Thursday, September 11, 2014

of no monetary value

I've been teaching Preschool Special Education almost all of my working career. I spend my time with children who will not remember me. It used to bother me, but then I realized that I don't work for the children-- I work for their parents. If I can give a parent a good start down that long dark road of special educational services (and for some families it will be a forever road) then I'm doing it right. If I show them how it should be and what they should expect then I'm ahead of the game.  Sometimes they come back and thank me.  This came in my email yesterday:

"I have YOU to personally thank for getting into that program.  You personally were the only one who brought up the school.  Thank God you put it in my ear.  It is going great for Jay.  His facilitator has a Masters in Special Ed.  She is fabulous and is even willing to learn his play therapy. (appointments scheduled.) On a personal note, I have seen great improvements in Jay- in a wider range of interests, manners ("No thank you, " " I don't care for that…" etc.  He is growing by leaps and bounds and it is exciting to see him in a place that is equipped and used to kids like him.  They have a sensory room- as you know- and have lots of kids with sensory issues.  

God Bless you and thank you for caring.  Because of a kind and interested person like YOU- we found help for Jay.  I had not heard about it from anyone else…..really…thank you a million and know you have changed your lives.  Tonight when you go to bed, know that God is smiling at you because you have changed the life of a child.

All My Best,

(Jay's mom)"

Yeah, I'm wiping off the tears.

Friday, August 22, 2014

something fishy

Seriously fishy stuff has happened here and, Sherlock that I am, I think I've got proof of my theory.

You see, this past spring, when I was feeding the fish one morning, I noticed something someone new. There was a tiny, maybe one-centimeter-long fish in the tank. I am quite sure this fish hadn't been bought. This was a baby.  But not that tiny in fish terms, and not that new, and well, only one.

My knowledge of fish isn't extensive but I've had some experience with fish born in a small tank. A swordfish had babies once, and as she swam around with loads of teeny tiny (2mm) babies popping out of her hindside, other fish followed her around and had a fish breakfast.  I thought the fish in my tank were all tetras now, and I thought tetras laid eggs and were not live bearers. Google confirmed this.

I had previously been a bit concerned that this fish:

was picking on this fish:

by chasing it/him/her around.  (Or maybe the opposite, I couldn't remember who'd done the pursuing.) The striped one is probably a tetra, but I wasn't sure.  In any case, I suspected now that the attention was perhaps not unwanted.  (see above reference to Sherlock)

The result of this fish on fish attention had to have been this fish:

Bug named it/her/him Freddie. I told him it would probably be eaten by the end of the day, optimist that I am.  But yet Freddie thrived and has more than doubled in size since then. (Photographed now, at about 2.5cm in length)

The mystery of it all, other than the larger mystery of life, is just exactly how did Freddie live so long unnoticed without becoming a meal to one of the other fish? I'm not the most reliable at cleaning the fishtank, so I'm surprised it was healthy enough to hatch eggs or keep a baby alive. Really, even one baby tetra in captivity is pretty rare. Coming from an egg, they've got to be really small when they hatch.

Then, today I was doing that responsible thing, cleaning the nasty algae covered fishtank, and I noticed something interesting. (Again, see above reference to Sherlock)  this:

The little dots on the glass (I see at least six, maybe seven here) must be eggs!  Freddie's brothers and sisters!  Lots of brothers and sisters!

So, I'm going to keep an eye on these fishy happenings, and see if anything develops. Google tells me they hatch within as little as 48 hours!  I will be back with any news next week.

Well, no news. Maybe they are eggs, but caviar and not embryos. If tetra breeding conditions have to be as strict as what they say, Freddie was a miracle.

Friday, July 18, 2014

recipe time, cherry tomato episode

CD wants me to share a recipe I just made up. The kids certainly devoured it and it was so simple that I know I'll make it again.

We (read that as I)  am responsible for the middle school gardens this week. And next, because the payoff has been great and I'm ready to sign up for the rest of the summer. Or at least until the tomatoes are done producing.  I filled my colander with tomatoes the other day and then came home and picked another dozen off our own plants.

The first night we had pasta with cherry tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil and Parmesan. Can't beat it.

But sometimes you need another cherry tomato recipe.  Today I made one up.

1 can corn (drained)
1 can black beans (rinsed)
1 cup pearl cous cous (measured uncooked-- you then have to cook the stuff)
lots of cherry tomatoes, halved
red wine vinaigrette, from the salad dressing shelf.  (Feel free to improve upon store bought dressing. It's what I had.)
parsley, chopped
basil, chopped

I served it with fish, but it could have held its own as a summer salad.  Yum!

Friday, July 11, 2014

letter to camp

Dear Pook,

Just wanted to make sure you were ok with us renting out your bedroom. You know, since you're not using it. It was a little crowded in the room for our renter, so we've put all your former books and toys into your brother's bedroom. He's enjoying them. It'll just be until we turn it back into a guest room like it used to be, after our trip to Florida for Harry Potter World.

I keep looking at the clock and wondering "I wonder what Pook is doing right now." And then I think of telling you what we're doing at that moment, but I've resisted (mostly, except that one other email) because I don't want to make you too jealous.  Our renter would be upset if you came home early.  Plus, I know you'd be disappointed to know that we've eaten the first of the cherry tomatoes, with basil on pasta. The day at Six Flags won't be anything exciting compared to KP duty in the dining hall.  And none of the parties planned here will be a big deal to miss in comparison to your daily opportunity to share a tiny cabin with seven other stinky boys.  So I told Bug not to mention that stuff.

Your brother would send you a note here too, but he's out at the moment seeing the new Captain America movie with your friends. I thought they'd notice you were missing but it turns out that as long as someone "likes" their pictures on Instagram, it doesn't really matter who it is.

It has been hard to squeeze all this in because of Bug's tennis camp, but having given up bedtime rules we find that we can do much more.  Plus, our mealtimes last much less time when we don't have to wait for you to finish. Such a relief.

Anyway, I just wanted send my love.  Hope you're having a good time!

yours truly,

p.s. The renter says thanks.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

fun with a funyak

Sorry I've been gone so long. Summer vacation does that to me.  You'd think I just sit around all day, then lounge at the pool, then hang out for the evening. I have very little to discuss.

We went to the mountains for the weekend, near Highlands NC.  Pook was about to stay for a week of camp and we were invited to stay the prior weekend before saying goodbye.  It was a beautiful and relaxing place, all meals included, so we enjoyed ourselves. 

I love driving places up in the mountains. First you pass the produce stands with "boiled p-nuts" and the fancy spots with both cold beer and live bait.  One place advertised (on little signs stuck in the ground at intervals along the road) "frog jam" and then "toe jam." I'm assuming that the people who want those know what they're getting.

Then you get into reading the street names. They're awesome. I can just picture some town council telling everyone that the map makers have requested that they name their roads and everyone needs to turn in their road name by month's end.  Some think for weeks before choosing. Ted writes his down immediately.  Ted was probably ten.

My favorites:

Lingering Shade Lane (the winner, in my book)
Grasshopper Lane
Pumpkintown Road
Buttermilk Road (and then Upper Buttermilk Road)
Teds Road
Mirror Lake Lane
Turtle Pond Road
Turtle Creek Road (not near each other)
Gold City Lane
Corn Creek (or maybe my writing is messy and it was Cow Creek?)
Lazy Bear Ridge
Rebel Ridge (It is the South, remember)

While we were there we took an excursion to go rafting on the Tuckaseegee River, a smaller and less crowded river than the Nantahala. The outfitter had these wonderful inflatable kayaks, called "funyaks" which we chose.  They were about ten feet long and relatively comfortable. Paddling was simpler and more responsive than in a canoe. I thought they were easy to guide but the boys ran a lot of rapids either backwards or spinning around uncontrolled until they hit a rock. The rapids were Class I and II, so nothing requiring a helmet (which is good because I lied about Bug's age) but we all got wet.

The camp had started a week prior for those wanting two weeks away, so we came in on the middle. We met three other families doing the same thing, and hung out with them part of our time. I enjoyed seeing how bonded the kids were after a week together (think of lots of young teenagers hugging, dancing and singing and generally making a ruckus.) I hope the newcomers like Pook were welcomed in.

(And now, sniff, I'm missing our boy.)