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.