Saturday, February 28, 2009

Four. Cuatro. Quatre. Vier.

In four days, Max will be four years old. The amount of time he has been a part of our family will officially pass the amount of years we waited for him. Life has most definitely never been the same. So, for the next few days, I'll try to highlight a photo from each of the years he has been around. Today's photo is from his birthday... the actual day of his birth, March 3, 2005.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Update on Marilyn

This little voice inside my head kept telling me to call Marilyn this week. Maybe it was because the anniversary of Marita's passing is fast approaching. Maybe it was because I have been listening to David Cook's song "Permanent," which reminded me of his brother's fight with brain cancer. Or maybe it was something larger. Who knows?

Anyway, Marilyn was diagnosed with malignant brain cancer in June. When I called her, she was her upbeat self. She had really good news. She stopped chemo in December. She went to a team of specialists in St. Louis (Barnes) who looked at the "cloud" and still couldn't determine what it was. They could determine, however, that it had NOT grown. Also, she is regaining some of her strength. Next step will be a biopsy of her brain. If the mass is necrotic tissue, then the cancer is gone (the tissue would be its dead remains). If it is a tumor, they will take it out right then and there. So far, to their knowledge, it has not spread.

This is such a ray of hope! She was given six months to a year in June. I know better than to place all of my hope in this news, but it sounds pretty good. So, if you would keep her in your prayers in the next few weeks, I am sure she could use them.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My latest obsession

Some of my old blog readers may remember last spring's obsession with American Idol David Cook. (See May 22, 2008 and May 21, 2008 and May 20, 2008) Well, it didn't get ANY better now that his album is out.

Okay, okay. I always listen to albums over and over. This one is fantastic. I love every song on it. Nothing is skipped. And, it's the kind of album that you can turn up load and sing, well, "at the top of your lungs," as he belts out in "A Daily AntheM."

His first release was "Time of My Life." Loved that one. I believe that was the song that won the American Idol songwriting contest.

"Light On" is the next release. I love that one, too. (Well, that must be obvious by now.) The video is not my favorite, but I figured since I embedded his little you Tube American Idol videos, I might as well embed a "real" music video. Enjoy... and buy his album! Expect more ramblings about the album in the next few days. OCD!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


In the lives of children, you never know what will end up being significant. If you think long and hard, that kind of pressure is worse than any high-tension job. Most days as a parent, I don't give the day-to-day stuff that kind of thought. Some history, and then a story about Max.

For some reason unknown to me still, Valentine's Day was my father's holiday. Though I n'er recall the words, "I love you," leaving his lips in my direction, I think he used Valentine's Day as his big day to show it. He would always come home with something. A bear full of cinnamon red hots, a mug filled with conversation hearts, and the like. I am not sure he knew of the significance of this act, but it impacted me greatly. I appreciate having that type of memory, especially in the middle of February. I haven't had a Valentine from him in a few decades, but I don't need one. The memories from my younger days are etched in my mind.

Needless to say, I like to surround myself with the candies of the day. Necco Conversation Hearts are my FAVORITE. Who new reading could be so tasty? Oh, OK, so I don't always read them, but usually I do.

On his way out of day care one evening, Max spied some of these tasty little delicacies on the counter. The one he picked said, "Cutie Pie," which is SOOOOOOoooo fitting for my little guy. Well, Mr. Autism repeated the words "cutie pie" all night that night as he proudly carried around his conversation heart. Now, when referring to them, he calls them, "cutie pies."

So, being the overzealous freak that I can be sometimes, I bought a huge bag of them at Target. The bags aren't the most sturdy, and hundreds of conversation hearts threatened to tumble all over our basement floor as we watched the DVR of American Idol together. I kept saying to Max, "be careful, we don't want them to spill." Suddenly, he left the room. I thought I bored him. :) A few second later her returns with a gallon-size Zip Loc bag to which he transfers all of the hearts. I was so proud of him. My little guy, whose expressive language skills are echolalic and delayed, ROCKS with his receptive language and his problem solving skills. It was a little gift from God. Actually, that moment was a big gift from God. When we started intervention a little over a year ago, he would not respond to his name. This was a milestone. It's also something that I may have considered insignificant if I had a "typical" child. I know i didn't celebrate things like that when Ignatius was younger. I had no idea all I had taken for granted.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Agenda on Education

The Obama-Biden administration has a great deal on their education agenda. I wish them luck with what they want to do, considering the problem is typically state congress/board of ed. interpretations.

This language excites me greatly:

Reform No Child Left Behind: Obama and Biden will reform NCLB, which starts by funding the law. Obama and Biden believe teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests. They will improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college and the workplace and improve student learning in a timely, individualized manner. Obama and Biden will also improve NCLB's accountability system so that we are supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them.

Amen is all I have to say to that.

Address the Dropout Crisis: Obama and Biden will address the dropout crisis by passing legislation to provide funding to school districts to invest in intervention strategies in middle school -- strategies such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction, and extended learning time.

Wow. Recognition of the pivotal middle level years! Extended learning time! Maybe even being able to have enough staff to help the students who have no IEPs and no parent support. I'm tingly, but skeptical that the money will ever make it to the schools. For now, our middle school has to RIF three more full-time educators this spring.

Support College Outreach Programs: Obama and Biden support outreach programs like GEAR UP, TRIO and Upward Bound to encourage more young people from low-income families to consider and prepare for college.

Don't forget those of us in the middle, please. It's backbreaking to pay for an entire car in a year, yet we're supposed to pay for college, which is as much per year as a car in many cases. Let's realize that we are all feeling the economic crunch. I see further along in the agenda, the American Opportunity Tax Credit is mentioned, but not without forced public service as retribution. Interesting.

Districts will be able to design programs that reward with a salary increase accomplished educators who serve as a mentors to new teachers. Districts can reward teachers who work in underserved places like rural areas and inner cities. And if teachers consistently excel in the classroom, that work can be valued and rewarded as well.

Oooh, Mr. President. Have you discussed this with your NEA supporters? Merit pay... good luck with that one!

Friday, February 6, 2009

It's Back!

The Agenda that was up on the "President-Elect" site is back. Today, I finally had a chance to take a peek at the Executive Orders that have been instituted by our new President. The one I am going to discuss is EXTREMELY disturbing to me.

I am decidedly and unwaveringly anti-abortion. I don't believe it is acceptable to kill our unborn children under any conditions. The Executive Order found here, named Mexico City Policy and Assistance for Voluntary Population Planning, negates our government's stand on what Federal grants, MY MONEY, can be used for by foreign countries. The grants have now been expanded to include money for "voluntary family planning," aka abortions (not my words... the order specifically states this). Apparently, it is not bad enough that the United States kills its young. We want to share this "technology" with other nations.

This is one of the key reasons that I could not stand behind or vote for our new President. This is a key issue for me for whomever I vote. I have had discussions with family members where it has been stated that the President doesn't have much to do with decisions on abortion. I think this Executive Order proves that notion to be wrong. I guess all that's left to do is pray for a reversal of this... or run for President myself. :)