Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Big Family Times, Spring, 2017

We drove away from home in Kennewick at 10 am on Wednesday morning, March 22 in our 2015 red Passat loaded with luggage, various bags of books and stuff and several acoustic instruments. Dennis, Arthur and I made it to Phoenix by Thursday evening around 7:00, driving right to Sky Harbor Airport to pick up Paul, who had flown in from New York. Arthur stood waiting for him to walk into the big room near his gate and when he saw Paul, ran across and leaped into a body hug with legs and arms!

Paul, sans luggage, navigated us out of the labyrinth of the airport and in 10 minutes over to Keith and Bethany's home, where the others had enjoyed a meal of pork chops, salad and lemon curd together. Annie Laurie had flown in from LA around 3 pm, with Zach and Kaley and their children having driven down from Colorado Springs in two days, arriving around 5 pm. Now all 16 members were together, though baby Isaiah was asleep already. The four of us arriving late had a chatty supper, then we drove 5 minutes to the rental house where all from out of town were staying.

What a place! Huge, luxurious, filled with art. The living room boasted a huge fireplace and a harpsichord! They had graciously designated the master bedroom for Dennis and me and our suite was at least 1000 square feet! Paul and Arthur slept in the large den with Zion and Kacia. Keziah had a roll away in the family room. Zach and Kaley had a bedroom as did Annie Laurie, who had a fever when we arrived.

Friday morning, Kaley and Zach took Zion, Kacia and Arthur to a special childrens' park, meeting up with Keith and Bethany and their four children. Keziah stayed with us, since she was ill also, and got in an extra nap. We had a relaxed morning talking with Paul and Annie Laurie in the big kitchen before scrambling off at noon to the Royals/Mariners game, which was an hour's drive away. We had forgotten our tickets in the car, parked very far away, but in time they were found online so we got into the game by the second inning.

It was so nice to sit on the blankets in the grass in the sun, talk with Zach and Kaley some, watch the children frolic and see the game. Bethany was home with Isaiah, but Kaley took a picture of the rest of us by the fence and great shots of the 6 children too. Mariners had been ahead the whole game, then the Royals rallied but fell short. Zach's whole family had their Royals shirts on, while Keith's had their Mariner's garb on!

Rearranging who was going with whom for the ride back home, I went with Keith and the little boys, Annie Laurie went with Kaley and the girls, and Zach, Paul and Arthur went with Dennis. Only problem was, I had the keys for the Passat! So Keith, well away, had to turn around and go back to find Zach in the parking lot to give him the keys! Then we all had long drives home, crawling in the rush hour traffic, but that gave Keith and I a nice chance to visit. Near home, Dennis bought Rubio's take out Mexican food for all, which we ate together in the "mansion". Bethany brought Isaiah over, whom I got to hold as much as I wanted. Uncle Paul let the older children play Minecraft. Annie Laurie went to sleep on the floor of the family room, but felt some better the next day. Arthur established his place in the living room at the square coffee table to work with his markers and paper

Saturday morning provided a welcome time of catching up over the breakfast table with Zach and Kaley about their natural fight against cancer. They'd been dealing with close friends who disapproved of the course they are taking.  Keith rode bikes with Evangeline, K2, and Abraham  over from their house. Kacia was full of talk about how Annie Laurie was going to take her to buy her some candy! Some of the games from March Madness were on later, so everyone who cared about those enjoyed watching them together. All six of the children were glad to have a chance to go swimming in the very big pool at the mansion in the afternoon, since there hadn't been time on Friday. It was cold but fun, with Annie Laurie and the bigger guys joining in as well. I took Paul and Annie Laurie to Costco for clothes for Paul and groceries, with a fun stop at Starbucks. Zach and Kaley also shopped at Costco. They were in charge of supper that night, making their delicious chicken taco recipe with Keziah pitching in as well.

Zach directed the conversation at the huge table with the adults, asking everyone to say what they admired about each of the others. This was very affirming for everyone, a great "official" beginning to our time together. There was some warring over the Minecraft play throughout the week but overall, everyone got along very well. Arthur had some good wrestling times with Paul and with the younger children while he was feeling ok.

Sunday morning we got breakfast done quickly and out the door to meet Keith and Bethany at their church. Isaiah, Keziah and K2 stayed with the adults and the other children went to the children's class. I was glad to take communion, then when the pastor announced he was preaching about Stephen from the book of Acts, I was very ready to hear what he said, since Dennis has been preaching about Acts and I have been reading MLJ on Acts.

Waiting for everyone to gather after service was over, Kaley suggested we take a family picture when we got back to the mansion before anyone changed their clothes. A tripod was rigged that hid Kaley from our view, but she got some great group photos around the pretty painted bench that graced the large courtyard entry way to the mansion. In the afternoon, several went to a bookstore where Paul bought some great books for both sets of grandchildren. We finally discovered the stash of games so the children played those off and on the rest of the week.

Sunday evening, Annie Laurie and Paul made chicken curry & rice with dosas & garlic spread and Paul's potatoes for a special supper. Their direction for the dinner conversation was for each to talk about their big goals/dreams in life. We didn't get too far that night since we cut it short to do music together and to get the children to bed a bit earlier, so we continued and finished this topic on Wednesday eve. Playing and singing worship songs altogether in the family room went well. The children were eager to play Paul's bass with him, taking turns.

Monday was free until evening. Our usual pattern in the mornings was Zach would make a big pot of steel cut oats, I would cook a big skillet of scrambled eggs and Annie Laurie would make a pot of coffee. Others would make toast or squeeze oranges right off the tree in our yard for whoever wanted such. This day, Dennis and I took Bethany with us to look at vintage and antique stores in Mesa, and also a music store. Paul and Annie Laurie went out for coffee and a quiet workplace. Some swimming and Minecraft for the children and baby holding time for me in the afternoon too. Zion walked up the tree in the backyard! Kacia and Abraham spent their time around the pool rather than in it for the most part.

Bethany had arranged for a babysitter for the children so the nine adults could go to dinner at True Foods Kitchen. The healthy food was delicious and it was special for Arthur to be included as an adult with the others. Afterwards, we toured the 100 year old Frank Lloyd Wright designed Biltmore Hotel nearby. A big party was going on for NFL team owners and managers! Some of us "crashed" the outdoor garden party with concert and wandered around.

Tuesday morn we all gathered at the Desert Botanical Gardens. It is a huge, designed planting of every kind of cactus and succulent (with other herbs, vegetables  and flowers as well) that grow in the region. I got to carry Isaiah quite a while as we walked through the different areas. Even though Kacia was now coming down with the "bug" we all had a great time together enjoying the beautifully designed and cared for huge collection of living things. Kaley got lots of great cousin shots.

That evening we joined Keith and Bethany at their home for grilled chicken, salad and rice, with coconut chips. We ate outside on their patio and our subject for conversation was to give a scripture passage that had special meaning this past year. So good to hear how God is working in different ways in each one! Then we gathered in the living room to make music together again. Dennis taught Evangeline how to play Cripple Creek on her violin before we ate supper, and she nailed it during the jam! Keziah played piano, leading us in several hymns. Keith played bass this time.

Wednesday, Kaley and Kacia (who were both now fighting the "bug") along with Bethany, Abraham and Isaiah stayed home and enjoyed time together. Keith had to go to moot court to work on a big case he'd been preparing. The rest of us drove down to Tucson. Zach took Annie Laurie, Arthur, K2, Zion and Evangeline to an air museum called Boneyards. Dennis, Paul (battling the "bug"), Keziah and I drove into downtown Tucson to shop at the unique furnishing stores Mimi had showed us 2 years before.

Then at noon, all of us gathered at a pizza place near Mimi and Chuck's home to have lunch with Mimi, Chuck, along with Lorna, Gordon and David Kaufman! The Kaufman's were a welcome surprise as they were in town from Boston and just ready to fly back in a few days! It was a great blessing to get to see, eat with and visit with all five of them a couple hours before we scurried off back to Phoenix. We did stop first at Mimi's to see all the improvements Chuck has made since we were there last. Zach had to get the children to Awana's for their pinewood derby at 4:00 and we had to get back to back to grocery shop and make supper for everyone! Annie Laurie was making a special birthday berry pie for dessert in honor of Arthur's recent 22nd bday.

By this, our last evening together, Zach, Kaley, Zion, Kacia, Keziah, Annie Laurie, Paul, Dennis and Arthur were all dealing with various stages of the "bug". But everyone kept a great attitude! (Thankfully, it was not a stomach flu!) Dennis grilled the steak, Zach cut it in thin strips, I fried the basmati rice and the stir fry veggies so we had it all ready with the pie cooling soon after the Awana group of participators and watchers showed up. Evangeline won a trophy for her Seahawks inspired design!

We learned more about each other as the group finished sharing their goals and dreams, then everyone sang Happy Birthday to a reluctant (sick) Arthur and enjoyed the delicious pie. The guys and Annie Laurie had a shot of scotch while we talked about what a great summit this had been and hopes and plans for another next year, maybe in Maine near Lorna's summer home.

Zach and Kaley were planning to drive all the way home in one day so we packed up and cleaned up at the same early time they did. Before loading, Dennis drove Paul over to Keith's so he could go to work with him and see the real court presentation that Keith had practiced for on Wednesday. Paul's flight was in the evening so he had that last day to spend with them. We were taking Annie Laurie to LA and left shortly after Zach and Kaley, stopping by Bethany's to say goodbye. Annie Laurie knew about an installation called Mirage in Palm Springs and we got there at the perfect time to see it: a house all made of mirrors, inside and out! Thursday eve we checked into the Pasadena Rose Inn in Pasadena, planning to go to Universal Studios the next day. Ate supper at great, healthy place called Lemonade, one of Annie Laurie's favorites.

Friday morning, Dennis was feeling pretty rough and Universal Studios reviews did not make us think we would enjoy it much for the $100 per person price, so we decided to go to the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum instead. It was enjoyable though, of course, full of climate change propaganda. We considered going also to the art museum next door, but instead called Sharron and Armand and found we could bring dinner to their place that evening. So we headed toward our motel, stopping at the American Shopping Center in Altadena for Pressed Juicery ice cream-- delicious! Time for a little nap for Dennis before picking up a wood fired pizza on the way to the Deny's. Two sweet hours to spend with them eating, talking, seeing their place and yard and all of Sharron's quilted creations that Armand helps her to make. Wish we'd have taken pictures both here and with the Kaufman's and Youngs!

Saturday morning Dennis, Arthur and I drove away from the motel just minutes before Annie Laurie was picked up by her friend Brittany and they were driving the same direction as us clear to Redding! So we met up with them for coffee after going past the most congested part of our trip so I could meet Britt. We did spend the night in Redding too, but Arthur was feeling worse so we decided to not meet them for church but to get going on our way home. Dennis was still feeling rough too, so I spelled him a couple times. Had a delicious lunch in Bend, at the Old Mill center, made it home by 7:30 on April 2.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Almost two years have gone by!

Arthur turned 21 in March and graduated from high school last year (2016) in June. We had a big party at home with extended family, friends, classmates, even his teachers came! Annie Laurie and Paul flew in from New York too. Later in June, his boss at Columbia Industries awarded him the Best Employee of the Year plaque.  Artie worked two school years at Columbia Industries through the program they run through his high school. He worked two hours a day, four days a week on stamping hoods, clipping strings, assembling lanterns and replacing stickers on ducks for the annual duck race, earning a paycheck. He greatly enjoyed one week of Young Life camp with his Capernaum buddies in western Oregon again for the second year, also in June.

Now he works at Artmil again, helping with deliveries, shopping, mailings, bank deposits, emptying trash. In between his other work, he watches classic movies on DVD's and draws with markers at his desk near Dad and Mom in the office. He and Dad work out at the gym two doors down from Artmil. At home he helps with shopping, mowing, cooking, cleaning, washing cars. He takes videos of his large VHS collection of classics with his iPad and talks with his siblings occasionally on FaceTime. He enjoys shooting his bow and arrows or air pellet gun at his target in the back yard, helps out at our small church that meets upstairs at Artmil, takes part in blue grass jams and festivals with us and occasionally attends monthly Young Life Capernaum meetings.

Derek got our fancy new website up for Artmil last November amidst web development efforts continuing to grow to meet the rising demand for business websites. Dennis is working to include Chris and Andy on staff into the web development team so Derek can spend his time doing the work only he knows how to do along with part-time designers Katrina and Dagnie. Our son Zach in Colorado Springs has also shown interest in joining the team long distance by learning SEO skills and selling websites for Artmil in that region of the country.

Zach got out of the Air Force last spring and has had a tough year with Kaley's cancer and surgery and in finding what to do work-wise. We saw his family several times last year and plan to get together with them and the rest of our immediate family this coming March of 2017 in Tempe.

Paul came out December, 2016, to visit between the holidays. He had stayed with us most of 2015, then went back to New York in late fall. He started heading a new site called Circuit Breaker, part of The Verge early spring of 2016. It's been fun to see him demonstrating gadgets on video on Facebook.

Annie Laurie helped out in Colorado surrounding Kaley's surgery in the fall of 2016 and is now immersed in a big project designing a massive installation for The Magicians in Brooklyn. Dennis is going out next week to tour the installation when it opens, celebrate turning 68 and spend some time with Annie Laurie and Paul and the bluegrass scene in the big city.

I got to fly down to Tempe in late February 2016 to spend a week with Keith and Bethany's family. Then in early December, Isaiah was born so I flew out the second week of 2017 to get acquainted with their him and enjoy the family. I also got to have a nice time one afternoon with my sister Mimi. We lunched together outside in the nice weather, then happily toured IKEA together.

I returned home to the longest-feeling winter snow and cold-wise in 60 years here in Kennewick. Dennis and I are nearly finished with the remodel of our home begun nearly six years ago, just a couple more doors and windows and some trim work. Maybe this year!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A year later . . .

After a year away from writing on here, lots of news!

We moved our business just about one year ago to 5601 W Clearwater Ave. We have offices downstairs and our production room, along with a kitchen and two large bathrooms. Upstairs, half of the space had become a small concert venue that holds around 50 people. The other half is becoming a music/antique store with lesson cubicles. The far end of the upstairs will also house storage for Artmil, along with another kitchen area and two more large bathrooms,  plus another nice office with a large window and room for three work stations. The floors are connected by two stairwells and an elevator!

Arthur is going to high school full-time now, from 7:40 to 2:20 officially. He rides a bus down to Columbia Industries four days a week to work for them for 2 hours each day. It is a school placement for training but he gets paid $3.08 per hour. He also goes to Zumba most Tuesday afternoons from 4:30 to 5:15. He likes following the teacher who leads the class of special needs young people in a different moves for each song she plays from her iPod. I go along and learn the moves too! He is much better than me at learning dancing but I am improving.

For most of the last year, Arthur and I would visit Ms Katie at Sun River Speech Therapy on Mondays over in Richland. Arthur made great strides in his cognitive awareness and grew in independence as a result. He is also able to read at a k-first grade level. His speech never grew clearer though he uses more words so he is not any easier to understand. I had originally taken him to Ms. Katie to get his speech clearer. When I realized last month that no speech therapist I know even believes he can get better because they feel his speech patterns are unchangeable, too ingrained, I decided the time has come go a new way. We are now exploring how to craft a communication tool that will permit him to communicate more and better when his words don't do the job for the long range years ahead.

The remodel of our home made a little more progress with the master bedroom window, floor, trim and paint done. However most of our remodel time and energy has been devoted to the workplace remodel. Walls were taken out, floors repaired, painting is still going on, etc.

The business has boomed so we've had to hire two new people! Lots more websites are being built. Dennis stays busy also with BNI which has brought in lots of business too. He also has been involved with the MCTAMA bluegrass group again this year as president. He promoted the three concerts we've held upstairs in the Hidden Scene for MCTAMA.

We got to see all our children and grandchildren at Christmas time down in Phoenix and other times in the year when we traveled to Michigan and Colorado plus several came here for the summer bluegrass festival. We also got reacquainted with Dennis' large extended family in Minnesota at the Sauter reunion in August, saw Dennis' hometown of Jamestown North Dakota through his eyes, visited my cousin Roberta and her husband in in their Montana home and enjoyed my sister Mimi and her family in Arizona at Christmas time.

Our church group doubled in size, plus Dennis began leading a men's Bible study early on Tuesday morning. Both these meetings take place around the large table upstairs at work in the sunny large room. The year has seen a lot!

Saturday, February 1, 2014


I started writing this on November 14, 2013:    

Just a little more than five years ago, a very hungry, pretty long haired black, white and tan kitten meowed piteously at the dining room window. He was starving. His eyes were being turned up at the outer corners he was so hungry! Annie gave him some milk, then he came back several times for food and soon he was adopted into our home, though he really belonged to the whole neighborhood.  She named him George. We figured he was 4 or 5 months old;  had him fixed a few months later.

George was very friendly but also very brave. Once he stood down two big dogs in the back yard!  His bravery earned him some scars. Last year (2012) he tangled with what we figured must have been a squirrel who did such damage to his face we had to take him to the vet to get help for it to heal. He had way more moxie than sense and used up several of his nine lives when he was quite young. But all his scrapes healed each time till he looked good as new. Just this summer, we learned he was a Maine coon cat when a friend who came over met George.

He did not endear himself to Shasta, our older female cat, since they both wanted to be #1, but in time they got used to each other and mostly got along. His only other fault was scratching the carpet after every meal. He got really good at begging for more food and getting what he wanted. He would just sit in the kitchen and stare at me until I got the idea!

Sometimes when Arthur would let him in the door, he would leap in and gallop to his food dish. Arthur said he was a horse when he did that. George loved to jump over Shasta, which, of course, she did not appreciate!

He was such a good friend to us all. Whenever anyone went to work or play outside, he was out there too nearby, either watching or participating. He closely observed the ping pong games when the grandchildren came and they were delighted with him.

He would wait for us outside in the yard to come home, kind of like a dog would. He would lay on his belly with his hind legs splayed out behind him. Often he would sleep on his back with his paws in the air above him, right in the middle of the walkway! He'd often sleep on Arthur's bed during the days-- such a buddy he was.

Dennis found that George loved to have his back rubbed. George wasn't much of a cuddler but he would crawl up in Dennis' lap when he was cold. His purr was immense!

Sunday, November 10, 2013, he did not come in for the night as was his habit. The weather was warm so we didn't think much of it since he'd stayed out before occasionally. (He was great roamer, tried to go on long walks with us even!) The next morning our neighbors across the street, Karin and Scot, rang our doorbell about 7 am. Karin had noticed George across the street from their house, laying at the edge of the road. She and Scot brought George to us in a cardboard box. George was crying. We thanked them and brought George inside in the box, not wanting to think he wouldn't get better like all the other times before. We covered George's body with a towel to keep him warm. Dennis sat at the table and petted George's head, and cried and prayed for him for quite a while, then he got ready for work. Arthur prayed for George too and said he was good. I soon moved George's box under a light to keep him warmer. He would cry every once in a while; didn't move much at all.

Later we fixed lunch and took it and George in the box over to work with us. I told Andy about George, and right away when he saw him he was concerned that George should be in bigger box. When he moved him into a bigger box, he saw how stiff George was when he picked him up. Andy then encouraged us to take George to the vet in Pasco, the same one whom we'd taken Rita to years before, a no-nonsense type vet. So Arthur and I drove George over to the vet and waited about an hour, watching all the other pretty pets come and go, holding George in his box. The kind vet checked to see if there was any feeling in George's paws and there was none in any of them. He showed us how squeezing George's paws hard did not make him cry, and said George's spine had been broken. So I quickly said goodbye to George, but Arthur kept saying everything was good and didn't say goodbye. We paid the vet office to put George down and dispose of his body, then went back to work. I cried with Dennis there and at home later. Karin came over and cried with us too.  She loved him too.

That was three months ago now. Dennis still deals with his loss of George by not thinking of him-- that's how much that cat had gotten into his heart and what deep loss he still feels since George is gone. Arthur never seemed to go past his denial though he knows George is gone and seems accepting about that fact. Shasta is happier and easier to care for since George is no longer here to threaten her domain. Never before experienced a cat like George. He sure knew how to make us feel loved.

Almond Coconut Kuchen

Gotta tell the story on this one first. Even before we married nearly 37 years ago, Dennis would sing the praises of the kuchen he had as a boy in North Dakota and would describe it to me. Sweet yeast raised crust filled with fruit, covered with custard. Problem was, his mother, even though she was of German descent, wasn't the one who made it. She learned from her mother-in-law how to make wonderful treats like rhubarb custard pie, which he loved too, but no kuchen. He discovered kuchen and would buy slices of it in a store after school on his way home. He didn't even know how to spell it-- the word sounded like "kugen" to him.

Since I've always loved custard, I would try to make a yeast raised crust, lay fruit on top, pour custard over all and bake but it would always turn out as an under-done mess. Then, we had years of no wheat or dairy in our quest to keep everyone healthy.

Year before last, we discovered that wheat acts much like sugar in the body so if you have problems with your blood sugar, it is best to stay away from wheat (and most other grains for that matter) which quickly turn to sugar upon digestion. This past year we discovered the concept of low carb high fat eating, which makes sugar the villain destroying our health instead of butter and cream, lard and marbled meat. So I've learned to bake with coconut flour, almond flour, stevia for sweetening, and coconut oil, butter and cream for fat.

Then, just a few weeks ago on FaceBook I noticed an article by a woman who had stopped being ashamed she was from North Dakota (people just couldn't believe anyone could really live there!) and had begun to embrace all the oddities of her heritage. She had a link to another woman from ND who makes 70 varieties of kuchen like Dennis had as a kid! I learned how to spell it, saw pictures of it, found the basic recipe! You see, kuchen is just the German word for cake, which can be made a zillion ways, but at last I knew what vintage North Dakotan kuchen was!

What I have adapted here is not low carb, but it is high protein and high fat and has no added refined sugar. The high protein and high fat content more than balance out the carbs so that eating a slice will not spike your blood sugar. Of course it is different from real ND kuchen but it looks the same and tastes creamy and sweet. We plan to eat some during the Superbowl tomorrow. And Dennis said to make a lot so we can either celebrate with it when the Seahawks win or comfort ourselves with it should they lose! It makes a great special breakfast too.

Almond Coconut Kuchen    4 pie pans    325 degrees F    Total prep & bake time: about 50 min.

Butter bottoms and sides of 4 pie pans, glass or metal, 9" or 10"

In medium bowl, add each of these ingredients one at a time, whisking after each addition:

4 eggs
1/2 cup plain full-fat yoghurt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 tsp real vanilla
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/2 tablespoon xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt crystals
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp stevia powder (after this, switch from whisk to spoon)
1 and 1/2 cup almond flour

Spoon one fourth of this stiff crust mixture into the center of each pie pan. With buttered spatula, spread mixture in thin layer over bottoms of pans and up the sides. Spread evenly over each pan:

1 cup fruit such as canned apple slices, canned peach slices, blueberries, strawberries, etc. (4 cups total)

Bake in oven 20 minutes. While the fruited crusts are baking, mix the custard on the stove in a medium pan over medium heat:

4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup water
1 cup half and half
1 tsp real vanilla
1/4 tsp stevia powder

After the fruited crusts have baked 20 minutes, take them from the oven and pour one fourth of the hot custard over the fruit in each pan. Bake them for 20 more minutes, or until the custard is set.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Arthur in school and remodel work

After nearly two months of paperwork, meetings, testing, emails, evaluations, observation and detailed IEP, Arthur started high school last Thursday. He attends from 8:30 to 10:30 each day. Today, his third day, his teacher walked him out to meet me at the gate and got him to tell me about the origami paper boat he had made. Later, he told his dad about it! The word "origami" wasn't quite understandable till I explained it, but already we've seen an increase in the words he is initiating and using, with an effort to say many of them more clearly.

This past weekend in the lovely weather he helped me carry the sawhorses and a piece of plywood out from the garage to the backyard to set up a work station for sanding the trim boards for his room. We often remembered to get him to say the words of what we are doing or the tools we are using. He got to man the electric sander that is shaped like a baby clothes iron to sand the wide trim boards. Then Dad would sand the edges and tack cloth off the dust before I rubbed the stain on them on top of the covered ping pong table on the porch. Arthur's had a big part in remodeling his room, from pulling staples out of the floor to rolling paint on big areas of his walls and closet, to laying out the wood floor puzzle pieces to sanding the trim! His new blinds are installed so when his trim goes in, his room will be the first all the way finished room of the remodel!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Arthur's Education

Last Monday, the day came for Arthur and me to observe and experience the classroom #418 from 8:30-10:30 am for Special Needs high school students at Kamiakin. Upon entering the classroom, the first person we saw was Eser, Arthur's best friend from Vista Elementary School, 6 years ago! They both remembered each other and shook hands.

After the class preliminaries where 2 teachers and 5 adult aides help 19 students read and mark their calendars with the day's news, Arthur and Eser and three other students walked across the sidewalk with two aides to room #348 for academics with me along, observing. They read a story about Cloudy 2, the new sequel movie to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs just coming out. Arthur sat near Eser, taking his queues from him on how to follow the handout. (On Thursday at the SmartMAp trade show, Dennis won a $30 gift certificate to the theatre, so on Friday we all enjoyed watching Cloudy 2 together the day it came out!)

When the group returned to Rm #418, they were divided into teams for life skills. Eser and Arthur were assigned to sweep the kitchen floor and unload the dishwasher, while the two young women stacked and tied up bundles of newspaper. (The other young man went to choir). In the half glass kitchen room, Eser showed Arthur how to hold the broom properly. Soon Arthur and Eser were outdoing each other in dramatic sashaying across each row as they took turns sweeping the grid marked on the floor. As they (and the aide!) were laughing, Eser snorted, which sent Arthur into spasms of laughter so that he rolled on the floor. After they got it all into the dustpan, they moved onto the dishwasher. Eser handed Arthur each dish, and with a flourish and a wiggle, Arthur put each one in the cabinet across the room. Their good humor helped them get all the work done in quick time!

When the teams switched, Eser threw a huge stack of papers together hastily, so had to start over to make a small, neater stack, just up to the line taped on the wall. Arthur and the aide watched him, then the aide had Arthur tie the first bundle before he stacked up the next one for Eser to tie. Arthur was very deliberate and precise, wiggling at first with each added paper, then just steady work. Soon it was time for lunch (at 10:30!) so time for us to go.

Dennis has given Arthur three music lessons in the past couple weeks. He's getting him to count to four over and over in an even rhythm, and hold down and pluck one bass string in that same, even rhythm. Keeping it even is the hardest thing for Arthur at this point. It's as if he thinks, once I know how to do this, why can't I do it faster and faster! But Dennis is very patience. When I tried to teach Arthur a few years ago, I was not able to get him to repeat 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4 over again, he kept trying to go to 5-6-7, so we have real progress. He is also now using the same song sheets we use at church, cognizant of the titles and words, whereas before he wanted to use his own songbook without regard that the words were not what we were singing.

Yesterday, Arthur and I were sitting at the computer ready to Skype with Bethany and her children. I was going to read everyone a story called Love You Forever. (If I have ever read this book to Arthur, it was only once and quite a while ago.) While we waiting for them to call, I asked Arthur if he would like to read the book out loud to me.  He did just that! Before they called, he read the first two pages, following each line, nearly every noun understandable, the other words made with sounds not understandable, ending with the word, "crazy", which was the last word on the page! I was amazed!