Friday, February 28, 2014

I really am at my wit's end!

The last week has been proof that things are not going to get any better with Princess Bears (PB) school.  This is the second week in a row that the teacher has not been going over spelling words with PB.  Previously the teacher would go over the words daily and PB would almost always get 100% on her spelling test.  Sometimes a 90%.  My point is that she always does well as long as there is practice happening in school.  I also make her practice writing the words at home.  Last week I gave PB a practice spelling test on Thursday night.  She only got 4 of the 10 correct.  After a lot of writing and rewriting and rewriting some more she seemed to have a grasp on the words.  She took the test and she got a 90%.  Much better than I was anticipating.  I was very aggravated because it seemed liked the teacher is spending less time working on spelling with PB since the poop hit the fan in the IEP meeting.  Yesterday PB had her piano lessen and then we went out to dinner with my parents.  I was nice to have downtime with no fighting involved.  This morning I asked PB was ready for her spelling test.  She said no but she had a math worksheet to get down first.  I want to think that I'm reading too much into this but it's odd that the last 2 weeks PB is getting even less time being taught than she was before the IEP.

This morning I went in to talk to the teacher about the fact that it seems when PB needs her help in the classroom she isn't available.  Last week the teacher told the kids they could talk quietly.  PB was trying to finish some work and her bff Shay kept on trying to talk to her because the teacher said it was ok.  PB kept on asking Shay to leave her alone because she was trying to finish her work so she wouldn't have homework.  Shay kept on bothering PB so PB picked up her packet of papers and winged it at Shay.  No ok. Unfortunately I had a really hard time disciplining PB since I know how annoying Shay can be.  Her mom blames it on her special needs but I'm not sure it's the only thing to be blamed.  So I asked the teacher what it is that PB is supposed to do if something like this happens again.  She gave PB permission to get up  out of her seat to get the teacher or aide.  She also mentioned that usually Shay is behind a barrier because Shay does get into every one's business and tends to annoy the other kids.  Kind of a sad situation.  Then comes the kicker  at first the teacher said she knew nothing about the situation of PB throwing the packet at Shay.  Well she discussed the situation with the kids so why is she going to lie about it?  Then she said that she has separated PB and Shay and things were taken care of.  I really don't take kindly to being lied to.  It just makes me wonder what else she's willing to lie about.  I feel sorry for the teacher but that still enough to make lying ok.

There is also the fact that she went back to showing the kids movies again.  It hasn't even been 2 weeks since the IEP and she's back to not teaching and showing movies to keep the kids busy.  I didn't discuss it with her today.  I'll give her one more chance and then I'll call another IEP meeting.  She did try telling me again how PB is learning and progressing.  I again asked her how much more PB would learn if she was getting the appropriate amount of time and attention.  I'm also considering observing a few days in the classroom just to see what exactly is going on in the classroom. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Ok you've all seen them wondering around the blogosphere.  Those random surveys that are supposed to help your readers get to know you better.  I'm really not sure if I think that is the best way of going about it but what do I know?  Anyway here's my attempt at it!

50 little things
1.How many pets do you own?  2   a dog & a cat  which is about 1 cat short & 2 dogs short of what I’d like.
2. What’s your least favorite season?  Winter After Christmas and the end of football season you’re just left cold with nothing to do.
3. Do you prefer to text or call?  Call
4. Morning or night? Night.  There is nothing and I do mean NOTHING redeeming about mornings!
5. Do you like tacos? yep Who doesn't???
6. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? extrovert
7. What’s your favorite desert? Cherry cobbler
8. Do you enjoy walks? sometimes
9. Are you a frequent user of Facebook? yes
10. Do you watch animated shows still? no unless you count watching Disney Channel with Princess Bear
11. Can you roll your tongue?no.  My nephews both can and its kinda freaky if you ask me!
12. What’s your “lucky” number? 14
13. Are you scared of anything? I hate thunderstorms
14. Big mac or big whopper?  neither
15. Do you like to play board games? Yes. Love them!
16. Are you fond of romantic novels? Yes.
17. Fruitloops or cocopops? Neither
18. Would you eat a live spider for one million dollars? Little spider sure.  Something big probably not
19. Are you a heavy drinker? Nope.  Now if I had been answering this 15 years ago or so it would have been a totally different story.  Actually I have no tolerance now and the idea of a hangover is enough to keep things at a glass of wine. 
20. Would you forgive someone for cheating? Not at this point in my life.
21. Are you superstitious? Very. 
22. Have you seen A Clockwork Orange? No.
23. Do you like to read? Love it.  Do it almost obsessively.
24. Are you easily distressed? Yep
25. Do you believe in aliens? Sure why not.
26. If you were the last person alive besides one other person you get to chose, who would it be? Well since you couldn’t safely repopulate with only one other person I guess I’d want to hang with my daughter
27. Dogs or cats? both
28. Are you a grumpy person? sometimes.  Seriously who isn't sometimes?  Am I often?  No
29. What’s something you hate? Not being able to count on or trust someone that you thought you could
30. Are you a worry wart? Oh yeah.  Big time.
31. Do you like having your picture taken? Nope not really.
32. Do you like cotton candy? Of course.  Who doesn’t like cotton candy?
33. Would you ever use a dating site? Probably not.
34. Do you believe in ghosts? Yes.
35. Rap or pop? Both
36. What’s the weirdest flavor of ice cream you’ve tried? I don’t get adventurous.  Pralines N Cream or Mint chip please!
37. Do you like math? No and it doesn’t like me!
38. Are you the type of person to laugh at others misfortune? No. 
39. Love or lust? Love
40. Do you remember lyrics easily? Yes
41. What was/is your favorite school subject?  Brit Lit
42: Do you like tattoos? Yes
43. Are you the type of person to lie? No
44. Do you eat porridge for breakfast? No.  I don't like breakfast in general but if I must do a hot cereal then pass the oatmeal please.  It better have dried cherries & brown sugar too!
45. What music are you listening to right now? country
46. Are you allergic to anything? If its green & grows I’m allergic to it, a few meds & latex
47. Do you like Lady Gaga? In small doses
48. What about Nicki Minaj? Again in small doses
49. Do you like rainy days? Nope unless I need a good reason to curl up with a good book and a mug of tea. 
50. Last question, do you like pie? Yep! Pecan and cherry...yum!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Galvanized Container gardening & random thoughts

Well, while I give the sun credit for still shining (and my overall mood really appreciates it) once again the Midwest is experiencing bitterly cold temps.  This artic vortex stuff needs to stop!!!  I don't want to even wander outside to fill the bird feeders (not to worry.  I'm sucking it up and feeding the birds).  I guess a few days of temps in the 40's completely spoiled me!  On the upside of things today was a sleep in day.  The car had to go back to the shop so I dropped it off last night.  They needed the car all day to work on it and Princess Bear (PB) was scheduled for a 1/2 day at school and no after school activities.  It seemed like a nice day to let her play hookey.  Then she came home from school and told me that they watched Brother Bear in class.  The dumb a$$ teacher couldn't even make it 2 weeks without reverting to her old habits of not teaching the kids.  Yep, if you can't tell I'm a bit pissed.  So to get my mind off of things I went to an old standby.  Pinterest.  It's a playground.  A very very very addictive online playground! 

Wait!  Backtrack a little bit.  I first looked to see if I could find an online tutorial that was first published in Mary Jane's Farm Magazine a few years ago.  It was the first time I'd seen someone use a water trough as a self watering garden bed.  AWESOME!!!!!  Unfortunately I could not find that tut but I found a blogger that based their trough garden on it.  You can read about their experiences HERE AND HERE (an update).
Another gardening used some galvanized containers to do a garden sculpture.  You can see that one HERE.  I really do want to try the galvanized troughs for some blueberry bushes and raspberry canes.  Gotta check into that one.  I'm also all about self watering containers.  As much as I'm not liking the artic temps we're dealing with right now I'm not a fan of the 100* temps that we'll have in July and August.  I'm more of a temperate kinda gal.  Keep things in the 70's and 80's in the summer & I'd be happy!  I hate going outside and feeling like I've run smack dab into a wall of heat and humidity!    Below are a  few more galvanized container ideas to get your creative juices flowing.  Enjoy!

 photo blog3_zps00220dbe.jpg  photo blog6_zps9836d731.jpg  photo blog5_zps35e438b5.jpg  photo blog4_zps243902e5.jpg  photo blog1_zpse992ec60.jpg 
  photo blog2_zps548bb5c6.jpg

Monday, February 24, 2014

More gardening musing

Since a few people liked the strawberry pyramid that I shared the other day I thought I'd share this one from Gurney's as well.  This one is definitely more economical but the reviews are mixed.  The price point is so much lower though that it might be worth trying for a year and seeing how it works.  What do you think about this cutie?

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You can find it at the Gurney's website HERE 

Again the sun is shining so I was digging through my pinterest boards looking for some gardening and upcycle gardening ideas. Here are a few of my favorites. What to you think? Most of them are pretty self explanatory but you can always hit Pinterest or Google to find

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Now this looks like a new dresser but who hasn't seen a dresser that someone has left out for the garbage man? I found one last year and swiped all the drawers. I made message centers from the drawers. Big fun and oh so cute!!! This is just another way of upcycling a dresser!

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Another way of growing strawberries. PVC pipe vertical planters! CUTE!

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I love this turning a chair into a planter. Totally adorable isn't it???!!!!??? Again who doesn't have an extra chair in their basement or attic? It looks fairly simple and the end results would be awesome! 

 How about adding a beneficial bug house to your yard? It would help with pollination and keeping the bad bugs at bay! Seems like a win win situation!!!

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I'm so so so SOOOOOOOOOOOOO in love with this cheery cherry garden shed!!!  photo bloggardening5_zps79c3d652.jpg 

Another thing that I LOVE in gardening are galvanized containers. They look awesome and are sturdy as all get out. I'll probably do another post on entire gardens that are made from galvanized containers but I thought I'd share a couple of little gems here. What do you think of this cluster of small galvanized containers?
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and how incredibly awesome is this galvanized planter with floating candles? I'm picturing a late spring garden dinner party? How about you?  photo bloggardening11_zpsf8bccd03.jpg

Friday, February 21, 2014

So ready to dig in some dirt and play!

Ok I know a few posts back I said that I would try not to hurry time.  30 lashes with a wet noodle!  The the sun has been shining and I want to get in the garden.  Ok, I'd settle for starting seeds but my family swears that never again will there be seed starting in this house.  I think they have a very bad attitude!   I was at the mechanics again today and had to kill a couple of hours.  The fuel tank is fixed but the gauge is dead than a doornail.  So I sat there with a copy of Hobby Farm Home, Country Sampler and another gardening magazine that I'm just blanking on the title.  I finished the Hobby Farm Home while I was there.  It had a great article on making your own seed blocks.  I so could do that.  I'm really thinking I need to get a bit diabolical here and take over the workroom in the basement.  It's just basically storage and has a few banks of lights that would be great for seed starts.  I'm one of those people that more often than not works under the theory of its easier to ask forgiveness than permission.  I'm pretty sure I could pack up what is on the work tables down there and set up a dandy little seed starting set up complete with lights and timers before anyone was on to me.  Can you imagine.  I'd be able to grow my own tomato starts!  I plant between 3 & 4 dozen tomatoes every year.  That gets expensive!  I could also start some squash, zucchini & pumpkins.  Then there are all the options for flowers.  Go me!!!!  I could save a ton of money!  Again- go me!!!  What about the herbs!  I've never had a lot of luck with herbs from seeds but hey I can try it again!

While I was down there I also showed Frank (guy who owns the garage) this sweet little strawberry pyramid.  Frank is one of those people who knows everyone in town and if you need someone or something and don't know where to find it Frank is the guy!
So I showed him this beauty:  photo blogstrawberrypyramid_zps685de6c4.jpg 

and asked him who could make it. He knew right away and printed out the directions and picture (you can find it HEREI know it can't be cheap since it will have to be built with cedar.  That said how cheap are organic strawberries?  So I figure I can have this built and get some strawberry plants that will produce for a couple of years and it might actually be a cost saver in the long run!  Princess Bear (PB) could happily eat her body weight in strawberries without me thinking about going bankrupt.  There would probably even be enough to slice & dehydrate.  I'm so on board with this.  Now I just need to get some organic blueberry plants, raspberry bushes and a few apple trees that actually produce & I'll be in good shape!  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

What's a Name anyway?

I call everyone 'Darling' because I can't remember their names. ~Zsa Zsa Garbor

Last night I was watching Duck Dynasty while prepping some work for Princess Bear (PB) to study.  Sadie was in this episode and I found myself thinking "I love that name!".  Which then brought me to the fact that it is a variation of Sarah and the fact that I'm not a fan of my name.  Basically because you walk into any crowded room and scream "Sarah!" you'll have a least a few of us turning our heads wondering which one you're addressing.   WAY WAY WAY too common!  
Then my sister & I were talking this morning and she asked me if I got her message that their puppy was born on Friday.  The odd thing was on Friday before we knew the puppy had been born we were discussing names.  She and my brother in law were trying to find an English name they all liked as a memorial to the time they lived in England.  At that time she was considering Gemma.  My sister stopped watching Sons of Anarchy last season.  I filled her in on what Gemma had done to Tara.  Suddenly the name Gemma lost it's appeal.  They were also trying to find a name that my nephews would agree on.  Yeah, lets leave the name picking to a 3 year old and a 6 year old and think they'll agree!  My youngest nephew was insistent on the puppy being named Minion.  Then he tried for Dave because it's his favorite minion.  Doesn't matter that the dog is a female.  I did say that they could go with Minion and call it Minnie.  It's didn't pass muster with my sister.  Sorry Lukie Aunt Sarah tried!  So the dog is going to be named Dailey.  

Then my sister & I started discussing how we named our kids and the names in our family.  Everyone in our family is relatively outspoken.  Actually my sister took note of how much grief I received when I was pregnant with PB and trying to pick a name that she wouldn't even discuss what names they were considering until the baby was born.  Definitely a good idea in this family!  There are also some unspoken rules for naming kids in our family.  My mom is Jewish and Jews have a tendency to name babies after someone that has passed away.  If you don't want to use their name then you take the first initial as a memorial and pick a name with that initial.  You do not name the baby after someone that is still alive.  It is considered very unlucky.  

So let's look at my name.  Sarah Rose.  My mom's mother's name was Sarah.  She hated it so much because it was so overly used when she was growing up that she legally changed it.  Sounds like a good plan to me.  What she changed it to I don't quite get but hey it made her happy.  Grandma changed her name to Shirlee.  My mom always said that her mother picked a hooker name.  I'm sure my grandmother loved hearing that.  My mother then took a name that my grandmother hated so much that she didn't just go with a nickname but legally changed it and saddled me with it.  Thanks Mom!  It could have been worse though.  My mom's middle name is Lee and there of course the Lee in the end of Shirlee the way my grandmother spelled it.  The Lee is from a cousin that was killed during the Holocaust.  My mom came oh so close to naming me Sarah Lee.  Seriously!  Then a few months before I was born my Mom's grandmother passed away.  Her name was Rose.  So now my name was changed to Sarah Rose as a memorial to my great grandmother.  Oh so much better than Sarah Lee, don't you think?  When I was born my dad had a itty bitty corsage made with a baby tea rose made and pinned to my little hospital onesie.  The corsage is still in my baby book.  Roses have always been a big thing because it being my name.  My nursery was done in yellow roses.  Every big accomplishment in my life has been celebrated with roses.  We have tons of roses planted around our house.  

My sister's name was picked just because of the fact that it sounds lovely.  Her name is Kathryn Paige.  Now if you call her anything other than Kate she will not respond in any way, shape or form.  My mom wanted her to be a Kate but put Kathryn on the birth certificate for use only when she graduated and got married.  She also picked the spelling of Kathryn because it is the most unusual spelling of the name.  Paige was just because she liked it.  It flows.  

Thankfully my parents stopped after having 2.  My dad really wanted a boy and wanted to name him Hezekiah.  Can you imagine?  I guess if you have a flock of kids that all have very biblical names Hezekiah would work but not seeing it with the names they'd already picked.  

So this will be one of those times I share PB's name- it's Kiernan Rose.  Now how did I come up with this name?  When I first found out I was pregnant I had a boy name instantly Cade William.  My Dad's name is William.  Remember how I said Jews don't name children after people that are still living?  Although I was raised Catholic my mom still was completely freaking out that I wanted to use my dad's name as a middle name for a boy.  For a girl I wanted to go with Kylie Rose or Jordana Shai.   Kylie was from my best guy friend growing up and I'd always said I wanted to name a girl after him.  Unfortunately we'd grown apart and hadn't talked for quite awhile by the time I was pregnant with PB.  I actually spoke to him for the first time in almost 4 years the night before I gave birth and he was one of the first people up at the hospital to see her.  Rose was obviously from my middle name.  Jordana is a character in a Leon Uris book (Exodus). Actually it was supposed to be my name but my dad convinced my mom that everyone would call me Donna.  My mom had gone to a girl with a girl named Donna that she hated and the name went out the window.  Um no Mom I would have gone by Jordie.  So those where the 2 girl names I thought I was going with.  My plan was to wait until the baby was born and see which name kind of fit the baby.  Half way through my pregnancy I became engaged to Wayne.  He was actually supposed to be PB's Godfather.  When we got engaged he asked if there would be any problem with him adopting PB.  Seeing has her birth father bailed immediately I didn't think there would be a problem.  In my mind that also meant that he had a bit of say in the babies name.  He wasn't thrilled with Kylie Rose or Jordana Shai.  He said one sounded like a cheerleader and the other like a stripper, neither of which we were having.  I never did ask him which was which.  Coming up with a first name wound up being pretty easy.  I'd had a baby name book from when I was in college with names highlighted and underlined and notes scribbled all over it.  We'd talk on the phone every night (he was in the Navy & stationed in San Diego) about names.  Kiernan was one of the names I'd had marked in the book.  He liked it.  Score!  We've got a name.  Now there are a few things I need to mention.  This particular name is actually considered a boy's name.  Seriously?  It didn't seem that way to us and we decided to go with it.  Then 11 days before I was due my sister was married.  One of the groomsmen was a good friend of mine from high school.  He now lives in Ireland and his wife is Irish.  She was asking what I was planning on naming the baby and I told her.  I also said I knew it was considered a boys name in Ireland but we liked it.  She said it is actually a surname.  As I mentioned this was 11 days before I was due to be induced.  Wayne was deployed at that point and I was so not going back to the drawing board at that point!  The middle name had been much harder for us to come up with.  We knew that Wayne was going to be deploying and we were up against a deadline.  Not that you can't email when they're deployed but it's not the same.  So I really wanted to use Delaney as a middle name.  I love it actually.  Wayne not so much.  He said it wouldn't pass the scream test.  You know when you go out on the front porch and scream the kids name because it's time for them to come home.  He thought it was too cumbersome.  We'd been going back and forth for a few days.  He called one day and was so excited and pleased with himself.  He thought he had the perfect middle name- Paige.  That might have been great except for the fact that it was my sisters middle name and kinda gave her dibs on whether she wanted to use it again or not.  Oops!  So we bounced some stuff back and forth and couldn't pick between Rose, my middle name, Lee my mom's middle name or one other name that I can't even remember now.  I left the decision up to Wayne.  He decided he liked the connection of the baby having my middle name.  Now I can say that from the time we had a name picked out I received a ton of shit about the name.  My mom wasn't a fan of the name.  Her brother and sister started calling her Kiki before she was even born.  By the way people don't nickname someone else child!  I got so much grief that at one point I emailed Wayne and asked him if we could possibly pick another name.  Of course he said yes but I decided to stay with what we had picked.  

My oldest nephews name was kind of predetermined in that his middle name was known from the time my sister and brother in law got married.  In my brother in laws family the first born son is always given his fathers name as his middle name.  There is leeway on the first name.  I think they just found a name they liked and my oldest nephew is Tyler Lawrence.  He is Tyler not Ty.  There were no guidelines for my 2nd nephews name.  He's Lucas William.  Lucas because they liked Luke and William because it's my dads middle name.  Luke was born shortly after my dads cancer diagnosis.  Remember the whole bad luck naming a child after someone living?  My mom was soooooo not happy that they choose William as a name with what was going on with my dad.  It's been almost 4 years so I figure it can't be that unlucky.  Of course with Luke you always have the Star Wars stuff going on.  I was at the hospital a few hours after Luke was born.  I picked him up and held him in front of me and in my best Darth Vader voice did "Luke I am your father".  It was most definitely the first but not the last time he'll hear that.  Actually at 3 he's all about Star Wars (without ever having seen the movie).  I was babysitting him last Friday and we were looking at the Star Wars stuff in the Lego catalog.  He wants the Ewok Village.  Yeah at $250 that is so above Aunt Sarah's birthday and Christmas budget. Sorry buddy!  Has for nick names Tyler has always been Tyler Bean.  Luke has been Lukie Bill.  

SO, this is how we do names in our family.  I think the lesson my sister & I both learned is to never share the name until the baby is born.  How do you pick names in your family? 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Spring sneak preview

The weather here has been gorgeous the past couple of days.  It's been in the low 40's and sunny.  The snow is melting and life is looking a bit brighter!  Yesterday was the first day that things really started to thaw and it sounding like it was raining when all the icicles started melting!  Of course all this melting after such a hard cold winter means that there is nowhere for the water to go.  We're supposed to get around 1" of rain between tonight and tomorrow.  Flood warnings have already been issued.  While this does present it's own set of problems I'm just glad to see some ok temperatures!  I actually wore a t-shirt yesterday.  Probably a bit premature but after this winter it's hard to contain excitement for decent weather!!!

I'd been playing phone tag with the Special Education Director for our school district since last week. We were finally able to talk last night.  Of course she called while Princess Bear (PB) was practicing piano.  She has a recital coming up and has been practicing like a crazy woman.  She wasn't thrilled to have to take a break so Mama could actually hear on the phone.  The Director claimed to have no idea that things were as bad as they are in PB's room.  I find that hard to believe but for now I'll give her the benefit of the doubt.  She told me that they are working on room scheduling and teacher assignments for the next school year in the month of March.  She asked me to give her until after Spring Break to get back to me with something definitive.  Ok.  I can live with that.  I did tell her that another year such as this one would be completely unacceptable and would land a lawsuit on the Districts doorstep.  I'm through playing games.  I do as much as I can to help my child learn but she is also guaranteed certain things by law that the district must deliver on. 

I also was looking for something to watch on TV earlier while making some phone calls and that brought me to the 32 episodes of Farm Kings sitting on my DVR.  That lead me to once again ponder if they are EVER going to release the show to DVD.  So I looked up Stage 3 Productions the company that produces the show.  I called them and asked.  My mom always said that you can only get 2 answers to a question but nada if you don't ask!  The people at Stage 3 Productions couldn't have been any nicer.  There still wasn't a real answer to whether the show will go to DVD but they were super nice.  When I mentioned that I blogged about the show a lot and the name of the blog he knew right away "who I was".  I was a bit stunned by that.  I explained that Farm Kings is PB's favorite show and that she really wants it on DVD as well.  Again all I can say is that the group working there are a very friendly bunch! 

One of the things that came out in PB's IEP meeting last week is the fact that PB is wearing her glasses.  As a matter of fact her glasses were bent in such a way they could no longer be worn.  I about flipped my lid.  For those of you who don't know the back story on this is that PB's left eye will not focus until her right eye comes into focus.  Therefore if something were to happen to her right eye she would essentially be rendered blind.  The Dr. decided that as a precaution the best thing to do was to have PB wear glasses as just a  bit more protection to the right eye.  When PB started school this year I wrote a FOUR page getting to know PB letter to her teacher.  It covered all her medical history, as well as other things I thought a teacher should know about PB.  The letter explained why PB must wear her glasses and how important it is.  This is just another example of the teacher really not listening to what is needed when it comes to general care and cautions for PB.  It's another example of the fact that the woman doesn't communicate.  She seemed honestly surprised when I again said how important it is for PB wear her glasses.  OK done with the back story.  PB brought her glasses home the other day.  Unfortunately our car was in the shop.  I finally got the car back last night- WooHoo!  Since today was another beautiful day and PB doesn't have any after school activities on Wednesday we drove to Washington which is the Walmart that we bought her glasses at.  The woman there looked at the glasses and said if she couldn't fix them that they had it in stock and would replace them.  Fortunately she was able to fix them.  PB also needed a new hard case to store her glasses in.  She picked Hello Kitty so now life is grand.  I'll just be happy if she starts wearing them at school regularly! 

So that's the story here morning glory!  Hope life is good on your home front!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Wow! I guess I needed a break!

I spent the last several days basically Internet free.  It was a really nice change!  I did miss checking in on the blogs I read daily but I can always backtrack and do that.  The weather here has been awful with around 6" of snow falling on Friday and another 2"-3" on Saturday.  Sunday was thankfully snow free but then today we got just about 4".  I've got to say that if Old Man Winter doesn't show his face again for another  9 months or so that it would be perfectly ok with me! 

My dad does have this behemoth snow blower that we've nicknamed the beast.  It's wonderful and will go through any amount of snow and/or ice with no problem (so far and we've owned it for a couple of years now).  The beast is a bit hard to control but that's ok.  You get used to it quickly.  I went outside today and cleared off the driveway in under 10 minutes.  That sure beats shoveling anytime! 

Since we've had some serious indoor time lately I've been reading to Princess Bear (PB) a lot more than usual and she's spent a fair amount of time reading to me.  There is a great series of books called "I am....." and covers many famous people.  We finished the book on Amelia Earhart yesterday.  The book tells the story of her life and also interesting little side stories that can tie in.  I even learned a thing or two that I'd never heard before.  Today we started the I am Walt Disney book.   We also read the Brad Meltzer Abraham Lincoln kids book.  I love Brad Meltzer and this book was a great read and even had a bit of humor.  I really loved Melter's show Decoded on H2.  What a bummer that they cancelled that.  I think that all conspiracy theories have enough truth to keep them alive and circulating. 

On Saturday I took PB out to breakfast.  There was an Easter Seals benefit in a town about 20 minutes from here.  PB and her classmates did some pictures to help decorate the benefit.  PB has a real eye for color.  I need to find some art classes that she can take.  We did the Michaels Passport to fun last summer and that was great.  I also want to take some basic crochet & knitting classes with her.  Maybe I'll get my left carpal tunnel fixed first.  No point in taking something with her that I can't really practice at the moment.

So it was a pretty low key weekend but the technology break was really nice.  I'm feeling better about life in general and ready to soldier on! 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I slayed the dragon....I think

I had an IEP meeting for Princess Bear (PB) yesterday.  As it worked out the coordinator got there about 15 minutes early just as my mom and I were walking in.  I was set.  I had typed notes and lists and the whole freakin' shebang.  The coordinator was not happy when I told her the teacher was using Disney movies on a regular basis to keep the kids quiet while she did one on on time.  She was also not happy to hear that PB is being bullied again this year.  I told her that the skill range for this room is currently way too much for one teacher to be effectively teaching.  I reminded her of the conversation we had last year in which she assured me if it became an issue she would do something.  She also mentioned that in classrooms like this that she feels the max number of children should be 5 or 6 kids.  That sounds doable.  The teacher kind of sank her how boat by admitting a few things.  First thing she said is that the reading level for the room ranges from 1st grade through high 4th grade.  I then asked home many reading groups she has in the room.  ONE.  Yes ONE reading group for a 4 year range.  Anyone else seeing the problem?   She also admitted that they are only doing corrective reading every once in awhile because the kids don't like it.  OK, she doesn't like cleaning her room or practicing piano (ok sometimes but you get the idea).  They're kids.  They don't get to dictate their own learning. 

The teacher also kept on pointing out that PB is learning and flourishing in her environment.  My response was "How much more would she learn if she was getting the time and attention she deserves?".  The teacher was also not happy that I brought up the Disney movie showing issue.  Well the woman hasn't shown she will stop unless there is someone above her to intervene.  Show something educational.  I also had it out with the Social Studies teacher for showing the film depicting the Towers coming down on 9/11.  Her response was that it was something ok by the District.  OK, we've already acknowledged that PB while in fifth grade isn't functioning at a 5th grade level.  Do they really not get this?  So next year when they cover 9/11 if the film is shown again PB will not be in class for that.  I thought it was horrendous as an adult to see this.  Why are they showing it to kids? 

The coordinator said that she is going to go to the Special Ed director and see what can be done about lowering the student to teacher ratio so these kids can get some of the attention they need.  I told her that I would check back in May.  I assured her that I'm placing it in her lap to do the right thing by these kids.  I also assured her that I would have a media circus and lawsuit on their doorstep if they didn't change it.  She knew I was serious.  She did ask me to contact the Special Education Director saying that sometimes when it comes from parents it holds more weight.  So I will contact her.  I'm still not sure that they've got the message but I think so.  Now I want to go sleep for about a week! 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Shaun White Bummer

I'm pretty sure that everyone has something or someone that they pay special attention to during the Olympics.  Princess Bear (PB) is all about Gracie Gold and even did a little report on her.  My mom is a Shani Davis fan for no other reason that he's a Chicago boy.  Personally I'm a Shaun White fan.  I love that he's as competitive as he is.  I also love the fact that he is someone who has overcome some major challenges and come through it smelling like a rose.  It hasn't been mentioned in this round of the Olympics (at least what I've seen) so many people might not know or remember that Shaun was born with a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot (if you want you can read about it HERE)
He underwent 2 open heart surgeries before the age of 1.  Now granted his little personality wasn't fully developed at that point but what are the chances that living through something like that gave him some of the fighter attitude he has?  I love reading about people who have overcome in situations like this.  I kind of keep a mental file of famous people who have overcome adversity.  I do this so that perhaps when the going gets a bit hard for PB I can look at her and say "check out X and what they overcame.  They did it and so can you". 

That is why I'm a Shaun White fan.  Therefore it was a major bummer to see him come in fourth place yesterday.  You can say it wasn't his day or the conditions on the halfpipe weren't what they should be.  You can say all kinds of things.  None of it really matters in the long run.  Just a bummer, know what I mean? 

To end this on a happy note though did you see Shaun jumping the barrier to greet the little boy that was there on a wish through Make a Wish?  Maybe this is another reason I like Shaun White.  He might be competitive but he seems like a good guy.  I love seeing him in the Saint Jude commercials.  Again, he just seems like a good guy. So for the little boy that Shaun went out of his way to say "hi" you know that is going to be one of the never to forget moments in his life.  So while he didn't medal in Sochi I guess I'll say he medaled in life. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Take a chill pill or listen to Rammstein and get ready to kick a$$

The title of tonight's post actually sums up what my Facebook status is right now.  I have Princess Bear's (PB) IEP meeting at school tomorrow.  I'm not sure if I should take an atavan and try to chill out or start listening to Rammstein and get ready to just go in and kick a$$.  I'm as ready as I can possibly be.  I have my concerns typed up to give the coordinator.  I have a list of changes I want implemented typed and ready to go as well as some general questions.  I have the documentation I need to provide ready.  I'm just not sure the best way of playing it.  I don't want to loss my cool but I don't want to get run over either.  I'm so sick and tired of fighting for services that my daughter needs and deserves.

There is also the small fact that I feel like death warmed over that isn't helping anything.  I have another acute sinus infection.  It's so bad that part of my face is literally swollen.  I don't feel well and I'm not a happy camper.  It's putting a damper on keeping my cool.

Someone asked if I concerned homeschooling PB.  Yes I have.  Often.  I spend a ton of times on the weekend and most of the summer supplementing what PB has been taught at school.  It also makes me a bit fearful of homeschooling PB fulltime.  We tend to butt heads big time.  I don't know if it's a lack of patience or our personalities.  She gets frustrated and I get frustrated.  Not a good thing.  I'll have to put some thought into why I think it happens and what I think I can do to help alleviate the tension and frustration. 

That said I must confess that it makes me angry that for my daughter to truly get the education she deserves that it seems I have to home school her.  Why in the world do we have an education system that isn't fulfilling their end of the deal?  I understand that ultimately my daughters education is up to me.  That is why I do supplement what she does at school. That's why I spend a minor fortune (that I really don't have) to pay for her tutor.  It just pisses me off more than I can possibly express that the education system is so broken and so little is being done about it.  I can go into these IEP meetings yearly and fight until I'm blue in the face and then a bit more.  Very little changes. 

I know some people might be of the mindset that these are special needs kids we're talking about here so what does it really matter?  Why put the money into the education for these kids.  I hate that everything comes down to money.  That said I will also say if you want to put in all on money doesn't it make more sense to spend the money on these kids when they are younger?  Teach them as much as possible including some life skills.  Get them as far as they can go.  It would probably save money on group homes or institutions in the long run. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

I hate this school district

     After meeting with my friend Tim this past weekend and taking a survey among my friends that are teachers in my mind the situation Princess Bear (PB) is in at school is worse than I thought.  While I understand that ultimately my daughters education is up to me I also think that we have a public school system that is supposed to be teaching the kids.  Regardless of their level of understanding.  When PB made the switch to middle school this year we were told that we were very lucky.  That we were in fact getting an "upgrade" of sorts since the school PB is attending is in a better part of town and considered to be a better school than where she was at.  Perhaps this holds true for the regular division part of the school.  The special education program is no different and perhaps even worse than what we'd been dealing with at the old school.  PB started the old school at the age of 3 and was there through 4th grade. 

     I was a bit concerned from the word go when I found out that PB would be in the same classroom for the next four years for 5th- 8th grade.  I voiced my fears to the special education coordinator assigned to PB.  I even said it seemed like a holding cell until the could shuttle her off to high school.  There is a whole lot of difference between 5th graders and 8th graders in the best of circumstances and special education rooms can rarely be considered the best of circumstances.  I am so glad that I can honestly go into the IEP this Wednesday saying I voiced my concerns before working with the teacher so I can tell the teacher it isn't her but rather it is the situation.  That said I do have some concerns with the teacher.  She is showing the kids Disney movies on a regular basis.  Seriously?  You can't find something educational and fun for them to do or watch?  

     PB also met with her tutor today and the tutor has her comfortably reading 30 lessons ahead of the corrective reading lesson they have her working on in school.  Yes you read that right- 30 lessons ahead of what she is working on in school.  The problem is that PB is in a room with 8 special needs kids that all have varying levels of comprehension and ability and there is just 1 teacher and 1 aide.  Anyone else seeing how this can be a problem?  There is only so much that one person can do.  I do know that when Tim was teaching this program that there were 16 kids and 3 teachers.  As part of their cost cutting they redesigned and fired some teachers.  It really isn't supposed to be my childs problem that the school district is broke. 

     I'm so frustrated with constantly battling the school district to get the services my daughter needs and deserves.  At this point I'm just hoping to make it through this meeting on Wednesday without completely losing my cool and going off.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Leno's farewell

OK...another TV recap.  Gotta do it.  It still rubs me the wrong way that yet once again NBC has shown Jay Leno the door.  The man had awesome ratings on a regular basis.  Why mess with a good thing?  The Tonight Show has always been the late night show of choice.  Kimmel coming on the scene didn't change that.  Since I'm a part of that coveted 18-49 year old key TV demographics (and am for many years to come) I've got to think I'm not the only one who thinks that once again NBC has blown it.  I was thrilled when Conan flopped on his a$$.  He deserved it after the way he orchestrated taking over the Tonight Show.  Leno then came back and stayed on top for 4 years.  I'm not anti-Fallon.  He's a funny guy.  He just isn't Leno.  Leno is funny and doing well....why are they messing with things?   I won't even go into how I have NO intention of even checking out Seth Meyer.

As far as Leno's farewell show- it was great and he handled himself beautifully!  Billy Crystal was his first guest when he came on as a host 22 years ago so it was full circle.  Crystal is funny and did a great job.  The Von Trapp family spoof was hysterical.  I mean laugh out loud funny. If you haven't seen it check it out below.  It starts around the 3 minute mark.

Now admit it- you laughed didn't you?!!? The musical guest was Garth Brooks. The first song he played was The Dance which apparently was a personal request from Jay Leno. Then Jay wrapped things up and said his thank yous and good byes. It was so sad. You can see that below:

It is so very apparent that the man truly loves what he did and he did a damn fine job of it. Shame on you NBC!

 Here are some links for different articles covering Leno's farewell.
How did the farewell show do in the ratings? Read about it HERE
After 22 years Leno bids farewell article HERE
5 Memorable moments from Leno's farewell HERE

After Jay got done thanking the audience and truly being a class act guy all the way (including wishing Jimmy Fallon good luck and encouraging the audience to watch him) Garth Brooks wrapped it up with a performance of Friends in Low Places.

 I guess this whole thing bugs me so much because we live in a world were doing a good job- being the top rated doesn't matter. Being loyal doesn't matter. It just rubs me the wrong way.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

What to write about....

Y'all know I love giving my two cents about what's been on TV lately and the past few days haven't disappointed as far as fodder.  Jay Leno signing off from the Tonight show and the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics.  Both very worthy and will most likely be covered in the next day or so.  Today I'm just going to do some random mutterings about life here.  I had the experience to actually go out without Princess Bear (PB) for awhile today.  She always makes me feel very guilty about this and I tend not to do it often for many reasons.  Some valid some just plain old guilt.  Unfortunately there are times that people I want to meet with can only happen on the weekends.  I do hate that it takes away from my time with Princess Bear but also see that it has benefits like me enjoying my time with her more when I return.

 PB's school IEP is coming up this Wednesday.  I'm not looking forward to it.  For as many high hopes as I had with the school change to middle school this year very few came to fruition.  Lately, it seems that the level of learning is stagnant and I'm not very happy about that.  SO, after spending some time on Facebook with friends that are teachers, both regular division and special education, I have a better feeling on how to go into this IEP.  My friend Tim who has been a friend since high school and is a very very very knowledgeable special education educator met me for coffee today.  He told me to bring a copy of PB's IEP from last year.  I also brought the school planner that they insist she use and a notepad full of questions.  Here are just a few concerns I have:
-that the appropriate level of material is being taught.  I've always made it very clear that I want PB to be challenged.  That said I don't want her scared.  Covering 9/11 for almost a month in class and making the kids watch a film showing actual footage of the Towers coming down is something my child should not have been subjected to.
-the lack of communication.  They use this dandy little planner to send home what homework PB has.  Most of the time she has NO homework.  This does not tell me what she is learning and I feel like I have the right to know what is being taught to my child.
-they let the kids watch movies in the classroom A LOT!  Like on a daily basis and I'm talking Disney movies here not anything with any sort of education value.  This is because the skill range is so varied in this room and the teacher needs to do so much one on one.  To keep the other kids busy she lets the watch movies.  Really????  OK, then lets do some sort of education movies and activities that can be useful.

So, Tim went through PB's entire IEP and told me what I should have them put where.  What assistive technology I should request.  He also gave me some really great ideas for next year when they are changing the formatting on state testing.

I feel so blessed to have a friend that can give me such incredible advice!  It was also nice to revisit old times with a friend.  Tim was commenting that he would have never guessed when we were back in High School that I would have swung to the other side of the political gamut and become a hard core conservative.  It was a really interesting conversation.  We were also laughing about the inevitable bullshit that is always part of high school.  Since we went to a Catholic high school that was going through a consolidation process there were even more trials than I think other peoples high school years had.  Trying to consolidate 2 schools that had been rivals for years I'm sure was no easy task.  Then you add a bunch of hot headed teens to the mix that always think they're right and it gets interesting.  We were laughing about our band years (or for me year).  I was a percussionist.  I played the drums and the bells (no not hand bells think more like xylophone).  One parade the band participated in I was stuck being the bass drum player.  I stand 5'3" on a good day.  That drum gets dang heavy man!!!!

We also discussed my lack of hair vs Tim pushing it with an almost afro.  My sophomore year I did a complete 180* and went from being a total little prep to being hardcore alternative.  This at some point early in my sophomore year meant buzzing my hair except for my bangs.  My bang were chin length.  The were dyed platinum blonde and had a black, red or purple streak depending on what I felt like.  I look back now and am amazed with how patient my parents were.  They figured it was just hair and I wasn't hurting anyone.  Go Mom & Dad!  At some point after the consolidation the school decided that my haircut was unacceptable and I had to grow it out.  The female dean was such an idiot that she would measure my hair once a week to make sure I was growing it out.  I still did some drastic stuff with my hair that they weren't able to ban.  Then they went after my earrings.  I had a total of 10 ear piercings.  I would keep on of my cartilage piercings on the top in and then a lower one on my other ear.  The next year they made it a rule that the piercings had to be the same on each side.  Seriously?  This is worth making a new rule?  So after having to grow out my hair the last two years of high school I promptly shaved my head again 2 hours after the graduation ceremony.  I had the appointment made with my hairdresser a month before graduation.  That night there was a lock in party at the school and they for a few minutes thought about not letting me attend.  Again....seriously????  These are some of the reasons I truly hate the parochial school system in this town.  I will admit it is heads and tails above the public school system but it left a bad taste to this day.

Actually, one of the other things Tim and I discussed was were I should move to get a decent special education department for PB.  All the places I have been looking at Tim gave his stamp of approval to.  A few of them he even mentioned were the most Catholic public schools you'd ever encounter.  Some of the farm communities around here are pretty religious communities but do not have a Catholic school option.  Therefore you have a public school filled with lots of kids who hold their faith important and it doesn't seem to be an issue.  That would be nice for PB.

Ok, enough random mutterings for now.  I need to take a shower and sleep.  I'm still fighting the general ick and once again have a sinus infection.  I go back to the Dr. on Monday.  I know a few things need to happen.  This chronic sinus infection cycle has got to stop.  Also I cannot go back on prednisone right away.  My kidneys have been letting me know they aren't happy.  Ugh! 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Farm Kings Season 3 Episode 8

Another great episode!  Everyone played nicely, no one needed to be slapped upside the head.  Win win win!  I also found myself laughing out loud several times.  Lots of little mini stories this week.  Let’s start with the bomb shelter.
-OK….first of all other than being claustrophobic is there a reason that Pete would rather take on the zombies rather than being a in a cargo container with his family?  Please tell me that I wasn’t the only one laughing about that?  It’s so funny when I see the King family doing stuff that I’ve talked to my family about doing.  Cargo shelter cold storage= good planning!  Tim was exactly right when he said hope for the best and prepare for the worst.  Sounds like solid planning to me!  Also using it as cold storage is a great idea.  Perhaps I’m just jealous because I’d give my eyeteeth to have a cold storage area like that.  Anyway watching the boys go about this project was entertaining as always.  At least things didn’t go horribly awry this time.  It was too funny listening to Pete harangue about knocking out the wall.  The farmhouse is part of Lisa’s divorce settlement and obviously has been in the family for a long time.  Nobody wants Pete to cry!  Just listening to Pete fret was funny.  “Don’t like it.  Put it back!”  Loved it!  Who hasn’t done something that they knew would have their parents or grandparents rolling in their grave?   At least the house didn’t have any major structural damage!  The best part of the whole bomb shelter prep was listening to Pete explain how they get the younger boys to do their dirty work.  WooHooo! Having fun now!  Wanna play?  Ah, the advantages of being older!  Of course things couldn’t be totally smooth sailing and Tim had to take out the corner of the house when filling in the dirt around the container.  Ooops!   As I said I think the planning ahead the Kings are doing is a good thing.  There is huge peace of mind knowing that if things even hit the fan that you can take care of you and yours. 

The family getting involved in collecting food for the less fortunate was great.  One of the things Lisa has obviously done is teach her children the gift of giving to less fortunate and being thankful for their own blessings.  They always seem to be very willing to share their good fortune.  Kudos to Lisa on that front.  This week the Kings decided to collect food for a local food bank.  They really pulled Ben and his friend Alex into this project since they’ve received so much through Special Olympics.  I love that they are fostering this in Ben (and Alex).  So Bitty set about to decorate collection boxes with the help of Lily, Ben and Alex.  Then Lisa had the boys help in the kitchen getting some foods ready to can.  They didn’t just stop there.  They also helped serve food to the less fortunate.  Go King Family! 

They also sold Christmas trees again this year.  Not sure why from a money stand point since they obviously haven’t come out ahead in this venture in previous years.  The back and forth between Sam & Dan was fun to watch.  Who else liked it when Sam nominated Dan to stand in the middle of the street to create a detour?!!!?  Sam seems to really be growing into his role as a big contributor.  I loved Dan’s idea to dress up as Santa to try to attract more customers.  They didn’t say how they wound up making out for the year overall.  

I think my favorite scene in the whole episode was the closing when the whole family was checking out the bomb shelter.  I love that it was even “decorated”.  Did anyone else catch the skull in the background among the crates holding the canned food?  I also loved that Dan brought a tree to liven up the place.  Too cute!  It was great when Lisa asked about the bathroom.  Lisa- the zombies are coming!  Use your bucket and be happy!   Although I will say her idea of using another storage container to make it bigger wasn’t a horrible idea.  Somehow I don’t see the boys going for that.  Maybe next they’ll try making a storage container home for some of the younger boys. 

So what did you think of this week’s episode?  What was your favorite part?