Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Think Again

I have heard plenty of stories about kids with IEPs told to stay home during standardized testing, the whole idea being that they will wreck the curve and funding by bringing down the score average of the school district.


Imagine my surprise when Nic's scores from last year's PSSAs showed up in my mailbox yesterday.

A quick tutorial for those not in the know; scoring breaks down into four levels: below basic, basic, proficient and advanced. SDs want scoring in the proficient range and above; it proves to all and sundry that they are at least teaching to the test.

(Which is why I exhort to all parents to do all sorts of extracurriculars by teaching in the larger classroom of the world, but anyway)

So, my Nic turned in a perfect score in data analysis and problem solving, and middling high to high scores in everything else.

Bottom line: proficient in both math and reading.

I have thereby earned the right to poke anyone in the eye who says that kids with IEPs bring down the testing curve. I'm willing to bet Nic had plenty an NT peer who did not perform so well.

Assume competence. Assume intelligence. Always.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

To the Wall

I have way too much on my plate at the moment, but I need a break. I'm thankful for the work, but I hate that it's feast or famine. I am officially gorged. :P

School seems to have stabilized, although I already have an IEP meeting for G happening this week. Back to school night was uneventful. Both kids are settling into the routine of school and the big bus. Nic's new interests in golf and Wii are netting him more people to talk to who are interested in the same things. G is reading to his classmates. Or reciting, since he's not really reading (as Nic was).

We managed to convince both boys to go to the carnival, and Nic had his first-ever Ferris wheel ride (he asked me if my first ride happened before or after my dad died--and as it happened, it was a few hours before, at my own carnival, and of course I didn't realize that was happening until later--interesting what Nic picks up on, and what he chooses to remember).

The big source of fun however was not the rides, but the dunk tank. The school principal, dressed for work in a button-down shirt, slacks and tie, took the first shift. And both my boys managed to knock him into the tank.

They'll be talking about that for weeks.

Cool thing, Fr M was there, and Nic went over and said hello to him, unprompted. I told Fr M after mass today that Nic doesn't ordinarily do that, and that I was pleased that he took the initiative. It was awesome to hang out with him for a little while, and the boys had a wonderful time bonding with the other kids over the fun.

A great time. But what would have totally made it? If they had friends to hang out with on their own. I went to my own carnival with other kids at about Nic's age. I saw plenty of kids running around in packs from ride to ride (love wristband action), and I couldn't help feeling a little sorry for the boys, stuck as it were with mom and dad. On the upside, they didn't seem to notice or care--this is what we do, and how we do it, and they are fine with it.

Not quite there. But maybe next year we'll remember to call B up and invite him along.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Happy 50th birthday, Haydee

Six years ago today, you celebrated your last birthday on earth; Seven years ago, you opened your house to my family while we transitioned from habitat to home.

I will never forget your warmth, goodness and radiance. You called us family, and you meant it. I will never forget how you upended your life to make ours easier, and I will be forever grateful.

Nic still speaks fondly of his Tia ChaCha. He should not remember you, but somehow, he does.

You may be gone, but you are never far from my thoughts and always in my heart. I love you, and I miss you. The world is a darker place without you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The story so far

Let's see, one kid sent to the principal's office for giving Nic grief, two AS kids trying to pants him on the playground, and he fell asleep in science class--all in the first two weeks.

And everyone is learning (surprise!) that G isn't Nic.

G wants to know a) when he is going back to preschool and b) when he's riding the little bus.

Hey, it could be worse!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


So I had one of those questionnaires to fill out for Nic's teacher....

1. What are some character traits your child possesses? Why would you say your child has these traits?

He is easily frustrated because he blows up when he doesn't understand something. Yet, he is persistent because instead of walking away, he hangs in there and works on whatever is frustrating him until he gets it.

2. What are your child's interests inside and outside of school?

Poptropica, math, computers, reading, swimming, soccer, tennis, golf, Disney/Pixar movies, elevators, and history

3. What are your hopes and dreams for your child's coming year?

To make one good friend.

4. What should I know about your child for him or her to have a successful year?

If you expect great things from Nic, he will not disappoint.

If you expect nothing from Nic, he will not disappoint.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Next Level

We're at the bottom rung, but we are definitely at the next level.

So far, so far. Nic is struggling with the whole concept that he and B both are allowed to sit with other kids on the bus and at lunch. I am impressed with his repertoire--he is sitting with different kids at lunch on different days. He has to get over 'having' to sit with B on the bus. (I worked a little 'social skills' into our bedtime reading last night).

So. G is doing fine with the transition to K; Nic is actually handling the demands of grade 4 pretty well--I'm not talking the academics so much as managing his 'stuff.' Could it be that some Executive Function skills are kicking in?

I have my own management stuff to handle, but I did the needful yesterday, now just have to settle into doing what's assigned me. I'll be busy into next month, and then I'll figure the rest out as I go.

The boys will, too.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I am getting ready to go pick up G for K orientation. Tomorrow is his first day, both on the big bus and in big, bad elementary school. (Nic had a great first day, and he will get his own post later)

But, in going to pick up G today, we will be closing a chapter on the last 4 years of his life. So funny that I barely blinked when I was at this crossroads with Nic four years ago--and I remember how sad I was to send G to the same place, since I wanted him home a little longer.

But, as many things happen, this turned out to be a good move for G, and he had a wonderful four years with 3 great teachers. And it is with great sadness I will be saying goodbye to the best of the bunch today.

No one told her she had to go to as many as four IEP meetings in the course of a year for G, nor did anyone tell her she HAD to consult with his IU team to integrate their tactics into her classroom routine. She wasn't paid extra to do any of the extra work she so lovingly did to accommodate G.

She did it because she loved him, because she believed in him, and because she wanted him in her classroom.

Really, that's all any of our kids need. People who love them, and people who believe in them.

The last time I felt this way was when Nic's home team moved on--6 years ago. I cried for a week then, too.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Good Tired

So we finished the trifecta of city, shore and mountains with our annual pilgrimage to the mountains for CampEmerge, and since this is our fourth summer, we kind of know everyone by now. The boys had a blast, and Nic had a lot of fun playing with the numerous other 9-10 year old boys there.

They had a moon bounce for the first time this year, and G loved that.

We fished, biked, swam, paddle-boated, ran, hiked and played nonstop for two days. Now we're in clean-up mode, getting ready for the school year. Nic starts Wednesday, G has his last three days at preschool and starts K on Friday.

Am I stressing? I had a cup of coffee as I watched the sun rise over the Eastern Mountains yesterday am. I think I'm good.

Friday, September 4, 2009

All Summer in 10 Days

So we managed to cram in two road trips to 3 different states in the space of 10 days. You can call it a lack of planning, or you can call it life on the cheap. Money is tight, so flight was out. We ended up going to Baltimore and DC, cramming in (among other things) The National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center, B&O Railroad Museum, WTC Observation Deck, The Mall in the Capitol (and ALL the memorials), Air & Space Museum, and Mount Vernon (there was actually a few more in here as well).

Nic's new hero is George Washington. Mine too, I think.

We just got back from the shore, doing hikes at the County Park in the mornings and the beach in the afternoons. We did rides at the boardwalk one night and had a bonfire roasting marshmallows another. Boys had a blast. I had the recharge I needed--the beach works for me that way.

Taken with all the great stuff that led up to it, I have to say it's been a very, very cool summer.

(Now to do laundry...)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More cool stuff

The red tail hawk perched outside the McDonald's yesterday had Nic talking for a quite a while yesterday. Kingfishers are a source of amusement to him, too.

While I work this am, I can hear Nic reading to his little brother. Days don't get better than this.

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.--Albert Schweitzer