Monday, June 29, 2015

My Mom Essentials for Summer

July is warm weather, lots of family events (summer) and outings and sandals!  What is it that you must have?  Bags, shoes and essentials?  I have a few things that are My Mom Essentials for Summer, they are always with me or my go-tos along with my jeans with a tee/tank staple outfit. #1 essential is my phone hands down, the iPhone 6Plus 128g, over 90gigs are currently pictures.

Bags:  Now that I am past the diaper bag stage (woohoo!), I can have cute bags but I still need a decent size.  Let's face it even though I don't have diapers, baby food and bottles with me anymore I still am the "holder" for everything the kids want to bring but not carry.  Also with always being on the go and still connected online I carry an iPad or my Macbook with me often. Don't forget the camera, external battery and a Thomas train or two and a My Little Pony.  I need something big, but still trendy and something "me".  LeSportsac makes backpacks which are perfect for all my needs and so many fun prints. I found the Voyager Backpack in Blissful, it has 3 outer pockets, 4 inner pockets-3 of them mesh.  Closures include zippers, clips and drawstring.  What I like about backpacks at this point, it fits everything and is practical for days out at the farm, a park, zoo and shopping. I can pack lunches and carry them too. Backpack are not just for kids anymore.

At the last Apple Moms MNO event(check out the MNO events I host), we were able to give away a Medium Weekender bag to a lucky Mom.  The winner was ecstatic.  A great bag for quick sleep overs, gym bags, and travel carryon.  Which is your favorite style from LeSportsac?

Sandals: After having high boots this winter which were total comfort and stylish (I wrote a review for Apple Moms), I was given choice for pair of summer shoes,  I picked out the Priya Sandals.   Totally my style and again comfortable.  Dansko has once again proven that they are not just a work or "grandma person" shoe.  I have worn them to Baptisms, school functions, shopping, events and everyday use.  I love the support, the little bit of added height and style.  I mean I just turned 30, does 30 mean being more practical?  If it does, feet comfort has been the most practical for me.

Water Bottles: So recently I decided I need to drink even more water and also try to lessen my milk/Starbucks intake.  Partly because of the cost and the other because water intake helps with being healthy.  The kids and I are trying out zo-li water bottles in PIP(18oz) and DASH (12oz).  I love how cute they are for the kids and myself.  Straw water bottles, with a mixed of vacuum insulated styles and regular.

Wallet: I need a wallet that carries a lot, bonus would be my phone also.  I found the ideal one at Vera Bradley called the Turn Lock Wallet.  Although in many patterns I chose my favorite color hot pink, since practically everything I own has pink in it, to match.  I can place my iPhone 6+ in the zippered part or close in the front when I am just carrying the wallet out.

Disclosure:  I received some of the products in this post for free in exchange for an honest review.  No other compensation was exchanged.  As always all opinions expressed are 100% honest and my own. 

Navigating Special Education for the kids

I haven't written anything about our journey with Early Intervention, CPSE and now CSE transitioning to Kindergarten soon.  I have not always been happy and there have certainly been ups and downs along with adding and taking away services. We started with Early Intervention around 3 years ago when Jack was 2 with occupational concerns for his hand.

Carmel CSD has been involved since he turned 3 with CPSE (Preschool age services).  Starting small we have added in the last two years.  Of course not when I asked for it, and we had 3 meetings this school year, and even with the last one, things took weeks to start because of services that really do not exist at the CPSE level.  I have been less than pleased to say the least.  Then comes Kindergarten and I am concerned about him transitioning to another school after the last month finally have progress, also class size.  I feel his LRE (least restrictive environment) would be staying at his current school one more year (Catholic School) and having a 1:1 aide there to help keep him focused and work with him as he is diagnosed ADHD, per the suggestion of those working with him and school district in order to receive services.

At his meeting it was determined that he no longer needed Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy in kindergarten.  Also academically there weren't really any concerns and over all cognitively he is a smart little boy.  Seriously he continues to amaze us all the time.  It was also determined per the diagnoses that he would receive a 1:1 6 hours a day daily (6 hours was determined by the length of the school day at St. Lawrence).  I expressed my concerns and my feelings and opinions on wanting to keep him one more year at St. Lawrence as that is his LRE at this point, with the small class size and since he is used to the school, he won't have to re adjust again.   I left happy and going over to Brewster CSD since St. Lawrence is in Brewster's district.   This was all May 18th.

Today June 8, I finally reach who I needed to speak with and am informed that he cannot have a 1:1 aide per Brewster CSE (Committee Special Education).  That they can give related services at their school and I would have to transport him there, but not accommodations/modifications in which a 1:1 aide is.  Honestly I was choking back tears on the phone and once off the phone I just cried.  I have been fighting for this kid for 3 years, I am his biggest advocate and his biggest supporter and thought everything was finally going to be good for him, Kindergarten would be his year, he would strive since we finally had a plan in place and we were defeated yet again.

Jack is such a good boy, I have followed what everyone, including Carmel, has told me to do and yet defeat.  I feel they are setting him up to fail.  Mama bear wants to explode,  I mean I did everything they said to do, got him diagnosed, classified and for what?! Seriously WHAT! How are they helping my boy, how are they helping my family?  Why did I even take all this time, do all this work for Jack, for what? What is coming from it?

He is not different then any other opinionated boy, just his mom wants the absolute best for him and will stop at nothing to make that happen, give him an advantage and work with and for him.  If we never started with an IFSP for his hand, we would probably not be here today, we would not be worrying about this, it most likely would not be a thought in my head.  Everything happens for a reason though, and I would not have the job I have if it weren't for Jack, I would not be challenging other kids and working with other parents while helping them along the day.  Jack has made me the mom I am today, the better teacher I am today and the wife I am today.  Again, don't mess with mamabear.  No we are 2 days away from July and still I have no answers.  Still I am waiting.  I do know my kids are not attending the Public Elementary Schools.  So while I have never been pro Catholic Schools I do value the more individual relationships with staff and schools.  Their willingness to help and listen.

I will continue to update as the summer goes on too.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Travel to the National Parks

First shared on 

I have been fascinated with National Parks since I was a kid, I would read about them, write reports on them and dream about visiting.  Which I did get to with my family.  Now as a mom, I plan on visiting as many as I can with my kids.  In 2011, on a trip to Boston and Salem, MA we came across a Passport To Your National Parks book, we bought one which is a super affordable souvenir.  Since then we have gone to some in the Hudson Valley, Long Island, Philadelphia, Maryland, Florida and most recently Washington DC.  Family travel is important to me with the kids, and with National Parks all around, it has been easy to visit when we are nearby or close enough for drivable trips.
Salem Maritime NP Jack
The kids and I went to Washington DC with friends, I had set out to see the monuments and collect the stamps for our passport book.  My friends joined while there and bought their books at the Washington Monument (or pencil/crayon as the kids called it).    You can buy a Passport to your National Park book at any gift shop or online at EPARKS.  I also bought a separate kids book NPS Kids Club Adventure Guide  for the DC area, and we brought our packets for the kids to complete and collect the stamps (great for the older crowd to 7 years and up that I printed from online.

At many of the parks children can become Junior Rangers and are sworn in by Park Rangers, educational fun.   The Kids in Parks program lists all the Junior Ranger places and then you can find the booklets and tasks that need to be completed.  Locally there is Saint Paul's Church in Mt. Vernon, Weir Farm  in Wilton, CT, and NY along with 3 in Hyde Park (although Theodore Roosevelt's Birthplace is closed until 2016 as of 5/1/15.
Junior Ranger programs engage young people in activities that help them to discover specific sites and introduces them to the national park system.  This is geared to kids 6-12 years old, a park ranger or volunteer who will sign off and award their badge.
Junior Ranger Initiation Lincoln Memorial Jack and MommyThomas at the White HouseWashington Memorial AM
Did you know that National Seashores also provide educational activities and fun, Fire Island is one nearby.   The more I click through on the website the more I find out about places included that I I never realized.  New York has a long list, planning a staycation is easy.
Other Resources: -Celebrating 100th birthday of the National Park Service in 2016 and spreading the word about all the places the US has to offer.  Also listing -National Park Foundation - national charitable partner of the National Park Service
Follow online with National Parks #findyourpark
Philly BellSalem Maritime NPSalem Maritime NP Jack

Assateague EnteranceJack and horsescar and horses NPKids at Assateague