Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Boo has been making Christmas cards for a few years now. I'd say three, maybe four. She has always enjoyed doing crafts, so it seemed like a good way to channel her energy for the weeks leading up to the holidays. I always had extra store-bought cards for if/when her creativity dried up. I certainly didn't want to be some horrible mom, forcing the poor kid to make card after card, the tears and the glitter mingling.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Another idea that I am using comes from Bitch Ph.D. A booklet of certificates for activities, instead of things. Makes a great stocking stuffer!
- good for one trip to the playground
- good for one trip to [local pizza joint]
- good for one trip to the park
- good for one trip to the library
- good for one playdate with a friend
- good for one trip to the pool
- good for one trip to the zoo
- good for one trip to the Morton Arboretum
- good for one hour of cuddle time in bed
- good for one movie with popcorn
- good for one bike ride
- good for one obstacle course challenge
- good for one session of cookie baking
- good for one picnic
I'm going print them out on fancy paper, cut them out and staple them into a book. I'll probably draw pictures to explain them for Nea.
Because, as we all know deep down inside, our kids really want to hang out and have fun with us more than they want another Littlest Pet Shop toy or video game. At least that's what I believe.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
Friday, November 27, 2009
NPR even had a story a week ago about what a breakthrough this was on helping people manage their pain. Um, ok. If I'm discussing pain with a doctor, it's at least a 5, or I'd be at home, drinking tea on the couch. Anyone who says 10 is either addicted to painkillers (and hoping to score more) or lacking in imagination.Let's take that old standard, childbirth, as a ten. Well, what if you were giving birth and someone started stabbing you repeatedly in the foot? While splashing boiling water on you? And pulling out chunks of your hair? You'd feel silly then, wouldn't you. You'd already self-reported your pain at the top of the scale.
So, under the premise that "It could always be worse" (my personal rallying cry), let's just save 9 and 10 for wartime and torture. So we've now shrunk the useable part of the pain scale from 5-8. That's not much of a range.
All this to say I have pleurisy. After my usual hemming and hawing, I gave it a 6.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Yeah, the problem with giving free tote bags to people when you give crap service is that they might, I dunno, change them. And carry them all over town. A lot. (previous post on UHC saga with advice)
So, UHC lied and said they paid those 3 speech therapy sessions from November 2008. As in, a year ago. The last several times I talked to them they said, "You no longer have coverage with us." And I said, "No shit. I'm still trying to get you to pay for something that every person I've spoken with at UHC says we should be covered for under our gap exception FROM LAST YEAR."
So I heard a rumor that the insurance companies hate it when you file a complaint with the state's Department of Insurance (Illinois). I hear there's loads of paperwork. So tomorrow is my last call to UHC.
Thanks to the power of Twitter, here's just a few of the dates when I've tried to get these claims fixed:
- I'm on hold with United F'ing HealthCare.
7:10 AM Jul 27th
9:28 AM Jul 30th
11:59 AM Sep 4th
10:05 AM Sep 14th
9:52 AM Sep 21st
We've had BCBS for a year now. It's been fantastic.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
For January, it's The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I've heard good things -- looking forward to it.
There are many remarkable things about our group. My favorite one, though, is that none of us scrapbook. That's probably why we get along so well.
Friday, November 13, 2009
The example given was, don't point to a picture of an apple and ask the child, "What is this?" and they go off and find the button and press "Apple". Instead, ask questions around that picture that uses core vocabulary as the answers. So I decided immediately that I had to experiment with Nea and her talker. I went home and asked her to tell me everything she knows about penguins.
What color are they? (black, white)
What do they eat? (goldfish crackers - har! and fish)
What do they like to do? (swim)
What would you wear if you were visiting them? (swimsuit)
Then we found the penguin button, too, but we'd used the talker so much before we even did that. It was fun, and she enjoyed it, and I hope doing activities like this will help her realize that the whole world is pretty much in that box. She just needs to learn how to use it more.
Because, you see, the talker is difficult in many ways, but the hardest for us is that Nea can talk a little. It's hard for her to decide to go through the effort of figuring out how to say something on the talker when she might be able to get her point across to us by speaking. This will resolve itself in one of two ways, of course. Either her speaking will improve to the point where she doesn't need a talker. Or her talker skills will increase to the point where it's not such an effort to say something.
Today I took some online training with the woman who developed the software we are using, WordPower. The most useful part of today's session was seeing how powerful the Vantage Lite can be once Nea is more literate. The word prediction is especially helpful. If you know how to read.
A couple links:
- Aac.languagelab.com - resouces like lesson plans
- Teaching.prentrom.com - teaching materials, online training
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Many Sprüngli locations, but only in Switzerland. Big big sigh....Now I'm just torturing myself. Ugh, so awful! Wah boo hoo, no more Luxemburgerli.
Monday, November 9, 2009
things i do not like
Chrissie Hynde's voice
things I do like
movies, especially with popcorn
all food, really, just about*
Ira Glass's voice
*cottage cheese is not food
Monday, November 2, 2009
Oooo! Free candy from strangers! I think all they heard was "blah blah blah candy! Blah candy blah blah!"
Friday, October 23, 2009
So, a few months ago I checked out a copy of Mother Earth News (I've blogged about just that activity before). That issue had a review of this book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. I put the book on hold at the library, as I was intrigued. I used the Internet to perform the hold, as I am slothful and enjoy reserving books from the comfort of my unorganized home.
Yesterday I made the basic bread recipe. Today, I ate the first slices. Alone. With Nutella. Several of them, to be honest. I immediately decided that perhaps you, my adoring reader, had heard of this book but had not yet taken the time to investigate further. Well. Let's just say that the library copy will not do. I will be purchasing a copy. I gleefully look forward to the light whole wheat, oatmeal, and sunflower seed breakfast bread. And the pizza dough. And others.
It's super easy and tastes just like the fancy bread from the store. The expensive stuff. Crispy exterior, chewy yet light interior. I mean, look at the cute things. Are they not adorable? Do you not want to just EAT THEM UP. With very little effort you make enough dough for 4 small loaves, which you can make at any point in the next two weeks. Like you're really going to wait 14 days. Sure.
You know, I'm sick. I probably shouldn't share this bread with the rest of the family. That seems foolhardy, doesn't it? No need to risk further spreading illness.
Remember, buy through my blog to help support Heifer International! Thank you!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
- I won't shop there, but I sure will laugh at their customers. I looked through all 50+ pages the first day I found this gem. I herby present to you: The People of Walmart.
Friday, October 9, 2009
The two most important things that fell into place for us and our path for getting Nea the help she needs for her apraxia are:
- Meeting and learning from the wonderful parents in the monthly Windy City Apraxia group. I only attend 3-4 times a year, but I always learn a lot.
- Reading Schuyler's Monster. That book has taught me how to never give up in the fight for the right services for my child.
Doesn't this seem like something you read about in a "taxpayer's money being wasted" article? Something like "In other news, a $7500 device was supplied to a special education student, but it lies nearly unused, as no training was ever provided." Luckily! Luckily I am so clever. Remember how since I lost the battle for holding Nea back from Kindergarten this year, I asked for and received a 30-day IEP review meeting to discuss how the placement was working out for her? (link to that post) That meeting is this coming Tuesday.
You bet your sweet bippie I'll be asking how they plan to rectify the situation. Do we need an aide to work with Nea? I'm thinking we do.
I left a message for the special education facilitator this morning to see whether all the right people were invited. I briefly mentioned the lack of training to date. I wondered whether someone from the cooperative that supplies our schools with the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device should be attending our meeting. I very much look forward to solving this issue.
So, would you like to know how many buttons on Nea's talker are pressed in an average 6 hour school day? How many would you guess? I mean, obviously how many words you say per day will vary based on many things. There are scientists who study that sort of thing. The answer, for Nea, is less than 20. In half her waking hours. Five days a week. Less than 20.
And sure, you could say that she verbally says a lot more. And she does. But how many is that in an average day at school? Seriously. She's the quietest kid in the room.
This isn't my most lucid blog post. I'm swinging between being angry and depressed. Which is probably good, since I need to be clear-headed and logical by Tuesday.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
I finally couldn't take the "cheese cracker?" "cheese cracker?" "cheese cracker?" "cheese cracker?" 5 year old anymore, and my kids are now packing their own snacks into little reuseable containers. We did 3 containers for each kid yesterday, with "cheese crackers" (AARGH), pretzels, yogurt-covered raisins, graham crackers, sunflower seeds, and various other options. They got to pick which to mix and match. Now every morning after they have dressed, pottied, brushed teeth and hair, and put their pajamas on their beds, they may pick one of their ready-made snacks and put them in their backpacks.
I'm planning on having them do more helping with their lunches, too, starting very soon. Why should I get all the fun?
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Shown in the photo is what I harvested in 5 minutes today, with a background of a pumpkin I didn't plant (It's magic! It just showed up and took over a massive patch of land!) and 2 butternut squashes (that constitute two-fifths of the pathetic butternut harvest this year). See the quarter for size reference. I'm guessing I'll get at least 50 pounds of potatoes this year!
That potato behind the quarter has to be at least a pound. It's huge. I'd love it and hug it and call it Big Momma if it weren't already cut up and boiling on top of the stove right now. Sorry, Big Momma! Better luck next time!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Something struck me when we first started looking around the menus and such. Can you find it in the photo below?
Yeah. Imagine. What a world we live in when the communications device companies whore themselves out to the fast food companies. Unbelievable. Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall for that meeting? What do you pay to product placement yourself on a comm device? And the bubbly parents: "She can't say much, but boy, she sure figured out how to ask for shit on a bun quickly, didn't she? Our little angel! Naturally we take her whenever she asks. It's what she wants!"
Can you tell we don't do much fast food around here? Actually, this week was pretty exciting because I decided to make it my goal to have a vegetable garden planted at our grade school next spring. A friend of mine wants to overhaul the school lunch program. Naturally these two goals dovetail nicely. The PTA meeting is tomorrow, so I hope to meet the head of the recently resurrected garden club. And the head of the wellness committee.
It appears from this week's email trail that my goal won't be nearly as difficult as I first thought. Others are also interested in growing food on school property. The kids will learn about nutrition, science, cooking, gardening.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
- Objective #1: Meet and talk with all our teachers and specialists, now that Nea is at a new school (our home school).
- Objective #2: Work through and eliminate the piles of papers in our house that never get addressed.
- Meet with speech therapist.
- Meet with occupational therapist.
- Meet with Modified Instructional Program (MIP) teacher.
- Volunteer in Nea's mainstream classroom.
- Volunteer in Boo's classroom (twice).
- Added bonus: Attend parent's version of the sexual abuse prevention program, which the first graders will receive next week.
I'll get back to you on Objective #2 some other time. I have to go rest. I'm sure it'll happen! Maybe tomorrow! I still have time. Right? Am I right?
Monday, September 7, 2009
Setting: in the cabin my parents had rented.
Nea: Night-night ou-dide? (Sleep outside?)
N: Yeah, in a tent!
N: Because it's fun. Why, don't you want to?
But we did (Well, for the one night. We had hoped for 2, but the weather was not ideal.), and it was fun yet a little damp. Right before Boo fell asleep she said she wanted to go to a hotel, but that was just a fleeting thought, thankfully. We were not eaten by bears. Nor did we go to the outhouse in the middle of the night and fall off a cliff. We also did not get mushroom poisoning, despite eating one Reizker (German, which is how I've learned the little mushroom lore I know) - Lactarius Deliciosus (Latin) - saffron milk cap or red pine mushroom (English).
We had to split the one specimen seven ways, so the portions were very very modest. I had heard about this particular type of mushroom my whole life, so it was nice to finally get a taste. Very deliciosus, indeed.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I like to say my blog is about gardening and apraxia. A few months ago while searching for more apraxia blogs, I found another blog about gardening and apraxia. Imagine my surprise! I don't know if Shea's mom would call her blog that. But that's the power of Google, isn't it? Someone more or less like you. Out there. Telling stories that are different, yet strangely familiar. Here’s my favorite two posts from recently:
- Friendship rules (I need to read this daily.)
- Grief and coping: learning to say good bye to the child you did not have (This one reminds me of me a year ago.)
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
For those of us with kids (with apraxia, obviously. Otherwise that would be weird.) starting school, here are some new handouts that might be useful. The first one made me cry. Of course.
- "My Child Has Apraxia" -- Letter To A Teacher to print and distribute to your child's teacher.
- Another handout "If I Could Tell You, I Would Say..." -- What kids with apraxia might say if only they could.
Follow Casana on Twitter for more good updates: http://twitter.com/Apraxia_KIDSNea started Kindergarten today. She was fine. It went well. I had forgotten over the summer what a punch in the gut it is when I ask her how her day was, and she can't tell me.
But she is stringing together more and more words. A few days ago she said, "No, Papa bru air." (Papa brush hair.) And on the way home from our trip to Minnesota she said, "O-mo dere?" (Almost there?) a bunch of times. Totally cute. And today she said, "No spiel ou-dide, rain" (No playing outside. Rain.)
Monday, August 24, 2009
Scenario 2: We’re putting together dinner. It’s steak salad with garlic bread. She makes the garlic bread the way her mom does, with floofy white bread and butter and garlic salt. There’s a little bit of bread left. We’re discussing how our parents sometimes undermine our attempts to have our children eat healthy meals. Jill says, “Yeah, we were eating dinner, and my mom gives my daughter three pieces of buttered bread! That’s just so unnecessary.” I nod and make sincere “I agree” noises. She looks over at me. I’ve stuffed another piece of the leftover white floofy bread into my mouth, so I can’t actually talk. We laugh so hard I’m worried I’m going to pee my pants.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Total Swim: 7
Total Tennis: 5
I'm wrapping up a week ahead of schedule on my self-imposed exercise routine. I'm going to be too busy to work out next week. Overall, I'm feeling pretty good. I'm definitely in better shape. A little firmer. A few pounds lighter. Not much, but still. Clothes fit a little better again.
Let's do the math. I did a total of 24 jog/swim/tennis sessions. That's an average of 8 instead of 9 for the 9-week period. I can live with that.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Hey, look, I'm a hippy! I read Mother Earth News now! AND I LIKE IT. Naturally I get it from the library. I'll report back on how my fall gardening experiments go. I sure wish I could find brussel sprout seeds. Next year, right?
Monday, August 10, 2009
Total Swim: 6
Total Tennis: 5
Turns out that publicly declaring one’s intentions to work out a lot does change one’s behavior. If I’m on the fence about going for my jog/swim/tennis, knowing that I won’t lie to my Adoring Public is enough to make me go through with it. But apparently not enough to make me catch up on the swim/tennis. Hmmm.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Total Swim: 6
Total Tennis: 4
Wow, I never thought I’d become such a jogger. However, it’s really helping my tennis, I guess, since my serve has really improved. The backhand has not. Beth and I don’t even keep score; we just have fun. It was a good workout this week! Did I mention I got my racquet from Freecycle? Love me some Freecycle. I requested 2 adult racquets and got 3 adult, 2 kid, and some of those fancy zippered racquet holders.
I also got a Wii EA Sports Active game. Boy, am I sore AGAIN. I’ll be comparing it to Wii Fit and My Fitness Coach pretty soon. I should probably use it more than twice before spouting off my opinion.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman
I actually blogged about this book before in one of my favorite posts. I can't wait to read it again!
Monday, July 27, 2009
Sprouted Lentil Salad with Garden Veggies
Dijon vinaigrette (like this, except I used balsamic vinegar)
Fresh chopped herbs (oregano, dill, chives, whatever)
Sprouted lentils ("how to" directions)
Mix equal parts zucchini, tomatoes, and lentils. Add some herbs. Add vinaigrette to taste.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Total Swim: 6
Total Tennis: 3
Well, it appears that tennis, like many sports, take more effort to arrange than, say, jogging by yourself. Even swimming has its limitations, as the pool is only open hours that are less than convenient by my standards.
It was a revelation to me, many years ago, when I realized it wasn’t so much that I didn’t like exercising; it was more that I hate team sports, especially ones with balls. Which is most of them. This summer did start as an experiment, and I did leave out one of my long-term loves, biking, on purpose. I wanted to see whether I could expand my horizons. The answer is mostly “no” as we see here.
But my swimming has improved. I’m up to full-on breaststroke, which (in my head) resembles closely what you would see in any televised swimming event. I wear goggles, and my head goes under water on every stroke. Yep, I’m a professional. Let’s gloss over the bits where I gasp for air at the edge after most laps. Let us not talk of my freestyle and backstroke. And future bikini shots can be ruled out entirely, never mind what the comments said the other week. You crazy kids!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Common Fears of Parents
- Loss of close relationship with EI (Early Intervention, which is birth to age 3)
- Inability to “see” what is happening with child
- Fears that no one will understand child; child won’t be able to say what happened; will be left out, picked on
- Concerns whether staff will really care
- Self-doubt – “I have no idea what is appropriate!”
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
It’s been the best raspberry year ever. What’s even funnier is that they started out on the neighbor’s side of the fence. Those people moved, and the new people chopped theirs down. Luckily they were already established on our side. Then the “new new” neighbors pruned my canes down and I was pissed, but it turns out that helps make them more productive. Guess I should have read up on that.
Due mostly to the weather, I’m guessing, the tomatoes are pathetic. We’ve eaten a handful of cherry tomatoes, but that’s it. Cucumbers aren’t getting any bigger, either. The damn bunny continues to eat my soybeans and bush beans. Earwigs have taken up shop in the bok choy, ewww. And the eggplants are roughly the same size as they were in May.
Still, plenty of time before the frost. I should start another round of lettuce and baby bok choy, which doesn’t have the infestation problem.
I learned this year that a common weed, Lamb's Quarters, is very nutritious and can be cooked like spinach. Since my spinach is pretty pathetic, I’m definitely going to continue experimenting with the weed. Why not, right? It’s the edible version of garbage picking.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Nea can say the words: pop, up, and book. But if you ask her to say “Pop-up book” it all falls apart. That’s apraxia. Later, when she gets better at phrases, she’ll still fall apart when you ask her to say a sentence. And even later, when she learns to say a whole sentence, she’ll still fall apart when asked under pressure. Or when she’s asked to give an immediate reply.
It’s a little depressing.
A week ago we were in this great little store in a great little town. The shopkeeper gave each of us a penny and told us to make a wish and throw our coins into the fountain. I made my usual wish, but my penny bounced out. She said I could make another wish. And I got all teary. Another wish? I haven’t had another wish since Nea was 18 months old and started speech therapy.
Online courses for SLPs
Dynamic temporal and tactile cueing for speech motor learning
Also, word pairs. For example, Nea can say "K" in the final position. So, use that to work toward initial K sound. I'm using Lightning McQueen for this, naturally. We are practicing MIC-KEEN for his last name.
Apraxic kids should be pushed to make 100 word/syllable/phrase productions per every 10 minutes of speech therapy. (!)
I'm tired of both the Easter Seals and school SLPs not knowing enough about apraxia. Techniques that work with other speech problems (articulation, stuttering, etc.) do NOT work with apraxia. Having an SLP with little training in apraxia is just as bad as not getting ST at all.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Just to show how intense it was, these are the lectures I attended, each 1.5 hours long. Note the veritable listing of Who’s Who in the Apraxia World as presenters:
- Session 104: Effective Strategies for Your Next IEP Meeting
- Session 201: Multi-Sensory Therapy for Childhood Apraxia of Speech: Having Fun while Building Speech (David Hammer)
- Session 302: Enhancing Social Language Skill Development in Children with Apraxia of Speech (Margaret (Dee) Fish)
- Session 401: PROMPT: The Nine Key Treatment Components and Their Use with CAS (Deborah Hayden)
- Session 503: Incorporating Phonemic and Phonological Awareness in Speech Therapy to Improve Speech and Literacy (Amy Skinder-Meredith)
- Session 601: The Kaufman Speech Praxis Treatment Approach: Shaping Successive Word Approximations (Nancy Kaufman)
- Session 701: Introduction to Dynamic Temporal and Tactile Cueing for Speech Motor Learning (Kathy J. Jakielski, standing in for Edythe Strand)
- Session 803: Planning for Preschool and School Age Transitions for Children with CAS (Sharon Gretz and Kenda Hammer)
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Total Swim: 4
Total Tennis: 3
Played tennis with a wall! Only lost one ball on top of the school roof, even! I think my tennis game has improved dramatically from "wow, so sucky" to "only somewhat sucky" -- great strides, my friends.
Ran twice. The second time I did 4 miles in a pathetic jog/walk. Took me an hour, but the weather was lovely.
For those of you not grasping the non-athletic abilities of Bluestem, please note that there are NO underwater turns in her swimming. Nor really any sense of dignity or style. She regularly switches in the middle of a lap from old-lady-breaststroke to laying on her back and weakly kicking her feet. She generally does not put her face in the water during her so-called freestyle laps. Are we getting the picture here?
Lastly, I did a My Fitness Coach (Wii) session that was set to "upper body," and my legs ended up so sore that I could barely go up and down stairs for 3 days. Yep. I'm ready for my first Ironman.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Funny, really. I know the definition of apraxia: "Apraxia of speech, also known as verbal apraxia or dyspraxia, is a speech disorder in which a person has trouble saying what he or she wants to say correctly and consistently. It is not due to weakness or paralysis of the speech muscles (the muscles of the face, tongue, and lips). The severity of apraxia of speech can range from mild to severe." It’s been staring me in the face for a few years now. And yet I still called it a delay. Wishful thinking or just ignorance?
I wonder whether using this terminology earlier would have cut down on the annoying comments (previously discussed).
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Total Swim: 3
Total Tennis: 2
Swum in a lake, even! Played tennis with a friend! If by “played tennis” you mean, “just volleyed awhile because I’m not good enough to bother keeping score.” I’m still behind on my tennis, though. I’ll have to try to catch up before the next heat wave hits later this week.
And did the 10-minute advanced boxing on the Wii Fit and couldn’t lift my arms for two days.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
They sure are tasty, though. I have lazy housewife beans from my aunt and "magic" beans from my neighbors. They start green/purple but turn green when you cook them.
I also have yard-long (aka asparagus) beans, but they aren't doing a darn thing. Yet.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Total Swim: 2
Total Tennis: 1
The heat index was over 100 nearly the whole week, so although there was talk of tennis, my friend and I decided we’d rather live. I did My Fitness Coach once, too. So, not ideal but not awful, considering the weather, how much overtime I worked, and a certain birthday party that needed to be organized and held. See? I have excuses! Those are pretty solid, right?
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Well, it would seem more impressive, except there were no other entries in the “green initiatives” category. Takes a little bit of the thrill out of it, except that, hey, $400. Then I won a book in a raffle. That was a little embarrassing.
And! This feels like a dream, but it actually happened. I presented on “eating locally” at my Big Corporate job. It went over big. Huge interest, lots of questions, and I had a quiz and corporate-sponsored lettuce seeds to give out. There’s talk of starting a gardening discussion forum. On the Big Corporate Internal Web Site. Turns out that public speaking isn’t as awful if there’s something you really want to talk about. (see previous Big Corporate Public Speaking Experience).
I discussed the Obama white house lawn vegetable garden, CSAs and farmer markets (Chicagoland 2009 Schedule), and the buy-these-organic dirty dozen. And how to know which foods are in season when at the markets.
Then I plugged Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver some.
I also went with the logic of trying to make gardening sound easy, so we discussed perennial fruits (strawberries, rhubarb, grapes, kiwi vine, raspberries), fruit trees (apple, pear, peach, cherry, serviceberry, etc.), vegetables (asparagus) and herbs (chives, oregano, sage, mint, thyme) for zone 5.
I have to figure out how to make a living at this.
I don't know whether I've read a whole lot of Swedish mysteries. Or any. But that's what book club is all about. Reading things you would not have heard about otherwise.
Happy summer reading to everyone! Anyone have an enjoyable/intriguing book suggestion with good discussion material? I haven't chosen one for September yet, which is my next hosting month.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
I finally donated this blog’s Amazon proceeds to Heifer again. It was nearly $25 since December. No wonder we’re in a recession, people! You aren’t purchasing enough! (Kidding!) As always, thanks for remembering to click through the ad in the left sidebar. Every bit helps someone get on their feet.
You can read about more Passing on the Gift ceremonies here. Brings me to tears every time.
Oh, and if you are vegan, they have tree donations now. I'm just saying.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
The bad news is that Dad was right. There! I said it. Happy Father’s Day, Dad. He warned me that tennis is a dangerous sport, due to the sudden shifts in direction during play. I reassured him that I wouldn’t try too hard, har har. But I pulled a groin muscle anyway. I didn’t even have that injury in my most probable list. N and I both royally suck at tennis, so I’m surprised I even managed to work hard enough to hurt myself.
Anyway, it’s not too bad, and I think I’ll be able to resume my plan if I take it easy for a few days. It does mean no little-old-lady-breaststroke, though. My preferred mode of swimming. Guess I’ll have to do mostly backstroke. I can’t do freestyle for very long. I blame my miserable lung capacity, but it’s probably technique and laziness as much as anything.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Talking to Nea was difficult. I know that sounds stupid, but I don’t realize how much I depend on her gestures and context to help. Context is everything. “Yellow but” is either “yellow school bus” or “yellow karate belt”, but usually it’s less clear than that. “Stop” is either “stop” or “camp.” I mean, the substitutions are endless. But if I’ve spent the day with her, I generally know what she’s talking about, in general. Usually. You know. Generally. Mostly.
She had her 5-year checkup yesterday. I love our doctor. He’s always been really great about referrals or anything else we need. They had this exchange:
Dr. Dave: So, Nea, where do you like to go?
DD: And what do you like to do there?
Nea: Peel. (aka, spiel, German for “play”)
DD: (pause) And are you good at that?
Dealing with the apraxia always hits me the hardest around Nea’s birthday. Soon I'll be the mother of a 5 year old who can barely talk. It didn't sound as bad at 2. Or 3. Or 4. But 5? Yeah, that doesn't seem ... right.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
My grandfather gave a stranger the coat off his back once. Back when that meant something. We’ll have to explain these things to our children. No, he couldn’t go home and put on another one. No, he couldn’t get another one at the store. A similar, yet different, scenario is the best scene in Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky (spoiler below).
When the older generation dies, who will remember the stories behind the common humble objects? The spoon that doesn’t match, worn with use? The cracked children’s book, yellowed and falling apart? How long will we remember our family history, and the choices that were made under pressure, of what to save and what to leave behind?
How will our kids have any emotional connection to their possessions, when they are overwhelmed with plenty? I justify our filled bookshelves and toy chests with the “I bought it used! It was cheap.” motto. My parents always say, the only two things no one can take away from you are education and the memories from traveling. Which can probably be condensed down to just education, really. They have a valid point.
A rich lady is fleeing Paris, slowly and with all her worldly goods and luxuries. She thinks it’s fun and generous to hand out candies to the local kids, until she goes to buy more and realizes that the war has caught up with her enough that the stores are empty. At that point she panics and hoards the rest for her own family.
Monday, June 15, 2009
The real suspense, however, will be how my body will fail me. Who wants to place their bets? Here’s some likely contenders: carpel tunnel (already have a little problem there), tennis elbow (have never really played, so this is a wild card), throwing out my back (not high returns on that – fairly likely), heat stroke (not at the rate this summer is going, but August is always hell around here), knee problems (another dark horse – no problems here thus far. However, both my brother and my mom have had meniscus surgery.)
Weekly results will be posted on Saturdays. This week (naturally) started out strong, with a jog yesterday and a swim today. I'm nearly done already!
Sunday, June 14, 2009
I'm excited that he didn't buy it. Score.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
I have a deep automatic response to the information that someone will be lying around doing nothing for a few days. The response is to supply the affected with reading material. Much of my hoarding behavior is centered around making sure I have just the right reading material at hand for any given scenario. Too tired to continue a novel? Try an aged newspaper! Newspaper too unwieldy in bed? Maybe a nice magazine! etc.
Speaking of magazines, I, like many people, have trouble getting rid of magazines once they are in the house. So glossy! So I've come up with the perfect solution. I check them out of the library. Our library carried all the good leftist rags (Mother Jones, Mother Earth News, Organic Gardening) and as far as I noticed, none of the right. I'm really enjoying trying new ones and returning them after three weeks. Why, it's brilliant, this library idea. Ours also has Wii games. Truly magical.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
We recently decided to visit my aunt in Canada this summer. As in, immediately. Eventually it dawned on us that N's passport had expired. And though you can walk into a passport office and immediately receive your first passport, renewal is only available by mail.
So. I'm going on a road trip with my dad. Just him and me. There's a first time for everything. Imagine! I only have to pack for one person. I don't have to play tour guide/entertainer the whole time. Probably can skip packing the crayons and kiddie snacks. It's like a whole new world opening up.
I plan to crank my favorite music the whole time. Dad loves that.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Today she wanted more of some candy she'd had earlier. She told me, “liddle whi din eat” and then she said “dum”. So, little white thing (to) eat. Gum. I LOVE her workarounds. A skill more vital to a kid with profound apraxia? Can’t think of one! A sign of intelligence, I’m sure we can all agree.
Boo read us two books from the library today. She’s really improving. Nea likes to mumble the words to herself as her sister reads. It’s a little annoying, this small echo as we read along, but I’m not about to tell her to stop trying to say all these new words.
Well, Baywatch did, anyway. Post a deer photo. And if he says it's cool, you can bet on it.
OK, fine, mine doesn't have lasers. Mine are Appalachian deer, though. They like to keep it more traditional.
Somehow I'm skeptical about this catching on as a system-wide meme. But I've been wrong before. Now I'll be able to yawn and say, yeah, I was hopping that bandwagon in the early days.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Lately I’d say I’ve been doing one study every other month or so. It’s obviously easy bucks for little effort. Many are in the evening when child care isn’t a problem. Today I did one downtown after work, so I just had to walk over a few blocks.
What’s somewhat surprising is that we hardly ever get to see an actual product. It’s more “Does this ad work? How about this wording? Would you try a product flavored with whale poop? Why or why not?”
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
As I have mentioned before, we have a little prairie going. It's probably about 30 square feet. There's been talk of expanding it, but I dunno. I like it small. I'll have to catalog what's in there one of these days. We have the standards, plus a few more exciting varieties: black-eyed susans, echinacea, prairie smoke, yellow coneflower, butterfly weed (one of the 17 types of milkweed native here), queen of the prairie, beardstongue, lupine (pictured*), spiderwort, beebalm, goldenrod (there's 14 varieties in Illinois -- I don't know which we have), coreopsis, daisy, wild indigo, and, you know, some grasses.
What is amusing yet frustrating about starting your own prairie is how difficult it is. What I haven't listed here are the numerous plants we want to grow, but have had zero success with. Prairie dock being the first example that springs to mind. These plants took over millions of acres without human help. Why is it such a struggle? Probably not enough fires scorching through our yard. Thankfully.
View photos of the plants mentioned and many other native Illinois prairie plants here.
* I took this photo. I'm very proud of it.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
It just so happens that Schuyler uses one (see video). We’re hoping for purple, though, not pink. Anyway, I am thrilled that we will have a new tool for Nea to learn on starting in August. It has a keyboard for her to spell out words. It has much better sound quality than her old Doorstop, er, Dynavox. And I don’t have to worry that she’ll outgrow it anytime soon.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Spring, did I mention I love you?
Ahem. Anyway. Back to asparagus. It’s been a good year for us, relatively speaking.
Isn’t it adorable, all purple and spikey? Then you steam it, and it turns green, boo hiss. But a little lemon off our Meyer lemon tree on top, and it’s quite enchanting.