Before cleaning
I was helping minion #2 put dishes away the other day and was noticing just how awful my dishes really looked (the husband says he thinks they're awful too, but has more to do with the pattern than the little gray marks from silverware).  I've had this set of Corelle since realizing I couldn't heft a pile of stoneware (which was WAY more ugly than the Corelle) above my head while I had my right arm in a sling and wasn't supposed to move it for about six weeks.  Which, by the way was roughly 20 years ago.  I really love that it's nearly indestructible, and when minion #2 is putting the dishes away, that's extremely important.  Our glasses have not fared nearly as well.
As you can see, the plates were not looking their best.  A few years of being stabbed and mutilated by silverware has nearly done them in.

Halfway through 
Hand washing them did nothing, nor did bleach or scouring cleanser, also with beach.  I recalled seeing a post from someone a while back, but it was for cleaning ironware.  My logic, was well...if it works on other white dishes, might as well give it a shot.  My grandparents swore by this stuff to clean the copper on the bottoms of pans.  I should mention they also have Corelle, and don't have marks on their dishes.  I'm betting they also know this secret, and haven't told any one.  What is this wondrous product?  Barkeepers Friend.(site has a coupon that will bring it down to about $1.25)  I'm no barkeep, but it's definitely my new best friend.  You don't have to scrub all that hard, just sprinkle some on and be amazed at your 'new' dishes.

Ta da!
I can also say it does amazing things for stainless steel.  My kitchen sink looks a whole lot more like a shiny new sink and less like something you find along the road being thrown out.  Silly sink didn't somehow grow another bowl or get any deeper, but I guess you can only expect just so much from a cleaning product.

Now, if I have any more energy today after sanding the family room, cleaning the dishes and the never ending loads of laundry around here, I might see what it does with my ugly shower floor tile.
Nothing important happened today in IEP land.  The husband stopped by the district office to pick up the Medicaid billing report I asked for more than a week ago.  I chuckled as he told me the story of how the director of special education came out to talk to him, and she was very surprised that he came to pick them up, seeing as how we were to get them by the end of the week.  (We had a power outage last night, so there was a missed bus this morning, and he was in the area) He informed her that since she said she had pulled all the paperwork and reviewed it all, it should be ready to go.  So, he says, just have your secretary make me those copies, I'll wait and casually finds himself a chair.  A few minutes later she comes back with the paperwork we ask for.  A whole half page report.
Um, Yeah...
So, we now have the billings that show she was over billing for the services received.  It also confirms that the minion isn't getting the amount of services he's due according to the IEP.  He's been shorted by 10 minutes each session.
I guess the upside to this is each time I've glanced at the report, all I can think of is: I didn't get a cover sheet on my TPS report.  We put cover sheets on all our TPS reports now.  Maybe it's coming on Saturday?
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Have you ever found yourself at a loss for words?  Believe it or not, probably not with the amount of ranting I've been doing, I really am in some ways.  I'm completely bewildered at the attitude and words of the Director of Special Education of a school district.  Insurance fraud is okay if you don't mean it.  She didn't understand how we could not want to be serviced by the provider that committed the fraud.  She couldn't understand why we would want to report the district for fraud.

Minions 1&2 - the most important
things in my world.
Now, if you don't mind slipping into my shoes for a few minutes (yes, I'll even let you slip into a pair of my favorites) I'd like to ask you a few questions.  How would you react on finding out you had a service provider for your child that was defrauding you?  In our case both with the Medicaid, and not following the IEP, so he wasn't receiving the services to which he was legally entitled to.  Would you be comfortable with a provider who thought simply being in the room was even to satisfy an IEP?  Would you be comfortable with a provider who refused to add things to an IEP, claiming it couldn't be done?  What about a provider that knew your child's therapy was not in his best interest, but did it anyway so the provider could use him as a teaching tool for the other children she was also providing therapy for?

Think about all of that for just a bit.  Think about your child.  How would you want your child to be treated?  How would you handle the situation?

We have another IEP meeting on Wednesday, in the afternoon.  His teacher, the speech provider and her supervisor are scheduled to be at this meeting.  The husband and I have discussed all this, and more that I haven't bored you with.  Let me assure you, I've divulged the highlights of the crap.  It's really a bit worse.  We've come up with a plan of action that we are set on at this point.  But I really am interested to hear other opinions and even suggestions.  Perhaps you've experienced something similar, and can offer a few gems?

I've created a poll, if you just want to answer if you would allow the therapist to provide service.    I've also opened comments.

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This is actually part 2 of The One With The IEP.  We had so much fun the last few days, and with phone calls and emails, I thought I'd share it.  What I really want to do right now, is laugh until I cry, and do a bit of a victory dance.  But, as usual I digress.
The husband added the wine glass
I'm really only drinking chai.
When last I ranted about the IEP and the speech therapist, we were concerned that there was some insurance fraud going on due to some inconsistencies in how the services were being delivered, and the discrepancies in what we were hearing from the classroom teacher to the therapist.  This was indeed confirmed tonight when we spoke with the Director of Special Education for the Cumberland Valley School District.  Though, she preferred to say they discovered that things were billed incorrectly, for about a year.  Oops.  But, not to worry, we were informed by the same Director that it was okay, because the speech therapist didn't mean to break the law, or commit insurance fraud.  It's alright, I understand if you need to get a glass of wine here, or just need a few minutes to stop laughing.  I know we did.  I'm talking about the laughing part, not the wine. Though, I should really write a post about wine, because I'm beginning to think this blog needs more of it.

IEP - the draft copy.
Anyway, long conversation ensued.  We outlined our issues with the therapist.  Her lack of communication, her inability to write an IEP that actually had anything appropriate in it, refusing to put things into the IEP, not knowing the laws that govern an IEP, little things like insurance fraud (but seriously, it's ok - she didn't mean it), basically, we just don't trust her at this point.
So, now we wait.  I've asked for IEP team meeting again (by the love of all things holy, what was I thinkin?) to get the speech section straightened out.  And then we decide if we are going to call the Attorney General's Office to report the insurance fraud, I mean billing error - or whatever it is she didn't mean to do.  But really, why would we, 'She didn't mean it'.
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With life being insane, the Instagram challenge needed to be put on hold a bit.  I know, you're probably thinking, 'but the photos, they must go on!'.  And so they shall.  My offerings to appease those who have been checking in are:  Delicious?
Chocolate and pineapple
While I was out in Atlantic City, there was some shopping done.  Then some additional shopping in King of Prussia on the way back.  I swear that mall is my kryptonite (also, just for fun the suggested spelling for kryptonite is Cryptozotic).  They really do have about everything there.  Sometimes two of them.  One of my newest experiences was a Brighton store.  Cute jewelry, cute bags, really nice shoes, of which I didn't buy any for the same reason I didn't buy any of the handbags I really liked. Justifying a bag, or a pair of shoes that cost as much as a car payment is really hard.  And the husband would actually get mad about that.  Like the Hulk, I don't like him when he's angry.  Anyway, I was talking about the next word, which is how this all got started.  I needed a new key ring, and they had one at the Brighton shop, and they had an adorable coffee charm to go on it.  So here are my Keys.

I <3 coffee
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For any of you that have children, their school life is probably straight forward.  They get up, go to school, enjoy lunch and recess more than school, then come home.  Sometimes they have homework, sometimes they forget to do it.  But, all in all it's just school.  You rarely have to see teachers, or talk to them, unless you're volunteering.  When you have a child, or children with learning disabilities, or other bits of craziness, it's not as straight forward.

The Individualized Educational Plan, or IEP for your child is what the school system lives and breathes while your child is within their walls.  It lays out how they learn, what allowances they get above and beyond the 'normal' kids, and what goals they are trying to reach.  It also covers what additional services they may recieve like occupational, physical, or speech therapy.

This week was the week to redo Minion 1's IEP for next year.  Once you do a few of these, and learn what needs to be written in them, the language that should never be ambiguous, and to ask for everything your child might need and more, they really are easy to do.  They are also pretty easy to spot mistakes and irregularities.  This year, we found one.  A big one.  One that looks like insurance fraud.

During the IEP meeting, everyone that deals with Minion 1 is required to be there, unless the parent signs to exempt them.  The Speech therapist double booked herself into another IEP.  I had questions about some things in the IEP I saw, so I wasn't exempting her. I asked the minions' teacher what actually happened in his 1 session every 6 day cycle.  He explained to me that she worked with him for 10 minutes, max.  He's supposed to be getting 40 minutes.  She has written 30 minutes in one place, 40 minutes in another, with a minimum of 25 sessions per year.  So, during the meeting I ask to have her call me because if what I'm hearing from his teacher is correct, because she bills medicaid for the service, it sounds like insurance fraud.

Back home after the IEP meeting, sent email to school principal that was present in the IEP to have all the billings made to medicaid for the minion pulled and a copy sent to me.  I'm curious to how the therapist is billing medicaid, and if she is billing for multiple services when she is to be working with one child.

The speech therapist calls me the day after the IEP meeting to apologize for double booking herself, which I brush off and start asking what actually happens during the sessions.  She tells me that she works with the minion for 15-20 minutes to go over the lession that she is presenting to the rest of the class that day, and then uses my child as a model for all the other kids, as though it's a fantastic thing. (what parent thinks that exploiting their child for your gain is great?) I asked her why she wasn't using all 40 minutes to work with the minion, to which she replied that she is in the classroom the entire time.  I asked her again, more slowly, in case she didn't understand it the first time and then she came back with but it's not specified in the IEP that I work one on one with him.  I had to explain that a forty minute session even in a classroom setting sets the expectation that you are working with that child for 40 minutes, not using them as a tool.  She also explained that what was going on in the classroom now is really not doing much for the minion, he should be with other peers, so I asked her to write that into the IEP.  She didn't want to.  She aslo didn't want to write it into the current one.  I was bewilderd at that point, and pretty well convinced something squirrely (oh yeah, squirrely) was up.  I started to circle back around to why she was continuing to do something currently that wasn't much good to him and she started going on about how she is in the classroom the whole time again, which I told her she should probably just stop talking now, she wasn't helping her cause and to have her supervisior call me.  End of phone call.

Next phone call comes from the therapists' supervisor, whom I've worked with before.  I explained my issues: not working with the minion for the time specified, using him as a tool without my knowldege or consent, not in the correct peer group, resistence to writing things into the IEP, and what was sounding like insurance fraud.  The sound of crickets was heard momentarily before a reluctant ok was uttered after the last one.  I was assured that the correct info would be put into the IEP, and she would look into the rest.  End of phone call.

I filled in the husband after all of this and I think we'll also be adding that after each 40 minute session the therapist will need to provide me with a written report of what was covered in the session as well as having it signed off on by an adult to double check it actually happened.

Monday, I will have to notify the school, if I still have heard nothing about the insurance documentation, that I will be opening a fraud investigation with Medicaid concerning the speech therapist.  Then, I'll have to call PA Protection and Advocacy as well and obtain a lawyer to deal with the therapist as well.

Really, if people would just do what they are supposed to do instead of finding the path of least resistence and hope it never catches up with them, the world would be a better place.
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Another day, another instagram!

Today's post - A Before and After

I call it, Venti & Empti

Iced coffee with SF Cinnamon Dolce.  Just in case you wondered what I like.
So, after breakfast while we were in Atlantic City, we strolled out on the veranda of the hotel to watch the waves roll in for a bit.  We were also amused by a seagull.  (I know, this is the second seagull photo this month) He was sitting on one of the reverse domes and eyeing the people below.  AKA, scouting for food.
A lady came along, sat on one of the benches on the boardwalk and was happily feeding pigeons for a moment before this fellow realized the pigeons were eating 'his' food.  Off his perch and down to flop the pigeons he went.  He scared them off, ate up the crumbs and returned to his spot, carefully watching over his domain, lest it be invaded by pigeons once again.


Today was Corner of your home.
I wasn't at home today, so I was forced to make due with my home away from home.  My mother's birthday present this year from us was a trip to Atlantic City, NJ to stay at the Taj Mahal.  It just so happened she picked this weekend to go, and huge gamblers that we are, we shopped all day, pigged out at dinner and went back to room and were in bed before midnight.
That's right.  My version of Jersey Shore, minus the Snooki.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Guess what the word today was? Sadly no, it wasn't beer.
Why we celebrate a Roman-Britain man, pressed into slavery and dragged to Ireland so he could herd sheep, eventually escape to go back to Britain and become a priest by drinking beer and wearing green, I'll never know. I am, however, ok with the process.

I still miss regular beer some days, but Redbridge isn't bad.

Leprechaun Socks!
The word of the day today is Sunglasses!
I can't tell you how tempted I was to revive the 80's and do an 'I wear my sunglasses at night' shot.  But, I also know how my evenings tend to go, and I'm hanging out with Shandy tonight, so I think things worked out the way they should.

The Cole Haan's, chillaxing on my desk.
Also, because I couldn't get it out of my head after mentioning it, Sunglasses at Night.

My oldest child, Connor,  was born six weeks early with a multitude of holes in his heart.  The first week of life we watched him struggle to breathe, stop breathing, and have meningitis.  We fired cardiologists, yelled at presidents of hospitals, and had nursing staff removed from his care for more than one reason.  We ate, slept and breathed premie info and learned more about heart conditions than most general practitioners do.  Fast forward a few years and we're wondering why he's so different from other kids.  More reading, and researching ensued.  It took us a multitude of doctors, early childhood educators and psychologists (and a few years) before we found one that would finally say, you're right, that's autism.

He's now 13, and we're in the process of writing this year's IEP (individual educational plan) with his teachers.  Who, if they are reading this by chance, are awesome.  He'll turn 14 as the IEP goes into effect and that starts the 'transition' period to real life.  The goal is to get the kids to a point where they can be self sufficient, or as close to it as their abilities let them.  To aid in the attempt to get to that goal, the school sent home a nifty checklist of things to teach your teenager, or make sure they know.

Wardrobe Checklist
Most of the things you learn as you get older, and mostly from mistakes you make along the way.  Which, for your average teenager or adult is fine.  For someone with autism, it's not. Drawing conclusions doesn't always happen and logical leaps don't always either.  What is common sense for most people, isn't for an autistic person, so it has to become learned behavior.  And that doesn't happen unless it's taught and reinforced.

Starting tonight and going to Saturday we'll be working on the clothing part of comparison shopping.  I made up a general list of things he should have in his wardrobe, and approximately how many.  It made it easy for him to look through his closet and just check things off as he found them.  We realized we forgot a few things, (like a belt) as we worked through the list, but there's space at the end, just add your extras on!
From that list, Connor could see what he still needed for summer and was able to make a shopping list for the shopping trip on Saturday.
The other thing I made for him was a business card sized chart for his wallet.  It has all the general clothing on it he wears and the sizes he needs.  All you have to do is laminate it, or print it on heavy stock and fill in the sizes.
Size chart for wallet
The word of the day was Car.
At one of the roads I turn onto each day there is this old car sitting for sale.  It looks to be in restored, pristine shape and I couldn't help but stop and photo it today.

Model T
I don't think the Aussies have caught on to Pi day, or today would have been pie instead of clouds.

A Sign.
That's what it is today.  Unfortunately there were no buy one pair of shoes, get one free signs anywhere to be found, trust me, I looked everywhere.
Instead I found a different kind of sign.  One that was a little more abstract.

Just because they aren't holding a sign, doesn't mean they aren't thinking it.  
Bring us French Fries!!!
Forks?!  Who photographs forks?  Spoons, I totally get that.  Sometimes you need extra spoons.  It happens.
Maybe I should have photographed the lasagna I made over the weekend, and the tiramisu, both eaten with forks, causing me to need an extra spoon or five on Monday.  Curse you tomatoes, cheese, and eggs!
Instead, today you get what's left of the huge oak tree just off the veranda.

The first words I typically utter every morning are usually slurred with sleep and sound vaguely like 'Good Morning Munchkin'.  Since the day he was born, my youngest likes to be what I wake to each morning.  I can't say I'm complaining because he really has a sunny disposition.  From the cute gurgles and playing with his toes like they're some sort of toy to are these your jeans or mine, mom?  Every morning really is amusing.  It would be more amusing if it wasn't so early though.

Oh - and today's challenge was Someone you talked to today!

The word was LOUD today.
I was out at a friends birthday party tonight, and for a room full of people eating and drinking it was barely a dull roar.  Then again, I still had my cold and the ears were still plugged too, so it sounded more like a party in the other room.  Either way, Happy Birthday Donna!

Now, the loud thing is in the room next to me at the office.  I was told it would be quieter than just having the servers sit there.  It's not.  It's quite loud and obnoxious.  Pretty though, and the blinky lights are kinda mesmerizing...

Today's word was Red.  For any of you not in the U.S. of A. you may not be familiar with the idea of wearing red on Fridays to support the troops of all the armed services, deployed or not around the world.  Everyone has their own opinion on politics, and you're welcome to it, it's not important in this case.  What is important though, are the men and women that have sworn to protect and defend us at all costs so that we can have our freedom.

Today's post - Window.
This one is my office window.  I see fun things out of it usually, like garbage trucks and people who may or may not be up to nefarious things.  I tend to think its more important use is that of a shelf.  And yes, if you look closely that is indeed a water color of a hermit crab.

Something I wore.
For any of you that know me, you know I love shoes.
These aren't the most expensive pair I own.  They aren't even heels.  They're plain and black, but they go with everything and sometimes, that's important too.

5 PM.
Yeah, I really wanted this to be a glass of wine with my feet up somewhere.  If and when that ever happens again, I will be sure to photo that too.

Today's challenge was to find a smile.  I found a cute furry one.

Tucker's Smile
Today's object to photograph was: Bedside.

Due to the bed being so high, we don't have nightstands.  We have shelves.  They're boring.  I keep exciting things on mine, like a book, an alarm clock and my glasses.  Instead, you get to see the side of my bed.

Another day, another photo!  Today's subject was your neighborhood.
With the cold I've been fighting, I didn't want to trek about the neighborhood searching for the best photo I could.  What you see today is looking up the street from the front porch.  My view of the neighborhood from the front door we rarely use.
The word of the day was: Fruit.

Seriously - what was I going to do with this?  I was not going to photograph fruit in a bowl.  I have a thing about still life with fruit.  Hate it.  Loathe it really.  So, I looked in the fridge and I had the option of oranges or apples.
Orange you glad I didn't do this to an apple?

March Photo Challenge, Day 1

The subject is: UP

The obvious choice would have been the clouds, or sky, perhaps some birds.  However, being overcast and at the end of winter, the sky isn't all that exciting.  So, I looked about and found a few little things just popping their heads up for spring.
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