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All posts for the month September, 2015

The Successful IEP

Published September 30, 2015 by sarcasmica

It is a rare and elusive thing for me lately. The “successful” IEP meeting. My son has issues, therefor the school district has him on an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

This is a fancy way of saying my kid requires a team of people to be able to keep afloat in school. We got beyond that emotional roller coaster in first grade. I sat in on these meetings as a professional back in my pre-child life. In the “what was” nether of time. As a parent, however, it’s a whole different show.

I have dealt with the guilt associated with a kid who has learning disabilities/delays. I have dealt with the frustration of feeling like ‘why does my kid have to be the different one’, blah blah blah. It all sounds so victim-oriented, and in a way it is. It very much is a feeling of that as a parent because honestly you are navigating choppy, hostile, uncharted waters through a monumentally-sized hurricane with zero compass all while exhausted from the sheer reality of living with a kid who has these demands. It takes a toll on your relationships. Relationships with your husband, your friends, you social group who may or may not want your kid around their kids, your family and their own personal opinions, societal expectations. The whole thing, quite frankly, is a shit show. But we’re through the worst of it at this point. He’s 9. I feel a little like i’m running the rodeo now more than I was when he was, say 3, and I felt like the clown just trying to dodge the angry charging bull.

My attitude at previous school meetings was always coming from a place of “thanks for working with my kid”. I know how hard he can be to deal with. Last year, however, I was less than pleased with his teacher. I completely respect teachers in general, but when my kid gets one who wants to literally do whatever she can to pawn him off on someone else, I no longer have much respect for you. Especially when said teacher touts her length of time with the district as a positive point. All that did for me was question her teaching theory. If you have taught 17 years and still don’t know what to do with a kid with ADHD and some other similar challenges, then maybe you should tweak your career plan. My kid doesn’t have some kind of unknown disability. He isn’t blind and deaf. He doesn’t act out in class even. You can’t handle a kid whose slightly below grade level?! If that is the biggest challenge to have in 17 years of teaching, it’s time to branch out.

So back to today. Having to deal with countless conferences and emails with the last one, I have brought myself leaps and bounds forward with my expectations of how things are gonna go at these team meetings now. This morning I was very proud that I layed down the law a little as an advocate for my kid. I have always advocated for him, but I had an itemized list in my head of the things I felt were done wrong last year, and today I listed those things for them and let them all know that I expected better and more of all of them.

They seemed to take it well as they were all furiously jotting down points and facts while nodding their heads and murmuring, “I completely agree”.

What that translates to I still don’t know, but at least I didn’t leave feeling like they were being burdened with a task of working with my child but rather challenged to think outside the box and draw up a plan that will work.

My best lines went something like, “Last year all I heard about was how he isn’t working at grade level, how he’s behind, and how he can’t keep up. This is not news, people. This is nothing new and it’s not something that’s going to change anytime soon. I no longer want to hear any of those phrases. What I expect to hear from here on out is where he’s grown, how good he’s doing on _____, and what the plan is to get him to a level where he needs to be.”

At one point someone began talking about how he still needs to be redirected a bunch to which I said, “He is now on medication. He was successful at therapy all summer. I’ve sat with him for homework which he now completes start to finish. His medicine is working, as far as I’m concerned, but that’s not going to be a magical solution for you guys. Move forward with that knowledge and do with it what you will.” and that seemed to squash all the moaning and groaning about keeping him on task.

Sidenote: I know how frustrating it must have been to work with a kid who is actually very intelligent. How do you motivate a child to pick up a pencil and listen to the instruction when there is a mile of static you have to push through just for him to see you? I know this struggle. I am his parent and this is my life. I have managed to get him this far. You are his instructors and you chose this career. You have tools I was never given. Pull up your diplomas and certificates, strap on those theories and educational models and stop relying on parents to “just medicate”. Work as a team with the parents to get the best from the kid. I’m not looking for a miracle. I’m not expecting him to suddenly achieve a 4.0 grade level status. I just want him to finally know what it feels like to be a successful student! “Just medicate” is not an answer, and I feel like the academic community – at least here – does not at all understand what that phrase means. What does it mean for a parent to get to a point where she finally feels like giving her child an amphetamine every single day is an option? How does that feel as a mother?  It feels like complete shit. What makes it acceptable to me, however, is watching my kid take out his homework, sit down with a pencil, begin, ask questions, work out a problem, and finish his homework in a fraction of the time it used to. To get a glimpse at how ‘regular kids’ manage their daily tasks. And to see him complete the process by actually putting the paper back into the folder and then into his backpack?!! That is so stupidly glorious I am almost embarrassed to admit it. But I have to. I have to because parents with typical children who may squabble or hear some groaning have no idea that what I just described has taken years, and now medication, to achieve.

So today I felt like the warrior I needed to be for my kid finally. Perhaps this medication journey has strengthened me a bit for him, and if so i’m grateful. It was nice to walk away from an IEP meeting feeling like I clearly established my expectations and demands for my son rather than overwhelmed and lost about where they can fit him in.

Margarita anyone?!

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Fit By 40

Published September 27, 2015 by sarcasmica

I have exactly one year to get fit by 40. I’m not assigning a weight to that or a size. I just want to feel and be “fit”. Only I will know what that means, and only my body will tell me what that means. I’m gonna go ahead and assume the jiggle will be gone or severely lessened. I will no longer be borderline diabetic. I will no longer be on blood pressure medication. I will not get out of breath going up and down the stairs in my house, and further more, I will not use my children as farriers to send things up and down the stairs.

I will shop wherever I like, I will not feel like my life is instantly over if a bear were to chase me. I will not see food as the reward for all things. Bread will not live in my veins.

These are just a few ideas off the top of my head.

Therapy has helped me put into words and say out loud that i’ve used my size as a barrier. Choices other people made when I was young will no longer hinder me from reaching my own potential. I will not use their bad choices as a reason to keep people away from me anymore.

I will still be an introvert, it’s where i’m happy, but my body will not be the barrier. Perhaps I will use a book or a steaming mug of coffee instead of a layer of pudge.

I will show my children that food is just that. It’s not an answer. It’s not “fun”. It’s not anything but fuel and sustenance and once in a while a reason to get together to share our lives. It’s not the reason we get together, it’s the background to the story.

This is my hope. I have a great trainer. A “normal” trainer …. well, as far as trainers go. Anyone who lifts their body weight and can outrun a cheetah is mental, but she’s a likable kook. She’s been on the path and she’s succeeded, so she’s a superhero to me.

I have working limbs. I am able to walk out my front door and walk my safe neighborhood for 25 minutes per day. I am not in a wheelchair. I am not on crutches. I have feet, so while i’m in control of them, I need to use them. I will not think about the bears that are in the area, or the bobcat that was spotted walking in front of our house. The coyotes that roam the yards will not stop me. … perhaps I will start taking the dogs with me for bait, though. …

This thing that i’m trying to do will only get more difficult the older I get. Waiting is not going to make it happen. Time will pass – God willing – either way, and i’d much rather at least be working toward a goal by the time I hit 40 than starting from the beginning.

Here’s hoping it sticks this time! Happy Birthday to me, and moooooooo(ve) !

The Blahs

Published September 26, 2015 by sarcasmica

I can’t help but think how I had some kind of opportunity with so much traffic to my blog, but other than people just reading what I had to say, what more is there?

So the first non-soapbox, non-meaningful purpose post is bound to be kind of a flop. At least i’m calling it out early.

Today is my last day as a 38 year old. I’m actually not at all freaked out by turning 39 tomorrow. If I dwell too long, I can start to feel panicky that it’s the last year of my 30’s, but I try not to do that…. i only go there when my son is talking “Minecraft” or my daughter is on the 87th detail of the tea party, or my husband starts talking about a budget.

Other than that, I avoid that thought. So for 23 minutes of my day, i’m free of panic. Silver lining.

It has become tradition for me to decorate the house on my birthday weekend for Halloween. I figure if people can put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving, I’m cool for a month+ of Halloween spirit. Its has to be worth the effort it takes to unpack it all, unwind all the lights, plug in all the plugs, dust off all the unintended spider webs, etc etc.

Who knows, maybe this year I’ll actually have a plan for it all and not just toss it up willy nilly!

Happy nearly Halloween  everyone! Put up those witches and spiders and enjoy the fruits of your labor 🙂

https://images.search.yahoo.com/images/view;_ylt=AwrTcXJm4gZWBt8AMgIunIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTIzaGRmZW91BHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDaW1nBG9pZAM5N2ZhM2RjNmM3YTkzNTJlMzZiN2U5MGUwZDU2NTY2NARncG9zAzI2BGl0A2Jpbmc-?.origin=&back=https%3A%2F%2Fimages.search.yahoo.com%2Fyhs%2Fsearch%3Fp%3Dhalloween%2Bdecorations%26fr%3Dyhs-mozilla-001%26fr2%3Dpiv-web%26ri%3D65%26hsimp%3Dyhs-001%26hspart%3Dmozilla%26nost%3D1%26tab%3Dorganic%26ri%3D26&w=610&h=476&imgurl=www.letmeorganizeit.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2014%2F10%2FHalloween-Decorations.jpg&rurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.letmeorganizeit.com%2Fhalloween-decoration-overload&size=191.0KB&name=%3Cb%3EHalloween-Decorations%3C%2Fb%3E.jpg&p=halloween+decorations&oid=97fa3dc6c7a9352e36b7e90e0d565664&fr2=piv-web&fr=yhs-mozilla-001&tt=%3Cb%3EHalloween-Decorations%3C%2Fb%3E.jpg&b=0&ni=21&no=26&ts=&tab=organic&sigr=11sr65trk&sigb=14tqfdi6d&sigi=12cpe9aaf&sigt=110b264th&sign=110b264th&.crumb=eyczXE7uXgi&fr=yhs-mozilla-001&fr2=piv-web&hsimp=yhs-001&hspart=mozilla

(Not actually my house)

More About Birds

Published September 18, 2015 by sarcasmica

I could not in a million years have imagined the type of traction my post To The Person Wanting To Buy A Bird would get. I know I’ve said that already, but it’s still mind blowing to me. I’m up to five thousand two hundred views so far.

Today was an interesting and hard day at the sanctuary. First off, a very experienced and well-loved-by-the-birds volunteer had an unfortunate run-in with an African Grey beak. This was another painful and unfortunate lesson in dealing with birds for all of us there today. The element of surprise. Unpredictability. Especially with rescued birds whose history you don’t quite fully know.

She was simply putting the food/water dishes on the perch for them, and BAM! The bird charged, and jumped at her face, clamped down on her nose and hung there until he decided he was done. At that point, she came out looking for paper towels, help, and no doubt some Xanax. The amount of adrenaline involved is astounding. I’ve only had comparatively small bites on my hands, so I can’t imagine the surge from having one of these “little effers darlings” pierce your nose!

It was a quite literal piercing clear through her nostril. Lots of blood. Tears of pain and no doubt hurt. After all, we are all there of our choice just to do some good, “We are feeding you, damnit!” It’s hard to separate that logic. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!

Once everything calmed a bit from that, we finished cleaning, feeding, watering, treating, all with a little side of trepidation. Next I thought i’d take off after a quick walk through of the aviary. … I ended up sitting and chatting with some volunteers. I wanted to see if Joey the Amazon would let me pick him up and pet him again. A week or so prior I was able to hold him, scratch him, and play a little with him. I noticed it was only once he wanted to step up, though.

I patiently sat beside his open perch and after a bit, he slid down his little top perch pole, wandered to the front beside me, I looked up and started to offer my finger, he turned to head to the rear perch, I turned back to the conversation and after a couple of minutes heard him shriek out, and then “THUD!” hit the newspapered base of his play perch.

We all just looked at him, stunned. I thought he pierced the paper and was stuck, but someone picked up his little body to cradle him and see what was happening. He let out a few cries on his back and just like that, he was gone with one final wailed exhalation.

He was gone. .. ?!!

What. the. hell. just happened?!

The conclusion was that it must’ve been a heart attack or heart-related ‘incident’ for it to happen so suddenly and quickly. We were all thankful he didn’t suffer through a long illness, but heavens! That was just out of nowhere, and it was so sad to watch a bird that everyone interacted with daily and love just ‘go’.

The truth about animals wrapped up in one day of volunteering. It’s hard to watch nature reclaim her creations, but I think we’ve all found solace in giving him at least a beautiful place to end his time surrounded by caring and love.

IMG_7158

R.I.P. Joey 😦

Stunned (Re: Bird Letter)

Published September 14, 2015 by sarcasmica

My post Bird Letter has received nearly a thousand views in 2 days.

1,000.

(Update: 2500 in 3 days ?!?! Wow!!)

Holy crap! What this number actually means in completed views, purposeful clicking, actual interest, thoughtful consideration, I have no clue. I just know it’s actually been shared and passed around a bit and i’m so stunned and thankful for that.

My hope is that it simply starts a conversation. Begins some serious contemplation. I am not one to tell someone what to do or what not to do, but at least if I have put this out there, the person who has read it and still goes through with a transaction through a breeder has no reason not to be surprised or claim ignorance for some of the reality of bird ownership.

I would like to think I keyed a thoughtful non-judgmental post about the possibility of considering where something has originated and if a home is a good fit for these animals. I did not include clips of screaming macaws and amazons. Let me tell you, the decibel they can reach is literally deafening. At the risk of an overused word lately, the “literal” is literal.

I have been in a room where a truck drives by, a person walks past, or rain starts and the screaming squawking flapping chaos that ensues is stunning. There are a number of volunteers that have to wear ear plugs. And not because they aren’t used to birds.

I have worked down the hall from a pair of amazons that begin before the food bowls are swapped out, and don’t end until all the containers are closed up and the doors are shut. A non-stop scream that is reciprocated and answered between the two of them for sometimes over an hour. This does a number on one’s nerves, and i’m only there for a couple of hours a couple of times a week. I could not imagine waking up to that noise!

I did not include pictures of bites from all the varying beaks owned by these parrots. I have heard enough stories from the incredible volunteers I work with who have had to go back and face down the very beaks that ripped open their hands/wrists/arms requiring stitches.

It makes me want to shut my mouth when a Grey bites a bruised bump into my hand … which happened last week. I’m working through my anxiety in working with the ones you cannot ‘read’, which is 98% of them since i’m still fairly new to the sanctuary.

Those beaks can do serious damage. A Google search will prove that in .3 seconds. The bites are from pets. Trusted birds, in a lot of cases. Now imagine your toddler playing with the family bird, and the possibility of this happening. They do not have a way of telling you something is ‘off’, they only have their instinctual behavior.

Thank you to anyone who appreciated my point of view, and I hope it made a difference.

To The Person Wanting to Buy a Bird

Published September 12, 2015 by sarcasmica

Dear Person Who Wants Sooooo Badly To Buy A Bird,

I get it. I totally get it. They are majestic, beautiful, talking, feeling, sensitive, emotional beings that are exotic and unusual. They are obtainable. You can get vet care for them. They are conversation starters and ice breakers. They are mesmerizing beings. They are a piece of fantasy that you can keep with you in your home and they live for decades!

I’m going to ask you to stop and think right now. Put that need, planning, wanting, preparing to the side for just a few minutes. Put it up on a high shelf and open up your mind to what I want to say. Why? Because i’ve seen many sides of this coin. It does have more than 2. It’s more like an idea box.

Wanting to own a bird is something I want to change your mind about, or at least make you take a step back and consider tweaking your expectations. I have interacted with them on a couple of levels. I was a bird specialist at Petco for a few years. I cared for them, handled them, and in some cases reared them. I groomed, fed, watered, and Lord knows i’ve cleaned my fair share of cages. In wanting to be a responsible seller, I took it upon myself to get educated about where they came from, what their natural habitats are – or were. I wanted the owners to know what to expect. I know now that isn’t 100% possible.

I was a bird owner. I had cockatiels on more than one occasion and while they are not macaws, they are great family pets. They are cleaner than any of the small birds, they are relatively quiet, they are a substantial size for a first time bird owner and not too intimidating or damaging for kids. My first died when, because I had clipped his wings, my pug killed him. Kramer was an owner surrender at Petco, which happened all. the. time. He was an amazing bird! It was hard to compartmentalize his dying. It is quite easy to get attached to a bird, oh yes indeed.

I work twice a week at a parrot sanctuary now and I love it. They are completely addicting to be around – for a few hours a day. It is absolutely possible to experience a life-changing bond – in all ways, good bad and ugly. I have seen the hundreds of cases that have been surrendered for hundreds of reasons. Every single bird has a story. A lot of them are a result of people assuming their lives will never change. They are in a place where a bird seems like a good idea and so assume their lives will never ever be out of their control.

Wrong.

It’s not reality or possible. Lives change, people change, moods and preferences change, jobs change, circumstances change. Change is the only constant in life, afterall.

I work with another volunteer at the sanctuary who wanted to put together a project on video. She asked a few of us, “Why do you do it? Why do you come and volunteer with these animals?” I gave a thoughtful honest response, something like, “Because someone has to. I feel it’s our responsibility to care for an animal others gave up.”

Since then, i’ve thought more on this topic. I watched a program on PBS (thank you, Netflix) called “Parrot Confidential”. I HIGHLY recommend this program if you are considering bird ownership. HIGHLY.

So why do I do it?

Because these are orphans. These are orphaned pets that didn’t ask to be a pet. These animals are adapted to wide open sky, plentiful trees, abundant social experiences, varying diets, infinite options. They are creatures that belong to nature. Humans have removed all of these things from these beings and still expect them to flourish. People have replaced social groups and flocks with a single person. We have removed the sky from them and put them on the end of a trained distance, lead, or just flat out cut off their flight feathers. Most of these options involve removing millions of years of adaptation and instinct and muscle purpose with the snip of the scissors, click of a lead, or worst of all, caged them indefinitely.

We have taken something out of nature, away from their instincts and internal programming and want so badly for them to fit into a small house-bound life. Owners “spoil” birds with toys and treats and baths and play areas all trying to serve a bigger purpose: to give them a rich and vital daily experience to fulfill what has been taken from them. This is not possible. The screaming communication between the flock does not exactly fit into suburbia or apartment life. You cannot mimic the freedom, the environment, the purpose of a bird in the wild with any amount of aviary, perch, or open home.

If you took any other animal away from it’s initial purpose and expected it to flourish, what would happen? If you put a squirrel in your home, locked it in a cage, fed it bagged prepared food, and then expected it to snuggle and chirp on command, would it be happy?

If you took a bobcat out of the forest and put it on a leash, fed it canned food, and attached toys to a cage, would it be happy and thrive?

Birds are pets because we say they are, not because they were bred for it, adapted to it, or prefer it of their own instinctual selection.

If you truly love and respect parrots – macaws, african greys, amazons, cockatoos – you have to then appreciate what their preference and purpose truly is. Not to entertain you with vocalizations. Not to move an object when you say to. It is to be an animal. That’s it.

Please consider adopting a bird that has already been surrendered. Please consider giving a home to an animal that was already a pet and maybe lost it’s owner due to death, financial circumstances, or some unforeseeable life occurrence that can happen to anyone. If you insist on having a bird after all of this, go into it prepared for bites. Stitch-required bites. Repetitive bites to yourself, your spouse or children. It’s the reality. Be prepared for seemingly illogical behavior like plucking, self mutilation, or mental debilitation.

These are all the signs of an animal adapted to one environment and expected to thrive and love the new one just because we say so. Just because you give up your time, money, and love to try to make it work does not at all guarantee the pet will appreciate it. While they might be able to talk, they cannot share their feelings, so they show them. Look up how many sanctuaries are in your state. Investigate the sheer amount of need there is now because of the domestication of these animals. Dogs and cats have been bred for hundreds of years to be companion animals. A natural trait that was built upon. Ask anyone who works at or runs a sanctuary and you will certainly see the truth in bird ownership a little clearer.

Birds inflicting mutilation upon itself can be anything from banging it’s beak to pulling feathers out of it’s own body, to biting it’s own skin. It’s something they are driven to do from boredom, frustration, anxiety, fear, and countless reasons we cant test for. Im no scientist, but im fairly certain no one has seen a flock of naked macaws flying through a jungle. It’s heart breaking to see this behavior, mostly because there is not much we can do about it.

I have ended this post with a link to a project Oliver Regueiro did using some of the birds I see every week. I feel the pictures of these animals say far more than I ever could. When you understand what they’ve lost as a member of the wild, perhaps it will give you insight into the unhappiness the domesticated life has brought them.

http://www.oliverregueiro.com/earthbound/

If you would like to donate to Zazu’s House Parrot Sanctuary which is where the macaws were photographed, http://zazushouse.org  is the link. I must say here this post is solely the opinion of me, not the sanctuary. Zazu’s philosophy is in no way included. The ‘wish list’ is included on the site. This sanctuary, like most, relies 100% on volunteers and donations. Anything that you are moved to help out with is appreciated.

Thank you for your time.

http://www.oliverregueiro.com/earthbound/t5mmpo3spigmgi4jriri7ekbhjjlx3

Some images from “Earthbound” by Oliver Regueiro

Wreath-O-Rama

Published September 6, 2015 by sarcasmica

I’ve been collecting lots of feathers since working at the sanctuary. When I first started there I knew I wanted to do something with them, no clue what, but something.

I figured a wreath would be cool. A circle covered in feathers. Nothing I cant handle.

After about a month, the feather collection was getting big. Lots of sizes, a few different colors. Time to do something. Pinterest to the rescue!

(This was my first attempt at wreathing, by the way)

Up first, the flowers. Lots & lots & lots of tutorials on Pinterest. The rosettes are simple. Cut a circle (my scissors were useless, so i ended up using haircutting scissors that are now probably wrecked after a day of cutting felt) and cut a spiral into the circle all the way around. Start from what was the middle, and curl into itself blobbing with glue along the way. I experimented with different cuts, shapes, fringe, etc. 
For the non-rosette flower, go on Pinterest. Super simple. Great starter flower.

 Next: wrap…& wrap & wrap & wrap & wrap & wrap & wrap. See the mess i’ve made? Momma totally took over the dining room table all day. 
And once you’ve completely circled around, you get to do it again! (To cover all the peek-a-boo spots)

Then you get to position/place/test/glue down the embelishments. 

  
Finish it all off with whatever you like. I cut out leaves to cover the base of the trimmed feathers. 

As a side note, I believe these Light blue feathers were from our mini macaws: Severe, Hahn’s, Red Front. The red ones I think are the back of greenwing tail feathers. The other side is actually blue. I wish there was a way to show off both sides of the feathers since the colors are so beautiful and rich. (Thank you, guys!) 

All the feathers came from the floors of all the buildings at the bird sanctuary. None were being used by the birds when I collected them, despite all the naked bellies you see! 

I made 2 wreaths today. Both circles were bought at the Dollar Store so they are pretty small. I didnt want to go all in on my first try, so these were Jr Wreaths. 

What do you think?! Please comment which is your fave and help me get better at my feather upcycling craft project! 😎

  

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