Friday, March 06, 2009

Upcoming Campaigns

The plan is to start some new campaigns around here. Joey is six years old; he'll be seven in April. There are lots of things around the house he ought to be doing, and needs to start learning how to do. I am calling these the "independence campaigns" because they will include skills I believe Joey will need to be independent; things like cooking for himself and caring for his own things. However, I have no idea what seven-year-olds really can do. I am basing these skills on things I was doing at about seven, and remember doing myself at that age. Let me know if any of this sounds unreasonable.

The biggest campaign will be the cooking campaign. I thought I would start easy and rewarding: peanut butter sandwiches. However, we're going to knock it up a notch as well. At the book fair, Joey fell in love with a Sesame Street snack cookbook. I bought it because he was so enamoured with it- mostly with the fact Elmo was on the cover. He's been very into Elmo because of his classmates is very into Elmo, so they've been doing a lot of Sesame Street stuff at school, as well as Andy's new interest in Sesame Street at home. He gets it double-barreled. Then I actually got home and read the book- and it is really awesome. The recipes are simple, and most of them have several child-friendly steps. They are simple enough to include JOey in the prep as well as the actual cooking. Also, the recipes are relatively healthy, and emphasize healthy ingredients. So not only are we going to work on things like preparing his lunches himself, but also more general cooking- following instructions, following steps, and coming out with a yummy reward!

The bed-making campaign will also be starting. Changing Joey's daily routine in this way is going to be a huge deal. however, keeping things in order is going to be an important skill for Joey- especially if he has inherited some of my very poor cleaning and organizing skills. I'm going to have to wade through the sea of toys and cull the things he isn't interested in as well- make sure his things all have a place- so he can put his things there himself. Yep... a clean your room campaign!

Next, dressing. We know he puts on his own shoes at school, so we need to start having him do it at home. With new shoes, we have a ready-made excuse for the new change: you have new big-boy shoes, you need to put them on yourself. We kept the velcro. One thing at a time. However, we also are going to start looking at the buttons and zippers issue. Though he can get through life in pull-up pants, it will be easier if he can do snaps and buttons on jeans. I'm going to alert school on this one. The OT there swore he could do buttons two years ago, but we have yet to see any evidence of it. Its good for his fine motor skills!

And finally: sleeping in his own bed all night. I'll miss waking up with a little guy every morning, but the many nights in the recliner are not good on my back. He needs to be comfy in his own space!

Hmm, writing it down, it suddenly looks like a lot. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: More Snowday Delights

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Happy Spring, Happy IEP Season

Yes, the IEP season is fast closing in on us, and I find myself opening small word files and pulling out spiral notebooks, filling them with lists of things that might need focus in next year's program. I scatter these listing tools throughout the house. This is not just for IEP lists- I have spiral notebooks full of all sorts of lists of things I wanted to remember and needed to do. Then I promptly misplace the notebook. Anyway, I have these tools scattered through the house so that when I notice something needing attention, I can write it down, and try to remember to mention it to Mrs. H so it can be considered for IEP-worthiness.

This is not as easy as it sounds. After all, to me, Joey is Joey. I have no reference to "average" 6-year-olds running around my house for comparison. I have no idea what "average" 6-year-olds do, how they speak, what they like. I am still shocked to hear of first and second graders talking about House (and I'm a Hugh Laurie fan) or even High School Musical; my kids are still on Magic School Bus and Oswald, with a new smattering of Sesame Street. Joey likes Wow Wow Wubsy and Go Diego Go, but he has never watched the shows, he just likes the arcade-style games through the website. Superheroes? Joey doesn't know any. Star Wars? Why do 6-year-olds know about Star Wars??? I thought that was for the 8-to-12 crowd???

Thinking about him in terms of deficits is just not something we do. It takes something very obvious to catch our attention. For example, I have quite a few notes about his speech patterns, especially now that we've had an uptick in original, unscripted speech. Constructing original speech is very difficult for our little Mrs. Who, so all the mistakes in language, which you might expect from someone just learning to speak a language, are coming out in force. I can break them down and write them up into lovely IEP goals to make forming speech easier and more natural-sounding.

Field Day is a good day to come out and observe Joey. I learned this last year, when I felt the shock of seeing Joey in a room full of "average" kindergardeners, and how very different Joey really was. I was invited again to chaperone this year, so i was looking forward to getting an eyeful, and prepared myself for the eyeful. Realizing how hard it is for Joey to function and how much he really does struggle with things other kids find easy- everyday things like running and following a game- is really very hard. But this year, I was ready, I knew this was a tool for me to think about focusing effort and what skills needed more attention.

Then it snowed.

So now I am left to think of other options, other ways of getting the information I need to think about Joey and what he needs. Do I try to visit school while he is in one of his inclusion classrooms? Do I make more notes about issues we see at the park and other public venues? Where else can I get a good look at Joey in "average" contexts? What will these observations tell me? And will I remember where I wrote them down?

Monday, March 02, 2009


Forget that namby-pamby dusting we've been getting the last few years. This, folks, is snow.

I remember as a kid getting two or three of these a year. Once we were even snowed in at my mom's house for a couple of weeks. Wild. So I'm here with two happy, if cold and snowy, boys.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


I'm supposed to be doing a mountain of grading, but I'm grumpy, and it is never fair to grade when grumpy. The fact that a barrage of student idiocy and rudeness is the cause of the grumpiness is beside the point. I just can't do it. It's not fair.

Besides, I've already grumped at my children, grumped at my husband, and grumped at the falling snow. I spent an inordinate amount of time in the grocery store today. When I left the house at 7 am, the forecast said something vaguely about two inches of snow on green areas. By the time I reached my mom's house, following a swimming adventure with Frick and Frack in which Frick was all about swimming and Frack just wanted to scream instead of dipping his face in the water (sometimes I wonder which one is the "special needs" one... perhaps that is something for another post), around 9:30 am, we were expecting 6-10 inches. Its never good when it snows in Atlanta. Only I didn't know we were now expecting a blizzard. I just didn't think twice when my mom asked me to run out and grab groceries for her, because she's been sick and even two inches of snow can be a problem on her dirt road. When I got home after meeting JoeyAndyDad at Chuck E. Cheese (where the boys had a marvelous time, despite the crowd because we got there later than planned) and discovered the new predictions, back to the grocery I went. There is a huge difference between "might have to entertain the boys with snow for a few hours" and "may be stuck in house with boys for two days". (Since we live in the city, I doubt we'll be stuck here longer than that, even if it doesn't immediately warm up.)

Whenever the "s-word" hits the forecasts, people around here go nuts. I went a little nuts myself, buying things like chips and crackers I wouldn't normally buy, and more drinks than usual, but I felt I was kinda prepping for a snow party. The people around me seemed to be stocking up for a major blizzard, as if they expected to be snowed in for the week. Actually, more like for the month. A week's worth of groceries on a Sunday wouldn't be that unusual, except for the huge number of people buying them; but these folks were going crazy. It also was putting off my nice, comfy schedule. This should have been a wonderfully relaxing day: a morning swim, a visit to Grandma's, a fun early lunch at Chuck E. Cheese, then home for an afternoon of cleaning the basement and enthusiastic boy-squishing, followed by a bit of grading after bedtime. Instead, I spent a lot of time crunched with crazed idiots who thought the world was ending, or would if they didn't have a month's supply of toilet paper right now.

I could do a whole blog just on adventures I have in grocery stores.

And instead of getting to read lovely stories about snow to my beautiful boys, I spent an hour trying to solve problems for students who, it turned out, weren't interested in solutions. That makes me really, really grumpy, especially when those students sent me emails of desperation complete with TMI excuses for why their work wasn't getting done, in cranky tones- as if it was my fault they hadn't bothered to do anything earlier in the week when solutions could have been easier to implement. And I still have three weeks' of discussions and two sets of exams staring at me. If I stuck an A on each and every one of them and tossed them back, not one of those students would care. In fact, they'd probably be happy. Who needs to learn stuff, anyway? How depressing is that?

Outside, the snow keeps falling, which means tomorrow's Field Day will likely be cancelled. In fact, I'm likely to have a snow day with my little guys, so I made sure I had hot chocolate with marshmallows on hand. If I don't get to grading soon, my grumpy butt will be stuck grading exams instead of playing in the snow. And that would just suck.