Friday, April 30, 2010

oh help

Just a quick update:

I went to Samuel's school today and observed him in his small group kindergarten class as well as in the regular ed class. His teacher has had him going in to the regular class a few times this week for writing time to see how he would do.

So. It is always just so hard.

I was proud of him for participating in his own classroom. He raised his hand and volunteered some answers, which was great. His teacher said he is definitely talking more. Voluntarily and not just in answer to direct questions and that's good. He is on "grade level" for math and reading. I put that in quotes because I feel like meeting the benchmark doesn't necessarily mean he is where "most" kindergartners actually are. But that is definitely good. He is behind in his writing. And markedly behind in his speech and social skills.

In the reg ed class, as I sat there and watched him, I had to fight back tears the longer I sat there. I hate how that still does it to me. Seeing him so uncomfortable in a group. Seeing him so anxious. Seeing how much he doesn't really act like his peers. He looked small and out of place. And I know he might have just been feeling shy about being in a class and routine that he is not as familiar with. Any child would, I know. But he sat at the table and just looked around, and fiddled with his tongue, and didn't even do any work at all without repeated prompting from the teacher. He looked so lost.

Anyway - ugggggghhhhhh. For the record, though, I found it very very helpful to go and observe him in the classrooms and then ask his teacher if that is typical behavior for him. I can compare that to what I see at home and have a much broader understanding of how he is doing. So I am glad I put up the fight!! So there!!

Next week I will go observe a kindergarten class at the charter school. Just as another comparison, should we decide to put him in first grade over there. He got a spot for next year. We just have to let them know if we want to keep the spot. ASAP. haha.

And then next Thurs will be the official placement meeting. Hopefully I will come out of the meeting feeling good about whatever decision we come to, confident that I am doing what's best for my little boy. We can hope, right?

Prayers, thoughts, wishes, good vibes, or whatever else you can do on our behalf as we go into this meeting, are certainly welcome and appreciated.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


I've been a little grumpy lately.
This isn't helping.
chocolate anyone?!?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

and all to be able to sit in a classroom

So. My apologies to those of you who are getting a double dose of this saga through my facebook status updates and then now through my blog posts (which will eventually also make their way to my facebook page). I just feel the compulsive need to summarize the whole ordeal in one place. So here we are.

I've talked about the ordeal of figuring out placement for Samuel in school next year and how difficult of a decision that will be. I have already been in turmoil about it for months now. He doesn't really seem to "fit" anywhere - there is no "ideal" placement. But next week I will meet with his IEP team (normally his teacher, speech therapist, principal, a representative general education teacher, and me) to discuss and make a decision. So, to be able to have my own opinion to contribute, I have felt (and also been advised by others) to go in and observe Samuel in his class and also observe a general ed kindergarten to get an idea of how he is doing, behaving, participating, interacting, and be able to compare that with how a typical "mainstream" kindergartner is behaving, participating and interacting. This seems reasonable, right?? I thought so.

Franky, I dreaded doing it. First because it is always uncomfortable to arrange for these things and go do it. And I have to find babysitters for Elisabeth - which is stressful for me. But I geared myself up for it and asked his teacher if I could do this.

She wrote back and said the principal wasn't comfortable with me observing another class, because of confidentiality and ethical reasons. So. I called the principal to see what the school policy on observing classrooms is. I then called the Special Ed Dept of the school district - who referred me to the Student Services dept - who referred me to somebody else - who referred me to someone else. I don't even remember everyone I talked to. But between secretaries, and voice mails, and phone tags, and transferring my call to someone else, and waiting for return calls etc etc., it had taken me an entire morning and I had talked to at least 6 separate people. And have I mentioned how much I really really hate making phone calls?!? I really. truly. hate. making phone calls. So all this stuff just isn't easy for me.

Anyway - I was finally told that there is nothing that would prevent me from going in to observe a regular ed class. I was also told, as I asked in passing, that I should be able to observe my own child in his sp ed class, even though there are confidentiality requirements. So then. More phone calls to the principal to finally arrange a time for me to go into a mainstream class.

This morning I wrote a note asking Samuel's teacher when I could come observe him in his own class. She wrote back saying the principal said I can't do that - and that the special ed district people supported that decision. HUH!?! I can't go observe my own child in his class?!? What the heck?!?

So, I called the principal again, practically in tears because I am so shocked that they are telling me I can't do this. She said because it's special ed and these kids have IEP's, I can't go in and just watch. I can go in and help with a party, for instance, but not just watch. Ummmmmm . . .
But she said she'd call the district again.

And I called my neighbor who is highly involved in state special ed stuff and she told me that's ridiculous.

And the principal called me back and said that they would like to "recommend" that I go in and help as a teacher's helper and not just sit and watch which "might make the kids uncomfortable." I mentioned that it would be really difficult for me to watch my child and take notes on what he's doing if I'm "helping." But, she didn't really comment on that. And then she said they would also like to have someone else (such as herself) come in with me and explain things to me as we observe. My thought was "wouldn't it be more distracting to have someone talking to me during their class time rather than just have me watch silently by myself?" But I felt like I had made enough objections already and I was feeling like I was putting up a big stink already, so I let that point slide. Bottom line is, I can do it after all.

And I just sort of wondered, wouldn't it have avoided a lot of confrontation if she had checked with the district when I asked, before telling me no, if she wasn't completely sure, instead of telling me flat out "that can't be done" when that clearly wasn't the case?? It makes me angry that I had to put up such a fight to be able to do something that really shouldn't have been an issue in the first place.

She also gave me a long lecture on confidentiality and that if she lets me do this, it also means the other parents would have the same right and I need to know that other parents might be seeing my child, too. Well, duh! I just told her that I would assume that's a given that any parent would be allowed in the classroom at any time. I understand there is confidentiality, esp with IEP's. I guess some parents wouldn't want anyone else to know their child is receiving special education services or something. I really don't know. But, seriously? As a parent, I just cannot even fathom being told I can't come in and watch what is happening in the class. I know it's a little awkward and might be distracting. But it just needs to be an option. Always.

And then she said she needed to remind me that placement is a team decision anyway and not just mine, which I felt to be a little offensive. It is my understanding that it is still my prerogative at any point to refuse services, or to disagree, or that my opinion really matters in these decision meetings. And if I am to have anything to contribute to the discussion then I need to know what's happening in the class. I need to be able to see for myself and form my own opinion. Doesn't that seem reasonable??

Anyway - that's it. I guess I'm done now. I'll write more after I actually go in and observe, of course while maintaining the confidentiality of any other students (don't attack me on that point, please). I just really don't do well with this kind of thing. Confrontation makes me shake and cry, actually. So it's been a difficult ordeal.
Oh well.
Thanks for listening. I feel better now.

Monday, April 26, 2010


I think I've discussed this topic before, or at the least something very much like unto it. It seems to lurk in the back of my mind constantly, and then occasionally it comes to the forefront of my thoughts and I can't seem to shake it for awhile.
It's been on my mind for awhile now.

And as much as it pertains to raising a little boy with some "special needs" of various kinds, it also pertains to myself and my own limitations and challenges, which I sometimes allude to. So this might be a little confusing as I jump back and forth and talk about a lot of different things without actually telling you much of anything in the way of details. Sorry. I just wish I could figure it out.

The question is this:
when do you accept your own limitations and when do you make yourself stretch?
when is backing off and saying "I can't" the only sensible smart thing to do and when is it just making excuses?
when do you accept that your child has differences and will not be a certain way - and when are you just using this kind of thinking as a crutch?

Have you ever dealt with a situation like that? What do you do?

I can certainly see and agree that we want ourselves and our kids to reach their full potential - we want to improve and learn in all areas of life - and we want to know that we are capable of doing "hard things." If a person has a disability, we want them to learn how to do everything everyone else does. We want them to be seen as "normal" as much as possible.

Just as an example: let's say you have a child born blind. 100% blind. Of course you do all you can to help them learn to get around without being able to see. You want them to know that this doesn't have to be a limitation in terms of what they can do in life. There are accomodations. There are modifications to activities. There is help.
But the fact remains, doesn't it? That your child cannot see. Nothing changes that. At some point you have to accept this. You mourn all that this child will never see, never really appreciate, will never really do, will never be like everyone else.

So then. When I look at my own challenges and those of my kids - I always have to wonder. Am I asking them - am I asking myself - to just stretch and grow? Or am I asking them to do something they simply cannot do? Which parts am I using as a crutch, to keep on going as I'm used to doing and not have to change what could be changed? And which parts are the reality of what is? That sometimes it's just the best we can do.
Because try as we might to insist otherwise, asking a blind child to look and see is just setting everyone up for frustration and failure. Isn't it?

What do you think?!?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Isaac is 9!!

(Isaac got his gifts from Grandma B over the weekend together with Elisabeth's party, so I put this pic first)

And here is what our favorite nine yr-old looks like when we try to get him to smile for the camera:

And Zac bought trick candles for him. I don't even know why it was so funny - but it was pretty funny.

ohhhh - a Percy Jackson and the Olympians Guide!

And have you ever seen a kid get so excited by a lamp?! No, neither have I.

Anyway, I think he had a great birthday (despite some difficulties of my own).

And speaking of which, I'm not sure what to think of not getting any comments whatsoever on that last poem I posted. haha - Speechless, eh?
Oh well.
more later . . .

she's the cutest Thing ever

Abigail was in her school play last week called The Magical Library of Wonders. It goes through a little adventure of all genres of books - her scene was The Cat in the Hat. And she was . . . Thing 4!

I was so impressed by how well she did on stage. She spoke loud and clear and looked really excited to be there. It's just so unlike me and Zac who would do just about anything to avoid having to be on a stage. She just soaks it up!! She came home so happy and hyper. Anyway - we're proud of the great job she did. She's such a cute Thing. :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

because it feels safer to quote someone else's thoughts than to try to tell you my own

by Natalie Neiman
Slowly, it catches you off guard and knocks you
off your feet and you
are sucked up by a huge funnel and security
and safety are
whipped out from under you and the
wind beats
against your weary body and you want sure
footing but instead you spin through
the air with your arms and legs flailing
about wildly and fear has eaten a hole
through your heart and it is ripped and
trickling and you want to scream but
the sound is crammed in your
stomach and you can't figure out why
or how this is happening all you know is
that you want to go home and crawl
into bed and never get out
and the world is spinning
and everything you touch
melts away and everything
is moving so fast and
your brain can't keep
up and you spin
and spin until you
end up at the
And you wish you could live again.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Elisabeth is Four!!

Elisabeth celebrated her 4th birthday over the weekend!

She wanted a blueberry cake - so those are frozen blueberries stuck on top. It was pretty tasty.

And she is just too cute, isn't she??

She got some roller-skates and some other fun stuff, too.

Grandma B gave her some fabulous dress-up clothes that she got at DI.

We had a fun afternoon with family that came over to celebrate with us. The weather was gorgeous and it was a very happy day. :)

(And one more April birthday to go! hehe)

just a peek: to be happy #1 (Happiness Project)

Here's a little video ad for Gretchen Rubin's book, The Happiness Project, which I read and enjoyed. Just to give you a little taste of it. :)

This is one of her "key principles to remember" in her personal quest for happiness:

The days are long, but the years are short

Sometimes it just feels to impossible to remember - in these difficult days of parenting. And sometimes I panic at the thought of how quickly my children are growing. For me, I try to remind myself that I am just doing the best I can, with these long days and short years. And I hope I don't look back someday and chide myself for not doing more, being more, being better. I want to remember that I did the best I could with the challenges I was given. Even though it never seems like enough. This is all I can do.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Random Saturday

(first off, a pic of Elisabeth and her cute friend Elijah. I hear there are a handful of other girls with dibs on his early betrothal, but well, we'll just have to wait and see now, won't we.) ;)

Here's a list of things I found in Samuel's "play" backpack the other day (along with some actual toys and game pieces):

- a bar of soap
- one D battery
- 10 dry erase markers
- a lint brush
- a Christmas ball ornament
- 2 tennis balls
- a reusable ice pack
- an old blank cassette tape

Is it any wonder I can't keep things under control around here??

I've realized that if I make a list at the beginning of the week of things I think I should be able to do in one day, I might be able to accomplish it all by the end of the week. For instance, last Mon. I woke up and was disgusted by how gross my kitchen floor was. It desperately needed to be mopped. And finally - on Fri. - I mopped it. I guess I can just be glad I got it done eventually. But really, I am so discouraged sometimes by how much I stink at my life. And it has to do with much much more than just housework.

And then even though I am discouraged and frustrated, I can't seem to do the things I know I need to do to actually change anything about it. Am I just lazy?? I really don't know. Sometimes I wonder.
Sometimes I am more patient and understanding with myself.
Lately, I just don't know what to think about myself. You'd think I'd be used to it by now. This whole being me business.
But sometimes, I am still just so easily thrown off balance.

Anyway - the leaves on my trees are finally bursting from their buds. YAY!! That has made me quite happy to see.
But my allergies have also gone berserk and that has made me not so happy.

I guess maybe I could blame my foggy brain and confusion on my itchy eyes and constant sneezing, but I don't know for sure if that's the cause.

I'm just not doing as well as I would like with just about everything I can think of. I would like to get things in order. Feel good about things. Even just a few key things. There are a lot of things I would like to change, if I could. If I could muster enough energy and courage and determination. It seems I am lacking in those things. Motivation has gone completely AWOL.

So. This post has not turned out to be what I thought I was intending on it being. But yeah . . . When does anything turn out to be what you thought it was going to be anyhow?

And here's my random 10 ipod shuffle for today's random thoughts (just for fun):
1. Silence 17 - They Might Be Giants
2. String Quartet in E minor - Mendelssohn
3. Me in Honey - REM
4. Justice and Mercy Underscore - Book of Mormon Video Soundtrack
5. Wind in Trees - Kado Music
6. Five Get Overexcited - The Housemartins
7. Concerto No. 6 - Corelli
8. Letterbox - They Might Be Giants
9. Ignoreland -REM
10. The Plot Thickens - Shadowlands Soundtrack

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reading Round-Up - Feb and March 2010

Ahh, my reading round-ups. We have such a love-hate relationship. I love talking about the books I've read. I do. But it is so hard to keep up on it. I hate falling behind. :(
And I have been working this post for an entire week. It's labor intensive!

Anyway, here's the list of books I read in Feb and March with some commentary and/or quotes added in when I feel like it:

1. The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal - Renee Trudeau
Some really nice ideas on things to contemplate and think through as far as balancing self and family. Some good stuff. Some not so new ideas. Here are some quotes:

"Being is as important as doing." - Renee Trudeau

"The purpose of our lives is to give birth to the best which is within us."
- Marianne Williamson
2. Yours Ever: People and Their Letters - Thomas Mallon

I heard of this book on NPR, I believe, and knew I had to read it. It was a great read and made me appreciate the letters I've saved even more. I love letters. I think that some of the most important people in my life are bonded to me through letters, most notably the 3 yrs of weekly letters that Zac and I wrote each other. And there are other people, too.

It is funny to me how much I cherish people's handwriting. I am as much attached to it as I am to their face. It is part of who they are. Part of what I associate with them. Part of what I love. I still ask Zac to hand write me notes now and then because it is an important part of our relationship, to me. And if you want to be my friend forever, just write me letters and I am yours. Especially nowadays when we are slaves to the convenience of electronic correspondence, I would treasure a handwritten letter over just about anything you could ever give me. So now you know. :)
And, anyway, this book referenced this next one which I sought out and wanted to read and also loved:
3. 84, Charing Cross Road - Helene Hanff
This was one of my favorites that I've read recently. It is the non-fiction account, or a collection really, of letters written between Hanff in NY and a bookseller in London for about 20 yrs. First, I was just so touched by the relationship they formed and maintained strictly through letters over those many years. They were funny and poignant and real. It was a really great story.

4. The Happiness Project - Gretchen Rubin

If you read my Goodreads reviews, you already know that initially this book put me in a bad mood. All this pressure to be happy was just too much for me. hahaha. As I continued to read though, I was able to view it more in the light it was intended. That is, do whatever you want with it and make yourself happy. I actually have a lot of thoughts on some of the ideas she presented and I have toyed with the idea of posting some more along these lines.

One of the great quotes I wrote down was this:

"Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing." - Yeats

I think that explains why some things that are really hard nevertheless bring us happiness. And why our relationships make us happy. So many things fall under that, actually. It's pretty all-encompassing. And it has helped me to reconsider the things I think bring me happiness by asking if it is helping me grow in some way. If I can say that it is, then I consider it a keeper.

So, perhaps I'll bring you more "happy thoughts" in the future. Perhaps (I have learned not to make promises when it comes to my blog content). :)

5. The Last Olympian - Rick Riordan
6. The Battle of the Labyrinth - Rick Riordan
7. The Sea of Monsters - Rick Riordan
8. The Titan's Curse - Rick Riordan
I think I've gotten these all out of order as I've arranged and rearranged this list. But these are #2-5 of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (The Lightning Thief being #1). It was a really great series. I liked it a lot and would highly recommend them. Abigail has read them all now and loved it. Isaac is on book 3 and Zac is somewhere in Book 2. I love reading a series together as a family.

9. Out Stealing Horses - Per Petterson
I loved this book for many reasons.
A quote that resonated with me:
"That is one reason for living here. Another reason is being close to the forest. It was a part of my life many years ago in a way that nothing later has been, and then it was absent for a long, long time, and when everything around me suddenly turned silent, I realized how much I had missed it. Soon I thought of nothing else, and if I too were not to die, at precisely this point in time, I had to go to the forest. That's how it felt, and that simple. It still is."

10. Evidence: Poems - Mary Oliver
So. I read a poem of hers on a blog somewhere and wanted to read more. Checked this out from the library and loved it. Some of the poems I loved I have used for this post and this post and this post.

11. The Tale of Beatrix Potter - Margaret Lane

A lovely biography of one of my favorite authors.
A quote:
"Conveying truth by means of fantasy, enlarging our perception of life by poetic means, is one of the highest functions of art, and it is not extravagant to say that in her small and special sphere Beatrix Potter performed it."

12. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
13. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Another terrific young adult series. Captivating and engaging. And those 2 words probably mean about the same thing, I just needed to have 2. ;) I started these without realizing the final book of the trio hasn't been released yet. I usually try to read a series when it's all done so I don't have to wait around and the hype has died down a bit. But ah well. Now I'm anxiously awaiting this final book.

14. For One More Day - Mitch Albom

A quick good read.
One quote:
"But there's a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother's story, because hers is where yours begins."

15. My Life in France - Julia Child
16. Julie and Julia - Julie Powell
We watched the movie Julie and Julia which made me first want to read My Life in France and then I read the book Julie and Julia, too. I enjoyed Julia Child's book quite a bit. She is just so quirky. And being so totally obsessed with food is so foreign to me, it was sort of fascinating. So many different kinds of people in this world! And aren't we glad?!
Julie Powell's book, on the other hand, I could have done without. The movie was quite sufficient. In her book, she uses a lot of strong language primarily for shock effect, it seemed, and I think that's obnoxious. And she seemed intent on comparing all good food to good sex, which, ehhhh . . ., got old real fast. I just wasn't impressed.

17. Aspects of Love - David Garnett
I was curious to read the book that inspired the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical by the same name. Turns out the music pretty much tells the whole story. Not much more to be gained by reading this novella. But that's ok.

18. The Small Rain - Madeleine L'Engle
And you already know I love L'Engle. This was another I hadn't heard of before and thoroughly enjoyed. I'm on a lifelong quest to read all her books. It's quite fun. :)
And there you have it!!
Tell me all about the books on your mind, or any thoughts you have on any of these. Any you might want to read?!
Happy Reading to you all!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

this is what I want

I want to write something so simply
by Mary Oliver
I want to write something
so simply
about love
or about pain
that even
as you are reading
you feel it
and as you read
you keep feeling it
and though it be my story
it will be common,
though it be singular
it will be known to you
so that by the end
you will think -
no, you will realize -
that it was all the while
yourself arranging the words,
that it was all the time
words that you yourself,
out of your own heart,
had been saying.

did I say I was going to post something besides just pictures?!

Nah, not yet. haha. :)
Those are the pics I took at Thanksgiving Point on Sat.
And here are our attempts at Easter pictures. It is sooo hard to get them all looking at the camera and smiling!!

ok, I think I'm caught up on pictures now. Rest assured, I am thinking. And I might be prepared to share some thoughts sometime soon. :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Samuel lost his other front tooth!

Zac's suggestion for this post was "he's still a crazy kid, but his antics have lost their bite." harharhar. I did laugh pretty hard.

So, yes, Samuel has lost his 2 front teeth earlier than his older siblings did and as of tonight, he's got that adorable big gap and cute little lisp. I love it! :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

looking closely: fun with super-macro

Today we went to the Gardens at Thanksgiving Point. I had fun taking these pictures and had to share. A couple of them I really like quite a bit. And the super-macro feature on my camera gives me great joy. :)
And yes, I know I've just been posting a lot of pictures lately. I don't know how you all feel about that, or if you care. Do you miss my ramblings? Like the photos? Like a little of both - photos and ramblings? Or do you just want our daily journalings and kid happenings? I aim to please, so feel free to tell me your thoughts on the matter. Of course, it really doesn't matter and I will probably just post whatever I feel like anyhow. But sometimes it is nice to get input.
Next week I think I will try to post something more substantial. We'll just have to see about that.
See you then . . .
(and PS I also took some pics of my kids at the Garden, too. But I'll save those for another post.) :)

Friday, April 9, 2010

just some more pics of my cute kids

So, yesterday I decided to attempt to salvage our super-boring stinky spring break and take the kids to do something fun. The most important reason for doing so, the sun was shining and the temps were expected to rise up into the high 50's (finally)! So we went over to find the highly recommended Discovery Park.

It was pretty cool. So much fun stuff to do. The only disadvantage was that it was very popular and was also very crowded and sort of nuts. It took a couple deep breaths to remind myself it would be ok . . . but then I let them run off.

I just tried really hard not to think about the fact that this would be the perfect place for a child predator to snatch up a small child, or 2 or 3, without anyone noticing because it was pretty much swarming with crazy kids and parents going crazy trying to keep track of them all. I had Abigail stick with Elisabeth, and Isaac with Samuel, and then I tried to follow them around as much as I could and make sure I could count them all at reasonable intervals. But it was pretty much impossible.

And at one point there was this little blond hair girl I found in tears that I tried to help find her mother. After walking her from one side to the other, I decided it would be best to just sit with her on a bench and hope her mother would come looking for her eventually. And she did - eventually. Crazy place.

But all my kids had fun, with no tears or injuries, no one was misplaced or left behind, and I got some cute pictures of them to boot. It was a fun time. :)

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