Hat Trick

Pennies From Heaven's Couch Cushions

Apologies for not posting anything yesterday. And apologies for that apology, because I bet you didn't even notice and quite possibly your life continued on just fine despite my lack of posting. Regardless, I had an excuse: Terminal Brain Fog.

For example, I spent most of the day writing and rewriting the same 9-word sentence. Over and over again. Nine words and then BLAMMO, headfirst into writer's block and some weird wrastling with the Passive Voice and then some Dangling Modifiers were all, "you wanna go at it? let's go at it. bitch."

And then I spent -- no lie -- 20 solid minutes ransacking my bathroom top to bottom because I could not find my tinted moisturizer.

Here's a hint as to how THAT went:


(Dear Microsoft: MS Paint Goggles. Could totally be your iPod. My gift to you.)

The real problem is that right now, the Biggest Thing going on -- exactly the sort of Big Thing I've come to depend on this blog community to help me ramble through and work out and get advice on -- is also one of those Very Difficult To Write About Things, because my intentions could very easily be misunderstood. Because it's tangentially about money. Stupid, tacky money.

Basically...would you, my fellow special-needs parents or anyone who has ever loved the spit out of a special-needs kid, ever knowingly get in over your head financially to pay for something, if you thought it was the best something for your child?

Noah's OT camp is officially over now. We saw HUGE improvements in these short seven weeks. Huge, noticeable improvements. We also saw just how much work there is left to be done, and the glaring gaps in his IEP. Stuff that the school district is just not concerned about, but of course, we are. So I naturally started inquiring about supplemental services provided by the agency that ran the camp. There were, thankfully, quite a few options. We were close to settling on a Saturday morning group plus maybe some one-on-one OT -- completely disregarding the agency's preschool because it was in the afternoon, which is when we were told Noah would attend the public school.

And then on Thursday we received his official classroom assignment. Surprise! It's in the morning.

By Friday, the last day of camp, we had an observation with the private preschool set up and an application in our hands and a spot tentatively reserved -- the last spot, of course, WHAT ARE THE ODDS -- because the occupational therapists who worked with him this summer told the preschool director that Noah absolutely needed that spot, that it would be the perfect, perfect place for him. Eight kids total, half of which attend district programs in the morning, over half of the graduates from last year are moving back into the mainstream this fall. Speech therapy, occupational therapy, parent support and counseling, customized treatment plans.

By Friday night, Jason and I were absolutely sick with misery, because of the numbers. The school is expensive. I mean, of course it is. It is more than twice what we budgeted for, back when we planned to send Noah to Montessori. (Oh! Funny story! We talked to them awhile back about whether they had many kids who also attended <name of the district's special needs preschool program> and kids with SPD/SID and they were all, "Hmm? We've never heard of any of that stuff!" and we were all, "Okay, thanks, bye!")

(Is that funny? Probably more like rage-inducing. I sometimes get those two mixed up.)

I mean, we're okay. We're really, probably, more than okay.  Especially when you go by the "new okay." The "recession okay." We did get nailed pretty hard this year with medical bills because our insurance company is a jackhole, and taxes because we suck at math, and a ton of house-related crap because being a grown-up is just one big endless sucking jackhole. And just when we feel like we've dug our way out and can treat ourselves to nice things like Macbooks and fancy tinted moisturizers and a hotel room for our anniversary, our dog up and eats fucking fertilizer for lunch.

(Aaaaaand this is why I mentioned "intentions." Because I seriously -- oh my God -- do not want it to sound like I'm hinting around for money. I'm not. And I know it's easy to judge someone's finances from the sidelines [u could afford to stay home with ur baybee if u stopped buying bronzer selfish whoor!]. [VARIATION: how dare u complain don't u no how blessed u are i don't even have cheekbones for bronzer selfish whooooor!] And  now I'm tempted to delete this entry all together. Maybe I still will. Stay tuned, alternative publishing universe!)

(But then I think...well, what if someone out there is looking at a gigantic pile of money RIGHT THIS SECOND and wishing there was a Deserving Child to give it to, like an orphan being raised by a blacksmith, who dreams of college and betterment and Estella Havisham! Or maybe the son of a blogger, who dreams of choo-choo trains and grilled cheese and Olivia the Pig. Who am I to stand in the way of their good deed? What if, in the absence of a Deserving Child, they spend it all on hookers and grape jelly?)

(But THEN I think that the orphan is probably way more Deserving, honestly, and really, if you have a pile of money that you really don't know what to do with it's better to look for reputable charities than random orphans who can end up being totally fucking ungrateful.)

ANYWAY. We just don't know what the right choice is here. We're mostly afraid of making the WRONG choice. So we go over it again and again, and the voicemails from the school are piling up, asking if we've mailed in the application yet. If we use the last bit of money we have in our savings, plus maybe some money back from refinancing our mortgage...if we cut back on all sorts of things (hello! goodbye, Sephora!)...if we put some of it on the credit card...if we apply for financial aid... But of course, we have to commit to the school and pay deposits and half the tuition BEFORE the financial aid decision would be finalized, and then I think about our roof and the sound the garbage disposal keeps making and we need to replace the basement carpet (EDITED TO ADD: These were stupid examples. Stupid! Of course I'm not going to keep him out of the school because fucking carpet. I was trying to illustrate that there would simply be no money left for unexpected emergencies but neglected to list anything resembling an actual, you know, EMERGENCY. Sorry.) I worry we'd be spending all year a mere hair's breadth away from financial disaster. I worry about paying for a whole other year of preschool NEXT year. And then Ezra's school the year after THAT. I worry that our original, cheaper plan would really be enough and I am almost annoyed by this stupid dangling carrot.

But then.


What if? What if we do? What if we don't?



My husband is about to make the switch to staying home, and going from a two-salary family to a one-salary one is killer. But. It is important to us, and reasonable to us. I know there are a million options, and I know they are all right, but I think --- go with your gut. And my gut, worthless as it is to you, says send Noah to the school. Money be damned. So to speak, and pray for good roofs and disposals and ... I know money is never damned. Anyway ... Oh! Aren't these questions hard?!


This is a tough decision, but I'd say it sounds worth the anxiety of the cost. Imagine the downsides of doing it and the downsides of not doing it. I think the upsides for Noah make it worthwhile -- just my opinion.


Amalah...the decision y'all (it's ok, I'm from Texas. I can say y'all!!) ;)
Back to it - the decision you and Jason make will be the right one. Need it again? The Decision You And Jason Make Will Be The Right One.


My general rule of thumb - must have 3-6 months living expenses stocked away for do-not-ever touch, or else I get all wacky with money anxiety. But aside from that, if you CAN do it, and you think it will make your/his life BETTER, than DO IT. Next year is next year and that's another decision, who knows what another year will bring (lottery fairies, I'm talking to you!)


Just my amount of money spent on an appropriate education for your child is ever poorly spent.

The other stuff will take care of itself over time, but for Noah, time is of the essence.


I think that the guilt of not knowing what would have happened if you had enrolled him will probably be far worse than the temporary financial burden.


I think you should make all necessary cutbacks in order for Noah to attend the more expensive school... especially if you have seen such HUGE improvements with his summer camp.

If the long-term goal is worth it, than the short-term sacrifices are worth it as well.


She Likes Purple

Open up a PayPal account. Let your readers give you what they can. THEY WANT TO GIVE YOU WHAT THEY CAN. If they don't want to, they won't. Please let us help you, even if it's only a little. Even if it's barely nothing.

I know you may feel very, very uncomfortable with this idea and disregard it immediately. I completely understand, but I can't imagine I'm the only one who's thinking, I HAVE SOMETHING I CAN GIVE. We've watched Noah grow up. We want to help him.

I've come to look at money in a very simplistic, sort-of-stupid way, I know, but it comes and it goes. Sometimes you have lots, sometimes none. Sometimes months are really good and sometimes months are really bad. Sometimes you have credit card debt because you want a vacation or a new appliance or to send your kid somewhere where he'll get lots of help. You ask for help if you can't make ends meet and hopefully there's someone who loves you enough to help you. And when you have extra and someone needs your help, you help them. We totally love you, by the way.


Hi Amy, I don't have a special needs kid, but I am wondering if you would strongly consider going back to work to allow Noah to attend the special school? Of course, you would have to be able to afford care of Noah while you are at work, so it may be a toss up. But I'm not sure running up the credit card in the long run is a great idea for your whole family.


oops - I meant you would have to "afford care of Ezra while you are at work". Sorry.


I agree with Nancy. As a former elementary school inclusion teacher, time is of the essence. The financial aspect will be a burden, but if Noah is showing improvement, it will be worth it in the end. I had so many students whose parents left it to the public education system to "fix" their child because they couldn't justify the expense of a private program. But there are just too many kids in the public system, and too much red tape, to give every kid exactly what is needed. It sounds like you've found a program that can do that for Noah, so I say go for it and skip the basement carpet and garbage disposal repair for now! Good luck. :)


I agree also with 'She Likes Purple' -- I would donate money to help you guys out. Even if it means that I don't get to buy something selfishly for myself (like that new Tiffany's necklace I've been eyeing up at KOP).


I agree with Nancy. Put Noah in the program. Do whatever it takes. You've obviously found a program THAT WORKS FOR HIM. That alone is worth it. The gains far outweigh any losses.

It'll be OK. Really.

Hugs to you and your family.


We don't have any special needs kids, we qualify for free/reduced lunches at school and are a 1 income family, even though I was really hoping to change that this fall. We need a new car since my husband hit a horse and totalled his, my dryer is broken, my vacuum doesn't work and we have no disposable cash. All that being said, I can see exactly where you are coming from. Your basement carpet needs to be replaced, but maybe it can wait? Your garbage disposal may need to be replaced? I don't have one so I know life can be lived without one. As for the roof? Maybe some minor repairs can get you through without having to put on a new one.

My point in all of this is that sometimes we have to pick and choose and prioritize. I know you know this and I'm really not lecturing you. Nor am I trying to guilt you into a twice-as-expensive preschool. But if this is THE place for Noah to be, then the other needs really dim in comaprison.

Please don't be offended, just take it as the opinion of friend. Because that's all it is.


I "third" the sentiment that you should put up a paypal donate button... I definitely have a couple bucks that could be put to better use than buying me a big mac! (My thighs would thank you also)

I like Purple

Agree with Purple poster. Do it. You'll find the money. This school is an investment.


My son struggled with reading and spelling in school. By a chance conversation with another mom when he was in 4th grade, I found out about vision therapy. With some simple tests, I found out that one of his eyes SHUT DOWN when he tried to read and then there were some other stuff that happened as well. We were told he needed 16 sessions at $100 each. My husband said 'no way'. Insurance said they would pay (later recanted) so I signed him up. It was the best money spent ever. He is a different boy because of it. He has more confidence and is more social and way less sad. IT WAS SO WORTH IT!!!


I don't know the answer but I very much love the whole whoooor! bit. Srsly. I have been pretty much called out by the same bad-spelling anonymous and this made me smile. Thank you.

As for your conundrum and the actual point of your post? Hm. I think you are a loving mother and that is the best thing to give your child, special needs or not. Yes, it would be ideal to shell out the bucks to go to the good school, but either way he is going to be fine. More than fine. He is going to be supported and loved and that is *relatively free.

*I say relatively free because in order to love your child you also have to love yourself and yes, sometimes that comes in the form of tinted moisturizer. The End.

Megan@Blueberry Scones

I agree with Shari - please make sure you have a fully-funded emergency fund, too. (I wasn't sure if that's in addition to the savings you mentioned above, or something else.)

I also agree that the benefit of sending him to school would be more than worth the money. Can you go back to work (outside the home; I know you're already working!) part-time? Would that be enough to cover daycare expenses, too?

I've read your blog for years. I feel like I'm one of Noah's aunts that he's never met, but is so proud of his accomplishments. I'd totally donate something.

I've also read of his progress with camp, and while I know it was expensive, it sounds like it was well worth it. If the school is more of the same...then go for it. See if you can get a loan from a credit union, anyway - they won't have the scary-high rates of a credit card.


As I see it, the worst case financial scenario from sending him to the school is this: you absolutely have to go back to work once the boys are both in school/preschool to pay off debts incurred during this time.

The worst case scenario if you don't is this: he continues to struggle and several years down the line you have to put him in an even more expensive program to do what the same things for him, only it takes longer because he's older.

I'd put him in the school.


We're recession okay, too. I got an extra freelance thing (much more part-timey than I like) and then lost my first freelance thing and holy hell, I am glad that we don't have kids.

Which brings me to "holy hell am I glad I don't have to make this decision." But really, if there's gaps in what Noah's IEP, then the private preschool "OMG expensive" thing will probably be the best for him. But OMG expensive! And did I mention I'm really glad I don't have to make this decision?


This is the way I see it. Over the years, you have provided countless laughs and nom nom-ness. It is truly an honor to read about Noah and Ez from your point of view. Without sounding totally creepy, YOU ARE LIKE MY MOST FAVORITE BLOGGER INTERNET FRIEND EVER.

And, I agree with Purple. I would donate. It won't be a lot. Not even near an "even" amount for the entertainment you've provided to me. But, I want to help.

I know money issues are sticky, and some people are just going to get all offended because they like being offended. But, there are a lot of people who won't. And some of us want to help.


I think you should send him. You've sounded more positive about that camp for Noah than you've sounded about any service for Noah in months -- years?

And I'd send you $10 for Noah if you made it possible. I'm fond of the little fellow.


Seeing as my retirement savings plan is totally centered around winning the lottery, I'm no help when it comes to finances. (from the girl who is studying to be an accountant...I think I may have a future in government)

Kids cost money. Period. Full stop. Spend it on what you think is important to you and your family.

And watch out for airing your financial laundry in the blahgosphere right now. That idiot from Poop on Peeps blog is currently raking Fussy (Eden) over the coals for having the audacity to lose her house in this economy. Just saying, to prevent you from, you know, going out to buy a new loaf of bread and bragging about it on your website. I'm picturing the headline now: "Well known blogger whines about education expenses, then buys GROCERIES!!!"


Holy cow these are hard questions. But, only you and Jason can make it. And I agree with Merynn - The Decision You And Jason Make Will Be The Right One.


Nancy FTW!

You will never regret spending the money on Noah, but you may end up regretting it if you don't.

I say do it, and let life sort out the rest of the details. (But I realize it's easy for me to say that, since I'm just a reader.)

Good luck.


Can't you just stick cutie little Ez in some Huggies or Pampers or OxyClean commercial (I hear they may be looking....) and then use his monies to pay for Noah's education and then when he's older and all where's muh monies biatch, just tell him he owns shares of Noah. Or something like that. And then there will obviously be a Where's the Oxyclean Baby Now? VH1 episode and then you'll all get a reality tv show ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$) and your boys will be rollin' in playboy bunnies. I think this could be a win-win-win situation. Then again, I don't have children so you probably shouldn't listen to me...


DO IT. If a roof leaks, you can put a bucket under it Carpet in the basement? bah! buy a bucket O concrete paint for the basement. You can MAKE DO with all that stuff, you cannot MAKE DO with Noah. PLUS you would feel like crap if you had those things and Noah did not take to the other school and keep improving. TELL the school what you are doing to make this spot for Noah happen and maybe they can payment plan you to keep stuff off the card. Explore the options!


This is isn't great advice, but my BFF always says, you will never know if you made the right decision b/c you will never know what the other happened if you made the other decision.

You love Noah, Noah is a great kid, and you only have his best interests at heart. You will make the right decision. But, you only know what that is.

Call/email/text if you want to talk.


Here is a thought from just some random reader. When I have a big decision like that to make, I think what is the best & worst that can happen with each choice. If you look at sending him to this school, maybe the worst wouldn't be THAT bad and the best would be wonderful. Alternatively, if he doesn't go to the school, the worst might be truly scary while the best would be...well, maybe not that awesome. Try the exercise yourself and see what you come up with.


Disregarding the money aspect completely, when you think about the morning preschool, does your gut say it's the right thing to do? If it does, do it. I firmly believe things happen for a reason and that the other money-related stuff will work itself out in time. Just hang in there, it WILL work out. Heck, put up a paypal link, I'll donate 20 bucks to Noah's bright-and-happy future!


Yikes! Such difficult decisions. I think if you really think this is going to be SUBSTATIONALLY better than your other option, go for it. And also, if you picture yourself looking back and saying "I should have _________," then go for it. You don't want to have any regrets.

Good luck. You will make the right choice!


This is a REALLY stupid story, but bear with me. I've lisped my whole life, and no one ever told me until I was 18, because the school district doesn't give a shit about you if they can understand you. If everyone can understand you, no speech therapy. I found free speech therapy through my college to try and correct it, but apparently when I was born they snipped the... thing... the thing under my tongue? too much, and at the age I was it would never really be corrected no matter how hard I worked. If someone had gotten to me earlier, things had been fine.

Why? Why am I still talking? Because if you can fix things now, and have some burden now, it would be better than letting it go and having more burden later. I can't even begin to figure out if this WILL work for Noah, because my whole experience with this topic is through your blog and a foot note in developmental psych class.

Basically, if you really feel this is what Noah needs, go for it and do it however you can. If you think you're just equating spending the money with better services, though, then don't.

I agree with the reader who said PayPal acct. for donations, but I can see how that's squicky. So many of us love Noah, and have watched him grow up and want to help... but we also don't want to put you through having to deal with the shit that would probably result from that.

Oh, my god, why am I still talking?


it sounds worth the risk to me, but I agree with previous comments that having an untouched emergency fund is so important, especially when you are preparing to take a "financial risk." There needs to be money to pay the mortgage, otherwise you can cut back, pick up more freelance jobs, and squeak by for the next year.


Oh, in refernce to the whole not writing anything yesterday. I want you to know that I was really disappointed. Alllll day I was clicking on google reader and NOTHING.


I agree that you've been happier with this program for Noah than any of the other things you've tried (or at least those that we've heard about here on the interwebs).

The basement carpet can wait. The roof can be repaired instead of replaced. You can live without a garbage disposal and fancy tinted moisturizers if you have to. But, can you handle wondering what could have been if you choose not to take this leap?

Money comes and money goes, but family and education are forever.

(and I just reread my comment, and realize I sound horribly preachy, so I want to apologize for that. I dont mean to preach. I just really REALLY like pictures of smiley Noah, and blog posts from a Happy Amalah about a successful Noah. and there have been more of those this summer than I remember seeing in a long time.)


Ugh. Hate money woes. We all have them and we can all empathize. Hang in there!

Now for random opinion - I say do it - you've already seen huge improvements from Noah and I have to think more of the same would really benefit him.


I say, do it. Definitely, do it. If you decide not to do it, five years from now will you be able to comfortably look back and say to yourself, "we decided not to pay for these services for Noah that have really helped him because well, we only had a three month emergency fund instead of six, and we needed new carpet, and it was just a really bad time for the economy."?

I'm usually all for fiscal restraint but this is one of those times when it is worth it to take the risk. If you do decide to move forward, then sit down and map out a plan, including a budget, for the next year so that should any emergency arise you guys will be ok. Maybe that means cutting out tinted foundation or maybe it means going back to work part-time but either way you guys will figure it out. Good luck.


First off, there is never enough money. There will never be enough money. There isn't enough money in the world.

But there is a Noah, who has grown enormously from his experiences at camp and we can hope he will continue to grow enormously from the special school.

Seriously, you will never be anything but poor. I retired for a year and lived on $850 a month and felt no more poor than I do now, making close to $5,000 a month. It's just that now my whimsical purchases are things like new pillow top beds instead of a Snickers on the way through the checkout lane. So you may as well do what your heart and gut tell you. And we know what that is.


I'll echo what other posters have said - I don't have kids yet, but I have watched Noah grow up on this blog and feel like a distant aunt! That being said, I wholeheartedly agree with Nancy: "no amount of money spent on an appropriate education for your child is ever poorly spent."

It sounds like a really tough decision to make and I don't envy you that. :)

BUT! I would also be very happy to give up some frivolous item in order to help out Noah - I am all for doing whatever it takes to get our kids the best education we can, so please let us know if you decide to go that route!


Dude, pay for the school. I mean, you're laying the foundation for Noah's future: preschool leads to elementary school, middle school, high school, ivy league college, etc. You want the kid who's someday going to be responsible for wiping your dementia-ridden ass to have the best start possible!


I do not envy the decision you have to make, but I support the Texan who commented way up near the top: Whatever decision you make will be the right one.

I think you have to have a heart-to-heart with your gut, and go with it.

You can live without a disposal, the carpet can wait. Be sure you have a back-up, in-case-of-emergency fund. Then go into debt. Or not. I don't know. He's made so much progress, but is it enough progress that he can manage without extra help until next summer? Time is crucial.

Arg. Like I said, I don't envy your decision.

If the lottery fairies visit me, I will totally fund his first year. I love that kid, even though I don't really know him.


I think the right decision is to put him in the expensive school. There's a reason he's in morning public school and that there was a spot left in the private afternoon program. The system has screwed him over so much with discharging him from services, etc. Do whatever you can to help him out now so he won't suffer more later down the road.


I always look at problems like this with the view of "what's going to matter in 10 years?" My current conundrum is be financially strapped for 6+ months so I can take a full 12 weeks maternity leave or live like normal and only take 6 weeks? For me, in ten years, what will matter is the time I was able to spend with my baby, not the financial hardship. In your situation, I think what will matter is Noah's long term benefit. If I were you, I'd bite the bullet and get him into the program. But that's me, and I don't pretend to have the whole situation in view.


I'm really glad you posted this.

I quit my job 3 months after baby cakes was born because my husband was graduating in January and was getting a job FOR SURE.

Here we are 9 months later with no job. And I pity myself EVERYDAY.

But. I still stand on top of my sugar coated soapbox that says: if you do what is best for your kid. It will work out.


And besides, you can live without garbage disposals, dishwashers - I grew up in a house with concrete floors in the basement - other things can be put aside. Noah can't.


Do it. Get him what he needs now. It will be so much better for him (and you) in the future.


And also, for the record, I checked about 4 times yesterday to see if there was a new post from you. :) I try to tell myself you have a life and don't exist solely for the purpose of updating your blog, but sometimes I'm hard to convince.


I'm glad other commenters have said it, and I will agree. Please let us help! Your blog is a constant source of hilarity in my life. It would make me so happy to put a little bit towards Noah's education.


I think you already know what you need to do. Carpet can wait. Food scraps can be scraped into the trashcan if the disposal dies. I just can't imagine a scenario in which you'd end up saying, "We never should have enrolled Noah in that school that helped him so much" - you know?

The Girl Who

Okay. So. I debated posting this comment because it might seem self-serving as in, come check out my blog. It's not. I promise. I'm starting up this thing called THE GREAT EXPERIMENT where anyone with a blog can enter ($2 entry fee), write a post and at the end of month we vote on the best post and winner takes all the money in the pot. NO QUESTIONS ASKED. I started it a week ago and so far I've received $60. A lot of folks are just donating to the cause, not entering the contest. And I'm sure I don't have a quarter of your readership. The reason I started THE GREAT EXPERIMENT was to help people like you in situations like yours. Good karma for me! And to help bloggers with no readership connect. If I can raise $60 in less than a week you can certainly do better. Or if you're uncomfortable with that, enter THE GREAT EXPERIMENT. (I'll even waive your entry fee). Get all your readers to come vote for your post and you win! It may not be much but it's a start. What if we collect a thousand bucks next month? What if a thousand people donate a dollar? Wouldn't that blow your mind. Anyway, that's the whole point of THE GREAT EXPERIMENT. One blogger a month donates instead of buying a Starbucks and BLAMMO, someone wins some cash for a blog post.

Tina C.

i would pay for the school now cause it's probably money well spent. perhaps if you don't do the intervention now it will 'cost more' in the future to help him and perhaps he will not need any more help if he gets it early and well. you don't actually need a new basement carpet or a disposal - can easily live without these. also if i were saving for a college fund i would quit that for now and use the money for this therapy. also, grandparents who are putting money away for his college may be able to help with this instead.


I agree with the majority sentiment here. You'll make it work financially, and the earlier he gets the help he needs, the better it will be for him later. When I have tough decisions like this, it always comes down to envisioning the regret: If it were me in this situation, if I regretted sending him, it would be for a financial situation, which can always be fixed (though the fixing may not be comfortable, it can be done). If I regretted not sending him, it would be because he wasn't thriving, and that can't necessarily be remedied like a run-up credit card can be.

I'm frustrated for you that you have to make this decision -- wouldn't it be nice if the public schools really did meet all kids needs? -- but it sounds like your heart (and your readers) are leading you to a choice.


I just clicked on all your ads about 6 times, I hope that helps. I also totally missed a post from you yesterday- love you guys.


Even hookers need grape jelly.

(And that is all I have to say. Because if there is one thing that little boy will never have to doubt, no matter WHAT you decide, is just how deep and endless and bottomless your love is for him, no matter what you decide to do. Because nobody can decide but you and Jason.)


The money will be hard, but if you can do it, even just for one year, that one year - especially since Noah is so young - could mean EVERYTHING to him. Perhaps next year he won't need it. Perhaps he still will. But next year is next year and you have an entire year to worry about it before it comes. (Obvious Statement of the Year)

I hate to say "everything will work out in the end" if you take this plunge because I know that it doesn't always work that way, but...everything will work out. You may have to sacrifice some big things, but there are so very few things more important than your child's education, especially for Noah right now at this age with his needs.


My assvice is to beg, borrow and steal but send him to that school. I agree with the commenter who said you should set up a paypal account. I remember reading one blogger who equated a paypal account button with the tip jar for a street musician. That makes sense to me and is not offensive. I enjoy your writing immensely and wouldn't mind throwing a few dollars your way as a "tip" for the pleasure of being entertained -- especially when it's for such a worthwhile "cause."


Our sons are similar in many ways...but luckily, our issues are more speech related (which the schools find to be worth their dime). If this school made an impact over the summer, stick with it, everyday if possible. Remember, water and sunshine are natural stimulation and help regulate those needs. In the winter, Noah won't have the outside time and will need the OT more. I know it is hard and the money demands are coming from everywhere. I am back in school to teach special needs kids so I can help my son more and to be home when he is home but it is expensive! It seems to cost more to get further ahead for our boys. They are an investment and one certainly worth making.


Thanks for all the comments so far. They're really helping me sort through more things.

First, I took my PayPal button down this morning, while I was writing this. I felt like leaving it up was disingenuous. And you know what happens with shit like that. I know we shouldn't let haters win and blah blah blah...I'm tired of it. You guys aren't an ATM, I am spoiled selfish whoor, etc., the end.

I do have other trepidations about the school -- the $ isn't the only con. I do feel like we're getting the hard sell on it -- it's the agency's most expensive option, and I feel rushed and hurried into it.

It would also mean Noah would be in school ALL DAY, five days a week, mornings and afternoons. He's...little! He still takes a nap! It's silly, but I worry that it'll be too much for him, schedule-wise, and he won't really get everything from it that he needs, where maybe some private OT for shorter periods once or twice a week would be more effective.

I'm perfectly willing to go without carpet and disposals (those were, in hindsight, poorly chosen examples) and go back to work once Ez is a little older and pay off debts, but the emergency fund is a stickler. If we were to do this school and then Jason lost his job...oy. And I'm prone to MASSIVE ANXIETY problems about money. MASSIVE.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't. So much to think about, GAH.


I think if you don't send him, you'll always wonder if he would have been better off if you had sent him. Whereas, if you do send him, you'll never wonder what other things you could have spent the money on.


Right now you should go ahead, fill out the application and put down the deposit (with savings, credit cards, etc). Then go to the financial aid session and beg and plead for some help.

Commit for 1 year. 1 year you can do, right? Then re-assess after that period. Take it one step at a time. Things will work themselves out. Even a year will be of great benefit to him.

That'd be my advice.

Plano Mom

Go for it. If the improvements are as incredible as they seem, then perhaps you can move to the less expensive option next year. If I had the money, I'd certainly help you, but I'm spending mine on lessons and opportunities for my kids. Improving Noah is worth more than a basement carpet, and I can tell you from personal experience that you can live without a garbage disposal.


All early childhood research indicates intensive early intervention is essential to put the child in the best possible position of success. The younger the child the better as their brain is still making neuro-connections. Most parents of special needs children carry some debt from time to time. Do it and go back to work if the amount of debt begins to bother you too much.


I think that in having kids, you make the commitment to do the very best you can. You give them advice, food, shelter, coping strategies for everything from mild frustration to peer pressure. Your job is to give them the skills to grow up to be a happy, productive grown up.

It sounds like this school is an extension of that gift. You can put down buckets (and watch Ezra knock them over because seriously, who can resist a bucket full of water?) And you can pull up your carpet or live with it. You can not have some of the things that you might be able to afford otherwise.

Do it. Lose sleep over the money if you want. But don't lose it over Noah.

Good gracious does this sound bossy. Just so you know, I also think that if you choose to got he other way, it'll be fine. You love him and keep working with him and by all accounts are as consistent as a sane person can be. Being loved is a coping strategy too.)


I agree with @Nancy. So much so, in fact, that I'm going to re-say what she already said:


Sorry for yelling. @Nancy is so right that it needs to be yelled.

Also, @Noelle, Amy works already. She does not do all her writing here, at Mamapop and at AlphaMom for free. She already brings in a paycheck! The expenses of WOH again would most likely negate any kind of income increase a ft/WOH job would entail.

Anyway, Amy -- DO IT. Sack up, slash the budget and enroll him. You may regret that you don't 'have more money,' but you will never regret the benefits this program might provide your child.

Also, I can't contribute to the cause (see above: 'slash the budget,' but for different reasons) but I definitely support a 'donate' button.


Oh and "parent support and counseling" included - that's worth the money if they can help YOU keep sane!


I agree with Judy above. There will never be enough money for everything you want/need in this life. Remember that haunting D.H Lawrence story, the "Rocking Horse Winner", where that poor little boy is rocking on his horse trying to get to the finish line and win, because the house is whispering to him, "There must be more money!" Oh, that story has always haunted me, because that's how i felt as a kid.

I was sent to a fancy high school, given all kinds of private lessons, and my parents paid my college tuition in full. Same with my brother. BUT...they never let us forget it. We were always made very aware of the money they had spent on us. My mom would call me and remind me not to skip college classes, because every class i skipped was X amount of "her money" down the drain. I went to classes with mononucleosis and a broken back (not at the same time) rather than skip.

My brother, before he died, was trying to actually "pay back" our parents, in dribs and drabs, for his high school and college tuition. Three months before he died, he took out a life insurance policy, with my mother as the beneficiary, for the exact amount he figured he owed them. And then he died. Suspicious circumstances.

So....what i am babbling about here is, I will move heaven and earth to do all I can for my kids. I personally would put my kid in an expensive school if it was exactly what he needed to shine and grow and live long and prosper and all that.

My only caveat is, don't talk about the money around Noah. Please. Do NOT ever mention around him how expensive the school is, or talk about the corners you are cutting to send him there, because believe me, kids understand. They absorb. And they will feel guilty. Kids don't ask to be born, they don't ask for diapers and formula and schools and all the other things we need to give them. They don't ask to have special needs that require intervention.

ms martyr

I would donate. Nobody is being coerced into helping but those of us who can and want to should be given the opportunity.
I never had children so use Internet cuties as surrogate grandchildren (yes, I am THAT old)


Tough, tough choice. If it was waaayyyy too expensive, you could shrug and say 'oh well'. If it was cheaper you wouldn't be worrying about it. But here you are, right on the teetering edge of can-we-swing-it. Good luck with your choice, is all I have to say. I'm sure you'll do the right thing. What are the school's policies on withdrawl? I know you'd probably lose your deposit, but how many months is the penalty? Could you go until Christmas and then see what you think?

Laura in LA

Do what is best for Noah, sign him up....pray about the rest. It works I promise!


I don't know about you, but I get these blank checks in the mail from my credit card company about twice a month? If I were you, I would load those babies up in a heartbeat. If you can, keep your 3-months of savings and pay the interest on credit.

Money can be made. You have your whole life to make money, and you can start making Noah pay you back once he's a little bigger. (KIDDING!)

Also, open up that Pay Pal link. Seriously. We are all itching to pay something forward here, and I just watched 10 comments pop up on this post in the time it took me to browse the rest of the page. THE GOOD KARMA YOU'VE UNKNOWINGLY BUILT UP IS KNOCKING AT THE DOOR -- SO OPEN UP AND LET IT IN!!!!


You guys will make the right decision. Honestly, the way I'm reading it, you already have made your decision...but I could be wrong, so I'll not elaborate :-)

Totally not related in a "need" sort of way, but I go through the same thing with my daughter's dance. She is *extremely* talented (honestly, not just a mommy brag LOL) and it's insanely expensive for me to keep her in it. But it's good for her in so many ways, I just find a way. You will too. (((HUGS)))


Go for it. His teachers at the camp know they can help him. That last spot may have been a sign. The money will be worth it.

And I missed you posting yesterday, but I'm not like, irrationaly angry or anything! :) Just glad to hear from you today.


I don't have/love a special needs child (except for Noah, of course), so my opinion should probably mean nothing to you, but I'll throw it out there anyway. I say you guys can join the rest of us on the brink of financial ruin, because you cannot "settle" in this case. But I think you know that already. If there's any possible way you can swing this, you'll do it.


I agree with the PayPal idea and the Jason delivering pizzas idea and the send Noah to school and figure it out as you go idea. As if my opinion really matters (and it doesn't. It really really doesn't).

We all know that none of this is easy for you guys, just as all things that matter in life aren't easy. Ultimately, you'll do the right thing, all of our voices be damned and Noah will be the better for it. You're a great mother. Jason is a great father. Trust your gut.


Tough one. I'd probably go for the special fancy expensive school but seriously consider working outside the home, or freelancing/contracting for your former employer or something. Financial stress, snowballing financial commitments...those suck, and are stresses that can really hurt a happy home. I grew up in a home with financial stress and wouldn't want to put other kids through that for anything. Unless - maybe! - you and Jason have a perfect, rock solid relationship that can withstand financial stress.

As for the paypal button, honestly I wouldn't do it. Like you say there are so so many more needy kids out there in the big scheme of things. Kids who don't have healthy food or even breakfast. I'm just saying...


My gut says DO IT!! how can you not?

My gut is VERRRY smart.. I would trust it! :)


I know your anxiety. I am friends your anxiety. Your anxiety and I used to do lunch, but then she totally got all uppity on me and stopped returning my calls.

I don't have a special needs child and I'm sure that adds, like buckets' and dump trucks' worth to the anxiety, but we are living as lean as humanly possible to send the girl to school somewhere I feel will ultimately benefit her.

And no, I wouldn't bankrupt myself for Montessori, but I would come pretty damn close. Brakes on van starting to not work when I hit them close. So, do what you can, what you feel best about and then put it out of your mind and kick that anxiety bitch to the curb. She never picks up the check, anyway.


Since we're always living a hand's breadth from disaster at my house (except now, when there's no hand's breadth between us and disaster at all -- my husband's GAship that usually pays 10 months starting in August is now paying 9 months starting in September and I have BILLS, y'all), I'm probably not the best advice-giver when it comes to finances. But I can also state categorically that living a hand's breadth from disaster is actually pretty livable, especially when you're doing it because you're investing in someone's education (in our case, it's grad school for the two grown-ups). Also, as the daughter of an audiologist, I spend a lot of time hearing about the vital importance of regular, consistent therapy; whether it's speech, language, OT, whatever is needed, having it as regularly (and as frequently) as is recommended is worth the expenditure. Ultimately the decision is yours, and you know ALL the particulars (including the size of the hand whose breadth will be between you and disaster), but if the OT camp was really effective for him ... well, you get the idea.


I would send Noah to the special school. I have seen first hand what a difference the right place can make. It's worth the money, IMHO. And you're not tacky because you are trying to figure how to afford what's best for your child!

And I totally agree - you need a donate button. People might not be able to give a lot, but if they knew it was going to help Noah, I know people would want to help.


Please, please, please let your readers help. I'd be happy to make a donation via Paypal. I had a baby in April, and Zero to Forty, Bounce Back, and your blog have been just as valuable to me (and infinitely more entertaining) than the gazillion pregnancy/new mommy books and magazines I've wasted money on.
P.S. I also checked way too many times to count yesterday for a new post.


Although I agree with almost all of these comments, I feel compelled to say that the priority of Noah's school has to be balanced against sleepness nights and debt that ties your stomach in knots. If you can do it without going crazy, you'll do it (as someone who reads your blog I obviously know you SO WELL I can predict this). But seriously, if that kind of financial strain would be detrimental to your family's happiness and stability, don't feel guilty about NOT doing it. (If you think that's impossible, then you've probably already decided to send him.) I'm just saying that there must be other programs/possibilities that would be less expensive even if they aren't quite as ideal. You are obviously an educated and pro-active parent. Noah is obviously a smart kid. He will be OK either way -- the results might be quicker/faster/easier with the expensive program, but if the money issue is so scary it makes you cry, not sending him doesn't make you a terrible parent.


Oh, Amalah, what an anguishing situation. I don't have any great advice, but I just wanted to let you know that I feel for you. Thanks for sharing this with us.


Well, here's my 2 cents from someone who is not in your position....if you and Jason truly believe this school has made such a big difference in Noah's life then you owe it to him and yourselves to do everything in your power to keep him there. These really are important years (which you know) and...sorry to say...public school is overloaded and will likely not be able to give him everything he needs. If you can give him a better foundation before he starts Kindergarten it will make a huge difference for all of you. We've been dealing with reading and speech for my boys this summer and though it was a bit of a financial shock for us I am very grateful we are able to afford it. Just over the summer it has made a big difference so I know it will continue to be worth the money. Good luck!


I agree with those who have said this totally has to be YOUR decision. Is there an unbiased professional who could help you navigate whether or not Noah absolutely needs that afternoon spot or if your former plan might work?
(((HUGS))) These are the kinds of difficult in the heart decisions that make it so hard to sleep at night.

rhiannon porter

I have a special needs child and I would do anything if I thought it would make a difference like this might do for Noah. Like some of the other commenters I feel it is important to have an emergency fund and all that, but if you don't maybe you can make a commitment to yourself to put this first for a while and let some other non-emergency things go, like recarpeting the basement. Also, I really recommend giving yourself a re-evaluation date, like 3 months or so when you can sit down and see if your financial priorities are still the same. Nothing is final, but give yourself the chance to find the right path. Good luck, I know it's really, really hard.


So, I have one child who is special needs (similar though different from Noah) and a baby, and I totally know where you're coming from.
However, last year when Matt was going into jk I was sourcing schools, and found one that I almost sent him to. The problem was cost. It is ridiculously expensive. Prohibitively so.
I went to see the public school and I met Matt's future teacher. I knew from the minute I met her that she understood my child and she was willing to help him - and us.
For us that decision worked out really really well. The teacher he was assigned is a gift from heaven. really - she was trained in ADHD (part of matt's issues) and has made an incredible difference in his life. He has her for SK as well. So, the decision to keep him at this school for another year is all about the teacher.
Added to that is the fact that she works with the special needs team, and I feel that at this point he is getting the best help possible.
But, the truth is I trusted my instincts and knew the minute I met his teacher that things would work out.
So, my long-winded point is trust your instinct. In my case it's at our public school, but if this teacher were at the private school I would be re-mortgaging my house to have her.


Totally agree with Nancy, one of the early posters. Education is worth it. It might be a tough year or two financially, but I can't imagine you'll regret it in the long run.


Question! Does Noah have to go to both schools? Would the camp school be better for him right now or does he need to go to the other one to secure the IEP etc for later??

Children cost way more money than I think any of us are every prepared for.

Megan@Blueberry Scones

As long as everyone else is confessing this, I'll say that yes, I was also updating your blog a whole lot yesterday.


There was a button, I saw the the button - put the button back.

I want to help, that's all.


Amy, if you are seeing the huge improvement from what he got at the camp, I think it is very much worth the sacrifice for him. Money can be made, but your child's growth and development are imperative now. I'm saying this as someone who's lived on one income (VERY VERY TIGHTLY) for the past 5 years so we could have a stay at home parent. (((HUGS)))


I agree with so many others: If you have seen big progress this summer, and you don't seize this opportunity, you will always wonder, 'what if'?


I am a big believer that you know deep down what your kid needs. When our kid needed out of public and into private we gave up a lot to get him there - and then again when his sister followed. When the same kid needed the private high school over the public we gave up more...I'm envious of those who "vacation" and those who drive bigger cars and those who shop as a hobby until I look at the kid I've spent so much money on it makes my head spin - and that kid is going to be a Senior and last semester he made the B honor roll.
Follow your gut and dig in the cushions.


I didn’t finish reading all the comments, but I 100th the sentiment of doing whatever it takes to send Noah to the private preschool. In 5 years you will never feel guilty for not replacing the basement carpet or the garbage disposal, but you will feel guilty if you think Noah could have been better off with the services he gets in that school. Being poor sucks, but feeling like a bad mom sucks worse. (Not saying that you would BE a bad mom if you don’t choose the school, just that you might feel like one.)

Also, the paypal account is not a bad idea. As far as I know, my son (14 months) has no special needs, but I’m still setting up a “Send Cash to Preschool” fund for family to contribute to at Christmas, birthdays, etc. Preschool is expensive, and we will need help paying for it when the time comes. If other people want to help, let them.


I agree with the other comments. Also, I want to direct you to your own post...

UMMM HELLO PROGRESS??? Can we keep celebrating? Please?

Finally, I think you need two donation buttons: one for Noah and one for tinted moisturizer.


I say do it too. Noah needs it and now is when the most benefit will happen. I got a couple of bucks I can donate too.

Missy P.

Holy crap that's a sucky decision to have to make. Of course you want to spend every last cent you have on making Noah's life and his future the absolute best it can possibly be. Of course you do. But WINE! and LIP GLOSS! And LIFE! But.....I think if you don't do it, you'll always regret it. And regret sucks worse than crappy carpet. I have no doubt if you commit to it you'll find some way to make it work out financially. (Over HERE sugar daddy!)

All this coming from a woman whose 10 year old has been complaining about her ankle for a year, but who has yet to take her to the ortho because my insurance is crap. Okay, point made. I'm making the appointment now :)


Only whoors own a Wii!! (I own a Wii)


Amy, I skipped right to the end of the comments and did not read a single one because I strongly believe you should put Noah in the best program right now, can no matter how you get it paid for. You and Jason will find a way. My husband and I always seem to find a way when those crappy Life curveballs wing our way!

The comments to this entry are closed.