Friday, August 30, 2013

School preparation is underway


4 more days and I will officially be able to call myself the mom of a high schooler and a middle schooler. That freaks me out! I'm not ready!

Ashton's going to HIGH SCHOOL?! 9th grade, here he comes!

Holden's going to MIDDLE SCHOOL?! 6th grade, here he comes!

I am so incredibly proud of both of my boys. As nervous as I am for both of them to begin these new chapters of their lives (middle school and high school are big deals, no matter what anyone says!), I know that they will each meet the new, higher expectations and challenges set forth for them. Moving up to a new school is always a source of nerves and anxiety for both boys. They seem to be taking it in stride though. Ashton surprised us yesterday when we went to the high school to meet his teacher/case manager and he walked us all the way around the school and directly to her classroom without us telling him how to get there! We've only been to the school a couple of times and only walked by her classroom once the day before, so I was pretty amazed. The boy has an internal compass like no other, that's for sure! He seemed pretty happy and content in her classroom, other than putting his head down on the desk a lot. I explained to her that he doesn't like bright lights and she assured me that all of the overhead lights would be off on Tuesday except one. She's a very "out of the box" thinker and after meeting with her yesterday and such, I think Ashton will have an amazing year. We'll see how he does with his electives; adaptive art and adaptive business consumers technology class. 

Holden seemed to grasp the concept of moving from one classroom to another for his schedule at the middle school. We met all of his teachers and the subs for 2 of the teachers (who are, or will be, on maternity leave soon) and he said they all seem nice. :) I think the first week will be a little confusing but once he gets the hang of things, he'll do just fine. I'm more concerned about his lack of organizational skills (he comes by that honest, I am NOT a very organized person) and how he'll manage to keep everything straight in his locker, etc. I know middle school is a time of huge transition and hormones, etc kicking. I just hope he keeps his head on straight and pulls through the first few weeks with flying colors. His schedule is a bit more relaxed this fall than in previous years as he's not playing fall soccer. He is still running with the New Energy group out in Suffolk, but as we've told him, school comes first. If he's not done with homework, he's not going to practice. That simple. He has to make a concerted effort to make sure he's accomplishing everything in a timely manner. We've set the stage for that in that he comes home from school and immediately starts his homework. I'll be in touch with his teachers after the first week to see if they've noticed any issues, and I'm hoping Holden relieves all fears I have by just being awesome without little follow up on my part. Part of middle school is teaching these kids to be responsible for themselves, etc but we know how that goes. :)

Can't wait to see how the first day and week of school goes! Onwards and upwards! 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Because We Can

Remember that letter to the newspaper (link takes you to my original posting about the letter I wrote) I wrote back in late April? Well, what came of that letter became much larger and much more touching than I could have ever imagined. A huge thank you to Vicki Cronis-Nohe for your amazing photography and videography skills. Another huge thank you to Hattie Brown Garrow for putting a friendship into words that I couldn't even begin to describe.

Below you will find the video interview that was done with Marc and Ashton, it's currently up on YouTube and I believe is also viewable through the Virginian-Pilot's "Evening Pilot" app, available only on iPad. On August 23rd, the story about Marc and Ashton was the highlight cover story for the app and it was so cool to get an early read of the story. Made for an amazing birthday surprise since it was available 2 days early! You will also find the links below for the actual story on the Virginian-Pilot's online website, and a link to the photo gallery.

An Unexpected Friendship
The link above will take you directly to the article which will give you access to the video and the photo gallery :)

With all of that being viewed and said.....

Don't believe that you can change someone's life?

You may never know that you, yourself, are missing from someone's life, or that you're missing someone from your own life until you take a chance with a new experience. Sometimes stepping out of the box of everyday comfort can be difficult, but what happens when you do so, may change your life forever. You may change someone else's life forever. You may be the one person who can unlock the windows and break down the walls of someone's tough facade.  Marc did just that, 14months ago. I think I can speak for him and say that what happened in the months since then, was not something he had expected. Nor was it something that we, as Ashton's family, expected. But we are forever grateful and blessed to have been open to change, open to meeting new people and experiencing new things. For without the amazing experiences these two incredible young men have gone through over that time, we would have never realized so much was going on in Ashton's heart that he couldn't tell us.

As I said in my letter to the newspaper four months ago "Thank you to Marc. You've given us our son back. You've opened the doors and windows to his soul and we're finally learning things about Ashton that before we never knew about. You've made me a true believer in the youth of today. With so many horror stories about children with Autism being bullied, it's a true breath of fresh air to see the polar opposite in the loving friendship you and Ashton share. You two make an incredible team and we couldn't be more happy and blessed to know you and your incredible family. Thank you for being exactly the friend Ashton needed at the moment we least expected it . We'll never be able to forget it."

This is all been a blessing; an amazing, beautiful and wonderful experience for all involved, both families and all the friends and extended families of those of us immediately involved. Thank you for letting us share their story with you.

Much love and gratitude,

The McCormick & Leber families