Saturday, February 27, 2010

amazing engineers

Today was one of those crazy days that we really kind of enjoy. We started with archery, where Boy actually had a pretty productive class. From there we flew up to Orono to the Engineers Fair. Both kids were pretty excited to check it out again (last year we saw it at USM; it's like State Championship games, it seems, alternating college field houses each year). The fair is basically advertising and recruiting for engineering programs-- look at the robots doing their jobs! play with the static electricity machines! clean up the dirty water! design your own bridge!-- but it's a lot of fun, even for the non-engineering wannabees among us. After that, we took a tour around campus. I mean, you don't go to an engineering fair 100 miles from home and not at least drive around the campus. WB pointed out the main sights-- he'd taken a tour with his students a few years back, so even though GEAR UP! is no longer in the building, our kids will still reap the benefits.

We stopped for dinner at 99s, and I'm sad to say that we will not always be back for more. First of all, they're a Pepsi joint (no wonder I rarely eat there), and it was really wasn't a margarita kind of day. I felt bad for our pour waiter-- he seemed like he's lost his corporate job somewhere and was doing something to make ends meet, but he wasn't actually very good at this gig. The kicker, though, was the off-duty waitress at the table next to us, chillin with her peeps. It was just so... high school. The manager came over and spoke to them twice, and they finally gathered their things and stopped embarassing the establishment. The food was fine, but it was the kind of experience that makes you realize never is enough. The $.99 Coke from Dysarts was just what I needed for the drive back home.

When we got home, Girly created her own soap on a rope out of the free bar she got from the birthday sleepover and a piece of holiday ribbon. Maybe these fairs are impacting her more than we realize?

Friday, February 26, 2010

and just like that

I was feeling pretty good heading into Feb vacation with only 2 storm days. It's not yet March and we're up to 4. Just like that. If June is as rainy as it's been in past years, then I guess having school until the 16th won't be horrible, but I'm more worried about meeting up with my sister (maybe sisters?) in DC by the 22nd. I know it's all out of my control and there's nothing I can do to fix it, but I sure hope it all works out.

I'm gonna go have a cup of coffee and watch The Cash Cab. Because what else do you do on the second storm day in a row?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

... and Tuesday's just as bad

It's been a rough week, and it's only Tuesday. Sometimes I forget that the lives my Sunshines lead are different than mine. That vacation is not always fun and happy and filled with good memories. There's a lot of debriefing that happens in the few days after vacation, and much of it leaves my heart broken into pieces. But we plod along, and work really hard to find relevant topics to both their academic needs and their personal lives. And feed them and get them access to social services and care about them. You can never have too many caring adults in your corner. Even when you're almost 40 and have had a emotionally rough week...and it's only Tuesday.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

gag me with a toothbrush

I hate brushing my teeth. Hate it. Makes me gag on a regular basis-- I've even thrown up as a result, which is a pain since I have to just brush again. Changing toothpaste is a recipe for disaster, and nothing is worse than getting to the store and finding my tried-and-true brand is new-and-improved! Different water is bad too; chlorine is also a smell that makes me gag, so put the two together and it is not pretty.

I love to visit friends, but it is a bit of a challenge for me to keep up good dental hygiene. As I was packing to head to Belfast, I was putting way too much energy into a situation that should have been as simple as remembering to bring a tooth brush. I could just make all my visits day trips, but that's not fun. The easiest solution would be to just not brush my teeth, but I think we can all agree that it's not a good idea. And that's when it hit me: the easiest solution is not necessarily your favorite solution, but if the other options don't seem viable, it becomes the only solution. If you've grown up in a household where everyone smokes, and then you start smoking... and then one day you decide you really should quit, but it's all around you so quitting will be really, really hard... it is just so much easier to keep smoking. Or not exercising, or swearing, or fighting or... any of the many things that keep my Sunshines from moving forward.

My job is to help them figure out their plan, so that instead of not brushing they bring their own water in addition to their own toothpaste. Sounds simple, huh? But really, that is my job-- to help my kids figure out what is holding them back and how to move around it in an acceptable way. After I brush my teeth, of course...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

any day above ground is a great day

And today definitely was great.

We've been talking about going ice fishing every winter since I was hired. For a whole bunch of reasons, it never came together. This time, it did. We teamed up with our middle school counterparts and went to my former colleague's ice shack for the day. Our two programs started teaming up for field trips when he took over at the middle school; sadly, he's battling cancer at the moment so is unable to teach... but he can still catch a mean fish. He's come back to visit us a few times this school year, so it was really nice to meet up with him on his turf.

We had a wonderful day! Bright sun, warm(ish) temps... although the wind was a bit brisque, the conditions were pleasant. 13 students from both programs took us up on the offer, and they weren't disappointed. We brought along some ice skates, and they skated and laughed and fished and laughed... all the while enjoying the great outdoors with some great friends.

Days like these are where the magic really happens: they let down their collective guard and just enjoy being kids. For those of us watching them struggle with the transition from childhood to adulthood, being able to provide them with positive experiences -- and positive memories-- means expanding their horizons just a bit... and that little expansion has the potential to change their future. For me personally, watching kids thrive in their natural element is so rewarding. I'm under no delusions that any of my Sunshines love being in any class, even if it is mine, so to see them content makes those frustrating classroom days a lot easier to take. And the major life lessons learned on days like this-- that there are positive things to do with your time that don't harm your bodies or minds; that excercise and being outdoors is good for the soul; that lauging with friends is a great way to spend a day; and that going out of your way to meet up with someone who needs a visit is never a wasted trip-- well, what better thing can schools teach?

My friend says repeatedly that "I may not be here for a long time, but I'm definitely here for a good time". He's on a break from treatments, and is enjoying every minute before he starts up again in May. I have no doubt that we will all remember today as one of those good times.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

recipe exchange

Fellow RVBer SJ posted her homemade recipe tonight, which has inspired me to write the post I meant to write Friday night but didn't. The kids were off with their buds for a Geek Party, so it was a stay home date night for us. I found some bay scallops (from when they were on sale) and some left over lobster butter (from this summer) in the freezer. I melted the butter-- probably 4ish tbls-- and put it in the bottom of a small casserole dish, along with a chopped and cooked piece of bacon. An even layer of scallops on the top-- I'm going to guess 1/2 to 3/4 of a pound. Garlic salt, pepper, panko bread crumbs (1/4 cup or so) and fresh parmesan cheese (2 tbls) topped it. Into the oven for 30 or so minutes at 325... delightful.

Along with the baked scallops, we had brussell sprouts with bacon, which is another recipe I created based on a Cooking Light idea, and it's different every time depending on what we have at home for stock. Fry up a piece of bacon, and then add halved sprouts. Cook them for about 5 minutes in the bacon fat, and then add chicken (or whatever you have) stock-- probably a cup or so-- and let the stock boil down, coating the sprouts in a tasty coating.

It was definitely a grown up meal, made even more satisfying by being able to put it all together sans recipes. Feel free to add these to your rotation...

Thursday, February 04, 2010

how do you spell relief?


Ok, so again dating myself by referencing said commercial, but unless one has been the parent of a super sick child, it's hard to understand the palpable sense of relief you feel when said child is getting better. Today, when Girly got home from school and told me "I blew 250!" I almost fell over.

Let me explain:
She is now old enough to use a peak flow meter to monitor the efficiency of her lungs. Anything in the red zone (120 or below), we call the doctor; yellow zone (120-180) we use nebulizers and emergency inhalers at home, and in the green zone (180 and above) she is considered fine (although I sometimes wonder if she always walks around with less oxygen than the rest of us, and so doesn't realize she's always struggling.) She has spent the week at 120-140, and we've been nebbing ever 4 hours and in a semi-freaked out state. Yellow zone tends to mean no school because she really can't move much at all and still get enough oxygen to cope, and that was certainly true this week. So today, when she reached the green zone-- even after having had a neb-- it was cause for celebration. I made her repeat it an hour later, just to be sure it wasn't a fluke. No fluke. I'll need to see her in the green for over 24 hours before I completely relax, but relieved? Yes, I'd say so.

Add to this celebration good news from a friend, grades being done, LT meeting a thing of the past, tomorrow being Friday and vacation a week away... yes, I am quite relieved.

She is in the kitchen, dancing around with her brother. That tells more than any peak flow could...

(Dennis, my heart goes out to you... I pray it'll get better as she gets older...)

Monday, February 01, 2010

time passages

So I'll be the first to admit that January stretched on towards infinity, but how did it get to be February already? My new teacher buddy joined me today, and I can tell we're only going to get better and better as the new semester gets underway. Very exciting stuff.

Now, if we could just get Girly's lungs to work properly and get that milestone 100th day of school behind us, (2/25 if I'm counting right-- you elementary folks out there, please correct my math if I'm wrong!) it'll be track season before you know it, and then, BAM!, the silenced alarm clock for weeks on end...