Fall woods

Fall woods

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Super Bowl

Was wondering what kind of crazy outfit Lady Gaga was going to wear while singing the National Anthem tonight.  Also how badly she was going to butcher the song.  I care much more about the latter than the former, but she seems to go so far out of her way to be outrageous that I figured she'd use the Super Bowl platform to showcase the absolute craziest costume she could think of.  Maybe one composed entirely of live kittens or freshly plucked bat wings or something.  As it happened, she looked beautiful and sang like an angel...it's easy to forget what a voice the woman has since she is so into shock value with her appearance most of the time.  

Speaking of singing, Chris Martin looked like he was having such a great time out there on the stage at halftime!  Made me smile just watching.  Bruno Mars and BeyoncĂ© didn't add as much to the show as I hoped they would, but I guess the time and stage space are limited.

Generally speaking, I could care less about pro football or either of the two teams playing this year. I watch the Super Bowl for the commercials (loved the apartments.com one!) and the halftime show.  Do have to admit that I have a soft spot for Peyton Manning, though.  To the extent that I'm cheering for a team, it's his Broncos.  It would be a nice story for the "old guy" to be able to retire on a Super Bowl win, although said old guy is three years younger than I am!!  Ha.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What A Senseless Waste

A man I knew died today by his own hand.  He left behind a wife and two children around my boys' ages.  He was Thing One's baseball coach for a couple of years way back when but I hadn't seen much of him more recently.

Because this is a small town and word gets around quickly, I decided to talk to Thing One about it preemptively.  By all accounts (spelled out in loving detail in our local paper, bless their sensationalist little hearts) the man made some bad professional decisions.  As I explained to Thing One, sometimes, once people get started making bad decisions and get caught, they get overwhelmed by the consequences they're facing and make one final *really* bad decision.  Looks like that's what happened here.  Guy took a gun and shot himself.  I'm having a hard time shaking the mental picture out of my head.

Assuming the paper got the story right, the situation was pretty bad.  There was going to be fallout, both professional and personal, and you gotta just wonder what the hell he could have been thinking. But the bottom line is that he's gone now and I'm sure his wife and kids are devastated to a degree that I can't even begin to imagine.  Life as they knew it is gone forever.  And for absolutely no good reason, that's the kicker.  Guy does something stupid, guy does something else even stupider, and his family is left behind to pick up the pieces.  Jesus.



Sunday, January 31, 2016

Cool Party Trick

As I was drying Petunia's hair tonight, she stopped to consider for a moment and then announced out of the blue that the hum of the hair dryer was a D.  As in the musical note.  (According to the piano teacher, all three of my children have perfect pitch.)  Amused and curious, I walked down the hall into Thing Two's room, where he was lying quietly and obliviously on his bed reading, and sang the same note to him.  "D," came the instant reply.

I once asked Thing One if he's consciously aware of all the musical tones played around him on a daily basis (the 'ding' of elevators, the jangles of doorbells or wind chimes, the humming of mechanical equipment, etc) and he said no, something has to draw his attention to them, although once he does stop to pay attention he always just somehow knows what the notes are.  It's like he has an internal reference standard in his head.

Incidentally, not one of the three of them really 'gets' that the vast majority of people can't do this.  When they answer me, there's always a baffled element of "Why can't you tell? Isn't it obvious??" lurking in the background.  The brain is a truly fascinating place.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hypocrisy Or To Each Their Own??

Hell itself will freeze over before I let either of my boys play football, at least any variety more serious than the touch version played by the menfolk in the side yard at family gatherings.  They both play soccer, which is bad enough from a concussion standpoint...at least in soccer it's not the explicit goal of the defense to flatten the opposing player who has the ball on every play, although sometimes it happens anyway.  They play basketball, too, and anyone who thinks basketball is a non-contact sport has clearly never played the game.  I speak from experience in this.  It isn't that I don't want them playing contact sports, and I know that a freak accident can happen while doing pretty much anything, but the news out of football is just relentlessly bleak.  Think about Duerson and Seau.  Then take the latest, the story of Tyler Sash, the former NY Giants safety who died last fall at 27.  Yesterday's media was full of reports describing the advanced CTE discovered in his brain.  27 years old.  He was closer in age to Thing One than to me when he died.  

I'm no fan of the Giants in particular or really of any pro football team, but as you all know, I'm a proud alumna of Notre Dame and I've religiously (ha) watched pretty much every game we've played since I started college lo these many MANY years ago now.  (Before that I'd never seen a live game, Hong Kong Brits and Chinese not being much for playing American football...if my high school had fielded a team, there would have been nobody to play against, so we had a rugby team instead.  Yes, I digress, although if you want to see a REALLY violent sport check rugby out sometime. )  My point is that I cheerfully and regularly watch a group of young men playing a sport that I won't permit my own sons to play.  Wondering if that makes me a hypocrite or if this is just an extension of something I tell my own kids all the time (usually when they are complaining about something not being fair), that every set of parents makes their own decisions for their own kids based on what they think is best.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

License Plate

Stopped at a red light today behind a Dodge Ram 1500 and laughed out loud when I saw the rear plate: EIEI00.  Clearly a farmer with a good sense of humor!!

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Every three years, as mandated by law, we have a discussion with the Child Study Team at school regarding the necessity of testing for Thing Two.  The idea behind the law is that classified children must be assessed periodically to determine their current performance levels and need for services to make sure that the services they receive are appropriate.  It's entirely possible for the group to collectively decide that there's no need for testing at that time, but the subject must be raised.  Since we have him comprehensively evaluated by a neurodevelopmental pediatrician every year anyway on our own, we have a pretty good idea of where he stands, but the laws governing public schools are what they are and we go with the flow.

Anyway, six years ago, he was tested and failed just about everything.  As expected, given that at the age of 4, he had very little functional language.  While not exactly *happy* test results, they unquestionably qualified him for a great deal of help, which the school district has been very cooperatively providing ever since.  (Really: in several cases they've voluntarily gone beyond what they are obligated to provide for him.)  Three years ago, when he was in first grade, we looked at the situation again and decided that we had a pretty good handle on where he was and that he was getting what he needed--crucially, with the full agreement of the neurodev doctor, who has been seeing him since he was a preschooler--so we left things status quo without testing.   He was doing a lot better by then, but was still not within a city block of being a 'normal' first grader from either an academic or social standpoint.  

A few weeks ago, I got a call from the lovely woman who does the scheduling for the Child Study Team, reminding me that it was that time again: we needed to schedule a let's-discuss-testing meeting.  I have to admit that this time my heart sank to my knees.  He's in fourth grade now, and the change from first grade is dramatic (and thankfully so.)  He actually has friends, and courtesy of years of OT his personal space issues have gotten a lot better.  He functions in class with very little support, and if you only looked at him on paper--his report card or standardized test scores--you might not realize that the kid has issues.  Of course, you *talk* to him for more than 10 seconds and you can still easily see them, but he's progressed so far in the past six years (and is so damned smart under the crossed language-related wires in his brain) that he's advanced himself right into a gray area.  Given that Special Education services are ridiculously expensive to provide, a fact of which I'm well aware in my Board of Ed capacity since I see all the budget numbers, my fear was that they were going to try to push him out on the basis of the progress he's made.  Don't get me wrong, I'll be the happiest mother on Earth if the day comes that the kid legitimately doesn't need to be classified anymore, but he's not there yet.  I don't want to usurp a single solitary resource that the kid doesn't no-joke need, but I also don't want him shoved out the door prematurely just to cut costs.

At the beginning of the meeting, the case manager asked me for my thoughts, and I explained that I really wanted to know what tests they were planning to run, since his performance on any kind of language-based test depends entirely on what *exactly* they are testing.  For example, if they look at his ability to decode or spell words, he tests at high school level.  If they look at critical thinking skills or short term memory, he's years behind.  I needed to be sure that they were going to be looking at the whole picture.  The discussion that ensued (between the case manager, his school speech therapist, and his homeroom teacher) clarified for me that the initial tests would be general and that the follow-up tests would aim specifically at weaker areas (helpfully identified by the homeroom teacher as we sat there) which is a huge relief.  It has been my sense for years that this group of women has Thing Two's best interests at heart, and they all but said outright (which they couldn't really do) that they want the test results to reflect that he still needs help.  The next meeting (at which we discuss test results and make plans for next year) is in March, so fingers will be crossed until then, but I am hopeful.


Friday, January 22, 2016

The Kind Of Teacher You Want

Interestingly, he wasn't even hired as a teacher.  He's the newish IT guy for our school district.  His predecessor left big shoes to fill, but Jack hit the ground running.  He's maybe 35, a compact dynamo of a man who gave up wearing dress shoes to work early on in his time with us and now wears sneakers every day, the better to facilitate his high-speed movement around the school buildings.  Everyone likes him and he's really great with all the varying technology stuff his job requires him to coordinate.  

In the packet for our last Board of Ed meeting, there was an odd agenda item: the administration wanted us to approve Jack to work directly with students.  Turns out that in addition to all his IT qualifications, Jack actually holds a teaching certificate, but since he wasn't hired to work with kids here the BOE needed to formally permit him to do so.  Since the recommendation was coming through my committee, I asked why the IT guy needed clearance to work with students, and was told that he wanted to establish a tech-related group for the Friday afternoon period in which the middle school kids can choose their activity.  He also needed the clearance to host lunch bunches, which is the term the school uses for when teachers permit kids who are having difficulty in the cafeteria for whatever reason to have lunch with a few friends in their classrooms instead.  

My BOE committee met this morning, and Jack was there to discuss the technology plan.  As he was leaving, I asked how his work with students was going.  He commented that most of the kids who are into technology aren't the social or popular kids, and that having a group of them congregating and learning together is working really well for their confidence.  The part that really choked me up was when he went on to mention that he'd tagged up with the Child Study Team (the group who coordinates IEPs for classified students, i.e. Thing Two and his peers) and was soliciting their recommendations for kids who would be a good fit for his group since he wanted to be inclusive.