Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween 2008

I was able to snap a few pictures of the boys. Believe me, it wasn't easy.

Moosie finally got to be someone from the Fett family (they were out of Boba, so he settled for Jengo), and Bubba got to be some skeleton biker (No, I was not happy about this or the fact that my parents let him watch Ghost Rider.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What to fight for

Last night, as I tucked in Bubba and Moose, I was already emotionally and physically exhausted. Aunt Piggy and Uncle Guitar Man were in town for a few days, and we had done our annual hike earlier in the day. We pulled the boys out of school and enjoyed each others company in a crisp, cold, relatively beautiful local park.

And then Aunt Piggy and Uncle Guitar Man left us. And I cried. Now they are back home, across the country. And I miss them.

In any case, I talked to Bubba as he tossed and turned. He coughed, and then perked up slightly, "Mom, if I am sick, do I have to go to school?" I firmly told him yes, trying to hide that my heart was hurting and my gut was screaming. Bubba can't express exactly what is going on at school; all he can tell me is that he is "angry." And the only thing I could think of while I kissed him goodnight was something I commented on another blog. Another mom is struggling and learning in the special education system, and I told her, "[He] is telling you might be difficult, but keep listening."

I know that this is true for Bubba. He is telling me something, and I should listen to him, believe in him. Funny how sometimes your own advice hits you when you need it.

So today, I met with the boys' Regional Center coordinator to update their yearly plans. As we discussed Bubba's school situation and the fact that Moosie will be starting kindergarten next year, she reminded me of our options...lawyers, advocates, changing schools by private placement or even moving. It was clear she believed we had enough data, information, and cause to fight for the appropriate education for Bubba.

But all I could tell her is that I know what we could do, but I am so tired. So bitter. So exposed. I have fought for years, repeating argument and proof every year. I have been forced to question myself, my son, my beliefs, my perspective time and time again. But here we are, with little improvement, much regression, and a family in crisis.

But as I listen to her and those in my family who are worried about my sanity if we keep Bubba in school, but just as much if not more if I homeschool him... I struggle with what is not the right choice, but the best choice for Bubba and for me and for Hubby and for Moose.

I don't think I want to homeschool just because Bubba's in crisis at school. But what we have been going through year after year has definitely brought the idea front and center. But I don't want to homeschool him for selfish reasons (i.e., to not have to deal with the system and to be involved in his learning). I want both boys to have successful, love-filled lives and provide them the tools to enjoy where they are now and get them where they want to go later.

I suppose I know what to fight for. Or more precisely, who to fight for. I guess what's lacking is enough self-confidence. If I only believed in myself as much as I believe in my boys. I know I will get there. But it's difficult when you go against the grain, especially here in a traditional community. (I still get comments about how I nursed Mooser until he was in his third year!)

And in case you are wondering. I really miss Aunt Piggy. I think 2009 will bring a visit to Oregon. Maybe a homeschool field trip even. *smile*

Monday, October 27, 2008

Another Anniversary

To all those who read my blog, I am aware that I have "issues." Chances are if you asked me for a list, everything that you have secretly thought at one time or another would be on there. I am fully aware and very expressive about all of my idiosyncrasies. And in fact, I suppose that is one of my many issues!

I remember once my sister telling me "Ange, I don't know how to say this, but you have some issues..." As she trailed off, I cheerily replied, "You mean like how I do [this] or [that]?" "Um yeah..." she stammered.

So yesterday, aware that I am always either very hot or very cold, very anxious or very depressed, very emotional or very distant, I quipped to Hubby: "You know I am a little crazy, right?"

"Yes," he said, and then gave me that sincere smile, that smile that tells me he wouldn't want it any other way.

Not that he doesn't have his issues either...but many of the reasons why I married him 11 years ago this month were exactly because of his "issues." And I'm sure (actually, I am positive) the same goes for him. Not that it has made for an easy life, because let me tell you, between the two of us, there's a lot of drama, confusion, and tension. But we choose to look at it as excitement, spontaneity, and passion.

Here's to another year of the best kind of love--the kind that ain't easy, but oh so worth it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Being Set Up to Fail

I requested an IEP meeting awhile go, knowing that we may very well decide to pull Bubba out of school. After jumping through hoops and rescheduling the meeting so that the people we want to be there are, in fact, there, we were told that this was just going to be a team meeting to discuss progress. Well yes, let's discuss progress--like the lack of progress and my son being set up to fail.

This is a sample of the work he is bringing home. It is clear he is attempting the work, but also clear that he is being pushed past his level without school giving him a chance to master anything. And yes, on most assignments, he is doing them with the aid of a paraprofessional or teacher, and still struggling.

Obviously his IEP needs to be revisited if most of his assignments are graded as a "1" on a scale of "1-4." But yet, the school is confused why he acts up (avoidance behaviors).


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fundamental Difference

As I have been preparing my "homeschool proposal" I have been doubting myself. One moment I am strong in my convictions, the next I am wondering if Bubba would be better off in school if I just fought harder.

Am I giving up? Did they just beat me down? I couldn't help but wonder. But then in a moment of clarity, I remembered my initial reason to homeschool and why it has been in the back of my mind since kindergarten--the school and I do not see eye to eye on a very fundamental belief.

Bubba's school believes he needs to be compliant in order to become a successful learner. I believe Bubba needs the opportunity to be a successful learner in order to understand the purpose of compliance. In other words, I believe in "accomodate and modify" on one end while remediating on the other--he'll have different points of success, but success just the same. The school appears to believe that Bubba learning how to sit still and keep his mouth shut (at whatever cost, such as picking his fingers until they are bloody nubs) is the most important lesson for him to learn.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Scariest Halloween Moment

This is what I woke up to this morning.

Bubba came running in with a small pumpkin with every hidden knife we own rammed forcefully through its core. Look mom! Daddy will be happy. And then after I explained that daddy would not, in fact, be happy, he shrugged off my concern with, It's OK mom, I am old enough to play with knives now.

I remained calm and explained why he will never be old enough to play with knives if I have any say about it. The Prozac must be working, because I did not obsess about what could've happened.

Time to find a new place to hide the knives.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Keeping Track

More for me, I am posting another "book report" we did in August following a book, video, hands-on, interest approach. If you haven't guessed, we are considering pulling Bubba out of school and homeschooling him. I am in the research and planning phase right now. Hubby requested a proposal to make sure I thoroughly think this through, and so we can make a decision as a family. Bubba is all for it, and I have been very frank about the differences. We followed a general homeschool approach (well, the way I would like to do it!) during cycle break so that he understood (and we got an idea of) what it would be like.


We didn't just learn about telling time over cycle break, but we also learned about such things as amphibians and the life cycle of a frog, we learned about momentum, and we learned about bubbles.

I capitalized on this learning by sending in "book reports" to Bubba's school, such as the one below. (He told me what he wanted to say and I typed it.) Of course the actual learning did not occur with the book report, but our multi-modality approach (videos, hands on, books, etc.) at home seems to be helping make things "stick." It also helps that we are learning things that he is interested in. Notice by the pictures that Mooser is learning too. *smile*

The Time is Right

I am so freaking excited.

First off, I am extremely frustrated with Bubba's school in general. Besides that, as he gets older, it is clearer than ever their "special education" focus is more on "good behavior" (compliance along with quietly sitting still) and less on what the heck he is actually learning.

He is in third grade and struggling in all academic areas. Telling time is one skill that he has not mastered, and it is no longer being addressed in the classroom. The students are, however, supposed to be using a planner. Of course Bubba has no interest in the planner, because it means nothing to him except copying text from a screen. But early in the year we had to work on his behavior to "comply" with filling out the planner...

So anyhow, that doesn't sound why am I giddy? Because over cycle break, with no stress from school, we learned things in a different way. We talked about time, made clocks, played with clocks, watched videos on time, sang songs about time, and did a few worksheets on time for visuals of counting by 5s when looking at a clock face (think how confusing that is to a kid when the numbers say 1-2-3-4-etc.).

Today (he is back to school this week), a "telling-time" song came on PBS, and Bubba got excited. Mom! Telling time! Telling time! He then correctly told the time when the song indicated to do so. He then looked at the clock on our wall and asked What time is it? I said, Well, the little hand is right after the 3... and Bubba exclaimed...WAIT! I can do this! He then counted by 5s and said It's 3:25! It's 3:25!

What was really cool was how excited he was to be learning something, that he wanted to try it himself, that he didn't get frustrated, and that he was successful and confident. What is really sad is that's exactly what is missing from his general school experience.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Right on the money

Since another blogger inspired me and because I am the absolute queen of procrastination (or is it multitasking since I simultaneously gave my children their bath?), I took this personality test.

I am an Idealist. I don't know the rest because it costs money on this site. So I guess that makes me a cheap idealist. *Updated to add that Hubby is an artisan, which is also quite correct if you read his blurb.

Idealists, as a temperament, are passionately concerned with personal growth and development. Idealists strive to discover who they are and how they can become their best possible self -- always this quest for self-knowledge and self-improvement drives their imagination. And they want to help others make the journey. Idealists are naturally drawn to working with people, and whether in education or counseling, in social services or personnel work, in journalism or the ministry, they are gifted at helping others find their way in life, often inspiring them to grow as individuals and to fulfill their potentials.

Idealists are sure that friendly cooperation is the best way for people to achieve their goals. Conflict and confrontation upset them because they seem to put up angry barriers between people. Idealists dream of creating harmonious, even caring personal relations, and they have a unique talent for helping people get along with each other and work together for the good of all. Such interpersonal harmony might be a romantic ideal, but then Idealists are incurable romantics who prefer to focus on what might be, rather than what is. The real, practical world is only a starting place for Idealists; they believe that life is filled with possibilities waiting to be realized, rich with meanings calling out to be understood. This idea of a mystical or spiritual dimension to life, the "not visible" or the "not yet" that can only be known through intuition or by a leap of faith, is far more important to Idealists than the world of material things.

Highly ethical in their actions, Idealists hold themselves to a strict standard of personal integrity. They must be true to themselves and to others, and they can be quite hard on themselves when they are dishonest, or when they are false or insincere. More often, however, Idealists are the very soul of kindness. Particularly in their personal relationships, Idealists are without question filled with love and good will. They believe in giving of themselves to help others; they cherish a few warm, sensitive friendships; they strive for a special rapport with their children; and in marriage they wish to find a "soulmate," someone with whom they can bond emotionally and spiritually, sharing their deepest feelings and their complex inner worlds.

Idealists are relatively rare, making up no more than 15 to 20 percent of the population. But their ability to inspire people with their enthusiasm and their idealism has given them influence far beyond their numbers.

Idealists at Work
Idealists, as a temperament, are passionately concerned with personal growth and development. They are naturally drawn to working with people and are gifted with helping others find their way in life, often inspiring them to grow as individuals and to fulfill their potential both on, and off, the job.

Your beliefs are the arbiter of your actions, even if you cannot articulate those beliefs specifically. You hold a strong, clear sense of the way the universe works, what's "right" and what's "wrong," and what your purpose is in the overall scheme of things. In your ideal job, you can embody those beliefs in your relationships with other people. Because you likely have a talent for de-escalating situations and can almost always find just the "right words", you often significantly improve the morale of organizations to which you belong.


Artisans are the temperament with a natural ability to excel in any of the arts, not only the fine arts such as painting and sculpting, or the performing arts such as music, theater, and dance, but also the athletic, military, political, mechanical, and industrial arts, as well as the "art of the deal" in business.

Artisans are most at home in the real world of solid objects that can be made and manipulated, and of real-life events that can be experienced in the here and now. Artisans have exceptionally keen senses, and love working with their hands. They seem right at home with tools, instruments, and vehicles of all kinds, and their actions are usually aimed at getting them where they want to go, and as quickly as possible. Thus Artisans will strike off boldly down roads that others might consider risky or impossible, doing whatever it takes, rules or no rules, to accomplish their goals. This devil-may-care attitude also gives the Artisans a winning way with people, and they are often irresistibly charming with family, friends, and co-workers.

Artisans want to be where the action is; they seek out adventure and show a constant hunger for pleasure and stimulation. They believe that variety is the spice of life, and that doing things that aren't fun or exciting is a waste of time. Artisans are impulsive, adaptable, competitive, and believe the next throw of the dice will be the lucky one. They can also be generous to a fault, always ready to share with their friends from the bounty of life. Above all, Artisans need to be free to do what they wish, when they wish. They resist being tied or bound or confined or obligated; they would rather not wait, or save, or store, or live for tomorrow. In the Artisan view, today must be enjoyed, for tomorrow may never come.

There are many Artisans, perhaps 30 to 35 percent of the population, which is good, because they create much of the beauty, grace, fun, and excitement the rest of us enjoy in life.

Artisans at Work
Artisans seek to make an impact upon the organizations where they work and upon society at large. Their alertness to current realities, the joy they take in variation, and their tendency to follow their instincts to 'what works' make them good troubleshooters and negotiators, talented performers and craftspeople and excellent leaders in all kinds of emergencies and chaotic situations.

Even at work, your motto could be, "Let me entertain you. Let me make you smile." In fact, bringing playfulness to situations can be one of your greatest contributions on the job. In your ideal job, you have the opportunity to apply your talent for performing and improvising communications so that they appeal to the individuals or groups of people in your environment. Because of your gift for words, your ideal position might include tasks that allow you to apply your communications talent for the good of the organization.

Strange Dreams?

Daddy stirred Bubba when he tried moving the heavy 8-year-old out of our bed. Bubba popped up:

Daddy...What's an evergreen tree?

It's a tree that stays green all year, even in a Christmas tree.

I have a fancy Christmas tree. It's silver.

And then he was out.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Bubba has been curious about the presidential race. We have been counting signs in the neighborhood, tallying them, using our estimates to decide the winner on November 4th. Bubba and Moosie have been exposed to the debates, and they watched each debate for a few minutes and asked us questions.

According to Bubba, Obama should win because we have had "too many white presidents." He decided this after we looked through a book of past presidents. McCain almost had him with his military background, but lost Bubba's vote because he doesn't "want a girl assistant." As awful as it sounds, the reasoning behind this is simply because, like most 8-year-old boys, he "doesn't like girls."

Even if you don't think they are, the kids are the political ads, the off-color discussions, the media coverage, the debates and rallies, and everything in between.

Who did the kids pick?

Disability-related issues

Disability rights is of course only one small piece of a the larger picture, but you can read a comparison chart of the presidential candidates here.