Sunday, November 20, 2011

Next Week Absolutely MUST Be More Chill

I know it's THIS week and all, but I just have to tell you about LAST week. Because last week was a doozy.

I'm a person who values her evenings at home. Frankly, I don't really like to go places. I especially don't like to go out every single weeknight in one week, but that is what I had to do last week. It was exhausting.

You know who earned rock star status last week though? Alex. He made it possible for me to go out all those nights after my intense days, because last week the days were pretty harrowing too, with drama at Jack's school and conferences with teachers and angst, oh, so much goddamn angst. Don't worry though. We're fine.

Monday wasn't too bad and wouldn't have been any ol' thang if it had been any other week. Tuesday was also pretty chill but for the fact that I had to conduct a telephone interview with someone. There is very little that throws me into more of a panic than having to do that. Especially when the person I'm talking to is really smart and talks faster than I can type.

That night I went to a meeting of a special education committee to hear the county's new schools superintendent speak. It was interesting and encouraging to listen to him. He answered a lot of questions from the public and I had one, but I kinda lose speech at those things and couldn't possibly raise my hand.

I wanted to say this: "My son is important. He could grow up to be a professor or to work in a pizza parlor. No matter what, he has an intrinsic human worth and deserves the education funding to give him the greatest possible opportunities in life. I know my son is valuable. I think most of the people in this room know that my son and their children are valuable. But there are a lot of people in this county who don't know that, or worse, adamantly do not believe that. When those people tell you that you are wasting money educating special education students, I want to know that you have our back. I want to know that you will stand up and say, 'Yes, these students are important and deserve their fair share of the education budget.' Will you do that when the time comes?"

Even though I didn't ask, I really hope that the answer is yes.

I was actually really looking forward to my Wednesday. I attended the Autistic Self Advocacy Network's 5-Year Anniversary Celebration. It was wonderful. It was also a little intense. Fortunately, I had a solid cover, which it helps to have at these sorts of things.

My cover? I was a journalist, covering the event for my Autism Unexpected column, which gave me license to walk up to people I didn't know and ask them intrusive questions. A couple of people asked if they could give me their email addresses instead and I could follow up with them the next day, which was awesome, because hello? I've found my tribe.

You can see the photos I took at the event on my Flickr page. I was really happy to be able to find Corina Becker (founder of Autistics Speaking Day) right off, because she was a friendly face sitting at a table with an empty chair. It was quite relieving, honestly. And wonderful to meet her. I got to meet a whole slew of other people I'd been excited to meet as well, along with some entirely new people.

The beautiful Corina Becker and Kathryn Bjornstad, creators of ASDay.

I think one of my favorite parts of the evening was when the TV connection malfunctioned as they were trying to show a video. A whole gang of folks went up to figure it out and when it was all done, Ari Ne'eman said, "How many autistic people does it take to fix the TV connection? The answer is: five." Good stuff right there, people.

On Thursday, my event was reading night at Jack and Quinn's school. I usually dread these things with the force of a thousand suns, but this event was great because some of the teachers had set up a room specifically for special education kids. We were actually the only family in that room, which was a shame, because I hope they keep doing it as my family is just not able to attend those things well without that type of accommodation.

They had great activities, complete with technology, coloring, games, story time, and manipulatives. I was really grateful to be there. Especially after I heard some of my friends talking about the regular classrooms and how they were set up. We would never have been able to hack it. As it was, my kids and I all had a great time and were able to relax and be ourselves. It was lovely.

I got to cap off my week on Friday with something really terrible and something really wonderful. In the afternoon, I took Whiskers to the vet to be euthanized. It's so sad to do that. On the way there, it didn't feel right to make Whiskers' last ride be to the sound of NPR, so I put on some classical music and we rode in soothing music.

When I took Scabbers and Poseidon to be put to sleep, they both died almost immediately after the injection. Whiskers didn't. She walked over straight to me and climbed into my hand, where she stayed, curled up until she died. It was both brutal and comforting at the same time.

Thankfully I had an event to go to that night thrown by Tech Savvy Mama (a.k.a. Leticia) and Tiny Prints. Mary Gardella of Love Life Images hosted the party at her studio and took complimentary head shots of everyone in attendance. She is amazing and did such a wonderful job. Also, I want to move into her studio and live there.

The focus of the night was on how to get great shots for holiday cards (and Tiny Prints is a fantastic place to get beautiful holiday cards, by the way), which was helpful because I was shooting my kids (just with a camera) on Saturday.

See how much the tips helped?

Coming to a mailbox near you in just a few weeks!

The best tips I picked up were on how to get a genuine smile out of your kids. Amie (a.k.a. Mamma Loves), also a photographer, suggested that you admonish your kids to NOT SMILE. DO NOT SMILE. STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. NO SMILING. She also suggested that you have your kids tell you a joke. I tried both of those tactics and guess what? They worked!

I actually got much better shots than that one up there. Although that one has a certain charm to it.

Thank you to all of the wonderful people I chatted with Friday night. You made a tough week a lot better. I can't properly express how much I love my DC Moms blogging community. There are some really good women living and writing around here.

Now that I have that all out of my system, I can move on to next week, which, as it turns out, is Thanksgiving week. Did you all know that? Because I don't know how it is possible. But there you go.

Before that though, we have an IEP meeting for Jack set up for tomorrow morning. After that, you can color me done for the rest of November.


I did, however, manage to write a column this weekend about Flummox and Friends, a really great new project in the works to teach kids social skills through a hilarious TV program. Please check out my column and if you have a couple of bucks to spare, kick them in to the project's Kickstarter campaign. Even a dollar helps!

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