Tuesday, August 23, 2011


This first invention of mine is one I thought of years ago.  And I'm not even a shower singer.
  • The shower Karaoke machine:  Adjust the non-fogging screen to accommodate your lack of glasses and enjoy the acoustics of your shower while you sing along to your high school favorites.
These next two are feasible. My friend vb and I have discussed some of the "inventions" for which technology exists already.
  • The meet-up GPS:  Set the destination of your cell phone's GPS to the phone number of your friend's cell phone, then let the two phones help you meet halfway between your current locations, taking into consideration any detours or stops either of you may make.
  • The flexible answering service: Set your phone to ring not only in different locations based on your schedule (Google Voice will do this) but to not ring after 10:00pm.  Instead set it to take messages from 10:00pm to 6:00am.  Unless there are emergencies, for which the caller should be able to override this set-up.
This is the one I most want to obtain.
  • The prescription screen: Adjust your computer or cell phone screen to your eyeglass prescription and put those reading glasses away.  I'll let the person who develops this one deal with my astigmatism.

No, I'm not an inventor.  If you wish to invent any of these items, feel free. I wouldn't mind a financial kickback if you make a fortune off any of them however.  And if they write your bio, you could mention me as your inspiration.

Friday, August 19, 2011

blame the Tooth Fairy

Pook is home sick.  He woke us to tell us of a sore throat, and despite a clear strep test, he's now feverish and miserable.  I blame the Tooth Fairy.

Yes, the Tooth Fairy still visits our house. As far as I can tell, we've missed the way out and will be keeping the Tooth Fairy on the payroll forever-- as well as her buddies Santa and the Easter Bunny.

While I'm pretty sure that Pook, and maybe the quite skeptical but also gullible Bug, know about these visitors, they also want to stay enmeshed in the pretend, so they won't admit that they know.  I'm not sure how to bring it up and change the routines.

I'm happy to give Santa gifts, and our routine of Christmas stockings wouldn't change, meaning that giving up Santa is really a moot point.  The Easter Bunny might still bring some candy in a basket but probably wouldn't hide eggs any more.  The Tooth Fairy, well, I'm not sure how to 'sort of' do the Tooth Fairy.  They each have six to ten more teeth to lose, then it'll be done anyway, right?

Meanwhile, I need to reinforce the need to keep one's fingers out of one's mouth.  No wiggling of teeth!  Wash your hands!  One week back in school and Pook has wiggled the first virus of the year right into his mouth.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

floating now

They've lost my boy.  The paid-job school called and said that the little boy who I was going to teach has dropped out of the program.  The mom has been worried about sending her baby to school for the first time, so they didn't seem too surprised that she'd changed her mind.  No "cute as a button" for me any more.

But, they still want me.  I'm going to "float," help out and substitute until they have a student for me.  It'll happen; special needs kids get identified all the time. I think this is a desirable program, certainly expensive, and possibly hard to get into.  I'm sorry I won't be starting up on the first day, but I suppose I'll have a chance to do things like learn my way around the campus and get to know the teachers and routines better first.

I'm antsy.  I worked two days last week and spent part of one at the boys' school helping in the library.  This week I only go in once, to take another class there. I'm eager for my school year to begin, even if I still can't jump in to swim!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

the looney bin

"Where did we get you?!" is a common, exasperated question we pose to the boys here.  At some point we provided the answers:  Pook is from the Funny Farm and Bug is from the Looney Bin.  Really, it explains so much!

I can't remember how it came up, but at some point on our vacation, Bug decided to tell us about his memories images of the Looney Big.  "It's like a gigantic tea cup with a fence around it and people running around inside it." 

Enough said, right?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

don't jump in yet

I spent my first day of work learning the philosophy of the school.  It was like going to your first SCUBA class, swim suit on, and learning that SCUBA stands for "Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus" but not learning how to put on the gear or to go underwater.

The school uses a "Reggio Emilia inspired." philosophy.  I'm sort of familiar with the idea.  Instead of being a teacher-led classroom, it becomes child-led as the interests of the children guide the group activities.  They talked a lot about how much planning it takes to make this work, but never said what exactly "planning" entails.  They explained that teachers had to be researchers to "learn how the children learn," but didn't explain how they take data.  Best I could tell "data" refers to photographing and filming the kids in action.

So, I'm a bit confused.  But there were about twelve of us who were new,  joining a preschool of 80 teachers and 20 facilitators (of which I'll be one) so I can't have been the only one who really just wanted to get in the water.  We have a few more dates for orientations, both with the preschool teachers and alone with just the special ed. facilitators. 

Another question.  When you toss a child into a child-led classroom, you expect them to explore.  Kids are curious and they'll mess with stuff, ask questions and see what their peers are doing.  All of that will lead them to do more exploring.  But, toss a special needs child into that room and s/he is likely to either (a) hide under the table (b) climb the bookshelves or (c) wander away.  How do you let a child lead when the child doesn't want to lead or leads inappropriately?

I will learn this all in due time, apparently.

I'm to be paired with a little boy whom I believe I will call "Danny" for purposes of this blog.  I have not yet met Danny, but was told he is "cute as a button."  (All I really need to know, right?) According to his file (which I was given on my way out of the meeting) he is three years old. He has a thin corpus collosum, poor fine motor abilities, sensory issues, hypotonia (floppiness) and feeding problems.  His mother and father are well educated and mom writes that he is "high functioning."  He sees a developmental pediatrician, a GI doctor, a neurologist, two feeding specialists, a geneticist, a speech therapist and a physical therapist.  I have now learned that I will be part of an established team as his two teachers and I join that long list.

Also in my file folder is blank assessment form.  The Hawaii Early Learning Profile, which I have seen and maybe even used before.  Cool, I get to assess him then.

See what I can learn all by myself?  Who needs orientations? Throw me in the water; I can swim.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

the better-late-than-never summary

On the Great National Vacation...
  • 5,280 miles driven
  • 18 states visited
  • 1,141 photos taken on 3 cameras
  • 48 license plates seen from the United States. (We never saw one from Deleware or Rhode Island, but Hawaii was represented.)
  • 7 license plates from Canada
  • best road names: Buttermilk Road, in Alabama, and Rattlesnake Gulch in CO
  • worst road names: O 1/2 and B 3/10 and others of that ilk around Grand Junction CO
  • smallest town: Emblem, WY, population 10
  • worst observation: Bug, who was trying to read his book too often, and missing scenery
             me: "There's a giant pink dinosaur on Bug's side (of the car)."
             Bug: "Where?"
  • best observation: Pook, "I saw a mirage but it turned out to be real." 
  • best redemption from having poor observation skills earlier:  Bug, "I recognize that tree."  (And he did.  We'd accidentally  reversed direction on our long hike after stopping at the observation point.)
  • best food: local place in New Mexico, although the salsa ("sauce") was hotter than my good eaters were prepared to consume. 
  • most common question:  "What state are we in?" 
  • most common statement: "I guess I have to go to the bathroom after all." 
  • best idea: to include Mesa Verde in our route 
  • worst idea: to get to Fort Worth and Dallas at rush hour on a Friday 
  • oddest encounter: a family from our church, visiting the same paint pots area of Yellowstone at the same time as our family
What would I do differently?  Not much.  I would have liked to spend more time on our way and way home.  We did all our exploring by car or by foot and I'd have liked to have time for a bike ride, day of tubing, canoeing or horseback riding or a train ride. I'd have found time to visit Devil's Tower.  I'd have driven less in Texas and added Arkansas to our list of states visited instead. 

We were gone for 17 days, and I think just three more would have perfected it.  It was a wonderful trip and I wish every family could do something similar.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

stay on the sunny side

It is hot as hell here in Atlanta, although as they say, "It's not the heat; it's the humidity."  And to be sure, we had hotter weather in South Dakota (104°) and in Texas (Dallas, 108°) on our trip. Here we feel as if we are swimming through the air.  Thunderstorms now and then but it seems as if the rain barely falls before it is evaporated back into the air.

The boys start school in the morning.  Yes, it is early August.  The 8th. Bug is headed to second grade and Pook to fifth.  He will be a Big Man on Campus and has even pointed out to me that "next year I'll be at the middle school."  (Slow down, child, I'm not ready.)

I've asked them how they feel and don't discern any worries.  I'm worried for them though.  Neither is in a room of good friends this year.  We aren't sure of all the classmates for Bug; there may be someone he enjoys who never had a chance to become a good friend, but those he knew to check were not in his class.  There are a whopping six classrooms of second graders, the largest group in our school.  I think it will go fine.

Pook has definitely been separated from all the kids he's been with for years, some since kindergarten.  There are only three teachers and two of them taught him in fourth grade last year.  I thought he'd have one of them as his homeroom teacher again this year for sure- I thought the point was the continuity.  Not only is he not with one of those teachers, but he's down the hallway from the two, who kept their fourth grade classrooms.  I wish his friends were with him.  I'm a bit worried for him. He claims to not be concerned. I wish I could be more of an optimist for him.

I taught the boys the words optimist ("We can climb Mount Everest!")  pessimist ("We're all going to die!") and pragmatist ("Let's pack some granola bars.")  Cautiously optimistic.  Is that the same as pragmatist?  It describes me.  I'm generally optimistic, but I'm not leaping into action, counting on good luck. I expect to plan a bit and be prepared 'just in case'.  Yes, I would suggest granola bars on a long hike, but I'd probably nix Mount Everest.

I haven't said too much about it here, but tomorrow is my first day too.  I start my new job tomorrow.  There are a half dozen orientation dates, plus a CPR/1st aid day, before the school starts, after Labor Day. I won't meet the little guy I'm teaching for a few weeks. I'll have to pick a name for him so I can tell about him here.  A new topic!

As a pragmatist, I have the route (to a busy part of town) mapped out.  I have my paperwork ready.  I even have my lunch packed.  (I haven't picked out my clothes, although I had the boys pick theirs.)  The pessimist realizes that I will be meeting piles of teachers whose names I will (mostly) forget immediately.  The optimist thinks, maybe they'll all have name tags!  It has occurred to the pessimist in me that most of them may be twenty-somethings, as I was when I began to teach, but surely not all.  The optimist in me says that I will find a few whom I can enjoy spending my time with. The pragmatist says, get at least one name learned tomorrow! (Perhaps the two of the teachers whose room I will be sharing!)

New adventures await us all.