Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dear Teachers and Parents of all kids with disabilities

I am currently working on a proposal and report about the feasibility of teaching basic ASL to paraprofessionals (teachers aides your child utilizes in school) for my English Tech. Writing class. Paraprofessionals are generally not trained.

I have a few questions to ask you. I need answers by July 10, 2009 in order to finish my report.


1. Do you sign with your child?

2. Would you be interested in learning more ASL to help your child if help was available?

3. If your child has limited speech, would you want your child's special educators, mainstream teachers, and paraprofessionals to learn a basic form of ASL?


1. Would you be willing to learn a basic form of ASL (no grammar or syntax, just signs) to help teach in your classroom when needed?

2. Would you prefer training as a college credit course (reimbursed), in-service instructed, or DVD instruction in your own home?

3. Can ASL help in teaching children to read (I already know the answer to this one but I need your answer in your words).

TIA for all of your help. I'm excited about this assignment. Please feel free to pass this on to other teachers and moms. Leave comments on this post.



Mom to The Love Magnet who has T21
Student majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders, Pre-Speech Language Pathology

Monday, June 22, 2009

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor.....

Wild Berry Pictures, Images and Photos

"Do you want strawberry plants?"

My sweet neighbor was standing in my doorway. His demeanor makes me think he could have been Mr. Roger's twin brother. Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won't you be my neighbor. Soft spoken, tall and thin. He is an incredibly kind and generous man. Do I want strawberry plants? Are you kidding?

"I'm just digging them up to throw them away. I can't keep up with the fruit. They're yours if you want them."

Mr. Wonderful and I headed over to the neighbor's back yard to see where the plants were and discuss what to do with them. Our neighbor's yard is an oasis. He is back there daily, planting, wedding and mowing, or relaxing with Mrs. Neighbor. It's gorgeous. Lots of trees, a cute garden, beautiful flowers, and the best lawn on the entire block.

Mr. Wonderful Mr. Neighbor started a discussion on the merits of owning a tiller while I watched the Thirdborn and The Love Magnet around the strawberries. TLM doesn't like strawberries. she constantly wants to try them because she loves the color, but she immediately spits them out. She doesn't like the taste or texture. Thirdborn wanted to pick a strawberry and couldn't find one. I pointed out to him that these strawberries are small and nothing like the gigantic berries at our local grocery. He immediately started hunting again a popping berries into his mouth as fast as he could. He was always a good raspberry picker. Strawberry hunting wasn't much different.

The Love Magnet wanted to try one. I found a berry no bigger than the tip of my thumb and popped it in her mouth. Her eyes got big. I realized that The Love Magnet had never eaten a perfectly ripe, sun-warmed strawberry. It was manna from heaven - and she wanted more.

I grew up on local fresh produce that I picked from my grandma's garden. I've done the same for my kids. I think that this was the first time my younger children had really noticed the difference between produce at the store and the ultimate in fresh grow-your-own food. Home-grown is smaller, slightly different, doesn't look as perfect, and smells and tastes infinitely better. Sure, they've eaten tomatoes, corn, wax beans, pole beans, carrots, lettuce, japanese eggplant, zucchini, and squash from the garden. I guess the stark difference in strawberries was a better lesson. This will be the first year they will have strawberries, apples, okra, and (hopefully) plums. (Apricots and cherries will have to wait - I made a mistake and planted only one of each, thinking that my neighbors surrounding me would also have one.)

The neighbors around here share their bounty and we often trade for something we've never grown before. I have plenty of rosemary and thyme and I'm eyeing the kohlrabi in Mr. Neighbor's backyard. Last year he grew daikon and purple heirloom tomatoes. This year we'll have honeycrisp apples come fall and another neighbor has raspberries (and she will be sharing canes this fall so we can grow raspberries next year.)

Tomorrow will find me ankle deep in the dirt that Mr. Wonderful tilled up this evening. The kids will be helping me plant strawberries. This time next year I won't have to buy strawberries to make Mr. Wonderful's favorite freezer jam, thanks to Mr. Neighbor and his berry-sweet generosity(oh, yes, that pun was most definitely intended.)

There is something wonderful about sticking your feet in the dirt.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Thanks, Daddy....

Thanks, Daddy, for those early years. I know you didn't plan on premature twins and the resulting much bigger hospital bill. Thanks for convincing the nurse to let you in our room so you could give us a blessing.

Thanks, Daddy, for putting up with the daddy-daughter dates in my preteen years. One of my favorite pictures include us at the sock hop, pretending to sip an ice cream soda. Another involved you and Grandpa S taking twin sis and me to a square dance. You made those times fun.

Thanks, Daddy for for playing your guitar nearly every night. I gained my love of music from singing with you. It was worth singing in all of those ward talent shows. Now kids in my area have learned the songs I grew up with: Sneaky Snake, Singing in the Kitchen, Who's The Greatest Singer, Long Tall Texan, and Put Another Log on the Fire. My kids have all had the lullaby You Are My Sunshine.

Thanks, Daddy, for pre-screening every single one of my dates. At first I was embarrassed. It wasn't long before I counted on you to interview them. (I wish I would have listened to you opinion more carefully on some of those boys.)

Thanks, Daddy, for being the loudest person cheering after my musicals and choir performances. Yes, I could hear you. (You were also the loudest person cheering at each one of my brother's sporting events, too.)

Thanks, Daddy, for telling my you liked Mr. Wonderful and that I should marry him.......long before I ever thought of it. You were right. Thanks for not giving Mr. Wonderful too hard a time when he took you out to lunch to ask for my hand.

Thanks, Daddy, for all the father's blessings given to me and for prayers in my behalf. I know you worried about me a lot.

Thanks, Daddy, for the advice you gave after The Love Magnet was born. You made it much easier to trust Heavenly Father's plan for my family. You also sent me an email right before her heart surgery that was inspired by Him. I will always cherish your counsel.

I wish I were there to sing to you I'm So Glad When Daddy Comes Home so I could throw my arms around your neck and give you a great big kiss on the cheek. That's been a tradition since I was a little girl. I've never grown out of it.

Father's Day Breakfast

Baked Eggs with Chorizo and Potatoes

Chef David Kinch loves to say that this hearty combination of crumbled chorizo, chunks of crispy potatoes and eggs—all cooked together in a big cast-iron skillet—is his Mexican-Californian twist on rösti, the classic Swiss fried-potato breakfast.

My notes: I haven't made this before but I can already tell you that Mr. Wonderful is going to love this for breakfast. I love the recipes in Food & Wine magazine. You can find this particular recipe on their site by clicking here. In case you were wondering, Father's Day dinner menu is porkchops on the grill along with grilled nectarines and Maple Sweet Potato Fries, Corn Fritter Casserole from Cooking Light, Focaccia bread, green salad, and a banana cream pie for dessert.


2 pounds medium Yukon Gold potatoes
1 1/2 pounds fresh chorizo, casings removed (see Note)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
8 large eggs
Toast and hot sauce, for serving

Preheat the oven to 375°. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook over moderate heat until tender, about 25 minutes; drain and let cool. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 3/4-inch pieces.
Meanwhile, heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Add the chorizo, break it into chunks with a wooden spoon and cook over moderate heat, turning, until cooked through and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Scrape the chorizo mixture into a bowl and wipe out the skillet.
Heat the oil in the skillet. Add the potatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until golden and crispy, about 6 minutes. Stir in the chorizo mixture. Remove the skillet from the heat.
Using a ladle, make 8 indentations in the potato-chorizo mixture about 1 inch apart; crack an egg into each one. Bake the skillet in the middle of the oven for about 12 minutes, or until the egg whites are just set but the yolks are still runny. Serve at once with toast and hot sauce.

Make Ahead
The potatoes can be boiled a day ahead and refrigerated.

Spicy fresh chorizo, which looks a lot like Italian sausage links, is available at Whole Foods markets and many Latin American food stores.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Beauty Of Life giveaway

Shari at The Beauty Of Life is hosting a giveaway in honor of her 300th post. You can find it by clicking here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Becoming a toothless ninny

"Hi! I'm pleased to meet you!",
is what the Love Magnet used to say.
(and, look, her bangs are finally growing back. She knows now that only Kelly cuts her hair and nobody else.)

Now her favorite greeting is
"Hi. I lost my tooth."
(It often sounds like "I woff m'wuff" since she tries to show the evidence as she announces the news to every single soul on the planet.)

And for the Amazing Sarah, one photo of our hands. You can barely see the tell-tale crease in the middle of The Love Magnet's palm that is one of the signs of Down syndrome.

Another sign of Ds is crooked pinkie fingers (you can see TLM's pinkie's bend a bit). Interestingly enough, Mr. Wonderful's brothers also have crooked pinkies.
If you look even more closely you may see smudges of green marker that didn't quite wash off my daughter's hands. That is a sign of the Picasso faze she is currently going through.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Characters Wanted

I have a professor during the summer term who fits the profile for USA channel's Characters Wanted media campaign. He's quirky. He's geeky. This teacher is at least 6'4", bald on top, beard on his jawline, and has a rather high voice for being so tall. He is also incredibly thin. He looks like a character. He acts like a character.

Have you ever noticed how those characters on the USA Network channel usually have or had life experiences that make them more human and explain quite a bit why they are "characters"? Those experiences that leave the audience shocked, surprised, and sometimes empathetic when they are revealed?

My professor was healthy until ten years ago when he suffered a stroke that occured in his brain stem. I understand that most people don't survive this kind of stroke. Professor had to relearn how to walk and talk. His swallowing muscles were permanently paralyzed so he has had no solid food or drink for the past ten years. All nutrition is in the form of a liquid dripped through a stomach port.

On the first day of class, in came a very tall, emaciated man, odd shuffling gait, somewhat hunched over, who has what looks like glaucoma in one eye. There was a handkerchief in his back pocket with which he continually wiped his mouth. His voice was breathy and oddly pitched. I hoped no one would judge this man by first impressions.

And then he started to talk. And talk. And talk.

1 hour and 40 minutes of lecturing with no notes. Four days a week. No notes.

Here is a man who loves teaching and is passionate about his subject. His enthusiasm is contagious. He has a great sense of humor. He's committed to making sure we understand the curriculum.

Here is a man who had to relearn all of those basic activities we take for granted - and is now teaching logic on the university level. He is thrilled to be in class every single day and that attitude is spreading through the class.

I'm grateful that this man was put into my path this summer. Besides teaching me logic, he is also strengthening my belief in the power of positive attitude. In the time we live in, we all need that example of positive attitude.

More characters wanted.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Gratitudes

Yesterday, Mr. Wonderful brought me the most perfect apricot-colored rose from our rose garden. The petals had drops of rain that sparkled and the leaves were the most perfect green. He even took the thorns off of the stem before presenting it to me. I believe it came from our Peace rose bush, but I am not sure how it bloomed in that gorgeous hue. It was a sweet welcome home for me. I carried it by it's long stem around everywhere with me for the rest of the evening. I am grateful that Mr. Wonderful planted four rose bushes for me, one color for each of the children: red, yellow, peace rose, and white.

The Love Magnet lost another tooth on the bottom. She immediately wanted to call her teacher Mrs. P and both of her aides. She misses them terribly. Every morning, my daughter asks me if she can go back to school. I'm grateful that she is able to experience these milestones. She was so thrilled that her tooth fell out at my parent's house so she could show Grandma and Grandpa right away.

I'm grateful that I could spend the entire day last Saturday with my mom and twin sis. Not for the retail therapy (although I was thrilled to get some items to decorate my home), and not for the lunch (although I loved the Japanese noodle bowl at Noodles & Company. You have got to try it!) It was just great to be together and talk. I rediscovered just how much alike Firstborn is to my twin sis' secondborn. Everyone understood my dry sense of humor so I didn't have to explain my jokes (Mr. Wonderful gets them, too. It's just the rest of the world.....) My mom kept hugging me. I've really missed my family the past few weeks.

While I was in Utah, I headed to my favorite music store, Day Murray Music. This is the place to find fabulous choir music. I asked the staff what was new and they showed me some great pieces. I was the kid in the proverbial candy store. I wish they would open a store near me. There is a gorgeous Christmas piece that is my music gratitude today. It's called He Left The Music Of Heaven by Michael Sharp. If you are in choir, have your director check it out. It is absolutely beautiful. Dr. Sharp, I am looking forward to exploring your other choral works.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Adventures in shopping

shopping.... Pictures, Images and Photos

We had a laundry mishap with a green crayon. It hit the load containing my summer capris and shorts. So I had to go shopping.

With my kids in tow.

What was I thinking?

Does anyone in their right mind go shopping with children?

I dragged them into the women's section so I could find pants. The Love Magnet immediately had a yelling fit (with her brothers who were teasing her). *sigh* I mentally apologized to the store for my children's behavior, grabbed TLM and the capris I wanted to try on, and ducked into a dressing room. The Love Magnet insisted on locking the door. Door doesn't lock. I put my flipflops under the door so everyone could see it was occupied and started trying on clothes. TLM tried to open the door in the middle of my undressed state. It turned into an aerobic workout: pull on pants, dodge to shut the door, check mirror, shut the door, trip against the door trying to shut it while taking off pants......The Love Magnet thought it was great fun.

I finally found what I wanted, grabbed my daughter and escaped the dressing room, hoping no one saw that it was me.

Now to shop for boys. That is easier than shopping for me.

This was the first time I let Secondborn loose in the teen section. I told him to look for two pairs of shorts that fit. He must have thought I said 6 pairs of shorts and 4 shirts. That's what he gave me to purchase. I told him he had to put most of it back. My mild mannered 2nd born started arguing with his mom in the middle of the store. Shocking. And a big no-no in our family. Discussions are supposed to be conducted quietly. Instead it became a Shakespearean soliloquy. Passers-by must have thought it was an advertisement to the local Shakespeare festival.

When on earth did my sweet twelve year old become a dramatic, argumentative teen?!

Thidborn immediately piped up that if Secondborn got new clothes, that he should get new clothes,too. He proceeded to grab shorts much too large for him. I guided him to the right size.

"Those aren't cool, Mom."

I explained to him that he could not wear shorts that would hang low and expose his underwear. We finally agreed on shorts that fit and passed his coolness test.

When we got up to the sales counter, we discovered an extra $100 worth of shorts and shirts in our pile of purchases. The Love Magnet had decided to not be left out of the fun, and had pulled clothing indiscriminately from the racks. The sales help graciously helped me to pare down my purchases (the sooner to get me out of the store, I am sure) and ran through her 'use our credit card to save an extra 20%' spiel. We escaped with little dignity left.

Everyone is now taking naps so Mom can have some alone time. Mom needs alone time.

In Hawaii.

I'll let Mr. Wonderful come along. He prefers to shop for himself.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Sunday Gratitudes

Rain and really loud thunder - although The Love Magnet doesn't like it. She runs to hide in our arms. The noise reminds her of fireworks. "Too loud, Mom!" But Mr. Wonderful and I love the rain. We've even based date nights on a platter of gourmet cheeses, crackers, olives, marinated 'shrooms, non-alcoholic sparkling fruit juice, and watching the lightning from the upstairs playroom.

Choir music - we're working on Petrie's Choose The Right which will be sung next week. My choir is really pulling together. They blend well and work hard. They also put up with me.

While we're on the subject of good music, I really like Vocal Point. This is music the whole family can really enjoy (I've been on a crusade to find clean music to last us through the drives to see family). It cracks me up to hear my kids sing along. We have the Nonstop CD. I plan on buying more.

Everyone around the dinner table - Firstborn left right after dinner for a week-long EFY. I know he was excited to go. I will miss him. Of course, the dinner table might be a little more quiet without him to tease his siblings.

Yesterday we went on our first family bike the rain. The Love Magnet made it down the street on her first bike w/ training wheels. She has low muscle tone and tires quickly. After a ways she declared herself tired and was ready to quit. I knew she wasn't faking as she really wanted to go on with her brothers....she just wanted me to push her bike. Still, I am proud that she did it. We have a family goal to help her get strong enough to bike around the block by the end of the month. Did I also mention how grateful I am the Mr. Wonderful bought me a very cute bike?

My garden growing. The tomatoes and peppers are doing great. My new-to-try-growing this year is okra. I hope it works. I also have Japanese eggplant, beans, and herbs. Forgot to plant the zukes. Might have to try and see how fast they can grow. In the meantime, my darling neighbor has graciously offered to let us come over whenever we want to pick strawberries. The best part of summer is garden fresh fruits and veggies.

Being asked to sing solo in Relief Society. I'm worried....I haven't sung solo without crying for the past 20 years (long story). I used to sing with confidence. I was praying that Heavenly Father would help me get my confidence back.....and was immediately presented with this request from one of the ward sisters. I certainly was not expecting to have my prayers answered in this manner nor so fast. I have two weeks to practice. Please pray for me that I will have courage, sing on key, and have a peaceful heart. Especially, please pray for a peaceful heart. I really appreciate it. This probably should say that I am grateful that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Accomplishments of The Love Magnet

One of the many reason we love The Love Magnet's teacher and aides:

This year The Love Magnet learned how to draw faces. Apparently she has also learned how to draw bunny rabbits. When she presented this artwork to me today, she made sure to point out that the bunny rabbit has long ears. (I labeled everything so I would be sure to explain it right to Mr. Wonderful.)

She has also learned to think about the story. In this drawing she showed be that Spiderman is caught in a spider's web. Notice that Spiderman is wrapped up like a cocoon and he is yelling and scared. Also, the bug on the left is telling him to stay. The Love Magnet wrote that herself without any help. I didn't know she could spell the word "stay".

A year ago, The Love Magnet didn't draw faces, let alone expressions on faces. Her artistry was limited to scribbles. In this pictures she drew herself dancing with another spider. I was impressed that her figure showed motion and emotion.

I'd show you picture #4 that she listed herself but she also wrote her name on it. Her whole name.
For typical kids, this is not out of the ordinary. Yet I know that every single one of my T-21 Buddy bloggers will be cheering along with me. Along with art, understanding expressions, storylines (and what comes next), The Love Magnet has learned how to walk in the lunch line without help, balance her heavy lunch tray, retrieve her silverware, milk, and condiments, and make her way to the lunch table. She has learned to sit quietly and raise her hand. She knows how to navigate on a computer. She claps to a beat. She learned about the weather, days of the week, months of the year, and seasons. She learned in Health class how to always wash her hands (lots of soap and between the fingers!), to cover her nose and mouth when she coughs (and why that is so important.) She improved her vocabulary and speech. She has learned routines to practice for occupational therapy.
Thanks Mrs. P. Thanks Miss M and Miss M. Thank you Computer Teacher and Music Teacher. Thanks to "Grandma P" who taught the writing workshops. Thank you to all of the therapists.
My daughter has grown this past school year.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A very big thanks.....

to two incredible women. The Love Magnet loved her aides this year. These women hold a very special spot in our hearts and prayers.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Mama's In The Kitchen

Chilean Bean Stew
Stews – Vegetarian
From Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook
Click here for their website to purchase cookbooks and check out other recipes
Serves: 6
Posted by Scarehaircare
June 1, 2009

Moosewood Notes: The traditional name for the dish is Porotos Granados. It’s a very popular stew in Chile where it’s made with fresh corn and fresh ivory or red beans from the farmers’ markets. Serve topped with cheddar cheese, accompanied with a green salad and freshly baked cornbread.

My notes: I didn’t think a stew could taste summery – this one does. Good with frozen corn, fabulous with fresh. I served this with Maple Cornbread from Cooking Light. I pureed some of the butternut squash with the corn which I think made for wonderful flavors and texture.

2 Tablespoons Vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/8 to ¼ teaspoon cayenne
3 cups water
4 cups peeled, seeded, and cubed butternut squash (about 3 pounds)
3 Cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
3 Cups cooked red pinto beans
½ cup chopped fresh basil

Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onions, garlic, salt, black pepper, and cayenne and sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the water and the squash, cover, bring to a boil; then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in 1 Cup of the corn and all of the beans and basil. Cover and continue to simmer for another 5-10 minutes until the squash is soft.

Ladle 2 cups of broth from the stew into a blender. Add the remaining 2 cups of corn and puree until smooth. Stir the pureed corn back into the stew.

Gently reheat before serving, if necessary.

Per 16 oz serving: 330 calories, 12.1 g protein, 6.4 g fat, 65.5 g carbs, 0 mg cholesterol, 618.1 mg sodium, 10.4 g fiber

Maple Corn Bread
from Cooking Light
serves 12
posted by Scarehaircare
June 1, 2009

My notes: I loved this maple flavor with the Chilean Bean Stew. I subbed regular cornmeal for the masa harina and left out the jalapeno. The kids scarfed this warm from the oven and pronounced it a definite 'do-again'.

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup masa harina
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup maple syrup
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350°.

Coat a 9-inch cast-iron skillet with oil. Place in oven for 10 minutes.

Lightly spoon flour and masa harina into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, masa harina, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
Combine water and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add water mixture to flour mixture, stirring until moist. Spoon batter into preheated pan.

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove corn bread from pan; cool completely on a wire rack.

Yield: 12 servings

CALORIES 184 (27% from fat); FAT 5.6g (sat 3.1g,mono 1.6g,poly 0.6g); IRON 1.4mg; CHOLESTEROL 13mg; CALCIUM 62mg; CARBOHYDRATE 31.5g; SODIUM 342mg; PROTEIN 3g; FIBER 1.2g

Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2002