bean to cup

27 09 2008

Here’s a video I put together showing both my coffee roasting equipment & my espresso machine in action.


smiling angel

21 09 2008

My mother was an avid violin player.  Never a professional, she played frequently with local orchestras, and taught violin lessons throughout her life.

As my daughter Emma enters 4th grade, she has the opportunity to play a string instrument through the school’s music program.  She enthusiastically chose the violin.  Her violin classes will begin this coming week, but I am allowing her to carefully feel what it’s like to hold & produce open notes on the violin.

There can be no doubt that Grandma Charlotte is smiling down on Emma as she makes her first sounds on the violin.

Charlotte Jacobs holds her violin

Charlotte Jacobs holds her violin

Emma creates her first notes on the violin

Emma creates her first notes on the violin

a berry nice day

20 09 2008
Peter Picks Raspberries

Peter Picks Raspberries

The summer heat has yielded to cooler fall temperatures.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky this morning.  Kathy came up with an idea for a family activity.  “Let’s go berry picking”.  She researched some farms that allow you to pick your own fruit & vegetables.  She found a farm in Deleplane, Virginia called Hollin Farm.  We drove 50 miles west of Washington.  The Interstate highway led us to a State highway.  Next was a county road, and finally a dirt road which was pitted from tractor use.  As we entered the farm property, we passed a field of cows and pigs.  Already, the kids were excited.  Once we parked, we immediately walked back to the pig pen so Peter & Emma could see & hear them up close.  In case you don’t know this, pigs are dirty, loud, and don’t smell all that great!  We then passed a

Emma Collects Some Red Beauties

Emma Collects Some Red Beauties

family that had just come from the berry patch.  I have never seen such beautiful raspberries before.  We grabbed a few containers & headed directly for the raspberry patch.  Peter and Emma were both captivated.  Peter diligently picked ripe berries & gently placed them in our baskets.

Emma Enjoys A Fresh Carrot

Emma Enjoys A Fresh Carrot

Once we collected our share of berries, Kathy & Emma picked some tomatoes and peppers.  I found some nice cucumbers, but Emma & I really had a ball getting the freshest carrots in the world.  We had to find them (not so easy, actually – one must spot the appropriate greenery, grab a shovel… and dig!)

Tonight’s dinner included some fabulous carrots, and was followed by an amazing fruit salad, featuring vine-ripened, super-fresh raspberries!


10 09 2008

tomato drill

9 09 2008

Yesterday, when my son came home from kindergarten, I asked him about his school day.  He told me that they played, sang, colored & also had a tomato drill.

Hmmmm.  Tomato drill?  I asked what he had for lunch.  He listed every morsel on his food tray, but tomato was not mentioned.  I twisted a few questions around to try to get more details from him, but he was quite definitive – he had a tomato drill at school.

Later, my daughter (who attends the same school as a fourth grader) translated.  With the current lineup of tropical storms forming in the Atlantic Ocean, they conducted a TORNADO Drill.  Good thinking – great try at a hard word by Peter – and rather lacking interpretive skills on my part.


6 09 2008
Peter sips through a strw

Peter sips through a straw

Another hurdle has been passed by Peter today.  In addition to a very successful 1st week of kindergarten, Peter went to the refrigerator tonight & pulled out a juice box.  He said over & over that he wanted a juice box.

Peter has never successfully taken a sip from a straw.  As a matter of fact, if you could ever get a straw into his mouth (and it might be easier to move your house 10 feet to the left), he’d bite it flat in a heartbeat.  Sipping a straw is simply one of those things we felt he may NEVER do…

… until tonight.

kindergarten starts – sweating many details

2 09 2008

Peter began his kindergarten career this morning.  One of the 1st things he said this morning while still in bed was , “I don’t want to go to school”.  We know him better than to take this seriously.  He likes to say or do things to get  reaction.  Sorry, Peter – you are going to kindergarten today – period.

While waiting a the bus stop with Emma and his parents, Peter showed no signs of being intimidated or afraid.  He waited patiently.  The bus schedule was running terribly late – and wrong.  At one point, a school bus approached, traveling rather fast for our neighborhood street, and blew right by the kids at the bus stop… and plowed right through a stop sign in front of us.  I hoped this was not to be our bus driver… IT WAS.

Emma took Peter’s hand and whisked him on to the bus, and escorted him into a seat.  She sat next to him in an uncharacteristically protective way.  She was teaching her brother by example, displaying a trait that she has never really showed us before – concern & care for Peter.  A shocking display for Kathy & me – one that’s very satisfying.

We were led to believe that a teacher or aide would be at the curb to escort Peter, and any other child in a special kindergarten class.  When the bus arrived at the school, no such escort was available.  I know this because as soon as the bus pulled away from our neighborhood bus stop, I drove like a (very controlled) maniac to beat the bus to the school, using some back-road savvy.  From her spying position (OK, it was the school’s sidewalk), Kathy witnessed the complete lack of Peter’s supervised entry into the school, and his awesome sister taking him by the hand in the door, and directly into the trust of his teacher in his classroom.

Peter’s Mom & Dad were most unhappy.  When your child has special needs, and you entrust this child to a school & its staff, you have to trust they will do what they promise to do – and what they MUST do to ensure the child’s safe & successful entry to a new school, program and classroom.  They let us down – they let Peter down – and Emma was our hero.  This became a day of pride for us, but in this most unexpected, and unnecessary way.

Because of this breakdown of the morning protocols, I felt it necessary to drive back to the school at dismissal time, take my own spying position behind a sign, and watch to see who does, or does not bring Peter out to his new bus after school.  I spotted our bus’ Safety Patrol nicely marching all of the neighborhood kindergartners to the bus, but Peter was not there.  She went back in the school, and emerged with Peter and one of his classroom aides.  I watched them steer Peter into the bus, and I saw his face – he was smiling.

As the aide was returning to the school, I called her over to my hidden perch, and asked how his day went.  She told me he had a wonderful day, and that he adapted to everything perfectly, and was happy all day. When i asked about the morning scenario, it was very casually dismissed as – oh, he’ll just follow everybody in to the school, and he’ll learn his way quickly.  I have mixed feelings about this.  We were assured he would have an adult hand to hold at first.  She was right, though.  Peter has an uncanny sense of direction, and probably would have gone straight to his proper room, even though he had been there only once for open house a few days earlier.

Emma was praised & rewarded mightily for her maturity & sensitivity.  She will continue to escort him in to school for a few more days – until he can just do it himself – I bet he could tomorrow.

Here’s what Peter’s new teacher wrote about Peter in his daily log:

“Peter had a great first day!  He did well following directions and working.  He got along well with his classmates and had a positive attitude all day.”

I’ll continue to sweat the details – I’m his Dad… it’s what I do.  But in the end, he had a great first day of kindergarten.  A Great Day.

This evening, Peter told us that he wants to go back to kindergarten again. OK!

Peter is ready to go!

Peter is ready to go!