Thursday, July 30, 2009

Next book club selection

One of my very very favorite books of all time. A book about reading. So meta, isn't it?

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

After reading for the billionth time about how healthy sprouts are (the Magick of the Seed is Released!), I finally decided to sprout some lentils, which took only 2 days, and I threw together this really tasty salad. Other sprouts I want to experiment with include alfalfa, buckwheat, onion, radish, quinoa, sunflower, peas, and bok choi. Where’s a good place to buy seeds in bulk?

Sprouted Lentil Salad with Garden Veggies
Dijon vinaigrette (like this, except I used balsamic vinegar)
Fresh chopped herbs (oregano, dill, chives, whatever)
Shredded zucchini
Chopped tomatoes
Sprouted lentils ("how to" directions)

Mix equal parts zucchini, tomatoes, and lentils. Add some herbs. Add vinaigrette to taste.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Week 6: Jog, Swim, Tennis

Total Jog: 8
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

Back to the CASANA conference discussion

The session was called "Planning for Preschool and School Age Transitions for Children with CAS." Sounds bland enough, no? Yet a huge number of participants were crying throughout the presentation, and the presenter also struggled to keep her emotions in check. Here’s the slide that probably signaled the start of the waterworks:

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!”
Can I tell you how VALIDATING that is? That other parents are also having minor nervous breakdowns going from home-based, family-centered EI to the school system? And then from the preschool setting to actual kindergarten? I hear the next most-awful step is aging out of the system entirely at 21. I will continue to hope that Nea’s problems are resolved by then. It came up in her IEP meeting, though. Because IEP meetings aren’t gut wrenching enough. Let’s definitely bring up another bombshell point.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Garden status

Gardening is usually a good news/bad news situation at any given point. The good news in this cold summer is the zucchini, which have not succumbed to vine stem borers (yet), the first time in several years. It’s my first year with pole beans, and they are huge and producing nicely. I really enjoyed our first foray into lettuce. I tried some different peas, which are 6 feet tall and lovely for snacking. Much more productive than the other kinds I’ve tried. The potatoes are looking good. We’ve eaten two.

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

Week 5: Jog, Swim, Tennis

Total Jog: 6
Total Swim: 4
Total Tennis: 3

Nothing to see here. Move along, move along.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Giving advice: the gender gap

When I went to college, my parents gave me some parting advice. Mom said, “If you need money, just let us know. We don’t want you to go hungry.” Dad said, “If you break an egg and whisk it into your soup, it’ll keep you full longer.”

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pop-up book

So, just for a little more explanation. You know how when you are knee-deep in shit you forget to explain the context? This is the context.

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.

Resources to share with your speech therapist

I'm really annoyed that, as far as I know, none of the Easter Seals Speech and Language Pathologists (SLPs) from our center went to the conference this past weekend. Our SLP did ask me to share my knowledge, so I just sent her an email with this information:

Online courses for SLPs
Overview documents
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

2009 National Conference on Childhood Apraxia of Speech

I went to the CASANA* conference and the only tangible thing I got was a wristband that says “Every Child Deserves a Voice.” Boy, the learning and memories, though! They will change our lives. I have so much to say, and I’ll be writing about a lot of it in the coming days. Next year’s conference will be in Pittsburgh, so maybe that’s more convenient for your family, and you can start planning for that. I seriously can not recommend it highly enough. Having a huge room of people all with the same intent (“How do I help my child/my client/my grandchild with apraxia?”) feels so different. They all understand.

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
    (Charlie Fox)

  • 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)
Much more to follow.
* Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America. I call it apraxia on my blog, but the real name is CAS, Childhood Apraxia of Speech. That differentiates it from the other major form of apraxia, which occurs in adults after a stroke.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Week 4: Jog, Swim, Tennis

Total Jog: 5
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

Words, words, words

I’m mentally preparing myself for two full days at the apraxia conference. This essay just helped me turn a corner. I’ve now starting called Nea’s problem a “speech disorder” instead of a “speech delay”. Seems much more accurate and appropriate, especially now that she is 5.

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

Week 3: Jog, Swim, Tennis

Total Jog: 3
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

My two great loves, together at last

It's my first year growing pole beans. I started them on the East-facing wall of the garage on some trash-picked trellis things from last year's haul. That N wanted to throw out ages ago. He put some eye hooks into the soffit and hung twine since the trelliseses weren't going to be tall enough. The question now is, do I seriously need to get a stepladder everytime I want to harvest?! I can see why bush beans caught on. Those soffits are 10 feet up and the beans are still climbing.

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.