A Review Of Creative Galaxy From Amazon Prime Instant Video

I was given the opportunity to review Amazon Prime Instant Video Creative Galaxy with my 3 year old daughter. We couldn’t have been more excited to watch this program together. I’d be lying if I didn’t say my kids are a bit of TV junkies. Not really something I’m proud of, but they do enjoy watching TV. So anytime they get to watch something that’s entertaining while also being educational is a plus for me. And Creative Galaxy was exactly that.

Creative Galaxy 2

What’s Creative Galaxy All About

So Arty is the main character and he’s an alien. He flies around the galaxy with his side kick Epiphany solving problems like bland library walls and building a house for a bunny with art. The show teaches many different things including what a museum is, different styles of art that artists use to draw pictures (dot art for example), and also shapes and colors.

It’s an interactive program which asks children to answer questions like where is the red paint or where is the square. My 3 year old daughter got into it really fast pointing to the paint colors and the shapes and saying dot dot dot right along with them while they were creating art.

At the end of each episode it showed some real children (not cartoon) creating art and pretending with the art that they created.

Creative Galaxy

Creative Galaxy

What My Daughter Thought Of It

My daughter was very into it and sat without problem for an entire episode and then still wanted more. She was quiet and content while watching it and interacting with the characters. She truly enjoyed it and keeps asking me if she can watch Arty again. So I think she gives it two thumbs up.

What I Thought Of It

Do parents ever really love kid shows? I’m not saying I’d sit here watching this program with my daughter every time, but I certainly don’t find it as annoying as say Barney. Honestly, I thought it was cute and my daughter interacting with it makes it a little cuter still. I thought it was great that it wasn’t just focusing on shapes and color associated with art, but also different artists and how they create their art was being brought up to. Now I don’t anticipate my 3 year old knowing a Monet painting when she sees it, but still I thought that was a nice added touch to the whole story line.

Also, while I didn’t have my 6 year old son watch it, I think it’s still something he would have liked, if for nothing else than just because it was an alien and he was flying around in a spaceship. So boy or girl I thought it could easily appeal to both which is always good.

All in all I have to say Creative Galaxy from Amazon Prime Instant Video is a great program for preschoolers. Your older children might even enjoy it as well. If you’re looking for a fun interactive program to watch with your preschooler, then this might be the show for you.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

War Against Women, or War Against Men

boysYou have probably seen that campaign out there “Woman Against Feminism”. And it’s shocking, right? Shocking that a woman wouldn’t want equality. But you see that’s not what it’s about, at least not to me. Because you see I am against modern day feminism, but I’m not against feminism. I don’t want anyone telling me that I can’t do something just because I’m a woman and I most certainly don’t want my daughter’s being told that.

I’m 35 years old, going on 36. My mother (who might hate me for telling you all this) was born in the 50′s. And back then it was still mostly believed that girls didn’t belong in the boardroom unless maybe she was a secretary. Her father (my grandfather) felt that she was going to stay home and raise babies, so despite the fact that she was good in school and had the smarts, my grandfather said no when it was recommended that she take college prep courses. And that was the times. So my mom, as wonderful and smart as she is didn’t go to college. She took a few college courses when I was older, but that was it. She even helps my dad in his college courses.

I don’t know if my mother holds any resentment towards her father for that or not. I do know that she never ever let me think that I couldn’t be and do whatever I wanted to. College was more of an expectation for me growing up. So I had some amazing opportunities and while I didn’t finish college and I do stay home and take care of babies, I do know that the fact that I got to go to college was not only because my mother refused to let me believe that all I could ever amount to was a wife and mother, but because some great feminist women paved that road for me. They fought to be treated as equals.

And guess what, it worked! But the pendulum has swung too far. Here in America college classrooms are filled with more girls than boys. We are seeing more and more women in the boardroom running things. In my own work the majority of the people are women. We did it, we have the right to vote and we have the right to work or stay home. It’s very much accepted. And before you go telling me, but Monica there’s still a wage gap, we have to fix that. No, no there isn’t. Because the thing is if you look at what women do and what men do in a field it’s just not the same because at the end of the day we might be equal to men, but we’re not the same as men and our interests don’t lie in the same place as men do. So the work we might be doing in the same field as men is different. I made the choice to stay home. Truth be told I can and actually now do make more money than my husband. I wanted to be a stay at home mom all of these years, therefore making my husband the “bread winner”.

Boys And Girls Are Different

Men and women are different. It’s something that is so plainly obvious when you look at children. I am the mother of 4 children, 3 girls and 1 boy. My son is surrounded by girls and yet he’s absolutely nothing like us. He has been playing with Barbies and baby dolls since before he could talk or even walk for that matter. And he just plays with them different than his sisters. And from day one if you gave him the choice of a doll or a block, hands down he would pick the block. Cars and tools and mechanical stuff, that’s where it’s at for him. His sisters like cars, especially his little sister because she wants to be just like her big brother. They even like guns, but when it comes down to it if my girls had a choice between a doll and a matchbox car, they would choose the doll.

Not because I have forced these toys on them. I believe very much in there’s no such thing as “boy” toys and “girl” toys. Every child is going to have his/her preference, but it’s a fact, boys just gravitate more towards the building things and the mechanical things. Girls gravitate more towards the baby dolls and kitchen stuff. Does that mean they can’t or won’t ever play with the other more typical boy or girl toys for lack of a better term? No, of course not.

My youngest comes home with reports about what she did at school everyday. She’s 3 and in preschool. Almost everyday she has played in the kitchen. I ask her if she’ll try something else, one day she told me she’d go to the Lego station and she did. But when asked what she liked best, it was kitchen. She likes Legos. She likes them better with her brother I think.

Boys and girls are different. Men and women are different. This isn’t a bad thing, but we do need to recognize these differences and the place we need to most recognize these difference is in school.

I watched this brilliant video of a talk a woman by the name of Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers gave about the war against boys a few years ago at a law school event. I’ll share the video below so you can watch it too, and I really recommend you do because it was brilliant. Our sons are getting the shaft here people.

With all of these women’s action groups fighting about things we are now taking everything from our boys and giving it all to the girls. And it has become so bad that now we are seeing that more girls than boys are in the maths and science fields. And there’s a very large gap in achievement between boys and girls in reading and writing.

I see it with my own kids. My girls want to please the teacher, but my son he’s already losing interest. He’s 6 and in the 1st grade. And I can’t say that his teachers are failing him, because they most certainly are not. But society as a whole is failing my boy and every boy out there. There are more opportunities for girls. Classrooms are geared towards the girls. My son at 6 years old likes 3 things about school. Lunch, recess, and gym. I kid you not, on Wednesday and Thursday mornings I convince him to get up and get ready for school because it’s a gym day, the two days of the week he looks forward to at school.

I want him to stay interested and I am sure teachers are doing whatever they can within the curriculum to keep those boys interest and attention on task, but when the curriculum is geared towards girls, then there’s only so much one can do. There has to be balance. We can’t allow our boys to fall through the cracks because some feminists today think there’s still some war against women.

Equality

A man can’t put his hands on a woman because he’s stronger than her, but we’re equal. A man shouldn’t open a door for a woman because he’s stronger than her, but we’re equal. A man should provide for his family and pitch in with household chores, but we’re equal. How confusing is this for our sons?

And don’t get me wrong, no man should ever put his hands on a woman in anger, but no woman should put her hands on a man in anger either.

Men should open doors for women, not because women are weak, but out of respect and women should graciously accept this kind gesture and not assume that there is an implication of I’m better than you.

Men should provide for their children and help out, but that might mean women have to let go a little control and allow a man to do things his way without fear of being critiqued because it’s not the way we think it should be done.

Instead of assuming that every slightly negative thing that happens in a woman’s life is simply because she’s a woman, lets give boys and men the benefit of the doubt. They deserve an education just as much as girls do and they deserve to be treated with respect. We don’t need to train them to be like girls, we need to show them how to be gentlemen.

Lets understand that men and women, boys and girls are not the same and that’s okay. There are things women can do that men can’t and there are things men can do that women can’t.

The woman against feminism isn’t against the original premise of feminism, but we’re going to come full circle here at the rate we’re going. And that’s no better for us as a society.

I Want My Son…

…to grow up to be whatever he wants to be.

…to be a gentleman.

…to be loved and respected by a woman who sees value in everything he has to offer.

…to get an education.

…to be happy.

I want all of the same for my daughters. I hope they can get it.

Watch this video, then tell me do you think we are doing right by our boys?

Why Robin Williams, Why?

There is help, just ask!

There is help, just ask!

I am assuming most of my readers know about actor/comedian Robin Williams. Patch Adams, Goodwill Hunting, Jumanji, Mork and Mindy, Mrs. Doubtfire, just to name a few of his amazing works.  I first heard about it in the middle of working Monday night when my 15 year old said to me, “Robin Williams died, their saying suicide.”

I didn’t believe it.  I said, “No, that must be a rumor.”  But as the evening went on and more and more people were talking about it, I realized it’s true.  And now more information is coming out saying that he hung himself.  I’ve been having a very hard time wrapping my head around this.  I mean isn’t this almost like the ultimate in a good actor?  I keep seeing pictures of him and replaying lines I have heard and his infectious smile and laugh most certainly do not portray a man in such a deep depression that the only way out was suicide.  And of course, I only know him through the big screen.  I don’t know him.  Or rather I didn’t know him.

And still I think many people are just wondering, why?  What could anyone have done to save him from himself?  And then I begin to think about death.  I seem to be doing that more and more the older I get.  I am actually very terrified of dying.  Which of course always makes me that much more curious when I hear someone killed themselves.  How much in the pit of despair to do you have to be to end it all in that way?

I get that he was in a very bad place and I’m lucky to have never experienced such despair. But this was a man who you would think had access to all of the help in the world right at his fingertips.  One who spent his life making other people laugh. As a matter of fact I read some words from his children about this and his daughter said he lived to make others happy. He sure did a great job of it too.

So why couldn’t someone so funny and so loved by so many people find even one reason to keep going on? Is the negative stigma of mental illness so great that he couldn’t seek help?  Was he not even aware that he needed help?  Over the weekend I had gotten very sick (physically).  I was in the worst pain of my life (and remember, I have been in labor 5 times so that’s saying a lot).  I said I just wanted to die, but I knew that was the last thing I wanted.  Although, I suppose if no amount of pain medication could have taken that pain away, then I might have really meant it.  When do we cross that line from saying it, but not really meaning it to meaning it and actually acting on it?

Outwardly one would think Robin Williams had numerous reasons to live.  He had fame, he had fortune, and he had family who loved him.  And it wasn’t enough to save him.  He was sick.  He had an illness which couldn’t be pinpointed with a CAT scan and easily solved with medication.  So what hope is there?  I think that’s what gets me with suicide.  People call it selfish and I think they do because so many people are left without any answers and so many people feel like, but I loved you and I needed you in my life when someone takes that way out.  It’s probably a way to alleviate our own guilt in not being able to save someone.

In life Robin Williams was a great many thing to a great many people and in death he is too.  I hope it makes us all a little more aware of those around us, a little less judgmental of those who seek out help for mental illness, and a little more proactive in seeking help for those who make suicidal statements.  Because that’s what our takeaway should be from this tragic death, not what hope is there for the rest of us?

I hope Robin Williams’ family finds peace. And may Robin Williams rest in peace. Forever missed!

Na-Nu Na-Nu.

If you are experiencing severe depression, then use the number on the top of the post. There are people out there to help you and your life is worth living!

Happy International Lefty Day

photo credit: josephbergen via photopin cc

photo credit: josephbergen via photopin cc

I woke up this morning thinking it’s just another day, but I was quickly reminded thanks to Facebook that it’s International Left Handed day.  A whole day devoted to about 10% of the population.  A population which I am a part of.

I grew up as the only lefty in the house.  Neither of my parents are left handed and neither is my brother.  And it came with its challenges growing up.  And now that I’m out on my own and with 4 kids I am still the only lefty in my house.  That has brought upon some new challenges in my life.  You wouldn’t think one’s dominant hand would cause trouble, but it does, and lefties are keenly aware of this issue.  And any righty who lives with a lefty quickly learns some of these things too.  So let me share with my righty counterparts some of the struggles I have experienced as a lefty.  They’re just ways in my life I have had to work a little differently and sometimes a little longer to get something done for one reason or another.

How Being A Lefty Has Effected Me

  1. Learning to write was a struggle. Everyone who was teaching me was right handed and it took me longer to pick up on writing my letters.
  2. All you righties, do you remember those one or two pairs of green handled scissors in the scissor box at school?  Those were intended for lefties, not for you to brag that you got the different pair of scissors.  I cannot use scissors that are not meant for both hands.  I can’t switch them and use my right hand either, it still doesn’t work for me.  So while everyone else got their hand turkey cut out, I was left with nothing and many times a teacher who didn’t understand that with the right tools I could do it, but because someone else took the green handled scissors I couldn’t complete the task.
  3. Manual can openers are a puzzle.  It takes me 5 minutes to open one can with a traditional manual can opener because I have to talk my brain into how it’s done.
  4. When we write we are left with a permanent mark on the side of our hand from going over the paper.  It’s kind of our mark of solidarity.  Some lefties you might see contort themselves in such a way to try to avoid dragging their hand over the paper.  I tried that, it’s exhausting so I take the pen marks.  It’s also a constant battle of finding just the right pen which will leave the least amount of pen on the side of you hand.
  5. Teaching right handed children to write is even more frustrating than learning how.  I can’t tell you how many times I sat at the table with my right handed children showing them a letter, having them not do anything like I showed them, only to have my husband come along and show them exactly the same thing in the same way and have them do it without problem.
  6. I still have people stealing my scissors.  I have a specific pair of my favorite scissors for in the kitchen and for all other cutting things.  Someone is forever taking and using these scissors and not putting them back.  They are getting better about it because I have made it very clear that if my scissors are not where I can find them when I need them, heads will roll.  You can bring me any other pair of scissors in the house, if it’s not my scissors it does me no good because I still can’t use those other scissors.

I love being a lefty though and I love finding other people who share in this unique advantage.  I am always noticing other lefties and reminding them, that only lefties are in their right mind.  When I was bringing my oldest daughter on some college tours this summer another parent I realized was a lefty because he was pointing out to his daughter the lefty desks.  There were actually about five of those desks in that classroom, 5 desks which I guarantee you a righty would walk into the room and sit at just because it was different, not because he needed it to make his life easier.

I have adapted to this predominately right handed world the best way I can.  When learning computer the mouse was always on the right.  While I know I could move the mouse to the left now, I still use my right hand to operate the mouse.  I actually prefer the right handed desks in classrooms because most didn’t have a lefty desk anyway and I just got used to using the righty desk.

So happy international left handed day to my fellow lefties.  Do you know anyone who is a lefty?

Amazon Studios Brings Annedroids Into Your Home


Annedroids 2When I read about the program from Amazon studios known as Annedroids I knew it was something my six year old son would be interested in.  This sort of sci-fi drama all played out with kids, sounded right up his alley. Here’s a little snippet about the premise of the show:

Annedroids is a science based-action adventure series that follows eleven-old genius and kid-scientist Anne, who has invented and built her own amazing androids, and her friends and kid assistants Nick and Shania. Together the kid trio make amazing scientific discoveries while undertaking the biggest experiment of all: growing up.

So I was very excited to get the opportunity to actually watch this with my son. He seemed hesitant about it, but as soon as I put it on for him I would say he was hooked!

One of the Annedroids

One of the Annedroids

What My Son Thought Of Annedroids

I asked me six year old what he thought of Annedroids and he said, “I liked the robot, they were cool!” My son really enjoyed watching the six episodes we were given.  It kept his interest. He kept asking me if he could watch more Annedroids.  He liked how some of the other Annedroids helped the other Annedroid come alive. I’m pretty sure he wants to live in Anne’s lab now too. He thought all of her little inventions were really cool.

What Did I Think Of Annedroids

In all honesty this program did not hold my interest at all.  Not that it was supposed to hold my interest.  I found the acting to be poor though.  And personally I felt the girl who played Shania was particularly obnoxious.  Nick and Anne were okay characters though.  I did like the little scientific educational teachings they had in there though.  Like learning about what a hypothesis is and how to conduct an experiment and how the voltage from one lighting strike would give enough power to charge up one of the Annedroids when all of the batteries and electricity at their disposal would not. And of course I also liked that my son was enjoying it so much.  After all, that’s what really makes all kid’s programs tolerable, if the kids are enjoying it. I’ve watched more than my fair share of annoying programs over the years because it made the kids happy. Annedroids isn’t the absolute most obnoxious kid’s program I have been subjected to over the years.

All in all I think this is a great program for kids between the ages of 4 and 7 as it’s being advertised for. I’m not sure that older kids would be interested in it, but my 3 year old would have enjoyed it.  Parents will like it for their kids because it’s educational and kids like it because it’s cool, at least according to my son.  You should definitely check out Annedroids from Amazon studios with your kids though. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Adventures In Potty Training

potty trainingI’m coming out of my blogging hiatus to talk about potty training. What better time than in the midst of potty training my 4th and final child? She’ll love me for this some day I’m sure. Okay, honestly I’m not going into too much detail other than to say I think it’s safe to say that my baby is day time potty trained. And of all of my kids she was by far the easiest to potty train. You know those stories you hear of I put my child in underwear and that was it, we never looked back? Okay well it wasn’t quite that easy, day one was definitely filled with a lot of accidents, but by day two she was consistently using the potty. A week in there was just the occasional accident and now those seem to be a thing of the past.

So yes, I’m happy to say at this point in time, diapers are just a night time thing in this house, which I’ll take. And I assure you all that I have been through the gamut with my kids when it comes to potty training, so for those of you who are struggling all I can say is stay the course. It will happen eventually. It might be little comfort right now, but every child is different and will have different incentives that will work. So don’t give up, it will happen.

But today as I was running to the store to quickly pick up a few things and I had all 4 kids with me I got sucked into the bathroom tour. Those of you who have lived through potty training a child surely know what I’m talking about. You will make multiple trips to every public restroom in every store during every shopping trip. We walk into a store now and I say, “Okay, time for the bathroom tour.” I will take this bathroom tour over diapers any day though and I certainly would rather have her tell me she has to go than have an accident.

Making the mad dash through a store looking for the public restroom is a bit exhilarating. The amount of pride my daughter expresses when she successfully uses the potty is great. So I guess I’ll take the bathroom tour that comes along with the potty training.

Someday I’ll probably miss these moments, but sometimes I wish I could just go into a store with all of the kids to quickly pick up some garbage bags and not have to make a pit stop. And I know that’s on the horizon. Really no need to rush it. But I was thinking the bathroom tour might be an over looked nuisance of the whole potty training process.

There are some things we have found she does not like about public restrooms. She’s not crazy about the automatic flushing toilet. A bathroom that does not have paper towels for drying hands is a bit of a nightmare. Those hand dryers are loud, some are hot, and some blow the air too hard, but all of them are above my child’s head therefore she ends up blow drying her entire body. She hates them so we have become well versed in the hand shake to dry our hands. She definitely has her favorite bathrooms in town, our local Walmart being one because it has a sink that’s just her height.

But this is the wrap up of my potty training days I think. Perhaps I’ll be involved in potty training my grand kids some day, but I think for this most part this is the last time I will have to potty train. So I wanted to take some time to share some of my musings on the subject and ask you all, what have been your adventures in potty training? If you haven’t gone through it yet, what are you most worried about with potty training?

Happy Independence Day

Image courtesy of Free Digital photos and nixxphotography

Image courtesy of Free Digital photos and nixxphotography

Yes, it has been months since I’ve blogged.  And I will tell you, I’m not sure that I’m back just yet.  I’m in a blogging funk these days, but am also really swamped with work and the kids.  I hate that my blog is taking a back seat because it is very important to me, but every time I sit down to write out what I’m thinking I just can’t get it out the way I want.  Perhaps it’s too much writing for others.

But anyways, I do want to wish everyone of my fellow Americans a very happy Independence Day.  And I don’t care if you don’t want me to wish you a happy Independence Day or not because it’s not the anniversary of YOUR independence or even mine for that matter.  Quite frankly I am getting so sick and tired of all of this political correctness.  I miss the days of not being afraid of offending someone if I say Happy Independence Day, or Merry Christmas.

We’re so concerned with who we’re going to offend and pointing out our checkered history that now we seem to have so many people forgetting what being American is all about.  I have never set foot outside of America, but you know what, in spite of all of its flaws (past and current) I still wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.  We still have a certain amount of opportunity and respect as part of a democratic society that other people just don’t have.  Despite any feelings for or against our president that I might have I take pride in being an American.  And all of you who are so busy denouncing holidays like today better be proud you’re an American too because your lack of patriotism for your country would not be accepted in many other countries.

So Happy Independence Day one and all!  Whether you’re woman, whether you’re black, white, Native American, Mexican-American, or even Irish-American this day is for all of you, all of us.  Because we celebrate our independence which was afforded to us by first creating the declaration of independence which set forth the ideas and principles behind a fair and just government.  Isn’t it great that our founding fathers had the foresight to create a constitution that could grow and change with us?  That is brilliance right there!  And I for one am so grateful that they created the constitution in such a way that could be changed.  As imperfect as the system may currently be and perhaps was when it was started this is still a day we should all celebrate, even if in 1776 your ancestors didn’t get to partake in the same independence as our founding fathers did.  The signing of the Declaration of Independence was what our constitution was based off of which did afford every American citizen the independence they do enjoy today even if at times it might seem like we don’t.

So think about that while you’re busy taking offense to me saying Happy Independence Day to you!

Letter To My Mom On Mother’s Day

Note: adjusted letter slightly from its original to remove my daughter’s name.

Mother’s Day 2014

Mothers DayDear Mom,

As I was thinking about what to get you for Mother’s Day I was mulling over all of our time together. Those mornings when you were watching your soap operas and I would come out to ask, “What’s it like outside?” You would tell me and I’d linger watching those soap opera recordings with you for a few minutes before you would tell me it’s time to go get dressed.

Shopping for my prom dress together and shoes. Exercising together in the mornings while I was in high school. Calling you up to tell you that I passed my driver’s test and was now a certified licensed driver. My graduation. The day I waved goodbye to you all teary eyed for my first day of college. All of these things are such a part of who we are together, but I was trying to think about what my best day with you was.

It has got to be the day I became a mother and you became a grandmother. That day 15 years ago was one of the happiest days of my life. As cliché as it is of course because my child was born, but it’s really so much more than that. In that moment we shared something very special. I finally was able to understand just how much you have always loved me from the moment we met. And every day since then has just been a stronger affirmation that what you did for me all of my life has been nothing short of miraculous.

Sitting up with me night after night during colic. Late night feedings, teething, illnesses, potty training, homework, my crazy foolish not listening to you about sunscreen and getting 2nd degree sunburn (not once, but err, twice), friendship drama, dating, skinned knees, picky eating, stubborn know it all teenager stuff. You were there through it all guiding me and supporting me. I only hope I have been half as good as you in all of this for my own children. You made it all look so easy.

I know I don’t know all the times you sat up crying and praying for me and still do. I know that fierce protectiveness and love hasn’t just gone away because I’m an adult and have my own children. I imagine it’s probably even harder now because now you’re worried about me and your grandchildren.

But if I can look at one day in my past with you that makes me the happiest it definitely has to be the day my first born was born. It was the birth of both of us as mother and grandmother. A shift in our relationship which in that moment I think was for the better for us. Which has taken us full circle as mother and daughter.

You are with me every day. I think about what you taught me and what you did for me; and I’m hopefully teaching my children the same life lessons you taught me. And I worry every single day that I’m messing this all up for my children. Did you feel that way too? I’m sure you did, but you know what Mom? Whatever you did, you sure have made it pretty darn hard to live up to. And for that I am eternally grateful because I know I truly do have the world’s greatest mom in you!

I love you always and forever!

Happy Mother’s Day.

Love always,

Monica

Mother’s Day Expectations

Easter 2014As we approach Mother’s Day all of the mothers with children in the home are hoping for certain things.  Things like a day of rest and relaxation along with a few homemade gifts and cards.  My middle daughter keeps asking me what I want for Mother’s Day and I keep telling her for you all to behave and not fight with each other.  Not exactly the answer she has been looking for though.  As she says, she can’t control what the other kids do.

Over the years I have come to not expect too much.  Really it’s not about expectations and more about realizing how lucky I am anyways.  Even if I still have to work, cook, clean, change diapers, and yes, even if all the kids do is bicker with each other all day long I am really lucky to have them.

And isn’t that really what Mother’s Day is all about?  Not the pampering and the day off or even one day of peace and quiet.  It’s about being grateful.  And why does that mean I should be anything but grateful as well for whatever the kids throw at me that day?

I’m looking forward to my school made gifts and other handmade with love treats.  I am looking forward to spending an evening out with my husband and children.  I do hope they behave, but I hope for that every day.  But if they don’t you know what?  We’re all only human and I can’t stay mad at them.  I don’t have many more Mother’s Days with all of my children here at home and I don’t want to waste it being bitter.  I want it to be worthwhile and memorable.

So instead of a list of materialistic or unattainable wants this year I plan on spending the day being grateful that I get to mother four of the most amazing, smart, beautiful, funny, and unique children I know.  And I’m grateful to my own mother for being there for me and helping to teach me that motherhood is about being selfless and going without so your kids can have more.  That’s all I need for Mother’s Day and I’m pretty sure I’ll be having the best Mother’s Day in my 15 years of being a mother.

What expectations of Mother’s Day are you throwing out the window this year?

Tips For Surviving Planning And Placement Team (PPT) Meetings

PPT

Image courtesy of Supertrooper / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tis the season for PPT’s (Planning and Placement Team) and creating student’s IEP’s (Individual Education Plans) for next year.  I currently have 3 children with IEP’s.  And while I am far from an expert on the entire process and each of my children’s IEP’s are for minor reasons and mostly one area of struggling where they need extra support in, I do know the whole PPT meeting can be very stressful.  Especially when school and parents don’t see eye to eye on what’s best for the child.

I just went to my middle daughter’s PPT meeting.  All went well, they did make some changes, but they were ones I did agree would be helpful in her making steps towards growing.  It hasn’t always been this simple with our meetings for her though.

Over the years I have learned some things that make things go more smoothly.  Mostly it’s going to come down to a parent’s attitude.  If you walk into those meetings ready to fight, then it’s not going to go so well.  Now, you shouldn’t be a push over.  If there’s anything you disagree with you have every right to simply say I need some time to think about this and discuss it with other people.  You don’t have to sign something just because they tell you this is what’s best.  The operative word in PPT is the T for team.  You are a very important part of the team, but you are not the only part.  You have to take into consideration the recommendations of some of the experts around you, but you also need to make yourself heard as a team member, but you can’t do that if you have proven to be unreasonable.  So here are some tips to help win over the team of educators and to help you feel less like it’s them against you.

How To Have A Successful PPT

  1. Bring treats. Bake up some muffins or cookies or bring some fresh fruit to share with the team.  They have likely been sitting in a conference room for meeting after meeting and would likely welcome a sweet treat.
  2. Don’t go alone.  If you feel that your emotions might get the better of you (completely understandable), then have an advocate with you.  There are specific advocates who are well versed in the laws, but it doesn’t have to be a professional.  It could be your spouse or a friend who has been through it before, but if you are concerned about rights violations, then it might behoove you to seek out a professional advocate.
  3. Get on the same page with whoever you bring with you.  If you think you might lose your cool in the meeting, then make sure your partner is ready to step in because the last thing you want to do is make anyone think you are not listening.
  4. Avoid publicly speaking about any gripes you have with the school.  Facebook, twitter, your blog, you don’t want to put something out there that the school can find and bring into the meeting to say you’re adversarial and are not interested in what’s best for your child.  And you’re just interested in attacking the school.  As stressful as things might be and as much as you feel you have to gripe or you need to get this out to help others going through the same thing in the long run it’s just not going to be helpful for your child.  If you need to gripe do it in private with your spouse or a trusted friend.  Trust me on this, it’s really hard to come back from something like that.
  5. Don’t make threats.  Again, you are a team, supposed to be working together for your child.  Making threats towards the other members of the team is counterproductive.  If laws are being violated consult a lawyer, but don’t threaten the team with lawsuits unless you know you are prepared to follow through with one.  At that point communication would be coming from your attorney anyway.

You need to do everything you possibly can to not be adversarial in these meetings.  You need to be a strong advocate for your child, but part of advocacy is listening.  So be a good advocate for your child and keep your feelings in check when discussing your wants and needs for your child.  Once those communication barriers have been broken it’s really hard to build them back up.

How do you make it through PPT’s?