Sunday, July 03, 2016


The end of the school year, finally!

Did I tell you that my son went to public school this past year?

Did I tell you that my daughter was in a regular Kinder classroom this year?

Although it was nice to have them both in school, there were definitely things I was not so hip on, such as having to wake up at 5:20 every morning just to get everyone out the door on time.  And then after all the driving and dropping off, going to work. Such fun!

I had forgotten the dreariness of having to complete mounds and mounds of homework (even though new research has shown that homework, especially for Kinder, is for shit).  Of constant deadlines and fundraisers and things I am supposed to volunteer for.

My daughter had a good year, but was definitely not without its bumps.

Her teacher, an older, highly experienced, practical woman with a Master's in Education, kept referring to my daughter as an "inclusion student."  It wasn't her name or just "student" but was always prefaced with the word "inclusion."  That bugged me, I have to admit.  I am not sure what the dynamic in the classroom was, but if the teacher is going to "other" you, then that is for sure going to carry over to the other students.  And to some degree, I think it did.

My daughter, the outgoing, friendly child who makes friends everywhere she goes, could not find a friend.  This was brought up in multiple meetings, and the teacher kept prodding me to schedule a playdate with someone.  But who?  And when in the world does anyone have the time?

The school she attends is a lottery school, a science and technology magnet that is quite a few miles away, thus leaving us with no neighborhood friendships to be developed.  That in itself is kind of a bummer, but I stand by my decision to keep her there.

My daughter can be very loud, very impulsive, and quite uncompromising.  I am sure that didn't help her cause, either.  She was referred into some behavioral group sessions as well, which I guess isn't that great.

By the end of the year, she had good friends, but it was tough to get there.  I am hoping that next year the transition will not be as abrupt for her.  Her former school was tiny, with lots of aides and teachers and a very small class size.  To be thrown into a 30:1 ratio must have been difficult for her.

She did have an RSP who just adores her, and that is a big help.  She is such an advocate for my daughter, I trust her completely on what is best for her in the classroom setting.  We are blessed to have her.  

Another part of the problem is that she is above grade level in many academic areas, and the teacher (yes, I know she was overwhelmed) did not know for at least six months that my daughter could even read, much less at about a third or fourth grade level!  I tried to tell her, and I think she thought I was exaggerating.  I wasn't.

As for my son, he was catapulted into the honors program in his middle school and I think he had some issues adjusting to the amount of homework.  Seriously, if there was anything I could change, it would definitely be the amount of homework.  I know there are some teachers who think it is vital, but I could not disagree more.  There might be some students who need the repetition to cement the concept, but my son is not one of them.  That is one of the beauties of homeschooling, tailoring the amount of work to how much the concept is not sticking.  The one size fits all approach blows, to be completely frank.

He also was in the school orchestra, and by dint of being very tall, was given the string bass as his instrument.  Despite having to wrestle it out of its closet every day, he didn't do too badly.  One of the things his father and I really wanted him to learn was how to read music and play an instrument, which he would always resist. So I am gratified that he chose the orchestra and kept at it.

And he is 13, so we are getting a lot of eyerolls and being looked at as if we know absolutely nothing about anything.  Usually my husband and I just wind up giggling hysterically when he acts like that, and 99% of the time, it infuriates him more. Maybe because we are older parents and just don't have time for that kind of crap.  The computer being taken away is a big incentive, as most boys today live a large online life.  Nice to have something that works.

Summer is now in full swing, and my daughter is attending a day camp run by the school district at her school (we got lucky, as it changes every year) and loves it. My son will be volunteering with our city's youth volunteer program and I am positive that the start of the school year will come faster than I would like it.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

All I Saw was a Beard and a Moustache

Dear Driver of the Vintage Truck in front of me,

If I cannot tell whether your custom (I'm assuming) sticker on the back of your cab is Jerry Garcia, Jesus, or King Triton, then your intended message to your fellow road companions is COMPLETELY LOST.

Thank you,
The Puzzled Driver behind you who was driving with her kids and could not snap a photo.  But, trust Her, there was no way to tell.

Sunday, August 09, 2015


Not too long ago, Hubba-hubba and I were able to get some babysitting (i.e. pay someone a boatload of money to come to our house, ON TOP of the money we were spending to go out. Yay?) and went to one of our favorite bars.  This is fairly ironic, because we don't drink a lot, yet the first place we thought of going when we knew we were going out alone was there.  Well, I'll be honest, we really only have one favorite bar.  I think at this point we are just looking for a place that we can be sure has NO CHILDREN.  Because honestly, we are SICK OF THEM already.  I don't want to pay good money to hang out somewhere where there are children, because if I wanted to hang out with them, I would just STAY HOME.
Anyhoo, we get there and strike up a conversation with the bartender, which we often like to do.  He is friendly, as befits a bartender, but for whatever reason he really started warming up to us.

This particular bar is famous for it's very sweet, fruity drinks.  But our bartender confided that he felt a bit constrained working at this particular bar.  Apparently in the current bartending world, fruity drinks are passé. Fruity drinks are the slippery slope bartenders must climb every day in order to pay their rent. 

No, the kind of drinks that are hot right now, that all the cool people are drinking are simple drinks with old fashioned alcohols and things like bitters and absinthe in them.  The kind that people used to make in bathtubs during Prohibition, because that was REAL drink-making back then.  None of this fancy blender crap with vibrant colors.  Three ingredients, at best.  That, we were told, was a REAL drink.  Only the dedicated few were tending bar back in those days, and they are to be worshipped and emulated.  At least, that's kind of the vibe we got from this bartender. 

So he lowers his voice, and tells my husband, "Would you like me to make you a REAL drink?"

Now, my husband is not really the one-upping type, but what kind of wussy is going to say no to a question like that?  No sir, I don't want a REAL drink, I want more of this stuff that's really cold and blue.

So of course he says yes, and the bartender's face lights up.  He hurries around the bar, gathering what he will need.  He begins his preparations, glancing at us from time to time with a glint in his eye, to make sure we are watching the master at work.

We are.

Finally, after about five minutes, he triumphantly places a highball glass onto the counter in front of my husband.  He is puffed with pride, and announces, "This is guaranteed to knock your socks off."

My husband lifts the glass with anticipation, and gingerly takes a sip.  He knows there is something like vermouth and bitters in the drink, but isn't sure what else, exactly.  My husband is 6'1" and built like a linebacker.  He has, in his former days, had probably more than his fair share of alcohol.  So it surprised me when his eyes grew two sizes and was gasping as he put the drink down.

Luckily, the bartender was busy with other customers, and so was unable to see this less than flattering reaction to THE REAL DRINK.  "Quick," he whispers to me, "Let me have a sip of your daiquiri, I need to get the taste of this out of my mouth." 

He grinned and bore it, slowly sipping THE REAL DRINK and surreptitiously drinking some of my fake drink right after.  Of course he was asked how he liked it, and of course he lied and said it was great.

It wasn't until we got home that we came to the conclusion that there is a good reason why we have all these fruity and fancy drinks now, so unlike those Prohibition days.  It's because the only had three ingredients to work with!  They didn't have much of a choice in their bathtub preparations!  Give us fruity, colored drinks any day of the week!

In other words, we are so not hip.

*Apologies for the all caps, it just felt right today.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The IEP Nightmare

When you have a child with a disability, one of the first things you try to do is get help.

Help can come in many forms, from therapists to doctors to the school system.

When my daughter was first deemed "disabled enough" (my term) to qualify for our school district's Special Education Program, I was thrilled.  I was coming off long days and nights caring for her, taking her to therapists, and basically struggling by myself as my husband had to, you know, make a living.

Therefore when they told me she could be in the Pre-kindergarten program they have for children ages 3-5, I was over the moon.  My god, two hours to myself!  Every day!  She would be given some speech therapy and she qualified at the time for occupational therapy as well.  Didn't matter that the occupational therapy was twenty minutes from the school and I had to sit in the school parking lot while she was there, it was like 45 minutes of heaven to me at the time.

When children are accepted into the Special Education program in California, you the parent enter into what is called an IEP, or Individual Education Program.  This is essentially a contract from the school district that details what the goals of the student are going to be in the upcoming year, and what measurements will be used to determine whether the goal will be reached. 

For example, a goal could be that my daughter needed to verbally ask for assistance when she needed help with a problem.  If she was able to perform this task let's say 85% or more of the time as evaluated by her teacher, then they would consider that goal reached.  This is normally done on a yearly basis, though.  If your kid is a quick study and you have no idea that they got the message three months into the implementation of the IEP, you would have no way of knowing until the yearly IEP meeting.

Something I learned the hard way, by the way.

When my daughter was still markedly showing her disability because she was only two or three and unable to control herself, and the language skills were still in the 10th percentile for her age group, the idea of the IEP was lovely. 

IEP meetings were things where I was so grateful for the help she was getting and the improvements she was making, I went along with anything they said.  Oh, well, she doesn't need occupational therapy any longer?  They are the experts after all!  This despite my inner mama brain whispering, "Are you sure this is right?"

Don't get me wrong, I AM grateful for all the assistance that has been given to my daughter.  I think  attending the Special Education program was a big part of her success.  Her primary teacher is wonderful, my daughter loves her and has had her for the entire time she has been enrolled.

But now that things are entering more of a gray area with my daughter where she is still considered someone with a disability, but it does not show itself as prominently.  You would probably be hard-pressed at this point to recognize her as someone with a disability at all.  However, that doesn't mean there aren't still big issues that need to be dealt with.

As we have progressed in this system, I have never felt more powerless.  The IEP, once considered a godsend, is now a burdensome, almost argumentative process where I feel I am actually having to fight for very basic things to accommodate my daughter.  I never realized that the IEP is actually the school district's complete control over your child and their experience in the education system.  If the "experts" don't recommend it for your child, and you think differently, it automatically becomes this horrible adversarial thing that stresses you out and keeps you awake at night.

Only when you sit there and just accept everything they say is the process pleasant.  Goodness forbid you have a brain of your own, or that you might just know a little bit more about your child than they do.  Then you are considered an enemy.  The program coordinator at my daughter's school hates me so much that in our last IEP meeting, I was addressed solely as "Mom." Not my first or last name, despite the fact that we exchange emails on an almost weekly basis.  Nope, nothing like putting the mere "Mom" in her place.

For next year, my daughter has been given the barest minimum of support.  She will get a RSP (Resource Service Provider) for all of an hour each week.  This is supposed to be a small group setting where she will receive assistance for any academic problems she is having.

But, she has scored above average on all her academic testing, so I am having a difficult time understanding what exactly will be happening in these sessions.

I am seriously considering pulling her out of Special Education altogether. Why give them so much power over my daughter for a freaking hour a week?  I've heard good things about RSP's, and I want to give the situation the benefit of the doubt, but I've reached a place where I don't trust anyone in the school system much anymore.  This is coming from a liberal Democrat, by the way.

I've got about a week to make a decision.

It's a tough one.

Friday, May 15, 2015


A few months ago at a community garage sale, my son wasted some money on an Anaheim Angels clock.  I'm sure whomever he bought it off of heaved a huge sigh of relief as he left their yard.  He isn't even a big fan of the team, I think he just liked the way it looked.

It's an old-fashioned looking clock, with little feet and fake alarm bells at the top.  I'm sure I did not describe that well at all.  Let's see if I can find a picture that sort of looks the same.

There we go, it looks exactly like that, even the same color.  Except picture the maybe not-so-famous mascot of the Anaheim Angels, the Rally Monkey, dancing on the face.

For the longest time it just sat around, first in my son's room, until my daughter stole it and then it sat in my daughter's room instead.  Simply a change of locale. It didn't actually function, it just looked sort of cool, apparently.

Finally, my daughter found some batteries and put them in the clock.  I dubiously watched her placing them in the slots, wondering if the thing would even work.  Lo and behold, the hands started moving and time was being told.  The destiny of that clock was finally fulfilled.

Quickly forgetting about it, as five year olds are wont to do, she placed it on the fireplace mantle in our kitchen, which is right next to my computer desk.  I was sitting at my desk and talking to my husband one night, and the rest of the house was fairly quiet.  Suddenly I heard this weird, repetitive noise that I couldn't quite place.  It sounded really familiar, but yet foreign at the same time.

I looked around, and it was the clock!  Making that very distinctive sound that the second hand makes as it moves around, doing the job it was made to do.

It annoyed me.

What I couldn't believe is that I grew up with multiple clocks in our house, in everyone's house, and back then the sound never even registered.  It may have even been comforting at some points.  Not to even mention the grandfather clocks, which both sets of my grandparents owned.

But now, with non-digital clocks being the outliers, not the norm, the sound was intrusive.  Unwelcome.  A sound I don't choose to have around me, when I definitely have a choice. 

Maybe I just need to move it further away from me.

Like in the trashcan.

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?