Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Knitting at Holidays

As opposed to Holiday Knitting, of course--I'm knitting a hat for G's aftercare teacher and that is IT this year.

No, knitting at holidays. We're going up to my sister's this Thanksgiving, and I have to plan out what to take and work on. I hope to have my orange sweater done (holy cow did you realize it's NEXT WEEK? Good thing all I have to do is finish the V-neck, 3-needl3-bindoff the front to the back, sew the sleeves in, and sew the underarm/side seams!), so I'll bring that.

I also want to bring the grey FI sweater for my mom. I decided not to make it as a gift or even as a surprise. I want her to be involved, and to be able to say, after I do the waistband, 'Oh, that pattern doesn't appeal to me' so I can just rip back 4 rows and start over. It's also in a bulky yarn, so it should go quite quickly. It being a pullover (no steeks, no buttonbands, no buttonholds, no buttons) helps, too.

I also want to finish and bring (or vice versa) the FI tea cozy I've started. It is huge (as most folks found the pattern to be), but I'm hoping it'll felt right down to a good size. Or maybe she has a really big teapot.

Beyond that? Oh, I'm absolutely itching to start something new. (Whoah, big surprise, eh?) I'd love to start my Philosopher's Wool sweater, but I need to do more thinking on shape on that one. I was going to give it waist shaping, but then I realized that lots of folks in colder areas than this find their sweaters too hot to wear most places. This is due mostly to their method of weaving in the floats on every stitch. I could skip that, but I'm afraid that doing too much shaping will still cause it to have too much insulating properties. Also, I've heard the yarn changes after you wash it, so bummer! that I've already wound several colors into a ball, as now I have to re-skein it to prepare it for a bit of a bath.

In other fiber news, my beginning spinning class met for the first time last Sunday. It was great. I learned the long draw, over the fold. It is so much easier to learn this stuff firsthand than from a book or website. And so gratifying when you finally get. it. I had been worried that I would be too advanced for the class, having learned once (ha!) and spun off and on for over a year. The great news was that everyone else had at least spun on a spindle, so the learning curve was much easier all around. Yay! The teacher gave us Blue-faced Leicester to spin, which I'd been given a hank of before and found it harder than hell to spin (6" staple!), but spinning over the fold makes that long staple a benefit rather than a struggle. Our "homework" is to spin the rest of the 4 oz she had given us. Whee, homework that is fun!

Speaking of school, I went in on Monday and taught 10 third-graders, including my son, how to dye wool. The teacher allowed G to pick 9 others to dye with, and he chose all the boys! Agh, the pandemonium at times. But no one died or was strangled with wool, and they all seemed pleased with the colors going into the steamer. G said they rinsed and hung them yesterday and his was a very bright orange (should be, he used up almost all the orange dye liquid!). I had brought some backup Kool-aid packets, and mixed up second amounts of all colors, but they all got theirs dyed in the end, barely before the bell rang. Friday, the girls. We'll see how different. Wish I could find more colors of Kool-aid; the two huge stores in our city each have the same 5 flavors (including our behemoth $afe way).

Next, we'll knit!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I'm having a tough day

I just cried in the office's shower. Life is kicking me in the ass and the head today.

This morning was G's IEP meeting. Partway through, I thought, "I'm going to be sad after this," because I had that feeling coming over me. I realized that it wasn't so much the content of the meeting (more on that in a sec), but like the first meeting, it is just hard to sit there and talk for nearly an hour about my son's shortcomings. I have to be firm and strident about them if I want him to get help, which is a bit change from being upbeat and optimistic way I usually approach them.

And yes, I was sad afterward. What added to that was that he doesn't have an IEP, and won't for the foreseeable future. Ironically, he improved so much over the summer that the aggressive and unsocial behavior we saw so clearly last Spring is nearly gone--so much so that he doesn't qualify for help under Special Ed.

Bittersweet, eh?

My kid is doing so well overall that the help I wanted for his remaining social-skills challenges is just not going to happen, at least not through the school. They ever so earnestly encouraged me to turn back to Kaiser for the social-skills group they have there. And here's another kick in the gut: that group meets 3:30-5:30 on Mondays. Ah. "What do parents do who work?" I asked. "Um, they leave early from work," she replied. Nice. That's 3 hours of every week I'd have to make up in some way. Thanks for the non-support, Kaiser.

I inquired further, and Kaiser does offer a support group for kids with Asperger's Syndrome on Tuesdays from 5:30-7:30 (and as I write this, I'm wondering when those kids get to eat)... and that completely conflicts with G's martial arts. Well, he's been wanting to quit soon anyhow. Wish granted! Crud.

The IEP meeting ended with just me and the school psychologist, who had me in tears with a story of a boy who's now in college and "still has his quirks" (ah, thanks for that) but had challenges like G and got a lot better. The mother had said, "How can I send him out in the world? Who will love him like I love him?"


Her report was littered with phrases that, to me, highlighted his ongoing social-skills deficits: "little eye contact," "wouldn't walk with me in the hallway, but walked in front of me," "scowled when I came to pick him up for the testing," and the like. I was asked in the meeting what my concerns were. I'd thought about this ahead of time, and said that my concerns hadn't changed from the first meeting--I wanted him to have help/support with his social skills and some sort of special treatment in the case of expulsionable or suspensionable behavior. I was offered a 504 plan, which is the ugly stepsister of the IEP, but it's all I'll get.

And more bittersweetness: I should be happy he doesn't qualify for an IEP. The criteria for qualifying for an IEP under autism are pretty extreme:

(g) A pupil exhibits any combination of the following autistic-like behaviors, to include but not limited to:

(1) An inability to use oral language for appropriate communication.

(2) A history of extreme withdrawal or relating to people inappropriately and continued impairment in social interaction from infancy through early childhood.

(3) An obsession to maintain sameness.

(4) Extreme preoccupation with objects or inappropriate use of objects or both.

(5) Extreme resistance to controls.

(6) Displays peculiar motoric mannerisms and motility patterns.

(7) Self-stimulating, ritualistic behavior.

See? Bittersweet.

So I wandered out, teary and spent. Carted away the yogurts and pastries I'd picked up (I'd brought croissants and some other things to the first meeting, too, as it's a 7:30AM meeting and I do appreciate these folks taking time out of their days to get this done--and yes, I know it's their job, but 7:30am!!).

On the way back home to drop off my hockey gear that I'd been too lazy to unload the night before, I went past my polling place. (I already voted by absentee ballot.) But I was so, SO pleased to see five people on the sidewalks with signs saying "No on 8." I honked, did the thumbs up, honked again... and then did a U-turn at the next light, going back and double-parking so I could run across the street and give them the rest of the pastries from the meeting. They were so appreciative and I was babbling about how important it was to have this presence and got all teary (affected, I'm sure, by the morning's events) and they both gave me hugs! The guy was all smiles especially. Bless them and their hard work.

Back at work, I couldn't concentrate much. Futzed around with little things until it was time to change for swim class. Went to swim class with zero energy and sore muscles from last night's stick time. By the time we were done with some serious warm-ups, my shoulder, which had been sore and tight, was completely fine. Then the teacher drops the bomb: we're swimming the mile today. Well, I knew I wouldn't be able to finish in less than the full 50-minute class time, but that still meant swimming nonstop till we got to the end, with the teacher recording how far we did get (48 laps, maybe 1250 yds for me; she counts 66 laps as a mile). I was feeling so proud of my accomplishment as I got out of the pool and just barely heard the beginning-swimming teacher say, "Now, what's going on here?" and as I turned my head, the lifeguard dove in and brought up an unconscious girl. (The beginning swimming class works out in their 3' pool most of the time and moves over to the big pool, shallowest depth 6', later in the semester. Today was that day.)

One of our classmates was sent to the blue Emergency calling box to call 911 and we waited anxiously until the girl threw up and started breathing. I dressed slowly, hoping to wait until the ambulance arrived before leaving so that it would feel "OK." By the time I left, easily 10 minutes later, the ambulance still hadn't arrived. The campus security guard/cop was really fairly useless. He got the lock off of the big gate so the ambulance could get in, but gave up on opening the gate almost immediately ("It's rusted"). My teacher strode over and, with the help of a P.E. coach standing outside the gate, got the gate open with a little extra muscle.

While I was driving out of the lot, I saw an ambulance take the exit off of 880. If that was destined for Laney, wow. It probably took all of 15 minutes or more to get there. That's pretty scary.

Seeing that girl being brought out of the water unconscious made me feel like all my values are screwy, you know? I was so proud of doing better than 2/3 of a mile... while she was potentially losing her life.

I cried in the car at a stoplight on the way back, feeling emotionally ground under a heel. Then, as I drove into Alameda, spotted a "Yes on 8" sign (the first I've seen in Alameda), and then another, with a guy setting them up. Honked angrily and gave him the thumbs down. I couldn't get my window down in time to yell. Ugh.

After my shower, I found the Alameda Police non-emergency number and reported the signs being put up on public property. There were other signs for causes I support, but I'd rather see them all come down than tolerate one Yes on H8 sign. Families first, my ass.