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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.

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  • Tuesday, April 29, 2008

    simple pleasures when away from home

    A student once gave me a card on the last day of school that said, "There are three great things about being a teacher: June, July, and August." And this was a good kid, a young man who has kept in touch and is now in law school! In a school like mine, however, we deal with a lot of emotionally charged issues because of the wide variety of families and the transient nature of the neighborhood. Yesterday was a staff development day that involved planning for next year, and I came out of it exhausted rather than refreshed. I will feel better when I see my class today, but I'll still be happy when I send home their report cards and move them along to the next grade level.

    When we take our family vacation (an actual vacation! With a road trip! The first in four years!), I'm looking forward to some simple pleasures. Being finished with schoolwork will feel great, especially after the rush to finish the year-end paperwork. Not having to wash dishes or sheets will be nice, of course, but there are other little tidbits that make me happy.

    Reading a newspaper in every city we visit
    Attempting the crossword puzzles in each newspaper
    Reading a few books for pleasure without having to "make time" for them
    Taking pictures in various states along the way to use in my social studies lessons
    Picking up a few new coffee mugs for my collection
    Listening to Husband and Amigo bond in the front seat while I read or nap in the back
    Exchanging emails with new friends, running into others

    Posting the travails of our travels -- eventually. I might not have pictures until we get home.

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    Monday, April 28, 2008

    Blue skies, smilin' at me

    Photos taken on the way to visit La Petite Friday night after the major storm blew through. The rainbow was fading so fast I just grabbed my cell phone camera and hoped for the best. I missed the tornado(s), the hail, and the worst of the rain, thank goodness. I had to take a different route than planned because of a washed out bridge, but otherwise all was well. And in case you were wondering, the campus now has heat and hot water. :)

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    Friday, April 25, 2008

    Worry is the misuse of Imagination.

    I have a sign behind my desk stating just that. It doesn't stop me from worrying, but it reminds me that there are more effective ways to expend my energy.
    La Petite had a major sinus infection a few weeks ago. On her visit to the school clinic, they started to tell her that she had to show symptoms for another week before they'd put her on meds. She asked them to check her records for last year. Sure enough, she'd suffered the exact same problem one year ago.
    They gave her the antibiotics with no further questions.
    Two years ago I went to our family doctor with my annual spring sinus infection. She looked at my medical history and said, "You're three days late this year." Last year I managed to escape the misery, but today I went back for a dose of the usual. I'll pick it up at the pharmacy later this afternoon. This is a case where like mother, like daughter, isn't necessarily a good thing. When I get a seasonal sinus infection, I now worry about her developing the same painful symptoms.

    There was a major explosion last week on the campus where La Petite goes to school. It was accidental, although she admitted that the timing (one year after Virgina Tech's mass shooting) had a lot of people freaked. In her role as asst. photo editor for the school paper, she helped send out photos of the disaster to several news outlets, almost all of which ran the photos. (Note to self: remind her to send resumes to these people when she graduates)
    No one was killed, and only one person was injured. But the major impact on students was this: the explosion destroyed the main and the backup boiler that provide heat and hot water to the campus at large.
    Yes, you read that correctly. All the students living on campus have been without heat and hot water for a week now.
    La Petite lives in an apartment near campus -- so near campus that she's closer to her classes then she was when she lived in a dorm. But by virtue of being off campus, she has hot water. She can shower! Wash dishes! Do laundry (I hope)! But the others? Apparently the athletic department has its own hot water supply, so students are allowed to use the locker rooms for basic hygiene needs. The Powers That Be are also encouraging students to go home as often as possible to -- well, to shower.
    Thank goodness it's spring, not winter. Going without heat in April is a whole different story than doing without in January.
    And thank goodness she's living in an apartment. If she didn't, I might have to rethink this weekend visit of mine.

    Worry is just one part of motherhood. For more serious and sweet Portraits of Mothers, look to the Parent Bloggers Network and their Blog Blast for this week.

    Update: Husband now has an appointment to see the doctor on Monday for his own version of the annual sinus infection. Sigh. Sniff. Snore.

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    Thursday, April 24, 2008

    Ah, youth, where hast thou gone?

    I'm not a "Cat Lady." I don't have a shopping cart full of cat food, ice cream, and frozen pizza -- for one.
    But that's only because I'm allergic to cats and my husband does the grocery shopping.
    So I had to laugh out loud when I read Melanie's post describing her exciting Friday evening shopping trip.
    I don't go out in public in sweats, but that's only because mine are too ratty to wear outside the bedroom. My track suits count, though, in the uber-casual category, and I do go out in public wearing those.
    Sometimes splurging on myself doesn't mean a single-serving pizza, but an omelet with all the fixings. Cooking it myself is a fun solitary activity, with the exception of the clean-up. But going out to the diner alone for an omelet doesn't really cut it; I'd rather curl up with a good book in one hand and a coffee mug in the other.
    This weekend I'll be a little too busy for curling up in a corner by myself, and I have to dress professionally on Saturday. But since I'll be visiting La Petite on Friday night and Saturday, I might end up treating both of us to a simple but fun pizza or simples restaurant meal. I'll have to promise not to wear sweats, though. She might refuse to be seen with me if I do.

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    Tuesday, April 22, 2008

    Books. Gotta love 'em.

    It was a typical class transition, which in my class means a struggle to get everyone to shift gears mentally and physically. Then, guide all 25 of them into the hallway (quietly!) and across the hall for Science, and welcome the other group of 9- and 10-year-olds into my classroom for Social Studies. We made it through these maneuvers, I allowed one girl and one boy to use the rest rooms, and then turned out the lights and turned on the overhead projector to introduce the details of the upcoming research project.
    Suddenly a confused-looking face peeked up from the Book Nook corner behind the computers. One of mine, looking confused, stood up and shook his head a little. He had been so involved in the book he was reading, so totally lost in its world, that he never noticed the rest of the class putting away their math books, getting out their science folders, and leaving the room. He smiled sheepishly, gathered his materials and left the room.
    No, I didn't give him grief. I couldn't. You see, I recognized a little of the fourth grade me in this kid. My mother remembers the time I walked home from school reading a book and I walked right past our house. Books? They're great. Who needs TV?

    In case you're wondering, the book was a Junior Classic, an abridged version of Robinson Crusoe that I picked up for $1 at a thrift store.
    It was a dollar well spent.

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    Monday, April 21, 2008

    Care Packages just aren't the same

    When La Petite was a freshman, I bought the commercial Welcome Pack and various holiday gift packages. I'm sure I supported someone's fundraising, and my daughter enjoyed getting treats now and then.
    Her sophomore year, I did the same.
    Now she doesn't live in a dorm, but in a near-campus apartment, so I skipped it. She says she's okay with that, so why do I feel a small bit of motherly guilt?

    I haven't made the old-fashioned cookie packages like the ones my mom sent me.
    I haven't packaged up a batch of goodies when MidTerms rolled around.
    But I haven't failed. Oh, I may be different, but I haven't failed her completely.

    For one, I send her links. Where my mother would mail little items (including comics!) that she'd clipped from the paper, I send my daughter URLs for relevant articles and blog posts, even shopping deals. We could chalk that up to the change in technology. We email, chat by IM, and text message each other, too.
    I set things aside for her. I put her Girl Scout cookies in her bedroom so we wouldn't be tempted to eat them in a PMS inspired fit. Did I say we? I meant me. I mean I. I mean...did I say something about chocolate?!
    When we found out she and her roomie had lost the remote control for their TV, we found an unused universal remote and mailed it down to her, along with batteries. I suggested chocolate, but Husband "forgot" to throw the candy in the package at the last minute.
    The last time we visited, we brought a bag of groceries that included bunny food, Mountain Dew, batteries for the remote control (see above) and a big box of trash bags. And a chair! We brought her a chair! Don't laugh -- it was taking up space in the garage, and Husband wasn't ready to give it up for good just yet.
    Last, but not least, I send her free samples. Yes, free samples. Whenever I see an opportunity to get a freebie, I send one to her, too. When she gets a package of something random like a granola bar or the new flavor of Chex Mix, she knows it's from me. I even hooked her up with a free test sample of a new dishwashing liquid, and now she's set for dishes for the remainder of the semester, if not the year.
    No, these aren't romantic or fancy. They're silly little surprises that turn up in her mailbox at unexpected times. They make her smile and let her know I'm thinking about her now and then. In her own sarcastic way, she'd say, "I feel special"-- but I know that sometimes, just sometimes, she really does.

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    Sunday, April 20, 2008

    Am I green? A pale shade of mint, perhaps?

    I blow it sometimes.
    I have cloth bags for shopping, but I forget them too often. We buy bottled water. Yes, we do. We even use paper napkins, not cloth. We don't bring our own bags to the grocery store or bring back the paper bags, either.
    But on the other hand...
    I have a re-usable shopping bag in my purse, and it works very well when I remember to use it.
    I shred, and we use the shred to fill packages instead of styro packing peanuts. I recycle the water bottles! I do! We also reuse and recycle the paper bags. I used to bring them to school for book covers when I taught older kids. The paper napkins don't go in the garbage. As soon as it's warm enough, I compost them. This year, that means as soon as the water goes down.
    Compost! Recycle! Reuse! I'm at least a little greenish.

    I teach in a school that celebrates Earth Week in a big way by reading stories, leading discussions, and teaching the students how to actually make a difference. One day this week we'll have "No New Paper Day" where every piece of paper is a re-used piece. We hope this philosophy will spread. We don't expect our colleagues to use only re-used paper, but to look for opportunities to cut down on the waste. A gradual transition can make a big difference on our world -- and our budget.
    We've set up a day for a minimal-waste lunch. The cafeteria staff created a menu of finger food to avoid using plastic utensils, and we'll teach a minilesson on composting to show the kids how to throw food waste such as peelings in the compost instead of the garbage. We'll encourage students to bring reusable containers instead of bags; many already do.
    There's more on the schedule, but I'll leave it at that. I'm proud to be on this planning committee; we planned a week of celebrations that are also educational.

    On the green scale, I may not be perfect, but I'm getting there. And honestly? I think I'm pretty darn good.

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    Saturday, April 19, 2008

    Poetry Month, for better or for verse

    If it has three lines and a frog, it's a Haiku.
    Poets read prose differently.
    Poets today write not about history, but about time. Not time that has passed, but time that's ticking, ticking right now.
    Dogs have voice. And how.
    "Borrowing" from another poet is a professional courtesy.

    I had the pleasure of hearing former Poet Laureate Billy Collins two nights ago. He was speaking as part of a local book festival, a week of literature, featuring poets and novelists and more, bringing readers and writers together. The grand statements in the previous sentence were all stolen from introductions and brochures; none are original. But if I'm to take Mr. Collins' word, though it was given with a sardonic smile and a knowing glance, I can consider it Professional Courtesy rather than plagiarism.

    If you asked me to pick a favorite poem out of the evening, I couldn't do it. There was so much to enjoy in his work and his short pieces of banter in between poems, I'm left with a tone, a mood, rather than a single favorite. There were times I thought a poem could have ended after a few lines; the message was that strong, that clear. But as he read on, the poem took shape and lived, pulling us listeners along a new path.

    I haven't written or posted anything new since then; I'm rather basking in the warmth of hearing a professional, a creative and intelligent poet reading and expanding on his work.


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    Friday, April 18, 2008

    Out of the mouths of...tweens?

    Teacher: Note passing isn't allowed in class. Hand it over.
    Student: It's not a note! It's a list!
    Teacher: Hand it over.
    Student: It's a list. See?!
    Teacher: And now it's my list, since you were passing it in class.

    Here it is, the note/list of the day:

    To: Ashley, no one else
    From: Jenny

    Birthday List
    cell phone
    white bunny webkinz
    hippo Webkinz
    Something High School Musical

    Life is much simpler when you're turning ten. I'm not sure this little darling's family will spring for the iPod or the cell phone, but they might pick up the Webkinz animals. High School Musical is her favorite -- her locker has a big picture of Zach Ephron hanging in it -- so maybe that's where the cool gifts will turn up.
    I just hope they'll remind her not to pass notes in class!

    What if teachers passed notes in staff meetings? No, don't answer that. It might be like the crazy emails at my last school.


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    Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    There must be a punch line here somewhere.

    Knock, knock.
    Who's there?
    Canoe who?
    Canoe tell me a good knock knock joke?

    I could rename this post "When Canoes go Wild." This one is tired of hanging on the garage, so it's creating a stream for a getaway. Or maybe it'll use the ladder to elope with the fishing boat behind the shed. It's my neighbor's canoe. Should I warn him? Or do you think he'd be happy not to have to pay for the big wedding?

    Sorry, a bit punchy. It's been a week. Let's leave it at that. And it's only Wednesday!

    I'll just go feed the rabbit.

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    Monday, April 14, 2008

    We finally got hitched.

    It's not what you think, though. Husband and I have been married for going on 24 years, and aiming for at least that many more. We installed a trailer hitch on the minivan. There were a few hitches on the way to getting the minivan hitched, though.
    The day did not start smoothly. I had broken my glasses the night before, so I carefully tiptoed downstairs and put in my contacts as soon as I woke up.
    Amigo, still nervous about touchy tummy condition, nibbled his breakfast: one frozen waffle, toasted, for the boy who used to down four in a sitting. He got on the bus, and I came back in the house to spend a few minutes with a heating pad to settle my sore back and my own anxiety about whether or not Amigo would make it through the day.
    Husband needed the minivan because he was taking care of the installation, so I dutifully picked up keys to the Saturn, walked out of the house, opened the garage door, and stepped into -- the van. Oops. Sleepwalking through the morning routine again.
    Redirected and in the correct vehicle, I got two blocks away before I heard something chirping at me. It wasn't the first robin of spring. It was Husband's cell phone, left in the car to charge overnight. Since I wasn't far from home, I came back, dumped the phone and its charger on top of his wallet, then left for work a second time.
    My arrival in the parking lot coincided with another teacher's arrival, and that was lucky for me. I had forgotten my ID card, which is my entry into the building and has my room key attached. She let me in, and I got lucky again; my room was unlocked.
    Later that day, I heard from Husband by email. He had forgotten more than his cell phone; his toolbox was still in the Saturn's trunk. He parked the minivan beside his car, moved the toolbox from the Saturn to the van, and then had to explain himself to one of my colleagues so she wouldn't call the police and report this strange guy taking tools out of the trunk of a car in the school parking lot. He got lucky -- she had met him at the staff holiday party.
    Well, despite all the trials and tribulations of the day, we all survived. Minimum of tummy trouble, not too much headache, only a little hassle on the way out. It could have been worse.

    Here's the new bike rack on the new hitch, with Husband checking on all the details.

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    Sunday, April 13, 2008

    Could be worse -- could be raining!

    Oh, wait. It is raining.

    But April showers bring May flowers, and luckily for all of us in this dreary April weather, our school's Art Club suggested a fundraiser. They offered to paint a window in our room for $10 a window, with the money all going to sponsor a local art teacher in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I jumped at the opportunity.

    Our library media specialist did, too. Her best windows open up to the hallway rather than the outdoors, so the flowers are there for everyone who passes by or comes in to check out a book.

    And besides being an investment in a good cause, and in addition to giving young artists a chance to display their work, the early flowers really brighten the room. Teachers' Manuals on the right, flowers on the left. I know which side makes me smile!

    Could be worse, indeed.

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    Friday, April 11, 2008

    Waterfront property, with wildlife

    After the melting of a record winter's snows and a few heavy April Showers, our backyard is a swamp. The lot behind ours? I'm looking for fish. Ducks, at least.

    Neither family, ours or theirs, can get out and unwrap the grill or the camper or set up the picnic table. If you enjoy a squish, squish sound as you walk, you'll love this!

    Until the fish and waterfowl find the place, you'll have to settle for bunnies. Can you see Friendly, our neighborhood rabbit? He was born in a tiny hole in our backyard, lived through the winter under our deck and our bushes, and now has a lady friend. He's tolerating the wetness rather well. Can you find the bunny in the picture above?

    Okay, I give in, here's a close-up. I wasn't really that close to him; I used the zoom. I didn't want to disturb him, although how he could get cozy in the midst of this wetness I will never know.

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    Thursday, April 10, 2008

    Comfort in metaphor

    Jennifer Graf Groneberg faces a familiar journey in Road Map to Holland: How I found my way through my son's first two years with Down Syndrome. I, too, had to suddenly change my perception, modify my hopes and dreams, and dig for information when my infant son's blindness was diagnosed. Ms. Groneberg and I faced parallels in some of our thinking processes, and one of those was a constant re-interpretation of life metaphors.
    The Holland metaphor in her title comes from an essay by Emily Perl Kingsley describing the paradigm shift when a baby is diagnosed with a disability or other life-altering condition. The well-known essay likens the thought process to planning for a vacation to Italy, only to find yourself in Holland instead. The destination is still beautiful, but it's totally different from the original plan.
    I've never been a big fan of the Holland essay and metaphor, although I knew at least one mom who posted it on her refrigerator as inspiration. Rather, I likened the challenge to expecting a car with automatic everything and then getting a manual transmission instead. The driver has to learn to shift gears quickly and smoothly, both literally and figuratively.
    Groneberg hears and adapts other metaphors to her own experience. "Kids are like sandpaper" didn't quite make sense at first. Did it mean raising kids is rough? Wears you down? Eventually she takes a more positive angle on this one, seeing her child as the sander who smooths out her own rough edges as he grows.
    Groneberg's journey with Avery paralleled my journey with Amigo in several ways. I kept nodding as I read, thinking, "Oh, I remember going through that." But I also remembered that the first few years were the easy ones. Babies are babies, even when they're disabled. Her twins' story might be more interesting as they grow up, are forced to face their differences, and the biases toward Avery and his Down syndrome become more overt. Going through the IEP process, making transition plans, looking into job training, and more await the family in the years ahead.

    My hope for the Groneberg family is that they will love and cherish all three of their children for themselves, their strengths, and their unique individual traits. Despite the difficulty of the first few years, I hope they can see their glass, however fragile, as half full rather than half empty.

    For more discussion of this book and others, go to MotherTalk Book Talks and Salon.

    MotherTalk provided me with a free copy of this book in order to read it and review it. If you'd like to read it, leave me a note in the comments that includes your email or a link. I'll mail it out to the first interested commenter.

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    Tuesday, April 08, 2008

    To sleep, perchance to dream

    Amigo and I were traveling somewhere in a big city, but I didn't recognize the place. I just know it was a big city and vaguely familiar. We stayed in an old-fashioned red-brick hotel that felt homey, almost dormlike. By day we kept going from one place to another using different forms of transportation: cab, bus, walking, even a boat at one point. Once in a while we'd retrace our steps to go back to another place, say, for lunch or to get something we'd seen earlier. As the dream progressed, he kept losing his white cane. I'd have to be his sighted guide and walk him quickly, almost drag him, back to wherever we'd been to find and retrieve his cane so that we could go on. This happened multiple times, and by the time I woke up I know he had asked to be carried and I'd said yes. To envision this scene, you need to know that he is four inches taller than I am and at least as heavy.

    When I woke up, I shook the cobwebs from my head and got started with my morning routine.
    When Amigo woke up, he was shaky with discomfort and pain, asking for a bucket because he felt like throwing up. Again. Still. He stayed home from school and visited the doctor again.

    Tonight, I hope I dream a solution or better, a cure.

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    Monday, April 07, 2008

    Meanwhile, back at the Ranch...

    Two women so different in age, in size, in stage of life. Yet once again (cue the tacky music) our bras got mixed up.
    Monday morning, of course. It couldn't happen any other day of the week. I reached for my, um, garments and found -- one of La Petite's bras instead of my own. It must have gotten mixed up in the laundry. Once again I thought I heard it wailing in fear as I stared at it, wondering how the heck this happened? She's slim and trim. I'm not.
    Wrapped up in a shower towel, I headed for the drying racks in the basement and grabbed one of my own. It was still damp, so I pulled out the hair dryer and blew some hot air (no silly comments from the peanut gallery, folks) in its direction. Then I gave up, threw the bra next to the heat vent, and threw my pajama top back on. A few minutes later, after breakfast was on the table and I'd finished putting in my contacts, I picked up the poor mishandled undergarment and finished dressing for work.
    Then the day began, I taught my Tigger-clones, spent an hour at the doctor's office with Amigo, and came home feeling like I should be singing something from the Musical episode of Scrubs. Never mind which song. You don't. Want. To. Know.
    So now, I feel done. Done in, done out. Not quite together enough to correct math tests, but maybe capable of putting stickers on the penmanship papers.
    I could consider this Laundry Revenge, but I didn't plan it. Honestly. At least not this time.
    I just hope La Petite has enough spares to get through until Final Exams.

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    Saturday, April 05, 2008

    to list, or not to list

    I should not, absolutely not, use the term "list" when we get on the ferry for the five hour trip to our ultimate destination.

    I kept seeing recommendations and deals on GPS units on, Mir's fantastic blog for bargain shoppers. I pulled one up onscreen the other day and asked Husband what he thought. Since we'll be traveling through several states (at least eight) and then out of the country for a week, I wondered if it might be a good idea to have a little electronic help finding our way.
    He said no. Absolutely not. In his view, it's hard enough to ask a person for directions, much less take directions from a box with a voice. So...I'll pack a U.S. map and look for an updated state highway map (free, if possible) as we enter each state and try out their rest stops.
    He'll also print out a Mapquest for each day's plan before we leave home. The plus side of this is that we'll also print out a Braille copy of the route, and Amigo can do his part to help navigate. White cane and all, our teen will be an active participant in the road trip. He's a great believer in the slogan that getting there is half the fun!
    But then again, the Mapquest I printed for today's music festival landed me and my minivan in the elementary school's turnaround for parents instead of in the high school's parking lot four full blocks away.... just goes to show you, there's always something.


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    Friday, April 04, 2008

    The new addition

    No, it's not another bunny. It's certainly not another teenager, and don't even think younger. I have a new coffee mug. Of course! You knew that right away. Didn't you?

    Everything in the gift shop was half price because it was the last game of the season. I picked this one over the other because it was a little bigger than the average coffee cup and because of the cool "fidget tool" on the handle. See that neat-o little hockey puck with the crossed sticks? It spins. My thumb loves it.

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    Thursday, April 03, 2008

    I can see the ground!! And -- and -- more!

    It's not exactly aesthetically pleasing. Muddy brown, with old half-decomposed leaves, sunbleached boards that soaked up their share of snow for months, and a snake-like dead zucchini vine.

    It's not traditionally beautiful. The trellis is falling down, and that is an old broom handle leaning against the wall. One lone (dead) raspberry bush, if you can even dignify it with the term, stands weakly in the dirt, untrimmed last fall and uneaten by the neighborhood wild bunnies over the winter.

    But walk around the corner and look closely. Not green, but red: the rhubarb is poking its head through the matted blanket of last fall's leaves. Mmm. I can taste the muffins already.

    Happy Love Thursday, everyone. I hope you'll all see the sun, and soon.

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    Wednesday, April 02, 2008

    Walk on, Girlfriend!

    My dear friend Sara is walking -- walking up a storm in Chicago. She and a good friend are participating in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer this spring. Sara had breast cancer a few years ago, and she suffered through chemo, radiation, reconstructive surgery (twice!), and more. She is an amazing woman with a fantastic sense of humor and a limitless capacity to love and care for others. Sara and an artist friend designed and decorated this lion, titled Breast Cancer Survivors: Not an Endangered Species.
    She is collecting pledges on the Avon Walk web site. Money goes for both research and treatment. In her words,

    "For 2 days 4000 people walked for one cause. It was a remarkable weekend....We watched as 4 groups were granted a total of 4 million dollars. Half of that went towards research, which is vital towards finding a cure (for all sorts of cancers), and half went towards care for under-insured breast cancer patients. I carried you all with me as I walked. I am so grateful for your help."

    You can help sponsor Sara and her walking buddy by following these steps.

    • Go online to
    • click on "Make a Donation"
    • click on "Donate to a participant"
    • click on "Chicago, 2008"
    • fill in first name Sara and last name Wilda
    • click on "find a walker/crew member"
    • click on Wilda,Sara
    • click on "Click Here to Support Me"

    I know your time and your money are valuable. My donations have been embarrassingly small -- a drop in the bucket, so to speak. But if enough people put drops in it, the bucket will eventually fill. All of us who have been touched by breast cancer (personally or in our families) really appreciate your support, be it financial or moral.

    I almost titled this post "These boobs were made for walking!" Then I thought of all the weird and inappropriate google searches that might wind up here, and opted for the cleaner and more appropriate title. Sara, however, would have laughed out loud at the first one!

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    Illness doesn't have to be pandemic to matter.

    The annual IEP (in Amigo's words, the I Eat Pizza) went reasonably well. Amigo at 16 has become much more self-confident in these meetings, and he handled quite a bit of it himself.

    We went out for supper, decompressed, came home. Amigo did his homework, took his evening meds (for acne and for anxiety/tics), and went to bed. Almost exactly an hour later, he threw up.

    We are the type of parents who analyze, worry, and then analyze and worry some more on the way to our decisions.

    Analysis: his IEP caused him stress and anxiety.
    Worry: Maybe his stomach wasn't fully healed from its recent illness.
    Analysis: The acne medicine upsets his stomach. He tossed his cookies about an hour after he took it.
    Worry: Maybe we should call the doctor and ask for a change in meds.
    Analysis: Being sick scares him. His Asperger's style logic doesn't let him calm down and heal.
    Worry: This adds more anxiety, which upsets his stomach more. Again.
    Analysis: He was exhausted and lacked appetite already on Sunday.
    Worry: Was this a sign? And we missed it?

    Keep him home for a day, let him rest, feed him bland foods, monitor (and analyze and worry) throughout the day. If he's up to it, we'll shop for a low-dose over-the-counter antacid. We'll re-introduce the meds slowly, on a full stomach, well before bedtime, after consulting the doctor.

    Upon further analysis, his illness continued for days, weeks, and eventually months. The local pediatrician referred us to the Big Children's Hospital for a specialist and heavy duty testing. Amigo went through a week of gathering lab samples, only to have to do the tests over because the local hospital's lab didn't like the Big Hospital's containers. These tests (you guessed it) showed nothing new, eliminated nothing from the list of possibilities.

    Next up was a three day stint.
    Day 1: prepare for tests.
    Day 2: Travel to Big Children's Hospital for Day Surgery, as the tests take place under general anesthesia.
    Day 3: rest, resume some normal eating, rehydrate. Maybe, just maybe, start doing homework.

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    Tuesday, April 01, 2008

    Savoring Spring

    When Jordan from Mammablogga proposed "Savoring the Season" for her next group writing project, I thought, savor what?
    I live in Wisconsin not only because I was born here, but because I like it. I enjoy the seasons changing: the cool winds of autumn with colorful leaves falling all around. Sipping my morning coffee on the deck outside my dining room door in the comfort of summer. Winter, with its crisp, icy beauty, and the snow blanketing the world, sending us inside for hot cocoa topped with marshmallows and whipped cream.
    But now, right now, I've had enough of winter. The snow that remains has melted and refrozen, with as much dirt and road salt in it as actual snow. The heaps in parking lots resemble glaciers, odd-shaped and huge, with a small trickle melting from beneath leading to the nearest sewer grate. It's not pretty.
    Something resembling grass lies matted flat, in shades of tan and brown, on soaked yard. I can't see my garden yet or reach the compost bin.
    It's coming, though. I can smell it in the air. Or maybe that's just mud...or the molds and spores thawing to make my allergies explode inside my sinuses.
    Spring is on the way. I bought seeds! I have to be an optimist! The glass is half full! Either that or that drink I just poured has frozen in the sub-freezing temperatures that persist.
    That wind -- it's a warm one, isn't it? Oh, I give in, get my gloves. Any wind, though, will help melt or sublimate the remaining solid. Apply a little science, and I'll feel better.
    Winter? She's a queen, and the queen will take her time before abdicating the throne to that young sprout, Spring.
    And when spring really turns up, and the grass really gets green, and the compost is happening again, I'll rejoice. And I'll savor every moment.

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