Summer School

Today is Cassatt’s last day of Summer School, and Picasso finishes up next Wednesday.  Other than the logistics, I have enjoyed my time alone in the mornings.  I have had a good chunk of time!  Somehow I managed to fill it every day.  I got quite lonely the first day, but since then it has been nice to run errands, clean, or even take a nap when I had a headache.

Both boys have really enjoyed summer school.  Cassatt’s language has blossomed.  He was a good talker before, but now he can say 7- and 8- word sentences.  He also says things like “Everybody, it’s time to sit on the floor.”  And we have circle time at home.  He will have a blast at preschool this fall!  My only concern is that 2 days per week won’t be enough for him!

Boys watch rain in raincoats

It rained so hard one day the boys wore their raincoats just to watch!

Picasso is in a remedial summer school.  He doesn’t need the academics (I am afraid he is bored) but he does need the socialization that it is providing him.  He takes the bus, so I haven’t seen his teacher since the first day.  I wish I had more feedback than he gives me.  He enjoys the bus, and we have been lucky it hasn’t rained when I’m taking him to or picking him up from the bus.  (Since I wrote that, it will probably rain when I pick him up today.)

We have backtracked on potty training.  Cassatt was having too many accidents, and is now in pull-ups.  He is using the potty more readily now. I think he was refusing the potty to get some measure of control.  At any rate, I now enjoy not having to wash a wet load every night.

You would think I would be updating more frequently here with all the free time I’ve had recently.  I have been writing, but my focus has been on fiction writing recently.  I am taking a class (and just started another one!) from Ed2Go.  They are offered through my local library.  I have had so much fun exploring this new hobby!

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The advocacy series is currently on vacation.

Articles in this series:

 

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Mint

Mint Leaves

Can you spot them?

I looked deep into my garden yesterday, underneath the sunflower, cucumber leaves and trailing pea plants.  What was that weed that is growing so fast?  It is in the back row, where I don’t pay as much attention because I have to go into my neighbor’s yard to see past the tomato plants.

That weed. It was growing so fast! And then I realized: I had planted mint in that square.  It is not a weed, only growing like one.

What am I going to do with all that mint?  I have enough to make an entire mint-themed dinner, from appetizer to dessert!  This looks like an excuse for a party.

Mint and Pea Pesto

Princess and the Pea Pesto

Strawberry Mint Lassi

Spring Peas with Mint

Asparagus and Mint Risotto

Junior Mints Cupcakes

Junior Mints Cupcakes

Do you have any favorite mint recipes?

Preparing for a Resolution Meeting

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.

Things have not been going well for your child.  For whatever reason, the teachers have not been giving your child the accommodations she needs or been following the IEP the way you believe it is intended to be followed.  You are frustrated by this, and have set up a meeting with administrators to try to resolve this and get things back on track.

It is time to prepare for the meeting.  How do you prepare?

Write out your grievances

You feel like you could go on and on about everything the school has done wrong.  Write it down.  Brainstorm and think about all the ways the school hasn’t followed the plan, and all of the things that have frustrated you about this.

Set the list aside for a few days.  Come back to it with fresh eyes to revise the list.  Cross out any repeats.  Put things together that are similar. Add things that you forgot initially.  Revise it until it is a list you will be able to use.  You will take this to the meeting with you.

Know what you want

You have called this meeting to resolve a problem.  Talking will not, ultimately, resolve this problem.  You need to know what you want the next steps to be.  Do you want additional therapy time for your child, to make up for time lost?  Are you asking for the IEP to be revised?  Are you looking for the school to change its policy so no other children face what your child has faced?  Are you seeking monetary compensation? (If you are, you should be aware that this is extremely rare from a public school.)

You should have a proposed resolution for each problem that you plan to address with the school.  Do not expect the school to come up with a resolution.  Do not plan to address problems without having a proposed resolution.

Prepare your list for the meeting

It is time to clean up your list, and prepare something you will bring to the meeting.  This is a note for your eyes only, so don’t worry about making it look nice for others. It should be in a format that you can work from. List each grievance you plan to address and your proposed resolution for each grievance.

It will help you to be able to state how the resolution will resolve the grievance. This will help you be flexible and work with the school toward a resolution that everyone can be happy with.

It is time to head to the meeting.  Take a deep breath, give your child a hug, and know that you are now ready to address issues at the meeting.

Have you had a resolution meeting with the school?  How did you prepare for it?  Did your preparations help lead to a successful meeting?

Other articles in this series:

Cucumber

And we have cucumber flowers!

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Cucumber flowers

It’s not so obvious in this picture, but they are big, gaudy yellow flowers. They look a lot like zucchini flowers, actually. I’m amazed every day with how big it is.

Garden Update

My Garden is growing like wildfire!  It is exciting to see it grow every day.  Based on the blossoms,  I am going to have much more come from it than I imagined.  It’s hard to believe that what started from a tiny seed has grown into a rain forest, with so many layers that I have to dig down to get to the bottom layers for my daily salad.  Yes! I have enough lettuce that I am having fresh salad every day.

 

veggies

Lettuce, Tomato, Marigolds, Cucumber

Here is just some of the garden.  You can see the tiny watermelon plant, the carrots, tomato plants, lettuce, marigolds, and the cucumber vine intruding into the picture.

 

Zucchini Blossom

Zucchini Blossom

Here is the zucchini.  I think the huge yellow blossoms are so pretty!  Since I took this picture, about 10 more zucchini blossoms have emerged.  You can also see a red lettuce plant next to the zucchini.  I haven’t been eating from this one, and it has grown big!

Cassatt under a leaf in the garden

Cassatt hiding under a sunflower leaf

Here is cassatt peering down into the tomato cage of one of my tomatoes.  I love how he is hiding behind a sunflower leaf here.  You can see some zucchini blossoms, the cucumber, and some tomatoes here too.

This is the cucumber plant

Cucumber

And this is the behemoth cucumber plant.  It has really taken over!  It’s leaves cover some smaller patches — lettuce and basil — but fortunately they are growing well.  The basil may not be doing as well as if it had more sunlight, but it is still growing.  It is amazing that what started as a cucumber seed grew into this so quickly!

Tom is not a vegetable lover, and he is not as excited about the harvest as I am.  I am already starting to plan how I will preserve some of this for winter!

 

Knowing the Standards

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.

A big part of advocating for your child is being aware of what they are expected to learn. It is important to track their progress to make sure they are learning what they should learn, help them if they fall behind, and keep them interested if the learning standards are too easy for them.

Do you know how to find the education standards?

Most states follow the Common Core for math and English standards. The Common Core is a set of standards, and does not specify how a teacher should teach for the students to meet these standards. I know there are many who strongly oppose the use of Common Core standards, but that is a discussion for another day.  Whether or not you agree with your state’s use of the Common Core, it is important to learn what is expected of your child.

Your state may have a website about state standards, as well. Here are the standards for Missouri (where I live).  Besides the Common Core standards for Math and English, Missouri has standards for Science, Social Studies, World Languages, Fine Arts, Health/Physical Education, Guidance and Counseling, and Career & Technical Education.

Another site to follow is the Department of Education Blog.  You can follow it (by e-mail or rss), and it is fairly easy to navigate by subject.

How do you keep track of your state standards?

Other articles in this series:

Mother May I

While we were camping this weekend, I got used to hearing the phrase “I’m bored.”  Daddy and I were frequently doing camping chores, and Picasso had trouble finding something to occupy himself with.  We’re not used to hearing that phrase at home; Picasso can usually find something to do here.  Whether it’s his usual toys–trains, legos, blocks–or a worksheet.  If all else fails, he’ll ask to watch TV.  None of those were options in the State Park.

I did try to get him into nature.  There was poison ivy near our campsite, though, so I was afraid to let him gather sticks from behind our site.  He wasn’t interested in gathering small sticks to build a fairy house, although he was very interested in hearing about, and looking for, fairies.   I had forgotten jars to make bug jars, and he was afraid of most of the bugs anyway.

One thing he did love was playing Mother May I. This is an old game where a leader gives players instructions and the goal is to reach the finish line first.  The trick is, after an instruction, the player asks the leader “Mother May I?” and the leader gives the player permission to move (or not).  If the player forgets to ask “Mother May I” then they have to go back to the start.  I think it’s a rather boring game, actually, but Picasso loved it.  After we played for a while, he wanted to play “Picasso May I”.  He had a great time denying me permission to move or sending me back to the start line.  He tried to get Cassatt to play as well, but he is just 3 and didn’t understand the directions.

I realized this is a good game to help with his impulsiveness, as well.  Picasso had a very hard time remembering to say “Mother May I” after I gave a direction, and he stayed at the start for a long time.  Daddy had to coach him so that he could move forward.  Even with that, though, he enjoyed the game!

 

Big Sugar Creek

Big Sugar Creek

Big Sugar Creek Natural Area. Photo courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation.

The stream is cool and crisp, with a rocky bottom and jagged rocks on the shore. A high bank suggests a raging current during spring flooding, but today it is inches deep in most places, so slow that you barely feel it moving when you wade into its clear waters. Tall trees line its bank, providing shade most of the day so it is comfortable even on the warmest days. During the hours spent at the creek, wildlife watches the family invisibly through the trees.

Parents set up chairs in the creek to sit and cool their feet while they observe. The children throw rocks into the stream. They make a tremendous splash, and can even get a parent wet without touching them! Dad shows them how to skip rocks, which they abandon after several failed attempts when they realize the rocks can actually change the flow of the water. They then enjoy themselves damming up the water with rocks and silt. The dam raises the water level so that water is washing in lines and rivets beyond the dam, then settling until it reaches another child-made dam downstream. Water begins rushing upstream as well, as it flows into shallow tributaries.

Parents pack up their chairs as the children towel off. They have somehow gotten themselves wet from head to toe in the shallow creek. It is time to leave to find lunch. The stream bids farewell to its guests, waiting to welcome them back another day.

What’s on my menu?

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