Here Comes the Fire Truck

Photo credit: ewan traveler

Photo credit: ewan traveler

I was baking cookies.  Yes, it was 86 degrees outside.  Yes, my children were “helping” in that way that assistance makes the task harder to do.  Still, I was baking cookies.  We were going camping in two days and, regardless of how many other snacks I brought, I needed cookies!

I was almost done. Finally! I could move on to figuring out what was for dinner, since it was already 4:30.  The last batch was in the oven, why wasn’t dinner registering for me? More

What is a 504 Plan?

I am writing a series on advocacy for parents.  These posts will appear on Thursdays.  With these posts, I hope to encourage all parents to advocate for their children, and to provide a little bit of guidance.

Even if you know what an IEP is, you may not have heard of a 504. Or you may have heard the term and are wondering how it can help your child.

Section 504 is part of the Americans with Disability Act that prevents discrimination against people with disabilities. In the school context, this means that if there is a recognized disability, the school has to accommodate this disability to put the person on an even playing field with his or her classmates.

If the school recognizes that the child has a disability that affects their ability to learn, they have an obligation to accommodate the child’s disability.  This may be with simple modifications, such as seating the child in the front row in class  or away from a window(“preferred seating”), or a tap on the shoulder when the child appears distracted.  It could be something that appears to give a child an advantage, such as extended time on tests.  There are no limits to what accommodations the school can give a child, as long as they put a child on a level playing field with his or her peers.

For ideas about what accommodations you can request for your child, you can Google “504 accommodations”.  Here is a list of good accommodations for children with learning disabilities. Other organizations, such as CHADD for ADHD, often make available their own lists of accommodations.  When viewing lists of accommodations, it is important to remember that the child probably does not need every accommodation listed, and not every accommodation your child needs may be listed.  Accommodations are child-specific, depending on what that child needs.

How does your school accommodate your child’s disabilities?  Does this work for your child?

Other articles in this series:

ADHD and CHADD

Our St. Louis chapter of CHADD (Children and Adults with ADHD) met last night and started discussing plans for next year.  Unless someone else steps up, it looks like I will be coordinator next year.

I tend to shy away from coordinator roles, preferring to work in the sidelines.  I am comfortable serving as secretary or treasurer of an organization, but have never been a coordinator before.  The group is sort of languishing and searching for a purpose.  I feel like the most important thing I can do for the organization is to develop goals and a clear mission for it and to work toward these goals.  We are working now to get more volunteers, but I think if we provide more service then the people will come.

 

And Summer Begins

Is it possible that there are only three days left of school?  Today is Memorial Day, the “official” start of Summer. The school year went so quickly, and it is not yet ready to let go.  Even though Picasso graduated from Pre-K last week, school drags on, and he will be going again all through June.

Even the summer reminds us of our long winter.  We went to the swimming pool on Saturday, opening day. We just couldn’t miss the first pool day.  The blue water was inviting, and the lazy river was irresistible.  We stayed only until Picasso’s teeth were chattering and he was shivering, even as he insisted he was not cold.

I was hoping to enroll Cassatt in summer camp so that I could have some time to myself.  After a week of potty training, however, he is far from being accident-free.  We have two more weeks to have him “potty trained,” but I don’t see it happening.  Maybe three days of camping next weekend will give him the boost he needs.  At any rate, we shall see how crazed I am by the end of it.

Preschool Graduation

We celebrated Picasso’s graduation from Pre-K this week.

It was a sweet ceremony. They sang some songs, there was a video of all the kids, and there were cookies and lemonade after.  The kids wore caps and gowns (although Picasso’s cap fell off early in the ceremony).

But … will you forgive me if I question the whole concept of “graduation” from preschool? More

Problem-Solving with your Child’s Teacher

I am writing a series on advocacy for parents.  These posts will appear on Thursdays.  With these posts, I hope to encourage all parents to advocate for their children, and to provide a little bit of guidance.

One of the most important ways a parent can be involved in a child’s education is to be part of a team with the teacher. But what happens when parents disagree with the teacher? More

15 Things to Do with a Cucumber

 

Cucumber Recipes

15 Summer Cucumber Recipes

Cucumbers are not my favorite vegetable.  I don’t mind eating them, but our family rarely finishes a cucumber before it goes bad.  Some of that is because Tom usually will not eat them. More often, they get relegated to the back of the refrigerator, only to be found after they are past their prime.

We regularly get cucumbers from our vegetable co-op.  And because they are easy to grow, we are growing cucumbers in our garden this year.  We are going to be overrun with cucumbers!  In preparation for this, I have put together a list of 15 things to do with a cucumber.  I have included some of my own recipes in this list, and have compiled a number of others that look so yummy that I must try this summer. Disclaimer: I have not tried the recipes yet! With this list, I expect I will run out of cucumbers this year!
More

Vegetable Garden

On Saturday I spent a good deal of time weeding my vegetable garden.

It feels like weeding is all I do in this garden.  There is a ton of grass that grows in it.  If left to its own devices, I suspect it would look like a raised part of our lawn.  Only the grass would grow to 7 feet high, because it is hard to get a lawnmower into that bed.

I have not grown anything in this bed for several years.  When I tackled the weeds this year, it took me three days of hard work to get all the weeds out of the 3′ x 8′ bed.  Granted these were school days, while Picasso is in school (for only 3 hours during the day), but still.

When I finished and got it set up to plant, at the end of May, it looked like this:

Vegetable Garden in Spring

Vegetable Garden on April 28, 2014

Dirt, dirt, beautiful dirt!  You notice three plants in there.  I had purchased these plants to put in the garden, but everything else I started from seed.  I based it on a square-foot-gardening plan, and used a variation of this plan at Gardener’s Supply:

Garden Plan Fun for Kids

Fun for Kids

They have a variety of kitchen garden plans.  It is worth checking out if you are interested!

After I weeded over the weekend, here is how the garden looks now, not quite a month after planting (and right after weeding):

Carrots, Melons, Tomatoes, Lettuce, PeasPeas, Tomatoes, Lettuce, MarigoldsPeas, Peppers, Squash, Pumpkin

You’ll have to forgive my photo editing: I had to take several pictures to get everything in!

We have planted:

  • carrots
  • melon
  • tomatoes
  • lettuce
  • marigolds
  • peas
  • cucumber
  • pumpkins
  • yellow pepper
  • sunflowers

I also planted corn, but it is not coming up!  I think some squirrel must have sniffed out the corn kernels, and dug them up.  So yesterday I went to the store and got some plants to put in these squares.  I got

  • mint
  • parsley
  • tomatoes
  • zucchini

As you can tell, there is a lot of variety in this garden!  There will not be a lot of anything, but I am using it to teach my children about growing vegetables.  They even helped me weed!

Summer Plans

There are only 2 weeks left of school, and summer days are staring at me like a blank canvas.

Some people can get through a whole summer with no schedule.  Not me; I find it impossible to stay home all day.  I tried on Friday, the first day of official potty training, and failed.  I had to break up the day with a drive.  (He did stay dry during the drive though!)  Getting out of the house gave me some peace, and the milkshakes made it worthwhile for everyone.

We do have some plans.  Picasso is in summer school every morning through June.  Cassatt, if he is regularly staying dry in three weeks, will go to summer camp three mornings each week.  This will give me a chance to breathe (and, if it’s anything like the two hours alone Tom gave me yesterday, to clean).  But afternoons can stretch on, and bored kids make for a miserable mama.

The pool will be open, there are library activities, and I need to take the boys to the History Museum and the Art Museum.  Along with spray parks, the Zoo, the Magic House, the Botanical Garden, and all the other things to do in St. Louis.  I want to take them on a million outings, I just need to schedule them in!

I also need to plan quiet activities at home.  I have my list of 10 ways to occupy a child, but there are other things I can do as well that require some planning, including crafts and sensory table activities.

So a tentative daily schedule:

  • Take Picasso to the Bus
  • Morning routines (cleaning, eating breakfast, etc.)
  • Take Cassatt to camp or on a field trip
  • Housework or Mom Time (on days Cassatt is at camp)
  • Pick up kids
  • Lunch
  • Quiet time
  • Pool or other outing
  • Activity at Home
  • Make Dinner
  • free play
  • Bedtime

This blank canvas is almost bursting at the seams!

DIY Friday: Word Art

wpid-wp-1400008507703.jpeg

Cassatt loves watercolor painting!

Here is a project that you can do with your kids, and it only takes a few minutes!

I was painting with my son, and thought of one of my favorite quotes by Goethe:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.

I don’t know why I thought of that at the moment, but I thought, why not put it on paper.  Not being anywhere near a computer, I took a pen and wrote it on a blank sheet of printer paper.  I then took some paint and did strokes around it–first in blue, then in purple.  I painted the center yellow to make it pop.Word Art

I was so pleased with it, that I bought a frame when we were at the dollar store (looking for potty training supplies).  I put it in a frame, and hung it in my new office!

This is a great project because it is easy.  You can use any quote or Bible verse. I think this quick project works best with a quote that encourages you to get moving!  I love watercolors because they are so forgiving; it actually looks good when things aren’t precise.  I am surprised how well the handwritten text looks (my handwriting is awful!), but it would also work well to print out a quote and paint around it.  Probably better, actually, although I don’t always make time for that sort of planning.

I will probably do a variety of these and swap them out!

If you do this project, please share! I would love to see what other people do with this.

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