Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Clark is walking

It's official. Today he walked everywhere, hardly pausing to bear crawl at all. He has also become even more of a terror around the house...if that is possible.
Some favorite things to "unload" include the kitchen garbage can, the Cd stacks under the computer, the box of green tomatoes (they are balls right?) ,the wipes box, the video/dvd drawers and of course every thing in the bathroom.

I found this the other day when it got "quiet".

FYI: the contents all came from the trash can and include an empty shampoo bottle, an empty contact solution bottle, a banana peel and several kleenex.

Oh and did I mention he can lift the lid by himself. A skill he will need his whole life. He has only smashed his fingers 3 times this week.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Harvest Pictures

Its not like me to post with no pictures. Of course I tried but blogger would not cooperate. So here are the photos that go with the Harvest post from the other day. These are the green tomatoes from the second box I got from my neighbor.

My version of sun-dried cherry tomatoes.

The top of my cupboards.

The stewed tomatoes.

A few of our pumpkins from the garden.

Friday, October 16, 2009


I love the smells of the fall. The crisp cool air, the crunchy leaves. Anything made from pumpkin. LOVE IT ALL!

Lately I have been trying to preserve the fruits of our labors from the massive garden we grew with our friends. We bought a new freezer. I invested in Ziploc. The shelf over our cupboards and the new freezer are officially "full" of dill pickles, pumpkin, mustard pickles, diced onion, beans, jam, corn, bread and butter pickles. You name it, I feel like I have canned it.

I have washed LOTS of bugs out of jars. My mother and my grandmother both have "fruit rooms" full of empty jars, so why buy them right? So you don't have to clean out the cobwebs! At $8 a dozen, I have saved at least $80 by not buying them though so I can't complain...at least not to loud.

Today it is tomatoes. The garden was especially generous on the cherry tomato end. Most of them green. The hardest part about that is they don't all turn red at the same time. We have eaten our fill over and over. Last night Clark threw up tomatoes because he had eaten too many that day. A neighbor offered a box of tomatoes to me, so I thought to myself, You only have 3 boxes full at home, why not take more? About half of them were still green but the other half were almost over ripe. So between those and the ones I have on my window sill, in my fridge and stashed on my dryer, I have enough to actually do some canning!

I have searched online for recipes for any and every way I can possibly preserve them. Salsa, stewed tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, sun dried tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato juice. The list goes on and on. Today I opted for stewed tomatoes and sun dried tomatoes. (this is a great way to use all those cherry tomatoes you really don't want to have to peel.) My water bath caner holds 7 jars. So of course I have 8. But I still have lots more tomatoes to peel and can. Maybe around mid November I will be finished with them.

Does anyone have a great salsa recipe or a good way to preserve squash or potatoes? Those are next on my "to do" list.

O and on a related side note...my kids are selling the pumpkins we grew. They are earning money to buy each other Christmas presents. I have had people say they are coming to get them but have only had 1 person show up so far. We still have lots and they are much cheaper than any you will find anywhere else! Plus it is for a good cause right? So come get your pumpkins before they are gone!

Jeremy: The Update

Hey. This is Ryan. Just wanted to add to the "Jeremy" story. Yesterday I walked in and he was sitting in my chair, telling kids to do their speeches. When I told him to "get outta my chair, ya crazy kid!" he said loudly, "I'm Mee-stoe Hansen! I'm the teachuh! You sit in yo chair, Jeremy!" Then ran to his seat, giggling all the way.

When he got to his seat, he flirted with the cute, blonde cheerleader that sits behind him by leaning across her desk and saying, "Jordy, you have sweet eyes." She giggled and said thank you. The rest of the class laughed, too. She turned red, but said, "I love you, Jeremy."

Oh brother. You know those cartoons where the animal turns into a rocket and flies to the moon after a kiss. I thought Jeremy was about to sprout boosters and launch. Anyway, she had been absent for his speech and asked him how it went. He turned to me and asked if he could give his speech again (because of that Swine Flu thing, I've had about seven to eight kids absent every day for the last two weeks!) I said that would be great.

He gave his speech again and did it more clearly this time. The class went crazy again and Jordy hugged Jeremy. His aide (who isn't there on Mondays and Tuesdays) had tears in her eyes.

"I love speech class," Jeremy announced to his friends.

"I do, too." I said.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Hey. This is Ryan. This school year is turning out to be an unusual one. We've never had so many kids absent and then to return to school looking like zombies. But today was one of those days that reminded me why I teach.

I have a student in my speech class who has Down Syndrome. His name is Jeremy. Jeremy is about 5'3" with a shock of blonde hair. He wears glasses and has the typical features of a kid with Down's, but his personality is what sets him apart from the rest of his classmates - he is the funniest kid you'll ever meet.

I met with Jeremy and his parents before school even started in order to get a read at how functioning he is. In speech class, I'm pretty rigorous and the course can be pretty intense. Jeremy is very high-functioning. It is because his mother has never treated him any different from the other kids. Simply put, Jeremy is held to the same standards and expectations of kids without Down's. For instance, when he was a baby, the doctors said he would never walk. "Bull," his mother said in their faces. "He'll walk just like anyone else."

And when his Primary leaders would carry him or help him through the halls at church, his mother would kindly tell them to put her son down. He would walk on his own, thank you very much. So he did. With the help of the walls, but he did it himself without any mollycoddling.

That's why Jeremy is so good at everything he does. From the first day of class, Jeremy decided to tease "Mees-toe Hansen." (It was "Bruthuh Hansen" for about two weeks when he learned I was Young Men President in his old ward.) Every day I walk into the classroom, there is some funny thing Jeremy has set up to surprise me with. When I sat down the first day, he was hiding under my desk to scare me. I pretended to be scared when I sat down and he couldn't stop giggling. One day, he decided to try to hold the door shut while I came in. I pulled the door open so hard, he came flying out into the hall - again, laughing hysterically. The other day, I was running behind so I hurriedly pulled open the door and ran into the classroom. Only Jeremy had put my podium in the middle of the doorway and I ran into it with a loud, "Ooooph!" Laughter. He's come up to stand next to me during my lecture, link arms in mine and announce, "Me and Mees-toe Hansen are getting MARRRRIEEED!"

All this entertains the rest of the 25 students. He has a hard time concentrating, to say the least. We've been working on taking notes and appropriate social talking. (When discussing nonverbal communication and social distances, I mentioned that in some countries, men walk hand-in-hand and it's not considered gay. "Awesome!" he said to raucous laughter from the rest of the kids - and myself. I had to turn to the board to hide my giggling.)

He had a "D" in my class. This upset him to no end. Jeremy has not talked to me since Monday. And today was his first speech. We decided to work on organization and reading his speech instead of talking from notecards like the rest of the kids. All hour, he kept asking me if he were next. To distract him, I finally came up with the plan of putting him in charge of my big blue timer. His job was to time all the kids' speeches and to tell them to go. Of course, Jeremy started them by yelling, "On yo mahk, get seeeeetttt, GO!"

It was finally his turn. The class fell silent as he approached the podium. He was visibly nervous, but put his paper down and looked at the class. He then read his speech about "Webkinz," a type of stuffed animal that comes with a code to play games online. He collects them and brought his pet snake with him to show off. He powered through the speech, stumbling once or twice, but always looking up. When he finished, I couldn't have been prouder. The entire class erupted in applause. One "stoner" kid got to his feet and started whistling. Pretty soon, the entire class was giving Jeremy a standing ovation. I felt like crying and rushing to swoop him into a gigantic bear hug. (I didn't, because when I pat him on the back or put my arm around him, he loudly announces, "He touched me! Mees-toe Hansen touched me!" I have to shush him and turn beet red.)

Jeremy looked at his classmates and raised his clasped hands in triumph and said, "Thank you! Thank you!" Then Jeremy took a bow. We all laughed and every kid got up to shake his hand or pat him on the back. It truly made my day and reminded me why I got into teaching in the first place - to witness firsthand greatness from teenagers. Our youth are capable of so much and their love for their classmate showed that today. No one could stop talking about Jeremy's triumph today. I wish I would have video taped it.

Take it from me, dear readers. We can accomplish great things, if only we had the innocence and attitude of Jeremy.

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