chorus, which he would have been eligible for this year, had he been in a different school.  He really wants to do band, which he will be eligible for next year.  So, we simply must get him moved so that he has the opportunities to do those things.

So, fingers crossed for a successful meeting on Thursday.  I have read the psychological, I have talked to the school social worker and principal and we are excited for the options in front of us.  Now we just have to make the right call and prepare Mickey for a transition that he wants to make, but is scared to make.  He wants band and music and art, he wants spirit nights and all the things his sister has, but he is comfortable where he is.  His teacher can read him like a book and diffuse most situations.  He knows what is expected and what the consequences are.  I personally like that they don’t suspend students, because when we have gone through a rough patch anywhere else, that is the first line of defense (which rewards Mickey, because he would rather be anywhere but school and punishes me because I have to rearrange my already pretty flexible work schedule to accommodate). I would love not to have his school be 30 minutes away and maybe even be able to volunteer in the class, as I do with Minnie.

I will update you after the meeting.

Minnieism of the day

While listening to a song about love…

Minnie: Momma, you need to fall in that.

Me: What?

Minnie: In love.  You need to fall in love.  As soon as possible.  I need a daddy

Me; Why is that exactly

Minnie: Because when we are at Disney and I am tired you can’t carry me for as long any more because I am getting too big. A daddy could.

I am not sure that is a good reason to get married, but Minnie knows what she wants – though a pack mule would serve that purpose too….. We are home. We are back at school and yesterday was wholly uneventful.  The kids are now counting down to our cruise with Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle.  Just about 5 weeks to go. Mickey has seemingly gotten over his cruise fear and is letting excitement take hold.  Have a great rest of the week everyone.

WDW – 4 park challenge

So we were challenged by a friend to attempt the 4 park challenge at Walt Disney World. That may sound insane. 4 theme parks, 1 day. Our objective was 3 rides or attractions, including at least one major ride in each park.

We did it. The kids did awesome. Mickey had a couple of moments – one at mid day and one as we were leaving park number 4, but he got it back together and was absolutely determined to do the challenge. Not too shabby for the kid with Autism who three years ago couldnt have stepped foot in a Disney park (or any theme park for that matter). We ate meals in two parks and snacks in the other two. Minnie fell asleep on two monorails, 1 ferry and 1 bus.

Here was a rough approximation of our day.

9:00: arrived at Magic Kingdom

Splash Mountain

Big Thunder Mountain railroad (we had a FP)

Sit down snack at Gaston ‘ s tavern

Buzz Lightyear (we had a FP)

11:50: Monorail to Epcot

1st hiccup – Mickey ‘ s favorite ride Test Track was down

Mickey bar break

Mission to Mars

Test Track (miraculously came back up exactly as we got off Mission to Mars. So we rode it twice in less than 15 minutes using single rider).

Fish and Chips in England for lunch

2:50 boarded ferry for Hollywood Studios

Single rider for Rockin’ Roller Coaster

Star Tours

Dinner break at the commissary

Muppets 3d

5:55 boarded a bus to Animal Kingdom

Expedition Everest (standby – single rider wasn’t available)

Triceratop Spin

Snack break

Dinosaur

Finished at 8:02

Boarded bus back to our car at Magic Kingdom. Monorail to the ticket and transportation center and we were back at our car at 9:05 pm. Just a hair over 12 hours since we began. We had a blast. We are exhausted. Mickey is planning a character challenge for next time. Tomorrow morning we have a breakfast at Kona Cafe and will spend a little time with our friends before we drive back in the afternoon. Awesome memories were made and that is worth the aching knee and two kids who passed out the second they buckled into the car.

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Gotcha day

I wasn’t going to post from Disney, but half way through the day we realized it was Gotcha day. We don’t usually celebrate the day they moved in with me – we do it up for Adoption day instead. But, Mickey asked me a question on the way back to the hotel from the parks that I thought spoke volumes about how far he has come and how aware he is of that.

Momma, did you ever think four years ago that I would ever be able to go to Disney? Even once?

My answer was honestly no. It was his dream (and Minnie’s) but there is no way I could have imagined that he could have handled the most over stimulating place on earth. And he couldn’t have. No way. No how.

But this is our 5th trip in two years. He is a Disney rock star now. We may have to do things a little differently because of his Autism, but we did Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder railroad, Wishes and the Electrical parade last night, and we didn’t even get to Disney from Atlanta until 7pm. Today we did everything they wanted to do at Hollywood Studios and still managed to spend a fortune at Disney Springs and have lunch at an Irish pub that had both kids dancing on stage with the Irish Dancers.

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I love being able to make that Disney dream come true for them both. This is their happy place and because of that, it is mine. It is my absolute pleasure to share their joy and triumphs and my heartbreak to share their dissapointments. Above all things it is amazing to watch them grow – both in ability and age.

Four short years. What a ride and I am glad we are celebrating with our little bit of Disney magic.

we interrupt our regularly scheduled broadcast….

to head to our happy place.  We have slightly tweaked med levels for Mickey.  Minnie is excited. We are leaving after dance class this morning. I should mention that I am a die hard Chicago sports fan. Like, I came home from the hospital at birth in a Chicago Bears Jersey to a Chicago Bears nursery.  I love the Cubs.  I am forever an optimist.  I am utterly convinced that we will win a world series – and I am convinced that every year will be the year.  So, here is to optimism, Disney and The Chicago Cubs.

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I will update you on our return.  Fingers crossed for a fun trip.