Friday, May 30, 2008

Our communication device

DynaVox MT4, an augmentative and alternative communication device

For now Nea will be using a DynaVox DynaMyte, a touchscreen 3 pound talking thingie with multiple screen levels.
We toured the Tango at Easter Seals recently (they have action videos on their web site if you are interested). It's flashy. It's cool. If Nea was never going to talk, I would be twisting arms to get her one. Twisting hard. But it's too cool, I think. You go to the breakfast menu (using nice big pictures). You click the picture of oatmeal. It says "I would like oatmeal, please." with excellent inflection. But even though the crappy talker we have makes you use 3 pictures to say "I" "want" "oatmeal" using two different screens, I think that's better for her. Make her work for it, I say.

Anyway, it belongs to the school. If we lose or break it, we owe $7000. I'm thinking about calling our insurance to have a rider put on our home insurance for it.
It's unbelievable how, quite frankly, crappy this product is. For a tenth of the cost, we SHOULD be able to get an older laptop and some software. There's something really wrong with a world where this is the best we can do for our non-verbal children at that price. The Tango is also $7000. What a coincidence.
OK. That's my last post about apraxia for awhile. Unless I tell you the story about how Nea managed to ask my overweight non-gestating coworker about her pregnancy using only gestures and the word "baby." That was a special moment for me.

If you can't read that, it says "“You may not hear my words but just look into my eyes and listen with your heart." Makes me all weepy, it does.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ohmigod! Gas prices are, like, so insane!

Seems like everyone is bitching about the high gas prices. Except for us earthy crunchy types. Finally, Americans are learning how to conserve finite resources. Driving is way down. Smaller cars are selling briskly.

My little poll showed that gas prices are affecting many of us. My husband now carpools with 2 other coworkers, 50 miles roundtrip daily. I thought the day would never come.

I don’t drive much anyway, as I telecommute for work (or take the train when needed) and mostly walk to the kids’ schools, the library, the park, the grocery store. Now that I’m jogging regularly, I simply jog to the post office or some other practical destination.

Perhaps the two people who said “no lifestyle change” are already leading car-free lives. Maybe.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Gardening on a budget

Like most hobbies, gardening will expand to consume all the time and money you wish to commit to it. Luckily, there are some easy ways to not spend the Last of the Grocery Money on this hobby. The time problem I can’t help you with.

Be a plant whore. Be sure to tell your friends and neighbors that you are interested in any “spare” plants that have popped up in unwanted areas. I scored a bottlebrush buckeye that way this weekend!
Check out neighborhood plant sales. Some gardening clubs have annual sales with excellent prices. They are often listed in the garage sale section of the local newspaper.
Try the big box stores. Menard’s, Home Depot, etc.

Start from seed. I especially recommend this for the easier veggies (like cukes, squash, and beans) and herbs.
Cultivate patience, patience. Buy one hosta, wait several years, then viola! (heh) Two hostas!

If all else fails, with cover of darkness and a spade, you can save even more money. The neighbors probably won't even notice.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

How does my garden grow?

Well, thanks for asking! It's doing pretty well. I mean, some things better than others. Here are a few highlights.

My garden is just like Millineum Park. Except while I only have one blooming prairie smoke plant, that park has thousands. But let’s not quibble. I have one! How exciting.

Below is my purple asparagus, that row of tall thin spindley things. The insanity covering the ground is my horde of dill sprouts. I have thousands. Would you like some?

And lastly, my potato plants. They are growing vigorously, probably because I planted them in the old compost pile.

Well, soon I'll be feeding my offspring off the fruits of my labor and land. What could be more satisfying?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Recipes as requested

Dill Dip
2/3 cup mayo
2/3 cup yogurt
2/3 cup sour cream
Various chopped fresh herbs (parsley, dill, chives, etc.)
Some dry herbs if you don’t have enough fresh
1 tsp seasoned salt

Mix. For best results, chill overnight. Serve with raw veggies or chips.

Garlicky Oven Fries
Serves 4

6 minced garlic cloves
6 tablespns veg oil
3 russet potatoes, washed and each cut into 12 wedges
2 tablespns cornstarch
1½ tsp salt
¾ tsp pepper
½ tsp garlic powder

Heat oven to 475 degrees. Combine oil and garlic in bowl and microwave about 1 min. Transfer 5 tablespoons oil (leaving garlic) to baking sheet and coat.
Add potatoes to bowl with garlic and toss. Wrap with plastic wrap and microwave about 4 minutes, shaking once.

Combine cornstarch and spices in a bowl. Sprinkle over potatoes and toss. Put potatoes in single layer on sheet and bake, turning once, until golden brown, 30-40 minutes.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I have other interests

I met with the regional apraxia support group last night. Conversation with N yesterday:

Me: I have apraxia tonight.
N: Won't that be difficult?
Me: Uh!

But, can I just state for the record? This reading endlessly and obsessing endlessly and generally making apraxia my hobby? Not. My. Idea.

Anyway. I don't have it in me right now to go into the details of the DynaVox MT4 communication device that is now part of the family. I'll do that soon. I know, most of you will be on the edges of your respective seats.

Tiny teaser: $7000 just doesn't buy you much these days.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Books and worms

Aha! I have located the problem with yesterday’s posting. This is why you weren’t impressed. I forgot to mention that I had been out with book group boozing until almost 2 a.m. the night before. Now my time sounds amazing, n’est pas?

Speaking of book group, next month's selection is
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky. I just finished it, and it is my favorite book of the last 6 months, at least. The story behind the book is also remarkable, in that the manuscript was unpublished until 60 years after her death in Auschwitz.

The main reason, as I believe I've mentioned, why I'm posting less is that it is high-season for gardening. All my veggies are planted into the actual dirt in the actual ground except for the tomatoes. I'm thinking they'll go in Friday.

Here's what we have this year:

Bok choi ("baby" variety, very annoying. Wanted "adult")
Carrots (haven't sprouted yet)
Strawberries (free plants, whee)
Asparagus (purple!)
Tomatoes (5 kinds)
Bell peppers
Green beans
Butternut squash (of course)
Basil (purple and regular)
Parsley (about to sprout, I'm sure)
Chives (massive)
Spinach (unsure whether they are up, as I don't know what they look like)

Whew. That explains why I'm a little tired. Everything except 8 of the 21 tomato plants were started from seed.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wherein I pretend to be athletic

OK, so, Saturday I ran the Easter Seals 5K. Beautiful weather. Perfect conditions for self-inflicted torture.

I reminded myself at the beginning that it’s important not to start too fast, so I was one of the last down the road. Chug chug chug. Huff puff. I was running 12 minute miles when I hit the 2 mile marker. Only a little over one mile left. I took stock. I decided I could push myself a little. So, I actually passed a few people on my last mile, which clocked in at under 10 minutes. Not blistering, but pretty good for me. Did the whole thing in 34 minutes and change. I’ve been waiting for Easter Seals to put up the results, but I don’t think they have yet.

Also, Boo walked the whole 2 mile course with her friend Madeline! Not too shabby.

Thanks to those of you who donated! We appreciate it, and we know that it will be used to help those in need of physical, occupational, and speech therapy. You can donate anytime. I will continue to donate funds from the Amazon link through the end of May.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Ask and ye shall receive

I realized not too long ago that I'm always working the angles. Trying to get stuff free or greatly reduced. Bartering. Haggling. Once in awhile, I have quite a streak.

I had a coupon for a free reusable bag from Trader Joe’s, so I found my 5 items that I needed, took them to the register, and the guy said “Oh, this is the first one of these coupons I’ve seen.” So I jokingly asked, “Do I win a prize?” and he and the manager gave me 6 bonus items, including some pricey trail mix and honey roasted peanuts!

And as if that’s not enough, last weekend I reserved a room at the Hard Rock Hotel downtown, using my corporate discount (totally allowed, even for non-business travel, since I’m paying), and I mentioned that it was my Big Milestone Birthday and could they upgrade me. She said, “I can’t, but ask when you check in.” So, when I’m checking in I’m feeling all silly about it and don’t say anything. But the receptionist says, “I see it’s your birthday. Here’s a free drink coupon, and we upgraded your room.” Hell yeah they did. It was a suite on the 32nd floor, with beautiful views of Millennium Park, Michigan Avenue, the river, the lake. It was spectacular. We paid about a third of the standard rate.

It pays to ask. If you don't ask, you don't what you might be missing out on.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


God, I love this country. Sure, our president supports torture and is generally a total dipshit, but TODAY! Today I went online and pre-ordered a sandwich from Potbelly’s, strolled over and picked it up, and was back at my desk surfing the 'net without any annoying “waiting for the sandwich to be made” time.

It’s conveniences like these that make this country great.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Some days. Some days are beautiful on the outside, but dark and stormy on the inside. How unfair is it that I had to sit and work on awful boring technical writing crap that contained the “word” impactful TWICE while outside the redbud and apple tree vied for the award of “most lovely.” And in true kindergarten spirit, redbud wins for “most impressive color” while apple tree wins for “best smell.”

I went with “influential” to replace “impactful.” Not quite the same meaning, but let’s not quibble and argue when you are obviously just using fake words to piss me off.

Plus now I’m way over my quota of quotation marks. Bah.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Liar, liar

A little while back, I was essentially called a liar in the comments for this post. I have lost sleep over this accusation, and have finally decided to come clean. Fine, fine, I did tidy up before the photo shoot last time. Today, I show you my true colors. This is what my desk really looks like on an average day.