Monday, April 21, 2008

New Feature: RGKS

As I have tried many times before, I'm going to try to start posting here more, and so, in a burst of optimism, I'm going to start what I hope will be the first of some but not too many Random Gratuitous Kid Stories. The idea is that if I think "oh, I should post on my blog" and can't think of anything to write about, I can pull one of these gems out of my head and churn it out quickly. We'll see how that works.

Also, from here on out, I'm dropping the cutesy pseudonyms for the people I write about. It's just getting old.

Anyway, here's an old favorite about a couple of notes Rachel wrote when she was 7 and 8 years old. As I mention in this space from time to time, life with high functioning autism can be all kinds of awesome, and these notes illustrate that point.

Note #1: Toward the end of the school year when Rachel was in first grade, the full-inclusion (ie special ed) teacher at her school was very pregnant and would be having her baby over the summer. Rachel had never been able to wrap her mind around the idea that you could have a baby in there and not know if it was a girl or a boy. (I think this kind of uncertainty still puzzles, her, actually. Every Tuesday when we are watching "American Idol," she asks me who's going to get eliminated, and I have explain once again that it's not decided until after the show). So on the last day of school, when they made cards for the pregnant teacher, Rachel wrote one that said:

Dear Katie,
Have a happy baby. It's a boy and his name is Tim.
From Rachel

(The baby turned out to be a girl.)

Note #2: We went to Hawaii the spring Rachel was in second grade. Her school aide, Mrs. Sharp, reminded Rachel several times that she wanted Rachel to send her a postcard. The last day we were there, I made her sit down and write the postcard, and this is what she wrote:

Dear Mrs. Sharp,
I'll be back Monday.
From Rachel

I made her write in "PS - I'm having fun" or something like that, but at least I knew Mrs. Sharp would get a kick out of it.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I'm Going To Recommend Some Stuff

There's a lot of stuff I've been noticeably liking lately, so I'm going to recommend it:

List of the Day is a great website I check first thing (and several times thereafter) each day -- not just lists, but also a Mugshot of the Day, any funny videos or videos he comes across, etc. If you saw the collection of funny Olan Mills portraits with comments that circulated a few months ago -- this is the guy who put that together. If you don't have time to look at lots of sites all the time, you can look at this one every day and keep up with most of the goofy stuff that's getting a lot of attention online.

The Davis Schools Foundation: Yes, I know everyone has budget problems right now, but our school district is facing budget cuts of $4 million next year, which means losing teachers and programs. The DSF is hoping to make up a lot of that with fundraising and the community is really pulling together for it. Please think about making a contribution if you can, for the good of Davis school children, or else find out how you can help ease the budget crisis for your local California school district.

Audible is where I like to buy audio books. Not everyone has time to listen to books rather than read them, but if you spend a lot of time in the car or doing boring things around the house, believe me, it's more interesting with an audio book on your iPod. I have the plan where you pay $14.95 a month and get one credit -- most of the books on the site cost one credit and $14.95 is much less than the price listed on the site, so you are rewarded for your loyalty.

Donna Ricco: I'm not big into fashion, but I've been shopping for a dress for my upcoming 20-year high school reunion and kept coming across Donna Ricco dresses that I loved. I ordered one from Nordstrom and it's perfect -- I can't wait to wear it! I love the colors, the flowy fabrics, and the body-skimming designs.

Tech For Less: People who know me know I am both addicted to technology and extremely accident-prone when it comes to taking care of my technological devices. Fortunately for me, there's Tech For Less, where you can get a bargain on "open box" items. I have bought a laptop, a wireless router, a desktop computer and several iPods from them, all below retail. One item had a problem but they were happy to take it back, and their customer service is excellent. Check them out next time you need some component and can't face Best Buy or Fry's again.

"Mad Men" and "Friday Night Lights" -- I recently watched the first seasons of both these shows, the former on iTunes and the latter on DVD, and they are both excellent as portraits of a particular time and place. "Mad Men" is about an advertising firm on Madison Avenue in 1960, and it's amazing to see all the ways society has changed in 50 years. "Friday Night Lights" is about a high school football-crazy town in Texas, and I can't imagine what it would be like to live there. But I would go to a high school football game every Friday night too if it meant I got to see Kyle Chandler presiding over things. I can actually think of many things these two shows have in common (besides being excellent) and I may write another blog post on the subject, but I definitely give both a thumbs up and you should check them out.

"Lost" -- It's been fantastic this year, and it's back with the remaining 5 episodes of the season this week. If you haven't ever watched it, start from the beginning, don't worry about catching every detail in Season 2 and the first half of Season 3, and enjoy it when things really get going after that. I can't wait to see how they wrap it up over the next two seasons.

And of course: "The Office" Best show on TV, and it's finally back with its last few post-strike episodes -- I think there are three left. Even in this strike-shortened season, it's been top-notch.

I guess that's it for now....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I Am President

No, seriously.

I'm president of the PTA at our elementary school. Next year. Well, one of two -- I'm co-president.

I could say "oh, I don't know how this happened," and "they asked and I just couldn't say no," but I do, and I could have. The fact is that someone came up with this idea during one of the most stressful weeks of this school year for me, the week of the spring book fair, which followed right on the heels of the school auction, in which I'd played an active role, and even though my first thought was "hell no!," my second thought was "Me? They want me? They think I'd be a good president?" It was like I was transported straight back to high school and had won a big old popularity contest. In fact, no one else wanted the job, and while I was told I had a month to think about it before I committed, as the days ticked by and I didn't say no, never mind, forget it, it pretty much became official. And now I'm stuck.

I don't know if I'm going to like it or not. Like every district in California, we are facing big budget cuts due to the state budget crisis, and starting next week, we have to start hammering out the PTA budget for next year. Probably some people will complain about stuff, but I guess I can handle that. My co-president is someone who knows me well and I think we'll work well together. In any case, I don't see myself going, you know, mad with power or anything. And the flattery part probably won't last very long. I just hope I'm not cursing my decision to do this by the time school starts in the fall...