Monday, February 23, 2009

it's SOOKIE, not Snookie....

(Yes, Mrs B, that was for you.)
So my newest obsession is the Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris. How I got here is kind of a funny story. The morning before I left for the Gregorian Chant retreat last month, I stopped by Barnes & Noble to buy something Matti wanted. At the check-out there was a display of all the books in the Southern Vampire series. The main character is Sookie Stackhouse, and the first one is the book that the HBO series True Blood is based on. They looked interesting, and I know from past experience that by the second evening of the retreat I'm usually ready for something that DOESN'T involve serious interior dialogue &/or contemplation, so I bought the first one, Dead Until Dark.
Sure enough, that Sunday evening I needed a break from all things chant, so I pulled up a chunk of big fluffy sofa in front of the gas fireplace in the retreat house great room and started to read. And kept going until I'd finished it about 4 hours later. And then I hit Barnes & Noble after I got back from the retreat the next day and bought the second. Finished that rather quickly too, and started ordering them in pairs from Powells until I'd read all 8. Figured that by ordering them on-line I'd have to pace myself a little bit and it would take a little longer to get through all of them. And it was really fun checking the mail box every day, hoping that the package from Powells was here.
So by now I've read all of them at least 3 times, some of them 4 times. Wasn't kidding about the "newest obsession" part. The books are about vampires and werewolves and other supernatural creatures. It's the first time in (literally) years that I'm not reading something that's either nonfiction or from the Children's Lit section. I think my favorite is Club Dead, because it's such a good story, and you can really see Sookie's good qualities, her loyalty, resilience, bravery and independence. It sets up the rest of the books really well, introducing themes that she's going to have to work through. In all the books, the kaliedescope of details and the humor are just addicting. This is the most fun I've had in a long time - been good for the marraige, even (hehehe). I get the irony of it, though, that I went off to find my spiritual center last January, and found something else entirely (!). Charlaine Harris tells a ripping good story, though, and I hope you all at least check out the first one.
Now on to a couple of completely different topics. Last week I went to Threadneedle Street in Issaquah and bought floss for the Celtic Cross blackwork pattern that I've sketched out. The inspiration was a Thomas Merton drawing that I saw at the retreat last month, and I'm excited that I'm actually working on an idea that I developed at the retreat. I always seem to come home with ideas, but have never actually gotten this far with any of them before.
And in case you're wondering, we're still working on where Matti's going to go to school next fall. The private testing he did went really well and they recommended that we get him into a gifted program. Then we got the notice from the Public Schools that based on their testing he didn't qualify for any accelerated programs. Guess he didn't have a good day when he did their testing. So we're putting together an appeal, and hope to get him into the gifted program after all. If not, we'll stop putting money into our retirement account and get him into one of the (very expensive) private schools that run accelerated programs. It's never simple.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

happy birthday

Dear Daughter turned 11 today. I feel like I should be able to say something profound and meaningful about how blessed we are to have her as part of our family, but I can't seem to come up with anything that doesn't sound trite. Here's a story, maybe. At work tonight I was telling the charge nurse that I'd got up early this afternoon to bake Dear Daughter a giant cookie (think roasting pan-sized) so her class could have a birthday treat. I said something about what a lovely girl she's growing up to be, and the charge nurse said, "I can tell she's your joy. You always smile when you talk about her."

Monday, February 9, 2009

women of a certain age....

So yesterday I worked a 24-hour shift, and one of the first things I heard when I got there was that we were expecting 24-week twins. These twins were notable because the OB team expected them to be extremely small, smaller than normal for babies that premature. So I immediately thought to myself, "O crap, I left my readers at home".
I recently bought myself a pair of 2.25 magnification reading glasses, which are a step (or two) up from the bifocals I've been wearing. My bifocals aren't strong enough, and I'd had a couple of episodes lately where I felt like I was doing procedures on very small babies using the Braille method. Not a good feeling, really. I had my eyes checked by a new ophtho guy, who told me he'd write be a prescription that was basically the same as the glasses I was wearing. I suggested he run his exam again, because I was having a fair amount of trouble, and he grudgingly said he'd write for something stronger, but then I never got them filled because my insurance doesn't cover very much and $15 readers are cheaper than a new pair of prescription bifocals. But then I have to remember to keep them with me.
Once I realized I might have a problem, I called the Dear Husband and asked him to run them over to me. Conveniently, he was going to be heading in my general direction because Dear Son was at a sleepover with his BFF, who lives near the hospital. Then, because I wasn't sure when the babies were coming and whether Dear Husband would get there in time, I went through the unit and asked all the nurses if they had any readers I could borrow. There were around a dozen nurses working in the NICU yesterday morning, all women, and most my age or older. They all got exactly what I was talking about, and most had a pair stashed away "that I use for IVs" or some other procedure where you need to really be able to see. It was actually fairly touching, how willing they were to drop whatever they were doing and help me out by finding me some glasses. I borrowed a pair of 2.5's and got the lines in with no problem, because the babies came before Dear Husband got there. Both of the twins were alive when I left work this morning. And they were very very small.

Friday, February 6, 2009

she is done

I've finished Our Lady of Fabio. Wow. I've also made fairly good progress on sketching out ideas for a blackwork Celtic Cross. Which, given how much time I've spent reading Sookie Stackhouse mysteries lately, is fairly amazing. The house is a mess. And there's really not a whole lot else to say. I'm just going to go back upstairs, pour another glass of wine, and admire my work.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


So my dear Son is very smart. It's not clear how smart, but I guess that's kind of a moving target. I've had at least one professional, family-therapist type label him "gifted". Of course, she got to know him when we brought him in because he was getting into fights on the playground. I don't like to think in terms of labels.
This year and last year we had him tested to get into an accelerated program through the Seattle Public Schools. Last year he qualified for the Spectrum Program, which was cool, but we decided not to send him. First, I really wanted to keep him in a Catholic school, and last year the main motivation for getting the testing was to give St Cs hard data they could use to enrich his program. Also, we decided that really what he needed to do was to learn to get along with other kids, and a Catholic school was a great place to do that. If I could have a do-over, we'd try to put him in the Spectrum Program already, because it's not fair to St C's to make them reinvent the wheel for one kid and the whole "getting along with other kids" thing is a lot harder when you're bored out of your mind.
But we didn't go for the Spectrum Program last year. The other thing about last year's test results is that they were very close to qualifying for the APP (highly gifted) Program. We could have written an appeal, which would have required independent testing by a private tester. Read, very expensive, and also impossible to schedule after the letters from the public school came out last January, because every parent's little darling needed private testing to get into the APP.
So this fall we had him do the public school testing again, and I also made an appointment with a private tester, figuring if he was close again we'd want to write the appeal and we'd already have an appointment on the books. And the test is scheduled for this morning. Unfortunately, between the Accelerated Learning office and the US Post Office, we don't have the letter from the public schools yet. So we don't know how he scored. I've already rescheduled once (for a $60 fee), and when I tried to do that yesterday, I couldn't. Apparently some people already have their letters, and the testing guy got at least 20 calls yesterday from people wanting to schedule things. He's booked into March, which would be too late to write the appeal.
So, our choices are to cancel the test, which, because it's so close to the testing date would cost us like $150. Then we'd have to live with whichever program the fall testing got him in to. Which might not be a problem. Or it might be. Or, we could go through with the test (close to $800) in case we want to write an appeal. And that's what we've decided to do. It's a lot of money, but he's really bored and if it weren't for his BFF, I'm not sure how we'd be keeping him at St Cs. Kent and I sat down and looked at all the information we had (which is tricky, because they don't really let you in to see the school until you're accepted into least for Lowell, where the APP is) and decided that having the independent testing gives us the most flexibility and so we're going ahead with it. The public school system here is in a bit of turmoil, with schools being closed, and it's supposed to be hard to get a kid into the Spectrum programs in the North End (where we live) because there's so much competition. Apparently even if you test in to Spectrum there's no guarentee you'll get a spot.
Bottom line is he needs to try a different school, where he's with more kids who think like he does (well, probably not exactly like he does, but something closer). He needs to be in a place where he's challenged, so that he learns how to stretch himself and he gets the feeling of satisfaction from taking on something hard and doing it well. Right now about the only place he gets that is at the piano (which is another whole post). We want to do what's best for our kids and we are blessed enough to be able to come up with the money to pay for the testing. Good luck this morning, Little Dude.