Sunday, March 15, 2015

This is Partly Why I Do Not Like Public Schools, Or, I Hope You Have a Lot of Time

In California, we have something that is called "Transitional Kindergarten."  This is an all day program created specifically for children who have late-year birthdays, such as my daughter who was born in November.  Since they moved the minimum age of entry into Kindergarten back to being 5 before the beginning of the school year, they created TK for children who missed the cutoff, but could still benefit from an all day program to get them ready for Kinder.

So, seeing as how my daughter has attended Special Day Class since the age of 3, I was not aware that she was a candidate for TK.  When we held her IEP last March with all of the various staff that make up the IEP team, no one even mentioned TK. 

A couple of months ago, another parent asked me why my daughter was not in TK, at first I didn't really have a reply.  Uh, because she didn't qualify?  No, she said, they will assess each SDC pupil on a case by case basis if requested by the parent.


 Her current class is three hours a day, and the TK is six.  Now, I am being honest when I say that her being in a class for six hours a day would change our family's life in a big, big way. But, she absolutely does better in a structured environment than at home. She thrives on structure, and loves being around other people.  So, win for everyone, right?

I immediately contacted the principal of the school and asked why TK was not an option for my daughter.  Why did no one even address it at the IEP meeting? Regardless of whether they recommended her for TK at that time, it would have always been an option for me to pull her out of SDC and enroll her in TK.

I got a lot of hemming and hawing and "Oh, back then she wasn't right for TK," and maybe back in March of last year, she wasn't.  But she made HUGE improvements in all areas over the summer, and I wish that would have been taken into consideration in August when she went back.  But, not a word from anyone at the school.

So when I brought this up in mid December, I thought, they know that she has made huge strides, I am sure they will work with me on trying to place her even part time in a TK program.  Maybe she could do half and half, I was just looking for someone to work with me.

I was told that I was free to enroll her in a private preschool, and that they even thought it was a great idea that she enroll in a private program for 3 hours a day, but they would not facilitate anything with TK. 

Now, if anyone is familiar with the concepts of FAPE (free access to public education) and LRE (least restrictive learning environment) what they were telling me seemed to fly in the face of both of those rights.  I could PAY for a preschool, but they were horrified that I wanted to attend a public TK.  Least restrictive environment states that a Special Education Student should always attend school with regular students as long as the SE student is capable of being in class.

So I tried to find a TK program that was close to us, as not all schools in the district offer it.  And wouldn't you know it, all schools in our immediate area did not have any space.  And they wanted to know WHY I was looking to put her into TK, which I honestly thought was none of their business. In fact, I got an email from the principal asking me why I was calling the district and asking about open TK programs.  It felt very Big-Brother-ish.

So I call an IEP meeting, which is well within my rights to do, and I can tell they are all annoyed.  Annoyed that I am trying to do what is best for my daughter.  Horrible parent that I am.

They give me this dog and pony show about how I shouldn't "plunk" (their words) my daughter into a TK program mid-year.  That the TK program had a 30-1 ratio and how I should be grateful that my daughter has a 1-5 ratio.  That I should wait the two months for them to complete her Triennial evaluation (a big deal for them and their stats) and then they would determine what path she should take.  Basically saying that I don't know jack crap about is best for her, they do.

I tried to ask how they knew she would fail at a six hour day without even trying?  And if her future was so uncertain, why not try it out now and then figure out how best to accommodate her needs when she gets to Kinder?

The best I got was that they would allow her to sit in on a TK class which shares the same campus as the SDC for forty minutes, three days a week.  I told them I thought that anyone could fake it for forty minutes, but they weren't at all interested in what I had to say.  Beaten down, I agreed to wait for her Triennial.

Fast forward a month and a half and I requested her IEP documents ahead of our formal meeting, which consist of testing done by her teacher, her Occupational Therapist, her Speech Therapist, and the School Psychologist.  This is something I am legally allowed to do, although it is a fact I had to be told from someone else outside the district.

And wouldn't you know it, they all think she is fine!  Nope, no problems here!  After all that insinuation that it would be a mistake to pull her out of SDC so that she could receive accommodations in Kinder, she will get NOTHING.  Her speech was rated as age-appropriate (which our health provider disagrees with) and her Occupational Therapist recommended that she no longer receive services either.  Oh sure, they call it "graduating" to make it more palatable, but I totally disagree.  

I was asked to fill out some ratings scales at home for the Occupational Therapist and the Psychologist, and according to them, I am a fucking kook (paraphrasing here) who thinks my daughter has huge issues.  They see zero wrong and I come off like a parent who is completely out of touch with how my daughter actually is.

Seriously, I hate people sometimes.  Even well meaning ones, who are constrained by the huge machine that is the educational system, especially in the state of California.  I understand that there are finite resources to go around and that my daughter is definitely on the high-functioning end of the spectrum.  And I am grateful for that and for all the people who have helped her to achieve to get there. However,  it doesn't mean that she is normal and fine and life will just move on when she hits Kinder.

My meeting with the IEP team is on Thursday.  Pray for me.  Or maybe them, because I am pissed.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Same Old, Same Old

I am always shocked, shocked I tell you, at how long I go between blog posts.

I used to be so paranoid that I would go a day without posting and then what would the universe possibly do without my contribution?

We are gearing up for Thanksgiving, but I have decided that the four of us are going to do our own thing, probably the beach in the morning and maybe barbeque something and eat out on the patio with the twinkle lights on in the evening.  We don't normally eat on the patio, so it will definitely be something out of the ordinary.

There is no real reason we don't eat there, mostly to do with my daughter and how she is only now entering a phase where we don't feel we have to watch her every single second she is outside.  Not that she doesn't still get into trouble, but she has a better sense of what can and can't hurt her now, so we feel comfortable taking our eyes off of her for a few minutes here and there.

We have scheduled another developmental assessment for her, which should help us greatly in identifying behaviors that are related to her disorder.  Sometimes it is difficult to know how to discipline her when we are unsure if the behaviors are technically beyond her control at this point or if she is just messing with us.  She will get better as she continues to get older, but I fear it is a longer slog than we originally thought.

The Big Freeze is still going.  I have no reason to believe that it will end anytime soon, so this is going to be the new normal, I guess.  I actually went and talked to a therapist, as my workplace offers the service for free.  I told her about how my family has treated my family and me throughout the years, and she said that it was a good thing to have cut them out at this point. So, it was nice to get a completely unbiased opinion, as those are very difficult to find.  Of course the argument could be made that I was feeding her biased information, but I really did try to keep it as unembellished as possible.  I didn't even tell her some of the worst things!

So, we continue soldiering on, bracing ourselves for Christmas.  I've already gotten invitations to parties I can't attend. So yay?  At least I was invited?  Trying to look on the bright side here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


I like to play Words with Friends on my phone.  It keeps my mind busy, and I prefer it to browsing the web on my phone or playing something as stupefying as Candy Crush.

I have several games running at once, mostly with people I've been playing with for a while.  Hi Nance! Nance usually kicks my arse.

 Once in a while, though, I will press the "Random Opponent" button and match up with an unknown.  I've come across some fairly weird people.  One of them berated me for not playing "faster" and making (I am assuming it was a him, based on his user name) him wait for two whole days.  He then insulted me and resigned.    I asked for a rematch, and then told him that I was sorry I had made him wait, but as my phone had broken and needed to be repaired,  his priorities were not at the top of my list.  Well, I said it better than that, but I know I made him feel like the jerk he truly was.  Then I resigned, because I always have to have the last word.

Anyway, the other day I went for a new random opponent, and it started off as a regular game.  Two words into the game, I saw that my opponent had "texted" me.  I inwardly groaned.  Maybe outwardly, too.  Experience had shown me that not much good came from people texting you early in the game.

Sure enough, I looked to find the oh-so-eloquent, "ur woman or man."

I replied, "What does it matter?" and resigned.

That didn't keep my new friend from replying with a vulgarism that made me feel attacked.  Sure, this person was trying to stupidly find someone for sexytimes on Words with Friends, but I couldn't believe that I actually had to encounter that in my life.  I felt assaulted, to be honest.  I wanted to write back, "This isn't Tinder, asshole" but I refrained.

But that is what females encounter all the time.  I've been verbally assaulted before, usually to my face by some guy thinking that making a vulgar comment about my body will just make me want to fall into bed with him (this is when I was much younger, mind you).  And so it had been a long time since I felt those feelings of being violated and reduced to a body part.

I didn't like it then, and I sure as hell don't like it now.

It will probably be a while until I hit the "Random Opponent" button, I'm thinking.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

There's a Scorpion in My Sink!

Yes, that is correct.

I found a scorpion in one of our bathroom sinks.

There I was, around eight at night, innocently going to the bathroom, which is an en suite attached to the master bedroom.

I go to wash my hands, and I see a sudden movement in the sink.

Needless to say, there should never be any sudden movements in your bathroom sink.

Stuck down at the bottom was an honest-to-goodness scorpion.

I think I have only seen a couple of them in zoo/museum type places, and I had to look up a picture on the internet just to confirm what I thought I saw.  Because I certainly wasn't going to go stare at it.

Hubba-hubba was working overtime at a community festival, and I called him on his cell, which I something I never do when he is working. Especially when he is out and about and not in the office, he tends to be very busy when he is out in the field.

So he picks up his phone and says, "This had better be good."

"There's a freaking scorpion in one of our bathroom sinks!"

"Yeah, that's pretty good."

So he instructed me to cover the sink with something and wait until he got home, which wasn't going to be until after 11pm.  I found a plastic lid from a storage box that wasn't doing anything useful and quickly slipped it over the sink.  Then I weighted that sucker with some stuff, because I read that scorpions can flatten themselves the width of a credit card.

And thus my visions of going to bed early, around 9:30, and relaxing with some music in the bedroom were dashed.  Because there is nothing at all relaxing about a scorpion in your bedroom.

I didn't get to bed until almost midnight.

Well, I think I'm going to have to wait a bit longer for something to break my way.  The universe is sending me some fairly alarming signals.

Friday, September 12, 2014

What, This Old Thing?

When I got my job, my husband and I agreed that it would be a simple, part time gig.  Nothing hard, just show up for ten or so hours a week and go home.  Collect a paycheck that would help a little bit.

But, that snowballed into a job that had me frantically typing emails at 8pm, long after I'd stopped "working." 

Now, I accepted the (thank god) temporary upgrade in status that put me in the position of working after hours, but it has been a tough slog.  I have the unusual problem of going to work almost every day, but only for a very short time.  Thus, even though I feel like I am always there, I have to cram everything I need to do in the teensy timeslot that is my daughter's school schedule and I leave every day with things that still need finished.

I finally have my replacement coming in, and I finally feel a little bit of freedom.  My replacement hasn't fully taken over all the duties, but they will very shortly.  Instead of feeling let down that I will no longer be running things, I couldn't be happier that I will have some time to myself.

Things have deteriorated with my family, though, and I am pretty much only speaking to my grandparents and my Dad.  I began working in the beginning of June and my family just found out I am working two weeks ago.  It's tough with my Dad because he pretends like everything is fine, and because he doesn't bring up what I like to call "the big freeze" then I don't bring it up, either.

My life is actually better without people who actively try to screw with me, so I am certainly not looking to repair any relationships any time soon.  All I know is that because they are too proud to admit their mistakes and try to apologize for their behavior, they are missing out on two great kids. 

And by the time they figure out that they SHOULD try to make amends, it will most likely be too late.  My children will have moved on to bond with other mentors in their lives.  Which in a way makes me sad because my family should have been first and foremost among the influences in their lives, but a different path was chosen.  I feel zero guilt about it.

So, nothing to see here, really.  Just struggling being a part time worker and yet still a full time mother, because to my daughter, I am only gone from her one day out of the week when she isn't at school.  I honestly don't know how people work full time and still manage to get things done.  I can barely do it now, and I am certainly not full time. 

Maybe it will get better as time goes on.  Or maybe it will get worse.  Something's gotta break my way every once in a while, right?

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Life has begun simply rushing past me and I just don't even have time to process everything.

My lovely husband pushed me to go out and get that part time job because, to be honest, we were drowning under the co-pays for my daughter's various therapies.

Don't even get me started on the fact that she has just been diagnosed with GERD with little Prevacid ready-tabs that I have to pay like, two bucks per pill for.  She was vomiting at night several times a week and we were just at our wit's end with this poor little girl.

Anyhoo, so as I mentioned before, the stars were all in complete alignment in order to get the job that I currently have.  I also signed an agreement with the city wherein I promised I would never discuss my job on any form of internet media, so all the juicy tidbits I could be telling you are just going to have to stay here in my head.  Just know that I am dealing with brides and that should tell you all you need to know.

So, I get this job and suddenly Hubba-hubba's job schedule gets switched to where he has to work five days a week except for every other Friday off.  He used to have three days off every week and he wouldn't even leave the house until one in the afternoon.  Now he leaves here at 6:30AM.  So I have zero help with the kids now as well as trying to cram in going to work.  I don't even want to know what is going to happen once school starts again.

My main point that I've been trying to make in the last three paragraphs is that on top of all this going on, my husband is now insisting that he work as much overtime as he possibly can because they suddenly are offering it again after not really having much for years, and he wants all the money he can get.  So for example, this coming Saturday looks like this:

7AM Gina leaves for work.
1PM Gina gets home from work.
2PM Hubba-hubba leaves for work.
1AM Hubba-hubba gets home from work.

Sounds like my idea of a great weekend day, yours too, huh?

Ach, I know I'm just whining but I'm just so insanely tired and stressed that it feels better just typing this.  Ignore the woman whining behind the curtain.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Hmmmm, Yes...

This place still exists.

I sort of forgot.  Between trying to just finish the damn school year already (why does my son fail to realize that part of the beauty of homeschooling is that you can finish the year EARLY if you so choose, which he did not) and uh, the fact that I got a job.

Yes, I sort of fainted too when I heard the news.  Well, actually I got the job because I am such an awesome worker that a boss who hired me when I was 18 (and promoted me as well) decided I was worth hiring again.

I'm pretty sure that if I didn't have that extra piece of the puzzle, I would still be staring at my empty inbox, ignored by any and all employers.  It's actually a great job, one that I am happy to have and am grateful to have.  It pays more than I thought it would, too.  Even better, my boss (she is an "upper" boss, not my immediate boss, if that makes any sense) is very cognizant of my family's needs and is more than willing to be flexible about my schedule.


Two unrelated notes, just because:

I was behind some dude in a brand new convertible BMW on my way to pick up Ms. P from school.  Well, of course he wanted everyone to look at him, so I obliged.  I couldn't help it.  And when I did, I burst out laughing.  His "look" was so studied, so douchebaggy that I had to laugh at his pretentiousness and the thought that HE thought he looked good.  He had this very carefully curated stubble that looked almost penciled on.  He had tats around the back of his neck, with a white T shirt cut just low enough to show them all off perfectly.  He had on obnoxious sunglasses, and while I'm sure there are plenty of girls willing to date him, I would never have been one of them.

Again, in the car on the way to pick up babygirl.  I see the Google Streetview car.  I want to roll down my window and shout at him, "Hey, Michael Bluth!" But he was avoiding eye contact with everyone, probably because everyone always tries to say or do something cute and he just wants to photograph the streets and buildings, dammit.  Leave him alone to his important work!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An Open Letter to My Local Target

Dear Target,

When I take my eleven year old son to go shopping at your store, we usually see it as a fun outing.  The possibility of popcorn and/or an Icee is too enticing to risk staying at home!

There are certain places in the store I try to avoid when I am with him. The candy aisle, for instance.  No need to be pestered about sugary things I am not going to purchase.  Sometimes the cookie aisle, too, although we sometimes buy them on purpose!

Another aisle I try to skip is the "feminine care" aisle, although he does know what tampons are for.  It isn't so much the tampons that I'm trying to pass by, but the ah, "intimate aids" section that is in the same aisle as the tampons.  I'm not sure if this implies that women are the main purchasers of condoms and such, but possibly there might be a better place for them.

However, I am aware of where they are in the store, and will try to approach the tampons from the other side without passing the boxes that scream "More Pleasure for Her!"

Not because I don't want my son to know there are such things as condoms, but because I don't think Target is necessarily the best place for my son to ask the types of questions that would arise should he see them.  At home, fine.  But I'm just trying to pick up my Kotex and get out of there, not engage in Sex Ed 101 in the checkout line.

So, imagine my surprise when my son, who notices a product on the endcap display, catches up to me in the floor cleaner aisle.  "Hey Mom!" he shouts.  "Do you want to experience sensual warmth?"  I stop dead in my tracks as he waves a bottle of lube in my face.  Seriously, Target, lube on the endcap?  That is all kinds of wrong.  "I want to experience nothing of the sort!" I huff, ordering him to put the damn thing back on the shelf.

Well, I mean, sure, I WOULD like to experience sensual warmth, but that question has NO BUSINESS being asked by an eleven year old to his mother.  NONE.  I would now like Target to send me some brain bleach so I can forever rid myself of that particular experience.

Yours Truly,

PS.  I wasn't even this upset when you leaked my credit card numbers and my banks had to send me two new ones because of your screw up.  This was worse than that.  Get it together Target, GET IT TOGETHER.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

What Lies Underneath

There is a mom at my daughter's school who has close-cropped, platinum-dyed hair.  She sports plug earrings, multiple tattoos, wears short shorts, striped knee high socks, and Chuck Taylors.  She is slightly younger than me.

I sort of admire her.

And I know she will probably never approach me because she thinks I am somewhat of a stuffed shirt.  Perhaps she thinks I even disapprove of the way she dresses, because we couldn't be dressed more oppositely if we tried.

But she couldn't be more wrong.

For some strange reason, I have never managed to have my outside match my inside.  For clothing, I have always gravitated to preppy clothing that could be considered matronly, even when I was in my teens.

Back when I had a fabulous body, I never really showed it off.  If I had a denim miniskirt on, then I wore an alpine sweater and opaque tights with it.  I would wear a pencil skirt, but it was on the longer side and I had a big sweater with a collared shirt underneath.  Hmmm, I am sensing a trend here.   I was never comfortable exposing lots of skin, and one of the biggest fights with my best friend in my twenties was over the fact that I casually criticized her for wearing leggings with her shirt tucked in. 

I fanatically listened to New Wave, punk, and goth music, but in high school I am sure I looked more like a Lionel Richie fan.  Man, I hated Lionel Ritchie.  Although I will admit to liking "All Night Long."

I desperately wanted to dress a certain way in high school, which my mother was not really thrilled with, even though it involved long shirts with the collar buttoned all the way up and pants with boots.  I never got to own the right kind of boots, my mom was against the idea of buying me shoes that weren't for school or sports.  I remember though, finally being allowed to purchase (thanks Dad)  this black and white paisley big shirt. I had black leggings, and I think I wore them with some white socks and black oxfords to a school dance.  I couldn't have felt more fake or uncomfortable, even though I might have looked the part I was trying to play. 

And perhaps that was the problem right there.  I didn't really know what part I wanted at all, even though I thought I did.  I was an honors student and varsity sports player, and the clique of fifteen or so girls I belonged to was also made up of mostly honor student/athletes and we all dressed very wholesomely. But the only time we ever really discussed clothing was around formal dance time.  Maybe that was a by product of having to wear a uniform every day.

What part do I look now?  Oh, a minivan driving soccer mom, to be sure.  A lazy one, at that, who throws on capri pants and a shirt, along with shoes that MUST be no-heel slip-ons because right now I just do not have the time or desire to lace my shoes up.  I am too busy trying to wrangle my daughter's feet into shoes, much less having to worry about my own.

But I don't have a child who plays soccer, and I'm not sure I ever will.  I am certainly a mom, but one who blasts Linkin Park, Foster the People, and Phantogram out of my eight premium sound system minivan speakers, much to the delight of my son.

I bet that other mom would be surprised that I recognize the Social Distortion sticker on the back of her car.  Maybe one day I will blow her mind and mention it.

Because I'm a risk-taker like that.

Friday, March 21, 2014

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times...

Alas, there is nothing on this blog that will remind you of Dickens other than my cribbing and truncating his famous first line.

Every quarter or so, our tract sponsors a community garage sale that is well-advertised and brings many people to the area.  I have never in my life held a garage sale, and by gum, I was determined to host one.  I had tons of baby and toddler items that needed new homes and I couldn't think of an easier way than to just unload them all at once! Genius ideas, these garage sales.

Except, I had heard some grumblings from my neighbors about some of the people who come and try to nickel and dime you to death, as well as maybe not be the most wholesome people around.

In my naivete, I assured myself that MY garage sale would be different.  I happen to have a 6'1'' hunk of former linebacker in my corner, so I thought people would at least think twice before pulling any shenanigans.

Boy, was I wrong.

In the first ten minutes, someone stole one of the toys I had out.  Just flat out stole!  She asked me how much this really big truck that was formerly remote-controlled, but since I lost the controller, was now just a big truck.  Oh, how about a dollar, I said.  She hoisted it up and strode to her vehicle (which was nicer than either of ours) and straight up didn't pay for it.  I told Hubba-hubba, "Did she pay you?" as she got in to her sports utility vehicle.
 "Nope," he said.
"Well," my voice verging on hysteria, "then she didn't pay for it!"

And that was just the beginning of the parade of shady, weird people who tried to bargain me down from three dollars to two dollars for brand new dresses with TAGS STILL ON THEM.  You cannot even walk into a Goodwill store and pay two dollars for a pretty dress with tags on them.  They seemed to be of the mindset that if they couldn't command their own lower price, no matter how good my price was, they were having none of it.  Fine with me.  This went on all day long.  If they couldn't have something for a buck, they didn't want it, even if it was worth fifty and I was only asking ten.

Then, a group of people drove up and wanted to buy a five dollar item.  They pulled out a hundred dollar bill and asked Hubba-hubba, who was in charge of the money, if he had change for it.  As he is in law enforcement and has seen a counterfeit bill or two in his time, he said no, he didn't.  He said it was a pretty good fake, but fake nonetheless.  Imagine, if that had been me, I would have fallen for that hook, line, and sinker.  Then we would be out almost all of our profit and they get almost a hundred dollars tax free! 

I think I just found my new part-time job.  If I only did that four times in one weekend, I would be making almost four hundred dollars a week!  That is some pretty good money! 

Of course I will do nothing of the sort, but I just don't understand that sort of criminal mindset.  Why people don't give a shit about victimizing people.  Hey, maybe your life is hard, but what makes you think my life isn't hard, too?  Just because I might (or not!) live in a nicer house than you, or you think I may have more than you, that means you can steal from me?  I'm no one-percenter, I need everything I can get!

People suck.

We called it quits after about three hours and felt like we needed to take showers, both literally and figuratively.   Hubba-hubba said he was upset that those type of people were in his neighborhood.  I agreed, and vowed never to have another garage sale as long as I live.  I would rather donate each and every item than have to deal with that kind of crap again.

The next day was my birthday and my sister-in-law had offered to babysit.  Whoo-hoo! We did something completely uncharacteristic of us and went to this bar to have some delicious drinks.  OH MY GOD, my chosen drink was so good. I had the Piranha Pool, which is one of those very deceptive drinks that are so sweet that you cannot taste the alcohol.  I had two, which left me a very happy, relaxed person.  I can't even remember the last time we went to a bar to have a drink, probably fifteen years ago or so.  We don't drink a lot to begin with, and if we do, we usually pour something here at home. 

But that had to be one of the most fun days we have had in a very long time, which was much needed, especially after the previous day being such a complete downer. 

Apparently I need to drink more often.