Friday, July 15, 2016

Speech Therapy

We have been aware A2 would need Speech Therapy. In fact, we tried to have her evaluated when she was two- a young three, alas, she was very shy and would not cooperate with evaluators so the evaluations went nowhere.

Fast forward to last summer traveling, the shell started to break away and she would communicate with adults. Yay! This kid will be seen when she gets home.

When we arrived home, we started following up with old contacts we had used for therapy services. Some were unable to see us due to them moving, others could not see us because, by the time they had openings A2 would be turning four. A few were only able to see children if they started appointments prior to the child turning four. We now started searching for other places. Waiting lists.

One had an appointment opening for February! Yay! When the therapist found out we were unavailable for that two week time frame she had openings, she scheduled the next kid on the waiting list. She's since had no openings as kids with speech tend to be seen for longer periods of time.

I decided to contact our pediatrician and see if a referral might work. A week later we received a call from Child Find saying our pediatrician referred us for a speech evaluation. A2 would be seen in mid May for an appointment and we would then discuss eligibility of services. If she is eligible, she would receive "free" preschool and speech therapy... It's from the public school system though.

After months of waiting list and our first appointment with Children's Hospital on October 16th, we accepted the appointment. In the least, we figured we would have a starting point. The appointment though was not a speech therapy evaluation, it was an evaluation of development in general. She was fine, outside of speech. The new appointment for the speech evaluation: July 14th.

Between these dates we discovered we now had an appointment with a private provider for July 15th! Yay!

We decided to attend the appointment yesterday, overall, I was impressed by the kindness, professionalism and non judgemental attitudes of the workers and the general support I felt from homeschooling and traveling. A2 even said this was a fun process.

Of course, there is always a drawback.

Oddly enough, not that I was sensing from Child Find, the government.

From our pediatrician. As we drove to swim lessons, a call came from our pediatricians office... It went a little like this, insert some awesome "tone."

Person: This is ______ from Dr. ______'s office. I'm calling to follow up on our referral to Child Find. Has A2 been seen by them yet?
Me: Oddly enough, yes! Today. It went well.
Person: You were *only* seen today?
Me: We had an appointment in mid May but the appointment was for an overall developmental screen.
Person: It took *two months* to get an evaluation?
Me: Yeah, bureaucracy. We have another appointment tomorrow after a few months on a waiting list for _____. We're also scheduled for October 16th with CH.
Person: You are cancelling those, right?
Me: No. We don't even know if we are eligible for services from Child Find until August 25th.
Person: Okay, make sure they give us their findings. (3:30pm)

This morning I get another call from a local number and answer...

It is our pediatricians office AGAIN asking for the findings. At this point, I'm put off. Not even five hours between business hour phone calls????

Anyway, this process has been frustrating many hours of phone calls, e-mails and scheduling appointments. We are finally moving off the waiting lists! A2 will be starting services, in the very least- soon!

It's a huge relief. I'm happy for her. She has so much she would like to say and communicate and hopefully these will help her.... But I might be looking for a new pediatrician.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"But they won't remember it."

If there is one negative reaction we tend to get when traveling with kids it is the idea they will not remember each adventure. Why not wait until they are older?

Do I expect them to remember every field trip? No. If I'm being honest, I don't remember the details of most of our recent field trips but if we enjoy the moment, we can carry on. 

Sooooo.... Why not wait until they are older and appreciate traveling? 

* First, I firmly believe our kids do appreciate traveling and enjoy new experiences. 

* There is not always a later due to life circumstances. Pulling teens away from friends is never easy but with younger kids, their primary attachments are parents and families so it is potentially the best time. 

* We have our kids for a short time. Eventually the days of college will come along and their friends will become their new family. We hope to solidify memories of a pretty cool family. (Confession- we are not cool people, none the less, they will have memories of a slightly disfunctional but crazy family which has a bad case of wanderlust.)

* Learning opportunities. Erosion, climate change, extinction will claim some of the natural wonders of today by the time they are older. 

* Lastly and mostly, I want to raise adventure loving kids. If the girls come out of this with a desire to explore and learn more about the world around them I will be happy. Why wait until they are older when they love adventuring now, I can work with this. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Wow! It's been a while...

We are heading out on our next adventure in the coming weeks. It's more of a vacation meets field trip but I realized I have not written our experiences out from the summer. It seemed overwhelming putting four and a half months of our lives and experiences into a blog and the notion of breaking down what we did and where, well, tedious. While I started the blog as a way for our kids to look back at adventures, woah... Our kids have adventurous souls and the reality, they will have hundreds or thousands of adventures over the course of their lives. At the end of the day, the trip on the road was about instilling a love of exploring, not them remembering every single museum or hike. 

Sooooooo... The things I took from the trip: 

1. 4.5 months is a long time. There are things I would do different on future trips. Mainly, I would slow down. Some areas we were drawn to like New England. Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine were amazing and it was easy to stay and to be honest, they feel like home and relaxing. Other areas we felt little connection to, the midwest and southern states... It was difficult to pace myself and slow down when none of us felt that connection. Maybe I would have felt like less of a troglodyte when we arrived home had we paced ourselves? Maybe 4.5 months is too long? I'm not sure I will ever know.

In the future, if we don't enjoy an area, I think we would take that time to relax and hang out around our campsites. 

2. The seasons impacted our days. My kids tend to sleep with the sun as I call it. When the sun would set, they would hit the pillow and wake up when the sun rose in the morning. This is amazing when you are camping in the summer. Endless hours of sun, you have time to make breakfast, clean up, maybe pack up, head out to a museum or hike and come back and make dinner or hit the road... But as the nights grew longer, it became harder to focus that energy. Several days we were getting back to our campsite and the sun was setting. By the end of the trip it felt like a race with the sun. 

3. The pope is kind of a pain in the butt. I'm being honest. Our time in DC was chaotic, we planned our time around DC when we could meet the girls' father for a business trip. It just also happened to take place when the pope was in town. I'd avoid world leaders and what not if possible in the future. 

4. Making time for friends (and fellow travelers) along the way was needed more than wanted. Some of them are fantastic, I am lucky to have those of you in our lives:) Wisdom and friendship from them were greatly appreciated. 

5. Compromise is crucial when you are on the road for several months. Three personalities and two kids with different interest. Sometimes you bend and break... and sometimes, you are going to miss out on experiences when someone needs something different than you. While we hoped to stay out three additional weeks, we cut our trip a bit short. Due to a sick kid who wanted to go home, it didn't work out. It was disappointing, but when I left we agreed to coming home when one of us felt the need to go home. Part of me is surprised we lasted 4.5 months, the other part of me is not shocked at all because ditching schedules is freeing. 

All in all, it was a great experience. Within days of being home, the girls were ready to go out on a new adventure again and I share that sentiment!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

This little girl is turning FOUR!

Our baby, Vagabond Kid, is turning four, which means she is not really a baby at this point but more of a small human. She has opinions, she is strong willed and is proficient in advocating for herself. She is also quiet, caring and responsible.

What a lot of people don't realize, after our three weeks on the road in 2014, we opted to travel more because of her. As a fairly introverted child she naturally stepped out of her shell on the road. I wanted to do it again this year and WOW, what a huge difference. She jumped into new situations immediately and would run off at the campgrounds to play with other kids. Now that we are back, not so much. Traveling opens her heart and mind for which I am grateful. Next year our trip will likely focus on her interests. 

Favorite food: meat, mac and cheese.
Favorite colors: pink and blue.
Favorite animal: Xiong mao, chiens and the elephant. 
Hobbies: hiking, beach bumming, skiing, dressing up like a princess, getting as dirty as possible;)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Field Museum

Jay was on a business trip in Chicago so we stayed with him for a few days. In other words- I'm cheap and the company was paying for the room... And the girls had not seen their dad in nearly two months! It was great and Jay was able to join us here and there while we explored. 

This museum is FREE with the ASTC reciprocal program and it is a fantastic addition to the program! We did pay for entry to Vikings, which I would not recommend with kids under five. I don't feel it would be interesting to most children that age.

Upon entering we asked how long it takes to get through the museum, we were told about 3 hours for most people... We were there from open to close (summer hours) and still missed the wildlife halls.  I think most people pick a few exhibits and move on. Unfortunately or fortunately, we seem interested in everything at this age. 

My kids are learning to strike poses. 


A1 is pretty interested in anything that can be found in the ground from artifacts to fossils or even rocks... So I should not be surprised when she was overly excited about a table of trilobites! This exhibit has so much! We were passed by countless people who seemed to be there for the Dino's, we spent three hours in this exhibit. 

If we had a boy, he would have been named Darwin;) 

Deforestation! This was fun! 

Maori House! 

Odin in the Viking exhibit:) 

A sled for A2! 

At the end of the day Jay joined us for an hour. We saved Egypt for the end of the day. I think it was special for A1 to share it with him. The volunteer was great and showed us around the entire lower level! 

Mummies and canopic jars! Mummified cats and falcons:) 

A child roughly her own age. 

A boat- a very rare find, but hey- you need transportation in the afterlife:) 

Pros: quality exhibits, well laid out, science, nature, diverse exhibits, ASTC reciprocated! They know their target demographic well, adults! Fantastic staff and volunteers! 

Cons: potentially overwhelming or boring for young children. 

A1 rates it a 10 out of 10. I'm rating it a 9/10. The children's section is lacking, IMO but the workers are fantastic! They allowed us to leave after the last entry to grab Jay from the entrance because he did not have his DMNS membership card.

Terre Haute Children's Museum

Admittedly, we would have never visited Terre Haute if it were not for a friend recommending this CM. Either way, I'm happy we did. While both of the girls had a blast at TCM of Indianapolis the day before... This was fun. We arrived 30 minutes after opening and left 30 minutes prior to close. It was not busy which was surprising for a Saturday but there were kids to play with. 

I would highly recommend this as a fun and low key place to gather. 

Best part, it is free with the ASTC reciprocal membership and the parking on the street is free as well! 

The playscape was fantastic! 

The weather exhibit was fun! A1 enjoyed taking on the role of weather man and A2 enjoyed the snowdrifts. 

Pros: Well maintained, playful and has a variety of exhibits. Best for ages 2-9, I would guess. Free parking, ASTC reciprocal. 

Cons: Street parking requires moving the car every few hours. There may be better parking but we were told to park on the street when we called.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

When we started planning this trip we knew we had to visit The Children's Museum of Indianapolis simply because it is the world's largest. We started planning the day before looking at the museums website which I highly recommend. There is a section for tips and it lists which exhibits are free but require tickets, mainly the play and planetarium. There are several talks, mini demonstrations and more throughout the day but the museum in itself is huge! Knowing this we sat down and discussed each exhibit and planned our day around each child's interest and talks or activities. The two of them picked one exhibit together and each of the them choose two exhibits which were guaranteed, another two which would be attempted and anything else was a bonus. They were not allowed to complain about exhibits they did not pick. I highly suggest this with multiple children. 

National Geographic: Treasures of the Earth was the first up exhibit. A1's pick because she had been asking to visit a Tut themed exhibit. 

To her surprise it also introduced the concept of underwater archaeology in more depth.

Put together King Tuts sarcophagus! A1 really wanted to do this alone (cough- mom forced sister into it) but several kids kept grabbing pieces. I suggested her being firm and asking other kids to wait patiently. To my surprise, she did and the other kids (and parents) were respectful of that choice!

All done! 

When learning about Ancient Egypt (we spent roughly 60 hours learning about Egypt!") A1 was interested in the canopic jars. It was nice for her to see the size approximations and what they looked like. A1 appreciated the museum feel to the Children's Museum. It would give parents something to do and it allows the museum to grow with older kids.

I mentioned the museum has talks, while visiting family, A1 watched a documentary on the terracotta soldiers, she was excited to attend the talk. It wound up being a little basic so we skipped the Tut talk later that day. 

Archaeology dig. 

The girls completed the terracotta soldier puzzle together. 

A2 chose dinosaurs and the train exhibit. The train exhibit wasn't spectacular so we moved on pretty fast. 

Leonardo the Mummified Dinosaur was pretty special though:)

The girls have a friend who was inspired by Chihuly and passed the passion along to A1 at a birthday party. 

A1 chose the China exhibit as her second choice. Both of them loved it equally! They learned about food presentation, the opera, caring for panda's and even did a little water brush painting. 

The science exhibit they chose together, it was crowded and in my opinion equivalent to most other children's museums nationally. 

Their toss up exhibits they missed were Power of Children (8+) and Playscape (pre-k) but neither were disappointed because the day had been so full. 

We loved the museum but the two things I would like to see are longer hours and reciprocity. For a family of three to visit we paid $58.50 for admission... But all of us loved our experience and the staff was outstanding so I'd rate it an 8/10. 

I'm knocking two points off because I think it can be a little overwhelming for younger kids from what I could tell. Also, another point because I think they could be open 9-6 and it would make it less rushed in the summer when more people are visiting.