Everything Is Awesome…

So, I’m not going to lie, today’s IEP meeting was…

Freaking AMAZING!

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I am so pumped right now, I can’t even begin to describe it.  This was honestly the best IEP meeting I have ever had, and I could not possibly be happier.  It’s such an awesome relief to finally find a school with teachers and staff who really, genuinely care about my child and his progress.  Going from last year to what he has now is such a huge difference.

First of all – despite the events of the last two weeks, everyone previously agreed that Kaleb hit a bump in the road – but considered it a temporary set-back (one we are actively working on fixing), and they are getting rid of the harness!  I cannot wait to see the look on Kaleb’s face when he hears the news he’s been waiting to hear for months.  Second, he graduated out of OT!  I simply cannot believe it.  He’s been in Occupational Therapy since he was 2.  Now he’s finally met all of his goals, his gross and fine motor skills are up to par, and he’s good to go!  That was so unexpected, it’s still sinking in.

Another piece of awesome news?  Kaleb gets to keep his teacher next year!  He will technically be in first grade, but he will stay in the EBD classroom with the Godsend of a teacher he has now.  I am beyond relieved.  The thought of hashing out next year’s arrangement, dealing with a new teacher who may or may not understand how to work with Kaleb has been haunting my sleep for weeks.  To find out that he doesn’t have to deal with any of that (and neither do I!) is an incredible relief.  And let me just tell you a little something about this teacher, while I’m on the subject.  This is the kind of person who went out of her way to consult with a Gifted teacher (despite the fact that he won’t get the classification until at least next year) to figure out the best ways to challenge Kaleb’s strengths without going too far beyond the scope of what he’s able to handle.  She’s willing to go above and beyond to help him avoid potentially overwhelming situations, without stifling him or making him feel like an outcast.  She’s a freaking gift is what she is, and I’m so glad we get to have another year with her.

We talked about the gifted program (especially when the Gen-Ed teacher was consulting, and was visibly shocked by some of Kaleb’s reading and math abilities).  We hit a bit of a snag because they cannot test until at least a year has passed since the last test.  That wouldn’t be a big deal, except the school psychiatrist that Kaleb has spent the year working with and building a relationship with has gotten a promotion, and they’re bringing in someone new.  So, it was decided that we’d wait until the fall to re-do the test – giving Kaleb an opportunity to make sure he’s got his feet firmly planted under him, and he has a relationship with the new psychologist.  On a plus note, I asked if I could have our Developmental Pediatrician do a test of his own in June when we go for our yearly visit, and they all strongly encouraged it.

And, on top of everything else – the school nurse is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to administer Kaleb’s mid-day medicine.

Seriously, this school needs to win some “Everything Is Awesome” awards!

So, overall, this was the best IEP meeting ever.  I left feeling happy, a bit lighter, and definitely reassured that my child is in excellent hands day in and day out.  I can honestly say that’s never happened before.  I’ve always left feeling deflated, slightly disappointed, angry, or slightly sick.  This was such a breath of fresh air, and so desperately needed.

I want to say thank you to this school.  Your amazing teachers, support staff, therapists, behavioralists, and administration have taken a load off my mind, improved my child’s life every day, and I truly believe there aren’t enough ways to say thank you for that.

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Basket Case…

So, in light of the fact that I feel like I’m going crazy, and it seems like I’ve spent the past week doing nothing – we’re gonna have a review day.

Basically I’m using this as a way to prove to myself that I’m not a total loon.

In the past ten days I have done the following:

  • Drove Kaleb to Orlando for a neurology appointment the day after he gets suspended for the third time (“Insubordination, refusal to listen to adults, running away twice, causing campus disruption).
  • Introduced Kaleb to the Solar System (and no Daddy – I did not bring up Pluto pre-declassification)
  • Spent a night doing everything in my power to keep Kaleb awake until midnight – then promptly woke him up at 5am to prepare for a sleep-deprived EEG (this was harder on me than it was on him – he was pissy, but totally cool with the lack of sleep by the end of it)
  • Drove back to Orlando for an EEG – which ended up including bribery (of the ice cream variety), and a 20 minute power nap for the kid whose second wind hit like a hurricane
  • Vent to Daddy until he’s ready to strangle me.
  • Send Kaleb back to school, have a walk meeting.  Walk meeting promptly interrupted by Kaleb being suspended again (Refusing to stand up, refusing to go to special area).
  • Talk to a Special Education Attorney as I pull my hair out and start shopping for wigs.
  • Blogged about my frustration (is Blogged even a word?)
  • Watched the Biggest Loser and felt like a slack-a$$
  • Got insomnia and wrote Anything But Ordinary…
  • Entered a manuscript in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest – seriously nail-bitting stuff
  • Dealt with an average of five hours of Oscar worthy meltdowns a day from both Monsters
  • Made breakfast, lunch and dinner each day
  • Bitched to Daddy some more, just because I know he’d feel like life was way too smooth without me freaking out about something.
  • Made cupcakes that sucked.
  • Bought cupcakes that were amazing.
  • Lost cupcakes to theiving thief Monsters who learned what happens when you’ve Been Caught Stealing…
  • Learned that I can add links to my blog posts and made a decision to make everyone crazy
  • Studied my tail feathers off for Kaleb’s IEP meeting
  • Worked on the assignments for my non-profit class
  • (Mostly) reorganized my closet and our bedroom
  • Kept the house (mostly) clean
  • Booked the location and date for this year’s Walk kick off and awards ceremony
  • Secured food donations for the kick off
  • Played with my kids, went rollerblading, danced like a lunatic, and made a mess of the (mostly) clean house.
  • Rocked the socks off Movie Night
  • Patched Kaleb’s blanke
  • Worked on timelines, goals, agendas and job descriptions for the upcoming Walk meeting
  • Had a two and a half hour marathon IEP meeting
  • Sat down with my co-chair to discuss upcoming Walk meeting (Thanks again ‘C’ for hanging with Mase!)
  • Got a phone call from school telling me Kaleb has been suspended again
  • Lost.  My.  Mind.

So… there you have it.  That’s what my life looked like over the past week – and that’s the crap I can remember.  Countless hours on the phone, the computer, and a rockin’ lack of sleep.

Now he’s been suspended again.  Because he hit another child in the face (who, according to Kaleb, was breaking the rules) – even though we just spent a large chunk of time detailing the things that will set him off, the signs it will happen, and ways to prevent, or intervene.

Here is what I am going to do next:

I’ve made my phone calls and left my messages.  I’ve (as soon as I post this) officially bitched online to a group of strangers who probably couldn’t care less about my problems – but it still makes me feel better.  I’ve picked up my house, made lunch, and put the boys down for a nap.  Now, as soon as Mason is done taking a nap I am going to the store, and I’m buying cupcakes.  A lot of cupcakes.  Then, after the kids go to bed, I am going to sit myself down, and I’m going to eat those cupcakes with the kind of glorious satisfaction one can only get from doing something so insane.  I’m going to do that while I watch The Biggest Loser.  Then I’m going to drown my mommy guilt in more cupcakes, while I try and fool myself into working out tomorrow (yeah, ’cause that’s so going to happen).

Mommy & The Monster Man

Mommy & The Monster Man

Under Pressure…

I would love to know why I get sick every time I de-stress.  This is boarding on absurd.  Since August, it’s gone like this:

  • Kaleb starts at a new school and does well- I get sick.
  • Mason’s birthday party goes off without a hitch – I get sick.
  • Silent Auction & Poker Run both successful – I get sick.
  • Autism Walk knocks it out of the park – I get sick.

Now, granted, I’ve pretty much been stressed out non-stop since Thanksgiving.  Between the holidays, family drama (because what is life without a hearty dose of family drama all heaped on at the worst possible time?), Kaleb’s problems in school (the kid has more black marks on his record at five years old than I did when I graduated high school – and believe me, I wasn’t an angel); the neurologist, getting Mason’s paperwork moving, Daddy’s work, and so on and so forth…

I’ve basically been a bundle of stressed out psycho momma since November.

As soon as the holiday stress was gone, I had all of this school drama to deal with – all leading up to today’s IEP meeting.  Of course, now that those two major stressers are gone, and everything else is minor in comparison, I’ve got a sore throat, swollen glands, sneezing, coughing, running nose… in other words, I have Why-does-life-hate-me-itis.

The IEP itself went WAY better than I expected.  We got just about everything we asked for.  The Psycho-Educational evaluation; CTOPP; FBA & BIP; copies of all of everything in his files (both files – not just the pink one); it IQ test; an updated receptive & expressive speech evaluation; OT to address his sensory issues; and finally, FINALLY transportation agreed to pick him up in front of the house – minimizing the odds of him getting run over while waiting for the bus in the morning.  We addressed the suspensions, the meltdowns, the seizures…

I walked out of there with such a feeling of relief – I hadn’t realized just how heavy the weight was – the one that has been sitting on my chest since before Christmas.  Hopefully we will be able to prevent, circumvent, curb, and all around improve what has been happening.

I came home, put Mason in the stroller, tossed on my rollerblades and took him for a ride around the neighborhood.  Then down for a nap he went so I could get some work done on some Walk stuff – only to have my phone ring non-stop for two hours straight (and of course I can’t turn it off in case the kid gets suspended again), so I basically accomplished nothing.  Now, Mason is in doing his speech therapy, Kaleb is playing with bucky, and I am staring at my menu for the week thinking I need to change tonight to soup.  Lots of soup, since I ate all the tomato cheese stuff we made last week.  And I’m in a soup kind of mood.  Or is it just because I feel like ick?  I don’t suppose it matters – there has to be another soup on this menu somewhere.

Which reminds me, I’ve got to start on next month’s menu, because as of Monday January is done.  Crap.  That’s a lot of shopping.   And I still haven’t finished tearing the bedroom apart (though my closet is done).  Oh shoot, I forgot to make at least three phone calls I was supposed to make today.  And I really need to go to the post office.  Oh yuck, Kaleb just let out the sneeze of the century.  I haven’t ordered Kaleb’s yearbook yet either.  I need to see if my mom can watch the Monsters for the PTA meeting I was just emailed about.  Thankfully it’s not next Tuesday, because that’s the same day as our first official walk meeting.  I sure hope people show up for that, we haven’t gotten a lot of response yet.  Speaking of which, I really need to get back to editing these job descriptions.

I don’t know why I think I’m actually going to get anything accomplished.  My brain just keeps swirling around in circles like bathwater around a drain.

I need to get off here.  I need to find a recipe for a thick soup I can pass off as a dip to my picky little Monsters – if it’s thick enough and I give them some form of breadsticks to dip, they love soup.  However, if Kaleb so much as hears the word “soup” it’s all over.  No soup for him.  Time to hit up the Google machine.

Last week's Tomato Cheese Soup with Grilled Cheese Dippers

Last week’s Tomato Cheese Soup with Grilled Cheese Dippers

Never Know…

It figures.

The one day I could actually sleep in, my insane wild-child-paranoia won’t let me.

Pre-children, my Saturday nights consisted of waiting tables followed by varying levels of intoxication at my favorite bar.  If someone had come up to me and told me that seven years later I’d be spending my saturday night studying I probably would have laughed.  But, that’s exactly what I did.  From the minute I put the kids to bed, until Mason finally fell asleep at midnight, I studied.  I drank two glasses of cheap boxed wine and I studied for Kaleb’s upcoming IEP harder than I’ve ever had to study for any test in my life.

Which is relatively sad, because I had no idea how much I didn’t know until I talked to the special education lawyer.  It leaves me to wonder how many parents are walking into these meetings completely uninformed.  Why isn’t there more information out there?  Why isn’t the information that is out there more easily accessible, and easier to understand?  Isn’t the point of sending our children to school to teach them, and help them become intelligent, productive members of society?  Shouldn’t the parents and the school systems be working together?

The answer is yes.  We should all be working together to help our children.  But we’re not.  We’re working against each other.  Fighting each other in silent battles of will and power instead of pulling our resources to do everything we can to build our children up.  Instead of an open system of information and communication we are closing doors and blocking each other out.  This person only tells you this much.  That person only tells you that much.  And then you go to a meeting missing vital information you have every right to know, get blindsided and end up walking away more confused and upset than you were walking in.

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Why has nobody changed this?  I don’t know, but I do know that I’ve had enough.  As soon as I get this all straightened out I will be sorting through every bit of information I can get my hands on.  I will then be adding an IEP section to the Monster Marchers website.  I cannot stand the idea that there are more parents out there like me.  Who want nothing more than to do everything they can for their children, but don’t know where the information is or how to use it once they find it.  Something needs to change, and I have every intention of doing my part to change it.

Moving on from my little sidebar…

I was up half the night studying for Kaleb’s IEP.  Kaleb got up to get in bed with me at midnight, and I took him back to his room.  Then I woke up at 5:30 as he crawled into bed with me again.  Of course, I fell asleep with a notebook in the bed, and he sat there next to me flipping through the pages until I gave him the option of being quiet or going back to his room.  It was not wake up time!  After about fifteen minutes he got up and headed back to his room.  Or so I thought.  Ten minutes later I heard him in the living room.  And I would swear on my life I could hear him flipping the pages of a notebook.

All I could think was Oh CRAP! The only notebook that he would have easy access to was the one on my desk.  The one with pages of important information scrawled on them.  One I really needed.  And there went the idea of sleep.  I practically flew out of bed in a panic to get to him before he scribbled all over my notebook, only to be stopped short by what I saw.  Kaleb was sitting on the living room floor.  Playing.  With blocks and Bucky.  Blocks.

I am so insanely paranoid these days, I took the sound of building blocks for notebook paper being flipped and destroyed.  He looked up at me and smiled that sweet little smile and said “I’m playing nice mommy.  See?  I’m playing blocks and Bucky too!”  Yes buddy.  You certainly are.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, Mommy is going to go kick herself all the way to the coffee maker.