* What did you say?

Do you find yourself continuously asking students, “What did you say?”  If you are asking that in response to a smart-mouthed remark, well, all you are doing is drawing attention to inappropriate behavior.  For some kids, especially those with articulation problems, asking that can make them feel self-conscious.  Ditto for shy kids who were uncertain about saying something the first time.  BUT, if you simply cannot hear those high frequency sounds, join the club.  My Hearing Loss Club.

An assistant and I both suffered permanent hearing loss from checking a student’s hearing aid without the muffler effect of a stethoset.  Our ears rang for a year-and-a half until the district hired a hearing specialist.  My own hearing aids were marvelously effective.  Now I could hear a certain rascal say, “Don’t worry!  She can’t hear us!”

Sadly, I suffer from eustachian tube dysfunction, joining approximately 5% of Americans (and 4% worldwide) with an interminable popped ear effect.  I always take antihistamines.  I can’t fly without steroids.  I often have fluid stuck behind my eardrum.  I’ve had numerous tubes and lancings and ruptures.  My ear now rings without cessation.  The good news is that a new treatment is available, inserting a balloon to stretch that sucker open.  My procedure has been scheduled!  I’ll need yet another tube because of fluid but I’m excited about the possibilities!

What did you say?

ear

 

* Looking down

Bad Things have been happening outside.  I am losing the battle.

First, the deer continue to use our yard as a feeding and parking station.  They leave raisins to mark their path up the driveway.

deer poop

You might wonder why the driveway looks so, um, marbled.  (Trust me, this is relevant.)  It’s because my dearest widower asked the pressure washer guys to remove the mulch stains.  Remember I tossed hundreds of pounds of mulch into our “natural area?”  Well, it might have improved the appearance of that natural area for a day or so, but it also triggered a vole invasion.  What’s not to love in soft, moist mulch?

mulch

So, the voles.  They have ruined one-third of our front yard, as of today.  Tomorrow- one half?  Everyday, there are new raised tunnels and piles of soil.  I bought these pellets that supposedly irritate their sinuses, but I feel too discouraged to use the stuff.  Plus, I have an aversion to watering (see below), which is necessary to activate the pellets.  Voles are quite admirable diggers, I have to admit.  You wouldn’t believe the amount of soil they’ve rumbled through.

As if voles weren’t bad enough, AT&T has been supposedly laying a new cable in the back yard.  All I can see is spray paint, wires, and more tunnels.  Perhaps AT&T hires voles.  I have a work crew ready and willing in the front yard, if need be.

The beautiful meadow sage, which is deer resistant, has not withstood the heat and relative drought.  Yes, I should have watered them, but the bloody mosquitoes attack me through my shirt and hair as soon as I step outside.

Vance, the Venus Flytrap, has given up the ghost.  I did accidentally spray him with insect repellent as I was venturing out, so that didn’t help.  The bug spray didn’t help me either, for that matter.

Overall, I’d say I’m a bit discouraged in my attempts to fashion a lawn.  No one else on our street has voles (I’ve looked).  Other folks sit outside in chairs without mosquito netting and clouds of repellent.  At least the deer are equal opportunity invaders.  Go deer!  Please.

* Saying goodbye

Our adventures, tutoring, and movie nights with the kiddos have come to an end.  After a couple of years here in North Carolina, my nephews and niece have returned to Texas.  It was tough to say goodbye.  They arrived quite traumatized, but were nurtured by a most precious couple who sacrificed greatly in restoring these dear ones.  It was a joint effort to socialize them, to love them through their sometimes unlovable moments.  That is when we all most need to be loved, right?  When we are at our most unlovable?

We had many many delightful movie nights, digital events where they played hard and mostly cooperatively.

movie night

There were some days that I failed miserably, when my patience evaporated, but overall, we learned and loved together.

Speaking of learning (so get ready for the teacher in me), there was absolutely no learning curve for this Action Movie FX app (below).  Created by Bad Robot Interactive, it features every kind of Star Wars menace (and more) that you can imagine.  Fortunately, this is not our car!  Once I contained them inside, they became quite adept at blowing up every person and every piece of furniture as well.

Our goodbyes today at the airport were difficult.  Plus I thought I might get stopped by security with that guitar case, which seemed like a perfect cover for an automatic weapon.  Yes, I’ve seen too many movies.

airport

As the departure time neared, Christopher hid his tearful face while Isaac gave me hugs every few minutes.  We waved faithfully every time they looked back at us on the other side of the security check.  Christopher yelled a reminder that I will tutor him via Google Hangouts.  Or else.

One consolation for us all is that they will spend summers here in NC.  I imagine my patience will be tested again, but I smile at the thought of greeting them next June.  I love you, dearest kiddos.

 

* Clutter: another lesson in belief

“I am not a hoarder!  In fact, I am quite organized.”  I can see your eyebrows rising in disbelief.  Yeah, we have an uncontrolled junk room, tons of closets stuffed to the brim, and every drawer and shelf in the house is packed.  But that clutter is not hanging over my head, as of a day ago.  My dearest friend, who shared her “A-student” story, has inspired me to ignore the whispers of “clutterer.”  Those shelves and shelves of teaching supplies?  Their days are numbered.  Today I filled up 2 bags of clothes for the thrift shop.  Whee!

In the past, in a far away land, my cleaning binge radar was firmly fixed on my dearest teaching widower’s clutter.  In fact, my own stacks seemed to disappear as I grunted and glared at his piles of paper, pounds of erasers shavings (he writes by HAND), and random books, paper clips, dead staples, and wine-stained napkins.  My displaced clutter-righteousness had no bounds, kinda like my own messes.  Poor guy.  But NO MORE!

junk 2

 

The New Me does not need to focus on my dearest widower’s writing detritus.  I don’t need to accomplish a clutter-free environment today or tomorrow or within a month.  I don’t feel intimidated by what needs to be done.  I want to do a little every day.  How obvious, you say.  It’s not rocket science.  But until I heard the A-Student story, I was crushed under the weight of clutter.

With my confident belief and God’s grace, along with a dearest friend to whom I can be accountable, the era of clutter in this house is over.  I am so excited!  In fact, this will be my “before” photo:

junk 3

* A-Z Challenge: W

W is for Weekend Wildness!  We had a birthday party, two movies, a shopping spree, and overall Wackiness with the kiddos (our nephews and nieces, if you’re new to the blog).  If you haven’t yet concluded that I enjoy decorating cakes but have absolutely no finesse or control of icing tubes, well, are you blind?  The young relatives, however, were impressed with SpongeBob’s friend, Sandy.  The oldest nephew and his friend thought one particular aspect of this cake was especially intriguing.  As I asked my niece was piece of Sandy she wanted, I heard them whispering and giggling, “I know what I would choose!”

Sandy

The funniest part of the birthday celebration was my niece’s determined effort to place the candles upside down in the cake.  Totally WIld!

* Dear talk

Dear Deer talk?

deer talk.JPG

I AM SURE THIS IS TRUE.  THEY LOOK INNOCENT BUT I KNOW BETTER.

Wassup?  Nuthin.  Where is she?  On the couch, STILL in her pajamas.  What are we gonna do?  Nuthin.  I mean it.  It’s no fun unless she’s chasin’ us, barking like a fool dog.  Or tossing ice cubes all over the place.  What about those day lilies?  They look mighty tasty.  Jus’ wait.  No fun eating them if she can’t chase us away.  It gives me indigestion to eat and run.  Aw, wimp.  Hang on.  It’ll be worth it.  Don’t you already have enough photos of her running up the hill, tripping on branches?  I’m hoping for fame, dude.  Something that can go viral.  I hate that word.  Huh?  Viral.  My aunt got the viral and she went all Terminator.  Dude, the only zombie deer is in that crazy movie, Train to Busan.  Maybe it’s real.  Naw, your aunt ate too many of those day lilies, is all.  I think she’s watching us.  You’re paranoid, little brother.  She’s got a gimp leg and acts all stupid.  What do you mean?  You saw her putting a Venus fly trap on the porch, right?  Who does that?  All I’m sayin’ is this is a waste of time.  Eat a few periwinkles, then.  Maybe it’ll perk her up.  I thought you said she wasn’t watchin’ us.  [Sigh}

* My husband, the gnome

One of Cee’s Share Your World questions this week asked if I would choose to relax at a ski resort.  HA!  Years ago, my dearest teaching widower and I agreed to chaperone a church youth group to a “mountain” resort in North Carolina.  As a California mountain snob, I have always regarded the worn-out hills around here as “less than.”

With that attitude in mind, we boarded a bus full of kiddos bragging about skiing down diamond level slopes.  I kept asking, “When is it going to snow?”  The youth group leader told me that some snow had fallen and the resort would make the rest.  Huh?

I was impressed with the snowy white “mountain” but before we could chaperone, my husband, son, and I were required to take skiing lessons.  Seriously?  How hard could this be?   We clambered to a narrow, icy plateau, where multiple lines of about 30 people each waited patiently for their turn with the youthful instructors.  By that time, I had discovered that my boots were too small to wiggle my frozen toes.  I asked an instructor about taking off my boots since we had a looong wait, and she was horrified.  Of course, I ignored her and massaged my toes back to life.

Our turn finally came.  Easy, right?  My husband was trying hard but moving nowhere fast, so the teenaged girl grabbed his arms and pulled him forward.  He fell on top of her, also knocking down a few folks who were waiting in an adjacent line.  I stifled hysterical laughter as my sweetheart was sent away to practice on his own.  Then our son was up.  This time, the instructor thought better of grabbing the arms of a 6 foot+ guy, so she pulled on his skis.  He also fell down, flattening her and 30 people lined up behind her!  Human dominoes!  I was laughing so hard that we were dismissed.

Our son and I took then tackled the bunny trail, where I learned that man-made ice is a great substitute for ball bearings.  My recess voice screeched at all the kids who came swooping down behind me, “Don’t you get near me!”  As I rounded the last corner, I discovered that our son had fallen about 15 feet into the base of the ski lift.  The rescue team arrived promptly.

In the meantime, all the kids from the youth group were gone, except for one unfortunate guy who had fallen into the trees.  I managed to grapple my way back to the icy training plateau, where I saw this little man, gnome-like in his pointed cap, hunched over and obviously trapped in a cycle of tight circles.  I nearly wet my pants when I realized it was my husband!  To spare him further humiliation, I laughed my way to a flat stretch of “snow” alongside the resort.  I quickly lost control and barely managed to scream, “Look out!” before taking down a fifth grader.  Bless his heart, an old woman had knocked him off his skis and was draped across his back.  I helped him stand and cried, “I am SO sorry!  Are you OK?”  He was speechless and escaped with amazing speed.

skiing-2042683_960_720

As we sat in the resort, drinking hot chocolate (sans boots), my dearest widower said that next year, we would watch skiing episodes from James Bond movies.  “Don’t ever volunteer us for this again,” he warned.  Amen to that.

* Grateful for small and large mercies

Drug City:  What a week!  I was so sure I’d get back on the blogging track.  Instead, my mind has been stupefied and groggified by trials of sleeping meds, since my new and wonderful insurance doesn’t want to pay for Lunesta.  Insomnia is no joke and neither are these “excellent” replacement options.  I’ve had dreadful reactions to all of them but I have a caring physician who understands my overly reactive body.  I think I am making his hair fall out, though.  And my dearest teaching widower has been a shoulder to cry on as my brain has been zapped into depression and more.

Foot City: Remember the wonderful time I had with the kiddos last Halloween?  I didn’t mention that I had wrenched my foot as I slipped while pushing my niece’s wheelchair uphill.  It’s been hurting ever since, so I have gotten new shoes (ooh la la) and tried not to limp.  Unfortunately, the pain has only worsened with time and my foot keeps giving way.  I am convinced that angels have caught me several times or I would have made a face plant on our driveway.  My old crutches are new friends for the next few weeks, along with footwear that lacks a certain panache.  crutches-2

Teaching City:  This has been a joy, in the midst of brain sludge.  Let’s say I work with a kiddo named Javi and I called myself Mrs. Javi.  A good reason not to speak of yourself in third person, right?  Or let’s say that I ask a student in what order he wants to complete our activities and then forget everything he said, even though it’s written into my lesson plans.  What about being unable to read?  Refer to Drug City for that explanation.  But love and patience with me and laughter and hugs?   I couldn’t ask for more.

Onward and upward, by the Lord’s grace.

* Catching up

I’m sorry that I’ve been hit or miss with my blog for awhile now.  Medical issues and work have derailed my best-laid plans.  Here are a few updates on my life.

This week, I spent quite a few hours programming Communicator 5 on a Tobii Dynavox I-12+ device.  The I-12 is a terrific stand-alone eye gaze device with a sturdy case (gorilla glass), amazing technology, and a Windows 10 operating system.  tobiidynavox-iseries-i12-1920x1080.jpg

Communicator 5 is Tobii’s intuitive program for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).  With the handy, downloadable manual, it’s a snap to set up a cool homepage with lots of links.  Granted, I still have to fix a few flaws, but I’m pleased with how user-friendly this system is.  For kids who need a voice, Communicator 5 can be a game changer.

Speaking of games, my nephew Christopher has a new game plan: “Never let Aunt Katharine catch me for a hug after church.”  He loves the idea of hugs but he adores the chase even more!  I couldn’t wait to see his latest scheme today.  I was not disappointed.  The gang came piling out of Sunday School, asking me if I knew where to find Christopher.  None of us mentioned that there was a ghost lingering behind the chairs, eyes glistening with excitement.  After I caught him, his sister got into the act.  Sister Act?  Groan….

sister-act

My dearest widower took me on a date last night!  Woohoo!  We watched John Wick, Chapter 2.  Not for the faint of heart.  We had an interesting discussion at lunch with our son and his wife (happy birthday to her!) about whether John Wick portrays a parallel universe.  If so, I’m glad to be in ours!  Keanu Reeves brings gun-fu to a new level.

 

john-wick

Image from Film Music Reporter, where you can purchase the soundtrack.

I hope you have a great week!  I’m eager to catch up on the Color Your World blogging challenge, share some math ideas, and post a review of the second book in the Nick Hall series.

* To die or not to die

That is the question you must ask yourself when you watch TV commercials for almost every medication advertised.  But let’s back up.  First, you see lovely people in distress because of diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, urinary problems, depression, and whatever.

sad-people

Then you see what medication can do for these miserable folks.  You will undoubtedly fall in love, have the happiest family ever, and run 20 miles a day without breaking a sweat.

happy-couple

Finally, because the government has ruled that we must know what could REALLY happen if you take those pills, the looong list of warnings is recited calmly as we watch the deliriously medicated folks:

  • fatal allergic reactions
  • heart attacks
  • cancer
  • even greater depression
  • kidney failure
  • liver failure
  • dementia
  • uncontrollable bleeding
  • erections lasting more than 4 hours
  • strokes
  • death
  • death
  • death.

Hmm, I think I might pass on the meds.