Wednesday, April 29, 2009

This is where the magic happens

And here's why I have so many seeds started already, more than two weeks before our average last frost date.

N made me two coldframes out of old storm windows. I think we have old screens, too, which will help keep the rabbits out of my lettuces.*

Naturally, the carrots, chard, radishes, kohlrabi, etc. were started directly in the ground. After all, we're talking about two coldframes, not a TARDIS.

*Have you read Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!? That's me.

Monday, April 27, 2009

In the spring a young(ish) (wo)man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of (gardening)

OK, I have all my seeds started except for the soybeans and corn. I only started one kind of tomatoes this year. I’m taking the kids to buy some other kinds later today.

Whew! Looking at this list, I’m starting to think I might be insane. But then I think of all the salsa and salads and yummy fresh veggie side dishes coming up soon, and I feel content. You know how in cartoons when someone is hungry they look at a chicken and imagine it cooked up and ready to eat? That’s what I see when I look at my tiny seedlings. Big bowls of veg goodness, ready to eat.

Potatoes (Katahdin)
Onions (2 kinds, yellow and white)

Bok choi (2 kinds, baby and adult)

Swiss chard
Lettuce mix
Spinach (2 kinds, new!)
Zucchini (2 kinds, green and yellow)
Bell peppers
Butternut squash (of course)

Soybeans (new!)
Beets (new!)
Bush beans (green beans)
Pole beans (3 kinds, new!)
Eggplants (new!)
Corn (new!)

And not to forget the perennials:
Asparagus (purple)
Chives (massive)

Arugula (new!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

And now for a little something from a grammar snob

There are two kinds of people in the world. Those that think you can divide the world into two kinds of people, and those that don’t.

Also, people who use “it’s” and “its” incorrectly, and those that it drives nuts when the first group does that.

Please, for the love of everything holy, only use "it's" where "it is" would work as well.

Hint: the guy who painted this truck should have asked someone for help first.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

IEP meeting

At the IEP meeting were: 2 principals, the director of special ed, the assistant director of special ed, the school nurse, Nea’s classroom teacher , her speech therapist, the modified instructional kindergarten teacher, a regular kindergarten teacher, and us. Absent were the school social worker and her occupational therapist. Pretty amazing, really. 11 adults sitting around trying to figure out a good placement for one child. On a Friday, starting at 2 pm, during the school musical.

So, first we discussed the evaluations. Then we wrote the goals for next year, and then we figured out where she would best be served to reach those goals. The goals they first presented were pathetic. “Will be able to write 20 out of 26 letters independently.” I mean, she’s supposed to eventually catch up to her peers at this rate? I watched her at school this week, and she wrote her name. I was amazed! She did it just as well as any kid in her private preschool, where she is in with the “entering kindergarten in 2010” crowd. She’s also trying out a red PRC Springboard, which she loves. She had her phone number on a piece of paper, and she typed it into her talker and pressed the bar, and it said her phone number. So, she could answer the teacher just like all the other kids when it was her turn to speak.

Anyway. Our concerns are that she is bright, but will probably have learning disabilities that keep her from moving forward quickly, even as her speech slowly improves. I want her to be challenged academically, but not overwhelmed. I expect that someday she will be fully mainstreamed, possibly without any special services (reading, math). This means that the problem with continuing in Early Childhood and private preschool next year won't move her forward academically enough.

So, we did not come to a decision yet as to her final placement. We meet again in two weeks. Right now, this is our tentative plan.
  • She will attend the modified instructional program at our home school. This is a self-contained K, 1, 2 (combined grades) class.
  • After 30 days, we will review the placement to see whether it seems to be a good fit.
    She will have lunch, art, music, PE with the regular class IF we decide that’s what works best for her.
  • We have the option to bus her to Early Childhood in the afternoons, if we feel she would fit in socially better with the younger kids. Or she can stay all day in the modified program. Or hang out with the regular class. Or she can go home.
  • At the end of the year, we will meet again to decide whether she will repeat Kindergarten (hopefully spending more time with the regular class, with better academic skills) or move forward to first grade.

A big big shout-out to my Core Four, my friends that listened and listened and then (get this!) called me so they could listen some more. You are all that has been standing between me and total insanity. I treasure your friendship and hope to repay you someday.

And a big thank you to Sharon, the parent liaison at Easter Seals, who was pivotal in helping me arm myself with the knowledge I needed to open up more choices for Nea’s future.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I can't take the suspense

25 hours until our IEP meeting. I feel like I'm studying for finals. Did you know Charlie Fox, the famous Chicagoland special education lawyer, has a blog? I just found out. Here's my favorite post thus far. Turns out his wife, Lori Miller Fox, is a children's author.

And the best part of that page? "I don’t care what all the other special needs kids are doing, you’re getting an appropriate education."

Funniest email exchange I’ve had in years

Backstory: our private preschool is having the worst lice incident in over 20 years. The director sent out a 5-page mailing with lice facts, history of this school’s current problem, and a newly revised lice policy, which has been approved by the school’s board. While visiting my friend Kate, we had discussed how I was trying not to worry about having lice come home with Nea, but was quietly panicking, as I think is normal. I had then made a dumb joke about how it couldn’t possibly happen to us. Then I obsessed for a few days about how my close friend might have thought I was a bigoty jerk.

I'm sure I'm being silly, but you knew I was kidding when I said only poor and dirty people get lice, right? You seemed a little taken aback.

Not taken aback in the least. I came to terms long ago with your crude and ignorant personality. ;)

[ 3 days later ]
I'm crude and ignorant?! ** runs off crying **

Wow, I can't even send off my stupid jokes in a timely manner anymore.

Oh, yeah. Crude, ignorant, and sloooooow.

P.S. We do not have lice! Nea gets checked three times a week by a professionally trained teacher at school. Please do not cancel playdates based on this scary info.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Apraxia conference this summer

For those of you near Chicago who have kids with apraxia, the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA) is holding their 2009 Apraxia Summer Conference in St. Charles, IL in July. They have an impressive list of speakers, including Nancy Kaufman and David W. Hammer.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A return to the classics

For next month we will read Emma by Jane Austen. Or we will cheat and choose one of the movie adaptations. Looks like the 1996 version is the most popular.

Monday, April 13, 2009

What to do about a problem called Nea

Ok, back to my regularly scheduled nervous breakdown. The head of the school district's special education department called to tell me that if we don't send Nea to Kindergarten next year, they won’t give her any related services.

In English, this means that she won’t receive any school speech therapy for the entire year. I have My People on the case to figure out if that’s legal. Doesn’t sound legal.

Also trying to scour
Wrightslaw but having trouble finding the right info.

Four days until the IEP. I feel sick.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

And the correct answer was ...

Props to Baywatch for going out on a limb, risking everything, and posting a comment. Very close, there, B. But the correct answer is Tennessee.

When we came back from our whirlwind Smoky Mountain/Atlanta trip, N asked Boo what her favorite part of the trip was. She said swimming in the hot tub. There was a pause and I asked Nea what her favorite part was. She said "Up yellow. Up yellow chair." I used my SuperMommy powers and deduced the following.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Where in the world?

OK, round 2 of where was I when taking these photos? C'mon, take a guess. Just name a state.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Upcoming IEP

Nea's IEP is coming up, April 17th. We will be petitioning to get her in the at-risk kindergarten readiness program, instead of starting kindergarten this fall. She needs another year, especially since her birthday is late June, which would make her one of the youngest if we sent her on time. So, I'm a nervous wreck.

Sometimes I think that I should stop blogging about apraxia altogether, since Rob over at
Fighting Monsters with Rubber Swords says everything better than I ever could. And his kid doesn't even have apraxia!
Part of why I wanted to deliver this speech was to make the case that when empowered, special needs parents become a powerful force for change and progress. "No one is a quicker study," I said, "than the special needs parent." Julie and I couldn't help Schuyler much; we weren't qualified or trained to do so in a meaningful way. But without our persistence and our self-education and our willingness to be a pain in the ass when it was necessary, Schuyler wouldn't have been helped. She wouldn't have had the opportunity to become who she is today, and who she's going to be tomorrow, or in ten years.

And that's not because we're such swell parents and should be lauded for our efforts. It's because that's our job. And if you're a parent of a special needs kid? It's your job, too. If your kid gets into the finest program in the country, or if they end up in some awful place where they get parked in the corner and are simply fed and watered like a plant until they turn seventeen, the fact remains that eventually, they won't be anyone's responsibility but your own.

And when the school can look up at your kid, shrug and say "Not my problem", you as a parent had better not be standing there thinking that it's time for you to get involved. Because by then, it'll be too late. You will have squandered your opportunity to save your child, and you will get to take over the feeding and watering and regretting the wasted years.
from Fighting Monsters with Rubber Swords

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The creative process

I recently spoke with someone that I hadn’t talked to in 12 years. She said, “You were always so creative. Are you still doing watercolors?” My response was “??!?” Watercolors? Really. Eventually I remembered that phase. I’ve also tried out any number of other pursuits. I’m not any good, but it’s fun anyway. Why, just today we did some shrinky dinks. A whole tableful of adults and kids. It’s a good stress reliever, focusing on something artistic. If you can call shrinky dinks art.

Anyway, so, when my niece Heidi was born, I started a quilt-embroidery-beaded sort of project, to be hung on a wall, theoretically. She just turned 3, and I finally pulled it together to finish the thing. Originally it was going to have a bunny, but I thought it might be good to wrap it up before she left for college. As anyone who has tried a new craft technique, it takes a certain leap of faith to complete the process. When the vision isn’t quite clear enough to continue. When failure seems inevitable. Here’s proof that you can pull back out of the inertia, even a couple years later.

Oh, yes, and you aren’t seeing double. I made two, since I thought it would be nice to keep one for ourselves, and making two didn’t seem like it would take too much longer than just one. Which it probably didn’t. It would have taken 3 years either way.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The ones that live with us

Don't we all find it fascinating that we share our homes with animals? So many of us do. I'm allergic to everything furry, so it's fish around here. We have 2 angelfish, 2 pink thingies, 3 spotted catfish, 5 or 6 flashlight tetras, a large suckerfish (a per-something-bus, seen here front and center). I'm probably forgetting some. But the draw for most visitors are our live plants. Those are all real. Crazy, no?

N will have to comment on what we actually have. It's his hobby much more than mine.

Anyway, we recently added a snail. Nea calls him "Nail" and laughs in delight when he moves a few inches and licks the glass clean.