Saturday, January 10, 2009

Long Days Without Posting

My apologies for the spotty posting. 'Tis the beginning of a new semester, and I go back to the classroom at GCC for the first time in four years. I also return to UMW with Arts of the Buddhist World, which has had a three-year hiatus (I taught Arts of Asia two springs ago, and Arts of the Silk Road last spring). Everything has needed updating, refreshing, and digitizing. We also had return to school with the usual bumps and lumps. Oh, and I had to take my Christmas decorations down. I really haven't had much time to think, and less to write. I have to have some time, my computer, and my brain working all at the same time. that hasn't been happening much.

But never fear. It will all calm down soon. Then I'll get to write about it. Maybe.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

For the want of a fastener

Usually when Joey gets home, the Witching Hour begins. They both want to play a game, but neither want to share any of the parts or toys or pieces. It isn't good enough for each of them to have a computer, they want to be on the same computer. One things they hardly ever do is go over to the craft table and start making anything beyond maybe drawing or writing with magic markers.

With all the Christmas stuff out, I have most of the craft stuff put away, and blocked off by other stuff we usually have out, but right now needed out of the way for Christmas. So- you guessed it- today they wanted to make stuff. Andy wanted to make stick puppets (guess where the sticks are?) and Joey wanted to make a paper-plate clock. I managed the plates, but not the construction paper Joey wanted to make the hands. Then came the ultimate offense.

In order to make a paper plate clock, the hands have to be held on by a fastener thing, a little brass or steel thing that you put through the hole of loose-leaf paper, then it butterflies out like a mollybolt to hold the papers together. This lovely little device allows the hands to move while attached to the plate.

I don't own any.

The meltdown was immediate, but thankfully quicker than usual, and I got him to use his words to ask to go to the store to buy one. Into the car and off to Staples we go! Certainly the one store on earth that will have paper fasteners, right?


Three stores later, and we still have no paper fasteners. I have distracted him with a plastic schoolbus from the Roses(its closing, so it was a whopping fifty cents) and a playdate with Max and Charlie and Jack (which we were late for, looking for fasteners), but no clock. What am I going to do?

FRIDAY UPDATE: I found some very expensive ones at A.C.Moore. Joey got to make his clock today!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Bubblewrap Is Your Friend

Monday, January 05, 2009

For Stimey

Once there was a rabbit preparing for an IEP meeting. She was busy outside her hole, digging up reports, franticly reading articles and books, and trying to find out what her baby bunny needed to be successful in school. As she was looking through all of her papers and books and websites, an administrator fox came up to the rabbit with jaws open wide.

"Haha!" said the fox, "I am going to eat you up!"

"Oh, please, Mr. Fox, don't eat me yet," the rabbit pleaded. "I just need to get through this IEP meeting so my baby bunny will get the services she needs to be successful at school."

"Oh, hoho!" the fox replied. "I won't fall for that. You'll never get the services you need, because there isn't enough money in the school to pay for them!"

"But the law says budget concerns cannot be used to turn a student down for services. Besides, these services will save the district money in the long run. Come on down into my hole, and I will show you all the calculations I have done to prove it."

The fox was incredulous, but he followed the rabbit down the hole. He was never seen again.

A few days later, the rabbit was again busily preparing for the IEP meeting. She was surrounded by letters from specialists, generalists, and therapists. She had three-ring binders stuffed with paperwork, carefully organized. She was working on a powerpoint presentation about her baby bunny's needs, strengths, and supports. As she was busily preparing, a school coyote appeared from the bushes with mouth open wide.

"Haha!" said the coyote, "I am going to eat you up!"

Oh, please, Ms. Coyote, don't eat me yet," the rabbit pleaded. "I just need to get through this IEP meeting so my baby bunny will get the services she needs to be successful at school."

"Oh, hoho!" the coyote replied, "I won't fall for that. You'll never get the services you want, because we can't hire any more personnel for the school year, and we have no one qualified to provide these services!"

"But the law says you need to provide an appropriate education in the least restrictive environment," the rabbit explained, "These services are needed for my bunny to participate in an appropriate environment. Come on down into my hole, and I will show you all the data I have collected to prove it."

The coyote was incredulous, but she followed the rabbit down the hole. She was never seen again.

The following week, the rabbit was sitting on her front porch, having a glass of wine, waiting for little bunny to come home from school. Her friend squirrel saw her and stopped to chat.

"How did the IEP meeting go?"squirrel asked politely, and prepared for the onslaught of commentary. But Rabbit smiled broadly and offered her friend a celebratory glass of wine.

"The meeting was great, We got the services little bunny needs, and she is already doing much better at school. Come down and have some wine!"

So squirrel followed the rabbit into her hole, which though not exactly tidy, was comfortable enough. To one side of the cozy living room was a pile of fox bones. To the other side was a pile of coyote bones. And in the back, stretched out in front of a cozy fire, was a large Advocate Lion.

Moral of the story: the schools may give you all sorts of crazy reasons to not provide services, even if you do all the work to prove the services are needed. What really matters is having the right advocate/lawyer on your side.

Break Ends

After three rather hairy days, the boys were perfect angels yesterday. Hallelujah.

I know I tend to blog about this after every single break, but... I never wanted to be one of those moms who moan and groan about how long breaks are. I wanted to be having so much fun with my kids when they were home that I would be as disappointed about the return to school as they were. And in some ways, I am; after all, both boys love school, so they aren't disappointed about going back.

I am also not groaning about break being 16 days this year instead of 12-14 for the same reasons as others who groan. I don't really want to relinquish my children; if I thought they would like it, I would cuddle them at home every day forever. Or take them all over the place. I'm not ready to return them to school to get them away from me, because I feel I have better things to do (what could be better than boy squishing, 24/7?)

I groan because I see what it does to them to have so long away from routine, schedule, and learning.

In my short summer break, I do everything I can. I will be saving my pennies this year to take them to Wakefield, to Williamsburg, to Maymont, to Colonial Beach, to the zoo, to the Baltimore Aquarium, to the farm, anywhere and everywhere I can think of. Keep them moving, keep them engaged, keep them having fun, and everything is wonderful. Winter break is different. Being outside is harder, because it is colder, or rainy, or you are trying to get decorations up and down. Everyone else is having the same problem, so they are crammed into the same indoor activities you are trying to get into, and the boys don't do well with crowds. Trying to get them to do crafts and things at home is a bit of a challenge. Andy is better about doing things than Joey (it takes more effort for Joey to be successful, so he prefers other things at home- like his beloved and predictable computer games from Noggin and Starfall.)

Consequently, with no schedule, no routine, everything in holiday upheaval, we end up with major meltdowns, long whiny days, and general malaise that is not good for anybody. An extra three days of a break means my boys have three extra days of being unhappy and uncomfortable, three extra days of me trying to schedule and structure, and failing.

I gotta figure this out. We can't be doing this every Christmas break for the next 12 years.