Saturday, June 21, 2008

What do your words say?

Joey had an absolutely Cracker-Jack team of teachers this year, and the methods they used to gently, supportively, and lovingly get him to think about language and use it appropriately were gems I wish I could use on my college-age students without them going ballistic on me.

One of my favorites was Mrs. S telling Joey, "Here is what your words said: [Joey's mangled attempt to spontaneously create a sentence instead of quoting someone else]. Does that make sense to you?" She would sometimes ask other kids in the class if those words made sense, too- not in a humiliating way, but in a way where everyone was helping everybody else untangle what was said, so that everyone, including Joey, could come up with the words that were needed. He could hear the words and realize they did not make sense, and clarify wha he wanted to say with some help from his friends.

For example (and I use it because I already have it up on You-Tube), when i went in to visit Joey, i took a lot of pictures of him. Joey has always loved cameras and having his picture taken, even as an itty-bitty. He was very happy and excited. So when it came time for the News, Joey's news was naturally going to be about me and the camera. He had nowhere to pull words for that. There was no TV show he could quote, no-one else was having their picture taken, he was completely on his own. The words that came out were, "I am happy I get to play picture-taking."

We got it decoded to being happy I came to school, and happy to have his picture taken (watch the video, its really cute). Joey loves to imitate this phrase, especially if he doesn't understand what someone (especially Andy) said. He gets that little cock to his head and asks, "Does that make sense?" with a giggle.

I would love to go all Mrs. S on some of my students:

"When a leader stumbles his followers fall right on top of him."
“B ecause the art is the dunp thing in paintings, the big painters like Leonardo the winchy and other painter said a lot to the people by the paintings.”
"There is no denying there was a lot of Hellenistic influence in Greece."
"Power is communicated though art in many was. religiously you have Jesus who wore a purple rode, gold rope and was a very powerful person. That was a sign of power."

And those are from people who are English-speakers. I have plenty more that are silly only if you know something about art history. I'd just like to sit them down, and see if I can't get whatever they thought they were saying out of their heads and into their mouths (or pens). I need to know if they really understand the material, and we just have a communication problem, or if they really are this confused and lost!

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Long Day of Adventure

We had a really good day today. The boys were golden. We started at Colonial Beach, where they had a good swim. JOey was pretending to be Magic School Bus characters. Andy was a crocodile. Hilarity ensued.

I spent the morning in a comfy folding beach chair collecting pretty rocks and holding Andy's collection of pretty rocks. If I had brought a glass of wine with me, it would have been perfect.

Unfortunately, another family showed up and the mom was screaming profanities at her kids (I have no idea why- they looked like they were behaving just fine to me). We decided it was time to move on (well, I decided, and the boys did not protest). We changed into clothes and headed out into the sunrise to find lunch.

We stopped at the Happy Clam, which I had several recommendations for, but now I have no idea why. It was expensive, the food was mediocre at best, and the famed desserts were not available (in high season!) No need to go back there. But the boys were good, and they did get fed, so we were off and running again.

We drove over to the Westmoreland State Park, which is lovely. Lots of camping, a park with great equipment, a pool, paddleboats, fishing... and Fossil Beach, where people find shark teeth. We decided on Fossil Beach. The hike was a challenge, but we got there and the boys just loved it. We were by ourselves, the water was warm, and there was not a tooth to be found; but the swimming and quiet was lovely. Joey was being the Magic School Bus. Andy was being a shark. Hilarity ensued.

We collected more pretty rocks, the boys did a lot of swimming, and then we trudged back to the car (a good trick with my asthma).

We beelined to the camp store for ice cream and a couple of for-sale shark teeth (next time, they will know what we are looking for!), then headed for home. The boys spent the ride home pretending to be bitten by their teeth, or pretending the teeth were their own (look mom, my tooth fell out! My tooth is growing in! Look at my tooth! oops, it fell out! ...)

If all trips went this well, we'd have more of them. The cost of gas be damned.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Changes to Virginia SPED Regulations

The Commonwealth of Virginia is proposing changes to the Virginia special education regulations- dangerous changes that threaten to exclude parents from important parts of the process. With the new changes, children above the age 5 will not be able to be categorized as "developmentally delayed" and services can be terminated without parent consent. These changes being made under the excuse of complying with with IDEA... but in fact, they go directly against the purpose of including parents and serving children with disabilities based on individual need instead of diagnosis!

Some months ago, parent organizations in Northern Virginia got together and put together comments to protest the changes. They invited parents to use their comments as a framework- or even just change "we" to "I"- and send them in to voice our protest. The public comment period ends June 30.

Please check out my links above, and then let the Virginia Department of Education know how you feel about these changes to Virginia law:
Address: Special Education Regulations Revision Process
Office of Dispute Resolution and Administrative Services
Virginia Department of Education
P.O. Box 2120
Richmond, Virginia 23218-2120
Fax: (804) 786-8520

Here is what I sent in, based on the Fairfax comments with my own commentary added:

As a parent of a disabled child, I am extremely concerned and dismayed by many of the proposed changes to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s special education regulations. These regulations and policies are intended to ensure my child’s rights are respected and protected. As his parent, legally responsible for protecting those rights and acting in his best interests, I am concerned that so many of the proposed changes seem to threaten my ability and right to protect my child and ensure his rights as a human being are respected and honored.

The purpose of the IDEA is to ensure children with disabilities are treated as human beings, just as their non-disabled peers are. In the IDEA, children are with disabilities are guaranteed a free and appropriate education that meets their unique needs and prepares them for further education, employment, and independent living.

Thus far, Virginia has been at the forefront of protecting those rights and promoting the necessary parent-school partnership for protecting those rights. This essential partnership ensures that child such as my own child have access to appropriate services and support. Without this relationship, schools and parents lose important information and cooperation for understanding the needs of any child and appropriately serving and supporting them and educating them. The proposed changes threaten this relationship by threatening Virginia’s historic guarantee of parental rights in special education. The Virginia Board of Education must not allow this roll back of civil rights in Virginia for children with disabilities and parents, such as me, who advocate for them.

It is my understanding that the IDEA requires parent consent as a matter of ensuring parent involvement, and thus recognizes the essential role of parent involvement, advocacy, and support in ensuring the rights of children with disabilities. The spelled-out right of consent to changes in an IEP and termination of services are currently Virginia-specific. They were added to clarify the intended partnership between parents and schools. It makes no sense to exclude part of an IEP team- especially the sole member of the team whose natural role is direct representation of the child- from important decisions such as changes to that agreed IEP.

The current proposal deletes important Virginia-specific parental rights and protections under the argument that it is respecting Part B if the IDEA 2004 to “minimize the number of rules, regulations and policies to which local educational agencies and schools are subject.” This is not a specific mandate of the IDEA, but a general theme of federal legislation. The changes proposed actually move to defeat the mandate of the IDEA: to ensure children with disabilities a free and appropriate education.

Regulations promulgated by the federal government are considered a bare minimum standard for states to follow. States can, and regularly do, exceed federal regulations because the respond to the needs of their particular citizens, which is their right. Minimizing rules, regulations, and policies must not mean elimination of long-standing Virginia-specific rights currently guaranteed to the Commonwealth’s citizens.

Below I address specific concerns with the proposed Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia. These specific concerns address area which have historically guaranteed the rights of children with disabilities and their parents, and are essential in providing all children with disabilities the free and appropriate education that is their right.

1. Parent Consent Provisions

Parental Consent to the Termination of Services: [8 VAC 20-81-90, provision of existing regulation, not included]

I oppose the elimination of the current requirement that a parent consent to the termination of special education eligibility and related services. I thoroughly contest the claim that Virginia’s guarantee of the parental right of consent to the termination of services is particularly burdensome or costly to schools; removing this right on consent to termination instead places schools in a position of conflict of interest, where the child’s rights conflict with a school’s budget, and goes directly against the mandate of the IDEA.

Virginia has historically recognized the essential parental right to participate in any decision on the continued services of their child because this right of consent:

1. Ensures that the best interests of the child are served,
2. Guarantees that the parent is treated as a full and equal member of the IEP team as required by IDEA,
3. Protects the integrity of the IEP team process outlined in IDEA,
4. Prevents schools from making eligibility and service termination decisions by fiat and not by the consensus of the IEP team as intended by IDEA, and
5. Acts as a counterbalance to the pressure on school personnel to eliminate children from their special education services due to limited school district resources.

Without the right of consent to the partial or full termination of services, parents would be unable to prevent local education agencies (LEAs) from ending services when it is not in the best interest of the child. Practically speaking, the fear of termination may also force parents to accept less adequate IEPs and services, which goes directly against the purpose and intent of the IDEA. In addition, disabilities are by nature lifelong conditions; services should not be removed simply because the child has improved (no matter how slightly).

Parental Consent to Services for Transfer Students: [8 VAC 20-81-120, provision of existing regulation, not included]

I oppose the elimination of the current requirement for parental consent prior to providing special education services to transfer students. The proposed regulations would require only a “consultation” with the parent. Such a proposal could permit an LEA to implement an IEP that does not offer comparable services to the student’s previous school district. Parents would have no ability to
require an LEA to come to consensus on the delivery of services upon transfer, as is otherwise required in the development and amendment of existing IEPs.

2. Child Study Committees [8 VAC 20-81-50, provision of existing regulation, not included]

I opposs the elimination of Child Study Committees as currently required in the existing regulations. VDOE’s proposal to leave the referral procedures up to LEAs removes the protection of timelines and the guarantee that parents will participate in the referral process. The proposal also eliminates the requirement that classroom interventions not delay the evaluation. This endangers the right of a child to receive appropriate service and support in a timely manner.

Existing Child Study Committee requirements outlining the procedures LEAs must use to refer students for special education ensure consistency in the application process across all Virginia jurisdictions and are vital to parents’ understanding of and participation in the referral process. Consistent referral procedures also ensure that LEAs do not set additional timelines that unduly extend the time between when a child is referred for services and a parent consents to an evaluation.

3. Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBAs) [8 VAC 20-81-10, pg. 27-28]

I oppose permitting the process of developing a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) to be merely a review of existing data that does not require input of the parent. The regulations should
clearly state that an FBA is “an evaluation that consists of a systematic collection and analysis of direct and indirect data, and may include a review of existing data.” It is the frequent experience of parents that schools conduct FBAs in name only, failing to explore the actual function of a child’s behavior and hastily compiling previous observations into a paper trail to justify disciplinary action. Failure to
effectively investigate behavior which impedes learning defeats the purpose of the FBA to change such behavior and allow the student to participate as much as possible in a least restrictive environment. To
determine an appropriate Behavioral Implementation Plan (BIP), a formal FBA must be conducted, and for an assessment to be effective, the parents must participate as a matter of parental consent. (For additional discussion of FBAs, see #10.)

Parents often have information vital for implementing an effective and appropriate FBA; this information may not be immediately apparent by simple observation or review of existing data. Many disabilities that effect behavior are not immediately apparent. Misinterpretation of behavior can result in ineffective and inappropriate FBAs, and thus eliminate a child’s access to a free and appropriate education.

4. Transition [8 VAC 20-81-110, pg. 155]

I support the continued allowance in the proposed regulation that directs transition services be put into effect when the child turns 14, two years younger than the federal guideline. Parents and children need to plan for postsecondary goals well before the age of 16 in order to devise a correct curriculum that aims to improve long-term outcomes and to accumulate necessary information for decision making on further education, employment and independent living.

5. Timelines [8 VAC 20-81-60, pg. 97]

I oppose the proposed 65 business day timeline for an eligibility decision rather than adhering to the federal guideline of 60 days from the date of parental consent for evaluation. This proposal could cause a child with a disability to wait an additional 4 weeks longer than allowed by the federal guideline to be found eligible. Intended by federal law to prevent a child who may need services from waiting unnecessarily to receive them, the 60 day limit provides ample time for an evaluation in most cases.

In those instances where additional time may be necessary to produce the required data, the I recommend parent consent should be sought to extend the limit by a maximum of 10 additional
business days. In addition, this timeline should apply to both initial evaluations and reevaluations. I further recommend that a clear time limit be established from date of referral to the date of parent consent for an evaluation so that an LEA does not attempt to unduly extend the timeframe.

6. Developmental Delay [8 VAC 20-81-80, pg. 121]

I oppose limiting the developmental delay category to the ages of 3 to 5 and recommend the IDEA 2004 definition of developmental delay from the ages of 3 to 9. The developmental delay label is especially important for young children who exhibit deficits and require early intervention, but who may not be easily categorized. These children benefit from maintaining the developmental delay label and delaying a decision on the determination of their essential disability. Rushing to label a child’s disability may have serious long term repercussions on that child’s education and emotional development. Labeling children for convenience of policy or law is extremely dangerous and senseless.

7. Definition of Autism [8 VAC 20-81-10, pgs. 12-13]
I recommend that the proposed Virginia regulation defining autism reflect that of federal regulation, which states, "A child who manifests the characteristics of autism after age three could be identified as having autism if the criteria in this definition are satisfied." [Italics added.] Virginia regulations have substituted the word "diagnosed" for "identified" and is an improper term to use for educational purposes. School personnel are not qualified to make medical diagnoses.

8. Eligibility Criteria [8 VAC 20-81-80, pg. 119-120]

I strongly oppose including any eligibility criteria for disability categories in the regulations that exceed those specifically defined in the federal regulations. Such overreaching provisions may work to the disadvantage of children who would otherwise qualify for services as a child with a disability. For example, by defining the criteria for eligibility under autism, the proposed regulations may exclude children with an autism spectrum disorder who do not fit the narrow diagnostic criteria contained in the proposed regulations. Federal law includes autism as a covered disability under IDEA; it does not
endeavor to define the various educational criteria for the autism disability as a spectrum disorder.

Furthermore, if VDOE sets specific criteria for autism, which it has not done previously, it will be taking away flexibility from LEAs in making individual eligibility determinations.

Autistic spectrum disorders are particularly difficult to categorize because of the wide diversity of skills and disabilities presented by people with autistic spectrum disorders. Removing the flexibility from LEAs in making individual eligibility determination will threaten the rights of children who, though disabled, do not fit into neatly defined categories and diagnoses.

9. Definitional Terms for Disabilities [8 VAC 20-81-10, pgs. 36, 24-25]

I recommend use of the term “emotional disability” rather than “emotional disturbance.” The term “emotional disability” conveys less negative stigma on the child than “emotional disturbance,” while summarizing the nature of the eligibility that it is intended to denote.

Similarly, I recommend the regulations use the term “intellectual disability” in place of “mental retardation.” The term is outdated and offensive to many as it use in general language has become too extremely pejorative to be useful in designating or summarizing any disability of any kind. Use of the term “mental retardation” tends to lower expectations of educators on children who meet the criteria for the disability.

10. Discipline Procedures [8 VAC 20-81-160, pg. 183-195]

I opposs elimination of the current requirement for the IEP team to convene to conduct an FBA and implement or modify a behavioral plan for any child with a disability under a long-term removal. Students with disabilities whose behavior warrants such removals need greater intervention from their IEP teams, not less. IEP teams must act proactively to determine the causes of behavior and plan ways to prevent future episodes that prevent the student from being successful.

In addition, I oppose elimination of the current provision that states students who are short- term removed should be provided services that enable the child to appropriately progress, not just participate in the general education curriculum. Services provided for such students are already grossly inadequate, and the student’s disciplinary problems are greatly compounded by the failure to meet the child’s educational needs. The proposed regulatory change would eliminate all requirements on local school divisions to attempt to remedy this shortcoming.

11. IEP Progress Reports [8 VAC 20-81-110, pg. 154, provision of existing regulation, not included]

I oppose the proposed elimination of the current requirement that IEP progress reports be provided for students with disabilities at least as often as periodic report cards are provided to non- disabled students. There is no justification for the change in providing progress reports to students with disabilities less frequently than they are provided to students without disabilities. In fact, recording and sharing data about students with disabilities is vital in documenting the student’s measurable progress.

12. Short Term Objectives [8 VAC 20-81-110, pg. 151]
I recommend the regulations clarify that IEP teams must consider including short-term objectives or “benchmarks” for all students. Unless consideration of these objectives is included on the IEP meeting agenda checklist, these useful tools will go unused, much to the loss of students with disabilities for whom benchmarks are necessary to determine if their educational program is actually working. As every good teacher knows, reaching IEP goals is unlikely without short-term objectives.

13. Prior Written Notice [8 VAC 20-81-170, pgs. 201-202, provision of existing regulation, not

I strongly oppose the proposed limitations in relation to current regulation on when schools need to provide Prior Written Notice. Prior Written Notice is one of the few ways that parents can get their questions answered by reluctant schools before entering the procedures leading to due process and must not be chipped away from the existing rights of parents in Virginia. Prior Written Notice not only protects parents, it also protects schools.

14. Due Process Hearing System [8 VAC 20-81-210, pg. 234-264]

I strongly oppose removing appointment of due process hearing officers from a list maintained by the Supreme Court of Virginia and shifting responsibility for the entire hearing system exclusively to VDOE. The proposed change presents a possible conflict of interest and would improperly create a non-independent judicial system which could not guarantee the impartiality of hearing officers that is required by IDEA.

Furthermore, I oppose the elimination of the current requirement to develop and submit an implementation plan following the rendering of a due process decision or the withdrawal of a hearing request. The proposal that VDOE be provided by the LEA, upon request, with documentation that the area(s) have been corrected is only an after-the-fact requirement upon school divisions. Parents would no longer have the assurance of written guidance or timelines so that they know when to expect corrections to occur and ensure their child receives FAPE. Implementation plans ensure that changes are made in an effective and timely manner.

15. Special Education Advisory Committee Guidelines [8 VAC 20-81-230, pg. 273-274]

LEA participation on local advisory committees:
I oppose the change in the proposed regulations that would allow LEA personnel to act as voting members on local advisory committees. A conflict of interest would prevent LEA employees
from acting in a truly independent capacity. In addition, the proposal thwarts the purpose of the advisory committee, which is to offer honest critiques of the LEA’s special education policies and programs. It is hard to see how a member of the advisory committee who also works for the LEA could operate effectively if the member had to consider his or her employer when weighing in on committee deliberations, decisions, and recommendations.

Gender and ethnic restrictions on membership of local advisory committees:
I opposs the proposed requirement that local advisory committees reflect the gender and ethnic makeup of the local school division. This proposed requirement is highly discriminatory against women in their roles as advocates for their children. Women also make up the majority of professionals in education and volunteers on local PTAs. Such a gender requirement is not imposed upon LEAs in hiring administrators, teachers and other professionals, nor is this gender requirement typically made of other school board advisory committees.

I further oppose the proposed requirement that local advisory committees reflect the ethnic makeup of the local school division. This requirement is so vague as to be unusable. For example, in many areas of Northern Virginia, the ethnic diversity is so broad that it is not uncommon to see more than 50 different cultures represented in a single school. Even if the appropriate volunteers among parents of children with disabilities could be found, a local advisory committee that contained a representation of every ethnic group in the City of Fredericksburg would create an entity whose size would completely paralyze and render it useless. Additionally, parents and guardians do not necessarily share ethnicity with their children or the children for whom they are advocating (such as foster children), so even if all parents volunteered, the ethnic makeup of the school division may not be represented, depending on how it is to be determined.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Our Day at the Zoo

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Alex Barton Update 4

A lawsuit would likely be successful- but I hope the school district has the good sense to start training its teachers and staff now, rather than waiting for this to get to the courtroom. I hope they put supports in place for teachers who have special needs students in their classrooms- appropriate supports, not a police officer. I hope they start putting supports in place for students who are in the process of being evaluated and served by special education, so that they don't get lost in the gap.

I have stopped reading the "letters" about Alex Barton. Not only do the letters themselves put up my blood pressure, but the comment section makes me positively see red. It's not just ignorance. It is a display of positive malice towards people with disabilities and people with autism, and venom towards their parents who are advocating for them. The fountains of malevolence, spite, and vitriol are just mind-blowing. It makes you want to find out who these people are, write down their information, and make sure you not only avoid their company, but make sure you are not giving them business or otherwise supporting their hatred.

How does one educate people who have no point of reference to connect? The whole human thread thing doesn't seem to work, as they don't seem to see autistic people or disabled people as... well, people. They are some "Other" outside their existence. This is both the cause and the legacy of colonialism- seeing people who are different as Other, instead of as people.

The outpouring of sheer, unadulterated hatred that has resulted from this situation is something that strikes fear into my heart for Joey. People really do see autistic children as spoiled, horrible brats who need to be humiliated, abused, and isolated. I have become hardened to the judging glares of others since I started this blog (and I think they have diminished because Joey's frustration has gone down and his self-regulation has improved, so less people notice anything odd about him), but letters like these are stark reminders that these feelings are there, that one must be careful not to "brand" a child with a label (instead of having the label as a tool for support), and that, ultimately, there are a lot of stupid, nasty people out there.

Thank you for not being one of those people.

Vignettes of Summer

"Come be a bus driver!" Joey sticks his head in the door and invites me to join their world. I glance around the kitchen. Half of it is gorgeous, because I have hepl these last couple weeks, trying to get a handle of something in my life. The other half is a disaster. And my help is due any minute.
"Be Ms. Frizzle?" the voice calls in again. I turn to that little face, who on most days would be absent at this hour- at school. He's six years old now. He looks tall. Well, he is tall. Growing up fast.
Kitchens can wait. I turn obediently into Ms. Frizzle. Outside.

We have some minutes to kill before speech therapy, so I decide it might be a good chance to drop by A.C. Moore and get some stickers and art supplies. The boys chatter behind me.
"No Miss Nikki today! No Miss Janine today!"
"I'm a T-Rex! RAWR!"
"OK, guys, here's the plan. Are you listening?" I put the L-sign to my ear to make my point and grab attention. It semi-works.
"Listen! I want listen! No listen! No hear!"
"Aer you listening? Here's the plan, guys. We are going to go to the craft store and get some stickers. Then we are going to go see Miss Nikki."
"No Miss Nikki today."
"Yes, Miss Nikki today, sweetie. So we're going to the craft store, then to Miss Nikki."
"The store? What store?"
"The craft store. We're going to buy some stickers."
"The crap store?"
HIs Dad would be so proud.

Andy and I sit in the waiting room, waiting for Joey's return. He taps my head.
"GOOSE!" He squeals as I get up to chase him around the island of chairs.
"Duck," I tap him on the head.
"Say GOOSE!"
"Duck." He giggles. "Duck."
"Say GOOSE!!!"
"Penguin." More giggles. "Duck. Duck. Monkey. Swan. Panda."
"Say GOOSE!" he squeals and giggles.
"GOOSE!" and we're off.
The other lady in the room just glares at us. She is completely missing the fun, poor lady.

One great challenge here remains getting Andy to eat, especially at dinner. Conventional wisdom about just letting the child go hungry (well, not eat) doesn't help much- Andy would happily go hungry at dinner, and spend the rest of the night screaming about being hungry (until food is presented- then he'll happily not want to eat again.)
So tonight is leftover night. Curry Chicken salad with asparagus, Indian chicken, chili casserole, or peanut butter and jelly... naturally, both boys choose PB&J. But I fool 'em- I use multi-whole-grain bread. Then i slice up some watermelon, and voila! Dinner.
I start heating up leftovers for JoeyAndyDad and I, as the boys settle into the evening meal. Andy is jumping on the trampoline, Joey is intent on the food. Drinks are fetched. Plates are heated. I get to sit down. JoeyAndyDad gasps.
"I think that's the first time Andy has finished first."
I look over at Andy's plate. It's cleaned. Joey is still chewing on a sandwich quarter. JoeyAndyDad and I have hardly started. Not only is the first time Andy's ever finished first, I think its the first in retrievable memory that he's even taken a single bite before the rest of us have finished.
"Want dessert! Want cake!" he announces proudly from the trampoline.
Cake it is.

What is up with bubble gum?

When I was a kid, bubble gum was the bane of parental existence. I liked bubble gum OK, and it was fun, but there were some kids I knew who chewed it extensively, as Violet Beauregarde extensively. Kids blew bubbles big enough to stick to their hair, smacked it and popped it, and made it crackle in class. It came in packs. It came with trading cards. It came in little balls. It was everywhere.

Joey, and increasingly Andy, do well at focus and calming with bubble gum. Regular chewing gum is not as good; you need the soft square consistency to get the desired effect. The liquid-filled crap is right out. The oral heavy work is calming, stabilizing, and organizing.

To our surprise and grief, bubble gum is becoming increasingly difficult to find. For a while we got it at Target, and that was fine. They had the yummy chocolate kind, and Joey really liked that. Then Target switched to the yucky liquid-filled kind and no more chocolate; we went to CVS and found our treasure, though only in strawberry or watermelon. So be it. But now they've gone to tape or liquid-filled. So the hunt is on... where to find bubble gum in a consistent supply? Why doesn't any one store sell the whole selection of bubble gum? Am I going to be reduced to ordering it online, where you have to buy it in bulk (I wasn't thinking I was going to need to make a sudden $75 investment in bubble gum!) (*note: the investment is because generally, sites offer free shipping at that amount. Otherwise, the shipping is the same as the cost of a whole box of gum...)

So what's the deal? Are kids not chewing bubble gum anymore? Is ther some kind of bubble gum strike? Why can't I get my hands on regular, yummy, not-stale bubble gum???

Monday, June 16, 2008

Boys at home

We've been to the park today. We've played in the yard. We've watched a couple episodes of Magic School Bus.

It's just after 11:30 in the morning.

I'm hoping to get the pool out this afternoon. Ah, the full days of summer are upon us.

When I was young, summer days were spent by the river, after a morning in the garden. My Dad loved to till the garden, but then all the work was left to us- the planting, watering, weeding, picking, etc. My mom did a good job of making the work part fun. My Dad had a knack for extolling the virtues of something, doing the fun part of it, then expecting the work to be done by somebody else.

Sometime it left everybody feeling like the Little Red Hen. Only you weren't the one who found the seed; Dad handed it to you and said, "Let me know when the bread's out of the oven."

Sometimes he didn't even want the fun part. He'd get all grumpy because there was fun to be had, or refuse to do the fun because it wasn't his idea. I assure you that there is little more annoying than to be trying to have fun and have some grumpy person scowling at you the whole time, or suggesting something fun, only to be told off. How dare we think of something fun?

So a lot of summer days were spent in the woods. Wading in the river, lying on the moss, these places were safe to have fun of your own invention. And not a weed in sight.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Daddy Day!

We love you, Dad. Here's to lots of days and lots of adventures with you!