Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011 and Good Riddance

I'm not doing a summary my year-other than:

It sucked.

It wasn't what I expected 1 year ago. In any area.

I am not sorry to see it go.

2011 can kiss my ass

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

I love chocolate covered pretzels.  For co-worker gifts this year I decided to make some.
omg-they are SO easy.  If I knew how easy I would have made them looooong ago.

You need:
A bag of chocolate chips (your choice, milk chocolate or semi-sweet--or both)
decorations (optional)

That's it.

Microwave the chips in a bowl...I put them in for 45 seconds, stirred, the in 30 second increments stirring until smooth.  Took maybe 2 minutes.

Then take the pretzels and dip.  i used stick pretzels so I spooned the chocolate up high...swirled until it went all the way down.

Put on wax paper...sprinkle with decorations.  I used colored sugar, sprinkles and peanut butter chips.

Let cool.  When they were cool, I slipped into gift bags.

Done.  And it took 30 minutes at the most!

I think used 2 full bags of chips and 1 full bag of pretzels (I may or may not have eaten a handful or 2.

These pictures are not great-since the husband took them with his phone.  Also, what you see in these pictures is the entire amount of counter space I I couldn't get them all on one counter (and some are even on the table)


Sunday, December 25, 2011

More December ramblings

I found one of my favorite Christmas movies from childhood on you-tube.  The Christmas that Almost Wasn't.  I loved this movie as a kid-and our local (now fox) station played it every year.  It's a cross between A Christmas Carol and a musical.  It is amazing how many of the songs/scenes are familiar-when I have not seen it in a very long time.  decades. plural. The movie is older than I am...but I still love it.  Nostalgia and all that.

We went on our annual Christmas Eve night pilgrimage to find driveways and streets lined with Luminaries.  I love luminaries.  The ones made from lunch bags.  (There are no pictures because I drove.  The husband was whining miserable from a Man-Cold and didn't think to take a picture.)
We found some-but not as many as my childhood, where entire neighborhoods would be lined.

We also looked at lights.  Christmas fact:  If you find a house or street with amazing lights at 11:45pm on Christmas Eve-someone in a hurry pulls up behind you and doesn't care that you are looking at the lights. Without fail, if I turned one way-so did whatever car was behind me at the time, turned that way, too.  I pulled over, put flashers didn't matter.  Cars always found a way to come up an insist I move.

It is 5pm on Christmas day and the Husband is still in bed with the aforementioned Man Cold.  He must really feel bad.  He slept through football yesterday and we didn't go to his family.  *It should be noted that *I* had this cold last week and took a 4 hour nap after our foster class and maybe 2 sinus pills.  The end.

The husband got a train for Christmas.   He has been wanting one-so I picked up a cheap one-not the Lionel set of his dreams.  He played with it, man-cold and all, for an hour last night-until we both could'nt stand it any more.  The cheap train sounded like a weed-eater.  Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz SO LOUD that we couldn't hear the train noises-or the music it played-or the TV for that matter.   Guess who will be in line returning it tomorrow.  I can't get it out of the house fast enough.  Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!


My favorite Christmas tree.  So many memories come with it.....

Friday, December 23, 2011

December Miscellaneous Rambings

I went to my first funeral for one of my students.  I pray to God it's the last one.  He was 5.  He beat cancer twice.  The third time snuck up on him and took him almost before anyone knew something was wrong.  The family went from decorating for Christmas and waiting for Santa to shock and grief in 2-3 days.

My husband and I are really not into Christmas this year.  My November funk has spilled over into December despite my best efforts.  I have been sick (finally feeling (mostly) better) and now he has it. We still don't have decorations on the tree (lights! lights! 1 strand of lights! are out on our prelit tree and we can't figure out why) and I have not made any cards (I always hand make them).  I also think the years of celebrating without a child have caught up to us.  We thought *this* was our year-and can't forget it.   I have tried to reverse this thinking I-am doing the 12 days of Christmas for my husband-a gift a day for 12 days before Christmas.  I think he is enjoying it a little.  The tree will be finished (I am going to turn that part to the window-really, it's not that noticeable--just 1 layer of lights) and presents will be wrapped.  Christmas cards, however, may be New Years cards this year. Or sent telepathically.

We have finished our final required class for foster care, which included a bunch of weekly classes, CPR/First Aid and a Crisis class--the last one was not scheduled until now.  We passed our home inspection and went over the home study.  We submitted 2 inches of paperwork and clearances. We have one (surprise!-just when I checked off the last requirement they whip this out) thing left.  We both need to write a paragraph about something.  The instructions were vague.  Autobiographical in nature.  1 page-no more.  (fyi-the 20+ page home study is ALL autobiographical so this requirement mystifies us).  I would have preferred a little more guidance...

We bought a crib, a carseat (for a child 5-100lbs to cover all bases) and a stroller.  The crib and carseat was a requirement.  It was really hard putting together the crib and also seeing it there now-empty-without knowing if it will ever actually be used.  The carseat sits in its box, covered by miscellaneous items in the garage.  At least we didn't have to install it for the inspection.

I submitted my (required) Christmas list to my husband on time.  It is 12/23 at 1am and he has not started yet (except to "buy me" the salt water fish he wanted too).  Most of my things needed ordered (thank you Michelle for the wonderful what to get the amateur photographer gift posts here, here, here and here.  I may or may not have just printed off these lists and substituted Nikon compatible stuff.  Oh-he got a kick out of my "revised" list (see this post).

In the spirit of optimism and ending this mood-I asked my husband how we were going to handle Santa next year.  All the important questions like Does Santa wrap?, How many gifts does Santa bring?  Fortunately, I knew these questions could be a little controversial and was prepared for the husband's possible reaction.  *His head exploded* when he found out Santa didn't wrap at my house....and further explosions happened when I mentioned that Santa wraps in special paper at some houses.  Apparently, Santa wrapped and used whatever was available at his house and he liked it.  I guess Santa will be wrapping here....but I'm still thinking he will use his own paper.    And he will bring as many presents as he least we agreed on something :)

Off to work on those damn lights!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Apps I use frequently

Several people have asked me about apps for preschool children.
These are the apps I use frequently with my students.  They are not all "speech" apps.
I am sure I am missing a few on my list-I have so many (too many!) apps now that need gone through.

The reason I have too many apps is I get a lot of free apps by looking every day at Freeappalert (dot) com.  There is a lot of junk-but I have found some goodies over the last few months (including  several eye contact apps for autism (not on this list because I have not yet used them with a student-but they look great!)  I download them-and can delete them if they are not any good.

Also, Starbucks gives away a free app each week (usually for adults, but sometimes for kids).  I got one of my favorite apps this way (The monster at the end of this book).  You have to go into Starbucks on Thursday and get the app card (there is also an itunes card with a free song so make sure you look at what you pick up).  It isn't always an app I can use...but I always check.

Here is the list--in NO particular order...I just typed as I paged through....

Toca Boca Tea Party
Toca Boca Store
Toca Boca Hair Christmas

Most of the apps from

Match it up 1, 2, 3
Families 1, 2,

Alligator apps has some nice ones-sign up for their free email to get free apps

Adventures for Kids
Monkey Thinks
Old Mac HD (from duck duck moose)
Wheels on bus HD (from duck duck moose)

iblower apps (there are several free)   Hint:  they are really sound activiated.  I use them for those minimally vocal kids.

I like books-37  free (gives you 37 free books-great topics, photos and reads to kids)  Search for it this way and you get all 37 books at once- instead of searching for each individually

Monster at the end of this book (I love this app.  I got it free from Starbucks-but it is wonderful, I would have paid for it)

Toy Story Read along book/app free.  Love it

iwrite words lite

Articpix  I like this app.  It’s one of the pricier ones.  Phonopix I don’t like as much because my students don't usually "get" minimal pairs-you can truly set articpix to do phono by only choosing the sounds/positions you want.

Wordslapps.  I like this app because you can upload pictures and create your own receptive “find the” categories.   I use it a lot-I uploaded students pictures (to see if child knew who everyone was), I snapped pictures from our weekly abc books-and quizzed kid on them (great vocabulary tool!)

First Phrases Lite-  I will probably pay for the full version of this app soon
Fun with Directions Lite - I will probably pay for the full version of this app soon
Picture the Sentence LIte I will probably pay for the full version of this app soon

Preposition Remix (my only complaint with this one is that the kids have to touch the ITEM that is on/over, etc.  If they just touch the general picture it's wrong-some of my students have a hard time with this.  For example touch the banana over the scale.  3 pics are presented.  my student will touch the right picture-but it says it is wrong unless he actually touches the bananas)

I hear Ewe (for some reason the kids love this one.  I can covertly suggest pics to touch to one of my kids with severe autism and see that she can find them...versus 0% accuracy when presented with paper pictures)

FUN (reinforers):
Fireworks 1, 2, 3 (also can be used for sentence building)
Bubbles HD
Paint sparkles
Peekaboo HD. 
Talking Tom (he repeats back what you say… there IS a way to turn off the “violence” in settings (you can punch him and knock him out) 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December Sensory box

For this month's sensory box I took long garland and cut it into approximately 2-inch pieces.  I gathered some small ornaments, some reindeer, presents and, of course, a Santa.  I also tossed in some bells.  (I only show a small sampling in the picture--other than the Santa, there are multiple of each item)
I am looking for a small sleigh to add this week.

xmas box
xmas box items

The students love it!  Everyone who has played with it has spent a good amount of time with it. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

30. I am thankful...for this month of thinking

This month of thankful posting did what I wanted it to do--it lifted me somewhat out of a blue period.  Not completely-because I don't really think anything will do that (well, there is something-but it's not going to happen (and is the most likely cause of this blueness) so let's not go there.) 
Where was I-oh yes-
 I have a lot to be thankful for....posting every day made me think of the big and little things that make me smile.  I know I didn't even touch on all the things I am ultimately thankful for....there were many days my mind was blank for a long time before I could type.  Somedays were more thoughtful than others-some were more trivial...
It wasn't that I didn't have anything to be thankful's that most areas of my life are good-so I take a lot for granted.  I am trying not to, though.
This month made me be more aware of just how blessed I truly am.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

29. I am thankful for...happy hours after work

To vent, to share common laugh at ourselves.
Sometimes we all need to get it out!
And no one understands you better than those are in the (sometimes) sinking ship with you!

Monday, November 28, 2011

I am thankful love of the outdoors

I love gardening and landscaping.  I love walking/hiking in the outdoors.  After a long day-or even a short one-being outdoors melts away the stress, reminds me of my priorities and relaxes (in a noce energizing sort of way) me.

It doesn't matter if it's a barren winter landscape without snow.  Just being in the fresh air and feeling all the endless space around me restores me in ways that even sleep can't.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

27. I am thankful in the modern world

When I say "modern world" I mean one with indoor plumbing and where I don't need to kill the food I eat-it arrives nicely packaged and not resembling its former (live) self.

You want to know the funny part-I would LOVE to live simply.

I could live without electricity.  I could live with only a fire to cook on-a fire to keep me warm.  I would have no problem walking/riding horses/using horse and buggy.  I could learn to sew by hand, gather more "nuts and berries".  I would love to labor all day in a garden and tending a house-rising with the sun, sleeping with the night.

However, I draw the line at outhouses and no facilities at all.  Perhaps my Mom told me too many spider and snake stories about her youth and outhouses.  Ok-I know this played a huge hand in it.  Still does.

I can't even stand watching fish hooked on a line or flopping on a pier. And cows. pigs, chickens?  They are Cute.
Do you think I could eat it after I watched reality?
Yes, I KNOW where meat comes doesn't mean I have to think about it. 
I prefer aesthetically pleasing plucked, washed, cut, wrapped and "approved" meat Thank you very much.

God help me if one of those "doomsday" scenarios ever plays out in my lifetime.....

Saturday, November 26, 2011

26. I am thankful...that I can cook

I am amazed by how many of my friends can't cook.  They dread even "jar cooking".  If it takes more  than opening a box, popping it in the microwave or oven and setting the timer-they just can't do it.

I love to cook.  I prefer to follow recipes I prefer exact measurements that I can adjust as I see fit vs. "just throw in a little of this and a little of that))-but I do have some things of my own creation that are really good.

I don't mind take-out....but I would rather cook it myself.

25. I am thankful baths

I love me a hot bath.  It relaxes me.  It warms me up on cold days.
When I have a bad day-a warm soak in a tub  does more than a glass of wine to unwind me.

Showers wake me up, energize me...and have their daily purpose.

It's soaking in hot water every so often that make me go ahhhhh.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

24. I am thankful for...My family

We have our ups and downs. Things happen we wish we could change. 
But in the end, there is no other family I would rather have.

People and friends come and go-but family is always there for you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

23. I am thankful students

I love my students.  They require the best of me. I love stepping up to their challenges and helping them achieve success.
My students make the "bad" parts of my job (high stress at times and endless paperwork) worth it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

22. I am thankful for...Medicine

I take 4 pills daily (plus use an inhaler)-some more than once.  This is just my daily medicine.  There are days when I need my migraine medicine, my other inhaler and the other common medicines for the aches, pains, intestinal issues that we humans have.

Among the myriad of pills I take daily- for various conditions- is my trusty allergy pill. 

I can still remember the days when I couldn't take allergy medicine-it put me to sleep.  I couldn't function with it.   I have severe airborne allergies-and I remember how it was growing up constantly feeling on edge and just awful a full 10 months out of the year.

Now, I barely give my airborne allergies thought (wish I could say that about my food ones).  I take a tiny pill once a day.  Every day.  It's like a miracle.  I can do anything without the itch, watery eyes, the constant sneezing, the nose-oh, the nose.  I had to stop taking my allergy medicine for 2 weeks a while back-and it was awful.  I was miserable. Completely miserable.   Even though I remember the 'no meds' days-reality was so much different.

Now, airborne allergies are usually "just" a nuisance (albeit a big one).  Can you imagine not having available some other medications?  Life saving medications? Lifestyle altering medications?
Not having the one pill that would save your life?

There are people out there in the world without access to medications.

That's a scary thought.

Monday, November 21, 2011

21. I am thankful for...cell phones

I love that when I need to be connected-I can be, that when I need info on the go-I can get it and when I want to be disconnected from everything-I can turn it off.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

20. I am thankful for...take out

For busy nights, for nights ( and days) when cooking just isn't appealing, will take too long or I crave something I can't make easily....

Saturday, November 19, 2011

19. I am thankful for...a day out with a friend

Early Matinee (to avoid the screaming, giggling teens)

A much needed day of friendship, gossip and fun.

Friday, November 18, 2011

18. I am thankful for...My school calendar!

We are off next week, work 3 weeks, then off 2 weeks....
I LOVE school work schedules!!

My students need me to be "my best."  I truly give them my all-and it depletes me physically and emotionally.

I know people think students should be in school more...and perhaps they are right in many ways...
but as teachers, therapists, assistants-We give our students everything of us-sometimes without getting much, if anything, back (especially in Special Education) .  We hear screaming (and sometimes not just by students with behavioral challenges), get hit, kicked, sometimes bit daily (I am in preschool special ed, remember, typically one of the first types of intervention a child receives-we start from the beginning),-we look for microscopic changes and celebrate them.  We have paperwork you can only fathom if you have "been there"-and monthly something new is added.  We look at each student as part of a whole class, and as an individual. We teach them this way and that way-and when that doesn't work-we find more ways to work with our students making sure each one reaches as far into their potential as they can. Our budget is slashed, staff cut...

I could go on and on....

I need a break to recharge because my students deserve me at my best.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

17. I am thankful for...

My microwave.  To quickly heat up left overs on a night when we have the rush from work to appointments to rush home for a home visit.

"Ryan"-an update

Just a short update on "Ryan" since several people have asked me about him.

Ryan is speaking in full sentences now.  He amazes me every day with the language he uses.  He is completely verbal now. 

"I dropped it", "It's broken", "Can I have another one?"  "I put it on top of the shelf."  These were spoken by him on Tuesday.

This is not the type of language one expects of a child with severe autism who was nonverbal until the middle of May this year.  Look at that grammar!  He is using past tense, using question words and pronouns!

His speech gets clearer every week.  He will get there.

It is truly amazing to watch his progress.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

16. I am thankful...that we are DONE with all our foster care classes!

Last class completed!  One thing checked off! 
Still to do:

Complete the ever growing mounting paperwork
2 Home visits to go!

*On a side note.  The husband decided* that we won't do emergency placements right away.  We will do respite and asked to be matched for adoption through Legal risk placements and/or those children who are already on the adoption path.

*his decision because he would be stay-at-home Dad, dealing with everything (fyi, I was all for it.)  He wants to do some respite first.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

15. I am thankful for...My Job

I am very grateful to have a job-and one that I really like.  So many others don't have a job at all.

My husband has what has become a very part-time job-and, while he would love to work more hours, he is grateful to have anything in this economy.

I have friends that lost jobs last year.  Teachers all over the state are unemployed.

I have friends that have had pay cuts each year (pay freeze + more insurance costs).

My (single mom) sister doesn't have a job.  At all.  I think she gave up looking after several months of rejection.

I may hate getting up early, would rather be gardening than working, would rather be wealthy and not have to work at all, gripe about the stress and the "do work at home attitude" expected by "school districts"--but I am very glad that I have a job.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fall Speech Activity

This activity happened by chance.  Don't you love that?
I was reading a Matt and Molly Story (the Autumn set) about raking leaves.
Matt and Molly stories are simple.  4 big pictures. 1 or 2 simple sentences per picture.  My preschool students love them. There is a set of simple questions that goes with them.
The last question (usually the only "thought" question) was, "Have you ever raked leaves?"  My students said, "no". So I created this activity:

raking leaves

My students LOVE it.  The premise is simple-they each get to rake the leaves and be the dog (who messes them up in the story).  (Some of my students are not ready to listen to the story-so we just raked leaves and left out the dog :)  )

Some of the vocabulary I incorporated is:
leaf, leaves
my turn
your turn
he/she is
I want...)
Can I (be the dog)
I am (raking/the dog)
Finished/Stop/Go (The student raking had to tell the dog to "go" and "stop")
red, yellow, orange

I created a picture board for my less verbal students.  The bigger board holds all the pictures.  I typically put the actual core vocabulary we were targeting for a student on a smaller board.

main leaves board

small leaves set

I also used the pictures to create visual sentences for my students trying to increase their sentence length.  They used the pictures as cues to make a longer sentence for me.

This is one activity I will be repeating!

14. I am thankful for....My local library

My #12 Thankful thing was books....but what I left out was that I rarely BUY any books.  I love my local library system.  I get on their website and request whatever book I want and it shows up for me to read.  It's as simple as that.  Rarely is there a book I want that the library (via the all-county system) doesn't have.  Since I read around 100 books a year being able to borrow books (and videos!) for free has saved me hundreds-no, thousands of dollars.   I can't imagine having to buy every book I read.  Or trying to borrow someone else's.

Funding for libraries has been cut like everything else.  I am proud to support my library.

Sensory Boxes

Each month I create a Sensory Box for my students.

(Full Disclosure:  I happen to work with a teacher Who Has Saved Everything so most of the time I just have to say, "Let's do this...." and outline out what I want, talk to her to get her input, tweak the idea-and Kaboom-things start flying through the air from her many boxes and closets) 

Here are 3 of the boxes made so far this year:

The ice cream box.

Ice Cream box

Made from various sized/colored pom-poms, and and ice cream set  (bowls, cones, spoons) but you can easily use "normal" bowls and spoons.

The Fall Box

Fall box

Made from hay, (fake) leaves, felt stickers, small craft apples and a wooden squirrel. 

Thanksgiving Box

Thanksgiving box
Thanksgiving box match

Made from corn litter, craft gourds, craft corn husks and turkey thick stickers.  I also left one small spider and 3 small heavy ghosts from my Halloween box (not pictured) because they hide really well in the litter and the kids love finding them!.
I also took a picture of 1 of everything in the box for matching (That 1 spider is hard to find!).  I didn't photograph the ghosts.  I figured something "surprising" would be fun.

An adult sits with the box and facilitates play, language and fun.  My boxes are the size of a dishpan-so only 1-3 students at a time can play at one time (depends on the class/student).

These boxes are great for language facilitation and vocabulary development.
They also engage and calm some of our children diagnosed (or presenting symptoms similar to) autism.

Here are some ideas for the next few months:
December: Christmas: I am thinking red, gold, green tinsel (cut up into small pieces-or better yet, THEY can cut it up) as the base.
January-Snow.  I am looking for a bag of loose "snow"
February-Ice (I will freeze things in a block of ice to be "hammered" out)
February-Red (If the ice idea doesn't work out)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

13. I am thankful for...My health

I have annoying health issues. 

Lots of allergies (airborne and food). (mild-ish) asthma. Infertility. Mildly high blood pressure seemingly caused by fertility drugs several years ago-that medication still struggles to make normal. A herniated disc causing exercise to be less than my preference.

But nowhere in that list is something that I really need to worry about  (other than take some medication, monitor my food).

I am healthy in my opinion.  There are so many other problems I could have.  So many other problems.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

12. I am thankful for...Books

Reading is a hobby, an escape--a way of life for me. 

I love to read.  I love the places books take you and how they allow you to be someone, be somewhere, experience something from your couch, bed, waiting room, park...wherever--

Books get me through stressful times.  I have literally gone through periods where a book never left my hand.  If I had a minute-waiting for a doctor's appointment, waiting for a TV show, waiting for dinner to nose was in a book.  Otherwise my mind would wander to the stressful situation currently trying to occupy every waking moment.  Reading was the only thing keeping me sane.

I read daily.  I find things to read when (gasp) there isn't a book in sight.  Like food boxes. (Come on-If you love to read you KNOW that you read them, too).

I used to check out 15 books a week during the summer before 4th grade.  (Typically 14 Hardy boys, nancy drew, cherry Ames student nurse, Bobbsey twins, Trixie Belden, Boxcar Children and 1 non-fiction)

I have a 200+ TBR (To-Be-Read) list on Goodreads (let me know if you are on there, too--we can "be book friends") and I will read them all, yet never will my TBR list drop below 200-I find books daily to add to it.  That's ok.  I plan on a lifetime of reading.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11. I am thankful for...Our Service Men and Women

I don't always think of them....those keeping us safe.  That's a good thing if you think about it.  What I mean is, I don't have a daily reminder.  There is not any widespread violence, no insurgents, no war within our country's border.  I don't have to wonder if I will be kidnapped or shot by rebels or stopped by soldiers.  I don't have to carry a passport, hide my valuables,  ration my food-or go hungry for that matter.

For that--and a whole bunch of other reasons too countless to list-I am so very grateful to those that serve, and served.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

10. I am thankful for....a childhood

I am thankful for my childhood.  That I was protected from all the horrors of the world.  I had a childhood with parents who didn't fight in front of me (even after the divorce-nothing bad was ever said about the other parent), who shielded me from the local and world news, who rarely had to talk to me about death or serious illness.

I had a safe childhood-free from all the ugly stuff I hear about what some children endure at the hands of others.

For that, I can never express how thankful I am.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

9. I am thankful warm, soft bed

...which is where I am heading right now.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

8. I am thankful foster/adopt group

A few months ago someone told me about a monthly meeting of a "support group" for foster care/adoption.  I tentatively walked in knowing no one-and was immediately welcomed.  These women have talked me "down off the ledge" when the thought of the unknown has overwhelmed me. Classes, home visits, inspections, clearances-if's/whens/'s all so scary when you think about it.  That fear was a big part of the reason we didn't start this process earlier.   The women there are at various stages-all (except 1) have adopted.  Several continue to do "emergency" foster care.  Some are no longer foster parents-content to focus their attention on their (now adopted) children.

I have asked so many questions-and no one has ever said that the questions were silly.

Each time I go-I learn something new.

I am not sure where we would be in this process had I not found this group....


Monday, November 7, 2011

7. I am thankful friends

In this day and age-friends come in many forms
Best friends
Social friends
Coworker friends
Social media friends
~~and I am sure I could add more categories~~

They all have a place in my life. 

I cherish and  am thankful for each and every one.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

6. I Am thankful for...sunny days

I love sunshine.  Although I am a 'Burgh girl in my heart...I am a sunshine and beach girl by nature. 
Give me sunny, hot and humid weather over cold any day.
But for now (since my hot, humid beach living days are gone) I will take sunny over cloudy.  And love it.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

5. I am grateful for Saturday mornings

Whether I want to sleep in or get up and watch some indulgent TV...Saturday mornings are ME time.  The husband sleeps in or does his own thing.  I love my Saturday mornings.  As I write this I am watching something with cute actors and a mindless plot.  A weekly series that I love because of those two factors.  My dog is snuggled up next to me and the coffee is hot. 


Friday, November 4, 2011

4. I am grateful for...soft, warm blankets

It's so nice to snuggle up in one when you don't feel well...or are cold..or both.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

3. I am thankful for....My husband

We have gone through a lot together. We get each other through our individual rough patches. He always seems to know that I need some extra attention.  He came and took me to lunch today.  Knew I needed to get out in the warm, fresh air.  We sat outside and ate.  I drank up the sun.  When I got home, he had the yard stuff ready.  This is a good thing.  I love yard work.  I am the first to work in the yard-and the last to pack it up for the winter. I have been known to cover the flower beds with sheets up at night until Christmas to continue seeing the blooming flowers.
Yard work and gardening calm me, de-stress me, organize my thoughts, work though issues. 
He knew it was exactly what I needed today.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

2. I am thankful for....Twitter

Whoever invented Twitter deserves a big hug from me.  I love twitter.  I can keep in touch with friends-both IRL and ones found through social media. The tweeps I follow are witty and awesome.
Also, I can reach out to fellow SLP's-get advice and just vent-to people who "get it".  We have great discussions on topics in our field. (#slpeeps, #SlpsnQ's, #Slpchat. When I need a moment-at work-at just distract myself to unwind.  I can always count on Twitter to do just that.

Twitter is one of the fastest ways for breaking news.  (omg Sid Crosby-wore a "regular" helmet indicating he was cleared for contact?  Twitter exploded immediately)  My husband (the sports man) is amazed sometimes at what I find out before him.

Have you ever watched a hockey or football game while simultaneously following twitter?  Awesome.  It's a whole different experience.  A virtual trip to the stadium.

Try it sometime.

Look me up on twitter:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

1. I am thankful for...My dog

Life gets crazy.  Life appears harder some days than others.  I don't always keep tabs on my thoughts...and find myself drifting into negative thinking more and more.  It is a downward spiral I hate-but can't seem to shake it.  I know why--and I will eventually get ahead of those negative thoughts...but for now, I need a distraction.
With this in mind, I decided to do a month of things I am thankful for in my life.

1. I am thankful for my dachshund, Chloe. She is always happy to see me.  She loves me unconditionally.  I can walk out of the room and come back and her tail wags like it would for a homecoming of a long lost family member.  When I have a stressful day, or feel sick, or just need a lift in spirits.  She is there wagging her tail or snuggled up against me contentedly.  I can do no wrong in her eyes (or if I do-a treat, a throw of a ball or Squeak make everything right in an instant.)

She is instant happiness.  A smile maker.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

or...should I say Happy Halloweinie?

Happy Hallowienie

Friday, October 7, 2011

Something I never thought I would do...

I love to read.  I have for as long as I can remember.  I would sneak and read in bed instead of going to sleep (a bright hallway light and good eyes).  I just love the feel of a book in my hands.  Packing 10 to go on a weeks vacation (because one never knows what sort of reading mood the vacation atmosphere might have).

I have been aware of audio books and ebooks-but never ever thought about "reading" them.  For me, the feel of a book in hand is part of my reading experience.  Also,  the thought of missing something because I was "distracted" by driving worried me.

Until recently.

Someone in my book club raved about the audiobook "To Kill a Mockingbird".  She offered it to me to listen to.  Read by Sissy Spacek (50th anniversary edition).  It. was. Amazing.  I had read the book and watched the movie in high school. After 2 discs I coerced my husband into listening to it.  He loved it. (and for him-who has read maybe a tenth of books I have in the 10+ years I have known him-that's a huge compliment) He caught up to me fairly quickly and several of my tweets that week were about the frustration of him holding the next disc hostage.

I have been hooked on audiobooks since then. Another favorite was The Bonesetter's daughter, by Amy Tan-and loved that it was read by 2 Chinese-Americans.  The accented English was perfect for it.

But I still passed on ebooks.  Last month my book club chose an older book to read.  When I checked the book out of the library I knew that I would have to read it in the free ebook form.  This is the worst time of year for my asthma and allergies-and the faint mustiness of the books was more than I could handle.  So I downloaded it and read it, with the book sitting next to me (I could not resist bookmarking my place each night to gauge my progress).  I have to say-I didn't mind the ebook format.  It would certainly solve my vacation issue (10 books is a lot of space!).

If you have been on the fence about audio books or ebooks as I was-don't be.  My audio book love has made my commute to and from work something to look forward to! 

I am listening to one of my favorite books right now-Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon. 

My recommendation-start with something smaller...something you may have read and liked (Highly recommend that 50t anniversary edition to To Kill A Mockingbird-I can't say enough about Sissy Spacek's narration.  Brilliant)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chicken Soup for the Soul

"It's good, but it's not as good as Aunt Jean's."   This statement cut through me in an instant.  My husband had uttered this after tasting some meal I made sometime after we started living together.  I angrily fought back tears.  I had made a favorite dish of his.  A recipe that was raved over by others.  And he had the nerve to actually say those words. out loud.

Aunt Jean, in his eyes, is the best cook ever.  We all have that person in our lives.  Usually it's your mother or grandmother.  For him, it's her.   Aunt Jean cooked all the Sunday dinners and football tailgates of his life.  She IS a great cook. I look forward to the dinners we eat with her.  I just don't like hearing how my cooking doesn't live up to hers. (Does anyone?)

My husband doesn't have the best filter when it comes to me.  He says things that, well, I think he should have edited or kept to himself. He was being honest-but he should have stopped at "It's good."  Over the years he has learned to edit himself most of the time-actually ALL of the time when it comes to my cooking-since I made him cook dinner for a week after that...and any other time he made reference to my cooking being less than exemplary-which, for both our sakes, have been very few.  :)  

Tonight, I made my favorite chicken soup recipe.  I have made it several times before and he has eaten it without much comment.  Tonight was different.  He looked at me and said, "I really think you need to make this and take it with us the next time we go to Aunt Jean's so she can have some.  I think she would like it."

That's the best food compliment he could ever give me!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

It's surprising what you find when you take a different route home

A surprise on a road full of housing plans:

Sunflower field

I love the barn in the background:


line of flowers


Monday, September 12, 2011

The year of the flood

The new school year started out great-the preschool classrooms I provide speech therapy are challenging-but manageable.  I knew all the students-had plans in my head for the 10 non-communicators.  I went in on a day off to my speech room and scrubbed my floor, organized my desk and got things ready.  That first day, as he kids arrived and were obviously happy to be back.

All was good. 

For 10 minutes.

That's when a pipe burst.  There was a woosh-and a jet engine sound...which was water spewing out of the wall in the bathroom at an incredible rate.  Within one minute, water was pouring down the hall into the rooms-including mine.

The next few minutes are a blur.  I was running at full speed around the room, unplugging/picking up electrical cords, anything not plastic was (literally) tossed onto any shelf, ledge, table, desk....I was dragging my (now full) tables onto the tile, trying to get the very large area rug up.   I have a very large speech room by most standards-full of stuff collected by my predesessor over the 30 years prior to her retirement (plus the 7 boxes of my stuff I brought with me-2 of which I don't have room to unpack).  It's wonderful to have all that stuff--except when water is gushing in and suddenly in all four corners.

In the end, only one classroom was spared--the teacher had enough time (she's at the end of the hall) and ingenuity to shut her door and pile up diapers as a dam (it also helped she is apparently the "highest room" in the hallway after years of the foundation settling).  Everything else-2 inches of water covered it before they found the water shut off (we lease the basement of a church-who (unfortunately on this day) has a new custodian-and of all places-the water shut off is in the ceiling hidden somewhere-somewhere no one could find.)

That wasn't the worst of it.  My room dried (after lots of shop vac use, moving every shelf and cabinet to the center of the room and running fans for 2 days.  I had gotten the carpet up in time.
It was the classroom causing the problem.  The carpet-older then the hills and when it was wet and drying-it smelled. A horrid gagging odor.  It didn't dry out.

We held class in that odor.  Barricading my door and the spared classroom against the worst of it.  We used my room as a classroom some days, combined kids on others. It was awful.  A humid mess.

That's when we were told we were moving.  We would have to pack up one day, move and unpack the next-and somehow see the kids. I am not even joking.  The reluctance to cancel class was amazing.

Until my supervisor came a week later.  She got one whiff of the smell (that, btw, we had been telling her about for one full week) and cancelled class for 3 days.  She had us go sit in another school-doing paperwork/busy work/whatever. She gave our employer 3 days to figure out what to do. Move us-or tear up the carpet.  They thankfully chose plan B (we don't want to move.)

The kids came back today-to rooms that smell better-but to rooms still disorganized from the chaos.  I am still searching for things I use often-that were thrown out of reach of the water or the little hands that touched every square inch of my room during the time their class was held in my room :)

The last 2 weeks have made my Noah's Ark curtains hanging in my speech room:

ps-I have pictures, including the "diaper dam",  I took with my phone-but I have an ancient phone and when I send them to my email they are the body of the email-not an attachment.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

Mini update

We picked a foster care agency and start classes next week!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

1 step forward...2 steps backward...

It has been about a month or so since my husband and I decided to go ahead with building our family through adoption. I still don't have medical clearance (for a pregnancy) to even think about IVF for me-and I am over 40 so I am not even sure it's a good idea. (almost there with the clearance-they can't find anything-Yay!-but there is this "noise" that shouldn't be there so MRI's and Ultrasounds are being done 1 by 1 to rule out everything to classify me as just an odd duck)

So the husband and I went to an orientation on newborn adoption. It was hard to hear the price tag-even though we knew what it was before we went (over 20K minimum). Also, if for some reason you aren't accepted (fail the application, home study, references-anything) you don't get a refund-not that we would fail-but zOMG that's a scary prospect. There is also the matter of putting yourself out there for a birth mom to "pick" from all the others. THAT alone is daunting. Then there is the time factor. 2-4+ years. or sooner-again-it's the "pick me!" factor.

I called some foster care/adoption agencies.
One really discouraged me from coming in-they prefer to serve people who want older kids. I "could" be served by them...but really, they don't want me.

One agency hasn't contacted me back at all

One I have called 3-4 times a week for 3+ weeks. The woman tried to call me once, maybe twice. I call almost daily (and leave messages every other day)-she is either in a training or "out (in the field) for the rest of the week"

I know foster care/adoption can be a hassle-but seriously, I am almost striking out even getting to an orientation.

Finally, yesterday I found and contacted another agency. They got back to me right away. Unfortunately a couple hours too late for us to make it to the orientation being held last night. BUT there is one next week. Good thing I have an understanding boss because I will have to go from Washington to Shadyside (?) by 5pm. At least it's something, though.

I keep going into the "kids room" and sit. It's nice in there. (it's as done as it can be for now) We need a crib that changes to a toddler bed, though.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pin it

Have you ever seen an idea that just grabs you on the internet? You know the one. The one that will change your house/work/life. The one you have to remember for the future. So you bookmark it. And a couple/years months later can't find it, have no idea where it is in the 10's of thousands of urls staring at you from your bookmark dropdown. Yeah, that's me. I have an entire page of small print urls, continuous text, in a word document on my desktop-bookmarks from my old computer. I have no idea what's there-and when I remember one and need to find it-it takes forever.

Until Pinterest.

I specifically started on Pinterest to see if I could "pin" speech therapy ideas (I actually emailed requested an invite of Pinterest-because no one I knew was on it (yet)) At the time, I couldn't find any other SLP's on that site. No speech ideas. No language ideas-barely any teaching ideas nothing. I started adding my "finds", liking the idea of "visual, sorted bookmarks" wondering if it would catch on...and in the meantime collecting tons of cool ideas for the home and recipes to! such great stuff.

Today, I have so many ideas in my "speech therapy toolbox" that I have found on Pinterest. Therapy ideas, classroom ideas, crafts, sensory....all visually sorted. I find new things every day.

Here are just a few:
Tap the lights for words in a sentence or sounds in a word...

A pirate sensory box...great for language therapy

Sensory stepping stones!

Hand print crafts:


and ideas for my home (or dream home)


Source: via Lisa on Pinterest


if you haven't checked out Pinterest-do so.

I am ChicoryBlue (all one word) so look me up and follow me.

You can take a look at my boards-there are speech ideas, classroom things, and just general life categories. If you like what you see request an invite from me. you can request on the link above-or leave me a comment with your email address.

You won't regret it!

Oh-and if you are already there-help me find you!

I guess I have to add this: Pinterest doesn't even know I am writing about them. They didn't ask me to and I am not being compensated in any way. I'm just spreading my love of this site.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Flutter of Butterflies

Walking along the waters edge at Ohiopyle, PA I found this:

A beautiful butterfly:


A few friends decided to join him/her:

Here come more

and then more:

More Butterflies

and then even more!

Even more butterflyies

A huge flutter of butterflies:

a flutter of butterflies

Monday, July 18, 2011

Here's to step one....

I called a foster/adoption agency today.

It isn't like I (we) haven't pondered this (and went to informational meetings and read everything and anything and 'picked the brains' of those who have done (or thought about doing) this before.) for I forget how many years.) Things happened. We moved. The husband wanted to wait. I wanted things to be "just right". Then (mild but annoying) health issues and job worries crept in.....

Then, we thought we wouldn't have to adopt (or at least not for our 1st) only to be flung harshly back to square one, but emotionally not ready for anything but huddling inside our 4 walls.

So here we are- tired and emotionally drained-the thought of no children in our house is just crippling us. I doubt we will ever "be ready."

Sometimes it takes a Leap of Faith.

So we jumped

I emailed Children youth and Families in early June. Talked to someone the next week. Asked for agencies with specific detailed information (age of kids, foster-to-adopt, etc). She recommended an agency to call. Called them 3 or 4 times since then. No response. Called them today and insisted I talk to someone-no more messages...only to find out that they don't really deal with what we want to do.

So-did what I did not really want to do:
"Opened the phone book" (google, really). Closed eyes-and picked an agency. That's scary-to place your hopes and dreams on something/someone randomly.

I had a great conversation-and for the first time in awhile- feel like we might be moving in the right direction. I should get information in the mail and a phone call this week.

I can't wait.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I simple wish

I thought 2006-2007 was the worst year (12 month span). The year I was told by more than 1 doctor that I was very infertile, lost my favorite! job! ever! due to budget cuts, and both of my closest grandparents declined drastically-all this in a span of 10 days. Oh-I lost that job on my birthday-in the middle of my "party" at work. Then I was in a job I absolutely hated making less money...prices went up, salary went down and we ended up leaving the place we loved to move home (and while I love Pittsburgh, it feels like a failure when you have to move home due to finances.)

Then, 2010-11 happened. Both of my aforementioned grandparents died. Then the worst thing ever happened.

It's a "new" year now (if you start from when things started going bad last year)...and I am asking for one simple have the best ever. I really need it. Trust me on that one.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Exhausted Rambling

I have no idea why I agreed to move 2 miles down the road.
I think it's the 3rd bedroom.
I want one.
and the storage (a garage, closets (!!!) shelves and cupboards galore (except, ironically, in the kitchen which has the least amount of cabinets I have ever seen in one). Did I mention closets? and storage (something we are severely lacking in out current place)

Maybe it's the backyard (once you climb over the cliff)-there is a great space for a (well-deer proofed) garden....once we clear it--the previous tenants didn't mow the grass back there for 5 years. Srsly-5 years of weeds).
The husband was sold on the place when he saw the "man cave" and the fact that it has AC. and the fact that there is so much less dust. Our place now is full of it-No matter how much I clean, the next day there is a layer of dust. There is still coal in the ductwork from a billion years ago when there was a coal furnace (before 1940, since our gas furnace is at least that old)

It certainly wasn't the location.
or the driveway (I will have to park across the street a few houses down in the winter because it's a STEEP driveway on a busy street)

or the fact that we have to move in 8 days so we can go to the beach and relax.

or the fact that every room needs painted. By Tuesday. (carpet cleaners are coming) and we have not been able to start the biggest room (DR/LR combo) because the brother is still chipping/sanding tile and whatever else you do to install a new tub.

I am exhausted. I love painting (really, I do!) My body doesn't.
Every wall and closet and cupboard needs scrubbed. 5 years of Dust and grime and dog coat the walls. The garage even needs scrubbed.

The outside needs work, too. Oh-and I have to find a place, prepare it and transplant all my plants.

and I need to pack....

and sleep....

and work....

Monday, June 6, 2011

Stress...part 1

Summer is supposed to be my down time...My fun time...My relax and don't think about work time.
This summer-is not fun. My mind won't let me relax. I can't stop thinking about work.

There is a very good chance I will be unemployed and without health benefits in 24 days.

The state school system is in serious trouble. Our new governor is cutting over one BILLION dollars to public schools. It means that every school system is cutting back. Furlough are everywhere. Programs are cut. Pay-for-play sports are becoming reality all over the place.

No one is happy about it-not the students, the parents, the employees or administration (but now that I think about it--I see that there are no cuts in administration forthcoming)

Due to multiple factors, my employer is Furloughing over 70 special education teachers. To be announced June 30th. Teachers hired in 2002 were told (by our union) they were "on the borderline" of the cut. I was hired in 2006. I am having a hard time rationalizing this. To have have worked for over 4 years for a school, be tenured and still be on the chopping block (and my coworkers who have worked 5, 6, 7 and more years and are not safe either) is unfathomable to me.

I am the only one employed full-time and with benefits in my house. (and FYI-I do not make a lot of money as a (speech) teacher....I am on a teachers salary--Jump steps are far far far in my future-so far that they will probably be nonexistent when I actually get that far into the salary scale.)

The Stress gets thicker:

Should I be lucky enough to have a job after June 30th-there is a good chance that it won't be the one I have now. The one I love. The one where I make a difference. With the age group I love (preschool). My employer realigns everyone during a furlough-changing positions to absorb the holes left by cuts-meaning they can move me anywhere they want to accommodate someone with more seniority than me.

I don't sleep. I toss and turn. My stomach is in knots.

All I can do is wait for that letter on June 30th. Telling me where to report for work...or not.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A beautiful sound

"uhI wah eeep" (computer voice: I want sheep)
I stared at the 4 year old boy who had just pushed the buttons on a communication device to ask for a farm animal for my playset for a few seconds, then gave him the sheep.
"uhI wah uho" (computer voice: I want horse)
My heart skipped a beat. I gave him the horse. I called the classroom teacher over. I couldn't tell her why-just please, please come.
"uhI wah pi" (computer voice: "I want pig") I gave him the pig-not breathing..
"uhI wah ow: (computer voice: "I want cow") I gave him the cow.
I turned to the teacher. She met my eyes and I knew instantly she heard it too.
"Ryan" was saying what the ipad app said just before the computer voice did.
The little boy with severe autism-who was completely non-verbal-had found his voice.

"Ryan" is talking.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Lesson of Day: Read the directions.

When I received my Juror Summons in the mail last month, after the initial groaning I sat down and read what was basically a large post card. It very clearly stated that the attached questionnaire had to be returned (by mail or complete online). The attached questionnaire had a postage paid envelope. 10 yes/no questions that were things like: are you in the active military, are you 18 or older, can you read? Things you don't really need to think about. I completed mine online. It took less than 2 minutes, start to finish-and that probably included walking over to my "To do" pile, rifling through it for the Summons, turning on my computer, logging in and navigating to the website-it was that quick. It might have even been quicker to check off the boxes, seal it and mail it.
So imagine my surprise when the head of Jurors (I am sure she has a better title than that) looked around the room and announced that there were far too many people present. There were 100 of us present. A full 40% had not followed directions on the Juror summons and filled out and returned the questionnaire. They were dismissed immediately as "unqualified" with no credit for the day, no documentation for employers and a curt-you WILL be back here very soon-you are deferred only until they draw the next lot.
Did they do this on purpose?
If they did it on purpose. Why? They showed up. They didn't request deferrals ahead of time (which you could do). They had to come to the courthouse at an hour that meant they were up before dawn. They had to take off work and not get paid (since they get no credit). They have to come back. Why go through that.
On the other hand, if it wasn't on purpose-how did they miss the directions to finish the questionnaire. I mean, I had to search on the paper for the reporting room number for awhile because THAT was written in small print-while the Directions to return the questionnaire were in a larger, bold font. Not to mention that envelope. Didn't that peak their curiosity?

Maybe it's because I am a rule-follower at heart that I just don't get it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It all started with a treat

It all started with a treat. When we acquired our long-haired dachshund, Chloe, she was a tiny puppy someone had the bright idea to house-train her using treats. I suppose I read it somewhere since I was until that moment a cat-only person. Being the "responsible" pet owner I promptly bought a different type of food to use as treats (versus the fatty 'regular' treats.) and counted them in her daily diet.

To my husbands surprise (he who had multiple dogs and never thought the treat idea would work) Chloe was house trained in 4 days. Actually, it was more like 2-but she had puppy worms and had a few accidents beyond her control.

Then came day 5-and on that day or beautiful smart puppy trotted out happily to "GO bathroom", squatted down...and popped back up without doing anything...and demanded her treat. We were amused-but didn't fall for it. Chloe decided to test this for several days before finally admitting defeat. Or did she-since she suddenly decided to go #1, come in-get her treat...then want back out for #2 and ANOTHER treat. And, we allowed this because, hey, she followed the rules.

Fast forward 11+ years. Chloe (well within the preferred weight set by Vet I might add) continues to milk treats from us for every 'excursion' outside. By now, it is an ingrained instinct. She hunts us down and makes us remember to give her a treat if we dare forget.

At some too-early time this morning I took her highness out to the bathroom. Gave her her treat and we went back to bed. I got resettled on bed and was dropping back to sleep when Chloe insisted she needed to go out again. SO I made The husband take her out. He came back shaking his head saying she went out and came back in-but no business. We settled down again and once again, she insisted she needed to go out. Annoyed, I grabbed her up and went downstairs muttering something about The husband.

At the bottom of the steps it hit me. The little Sh*t didn't want to go out the the bathroom. She wanted a treat. Not her BATHROOM treat...but her (perceived) BEDTIME treat. You see, for the last few days I have taken a red Twizzler to bed and we have shared it. Chloe loves red Twizzlers. Loves them. She can smell them a mile away. She gets a (small) bite or two when either of us is eating one. Its one of her rare sinful treats.

She was 'confused'. She thought that since we were downstairs...and went up to bed that she should get a Twizzler treat.

Uh-uh. No way. She's too smart to be 'confused'. She was playing us. At some mind numbing minute of the way-too-early morning.

Someone furry ended up sleeping the rest of the night on the floor. Sans Twizzler.

So cute

Monday, April 18, 2011


I was given a Flip camera for work months ago. I used it with my students (GREAT for tracking progress for some kids!) and, when I got my new position, tossed it in my camera bag during the move from office to office so it wouldn't get lost or crushed in my 7+ boxes of stuff plus the bonanza of stuff in my new office. Fast forward to yesterday, when I remembered that I had tossed it into the camera bag and it really should be at work. So I dug it out and, just for fun, I turned it on. Of course, it didn't work. I spent 10 minutes rummaging around in 2 camera bags and 2 drawers looking for the charger. I concluded the charger must be at work. Today-I spent 10 minutes looking in various boxes and cabinets and drawers for the charger.
Finally, I found the box. Inside-NO charger.
10 more minutes spent looking for the charger. 10 minutes panicking that I lost the charger, wondering if I could buy a new one and how much it would be.

I was out of options, I looked in every single place it should be-and some it shouldn't. I was about to conclude I overlooked the charger at home-necessitating another search party at home...when it finally dawned on me.

It takes (nonrechargable) batteries.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


It's Spring on the calendar...but not outside...and not inside either.
The days are cloudy and cold here still. That's just not right.
Last year, after Snowmageddon, we were blessed with a summer-like spring. I clearly remember being in shorts, eating ice cream and marveling at the HUGE snowpile still melting in a mall parking lot.

This year, my mood matches the weather--dreary.
I am trying to shake it....but not really succeeding.

I am tired and, while I have energy, I have no desire to move. My couch sucks me in. I have always, I am beyond procrastinating into blatant having no desire to do what needs done until there is motivation (like no clothes left to wear before doing laundry...or, case-in-point-taxes-which sit there staring at me.)

I want to walk...and run...and I can't. Oh-not from the drearyness...but from some mild ache in my hip-sciatica we think. It makes my inner thigh on one side tight. I am pretty sure I have the cause of it pinned down (new job-long drive + sitting all day in small chairs with no break) for resolving the issue.

When I don't have pain, I walk...sometimes. Others I talk myself out of it...enjoy the ache-free day I tell myself...but regret it later.

The tiredness is partially from my new position. I enjoy it...but I am playing catch-up in a position that has more work daily...

Of course, I know the real reason for my mood. The weather is just not helping matters.

When it is sunny-I go outside. I feel better. I really do.
It's the only thing that helps shake this right now...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Random Blah

I started my new position and it is everything I thought it would be.  I love being in one place-having all my materials there.  The kids are great-most what I consider with a "typical delay"....a few really challenging.  Really. challenging.   I have several students who are non-verbal  with severe autism.  One child is globally delayed and completely blind.  A couple kids have behavior problems in addition to their delays.  Kids who deliberately throw sand at me, try to hit  me, etc. while smiling and smirking.  Just the challenge I wanted.  I am learning to think big-but start small.  I was lucky this week-many students were absent, so I got to know many of my students without the time crunch schedule I have most days.  I am still trying to clean up things from my old position-and have several tasks that need immediate attention in the new one- so juggling tasks from both jobs is stressful.  But climbing into my clean car carrying only my lunch box and computer makes the stress magically disappear.

My dog, Chloe, has been to the Vet twice in seven days for things other than check-ups.  She has a growth on her gums.  Right now it isn't interfering with eating, but it needs to be removed.  The doc thinks it isn't something worrisome, but until it is gone and test results confirm that-we are worried enough so we scheduled the surgery for St. Patrick's day.
Chloe didn't like that we said yes to surgery apparently-since she hates all things vet related- and promptly pulled several muscles in her neck while playing with the husband-resulting in another vet visit, a shot and 2 bottles of really good drugs-effectively canceling her surgery for awhile until all the medications leave her system-over a month from now.  Oh-and she gets a heating pad a few times a day to relax her even more. So now she is drugged up-but moving much better.  I hate seeing her in pain.

I have been having some ups and downs lately....more downs than ups.  The bad days are farther apart...but when they happen they sneak up and knock me over. I am frustrated with my body.  Of course, I have been for years-but lately the fact that it lets me down monthly is so magnified.  It hasn't helped that a coworker had her baby recently.  It really doesn't help that I clearly remember the last time I saw 21 weeks-right where I should be now.  I was hiding the fact that I was pregnant...but the fact that I was actually asking her questions about her pregnancy (something I clearly avoided before) did not go unnoticed, I found out later.  I am really happy for her-but clearly wish it was me.

On a related note, Dear Ben.  If you really are getting married-could you please change your supposed wedding date.  That date is not one I want to hear or see over and over again.

I am being called for jury duty.  I am not happy about this.  It isn't that I don't like our justice system. I do.  I believe in it.  My reasons for hating jury duty are selfish ones.  First, the day I am to report is a day off for me.  I think if I have to be at jury duty it should not be on my first day off in 3 months.  Secondly, I hate going into downtown Pittsburgh. Loathe it. and going at the crack of dawn (I am so not a morning person)-even worse. Can't stand the thought of driving into Pittsburgh...and never have ridden the T since it became the T vs Trolley. What? I moved away for years people-and the husband and I have procrastinated about jumping on and having a fin day on it. Personally, I don't want my first ride to be under duress of where do I get off. How much is it.  Do I have exact change? DO they even take cash? What T do I get on.  omg.  What if I get lost and arrive late?  Finally, I truly do not have the personality for jury duty. While not clinically diagnosed with ADHD (which my brother has)-I have some of the traits-and probably would be diagnosed if I actually pursued it.  I cannot sit still.  I cannot pay attention that long without some distraction-tv, texting, reading. talking. I just cannot do this. Tedious tasks like courtroom stuff make me jiggly and wiggly and omg get me out of there.  I cannot focus on one thing at a time while passively sitting.  I watch tv and read or surf the web.  That's one of the reasons I don't have a desk job. Oh-and do not even tell me that I might be on a jury that stays in session for an extended period of time.  If I miss my students therapy-there are no subs.  None. and every parent that complains will be awarded compensatory time.  and guess who will be responsible for finding time for that. ME. Not my fault but I will be 'punished' for it anyway.  Not fair at all.

Spring, please come soon.  I need some sunshine and warmth to wipe away this dark mood...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Things to miss

The other day I posted about my impending transfer and why I chose to take it.  You can read it here.
Here is the other side of the issue:

I have a week or so and then I start my new position.  I'm looking forward to it...but at the same time I am feeling sad for what I am losing.

 The students I have now are great.  Some I have been instrumental in teaching them to talk.  From no words to complete sentences.  Pushing and prodding each word and sound-encouraging parents to incorporate repetition of new skills with their children. Soothing weary parents who just don't know why their kid doesn't talk-afraid their child never will.  Ignoring the looks of disbelief when I tell them things will happen.  Keep going.  Keep working. I can see progress even if they can't. Loving the looks when they finally believe me.  Those students-the ones I have invested so much thought into-are the ones I will miss the most.  Of course, there are the 3 little girls (in separate schools) who all hug me as soon as they see me.  Their eyes light up.  They say, "Miss Lisa I missed you!" There is the shy boy who changed preschools and when I went to his new school the absolute relief in his eyes at seeing a familiar person brought tears to my eyes.  These are the moments I treasure.

Their parents are also great.  They are involved with their children.  They follow through with my suggestions.  They get it.  They are friendly.  Every single one of them has my home phone number and can call me anytime.  They are as much a part of their child's progress as I am-and they know it.

I have a good reputation among my preschools and families.  Teachers have no trouble talking to me, listening to my suggestions and allowing me freely in their classrooms.  In fact, there are several preschools that don't allow "others" in during special days (1st days of school, parties, etc.) but they trust that I will blend into the wallpaper-and not single out a child or have the child miss anything. For me, special events are prime times to observe progress.  I have parents choose preschools because they know I will work with their child if they attend this one versus that one.  I have had phone calls out-of-the-blue because a new family was referred by an old family and they want to know how to get me to see their child.  I have one parent who moved to another county and drove her child (an hours drive) twice a week for 6 months until her house sold (and she could no longer claim my county as residence) so she could have therapy with me.  It's nice to be liked.  It's ego building and when I am having a bad day I don't have to look far to find something to remind me that I will win over a difficult parent, find "the key" to this child or to just trust that I am providing the appropriate therapy even though I feel "stuck" or inadequate in the moment.  (fyi-I in no way think I am perfect...or even great.  I'm running on instinct much of the time. I have my weak areas-the things I would do differently if I could.  I'm a good therapist who cares and enjoys learning-so I keep up with therapy techniques and pay to attend conferences to better my skills-something many of my coworkers just don't do. Right now I am trying to figure out how to attend a very expensive training-I'll eventually do it--some how, some way.)

I will miss the freedom an itinerant position gives.  Right now, I can go the long way to my next site, windows down, sun streaming in. (ok-maybe not right now-but in warm weather I can).  I can run  quick errand that is on the way.  In the summer, I have a reduced caseload because kids are on vacation.  I know where there is wiggle room in my schedule-if I am running late in the morning?-No problem. I will catch up.  This is especially handy when a doctors appt runs over-or I need to leave a few minutes early.

I can't believe I am giving this all up....That I voluntarily want another challenge.
But I am...and I do.
It is more about me being the best therapist in the end that I can be-and to be that I have to challenge myself. I enjoy learning.  I enjoy challenges.  I enjoy mastering a particular problem.
This position will bring kids with more challenges. Different ones. Challenging ones.
I thrive on this.

Remind me of this when I am overwhelmed in a couple weeks....

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I am bored.
It's still winter, and I know a good part of this boredom is related to that.  I hate the cold and cloudy weather.  I want to be outside. I want to dig in the dirt and grow things.  I want to wake up to sunshine and birds singing.  I want to walk and run in the fresh (warm) air.  This year, the boredom is sharper. I wander around the house searching for something to spark some interest.
I can only tolerate surfing the internet, reading blogs and staring at the walls for so long.  TV has little appeal, perhaps because I only have a few shows I like anymore.  Maybe it's because the husband watches sports non-stop and I end up dvr-ing my shows and watching them weekend mornings.  
I love to read, but lately even reading doesn't have the same kind of draw as it usually does. I like to cook, but have no interest in food.  I eat but don't find comfort from it like I usually do.
The husband's IBS is flaring up from all the stress lately, so he usually just wants to sit on the couch and watch TV.  I just can't do that.  But I don't want to go out either.  It's cold. I don't want to shop.  I don't want to clean.
I don't want to DO anything...yet I'm bored doing nothing.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


For all of her 11.4 years, Chloe (our dachshund) has been obsessed with Tennis balls.  She loves them. Loves! Them! She can smell one 50 feet away-she was constantly finding them in bushes and shrubs around tennis courts in Florida.  We knew that if Chloe suddenly exhibited the classic dachshund stubborness and pulled us in a straight line toward dark foliage a tennis ball had been detected.  She has found or been given easily a couple hundred in 11 years.  However, her obsession is one of the "pull off the yellow fuzz and eat it" variety.  Sure, she loves to chase it..but eventually the fuzz is just too hard for her to ignore.  For this reason we have to limit her access. She knows this and has been known to spend time at the bottom of out refrigerator (where we keep one) practicing Jedi mind tricks.  Heaven help us if she perfects it.
For the first time ever, my husband has found something (other than food) that rivals the "yellow round spherical object"-as it is referred to in our house because Chloe knows the word "ball." 

Meet Squeak!:

Chloe loves Squeak!  She shakes him and loves on him. 

My squeak

Must get squeaker

Squeak! has 2 squeakers in him.  One in his head and one in his tail.  Chloe is determined to get those squeakers out. 

But what about her Tennis ball?  Is Squeak! the new love of her life?  Let's see...
Giving her the choice:
The choice
At first, it seemed like Tennis ball would be her first and only love:
But Wait!  She changed her mind!:
Or did she?  She contemplates the situation:
Happy squeak
THE decision:
She wants her cake and eat it, too.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What road do we go down?

Lately, my husband and I have been grappling with what we should do next.

Do we try to get pregnant again naturally?
Do we look into IVF?
Do we continue to inch toward adoption?

None of these decisions are easy.  With option 1, we are more than likely to fail and endure more heartbreak.  But then again, I did get pregnant naturally-so something is possible. But how long do we try before we move onto something else?

IVF isn't a sure thing...and, while every penny is worth it if it results in a baby, draining our newly acquired savings and still ending up empty-handed scares me.  Also, my doctor already warned me that the Reproductive Endocrinologists may demand I use donor eggs due to my age (I am on the border of the average age they require them).  I'm not sure how I feel about that yet.  I might agree to use donor eggs if they agree to harvest my eggs, and do a FSH test (genetics) on resulting embyos and implant those as well. 

Adoption has been on our minds for awhile.  It is never seems to be the the right time--well, one of us would adopt tomorrow, and one if us is more hesitant and wants to wait for certain things to happen first.  Also, do we struggle with adoption from foster care or go overseas? I have no illusions about adopting a newborn here in the US. It won't happen. It's a flawed system.

It's such a hard decision.  Time is short.

I wish I had a crystal ball.  A glimpse into the future. A sign with "pick me" hanging over the "right" choice.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I'm here

I feel like I should post something "normal"...anything.....but I'm kind of at a loss right now.  I can't seem to come up with any topics to write about. Nothing.  I'm drawing a blank.

I'm ok.  I'm dealing.  I feel like I am 'back to normal' whatever that means...well, maybe not completely.  There's lingering bitterness and melancholy surrounding me.  I feel good and then get mad because I don't want to feel good--I want to be fat and nauseous and pregnant.  It's a process.  I'm moving on in life-yet a piece of me will always be stuck there.

I'm not avoiding people-but I'm not exactly doing anything.  It's freaking winter-snowy and cold. I hibernate in the winter normally anyway.  I may love Pittsburgh, but I'm a Florida girl at heart.

My mom calls and emails a lot. Mostly just to see how I'm doing-what's the latest from the doctor.  Normal Mom stuff.
My Dad texts me daily (he's on vacation somewhere warm and tropical.) My dad's texts make me sad.  He has never really expressed this much emotion towards me. I mean, he's been a hallmark card lately instead of just a Dad who is reserved in verbally expressing his emotions beyond an occasional "I love you"  and I don't know how to handle it.  I don't know how I'll deal when I actually see him. Probably we will all cry-which will make this that much more awkward? unreal? real? sad?  hallmarky?  I'm just not sure what it will be.  It's nice to be loved.  If only it was a happy reason for this showing.

I caused an "international incident" by my not answering my uncles phone calls for 3 days  (I am accepting and intrigued with his culty, new-age, transcendental lifestyle on a normal day-but I really worried what he would say to me-he's not exactly one to think before he speaks-when he found out I was pregnant he had a bunch to now that I'm not I cringed to think what his comforting words would be (for the record he didn't say a word beyond the standard accepted stuff-no talk about other realities and souls or new-agey stuff.)

I have enough work to keep me busy.  Missing a week of work (oh-did I mention that I ended up with an infection and severe pain?) this time of year has me scrambling and drowning in paperwork.
I am supposedly getting a new job (well, same job-same pay-same employer-less travel) so I have to get all my paperwork done-caught up and even ahead of schedule.  Oh-and the snow delays and cancellations are not helping-the weather has the unique ability to come when I have an easy day at work...a day I could get paperwork done...and I end up staying home. 
So much for not doing paperwork at home. 

My Christmas Tree is still up...for a variety of reasons...most of them procrastination related. Maybe one of them because the tree is so pretty and shiny. Maybe another reason because I just don't want to do the work.

So-I'm here.  I'm taking this one day at a time.  Hopefully, I will be inspired and write about something more uplifting soon.