Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Taking a little break...

There is a lot of stuff going on here right now... and I can't talk about it yet for a lot of reasons. Just know that we're all OK, but I am going to take a little bloggy break... it may be for a few days or a few weeks until I get this all figured out. Some prayers for our family and for discernment for me as I make some heavy decisions would be appreciated. Thanks!

Monday, April 26, 2010

When "They" Say...

My last post on IEPs, I promise. Sorry to those I've offended, thanks to those who have hung in there with me, especially those who have NO interest in IEPs AT ALL! This may be the most helpful, important piece on IEPs that I post... I saved the best for last... or something like that. LOL

This article was passed on to me by Sheila Moore, the Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee. It originally appeared in the recent National Down Syndrome Congress newsletter. This was written by a veteran of IEPs as a mother and a teacher and I thought it was extremely well written and very informative. I hope many of you will find it useful as well.

When "They" Say...
By, Kathy Everett
Alpharetta, GA


Those three little letters instill fear in the hearts of many parents who have a child with a disability. Others have no clue what they mean.

In the past 22 years, I have attended hundreds of IEP (Individual Education Program) meetings. Some of them were for my own daughter, Jennifer. Sometimes, I provided a hand to hold or a friendly face in the crowd for other parents who needed it. The process of creating an IEP can be long and confrontational, short and cooperative - or anything in between. The key is for parents to know what to say when "they" say (fill in the blank).

In my journey, I have learned many things that I share with other parents to help them on their journey. When a school member says something you disagree with for your child, your response is key. Here are some of the most common comments said at IEP meetings and what you can say to counter them.

We've never done that before.
Well, let's see how we can figure out how to do it.

She will get more attention in a small group setting.
The average self-contained class has eight students, all with significant special needs, while the general education classroom has an average of 20 students but statistically only one will have significant special needs.

Your child requires more attention than I can give in my class. I have 20 other students that need my attention.
I understand and it sounds like you do not have enough support in the class to help with all of your students. Then maybe a paraprofessional is necessary.


All students need to be challenged and you should not feel like you are the only one who can teach my child. I am sure there are several other children who would love to help out my child. We all know that helping someone else learn reinforces what is being taught. Peer tutoring is a wonderful opportunity for everyone in the class to learn.

He needs to be with other kids that are like him. He will always feel left out and unable to really compete with his peers.
My child needs to be around age appropriate peers in real life situations to learn how to get along with others in the real world. Research shows that all children benefit from inclusive classrooms.

It isn't fair to have a child in the class who is learning have to teach someone else. It isn't their responsibility.
We all know that kids learn from kids. Kids build competence by teaching someone else because it reinforces the skills they are learning themselves.

She really needs adaptive PE (or art or music).
I understand my child has limitations; but she will benefit from access to the general curriculum, just like all of the other students do. And in a class like PE (or art or music) just learning to follow directions or changing clothes is a skill my daughter needs for life.

They need to be in adaptive PE so they don't get hurt.
Don't you have any other children that ever get hurt? My child needs to learn how to play in social environments. What can I do to help you have the supports so that he can safely participate? Let's work together to plan what supports will help him participate safely.

She is so far below grade level she cannot even...
I understand that my child can't... That is why we have differentiated instruction. The curriculum needs to be modified so that she can continue to progress and learn.

He is not at the level of other children.
I know he isn't at the level of other children. That is why he has an IEP. I don't expect him to be at the same level as his peers, but I do expect us to use a modified curriculum where we can identify the supports that are necessary and helpful for him to learn.

We are concerned about her life and/or job skills. That is why she needs to be in this class.
I really appreciate your concern. There are many things I can replicate at home and I can teach my child. But I cannot recreate a high/middle/elementary school environment. My child needs to experience that just like any other child. I will teach my child life skills. I can take my child to the grocery store. I need her to learn how to be around other people.

In communication, one of the most important things to remember is to keep the conversation focused on your child and his needs. It's what he needs, not what you want for him. It sounds simple, but the key is semantics. Always think about how you phrase a question or statement to encourage the response you want. I never ask if something can be done. I ask how it is going to happen. It is important to be knowledgeable and realistic about what your child can and cannot do. Know the law - but use it sparingly. Honestly, you and the educators want the same thing: for your child to learn in a healthy, caring environment. Sometimes we just have different philosophies of how to accomplish that. Good luck and remember an IEP is not carved in stone. It can be changed.

Editor's note: Kathy Everett is a certified teacher in both general education and special education who directs her own consulting business, Kathy Everett Consulting, to assist parents in navigating school systems. She also has a daughter with Down syndrome.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

IEPs Explained... (sort of)

So, I've been talking A LOT about IEPs for the last few days, and I know that not ALL of you who read my blog deal with IEPs... and after this week, you're probably thinking, "Thank the LORD!"

First, let me say, those posts were intended as stress relief for those stressed out... and not ALL parents stress out over IEP meetings (ok, most parents DO, but not all) and some parents stress out and then walk out after the meeting and think, "That wasn't so bad!" I always pray that I will be that parent! (I actually think Kennedy's special ed teacher said that exact phrase - "That wasn't so bad!" - after our last meeting... so see, it's not just parents that stress! LOL!) Though usually the general consensus of a mom would be this...

SO for those of you not in the IEP world (or not in the IEP world yet) I thought I would give you a very laymen breakdown of IEPs. This is just for fun and would probably do you NO good in an actual IEP meeting... unless you want to think back on it and smile. :)

IEP: Individualized Education Plan
Any child who falls under the Special Education umbrella in the school system has an IEP which means that their education in school should be tailored just to them and to them only. (Hence the word "Individualized".) This requires an IEP meeting which consists of a team. This team can be made up of any number of people. It usually includes a school administrator, the school psychologist (who will evaluate your child and determine eligibility), a special ed teacher (or coordinator), a general ed teacher, an aide (if you're lucky enough to get one), any therapists involved in your child's care and anyone else working with your child... then of course, you, the parent. If appropriate, the child may attend the meeting as well. The parent may also choose to bring a friend, family member or advocate who knows IEP law because well... it can be a little overwhelming...

The first part of the IEP meeting consists of a bunch of paperwork... you get to fill out a bunch of forms with information that everyone already knows about your child. Some schools will have this done for you, which makes things SO much easier... others won't... either way, first comes the child's name, address, etc. Then it goes on to name all the members of the "IEP Team". Next it states the services and the frequency of said services that will be provided to your child, and states their eligibility in the Special Education program. Sometimes the fighting starts right here.

"It is not good enough for Sally Mae to only have 30 minutes of Speech Therapy once a week! She needs it twice a week and it better be individual Speech Therapy too!" And then someone on the team then has to justify why Sally Mae only needs 30 minutes of group therapy once a week. And they battle until everyone is happy... or someone gives in... or threatens to sue. And mom looks like this...

Or maybe that's the teacher... Could go either way...

Next they present the level of academic and functional performance of your child... to once again prove that your child does indeed fall under that special education umbrella... just in case you, you know, forgot. (Insert sarcasm here.)

Then your team sits down and writes "measurable annual goals" for your child: "By the end of the year, Billy Bob will write his name backwards in 3 languages." OK... not really. But you get the idea.

Next comes my personal favorite: The Instructional Setting. (dun dun dun!) AKA: Placement. This is where that LRE comes in. I could talk about LRE all day. LRE means Least Restrictive Environment. Least. And seems to be the downfall of 90% of IEP meetings across the country. I have heard parents in California screaming all the way in Tennessee. OK, not really... but have you seen the school system in California lately?! It's possible!!

LEAST Restrictive Environment says: By law, schools are required to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment for students who have disabilities.

"Least restrictive environment" means that a student who has a disability should have the opportunity to be educated with non-disabled peers, to the greatest extent possible. They should have access to the general education curriculum, extracurricular activities, or any other program that non-disabled peers would be able to access. The student should be provided with supplementary aids and services necessary to achieve educational goals if placed in a setting with non-disabled peers. Academically a resource room may be available within the school for specialized instruction, with typically no more than two hours per day of services for a student with learning disabilities.

In Nashville in 2008, reports revealed that almost one-third of all students with disabilities spent less than half of their time in a general education setting, and 75 percent of students with mental retardation and 70 percent of kids with autism were in self-contained classrooms for at least half of each school day. Ridiculous.

Moving on.

The rest is what I call the details... these will either be breezed through or could take hours depending on the student...
They talk about if the regular class curriculum is ok or if it needs to be modified... if they modified the typical classroom in any way, then could the child be in his/her LRE?! (This is called thinking outside the box. Some teams do it well... others, not so much.)

How Special Education will help the student reach their annual goals. (Because you know, that's what they're supposed to do!)

IF the student is not in a typical classroom, then when and where WILL he be included? Specials? Lunch? Recess? Field trips? (Uhhh yes please!)

Program modifications or supports needed to help the child succeed (in their LRE)... like maybe an AID! Now there's a noble thought... and this is where they come in and say (if they're not smart), "We just don't have the funding for that" or "We just don't have the staff available for that." *ding ding ding* Congratulations! They've just broken the LAW!

Then the parent says, "It is not Janie Sue's problem that you don't have the money or the staff. She needs an aid. YOU get to figure out how to make that happen." The school is getting a lot of extra money for your child, your child in special education, being in their school. Maybe they can use THAT to pay for Janie Sue's aid! Hmmm! If they are smart, they will throw other (legal) excuses at you as to why Janie Sue does not need an aid... then the burden of proving to them that Janie Sue does need an aid to completely thrive in her LRE, falls back on you. Fun. It's a game of loopholes. Bring that advocate. Seriously.

Procedures to inform the parent or guardian of progress toward IEP goals (so you know, you're not blindsided at the end of the year when you think your kid is doing great when he's really only learned to write his name backwards in one language!)... You should get an IEP report card stating how your child is doing with his IEP goals throughout the year. This should be in addition to his regular report card from his classroom.

Participation in district and state assessment and accommodations or modifications needed (IQ tests for 3 year olds! YEAH! Those will be OH so accurate!) {insert more sarcasm here.}

How assistive technology needs will be met if necessary. (PECS systems and all kinds of other cool stuff I've heard about but never seen...)

Behavioral interventions that address the needs of students with needs in that area. (As one of my friends calls it: The BAT team!)

And I'm sure there are a bunch of things I've forgotten here or don't know about or whatever... but really, haven't I bored you enough with the details? So THEN once everything is written down in ink, everyone is asked if they agree with the IEP. Oh yes, this team of 10 (or so) people have to agree. If they DO, then hallelujah!! The IEP is signed, copies are made, everyone shakes hands and walks out as friends. But if they don't... and let me tell you, it's usually the parents who don't... then nothing is signed. And guess what? They either stay there and hash it out, or they agree to meet again at a later date to talk about that unsigned IEP. And the parent brings an advocate (if there wasn't one already there), OR if he/she is really angry, they bring a lawyer. And then if they still can't settle it, they go to mediation and possibly even court (though I've never personally seen this happen... I did hear about one mom who tied herself to the school's flagpole and all that made me do is wonder, "What did she do when she had to PEE?!").

And all of this is over ONE YEAR of your child's education. You get to do it again NEXT year... or maybe even sooner... IEP meetings can be called by any team member at any time for any reason throughout the year. You just never know what the day will bring!

Now doesn't that make you just want to run out to an IEP meeting RIGHT now?! :o)

Recently some parents have come up with their own fun acronyms for the IEP:
IEP - Incredibly Excruciating Pain!!!
IEP - I Exited Pissed-off!
IEP - Irritating Exclusion Program
IEP - Intellectuals Expelling Poop
IEP - Informed and Educated Parent!

*ahem* Moving on.

All joking aside, if you're one of those parents struggling right now, there are two books out there you might be interested in...

From Emotions to Advocacy - The Special Education Survival Guide, 2nd Edition
by Pam Wright and Pete Wright was published in January 2006 (ISBN: 978-1-892320-09-4, 338 pages, perfect bound, $19.95).

"If I were asked to choose just one book to help me learn advocacy skills, this is it!" - Support for Families of Children with Disabilities

"A superb reference, From Emotions To Advocacy is highly recommended reading for parents of children in need of special education services ... it's filled with tips, techniques and a wealth of resources, from web sites to worksheets, forms, and sample letters …" Midwest Book Review

All About IEPs - Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About IEPs
(ISBN: 978-1-892320-20-9) by Pete Wright, Pam Wright, and Sue O'Connor, 192 pages, $12.95.

In this comprehensive, easy-to-read book, you will find clear, concise answers to frequently asked questions about IEPs. Learn what the law says about:

IEP Teams and IEP Meetings
Parental Rights & Consent
Steps in Developing the IEP
Placement, Transition, Assistive Technology
Strategies to Resolve Disagreements

And if YOU have any other acronyms for IEPs... well, you know we'd like to hear them! ;)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

"Your Child Might Have An IEP If..."

More on IEPs... though I just have to say, thankfully none of these have applied to us so far, (though I'm pretty sure I've been called a hysterical parent with all my kids)... I think there were quite a FEW people wearing jeans at our last meeting, especially because we met on a Friday! ;) For those of you who have gone through some of these things, and I know there are a lot of you, this is for you.

"Your Child Might Have An IEP If..."
Author Unknown

In talking with families many seemed confused about whether their child had an IEP through the school. To assist families in determining whether their child has an IEP, we felt it would be helpful to apply the Foxworthy test.

If you have ever attended a meeting at school with 25 professionals... your child might have an IEP.

If you are the only one wearing jeans.... your child might have an IEP.

If these professionals speak a different language.... your child might have an IEP.

If the meeting room was the size of a closet... your child might have an IEP.

If you have ever been asked, "do you think your child is the only one in the district?"... your child might have an IEP.

If you have ever heard, "we do not have money for that!"... your child might have an IEP.

If you have ever been called an "overprotective, hysterical parent" or an "uninvolved parent"... your child might have an IEP.

If you have ever been told your child "will just grow out of it", "is lazy", "slow", irresponsible", "immature and/or sensitive" etc...etc... your child might have an IEP.

If you feel you have walked into "Assertiveness Training 101" by accident... your child might have an IEP.

If you have ever been screamed at by a school official... your child might have an IEP.

If you have ever been told your child will be lucky to grow up and dig ditches... your child might have an IEP.

If it has ever been suggested to move to another District... your child might have an IEP.

If you have ever been invited to home school your child... your child might have an IEP.

If you have ever called the school and asked for your child and were told "we do not have anyone here by that name... " your child might have an IEP.

If your family is ever discussed in the teachers lounge... your child might have an IEP.

If every time you call the school board office, the person you need to talk to is in a meeting... your child might have an IEP.

If a meeting with the school has ever been rescheduled more than twice to the time you definitely can not come... your child might have an IEP.

If you have ever been patted on the shoulder and called "honey" by the principal... your child might have an IEP.

If it has ever been suggested all your child needs is a "good spanking to straighten him/her up..." your child might have an IEP.

If you have been asked by a teacher to "just sign it!"... your child definitely has an IEP...

If you have ever been called Ms. White something... your child might have an IEP.

If you know your advocate's phone and fax number by heart... your child might have an IEP.

If you have ever been forced into due process, state court, the district court of appeals, federal court, or the federal circuit court on a fast track to the US Supreme Court... your child might have an IEP.

If you are known as a due process queen... your child might have an IEP.

If you can quote federal statutes in your sleep... your child might have an IEP.

If you have ever requested your child's records and it took two years to receive them... your child might have an IEP.

If you have ever been told, the district doesn't care if you sign the IEP or not, services have ceased... your child might have an IEP.

If you have crossed out the words "Procedural Safeguards" on your copy and written in "Procedural Land Mines" (I know I have)... then your child definitely has an IEP (for what it's worth).

If a new teacher went to pull your child's cumulative records and had to make two trips to get them... your child might have an IEP/ You've been through a Due Process.

Your child might have an IEP/ you've been through a Due Process if... [enter state DOE legal head here] knows you.

Your child might have an IEP/you've been through a Due Process if... you sign all your letters, "I look forward to your written response on or before ten (10) business days."

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Sweet Angel

My friend Joany lost her daughter Carly today. I don't know what happened as her blog isn't updated yet, but her facebook status rocked the Down syndrome community a couple hours ago... another friend just emailed me a few minutes ago making sure I knew. My heart is broken. Besides having Down syndrome, Carly also battled Leukemia not long before Kennedy. Today, I am just in shock. Carly, I'm going to miss reading about you and your school time antics so much! Joany, I wish I could give you a huge hug! Please be praying for the George family. Hug your babies tight tonight parents... I know I will be.

App of the Week #6

In keeping with IEP week, for those of you who don't know it yet, there is an IEP app! This app alone may be worth buying an iPhone or iPod Touch. Seriously. I can't wait to use it at Kennedy's next meeting. For someone like me who lacks organizational skills *ahem* this has note taking capabilities at your fingertips! Furthermore, you have about 100 different parts of the IEP law right there in front of you, broken down into sections, ready for you to say, "Well, according to Section 300.321(a)(1), that Sir is against the law!" And, let's face it, who wouldn't want to say that?! (I mean, hopefully you don't have to say that, but you know... should the opportunity present itself... you want to be prepared, right?! Right!) LOL

So, the IEP Checklist... what it is and why you want it (and you can click the pictures to enlarge, of course).

What: IEP Checklist
By: Nurvee
Price: FREE!!!

OK so start the app, and you're going to get a blank page. Click on "new" at the top and it will ask you to name your file. I named mine Kennedy... because, well... yeah, that should be obvious. LOL Someday Kellsey can have one named after her, too! :) Choose your language, and then your checklist is ready to go! It's that simple!

Your list is automatically broken down into lots of different user friendly sections... The first spot there shows your main page. In there you'll find lots of sub-sections. Each sub-section is filled with IEP laws and room for note taking.

There are lots of different things talking about performance, goals, placement... how those goals should be written, reviewed, etc.

Placement, placement placement! LRE, FAPE and so much more... with the laws to back them up!

More areas to be touched on, it covers literally EVERY area of education... including, what to do if the parent disagrees... which hopefully won't be needed! Read it through a bit before your meeting! There's so much more here that I haven't even touched on... This is one FREE download you'll be happy to have!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"10 Ways To Have More Fun At Your IEP"

Continuing IEP Week... So really, as much as this seriously made me laugh out loud, I can't imagine actually doing them. While there are some members on our IEP team who may get a kick out of some of them, there are others who most definitely would not... and well, I'm just NOT that bold in real life! LOL These are such fun thoughts though, aren't they?! If anyone actually does any of these, please let me know... and take pictures to share. Please?! :o)

"10 Ways To Have More Fun At Your IEP"

1. Wear costumes. On the meeting invitation, say, "Festive Dress Required."

2. As an equalizer, require all attendees to wear Groucho glasses.

3. Require all attendees to bring a musical instrument.

4. Provide refreshments: Jalapeno Cheetos, and red Kool-Aid.

5. Invite Hillary Rodham Clinton. List her name on the cover sheet.

6. Try this introductory exercise: If you were a color, what color would you be and why?

7. Play background music-anything by Frank Zappa.

8. Give everyone a set of five flash cards to be used as the mood strikes: * Who invited him?* *I love your hair! Where did you get it done?* *I’m sure we can trust that this will get worked out.* *Does the law have any bearing on this?* *Excuse me for 10 minutes while I call my lawyer.*

9. Have the TV in the room tuned to the Court Channel.

10. Keep score. Give a really nice door prize to the IEP team member (parents excluded) who makes the most positive comments about your child. Award grand prize to the IEP team member who makes the most negative comments about your child - the winner gets to provide 36 hours of respite care, in their home, to your child.

Q&A #148

When I first saw the adoption story about the Russian boy I thought... it sure sounds awful but I don't know all the details... at least she DIDN'T kill him I was thinking... sad. Can't believe she would adopt again?! I mean be allowed to?
I don't think she will be allowed to... there are tons of clearances etc that you have to get through and I just can't see anyone approving her to adopt again... we'll see!

Now, as for the adoption situation that is just soooo sad for all of those families. For all of those children. Why would a person go through the financial and emotional journey only to up and decide nope I don't want to do it anymore? I seriously don't get it. I mean all the hoops you had to jump through to get Kellsey. How did she even get cleared to adopt a child? I guess you just never know what a person is going to do. The stress of it all, but really. This woman and those who have killed children have truly ruined things for so many lives.
Charges should be brought against this woman. She virtually abandoned that child. There had to have been other options for her. I hope someone can get that freeze lifted.
Since you adopted Kellsey in the Ukraine and not actually Russia would this freeze have effected you any?

Well, there are several reasons that people disrupt adoptions... and there are many different correct ways she could have gone about doing that if she truly felt she and the rest of her family were being threatened by this boy. Putting a 7 year old on a plane by himself, was obviously not the right way to go about it. The freeze on Russian adoptions does not affect Ukraine, thankfully. We are praying hard for all the families in process of adopting from Russia though!

Renee, did you have a link to the Hook family? I would like to read about them, but didn't see a link.
There should be a video embedded right in the post... if you don't see it, you can try viewing it here. If THAT doesn't work, you can follow their blog here. :)

Renee - maybe you understand this better than I do, but once you adopt a child, isn't it as if they are your own? And if I had a 7 year old I couldn't deal with (whatever that would mean) wouldn't I put them in the US foster program? Why on earth would she put the child on a plane and send him back vs. working the channels here?
Yes... that little boy was an American citizen... just as Kellsey is. There are several venues she could have gone through and many families who foster/adopt children who come from disrupted adoptions. He should have never been sent back to Russia, no matter what. I DO hope she'll take People magazine or someone else up on their interview requests someday. I'd love to know what the heck she was thinking! I'm truly curious.

and i do not understand why or how the airline would let a child fly that long by themselves. i get flying a couple of states but this is crazy
Airline policy... any child over age 5 can take a direct flight unaccompanied. I'm hoping someone will change that policy now.

what is up with moms and cleaning the fridge?? mine does that too!! haha
gotta love em!!!
glad you are all on the mend!!

I don't know but I'm glad she did! It was beyond gross! LOL

Your kids are so funny!! Were they shocked when they saw your neighbor?
No, they remembered! LOL

Anyway, I was wondering, since you always post about kids with cancer if you could maybe put a link to this post. It's for kids fighting cancer.
Sure thing! Everyone go check out this great project for kids fighting cancer, especially if you know how to sew, knit or crochet!

So let me get this straight? They have helicopters there, lol?
No... what makes you think that?! ;)

What camera does Frank use when he's deployed?
He has a Canon Rebel digital... we're a Canon family! :)

Thanks for posting about Lera! I just wanted to correct one thing from your post so that it doesn't discourage people from coming forward for her.
There is a delegation from the US heading to Russia next week to discuss Russia/US adoptions but THERE IS NOT A FREEZE and the news agencies were incorrect in their reporting of it last week.
Adoptions are running smoothly there now and the families we have there have all had their appointments and things as scheduled. Andrea has been in contact with Russia regarding this since it was misreported in the news and can assure anyone that they are going smoothly.
Anyway, thank you for posting for Lera! :)

OK I corrected my post... I'm glad to hear that as the freeze was all over our news here! SO glad there is NOT a freeze... MORE of a reason for a family to come forward for Lera NOW! :)

Oh my goodness...my heart is so sad for her. Just a thought since you seem to have fallen in love with this little girl (and who couldn't?) But could YOU possibly be her family?? :)
Ahhh, as much as we would LOVE to, we are not in the position to adopt right now. We're still bonding with Kellsey and getting to know her (and she's still getting to know us) and our house is literally filled to the brim. I don't think we would be approved for another child. I do so hope to meet this precious girl when she does come home though!

My heart is seriously hurting for this beautiful child. I don't understand the whole home study thing, but I'm assuming it's a pretty ardous process. I'll have to look into that. With as many people as there are looking into foreign adoptions of children w/Ds, surely there's someone who can step in last-minute...?
The home study was actually one of the easiest parts of our process! It's a lot of paperwork and some interviews, but I know that many agencies will expedite the process if necessary. Definitely check into it!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dr. Suess on IEPs

So, the majority of my google reader and facebook friends have kids with special needs, mostly Down syndrome. Many of those kids are of the age to be in the school system... some are still in preschool, others are in elementary school, a few are even in middle and high school. And so, lately, blog posts and status updates have been filled with IEP stuff. I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Because, you see, in most schools Spring means IEP meetings which makes many parents (and teachers) want to cry and run screaming through the halls.

SO I've decided to declare this IEP week... let's NOT stress out. Let's laugh, let's smile, let's... breathe. All together now... (teachers too, come on!) deep breath in... deep breath out. Whew! Doesn't that feel better? I hope you enjoy these fun tidbits I've collected from here, there and everywhere! Some will be fun, some will be more serious... hopefully they'll ALL be helpful, even if they just make you laugh a bit. :)

This first one is something that parents and teachers should get a kick out of! I know one parent who printed out copies and handed it out to everyone at the meeting before it started. Our school loves Dr. Suess so it definitely made me laugh. Enjoy!

IEPs by Dr. Seuss
Author: Unknown

Do you like these IEPs?

I do not like these IEPs
I do not like them, Jeeze Louise
We test, we check
We plan, we meet
But nothing ever seems complete.

Would you, could you
Like the form?

I do not like the form I see
Not page 1, not 2, or 3
Another change
A brand new box
I think we all
Have lost our rocks.

Could you all meet here or there?

We could not all meet here or there.
We cannot all fit anywhere.
Not in a room
Not in the hall
There seems to be no space at all.

Would you, could you meet again?

I cannot meet again next week
No lunch, no prep
Please hear me speak.
No, not at dusk. No, not at dawn
at 5 pm I should be gone.

Could you hear while all speak out?
Would you write the words they spout?

I could not hear, I would not write
This does not need to be a fight.
Sign here, date there,
Mark this, check that
Beware the students ad-vo-cat(e).

You do not like them
So you say
Try again! Try again!
And you may.

If you will let me be,
I will try again
You will see.


I almost like these IEPs
I think I'll write 6003.
And I will practice day and night
Until they say
"You've got it right!"

Pictures from Afghanistan

During Frank's free time, he has been taking pictures of different things in Afghanistan... proof that you can find beauty in any situation! Enjoy!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Last night...

Me: (to Kassidy and Kameron) Kennedy will not be going to school tomorrow. She has a doctor appointment. You will be going to school with Karla next door. She will be picking you up after school as well.

Kass and Kam: OK...

This morning...

Kameron: So, is Karla taking us to school?

Me: Um... YES! We talked about this last night.

Kam: Right...

A little while later...

Kameron: So does Karla KNOW she's taking us to school?

Me: No. I just decided to send you over there and hope she has room. Seriously?! Of course she knows!

A little while later...

Kassidy: Shouldn't you be waking Kennedy up for school?

Me: (Trying REALLY hard not to lose it.) Kennedy. Doctor appointment. You. School. Karla.

Kassidy: Riiiiight.

Me: *sigh* You DO remember she's picking you up, right?

Kassidy: Of course Mom, why wouldn't I?!

Me: HA!

How much you want to bet they'll be shocked when Karla picks them up, even though we talked about it again??? KIDS!!!

Pray for Chrissie!


This sweet little girl is Chrissie... she was adopted from Serbia and brought home to her forever family knowing that she would need immediate heart surgery. Yesterday was that day...
Chrissie and her mom before she was wheeled back for surgery...

Chrissie after surgery...

Things didn't go exactly as planned. They ended up having to open Chrissie's chest 3 times. She actually died on the table for 20 minutes. Fortunately they did chest compressions and were able to bring her back. Chrissie is intubated and there's a machine doing her breathing and another keeping her heart working. They do believe that Chrissie's heart has the ability to work on its own, but her left lung (which is her only "good" lung) is completely filled with fluid, which won't allow any blood to enter to be oxygenated or remove carbon dioxide. Her CO2 levels were 3 times what they should have been, which is toxic.

She is one very, very sick little girl and needs A LOT of prayer. Can you pray for her? You can click on her button at the top of her page to get to her blog and get updates. In the meantime, please just pray pray pray! Thanks!

Monday, April 19, 2010

I know, I know!

Lame blogger of the year award! To make up for it, I present you with red cheeked cuteness... brought to you by the makers of aloe vera. I'll be back with a real update tomorrow! :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Rivers & Spires Festival!

Yesterday my friend Lyndi drove up from Murfreesboro with her 4 youngest kiddos and we went to the Rivers & Spires Festival here in Clarksville. The kids look forward to this every year. I took my camera, but actually didn't take a whole lot of pictures... maybe the fact that there were two adults and nine kids has something to do with that! haha

The kids actually did pretty well overall! Keeghan had a few "two year old moments", but the kids had a lot of fun seeing all the characters walking around, making crafts, going on the inflatables, and eating. Kass, Kam and Kenn got to experience their first deep fried Snickers bar. Something everyone should try at least once twice in their life. ;) We got to listen to the kids art teacher, Lauren Weakly play on stage with her band, then we walked around some more and finally when everyone was exhausted, we left and went out to dinner! It was a great day!

Last night Kennedy got really sick, but she seems fine today, thank goodness! I think it was just too much sun... or maybe that snickers bar... hmmm.... Anyway, here are a few pictures that I DID get!
The kids before we left... Keeghan and Kellsey were looking at Lyndi's kids lol

Kameron going down the slide...

Kass and Kenn sliding down...

And having a blast!

Lyndi's daughter Kamryn...

and Kylie...

Keeghan in the bounce house...

Keeghan and Kennedy playing with a beach ball someone handed them. We left with so much JUNK!

Patrick Bungee Jumping...

Are you ready mom???

I'm stuck to the WALL!!!

We waited in a 45 minute line for this...

Hopefully she loved it...

Crazy girl! :o)

OK that's it! Kellsey went on one little inflatable slide but she wasn't very excited about the whole thing... and she HATES mascots! LOL She liked the people watching though and loved her giant corn dog... I should have taken a picture of that, it was huge and she polished off the whole thing! Can't wait to do it again next year!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Three Years Ago Today...

I knew this day was coming... over the last week or so I thought about it in passing. I've thought about it for a few reasons. The date will always linger in my mind, of course. And then there is a family here in town, in our church, who has a two year old son just beginning his fight. A fight we know all too well. As my mind drifts to them, it wanders back to this date, three years ago, when I was doing... this.

Sitting here, on my computer, IMing with a friend. Doing anything I could to just pass time because I knew that sometime today I would be getting a call from a doctor in the oncology clinic at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital telling me the results of Kennedy's bone marrow biopsy from 3 days before. And the phone rang. And it wasn't good.

Leukemia. My two year old daughter had leukemia. How was that even possible? The 16th was on a Monday that year and they wanted us to check in on Wednesday to start chemo. "No," I said, "I can't. I have an OB appointment. I'm 8 months pregnant. I have 2 other kids. I need to figure out what we're going to do with them. I need more time." They agreed to Friday morning, when they would surgically implant a central medicine line, a Hickman line, or "tubies" as we came to call them, into Kennedy's chest. Chemotherapy would begin that night. *sigh*

I picked Kennedy up off the floor and got in the car and drove. I wasn't really sure where we were going, but somehow we ended up at Kassidy's elementary school. I wandered in and told Carinda, who works in the office, that I needed to check Kassidy out. She asked if I was ok and I said no. "Kennedy has Leukemia," I said. And the first tear slipped down my cheek. And I just stared. I'm pretty sure she told me to sit down. She may have even taken Kennedy out of my arms. She told me I didn't need to get Kassidy, but I had to do something. I just remember being in a fog. Two year olds don't get cancer. Right?? I mean... RIGHT??? Wrong.

I don't really remember the rest of that day or the rest of that week. I remember going to my OB appointment and her patting me on my leg when I asked if I could get my OB care transferred to Nashville. I remember LOTS of phone calls and emails and not being able to answer everyone's questions simply because I didn't know the answers. I remember being terrified about Friday. I remember Kass and Kam spending the night at my mom's and her offering to take Kennedy too. I said, "No, that's ok." She said, "I'll take good care of her." I said, "I know, I just need to see her. I need to feel her near me." I remember praying. A lot.

And of course calling Jamie to see if she could squeeze us in for pictures... early 3 year birthday pictures...

Three years ago... and yet, in many ways, it seems like yesterday. Kennedy's journey through cancer has changed my life forever. It's opened my eyes to a whole new world... one where 46 children are diagnosed with this disease every day. And it sucks. Cancer sucks. Three years... and counting.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Today is my wonderful husband's birthday! He's turning... older than me! ;) If you are friends with him on facebook, go leave him a message, or you can leave him a birthday wish here in my comment section or even over on his blog.

Happy Birthday Babe!!! We hope you have a good day and they let you sleep in or... something! We love and miss you SO much!!!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Full steam ahead!!!

OK so I stink! No posts today. Well, except for, you know, this one! HA! Maybe I SHOULD commit to doing a picture every day all year... it holds me accountable or something! Fortunately, everyone is WELL now! Kassidy went back to school yesterday... it's TCAP week, which is oh so fun for the kids and the teachers. I know they'll all be happy when this week is over! Kameron, on the other hand, is looking forward to TCAP next year. He's a funny, funny kid! :o)

This morning I ran to Wal-Mart and did some MUCH needed grocery shopping... not really because we needed groceries, but because I was out of grocery BAGS from all the puking in the car. Just kidding. Sort of. Seriously though, we were out of a ton of stuff so, my kids will be happy to know they have a wide variety of cereal and oatmeal and juice and lots of OTHER stuff they like to eat back in the house again.

This afternoon we finally showed up back at therapy again! I feel like we've been out forever! Kellsey had OT at 1:30, then we went to pick up the 3 big kids, then went BACK to therapy where both Kellsey and Kennedy had Speech Therapy. Kellsey's speech therapist then came out and said, "When did Kellsey learn how to talk?!" And I said, "Beats me!" LOL Apparently she said 10 words for her. We got distracted and I forgot to ask what those 10 words were... I haven't gotten her to say anything more though. I think she's just holding out on me.

After therapy we ran home, where my mom was waiting, I dropped off the kids, and ran to Post for an FRG meeting. I haven't been on Post since Frank left for Afghanistan, so that was kind of weird... then I came home, found out my mom not only cleaned out my fridge but also put away all my groceries (THANKS MOM!!!), and got the kids ready for bed, they all 5 crashed immediately, which is awesome, and now, here I sit, catching up on American Idol and waiting for Frank to ruin the result show for me, since he's done it the last two weeks in a row! LOL Everyone go tell him how mean he is now! haha

Anyway, enough mindless babble from me! I promise earlier posts from me tomorrow... and maybe even PICTURES?! *gasp* I know, sorry! Hope you all have a good night!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Q&A #147

Renee...I know this is totally off the subject, but any word on Lera? I've just tried to look for her on Reece's Rainbow and can't find her.
Lera has a new family, their blog is A Russian Princess.

We love anything Stouffers has to eat. Its just like you made it homemade to us. What are some of the things you eat for lunch while the kiddos are in school? I always have this problem cause I really dont know what to buy and fix for myself. What about the kids that are home for lunch, what do they get? Do you fix 3 meals a day when kids are home on the weekends?
I am pretty much a "pick up whatever I can find" type person. I eat leftovers or... nothing. LOL Keeghan and Kellsey usually have PB&J or grilled cheese or lunchables or mini corn dogs or chicken fries (from Schwans! LOL) with goldfish crackers. Or if we are out and about for whatever reason we will run through fast food which usually happens about twice a week; or they love Subway so if we're at Wal-Mart we usually will stop there since there's one right inside. It's great.
On the weekends the kids usually just have cereal for breakfast or sometimes they'll do toaster waffles. The rest of our meals depend on the plans for the day... I usually try to get us out of the house on Saturdays (weather permitting, of course!) and then Sunday we go to church, usually go out to lunch and then my mom feeds them dinner because I'm at our community group. Then we're back to Monday again! Weekends just fly around here!

I just wanted to thank the lady who suggested the fried rice from Schwans. I placed a order and got this. I fixed Saturday in my electric skillet with some grilled tyson chicken strips... O sooo YUMMMY!!!
Im open to anymore sugesstions on things to try...
Thanks Renee for your ideas and having some great blog readers!!

I'm glad you liked it! That sounds really good! I need to try it too! I did buy the philly cheesesteak meat that someone suggested, but I haven't tried it yet. I'm looking forward to it though! It's waiting in my freezer for me! haha If anyone else has great Schwan's suggestions, come on out! :)

You hate eggs?!?! I bet you'll like these eggs! ;)
LOL Yes, those are about the best eggs out there! haha

You mean you don't usually look like that, after chasing the kids all day?...LOL
HA! Quite possibly! Though I'd never admit it out loud. LOL

Hi!! Will you please share this ...
Coleman´s page in curesearch walk 2010!!
Join Team Larson one more time and help children with cancer !!

Go check out Team Larson! Help this special little boy's memory live on!

Hi, long time lurker here. I wasn't aware you live in Clarksville. My in laws live there and a friend from college used to be your music minister I believe.
Yep, been here for just over 6 years now! :) Love Clarksville! Our music minister has changed 3 times in the last several months, so it could be any number of people! LOL They are all awesome though! :)

Weren't you just waiting for my comment on this one, lol?
LOL! Yes actually!!! I missed you!

Can't wait to see the movie.what an incredible evening for you all and as a side note ... Ann Marie,the singer you posted is from our hometown and she graduated from my girls high school ... small world,isn't it!!
That IS a small world! She is a wonderful singer!!!

Love the pics! How do we find out which theaters it's being release to?
Try this link it should let you do a search for your area.

Ha! The hugging idea is something my mom does. That must be a form of torture moms learn in some weird "How to Kill your Kid in Thirty Minutes or Less" self-help book. The things Barnes and Nobles sell these days...
Or just maybe I got the idea from your mom! ;) She's good about sharing her parenting wisdom! haha

what is that book that Kellsey has? the drawings look so cute, but I don't recognize it at all! :)
She got two new books... "Little Hands Love". I don't really know who it's by actually... there's no author on the book. It's a touch and feel book, which Kellsey loves! And she also got "Here Comes Easter" by Caroline Jayne Church. Both are cute books.

Renee is that Michelle's book that Kennedy is holding?
Kennedy got "Fancy Nancy's Elegant Easter"... we LOVE Fancy Nancy in this house! And she got a Tinkerbelle book with a Magnadoodle on the top. :)

Those are some big lollipops!! That is what they are, right?
Yep! LOL They still haven't opened them. They keep eyeing them though!

Monday, April 12, 2010

We've been hit...

hard with the stomach bug. Just wanted to let you know we're still here and will be back soon!

In the meantime, we all look about like this:

Kidding. Sort of.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A story of faith...

WOW this is so powerful... THIS is faith. Take the time to watch, you won't be sorry.

The Story of Zac Smith from NewSpring Media on Vimeo.

App of the Week #5

So, I've totally slacked on my App of the Week! Sorry! It's been a crazy couple weeks around here... going back to school from Spring Break, getting ready for Easter, Keeghan's been sick, and lots of other, you know... stuff.

BUT If you are a parent of a small child, especially one with Special Needs, I think you're about to forgive my App of the Week laziness, because do I have a deal for you! OK well, it's really not me that has the deal... it's just a great deal that I stumbled upon and got all excited about and now I'm sharing it with you, but you MAY already know about it, which means I'm not telling you anything new, which means you'll STILL think I'm lazy! UGH! Well, whatever. I think this is awesome, and if you haven't already heard about it, I think you will too! SO if you have small kids, special needs or not, get ready to do some FREE downloading!

Did you know that April is Autism Awareness Month?? Well, it is! And sometime this month I promise to write a post with all the statistics and facts about that! In the meantime, Kindergarten.com has put ALL of their apps out for FREE in honor of Autism Awareness Month. I know that Kennedy's speech therapist is going to be SO excited about some of these because they are the exact things we've been working on her with...

For example, one of the apps is "What Rhymes?" and you have to pick out the cards that rhyme... another is "Which one does NOT belong" which teaches negative concepts which has been a really hard one for Kennedy to grasp. I am hoping this will help! There's one for emotions and a bunch for receptive identification and tons and tons of flashcards that will help Kellsey I think! Each of these apps are ABA based and teach problem solving and reasoning and are completely interactive!

I just downloaded 24 Apps for FREE which usually cost $0.99 each! Will they all work for my kids? Maybe... maybe not... we'll see! But I look forward to having them try them all out. Keeghan is itching to get his hands on my phone right now.

SO how do YOU get these apps? You can look them up here OR just go to your App store and do a search for Kindergarten.com and they will all pop up!

Here are some pictures of different random apps, as always you can click on them to enlarge.

Now on this last set, they asked specific questions... the first set was "Which one is sticky?" Then, "Which one smells sweet?" "Where are the wind chimes?" "Which one is dirty?" "Which one do you put on?" "Which one do you live in?" "Which one do you write with?" "Which one do you eat?"

Going through these with Kennedy and Keeghan, I was surprised to see which ones they each got right and which ones they didn't know... neither one of them have the "which one does NOT belong" concept down. Keeghan got REALLY mad at me and told me to turn it off! haha I'm going to have fun playing with the kids with these I think!

Anyway, this is only a TINY sampling of what's there... I haven't even gone through them all yet. Please don't let this chance pass you by to get ALL 24 Apps for free!

Come back next week too as my App of the Week will include a giveaway!!! And on that note I just got an email about breaking the cycle of procrastination! HA! I'm off!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring Sing & Bling - Benefiting Africa for Jesus!

So... what are you all doing tomorrow afternoon? Nothing?? GREAT!!! Bring your WHOLE family and come over to Clarksville First Church of the Nazarene for the First Annual Spring Sing & Bling - Benefiting Africa for Jesus!

Enjoy awesome musical artists including the Daniel Doss Band, Lydia Walker, Making Malorie and Engaging Pursuit. Special guest artist is Felicia Barton, former American Idol contestant and worship leader/singer/songwriter from Virginia Beach, VA. There will also be a silent auction with over 100 items from local companies for you to bid on with all proceeds going to Africa for Jesus.

This is going to be an awesome evening for an awesome cause! Don't miss out on a fun night with your family! I hope to see you all there!!!

What: Spring Sing & Bling - Benefiting Africa for Jesus!
Where: First Church of the Nazarene
150 Richview Road
Clarksville, TN 37043
When: April 10, 2010
Time: 4:00pm - 8:30pm
Cost: $5.00 for adults, $2.00 for kids (6 and under)
, OR you can gain free admission to the event by donating clothes and other gently-used items to our thrift stores. There is currently one location in Hopkinsville, KY, and a second location in Clarksville at 1810 Madison Avenue (Pal's Plaza). You can bring them the day of the event, or drop them off at the stores.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

More pictures...

Here are some more pictures from the night of the premiere. These were taken by Britt Family Portraits. You can see more pictures from the premiere here. :)