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« August 2005 | Main | October 2005 »

w September 25, 2005

Never Too Old To Rock Out

Or too young. We hit the Green Day concert at SBC Park in San Francisco last night, and it was a *great* show. I'm not usually one for crowds and loudness and people blowing (pot) smoke in my face, but this was actually a pretty enjoyable experience. Being on the field rather than in the stands actually afforded us more personal space, and it was beyond cool to be looking at the lit up Bay Bridge while fireworks boomed.

The only truly strange thing was not so much seeing people older than us at the concert, but seeing those MUCH younger. I mean, there were eight year olds there. It's not that I have a problem with eight year olds liking Green Day, that's up to them and their parents, but to realize that I was listening to Green Day BEFORE these kids were BORN...well, that was weird.

I'm not sure if I feel way old or a lot cooler than I did previously. Are eight year olds cool?

by Heather Hoffman at 1:37 PM

w September 22, 2005

My Famous Fambly

Okay, he's not *officially* family just yet, but we're awaiting the day. My sister's boyfriend just became the newest member of the Canadian Brass, which means Erin, having literally just moved FROM Toronto in June... had to pack up and move BACK to Toronto in September. Ah, the peripatetic life of musicians.

At any rate, we're sick proud of both of them and my sis even gets a mention in Justin's bio...check it out:


by Heather Hoffman at 5:58 PM

w September 21, 2005

Building a Library

We have a lot of books in our house. A LOT. I would guess upwards of 2000 by this point, and yes, they do threaten to take over on a regular basis. Bean has plenty of books of her own, many bought by me in a fit of nostalgia and anticipation of reading before bedtime. Certainly I do that now, in fact, we are halfway through the first Harry Potter and she really likes it. One of the positives about having a blind child is that they aren't so wedded to pictures; she really seems to engage aurally, at least when she's not in a manic causing trouble before bedtime mood. However, of course we want her to gain independence as she can in reading, and yes, this is where Braille comes in. She's too young to really 'read' Braille yet, but she has been well exposed to it and is really quite interested in the funny bumps.

Enter Seedlings. This company sells Braille books for children, everything from the preschool classics up to non-fiction useful for middle schoolers and their ubiquitous science and history reports. There are also nifty things like Braille-ized magnetic letters or numbers, workbooks for parents, etc. I have bought her two books thus far, and can't say enough good things about this organization. Certainly there are other great publishers of Braille materials, but this seems to be specifically targeted to children's books, and that's what I need now. It was great fun to flip through the catalog tonight and see all my favorites from childhood and even young adolescence; of course I will read these to Bean, but I want her to be able to enjoy them on her own as well...so thanks, Seedlings.

Also...to those of our relatives looking for Christmas or birthday presents for the Bean...they take Visa and Mastercard.

It dawned on me recently that a blind kid doesn't have to hide under the covers with a flashlight to read into the night. Who's going to know, so long as they are quiet?

I can't wait.

by Heather Hoffman at 9:55 PM

w September 20, 2005

Little Shop of Horrors

Actually, it's not. My dentist is the greatest guy ever, and even his hygienists are pretty cool and not too abusive with one's jaw and teeth. That being said, what other title could I use for Bean's first official visit to the dentist? She is now three and a half, and we finally have all the teeth in; thus, it is time for checking and cleaning.

She did great. It's tough when you can't see what's coming towards you, or imitate Mom in opening your mouth, but she was a champ. The X-rays annoyed her a bit, but I think they basically got the images they needed, she put up with cleaning remarkably well, and even the foamy fluoride swab wasn't too bad. We kept telling her that she was being *such* a big girl and this is what *big girls* do...and you know, it really works :).

In a weird way, though, it made me sad. It's just another moment where she is getting older and more independent, more in need of "grown up" things, and it's kind of tough. I'd rather this than cavities though, and we are doing great on that front. Huzzah.

by Heather Hoffman at 2:04 PM


Talk To Me!

So apparently you can now leave comments on the blog...originally they had been disabled in an attempt to avoid spammity spam...no more! Talk to me! I need to know people read my blitherings!

by Heather Hoffman at 2:02 PM

w September 15, 2005

Comfort Food

We all have our personal dishes, and not all of mine are dorkily historical. But some of them are, and I had cause to make one recently. The Bean is recovering from the first cold of the season, and I have been pulling out my hair trying to make foods that will pique a tempermental appetite, as well as not aggravate a sore throat. Enter my great-grandmother's recipes, of which I have about four, all for soothing, gentle, grandmotherly foods: rice pudding, banana pudding, egg custard, and spoon bread. I made the egg custard for Bean, and lo, it was good. I offer the recipe to you here; it is dead easy, and good for what ails you:

Rachel Wilson's Egg Custard

3 eggs
1/2 c sugar
2 c milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat eggs, add sugar slowly, and beat together. Add milk and vanilla, mix well. Pour mixture into Pyrex baking dish and place this dish into a larger pan of water, enough to reach halfway up the custard pan. Sprinkle nutmeg on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean (for my oven, it was pretty much 45 minutes...you know your oven best).
Eat while it's raining outside, and the fire is going, and you are reading your favorite childhood book. Alternatively, feed to crabby 3 year old recovering from a cold.

by Heather Hoffman at 8:28 PM

w September 09, 2005


One of the inestimable pleasures of having been a teacher is living in the same town as many of my former students, and getting to see them grow into really delightful young men and women. I called one of them to babysit for us tonight and discovered that she was just as precious now as she was three years ago, and I couldn't have asked for a more trustworthy, capable, or sweet babysitter for the Bean. AND she's a junior...two more years!

After I picked her up we started talking about school, etc, and I mentioned I thought I might go back to teaching after the Bean is in kindergarten, and she said, "I hope you do, you are a great teacher. You made me love history."

She's now taking AP U.S. history, making straight As and wants to go to Stanford. I couldn't have asked for a more gratifying twist of karma.

by Heather Hoffman at 9:32 PM

w September 02, 2005

The Gulf Coast

I hope it's not overkill for yet another blogger to post something about the horrific aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the havoc it wreaked on the Gulf Coast, but after four days of nearly obsessively reading and watching the news, I couldn't help myself. We have all seen the images and read the articles but I don't think any of us can really comprehend what these people are going through...and frankly, what they are going to have to go through once they are (hopefully) able to return to what remains of their homes. I'm trying to wrap my mind around it, but I realized, I can't. Why? Because honestly, this is an issue of class. And I have the inestimable fortune of being middle to upper middle class. Natural disaster, unless it takes a direct hit and maims or kills me and my family, is rather avoidable for us. We could leave, we have resources to rebuild, we have places to roost across the States or Canada.

Look at the photos on the news sites. These are not people who had much in the way of resources to begin with, and I think they are coping insanely, almostly incomprehensively well with a beyond miserable situation. You read all these reports of looting and lawlessness and violence, and while it is deplorable, especially when directed at rescue operations or medical personnel, it is kind of understandable. What else is left? There IS nothing left to lose. Why not take care of yourself?

That being said, I hope for the sake of the remaining New Orleanians, these circumstances are improved vastly and quickly. As a proud (half) Texan, mad props to the state for opening their doors and hearts to the evacuees...Texans, especially along the Gulf Coast, understand that a couple more miles west and life could have been very different. My mother grew up west of Houston and remembers all the hurricanes that did hit.

One thing though that I hope gets some more attention is that there are other communities along the Mississippi and Alabama coasts that need help just as much. The people who live there are in the same situation as those in New Orleans, they just don't live in the Big Easy, they live in nearly forgotten hamlets. Please add them to your thoughts and prayers and donations, should you be able to do that as well.

There is a Tragically Hip song that has unfortunately been running through my head the last few days, "New Orleans is Sinking". Radio stations in Canada have opted to pull it from playlists, for which they should be applauded. Maybe it should be a reminder though, that once the city (and others) start the rebuilding process, hurricanes like this aren't necessarily a one-time deal. Make the levees stronger. Have emergency relief more quickly accessible. Remember that there are tens of thousands of people who don't have resources and probably never will. And remember that disaster seems far away but it's happening to fellow human beings.

by Heather Hoffman at 6:59 PM