Punky Mama


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Time Flies

It’s been a good year so far.

The Ed Plus location the boys attended shut down over the summer and then in November the location that Ryan was still attending closed for good. Ryan has adjusted nicely to his new school.  He has many teachers from his old school around and over half his class from Ed Plus are now in his class. We are happy with the IEP he has and he is thriving.  I think my biggest complaint is that the school, in general, has very little communication with the parents.  I find it maddening but his Special Ed Teacher is very  responsive and I can get what ever info I need from her.  Many of the parents have complained about the lack of communication and since the school is new they are working this all out.

Aaron is doing great with PA Leadership Cyber Charter School.  He is very independent with getting his schoolwork done and if he has an issue with something I can’t help with like common core math, he has ample opportunity to get help with a teacher during the day or at homework help in the evening. He has been taking music and an inventions class.  He even worked with a group of students on a project that they submitted to a contest the Smithsonian was holding.  He has made honor roll both quarters.  He attends an unschooling school one day a week with many neighbors who also homeschool.  It is a nice balance.  He showers less than he should and wears PJ’s more than other kids but he is thriving . Next year he is off to school at the Science Leadership Academy Middle School.  He is excited about it but if he does not like it cyber school is an option. PALCS have worked hard to bring him a challenge and he is almost two years ahead in school.  I have to say, it’s nice to have someone around in the day. He is helpful and is GREAT at reminding me of things not to forget.

I have been working more and more from home. I have an old knee injury which has deteriorated over the last year. I have had cortisone shots and had synovial fluid replacement therapy. It’s a bit better but standing on my feet 16 hours a week is hard and eventually I will need a knee replacement.  I have two steady freelance clients and I have a third who I am working with on a trial basis.  If I land the third client I am considering going to one night a week at the bar. I love my main freelance client. The work is interesting and the team is great. I have been taking many Friday’s off. I really love not being zombie Mom on the weekends.  Just one night might be a little more my speed these days.

I have been taking the kids to swim team on Friday nights.  Team ends earlier on Friday so I buy us tickets to swim at the pool at the community center. As soon as swim team is over we slide and play till the pool closes.  They are getting so big and soon enough they are not going to want to play with me at the pool on a Friday night.  I enjoy our new Friday routine and i think they do too.  It makes me long for summer days at the pool.

Thorazine are ready to go on tour again starting on May 11!  We are doing just four dates down south.  It is a tour in where we are going to visit people who booked us in the past.  We are all excited about it. This time BOTH kids are coming. Aaron is starting to get excited.  He likes to talk to Suri on my phone and ask her how long between the cities on the tour.  He and I have to go through the merch this week.  Aaron’s school releases the next week on Friday so he is going to do school over the weekend and by the time we leave for tour he will be done for the week.  Ryan is going to do school on the way to the first show but he is going to take off two school days.

Ryan won most improved for his age group in winter swimming meaning he dropped the most time out of all the boys he swims with his age.  Both he and Aaron have been swimming all spring five nights a week.  They still love it.  Aaron swims in a different group that Ryan which is good! Actually Ryan made the gold practice group and he is considering joining the USA team next season.  It’s a decision I never thought Ryan would have to make. I often work from the pool in the evening which means I am getting paid for them to swim!

That’s all for now.  I will post from the road!!

 

 

 

 


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Ryan Has An Educational Dream

Ryan recently declared he wanted to start a university. We talk about it in the car and he has been working on a plan to start a university to include kids with special needs. His university would strive to give every kid a college experience no matter how they learn or work.  He goes on to talk about kids who might need to live alone because of sensory needs. He talks of kids who need more quiet time to study and a person to help them stay organized. Even better he speaks kids who have communication issues or can’t live on their own with out help, but he still wants to provide them a university experience even if their experience is focused on life skills and physical therapy. His university would provide everyone what they wanted and needed as an adult to thrive. It would make those not included in typical universities feel included yet let people who wanted to work toward a PhD all learn together. He especially loves the idea of academics and the trades sharing a campus.  I love his Utopian vision and forethought. At twelve I can’t imagine having had ideas like his.

This week Aaron was accepted to a magnet school in Philadelphia for next year. We all have been very proud and excited for him.  It’s a school that is partnered with a science museum, the school district, and a university. His first year of school will be on the campus of the university. It’s the inaugural year of the middle school and they already have two very successful high schools. The curriculum is inquiry-driven and project-based. I am sure he was chosen for his impeccable transcripts and positive behavior in school.

So what about the Ryan’s of the world?  Where is their inquiry-driven and project-based school partnered with a science museum and a university?  Yeah, the Ryan’s might not always perform the best on tests and may have behavioral issues from time to time but don’t they deserve a world class education too that doesn’t cost $25,000 a year?  I am sure the ideas above prove he is worthy of the time and effort in this world but because of how his brain works the best schools like this are out of reach for him and I find it infuriating. Why is Aaron more worthy in the eyes of the educational community because he does not have Autism and more?  Why can’t there be a school that includes people who want to try but can’t perform typically. Ryan goes to a good school.  They honor his IEP but I would not call it extraordinary. I am finding it hard to connect to the school and the families there. Heck, I am finding it hard to find out when PTA meetings are.  I hate feeling so disengaged from the school, but luckily Ryan’s special ed teacher is an old acquaintance who has been helpful.  I am not the parent to drop him off to a vacuum and communicating with his many teachers has been hard. It is very typical school.  He is online or at school online with teachers all day.  No movement included. It’s adequate.  It’s not extraordinary.

Again.  Where are the extraordinary educational opportunities for a kid like Ryan in Philly? If you know, please let me in on it.

 

 

 

 


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Finding Where We All Belong

This month has been so far about balance. I have been taking on more and more freelance work which is amazing except it is quite the balance with my night job. Luckily everything is ramping up slowly and I am able to get adjusted before I am handed more work. I like what I am doing and after all these years of selling alcohol it is nice to have an almost day job.

The boys are all adjusting to their new school situations. Ryan’s school is perfect for him.  It is that smaller classroom environment he thrives in, and when he is home on Tuesday and Thursdays his classes are all teacher led online. This helps me avoid meltdowns and the almost teenager fights I have with him almost constantly.  It’s always convenient to say, time to get back to school.  It’s not me, it’s them!! His IEP was supposed to be tomorrow but because of snow it is going to be rescheduled. The evaluation, although hard at times to read, was spot on.  It’s hard to read about Ryan’s ongoing issues.  He qualifies for more interventions because he finally was given an Autism diagnosis, it’s also hard to read all the same. I am happy with the supports they are offering him and it’s good to have a school where he thrives that helps us remain in the city where we are happy living.

Aaron is doing well with cyber school but he was missing being around other kids.  He swims everyday and has friends there but when he changed schools it was right around Thanksgiving and then we were headlong into the Holiday Season.  I looked around at homeschooling coop’s and unschooling schools.  Last week he started at Talking Stick Learning Center.  He loved his trial day and we have signed him up for for one day a week and he has the option of adding another day if he wants. He is ok with working ahead with school everyday to accommodate one day and he wants some time to be able to balance his time to take on two days at Talking Stick.  I feel like finally he too is finding some balance.  I always have been fascinated with unschooling but always felt overwhelmed with trying to unschool on my own.  I am excited to let Aaron have a foot in that world and public school all at the same time.  I think it brings an angle to learning that will be great for him.

Thorazine is bopping along and is planning a short spring tour in where we will be traveling with both kids.

Balance people.  January was all about balance.  How are you all?


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As 2015 Leaves, 2016 Arrives, and the Night Before I Turn 49.

I have one word for 2015

Grateful.

I just feel overwhelming gratitude almost all the time. I am fortunate beyond reason and most of the time I walk around feeling like I have my cake and I am eating it too and a self satisfied smile is not far from my face.

Things I am especially grateful for

  • Having Thorazine in my life. Playing music but having the people in my life on a daily basis. We are the family we were all over again but better because we are older and wiser. We got to tour and are planning more!  We have played so many amazing shows with encouraging people cheering us on this year.  It blows my mind.
  • The kids are in just such a great place. The school stuff was hard this year but both are exactly where they need to be.  Ryan’s new school is perfect for him. I need to find Aaron more time with other kids, but he also loves cyber school.  This school arrangement did not take us long to find and the adjustment has been minimal.  Ryan for the first time is embracing all things academic.  It’s delightful to watch.  He is still struggling in other ways but he is starting to really get the important things. His behavior has been stellar most places besides home, but he is almost a teenager, I expected that!
  • We are all employed.  My husband is working his tail off but that is his normal.  I have the bar and I have two freelance clients, one who wants to throw me a bunch more work in the New Year! Score!
  • For the most part we are healthy. I am having horrible issues with my knee but I am seeing an orthopedist and he is helping to get fluid back in the knee joint.  The kids are healthy. Elliott is healthy.
  • Friends.  I have so many.  Old friends.  New Friends. I am surrounded by a ton of love and support.

Things I look forward to in 2016 and my 49th year.

More of the same.  Happy thriving kids and family.  Employment.  Good Health.  And a TON of screaming punk rock shows.

What else could I want.

 

 

 

 


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In Where Ryan Attends Public School For a Day and a Half.

The day before Thanksgiving we got the news that Ryan’s school was closing. The perfect storm of the issues with the department of education and the long state budget impasse which has left the school with no funds and the bank revoked the line of credit. We all hoped to have till Christmas but alas we did not.

I had been in touch with the head of special ed for the School District of Philadelphia. As we know Ryan due to his PTSD can’t return to the local school and that is where they wanted to put him.  Finally I got some real help and Ryan was referred to another school nearby.  He lasted one and a half days.  The first day things went ok.  He spoke of making friends with a kid named “Bam”.  Ryan reported that Bam was horribly bullied and Ryan wanted to protect him. He thought he was a nice kid but the other kids made up mean things about Bam.  They called him gay, bi, and a racist.  Ryan said to me I am not sure if he is gay or not, but it doesn’t matter to me.  The racist thing he said was untrue.  The second day the kids started in on Ryan.  He is very tall for his age and some of the other boys were goading him into a fight even trying to get 7th and 8th grade kids involved because he is so big. He said to me later I just wasn’t going to fight knowing if I hit anyone I would be suspended.  He went on, I have a future to protect and I won’t get into a good high school with a suspension. Then he went on to talk about kids who were dating in his class and how their discussions made him very uncomfortable.  He was also concerned that in the future he may not be able to control hitting the kids goading him to fight.  He pleaded Mom please don’t send me back.

Remarkably we had a tour with a new school that day. We went to see Aspira Cyber Charter.  The kids with IEP’s attend three days a week and home school for two but his lessons online include interaction with his teacher daily. While he is in school he is in a class with eight kids that functions a lot like Ed Plus.  As we walked in a girl from Ryan’s class at Ed Plus was handing in her paperwork and many others from his center are attending there. It is the first bi-lingual school in Philly and the school is primarily serves a Latino population which is a plus in my eyes.  This cyber charter is only part of a bigger regular charter school which serves students pre-k through 12. This cyber charter has all the things we loved about Ed Plus like small class size,  individualized learning paths, it uses the same classroom behavior management app that Ryan has worked with in the past called Class Dojo, some of the schooling platforms were the same, and the first thing that hit me were the happy kids which made me so happy with Ed Plus. As we walked the halls Ryan ran into old Ed Plus employees who had been hired by the school and greeting him warmly. He also is welcomed to try out for teams that the regular charter has and he is going to free breakfast and lunch daily from the real cafeteria not the warmed up awful school lunches.

We walked out of the tour and Ryan looked at me and said, I give this school ten stars and two thumbs up.  Although now we are in a holding pattern.  The school is adding so many more new students they have to hire new teachers! Thankfully they have the real estate for the expansion.  It’s going to take a little while longer but Ryan is enrolled and very excited to start. All of this transition has been hard but he is holding up as well as Ryan can in this extreme situation. My hope is  by January 1 everyone is adjusted and rolling in school again. Fingers crossed.

 

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