Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wild Child I and Wild Child II

photo: Whizzer

Thanks to Corporate America, we were at Six Flags Great America today. And boy am I exhausted. The kids did:

Kiddie Rides
Porky’s Buzzy Beez
Spacely’s Sproket Rockets (small roller coaster)
Big Red Cars
Big Red Planes
Dorothy’s Rosy Tea Cups
Bouncin’ With Wags
Looney Trotter (train)

Family Rides
Big Easy Balloons
Fiddler’s Fling
Rue Le Dodge (bumper cars, in the dark with a black light)
Roaring Rapids (water rafting ride)
The Jester’s Wild Ride
Sky Trek Tower (rotating tower for views of the landscape and park)
Whizzer (the tamest of the large roller coasters)
Columbia Carousel (merry-go-round, twice)
East River Crawler (twice)

photo: East River Crawler

And we shot foam balls around in one of the kid areas. And we steered around little toy boats and tiny monster trucks.

For the record, the official Six Flags site is pathetic and weak. For actual photos and info, see, self-billed as “the largest unofficial site devoted to Six Flags Great America.”

Wow. I think I’ll go to bed now.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mainstreaming the apraxic child

Scene: at the door of the preschool classroom

Bluestem: Oh, Mrs. R., if she does this (demonstrates Nea’s personalized version of the help sign), it means “help.” And if she says, “potty” that means “potty,” unless it means “party.” You have to watch for that.

Mrs. R: Oh, thank you! And what does it mean when she puts her tongue in the corner of her mouth, like this? (demonstrates)

Bluestem: It means she wants to talk about Lightning McQueen.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Is your child speech delayed?

If you suspect that your child is speech delayed:

  1. Ask your pediatrician or ENT doctor for a regular hearing test. They aren’t particularly accurate, but if your child passes it, then good. If he/she doesn’t pass it …
  2. Do a Brainstem Audio Evoked Response (BAER) test. Nea was only 18 months old when she did it, so she had to be sedated for it. It checks whether the brain is receiving the signals from the auditory nerve, so if your child passes it, hearing is definitely normal.
  3. If your child has normal hearing, contact your state’s Early Intervention program for a full evaluation. (for Illinois: for California)
  4. Remember that there are many reasons for a speech delay. Chances for a formal diagnosis are slight. Most of the children in Nea’s Early Childhood class have no diagnosis other than “developmental delay.” Alternately, they may have a more global issue (Down’s syndrome, autism, etc.) which includes a speech delay as one component.
  5. If your child goes through extensive speech therapy and, over time, apraxia is the most obvious diagnosis, a neurologist will suggest an MRI to check for brain deformity. Assuming none is found, apraxia will then be the official diagnosis. For further information on brain deformity and language production, please read Schulyer’s Monster.

More apraxia-specific info at my previous entry.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Apraxia progress

Yesterday Boo told me she had 6 papers in her backpack, and Nea piped up, “Ohn pay-pa!” (One paper in her backpack)

And today she told me what she wanted for lunch: “hah doe” (hot dog)

And this has nothing to do with her speech, but she just helped me dig up the rest of our potatoes in the garden and it was great fun. Us yelling at the ground, “Babies! Where are you? We want to EAT YOU!” Tonight we’re having my very tasty meatloaf (secret ingredient: vegetables) with crash hot potatoes. Don’t those sound amazing?

OK, we’re off to Easter Seals – taking the bike today!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It *was* really quiet here

I knew it would happen sooner or later.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Well-dressed at a faction of the cost

It’s officially rummage sale season again! Went to my favorite one on Friday and got an amazing pile for $87. And 25% of proceeds went to charity (a family shelter).

  • Hanna Andersson PJs, super cute, like new
  • Born shoes, all but new
  • A second set of winter boots for Nea, for when the nice ones are wet
  • A lovely like-new reversible vest for Boo
  • A fab reversible purple fuzzy side/satin side jacket, probably for Nea
  • Tons of long-sleeved t-shirts. Gap, Children’s Place, Gymboree, etc. etc.
  • Some great corduroy pants
  • A fleece Land’s End jacket for Boo
  • Sweaters from Land’s End and Talbots

And there’s another one coming up! That I totally shouldn’t go to!

God, I love the underground economy. If I’d bought this stuff new, the sales tax would practically have been half that much. Viva la subversive children’s clothing!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Carrot Cake or Zucchini Cake or ...

Some recipes are so versatile. You can use up what you have and not worry about the results. This recipe is one of them. I tried using the convection feature of my New Oven, but it didn’t really seem that different. Today’s double batch featured zucchini and chopped dried apricots. Yumsterilious.

***** Kate’s Friend’s Carrot Cake *****

Mix and let stand:

3 cups grated carrots (or zucchini, or a combo, or add a peach or banana, or …)
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
¾ cup raisins (or other dried fruit, like cranberries, apricots, etc.)

Cream together:
½ cup salad oil
¼ cup applesauce
½ cup white sugar (or slightly more)
½ cup brown sugar (or slightly more)
3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

Sift together:
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
2 tsp. wheat germ (optional)
2 tsp. powdered milk (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix and beat all ingredients from #2 and #3 together. Fold in mixture #1. Pour into well-greased Bundt pan (and bake 60 minutes) or about 18 lined muffin tins (and bake for 25 minutes).

Baking times are approximate! Check earlier, and if an inserted toothpick comes out clean, it’s done. Do not overbake. May be frozen. Spend entire time while baking thinking thoughts about missing Kate.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Rolling with the punches

Well, the school thing has been going pretty well. Assuming the weather is nice, Boo takes her Razor scooter to school in the morning, and I push Nea in the jogging stroller. When school is over, I drive around and collect them.*

And yet, here’s today, a lovely sunny day:

2:45 pm “Pick up kids!” I decide that seems wise.
2:48 pm I ascertain that that strange noise is the minivan, driving on a flat.
2:50 pm I am calm, cool, and collected on my bike. Have my own helmet and Nea’s.
3:00 pm Pick up Nea at first school. Start off to school #2.
3:15 pm Tell Boo she’ll have to walk home, next to me walking my bike. Boo whines. Neighbor offers to drive her home. Seems like a good idea, I think.
3:25 pm I beat neighbor back to my house, heh heh. I give her some tomatoes for the favor.

And while we were waiting for Boo, Nea went into the garage to get the bicycle pump and brought it around to the flat tire. Super cute!

* In order to not bore y’all, I’m skipping over putting Nea on the bus, walking Nea from private school to home, Oma taking the kids to school, and other permutations of our wacky schedule.

Oh, and by the way, Discount Tire fixed it for FREE. And we didn't even buy these tires there.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Signs of fall

N brought out the down comforters last night. Ahhhh. Nothing like the warm embrace of some winter bedding. This immediately brings out two games that summer never sees.

Evening game: A comforter-covered "Blanket Monster" Papa chases two squealing girls around the bedrooms.

Morning game: Mama tries to read with one leg supporting the comforter into a teepee-shape, while two giggling girls play underneath.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Boo's favorite songs

Boo made a CD for her friends. Here's what she's listening to these days.

1. The Alphabet of Nations / They Might Be Giants
2. Clap your hands / They Might Be Giants
3. Red banana / Ralph's World
4. Life Is A Highway / Cars Soundtrack
5. Rubber Duckie / Sesame Street
6. Seven / They Might Be Giants
7. Where do they make balloons? / They Might Be Giants
8. Sammie the Dog / Ralphs World
9. The Crawdad Song / Sam Hinton
10. Don’t let us bug ya / Andy Partridge
11. Captain Vegetable / Sesame Street
12. Linus and Lucy / Vince Guaraldi
13. The Hoppity Song / Five for Fighting
14. I’m telling you / Yum Yum

15. Bean Bag Chair / Yo La Tengo

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Nearly free and organic applesauce

We have an old neglected apple tree in the backyard, and I’ve been making crockpot applesauce this year. A little time with the apple corer, a little water, sugar and cinnamon. Yum yum and only as sweet as you want it to be. So far there are 5 quart jars and 7 pint jars in the freezer, but I have another large batch cooling and lots more apples on the tree.

Imagine zucchini pancakes with homemade applesauce! We had them the other night and the kids went wild!

Crockpot Applesauce

Fruit picker
Stainless steel apple slicer/corer
Potato masher
Paring knife

4 lbs (or however many as fit into the crockpot) tart apples, cored and cut into eighths
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup water


  1. Locate apple tree. If you don’t have one, there’s a fair chance your neighbor does, and I bet they would be thrilled if you saved them the effort of raking them up and throwing them away.
  2. Harvest apples. Then convince husband to climb onto garage roof to harvest more.
  3. Use apple corer to slice and core apples. Pick up each piece and examine it critically. Using a paring knife, cut away any suspicious bits. Toss recklessly into crockpot.
  4. Throw cinnamon and sugar into crock pot. If feeling ambitious, stir.
  5. Pour water over apples.
  6. Cook on high for 1 hour and then low for 3 hours.
  7. Mash with potato masher.
  8. Let cool, then refrigerate or freeze.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Vices of the literary kind

Bluestem, why is your house a disaster? Why can’t your second child talk? Why aren’t you spending more time volunteering at the schools? What the hell do you do all day!?

Well. I have a confession. I am a reader. I read. It’s an addiction. It’s a problem. Recently, I was reading Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad about My Neck: and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman when I came across this beautiful passage:

When I pass a bookshelf, I like to pick out a book from it and thumb through it. When I see a newspaper on the couch, I like to sit down with it. When the mail arrives, I like to rip it open. Reading is one of the main things I do. Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.

Which is lovely. And makes me feel much much better about my relationship with reading, which I often feel guilty about.
However, for real Reading about Reading Pleasure, I heartily recommend Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman. In fact, I plan to read it again tonight. It's been a few years. It's the only book I've ever bought multiple copies of to give as gifts to all the readers in my life.