Thursday, February 02, 2012

Julia, TV, and Quarters Countdown #3

I know everyone is in a Downton Abbey frenzy. I really can't believe it but we are not watching it. We only have one television in our house and it seems the parents always cave to the child's wishes. Or is it that she knows how to use the clicker and neither of the parent's are really clear on how it works?


Julia is rather into anything to do with movies and television - she is a walking talking tv guide. When we go to the grocery store, she can be found catching up on People and Us and on the way home, I get a report on the latest celeb scandal. Instead of watching Downton Abbey, her choice for Sunday evening was "A Smile As Big as the Moon." And so watch it she and I did. What a great movie about a special education teacher who in the late 1980's challenged the popular wisdom of the times and fought to take his special ed class to "Space Camp." The movie starred John Corbett who Julia and I love in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and I crushed on from Northern Exposure days.


Many of you who are new to the blog perhaps don't know about Julia's history but she was born with hydrocephalus and has had many shunt surgeries at Tufts/New England Medical Center in Boston. In her first two years of life, it seems like we lived there. The Farmer and I are extremely grateful for all her good doctors and nurses did for her. For the past few years, she has had no medical complications (knocking on wood) from the hydrocephalus but it is always with us. Julia is not like a regular kid - she needs special help for most learning and  accomodation for her physical challenges. 



This year Julia moved up to the Middle School and I was terrified for her and for us. I did not know how she would do, how she would be taken care of (she also has juvenile diabetes). As I was watching and tearing up through "A Smile", I couldn't help but be amazed at how the public school system has changed for the better in educating our special kids. Julia's transition to Middle School has actually been incredibly good. She is thriving in the bigger school and has a wonderful one-on-one aide who is one of the keys to this transition. The sped team in our school district has been incredibly supportive and helpful. And for the second report card in a row, Julia has made the Highest Honor Roll. 

When I went to school, I did not have any contact with kids with special needs. Back then, we were split into what I (wrongly) thought as "smart, medium, and dumb" kids. As I watched "A Smile as Big as the Moon" I realized how sheltered I was as a teen from kids with special learning styles, kids that maybe didn't catch on as quick as I did to most subjects. In the movie, they showed the special class, the dis-order, the anxieties of these children and I thought about how different the education system is now for kids with learning challenges. We are lucky that Julia is a sped kid in 2012 vs 1989 or 1965.


In our school system, Julia is in a class with kids of all abilities. The kids are all taught the same things (with modifications for some). They are tested at the same time but the difference is they are tested to their ability. I write this to you all because I know that many of you either don't have children yet or are no longer in contact with what is going on in the schools now. Kids with learning challenges can still have successes and reach Highest Honor Roll. As a Mom with a sped kid (that's how Julia and I talk about her learning challenges - it is not a bad thing in our house, it is just what we deal with), I am so thankful that my daughter can feel successful. The pride she has in completing her homework, in doing well on a test is helping to boost her confidence and self-esteem. 

If you have a chance to watch "A Smile as Big as the Moon" or read the book, do. It will make you feel great and help you to conquer your latest obstacle, learning challenge, knitting project, or internal stumbling block. It will be running frequently on the Hallmark Channel if you can get that.



The photos on this blog post are of Julia over the past couple years wearing her various mommy-made Quarters Caps. I can't help but say that she too has "a smile as big as the moon." It is so much fun to look at her ever-present smile and cheerful personality as it shines through these photos. Julia might not be like most kids but she is happy and is finding her way. I feel so blessed to have had the gift of her life in mine and to have learned all she has taught me along the way.

You can purchase my Quarters Cap pattern on my website here or on Ravelry here. Until the Big Game is over on Sunday, I'll be donating 20% of the profits to Halos for Hope. Check out the Halos For Hope site here. 

Here's some Super Bowl hype that you will enjoy! Go Bev!

19 comments:

Sarah said...

I'm so glad to hear that Julia is thriving in middle school. My friend's dad worked as a one-on-one aide in Europe for awhile and I've always wondered if any school districts use that program here. It seems to be so beneficial for students to be exposed to a wide variety of other learners (and not segregated by test scores, as my classes were) He always spoke about how enriching it was for him, as well.

Candylei said...

How sweet to get to know your Julie better. She is absolutely perfect!!! She really has the biggest smile with your caps on. Congratulate her, for me, on her high honors!! Go Julie!!!

Bonnie said...

A wonderful post! Thank you so much for sharing Julia's story. I'm so glad she is doing well in middle school.

Candylei said...

Just wanted to say I really meant to type Julia not Julie, my cousin's name. ;-)

Sally said...

Congrats to Julia!!!!! from one of her biggest fans :)

Tree Hugger - Suzan said...

How wonderful that Julia is thriving as well as you and the rest of your family. I teach Deaf/Hard of Hearing and YES indeed how things have changed in the 25 years that I have been teaching. I have gone from a state institution for the deaf to the public school system where I get my kids out into the regular classroom as much as possible. It is wonderful that ALL students are permitted to attend school and that all students learn to work and be with every unique individual!
Love your work and the colors you use. Still trying to find a way to purchase your on line patterns of flowers in felt and knitted.
Suzan

Anne Paulson said...

Julia is a beautiful young woman and I LOVE all the modelling she does with your knitwear! Many blessings to her and to you and The Farmer :) Thank you for sharing the video about Bev - loved it. I must confess, I am a Downton Abbey addict...But I will keep my eyes out for the movie you mentioned - as a mother of two young boys and as a social worker by trade - it is a topic that very much interests me!

Gilda Knits said...

<3 Julia, you rock.
And Bev, you, too. I have to share this video with my knitting/crochet buddies...

onescrappychick said...

We watched that movie at my house this weekend, and enjoyed it very much. We ended up DVR'ing it, as I have been sick since Saturday, and watching half Sunday and the rest on Monday night. I work as a special ed- assistant/1-1 tutor with students just like your daughter in NH, and wouldn't trade my job for any other. Thank you for sharing Julia's story. :)

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

You are lucky to be in such a good school system! I've worked in special learner classrooms for years and unfortunately it is not equal in all states. TX has wonderful services--here in AR, therapy services are much less than in other places. Our therapists are good, but the kids get so little time with them. That needs to change--every child in every state should have equal access to quality education.

Julia looks like a sweetie!

Gerri said...

What Gilda Knits said-Rock on, Julia! Congrats on the honor roll.

"Julia might not be like most kids but she is happy and is finding her way." This struck me as true in two ways. One is the way your post was addressing about the sped side. The second is that an awful lot are not happy and are not finding their way. Congrats to you and The Farmer that this can be said about Julia. I think the whole family rocks!

Caffeine Girl said...

I can't thank you enough for your kind words about your public school. I'm a middle school sped teacher myself, and (especially here in Wisconsin) we teachers have been blamed for everything that's wrong in society!

I'm even more glad that Julia is experiencing success. I love your family's down-to-Earth attitude; it definitely has contributed to her ability to grow and learn. She is lucky to have you!

Anonymous said...

This was a beautiful post about a beautiful girl. I love the picture of Julia and the lamb, it's just a perfect picture. Best of everything to you and your lovely family.

Shauna Dow said...

Hi. A coworker of mine sent me a link to your post. My son, Tanner Dow, was in the movie, "A Smile As Big As The Moon". He was the big one, Adam. He is actually autistic and didn't do much acting at all - he was simply himself.

I have enjoyed reading your post and am so glad you enjoyed the movie. I thought the same thing you did even while we were making the film...that we've come a long way in how we educate and treat those with special needs.

Tanner lives in Windsor, VT and is a full time participant at Zack's Place in Woodstock, VT, which is an enrichment center for people with special needs. (www.ZacksPlaceVT.org)

If you and Julia are ever in the area, I hope you'll come by. Tanner would be happy to meet her.

Take care,
Shauna Dow

Kristin Nicholas said...

So very nice to hear from you Shauna. Your son was wonderful on the movie. I hope he had a good time doing it. Maybe we will meet sometime.
Our best from the farm.

Adaliza said...

I think of Julia often - whenever I start another ball of your wool in fact! My mind's eye picture of her is in one of your quarter hats - with a huge grin - just like in this post! I'm a teacher, I teach 16-18 year olds in a college where we have 3,500 of them. Yes, 3,500! It's melting pot of hormones and learning! We have a tremendous support department that enables young people with special needs to fulfil their potential. I often find that students who struggle most are not those with a learning difficulty, but those who have personal family traumas. I think Julia looks so incredibly happy and I'm so pleased that school is going well for her. I love to see her with the animals - children who love animals are always happy! When our 3 come home they usually say 'We're coming home to cuddle a collie'! I must find that book/film!

sheepy hollow said...

Julia is a beautiful young lady!!!!

Blessings & best wishes to you and your extended sheepy family.

mascanlon said...

Our granddaughter Caroline is sped too and she has had the most wonderful experience with terrific teachers and aides. She is a jr in HS and is the manager of the school cheer squad and is also on yearbook as a photographer. She is active in church, assisteens and has a boyfriend. I don't know a child who is as happy and enjoys life as much. But for all that she has brought us all so much more joy! Its all about enjoying the journey you are on. Julia is obviously loving and thriving on her journey. And she has wonderful guides along the way both at home and in school. Go Julia!

Knitting is a wonderful thing! said...

My child was born with hydrocephalus also. I was lucky that he outgrew everything. The VP Shunt worked beautifully, and by the time he was 19, he no longer needed his shunt. I know exactly what it's like to go through that.
I was dealing with all of this in the early 1980's too! Technology sure has come a LONG way since then, but he also went to an amazing hospital too.
Glad to hear your child is doing so well.