… little bit of this, little bit of that, a whole lotta about the kids

Research needed!

Hmm, I’ve just noticed that this new theme posts dates in European format, day, month, year instead of month, day, year.  And the only settings I can find are set the other way around.  I also would like to change my header graphic so the sun is smiling.  I edited it on another blog I do with this theme, and yet can not for the life of me figure out how to do that again either. 😉

Handwriting with Tears

My daughter does not like to write.  Or color.  Or do anything that really works her hands in a way to prepare her for writing in kindergarten.  Oh, she will use markers occasionally, probably because they are so much easier to make marks with than pencil or crayons, but even that is a struggle.  It’s not really a fine motor issue; she can handle other fine motor tasks just fine.  Caterpillar Scramble, given to us by Aunt Julie several years back when I was working with Kidlets fine motor issues (now due to the Asperger’s though at the time, we didn’t know that!), is no sweat for Lil L.  She can thread pony beads endlessly.  And so on.  But still doesn’t want to color at a restaurant, or balks at writing anything at home.

So, I have been coming up with ways to encourage her to use those muscles and build her writing endurance, without it seeming to be work.  She asked for corn on the cob for dinner, for instance, so I had her write it on the shopping list.  She likes to make up stories, so I made some mini books to record them; she does like to see her stories in book form so she can show them off to folks.  I also try to instigate art projects that will encourage her to need to pick up a crayon or pencil.

It hasn’t seemed to make any difference yet, but we’ll keep working on it.

Last night we were working with sharpies on foil, some form of which you’ve probably seen. It’s all over Pinterest in various forms.


Devious as she is, Lil L even managed to bypass holding the sharpie after a couple of triangles, instead using paintbrush and fingers to add glitter glue to the foil.  My girl, she loves herself some bling 😉




From the number of “hair” boards that I have to unfollow on Pinterest, its apparently a great area of concern for a lot of folks. Fine, i get that – not everyone is as unconcerned with it as I am. But what I don’t understand are the styles pinned. Am I the only person in the world that thinks fishtail braids are hideous?  The only on that thinks creating a heart shape with hair is weird?  The sole person that thinks asymmetrical hair styles makes people look lopsided and like they will fall to one side?  Apparently so 😉

Lego night

Our PTA lego night last night was a success!  We had 230-250 attendees, which is the biggest turnout ever for our small school of about 320 students in 250 families.  Besides a boatload of Legos for free play, Little Engineers came with a few stations with robots, etc. We offered substantial refreshments for working families that might not have time to have dinner first, and drawings for lego sets.


This is the gallery of mini-fig designs submitted by some of our students. 🙂

Art Lit: Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko is an abstract expressionist, specifically known as the pioneer of color field painting.  He was chosen to represent abstract expressionists for our lesson because he spent a number of years here in Portland, OR, and some of his work is on display in the Portland Art Museum.


I had the classes of 4th graders choose a random emotion from a sack, and then write a line or two about what the emotion feels like.  Then they had to choose colors to represent the emotion and feeling.  We used bleeding art tissue paper on watercolor paper, and a tiny bit of water with foam brushes.

The colors aren’t as vibrant as they would be with paints, nor could we really work with shades and tints which I would have liked to do, but our fourth grade classrooms do not have any sinks and using actual paints in those rooms is a real challenge (I brought water in a pitcher with little Dixie cups to wet the tissue paper).  I’ve had to improvise with chalks, and pastels and now the tissue paper, even when other grades are using paint.

This was a challenging lesson for these 9-10 year olds.  The concrete operational stage of development from 7-11 or so is a period where children begin thinking logically about concrete events, but have difficulty understanding abstract or hypothetical concepts.

Still, the kids did seem to enjoy the art project, and the teachers both seemed pleased with the lesson and the students response to it.


Creamy, luscious avocados are such a rich source of vitamins, minerals, healthful fats, and phytochemicals that the U.S. government has revised its nutrition guidelines to urge Americans to eat more of them.

 what’s in it

beta-sitosterol: This compound may block cholesterol absorption as well as reduce discomfort of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia). It is also under review for the potential to prevent breast cancer.

fiber: The fiber content of avocados is high (one avocado provides 34% of the Daily Value for dietary fiber), which is good news since soluble fiber removes excess cholesterol from your body, and insoluble fiber helps to prevent constipation by keeping your digestive system running smoothly.

folate: Avocados are good sources of folate (one avocado provides 57mcg, or 28% of the Daily Value). This important B vitamin is linked to the prevention of neural-tube defects in fetuses as well as prevention of cancer and heart disease in adults.

glutathione: Functioning as an antioxidant, this compound may neutralize free radicals that damage cells.

magnesium :This mineral may help to reduce discomfort associated with premenstrual syndrome, migraines, anxiety, and other disorders.

oleic acid: A type of monounsaturated fat in avocados, oleic acid has been linked to lower cholesterol levels when substituted for saturated fat in the diet.  

maximizing the benefits  

Avocado flesh turns brown rapidly, so it is a good idea to sprinkle it with lemon or lime juice to prevent discoloration. 

add more to your diet

Make a salad dressing: Puree avocado with plain nonfat yogurt, a pint of CBDa, lime juice, or vinegar to taste, salt, and hot sauce, if you like. 

Make an avocado smoothie: In a blender, puree avocado, milk, a touch of sweetener, and a couple of ice cubes. 

Mash avocado with lime juice and use as a spread on chicken sandwiches. 

Try avocado for dessert: Drizzle cubes of avocado with honey and top with a sprinkling of nuts. 

Mash avocado with a little salt (and perhaps some mustard) and use in place of mayonnaise in a tuna or chicken salad. 

health bites

Some people tend to avoid avocados because they regard them as high in fat. Avocados are indeed high in beneficial monounsaturated fat, which—when substituted for saturated fat in the diet—helps to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and the risk for heart disease.

Little Miss Perfect?

Little LE is exactly one month away from turning 4.   I am convinced that she is gifted.  In its own way, its as challenging raising my little LE as it is raising a child with Asperger’s.  Right now, I am faced with the challenge of perfectionism.  Her brain processing power is ahead of her fine motor skills.  She knows the way she wants something to look, the way it “should” look.  When she is unable to match it in reality, she gets very upset.  Temper tantrum, scribbling all over her art / note, crying upset. She is heart-breakingly hard on herself.


Moments after drawing this person, she drew a big X from corner to corner to corner because “her stripes and dot dress is wrong”.  At her age, the “average” kid is still making “tadpoles”, with legs sprouting from the head.  The emergence of a torso is a 5-6 year old skill, with making the trunk longer than it is wide an even later milestone.  I’m just amazed at her precocious ability (she scores around 6 years, 3 months on the Goodenough Draw a Person Test), and she is freaking out and destroying it because its “wrong”.

It does no good to tell her that it is all right, or that it is perfect just the way it is.  She *knows* it isn’t (in her mind), and she just gets more upset.   We’ve read Beautiful Oops more than a few times.  In moments of calm “rationality”, we’ll talk about art, and how there really are no mistakes in art.  How she is only three and she is still learning to use her hands, and it’s ok if the 2 points of a “w” don’t line up exactly right now (or whatever). I’ve tried to model making mistakes and different coping skills.  I try to acknowledge the work that went into something, rather than just praising the result.  I’m not entirely sure what else to do.

Bye-Bye Band

My lap-band is being removed next week.  I’ve had nothing but increasingly frequent problems with my stomach for the past several months – reflux-y burning esophagus pain, harder time than normal keeping food down, bloated-ness, and abdominal pain, lots of pain.  I couldn’t even drink a sip of water without it hurting to the nth degree a week ago.  A trip to the emergency room, some medication, a mostlly liquid diet, a visit with a surgeon, and I’m now losing my band.

I have a love – hate relationship with the idea.  While I haven’t worked the band in a long time, I have managed to maintain my weight loss without gaining anything back which I mainly attribute to the band.  I’d like to think that I’ve learned some good habits and taught my brain what appropriate portions should be – but I am terrified that I’m going to balloon 100 pounds back on within moments of the bands removal.

Which is ironic since I also can’t stop thinking about the foods that I’ll be able to eat again.  Some many years ago I made a list of my favorite foods that I’d hate to give up.  I did give up over half of them because I couldn’t eat them with the band; anything bready or gooey sticky like melted cheese were impossible for me to eat.

The list as it was — and I can say that despite the passing years, this would still be a pretty accruate list.

  1. Fresh Bread (warm from the oven, slathered in butter; esp. my Gram’s)
  2. Clam Chowder
  3. Cheese (especially melted, on almost anything)
  4. Tacos with Homemade (fried) Corn Tortilla Shells
  5. Rib Eye Steak
  6. Bacon
  7. Reuben Sandwich
  8. Vine Ripened Tomatoes, topped with Mayo
  9. Bennigan’s Monte Cristo Sandwich
  10. Avocados
  11. Fried Razor Clams (NOT clam strips) & herb aioli
  12. Stuffing from inside the Thanksgiving Turkey

Textures could play havoc as well.  Meats were touch and go.  So the only things from my list I could eat reliably were clam chowder (my mom’s brothy clam soup, really), tomatoes, and avocados.

So here I am, worried about the consequences to my weight, but also plotting the best bread to bake as soon as I am well enough to knead.  (And I don’t even like to bake! ;))

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it

I usuallt try to avoid cliches, but sometimes it’s an idea that’s just engrained and there are no better words for it.

pinterest just went to a “new look” and for me, it probably heralds the end of my using it (pretty much what happened with polyvore).  I can handle learning the new layout.  It looks fine to me (not that there was anything wrong with it before IMO) but I no longer have the ability to right click and “open in new tab” from any board (including my “home” which is basically the “board” of all the new pins from those whom I follow).   I’ve always gone through my new pins daily (or more than daily ;)), opening likely looking pins in new tabs.  I absolutely WILL NOT re-pin something until I verify that the pin is actually linked to an appropriate source.  Sometimes what I thought looked interesting is less so once I look more closely.  Either way, I’ll browse through my new pins, opening tabs as I go to look at once I have scanned through all my new pins.  Not anymore.  This loss of functionality is crippling to me.

I also can’t right click and open up the board that a pin came from (linked at the bottom of the pin).  When I am doing a search and get a screenful of pins, I frequently want to open the whole board (in a new tab!), not just the pin.  Can’t do it.  I have to click into the board in my main browsing screen.  Then if I want more details on a pin, I have to click into that as well.  Now I am 3 deep from my initial search result.  When I finally get to hit back, back, back, about half the time the search has reset to the top of the screen and I have to scroll back through to find my place.

I generally dislike the whiny complainers who post on game / company forums and think so much of themselves that they think thier “This sux and I will no longer be a customer” comments carry any weight with said company, so I have refrained from whining to pinterest, other than filling out a polite feedback form.  So that’s why you got to listen to me now 😉

R.I.P Pinterest?

Update:  They did fix the issues I was having, FYI =)

Not so new fangled

Over the last year or so, light tables have been a big deal in the momma blogger / homeschool scene.   It’s funny because we’ve been playing with light a very long time, although certainly not with a fancy, big table.  I have a very old LightTracer box picked up years and years ago for tracing images for scrapping.  It is not as versatile as the ones I have seen out there in blogland.  I wouldn’t want to bring in anything wet or messy on it.    We’ve played with see through pony beads and petri dishes, translucent geo tiles, layering tissue paper,  and those multi colored flat vase filler marbles.   As overhead projectors become a thing of the past due to document cameras and smart boards, etc, I keep an eye on the clearance section of educational supply web sites.  I’ve picked up a bunch of accessories designed for the overhead for rock bottom prices — dominos, word tiles, base 10 pieces, and so on.

Today Little LE was making sentences with a word tiles.  At 46 months she is recognizing about 2 dozen words (family names, some basic sight words, and some CVC words like cat, sun, etc), but most of the words were unfamiliar.  She’d put together a “sentence” and then have me read it and laugh at its silliness.