Saturday, January 31, 2009
• What you need is sustained outrage...there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority.
• There are two kinds of humor. One kind that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity -- like what Garrison Keillor does. The other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule -- that's what I do. Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful. I only aim at the powerful. When satire is aimed at the powerless, it is not only cruel -- it's vulgar.
• I believe that ignorance is the root of all evil. And that no one knows the truth.
• You can't ignore politics, no matter how much you'd like to.
• What stuns me most about contemporary politics is not even that the system has been so badly corrupted by money. It is that so few people get the connection between their lives and what the bozos do in Washington and our state capitols.
• It's hard to argue against cynics -- they always sound smarter than optimists because they have so much evidence on their side.
• Being slightly paranoid is like being slightly pregnant - it tends to get worse.
• One function of the income gap is that the people at the top of the heap have a hard time even seeing those at the bottom. They practically need a telescope. The pharaohs of ancient Egypt probably didn't waste a lot of time thinking about the people who built their pyramids, either. OK, so it's not that bad yet -- but it's getting that bad.
• I am not anti-gun. I'm pro-knife. Consider the merits of the knife. In the first place, you have to catch up with someone in order to stab him. A general substitution of knives for guns would promote physical fitness. We'd turn into a whole nation of great runners. Plus, knives don't ricochet. And people are seldom killed while cleaning their knives.
• from her last column, January 11, 2007: We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there
With Molly, she bossed me up one side down the next until I would get fed up and say, "Hey, stop bossing me around all the time!" That gets her attention but she still slips into it. She may put a please or thank you somewhere near it but at the root she is still bossing me around. Occasionally, I will say, "Tip your servers. They have done a great job tonight!" which may or may not get the desired result.
Is this leadership? Or just being spoiled rotten? Is this over indulging my kids? Or is this how they figure out what they can and can not get away with? Do all kids do this? Or only kids that aren't spanked? Hmmm. Perplexing.
Recently, I volunteered with Molly's 5th grade class on a Robotics project. This is something else! It is a multi-week project working with those little LEGO cars that have computers components in them that the kids need to build, program and put through various tasks and challenges. Pretty fun. Some of the kids are so engrossed, they can barely see anything but their "bot". I have never seen some of them so engaged.
They work in pairs and Molly's partner is a wonderfully sweet, gentle kid who, I fear, is being completely bossed around. I could barely watch the day I was there for frustration was high; the flushed cheeks and minor stomping of feet with annoyance. Although I am told it has improved as the project has gone on. I expect this project has as much or more to do with teamwork and problem solving than design and programming.
Now that Shea is talking more, he has slipped into his bossy phase too. Please, tell me it is a phase! "Mom, come here." "You pick up." "Get cookie bar...please." At least, I have gotten him to tag a "polite" word on the end most of the time. But, still I will eventually loose my patience and say, "Hey, stop bossing me around."
They both take it in stride. Isn't that a mom's job to fetch and carry? Dad sometimes too? This is the "entitled kid" generation we are talking about. And, it can be pretty disturbing in some instances. I wonder if it will be different for them if they have kids of their own.
Friday, January 30, 2009
She has instructed us to work on rhyming words with Shea; make it a game and make it fun. She says that is isn't only just for his language development and articulation but clues and triggers for early reading. Sounds good and he is certainly interested in words and letters.
Recently, he has begun to demand what each road sign says as we drive. Lots and lots of signs. Repetition doesn't matter. Yes, he is interested in words.
I remember saying, "Shea may read before he talks." And, he is on his way.
We let him play on Starfall.com a wonderful educational website that begins with the Alphabet which includes ASL too. Now, he has moved onto the more complex early reading components, perhaps over his head a bit but the desire is there and he likes it.
Bubble also made a point to mention to me that his verbal sequencing is beginning to be more fluid. For example, he would say, "Bubble...lady" or two distinct words with a pronounced delay between each word. She pointed out to me, and I see that she is right, Shea's language is beginning to flow more smoothly with less choppy stops and starts.
Hey, that's true! I had only really noticed that the sentences were coming but she is right, the words flow with a more natural, less stilted cadence.
Shea also arrived at Bubble lady's with minor sniffles, so another thing they focused on today was nose blowing. I never have been able to get him to do it and Bubble told me that it is a sequencing thing and difficult for some kids. Now, that I think about his low tone with his mouth, I can see that it would be harder for him. She kept encouraging him to close his mouth and that was the trick. They worked on it today and he is nearly down with a good nose blow now.
Pretty good. Progress...it seems.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
You find out interesting things when you have sons, like....
2.) If you spray hair spray on dust bunnies and run over them with roller blades, they can ignite.
3.) A 3-year old Boy's voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded restaurant.
4.) If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42 pound Boy wearing Batman underwear and a Superman cape. It is strong enough, however, if tied to a paint can, to spread paint on all four walls of a 20x20 ft. room.
5.) You should not throw baseballs up when the ceiling fan is on. When using a ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit. A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way.
6.) The glass in windows (even double-pane) doesn't stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan.
7.) When you hear the toilet flush and the words 'uh oh', it's already too late.
8.) Brake fluid mixed with Clorox makes smoke, and lots of it.
9.) A six-year old Boy can start a fire with a flint rock even though a 36-
year old Man says they can only do it in the movies..
10.) Certain Lego's will pass through the digestive tract of a 4-year old Boy.
11.) Play dough and microwave should not be used in the same sentence.
12.) Super glue is forever.
13.) No matter how much Jell-O you put in a swimming pool you still can't walk on water.
14.) Pool filters do not like Jell-O.
15.) VCR's do not eject 'PB & J' sandwiches even though TV commercials show they do.
16.) Garbage bags do not make good parachutes.
17.) Marbles in gas tanks make lots of noise when driving.
18.) You probably DO NOT want to know what that odor is.
19.) Always look in the oven before you turn it on; plastic toys do not like ovens.
20.) The fire department in
21.) The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earthworms dizzy.
22.) It will, however, make cats dizzy.
23.) Cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.
24.) 80% of Women will pass this on to almost all of their friends, with or without kids.
25.) 80% of Men who read this will try mixing the Clorox and brake fluid.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Read the labels, folks, please read those labels!
From ABC News:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Many common foods made using commercial high fructose corn syrup contain mercury as well, researchers reported on Tuesday, while another study suggested the corn syrup itself is contaminated.
Food processors and the corn syrup industry group attacked the findings as flawed and outdated, but the researchers said it was important for people to know about any potential sources of the toxic metal in their food.
In one study, published in the journal Environmental Health, former Food and Drug Administration scientist Renee Dufault and colleagues tested 20 samples of high fructose corn syrup and found detectable mercury in nine of the 20 samples.
Dufault said in a statement that she told the FDA about her findings but the agency did not follow up.
Dr. David Wallinga, a food safety researcher and activist at the nonprofit Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, said he followed up on the report to find mercury in actual food.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
Articulation is still challenging and I find that I still do a lot of translating for him. But, at least he is trying. I wonder if I should just shut up and let people figure it out.
Bubble lady (our speech pathologist) makes a concerted effort to really push him. He will say, "hard one" or "hard word" and not want to even try. She spends a bit of time telling him that it may be hard at first but then it does get easier. She used the "Little Engine that could" story as inspiration. Sometimes he will give it a try, sometimes not.
I celebrate the successes he does have no matter what and try not to dwell on his frustration. I wonder if I am protecting myself as much as him. I focus on how wonderful it is that he can say his alphabet and count to 30 (or so). I was dazzled when he started singing the "Happy Birthday song" the other day. When did he pick that up?
Not being able to talk as well as your friends has got to be a very frustrating, humiliating daily occurrence. I bleed for him and naturally try to protect him. But, for his own good, I need to broaden his relationships. Our OT is suggesting one-on-one play dates, which will give him needed practice. I shouldn't be but I am nervous to reach outside of our protective little universe; of rejection for him and me, setting him up for ridicule, inviting someone into his life that won't be as understanding as his family. But, I have delayed long enough.
This morning I made a necessary step. I called the mom of one of Shea's little buddies at the developmental preschool who is a "typical peer" meaning he is not "special" or doesn't have an IEP. His mother was lovely and said "yes, let's get those boys together." Even though the weather has been cold, I will suggest a meet up at Ober park to play before afternoon preschool. I will spend a little bit of time telling her about Shea's challenges just so that she can ask any questions or clarify the reality for herself and her son. Then, I hope to jettison that part of the conversation and just let them be.
Visions of regular weekly play dates flit through my brain. Summer activities and Shea having a "best friend". Hold up, mommy. Gotta walk before you can run, speak before you can sing.
So, here is to finding your feet and your voice, little man.
I am reserving judgment and my opinion for now. But, I would like to see more money and focus on treatment, support and therapies. Plus, if they really don't think it was the vaccines...WHAT THE HELL CAUSES IT THEN!!!!
1 out of every 150 babies is way too many.
From AP/The Seattle P-I:
A new study from Italy adds to a mountain of evidence that a mercury-based preservative once used in many vaccines doesn't hurt children, offering more reassurance to parents.
In the early 1990s, thousands of healthy Italian babies in a study of whooping cough vaccines got two different amounts of the preservative thimerosal from all their routine shots. Ten years later, 1,403 of those children took a battery of brain function tests. Researchers found small differences in only two of 24 measurements and those "might be attributable to chance," they wrote in the February issue of the journal Pediatrics, which was released Monday.
Most gluten free bread is just plain weird but we found a pretty good one. Food for Life Rice Almond Bread. The texture is pretty darn close, is fruit juice sweetened and does taste pretty darn good. Give it a little toasting which improves the texture greatly and then try smearing it with a little Kettle Almond Butter. Pretty yummy and you got yourself a pretty "normal" snack. Kettle has a whole line of nut butters; Cashew, Hazelnut, Almond and, of course, Peanut.
Ok, now the pasta. This has been somewhat of an epic adventure as I have tried every single rice pasta available in hopes of finding one Shea will eat. Basically, I think many of them would be just fine for an adult who likes red sauce and can rationalize the texture difference. But, that just doesn't work as well for a kid especially one who will only eat noodles with butter and a little Parmesan. You know, pretty naked, which leaves the texture difference too glaring to ignore.
Our best luck has been with Corn pasta. A company in Seattle called Ritrovo imports it from Italy and it is quite delicious. The kind we tried was the Riccioli although I see that they have a penne and fusilli as well. The texture holds up very well and the bright yellow color seems to help when it only has butter and parm on it. They also do a Rice Gigli which when cooked looks like little jelly fish or something equally disgusting. They taste good but just look a little too odd for a kid to get excited about.
Last week at the PCC, I found a Quinoa & Corn spaghetti that I am really looking forward to trying. It is made by Ancient Harvest Quinoa. I have high hopes, will try it out and report back. If we could find a spaghetti noodle that got the thumbs up from Shea that would be big help for dinner.
Once again I am greatly impressed and amazed at all the terrific gluten-free products out there or quite recently hitting the market. I have not done any real market research on this but I would bet that Gluten-free products have to be one the real growth markets in the packaged food industry. One way to keep these good products coming is for us consumers to try them, and if you like them, by all means buy them and chat them up. If you find something you like, share the information. And, as always, just send me an e-mail, I would love to welcome any guest bloggers with their own product reviews or interesting recipes to share.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
It was a great movie in a lot of ways but there were several scenes in it that I wish I could just erase from her consciousness.
The movie? The kite runner. Exquisitely done, very disturbing story...with a sexual assault on a child as a main story point. I sent her out of the room during the Taliban "punishing" the adulterous couple in the soccer stadium.
Boy, did I screw up and I am not sure if I will ever really be able to forgive myself.
After the movie was over, she kept saying, "That movie was too adult for me." I agreed and apologized profusely.
I tried to frame it better or make a teaching moment out of it or pull my ass out of the fire; "Honey, there are ugly, evil things in this world and you should not trust everyone. There are people who hurt others and have been hurt out there and it colors their decisions, choices and lives. No one has the right to steal a persons dignity. No one. It is evil. But, it is my and daddy's job to protect you and make sure that nothing like that will ever happen to you. It was a story and a not very happy one. I am sorry that you saw that."
I slept horrible and am writhing with quilt. I feel like a terrible mother and that I have crushed my daughter's innocence.
This morning she said, "You know, it really was a good movie but there were some things that were too adult. But, you really can learn from them." And, then she bubbled off talking about the kite flying scenes. I guess that is as about as good of a reaction that I could hope for. She is resilient, she will be fine but I still feel like shit.
I promised her that I would never get a movie again that I hadn't done the research on. And, she said she is more interested in romance and comedy. Ok. With those two directives, I think, I hope we can move on.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
He featured something called Project 7th Grade, sponsored by notMYkid.org.
Who are they?
"At notMYkid, we inspire positive life choices by educating our community about the consequences of destructive youth behaviors. Young adults who have overcome life-controlling addictions and behaviors share their personal stories with middle and high school students. In an effort to promote our prevention message we educate adults on the same addictions and destructive behaviors. Our goal is to increase awareness of the challenges kids face, provide information and offer resources to support the success of students, families and educators."
Project 7th Grade is a program that targets the 7th grade age group specifically and their parents with information and some "scared straight" real life stories. AND, they give FREE drug tests kits to parents to use or "threaten" to use on their kids. The theory being that you get to them before the real drug use and experimentation occurs. I guess that is 7th grade? Yikes!
This pretty much blew my mind. Me and Ed and many of the listeners had a real issue with this. Do you want to have that kind of relationship with your kid? No trust, just piss in this cup? This is a real hard one. What do you think? Honestly, I have very mixed feelings.
The founder made a good argument that it was a conversation starter and it hopefully it was a threat that would never have to be executed. Perhaps the test kit sits on the shelf as a reminder, perhaps the kid is approached to try drugs and it acts as a deterrent or an easy excuse in a peer pressure situation, "My parents will piss test me, I can't." He said that by the time he realized that his kid was using, he was addicted and, in a way, it was too late. It would be a lot easier to make sure the kid doesn't get addicted in the first place.
Recently I heard a story about a high school kid here on Vashon who was working at our little small town drug store/pharmacy and stealing Oxycontin and other pain killers out of people's prescriptions and selling them at school. Word has it there is at least one kid who is in re-hab right now because of their addiction to these pills. All this in bucolic little Vashon.
I am beginning to feel like a real dynosaur. When I was a kid, I did plenty of experimentation. There were keggers in the woods and I smoked my share of "wacky tabacky". But, hard drugs, not so much. I tried coke, mushrooms, even a little LSD. I didn't like it, I wasn't plugged into that scene, I didn't want to feel "out of control". Also, I saw some people self-destruct and I didn't want that for my life.
But, now a days, we have people cooking up batches of Meth in the woods. We have middle and high school students addicted to pharmaceuticals; beer and pot seem almost quaint in comparison. Am I a hypocrit? I feel tempted to get one of these drug tests to just set on my shelf. I envision the conversation going something like this:
"Honey, dad and I trust you and will always love you and stand by you. But, as you get older there will be people, friends and acquaintances who will try to get you to try things. Some of these things are dangerous, highly addictive and could really hurt you. Most of it is illegal and you could go to jail. Sometimes drug abuse can kill people or ruin their lives, young people like you. You might get pressured, kids saying you aren't cool if you don't try it. You know better. You are strong and smart. You know that what someone thinks doesn't have anything to do with who you are. But if you need an excuse, tell them your crazy mother will drug test you and that you can't risk it."
Ok, there it is, my hypocrisy in full display. Will my kid roll her eyes and count the minutes so that she can text her friend about what a drag I am? Probably. Will she hear what I am saying? Will she be mad and rebel? Who knows, one can only pray.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
During one of her recent sojourns, she downloaded "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield; a hauntingly beautiful pop song that I am sure we have all heard before. Click here to see the music video. Molly says that she heard it for the first time when she was 8 on an east coast airplane trip to see Jake's parents. She was bored and was cruising the in-flight headphones, stumbled upon it and has loved it ever since. This I believe, the kid has an amazing memory.
Well, i-tunes is easy enough to figure out in the end with luck, help and a kid nearby. Molly got i-tune bucks for Christmas so she spent some on this long beloved and remembered song. I haven't heard it since because the i-pod is either lost, misplaced, forgotten or in her ears. Usually in that order.
But, tonight she told me at dinner that the song had inspired her to write a story. Very solemnly with all seriousness, she said, "There is a life story in this song and I am going to write it."
"The story is about a girl who is born partially blind and as a newborn is struggling for her first breath. All the adults are freaking out but a small boy believes that she will make it. He is an optimist." she explains.
"The mother tears spill onto the baby's face because she thinks the baby will die but the mother's tears miraculously restore her sight."
"It is a life story and I want there to be a romance and it will end with her having a baby of her own."
She said she already wrote the prologue, which is from the optimistic boy's perspective. She stopped because she ran out of paper not because she ran out of ideas.
I don't really know what to say to all this. I am dazzled, proud, amazed and perplexed. As a parent, of course, we always, ALWAYS encourage our kids when they go off on these whims. But, it got me thinking about where does true inspiration comes from and how it is fostered? How do we keep it going without forcing or pressuring? When does encouragement turn into fawning, gushing over-praise? I doubt there is a parent out there that can be objective about their own kid. There in lies much of the struggle; no one else can really help with this job.
"Wow, Moll. I want to read that story." I added the slightly lame comment, "I will always make sure you have more paper for your ideas." It seemed like a promise I could keep. She takes it in stride, I am not in her way. She is creating, tasting, experimenting with and living different lives in her head corralling them to eventually give them life on a page.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Anyway, it was another interesting meeting. Since we are just getting this committee up and running, tonight we elected a chair and banged through some housekeeping. But we did have some time at the end to bring up our individual issues of concern.
This is where all the administrators look kinda scared as a parent member begins to speak. I am afraid this is illustrative of the "defensive crouch" that many school districts exhibit concerning special needs issues.
One parent brought up the question of transitioning from elementary to middle to high school: what is the procedures and practices and how can we make it go smoother.
I thought this was a very good point. Transitions, whether they are throughout the day, from day to day or year to year, are big deals for all kids let alone kids with special needs. Our director of special services brought up examples of how these transitions were handled and all the hard work that staff does before hand to make it go smooth. And, the point of the discussion ended up being; the parents just don't know. They don't know what all is done, behind the scenes, to help facilitate a transition. And, that parents basically feel out of the loop.
This has been my experience too. I think that staff and administration are so nervous of "Special Parents" they tend to deal with them on a need to know basis. If the parent needs to know something legally or makes a point to ask they get the information but it isn't readily available. Now part of this is due to the wide range of needs for the children within a school district. It could be very difficult to make blanket procedural comments. But, my thought is: well then tell the parents that as well. More information for a parent is always better than not enough.
My pet concern is expanding communication channels to the community. Because of the "defensive crouch", the school district may think "no news in good news"; meaning no lawsuit or group of organized pissed off parents. I would like our school district to be proactive and reach out to the community with positive information about the programs and services offered. There are moving success stories that take place every single day and sharing these could greatly improve community perception of the program. This should not be ignored.
I pointed out that we are a small "high touch" community and that the school district should be singing it's praises more. We should be tooting our horn when appropriate and welcoming special needs family into the fold. I mentioned that if a family had a bad experience early on with the special ed program, chances are we have lost them for good. I would hope we could repair some of that lost goodwill and invest in more community involvement. I also feel that by being proud of how we take care of our special kids, we can emulate empathy and tolerance to the community at large.
Another parent brought up the issue of after school activities for special needs kids in middle and high school. Many of these kids may not be able to do sports or other activities after school as a typical kid. They are out of school early and what do they do? There was discussion of some sort of after school tutoring, reading time, game playing, or social time which could be available but of course the old funding bugaboo reared its head. Although, there may be various grant opportunities or mentoring possibilities that we can pursue.
All good stuff. Feel free to add your own.
From The Seattle Times:
Randy Dorn, the new chief of Washington state schools, announced today that he plans to get rid of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning starting in 2010.
The announcement, made a week after Dorn took office, centers on a promise he made on the campaign trail to replace the WASL with a shorter, fairer, less-expensive exam.
No changes can be made to the WASL for this school year due to time constraints, Dorn said, but beginning in spring 2010, he plans to replace the WASL with two tests. In grades 3-8, students would take the Measurements of Student Progress (MSP). In high school, they would take something called the High School Proficiency Exams.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
I wish we had a school like this for Shea. The longer I swim in the Special Education ocean I am realizing that a kid like Shea will probably fall right through the cracks in public school.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Treble thanks goes to M-beth for being my date and driving. Believe it or not, she got me back just in time for the last ferry at 2:10 AM. Wow... I guess we did have fun.
It was fabulous to see Lynn, Fritz, Mark, Dalton, Lisa, Allen. I barely recognized anyone else and there was plenty of squinting at name tags trying to remember.
"High school is just a fog. Do I remember you? Do you remember me?" was my mantra for the night. But, for the most part I really enjoyed visiting with a good handful of people.
Facebook has even been embraced by us geezers and there was much determined promises of tracking down and be-befriending. I will try to live up to my promises.
The consensus seemed to be that the girls looked pretty good as a whole but the guys hadn't fared so well. In some cases this was true but frankly I thought we all looked pretty good for a bunch of mid-life crisis addled recovering high school students.
Weirdest conversation: someone I adore trying to convince me that same-sex marriage would open the door for legalized poligomy. Something about if we let gay folks marry then people with multiple partners will want to as well. He was always funny in a very rye sort of way but I fear he was serious.
I told him a story about getting The Game of Life for my 10 year old daughter for Christmas. As her and her neighbor pal played, they were allowed to choose whether to be male or female and when they landed on "get married" I would say,
"Would you like to marry a man or a woman? Because this house supports same sex marriage." The kids titter and choose the opposite sex but the point is well made. I told this fellow that I would never want my kid to think that if she was gay that I would not love her as much or that there was anything wrong with that. I would celebrate, support and welcome whoever she wanted to spend her life with.
That took the wind out of his sails a bit.
Saddest journey: it was nice to see a guy I hadn't seen for a very long time. We hugged and chatted and eventually he went to the bathroom. I said to a gaggle of gals, "Wow, he looks great. He was always such a cutie." One of the gals said, "Yes, he just got out of jail. He told me that he was glad there was no one doing coke at the party." Sheesh, depressing.
So, yes, it gets easier. It was fun. I will go to the next one. It's a relatively harmless way to mark the years.
Oh, and Mitchell didn't show. Coward.
UPDATE: Ok, Mitch was not a coward but busy with a good excuse. Missed seeing him but he has since e-mailed and all is well in nostalgia land.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
From King 5:
Millions of people will be glued to the TV next week when President-elect Barack Obama takes his oath of office. But in Federal Way, students will need to get permission from their parents to watch the historical inauguration in school.
“I think that's a little overkill,” said parent Pam Ditzhazy. “Maybe it should even been required to see it. It's a huge event.”
Federal way principals received an e-mail notifying them of the rule.
“There is no big deal. The goal is to once again build partnerships, keep parents informed. Say ‘Hey. This is your child. Your education.’ We think it's a great opportunity. We're going to afford the kids that opportunity, but we want the parents to make that call,” said Dr. Joshua Joseph Garcia, Federal Way's Executive Director of Teaching for Learning.
The concern is that the televised inauguration was not listed in syllabus handed out at the beginning of the term. The district considers the inauguration a full length documentary, unlike some newspaper or internet reference articles which do not require pre-approval.
Students who don’t return the signed forms will go somewhere else for a different assignment.
Federal Way is the same district that put a moratorium on Al Gore's Oscar winning film about global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth,” while the board investigated whether a screening adhered to district policies.
Some parents do not consider the inauguration as an issue needing balance but, instead, a current event that will shape their child's future.
“It’s pretty exciting, like the Olympics,” said parent Liu Rameriz.
Neither Seattle nor Tacoma schools require parental permission before students can watch the inauguration.
From ABCNews SARAH NETTER
The mother of an 8-year-old autistic girl who was arrested after a scuffle with her teachers said it was horrifying to watch her daughter be led away in handcuffs from her northern Idaho elementary school.
Police in Bonner County, Idaho, charged the girl, Evelyn Towry, with battery after the arrest Friday at Kootenai Elementary School.
Even though prosecutors dismissed the case Tuesday, the family is considering legal action against the school. They say their daughter was physically restrained to the point of causing bruises and is now tormented by memories of the incident.
Spring Towry said she got to the school Friday just in time to see 54-pound Evelyn -- who was diagnosed at age 5 with Asperger's Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism -- being walked to a police car with two officers at her side.
"She started screaming 'Mommy, I don't want to go! What are batteries? What are batteries?'" Towry said. "She didn't even know what she was arrested for."
Towry, who lives in Ponderay, said Evelyn told her that she had been refused entry into a school Christmas party that had been delayed until after the holidays because of a string of snow days, because she refused to take off her beloved "cow costume" -- a hoodie with cow ears and a tail.
Towry said Evelyn, who loves Spongebob Squarepants, told her she was put in a separate classroom away from the party, but when she tried to leave, the teachers told her to stay put. Evelyn did not listen, Towry said, and the adults physically restrained her.
Friday, January 16, 2009
On our usual Friday trip to the big city for speech therapy, Shea and I almost always stop off in my old stomping ground and hit my favorite grocery store, West Seattle PCC (Puget Consumer's Coop) on California Ave.
I do love and sadly miss this grocery store. They have wonderful organic, local produce, in-house butchers, excellent selection of everything and nice cashiers. But I really love their in-house deli and bakery. I always get a grilled panini sandwich and a whole juice for lunch while I do some of our normal shopping. Plus, since we have identified Shea's food allergies I always comb through the entire store for new interesting Gluten Free products to try.
Well, the gold star this time goes to the PCC in-house kitchen! They have started making gluten-free/wheat-free mini-loaves of Zucchini Bread that is really more like cake. We tried it today and it is a home run. Both kids gobbled it up for dessert and begged for more. It is very moist and fluffy and quite sweet; this is definitely a dessert.
It is always a gamble to try some of these gluten-free products. If Shea won't eat it then it is wasted. No problem with this one though; the loaf is gone already. Wish I bought two. They also were offering a Pound Cake that we did not try but I certainly will next time. They also had a Pumpkin bread but it wasn't Wheat/Gluten free.
I was impressed. I will look for and buy it again. Good on you, PCC! Way to make the trip to the city worth it every week!
Thursday, January 15, 2009
There weren't many real surprises; Shea has significant sensory integration issues. He is Hypo vs. Hyper meaning that he needs extra stimuli, big touch, heavy weight, lots of movement. This kind of makes sense because of his "low" lone issue in his face. But, the schools don't give services for Sensory Integration issues; our only chance was to have him qualify for fine motor.
It's all good information but the piece by piece conversation cataloging in detail all of Shea's "challenges" is always really hard to hear.
I wonder why they don't automatically start off with what the kid is good at but they didn't. I suppose they are trying to be economical with time and just jump right in but it always makes me pissed, defensive and depressed as I am sitting there.
So, after all that, Shea's fine motor skills did not test low enough for him to get services so basically the whole meeting was for naught. We did get to talk about a lot of uncomfortable things there were pretty upsetting for me though. Like how Shea is pretty aggressive and explosive on the playground; hitting and pushing.
Because of his hypo-sensitivity issues, they are going to try some new things. For example: they would like to put a big pad out in the playground up against the fence. This would be a "bounce off" area where it will be ok to push, and hit and run into it at high speed. Great. Something tells me that will be a popular area among the boys of the class whether they have "sensory issues" or not. They also suggested a big, thick nylon rope for tug-o-war.
I brought up the sibling issue again. Molly is Shea's prime role model on everything and I know that how they play together is effecting how is playing with the other kids. I had suggested before that Molly could come to the class for a visit so that their interactions could be observed and maybe some gentle suggestions could be made. By someone other than me. I've tried, believe me. I am the broken record but if a counselor or Shea's teacher could talk with Molly and give her some advise I think it would go a long way.
That suggest sort of went flat last year and no one seemed to have the time. But, at this latest meeting, Shea's teacher suggested for Molly to come visit during recess and that she would talk to her. I think we will try that.
The potty training came up again, of course. Apparently they are having no success at school and not really even trying. In P-4, they don't really encourage kids to go potty together so he is getting no role model action there. Last year in P-3 they did but now they are big kids and it is a privacy issue. They also don't want to stigmatize him or make it obvious to the other kids which could be bad or embarrassing down the road. I guess they are right.
So, we are in the same place we have always been but a meeting like this seems to suck the optimism right out of the room. There is something about having all these challenges painted out one by one before your eyes that is very disconcerting.
I know they are doing their best and they like Shea and want to see him succeed. I do value their input and appreciate the time they spend. But, it does point out how rigid this system is, how the bell curve rules and being inside or outside the standard deviation is the prime discussion point.
I like the suggestions of different kinds of play or something new to try. You know, real life stuff. But, when someone shoves a sheet of paper with numbers all over it, I tend to go blank and get irritated. This is my son! Not a data group!
"You know, this doesn't mean anything to me. Please don't waste your time going through all these numbers because it doesn't mean anything. Let's just talk about Shea." I suppose I was rude. I don't really blame them, this is the pool they swim in.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Sorry folks, this ain't pretty. As a human being, this makes me sick. As a Seattle University Alum I am livid, nauseous and horrified.
"A lawsuit filed Tuesday accuses Seattle University President the Rev. Stephen Sundborg of knowing about an abusive Jesuit priest yet allowing that priest to remain in ministry when Sundborg served as provincial — or head — of the Jesuit order in the Northwest from about 1990 to 1996.
Sundborg is one of several defendants named in the lawsuit, filed by more than 40 men and women who say they were sexually abused as children or teens in Alaska years ago by Jesuits or those supervised by Jesuits.
The suit claims that as provincial, Sundborg had access to something called "hell files" — files containing information about Jesuit priests that was "not public," and "not good."
Tuesday's lawsuit says Native villages in Alaska were essentially a "dumping ground" for Jesuit priests unsuited to serve anywhere else. That characterization has repeatedly been denied by the Jesuits. However they also have paid out millions of dollars in recent years to settle sexual-abuse claims in Alaska."
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Let me explain.
I met Kathleen and her daughter Mary when the girls were just babies, about 1 year old. I had joined Co-op preschool at South Seattle Community College and we hit it off. I didn't last with Co-op for very long, something about me just isn't really very cooperative, I guess. But, Kathleen would come over to my house in W. Seattle every week and we would have a big long play date with the kids. Soon she was pregnant with #2.
I remember the first time I met her husband Casey. He was almost as ornery as my husband Jake and got along famously with very little preliminaries. He left that night with, "I showed up thinking I wouldn't like you people but I was wrong. I do." Now that is honesty.
Time goes on. #2 kid was another girl, Clare. We moved to Vashon and even though it is only a 10 minute ferry ride from W. Seattle, not many friends made the trek. But, they did. They would come out with the kids for a weekend night and hang out. We would have BBQs and laugh and drink a bit too much and talk about them selling their house and moving to Vashon.
Well, they weren't blowing smoke, they did just that. But, wait it gets weirder. At the time, real estate was HOT and they sold their house in 3 days for full price. They frantically looked at everything available on Vashon in their price range, something like 5 houses. I listened to the horror stories of the sliding hillside above the house or the sheer cliff at the edge of the lawn and I opened my mouth with those fateful words.
"You know, our neighbor is selling her house FSBO (for sale by owner). I think she is asking $240K" Well, of course, they checked it out and it was "just right".
It has been interesting. The kids have easy access pals. Which at times can create some little kid drama but most of the times it is just wonderful. I take all the kids to movies and Casey just dropped Molly off from taking them all swimming tonight. Shea is the lone boy of the batch and has a special place in Casey's heart. Summer days are filled with kids running back and forth between the yards and scamming Popsicles off each household. As it should be.
There have been times when I have taken it for granted and have not appreciated it as I should. But, this is a rare and special thing; friends and neighbors. We love you L family and we always will.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Nothing against Dr. Tweedy who is, in my honest opinion, the most wonderful Pediatric Dentist in the Seattle area...hands down. In fact, a visit to her office is more a kin to a visit to Chuck E Cheese than any memories that I have of dental visits when I was a kid. This gal and all her wonderful staff have got it down to a fine art.
But, this is Shea we are talking about. He is extremely reluctant and protective of his mouth. After all, this is the kid with low tone in his lower face. This is the kid who can't quite make his tongue and mouth work. Needless to say, teeth brushing is tough. Jake has established the routine and Shea will actually brush with him successfully, but not with me. He farts around, he tastes the toothpaste, he brushes his tongue, etc. But, Jakes manages with a mix of strong direction and praise and gets him to actually do it. Then, afterward, Shea scuttles to me and proudly shows off his clean teeth. Amazing.
"Shea, we get to go on the ferry boat tomorrow and see Dr. Tweedy, the really, really, really fun lady tooth doctor!" I enthuse with all my might.
"No. No. No." Pleadingly without missing a beat.
"But, she has fun toys and she is really nice and funny and we then can go to Petco and look at the fishies and the kitty cats afterward." I say, hoping it will blunt the reality.
"No, no, no..."
Getting a good look at his teeth has always been challenging and will test Tweedy's staff tomorrow. I remember at Children's Hospital at the Cranial Facial Clinic they couldn't even get a good look at his pallet when we visited. He has always been very protective of his mouth.
When he was a little, little baby, he did one of his stupendous falls down the stairs and bonked his front teeth. I remember seeing blood seeping around the tooth and it still hurts to think about it. A while after that we noticed the tooth becoming discolored. I thought it was damaged and becoming a "dead" tooth but since then the tooth seems normal and white near the gum although still discolored. My hope is that Dr. Tweedy can give us an opinion on that.
Vashon, who's water supply comes from an aquifer, has no fluoride added to the the water. It is normal practice for the children on the island to take fluoride drops during the early years through 12. Maybe the discoloration has something to do with that? Maybe I didn't give him enough? Or gave him too much?
Hopefully, Dr. Tweedy will be able to give us some information with the brief glimps that Shea will allow her. Wish us luck. We will need it.
It went as well as could be expected. The hygienist was very understanding and pretty informed real about Shea's issues and worked hard to get him to warm up but he wasn't going for it. He got to see the tools, ride the chair, get bribed with various tooth related tid-bits but he wouldn't show his teeth.
They asked if I would like to have a private exam room where I could hold him down so the doctor could look at his teeth. Yes, I would, thank you very much. So, that is exactly what we did. Dr. Tweedy is a very mild, gentle person, she visited with him for a while but then he climbed on my lap and I just held his arms down and tried to keep his head still. He was annoyed then pissed off and then screamed his head off. But, that is one way to get him to show his teeth. The Dr. was able to examine the discolored tooth and said that it was just fine, not a dead tooth and the gums looked healthy. She counted his teeth and even managed to floss them all in a very short time.
Whew. Shea recovered well, in fact went right back to his normal chirpy as soon as he got his bright blue balloon. They assured me that he handled it very well and that I should be very proud of him. And, he even gave the hygenist a hug good-bye!
Would I do it again? Yes, absolutely. I already arranged the next appointment in July. But, it was pretty stressful. Something about hearing your kids scream his head off maybe. My hope is that it will go a little better next time. But, all in all it sure could've been worse. The wonderful folks at Dr. Tweedy's came through again.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
I learned something I did not know today; maybe it is intuitive or maybe not. Apparently, the most profound effect on changing the bullying dynamic is for the bystanders to stand up and say something against it at the time.
Silence is acquiescence. Ignoring is reinforcing.
"That is not ok!" said at the right time can change everything. It has more power than parents and teachers getting involved. More powerful than treating the individual bully and victim.
The speaker today is a clinical psychologist who specializes on children's socialization. She was instrumental in developing the Second Step bullying education program for schools. Come to find out the Second Step is the program that is used in our local school and many school district in the US and the UK.
Although evidence of the program was everywhere in the early grades, I am not seeing it being used in the 4th & 5th grades.
I have a real problem with this. The younger kids definitely need this but the older kids do too. I think that with younger children, the teachers see the bullying more and they can address it. But, with the older kids, they are more secretive and sophisticated. They are smart enough to know not to do it in front of a teacher or any adult.
Most schools don't even think they have a problem because it flys under the radar.
I am going to try and push for the "Conversation on Bullying" to be brought to our elementary school specifically because we are seeing more and more of it this year in the older grades. Now, would be an excellent time to refresh or remind parents, teachers and kids alike just how damaging bullying can be and it is NOT ok.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Well, sure enough, I guess the powers that be (the Bellevue High School 1983 class president and friends) have decided to have a mini reunion at 26 years. Something about, the 20th was SOOOO much fun and we couldn't wait until the 30th. So, voila! Come to an east side bar on Jan. 17th and reunite with all the high school pals.
For some reason, I was considered "lost" and a couple of old pals contacted me and asked if I was interested in going. My first instinct is, "Hell No!" I did not have a particularly wonderful time in high school. I remember it being particularly snobby and mean spirited. I had a few good, solid friends but pretty much kept to my own little world. I remember some of the kids being amazingly cruel and predatory. Hell no, I don't want to see them.
But, upon rethinking, it was fun to see the people that I did like at the 20th. I reconnected with some people I had lost touch with. I also found the people I had liked back then, I still really liked. There were some very nice folks, like me stuck in a school where many of the kids where filthy rich and spoiled. It was fun to reconnect and I was definately planning on going to the 30th. Why not this one?
Ok, I am game. One of my dear old friends lives in W. Seattle and she said that she would pick me up from the ferry and we can go together. I suggested we could go to dinner before to catch up and then head on over to the shin-dig.
I am nervous and excited. I feel like having a complete overhaul but have settled for a snazzy new blouse and perhaps a quick haircut on Saturday. My first anxious thought was, "I am such a matron." but then again, we are all the same age. Time is kinder to some but who cares.
So, I have a week to twit about it and I expect I will have a good time. It will be good to see Lynn and Marybeth. And, I am hoping that Mitchell (the high school boyfriend) will show up; haven't talked to him since I was pregnant with Molly.
I will faithfully report back.
When we first found these books, I started reading it to Molly before bed and I was honestly pretty shocked at the graphic depictions of the scuffles between the clans. Mostly about territory disputes and loss of resources, these story are a little microcosm of the human condition in tribal form. Rich with tradition, myth and ritual, these cats live their lives with dignity and purpose, with focus on love and friendship and making good choices. There is liberal dosed of forbidden love as cats are not allowed to mate outside of their clan. Yet, females are respected and honored and have important work to do. This is not a chauvinistic cat society. Motherhood is honored and the children "kits" are treasured as the bright hope for the future that they are.
Although, our pre-bedtime reading has moved on to other "lighter" reading, Molly has dived into this cat world with what I can only call voraciousness that does not surprise me as I recognize it in myself.
Erin Hunter, actually four writers, crank these books out pretty darn fast and have found a winning formula with these series. There are 17 total books from the main series, 2 field guides, 5 Manga (graphic novels) and one special addition. Molly has one by one devoured them all in just mere days. Now, as she waits impatiently for the next book, she has turned to the beginning and is starting it all over again.
I remember my mom saying that being able to give the joy of reading to your children is one of the best gifts a parent can do. I so agree.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
A gluten free snack
This is a preliminary assessment of the snack product, Nana’s Cookie Bars, which this author has studied extensively in a laboratory that also doubles as a kitchen. The reason for this research it that Nana’s Cookie Bars would seem to be as nearly addictive as a non-addictive snack product could possibly be. What follows is an in-depth analysis of the precise nature of this addictive quality. Why exactly are Nana’s Cookie Bars so good?
Preliminary conclusions: beats me.
As of this writing, Nana’s Cookie Bars have become something far more than a mere staple of my gluten-free diet. They are a food group unto themselves. They are as essential to my continued happiness as loud music and women with tattoos in the smalls of their backs. They are as indispensable to my existence as the air I breathe and the water I occasionally bathe in, and I anticipate that soon they may have their own place in the periodic table of elements.
The technicians behind Nana’s Cookie Bars have created three flavors, Berry Vanilla, Chocolate Munch, and the irresistible Nana Banana--the specific item this author is sadly dependent upon. Nana’s Cookie Bars are soft and crumbly, and may end up on the floor if placed in small hands. This author would recommend unwrapping the bars and rolling bite-sized balls to be stored in sandwich bags for toddler consumption.
Negative remarks, addendums, and caveats:
To date, Nana’s Cookie Bars have advertised no merchandise or special offers that might allow the buyer to achieve some small savings by including with a purchase a sufficient number of box tops or “proof of purchase seals.” Nevertheless, in anticipation of such an offer I am currently bagging, boxing, and storing all Nana’s Cookie Bar boxes I acquire as a result of my addiction.
I would immediately say; of course, it is the parent's responsibility. And, in a perfect world each and every parent would take this responsibility very seriously indeed. But how do we as a society make sure it is being done? Who enforces it? The victims? The bystanders? The penal system? There in lies the tricky situation for the public schools.
If the lessons aren't being taught at home then it ends up being the "village's" responsibility. Ignoring it just has too much cost for our society.
I am sure every teacher out there would much rather focus all their time on curriculum and teaching. Time is short and they are already forced to spend way too much time on prepping for standardized tests. And, yes, unfortunately they are also expected to teach children empathy and mutual respect as well.
In a nut shell, I think that is where the bullying issue comes in. As they say, "Hurt people hurt people".
I do think that if a child comes into the school setting and is bullying other kids, the school needs to nip it in the bud. The victims need help obviously but the bully does too. And, no, "stickup for yourself" is not help.There needs to be strong, appropriate, very serious consequences presented, promoted and understood. The parents need to be brought into the discussion. Little kids need to learn from day one appropriate ways of treating others. Set the rules early and enforce them. In extreme cases, the child should be expelled. I guarantee those parents will sit up and take notice if their kid doesn't have a place to go each day. The bully needs to be taken out of the mix and given help before it is too late. If we don't do this we are condoning it, we are reinforcing it, we are enabling it.
I feel for public school administrators. They are in a tight spot on this one. But, by not being clear and consistent about a bullying policy it will end up biting them, one way or the other. And, for the Tukwila School District we can see just how hard they are being bitten.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
I guess a few school districts will need to be sued for administrators to take protecting kids from bullies seriously.
"A discrimination suit has been filed on behalf of an autistic former student in the Tukwila School District, alleging district officials failed to protect him from bullying and tried to declare him a truant when his parents pulled him from classes.
The suit, filed Monday in King County Superior Court, contends the man was the victim of almost daily harassment when he was in the sixth and seventh grades by several boys at Showalter Middle School and now suffers from Anxiety Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The boys beat up J.B.M., shoved and pushed him, stole his books, slapped, punched and kicked him, hit him on the head with books, called him disparaging names, spit on him and poured liquids on him, the 17-page complaint alleges.
School officials told J.B.M. to stick up for himself and no action was taken against "the bullies," according to the suit.
Officials then took a recess away from J.B.M. when he yelled at other students and used "inappropriate language," the suit alleges.
They also ignored warnings from an education specialist and district psychologist that J.B.M. was the victim of bullying and that the problem needed to be addressed, the suit says.
At one point, the suit alleges, J.B.M. was told not to contact his mother at school."
I felt that Shea was getting stressed out by all the focus before the winter break and we decided to just let him be. I think it was a good decision because he has started to be quite forthcoming with potty details.
"Shea, honey, what are you doing?" I holler.
"I'm pooping." He responds.
This is new. He used to hunker down out of the way, contemplatively do his bizness and then needed to be chased down for a change. Now, he not only tells me what is going on, with words even, but he will tell me when he wants a change.
He will say "wet" and head over to the diaper zone in the morning when he gets up. And, will ask me to change his pants after he poops. He still is very reluctant to sit on the potty chair and will only try it right before bath despite a chocolate bribe. He doesn't have the patience to just sit and wait and will say he is done, step into the bath and then will go. I wonder if that means he just doesn't have the muscle control yet?
Shea will be 5 in April. When am I allowed to official panic? When should I seek "professional help"? Whatever that is. If we back off will he regress further or just figure it out in his own way? Are we enabling him and we should just buckle down?
When the power goes out around here, which it does quite often, Jake swings into action. He prides himself on his preparedness. So, when the power went out at about 9:30 Sunday night, he had a deep cycle battery set up with a reading light for me and the ubiquitous bedroom fan (for white noise) within 10 minutes flat. The power was on by the time we woke up, so he didn't have to do the whole generator thing but he was poised. And, maybe a little disappointed?
I feel very well taken care of.
Now, the cable TV, I didn't miss. Oh sure, the kids really like their two PBS stations. Molly is buried in a book almost non-stop these days and, if Shea has some cars, he is happy man. I did sort of miss my favorite news shows: Countdown with Keith Olbermann and The Rachal Maddow Show on MSNBC but we can certainly live without that for a day or two.
But, the internet hook up...we were down for almost 2 whole days! That was missed. I admit it, I am addicted. I communicate almost completely with my clients via e-mail. I love the automatic paper trail. I felt nervous and stressed, like I was missing something important. What if a client had a question and I didn't respond in good time? See what I mean? But, I also missed my news surfing and info gathering. And, I missed my blog. I felt quite literally un-plugged. Not in a good way.
Jake, who maybe a year ago couldn't even turn on a computer, has discovered Craigslist. So, even he missed the hook up. The kids missed PBSkids.org and a variety of kid friendly websites.
I guess I was the worst hit but I realize that our whole family is firmly part of cyber world and there is no going back.