Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Liking this blog I found

I found a new blog today -- Laughing at Chaos -- about parenting 2e kids.  While I haven't been able to read more than a few of the most recent posts, I found myself nodding my head, yes, YES! over multiple sentences, ideas, whole passages.  Once I even caught myself giving a fist pump over this  recurring theme:  "Highly gifted is NOT the same as high achieving.  Highly gifted is how a person is wired, not what a person produces."  I owe a big "thank you" to the 2e Newsletter for the link!

I want so many people in my school system to read this blog, to begin to understand that gifted people don't have to be perfectly gifted to need the rigor of "gifted" classes or to give back to society something that is unique or valuable.  I need them all to understand that it is not OK to accept mediocrity in our children or to believe that our children are fine if they make AYP and don't make trouble.

Not to mix my metaphors/idioms/Wizard of Oz references or anything, but if I want to make a horse drink water, these things must be done delicately...

...though I'd rather heft a mallet.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My earthquake non-story

OK, let's just get this over with:  I was at home with my children yesterday during the earthquake.  At first I thought three things simultaneously:
  1. It's not a jet from the base because there's no jet noise and the crystals in the window aren't rattling.
  2. I'm not that old or sick!
  3. The pole light is moving, not me.
I thought, if 1-3 are true, it's an earthquake.  I called to my kids to head for the powder room, grabbed my laptop, and followed them in.  We also grabbed the remote control and started flipping through the channels in search of confirmation that it was indeed an earthquake.  Of course, I went on Facebook, too. and when we couldn't get through to my husband (at work on the base) by phone, we texted back and forth.

That was pretty much it, but I didn't go out to run the errands I had been intending to run.  I didn't want to leave my kids home alone if there were any aftershocks, and I really didn't want to leave them home alone if it had been a "fore shock" and not "the big one." 

Then my daughter and I went out to a night-before-the-first-day-of-school Girl Scout bonfire.

Now here's what really affected me from yesterday:  I turned in my final troop financial report and handed over my troop checkbook.  My troop numbers are up for grabs, and I am no longer a Girl Scout leader.  This will be a good thing.  I did, though, get a little misty today when I deleted my Girl Scout "signature" from my email.

Just so you know, we're not done with Girl Scouts.  My daughter just bridged to Cadettes and is now working on her Silver Award with her new troop.  And just to keep the excitement going, her new uniform and all the bits came in today's mail.  Cookie sales start in December...

Today was also the first day of school.  My daughter entered middle school, continuing on in the school system's STEM Program.  She had the best day today.  It was just wonderful to pick her up and hear her happy.  Whether it's the new med, being in a challenging, interesting program, or a combination of both, I don't really care.  Today, the child is happy.

My son is now in high school, also continuing in the STEM program.  Scared me spitless when he didn't get off the bus this afternoon.  We're two houses over from the stop; I searched and searched all the feet exiting the bus, and his weren't among them!  I was just saying to my daughter that he didn't get off the bus when he walked up from the opposite direction!  He had gotten off at the prior stop five houses down in the other direction!  My heart.

Anyway, he's not very forthcoming with the details, but he seems happy enough.  His homework is just about done.  And it's his 14th birthday.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mini update

Here's a little bit of an update.  Nothing profound.  Lots mundane.  But this blog is my siphon.

The new med my daughter started a few weeks ago is showing signs that it's working to treat her depression.  It's hard to say whether it's the med or the fact that I've been doing my level best to keep the home environment stress-free, but the doctor was able to see a difference at our last appointment -- more engaged, cracked a couple of jokes, shared some ideas, or, if you prefer, less hopeless, less tuned out, less irritable, less disinterested.  This is a really good thing.

However, much as I like the effects, a pill isn't going to fix the thought processes that underlie the behaviors.  We're in for some serious CBT work.  My daughter is the one who has to do the work of changing the thoughts to change the feelings to change the behaviors.  I would do it for her if I could, but I can't, and until she's operating on a level field, she can't do it, either.  Come on, Week 6!  Let's see the full dose do what it's supposed to do so that this beautiful child can see the joy joy in life!

Despite my best hopes for this drug and the improvement we've seen to date, we still have what I call ugly behavior in my house.  Tonight was quite the example, only this time it brought out the hopelessness my son feels that his sister will ever "get better."  She's crying and bleeding; he's distressed and bruised.  Neither can see the other one's side, and I'm left to sort out the mess because we just can't keep on like this.  

We had a reasonable family confab.  No voices were raised, no blows exchanged.  A plan was laid out.  We'll see what comes of it.

Quite the emotional roller coaster here.  And school starts in three days.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


People post quotes on Facebook all the time.  Most of them are nice, but they don't really apply to me.

In the past couple of weeks, my sister has posted a couple that have resonated.  The first one,
Slowly I have realized that I don't have to be qualified to do what I am asked to do, that I just have to go ahead and do it, even if I don't do it as well as I think it ought to be done. This is one of the most liberating lessons of my life.   Madeleine L'Engle, Glimpses of Grace
applies to just about everything in my life -- remember that I don't have a paying job -- from parenting to making dinner to advocating for my children's educational needs.  Think about it.  If people had to pass a course to have kids, the world population would plummet.  And it's for sure that I wasn't pre-certified to parent two children with special needs.  While I "get" Asperger's Syndrome, I have made a fair number of mistakes with my son, and since I don't understand depression in children, it's safe to say that I've made more than a fair number of mistakes with my daughter.  (She still brings up and waves in my face a couple of stellar parenting moments from years ago.)  And advocating?  Proof positive that I don't do it as well as I think it ought to be done smacks me in the face every time I hear that another family is going through what we went through or when I hear the same prejudiced and ignorant ideas coming from the very people who's job it is to help my son reach his potential.  Why doesn't my school system stop behaving badly?

But I can't stop parenting my children.  (There are laws about that...)  And nobody else is going to cook dinner every night even if we hit the jackpot.  And I'm the one who cares the most about my children, so the advocacy job falls to me, too -- to me, unqualified though I am, so I just have to go ahead and do it.

The other quote, just yesterday, was this:
For you will certainly carry out God's purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John.  C. S. Lewis
What better motivation to do what's right, what's kind, what's for the greater good even if it means a personal sacrifice, than to be like John and not Judas.  (Really, though, given how I was brought up, the motivation to not be like Judas is greater for me than the motivation to be like John.  It's a guilt thing. =)

I don't know that either quote is snappy enough to stitch on a sampler or print on a bumper sticker, but they definitely are thought-provoking words to live by.

Monday, August 8, 2011

CACSE's Year

I've been working really hard these past three weeks on a fair number of projects for CACSE  (the Citizens' Advisory Committee for Special Education).  One of the projects was to create a brochure to explain who we are and what we do.  That's always been a tough one to explain because to be quite honest and up-front about it, though we've tried, we really haven't done much for a really long time.  Sure, we've accomplished small goals, but they haven't gotten after our main purpose, which is to advocate for the educational needs of children in our county.

We haven't had the infrastructure necessary to have a voice and to have that voice heard.  In my opinion, we also don't seem to have more than nominal support from the Department of Special Education, but it's hard to pinpoint why I feel that way.  It seems like sometimes there are out-and-out roadblocks, but at other times, it seems to be a lack of help.  To be fair, we've behaved like children to the the department's adult, looking for information and direction that rarely came, and that needs to change.

Now, though, we've established goals and have a better idea of what our purpose is.  We're working to stand on our own two feet.  And, again in my opinion, one of the best things that has set us on the path toward doing something has been the establishment of committees so that we can identify issues and assign jobs (rather than simply attend monthly meetings and do little else).  Granted, most of the jobs since the establishment of committees in April have been about building that infrastructure, but we're getting there, and I believe that we can get there this year

Which brings me back to the brochure.  We set up the main content to address what CACSE is, what members can get from it, and what members can bring to it.  (Imagine that all pretty in a tri-fold brochure, complete with the CACSE logo.)

According to Maryland law, each local school system must establish a special education citizens’ advisory committee. CACSE fulfills this requirement for St. Mary's County Public Schools.

Some of the functions of CACSE are:

  • to study specific issues and concerns of parents, educators, concerned citizens, and the Board of Education
  • to advise and counsel the Department of Special Education and the St. Mary’s County Board of Education about the needs of children and youth with disabilities
  • to advise and counsel on the relevancy of educational programs and related services to meet the needs of children and youth with disabilities
  • to offer suggestions for the local proposed budget
What Can CACSE Do for You? 

CACSE offers the opportunity...
  • to become more knowledgeable about local, state, and national special education issues
  • to collaborate with the Department of Special Education to improve the education of children with special needs
  • to hear the monthly Director's Report about developments and changes within the Department of Special Education
  • to influence decisions and policy
  • to meet other parents, educators, and service providers with similar goals
CACSE offers local workshops on special education topics.

CACSE can provide funding for members to attend conferences.

CACSE Needs You

CACSE needs your experiences, perspectives, insights, and ideas.

  • Come to a monthly meeting and see what CACSE is all about.
  • Volunteer to be the CACSE representative (or alternate) for your school or agency.
Representatives are voting members of CACSE and agree:
  • to attend monthly CACSE meetings
  • to report relevant meeting information to their agency or school (to principals or SIT teams, for example)
  • to focus on group needs rather than personal issues
CACSE meetings are open to the public. You do not have to be a school or agency representative to attend.
I actually started this post to gripe.  My particular committee is overburdened and understaffed, and I'm really tired.  Reports were due in today, and my committee (three people total, but summer vacations and other life happenings kicking in) had to do the brochure but also had to research and recommend promotional, educational, and recruitment items for purchase, update parts of the website, create an accurate, up-to-date distribution list, set up a poll for members, initiate steps towards holding a workshop on Extended School Year services, and investigate and determine the correct procedure for reaching the Board of Education.  All in three weeks.  Now, before you say, "At least you have a job," remember that this is a volunteer committee,  we're all parents of children with special needs, and those children are home for the summer.

I started this post to gripe, but in laying out the brochure and listing what we accomplished, I got jazzed.  This is CACSE's year.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ryan Baumann

I'm reposting this in honor of Ryan Baumann and with prayers for the comfort of his family, my neighbors.  Thank you for your sacrifice.

Patrolling the hills of Afghanistan

All spiffed up

From the Arlington National Cemetery Website:

Sergeant Ryan P. Baumann, 24, of Great Mills, Maryland, died August 1, 2008, on Route Alaska, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Ryan's family

Ryan Baumann
made a difference in this world.