Love. Listen/Observe/Read. Act. Repeat.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Terms of Endearment

I first moved to Texas as a college freshman, straight from the Dairy State. There were all kinds of culture shocks for me, including the one where every woman on campus called me "Hon" or "Honey."

No one ever called me that before. But here I was, trying to learn how to eat jalapenos and chicken fried-mistake and the lady behind the serving tray wants to know "do you want grits with that, Hon?" I heard it most was when the staff member and I were in the middle of something difficult, like dropping a class or cashing a check. It felt very patronizing.

And that is because it probably was.

When you get dropped into another culture, or subculture, it's easier to pick up on those kinds of things. And that brings me to the word "kiddo."

Now, I'm not going to blow this out of proportion. One-to-one, it's a term of endearment. It's not the r-word, which mercifully, and finally, the Texas Legislature has banished. All our MHMRs must be renamed.

And this isn't something that requires a People First refresher.

But I've heard this sort of thing so often -- "It was a tough day for the kiddoes," or "I'm trying to find out whether it will help my kiddoes," or "Who's going to stay with the kiddoes?" -- that I'm starting to wonder about the usage.

Unless you're using it one-on-one as a term of endearment, then just don't use it.

It's sounding patronizing.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #103

Peggy (while washing dishes): Gee, looks like someone dipped an Oreo in this glass.
Paige (grinning): Oh, yeah.
Peggy: I guess that must taste pretty good.
Paige: You've never dipped an Oreo in milk? What went wrong in your childhood?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Just a bit more at NCTC

The vice president for student services bent Sam's ear at a graduation reception for NCTC's TRIO students earlier this month, and convinced him that an associate's degree was within his grasp.

Sam had given up a few years ago and started pursuing the certificate, rather than a full degree, after he took American Government (more on that in a minute).

We learned that he no longer needs American Government to get the associate's degree. NCTC has since changed its core class requirements and the history class he took fulfills that humanities requirement.

Just a few more computer classes, probably all online, and he can file for the associate's degree. In Texas, that degree is some serious higher education currency. With it, he can transfer all 30 hours to any public, 4-year institution and be halfway to a bachelor's degree.

And that might mean something some day.

I was devastated when he made that run at American Government two summers ago, because it was the last non-computer class -- the last real hurdle -- to an associate's degree. Similar to college algebra and one of his other core classes, I thought he would take it all the way through to the last possible day to drop, drop the class, and try again.

It's not the best way to go at a class, I suppose, but it worked for Sam.

When he got to the last day and dropped, I asked him when he would take another swing at American Government.

Came his answer: "I don't care how many times I take American Government, Mom, I'll never understand it."

Amen to that, Sam. Amen to that.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Updating the Resume

Tonight, Sam took another step, without DARS, in his job hunt. He updated his resume.

It was a nice thing to add, that section of work experience, describing how he built gaming computers for clients who would use them to design games and applications, all part of his internship.

Gary Moore, with nonPareil Institute, told me last week that he got a call from Goodwill. They were looking for workers who could help them rebuild Dell Computers. It would be great work for Sam. But the workshop was in Oak Cliff.

Commuting to nonPareil was already a real reach. He can't commute to South Dallas. Gary said he'd keep his ears and eyes open, and remember us and send us referrals when the work was north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Sam registered with the Texas Workforce Commission, and we've been checking job boards.

I hope this doesn't get discouraging, but I fear it will.

Overheard in the Wolfe House #102

Peggy: Oh, I think they stopped, finally. I can't smell the burn anymore. How about you?
Sam: I can't smell anything. I'm taking Claritin.
Peggy: You're saying that taking allergy medicine takes away your sense of smell?
Sam: Really, Mom, that's what it does. It's for your safety

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #101

Sam: Do I really have to go back to DARS*? Can't I just get a job?

*Texas Division of Rehabilitative Services

Sunday, May 15, 2011

JoC's Strawberry Punch, freely interpreted

For Sam's graduation party, I put out a devil's food cake (from Rosso and Lukins' New Basics Cookbook), chili-lime peanuts (from epicurious), butter mints (from Albertsons) and a double-batch of strawberry punch, based on the recipe from Joy of Cooking.

A few people asked for the recipe. The original is good just the way it is and I've made it that way many times, but Sam doesn't like carbonated beverages, so I had to fake it a little bit.

The Original

Boil for 5 minutes:
4 cups water
4 cups sugar
Cool the syrup. Combine:
2 quarts hulled strawberries
1 cup slice canned or fresh pineapple
1 cup mixed fruit juice -- pineapple, apricot, raspberry, etc.
Juice of 5 large oranges
Juice of 5 large lemons
(3 sliced bananas)
Add the syrup, or as much of it as is palatable. Chill these ingredients. Immediately before serving, add:
2 quarts carbonated water
3 cups or more of crushed ice.
The basic mix is concentrated, to offset the dilution that happens with the icing. Water can be added, as desired.

JoC Strawberry Punch, Sam Style

Boil for 5 minutes
4 cups water
4 cups sugar
As the syrup is cooling, hull and slice the strawberries into the syrup (helps the infusion)
When ready to mix, I added one bottle of TexSun Orange-Pineapple Juice (a favorite from his childhood) and 1 1/2 cups of lemon juice, and a small can of pineapple slices, drained.
To serve, I added three trays of ice cubes.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #100

Sam (as water heater gets repaired, again): Well, it looks like we're going to have to wash up in the sink.
Peggy: You're right. I'll start boiling some water.
Sam: Yep. We're going to have to do it like the cowboys did.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Sam got a 100 on his final final.

He has to do about 12 more hours to finish his internship.

He watched a video class on job-seeking two or three times last weekend, then wrote a paper about what he learned.

Another cliff is coming, right around the corner.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Making Pesto

We picked our first batch of basil from the garden tonight. My mother says the more you harvest, the more you get.

Thai basil (the purple-stalked type) volunteers in my garden now. That makes a nice, sharp pesto. But we picked the genovese basil tonight.

I asked Sam if he wanted to help make the pesto, since it's about his favorite way to dress pasta. I said first, you have to pick all these leaves off the stems. I told him, "it's kind of a job."

He shot back, "I think that's an easy job."

And I remembered why the man can build computers over and over, and build sound sets for his old-school midi on Sibelius, and why other young adults like him can do the same exacting job over and over again

Daniel Shackleford, who's about Sam's age and moved from Krum to live at Marbridge in Austin, works at a hospital sterilizing medical equipment and packing it in bags. You can't get bored and make mistakes at that kind of job. People would get sick. Daniel loves the exacting, repetitive nature of the work. The same kind of thing that would put me to sleep.

About 30 minutes later, Sam was ready to pulse the leaves with the rest of the ingredients: pine nuts, garlic, salt, olive oil. When I added the parmesean cheese and the butter, he complained about having to push the pulse button on the blender over and over.

"I thought this had an automatic pulse cycle," he said.

Well, maybe not all the repetitive tasks ....

Monday, May 2, 2011

Saturday in Richardson

I will be talking to parents at Education Service Center Region 10 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

The meeting will be in the Mockingbird Room in the Abrams Building, 904 Abrams Road, Richardson.

I will be sharing information about Texas Parent-to-Parent and People First language for the first half of the meeting -- talks that have been developed and refined by the good people at Texas Parent-to-Parent

During the second half of the meeting, we'll discuss ethics in treatment decisions, why it's important, and how to be successful with it. This talk was developed first by Shahla A'lai-Rosales, a professor of behavior analysis at the University of North Texas, and an expert with years of clinical experience treating children with autism.

I'll bring a book or two to give away.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #99

Sam: Which song is it that you just played?
Peggy: Someone to Watch Over Me.
Sam: You're getting really good at it.
Peggy: Well, thank you, Sam.
Sam: I don't think any midi device could play it that well.