Monthly Archives: January 2014

How to get the best IEP (part one)

When do you need an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan)?downsyndrome girl

You should have an IEP when you first realize your child has problems, most schools will not give your child one until he/she has been evaluated by a professional. In most cases your child will not have obvious diagnoses such as Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy etc. so the first thing you need to do is get a diagnosis by a psychologist either a private one or the school psychologist.

What do I put into my child’s IEP?

Make a list of the everyday things your child has difficulty with such as organizing, following directions, holding a pencil the proper way, tying shoes, listening, reading etc.

Anything that can be used to help him reach his educational goals can be put into an IEP. An example would be that the student “will write his assignments accurately into his notebook each day and put the due date on his calendar”. Another example might be that the student “will be able to choose between two activities successfully”.

These IEP goals are put into the plan to enable them to work more effectively in the classroom. Each goal should have percentages of improvement written into them to allow for 100% completion within a year’s time. It would look something like this:

“will be able to choose between two activities successfully”. A success rate of 25% or 1 out of 4 will be completed by the end of the first grading period, 50% OR 2 out of 4 completed by the end of the second grading period, 75% or 3 out of 4 completed by the end of the third grading period and a rate of 100% or 4 out of 4 by the end of the final grading period.

How to get an IEP from the teacher?

If your child has not yet gotten an IEP you may need to write the teacher, I also write the Special Education Department and the principal of the school. Write the date at the top of the page and write the name and title of the persons you are addressing at the top left hand of the page. The body should state what you are asking. You will want to say who you are, who your child is and what the diagnosis is. Let them know he’s been diagnosed by a local doctor and give the name.

Next let them know what kinds of things you would like written in such as goals for making choices, interacting with other children, learning social skills, reading, organizing etc. Choose about two or three you see as challenges for your child. Don’t worry about writing goals, this will be done by the teacher by the date of the IEP.

Know your state laws. There is a time limit when an IEP needs to be scheduled and finished and you should write this on your calendar for referral. If the school has not responded in a timely manner, you may want to write another note letting them know they are running out of time. You may need to remind them that you are aware of the time frame.

I would suggest not going into an IEP meeting alone. Take your spouse, a good friend or anyone who knows your child well and can help buffer what may end up being a tense relationship while trying to make sure your child gets his needs taken care of.

I don’t want to confer that IEP’s are difficult to get, but sometimes depending on the circumstances and schools etc, they can be a bit hard to navigate through when you have the best interest of your child at heart.

Blessings to all and I wish you well in your future meetings!fish


An Uncommon Day

down syndromeIt started out with my son ‘beating’ another child with his Styrofoam kick

board in the school’s swimming pool. His teacher called me.  My mind could not get around the fact that my normally docile son would do such an aggressive act to one of his friends. From the viewers’ perspectives nothing had instigated this action. Yes he’s on the spectrum for autism but we had never seen any violence. I teased the teacher asking her if she wasn’t confusing my son with a much less obedient child (I wished!).

I decided to look up the medicines he was on for his recent bronchitis bout and soon realized after not a whole lot of research, that these were not good meds for high functioning children on the spectrum. Obviously not for my son either, since they caused aggressive behavior and anger as side effects in autistic children.  I took him off all his meds and back to the doctor who ordered an x-ray. The results came back showing his bronchitis had not cleared up as we’d thought, which could be one reason for his less than stellar behavior.

Just a reminder for all parents out there…don’t blame the teachers out there for behaviors your child may be exhibiting, but ALSO don’t blame your child–necessarily.

There are so many reasons a child could be behaving badly, allergies, high percentages of metals in their bodies, undiagnosed problems such as autism spectrum disorder or many other reasons. If poor behaviors continue don’t be timid about taking your child to a specialist for testing. Your school or your physician can help you find someone to test for problems. No matter what the outcome, you will never regret doing all you can for your child.

Signs to watch for:

Inattentiveness at home/school

How does your child react when asked to do something that is challenging?

Aggressive behavior (or unengaged behavior—this may not seem like a problem but it can be a symptom of underlying causes)

Unsubstantiated anger


Lack of social skills e.g. playing with other children or engaging in family or social activities.

What to do if you suspect a problem:

First take your child to his primary doctor for these symptoms and have him/her refer you to another such as a psychologist for testing. Many schools also offer this as a free service for students who have the potential to educational problems. They may not offer this service without you asking for it.

Listen to your heart. If your child’s physician disagrees that there may be a problem, push for a referral anyway. If he refuses, go to the school’s special education department for testing.

Don’t give up! Look at special education sites online for places to go for help. There are places that help you interpret the laws in your state, in South Bend, Insource is a great resource for parents who need help with this. They will even accompany parents to IEP meetings to help you navigate through the meetings and help you negotiate to get what your child needs. Next time we will talk about when to get an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) set up for your child. Any questions can be sent to me by email and I will try to get to it in an efficient manner.

Hope this helps some of you who are going through difficult times with your child’s education. Until next time, blessings!fish


Not Just Girlfriends—Godly friends

girlfriendsIs there anything better in this world than girlfriends? The true meaning of the word ‘girlfriend’ to me means a true friend who knows me and still answers the phone when she sees my number in her caller ID, lol. Okay there are much better definitions of friends and we find those in God and who He is.

God has blessed me with many wonderful, Godly friends and I today I want to pay tribute to them for putting up with me and reminding me of who God is as I see His reflection in they’re lives.

Yesterday one of my friends mentioned to me that she’s noticed I’ve lost weight. I was surprised since I’d only been dieting for four days! I DO like Judy a lot though for many reasons, only one of those reasons is that she tends to flatter me, who doesn’t like to hear that?! Judy is cheerful, welcoming and has a very sweet personality. She reminds me of God. He knows all my faults but sees me as sinless because of His redeeming love. He doesn’t care that I over eat or that I hate exercising. He doesn’t care that I sometimes forget about all the blessings he sends my way or that I don’t always hear what he wants me to do. He looks beyond those things and sees my heart which is clean and white as snow (1 John 1:7-9) because of what He’s done for us.

Another friend I have is Jana, she is a friend who can make me laugh. She is also cheerful and is always looking for ways she can help. When I saw Jana yesterday, she noticed I hadn’t put my new tag on my car’s license plate. Not wanting me to get into trouble, she asked where it was so she could put it on my plate. Jana relates to me how God puts His mark on us, (Ephesians 4:30) so that we will be seen as His on the day of His coming. Jana always believes the best in everyone. She refuses to believe that everyone does not have at least one good quality and she will always find that one good quality in me (and everyone else).

My last friend I will tell you about is Pat. She is a friend who will always have good things to say about you, even if you’re not there in person, lol. She has integrity and will always do what is right. Pat shows me that God is faithful and true. He doesn’t say one thing and do another, He is believable (Deuteronomy 7:9)If Pat promises to do something she will do that one thing no matter what. She is a great friend to have.

As I mentioned earlier, I have started a diet (yes again!). My birthday is coming up soon and Pat wanted to bring over a dinner to celebrate. She and Jana who is assisting with this meal, are cheerfully accommodating my dietary needs. Now that is a good friend__ eating what YOU eat while on YOUR diet!

Each of my friends has special abilities that I enjoy within our relationships. One helps me see the humor in life, another helps me see the need for evaluating my direction in life, they all accept me for who I am and who’s I am. There is nothing better than this.  As I end my blog today I pray that God will be reflected to each of you in a meaningful way this week.



Build a Heart

IMG_20140111_104256This weekend Brody and I traveled to “Build a Bear”,  in case you’re not familiar with the store, you can choose a character, stuff it, put sounds inside it, even get a beating heart for it. After all that,  you stuff it and clothe it and ‘gear it up’. This was a Christmas gift to him and he announced to me on the way over__as if I didn’t already know this that he was “excited” to be going.  Of course one of the people giving him this gift was going along and she is one of his very favorite people.

As we entered the store I was relating it to how God has molded and made each of us.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)

He was there in the beginning, putting our bodies and spirits together, knowing who we were before we were known to ANYONE else. How miraculous is that?! He paired my attached 5th and 21st chromosomes to Brody’s chromosomes to give him that extra 21st chromosome. He knew how precious he would be, how endearing he would become to so many people. He is an amazing child and God has given him equally amazing people to fill in the emptiness of no longer having a father.  We are truly blessed.

The first moment Brody saw ‘Moose’  he grabbed and hugged him even without his stuffing, just I’m sure as God does with us without our ‘stuffing’. I watched him place the heart in his dog “Moose”, added the stuffing__deciding just how much would be the best for hugs. I remembered how his tiny beating heart attached around mine as I carried him, not knowing the whole story. I watched him bath ‘Moose’ and brush him as a mother would a child.

It amazed me once again at how much detail God puts into our lives, every detail is thought of.  Brody’s extra chromosome was planned out from even before my birth when the mutation occurred that would cause his trans-location. Wow! What a wonderful, thoughtful and loving God we have. Brody’s anticipation of his companion reminded me of God’s anticipation of our hearts longing for Him and finally coming home to His open arms as we make our decision to follow Him. I pray my awe of God’s wonderful details will never get lost in my life. I will leave you with some pics of Brody’s event this weekend. Blessings to each of you, may you each feel the awesomeness of God’s details in your lives yourselves this


Brushing his hair after the shower

Brushing his hair after the shower


Those aren't wings, they're just our coats resting on his chair. Doesn't he look happy?

Those aren’t wings, they’re just our coats resting on his chair. Doesn’t he look happy?



Questions To Ponder During Our Artic Blast

arctic blastThis week in Indiana our weather decided to hold us all pretty much hostage in our homes, unless we were lucky/unlucky enough to go to work each day anyway. I was not that lucky nor was I wanting to see how blessed I am by wandering out in this insanely cold weather. But it did give me a sense to ponder and here are the things I pondered:

  • If confusion is a symptom of hypothermia (as they said on the news) then I must be hypothermic on a fairly regular basis…
  • Why is it so much fun opening my front door to throw boiling water outside when it’s so ‘subarctic’ out there?
  • Has anyone seen the global warming guys that used to spout about all the bad effects of warm climates? (They must have frozen to death arguing about it this week)!
  • Will my bathroom faucet trickle to the tune of several hundred dollars this year just to keep my pipes intact? Or are we subsidized for the ‘subarctic’ weather as we are in the summer when we water our lawns? (I know…just dreaming…)
  • Does it really feel THAT different at nine below than at -20? Or could you feel it at all by then??!
  • Our county has declared a state of emergency. Judging from the traffic on the streets…there was  an unprecedented amount of emergencies in our city on Monday…hmmm

Well that’s all I


Impress Your Kids, Show Off Your Science Humor…

boiling waterAs you’ve probably guessed from my last post, the weather in this part of the world was and is currently  still very—and I cannot stress this enough—COLD! I have my ceramic heaters aimed at my pipes who are nestled among my outside walls and helping to heat up our living areas. I’ve put up bubble wrap on my windows and closed my insulated blinds and insulated curtains AND I AM STILL CHILLED to the bone, Lol.  Over 12” of snow and -9 at present…I may need to warm up with some chicken soup or hot chocolate, mmmm.

Cool thing: I was surfing the news articles and of course came across a totally useless science experiment—unless of course it is -9 outside!  Well I just had to try this so we did. No pics since I didn’t think it would be too safe to hold onto the boiling water AND take a pic with the other hand, lol. But it worked! Yea. I called my son to the door to watch, he was impressed with Mom’s skills, ha!

Yes, I might be a bit shy of all my marbles, but it was something to do that was educational, fun and free. Also in the quest to do something that we can’t do any other day of the year…I proved to be quite a savvy mom. My son was impressed…for a few minutes…


12 Reasons I LIKE Snow Days

snowdayI know, most of you reading this will probably think there is something truly wrong with someone who thinks this way. You’d feel justified, no doubt, if you knew there are actually more, lol. These are the top of my list.  While I will not argue that there MAYBE something seriously ‘wrong’ with me, I am not convinced that THIS is ‘what’s wrong’ with me.  I get excited when I hear the words “snow storm”, lol. What better time to call your boss and say “I can’t make it in today”, not that this an ideal situation but isn’t it better than fretting about your situation? Here are some reasons I like ‘snow days’:

  • What a great time to catch up on your smaller projects like making Christmas ornaments
  • Calling friends who live far away
  • Read that book you’ve been wanting to read
  • Pull out the yarn you bought for Aunt Susie’s scarf and knit away!
  • Put the bubble wrap on your large windows before the sub-zero temps come your way
  • Watch your favorite movies or find a new favorite movie on Netflix
  • Play games with your kids
  • Clean out your closet and fill that Goodwill bag, then hang near your door so you don’t forget it
  • Have the kids go through their toys for Goodwill
  • Pop some corn and make hot chocolate to stay warm and cozy
  • Use some of those old clothes to make doll clothes for the kiddies
  • Start a blog!

Did this help make you a believer in snow days? Hope


Pressed Down and Shaken Together


Image via: Stylish Eve

Our lives seemed to be flying right before our eyes and the days before Christmas just seemed to all blur together.  I had projects started for gifts but realized I was very short of time and energy to get them all finished.  Usually my gifts are all purchased and/or made by Thanksgiving at the latest. Not this year. It wasn’t really that I was putting the projects off or that I didn’t have the materials either, but by the week before Christmas I had already ascertained that it was not humanly possible to finish everything on my list.

Part of my failure was the fact that we had soooo many Christmas celebrations with family and friends before the holidays, but mostly it was the health crisis that hit our household quickly and with a fury. After Brody just was not getting over his bout of bronchitis, his doctor ordered a set of x-rays. Within hours his office had the results and ordered another round of antibiotics along with another x-ray of his right arm. The radiologist saw a ‘lesion’ near his right shoulder. We soon found out it was a tumor inside his bone.

After many tests we were told we needed to travel to Indianapolis IU Med Center for a visit with an orthopedic oncologist, the words vibrated in my mind. I felt my head explode along with my heart. No parent wants to ever hear those words. My mind went to the handicap Brody already had, was God going to allow another one, maybe one he would never recover from? As we walked through the doors of the oncology unit I wondered if this was going to be our lives from now on…

Well God answered so many prayers that were offered on Brody’s behalf and I heard the doctor saying it was a benign tumor and he would not need any more tests or follow-ups. His arm would be as strong as his other one with no significant difference…and life was once again good!

It’s funny how we can go through life feeling like things are going the usual way and then suddenly we are thrown into an abyss. Our bodies and minds go round and round until we lose track of what is right-side-up. In this abyss we are faced with the possibility of loss so great it shakes our foundation. We realize just how much we’ve actually taken for granted. It is in that moment that God is foremost in our minds and we cry out in pain and surprise that He would actually allow this, not realizing how many opportunities we have lost by actually being bored in our lives.

Yes I said it! BORED. I was to the point of boredom in my life and now because I’d let many opportunities pass by, I become angry at God or at the very least ‘surprised’ that He would allow something this bad to happen.

The moment I heard the doctor’s words I lowered my head and tears came. I was so ashamed that this wonderful child He had brought into our lives was pushed aside for my own needs and yes, even wants. I was remorseful and asked for forgiveness, promising to make good on my bargaining with God while in the abyss. I don’t know how or when I started taking our lives for granted, maybe it was when I was working so many over-time hours or maybe when I was going through my divorce. Maybe it just crept into my soul because I gave so many opportunities away when I could have spent time with my son.

Does every parent go through this remorsefulness during their lifetime or is it just the way I am created? Or have I just become so warped that this is the consequence of my shallow life? I’d like to think that God had blessed me with so much and that I was so busy doing His will that I just never used the time in what seemed like routines. The truth is I wasn’t too busy doing God’s work, I was busy enjoying all my blessings instead of passing them on and teaching my son to do so, to show him how important it is to tell others of His goodness and mercy. Instead I was acting like a spoiled child expecting those blessings to just keep coming because of who I thought I was instead of where I was with God.

I won’t be as despicable as to say this was God’s punishment for me, but I do believe it was my ‘wake-up call’. It was as if He said to me “Susan, I want you to stop allowing all these opportunities to pass you by. If you don’t start seeing the opportunities I send you, you will miss the blessings they reveal.” Wow! I had never thought of it that way. By basking in all my blessings I was missing so many more. No wonder I was bored, this was not the life God intended me to live. It was not the life I wanted to live either.

38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”  Luke 6:38

English Standard Version (ESV)

When I read this scripture it reminds me of what I lost in my life. I was not ‘pressing down’ my blessings to make room for more, nor was I ‘shaking it together’ or mingling with others to pass on His blessings and in the manner receiving more blessings in my life.  May you be blessed this week with so much from God that you will keep busy passing them


Things To ‘Pay Your Blessings Forward’ in 2014

  • be the changeFollow your church’s social network. Find someone with a need you can provide, it doesn’t need to be new, just in good condition.
  • Advertise to bless someone in need with an item you no longer want or need.
  • Give garden cuttings to neighbors or friends for their gardens, it will save them some money.
  • Offer to do a job for someone. Show off your talents, wallpaper someone’s wall, paint their front door or clean their carpet with your carpet machine.
  • Make dinner for a busy family or offer to tend their garden for the summer.
  • Take some fresh fruit or veggies to a family in need or give them to a food pantry.
  • Make 5 minute artisan bread for the soup kitchen.
  • Volunteer in a child’s classroom.
  • Knit chemo hats for the local Cancer Center.
  • Make Cuddle scarves for needy kids at a local school.
  • Sort through your child’s toys and give the better ones to a homeless shelter nearby.
  • Give another child a book. Take your child’s out-grown books to a Better World Books bin and recycle.
  • Sort through your clothes and bag up for a charity (don’t forget to count it as a donation when you do your taxes).
  • Volunteer in the local soup kitchen or food pantry.
  • Take cut flowers from your garden to nursing home patients, buy vases at Goodwill or garage sales or use old bottles.
  • Make lavender sachets or heating packs to give to the women’s shelters.
  • Make some Christmas ornaments for a homeless shelter.
  • Work alongside a charity clothing store to provide ‘new clothes’ for children at the Women’s shelter, take Christmas pictures of the children for their mothers’ Christmas gifts. Find some simple frames and print out 4×6’s for the gifts. Make sure you have some wrapping paper for the children to wrap them nicely.
  • Use your family’s old clothing to make doll clothing for less fortunate children. If you can find a gently used doll or buy a new doll if you can. Wrap in a box and take to the child for a birthday gift or a Christmas gift.
  • Cheer up a sick friend. Take a cute mug, add a couple packages of chicken cup-a-soup, add a few packages or crackers; place into a small basket along with a fresh bouquet of cut flowers and a Get-Well card.
  • Take an old chair and spray paint it a bright color. Set it in a neighbor’s garden with a cheerful pot of flowers on the

Ten Things I’ve Learned in 2013 (or before)

new yearsFriends who understand the importance of being friends are rare. Last night as we were getting ready to celebrate the New Year, a friend called from a neighboring city saying she had been in an accident and could not make it to our party. Everyone had already arrived and we were ready to party! I looked at a friend near me and said I’m going to bring her back. I did not care that she would not feel like coming to our party, I only wanted to know that she would be safe and arrive where ever she needed to be to feel safe. My friend began nodding her head and we got our heavy gear on to trudge out into the snow filled streets to find our mutual friend.

Friends who enjoy being with us and blessings. Last night we had our annual New Year’s Party…a bit of snack foods, a bit of games and a bit of gifts. We had so much fun we totally ran out of time to do many games! Lol. We all had so much fun telling stories, laughing with each other and sharing our lives. Everyone should have at least one friend enjoy our humanness.

Sometimes ‘exclusive clubs’ can be fun. There are only a few ‘restrictions’ to our party. One is that you must be ‘unattached’—divorced, widowed, single or just need a night out alone away from your man; This way we can discuss ANYTHING and not be embarrassed. The stories of figure enhancing bras that whose saline filled pads were found in the garden mulch after a rather long conversation with the postman while gardening, is only one of the stories we amused ourselves with during the night.

Friends who embrace your frugal-self are kindred spirits and rare: treat them as such.  Garage sales are always more fun with a few friends…especially when you all agree on what has potential. White elephant gifts are WAY MORE fun to open and saving a little money on a project is usually more fun than handing out hard-earned money on something with less personality. The only thing you need to remember is that friendship is more important than taking home all the goodies, and often is enhanced when you share your new acquisitions with your friends especially if it’s from Bath and Body Works!

Covered porches are one of the best inventions in housing. I love sitting in my swing reading on my back porch. The experience is enhanced by the fact that I am sheltered from the heat of the sun. It also encourages friends to come by in the summer since they know they can enjoy being outside without the bad effects of the sun. I have an oversized swing which seats three adults. I also keep two large patio chairs at the other end which can be moved to allow for even more seating. Good times and cool drinks are free!

Gardening is fun but don’t over-do it–the summer’s too short.  I love my gardens! I also enjoy gardening but after July it becomes difficult to do much without my asthma complaining. I have learned to give back some of my gardens to my yard as a compromise. This way I can have more time and energy for entertaining my friends, enjoying my flowers that I still have, and just sitting in my garden with my iced tea! Life is too short…

Cuddle scarves. Easy and soooo warm! Just 1/3 yd of cuddle fleece and two seams does it. This is THE BEST scarf EVER.  Make them for every woman you know, every woman you like, even ones you don’t particularly enjoy…you will be loved by all, lol…Honestly!

You can never have enough shelves.  Don’t be afraid to add shelves to your closets and pantries for more organized storage, unless you can afford to hire professional closet organizers while building or moving, you will likely need more shelves and deeper shelves. The small cost of materials is well worth it, and don’t forget to put in plenty of shelves for all your special shoes and purses. Measure the heights of baskets and clothing to accurately place your shelving and rods for optimal use.

Proudly display your memories.  Do you have competition ribbons stashed away, or old family photographs, even seashells and sand from childhood vacation sites?  Put them all on display. Use shadowboxes, frames or even jars to display your treasures. Be sure to label anything you or others might want to remember.

My favorite memories are hanging on my wall along with early pictures of my parents and grandparents, my son’s baby pictures are next to my Dad’s baby pictures and my Mother’s pictures. I enjoy looking at these memories and legacies every day. Don’t hide away your genetics, be proud of who you are and where you came from.

Most things are ‘small stuff’.  A relative once told me “a person’s motto should be, ‘why should I stress about something that will not matter a hundred years from now’”.  This is a good way to live I think, especially since we’ve just gotten through a major health scare with Brody.

He received a box of 50 Hot Wheel cars for Christmas and just loved playing with them, he was in Heaven. I had promised to watch a movie with him earlier and Gma reminded him of this as he scooted down the stairs to play. Holding his car ‘stash’ in his arms he called back to me, “Mom…too busy! Too busy!” with the emphasis on the first syllable of busy. At first I didn’t understand but by the third or fourth time repeating his statement I got it.

Life is too short to take any one away from their childhood play. Laughing to myself I realized he was “busy” finishing up his childhood dreams, after all who EVER gets 50 cars to play with at ONE time??fish



reporting on the daily shenanigans of my life

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down syndrome, single motherhood and blessings from God


down syndrome, single motherhood and blessings from God

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