Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Morning After

What's wrong with me?
What makes me, a rational, intelligent person, behave like a moron at times?
You'd think that after 10 months of having BS back home, I would have gotten over the novelty.

Well, in many ways, I have.
Especially when he squirrels away dishes in his room and brings them into the kitchen en masse.
And doesn't close the shower curtain after his shower.
And doesn't even read my blog unless I tell him to.
("Why do I need to read it, I'm living with it?")
And nags me into joining Farm Town on Facebook.

But at least I have trained him to put the toilet seat down. Most of the time anyway.

Sigh, it's not always easy to get used to living with someone again after all those years of being on my own.
I wouldn't trade it for anything.

But I still have this disturbing habit of wanting to cater to his tummy,
especially weekend mornings.

Hey, he's a grown man. He can make his own stinkin' breakfast.
But noooooooo.
I have to be a mommy.

So, this fine Sunday morning I am in the mood for some comforting breakfast.
I had a long day of singing yesterday - it was our big spring concert.
Tonight & tomorrow night are smaller concerts.
That's what "The Morning After" is referring to.
It was exhilarating & exhausting,
and I slept long & hard.

(Kathy makes her way back to BS's room,
rubbing her hands together in anticipation of a happy morning in the kitchen)
"Do you want some breakfast?"
(hint smile wink nudge)

"I would love a fruit shake."

(smile fades)
"You don't want anything else?"

"No, I'm not really hungry. Those cheeseburgers are still like a rock in my stomach.
But I could have a fruit shake."
(He and my brother went out after my concert to Doumar's, a local landmark, and ate cheeseburgers & BBQ sandwiches. They were small - or so he claimed.)

So, Kathy the mom obediently fixes her 'munchie munchkin' (obscure movie reference) a fruit shake, which took all of 3 minutes.
Maybe he's the one who has me trained. Hmmm.

He got his fruit shake & left for work, but I still wanted something more.
For me, that meant something involving eggs & cheese. And something bready.
And these . . .

They somehow found their way into my Trader Joe's basket Friday.
I don't know how they got there, really.
But look at the list of ingredients - I could eat the whole package & not feel guilty, right?

So, the players in my Trader Joe's breakfast are . . .

They're not big eggs, so I'm gonna have 2. Pfffffftt.
I decided on Joe's "British" muffins instead of toast.
Look at these . . .

Just for fun, lets look at the list of ingredients for the Velveeta, shall we?

Ha! Not feeling so smug now, am I?
Well, one must have balance in one's life, mustn't one?
And in my family, scrambled eggs require Velveeta.
Some things you just have to accept.

First, I browned the (fully cooked) sausage in a weensy bit of olive oil.
Then I whisked a bit of milk with my eggs and cooked them in the sausage pan,
just until still a little wet.
Then INto the pan goes 1 1/2 slices of Velveeta.
Let sit, off the heat, until the cheeze is melty & the eggs are done cooking via residual heat.
I spelled 'cheeze' that way on purpose.
After all, it is Velveeta.

What happened to the other 1/2 slice?
num, num, num.
I don't know.

The result is a tasty plate.

The eggs were just a little on the runny side. I guess my bit of milk was too big of a bit.
Oh, and I forgot the glass of Trader Joe's blueberry juice (with the required straw).

Now, THAT'S a good breakfast.

Wait . . .

I'm seeing something here . . .

Oooooo, I know what it is.

You'll just have to accept my inner 12 year old as well.

And, since I am my brother's sister, that muffin was just crying out to be made into a little sandwich.

Oh mama! And what a tasty one it was.
That is some good sausage.
Mapley, appley, yummy.

Now I have to let BS know I talked smack about him in this post.
Maybe he'll start reading.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Goin' to Joe's

You know, if I had ended up moving to Texas, I am pretty sure I would behaved like a fool. Sigh. This means I won't have Central Market in my back yard, which have would filled my life with joy (Central Market, you complete me). So I'll have to settle for second best - our new Trader Joe's.

Wait, that sounded unkind. It's not Joe's fault that he isn't Central Market, but, seriously people, it's worth a plane ticket to Texas & the necessary car rental. Well, almost. I guess that would be pretty certifiable - spend a few hundred dollars to go grocery shopping. But if you are EVER in one of the major cities in Texas, EVER, make a point to go. It will make you happy.

I might have to find another excuse to visit my cool cousins again.

Anyway, Virginia Beach is the proud host to a shiny new Trader Joe's, and I went there yesterday. It was like a little vacation. I think even Buckykatt would be pleasantly surprised at their cheese section for such a small store.

They have a good selection of their own branded products, many of which have a blessedly short list of ingredients. And at very reasonable prices for the natural foods niche. My loyal readers on the Outer Banks should pay us a visit.

Even avoiding the frozen section (because I wasn't going straight home), I did manage to fill up my 2 reusable Trader Joe's bags with things I certainly could have lived without. One of those things will be on the menu for breakfast tomorrow, so I will tell you about it then. Bated breath, folks.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Two Roads Diverged In A Wood . . .

. . . but really there are three.

I know I haven't said much about my whole 'reinvention' activities lately. There's a reason for that. I haven't been doing much about it. Well, there is the "Biggest Loser" contest with my sister & her friends. But I am not having much progress on that front.

A) Most of the time I feel like I am doing it solo, since everyone else playing is far away, and BS (aka King Hippo) seems to have dropped out. Can't get him to walk or ride bikes.

2) When I get home from work, I am so stinkin' tired that the LAST thing I want to think about is exercising. One bright spot - I am getting more upper body strength since I do push-ups whenever I find a few minutes and some privacy. That has gotten better. A perkier cup size is always a good thing.

I am making some progress, it is just slower than I would have liked, but that is entirely my own fault.

Enough crying in my soup.

I do a lot of whining about wanting to teach again. So, I need to fill in some gaps for those of you who don't know why I keep sounding like a broken record ad nauseum. I don't even know if everyone in my own family knows the whole story.

Sorry in advance for the length of this post, but I need to get it off my chest (my perkier chest). If you are bored to death, please feel free to go to one of the far superior sites I have linked on the right.

Here it is:
I started teaching at the college at the end of 1995. By the fall of 1996, I was program director. Our director at the time was having tremendous personal problems, and one day, she disappeared. Never showed up again. She was nice enough to call the Dean and tell her that she was never coming back. Thanks. Man, did the 2 of us that were left have to scramble to take over her classes, in addition to our own.

Since, at the time, I met all the qualifications, I was asked to step into the director's position, and I stepped into a big pile of sh**. I had little experience in that sort of thing and we had a pending accreditation report and visit. Our accreditation documents generally fill a couple of 3-ring binders - they are huge.

When I settled into my new office, I couldn't find anything. It was a mess, documentation was missing, computer files were jumbled, dogs & cats - living together, mass hysteria (movie reference). It was chaos, so essentially I had to recreate the whole program from the bottom up. The accreditors put us on probation until everything was put back together (rightly so, although it pissed me off at the time). It was an initiation by fire. But when it came time for them to evaluate what I had done, we received full accreditation with no further progress reports.

THAT, my friends, was, and remains, the biggest accomplishment of my entire professional life and my proudest moment. It is practically unheard of with that group, known for having one of the toughest accreditations in the allied health care field.

So, there I was, with that coup under my belt, and the program running smoothly & successfully, when they decided to revise all the criteria for the profession, including the requirements for my position. They revised me right out of my job. Suddenly I was no longer good enough to do what I had been successfully doing for 6 years. Not only would I have had to stay at my full-time job (which usually entailed teaching an overload in addition to the administrative duties), but I would have had to get a Master's degree and another part-time job. All at the same time. They would not grandfather any one in.

All that mattered to them was that I didn't have enough initials after my name. I could have had a Master's degree in 17th century French poetry and I could have stayed. This affected other individuals at other colleges as well. One director, who had started his program and been running it for 18 years, was so mad he ended up chucking it all and going to live on his sailboat.

So, I had to turn over my program, my child, that which I had sweat blood & tears for, over to someone else to raise. Someone for whom I have very little personal or professional respect. I stayed on for as long as I could stand it before crying "uncle".

The whole thing broke my heart. I can still teach, that's not the problem. I won't go back to my college as long as a certain person is still there, so that means if I want to teach again, it has to be somewhere else. I can't run a program anymore, and I loved doing that too. In order to have that option again, I need another degree. Hence the crossroads at this juncture of my life. The 3 roads each lead me to very different destinations.

ROAD #1: The Road of Complacency - this would involve just doing what I am doing now, cruising along, not really satisfied with my life. It is familiar and usually comfortable. But if I envision myself in the same place in 5 years, it is a depressing picture.

Pros: familiar; safe; predictable; close to my immediate family
Cons: familiar; safe; predictable

The cons won, since they are the same as the pros, and that's not a good sign.

ROAD #2: The Road of Immediate Gratification but High Risk & a Pain-in-the-Ass Move - remember when I mentioned another teaching possibility? It is in Texas, and that would involve moving away, far away, albeit close to people whose company I enjoy tremendously.

Pros: close proximity to really cool cousins; I liked it in Texas; I would be close to a best friend; brisket; Central Market (foodie Nirvana - I want to bring my blankie & move in); TEACHING (something I want to do again so bad so bad so bad); brisket; Tex-Mex food; Central Market; and brisket. No one does brisket like a Texan.
Cons: it is so stinkin' far away, and far away from my immediate family that I love; I have what I consider to be family obligations here; Texas is HOT; having to sell my house in a sucky market; finding a new place to live; behaving like a total fool & getting my heart broken again (I'm not going to explain this, but trust me on this - it would happen)

The cons won.

ROAD #3: The Road of Hitting the Books - I have to get another degree. Not to teach, I can do that with my present degree, but to be able to run a program again.

Pros: will enable me to be a program director again (something I really want to do); I get to have more initials after my name (big f 'ing deal); will buy some time before I have to consider moving
Cons: cost & time involved; having to take the GRE's; the bit of resentment at feeling like I have to do this

The pros won.

I know I could have thought of more pros & cons for each one, but you get the gist.

I am going to take a large bite out of the proverbial bullet. In order to make it palatable, I think I will have to marinate it, slow smoke it, and serve it on a bun (whole wheat of course) with some BBQ sauce on the side and maybe a nice herb garnish. I am going to go for my Master's degree. Damn. But it will enable me, not just to teach, but to be a program director again (I have to keep repeating that thought or I may chicken out).

I went and talked to the graduate school at my alma mater (Old Dominion University) last week and got the information I needed. Or maybe Virginia Tech has one I could do online? Wherever I end up, wish me luck and forgive me when I snarl & snap on occasion.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Soy Milk (is that what baby soybeans drink?)

Seriously, whenever I hear the words "soy milk", I hear Lewis Black in my head.
And I start laughing.
"It's not soy milk, it's soy joose."

**Warning - video has bad words in it**

**Warning - if you don't mind the bad words and watch it anyway, you might laugh so hard your breathing will be compromised and you may fall out of your chair and hit your head, sustaining potentially serious bodily injury. I am not responsible for this**

The section about soy milk starts at 1:50 and runs through 3:02
(although the rest of it - a rant about bottled water - is worth listening too as well.

I bought some vanilla soy joose the other day, and as I was standing in front of the milk section, I laughed out loud.
People stared. Oh well.

Why did I buy vanilla soy joose?
I will do unexplainable things sometimes,
and I thought about using it for cereal & fruit shakes.
I have discovered that it is okay for either,
but eminently more tolerable if cut half & half with moo cow milk.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Another Fruit Shake & 5 Minute Chocolate Cake - Oh Really?!

We'll just see about that.

Forwarded e-mails get a bad rap, and sometimes they make me want to banish my computer to the swamp in the back yard, but generally my peeps send me good stuff, and there are occasional gems hidden in there.

That was a run on sentence.

So, I got this one from my mom.
I had gotten it from a couple other people but pretty much ignored it.
But she issued a challenge - "who is brave enough to try it?"
Sometimes I just can't resist a dare,
especially when it involves chocolate, so Mama, here we go . . . . .

The players in this production are:

¼ cup flour (4 Tbsp) - I used my King Arthur White Whole Wheat
¼ cup sugar (4 Tbsp) - I used the evil, nasty kind
2 Tbsp cocoa
1 egg
3 Tbsp milk
3 Tbsp oil
3 Tbsp chocolate chips (Okay, so there are a few extra. So shoot me)
Splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug

(Look, whole wheat flour, dark chocolate, safflower oil, skim milk & a free range egg. Apart from the evil nasty sugar, it's practically health food, right?)

Mix the dry ingredients in the mug

I whisked the egg, oil, & milk and mixed them into the dry ingredients

Add chocolate chips & vanilla & mix again.

The e-mail SAID:
"Microwave 3 min at 1000 watts. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed! Allow to cool a little and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT ! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous).
And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world ?
Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!"

So, what REALLY happened?

It did rise, about an inch & a half above the top, but it didn't spill over.
Smelled pretty good as it was cooking.

When the timer rang, it settled back down very nicely.

Damn thing wouldn't come out of the mug in one piece.

The verdict? **Drum Roll**

First, the texture:
The top portion was just a little rubbery & chewy,
more so than the bottom portion, which wasn't half bad.

There was still a little bit of unmixed dry ingredients in the very bottom,
and I thought I mixed it real good.
Normally, I am a very good mixer, known as the best throughout my entire house.

Obviously, the visual presentation leaves a lot to be desired.

How did it taste?

I am going to say something that I thought I would never say, and if you tell anyone I said it, I'll deny it to the end of time.

I thought there was too much chocolate.

There was a slight bitterness to the flavor. I did not enjoy it as much as the e-mail made me think I would. Because I am gullible & believe everything I read in my e-mail.

I seriously doubt I will make it again,
although if you needed a quick chocolate fix & tweaked it a little,
it might do in a pinch.

I would give the mug a spritz of non-stick spray,
decrease the cocoa just a little,
and mix everything in a separate bowl before pouring it into the mug
(to ensure complete mixage).
Do NOT leave out the chocolate chips.
They are its only redeeming factor.

How do I atone for such folly?
Why, with another fruit shake, of course.

This one had:
frozen strawberries
frozen blueberries
vanilla yogurt
half scoop vanilla protein powder
100% purple grape juice
100% pomegranate juice
small squeeze of honey (pomegranate juice is not very sweet)

Oh my. This one was delicious. The combination of juices was very nice - not too tart, not too sweet. Just right.

Sista G - you need to make this one.

But not the cake.

Friday, May 22, 2009

50 Years of Love

You all know where I work - St. Mary's Home for Disabled Children. There are links for both the Home's website and their own blog over there on the right-hand side of the page. It is a residential facility for children with severe and profound multiple handicaps.

But that's not how it started. St. Mary's began as an orphanage run by the Daughters of Wisdom, located in downtown Norfolk, Virginia. One of those sisters, Sister Mary June Morin, is still with us.

Wait, that sounded strange. Sis is not the only one still alive, she is just the only one still at the Home. That's it.

50 years is a long time to remain in any one job. But St. Mary's isn't any ordinary job for Sister. It is her calling and her passion. She lovingly and tirelessly tends to our kids and keeps the rest of us in line at the same time.

We celebrated her 50th anniversary at the Home just recently, and tonight, our local PBS station devoted the entire half-hour of their program, What Matters, to Sister's story. And what a fascinating story it is. You can see the entire program here, but your computer will need to have QuickTime installed. If you don't have it, if is a free download, and here is the link.

Watch the show. Your life will be better for it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Church Has Something For Everyone!

I know that churches these days are trying to be "inclusive" and welcome people with all kinds of interests & tastes, but this?

I want you to know that I saw this with my very own eyes, on the shelves in a church library. I couldn't grab my cell phone camera quick enough.

Didn't anyone there notice? Although I prefer to think the people there have a sense of humor. After all, Jesus loves everyone, even those in certain industries. Look at the shelf in the middle . . . . . . .

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Different Kind Of Prom

Our kids may have severe disabilities, but they also have hopes and dreams like kids everywhere. This weekend, they got to experience a milestone event that teenagers everywhere look forward to - their senior prom.

And please check out St. Mary's blog for some more information.

Even though they can't express in words how much it meant to them, just look at their faces to see their joy (many thanks to the young people of Norfolk Academy for their generous participation in this special event) . . .

Saturday, May 16, 2009

May in Hampton Roads

Late March & April are really the glory months around here - the azaleas are in full bloom, the Bradford pears are full of blossoms, redbuds cast a purple haze. Flowers are everywhere.

Then comes May. Just the word 'May' conjures up images of children frolicking in a field of blossoms. Ladies swinging on swings with flowers in their hair (thank you 'Camelot'). It's a lie, I tell you, a lie! Not here anyway. Aside from roses, May isn't very colorful in these parts. All of the early spring bulbs have long since disappeared, most of the spring blooms have withered away, and most yards are devoid of any color except green.

Don't get me wrong - green is a beautiful color. One of my favorites, in fact. And the greens of May are bright and vivid. Intense greens that glow in the sun before the heat of summer dries & dulls them.

But you have to avert your eyes to avoid seeing the poor azaleas after they are finished with their color. Sorry azaleas, but you are pretty dang ugly without your blooms. Look at these before & afters:

Pretty sad. There is one unexpected jewel, though. If you lift your face and breathe deeply, you will catch whiffs of a sweet scent. Weeds. Delicious, fragrant weeds! I am referring, specifically, to honeysuckle and ligustrum.

Honeysuckle evokes powerful memories. We didn't have any in Illinois, where we lived until I was 7. But then we moved to Chapel Hill, NC, and there was honeysuckle everywhere. In both white & yellow. The vines covered the entire north side of the property our apartment was on. Is there anything that paints a picture of childhood freedom more than snapping off the bottom of the flower and pulling out that one precious drop of sweetness to fall on your tongue? Dining on honeysuckle is like turning back the clock for me. I love the stuff.

Ligustrum is a weed bush. Referred in old times as a privet hedge, modern developers use it to excess because it is cheap and grows fast. Both sides of my front yard are bordered by these bushes, and one of my neighbors takes particular glee in wielding his electric hedge trimmers and shearing them to within an inch of their lives, into smooth symmetrical shapes. He usually did this in early spring, just when the new growth started, so they rarely had a chance to bloom. But this year, he is feeling the years creep up on him (he is in his mid-eighties) and hasn't gotten out the shears yet. I'm glad, because now the bushes have had a chance to bloom, and ligustrum flowers have a sweet perfume that brings a smile to my face.

That little vase of sweetness is now in my living room. And look who I found in my front yard on this overcast & drizzly morning.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Boring Treatise on Fruit Shakes

Sometimes, BS & I like to drink our breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. Hic.

Just kidding, not that kind of liquid. Our kind is cold, smooth, sweet and fruity - a fruit shake. I guess most people call them a smoothie, but I am rebellious, so I ain't gonna. Besides, we have called them fruit shakes in my family 593 years.

These evolved from the ones my mother used to make for my brother when he was a little boy - OJ, frozen strawberries and a banana. Easy and good all on their own, but over the years, I have experimented.

Uh oh, here I go again, about to launch on a soapbox about what people eat, but really, when I make these, they are a meal, so I want them to be good for us while still being lip-smacking good.

Basically, you need 3 things - fruit (some of it frozen), some liquid, and a blender. Why frozen fruit? Because we don't like our fruit shakes watered down with ice. Never have (not that there's anything wrong with that). Frozen fruit provides the thickness you need without using ice like most people do. And frozen fruit is available all year long. We have experimented with frozen strawberries, blueberries, peaches & raspberries (I'm having fun with colored fonts - they are not links).

Frozen Fruit: The strawberries are our hands-down favorite, and I almost never make a fruit shake without them. Blueberries are a close 2nd, and they go in more often than not. They also pack a big nutritional punch. I love raspberries, but sometimes I am not in the mood to chew my shake - the seeds are annoying. The peaches pretty much underwhelmed us. They just didn't lend much flavor, so I don't get them anymore.

Fresh Fruit: Bananas are our staple. They are delicious, and also make the end product very creamy. You can also freeze your bananas for the thick factor if you wand to use fresh berries, but if I have fresh berries, I tend to like them straight-up, with the juice running down my chin. Just make sure to use a combination of fresh & frozen fruit, and make sure a banana is one of them or your life will suffer for it.

Liquid: OJ was the original liquid, but I don't always have that around. Because of my reflux, orange juice can bother me, so I don't usually buy it. BS's favorite juice is purple grape juice, and I have used that with some tasty results. White grape juice is good, and mixing your juices can be quite tasty. Usually, though, I use low-fat or skim milk. I have even mixed the milk with the juice on occasion. Whatever makes you kick your heels up.

  • Fat: I typed that on purpose, really I did. Some people seem to be so fat-phobic that they forget that fat is a necessary nutrient. Warning - impending anatomy lesson (I used to teach this stuff). Most of the nerves in your body are covered by a myelin sheath, composed primarily of fatty tissue. Without it, the nerves cannot conduct their signals quickly or efficiently, and you would start to stumble & move in slow motion. Eventually, you would cease to function, as is the case in multiple sclerosis, a demyelinating disease (this isn't going to happen to you if you don't eat fat, it just shows you that fat is important). So, YOU HAVE TO EAT SOME FAT. Sorry, that's the way it is. Deal with it. Many of the vitamins are fat soluble, meaning that if there is no fat to accompany them through their happy path through your intestines, they will not be absorbed. These are vitamins A, D, E, and K. The issue is in choosing what type of fat you consume. No meal should be completely devoid of fat (healthy fat), so when I make a fruit shake out of skim milk or fruit juice, I add a dash of the flax seed oil that I keep stashed in the fridge. You can use whatever vegetable-based oil with a mild flavor you want. Just try to avoid whole milk or cream.
  • Yogurt: I like, no, lllove to put in some yogurt. Makes it extra creamy & extra good, and since I am older than dirt, the extra calcium is a bonus. Vanilla (go figure) and strawberry low or non-fat yogurt are our favorites.
  • Flavorings: It is no secret that I love vanilla (could you tell), so a generous splash is my friend. I guess if you make your shake with milk, you could even add some coffee, but since I detest coffee, I cannot vouch for the disgusting results. Ooh ooh, strawberry/banana shake made with milk and add some chocolate. Yummmmm.
  • Protein powder: Sometimes I'll put a bit of this in just for an extra boost, especially if I have made the shake with juice, since juice & fruit aren't famous for their protein content. Guess what? It's usually vanilla protein powder (go figure).
  • Sweeteners: Generally, I find that the fruit is sweet enough, but if you want it sweeter, you can add honey or whatever sweetie thing you want. I'm not going to quibble over a spoonful of sugar. Hey, it was okay with Mary Poppins.
After I finished cutting the grass tonight, I was not in the mood for a heavy meal, so tonight's dinner was a fruit shake. The players in tonight's blender are a banana, frozen strawberries, frozen blueberries, a couple big spoonfuls of vanilla yogurt, a small scoop of protein powder, a dash of flax seed oil, and skim milk.

Oh no, I forgot all about the vanilla, but I figure there was enough in there with the yogurt & protein powder.

Look at this - smooth, creamy, so good for you it's not funny, and no ice. Heck, this is so tasty, surely it must be bad for me & I'm gonna keel over any minute.

Wait a minute . . . there's something missing . . . ah, there it is.

We love straws.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Bowl of Summer

When my sisters & I were little, growing up outside of Chicago, there was a hedge of red raspberry bushes between our house and our neighbor's house. Seeing things through the eyes & mind of a child, we were convinced that these neighbors were mean and hated us.

Why? Because technically, they were the neighbor's bushes. And we stole them. Shamelessly, deliberately stole them (the berries, not the bushes). Hey, even though the neighbors planted them & the bushes were on their property, you know what? A whole side of those red jewels were facing our yard, and we figured they would never know if that side of the bushes never seemed to bear fruit. They couldn't pick them without coming into our yard anyway, and that would be trespassing, right? And they couldn't go to waste, so every summer, our fingers & lips & chins bore the telltale signs of wanton berry theft. And sometimes the neighbors would yell at us. Well, maybe they really didn't, but that's how I remember it. They were mean.

To this day, raspberries taste of summer and memories, 2 of my favorite flavors. So, when I was at the Price Club today (I know it's really Costco, but I called it the Price Club for too long), these beckoned me, and I could not resist their siren call. Guess what was for dinner tonight? A bowl of these sweet, juicy beauties and a piece of peanut butter toast (whole wheat bread and natural peanut butter). It was a feast.

Friday, May 8, 2009

They Grow Up So Fast

The first thing on my to-do list this morning was to find my waterproof mascara. I knew I would need it today.

Today was graduation day at the SECEP REACH Program here at St. Mary's.

(SECEP = Southeastern Cooperative Educational Program and REACH = Raising expectations and abilities for children with complex health needs)

They provide the educational services here, and 12 of our kids graduated today. What this means is that these 12 young people will turn 21 before the end of the next school year, so sometime during this coming year, they will leave us without their smiles to look forward to every day.

On this most special day of the year at the Home, we never know whether to cheer madly or weep copious tears, so we end up doing a lot of both. Cheer because this is a milestone for them, and they are the center of attention - the stars of our best show. Copious tears because we know, deep down to the depths of our souls, that no matter where they go, no one will love them as much as we do or take care of them as well as we did. That's our opinion and we're sticking to it.

The waterproof mascara came in handy, as the water was running down my face. Some of those kids I have known since they were wee bairns from the time I first set foot there in 1992 - 17 years ago. In fact, 6 of the 12 kids are 'old-timers' and 4 of the graduates are currently on my caseload. It is going to be harder than any of us can ever express to have to say goodbye to them.

Put very simply - they are our children and we love them, but it is time for them to leave the nest.

And let me tell you, our ceremony had as much pomp as any graduation you will find anywhere. We had a video presentation with pictures of the kids throughout their lives (that's what started the boo-hooing), a color guard (staff pushing 3 kids in their chairs who present the flags and march in formation), a special friend of each child who spoke on their behalf, a speech by the CEO, a keynote speaker (this year it was a local author), the presentation of diplomas, the works.

And after the ceremony, we had a pig roast with all the fixins. Oh, and 'certain person from Texas who knows who he is' - it was local pulled pork BBQ, the best kind. Best of all, no one caught swine flu.

Sonja - that is a lovely blog post on St. Mary's blog about the festivities.

Finally, a parting thought from the graduation program today:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and the daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you, but they are not from you,
and though they are with you, they belong not to you.

You can give them your love but not your thoughts.
They have their own thoughts.
You can house their bodies but not their souls,
for their souls dwell in a place of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

-adapted by Ysaye M. Barnwell from a work by Khalil Gibran

Thursday, May 7, 2009

More Useless Knowledge

According to the last bit of "Useless Knowledge" (that little window on the right-hand side of the screen) that I saw:
Scientific researchers say promiscuous species of monkeys appear to have
stronger immune systems than less sexually active ones.
We share, like, a whole lot of our DNA with monkeys, so, this is permission, right? Helps us fight off that pesky swine flu. Yeah, that's it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Space, the Final Frontier

See this movie poster? It says the movie opens on May 8th (not to be confused with May the Fourth - see previous groaner post).

Yeah, it may say May 8th, but BS & I were among a theater-full of people who saw it LAST NIGHT!! Mwwaaahhhahahahah.

How, you are wondering, did we pull off such a coup?

Wednesday night, BS went out with my brother to play poker. One of the local radio stations was sponsoring a poker game for a few prize packages, and these tickets for an advance screening were in the bundle. Does that mean he won? Naw. He got them just for being a nice guy.


Well, as it turns out, he was winning at his table. Winning. Not money, but chips, as they weren't playing for money. There he sits, with a big ol' pile of chips in front of him, and he gets tired of it. So he drops out of the game and divvies up his chips amongst the 2 other guys at his table, who, with the added bonus of his chip infusion, go on to be 2 of the 3 big winners. To thank him for being such a good guy, they let him choose something out of the prize pot, so he got the tickets. Whoo-hoo!!

I was disturbingly giddy with excitement ALL DAY yesterday waiting for 7:30 pm. Seriously. It became annoying to my poor coworkers. I really am such a geek.

A whole theater full of Star Trek fans, who even clapped at a few select spots. I admit to being an overt theater clapper. If I like a movie, I will clap at the end, and sometimes, if I'm lucky, I can get a chain reaction started and a bunch of people will join in. I think many of you are closet clappers, you just need someone to get it started. Yeah, that's it.

Ooh, ooh, and there were the requisite whole bunch of Trekkies dressed in their full Starfleet & Klingon regalia, trying to recruit new members for their little club. I'm trying to think of complimentary things to say about this group. Uhhhh, they are very sincere and enthusiastic about what they do. And entertaining to watch. How's that? I think you can visualize this, so I'm not saying any more.

If you have any affection at all for the original Star Trek series, go see this movie. Of all the original characters, I think the one who best caught the spirit of his original character was the one who played 'Bones', IMHO (Sista G, that would be 'in my humble opinion').

Oh, they also gave out souvenirs - posters, stickers & cups. And yes, little brother, we got you some.

So . . . . . . . .

Go see it.