— 1 —

I talked in general about 504 plans yesterday, but without many specifics. Sarah Kate’s 504 meeting was Wednesday, which, yes, is pretty quick for the beginning of the school year, but the start of school was a shock to everyone’s system and Nurse Heather pressed to get things set up quickly.

In short, the meeting was pleasant, everyone was in agreement, and we’ll see where things go from here.

— 2 —

The true crisis this week involved Sarah Kate’s lunch. Not bullies or mean girls or a painful stumble in the cafeteria, mind you. No, the crisis that has repeated itself several times in these first two weeks is caused by a potato, or, more specifically, a lack thereof. The students can choose the regular lunch from the daily menu or a loaded baked potato, but they must preorder the potato at the beginning of the day. Several times she’s ordered a potato but gotten stuck with a regular lunch.

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“Mr. Grumpy Potato” – Courtesy banger1977/flicker

If in her mind that’s been the worst part of these first two weeks of school, I’m good with that.

— 3 —

The Great Loaded Potato Crisis of 2014 is an example of how “the sins of the fathers” can come full circle … or something. When my fine, upstanding citizen husband was in ninth grade, his school gave tokens to redeem for different items after the kids paid for lunch. The cafeteria would then know exactly how much of each item to have on hand. Mr. Andi decided to manufacture tokens in shop class in order to get free hot dogs and hamburgers that he and his friends didn’t pay for (necessarily shafting some kids out of the hot dogs and hamburgers they ordered and paid for).

This former leader of a lunch theft ring is now the father of my children.

— 4 —

College Football is HERE! Our beloved Auburn Tigers will play on the brand new SEC Network on Saturday afternoon and I’ll be … hoping to pick up the radio broadcast on a tiny handheld FM radio because I’m going to be so far off the grid I can neither watch it nor stream it.

But I’ll survive, because I’m going to be so far off the grid. :)

— 5 —

That’s right – I’m outta here! At least I will be in a few hours. I had such a great time on my last scrapbooking weekend (Unplugged! Off the grid! Beautiful surroundings! No children!) that I’m doing it again. Mr. Andi will have the kids all on his own until Monday morning, but then we’ll hit the ground running as soon as I arrive home, because…

— 6 —

We are having an End-of-Rehab Party for Sarah Kate on Monday. We’ve invited a bunch of our friends (“our” meaning families we know) to have pizza and cake at the park with the brand-new accessible playground. Although she’s not really done-done with therapy, and she still has a ways to go when it comes to stamina, she’s reached the point where she’s either doing or very close to doing most everything she could before the surgery, and we want to celebrate that achievement.

So can you guess what the subject of Tuesday’s post will be? ;)

— 7—

Our latest uber-ambitious project at Casa de Sligh? Fire Truck Loft Bed for Nathan!

Photo Courtesy Jeff McClure via Ana-White.com

Mr. Andi is 100% sure he can build it, but I’m only 60% certain he can do it, so I calculate the odds of us attempting it at 80%. Although the lunch theft racket lasted quite awhile, so that’s a dubious testament to his shop skills. Stay tuned.

Have a great weekend!

This post was inspired by and is linked to Conversion Diary‘s 7 Quick Takes.

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Photo Courtesy Todd Petrie/flickr

Ah, yes, it’s that time again.

The start of the school year, you mean? Well, yes, but it’s also the dreaded season of IEP 1 and 504 2 meetings. Nathan has the first, and Sarah Kate has had both (she has a 504 plan at the moment), so I’ve done both in years past – and will again this year. Although we’ve had pretty good luck over the years, I still dread it like the plague. So how do I make it through these meetings?

I take a deep breath and remind myself of a few things:

1. I’m my child’s primary advocate … for now.

I need to speak up and ask for what the kids need, but the older Sarah Kate gets, the more involved she will be in her own 504 plan (and eventually Nathan should have input into his IEP). In the past, I showed up at the school, met with the guidance counselor, her teacher, and anyone else that needed to be there (it has, at various times, included therapists, resource teachers, school nurses, administrators, and others), signed the paperwork, and went home. The past two years, she was not in the meeting, but was given the plan to review and sign.

This year, she was included in the meeting, made suggestions and requests, and signed the plan. Although she spent most of the meeting sitting back and deferring to “the adults in the room,” her input was important, because she’s the only one who knows what it’s like to be her.

2. Although 504 and IEP meetings can feel adversarial, those folks on the other side of the table aren’t the enemy.

I’ve heard plenty of horror stories, and I’m sure some of you reading have your own battle scars and tales of woe, but in over eight years (including preschool), three different school systems and five different school administrations, we’ve had no major issues. None. In fact, I’d even go a little farther and state that we haven’t had any minor issues, either. We’ve had a misunderstanding here and there, but nothing that wasn’t resolved fairly quickly, and all of the instances I can think of happened at the beginning of the school year before everyone had All The Things figured out.

3. A positive, open attitude goes a long way.

I know some moms who bake cookies to take to their child’s IEP meetings. I think that’s an awesome idea, if you’re the kind of mom who does that kind of thing. I’m not, so I don’t (also, never will you ever see me as room mom and I can count on one hand how many field trips I’ve done in six years). I do, however, make an effort to be friendly with my children’s IEP/504 teams. My mom taught first grade for 28 years and my dad was a high school principal turned assistant superintendent, so I know that teachers (and administrators) are people, too. It’s easy to focus on the things that aren’t going well, but I try to focus on the things that are so that the bumps in the road can be more easily smoothed out when they appear.

4. Everyone has a different perspective – and that’s a good thing.

It’s tempting to think that the school staff is in the wrong or isn’t doing enough because “they don’t understand” what a child’s specific needs are, and in some cases the criticism is deserved. But the school staff have information I’m not privy to as a parent – the flow of the day, the makeup of the class, the quirks of the building, the intricacies of the dismissal procedure, and many other things. Instead of focusing on a specific way I want things to be done, I try to communicate the need.

Now it’s your turn – tell me how you tackle your child’s IEP or 504 meeting!

———–

For information about the similarities and differences between IEP and 504, go here.

1 Individualized Education Program – For more information, go here.

2 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (the precursor to the Americans with Disabilities Act) – For more information, go here.

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A Taste of Freedom Once Again

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Remember when Sarah Kate first experienced freedom? That three-wheeled bike allowed her to ride around the neighborhood, check in with her friends down the street, and just generally be part of regular kid life in a middle-class subdivision. It was a dream realized not just for her, but for me, as well – not an […]

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Sun-Beams: August 24, 2014

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Some days you’re in a tug-of-war between “it’s all good” and “it’s all falling apart” from minute to minute. The first week of school was like that for us (well, me … the rest of the family is probably “all good”). Between Nathan’s potty fails and Sarah Kate’s mobility woes, on Friday night I crashed and burned. […]

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Seven Snippets: Step Counts, Self-Propelled Wheelchairs, and the Sound of Silence

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— 1 — Remember the FitBit Sarah Kate got last week? Here are the screenshots of her step count on Sunday, followed by one of her step count on Monday, the first day of school. We have some issues, needless to say. — 2 — If you have any advice on self-propelled wheelchairs, I’m all […]

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First Days, Tween Daughters, and Tori Amos

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The little guy was supposed to be the tough one. After four years of having Nathan mostly at home, messing stuff up and making it oh, so difficult to get things done, Nathan started pre-K on Monday. Six hours per day, five days per week. I thought I would be sad or lonely or … something. But each […]

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Mayberry Is a Little More Inclusive Today

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Nine years ago (!!!), I was on the steering committee and Sarah Kate was one of a handful of “poster children” for the fundraising campaign for an accessible playground to be built in Decatur, Alabama. I spoke to a number of local groups about the importance of inclusive play, and she was featured in a few […]

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Sun-Beams: August 17, 2014

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Sun-Beams is a collection of links to stories, articles, photos, or videos I have come across that I believe will inspire, inform, or encourage you, as well as my favorite photo posted on my other blog, Violet Film, from the past week. More on the Story of Baby Gammy - This story is incredibly tragic and […]

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Seven Snippets: The End of Summer, Meeting the Teachers, and the Surprising Giveaway Winner

August 15, 2014

— 1 — School starts on Monday and it’s hard to believe, but … I’m getting a raise! Okay, so not really a raise since I don’t work for anyone, but I’m getting what Mr. Andi called a “Time Raise”. Nathan will be in preschool in an inclusive program five days a week, six hours […]

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Insta #MayberryRoadTrip

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We headed out last Thursday morning with an extensive itinerary. My stretch goal was to be on the road by 7:00 am, putting us in Auburn around 11:00 for lunch with my friend AnnMarie and her daughter Hannah, though my drop-dead pull out time was 8:00 am. We pulled out of the driveway at 7:08, […]

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