Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Little Idea(s) about School

Two weeks ago I went with The Girl's kindy teacher to hear Patti McVay talk about inclusion.  If you have a child with special needs - any kind - you should listen to her.  Her presentation at the NDSC convention in Denver left me in tears and I started to get choked up again this time but pinched my arm and stared at my shoes till it passed.  She is a true believer in the power of an inclusive education - not just for those with IEPs but for the typical kids too.  She talks about how to make it work with behavior plans, modified work, para support, etc.  Listening to her it all seems quite reasonable, easy even.

She stressed and I have heard over & over again that every study ever done confirms the benefits of inclusion. 

But I get lost in the details.  The fact is my daughter has an IEP because she has certain delays.  She needs extra time and practice to pick things up.  Her biggest delay, of course, is that she's effectively non-verbal and inclusion be damned but I would cut off my own arm if I could get her in 5 hours of speech a day.  I think the answer to that would be she's not going to learn to talk sitting in a back room with a bunch of other non-verbal kids, but she WAS in daycare and preschool with typical kids and the only thing she picked up from them were cold germs.  Be it motor planning or low tone, she's going to have to practice-practice-practice and work 50x harder than other kids to learn to enunciate.   She is using an AAC but in my mind little will affect her ability to be meaningfully included and to eventually live independently more than her ability to speak clearly. 

But I have no idea how to make that happen.  She's already 6 - I don't know if it will happen. 

And 5 hours of speech therapy/day does not make for happy, well-rounded children or fiscally solvent families so...  we're back to the inclusive class.  Thank God for Apple & Proloquo. 

Going into this year, the school and I did try maximize her time with her peers.  We cut PT in half and what's left is push in, half her OT is push in (which the kindy teacher was thrilled about), and I think about half her speech is.  I think Patti would ask why it isn't ALL push in.  And she'd ask why The Girl is still spending time in the SpEd room.  (Or resource room. Or whatever the hell they call it).

At the workshop I asked what the SpEd teacher was supposed to do if kids were 100% included. The answer was co-teaching.  I have no idea what co-teaching looks like.

So I went out to breakfast again with the most fabulous SpEd teacher ever and asked, ever so delicately, what she was doing with my kid.  Last year this teacher gave my child a voice - she's the reason my daughter uses Proloquo.  Did I mention I love her?  This year she's teaching my daughter to read.  And do math.  But, most of all, she is teaching my non-verbal 6 year old to read.  Oh, my heart. 

I have no idea how that happens.  I have no teaching credential or educational theories on my bookshelf but reading is right behind speaking on my list of hopes & dreams for my girl.  I tried to work with my son when he was making an awkward transition from "See Cat Run" to full sentences but only managed to frustrate both of us.  Then his 2nd grade teacher did something magic and it suddenly just clicked for him.  I don't think it will magically and organically click for my girl though. 

One of the sessions I went to at this year's NDSC convention was on teaching kids with Ds to read.  The presenter opened with a story about watching the kid with an IEP get pulled out for "therapy" just as the other kids were sitting down for story time.  Which seems a wee bit counter-intuitive, even to me.  Inclusion, right? 

Except she went on to say that she's never had a person (some were adults) not learn to read, but sometimes it took a LOT of practice.  Annndddd..... we're back in the resource room. 

I laid out my angst on Facebook and the general consensus was that a little tutoring isn't a bad thing (also that calling it tutoring makes it sound better).  Which is the place I keep coming back to too, though I feel guilty for being OK with this knowing how hard other families have fought for a 100% setting.  I have no idea if The Girl's current SpEd/gen ed ratio is ideal for her.  I have no idea how long it will take her to learn to read.  But I DO know both her teachers care about teaching her.  I know that matters.  I hope it matters enough.

Speaking of books, The Boy and I just finished Percy Jackson, which had immediately followed Harry Potter.  We needed to give the magical superpowers a rest before Narnia or The Hobbit and I thought Little House on the Prairie would be nicely grounding.  My copies were given away years ago but I decided we'd skip the library & ordered the full set on Amazon.  I thought they'd be nice to have around... for both my children to read.  They arrived today.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Membership Has Its Privileges

Yesterday I took The Girl 45 minutes into town to get her glasses repaired.  I was annoyed about 5 different things - not the least of which was that we bought her glasses, and the accompanying warranty, 45 minutes away.  The eye center is attached to the hospital… and right around a couple corners from the perinatal center, where we first discovered the extra bit of magic that was to enter our lives.  The Girl likes to run the empty halls on the weekend and invariably tries out this door.  I often think we should come back during the week and hang out.

Because, you know, advocacy.

Or maybe because I have a twisted sense of humor.
As we were leaving, a woman smiled at us and asked how old she was.  And while dealing with the gen pop is not one of my strong suits (talking! strangers!), something in her voice made me smile and slow.  
"She's six."
"My son is… my son was…"
She faltered. 

Her son was 50 but had passed.  She said he was a gift and touched everyone who met him.  

Which was why I was hugging this unnamed woman three seconds after we met, and crying, and kissing my girl, who was alarmed and urgently signing "home."  The long drive and missed appointments and everything else gnawing at me was forgotten.  

We joke about being members of this club, and there are hard things that come with it, but not much else will move me to hug complete strangers.  


Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday, Monday

We had a lovely low key weekend - Matt returned from a 5 day business trip (!), which we survived without any ER visits, all family meals involved fresh produce, which is my new minimalistic parenting goal, and I binge watched Orange is the New Black while folding 354 loads of laundry.  I am happy to have neither committed any felonies, nor to have grown up in foster care.  Perspective, yo.

Other things that are making me happy:

  • I ran 2.5 miles on Friday & another 2 this morning.
  • It finally cooled off, making my morning runs less sauna-like, and more crisp fall, damn-I'm-glad-to-be-alive-like. 
  • That self congratulatory feeling I get when I get my ass out of bed and go running before work. 
  • The Boy and his friend finally tired of Minecraft during Saturday's sleepover… and pulled out a chess set.
  • Bedtime stories and sibling pix.

Things I'm not loving, just to keep it real:

  • That I haven't had the cash to chip in (yet) to the 6 fundraisers for people I actually know & like.  Real people, real friends, not random faceless organizations.  
  • Nor have I bought that shower gift, my brother's birthday/graduation gift, or sent flowers to the 5 people to whom I should send flowers.  
  • That after Friday's whopping 2.5 miles I spent all weekend hobbling around, cursing my feet & middle age.
  • The aforementioned ass.  

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Conversations with my Children, Part III

The Girl, first thing in the morning, signing "cracker."
Me:  "No, sweetie, you can't have crackers for breakfast.  How about cereal?"
The girl grabbing her iPad, emphatically pounds, "[WOMAN!] I WANT CRACKERS!"
Just in case I'd misunderstood her.

The Girl, voluntarily (!) turning off Princess Sofia to switch to Proloquo:  "Snack, I want please."
Me:  "What kind of snack do you want?"
The girl:  "Yogurt, please."

The Girl, signing, "Goodnight, Mommy.  Bye-bye."
Me, surprised at the abbreviated process & picking her iPad to recharge it, "Goodnight, sweetheart."
The Girl starts crying, having realized there would be no midnight showing of Frozen:
"Noooooo!  More book, please?  Snuggle?  Lights out!"

 The Girl, upon hearing we were having (coffee) cake for breakfast, "Candles?"

The Girl, during a thunderstorm, signing:  "Outside? Bikes?"
Me:  "No, it's raining outside."
She grinned and returned a moment later with her rain boots on. 
"Outside? Bikes?"

This is a terrible picture, but she drew out the "Little monkeys jumping on the bed" song and was able to explain it to her para (who kindly provided captions).  

Back in May, at the end-of-kindy IEP, The Girl's school peeps formally announced the goal of communicating her wants and needs through multiple modes across a variety of settings 20x/day over 3 consecutive dates had been met eons ago and needed to be updated.  This may or may not have been followed by a wry look, a chuckle, an eye roll, and a comment about how very glad they are that she was at their school.  Oh, yes.  Yes, indeed.  That goal was a carry over from her preschool.  The school where her principal wondered if she had anything to say. 

Did I mention we were never, ever moving?  

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Reason Enough to Celebrate

It was Saturday, there was coffee cake, which The Girl did not distinguish from regular cake, and she asked for candles.  
I couldn't think of any reason not to. 
Happy Saturday! 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Tiny little bubbles

So I've been thinking about getting back to the roots of this ol' blog and posting a daily picture for the grandparents.
No promises (especially since I had to backdate this one).
I'm also guessing there will be an excessive number of end-of-day PJ shots.
Meh. I'm going to assume you believe they went to school in real clothes.
Outfits aside, damn, they are adorable or what?    
And, yes, they were blowing bubbles inside cause that's the way we roll.  

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Dear children, Sleep. Please
"One more chapter? More snuggles?"
Gets me every time.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My life, in 251 words

My mom sent A.A. Milne in honor of The Girl's 6th birthday and this little gem I found inside makes me laugh and laugh. Back to work today!

I think I am a muffin man. I haven't got a bell,
I haven't got the muffin things that muffin people sell. 
Perhaps I am a postman. No, I think I am a tram. 
I'm feeling rather funny and I don't know what I am--

Round about 
And round about
And round about I go--
All around the table,
The table in the nursery--
Round about 
And round about
And round about I go;

I think I am a Traveller escaping from a Bear;

I think I am an Elephant,
Behind another Elephant
Behind another elephant who isn't really there....

Round about 
And round about
And round about and round about 
And round about
And round about 
I go.

I think I am a Ticket Man who's selling tickets--- please,
I think I am a Doctor who is visiting a Sneeze;
Perhaps I'm just a Nanny who is walking with a pram
I'm feeling rather funny and I don't know what I am--

Round about 
And round about
And round about I go--
All around the table,
The table in the nursery--
Round about 
And round about
And round about I go:

I think I am a Puppy, so I'm hanging out my tongue;

I think I am a Camel who 
Is looking for a Camel who
Is looking for a Camel who is looking for its Young...

Round about 
And round about 
and round about and round about
And round about
And round about
I go.

Monday, September 1, 2014


Yesterday Matt & I spent several hours cleaning the house.  He spent most of that time getting the wine & coffee spots out of our bedroom carpet.  I even scrubbed the walls (dear God, I hope that brown stuff was coffee).

All the laundry was done & folded.  We had a lovely lunch and even cleaned the kitchen after.


By 8:30 this morning I had knocked the sugar bowl off the counter, sending shards of glass and ant crack across the kitchen floor, and the dog puked half digested grass up on the newly clean carpet.

It is slowly dawning on me that the problem around here may not be the underaged humans.