Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I've started a new blog. It feels like cheating, but it's not really. I mean you probably already know by now anyway. And if you don't, well it was bound to happen sooner or later. It's nothing personal. I just needed a new hobby. What I'm trying to say is that it's not you, it's me. :-)

My new blog is Coffee Cake Crazy. I know, I know like the internet needs another food blog. But it's not just any old food blog; it's mine. And it's about coffee cakes and nothing but coffee cakes. Just because.

So stop on by and say "Hi". Or you can still say "Hi" here, too. Hope to see you here....or there.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Listening is Fundamental

I realize that I'm dating myself, but way back in the 70s when I was a kid there was a huge push to increase literacy through the slogan Reading is Fundamental. I loved reading. In fact, I loved it so much that I got my degree in English. I still love to read. While I won't delve too deeply, suffice it to say I didn't have the best childhood. Reading provided a respite from the everyday shambles that was my life. I loved reading stories that did not resemble my life or my surroundings. Reality? Who the hell wants that? I sure didn't. Seriously, I did not want to read about characters mired in the despair of alcoholism and poverty. I didn't need to read about it because I lived it. But, different strokes for different folks. The beauty of living in a free society with a free public library system is that there are multitudes of books for everyone.

I mention all of this because despite my love for reading and my husband's love for reading, my oldest son does not share this. What I find to be an enjoyable pastime, he finds a frustrating endeavor. It's not that he can't read and it's not that he struggles with reading per se. He reads instructions, manuals, and magazines just fine. Reading is utilitarian to him. He'll read about airplanes (his latest obsession), or how to catch a particular Pokemon. If you ask him to read a fiction book and then talk about a character's feelings or motivation, he'll give you the deer-in-the-headlights look. Maybe it's because he has Asperger's Syndrome that he struggles with deciphering context clues and character motivation. He wants just the facts and only the facts. Consequently, he doesn't always do well on those darned, pointless Accelerated Reading quizzes. Did I say 'pointless'? I meant 'inane'.

Regardless of my feelings about Accelerated Reading, it is a fact of my son's life. While observing in his classroom (remember?), I noticed his teacher reading out loud to the class. I also noticed that the class - including my son - seemed to be enjoying it. With this in mind, I decided to try a summer experiment and have my son read along while listening to an audio book. I found free audio books at Books Should Be Free; granted, they are all public domain books, but I figured it would be a start. I had my son read Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. He actually liked it. I asked him if it was easier to read along while listening and not surprisingly he said, "Yes". Tentatively, I asked him if there was a book that he thought he might want to read but was afraid to try. He said, "Well, my friend read Scat by Carl Hiaasen, and he really liked it. You know, that's the same author who wrote Hoot." I took him with me to Barnes and Noble and I bought Scat. Then we went to the library and found the audio version.

I don't know if he'll ever come to love reading the way I do. But I sincerely hope that he won't despise it either. If reading while listening to an audio book will help improve his comprehension and diminish his reluctance to read, then sign me up, baby, I am all for it. I'll let you know how this experiment goes at the end of summer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

When Silence Isn't Golden

The lazy days of summer vacation have started. Although my youngest son goes to summer school he has one week off between the end of regular school and the beginning of summer school. Summer school only lasts for four weeks, so he gets a total of six weeks off during the summer. As I'm writing this, I am sitting on my bed with my laptop and my youngest son is sitting next to me propped up on some pillows. He really wants the computer (or "com-peh-peh" as he says) in order to play the ABC game at Starfall.com, with my assistance of course. I ask him questions about what he wants to do today but there usually is no answer. Silence...or if I'm lucky he will try to say and sign "candy" or "cake". Right now, he's listening to the tap-tap-tap of the keyboard patiently waiting for his turn at the com-peh-peh.

Many parents of young children or teenagers long for that golden silence. I know I do especially when my oldest son is awake. My oldest son is loud and always in motion. My youngest son is not. It's not that he isn't active or vocal; it's just that he spends a majority of time listening to the world around him trying to interpret the sounds. Some may find this hard to believe, but I am quiet by nature. I love my solitude. There are days when I don't care if I ever hear the sound of another human voice. My oldest son and I are very different in this area and I know we grate on each other's nerves. My youngest son is fairly quiet but not by choice; and that's what bugs me. Just once, I would love to hear him say a complete sentence on his own instead of one-word approximations. I would love to hear him chat with his brother or talk to the cat or make zoom-zoom noises with his toy cars.

Right now, he's listening and waiting. He spends alot of time doing both. If he could see and talk then he would really know what I'm doing and he would know that I'm almost done. Occasionally, he says "a-geh", which is how he tries to say "again". I know he wants the computer. I just wish he could say, "Are you done yet? Can I play Starfall, Mom?" Even though he can't say it, I know it's time to play Starfall.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. Psalm 62:5 (ESV)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Daytripping: Giants vs. Cubs @ AT&T Park

$18 each
We're in the home stretch of the school year, which means I figured it would be a perfect week to pull the boys out of school for a day and head to San Francisco to catch a Giants game. That's exactly what we did yesterday: we took the boys to their first major league baseball game.

Third base
Back in December, a FB friend had posted a link to the Giants' web site advertising early bird pricing for upcoming games. Since the price for attending a pro sporting event is exorbitant bordering on obscene (IMO), I decided to take advantage of this offer. Sure, they were bleacher seats, but we had a pretty good view of third base. Eighteen bucks per ticket plus thirty bucks for parking. Needless to say, the pricing for a weekend game was considerably higher than a weekday game, hence the reason why we went on a Monday. Taking your family to a major league game is not for the faint of wallet. And then there's the concession stand...or should I say multiple concessions. Holy Toledo, I am glad I bought the tickets back in December because if I had to drop that amount of money all at once, I would have needed my inhaler. We did manage to bring our own water in a soft-sided cooler. Really, though, if you go to AT&T park to catch a game, then you simply must get the garlic fries. Spare no expense.

Score board
My main concern for this outing was how the boys would tolerate the noise level. They actually did fantastic. My youngest son loved listening to the organ music and the fans clapping their hands. And when Queen's "We Will Rock You" came on the loudspeaker, he started laughing and squealing. The only problem we encountered (and it was minor) was the stairs. I had to take my youngest son to the restroom a couple of times and going up and down the stairs was difficult for him. If we do this again, I'll check and see if there is more accessible seating.

My oldest son actually paid attention to the game for the most part. He did bring his Nintendo DS just in case, but really there was so much auditory and visual stimulation that he hardly played it.

It wouldn't be a Giants game without a little bit of San Francisco overcast. It was a tad drizzly but only for about 15 minutes. And of course, it wouldn't be a Giants game without playing Journey's "When the Lights Go Down in the City". As an added bonus, the Giants beat the Cubs 3-2. Woo hoo!! All in all, a great day.


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