Saturday, May 31, 2008

Vinegar is GREAT!

Is it me, or is that glass on the left much dirtier/cloudy? Look toward the top of the glass. I was at home depot last week asking where I could find the dishwasher cleaner (to get rid of hard water deposits) when the appliance man took me aside and whispered that I didn't want to buy those expensive tablets. All I needed to do was put 1/3 of a cup of vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher before starting it up and that would take care of my hard water problem. As I thought about it, and about the small bottle of vinegar in my cupboard, I thought I would be needing a lot of bottles of vinegar if I wanted to keep my dishes/glasses/flatware clean, as the water in this area is VERY HARD.

So I went to Costco (the local warehouse store) and found this HUGE bottle of vinegar for $2.99. I tried it in the dishwasher and things are coming out SO clean. "Squeaky clean" to quote my grandmother, who told me to use vinegar for cleaning oh-so-many years ago. Funny how we come full circle and it takes so long to really understand the Wisdom of Our Fathers (Mothers).

And while I was taking the pictures I saw this pic in the camera from the trip. I didn't use my camera at all in Chicago. I exclusively used the camcorder and got lots of video, which I need to burn to DVD. In this picture, DS had offered to hold Baby A while I used the restroom. They were so cute when I got back that my seat-mate offered to take a picture of all of us.

Friday, May 30, 2008

I got their attention

I turned in the letter requesting the Independent Educational Evaluation for my son yesterday, and by the end of the day the school was calling me, which is good. School is almost out and we need to get the ball rolling now. Here is the body of the letter:
I am revoking my signature to the Eligibility Statement for Specific Leaning Disability in which the box was checked "This pupil does not exhibit a learning disability as defined by CR3030J" on 5-1-2008.
I am requesting an Independent Educational Evaluation for my son, ****, because I disagree with the results of the district's evaluation.
Please respond to this letter within 5 days because the evaluator will need access to observe ****'s in-class behavior, in the same manner ****'s in-class behavior was observed during the district's assessment.
If you have a list of local evaluators, please send that to me.
The part that angered me the most about my meeting on May 1st was that they lied to me about the paper that they wanted me to sign. At the end of the 2-hour meeting, they took out a paper and asked me to sign it. When I got a doubtful expression on my face, the school psychologist assured me that I was not agreeing to anything. This paper only stated that I attended the meeting. I signed without looking at the fine print. DUMB! And guess what? The paper actually said that I agreed that my son does not have a learning disability!#*&! I am in my MID FORTIES people! I should know better than that!!!!!! The good news is that I learned at the seminar last week that I had a right to revoke my signature. In fact, I needed to revoke my signature so that I could request the IEE. And I had to wait until they were done with their assessment so that I would have something to disagree with, because you can't have an IEE unless you disagree with the district's evaluation. I also learned at the seminar that I don't have to explain exactly what part of the evaluation that I disagree with. So I didn't specify. I mean, I don't know what my son's true diagnosis *is*, so I don't want to narrow the field before he has been diagnosed by expressing my opinions like that. I also learned that I have the right to have the independent evaluator brought into my son's class to observe him, since that was a portion of the prior assessment. Good!

The school's special ed director called me yesterday and gave me the phone number of the district's special ed director. I don't know if this means that they agree to give me the IEE yet or not. They have the right to refuse, which will force a hearing. I think if we do go to a hearing, however, I will win, because I can show how *they* minimized 20% of *their own* exam findings. They had no explanation why he did poorly on these certain areas, other than he must not have been "paying attention" when he did those portions of the test. {eyeroll} Come on, folks. You can do better than that. {eyeroll}

So I cc'd everybody that was at the meeting, the school principal, the teacher, the school psychologist, the special ed director and the vice principal. AND I had the front desk lady at the school sign and date my copy of the letter to prove that they received it yesterday. There is a timeline that they have to comply with when they receive written requests like these and I wanted them to know that I know what the rules are. Implying that I will report them if they are out of compliance. I am not afraid of them. I am not intimidated. I have my focus set on what is in the best interest of my son. Most of them are focused on what is in the best interest of the school district, and I understand that. Good thing there are laws in place to protect children with special needs. We really need them.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Back in Action

The trip was AWESOME! I had such a great time with my Aunt and Uncle. Uncle was home from the rehab hospital, though in a wheelchair. That was good. I got to spend a lot of time with him. He has had so many strokes over the past 15 years that he has trouble communicating. He speaks like we talk if we have a toothbrush in our mouths. Most words he can't pronounce. He gestures a lot. He still has a great sense of humor, though. Amazing after all he's been through. He had his first stroke at the age of 50. All of the men on my maternal grandmother's side of the family seem to have problems early. Heart attack or stroke by age 45 or 50. I warned my 2 brothers to eat right, exercise and take baby aspirin starting now. We are all in our mid 40s. My Aunt is a most selfless lady. She has stuck with my uncle where many spouses would have bailed. She has always been a great influence on me, like a second mother. And I got to see my cousin, her husband and their 3 kids, all of which are almost the exact ages of my youngest 3 kids. It will be great when I can go back there with all the little ones. They can do laps on tricycles with the others. As far as activities, we rode the train in from the northwestern suburbs to downtown Chicago, ate a nice lunch, went on the Wendella Cruise around the Chicago River and Lake Michigan for a 90-minute tour of the city. Then walked around and saw more sights before taking the train back. My 9-y-o LOVED the double-decker Metra train. And the next day we had a barbecue with my cousin and her family. Then we flew back here. All yesterday was spent reorganizing the house and putting away the last of the boxes from last week. Today I'm going to Home Depot to get ties for the tops of the bookcases for earthquake proofing. Also some doorstops, dishwasher cleaner and other sundries.

Below is a video I took last week and tried to post Thursday but the computer seemed to freeze up. Baby A is consistently rolling over when placed on his tummy, which severely curtails tummy time. ;-)

In other news, last Thursday I spent ALL DAY at a seminar given by TASK in Anaheim. This is an organization that helps people whose children have special needs to navigate through the testing and meetings with the school district. I found out that I am entitled to get a second opinion since I disagree with the outcome of the testing performed by the school district. I am now requesting an IEE, which is an Independent Educational Evaluation. I think there is more going on with my boy than simple attention problems. I mean, if someone is blind, they are not going to "pay attention" to the chalkboard, right? Or if they are deaf, they are not going to "pay attention" when the teacher gives verbal directions for handouts in class. My son is in no way hyper, which they admitted. But he has extensive avoidance strategies to get out of schoolwork that he finds overwhelming. I want to tighten his diagnosis so that he can get the help he needs as the years go on. Because if he has the problem I think he has, he will have more and more problems as he is expected to do more and more independent work. The blanket diagnosis of ADD is not good enough. Especially considering he had a right-sided skull fracture as a 4-month-old baby (I tripped and fell down steps with him in my arms, the worst day of my life) and his learning problems follow the pattern of nonverbal learning disorder, which is a form of right brain dysfunction. Sigh. More to come on this.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Smiley Boy Rolls Over


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Have a great weekend

I won't be here. I'm leaving bright and early Friday morning for Chicago and won't be back in town until Monday afternoon. Did you know I was born in Chicago? Quite some time ago, really. When I was in elementary school my parents moved us to Northern California. Then I came to Southern California for college. UCLA, to be exact. The same school where my daughter goes now. I'll be staying with my aunt over there and my uncle, who has suffered a series of strokes. This couple has been such a large part of my upbringing and they are beloved by me. I can't wait to see them. And my cousins. This is going to be great! I'm taking my dd along, and also the baby and ds-9. My husband will have to hold down the fort here with the 3 and 4-y-o. I scheduled our gal to work this weekend so he won't be overwhelmed. This will be a guilt-free holiday for me. Yahoo!

Hey, remember this saying? Here is a twist on an Ancient Chinese Proverb.

If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it was, and always will be yours. If it never returns, it was never yours to begin with. If it just sits in your room, messes up your stuff, eats your food, uses your phone, takes your money, and never behaves as if you actually set it free in the first place, you either married it or gave birth to it. :-D

Monday, May 19, 2008

Disneyland Fireworks

One thing about my house. If you hear a booming noise at 9:35pm, it's not the kids. It's not the neighbors. It's not a sonic boom. It's Disneyland. Exploding fireworks. Not usually a problem unless I'm trying to get to bed early. The air was particularly clear Sunday night and I grabbed the camera and ran outside. The pics came out better this time because I rested the camera on the balcony rail instead of holding it. I gotta remember that trick!

Golf Banquet

Golf season is over at my son's high school. He is in his 3rd year on the golf team. 1 more to go. He did better this year and he has really picked up the bug. His dad has a country club membership so he can go out golfing whenever he wants, which is constantly lately. The golf banquet was last night, Sunday night. I took the baby and I was so proud of my oldest boy. Can you believe he is now 5'10" tall? And he will be 18 in October???? That's crazy talk! :P He was honored as a Scholar Athlete, since his gpa was over 3.5 this last time.

Here he is trying to give me bunny ears. Only he slipped up and gave them to himself, lol.

My son took this pic of the baby. My, what big eyes you have!

Then in the parking lot I saw the kids doing *this* to the coaches' car. He he he!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Pictures of my carpet

Just as I promised. The entire upstairs and one lower bedroom are done with the carpet that is shown on the stairs. Only the family room downstairs has the berber.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

In Appreciation

I want to tell you, my friends, how very much I appreciate you for all you do. I don't know who still reads this blog, but if you see something that seems to be written for you, it is. ;-)

D, you are amazing. You have such a focus on others. You are almost selfless. You are a sweet gift to all who know you. Congratulations on your BRAND new baby boy, C. I can't believe you JUST gave birth again. :D Thank you for being my friend.

L, Thank you for being my friend. We started that group together, you and I. And you hang in even through life's ups and downs and the challenge of special needs in your family. And you retain your ability to love and see the beauty in life that is inspiring to those who know you.

L, congrats on your beta! I love the note on your blog. "infertile ground on which I tread, and sometimes kneel". This brings tears to my eyes. I think about what you have been through and the dangers of "trying" and I am awed by your bravery. I pray that this is the pregnancy that brings you your baby(s).

A, you are right. I was too critical of you. I hope you can find it within yourself to forgive me.

LL, thank you for being my friend. How long has it been now? Longer than half a decade. You are strong. You are wise. You are impetuous. You are loyal. You are a great parent. Thank you for not abandoning me. Knowing you are there, if only in companionable silence, has given me strength through difficult times.

M, you are a great lady. Those who know the true you know that. You are a great inner beauty. You know my flaws and I hope you can forgive me for them.

J, you carry the burden of us all on your shoulders and I appreciate all you do for me and for everybody. Your courage shines like a beacon.

S, I love your blog. I wish I had your wit. Then I could make blog posts that make everybody laugh as you make me laugh. Our day to day struggles *are* funny, aren't they. But I am myself, which is OK. I will continue to enjoy your awesome blog and blog away over here with what I have to offer. Vive la difference!

M, we met in San Diego IRL and I will never forget your sweetness and your beauty. You and your husband are so kind and real. Nobody deserves a large family more than the 2 of you. Secondary infertility is SO unfair! I hope there is some way around that. For you 2 and your sweet daughter. Yet you remain connected to the world, displaying bravery I can hardly comprehend.

J, I only recently saw what you have been dealing with. Thank you for being open about something so painful and letting your friends in to help you. There is strength in friendship and I hope your friends can support you through the difficult times, as you have been a steadfast support to others for so long.

Blog Her Ad Ladies, thank you so very much for popping onto my blog to read from time to time. You always notice when I have put extra effort into one post or another and list it on your extra page links. It makes me feel good to think that my words will have the opportunity to help others or open minds, and you do this by your efforts and work. Thank you for taking the time to be interested in others.

LIW, you were the first group I joined on the internet. Back when I didn't know what a blinky was or a photobucket account. You walked me through all that and put up with my growing pains and occasional immaturity. Thank you, old friends. Has it been over 4 years already? It pains me to no end that we still have members ttc #1. The depth of grief that this entails I cannot comprehend. I hope I have not hurt you by insensitivity to your pain. And secondary infertility hurts, too. Thank you for continuing to include me in your group.

J, like I said to you only recently, you are the cornerstone of our little group. You are without peer. Your ability to show compassion and kindness through your words is magical. I am lucky to know you.

PH, It is nice to know you read here. What more can I say after all these years? ;-)

W, you are a brave and wise woman. Your strength in dealing with the special needs in your family is an inspiration. Your family is lucky to have you and I am lucky to have you as a friend.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Boxland is improving

The boxes are thinning out around here. The problem remains that I haven't run across my camera yet. I know. I hate camera excuses. Like when women online say they have a positive pregnancy test and they have all sorts of excuses why they can't post a picture. Blah, blah, blah. Well it's true. I *do* have new carpeting. And I will share a picture. Really. Really. You *gotta* believe me!

There was another idea for a blog post that I will do. I rent from Netflix. I don't get a lot of movies anymore. I downgraded to only one disk out at a time to save money because I'm so busy with all the kids. I went into my rental returns list to see what movies I really liked, and I want to recommend a few. I enjoyed "Becoming Jane" with Ann Hathaway. Anybody who has read Jane Austen novels will enjoy the back story of her life. It puts so much of what she wrote in context. Another good movie was "Michael Clayton". But really, I'd watch any movie with George Clooney in it. HOLD ME BACK! LOL Juno and Charlie Wilson's War were nice movies and worth renting. Ratatouille was surprisingly nice, with a really great soliloquy towards the end by Peter O'Toole that I wish I had memorized. It said something to the effect that even the smallest, meanest creations are more meaningful than what is produced by the world's critics. And I have to say again that I am absolutely wild about "Meet The Robinsons", an animated feature that has the best, most wholesome message of any children's movie I have ever seen. Watching it has really helped my boy this year to deal with struggling in school. The movie teaches that failure is a learning opportunity, and that we should take responsibility for our own lives and not blame others. And it is a tear-jerker about a boy from an orphanage searching for a family. And don't forget about "Volver". This movie still revolves in my head from time to time. It involves heavy subject matter, so make sure the kids are not around. And maybe not your husband either, lol.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

sneaking a moment

I just got the internet plugged in. It was quite a challenge, involving moving 2 couches and a full bookcase because the wiring in the office is on the wrong side of the room. The rest of the family still thinks I'm in here plugging stuff in. They don't know I'm typing to you, he he he. Well I better get back to it. Gotta move the furniture back, plug in the phones, answering machine, fax and all that stuff. At least the internet is up and the linksys is back on so we have internet in the house so I am no longer living in the stone age. Can you believe I had to wait on hold for 30 minutes yesterday ordering flowers by telephone because I didn't have a computer?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Not out of my house, but packing boxes for sure, because we are getting new carpeting. So all the books have to be moved out of the bookcases and down stairs, all the things need to be moved out of the closets. My house will be in an uproar all tomorrow and the computers will be unplugged. I'm not looking forward to this. I hope the new carpeting looks good that it is worth all this trouble.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Yom Hashoa was this week, starting Wednesday at sundown through Thursday. That is Day of the Holocaust or Holocaust Remembrance Day in English. I received the yearly yellow candle in the mail from the Men's Club in our synagogue. It arrived with a prayer that can be read with the family. I like it because the children need to be taught about Jewish history. All of it. I doubt they can wrap their minds around the fact that 6 million people were tortured and murdered. 6 million is fully 1/3 of world Jews. I can't even fathom it. I can understand the few personal stories I have heard and just the edges of the holocaust sicken me. I am so sickened that I haven't even been to the Holocaust Museum in Los Angeles, even though I know I should go there.

I think the Holocaust is part of the reason for my conversion to Judaism. It made perfect sense to me that my husband, the son of a Holocaust survivor, could not stop being Jewish. But this is a subject for later discussion.

My husband's father is still alive, and has a heavy German accent. He was 3 years old when his mother spirited him out of Germany. His mother, my husband's Grandma Rachel, made an audio tape of her story for my husband before she died. He and I listened to her story together and I feel as though I know her. She was a strong, kind, loving woman with a heavy German accent.

She told of her childhood. Things started to get bad in Germany over time. She and her husband worked as tailors to support their 2 surviving boys. One boy had already died during childhood of a bad flu. Things got really bad for them in November of 1938 on Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass when the Germans went around and broke all of the Jewish store fronts. {Kristallnacht saw the destruction in a single night of more than a thousand Synagogues, the ransacking of tens of thousands of Jewish businesses and homes, and more than 30,000 Jewish men were rounded up and taken to concentration camps. Wikipedia} She was told by friends that she needed to get her family out of Germany and she took this seriously. Her husband and oldest boy were in the most immediate danger.

She took her youngest boy, age 3, and went to the travel agency. For some reason she was not allowed to buy a ticket outright, and needed to sit around in case any became available at the last minute. She went their every day for a month and sat and sat while watching her boisterous youngster. 2 tickets became available and she gave them to her husband and oldest boy, who were in hiding, and they took a boat to Shanghai, China. She continued to sit and sit at the travel agency, waiting and waiting for 2 more tickets to China. Days and days ticked by. She was questioned at one point by a German soldier. "Why are you doing this? If you need work there is somewhere I can send you. You will have to be separated from your boy, of course." Can you imagine her terror?

It was not until January 1939 that she and her youngest boy, my children's grandfather, got their tickets. They needed to travel by train to Naples, Italy, to catch the boat. The problem was, they were not allowed to travel with a large amount of money. Her boy needed milk and food on the train, so by the time they arrived in Naples 1 week early, they were out of money. She begged an innkeeper to let her boy sleep on the floor by the kitchen stove so he could stay warm. The innkeeper saw her plight and put them both up in a room for the week and gave them food. At the end of the week they got on the boat and went to Shanghai where they were reunited with the husband and older boy. Grandma Rachel was one of 13 children, and only she and her sister escaped the Holocaust alive.

The family lived in Shanghai in slum conditions, on a dirt floor with the "rats and the bugs" for 10 years, suffering "scarletina" (scarlet fever) and other health problems. The husband died there. The boys went to America as teenagers in the late 1940s. Grandma Rachel followed some years later. She lived until her late 90s in good health and was lucid until the very end, surrounded by her grandchildren.