Saturday, November 29, 2008
I realize, however, that not everyone adores the holiday update letters as much as I love them. Hubby, for example, isn't as much of a fan. He put the kibosh on our own update letter several years ago and has lobbied against its reinstatement successfully every year since. So, I'm curious - which one of us is in the minority, him or me? I've put a poll over yonder in the sidebar, feel free to voice your opinion on the subject there or in the comments or both!
Friday, November 28, 2008
This? Is heaven on a plate: the Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich on a fresh bakery roll. (That'd be turkey breast, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy, all warmed, then topped off with some cranberry sauce.) Finish off the meal with a slice of whipped-cream topped, chocolate pecan pie and the perfection is complete. It is somewhat messy perfection (a spoon was ultimately required as I overloaded my roll and had what Hubby called "Lunch Fail" as I lifted the deliciousness to my mouth for the first bite) but perfection nonetheless!
In other news, I ordered our holiday cards and they'll be ready to pick up in a couple of hours, so this year I am determined to have them all mailed by December 1st. (This is my usual goal, but that modifies into "before my birthday" which then further is revised into "before Christmas" as things get increasingly hectic.) I'm going to be on top of things this year, oh yes indeed! (Oh, if anyone out there in the blogosphere is dying to receive a Smith family holiday card, email me your address and I'll add ya to the list! True, it's no autographed George Clooney picture, but it is Kiddo in her Christmas dress posing with the Jolly, Old Man in Red...) There are some things that I can't do way ahead of time, like all the baking and candy-making Kiddo and I do for presents each year, but other than that, I will not be a Last Minute Annie (as my mother nicknamed me when I was a kid) who is panicking and overwhelmed by the to-do list come December 21st or 22nd... Nope, I'm going to be on top of things and have a relaxed, un-panicky Advent season. *deep breath* Here I go!
I do love Christmas music, even more than my snowmen. It's my favorite part of the Christmas season, actually. One of my favorite Christmas albums is one I first owned in vinyl record format back in 1979. Today, it's on my iPod and also in my CD collection, and Kiddo loves it, too. Here's a little video clip (not the greatest quality, but the best of the available options on YouTube) of one of the tunes on this classy, classic album:
And on that note, I'm off to start hauling the Christmas boxes out of the basement! Happy Black - or Red and Green - Friday, everyone!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains. Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun, go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God. Think of the beauty that again and again discharges itself within and without you and be happy.
- Anne Frank
Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.
- Theodore Roosevelt
Your friend is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
- Kahlil Gibran
Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.
- Edward Sandford Martin
It may be cliche or sound a bit trite, but as always, I give thanks for my family and friends, both near and far. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I wanted to put beginning and end credits on the video, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to get the video editing software Hubby got for the computer when we bought the video camera to work. Seriously, I've watched him do all sorts of cool things with the video footage we've shot since we bought the new camera, and I really thought I could do it. As it turns out, I can't. So, no witty titles or credits or fancy special effects, sorry. (I was all about doing lots of "star wipes" too. Shoot.)
So, I'll do the credits here, then show you the video. I'm not kidding when I say this is a limited engagement: I do NOT want this thing getting spread around the interwebz. I want it to languish here in relative obscurity on my little blog, then disappear quietly into that good night. I mean, I'm wearing a tiara, for crying out loud. You can't bring the crazy any more than being a goofy, nearly-middle-aged chick singing an ode to a George Clooney photograph than by wearing a pink, marabou trimmed tiara (borrowed from Kiddo's rather extensive collection for the occasion). Oh yes, I brought the crazy. Mmm-hmmm. I brought it BIG. I also slapped on some make-up (succumbing as best I could to the whims of the Gods of Vanity) and even put in my contact lenses for the occasion. My dear friends who assisted me in the making of this video managed to locate a karaoke track for The Rainbow Connection, and I thank them very much for putting so much time and effort into assisting me in looking like a crazy fool. The only thing about the karaoke track is that it was a bit low (or a bit too high, depending on in which octave I sang it) so apologies to Bea Arthur and/or any drag queen that does a Bea Arthur impression, I did not intend to imitate you, honestly. We did this in one take (not counting one false start) and thus you get the full experience, including us miscounting the intro and me allllmost starting a few beats early, then trying not to crack up when I realized that I almost mis-started. You can also see me briefly glance out the window immediately to my camerawoman's right as something flew by around 8 seconds in, as I apparently have the attention span of a gnat...
And now without further ado, the credits:
Freyda S. Joint
Heather the Crazy Chick
Ode to a Clooney 8x10
(with apologies to Kenny Ascher and Paul Williams)
Direction and Cinematography by
Technical Assistance by
with special thanks to
and Ozzie (especially Ozzie!!!)
Sorry folks, time is up! The video's gone
*Fade to black, cue laughter and
Please, please, please DO NOT copy this video or post it anywhere else online. It is copyright ONLY to me and any copying or sharing anywhere else other than on this blog is expressly forbidden. Thank you.
Monday, November 24, 2008
You see, this isn't any old restaurant I'm talking about. It's THE restaurant. The one that strikes fear into the heart of parents everywhere. Oh yes, I mean the Rodent's Pizza Place, better known as.............
Chuck E. Cheese's.
Yes, Mr. Cheese's building of doom has been the Final Frontier for us as parents. We've managed to live 4 minutes away from one of the two area locations and raise a child for the past 5 and a half years without ever darkening the mouse's door. I confess that I gloated a wee bit in the car on Saturday, smug in my Cheese-less existence. After all, this is the place which has caused far wittier bloggers than I to rave on (rather hilariously) about the nightmare that it is:
A chaotic sugar-fueled germ-fest of shoeless children running amok amidst clanging game machines and miserable parents.
You know what's coming, don't you? You guessed it - I totally jinxed myself. Not 48 hours after my saying the words aloud, Kiddo came bouncing off the school bus and tore open her backpack, pulling out a small, square envelope and brandishing it aloft.
"What's that, honey?" I asked, still not hearing the warning bell....
"It's a BIRTHDAY PARTY, Mom! And it's at -"
I opened the card and read the words at the exact same time that she said the words, oh, the dreaded words....
"CHUCK E. CHEESE'S!!!!"
I felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as the words stared me in the face. Karma is an evil mistress, is she not? Needless to say, this clearly was the talk of the kindergarten class today. The birthday boy is one of the kids Kiddo plays with regularly, at least per her reporting at the dinner table. (Kiddo prefers to play "Superhero Spies" with two of the boys rather than play "Girl Scouts" with the majority of the girls. She is usually Batman but sometimes she gets to be Spiderman. Please bear in mind that she has never seen a single minute of any TV show or movie about said superheros. I can only imagine what she thinks they are or do...)
So, I'm torn. You see, the party is at 6pm on a weeknight. It goes until 7:30, which is a half hour past Kiddo's normal bedtime. She's usually in her jammies by 6:00. But, again, the birthday boy is one of Kiddo's friends, and it is close to our home. We could conceivably go to the party (it says that an adult MUST accompany the child to the party) and still have her home and in bed not too much past her bedtime. With her SPD, we try to keep her on as strict a routine as possible; it just makes things go a lot more smoothly. This could potentially throw her out of whack for two or three days thereafter.
And, you know, it's at the mouse's (or is he a rat? No, he must be a mouse - a rat doesn't make for good marketing for, you know, a place that serves food, though I don't think a mouse is that much better...).
Oh, who am I kidding - we'll most likely be going. I'll RSVP yes and then as long as Kiddo is doing okay otherwise that day (isn't sick or out of sync or having a bad day), we'll go.
Yep, we'll go (and by we I totally mean Hubby), all right, and Kiddo will find out what she's been missing all these years, and will finally know how badly she's been deprived. One more thing she'll have to talk to her future therapist about... I asked Kiddo "So, what is Chuck E. Cheese's, anyway?" Her answer: "Ummm.... it's a store with cakes in it." Yes indeed, major therapy bills in our future. She'll see those games, the ball pit, the chance to win tickets and trade them for prizes, and she'll figure out how close we live (she's said hello to Chuck's picture, there on the front of the building, at least a hundred times as we've driven past over the years) and she'll know. And it will all be over. Dagnabit.
At least we made it five and a half good, CEC-free years...!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Stay tuned - so long as I can master the software on the computer to download (or is it upload?) the footage once I've got it, I should have the video posted by Tuesday night! (Or possibly Wednesday if I need Hubby's expert technical assistance.)
Now I just have to pick out which tiara to wear. Decisions, decisions...
*Or digital recording, as the case may be...
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Kiddo doesn't mind the single-digit wind chills, the fogged-up glasses (okay, she does mind the impaired vision and pulls her glasses way down her nose to my eternal frustration) or the melting-then-refreezing flakes against her cheeks:
Kiddo loves to dance and skip down the icy, snowy sidewalk, utterly ignoring Mommy's repeated warnings to be careful (there's loads of fresh goose poop lurking underneath the pristine, white snow):
Mommy, on the other hand? Totally prefers DRIVING to the corner and waiting for the bus in the nice, warm, dry car!! Yeah, I'm a wimp, I admit it!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
(Note: I didn't *create* or *invent* these recipes, I've gathered them from here, there and everywhere over the years. If I know my source, I'll give credit, but please know I am not some genius chef who whips these up out of my head! Some other geniuses created these; I just make them!)
Let's talk turkey for a moment! I know there are lots of different methods people use from deep frying to old-fashioned basting-n-baking. Well, Hubby and I are big fans of Alton Brown, and we have been faithful followers of his turkey method since we first saw it on Good Eats. I'm not going to repeat the whole thing here, but rather give you the link for the Good Eats Roast Turkey. Allow me to mention two things about this method/recipe that has never, ever, ever failed us: (1) the brining is key and (2) you have to do the Turkey tent. Following Alton's instructions will mean you will never wind up with a dry or tasteless turkey, I promise.
Okay, now that the bird is out of the way, let's get on to the side dishes, shall we?
Two recipes I've made every year to much acclaim involve the delightful cranberry. They're both easy-peasy and a change from the "jellied or whole berry" canned cranberry sauces.
Cranberry-Raspberry Sauce (I think this might have been a Good Housekeeping recipe from years ago)
from 1 large orange: 1 tsp of zest from peel and 1/2 cup juice squeezed
1 bag (12 ounces) cranberries
1 container (10 ounces) frozen raspberries in syrup, thawed (reserve syrup)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
2 tbs Grand Marnier (orange flavor) liqueur
In large saucepan (careful - this can spatter when the berries are popping), heat all ingredients (including raspberry syrup) except liqueur to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until most of the cranberries pop and mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in liqueur. Spoon into serving bowl; cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 3 hours.
Holiday Cranberry Applesauce (orig found in a USA Weekend magazine supplement)
3 lbs cooking apples (I like Jonagolds, myself), cored and sliced but NOT peeled
1 1/2 cups cranberry juice cocktail
2/3 cup red hot cinnamon candies (available in cake-decorating aisle)
In a large pot, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat, covered, for 15 minutes. Lower heat; simmer until apples are very soft, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly. Transfer to a food processor with the knife blade; process until smooth. Serve warm, chilled or at room temperature.
Now, for the veggie portion of the meal. This recipe is one my family has made for every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner since I was a baby. It is one that even kids who don't like veggies will eat (if my own veggie-hating - as kids - sisters are any evidence)!
24 oz. frozen corn
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup sugar (sometimes I use a bit less, more like 1/3 cup)
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in medium saucepan. Stir in flour and sugar, mixing well so there are no lumps. Remove from heat. Gradually add milk and eggs. Stir in baking powder. Mix very, very well. Fold in corn (still frozen). Pour into buttered (I use the butter flavored cooking spray myself) 2 quart casserole dish. Bake, uncovered, for 50 minutes to an hour. You will know it is done when it is golden brown and "solid" on the top, like a souffle.
Salad time! I first came across this recipe in one of those fundraiser cookbooks that charities sell (think it was from the agency I worked for at the time, actually) and have amended it slightly over the years. This one is one where there are NEVER any leftovers for the next night's meal.
2 bags of baby spinach leaves (variations suggest romaine lettuce or cabbage instead)
1/2 cup sunflower seed kernels
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 packages of Ramen noodles (I use the chicken flavor but I don't think it matters which kind really)
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
1 stick (8 tbs) butter
For the dressing, combine:
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
1/2 cup sugar (I actually use a little less, maybe 1/3 cup)
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce (original recipe calls for one, I tend to use closer to two)
Crumble the Ramen noodles (no seasoning packet, just the noodles) and saute them along with the almonds and sunflower seed kernels in the butter until lightly browned. Cool and drain/pat off excess butter with paper towels. Add to spinach and toss with dressing. Once thoroughly tossed, sprinkle oranges and craisins on top. Enjoy!
Okay, how about some bread? Of all the banana bread recipes I've tried over the years, this one seems to be the most unfailingly simple and delicious:
2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter
6 crushed, very ripe bananas
4 well beaten eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together sugar and butter. Add bananas and eggs. (My Kitchenaid stand mixer is delightful for this recipe.) Sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Combine dry and wet ingredients and mix well. Pour into 2 well-greased pans and bake for 45 minutes to an hour (until toothpick in center comes out clean).
Still hungry? How about some dessert?
This recipe was given to me at one of my bridal showers. My colleagues threw the most lovely, thoughtful, kitchen-themed shower for me (on August 17, 1994 according to the note on the back of this recipe) and I still have and use the recipes they gave me then. (Each person contributed one recipe along with an ingredient/cooking tool to go with the recipe.) This apple pie recipe came from my coworker Debbie, and I've been making it since Thanksgiving 1994! (And a special shout-out while I'm feeling all nostalgic here - Kathryn, thank you again for all your work in planning the shower. I do remember it fondly to this day, Short Drink! xoxo)
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening (I use the butter flavored Crisco sticks)
4-5 tbs VERY cold water
Sift flour and salt into medium sized bowl; cut in shortening with fork or pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle water over, a tbs at a time; mix lightly with a fork just until pastry holds together and leaves sides of bowl clean. Roll out, fill and bake following instructions for filling. Makes enough crust for a 9" lattice top or double crust pie.
6-7 medium apples (again, Jonagolds are my favorite), washed, peeled, cored and sliced
In a separate bowl, combine the following:
1 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg (I am a fresh-grater, but that isn't necessary)
2 tbs flour
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 stick (4 tbs) butter, cut into pats
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour sugar mixture onto sliced apples and coat them well. Pour apples into shell and dot with pats of butter. Put on top crust, using knife to cut slits/vents into crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes with foil around edge of crust. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and remove foil from edges. Continue to bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown.
And last but not least, some candy! My hubby is a big pecan fan, and while he has complained about my pecan pie in the past (seriously, he said it was "too pecan-y" if you can believe that), he never complains about these pralines. He can't - his mouth is too full from wolfing them down! When this recipe says "easy" it means it, too. Easy as pie. Actually, much, much easier than pie, especially with the whole "crust from scratch" bit.
Easy Microwave Pralines
1 lb light brown sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbs light corn syrup
1 tbs butter
2 cups chopped toasted pecans
In a deep, microwave-safe bowl, mix together sugar, cream and corn syrup. Microwave on high for 13 minutes.
Mix in butter until well blended, then stir (and stir and stir) until mixture begins to cool and get creamy. At this point, stir in the chopped pecans. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper and cool.
Now, be sure to work off all the calories consumed on Thanksgiving by hitting the stores on Black Friday, okay?
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I'm talking about George Clooney. Yes, he is MINE. Well, in 8x10, glossy photo format, anyhow. My little ditty, set to the tune of The Rainbow Connection, won the contest over at nikkicrumpet's blog and George is on his way to my house!!
Of course, now I have to make good on my promise to record a video of myself singing the song that I wrote. I have already lined up a guitarist to accompany me and she's promised that her husband will do the filming. I may need to have my beloved Hubby assist me in the video editing (not sure, for example, if I can Photoshop myself in a video...). Now, this video will NOT be going onto Youtube. It will languish in relative obscurity on either Nikki's or my blog, thankyouverymuch. I do not have any desire to draw wider attention to this than the (fantabulous but small) blog readership I already can claim. Because, you know, I don't want to look like a total fool for a worldwide viewing audience. I have no desire to go viral. I have no desire to have the virus I already have, for Pete's sake!
So, as soon as I can line up my video assistants and tear myself away from the bathroom for more than ten minutes at a time, the video will be made, and oh, what a fantabulous video it will be! (EEEEK!)
Oh, and I would be most remiss if I didn't extend a heartfelt and hearty (and generously spritzed with Lysol, as I don't want to go viral on y'all for sure) THANK YOU to all of my bloggy friends who supported my campaign to bring George to his rightful home. You all are the greatest!!! And as for those who called me names, like, for example, "skank" all around the blogosphere? A generous Pbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbt!! to you! Hee!
Monday, November 17, 2008
In other news, that norovirus? So not good for being out in public. (WARNING: THIS IS ABOUT TO GET GORY. CONSIDER YOURSELVES WARNED - THOSE WITH MORE DELICATE SENSIBILITIES MAY WANT TO STOP READING RIGHT ABOUT NOW.) You see, I had to make a quick stop at the grocery store on my way home from the meeting, to restock on bananas, saltines, chicken broth and ginger ale. Kiddo's only in-town grandma had come over to watch her so we could go to the meeting, and I wanted to take advantage and not have to take Kiddo out with her fever - especially in the ridiculous snow showers we had this morning - for supplies later on in the day.
So there I was, attempting to zip quickly through the store for those few items I needed, none of which, of course, are located anywhere near each other. (They need to rethink how they stock grocery stores: the Stomach Bug Aisle, for example, with the ginger ale, saltines and broth, and the Head Cold aisle, with the Puffs Plus and the Nyquil and the Throat Coat tea, oh and then the PMS aisle, with the Midol and the chocolate and the Cheez Doodles... THAT would be a dream shopping scenario, dontcha think?) It was hard to "zip" when I was being bent double by abdominal cramping every thirty seconds or so. Eventually, and of course while I was at the furthest possible point from the bathrooms, I had to make a call: Can I make it home to the sanctity of my own bathroom, or should I make a run for the bathrooms in the store? Not wanting to explode in my car on the way home (as I wasn't wearing my Oops, I Crapped my Pants undies today*), I decided to take a quick stroll up to the public bathrooms.
Now, I am pretty sure we've all been there - when you have to make a visit to the restroom even though you'd really rather save such business for the privacy of your own home. (We all have been there, haven't we? Tell me I'm not the only one who's had to face this horrible situation...) I had my fingers crossed that the bathroom would be devoid of other women. I lucked out in that regard. Alas, this was just a three-seater, not the more preferable many stalled, easier-to-hide sized bathroom. I thought for a fleeting second of using the family bathroom, but having been in need of that room for changing a squirmy baby myself in days gone by and having been stymied by a non-family-type-person using it, forcing me to have to change the squirming baby elsewhere, I opted to suck it up and deal with the more public women's room. (Okay, I lied. I only didn't use it because it was already occupied. I would totally have used that one if it had been open. Not only for the privacy, but I figured I could at least blame any soon-to-be-happening funk on the diapers in the trash can. Sue me.) I shut myself in a stall and began praying that I would finish with my funking before any other wayward woman wandered in for a hand-washing or something.
And funk it up I did. It was one of those terrible, horrible, no-way-to-disguise-what-was-transpiring sort of funkings. There was noise, there was odor. Sweet fancy Moses, was there odor. There were not enough courtesy flushes in the world to stop or even sufficiently quash the odor or sounds blasting forth. Unfortunately, my bowels had apparently decided to open up some portal of Hell, and things went on in this loud and odoriferous way for waaaay longer than I'd hoped. It seemed like hours, though in actuality it was less than ten minutes. Once, I heard the door to the restroom squeak open, but apparently that woman took one whiff and opted to hold it 'til she got home. Then, a few moments later, the door opened again. This time, someone dared enter. She used the stall next to me, and then took her time with washing her hands and fluffing her hair in the mirror. I could see a teensy sliver of her through the crack in the door - she was an older woman, and so I hoped she was hard of both hearing and smelling. As she tossed her paper towel into the trash and secured her plastic head kerchief under her chin, she muttered "Whew, that's bad." and then made her escape. Great. Now I had to deal with Walking Out of the Bathroom Post-Funking. I, the Funker. As soon as it seemed safe to stand and move on with the Walk of Shame, I did so. As I flushed for the last time, another person walked in to the bathroom. Great - now what? Stay hiding in the stall and wait her out, or just walk out of the stall and pretend that the smell preceded my arrival? I opted to wait for her to enter a stall, then zipped out, washed my hands and BOLTED from the bathroom.
I think I'm going to start carrying one of these around in my purse at all times... though today's Funking probably would've laughed at the tiny cloud emitted by a one ounce spray can. I'd probably need the jumbo size - gonna have to get myself a bigger purse! In the meantime, I'm just glad there are other grocery stores in near enough proximity to my house. I figure in another year or so, I'll be brave enough to return to shop at the one I Funked today.
In less disgustingly detailed news, I was wiped out when I got home from the meeting and the shopping/funking trip. So wiped out that I let Kiddo watch the new Tinkerbell DVD (thanks Redbox!) twice in a row so I could curl up on the couch under a couple of fleece throw blankets and the cat and moan quietly. So wiped out that Kiddo and I both fell asleep for about 40 minutes this afternoon. So wiped out that I don't know if I'll make it until 9pm to watch Heroes tonight... But I sure darn well am going to try! (Kiddo, on the other hand, was miraculously rejuvenated by her 40ish minute nap and is still awake in her room, an hour after her bedtime, and apparently arranging some sort of birthday party for one of her stuffed animals by flashlight...)
So, that's the update from here. I swear to you (anyone who may still be reading at this point, that is) that starting tomorrow, this blog will go back to being bodily-explosion-description FREE. Promise!
Well, the big meeting was this morning. I have a small glimmer of hope, or at least I did when we walked out of the school.
For starters, all the wonderful women who actually work with Kiddo (teachers and therapists) were uniform in their feelings about how she is a very smart child who is a delight to work with. (Yeah, I know, that was grammatically incorrect, sorry but my brains, they are fried right now.) It was nice to hear that folks without the parental bias Hubby and I share about how wonderful Kiddo is actually agree on that with us! We also heard that, confirming what we've seen at home, Kiddo is progressing well with both her OT and her PT. So, yay for that.
I was given the floor to speak first at the meeting, since the principal knew I had "many concerns" about things. (Woo, there's understatement of the year number one!) I was concentrating so hard on not throwing up that I lost a lot of my edge. I did take out the document I wrote up last week that detailed the exact timeline of everything to do with Kiddo's IEP - every time they didn't return a call or an email, all the things we were told, all the noncompliance, the lack of doing her sensory diet - but I never handed it to anyone else, I wound up just keeping it for me to refer to once or twice. Ditto the pages Hubby printed out citing the specific state law sections that apply to IEPs which pointed out how egregiously they were out of compliance. (Hmm, guess that means if they're not following the law, they're breaking it, so....... illegal, eh?) I said my piece, including how I found it difficult to understand how we could be ten weeks into the school year and how a simple, 5 step, clearly outlined sensory diet that takes 10 minutes to complete couldn't be successfully completed three times a day. I pointed out that I had seen the occupational therapist train people for this and how she was quite competent at training. Hubby also spoke about how we have been so frustrated with the poor communication on the administrators' end of things. I tried to clarify on that point that this has nothing to do with the actual "front line" staff, specifically Kiddo's teacher, who has gone above and beyond to keep lines of communication open. (At one point, it seemed like certain folks were trying to pin the lack of communication on her, and I didn't go for that one bit. Neither did she. That was the only time anyone tried to lay responsibility for anything on anyone, because neither the principal nor the Special Ed coordinator ever once apologized for any of this whole mess, as apologizing would mean accepting the responsibility for it, if not creating it - which the SpEd lady did by changing the IEP over the summer - and then for perpetuating it and not remedying the situation much more expediently than they did. Well, I mean, than they claim they will now, as it hasn't yet actually been remedied...) I was trying to be careful about what I did say because I certainly did not want to get Kiddo's teacher in trouble, but I wanted to defend her as it was NOT she who didn't call us for over a month!
More tellingly, every single one of the "front line" members of Kiddo's team - the teachers and therapists - concurred and said the same, exact thing: When Kiddo has her sensory diet, she is able to function without difficulty in the classroom. Without her sensory diet, she has difficulty. So, for all that certain people involved would like to chalk this whole mess up to nothing more than us being an overdemanding, difficult parents with unrealistic expectations, there it was, out of the mouths of the professionals sitting at the table: KIDDO NEEDS HER SENSORY DIET and that is ALL that she needs in terms of help/accommodation to be successful. When the principal parroted that back to us after the fourth member of her team had said it? I kinda wanted to barf in her general direction, just a little bit. Because, well, DUH, that is exactly what everyone has been saying since last May at Kiddo's CSE meeting, when we wrote the IEP.
Anyhow, we were given all sorts of promises from the SpEd coordinator and the principal. I think they might even have promised to give me George Clooney's phone number, had I asked for it. The principal went so far as to offer to include me in the interviews for the new position, and she and the SpEd coordinator were full of talk about how they're going to be doing the paperwork TODAY as SOON as the meeting was over and how the interviews would be starting by Wednesday of this week so someone can be trained and on board to start the Monday after Thanksgiving (which is the first day after the current aide leaves). The principal and SpEd coordinator expressed an interest in the book the Special Ed teacher for the school, OT and I mentioned. (I must plug it once again: Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder by Lucy Jane Miller, Ph.D, OTR. The best of the books on the topic of SPD.) We also made plans to set another official review meeting for January, once we have had a chance to get the new aide in place and presumably, have Kiddo's IEP actually be in compliance for a few weeks... So, with promises of "we'll keep in touch; I'll email you soon" ringing in our ears, Hubby and I left the school. If they actually do what they say they will, then things will be fine. Of course, the rest of the day passed without hearing from either the principal or the SpEd coordinator, either via email or telephone, so you know, good thing I'm excellent at holding my breath and believing in the impossible...
If this were any other meeting, I would be canceling it and staying home, in bed, where I belong. However, considering the amount of difficulty we had in getting this meeting set up with all the necessary players, there is no way on God's green earth that I'm canceling it just because I feel craptastic. We've got many, many issues to discuss, including last Friday's new bomb - the principal called me on Friday to say Kiddo's newly hired aide quit. Something about the pay being barely above minimum wage and the lack of benefits and her finding a position that, you know, pays something more livable and has benefits. So, yeah, we've got things to discuss... Hubby is going to the meeting as well, and he may have to lead the charge with things (he printed off all the various sections of the state law where it says when the school is supposed to have finished things and put things into effect to be compliant with an IEP) as my head is feeling milliseconds away from splitting in two.
I'm just hoping I don't explode in any figurative or literal sense during the meeting. Wish me luck!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Yeah, let's just keep the pithy comments to ourselves and only bring me ginger ale and saltines, mmmkay? Or actually, hold the saltines, 'cause they aren't my friends yet either.
Oh, and other "fun" things I'd prefer to avoid include having company in the bathroom, especially of the Five Year Old Mini-Howard Cosell, Play-by-Play variety, during times like this. Just sayin'.
I wonder if this norovirus will help undo what all that Halloween candy did, at least..... that can be my silver lining!
Good news: Kiddo hasn't thrown up since covering me with the vomit sweater (tm Hot Tub Lizzy) at the doctor's yesterday.
Bad news: She was still running a decently high fever throughout the night (hovering near the 104 range).
Good news: Her fever was down to 100 when she woke up this morning, after sleeping for FIFTEEN HOURS straight. (She fell asleep on the couch while Hubby was making her some toast last night and he put her in bed and that was all she wrote. Well, besides the waking her up for sips of Gatorade, temp checks and Motrin dosing. And once for a potty run and once because the cool, damp washcloth we'd given her was no longer cool or damp.)
Bad news: Hubby and I were up and down with her all night long, so we're both wiped while she's feeling much more energetic this morning.
Good news: Kiddo does NOT appear to have the norovirus that is going around; we're keeping her on the BRAT diet for now but there's been no further stomach upset or exploding from either end.
Bad news: A couple of hours after we got home from the doctor, *I* began throwing up. Yep, it appears that Kiddo may've escaped, but that I have the norovirus that is going around. I've spent a bit of time on the bathroom floor, wishing I could just pass out already. Add that to the Kiddo middle-of-the-night needs, and I'm doubly zombie-ish. I even tried blogsurfing in my haze last night and started leaving nonsensical comments in various places. I've been trying to make the rounds this morning to undo my blatherings.
Good news: Um, I haven't needed proximity to the toilet in almost 45 minutes.
Bad news: I just attempted some saltines with ginger ale and I think I may be needing that proximity again shortly.
Good news: There was a BH90210 marathon on Soapnet that I watched intermittently for a few hours earlier today, and now Ocean's Thirteen is on. That's a lot of eye candy, that Ocean's Thirteen, which is about the closest thing to food my system can take right now.
Anyhow, I'm a miserable, pathetic, disgusting, exploding mass of humanity at the moment, and I'm taking myself back to bed. Hoping that no one else is suffering from the same evil norovirus that I've been tangoing with for the past 20 hours..............
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Kiddo asked me to read her a story. We curled up on her bed with one of her Skippyjon books and I began to read. As I was reading, she quickly went from fine to very much not fine. I could literally feel her start burning up and she went gradually more limp against me. I immediately flashed back to this past spring, when she had her first ever case of strep throat. This seemed eerily similar to the onset of strep last time, and I was feeling quite concerned as I took her temperature. 102.3. Yikes - that came on fast. Recalling the notice that came home from school on Thursday announcing that strep throat had been diagnosed in her classroom, I immediately grabbed the phone and called the doctor.
About an hour later, I brought my feverish, complaining, lethargic child into the pediatrician's exam room where the nurse took her temp again (up to 102.6) and then did the strep test. She left the room to process the test and Kiddo climbed off the exam table and into my lap. She straddled my legs and pressed herself flat against my front, tucking her head under my chin because she had the chills. She stayed that way while I read her a story and we waited for the nurse to return. A few moments later, there was a knock on the door, heralding the return of the nurse.
Unfortunately, at that same exact second, there also came a tidal wave of vomit. I suddenly felt something warm gushing over my admittedly ample bosom and lap, pulled Kiddo away and saw the fountain pouring forth. I looked up at the nurse as I did that weird, instinctual thing of trying to cup my hands under Kiddo's mouth to catch the vomit (why do mothers do that? this was not the first or even the tenth time I personally have done that - it never works and just makes things messier. Seriously, parental instinct, lay the heck off or evolve or something!) Kiddo continued to vomit, so the nurse helped me get her off my lap, turned around and over the garbage can, where she heaved for a good five minutes. The nurse helpfully handed me a handful of those industrial, brown paper towels (you know, the ones that are about as absorbent as sealed granite) and then backed out of the room. I washed my hands off (thanks again, parental instinct) and fished my cell phone out of my purse, called Hubby and asked him to bring us each a change of clothes up to the doctor's office. Thankfully, he was there within ten-fifteen minutes, which unfortunately was enough time to allow my shirt and jeans to soak through, ditto my undies, so I was clammy and cold and basically marinated in all that had been burbling about in Kiddo's stomach for the past several hours.
Now, back in the day, Kiddo never could tell when she was about to vomit - it's part of her SPD. I've mentioned that before here because we had finally reached a point earlier this year where her body did recognize she was about to hurl. Alas, with the fever and the not feeling well, Kiddo just didn't feel it coming on today. A child with SPD can be more disregulated than usual when s/he is not feeling well, and that seems to be the case today.
So, the nurse came back in to let us know that the good news was that Kiddo's strep test was negative. She then went on to say it seems that Kiddo instead has "the stomach bug that is going around" - apparently Kiddo was only the second Exam Room Barfer of the morning, having been beaten to the punch by another little girl a half hour before. I inquired as to the nature of this stomach bug, because the one that swept through Kiddo's elementary school the week before last was a 24 hour, vomit only variety. "No, this is a different one. This one has a fever, two to three days of vomiting and then two to three days of diarrhea." (Ed note: I'm fairly certain I've lost any and all non-parent readers at this point. My apologies.) Oh, joy. Joy, joy, joy.
Hubby turned up with the clothes and got Kiddo redressed and bundled her off for home. I changed and mopped up as best I could and then headed out to the desk to check out, profusely apologizing for the Trail o' Vomit Kiddo sprayed across the exam room floor. When I got home, I headed straight for the shower, and not even a vigorous scrubbing under the hottest water has me feeling truly clean. Ew. Meanwhile, Hubby got Kiddo tucked in on the couch with a barf bucket and gave her some Motrin, and she's had a couple of Pedialyte popsicles that have stayed down for 2 hours now, so that's good. With her fever now lower thanks to the Motrin, Kiddo is seeming a lot better already than she did. A teensy part of me is hoping that the barfing was induced by the jabbing at the back of the throat required for the strep test, but there was a several minute time lapse between the jabbing and the barfing, so that is probably wishful thinking. I guess only time will tell... In the meantime, I'm now feeling slightly queasy and headachy myself. The only thing worse than ONE family member praying to the porcelain god is TWO. Blech. Mommies don't have time to be sick, dagnabit! I'm hoping it's just sympathy queasiness and I'm fine...
But I am glad it isn't strep like she had this spring, especially since ultimately developed into pneumonia and all... (Yeah, I didn't realize that strep could lead to pneumonia, but apparently it sometimes does.) So, happy it isn't that diagnosis, even if the "exploding from both ends" germs aren't the most fun.
I think I'm going to go curl up on the other couch and watch kids' movies with Kiddo for a while. It might be good to be in closer proximity to a barf bucket...
Hum dum dum ditty dum
Hum dum dum
Oh the wind is lashing lustily
And the trees are thrashing thrustily
And the leaves are rustling gustily
So it's rather safe to say
That it seems that it may turn out to be
It feels that it will undoubtedly
It looks like a rather blustery day, today
It sounds that it may turn out to be
Feels that it will undoubtedly
Looks like a rather blustery day today...
Yep, it is a rainy, rainy day here. It started raining overnight and is expected to continue for the indefinite future. Makes me think of this:
And also of this (language warning: Eddie talks a bit more "R" than my blog tends to be normally):
and also of this poem, which was the first poem (other than a nursery rhyme) I ever memorized. My mom taught it to me when I was 2 or 3, and I subsequently have taught it to Kiddo and she recites it now when the weather's dreary just as I did a generation ago:
The rain is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson
Now, when I first learned this poem, Mom taught me (and then my siblings) to say "Robert Louis Stevenson" at the end, so as a small child, I thought that was actually the last line of the poem. As I got older, I realized it was the poet's name, but that didn't stop me from teaching it to Kiddo the same, exact way.
But you know, as depressing as the forecast is for today:
which will invariably make me long for
before too long.....
Yep, I can gripe about the weather pretty much no matter what time of year when I'm feeling cranky enough! Mother Nature loooooves me! I'm a regular Weathery Malcontent! Thank goodness for evil giraffes and confused ducks and Noah to keep me smiling while the rain, rain, rain comes down, down, down... if Kiddo didn't seem to be brewing up some germies (she appears to be well on her way to a Niagara Falls Nostrils experience, yee-ha), I'd dress us both up in rain gear and go out to stomp in some puddles! As it is, we're going to have Jammies Morning, read books (I believe she has a few Skippyjon Jones books picked out already) and build a mansion for her dino and "teeny-tiny guy" collection instead. Jammies Morning can definitely boost spirits, dontcha know!
Friday, November 14, 2008
With the bonus questions (including a shout-out to one of my favorite bands) I scored a 106 on this quiz!! Thanks to Smoochiefrog for posting this excellent way to kill some time (and for scoring me an extra 5 bonus points for mentioning where I saw the quiz...). It's scary or sad or ...something... how many of the songs in the quiz actually live on my iPod right now! Long live the 80s - even if it is just on VH1 Classic.................
(PS - yeah, I had the album. On vinyl. Woot!)
You see, my bloggy buddy Debbie over at Suburb Sanity put a post up this morning about her celebrity matches. In it, she bemoans the fact that several of her matches are of the male gender. I instantly knew I could make her feel better by going to the site she'd used and finding my own celebrity matches. I zipped over to the site, uploaded my most recent avatar photo and voila, here's what it said:
Naomi Watts! Woo! She's actually about a zillion times hotter than I am since I'm not even pretty and all, but I'll take King Kong's #1 Babe for sure! But then, look who is next: Thomas Klestil. (Who??) Yep, I supposedly bear a strong resemblance to a dead, Austrian diplomat. Huh. Well, at least he was President... Now, results that are sure to make Debbie feel better show that Tommy Boy isn't the only man I resemble. Nope, you'll note that I also resemble James Spader (and in his puffier, older Boston Legal stage, not his feathery, hot preppiness Pretty in Pink stage), as well as Josh Groban and Leonardo DiCaprio.
I then tried another photo. (Okay, I tried a few more photos.) I used a slightly different angle from my avatar photo shoot and this is what came up:
Ah, Mme. Farmer bumps Naomi Watts out of the top spot this time. She is my only female repeating face, too (Puffy-n-Wrinkly James Spader and Howie Dorough - wasn't he a Backstreet Boy? - also repeat). Hmmm. Number two? Der Bingle. Hee! Hey - he dueted with David Bowie (on an admittedly godawful Christmas song) so that's like some pictorial six degrees of separation then, right? And Andie McDowell snogged Hugh Grant several times on film, so that's decent in the pictorial/filmy 6 degrees way...
Here's the next one I tried - my avatar picture from earlier this summer:
Heidi Klum? Va va va voom! Now I'm pictorially six degrees from Tim Gunn, Michael Kors and Nina Garcia? Fierce! (Though again, Heidi = Major Hottie, Heather = Not So Much.) I do have several quibbles with this one, though, and not just because some of them are guys (again!). For example, my forehead is nowhere nearly as large or prominent as Christina Ricci's and while my mustache is becoming more visible as I'm aging, I don't think I'm up to Goran Visnjic (another hottie) levels of stubble. Furthermore, in case you hadn't noticed, I'm just about the whitest chick that ever was, so Martin Lawrence? Really? Not even in my darkest of tans, people.
I did another shot from earlier this summer, where I had my contacts in instead of my specs:
That's Heather with a Z people! I will confess to wearing about as much eye make-up as Liza back in the 80s, but not any time in the last decade or two. Look who else is in this one - a bunch of folks I don't recognize and can't be bothered to google, Matthew McConaughey (all right, all right, all right - another hottie I could never compete with) and some indie darlings like Leelee Sobieski (don't really see that, but okay) and Parker Posey, who always cracks me up in the various Christopher Guest films.
Speaking of the 80s, I had reminisced to Debbie about how as a 17 year old, I was twice mistaken for Bette Midler. Both times in NYC, one of them while taking a public bus. At the time, I was a wee bit "Whaaa?" not only because of the age difference between us, but because I sincerely doubt that the Divine Miss M would ride a NYC public bus. Come on, now! So, I uploaded a photo of me at 17 to see whether Bette would appear....
Lance Bass? Not even close. Oy. Oh, and hey there, Forest Whitaker, didja know we're alike? You know, you being African American, male, and a multi-talented Oscar winner and me being Caucasian, female and a multitasking stay at home mom....... Yep, we're practically twins! And look who else came up for Younger, 80s Jersey Girl Me - Anne Frank. ?!?!? Chuck Norris. ?!?!? Again, is my mustache really that noticeable? I mean, I didn't have any 'stache at all back in the 80s.... But there's Emmy Rossum, who is quite pretty, and Clara Bow too, so I was apparently a bit of an It Girl in my teenage years. Too bad nobody told me back then.
All right, time for the last picture. I was curious to see if this site would see the obvious resemblance my hair-growing-out self bears to a certain comic book movie character and/or famous, dead German composer.
Nope, no Wolverine or Beethoven. Carol Burnett - she's cool, I'll take it. Sean Lennon - again with the flipping facial hair? I'm running to the store for some Jolene Creme Bleach stat! Steven Soderbergh doesn't even HAVE hair, how the hey could my ginormous hair make me a match for him?!? (But, you know, he's worked with George Clooney several times so I'll let it slide.)
Anyhow, this is how I unproductively spent a good chunk of my morning. Overall, I bear the strongest resemblance to Liza, according to this site at least. I'm mightily resisting the temptation to load Hubby and Kiddo's faces into the site now, as well as all my other family and friends... Debbie, I hope this makes you feel better and helps you avoid the Botox, 'kay?
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Let me repeat that (just because I like typing his name):
(*choir of angels singing the Hallelujah chorus*)
I'll pause to let you (okay, myself) wipe the drool off your (okay, my) face.
Are we all back now? Great.
Here's the thing. Nikki has decided that George needs a new home.
She is having a contest over on her (hilarious, well-written and gosh-darn cute - have you seen her doggies?) blog in which she will award the best commenter with the picture of George.
Now, we all KNOW I need this picture. Okay, I just really, really, really WANT this picture. I mean, I actually saw (as in, paid money to see) Solaris IN THE THEATER (the movie from which it appears this picture was taken), folks. I saw From Dusk 'Til Dawn. Even Batman & Robin. I watched The Facts of Life and Roseanne and that first, lesser-known, not-very-good E/R.
Now, some other (more rapacious, covetous, and willing to cast aspersion type) gals have already commented in their quest to keep George from his rightful home. Some (and they shall remain nameless *cough*wherearemyangels*cough*) have gone so far as to sling a bit of mud in my direction.
This is why I need your help! Anyone who doesn't want the George picture for herself (not that I get that, but hey, whatever floats yer boat), could you please help me out? Could you pop by Blah, blah, blah, Blog and leave a comment in support of my quest? Pretty, pretty please? Remember, it takes a village, people, it takes a village...
In the meantime, I'm going to work on my official entry comment. It needs to be a masterpiece and frankly I haven't had enough caffeine to get my synapses firing yet this morning. I have to think about how to word my comment so that it is so eloquent, so fantastic, so funny, with just the right hint of desperation (as if this post doesn't already reek of it) that Nikki will see the light and send George to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
So please, take a moment, drop by Nikki's contest and put in a good word for me, will ya? I'd be ever so obliged! But.... if you want George for yourself, forget you ever read this post, mmmkay? 'Cause one thing I *don't* need is more competition!
UPDATE: I just finished my comment. You can read it here. I appreciate those of you who have already chimed in over there with your support. You are the BESTEST!!!! *mwah* Now, I just have to wait ONE WHOLE WEEK until Nikki makes her top five selections, after which is when one of her two ridiculously cute dogs, Ozzie, will choose the winner.
I'm just going to dash off to PetCo for some gourmet doggie treats to send as a bribe - whoops, I mean in appreciation of - a certain mini-Schnauzer...
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Let me give you some background. As you may know, either from reading my blog regularly or from reading my little "about me" blurb over yonder on the sidebar, I have a kid. She is five. (Or almost five and a half, as she has been reminding us for ages now. Technically, she'll be five and a half on the 26th of this month.) She just began kindergarten in September. I'm not sure if it is from being in school all day and riding the bus with older kids (all the way up to second grade!) or just a general thing about this age, but my GOODNESS has she been developing an Attitude, yes, with a capital A. This Attitude is manifesting itself in many ways - the hands-on-hips stance, complete with eye rolling and hair tossing. The exasperated tone with dramatic sighs. Impertinence. Sass and talking back. (Now, while I think a lot of this must come from hanging with her peers for seven hours a day, five days a week, I will cop to sometimes being a Less Than Perfect Mom and occasionally modeling some of those mannerisms - especially the exasperated tone.) The one that gets to me the worst, though, is the whiiiiiiiiiiiiiining. Nails-on-a-chalkboard, that is to me. (Not sure why I suddenly slipped into Yoda-speak, there. I'm not even a huge Star Wars fan - or rather: A huge Star Wars fan, I am not.) Anyhoo, the whining. The incessant whining. It has driven me to the very edge of the Cliffs of Insanity. Along with the whining comes a refusal to listen - not just the selective hearing that all children have, mind you, but a stubborn, mulish, utter refusal to stop the whiny, verbal diarrhea long enough to hear reason. This one-two combo is the quickest way to make me want to pack my bags, grab my passport and flee to a Caribbean Isle until Kiddo has grown up and gotten over herself.
I've tried many things in an attempt to curtail the whining. I've given automatic time-outs for whining. I've done the "I'm sorry, but I can't hear you when you talk in that tone" thing (which some of our friends have tried with much success with their younger child). I've done the flat-out ignoring any and all whining. Seasonally, I've gone so far as to threaten with the Big Guy in Red ("You know, Santa knows when you've been whining, and he doesn't bring presents to kids who whine...") I've even mimicked the tone and whined back - that actually worked for a brief spell, though it drove me almost as crazy to whine back as it did to hear Kiddo whine. It was like living in an early 80s SNL sketch, and not in a good way. I've even attempted to reason with her on the topic, trying to get her to see how her whining doesn't bring about positive results. (I know, I know, reason with a five year old? Hah!) No matter what I did in an attempt to STOP THE INSANITY, Kiddo persisted.
So, the other day, I was at my wits' end. (I don't have many wits about me to begin with, so I hate to reach the end of them.) Kiddo was whining on and on and on one afternoon, and nothing I said or did was able to end it. When she attached herself to my elbow and began to whine for the gazillionth time in a three hour span, I lost it. This is where my new parenting tip was born.
I stopped speaking English. I didn't bust out my rusty Spanish, rustier Italian or even rustiest of all Latin on her.
Yes, I began responding only in Cat. I meowed and I hissed and I meowed some more. Whatever Kiddo said to me, I replied in Cat.
And you know what? It worked!
Kiddo was shocked at first, then frustrated, then finally, amused and while she tried to be mad, she couldn't help but laugh. This snapped her straight out of the whining and bad attitude and turned her back into my pleasant, cheerful, little girl. Ahhhhhhh.
I've since learned that if I bust out the meowing, I can head off all but the worst Attitude Attacks and the godforsaken whining. Sometimes, a warning "prrrrow?" is all it takes. Yes, I will meow even in public. I really have grown utterly immune to the gawps, tsk-tskings and head-shakings of other people, as having a child with SPD leads one to either develop a very thick skin or simply never go out in public. Heck, I've done Opera Day in public, so a little meowing? No big deal!
So there you have it, my blogosphere friends. Heather's Parenting the Jellicle Way (patent pending). Feel free to try it in your own home. Hopefully, it will work as well for you as it has for me!
(And, as I'm referencing Cats, I am going to leave you with a Cats music video of one of my favorite Broadway actors, Terrence Mann, who originated the role of the Rum Tum Tugger on Broadway, way back in the early 80s.....)