Thursday, December 27, 2007

My Irony Meter Just Broke

OK, so you all may remember that I am no longer on the School Board. While I was trying to make the decision whether or not to run again, I got a lot of pressure from my political mentor, the Prez of the Board, to sit the campaign out.

At the very last minute, I started reconsidering and asked him to please call me so that we could discuss whether I should pull papers at the elections office on the day of the deadline. That morning, he called me and really put the screws on that it wasn't a good idea for me to pull papers, as he had already promised endorsements to two other people, and he couldn't go back on those endorsements, and it would look odd for me to be hanging in the wind without his endorsement. I ended up in tears over it, but said that yeah, I was too high strung these days with the stress over my son to focus on a campaign. So I bowed out.

What ticked me off was when I learned that No One else had pulled papers. So, uh, where were those people you had lined up? Hmm? There ended up being no election whatsoever for lack of opposition. But really, I'm OK with stepping off.

I'm not really OK with the way the rest of the Board has been cavalier about saying good bye to me though. No one thanked me for my service, stuff like that. But OK.

Yesterday I was on the phone with my mother and the call waiting clicked in. It was the local paper: "Do you have any comment on the Board President's letter of resignation?"


"OK, uh, I have my mother on the other line. Let me call you right back."

Turns out the Prez gave his letter of resignation to the Superintendent yesterday morning and then delivered it to the media with no further discussion. In the letter he thanks the Board for their service, cites lack of time to devote to school board issues due to family and professional obligations and ends the letter by thanking me for my service along with him.

Uh. Gee. Don't know what to think. Sorta gobsmacked really. The whole thing just feels like a con somehow. I told him a number of times that I wanted to be president, but he made it clear that he wasn't giving it up. OK. Fine. But just after I left he nominated another Board Member to be president, so he was OK setting it aside for her, but not for me. And he made a big deal that I needed to serve out my term right to the bitter end of December 6 and not step down on November 1, as I had planned, because "it would cause a media storm" and would "make it look like I was leaving for a reason." So I didn't attend a few meetings, and I left on Dec 6.

But then HE steps down a few weeks later? With letters to the media? WHAT?

So now the Board has to appoint a replacement. I could throw my name in, and possibly get a seat and be able to serve without having to run a campaign, but I don't think I'm really up for it all. Feels fishy. And it doesn't feel as if they'd appoint me up there anyway. Feels like more bad stuff is on its way and I'm not up for that sort of fighting.

So I'm heading back to my committee work. But there's a lot of headshaking going on in my town these days.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I have had the oddest few days.

HUGE amounts of drama, some cookies, some pumpkin loaf which would NOT come out of the pan, more drama (no, like scary stuff involving the police -- details later), a great Christmas morning, kids successfully sharing a Wii (whoa. That's cool), and some good gifts.

Best gift this year, well, maybe it ties with Cutey the Cat made by my youngest, complete with a story about Cutey that she wrote all by herself, was the gift from my husband.

On the tree was an envelope. And inside was a single sheet of paper with two small sentences typed in the center of the page.

You may have a cat.
Merry Christmas

I'm not sure who was happier, Neo or me, but he got hugs and kisses from us both. (What was funny was that neither one of us believed that he meant it at first. Looking back on it, why in the world would he give that as a gift if he had been joking? Odd thought.)

Anyway, Merry Christmas and Happy Festivus to everyone.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Why ask for feedback if you are only going to respond by vehemently defending your original idea?


You wanted PRAISE. Got it. I'll make a note.

Here's a tip. If you want praise, then you need to say, "I've worked really hard on this idiotic animated logo for the website. Top Priority For Me!! I love the idea of the person in silhouette juggling things which could be navigation buttons or just be symbols that turn up later on the navigation menu or I Don't know, but look! He's juggling! Isn't that what we all do in our lives with our children? Juggle? We've decided that she, or maybe it's a he, (hee hee!) needs to be standing on a compass because we'll need more navigation buttons than the original hearts, stars, and moons. Please don't question us about the Lucky Charms and how they relate to the compass. We've got it all figured out and it will all make sense when the website is up and running. I just wanted to show you guys so you knew that I'm hard at work on it. OK?"

This causes everyone in the room to say, "Awww. Cute logo. What a great job." If you say, "Here's the logo in it's earliest stage. We'd like some feedback from the group," you are going to have to prepare yourself for the people (not just ME) in the room to ask questions about why we are advertising a breakfast cereal on the website for a Special Ed support group and expressing discomfort with the professionalism of such a design. I'm sorry that was so hard for you, my dear. Maybe fighting with your fellow voting members about how wonderful it all is isn't your best plan. You know? Maybe you don't.

Man, that was uncomfortable.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

News flash

So much news, just in the past few days.

Thursday, I stepped off the Board and received an orchid from the Superintendent.

Thursday, Saul's case manager lost her little mind, had a hissy fit, and stormed out of a meeting with the Director of Special Education. The Director was Not Amused. As of yesterday, the Director is now my son's case manager. Whoa.

Also on Thursday, Neo was teased by two boys, one of whom said he wanted her in his bed and that she could have his babies. Neo's friend told the boys to cut it out, and one of the boys told her she could "open her mouth and bob her head up and down." Eee gads. Turns out one of the boys has been, in Neo's words, "Popping up in unexpected places at school" and asking her about who likes her and who's going out with her.

All in all, Thursday was a busy day.

Good news is that when we called the boy who said the most outrageous thing, his parents were immediately apologetic, horrified, and promised to act. The parent of the other kid, not so much.

Monday the Director of Special Ed acted as my son's aide so that she could assess what was working and what wasn't. She told me that she saw the aide who had wrestled Saul to the ground last year, the one who's not supposed to be near Saul but still is, she saw her intimidate and embarrass a Kindergartner whom she was working with. Saul's case manager defended the aide. Oy. Anyway, the Director said that most everything we have suggested as accommodations for Saul have not been implemented (Yes. I know.) and that when she tried them, they worked. (Yes. I thought so.) She says that he's been living in a negative environment at school (Yes. I know.), and that she needs a new team to come in and do basic positive reinforcement with him (Yes. I know.) Believe it when I see it, baby.

Tuesday I found out from the school secretary that my name was in the paper. (Gah! What? What in the WORLD can they write about me now?)

The paper printed the winner of the $500 First Street Shopping Spree raffle. Guess what? It's me!

Tuesday I found out that my youngest has been getting involved with cliques, excluding other girls from playing with them, being excluded herself, and the teacher says that there have been a lot of tears in class. (Why didn't you TELL ME? Why let it go on for a week?) Found out from a friend that while this was going on, her daughter got so upset that she didn't come in from recess, didn't go to lunch, and didn't go back to her classroom after lunch. A fifth grader found her crying in the playground and brought her to class. The teacher hadn't noticed she was gone. At that point the child asked to go to the office to call her mom. When the mom came down to the school, the child told her the story. So the secretary (crabby woman) says to the child, "You have to learn to be more responsible and come in when you're told." Like it's the kid's fault that no one knew she was missing for 45 minutes? What IS IT with this school?

Got myself on a Special Ed advisory committee with a bunch of loonie birds. Some of them are OK, some are looking for their pitchforks and burning torches to storm The Establishment. OK, fine. There's a teacher who threatened the Director of Special Education at the start of the year and who likes to think that my son gets things that her son doesn't, which by the way is an insane idea. Her son's aide is the one who tackled Saul last year, and is also the one the Director witnessed bullying at Kindergarten student on Monday. This teacher is odd. And now I sit on the Special Education advisory committee with Both her and her friend the aide. Oh Joy.

Last night I went to a GATE advisory committee meeting. Trying to do something for Neo, don't you know. Turns out that just by going, I am a representative for my elementary school and the middle school. OK then. Completely forgot about this until I sat down, but who's the Districtwide teacher-coordinator for GATE in the District? Why, none other than my friend the loonie bird, the teacher from the Special Ed wars. Ha! The paranoid flash of her eye was a delight to witness as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction exclaimed, "Suisan! I'm so Happy you're here! What a delight to work with you on this!" God, that was fun. Bad Suisan. Bad girl.

(Just a note here -- why do I keep bumping into the same four teacher and same three parents at every meeting? Where IS everyone?)

Tonight there's another Special Ed advisory meeting. More of the same, I think.

But first, I'm going to go get coffee. I RAN OUT THIS MORNING! The Horror!

Then I am going to pick up my $500 dollar shopping spree ticket. I'm thinking a piece of local blown glass artwork needs to come live with us soon.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

For SxKitten and her daughter

I keep saying, "Don't grip with your knees." And what in the world does THAT mean?

OK, after much Youtube surfing, here are two comparisons for you. (I have to admit, it was surprisingly hard to find the sort of video I wanted, with a young beginner posting the trot, soles of the rider's boots flashing in the sun, and lower legs swinging everywhere. The one I found is almost on target.)

When you sit on a horse, your legs are open, and your first impulse is to pinch with the knees to get your legs back together. No. Don't do that. It creates saddle sores for one thing, and for another it pops you OUT of the saddle and makes your lower leg fling itself all over the place.

The girl in the first video has her stirrups too short, but watch it for a sec. Watch her knees, calves, and stirrups. Don't watch the whole thing, just the first minute or so until she starts cantering over jumps.

OK. Check out the posting. She's holding on with her knees and standing UP in the stirrups when she posts the trot. I know this because her ankles are jiggling all over the place and her stirrup irons swing out (when she's standing) and back to the horse's side (when she's released pressure on them). To make matters worse, she's wearing spurs. Agh. So every stride her knees grip, her feet swing out and her horse gets spurred. Noisy leg and unstable seat.

The shorter your stirrups are, obviously the less contact you have with the horse until you're in jockey mode where your knees are in your chest and your butt never hits the saddle at all.

If you lengthen your leg and open your hips, you can learn how to grip the horse with your entire leg. Think of sitting on a barrel. If you wrap your legs around the barrel and grip the UNDERSIDE then you're sucked down onto the barrel. Grip with your knees and it's like gripping a bar of soap in the shower. Whoops! Off you go.

Then when you get to jumping, you can lift slowly and securely out of the saddle using the strength of your legs, not by standing up in the stirrups. If you go over jumps with your knees pinched to the horse, your lower leg swings back and away from the horse's side. And you've got no stability as the horse leaves the ground. Quite dangerous.

In this video, watch the horse acting up at the beginning. Ignore his actions for a minute and watch the rider. Especially her lower leg. I'll comment again after you've seen it.

She gets left behind his movement only once in all that leaping around. And her lower leg doesn't budge. Sometimes she's in the saddle trying to move him forward through the rearing, sometimes she's hovering just above the saddle trying to keep her center of gravity over his, but her feet and lower leg stay still. It's quite a testament to her ability that she can do this.

And then there's this girl. Watch the whole video to see the same horses after she's worked with them. As the horses act up, watch her upper body stay straight and tall. Watch her lower leg stay pretty quiet. Especially with the bucking dun, you can see how her HIPS are the fulcrum here, not her knees. What an excellent rider she is.

Long and low, lengthen into the horse's movements and you'll be a lot safer up there. And you'll get fewer saddle sores. That's why God made BOOTS for your CALVES not knee guards for your pinchy-thingies!

Good luck!

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Letter

Dear Case Manager for my son,

Well, you showed us, did you not? Now that you have stormed out of yesterday's meeting in a huff, I will certainly take your advice and counsel to heart.

I appreciate you waving your degrees in my face, and I have learned my lesson, believe you me. You're absolutely right. My son should want to earn punch-card tickets for good behavior, and he should stop expecting to get the small toys and gifts so often given to Special Ed children for a job well done. What was he THINKING, asking for a reward he could hold in his hand when he stayed through math? That card with the holes is much better!

I am chagrined to think that my expectation that my son's behavior could improve under constant positive reinforcement was wrong. Exceptionally wrong. What was I THINKING?

Also, you are so very right in expecting that I just sign the annual IEP document without reading or reviewing it. I need to respect your timeline in submitting the document to the online server, and should have signed all 16 pages of it at once. After all, the previous two times you gave me copies, which were rendered illegible by the copier not having any toner (certainly not your fault) should have provided me ample opportunity to review the (blank) pages and reach a conclusion that the meeting notes were accurate. What was I THINKING, trying to read what I was signing?

And that pesky Director of Special Services! What an odd duck she is! Telling me that I could take an additional ten days at least to review the document and prepare a parent addendum. All that talk about informed consent. Wow. I guess she doesn't respect your timeline much, you poor dear.

It was so lovely to see you this morning, all bright and sunshiney after the sturm und drang of yesterday. How quickly you recover your good moods! Don't worry, I didn't really expect an apology for your behavior or the blame you placed at my door. You are absolutely justified in your opinions. Thank GOODNESS for strong women! How would we get on without them, eh, Mrs. E.?


A parent.

PS: You are the MOST passive aggressive person I have had the displeasure of working with. No wonder my son says that he doesn't trust you anymore. No wonder his behavior is WORSE when you're around. You know how you always pressure my son to apologize to you? I'm still expecting an apology for your unprofessional behavior yesterday. Waiting. Tapping my toes. Hmmm. So very, very silent.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Jesus Christ is their CEO

A vacuum store in Texas, where Jesus is Lord and every woman gets a flower.

Clearly Jesus has much spare time on His hands after picking lottery winners, stamping out hunger and hatred, and turning all hearts towards the Lord. Running a vacuum center truly must be a high priority for Him.

I actually put this together on Tuesday, and then on Tuesday evening, I found this insanity, courtesy of Pharyngula. There's a group of Christians who believe that I-35, which runs North South through the center of the country is the highway referred to in Isiah 35:8. (Get it? Chapter 35? Highway 35? Get it? Huh? Huh?)

Here's the Bible verse:
And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.
And here's the OMG, I can't believe I just watched that, video:

Christians, and I am one, so I know what of I speak, are so CRAZY sometimes!

Maybe I should send this entry to my neighbor with the big black and white banner over his garage (Black? Festive!) which reads in block letters: HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS

Maybe not.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Body Language

Do horses "enjoy" what they are doing? Do racehorses LOVE to run? Do polo ponies want to play chukkas?

Hard to say. But I'd wager that this horse really does like cutting cattle. Courtesy of a commenter on Fugly Horse of the Day:

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Black Moods and Peaceful Cabins

I'm totally in a pissy mood.

I keep wanting to come and write about it, but even that gets me ticked off. Why should *I* have to take the time to write about what is pissing *me* off? Huh? Huh? Got a problem with that?

After a while, I eventually float to earth like some oak leaf in autumn, sort of lazily drifting down from the heights of nuttiness, floating to the left, taking in the scenery, turning to the right, catching the light, flipping over on my back to get a new view, until I land on the ground and say, "Whoa. Why was I so pissed off?"

If I take a few seconds to examine what's been going on, I can get to the place where I say, "OK, that's justified anger. You've been going through a lot." Or I say, "What else is new? This is the same crap you've been dealing with for about two years now. Get to a solution already. Stop whining and do something that makes you feel better." But most of the time, just reviewing this crap gets me angry all over again. And then we are UP in the stratosphere again. Goody.

A year ago, my son's life basically exploded. And I spent all last year fighting with the schools to help him. Nothing's better. They're still screwing around. His annual IEP review was to have been completed on October 17. After a five hour and an three hour meeting, and a few emails back and forth, I still do not have a legible COPY of the IEP that I can review, so I haven't signed it. December 2. Bit late, no? (That's OK, they don't have the program set up for him yet that they described IN the IEP, so it's all just a shell game.) Monday I'm sending a certified letter of complaint to the Director of Special Ed asking for a Due Process review unless this program is put into place in the next ten days.

Neo is getting grumpier and grumpier. School isn't going well, and she's spending a lot of time in her bathrobe. I've got her going to a therapist starting Wednesday, so we'll see what comes of that. I dunno. She's sort of slowing down --

Phe, the youngest, is just making me crazy. She's entered into the yelling if I can't get it or whining until Mommy's head explodes phase. She's cute. I know she's cute. But I sorta can't deal right now. I wish I had an older female relative who lived nearby I could just push her off on. Here. Take her shopping or something.

My parents left, yay, and my mother-in-law is coming. Gah. I love my mother-in-law, more than my mother actually, but there is going to be NOTHING TO DO with her while she's here. Dec 20 through early Jan. All the performances shut down right after Christmas, so there'll be no taking the kids to the ballet or other such things. Well, maybe on the 22nd, but that's only one day. So we're looking at many days of her sitting on the couch, doing her best to entertain the kids while she exclaims once again at how much laundry I do. (Yes. Eight loads a week minimum. I've counted.) And then we bump into the fact that all three of my kids are different. (There's a shock.) But there's no one activity that will work for all three. So whenever we have guests it becomes my job to cheer up the child who feels left out. Ugh. Great. Let's have more company over.

School Board -- This Thursday is my last day. There'll be cake, and a swearing in ceremony for my replacement. It's good, I guess. I dunno. I have very low expectations for the evening. (Or very high but they've already crashed?) No one on the board is expressing any regret whatsoever that I'm leaving. Which really is lovely, after having served so long and dealt with such crap alongside the rest of the board members. Want some cake? Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Dear Butcher and I have been working with a group of parents to get a support group for Special Ed parents set up. Which sounds like a good thing, and will be a good thing, but we've had to work with a couple of loonie birds to get it up and running. One of the loonie birds REALLY wants to sit on a committee. It will make her feel all important and tingly. OK fine. Turns out there is a defunct committee within the District for discussing Special Ed; all it needs is to be staffed. Once it's staffed, then the District can give it a small budget, and free meeting space, and the committee can sponsor the support group. OK fine. A few weeks ago we all went to a meeting to staff The Committee. I had the bylaws from the old committee, but I hadn't really read it closely. Holy Christ -- this thing calls for SEVENTEEN voting members.

Seventeen? Gee, I wonder why it never got anything done. I wonder why it fell apart. Hmm.

Seventeen? Are they out of their gourd?

The Committee was staffed by putting up big pieces of paper on the walls, and having people write their names under an area they were interested in. So I'm in charge of Publications (Resources was already taken, and I didn't want to step on anyone's toes), and Dear Butcher is in charge of Support Groups along with another woman. So now once a month, DB and I will have to trot off to The Committee to sit in on a Committee Meeting along with 15 other people, where we will vote'm not sure what we're voting on. I can't even figure out what The Committee is supposed to do. Once again, I wonder why the last one fell apart. Ha!

Sucky thing about The Committee is that the woman who attacked my son and wrestled him to the ground last year, even though she was not his aide, a woman who really has no business being around children at all, wrote her name down on a big piece of paper, so she is on the committee. Fuck me. Her best friend, a woman who has no special ed children and who does not work with special ed children, wrote her name on a big piece of paper, so she is also a voting member.

The second woman has a Thing about my son, and tracks his movements at school. If he acts up, even if he's with an aide, she writes a letter to the principal reporting upon his actions. In her last letter (to the Superintendent) she also said she would take it upon herself to inform other parents of "his history" if he lost control again. Great. This is exactly the reason I am a) not on the School Board anymore, and b) keeping him home from school until the his team can get their act together and build an appropriate program for him. And I get to work with these womyn on a trumped up committee, just so I can get a support group going. What the hell.

This is usually where my cabin fantasy comes into play.

One day I plan to live in a cabin. I've had the interior of this cabin marked out in my head for years, down to the scruffy green paint on the kitchen table and the coffee can filled with pencils on the window sill. It has an old fashioned bathroom done in funky tile colors and a large seedy sofa which wraps around two walls of the living room. The screen door, which is wooden, makes that "rrrR? CLACK!" sound when it closes. There's a woodstove on the first floor, and the only bed upstairs is right next to the chimney up in the loft. There are cats, big windows, and lots of comforters.

When I was walking precincts a few years ago, I knocked on the door of a seaside cabin in the old part of town. The elderly woman invited me in for a glass of water (which you are NEVER supposed to take them up on), and I talked to her for a few minutes about my campaign priorities, all the while eyeing her bookshelves which ran up the side of the wedge of her staircase and framed the living room in floor to ceiling clutter. She asked me a bunch of very probing questions on what exactly I meant by "Accountability", as it was a word so often misused. After a few minutes she said, "I'll vote for you, and I'll tell my friends to vote for you. You're a good person."

I thanked her and told her I was very honored to have her think highly of me.

I keep thinking of that woman and that brief conversation. It keeps jumping into my head at odd times. I think because that conversation marked the point in my campaign when I knew that my running wasn't just some made up thing, but that I really DOing this, and that I had a good chance of winning, and that meant that I was going to serve at some point. Somehow the books and and bookcase made it all real. I think I also want to be that woman and live in her cabin. And I'd like to think that a person like that would like me. And that I'd recognize a person like me if she were to show up on my door.

And I'd like to think that a cabin like that, or maybe the cat who lives there, would keep the black moods away.