Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ready, Set, Go!

We have had a little set back with our speech therapist thanks to our wonderfully awful state of Tennessee insurance, so we have taken on the role of therapists ourselves, continuing some of the games and work she did. (Hopefully we will be back with her by the end of the week, cross your fingers). One of them is the "ready, set, go" game where you say those words, then do something fun like throw a ball, bounce, jump, spin, whatever. Once he gets really into it, you only say "ready, set..." and hope he says "go" himself. We have not had quite the speech success we wanted, he signs rather than speaks most of the time, though we did get an "o" out of him, so that is something.

The unexpected result of this game is that Jeremy now plays catch all the time! His favorite is to sit on the stairs and catch either his big bouncy ball or a tennis ball and then either throw it back to us or bounce it down the stairs. He did this with his daddy for almost an hour yesterday. Adorableness. I am impressed with his catching ability - look out major leagues!He is also really into trucks. Oddly enough, toys these days come with DVDs so you can see the whole line of toys in little 15 minute cartoons. I am not sure what to think of this, but it did show Jeremy this morning that his trucks like to race. After watching the video, he lined up three trucks/trains on the couch and had a "race" pushing them along in turn. It was super cute. I tried the "ready, set, go" with this as well and got nothing but jumping up and down. He just gets too excited to speak!And here he is in the bath for no other reason than that he is cute when in the bath.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Buddy Speaks...Sort of

I have been so impressed by Jeremy's progress in speech therapy that I literally followed him around for an entire day with our video camera in hopes that he would talk. This meant I ended up with a million hours of footage and found out that Jeremy is quite boring. He, however, thinks he is mesmerizing. He LOVES watching himself on tv. When he picked up Mr. Moo on screen, he ran and grabbed Mr. Moo in life so that he could understand that his toy can indeed be in two places at once. Mind boggling.

I have received several questions, so a quick summary of Jeremy's speech concerns. He is two and does not talk. He tries, but the words do not come out properly. We now have a speech therapist who he sees twice a week, he is enrolled at the UT Early Learning Center where all the teachers are child development experts, and he sees an early interventionist once a week. He has been preliminarily diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech. Basically, he knows exactly what he wants to say, but somewhere between his brain and his mouth, the signals get messed up and the words come out all garbled. It will take time, but he will work through this and be fine. He started the ELC in December and the speech therapy in January, and already he is speaking more than ever! This is why we are so excited about things like him sort of saying "slide" in my previous post. He never even used to try to talk, so all these approximations are HUGE progress.

With that in mind, turn the volume up and listen for a whole slew of new words in this video. I took the million hours and condensed it to 7 minutes. I know that is still really long, but he is just too cute and I wanted to include all the new words. Some of them may not sound like words to you, but believe me, they are for us! Also, look at how big he is! Using a fork at dinner (he is an old pro with a spoon), walking UP the stairs by himself (down is old hat), and yes, he can open the pantry, get out the sprinkles, unscrew the cap, and provide a little dessert for himself when mommy is not looking. Little stinker.

Oh, and I tuned into the Masterpiece Theatre production of Emma tonight, the first of a three part miniseries of the Jane Austen classic. We only have five channels, so this was a big night for me. I am liking it so far. Did anyone else see it? I don't like the actress playing Mrs. Weston and Mr. Knightley (hello, that is Angelina Jolie's first husband!) seems too young and cute, but I like Emma and Mr. Woodhouse is played by Dumbledore - how fun!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


***UPDATE*** Videos are working again! I reported it to blogger and they were having a widespread problem that they have now fixed. Yay!

All my videos have disappeared and won't work! What happened? Does anyone know how to fix this?

Figures, as soon as I learn how to use the camera properly, my website rejects them. Oh well!

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Go Diego Go...Away!

Don't get me wrong, I love Diego. He is cousin to Dora (famous 4 year-old explorer), brother to Alicia (10 year-old animal rescuer who drives a jeep), and partner to Baby Jaguar (talking jaguar cub who recently earned his animal rescue patch). He has a magical "rescue pack" that can transform into anything he wants (airplane, jet pack, tent, hang glider, etc). Clearly, Diego has it going on. Far be it from me to pass judgment.

But COME ON! This has got to be the most annoying show ever made. The worst part is that Jeremy LOVES it. Not a little bit, but a lot bit. Every day we watch at least one episode. Fine, right? No. We do not have cable, i.e. we do not have Nickelodeon. We own 4 Diego DVDs, so we watch the exact same episodes ALL THE TIME. We are constantly humming the songs (in public no less). We have them all memorized. It is not healthy. I am worried for our sanity.

Normally, we give in and let the boy win (luckily there is no TV at the Early Learning Center, so Jeremy still stays around one hour of television a day M-F). However, MLK day we pulled the plug. It was not pretty at first. I tried The Sandlot instead. It was not well liked until Jeremy found the empty wrapping paper roll and pretended it was a bat. Then, he unraveled the bat. All hell broke loose - he demanded some animal rescuing, but mommy stood strong.

Solution - take the kid as far away from the TV and the Diego addiction as possible. We went to the park. Good, right? Little did we know we had taken the candy away from the kid only to give him an ice cream sundae. This kid is even more obsessed with the swings than he is the annoying 8 year-old animal rescuer who drives a submarine. Really? He wanted to do nothing but swing. Full scale tantrum when we made him leave. The other kids and parents were appalled. I told them to suck it (in my head). Perfect well-behaved children make me sick. (Just kidding, all children are beautiful gifts from God).

We went home and watched more Diego. "It's action...adventure...and baby animals!" Go Diego Go!

Now, the most exciting part of all. I have spent all night figuring this out. I hate computers and have no one to help me with this stuff. I have managed to edit our day's videos into one movie. This is no big deal to most people. For me, this is the equivalent of winning the Nobel Peace Prize (oh, wait...) Enjoy!

Jeremy has mastered a few more words recently thanks to all his work in speech therapy and at the teacher at the ELC- so listen closely. They are not perfect, but we are so thankful for these close approximations.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Year of the Biography

Now that my nutso 60 Book Challenge is behind me, I am ready for my next book adventure - a year of biography!

Here's the dealio - we each got to choose 10 biographies to read, and we would both read all 20 and have lively discussions, just like in the movies. I will probably be wearing designer glasses and hubby will be smoking a pipe. So picturesque!

Anyway, back to reality. Here are the biographies we have chosen so far. We are not quite to 20, so we are taking suggestions. Can you tell which ones I chose? Also one of these books is 2400 pages long, so this may last more than a year.
  1. Truman by David McCullough
  2. Agatha Christie: A Biography by Janet Morgan
  3. Robert E. Lee by Douglas Freeman
  4. Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  5. High Society: The Life of Grace Kelly by Donald Spoto
  6. Bonnie Prince Charlie by David Daiches
  7. Joe DiMaggio by Richard Ben Cramer
  8. Jane Austen: A Life by David Nokes
  9. Shakespeare by Peter Ackroyd
  10. Mark Twain by Ron Powers
  11. Tis by Frank McCourt (autobiography)
  12. The Pirates Lafitte by William Davis
  13. Black Boy by Richard Wright (autobiography)
  14. Mr. Capone by Robert Schoenberg
  15. Black Mass: The Irish Mob, the FBI, and a devil's deal by Dick Lehr & Gerard O'Neill
  16. The Education of Henry Adams (autobiography)
  17. Life of Johnson by James Boswell
So, we need 3 more - who else should we read??

Saturday, January 9, 2010


"Done" - who'da thought that word would one day bring such joy to my ears? Jeremy has officially begun his speech therapy and already he says one word: "done". He says it when he is finished eating, fed up with an activity, etc. He still hesitates on it and has to do a couple of tries, but it does happen. I am so proud!

Also, I am finally "done" with Jeremy's room! This has been a big project for me for a while now. I wanted him to have a space that was organized, colorful, educational, and playful. A place for him to spend time that does not have a TV in it. My goals = huge. My budget = nonexistent. But, I did it! Jeremy now has an amazing room that he loves and I could not have done it without YOU! Almost every single thing in the room is a hand-me-down, a gift, a purchase from the dollar store, or something I made at work with our color printer and laminator.

Here is a video and some pictures of the room:

The bed, dresser, clown pic, and lamp are all from daddy's room when he was a kid. The quilt was made by Nana for Jeremy's Christmas present. The toy box was a gift from Nona and Pop. Most of the decorations are gifts (Dani, Lauren P., etc) or items from the Dollar Store. We get most of his books at McKay's used bookstore, and the fireplace was a gift from the housekeeping supervisor, Ms. Phyllis, at my office. Seriously, what does one do without great friends? The quote on the wall is "Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read...One does not love breathing." It is something Scout thinks in To Kill A Mockingbird when her teacher tells her she has to stop reading at home with Atticus. This was always a quote that spoke volumes to me and my love of reading, which also began with my dad reading to me. I am so happy that Jeremy loves reading so much!!

This morning, Jeremy and I made our first fort. Here are some pictures. He loved it!
Well, I guess this post is "done"! Have a great weekend and stay warm!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Jeremy had his first snow day from school today. Three-quarters of an inch of snow fell in Knoxville, so half the schools in the city were closed down. Makes perfect sense.

The Early Learning Center was actually open, but luckily Jeremy has one responsible parent (ie not me), and daddy had the sense to go pick him up early before the crazy Knoxville drivers all lost their minds. Good call. By 5pm when I headed home the roads were nuts. We saw three cars drive off the road.

So, daddy and Jeremy got home and played in the snow together while I sat in staff meeting scheduling staff members for Spring semester area coverage - no contest.

Here is what mommy missed this afternoon. Looks like my boys had fun!

(Photos courtesy of daddy's cellphone.)

Also, Happy Anniversary John and Velita Carr - 32 years!
My parents are the best love story around!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

60 Book Challenge - Done!!

DISCLAIMER - this is a long post. It was a year of my life, sorry. Happy reading!

I did it! I set a goal in 2009 to read 60 books and I finished the year with 61! I am so proud. I have never kept up with a reading list before, so it was fun to see how much I read. You can see in my list that I struggled a bit (august is horrible for me at work, so only one book was read - pathetic), but I think I would have been easily over 50 even if I had not set this goal.

I enjoyed my books and found it interesting to see what I read - I did not intentionally try to read anything special - I just read whatever struck my fancy. Some of it was complete crap, some was really great, and others were favorites I read for the millionth time. I do love to re-read.

Here are my totals and dates. I read 61 books and 33 of them were books I read for the first time - gee, I really do re-read a lot. But, I think 33 new books is still better than most people (hmm, 5 books would probably beat most people come to think of it...)
1. Jan 1st - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
2. Jan 9th - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
3. Jan 18th - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling
4. Jan 20th - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
I re-read the Harry Potter books each holiday. Brian makes fun of me. I think it is fun and makes me happy during my downtime in December and January. He can suck it.
5. Jan 31st - Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart
True story of two gals who worked at Tiffany during the summer of 1945. Actually a really good read.
6. Feb 2nd - Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Fun Austen, her first mature novel but the last to be published. She pokes fun at the gothic genre by creating a parody with some of her signature characters. A fun, if un-Austen-like read.
7. Feb 10th - The Friendly Jane Austen by Natalie Tyler
Fun little book that has trivia about the 6 novels and cosmo-esque quizzes to see which Austen character you would be and marry. I am Catherine Moreland (N. Abbey) and would marry Mr. Knightley (Emma).
8. Feb 16th - Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich
I read this for my international literary colloquy on campus. So depressing. I never even knew about this mess - I guess I was too young. Ugh - it was really hard to read while crying that much.
9. Feb 21st - Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
The longest of the Austen novels. This one grows on me as I read it more. Fanny is my least favorite heroine and Edmund my least favorite hero, but I love Mary and Henry Crawford - who you are supposed to hate. I wonder if Austen planned it that way?
10. March 4th - Omon Ra by Victor Pelevin
Another book for my colloquy. About the russian space program, but a fake dreamlike version of it. Weird and creepy and scary all at the same time.
11. March 8th - Emma by Jane Austen
I have always loved this one. Knightley is dreamy and Mrs. Elton deliciously vulgar. All the great Austen elements coming together seamlessly.
12. March 22nd - Julie and Julia by Julie Powell
I heard about this blog long before I knew a movie was coming. The book was good, but I found her to be a bit off-putting. It was fun seeing her ups and downs, though. I thought the movie was better, as it added a lot more of the Julia Child story.
13. March 27th - A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare
Oh, I had not read this in so long and it is one of my favorites. Fairies and love and magic and donkey heads. What's not to love??
14. March 29th - The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake
A great (long) poem by a great poet. One of the best parts is the illustrations that Blake made to go along with each page, he carved them onto stone. Very impressive and beautiful. Don't read this without color versions of the carvings, it adds so much.
15. March 29th - Curtain by Agatha Christie
16. April 2nd - The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
A great pairing as these two mysteries are set in the same place and mark the first and last appearance of the great Hercule Poirot.
17. April 4th - Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
18. April 5th - Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding
What can I say? I am a sucker for this kind of stuff. If you have not read it, though, it is so funny. Much funnier than the movies. I literally laughed out loud and woke Brian up one night.
19. April 7th - 1776 by David McCullough
This is where my love affair with Nathaniel Greene started (see earlier post). Great book, left me wanting to read 1777, if it existed. And I do not usually like histories.
20. April 21st - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Are you proud of me for waiting until late April to pull this one off the shelf?? What can I say? I love it. Every word, every time.
21. April 26th - These Three Remain by Pamela Aidan
I decided to take a leap and try since there are so many knockoffs. This is P&P from Darcy's view rather than Elizabeth's. A bit odd, but I see what she was doing and it was kinda cute.
22. April 28th - Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll
Oh dear. A P&P sequel. Literally picks up on the wedding night. Learned things about Darcy I never wanted to know. Things dear Jane never learned in her chaste little life. I am blushing just thinking about it. But, she went to great lengths to put in a lot of period detail and history, so kudos for that.
23. May 5th - The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Joey gave me this and it was really good. A mystery/ghost story that kept me up all night to finish it. I am a sucker for a suspenseful book, and this one delivered. Also, a great read for a book lover as the narrator is a total book nerd as well and you relate to her immediately.
24. May 14th - The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides
Eh. This has been on my shelf for years but I never read it until now. Could have left it there longer.
25. May 16th - The Villa by Nora Roberts
Guilty pleasure. I like Roberts as a romance writer because she at least includes a plot, which is more than most of them can say.
26. May 21st - A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
I never managed to finish this in high school. It is really good and so sad and very Hemingway. I still prefer The Sun Also Rises. More humor.
27. May 31st - Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde
You have to love Wilde. I try to read one of his plays every year. They are just zany and like screwball comedy before it existed. Love it.
28. June 5th - The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
I have started this book no less than 6 times and never made it past page 10 until now. Wharton is hard to read, but so beautiful. I want to live in a brownstone in her New York. But, I do not want to end up like her heroines. Poor Lily.
29. June 12th - Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories by Agatha Christie
This book sat on my mom's bookshelf my entire childhood. I finally pulled it down when in Memphis, and turns out, I now have a love affair with Agatha Christie. And I wasted 28 years with her right under my nose!
30. June 13th - A Fine Brush on Ivory by Richard Jenkyns
Austen criticism that I really enjoyed. Good look at her work from a language perspective, which was nice as most critics focus more on her characterizations.
31. June 17th - Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
My least favorite Austen, but still better than most other stuff out there. I actually prefer the Emma Thompson movie version, though it pains me to say that.
32. June 29th - The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
This was the freshman book at UT this year. I led a discussion for our staff and two classes of freshman kids. Memoir of her life in poverty with crazy parents but still making a success of her life. Fun to read, even though it is heavy material. And, she came to campus and signed my book!
33. July 2nd - Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
See my earlier blog. I will not honor this crap with any more of my time.
34. July 7th - And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Read this book and I double dog dare you to predict the outcome.
35. July 10th - Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
36. July 12th - The Madwoman in the Attic by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar
Famous literary criticism of female authors in the 19th century. I always wanted to read it. Turns out, it is really dry and over 700 pages. Torture.
37. July 30th - A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie
I kinda don't remember the difference between all the Christie stories. Sorry. But they were all really good.
38. Aug 6th - Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Ugh. See my earlier blog for my thoughts. I am over it.
39. Aug 30th - Knight's Gambit by William Faulkner
Mystery stories by Faulkner, my grad school nemesis. Not great mysteries, but wonderful characters.
40. Sept 8th - Mary Poppins by PL Travers
Who even knew this was a book? Very different from the movie, but good. Mary is kinda mean. Hmm.
41. Sept 11th - The Collected Stories by Peter Taylor
I had never heard of him, but these stories were amazing.
42. Sept 22nd - Northern Lights by Nora Roberts
Yet again, guilty pleasure, nothing else.
43. Sept 28th - The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Hated it in school. Still hate it. Can't understand how you can be so ambivalent about your kids. Is is bad that I am relieved when she kills herself? (Spoiler Alert! heehee)
44. Oct 6th - Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
This was my vacation book. Light, fluffy, superficial. Book candy. I recommend it for the beach or a roadtrip when you do not want to use any brain cells.
45. Oct 9th - Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
I had never read this, now I know why it is so famous. Greatness.
46. Oct 16th - Prisoner's Base by Rex Stout
47. Oct 23rd - Homicide Trinity by Rex Stout
Love Nero Wolfe stories and never read these. Stole them from dad when in Memphis and still have them. Sorry, dad! Great short reads with amazing dialogue.
48. Oct 26th - The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton
I have always been a Wharton fan, but these were kinda weak. Not horrible, but not really very scary.
49. Nov 2nd - Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
Totally sappy, but I fall for it anyway. Good story for young moms.
50. Nov 10th - The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
The first ever detective story, long and victorian, but a great twist ending and wonderful variety of hilarious character narrators.
51. Nov 25th - To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Still a classic. Still my favorite. Still gives me chills and makes me cry - "Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passing." Kills me. Named my son after Jeremy Atticus Finch (Jem).
52. Nov 3th - From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwiler by EL Konigsburg
My all time favorite book when I was in 6th grade. I have not read this since 6th grade. Still great!
53. Dec 5th - Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
Hilariously dry and sarcastic holiday short stories. I recommend if you need a break from the sugary sweetness of the season.
54. Dec 6th - A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
I can't help it, I read this classic every year around this time. It makes me happy.
55. Dec 9th - The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
An interesting modern take on all 6 of her mature novels. I want to do a JA book club - anyone interested??
56. Dec 17th - Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
One of my favorites, gotta love the weirdo plots that could only happen in Shakespeare and your average soap opera. I wonder why one is so revered and the other so panned?
57. Dec 21st - Passing by Nella Larsen
Written during the Harlem Renaissance, about a black woman who passes as white, even marrying a white man who doesn't know her real race. I wrote a great paper in college about the controversial ending of this book. A good, short read.
58. Dec 25th - Shopaholic Ties the Knot by Sophie Kinsella
59. Dec 27th - Shopaholic and Sister by Sophie Kinsella
60. Dec 29th - Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella
I admit it. I needed to make the goal, so I read these since they are pretty brainless reading. But, I do enjoy reading the light and fluffy stuff and these aren't THAT bad.
61. Dec 30th - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling
And the cycle begins again!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bring on 2010!

Happy New Year! My New Year's Kiss was none other than Mr. Jeremy Campbell Hopper. Daddy does Eucharistic Adoration every Thursday at midnight, so I rang in the new year by sneaking into Jeremy's room, pushing down the bars to the crib, and giving him a light kiss while praying he would not wake up. It was crazy exciting! Just like Times Square!

I don't know about you, but I for one have been anxiously awaiting the end of 2009. Not my favorite year. But, now we are on the threshold of a whole new world: a clean slate, a new beginning, a chance to start over and do things right!

Here are my 2010 resolutions:
  1. Take care of myself. I have realized that if I am not well, I cannot take care of my family or do my job properly. So, I am going to start my workout routine again (though I still don't know what is going on with my swollen joints - I'll have to figure that out too), lose some weight, and get more energy back. Also, no more worrying myself sick over things that I cannot control.
  2. Be more active with Jeremy. Whether it is during play time, work time, or bath time, I can be more hands on and proactive in his games, learning skills, and routines. I need to be more strict with discipline as well. He has a long way to go in his speech therapy, and Brian and I will have to be very consistent and supportive in working with him at home.
  3. Spend more time with husband. Unfortunately, by the end of the day after 8 hours of work and then feeding, bathing, and bedding Jeremy, I am so exhausted that I barely spend any time with the hubby. It is a family goal for us to spend more time together without the kiddo.
  4. Give my all at work. I can definitely benefit from some better organizational and time management skills at work. I love my job, but I often become complacent in things that I do, I need to keep up my drive and work to do more!
  5. Have more fun! I can get so bogged down by the everyday responsibilities of work and family that things are more of a chore than they need to be. I need to rediscover the fun and enjoy life more!
I predict a really great year! Here are some lovely pics from the last few days. Jeremy does seem to be recovering, and his temperature has stayed down. Still nasty ear, though! Today we put up his big boy bed, and he loved it from the first minute.

Sitting in his bed for the first time.

Climbing in for his first night as a big boy! (He only climbed out once after we tucked him in!)

And he is still a fireman.

And here is a bathtime video! I have not figured out how to edit and do fun things with videos yet, but soon.