A faithful friend

A young lady from our church had a great idea. Instead of filling a service requirement for school by volunteering for some organization, she wanted to do something that was personally interesting. She hoped to be able to tell she made a difference in some way. She asked us if she could become a running coach for Monica. We told her that we weren’t sure Monica could become a runner, but that we would love to see her improve her fitness and maybe we could start there. We talked about our ongoing goal for Monica to increase her activity level. Our family has plenty of action, but Monica is often the observer, not the participant. We also talked about the benefit of regular interaction with non-disabled peers. So, Mary made a commitment to get together with Monica once a week for an hour. They started with stretches and a few exercises. Then they added walking. About every 4th or 5th week, they would play a board game or card game or do baking instead. Eventually, they began running together.
On Memorial Day, Mary and Monica entered a local 5K/1 Mile event. They were in the 1 Mile, but Mary encouraged Monica to run as much as she could. They had a blast.
They plan to continue their get-togethers even though Mary has long since completed her school service requirement.
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1996 – Monica Age 4 – Talking, Pre-school

An excerpt from Christmas Letter 1996

We decided to make a study area in the basement for the older kids to be able to do their homework away from the distractions of the kitchen and the little ones. They really like having a place for those toys with small parts like Legos and K-nex that Moni and Greg get into.

Speaking of those little ones, they are a challenge! Remember how Monica was a baby for a long time? Well, apply that to the next phase too. I really tried to avoid the phrase Terrible Twos with the other kids, and tried to see the delights of constant curiosity and emerging independence. But, with both Monica and Gregory in this phase of development at once, that phrase sure keeps coming to mind! We are enjoying the acquisition of speech for both of them. We don’t know if it was getting the tubes in her ears, (we found out Monica had intermittent hearing loss due to fluid), starting private speech therapy, or having her constant playmate start to talk, but Monica is now saying some words! She dropped signing as soon as she was able to make a few sounds that were close enough to the words she needs to say most often; like more, juice, hot dog, cookie, no, up, out, please and thank you. She has been saying Daddy for quite awhile, then added Mommy and Bebba (Rebecca) this fall and just last week said Babe (Gabe) and Danny the first time. It is really a thrill.

Gregory’s speech is absolutely exploding. I know we were excited about the other kids too, but somehow Greg amazes us. He voluntarily says greetings and I love yous and points out objects he sees all the time.

Our summer was much more relaxed this year, if that can be possible with two toddlers. We gave up the organized sports and lessons and bought passes to the pool instead. Rebecca, Gabe and Danny really improved their swimming and snack-begging skills. Monica and Gregory were well occupied with their filling and pouring skills until the last week of summer when Gregory figured out how to open the gate to the baby pool area and I improved on my chasing skills!

We moved Monica to the Special Education Preschool in our own school district this year. The class is a good mix of children: half with identified delays (like Moni) and half typically developing. She has a lot more examples to follow than last year and it’s a shorter bus ride. We were thrilled a couple weeks ago when the mother of one of her classmates asked the teacher for our number as her little girl wanted Monica to come over to play. She’s very happy to get on that bus every day and now recognizes her own art projects when I take them from her backpack.

1996 -swim