Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Calling All Parent/Experts

More on those User Answer opportunities I've been plugging on my site. Today I'm starting a big push to get folks to contribute their knowledge about their child's specific diagnosis, by giving advice to parents just receiving that diagnosis. You can read more about it in this blog post, or just go to the index of my "First Five Things to Do" lists, select the one for your child's diagnosis, read my five things, look for the words "Tell Your Tips" below -- it will either be a text box or a link; if it's a link, click it and the text box will open -- and then add your advice. Thanks for your help.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fun with carols

My daughter's favorite radio station started playing all Christmas music the first week of November this year. The first week of November! I was all for it when the station started playing them after Thanksgiving, because there are some nice songs to hear and it's good to get more than a few days of 'em. But the first week of November? Is pushing it.

If you're not already being caroled to death, here are some that may be good for a laugh: The Special-Needs Christmas Carols on my site, updated for this year with artwork and two new offerings -- "Carol of the Mall" and "Hark, the Relatives Complain." Hope they'll give you a boost this harried holiday weekend. (And for more timely humor, check out the Family Gathering Survival Kit.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

High School Musical 3: Now with more leg

I finally took my daughter to see High School Musical 3 on the big-screen yesterday, and enjoyed it very much, certainly more than the first sequel. The dancing was excellent and suitably supersized, and it's always good to have a reminder that even super-talented "typical" kids can dash their parents dreams and do impulsive stuff like driving 1,000 miles in a wrecked-out car to go see a girl.

One thing I noticed this time around, and now will have to watch DVDs of the first two to compare, was the extreme shortness of the girls' skirts, particularly Gabriella's. Was that a movie wardrobe choice, or have they always been wearing outfits that wouldn't pass any respectable school's dress code? During the sweet rooftop waltz scene between Troy and Gabriella, I kept being distracted by her barely butt-clearing baby-doll dress, which by all rights should have flown up around her waist with every twirl. They must have crazy-glued that thing to her thighs.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Making the grade

Thanks to those of you who answered my question a few posts back on what to do about a teacher my son has been worrying over. I thought yesterday's report-card arrival might provide some impetus for setting up a meeting, but look at that, the little son-of-a-gun made it on the honor roll, the first quarter of high school. The teacher in question gave him a "B" and a "Satisfactory" for behavior, so yeah, I shall continue with the "well enough alone" course of (non)action.

My daughter made the honor roll, too, for the second time in her high-school career. Look at me, I've got a couple of overachievers all of a sudden.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

High-tech teen dreaming

My son has a new obsession: downloading photos of Miranda Cosgrove and her show, iCarly, for showing on his iPod. Problem is, he doesn't know how to do the photo downloading himself, and so that means downloading photos of Miranda Cosgrove is now my obsession, too. We did 104 last night before I could stand it no more, and he's got a bunch more these days. I love my computer, but at times like this, I long for the days when kids would just sit around tearing pictures out of teen magazines and taping them to the wall.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Two new employees

We're trying a new behavior strategy here that may prove excessively costly, but may be worth it in terms of enrichment opportunities and reduction of stress from nagging.

Both my kids have certain chores they're expected to do, and they get some iTunes dough every month for that. There are other things, though, that I badly want them to do but are, admittedly, hard for them. Like trombone practice. Reading with parents daily. Doing exercises in a standardized-test practice book. Writing a blog regularly. Don't want to make these chores, because I would be constantly constantly constantly nagging. (Been there. Done that. Got the pounding headache.)

So I'm trying a new incentive program. Both of them have things they want money for. Both of them had summer jobs. Now they have fall, winter, and spring jobs: Doing the extra, hard things I want them to do. Up to them how much they do, but they get paid by the hour. They each have a time book for jotting how much time they spend on my little projects, and payday is Sunday.

My daughter has taken to it very quickly, and is now, unbelievably, practicing trombone and doing reading exercises without prompting. I wouldn't mind if she didn't do them first thing in the morning, before I'm awake, and come waking me up to sign off on her timebook, but still -- she's doing things I would have had to hector long and hard to get her to do before. My son's a little slower to catch on, but he's starting to ask for things to do now, too. We've actually read together the last few nights, something he's been very reluctant to do of late.

Not sure whether they'll keep up this level of interest, but for now, they're motivated.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Teacher trauma

Alright, I'm supposed to be the big expert on how to deal with your kids' teachers, but I'm new to high school and need some suggestions. What would you do in this situation? My son likes all of his teachers but one. Every one of his classmates I talk to also expresses dislike for this teacher. This is also the only teacher I haven't met, because she didn't turn up for Back to School Night. My son's progress report for the class was satisfactory, and although he tells me she's given detention to a couple of rowdy boys in the class, he's gotten none. This leads me to believe that while she may not be his cup of tea, she bears him no ill will at this time. So, do I:

a. Ask the counselor to set up a meeting, just 'cause I haven't met her yet, and hope it doesn't flip her over to considering him a troublemaker with a troublemaking mother?

b. Try an e-mail or phone call first, just to touch base, and hope as above?

c. Leave well enough the heck alone.

I've been leaning toward c, since I've had proactiveness backfire a time or two. Really, since the teacher is reporting no problems, I don't have anything to hang a meeting on other than, "Geez, my kid hates you. What exactly are you doing in that class?" And no good can come of that.

What would you do? And if there are any teachers out there reading, how would you want a parent to approach this?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Another season survived

Our high-school football team lost its first play-off game on Friday, and that means marching-band season is essentially over. That's good news to my daughter, who likes everything about marching band except the, you know, marching. And the football games.

It's good news for me, too, because I'll have a little break from feeling guilty over making her do something that is overwhelmingly and obviously good for her but also hard hard hard. No more teary, "Mom, I want to quit band!" sessions until next summer's band camp. No more long-winded speeches from me about how you have to do things that are hard in order to grow, and look how far she's come, and how things that were hard freshman year are easy now, and blah blah blah. By this time in the season it sounds like crap to me, too.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Your advice needed again

Sorry to keep promoting my site here, but I'm going great guns on these new "User Answer" modules, and I want to give everyone notice to contribute. Here are the latest additions:

How do you get your child through worship services?

What special-education placement works best for your child?

How do you use up leftover Halloween candy?

Thanks for any answers you can add.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Music to my ears

I've been playing around a lot the last few days with Pandora, a website that lets you create little radio stations by entering the name of an artist you like; it automatically selects tunes by that artists and ones it considers to be similar. Usually I listen to my iTunes library while I'm working, but this is a way to listen to some things I don't yet own for a change. (And since I seem to spend hours at the computer, variety is nice.)

I think if you click on this link, it will take you to the mix I've got playing now. If you listen to music on your computer frequently, Pandora seems like a free service worth having some fun with.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A disrupted-routine week

We have a weird school week this week, with schools closed yesterday for the election and tomorrow and Friday for a teacher's convention. My daughter's all ticked off, saying that if they're going to have three days off they should have five days off, and although I like my time alone during the day to work, I really have to agree with her. This one day here in the middle of days off is just kind of silly. Plus, my son has The Cold That Won't Die, and I wouldn't mind him having a little stretch of days off without me having to send his snotty self back to class in between. But I guess the district powers-that-be have to hoard those days off in case of snow days ... so they can give the unused ones to us in the spring and mess up more weeks. Sigh.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I voted, have you?

Well, this was a historic election for our family -- our daughter, turned 18 in April, voted for the first time. The fact that it's going to be a historic election for the country regardless of who wins makes it especially exciting for her first time out.

On the minus side, though, being a first-time voter in this particular election is no big deal, because there seemed to be a lot of first-time voters making their way to the polls, few of them just 18. I'm happy that people are feeling motivated to vote, yet when I see carloads of folks looking for polls they've obviously never been to before, I can't help but think, "Where were you when we were trying to pass a school budget? Where were you for the City Council and School Board elections? The bozos who got elected there because you couldn't be bothered are probably going to have a bigger impact on your actual life than what the guy in Washington does."

Do they give out stickers that say "I voted" where you live? In our town, we get nothing, no proof that we were at the polls. No big deal to me, but it would have been cool for my daughter to get something commemorating the day. Guess we'll just have to put aside her sample ballot for posterity.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Thankful for the thankfulness

Wow, I got a lot of good responses to the questions mentioned in my last post for a new user-submission feature on my site. To my readers here who submitted, thanks! Great job! And whether you submitted or not, check out the responses that came in -- I'm particularly moved by the answers to the question, "What are you thankful for about your child with special needs?"