Archive for October, 2008

One Shelf at a Time: Fourth Shelf

October 21, 2008 @ 2:13 pm | Filed under:

Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. Hardly needs annotating: the comparative mythology classic, massively influential on literary analysis. I’ve only read chunks of it, never the whole thing. I took a college course called “Men’s Images in Literature” which examined different roles and types of male protagonists, and it was one of the best classes I ever took. We read Hamlet, Goldfinger (yes, a James Bond book!), The Maltese Falcon, Bill Bradley’s autobiography, Malcolm X, and I’m trying to remember what else. I remember how disappointed I was the following year when, after a transfer to another college, I took a women’s lit course and it was nothing like the Men’s Images class. Instead of unpacking archetypes and discussing the nature of the hero (or heroine), the professor took us on a bitter, angry stroll through the Norton’s Anthology of Women’s Lit (which is full of amazing reading, by the way), expostulating upon the way in which each and every piece in the anthology demonstrated the oppression of women through the ages.

I have digressed. Anyway, my point was that my primary experience with the Joseph Campbell book was in the men’s images class, as we examined how the various heroes in our texts did or did not bear out Campbell’s ideas on the journey of the hero. I think we own the book because I always meant to read the whole thing at some point.

How the Irish Saved Civilization. I remember picking up this one as a freebie choice in a book club. Had heard much about it, and have continued to hear much about it over the years. And haven’t read it yet.

Don’t Know Much about History by Kenneth C. Davis. Scott brought this one to the party, if I recall correctly. Like the book above, I think it’s been on my TBR list for about fifteen years. Sheesh.

Mystery and Manners by Flannery O’Connor. This was required reading in one of my college creative writing classes, and I was blown away by it. It’s a collection of Flannery’s essays on writing and other topics. I think I like her essays better than her stories, to be perfectly honest.

Amo, Amas, Amat, and More. A collection of Latin words and phrases often used in English discourse, with succinct explanations of their meaning. A useful resource for those of us who did not study Latin in our youth.

Storybook Travels: From Eloise’s New York to Harry Potter’s London, Visits to 30 of the Best-Loved Landmarks in Children’s Literature.

Socrates Cafe.

The American Sign Language Phrase Book. Spine much creased from frequent use.

Women’s Work. I picked this up as a reference during the early days of my Martha & Charlotte research, then later met the author at a friend’s dinner party.

Brush Up Your Shakespeare. Fun collection of commonly used phrases which come from the Bard.

The Big Little Book of Irish Wit & Wisdom.

Little Book of Gaelic Proverbs. “A cat in mittens won’t catch mice.” “A ‘thank you’ doesn’t pay the fiddler.” “Beauty won’t boil the pot.”

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Love, love, love.

BBC Music Guide: Mendelssohn Chamber Music. Say, this must be a Scott book!

Phantastes by George MacDonald, and next to it my ancient, raggedy copy of his The Golden Key and Other Stories. Ah yes, now we’re coming into a section of favorite children’s classics (interspersed with other odds and ends). Gosh, I loved The Golden Key. I see it in frequent circulation among the kids these days, too.

Black Beauty. Copy from used book store: I’ve never read it.

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss. Board book version: what’s it doing on that shelf? Too high for little people to reach.

Mitten Strings for God. Newish, haven’t read it yet.

Eats, Shoots, & Leaves. Lots of fun.

On the Back of the North Wind, George MacDonald.

The Light Princess, George MacDonald. Detect a theme?

What do you know! The Complete Fairy Tales of…George MacDonald!

Now comes a full set of Little House books. Laura’s, that is. This is the fancypants edition with the nice slick paper and the (sob) colorized Garth Williams art. My sweet editor used to send me a new set every time Harper came out with a reissue. We have a good many sets scattered around this house…

The Iliad for Boys and Girls by Alfred Church. You can read it for free at The Baldwin Project.

The Odyssey for Boys and Girls by Alfred Church. Ditto.

Drawing Textbook by Bruce McIntyre. Terrific little paperback how-to-draw manual.

An unnamed songbook full of hymns and folk song lyrics with chord changes.

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.

Stray hardcover copy of The Road from Roxbury.

My Father’s Dragon and Elmer and the Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett. Favorite series of every six-year-old to grow up in this family so far.

The Story of the Greeks by H. A. Guerber. Another Baldwin Project book.

Chesterton’s Heretics.

Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield.

And a lovely hardcover copy of The Wind in the Willows. Phew. That was quite a shelf.

Click the “one shelf at a time” tag for the first three shelves.

Tuesday Links

October 21, 2008 @ 2:00 pm | Filed under:

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Monday Links

October 20, 2008 @ 1:00 pm | Filed under:

Saturday Snapshots

October 18, 2008 @ 10:48 am | Filed under: , ,

I promised to show a picture of the table runner I made. It’s not a great picture, but that’s okay because it’s not a great table runner. But I’m pretty pleased with it. The runner, I mean. The other side is the same green floral as the ends here. The checked fabric—which has green in it and isn’t as orange in real life as in this photo—was a long scrap from the curtains I made for the kids’ craft room.

I had fun with Flickr’s “add a note” feature if you want to click through for commentary on the photo. Well, actually, it’s another photo almost exactly like this one, revealing what happens when Scott walks into the room.

I’ve been in a very handcrafty mood lately, as my last couple weeks’ worth of posts probably make obvious. I tried my hand at the zipper pouch from Bend-the-Rules Sewing, inspired by Jenn’s lovely pink patchwork pouch. This was my first-ever attempt at putting in a zipper, and, well, it zips. Just don’t inspect the ends too closely…

And now that it’s finally feeling cool enough (in the mornings, at least—we’re melting by noon) to think of baking, I’ve been pining for my lost sourdough starter. We suffered a little fridge snafu a while back, and room temperature was way too hot for my starter, which had been living in the freezer through the hot months. It got moldy. Sob. Also, ick.

So I’ve been tempted to order a new one, but I thought first I’d try my hand at starting one from scratch. Some sites describe this as a ridiculously easy undertaking. Other sources say ominous things about poor success rates in arid climates, which we certainly have here in the decidely dry eastern half of San Diego County. But hey, a cup of flour and a cup of water is pretty low overhead for an experiment. So on Thursday morning I mixed up a batch and put it in a warm corner. By Friday it was already looking promisingly bubbly.

I fed it twice yesterday, and this morning it looks frothy and vigorous. (Blurry photo: snapped hastily in the midst of getting breakfast for my little people.)

Think I’ll give it one more day to get established and maybe try it in some biscuits tomorrow. Just about time to move it into the fridge, too.

And finally, a little backyard beautification project: the kids are decorating our side of the neighbor’s big ole wall with sidewalk chalk. It’ll last a long time here in did-I-mention-it’s-very-dry? San Diego County. I think we’ve only seen rain once in the last four months.


October 17, 2008 @ 8:48 pm | Filed under:

1. pink back, 2. summer sunrise quilt, 3. First Doll Quilt, 4. FlockTogetherFront, 5. SewConnected embroidered patches, 6. Polka Dot Estates, 7. baby quilt, 8. raspberry lemonade back + binding, 9. aqua and red, 10. candy corn quilt, 11. spider web, 12. february block, 13. Virtual Quilting Bee – February 2008, 14. february block, 15. 8crayonsA

OK, this is strange. That last picture, the crayons one, is not one of the photos I starred as a Flickr favorite for this mosaic. I have no idea why it’s jumping in there instead of the one I picked. Crayons are always kind of inspiring, though, so I’ll roll with it.

Friday Links

October 17, 2008 @ 8:00 am | Filed under:


October 17, 2008 @ 6:11 am | Filed under:

Apple cider donuts, gritty with granulated sugar, crisp outside, soft and warm on the inside.

It’s Uncommon Grace’s fault.

From here would be best (sniffle: October = Blue Ridge Mountains homesickness), but I bet we could find some in Julian.

Aha. I knew it.

Can you believe we’ve been in California for two years now?

(Almost. This date two years ago was the day the kids and I reached Phoenix, thirteen days after we left Virginia in a minivan stuffed to the gills—mostly with children—and picked up Scott at the Phoenix airport for the last short leg of the trip to our new home. The next day, October 18th, was the day we rolled into San Diego to begin our new life.)

Phoenix ahead. Carter Mountain apple cider donuts behind us.

Virtual Quilting Bees: Bee Still My Heart

October 16, 2008 @ 4:35 pm | Filed under: ,

Speech or Other Services: Schools or Medical?

October 16, 2008 @ 6:01 am | Filed under: , , ,

A blog friend was curious to know why we decided to get Wonderboy’s speech therapy and audiology services from the public school district instead of through a private (i.e. medical) source. It was a tough decision, and I still have moments where I second-guess it. Navigating the system, dealing with an IEP—not to mention the IEP team—hasn’t always been easy. But most of the time I think it was the best choice, bearing in mind that no alternative is perfect.

The advantages, for us, of accessing these services are:

• close to home

• free (including ear molds and hearing aid batteries)

• no waiting time before a scheduled session

• our ST and audi are easy to reach via email or phone, are excellent at keeping lines of communication open with us, and are eager to work with us on a friendly, personal level.

These are very important factors, all of them. For therapy situations in a medical environment, such as the local children’s hospital where Wonderboy currently receives physical therapy—his PT needs are medical and involve consultation with orthopedics doctors—we must accept long travel times, difficulty finding parking, parking fees, insurance co-payments, a bit of time in the waiting room even before a scheduled session, and a more detached relationship with the therapist. Our current PT at Children’s is certainly warm and friendly and has an excellent rapport with my son, but she works in a Big Hospital System with all sorts of bureaucratic red tape crisscrossing between us. I can’t call her directly on the phone; we certainly aren’t going to be emailing back and forth. It’s a different kind of relationship.

The speech therapist (our “new” speech therapist—not really new anymore, as Wonderboy has been seeing her for over a year now—this is not the therapist who sandbagged me in the “not always easy” post I linked above) and audiologist we work with in the school district are wonderful: excellent at their jobs, very respectful of our choices as parents, and eager communicators. We are in regular contact via phone and email, not to mention our weekly sessions. Wonderboy adores them both and looks forward to ” ’peech days.”

The down side, of course, is having to deal with the whole maddening IEP process and School District Policy. I have to be constantly on guard against encroachments upon our rights—not by the individual therapists, but by the school district. The district representatives are completely frank and somewhat apologetic about their need to “cover themselves” from any possible legal action disgruntled parents might take against them. This particular district has been burned before, it seems, by parents who filed lawsuits because they felt, after the fact, that the district had not “done enough” for their children.

District reps have told me quite frankly that they “just don’t know what to do with a parent like” me, i.e. a parent who believes meeting my son’s needs is my responsibility and not the public school district’s.

One tangle we ran into this summer was over the matter of evaluations for PT and OT. Wonderboy has muscle tone issues and motor delay, all part of his neurological, shall we say, unusualness. 😉 Because he has congenitally short, tight muscles, we have had to do a daily stretching regimen with him since he was four months old. About once a year, we check in with PT to make sure we are still doing everything correctly, and to see whether there are any new areas we ought to concentrate on. Every time he has a growth spurt, his muscles get even tighter (because bone grows faster than muscle), and when that happens, sometimes we’ll do a kind of booster session with a professional PT for a few months. That’s what we’re doing right now: three months of every-other-week PT at the children’s hospital to work on some specific issues.

I scheduled an OT evaluation at Children’s as well. (Which is a whole other story in itself, one I’ll have to save for another post.) His fine motor skills seem to be developing very nicely, but his doctors thought an eval would be a good idea to look at some global sensory issues and stuff (to be technical about it).

The school district had a very, very, very hard time accepting my assertion that we would be declining their offer of OT and APE (adaptive physical education, the closest they can come to PT) evals this fall. Since I already had PT and OT evals scheduled at Children’s, and since we intended to get PT and, if necessary, OT at the hospital rather than through the school district, I saw no reason to squeeze yet more appointments into our already busier-than-ideal schedule. I declined the district’s eval offer and gave them the dates of our scheduled evals at Children’s just so they’d no we were on top of this.

As I understood the regulations, the district is obligated to offer the evaluations and I as parent have the right to decline them.

The district begged to differ. That applies, they said, to the first time evaluations are offered. But once a child is in their system, once a need has been documented, they must (so they told me) provide these evaluations.

This conversation went back and forth between us all summer—amiably, mind you. I (amiably) dug in my heels, because I guard our family’s time very carefully. Every new appointment is a drain on our time. These medical and therapy-related appointments add up. They could easily dominate our schedule if I let them. There was no reason for us to make two extra trips to the school to duplicate evaluations he has already had, especially since I had no intention of receiving those services through the school district.

Oh, this was hard for the district to accept. Finally, in one rather surprising phone call, an extremely friendly and earnest district rep told me—with immense apology in her tone—that “we were at the point where the district would normally be forced to seek mediation.” Hello! This despite my having provided the district with documentation of the PT and OT evals scheduled at Children’s. But the district really, really didn’t want things to get ugly (i.e. go the mediation and arbitration route). They decided to “compromise” (I put it in quotes because I still believe they are talking about district policy, not state law) by accepting a written statement from me in which I acknowledged that they offered the evals, we declined them, and we are aware we can ask for them at any time.

I was happy to provide such a statement and put the matter to rest. I know that many parents in other school districts are in the position of having to fight to get their children necessary services, and I’m not inclined to get too cranky about having a district all too eager to provide services to my child. But I do think it is vitally important for me, as for all parents, to stay alert and informed about what the law says and what our rights are, and to make sure not to passively cede any of those rights.