Saturday, October 3, 2009

31 for 21

Michelle at Big Blueberry Eyes is blogging this month on Down Syndrome. Her daughter, Kayla, is living a fun life with an extra chromosome. She posted a link to an article today. It talks of 92% of people deciding to abo*rt their child if it tests for Down Syndrome through prenatal testing. Testing is becoming more sophisticated. They only expect that abor*tion number to rise. What about the twin abor*tion in Italy a few years ago? The wrong one was abor*ted, then the mother went in and terminated the full pregnancy. To that I say ARGH.

I know that when I was pregnant with Bailey, Hubs and I decided to skip the Tri-Screen testing. We felt that God gave us a beautiful being to love and that was a gift. A positive to the testing is that a diagnosis while in pregnancy would give an opportunity to get education regarding Down Syndrome, network and find resources for the little one prior to its arrival.

I know that Michelle told Kayla's birth story and about how she did have testing, there was a possibility of Kayla having Down Syndrome, but it wasn't a 100 % positive. When Kayla was born, the diagnosis was confirmed and admittedly, she was disappointed. Everyone hopes for children that are healthy. Well, Kayla is healthy. She is healthy in her own way. This past year she has been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, but that is a workable thing. She has an IEP at school. She's not fully up to speed with her classmates. You want to know what? They. love. her. The kids love her to pieces. Michelle told of stories when they were back in New Mexico (I think!) about how kids were lovin' on Kayla so much that they were doing things for her to be helpful, but things that Kayla could do. They wanted the best for her and were tripping over themselves to help! Kayla is a light in the world of everyone she encounters. That is a gift!

Cruise on over to Big Blueberry Eyes for the month of posts. Not all will be about Down Syndrome, but many of them will. Let's celebrate Kayla and her ABILITIES!

Friday, October 2, 2009

If you bonk me on the side of the head, perhaps my eyes will become uncrossed.

After having read this post, I've figured out that my brain was scattered because I was too upset about my tire (read below.) Things flow in 12 directions. Just read and excuse.

Folks, we did it. We made it to 100! I read 9 Uncle Wiggily's this evening and Hubs followed up with the 100th book being "What is a Wookiee?" Oh praise His Holy Name, we've reached 100. My eyes? They are spinning in my head. I've never been particularly strong at reading aloud. I'm happy to say that I'm improving on that. I had hazy head today, though. Hazy head does not make for good out-loud reading. It is done, though. 100 reading steps for the 100 book challenge are done. Should I tell you that she would really like to earn the end of the year limo ride with the Principal to CiCi's pizza. How many reading steps is that? 1000.

Here's big news. My brother called me. He phoned. He talked briefly. He said that it is over between him and his wife. I told him that we aren't mad at him. I also told him that I knew that there was more going on in his life than the marital troubles that they have been having for quite some time. "We're not surprised, Billy." I told him how he just needs to take what he's been through, use it as a learning bit in life, pull up the bootstraps, make positive changes and move on.

It appears that his accident was a bit of a doozy. He fell asleep and rear-ended a 2008 HHR. It smacked the car in front of it. It is totaled. He went to court today and told them that his insurance had lapsed. He will be without a license for a year, has a $230.00 fine and is working out financial arrangements with the HHR insurance company to repay for damages.

Frankly, I think that the car bit was the final straw. It is just an object, though. He's trying to make good and I applaud him for that.

In other news, the tire pressure light was on in the RAV this morning. I think that when I skinnied around the construction vehicles that had my way hopelessly blocked yesterday, I made the tire unhappy when I very slowly drove up over a curb. I swear, if you touch the tires on this car in any way other than happy, they lose air. UGH. The evening update is that Hubs topped the tires off and the right front appears to be leaking. He thinks that I picked up a nail. Crap. Another one bites the dust.

I went to check the tire pressure, as I knew that the tire gauge was in my car because I saw it this weekend and VOILA! It had vanished. I stopped by the auto parts store, got a new one (chrome with a case-- oooo!) and explained to the lady at the counter that having shared custody of the tire pressure gauge with my husband was not working for me. Hubs is to tackle that this evening. Hopefully just putting more air in it will work. Let's face it. It's my vehicle. Nothing is ever that easy. My other brother doesn't work for Goodyear anymore, so this means that I may actually have to take it up the street to the other tire place. Double UGH.

Have I mentioned the pumpkin patch trip tomorrow? No? Well, we have an 80% chance of rain. Requirement of uniforms is suspended in want of warm clothing, preferably jeans, sweaters, rain coats, boots and the like. I did talk to K-'s teacher who told me that it is possible that it would be canceled if it is bad. She said that standing in the cold rain for 5 hours doesn't sound that appealing to her.

I had a field day at the thrift store. Oh, listen to what I found!
- A brand new Groovy Girl. She's still in the box! She was 2.50. We're going to put her up for the Christmas stocking. Previously, I found a Groovy Girl bed. K- will love them!
- A brand new perling bead set (fusing beads.) A stocking stuffer for 90 cents.
- A deluxe set of fusing beads with a bunch of bead boards. I paid 2.50 for that. We did some when we got home.
- Three computer games for K- for stocking stuffers. Two were 45 cents. One was 90 cents. We have Reader Rabbit, Madeline in Europe and Hot Wheels car creator. Hubs will go ahead and change the cases. The disks are in beautiful condition.
- A brand new bathing suit for K- for 1.00.
- Two pairs of winter boots for K-. One pair, an LL Bean size 12, were $1.50. They are muckin' winter boots, so she'll wear those to the pumpkin patch tomorrow. The others were 2.50 and are a size 13. Very much like the muckin' LL Bean.
- Uniform legal turtleneck sweaters, button down long sleeved shirts and long sleeved polo in a variety of prices, but none over 1.50.
- A brand new pair of GLITTENS! They are from Andes Gifts and are handmade in Bolivia of Alpaca fibers. They still have the tag on them! K- is so excited.
- We've netted some more crock-pot recipes. I'm so glad!

While surfing this evening, I ran across this piece from the Today show. How it breaks my heart that an adopted child was returned to the system to be adopted out again because at the age of 2 1/2 and after having been in custody of his new parental unit for 18 months, he wasn't attaching in the way that his adoptive mother had hoped.


I'm sure if you asked the mother, she has probably never given it a thought to give any of her 5 biological daughters to the system. And yet, there is a family that took a child that was abandoned on a roadside in South America into their home, guaranteed him a good home and backed out of the deal. It is unexcuseable. And no, I don't apologize for the way I feel. I am an adoptive mother.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I think K- just started 1st grade and not Kindergarten.

First, I'll start by stating that I'm glad that K-'s teacher is so on the ball. I'm glad that she has the kids cruising along at what seemingly equals out to be warp speed. As parents, we're slightly overwhelmed by the homework update that we received today.

The October News from Mrs. H- has a section stating what their focus' are in the month and the homework that she would like us to work on. What we have is:

Language Arts Focus:
Letters A, C, D and N
Sight words: I, like, go, we
Word Families: -am, -at, -ap
Writing: Simple sentences

Math Focus:
AB and ABB Patterns
Position Words
Ordinal Numbers
Numerals 0-10

What to do at Home:
Please continue to read for at least fifteen minutes each night. Include 100 Book Challenge Books, homework books, sight words and word families in your nightly practice. Refer to your H- Handbook for weekly 100 Book Challenge goals.

Now again, I'm not complaining. I have to say that when we sat down to do homework, we worked for 45 minutes anyhow. Hubs was there and he bounced back and forth with me as I was preparing for the next lesson. Since the paper mentions that a few students are falling behind in their reading logs, I'm guessing that the parents aren't going to be keeping up with the list this month, either.

I just need to figure out a rhythm. We've had a pattern of how we worked each night, but the list just tacked on about 25 minutes more work. Again, that's okay and I'm so glad that my mother-in-law has given K- a bath the last two nights. By the time that K- and Hubs arrive home, we have enough time to do homework (setting aside 45 minutes - 1 hour now vs. 15 minutes - 1/2 hour), play a game and go to bed.

I know that when we went to Kindergarten registration, each Kindergarten teacher made a presentation on part of what the children would be learning throughout the year. I'll never forget one teacher holding up a journal entry that a student did during the first month of school. A journal entry that the student had just done (Sept vs. April comparison) was all tidy, in the lines and a 7 sentence paragraph. To that I said, "Wow!" Now that I see the steps toward that goal in action, I still say, "Wow!" Only now I admit that it is more like "W!O!W!!"

So our evenings are well occupied by Kindergarten. Who knew it would be so much? My parents stopped by tonight and I was showing my mother the list. All she could say was, "This is Kindergarten?" Yes. Yes it is. I told her that I feel like K- just started 1st grade though.

We'll pick up a new way of doing her work. She still wants the goal of getting her to her 100th book step by Friday when she goes to school. She wants to see her name get on the reading board. Wish me luck. That will be 2 hours and 15 minutes worth of reading tomorrow. That's okay. I don't work. We'll get home early and she can play as I read. I guarantee that Uncle Wiggily and his adventures will be finished tomorrow!

To 100 book steps and BEYOND!

Smiles in my day:
- My parents brought me two grocery sacks full of pears. That, my friends, means fresh pear sauce to can. They are still a little hard, but soon enough they'll be ripe enough to work with.
- Ripe tomatoes mean more tomato something-or-another for me to make tomorrow. I have to pull the tomatoes I have because we are due for a frost tomorrow.
- It's been about 48 degrees in the AM and K- wore long sleeves and tights with her little jumper today. She's been rolling with short sleeves and socks. It's getting to be fall! In fact, we turned the heat on yesterday!
- My sister and Leland are coming to visit tomorrow while my brother has court for his unfortunate uninsured auto accident. Perhaps my brother will visit and finally talk with me?
- At the writing and near publishing of this post (10:42 PM on Wednesday night), there have been 196 visitors to the blog, 142 to the Crock-Pot Fest. Though we haven't had many recipes submitted, the handful we have all sound delicious! Thank you to everyone who participated! By the way, that is the largest number that I have ever had for any post! :)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday: The Crock-Pot Fest

The Crock-Pot Fest will be my WFMW this week. Let's face it, we need some more recipes. I've gotten some lovely recipes from the links so far. The WFMW link I posted goes right to the initial Monday post for the Crock-Pot fest. Just an FYI.

Smiles in my day:
- The article is in the Cleveland Magazine and though the article has me listed as a "Master Tree Decorator" [shaking my head and laughing] I have a two sentence blip. I'm in print, people. Real live, local magazine print. It's better than a tabloid!
- Bedtime with K- was so much better this evening.
- My neighbor laughing at me this morning when I was parked with hazards on at the end of her drive, asking them if they wanted to hop a ride to school. She asked me if I was wimping out on her? It was 48 degrees, windy and spitting rain. I told her that she could walk back if she wanted. She told me I was right and climbed back in my car with me to go back home. :)
- The floor manager at work was surprised at my method of training new workers. I do it in a bit different way than her, but that's okay. She made me a badge she made that said, "Trainer of the Month." God bless her.
- K- announcing at dinner that she got "two compliments today." One teacher had complimented her behavior in the hallway. Important to her, as it was a teacher that was not her own. The second compliment she couldn't exactly recall, but she knew that she got one.
- K- actually ate her lunch today. We had a long discussion last night why almost all of the food that I sent was coming back basically untouched. "Because I was talking with my friends, Mommy." "Yes, well, you need food to give you energy to learn. When you are at lunch, your job is to eat lunch. It is more important to eat than talk. You can catch up at recess." She reports that she still talked (not that I wanted her not to at all), but she was thrilled that she did a good eating job.
- K- had great papers today, but had one item on her paper circled. She didn't color the panda. Why? "Because it is black and white already, mom!" I told her to at least color the nose next time.
- Laurie, my sewing friend extraordinaire, put on her cobbler hat and fixed K-'s shoes. Remember the ones that she wore for only 5 days and the strap came apart? Laurie fixed them and now she has TWO pairs of legal shoes for school! (The little things in life. She's in a 12 1/2. The half sizes are hard to find!)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tales from the Trenches: A Hodge Podge of Irritation

If you spill something at a party, clean it up please. - This past weekend, K- and I were at a birthday party for a few of her friends. The kids went through the food line, we got them all settled, then the adults went through. My friend's aunt bobbled the scoop for the lasagna, but looked down relieved and said, "But I didn't get any on me." The problem? Though she caught the scoop, she flung noodles and sauce onto the carpeted floor. She kept going and left it there. I quietly picked up a few napkins and wiped it up as she was continuing through line, but still standing right there. She didn't even seem to think it was a problem. I have to admit that my friend's aunt always has some socially odd behavior whenever I've been around her. It was just weird.

Let people get both feet in the door first before pouncing on them in your lovely museum. - This past weekend, we went to the Toledo Museum of Art. We got there at open and were looking forward to hanging out and seeing what lovely things they have. When we were there the last time, we kind of had to do the quick 1 hr. tour. So, we're talking and walking in the door when I have a guard stop me and tell me that I'm going to have to "keep my purse in front of me" and "I'm going to request that you put your keys into your purse." My purse is probably 6" x 4" x 2". I told her that I could keep it in front of me, but I opened my purse and proved that there was no room for me to put my keys inside. (It isn't like I have the keys to the city, but they won't fit.) Well, you are going to have to hold onto them! Hmmm. Hi. Welcome to our museum. Your purse is probably the smallest purses that I will see today, but let me pounce on you as you come in the door. Nevermind those women with the Mary Poppins bags. You can sit comfortably inside those, but I'm going to harass you about yours. Men have wallets bigger than my purse! (Well, maybe not. Still . . .) And no, I didn't care about her asking about the purse, just the way that she did it. I understand not wanting to wipe art out or anything. But they don't know that. I know that I've had people wipe things out with purses before, too. However, there isn't enough bag to even have any swing to it!

I know we have a child with us at the museum. She won't touch anything, I promise. I know that it is a foreign concept, but she does know how to behave in a museum or gallery. However, I know there are parents who could care less. We are not those parents. - I'm going to hand it to museum guards. Truly, they should be sainted. Though we ran into a few crabby ones who were just tense having K- in the room, there were some that were really fun. We had them laughing when K- and I were looking up the nose at a bust to see if we could see nose hairs. We were looking for statues without underw*ear. You go with what works. It's like a silent alarm sounds when someone under 50" walks in the door. There are parents (believe me as I know this from experience) that just let their kids run wild. K- is respectful. She walks. She looks with her eyes. She doesn't touch, not even a button, unless given permission. She touched something once in Milwaukee-- a sculpture of a guy that looked real and she couldn't understand why it wasn't moving-- she was three and got yelled at. Loudly. She was gently touching his shirt. I had turned around for a split second to look at something (distracted by Sol LeWitt.) But still, for the guard who pointed out the drum button, bless you. For the one that showed that no matter which side of the room you were on, there was a "moving foot" in the painting. For the one that showed us that we were being watched by the lady in the painting, you guys rock. For the others, lighten up a bit, please.

We have many doors. They are all open. They say the names of galleries on them. We lead you to believe that there will be art at the end, but really there will be a really old guy giving you a hard time and wondering why you are in that section of the museum. - If there are places in the museum you DON'T want us to enter, just lock the door or post "do not enter" on the door. It isn't hard. Instead, we twisted and turned through the hallways, find a gorgeous looking door and upon reaching the room it was in, a crotchety old man says, "Well, why are you down here?" "We wanted to look at the beautiful door." "Well, there's nothing else down here." You know what he did? He quietly escorted us back out to the main hall. Wouldn't it be cost effective to lock the door and leave cranky butt at home?

-- Both of these incidents happened within 5 minutes of walking into the museum. Needless to say, I wasn't feeling so warm and fuzzy about our visit, but we did end up spending 2 1/2 hours there despite of the rocky start.

It is wonderful that you want to smell good. I appreciate that, but when you come into watch a demonstration and are gassing those of us out in front of you with your very, VERY strong perfume, I'm thinking that it is a hair too strong. - We were watching a glass blowing demo. I was explaining everything to K-, as I had blown glass in college for 2 years. (Yes, I miss it terribly.) She was really getting into it when the older couple sat behind us. Hubs looked at me and asked if it was just him. No. The problem was that it got stronger as we sat there. Is it possible that she was reapplying?

Children in skirts far too short. - More and more often these days I've been noticing the hemline of girls skirts rising. There was a little girl in today that had a hemline just skimming her underw*ear. The child was maybe 6 or 7. It was a flouncy little skirt that in the high winds that we had today, I'm sure that more than one person saw her underclothes as her skirt flew up. Modesty, please. Let us teach our children a little modesty.

PTA Fundraiser - Could they have picked funkier stuff to peddle? I mean, how many people really buy their wrapping paper from their child for $10.00/roll? End o' the season clearance for $1.00 or less a roll, thank you. Scented candles, sports paraphernalia, magazines, an odd assortment of foodstuffs, flower bulbs, wraps, bags and ribbons. All terribly over-priced. YUCK!

To note:
I'm not normally this crabby. I just had one of those things-getting-on-my-nerves weekends. Y'all understand, right?

Smiles in my day:
- Though I was pommeled by 10-12, picking up Buckeyes and cleaning up the hulls was a nice way to start my day. I was out for about an hour and 15 minutes, clearing the middle courtyard and listening to the nuts as they fell onto the protective clear corrugated roof. I did have a few that bailed into me hard enough to leave bruises. Those will probably show up later.
- K- read her poetry and song book last night. So great!
- Have I mentioned that K- journals in her class on a daily basis? She now loves journals and actually wrote "NO CAT" the other day (on purpose) in her journal. She just needed me to spell "ALLOWED" to her. Is it because Smudge likes to bite her?
- Though K- had a big ole fit this evening and was punished for it, she ended up lying on our floor as I was putting laundry away and fell asleep. No more crying and whining. Whew-who!
- New recipes to try in my Crock-Pot!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bailey's Leaf Lovin' on the Crock-Pot Fest!

Here it is! The 1st Annual Bailey's Leaf Lovin' on the Crock-Pot Fest! (Could I have come up with a longer name? Certainly!) At any rate, let the fun begin! We'll be cookin' from September 27 - October 2. Do come and join the fun!

More fun I found just now! While hunting to see the proper spelling of Crock-Pot (which the brand name is hyphenated. I was spelling it as one word and a friend was spelling it as two), I found that the iPhone has an App for Crock-Pot cooking! Who knew? Well, I didn't because I'm rockin' a pink Motorola Razr phone and not an iPhone (the technology would be completely lost on me.) So Rachael and the rest of the iPhone users, here is a link for your App. Enjoy!

White Chili with Black Beans (my favorite from the church chili cook-off)
by Karen, our dear church secretary

3 T butter or oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 c. flour
1 T ground cumin
3/4 t salt
1/4 t crushed red pepper (optional)
2 c milk
1 pkg frozen white corn
1 15.5 oz can great northern beans or white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15.5 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.5 oz can chicken broth
2 c chicken breast, cooked and cubed
1 4 oz can diced green chilis

Combine in a Crock-Pot and cook on low until done.

Braised Pork Chops (a dinnertime favorite)
By Michelle at Big Blueberry Eyes

I found this recipe on Michelle's blog years ago. I have made it so many times! Thanks, Michelle!
6 - 8 lean pork chops
1/3 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard (I've used whole mustard seeds and have done just fine.)
1 T oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large clove of garlic, minced (I skip because of the ole heartburn)
1 can cream of chicken soup

Coat chops with mixture of flour, salt, mustard and garlic salt. Brown on both sides in hot oil in skillet with chopped onion. Add garlic at the last minute. Deglaze pan with a little water, wine or broth.

Put chops in slow cooker and add soup and pan drippings. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

* I like to layer carrots on top of the pork chops, put the soup and deglazed pan drippings in, then a few whole potatoes on top of that. It makes a nice meal all in one unattended pot!

Sweet Kielbasa Chili
By Amy at Bailey's Leaf

I participated in the church chili cook-off every year, then decided that average chili wasn't going to cut it. I had to come up with something different. That is how I came up with this. It is my favorite red chili. I am going to list the ingredients for the gigantic sized pot that I made it in (the huge pot that I soaked my corn for roasting in a few weeks ago.) If you have a large Crock-Pot, you may want to cut this recipe in half. I've done it in the Crock-Pot (cut in half) and it has been great!

1 lb polish kielbasa, sliced thin
1.2 lb pkg ground turkey
3-4 sweet red peppers, chopped
2 sweet onions, chopped
1 lb carrots, chopped
6.9 lb can kidney beans, rinsed well
3 - 15 1/2 oz cans of mild chili beans
2 cups instant rice, cooked
1 pkg frozen corn
1 1/2 - 2 c brown sugar
3/4 c or so of cocoa powder
Cracked pepper to taste
28 oz can diced tomatoes
6.9 lb can tomato sauce
1 pkg mild chili seasoning

Brown ground turkey with some chopped onions and red peppers. In a separate pan, cook kielbasa, carrots, red peppers, onions and corn until flavors are well blended. When turkey is fully cooked, add to the kielbasa mixture. Add remaining ingredients and cook on medium until done, about 3 1/2 hours or so.

Turkey Tenderloin
By Amy at Bailey's Leaf

I've mentioned this one before, but since we're loving on the Crock-Pot, I figured I'd dust it off and mention it again.

1 pre-marinated turkey tenderloin
1 pkg short cut carrots
4-5 washed potatoes with skin on

Spray the inside of your Crock-Pot with Pam or a non-stick agent of the like. Place turkey tenderloin in, place carrots on top and potatoes on top of that. Put about an inch of water in the bottom of the Crock-Pot, and cook on low for 6 hours or so.

Chicken Corn Chowder
By Amy at Bailey's Leaf

I've also posted this one before. This is my re-make of the Pennsylvania Dutch version that I ate at an Easter Egg Hunt put on by the Mason-Dixon Motorcycle Club (or a name that is very, very close to that.) I was in Baltimore for a week to help my overly pregnant sister and she took me to her bike club event. Though I didn't have the recipe, I researched and tweaked it to what I remember.

Folks, besides the ABC noodles, this tasted the exact same.

2 skinless chicken breasts, boiled with 3 bouillon cubes and sliced/cubed/shredded
Stock from boiled chicken breasts
1 stalk of celery, chopped fine
A handful of short cut carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
Handful of dried parsley leaves
1 bay leaf
2 cups diced potatoes, skin on
3 cups frozen corn
2 cups cooked ABC noodles (you use what you have, people)
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Place everything in the Crock-Pot EXCEPT for the heavy cream and noodles. Cook on high for 6 hours. An hour before serving, add heavy cream and noodles. YUMMY!

The Crock-Pot Fest MckLinky will be up from September 27, 2009 at 9:30 PM until October 2, 2009 at 12:00 PM. Now go forth and eat well! Oh, and feel free to post about our little Crock-Pot Fest. The more the merrier!