* TToT: my week

I’m joining a blogging challenge to share Ten Things for which I’m thankful this week. Here we go!

1. My stitches were removed from the finger I nearly lopped off almost 2 weeks ago. Whew! Glad to be on the mend.

2. This bunny friend comes daily to feast in our overgrown yard. He’s adorable!

3. Speaking of animals, oh say can see our patriotic deer? Thankfully, this one is in a neighbor’s yard.

4. The smoker my dearest widower won for Father’s Day was full of water and rust when we opened it yesterday. And it still worked! Here’s why the water got in. Not thankful for Dorian.

This photo was taken from the inside of the cover.

5. I prepared a rockin’ potato salad today! Thankful to Gimme Some Oven for the recipe.

And following ClarkScottRoger’s awesome book of rules, numbers 6- 9 are open for someone else to contribute! PLEASE!

As for number 10, I am grateful for my new, mostly-retired status: just hangin’ around!

* Go away, Dorian!

As we watch Hurricane Dorian ravage the coastlines of North and South Carolina, I’m reminded of a kiddo who was ravaged by your everyday storms. Ellie (not her real name) had a serious anxiety disorder, a compulsion to obsess on anything weather-related. We all knew that this stemmed from the trauma in which her twin died in a car accident; it was one of the first things she told me about herself. Given the vagaries of the brain, her fears had latched primarily onto the weather, although she had numerous other anxieties.

(We are getting wind and rain but are not in the worst of it.)

Do you know how hard it is to keep kids from talking about things like hurricanes and tornadoes? Ellie and her classmates went into overdrive regarding catastrophic events, only Ellie couldn’t stop panicking. I wonder if she has ever received any cognitive behavior support for those crippling fears. I hope so. For Ellie and all the rest of us, go away, Dorian!

* “The Van Gogh Deception”

Deron Hicks is the author of “The Van Gogh Deception” and I hope he turns this into a series! It’s a fast-paced mystery for upper elementary/middle schoolers, with a strong emphasis on art. In fact, the main character, Art, ‘wakes up’ in the National Gallery of Art, with no clue as to his identity. He’s suffering from trauma-induced amnesia and is quickly placed in emergency foster care. Mary Sullivan and her daughter, Camille, have no idea who they have welcomed into their home- or the danger they will face. Poor “Art” doesn’t even know if that’s his name.

The author uses QR codes to linked to works of art referenced in the story (although one of those didn’t work for me). “The Van Gogh Deception” pits Art and Camille against a criminal mastermind with clever plans to sell a fake Van Gogh. Suspending the reader’s disbelief just a little, Art is more than up for the challenge of staying alive. These two youngsters are chased all over Washington, DC by a team of operatives who are rather shocked (literally) by Art’s ingenuity. It’s a fast and fun read, with a lot of art history packed into the book.

* “Call of the Wraith”

Kevin Sands has created another winner in his Blackthorn Key series. “Call of the Wraith” is his fourth mystery featuring Christopher Rowe, apothecary apprentice living in the 1600s. Christopher is shipwrecked in Devonshire and suffering from amnesia. While Christopher is searching for healing, his loyal friends, Tom and Sally, are hunting for him across the wintry English countryside. Locals believe a phantom is kidnapping young children and the three friends end up entangled in this deadly scheme.

Visit the author’s page here.

Call of the Wraith” does not disappoint. The characters remain fascinating and the plot is amazingly complex. Readers are given a fascinating glimpse into an era of witch trials and piracy. Christopher is scared and hampered by his amnesia but still manages to use his love of explosives to full effect! Themes of courage, loyalty, and prejudice are well worth exploring through this book. It’s also a great way to introduce some Latin to your middle schoolers’ vocabulary!

* I can’t hear you!

Yes, I wear hearing aids. A teaching assistant and I both lost our hearing after more than a year of daily testing a kiddo’s hearing aids without proper equipment. The student would end up with a cochlear transplant and we ended up saying, “Huh?” By the time the district finally hired a hearing specialist, it was too late.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I was tutoring a young fellow on a Monday and was distracted by my itchy ear. I ran my finger along the hearing aid to make sure it wasn’t falling off. No problem there. The itchiness continued and I developed cold symptoms. I felt miserable: low grade fever, ear ache, runny nose, sore throat, worsening congestion. While taking a shower on Wednesday, I rubbed my sore ear and felt something move! Yikes! I quickly aimed a spray of water into my ear and although it hurt, no critter crawled out. Whew!

Because my dearest teaching widower was tired of me yelling, “What??” I decided to try my hearing aids again on Friday. I noticed that the dome was missing from one hearing aid but figured it had fallen off somewhere. Duh. You know where it was, right?

As I forced that hearing aid into my ear (DUH!), I yelped in pain as the previously ‘lost’ dome pressed against my eardrum. After a few hours of panic at the ENT, the errant click dome was retrieved and I was taught how to attach it properly.

I had to laugh as I overheard a nurse asking, “How did she get a COMB in her ear?” Huh? What’s that?

* TToT: miracles

Ten Things of Thankful is a great weekend post, a celebration of the good stuff. I have a lot of that good stuff, so let’s go!

  1. I’m able to walk! I was in a wheelchair for 2.5 years and could not stand for long and could walk only about 30 feet. God answered prayers while we were at the beach in 2011. I enjoyed a walk just now. On my own two feet! I don’t take that for granted anymore.
  2. I have two ugly feet but as a PT told me, the folks with prosthetics for feet would give anything to have my ‘ugly’ tootsies.
  3. I could have chopped off my finger or hand last week while cutting hedges. Or worse. I’m grateful for all 10 fingers.
  4. I could be paralyzed (or in heaven) after a serious horseback riding accident. I only suffered some mild brain damage, which is less evident with spell check and word suggestions.
  5. Our son helped us with taxes today, exhibiting patience that he did not inherit from me! My dearest teaching widower is sooo patient!
  6. through 9. We have air conditioning, hot running water, a wonderful house, and a peaceful neighborhood.
[While we were at the beach, my dearest teaching widower and I had these “opposites” for glasses. That’s a reflection of how we are, with me always tilting off in some direction and him always steady. (But that’s his margarita!) I love him dearly.]

10. We are saved and loved by Jesus, so our lives are in perfect hands. No matter what happens, this is the worst it gets for Christ-followers. One moment with Him is worth a trillion of anything else. Christopher likes to play the “What would you do for all the money in the world?” game. I used to think all the money in the world was a great idea. Now I realize there are so many other, better things! What about you?

* Patti + Ricky

Wow. If you are a parent or teacher of a child with special needs, this website is for you! Patti + Ricky is an online shop for folks with ‘disAbilities,’ stocked with over 2000 items and created in partnership with 65 designers! From items in braille to footwear for prosthetics, you can find an incredible array of adapted clothing and accessories for men, women, and children.

Remember how we had to create a chewie necklace for Christopher? Patti + Ricky have the coolest “chewelry” ever! I have never seen a site like this with so many compression, weighted, and modified products. It’s simply fabulous.

Pattie + Ricky grew out of Alexandra Connell’s love for her mom (Patti) and Ricky (cousin) who inspired her to provide options for folks with special challenges. Her story was captured by the Today Show on NBC. It’s well worth the watch. You can follow her on Facebook, too!

I could have used the wheelchair and crutch accessories for years….

* Noom

Noom is a weight loss program using behavior changes, realistic goals, and an individualized support system. Research suggests it is an effective approach (and its stats are booming). Noom has a well-designed app, making it simpler to log weight, exercise, and food, ask questions, etc. I easily synced the Noom app with my Fitbit instead of tracking steps through my phone.

I participated in a brief trial to see how it works (my hedge-cutting adventure brought that to an abrupt end!). You can start for free or select a price you’re willing to pay. I was able to cancel instantly with no hassle. They offer a wide range of ongoing programs, including one for Noomoms. Great Noos! You can nominate a mom who’s given birth in the last two years to receive a free year-long program with Noom!

Noom starts you off with a lot of info gathering so that their support matches your needs. As a teacher, I appreciate their pre-assessment and efforts to understand how I respond to feedback. Support is a big key to this program. Two coaches immediately contacted me and I was going to be assigned to a group with similar weight goals and preferences.

Noom emphasizes the slow and steady approach to weight loss. The types of behavior they encourage include greater awareness of eating habits, a no-shame approach to missteps, accountability at a comfortable level (based on your feedback), and color-coding caloric density of foods.

Given my current weight and use of FitBit, I really don’t need Noom but I kinda wish my dearest teaching widower would show some interest in logging food and tracking his exercise. Noom makes it VERY easy to log food, dear man. If you are looking to start serious weight loss, I would definitely recommend Noom. Did you hear that?

* Tuesday writing prompt

It’s my turn to get a writing prompt after years of providing them to struggling writers. I am trying out Devereaux Frazier’s weekly challenge. His prompt is the word ‘crucified.’ I certainly never came up with this one for my students!

I imagine most people think of Jesus when ‘crucified‘ is mentioned. His was the most publicized torturous death ever. As a Jesus follower, I am forever grateful for his death and resurrection, but I hate to linger on the details of crucifixion. I won’t watch The Passion or read about being crucified. What creatures we are to devise such things!. Yuck.

I wonder what the Romans would think of millions of us wearing crosses out of gratitude. It’s not what anyone expected. I used to think it was a myth, until I met Jesus myself. Wow.

Thanks to Bob at Of Cabbages and Kings for leading me to this prompt!

* Christopher and me: changes

For those of you who haven’t followed my blog, I’ve spent a lot of time working with Christopher, my nephew on the autism spectrum (aka A Sweet Dude). When Christopher lived here a couple of years ago, he had to put something in his mouth, preferably his finger. At that time, we replaced it with a neckband and chewie.

chew.JPG

On his recent summer stay, I noticed his new replacement behavior. As Christopher has matured, and most likely in response to strong criticism, he has replaced chewing with hand movements, typically flexing his hand open and shut. He doesn’t try to hide those movements and seems unaware of them. I’ve seen a major increase in flexing when he’s anxious. However, this action could be hidden by a desk or table, which may reduce scrutiny by others.

Christopher’s cool dude look! Missing this sweetie so much!