26 May 2013

Sunday Sound-Off v.2

Shared it:
1.  From Susan Cain's The Power of Introverts blog, The 'I See You' Experiment. This is so out of my comfort zone, but I think I'm going to attempt to incorporate into my days. How many times am I somewhere that someone is wearing a nametag, I look at it, but I don't ever use that information. I feel invisible most of my day - I need to make an effort to make others less invisible in their day.

2.  Avocados are now one of my go-to foods, but much of the year they are pretty unripe at the market. Apparently there is a trick to quickly ripen avocados.

3.  For those of you who have somehow missed my intolerance of zero-tolerance (See what I did there?), I was thrilled to read that the Los Angeles School Board voted to ban “willful defiance” suspensions in schools. This means that minor offenses (talking back to a teacher, having a cell phone out in class, or refusing to do the work assigned) will no longer result in a suspension, but instead will use alternative discipline, saving suspension for serious offenses.

4.  There's a new bikini in town. One for those of us who are fat plus-sized. Apparently there is a need for this as retailer Swimsuits For All sold out of them in record time. I have two problems with this: 1. I do not have the self confidence to wear one, and 2. They've been dubbed Fatkinis. Really??

5.  I don't know who Sara Bareiles is, but I do like the words to this song. And the video itself? PERFECT!

If you are ever in need of a 1/3 pound, 8-inch long, monster sausage, I know just the place to get one. Now tell me, why would I expect to see this as an ad in CraigsList's Casual Encounters section?

Appreciated it:
1.  The last day of Cam's Junior year
2.  A week at work with both the CFO and the Comptroller out of the office
3.  A music parents meeting that had the potential to be explosive but went far better than I expected
4.  Lilacs blooming
5.  A memorial Day weekend with temps in the 60's
6.  An unexpected email from someone letting me know they thought of me
7.  A new season of Master Chef
8.  A week without any appointments/meetings during the work day
9.  Getting back to the gym
10. Sugar free Slurpees

24 May 2013

The Year That Was

There are school years that are good, school years where you are just able to keep your head above water, and school years where you celebrate just making it through.

This school year has been one of the latter ... at 1:20 PM today, it will officially be over.

The school year started in mid-August without incident. Sure, there were some getting back into the swing of things challenges the first month, but nothing I (and the school) hadn't seen before. The work refusal. The disorganization. The referrals to the Dean's office when teachers were frustrated with their inability to get Cam to do what they wanted him to do. All of these things directly related to Cam's neurological issues, and well documented in his IEP.

In September, I got the first inkling that things might be going sideways. An "informal" meeting with the Spec Ed Coordinator and the school social worker where the Spec Ed Coordinator first brought up an alternate placement for Cam. The choices weren't acceptable, and a week later, after informing the Spec Ed Coordinator that neither Cam nor I were interested in any of the alternate placement options and that we felt it was best for Cam to stay at his home high school, it became crystal clear that I was going to have a fight on my hands.

From September through mid-December, I received no less than four calls per week from either the Spec Ed Coordinator or the Dean. There were times when there were that many calls in a single day, and many of those resulted in me having to leave work and go to the high school. Cam was referred to the Dean for everything from tardies, to carrying his backpack from class to class. There were detentions, in-school suspensions, and out-of-school suspensions. Then, a 7-second shoving match between Cam and one of his long-time friends sent the year right over the edge. Charges of Battery and Disorderly Conduct were filed with the State's Attorney's office by the School Resource Officer, eventually resulting in a Summons to Appear, and giving the Spec Ed Coordinator the ammunition he needed to insist Cam be removed from his home high school.

In January, an IEP meeting was called. Although Cam did not commit an expendable offense, nor had he received the 10-days of school suspensions that mandates a meeting to discuss change of placement, the school was recommending his removal from the high school. They insisted he belonged at the district alternative high school - a punitive placement for students who have committed an expellable offense.

When I declined that placement, the district brought in a "mediator" (another district employee) who again lobbied for placement outside of Cam's home high school. They offered a partial school day (3 periods) at his home high school and the remainder of his educational time at night school. They claimed Cam was not on track to graduate with his class and that this was the only way to insure he graduated on time. They did everything within their power to convince me this was the best thing for Cam. They failed.

I filed for Due Process. Three months, $9,000 in attorney fees, many lost hours of work, and another full-scale neuro-psych evaluation later, the district agreed to everything I had requested in January. They backed down ... because they were wrong. A win for Cam, but the financial and emotional costs were overwhelming.

And a meeting just last week uncovered that not only is Cam on track to graduate with his class, he only needs to take a partial class load his senior year to do it.

The criminal charges for misdemeanor Battery and Disorderly Conduct are still pending. After securing a Public Defender, we have our second court appearance on June 6th where Cam will plead "Not Guilty". I'm not sure how swiftly the Juvenile Justice System works, but I am hoping we have this issue resolved before the school year starts in August.

I tend to be a silver lining kind of person, but even I will admit it's difficult to find one when looking back at this school year. I take some comfort in knowing my fight was not in vain - that Cam's placement is exactly where Cam's placement should be. I'm proud of myself for not giving up when really, that is exactly what I wanted to do. Give up. Run far away. Never look back.

I don't know that I am stronger from this experience. Most days I feel deflated and defeated, even though the ultimate end goal was achieved. The price to reach that goal was high, and I wonder if I will have enough left in me to parent Cam through his senior year ... especially if we run into challenges like we experienced this year.

I have learned some very valuable lessons about our public schools and juvenile justice systems. I'd like to find a way to use what I've learned to change the things that are wrong - to help those kids and parents who think they have no options. I'm not sure how - or if - I'll make that happen, but I'd like to see something positive come out of this otherwise bleak year.

I usually worry about the end of the school year. In the past it has meant three months of unsupervised time for Cam - the epitome of "Idle hands are the devil's playground". This year is different. Cam is taking 2 sessions of summer school so that he can have a stress-free senior year, and he has a job that he loves. Both will keep him productively busy.

This year, I'll be celebrating 1:20 PM, and hoping that next year will be a good one ... or at least one where I'm able to keep my head above water.

23 May 2013

10 Things Thursday

1.  It's PAYDAY! There are 5 paydays in May - this is a GREAT thing!

2.  I keep trying to find a support/informational group for those who have had weight-loss surgery, but I'll be damned if I can find one that I can tolerate. Between the incessant need for selfie validation, to the over-population of women in these groups (sorry ladies, most of you drive me crazy), I can't seem to be a part of one for more than 3 weeks. What's that you say? Maybe it's me and not them??? SHUSH you!!

3.  I got a haircut over the weekend. My regular stylist is kind of hit or miss. She doesn't really need to work, so she opens the shop when she feels like it (oh the joys of small town living). Recently she hasn't been available, so I had to go to my alternate. She does a great job, but charges $48 for a cut! My in-town stylist charges $15. She needs to get her ass back to work!

4.  It's been a quiet week at work this week. The CFO and Controller are out of the office, so it's just us minions. It's amazing what I can get done (like blog posts) when no one is here to make me work.

5.  Remember Cam's BFF's family offering to pay for Cam's legal expenses during the Due Process? Well, I met with them on Sunday and they don't want to pay the balance due (just under $4,000). Considering they paid the first $5,000, I understand their reluctance, but I would NOT have secured an attorney had they not offered to pay Cam's legal expenses. Now it's up to me to secure the balance due. I've requested a meeting with the School District Superintendent to see if the district is willing to pay a portion, and I am going to contact the attorney to see if they are willing to adjust their final billing, but I'm feeling a bit duped in all of this. I guess the old saying, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is" still holds true.

6.  I need to get out of Podunk. I'm good for about 3 months, and then I need a weekend outside of this small town. Anyone looking for a weekend guest ... ummmm ... 2 weekend guests? I'm bringing Mike along too!!

7.  Cam's last day of school is tomorrow. It looks like he is going to pass all of his classes this semester, and walk away with a GPA over 2.0. Honestly? This makes me quite happy.

8.  Speaking of Cam, since January, I've been told that he is NOT on track to graduate with his class. It was part of the Admin's justification for trying to change his placement. Guess what I learned this week? Not only is he on track to graduate, but he will have a 2-hour early dismissal his senior year because he only needs to take 6 classes (a full load is 8) both semesters of his senior year. I call "Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!!"

9.  My dad made mention of driving his motor-home out this way sometime this summer and staying at the campground where Cam is working. Not sure how I feel about this, but trying not to be too preoccupied with it as my dad seldom does what he threatens says

10. Mike and I are headed to the gym this weekend. My weight-loss surgery "package" includes a 2 month membership at a pretty amazing fitness center. I'm really looking forward to working on the fitness part of this process. First stop? BodyPump classes!!

19 May 2013

Sunday Sound-Off v.1

Shared it:
1. The Militant Baker shows off some amazing portrait photography of plus-sized women in nothing but a pair of white underwear in The Body Image(s) Revisited with News! Although this likely qualifies as NSFW, these photos are tastefully done!
2. School marginalizes boys. (Let boys play video games.) by Penelope Trunk. Those of you who have been following a while know that I am a HUGE Penelope Trunk fan, and her take on homeschooling is every bit as interesting as her take on careers.
3. The Washington Post carried a piece recently titled Young GED test-takers miss out on high school experience which implies that the high school experience is good for everyone (NOT) and that getting high-school-age teens take the GED encourages dropouts. Apparently a quarter of GED test-takers are 16 to 18 years old and the concern is not in fixing public schools, but in raising the age requirement for taking the GED *shakes head*
4. Plan Your Free Online Education at Lifehacker U: Summer Semester 2013
5. Since landing smack dab in the middle of juvenile justice issues this year, I've taken an interest in making changes to a system that sends kids down the wrong path. Mistakes Kids Make is an organization that is trying to change this.

I was out and about Saturday morning and needed to pick up something to eat. I stopped in at McDonald's and tried one of their new Egg White Delight McMuffins (sans the actual English Muffin). It was surprisingly good!

Appreciated it:
1. Getting my hairs did at the expensive salon where they do a GREAT job
2. Shopping at Old Navy
3. Being an hour from home when my neighbor called me looking for help moving her sofa
4. An opportunity for Cam to take an "Alive At 25" class to get a moving violation off his record
5. Warm Spring Weather
6. Feeling less invisible as I get physically smaller
7. A coupon for a free package of Wholly Guacamole®
8. Buying a pair of size 16 pants
9. The balance that Mike brings to my life
10. Chibi Jeebs giving me permission to steal her Sunday Sound-Off concept. Next time I hope to actually get it up on Sunday!!

16 May 2013

10 Things Thursday

  1. I spent my morning at the County Juvenile Justice Center. The two skirmishes (and that's being generous - they were little more than 15-second, non-injury, shoving matches) my son was involved in at school - one in May 2012 (yes, a year ago) and one in December 2012 - were referred to the States Attorney's Office for prosecution. He is being charged with 2 counts of misdemeanor Battery and 2 counts of misdemeanor Disorderly Conduct. Today he was appointed a public defender and the case was continued until June 6th. I cannot begin to tell you how ignorant I think this is.
  2. According to my scale, I am now down a total of 51 lbs since weight-loss surgery 6 weeks ago. 51 lbs in 6 weeks is just plain CRAY-CRAY!! Every week that I get on the scale I expect it to suddenly scream back at me "HA! Fooled you! Here are those 51 lbs you thought you lost."
  3. It's been a month since Cam's IEP meeting with all of the attorney's present. I am still angry ... no ... IRATE ... that it cost just under $9000 to get Cam exactly what I asked for before filing Due Process. On Sunday afternoon, I have a meeting with the parents who funded Cam's legal fees. I offered to pay them back for a portion of the costs, and my guess is they are going to take me up on that. It's going to take me a LONG time to pay it back at $50/month, but I am beyond grateful for everything they did.
  4. Cam has traffic school (4-hour) on Saturday morning. This is to get the speeding ticket (6-14 mph over the limit) off of his record and keep his insurance rates from skyrocketing.
  5. You know, when I look back on the last 6 months, it's been a shit-show! How was I not boring you all by blogging about all of that?
  6. One of the things I've discovered since surgery is that I miss eating - enjoying flavors and textures - filling up on sweet and savory goodness. Oh! And I miss BREAD. I haven't had a slice of bread in 2 months, although I did sneak a few bites of a soft pretzel (and no, that is not a euphemism) one night at the bowling alley.
  7. There is discontent among the Music Parents group. Fine! I am irritated as fuck with the Music Parents group. Is that better?? We seem to have a few executive board members who are score keepers. They must log the number of volunteer hours for every other executive board member, and guess what? I come up short! Why? Because much of what I do is behind the scenes - keeping up our social media presence - designing, maintaining, and posting to our web site. And those two surgeries in April made it quite difficult for me to volunteer at the year-end event. It's okay though ... the snide, passive-aggressive comments were circulated throughout email so I paid my penance for being such a shitty volunteer. Remember when I said I thought this organization was a better place for my time? I'm rethinking that.
  8. Mike and I are going to start our 2-month free membership at the fitness center (a perk of weight-loss surgery) next week. I'm actually quite excited about this!
  9. I had to purchase a smaller bra. I guess you can't lose weight and maintain the 40DDDs ... or even the DDDs ... sad panda ...
  10. The current drama in my family is due to my mom's decision to move back to Las Vegas ... again. This is the third time she's moved back there in the last 15(?) years. She moves down there, decides she misses her sisters, moves back to Washington to be with her family, decides the family doesn't understand her, then moves back to Las Vegas again. I should run bets on how long she'll stay down there this time. I'm guessing 3 years. Anyone want the over/under on this one?

05 May 2013

Losing It

If you're not doing anything this morning/afternoon, I'll be on IWS Radio at 12 noon ET, talking about my recent weight loss surgery, what led me to decide to have the surgery, and my outlook going forward.

Knowing Jay and Matt, it might have been a BIG mistake to agree to this interview, but I have no doubt it will be entertaining ... hopefully not at my expense!