email: okaybyme at gmail dot com

View My Complete Profile

Compost Happens is a personal blog: part family, part garden, part crunchy green eco-writer. I'm Daisy, and I'm the groundskeeper here. I take care of family, garden, and coffee, when I'm not teaching and doing laundry.

Subscribe in a reader

  • The Garden Central
  • Your Garden Show Interactive Online Community
  • Hometown Seeds
  • Live to Garden
  • WormsEtc; composting, vermiculture, and more
  • Rion Greenhouses - modular kits
  • Rose Gardening A great source for pictures and information on roses!

    website metrics

    My Stats

  • Thursday, August 31, 2006

    (Class)Room Decor

    Posters. I need posters. I have enough to start two of the three new science units, but I own nothing for the first one. Solution? Take a little clip art, an overhead projector, and enlist the family in helping with the final drafts. Result? Take a look for yourself!


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Wednesday, August 30, 2006

    Progress -- slow, but sure

    You saw the "before" picture. This is a "during" picture. These are some of the books for my classroom library sorted by author.I found out that I had enough Gordon Korman trilogies (Everest, Island, Dive) and other series to make a separate basket of those. Over the last two years my students have loved dogs and horses, so my "animal" book collection has grown enough to rate a basket of its own, too. And so on, and so on, and then I sorted by reading level. I have a pretty good variety -- everything from late 3rd grade to 7th and 8th, which is just right for a class of incoming 6th graders who might have all kinds of different reading abilities.
    The plastic is off the furniture now, and I'm working on putting the room into shape. I'll share pictures when it's done...if I have time to take any!
    This is a very exciting time of year. I feel like I made enormous progress today getting the room in order and putting away the clutter. I saw my class list, and it looks like a wonderful group. I can't wait to see the families come to Open House on Tuesday!


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Tuesday, August 29, 2006

    Back to School -- and back to work

    This is a sight that inspires excitement, enthusiasm, and panic all in one -- if you're a teacher. Yes, this is what my classroom looked like as recently as Monday night. All the furniture was crowded in the middle, covered in plastic, because the carpenters were almost (but not quite) finished putting in the parts that will hold up the new blinds that go with our wonderful new energy-efficient windows.
    The beginning of a school year is always exciting. New kids, new families, coming in for Open House with backpacks full of school supplies and gym shoes and tissue boxes. New smiling faces, children full of energy, eager to see what the new grade holds for them.
    And the panic? Well, those kids come in for Open House next Tuesday night, the day after Labor Day. The carpenters finished in my room yesterday; the cleaning crew went through today. I have staff meetings for half of Wednesday and most of Thursday, with Friday a day "off". Monday (Labor Day) I will drive La Petite and a van full of her belongings to the University dorm. Somehow, somewhere, I need to find the time to get this room looking like a happy and comfortable place to learn.
    It needs posters, bulletin boards, name tags for the desks, locker tags, and more. The desks need arranging. The classroom library needs to be set up. My computer pod is ready (Hip Hip Hooray!), so there's at least one piece prepared. (Thanks, IT dept.!) The new science materials have to be set up and prepared for use.
    Ready, get set, and go -- I'm off to the races!

    I've entered this post in MammaBlogga's writing contest under the theme of "The Best Time of the Year."


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Monday, August 28, 2006

    when lightning strikes nearby...

    Since the lightning hit and the internet went out, we have:

    Re-learned the pinball game on the computer
    Bought a new answering machine
    Replaced the small bedroom TV that was also fried by the lightning strike
    Actively looked for local places that have free wi-fi (found four within two miles of home)
    Read a good book
    Read a professional magazine
    Slowed down to smell the rose (yes, my rosebush has only one bloom on it)
    Listened to CDs while cooking supper instead of internet radio
    Shopped for college dorm supplies
    Baked bread – twice
    Bought a bike helmet and lock

    Okay, it’s not all sweet and lovely. Our attempt to contact the local phone company and tell them that our entire neighborhood’s phones were out was not the smoothest piece of customer service. Husband called on his cell phone from the deck, since our cells don’t work well inside the house. He went through a whole menu of options and pressed all the right buttons, or so he thought. “If you want customer service, press 3. If you need assistance, press 4. If you want to push more buttons, press 9. If you enjoy being on hold, press 6. If you wish to hear more recorded messages, press 8. If you have something to say, please stand on your head and press 2.” Eventually he reached a person, who said, “May I have your phone number please? I’ll check your account. Oh, you’re fully paid up. Thank you! Goodbye.” Click.
    “ARGH! That's not what I wanted!” He called again. This time he reached a different customer service connection with a recording (still not a real live person) that responded with “we’ll do a remote check of your phone number now. Please hold.” He danced impatiently to the over-modulated hold music (it drives engineers like him crazy) until another recorded message came on and said, “We have confirmed that your number is not working. We will send a service representative out as soon as one is available. If they confirm that there is a problem, it will be repaired within 24 hours.”
    Yes, we do have phone service now. A repair crew spent the next two days on our block. Real people – not recordings!

    He went through a similar and lengthy process after we bought a new router modem (the diagnosis of the repair team) tonight. It took the entire first half (and more) of the Monday Night Football game and another long phone call to the helpdesk to get us up and online again. But I'm back now! Thanks for all the encouragement.


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Friday, August 25, 2006

    With a BOOM and a CRASH and a big FLASH...

    Yes, I've been offline for a few days. On Wednesday night lightning hit in our backyard. Power didn't go out, but phone service and internet access did. The phones are repaired, and the answering machine was fried, but the DSL that we use for Internet access is still out and we have no explanation. The service tech comes out to our house on Monday. For now, I have escaped the craziness of home for a little while with my ancient laptop to use the wireless network at a local eatery.

    So...we all survived the storm, and the one the next night, too. I'll be back -- and tell more of our Dark and Stormy night -- later.


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Wednesday, August 23, 2006

    Bayou Farewell -- a good read

    Bayou Farewell: the rich life and tragic death of Louisiana's Cajun coast
    by Mike Tidwell

    This title caught my eye on a shelf in the public library. This is an area of the country that I know so little about, so I checked out a copy.
    Up here in the midwest, Cajun often means only a style of (delicious and tasty!) cooking. In his book, Tidwell vividly describes Cajun culture, food, and unique language from his one-on-one encounters with fishermen and crabbers in the Louisiana bayous. Tidwell hitchhiked along with several crabbers, shrimpers, and others as they go about their daily and nightly routines, offering to work for them in exchange for conversations that would make up his research.
    Tidwell's new friends were welcoming and candid, and the stories they shared create a vivid picture of the coast and its people. He delves into the seafood industry itself and the generations of (mostly) men who work in it.
    Through these conversations another picture emerges: that of a disappearing coastline. Tidwell wonders why there are telephone poles in the middle of the water and dead oak trees, a land tree, sticking out of submerged, isolated groves. His hosts explain that the rapid changes in the coastline caused by human impact are allowing the salt water of the Gulf to overtake the bayous and marshes of the region at the same time as the sediment-formed land sinks below water level.
    The author's descriptions of his new friends and his surroundings are vivid, sensory, and detailed. I felt like I was riding along the bayous with him as I read. He examines the potential environmental catastrophe from both scientific and political angles. There is a definite bias in his writing toward saving and rebuilding the bayous -- a bias he supports convincingly through his data and stories.
    Bayou Farewell was originally published in 2003. The new edition contains an update written after the hurricanes of 2005, Rita and Katrina. It is a valuable book and a worthwhile read on topics of both the peoples and the land. I highly recommend it to all who are interested in society's impact on unique cultures and on our fragile environment.
    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    No more excuses -- I bought a bike!

    It's not fancy, but it's solid. Husband and I went to The Man's Mall (you midwesterners, you'll know what I mean) and looked over the fall sale bicycles. Several were in our price range (cheap), so I tried them out for quality. And yes, I do mean I tried them out. The bikes were in an outside display area that had a lot of open space with only a few obstacles -- a kayak or two, a stack of lumber here and there -- so I rode the bike around before I bought it. The price was knocked down by $30, and Husband has been moaning about how his bike is wearing out, so (you knew this was coming) he bought one too! We now have "matching" his and hers bicycles. We were quite a sight, dragging these bikes around the store while we looked for the other things we needed. Fortunately, we had parked the minivan near the store exit, so it didn't take much to get out and load up after checking out.

    If you're wondering, I didn't buy a helmet yet. Yes, I plan to get one. I didn't like the selection they had in stock. I have a small head (no comments from the peanut gallery, please), and I'd also like to get a helmet that will accomodate a ponytail. If it's cute I'll post a picture.

    Now I can join Da Boys on their evening and weekend rides!

    Labels: ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Monday, August 21, 2006

    School supplies -- of a different sort

    Parents get ready for school by buying school supplies, on sale if they can, and helping their children name-label and organize everything.
    Teachers get ready for school by buying school supplies, on sale if they can, and name-labeling and organizing everything.
    I didn’t buy books for my classroom this year, but I cleaned the basement and found four boxes of books I could use. Since we teach a Readers' Workshop format along with a formal textbook in our school, more books means more reading. I then spent several hours changing the way I organize and use those I already owned and had stored at school.
    Step 1: Figure out the reading level for each book. This helps me match books with students. It was a long, tedious process, but I know I’ll find it well worth the time investment.
    Step 2: Stamp my name inside each book’s cover, front and back. I use a stamp because, frankly, I have a long name and it would take me weeks to write it by hand in every book.
    Step 3: Use clear packaging tape to reinforce bindings and mend ripped covers. The cost of tape really adds up; I haven’t decided if it’s really worth the money to tape older books. It definitely makes the new ones last longer.
    Step 4: Pack up today’s load and bring it back to school to exchange for a new batch!
    Step 5: Repeat five times or until done.
    I did most of this outside on our picnic table and our deck table in order to let the books air out and let myself relax. The basement books were a little musty, and so were some of my classroom books. They needed to sit out and absorb the scents of outdoor air. La Petite recommended a fabric softener sheet for any that still retain a little “basement” in their pages. I’ll try it; no children will have to open their books and wrinkle their noses.
    The next step will be increasing my stock of cheap plastic baskets for organizing and displaying books on the shelves. I’m still looking for the best deal; Dollar Tree, here I come!

    Labels: ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Sunday, August 20, 2006

    School supplies: a different perspective

    Parents get ready for school by buying school supplies, on sale if they can, and helping their children name-label and organize everything.
    Teachers get ready for school by buying school supplies, on sale if they can, and name-labeling and organizing everything. I started two weeks ago; classes start after Labor Day.
    First, I started reading the sale ads. When the local drugstore had their big one, it was time to spring into action. I clipped the coupons and bought: mini-notebooks for rewards, rulers and scissors for kids who lose theirs or don’t own a pair, a memo book for my own records, and more. In fact, I picked up multiple copies of their flyer and went to three other locations to stock up on the 30 cent rulers and 6/$1 mini-notebooks so I would have enough for the whole class. I sure hope it was worth the gas I spent!
    Next, I watched for the annual office supply store’s annual sale bag. Everything I could fit in the bag was 15% off. I procured another from an anonymous source, and then I filled one with classroom supplies and La Petite filled one with things we needed at home. I got a great deal on spiral steno notebooks, good ballpoint pens, and sticky notes for reading class. And again, I found scissors on sale to add to my classroom stash.
    In teaching, we call this provisioning. It means making sure every child has all the necessary supplies to learn. Our PTA helps out. I’ll be reimbursed for the reading supplies from our school budget. The rest? It’s on me. I don’t mind buying for kids who really need supplies; that’s why I stock up in August on the cheap. I do mind parents who can buy, but don’t. And I’ll tell you straight out, most parents will find a way to get what their children need or ask for assistance. It’s only a few that get under my skin at times. So to the rest of you: thanks! You take good care of your children and we teachers love you for it. Together, we help your children succeed.

    Labels: ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Saturday, August 19, 2006

    Just in time for NFL football (pre)season

    Green Bay Packer Vegetables!
    Yes, those are green and "gold" beans, fresh from the garden.
    No, I didn't plant them this way intentionally.
    But anything that makes me smile and is healthy must be okay!
    And yes, they're delicious.

    Labels: ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Friday, August 18, 2006

    Shoulds are bogus: the sequel

    The philosophical angle: a mix of serious and humorous

    The dishwasher should be a luxury, not a necessity.
    Reality: For a family with two working parents, it’s a need, not a want. Dishes are low on the totem pole of priorities.
    End result: Despite the cost, we replaced the dishwasher this summer.

    I should use the minivan less, for both financial and environmental reasons.
    Reality: I use the city bus with El Grande occasionally, but I could walk more or ride a bike. I don’t have a bike – yet.
    End result: I will buy myself a bike with the money I saved by ending my YMCA membership.

    I shouldn’t drink so much coffee.
    Reality: I drink too much coffee.
    End result: I like it. Don’t sweat it. And my new coffeemaker has a programmable timer -- fun!

    I should have watched the entire Packer game last Saturday night.
    Reality: It was in San Diego and started at 9:00 p.m. our time.
    End result: I gave up and went to bed at halftime. Hey, it’s only the preseason.

    Labels: ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Thursday, August 17, 2006

    "Love" Thursday

    Gotta love the Internet and the Blogosphere. with a single post, an idea can spread. Monday it was a tribute to Sesame Street. Today, Momster declared a "Love Thursday" post. It sounds almost 60s hippie style until you start looking over the posts, and see that they're mostly families. Here's mine for today. I picked this one not for its photo quality, but for the action. El Grande loves baseball, but he can't see well enough to play a regular game. He loves his adaptive league, and even practices in the backyard. Here you see La Petite, a decent player in her own right, catching the balls as he hits them. Yes, she offered to play with him! When they go over the fence for a "home run", the neighbor kids (see wood playset in background) like to run for them and throw them back. The rabbit pen is in the foreground. Simple fun and sibling bonding all in one blurry photo -- and yes, lots of love.

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Wednesday, August 16, 2006

    "Shoulds" are bogus

    Comparing the “should” with the reality and the end result

    When one major appliance breaks down, nothing else should.
    Reality: After the dishwasher died and I was getting grumpy about washing dishes, the cordless phone and the coffeemaker both quit. Of course, we just bought a pack of 200 coffee filters yesterday.
    End result: I’m reading the sale ads. And the new coffeemaker has to take the same kind of filters.

    Every family member should empty his or her pockets before putting clothes in the washing machine.
    Reality: Husband sent his jeans through the wash with the cell phone in one pocket.
    End result: It’s still sitting on the kitchen counter (near the nonworking dishwasher) drying out. Thank goodness he didn’t put the phone through the dryer, too!

    When taking a car in for service, the mechanics should look it over thoroughly.
    Reality: 5000 miles ago we took the car in. The computer couldn’t muster a code to tell them what to do. Despite our detailed description of the symptoms, they gave us the stock reply: “We can’t just throw parts at it!” Incidentally, when we called the dealer in the next big town, their customer service rep gave us the same line (“We can’t just throw parts at it!”) without even looking at the car.
    End result: 5000 miles and several dangerous moments later, the computer finally gives them a code that leads the service folks to a likely repair.

    I should be eating fresh tomatoes and other yummy veggies.
    Reality: I planted the garden three weeks late, so everything will ripen later.
    End result: I’ll be serving BLTs every day when school starts.

    When the university sends out an email bill, the online site for payment should work.
    Reality: The site was down for approximately three weeks.
    End result: When the site finally came up, it was excruciatingly slow while every family that paid online tried to pay at the same time.

    When I upload a digital picture to the computer, I should be able to find it again easily.
    Reality: Pictures always seem to get saved somewhere random instead of in the file I thought I used as a destination.
    End result: I grumble and use bad words when I’m searching for the pictures I just took!

    Saying “should” is like saying “assume”; it just doesn’t jive with reality.
    Thank you for listening to me rant; I feel better already.
    Smile. (Or is that an evil grin?)

    Labels: ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Monday, August 14, 2006

    Sesame Street -- the next generation

    I was a little too old for the target demographic when Sesame Street started, but that didn’t stop me from watching it with my little brother. We fell in love with the characters, both human and Muppet. We giggled at the silliness between Ernie and Bert. And most of all, we sang the songs.
    Somebody come and play
    Somebody come and play today
    Somebody come, and smile the smiles, and sing the songs, it won’t take long
    Somebody come and play, today.

    Most of my favorites were either written or arranged by Joe Raposo, the original composer and musical director for Sesame Street. He wrote, he arranged, and he borrowed songs to give Sesame its unique atmosphere. Ernie’s rendition of “Rubber Ducky” was classic. “Sing” (sing a song, sing out loud, sing out strong) originated in Sesame Street, and then the Carpenters’ recording reached #3 on the Billboard charts. Kermit and his “It’s not that easy being green” tugged on my heartstrings and still does.

    When I introduced my children to Sesame Street, it was again the songs that held us. New standards such as “C is for Cookie” became part of family repertoire. We had a knack for improvising; did you ever try “V is for Vegetable, it’s good enough for me”? But our favorite then and now has a nonsense title and a simple tune: “Mahna Mahna”. I think it originated on The Muppet Show in the 1970s, and then made its way to the Street. “Mahna Mahna” still turns up in the back seat of the van when we’re stuck in traffic. It comes up randomly when someone says a word or phrase (i.e. banana nut; phenomena) that suggests it.

    Consumer safety warning: singing is contagious. These songs may stick in your mind for a long, long time. Click at your own risk – enjoy!

    Somebody come and play (original)
    C is for Cookie
    It's not that easy being green (Kermit)
    Somebody come and play (Ernie)
    Mahna Mahna (from the Muppet Show)

    For more on Sesame Street's birthday, Look for The Lovely Mrs. Davis Tells you What to Think. She'll link you to more bloggers who are talking about the Street (and the other memories we'll share with our children) today!


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Saturday, August 12, 2006

    Send in the Idiots: part 3

    When I read Kamran Nazeer’s Send in the Idiots: stories from the other side of autism, I read from the point of view of a mother wondering about the future for my high-functioning autistic teen. At first, I made mental notes about how the young adults in the book related to others. Their living arrangements, their interactions, and their friendships all filed themselves dutifully in my head. Andre, living with his sister: a young man who communicated with puppets and became infuriated when someone dared to interrupt. Randall: quiet, a good listener, involved in a monogamous relationship with a non-autistic person. Craig, who lived alone but welcomed guests. Elizabeth, a young woman who lived mainly with her parents but spent some of her late teens and early twenties residing in an inpatient facility for mentally ill, dealing with epilepsy and bipolar disorder in addition to autism.
    Then Nazeer said that half of all autistic adults live with their parents, and my mind turned around. Half? Does he mean all autistic adults, no matter where they are on the spectrum? And since he quoted no specific source, is this statistic accurate? Frankly, it worried me more than a little.
    Nazeer, who lives alone, talks about his frequent contacts with his parents, and their “…enhanced duty of care…” balanced with the “…joy that I have my independence.” (p.171)
    Built into parenting is the expectation that our children will grow up, become independent, and live productive, happy lives. Suddenly that picture is blurry for me, like those optical challenges where by using a slightly unfocused stare you can see a different image emerge. The image for my 14 year old son will be somewhat different from that of a non-disabled, non-autistic person. Somehow, someway, a new image will emerge from the blurry pattern.

    Nazeer talks about many other elements of autism such as the need for local coherence and challenges in language development. He also describes a meeting with his former teacher and his former counselor/therapist. I did not discuss these, but they are worthwhile parts of the book. I recommend this book to people dealing with autism, especially parents and professionals who work with families. It is an easy read and will stimulate discussion and thought.
    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Friday, August 11, 2006

    Bye bye big bunny

    The Beast died today.

    Here's a happy memory picture -- El Grande hugging Beast when we visited La Petite in her college dorm room. Despite his fearsome appearance and size, Beast was the most mellow, relaxed, even laziest animal you could ever imagine. He was our first bunny. He had developed some health problems in the last several months with loss of muscle tone due to kidney malfunction, among others. At age 10 (what's that in rabbit years? don't know exactly) he was getting to the end of his life expectancy, so when he could not move his legs this morning, it was a signal that he was at the end.

    Beast was friendly as can be. He liked everyone, and everyone liked him. We used to bring him upstairs at bedtime to snuggle with El Grande. Beast could also shed like a trooper; we called it "Power Shedding." If I'd kept track of the number of lint brushes we wore out over this bunny....

    He would eat almost anything we put in front of him. In fact, he managed to eat big leaves from the garden broccoli plants today, even while ill. What a treat! We have home video of Beast as a baby bunny eating a wild carrot with long, long greens and inhaling it like spaghetti. Now Tiny, his little bitty friend, won't have to gobble to get his fill. He can actually save some carrots for later! Tiny is lonely tonight, so he is living temporarily in El Grande's room. We'll make sure he gets lots of attention from the humans to help him adjust to his new status.

    Beast was La Petite's first pet; she did the research and built the first cage with her dad's help. She loves rabbits and is a very caring pet owner. Beast always knew he was loved. She even handled the dirty work of cleaning Beast when his muscle tone got too weak to keep himself rabbit-immaculate.

    Beast is buried in the wild section of our garden, close to his old friend Cora. The little marker has been repaired at least once since we buried the first one; maybe the glue will hold this time. :)

    Labels: ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Send in the Idiots: Part 2

    Every reader approaches books with a unique background and attitude. When I read Kamran Nazeer’s Send in the Idiots: stories from the other side of autism, I read as a mother of an autistic teenager. With this perspective, I read closely when Nazeer talked about his classmates' jobs and careers.
    The young autistic adults in Nazeer’s book experience a variety of successes in the working world. Andre is a computer programmer who works in research. He is an expert in patterns and code, and works on new concepts in computers such as speech. The book doesn’t spend much time on Andre’s work, perhaps because his unique social relationships take precedence.
    Randall is a bicycle messenger in a large city. His autism at times interferes with his work, but he is successful overall. For example, if anything, major or minor, is wrong with the bike, he has to stop and fix it immediately. This can put him behind on delivery deadlines. His supervisor understands this, and because Randall is an otherwise excellent employee, gives him leeway to manage this.
    Craig, the child who once chanted the title phrase “Send in the idiots”, is now a political speechwriter. He excels in this field and writes for many prominent candidates. He has mastered the art of the sound bite, the 20-word debate answer, and the skills to weave policy and issues into motivational phrases that will rally an audience. This type of work is unsteady, however, and his skills in written language do not transfer into the interview setting. After a major election, Craig finds himself out of work and unable to connect with potential employers, even though he is an extremely capable writer. His social limitations present a roadblock to his professional success.
    Social adeptness or lack of it can be a major factor professionally and personally. Later, I’ll post a short talk about social relationships in the book – another concern parents have for their children.
    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Thursday, August 10, 2006

    Breaking News -- Orange Alert

    Is it typical of our egocentric society that my first thoughts were for the effects of this news on my family? Among the swirling thoughts of relief that the plot was discovered and prevented, the inconveniences on international and domestic travel, and the economic effect on already-struggling airlines, my clearest and most immediate thoughts were for those closest to me.

    We rarely fly. I'm grateful that La Petite flew to France two years ago, not two days ago. I'm grateful that Husband and El Grande took their flight (El Grande's first!) a month ago, not today.

    Since Husband works in the local media, this will have an immediate impact on him. The prez is coming to town to raise money for a local condidate, and Husband will be part of the crew that covers it. As if that weren't enough, another crew or two or three will have to cover the local airports. Are there enough live trucks to go around? I remember 9/11/01 and how he worked close to 12 hours, interrupted only to wait in the panic line to fill his car with gas so he could get home that night.

    El Grande slept late today, and when he got up I pointed him to CNN to find out what's going on. He's old enough to know, but his autism sometimes means that I may have to explain and put things in local perspective for him. Right now he's watching and saying Wow. We talked, and I think he understands.

    Yes, I guess it's natural for a mom to think first of her family. Now that I've settled my mind on that count, I can begin to appreciate the global impact of the latest on the terrorism front. And like El Grande, I can only say Wow.


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Wednesday, August 09, 2006

    It could be worse, I guess

    The saga of the dishwasher continues. I keep getting really down about it and other things that have gone wrong, but somehow I'm just not meant to be down for long. Something always seems to come up and remind me that it could be worse -- could be raining.

    I was dragging myself through washing dishes last night before bed and feeling exhausted, when I realized that I may be saving water. Our water bills may be going up (way up) in the next year or two or five, so anything that saves water is good.

    The estimate from the appliance repair dude is for $281. Tonight we will windowshop for dishwashers to see if it's worth our while to replace or if we should repair. Either way, it's a big cost. But it could be worse -- at least we have a choice.

    I was about to wash dishes mid-day when La Petite got in the shower. Drat. I did the dishes after she finished and delegated the folding of laundry (towels and dish cloths, mainly) to her. I couldn't really complain, although I wanted to. After all, she is home from college and able (and willing!) to chip in on housework and yardwork. I have time to wash dishes, whether I want to or not, because I teach in a public school district that hasn't adopted year round school ... yet. The timing could have been much worse -- the dishwasher could have held on until school started, and broken down in September.

    The Husband's car needed repair. La Petite's tuition, etc., is due, um, now. El Grande's registration fees and the works are due tomorrow at the high school. But it could be worse! They successfully repaired the car this time. The tuition can be paid in installments. El Grande's fees are a one-time deal; I'll pay tomorrow and be done.

    Drat. Just when I think I can get away with being crabby, I realize that we haven't hit bottom quite yet. But really, people -- all this and PMS, too? I give in: I'm CRANKY!

    Labels: ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    The Happy Composter

    Here it is with lid back on! Yes, we moved the branch that you see. The small pieces got mulched, and the big pieces went to the brush dump. The mulch (you guessed it!) is now under cover combining in its natural way with coffee grounds, stale popcorn, banana peels, corn husks, and more. My garden will be sooooo happy in the spring! A simple pleasure for the home composter -- a lid that stays on.

    I know, I'm easily pleased. I'm not a Pollyanna type, though. When the fence kept leaning more and more and eventually knocked the lid off for good, I was frustrated and cranky. The weather was at its hottest and most humid, so tearing down a fence wasn't on the agenda. Then the heat wave broke -- and it rained. That poor lid stayed off for amost three weeks before we took action.

    If only replacing a dishwasher were as simple as cutting down a fence!


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Monday, August 07, 2006

    Dad's knocking down a fence so Mom can play in the dirt!

    Compost happens. Naturally. If it can. If it has a decent balance of wet and dry (green and brown), a little moisture, and gets stirred now and then. My poor compost bin was drying out because its lid kept falling off. One rickety section of a backyard fence was leaning on it, and leaning hard.

    There used to be three sections of fence. The first two fell in a storm, so we asked the property owners next door if we could take the fence down for safety's sake. They said sure, of course! Thanks for helping out. We put the old boards to use as stepping "stones" in the garden.

    That was 9 years ago. Since then, the friendly neighbor tree grew, and grew, and grew until it pushed what was left of the fence aside and into my bin. Well, moving a full compost bin is not in the realm of easy possibilities. So finally, I grabbed a hammer and Husband grabbed an ax and we went outside to be destructive. Now we have more boards for stepping "stones" and a much happier composting mama. The balance of wet and dry (green and brown) is maintained, the moisture stays moist, and I can take off the lid and stir it with a pitchfork once in a while -- and replace the lid when I'm done. :)

    Labels: ,

    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Send in the Idiots: Introduction

    Send in the Idiots: stories from the other side of autism by Kamran Nazeer, is a new book being discussed on the autism circuit. Nazeer has autism, and he was enrolled in a special school for autistic children when he was young and lived in New York. Twenty years later, Nazeer re-connected with some of his classmates from those early years. This book is a description of their interactions and an analysis of what it’s like to have autism in today’s world.

    My first reaction was an immediate aversion to the title. Idiots? Mother of a child with Asperger’s syndrome, cousin of a more severely autistic adult, and friend of many families with children on the autism spectrum, the word “idiots” struck me negatively. Based on two positive reviews, I bought the book anyway. I’m glad I did.

    Send in the Idiots takes its title from an echolalia phrase repeated by one of Nazeer's classmates. Echolalia is “…the constant disconnected use of a particular word or phrase” (p. 3) that has no meaning to others, but helps the autistic person keep order in his or her own mind. It can be repetitive or associational, predictable to those close to the person, but otherwise meaningless. The title phrase Send in the Idiots doesn’t label the children, as I feared, but is itself an example of an autistic behavior and coping skill.

    Send in the Idiots is an easy read. Kamran Nazeer explains technical terms in everyday language and uses effective examples of his own or from his classmates’ lives. In fact, I’ve had to force myself to set the book down at times to resist skimming it too quickly. I want to read thoughtfully and digest every word.

    I’ll post more reviews as I continue to read this valuable and fascinating book.
    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Sunday, August 06, 2006

    It's all in your Point of View

    We attended a minor league baseball game last night, courtesy of our local car dealership. They paid for general admission tickets and a picnic supper before the game. An experience like this with a blind/Aspergers child is fun, but a little different.

    The conversation:
    Mom: Let's find a place to sit on the grass and eat our hot dogs.
    El Grande: No, I don't know how! I don't know how to eat sitting on the ground!
    Mom: We'll help you figure it out. Would you like a Mt. Dew to drink?
    Dad: I'll go get a blanket from the car; you two find a place.

    Reading between the lines, or the interpretation.
    Mom: Let's settle down soon.
    El Grande: Oh, no! I've never done this before! I might spill if I can't see my food! It's too crowded and loud to concentrate and learn something new! I hope I don't have a melt-down.
    Mom: Oh, no, I'd better help him stay calm. I hope he doesn't have a melt-down.
    Dad: I'd better go get something to help smooth this situation. I hope he doesn't have a melt-down.

    the next installment:
    Mom: Here's your hot dog.
    El Grande: What can I use for a plate?
    Mom: I'll give you the foil wrap to put on your lap.
    El Grande: Okay. What did you get me to drink?
    Mom: Dew. Do you want me to open it?
    El Grande: No. I can do it myself.

    Reading between the lines:
    Mom: Here's your hot dog. Oh, I hope this works.
    El Grande: What if I drop it? I've never done this before without a table.
    Mom: Maybe this will reassure him.
    El Grande: Okay, this is a little more like normal.
    Mom: He's settling a little. Maybe I can help...
    El Grande: I'm settling a little. I can open the can myself now.

    The next installment:
    Dad: Here's a blanket. Scoot over.
    El Grande: Okay. Dad, do you want chips?
    Mom: This is a blanket that it's okay to spill on.
    Dad: Yeah, it's the one from my trunk.
    El Grande: Yeah, this is more comfortable.
    Dad: We're sitting right next to a new convertible model.
    El Grande: Cool! Can I have another hot dog?

    The interpretation:
    Dad: I hope everything's okay and I'm not too late.
    El Grande: I fell better now that I'm eating. Eating is normal.
    Mom: I know he panics if he spills. I'll remind him that spilling isn't a catastrophe.
    Dad: He panics if he spills in public.
    El Grande: Yum. I wonder if they'll let me have another hot dog?
    Dad: Let's change the subject. I'll distract him.
    El Grande: Everything's fine now. Can't you two stop worrying?

    Yes, parenting is different when the child can't see and has autism. Sometimes his high-level functioning causes us to forget that he still fears certain unknowns, especially those that could end up in "disaster" like spilling in public.
    The baseball game ended up being fun. We had general admission seats on a grassy hill, so we stretched out on the blankets to watch the game and the other fans. El Grande knows all the cheers that go with the stadium music, so the younger kids were awed by him and the other grown-ups smiled and joined in. We caught a souvenir ball, one of the many goodies they toss to the crowd. (Last summer I caught a t-shirt.) The team lost (14-4, ouch!), but the post-game fireworks were great. And I must admit, we enjoyed the popcorn and beer, too.

    It's all in a day's work for parents. When the child is disabled, it raises the bar a bit, but it all works out in the end. Take me out to the ball game!


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Saturday, August 05, 2006

    Mom's outside playing in the dirt -- again!

    I planted some old seeds today. They were old not in the heirloom sense, but in the found-them-in-the-closet and who-knows-when-they-were-stored-there definition. I teach science. as part of my many roles. Last spring I cleaned out my classroom closets of all old science materials to make room for the new curriculum kits. I found a big bag of spinach seeds. Spinach? I don't remember needing spinach seeds for any of the experiments and activities I taught. These must have been stored by one of the teachers that had the room before me. One is retired now, and the other is deceased. The only date I found on the packages said 1997. Was that a "plant by" freshness date or a purchase date? I'll never know. So in my philosophy of waste not, I planted them. My garden soil is still moist from yesterday's watering, and the tomato plants are growing like crazy. I know the soil is fertile. If the seeds don't come up, it won't be the soil. It'll mean they're simply old and dried beyond usefulness, so I'll compost the rest. If the spinach comes up, it means more bunny food for Beast and Tiny and the little house bunny, Nut!


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Friday, August 04, 2006

    Controversy's busting out again.

    Wasn't it enough when Victoria's Secret stores, the hotbed of hot lingerie for hot young women, refused to allow a woman to breastfeed (in a discreet and isolated corner, mind you) in their store? Now a magazine for mothers of babies -- Babies! -- has generated more negative PR for mothers who are able and willing to breastfeed their infants.

    One article on the cover is here. This article displays a bias, however. If you can look past the spelling error on the word "gauge" (those always lower a reporter's credibility in my eyes), read the statistics. Apparently the magazine received 5,000 letters and emails, and 25% had a problem with it, leaving 75% either in support of it or neutral. This does not support the headline of "Breast isn't Best: readers tell U.S. parenting magazine." For a more objective report, try this report.

    There are a few details to remember before hauling off and bashing mothers or magazine publishers.
    • This magazine is not on newsstands; no one will accidentally be "forced" to see the cover. It is distributed free through OB/GYN offices.
    • Breastfeeding itself is not sexual, and neither is the photo.
    • The goal of this photo was to illustrate an article, not to excite or titillate (sorry, couldn't resist).
    So don't get your undies in a bundle or your bottle in a battle. Moms have enough on their shoulders (and other parts). Let the babies eat. And let the magazines show it happening.
    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Could be worse -- it could be raining

    Here you see the results of my afternoon yesterday. No dish drainer, and yes, the kitchen is really that small. There's also very little counter space. We call it our "one person kitchen". There's not much risk of too many cooks spoiling the broth because there just isn't room for more than one cook-- or dish washer(human, that is). Now that I can keep up by washing after each meal, it will never get quite this bad again. And I'll keep reminding myself: it could be worse, it could be raining!


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    Fortunately/Unfortunately or "Could be worse, could be raining!"

    In high school my friend D. liked to quote her mother by saying, "Could be worse, could be raining!" to keep things in perspective. That phrase kept running through my mind today as one thing after another went wrong, but all in all, things could have been much worse.

    Fortunately, last night was the coolest night we've had in ages and we woke up feeling rested.
    Unfortunately, Husband and I both overslept. He dove for a quick shower while I tried to figure out how it happened. Nothing was wrong with the alarm, the time was set properly, and the radio alarm was set to "on". Who knows?
    Fortunately, he has worked late several times this week, so if he arrived a few minutes late today it wouldn't be a problem.

    Fortunately, the dishwasher was loaded and ready to run. As soon as Husband took a running leap out of the house and into the car, I filled it (the dishwasher, not the car) with soap and pushed the button to start it.
    Unfortunately, the dishwasher broke out in (no, not song) a noise that mimicked a chain saw.
    Fortunately, there's a button for "Cancel and Drain".
    Unfortunately, the noise continued.
    Fortunately, the ever-competent part of me figured out how to prop the door open just enough to stop the whole process.
    Fortunately, I looked into the appliance and managed to find a small part that was obviously cracked.
    Unfortunately, I had no idea what it was or how to fix it.

    Fortunately, it was a Cleaning Service day! They do a great job on our home and I'm so grateful!
    Unfortunately, they arrived a little early, so La Petite (she who doesn't do mornings) was still in bed.
    Fortunately, El Grande takes great pleasure in waking his older sister.
    Unfortunately, I was so busy with the Chainsaw Dishwasher that I wasn't ready, either. I hadn't written a check or straightened up nearly enough.
    Fortunately, the cleaning people can work around almost anything. I wrote the check, warned them about the dishwasher, and and we piled into the van to get out of the way.

    Fortunately, we went to IHOP for brunch.
    Fortunately, the food was delicious.
    Fortunately, the table next to us was very entertaining with three lovely and smiley children eating pancakes. This led my two children to reminisce about restaurant adventures when they were little. Fun.

    Fortunately, when we got home the house was sparkling and clean-smelling.
    Unfortunately, the dishwasher still didn't work.
    Fortunately, it was a beautiful day with lots of excuses for procrastinating. I went out to the garden to weed and meditate and gather my energy for washing a lot of dishes.
    Unfortunately, the dishes were still there when I got back.

    Fortunately, the kitchen was spotless.
    Unfortunately, I own very few dish towels and dish clothes, since I rarely wash dishes by hand.
    Fortunately, I had extra towels in the bathroom. I brought out two big shower towels because...
    Unfortunately, my kitchen has no drainer rack for dishes and only has one sink. I set up the towels for air-drying because...
    Fortunately, there was a beautiful breeze wafting through the kitchen.
    Fortunately, I had just bought dishwashing liquid a few days earlier.
    Unfortunately, it was the $1 cheap stuff on the sale shelf. It didn't last long, and I had to drain and refill the sink repeatedly to maintain some semblance of suds.
    Fortunately, I spent enough time in restaurants and food service earning money for college that I learned how to do dishes efficiently.
    Unfortunately, it's still my least favorite job.

    Well, now the dishes are done and scattered on shower towels on our tiny kitchen's limited counter space. But do you know what? It could be worse -- it could be raining.


    Digg! Stumble It! add to kirtsy

    Search & Win

    About 1 in 5 child deaths is due to injury. CDC Vital Signs


Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

    Copyright, 2003-2008 by OkayByMe. All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval without written permission from Daisy, the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review. In other words, stealing is bad, and if you take what doesn't belong to you, it's YOUR karma and my lawyers you might deal with.