Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rummage Sales

Tomorrow is the start of Spring Rummage Sale Season! My favorite season of the year, with the possible exception of Fall Rummage Sale Season. There are three that I generally go to and buy nearly all our clothing and toys for the kids. The thrill of the hunt! The ecstasy of the bargain! The ecological soundness of it all!

Afterwards my friends and I will go out for a glass of wine or sushi or both. You know, to unwind. Knock the adrenaline down a bit before bedtime.

I still need to go through the girls’ closets to see what they actually need for spring and summer.

Also, happy birthday to my big brother today! He’s old now. I can say that because he’s in Hawaii, and he can’t hit me from there.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dinner

N is making fish tacos and this recipe. Yum yum. I really like that it's brown rice nutrition without the brown rice bland. Those are Stacia's very amusing directions, below.

Stacia’s Spanish Rice
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 med onion, chopped
1/2 - 3/4 bag Trader Joe's frozen red, yellow and green pepper strips, chopped
1 cup brown rice
1 1/4 cup water
1 14oz can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
Chili powder, 2-3 tsp
1 tsp sugar
Salt
Pepper

A little cayenne

In sauce pan, heat some oil, add garlic, onion, frozen peppers and cook for a bit, maybe until the peppers are pretty well thawed and its starting to come together, toss in the rest of the stuff, cover and simmer for a while. I honestly have no idea about how long I cook it, maybe an hour or so.

I check it and stir occasionally because it'll start to thicken up. I usually have to add more water later if the rice isn't cooked all the way, just like 1/4 c or so; apparently I never really measure or time anything.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Ah, Spring.

As another storm hits us, with up to 6 inches of snow expected, it's hard to believe it's only 3 full months until my area's last frost date. ::weeps openly:: Find yours here. Expect a lot more garden talk in this blog, starting when I start my seeds in a few weeks.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

More on documentaries (and how I love them)

Well, after some comments on yesterday's post, I realized I should tell you (my adoring public -- how I love you all! ;-) what's on my "to be viewed" list. Good god, I really do like documentaries. I just looked at my queue, and of 54 movies, 11 are documentaries:

The King of Kong
Maxed Out
Into the Arms of Strangers
The Bituminous Coal Queens of Pennsylvania
Control Room
Who Killed the Electric Car?
Fighter
Bright Leaves
Harlan County, U.S.A.
The Business of Being Born
The First Amendment Project

And I neglected to mention the Seven Up series, my all-time favorite! It followed 14 British kids from 7 years old all the way to 49 years old, in increments of 7 years, ending here. Only four more years until the next installment!

Using money for good

If you are someone who is watching their wallet and has a kid, do NOT visit the Garnet Hill spring line. Definitely do NOT view the pirate sandals. Or the swimsuits. Or the dresses.

Later today I'll be sending another $27 to Heifer, mostly due to Goz!* Thanks, everyone!

* I only know it was Goz because he told me. Your shopping identity is otherwise secret. In case you were wondering.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Documentaries

A partial list of movies (via Netflix) I have watched in the past few years:

Sicko (2007)
Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price (2005)
An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
Murderball (2005)
Sound and Fury (2000)
Super Size Me (2004)
Grizzly Man (2005)
March of the Penguins (2004)
Why We Fight (2005)
The Fog of War (2003)
Bowling for Columbine (2002)
Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
Spellbound (2002)
Word Wars (2004)
Wordplay (2006)
Born Into Brothels (2004)
The Blue Planet: Ocean World/Frozen Seas (2001)


Here’s what we can learn from this list. I like documentaries. I am interested in politics, environmental issues, nutrition, language, special needs, advocacy, and justice for all.


Anyone have any suggestions for ones I have missed?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Grace

Our little friend Grace (age 5) is really shaping up to be a fabulous person. She had an embarrassing story that she had told Boo to keep a secret.* But it got babbled at the dinner time, in front of her family and ours. Grace turns to Nea and says, “Don’t tell anyone, ok?” My heart just melted. Sniff!


*I totally want to tell you all the story, because it is also adorable, but a promise is a promise.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Apraxia Information and Resources

Nea, who will be 4 in June, was diagnosed last year with severe apraxia. I thought I would post today more about what that really means. I did find out recently that there is a stage beyond "severe" -- "profound." I consider that good news for us (we aren't at the bottom).

Right now she receives 90 minutes of ST (speech therapy) at special ed preschool every week, one-on-one with the SLP (speech and language pathologist). In addition, we go to Easter Seals for a 60 minute session once a week, where I can observe and learn. We also get better homework there. This week we got new Kaufman cards (which have words to practice on them with pictures, like puppy, turtle, teddy). From the school we get pretty stupid homework, like straw and horn therapy and vocabulary to learn. Nea's receptive speech (what she hears) is totally fine.

Nea also receives 60 minutes a week of OT (occupational therapy) at school, where they work on her pencil grip and scissors and things like that. Nea has some limb apraxia, too, which means she has some trouble coordinating her fingers. She probably won't be able to button her clothing for a few years yet.


We use PECs cards, signs, and the standard "point and grunt" modes of communication, plus a few word approximations.

She has been making good progress lately. Her spontaneous words (in other words, not repeated after a direct model) have ballooned up to almost 10 words. Mama, Papa, beh (bear or Bert), no, yea, puh (up), tootie (cookie), hello, buh buh (bye bye). I've been sort of laughing about how at this rate, someday she will be hitting the bottom of a normal speech problem. Tootie is a classic example. The K sound comes very late, and many kids start out saying cookie that way.

So here's how a typical ST session sounds. They are still using a lot of direct prompting. Here are her best (not consistent) results, with the first word being what the SLP says and the second word being Nea's response.
dino=nino
money=noma
table=tahbo
on=ah
bubble=buhba
me=meh
no more=no ma
muddy=puh-de or muh-ee
needle=de-na

And yet occasionally she will produce a very nice "wow" or "cheese" or "yes."


Two excellent resources for more information:

http://www.apraxia-kids.org/
http://www.speechville.com/

The two best ST methods for apraxia are the Kaufman method and the PROMPT method, which uses touch cues for each sound.

The groups that I receive the most useful information from are the Windy City yahoo group and the Apraxia-KIDS website (I recommend signing up for the listserv they offer).

Also useful if you are new to the diagnosis or are unsure whether your child may have apraxia is the book: The Late Talker: What to Do If Your Child Isn't Talking Yet

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Here's a little love-related story for you. When I met my hubby, there was a point very early on where I wasn't sure whether to call him back. (He was supposed to call but hadn’t.)

My smart, wonderful, darling friend (may she rest in peace) said, "Screw him. Plenty of fish in the sea."

My not-so-bright, confused about many things friend said, "Call him. What do you have to lose?"

And, as always in these things, I took the advice that agreed best with what I thought. If I had gone with the smarter, closer friend's advice, I wouldn't have this lovely family I now have.

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you. Hope you all have some Necco conversation hearts to share with someone.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Books for the Littlest "Readers"

I was giving someone a tour of our bookshelves a few weeks ago and realized how many books I love. Why this is a revelation is unclear. Anyway, since I can't possibly type up all of them at once, here's just the board books we own and love.

Board books to sing

I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon – Jeff Moss
Snugglepuppy – Sandra Boynton
The Belly Button Book – Sandra Boynton
Over in the Meadow by Ezra Jack Keats (ok, not a board book. Whatever.)
If You Were My Bunny – Kate McMullan

Other top-notch board books my kids love

Dear Zoo – Rod Campbell
What Makes a Rainbow? – Betty Schwartz
Machines at Work – Byron Barton
Arthur’s New Puppy – Marc Brown
My Many Colored Days – Dr. Seuss
First Book of Sushi – Amy Wilson Sanger
Where is Elmo’s Blanket? – Shana Corey
Good Night, Gorilla – Peggy Rathmann

And really anything by Boynton, Barton, Richard Scarry, Lucy Cousins, and Maurice Pledger.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

What we last cooked

Poached Salmon a la Susan

Carmelize some slivered onions.
Add:
A tablespoon capers (or more!)
½ cup white wine (or vermouth)

Cook down a little. Then add:
½ cup chicken broth
2 salmon filets, skin side up

Simmer, covered, 12 minutes total. 9 minutes on first side, 3 on the other. Take out fish, put in cooked vermicelli* pasta, stir constantly. Add more broth, if needed. Toss it all together and serve.


One of my kids likes all of it! The other eats most of it! Guess which part!


*From the Latin, vermis, meaning worms. That should help convince the kids.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Book group selection for March

Next month’s book club selection is My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. Please remember to click through here for charity!

P.S. I haven't read this book. I was confusing it with some other book.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Freezing the money

What lovely weather we are enjoying. It rained on top of the snow, then it sleeted. Now it’s snowing. In an interesting turn of events, several towns around here are out of road salt! And it’s coming down in cute fluffy buckets.

But it’s a beautiful, sunny day in my head … For the first time, Nea said she wanted to go potty! Woooo hooo!

Speaking of winter, here’s a handy link for parents and students: School closings in the Chicagoland area.


Another fab event today – N agreed to a “no-spend” rest of February! We have a few nights out planned already, and we’ll go ahead and enjoy them. But no purchases or eating out for the next 23 days, other than food and gas. We did just get a birthday party invitation today, but plenty in the gift closet for that birthday girl! And my coworker is having a baby, but I have a whole stack of new books saved up! It’s a whole library-palooza for Baby L.

Anyway. Back to my point. This means we should be able to pay down the home equity line faster, which is good, because the Home Depot zero percent financing doesn’t last forever. And if we don’t have to move that onto the home equity account … I mean, I love the new kitchen, but debt sucks, and I’m not used to paying any interest on any credit cards or any other revolving credit.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Saturday, February 2, 2008

For my friend

Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy
My sinne was too much hope of thee, adored boy,
Seven yeeres tho'wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
O, could I loose all father, now. For why
Will man lament the state he should envie?
To have so soone 'scap'd worlds, and fleshes rage,
And, if no other miserie, yet age?
Rest in soft peace, and, ask'd, say here doth lye
Ben. Jonson his best piece of poetrie.
For whose sake, hence-forth, all his vowes be such,
As what he loves may never like too much.


By Ben Jonson