We are so excited for fall this year, to watch our new maple trees do their job of being beautiful.   And as I went looking for the old post about our baby maple trees, I realized I never blogged it.  Well, in early May we bought two maple trees. (a side note:  I see when I go through my pictures looking for tree pictures that I never did blog about spring break trip… or the last two kid birthdays…  oops.)

So pretty!  Well, these trees have grown a lot this year.  And Tree Tall (we have Tree Tall and Tree Wide) even housed a nest of baby birds!

Here they are mid-June…

and here is baby bird nest.  I didn’t ever get a picture of baby birds, though.

Now that we’re caught up… Fall.  Fall is here, and our Red Sunset Maple trees are starting to turn red!

Tree Wide is still mostly green.  It’s so cool how the color goes from top down, and tips of the leaves in.  Perfect for a science discussion with the kids!

We’re looking forward to piles of red leaves to rake.  Carl and Humorous Thinker got going on fall yard work anyway, even with just a few leaves.

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Hair Day!

Today was Hair Day in our house.  I do Miss Imagination’s hair nearly every week (though sometimes she can go two weeks), but this week the boys both also needed hair cuts.  Humorous Thinker is no problem; while it’s not his favorite-ever activity, he doesn’t hate it.  Perpetual Motion Boy, however, is a different story.  He hates it.  Really hates getting a haircut.  He hates sitting still, and the boy has an incredibly sensitive head.  Even combing it can set him off, meaning that I have to be especially careful with the scissors or I might accidentally poke him when he suddenly thrashes, which, of course, would set off more thrashing.  I have to steel myself for the whole experience, which is why his hair hasn’t been cut since July (I cut Humorous Thinker’s hair sometime in August, but let the other skip).  I powered through, though, and have three very cute kids with “new” hair.

The side view

The back!  My first-ever cornrows up!  It required her lying down, head on a pillow and turned as much as I could manage while still having her able to see the screen.  I think this style will last two weeks–I’ll put twists into the puff at some point, and then we’ll do a braid-out/twist out to get us to the next weekend.

I just think this picture, with the sunlight, is cool.

Here is Humorous Thinker.  I guess he was showing his “thinker” side tonight–no smiles.

And here he is playing his trumpet, which is why he was so serious in the previous picture

Good photos of Perpetual Motion Boy to come, since he is no longer in perpetual motion…


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Pinned it, then did it!

I suppose I should get to a Fall 2011 Week 6 update (woohoo!  Tomorrow starts week 6  Let’s just forget about the previous updates I’ve missed), but Pinterest is so much more fun.

I’ve been inspired by quite a few games for therapy materials recently.  I’ve pinned them all to my Therapy To-Do board, but that’s about it.  This grad school thing takes so much of my time, who has time for making materials?  But tonight, I saw this great pin, which came from this blog.  I immediately liked it, so I pinned it to my board.

And then I thought about how I could use it this week.  I could use it for articulation practice–make a set of cards for each sound.  I thought about how I could make each sound  a different color (I have 5 different colors of index cards, plus white, so 6 different sounds) so that I could easily use it for a mixed-sound group, too.  I thought about how I could use it in language therapy, too.  I could write different descriptive words, and the student would have to name something that is _________.  Or I could have category names, and they’d have to name 5 things in that category.  Or vocabulary words that they’d have to define.  Or sight words.

And then I thought about my CHAMP camp, the 35 minutes every day where kids are grouped by ability across grade level to work on a particular standard.  This three week period (we’re going into week 3), I have 6 first graders, and we’re working on subtraction.  The first week we worked on the concept with counting blocks, over and over.  The second week we kept working on the concept, and we made a complete set of flash cards, numbers to 10.  This week, I don’t know if I’ve been given a lesson plan yet (wasn’t in my box on Friday when I left), so I wanted to have some idea of what to do, just in case.

And I realized that this game, Bang, would be perfect for CHAMP camp.  When we played a modified version of around-the-world on Friday, it was difficult for anyone to beat the two who have it down pretty well.  This game, everyone is on their own for answering–it doesn’t have to be fast, just accurate.  I think they’ll love it.

Mine is not as pretty as the model.  I didn’t have a coffee can, but I did have an empty yogurt container (I pretty much always have at least one empty yogurt container in the recycling), orange and yellow paper, and Modge Podge.  A yogurt container is a little tricky, since it tapers down, so I made vertical strips instead of horizontal.  And decided that it got the point across.  Here’s a picture of it still drying.

And I also have ready to go “Jacks with Beans“, found on this blog, since it needs just dried beans and a bouncy ball.  I will also use this for articulation, language, and CHAMP camp.  The number of beans you pick up = number of problems solved, words repeated, questions answered, and so on.

Now I just have to decide which one I’ll use first!  It’s good to feel somewhat prepared for a Monday.  We’ll just ignore the way-too-much paperwork I still have to do, at least for a little while longer.

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Pinterest, I love it!

Late this summer, I finally asked a friend what in the world Pinterest was.  I had a lot of friends posting about it on Facebook, but I figured it was just something silly that I didn’t have time to even consider.   However, when I finally asked, I found out that while there is a small social aspect to it, what was most valuable to this person was the visual bookmarking system.  Visual bookmarks?  The idea of that seemed less like a time waster and more like something that might actually keep me organized.  I’m one of those types who bookmarks an interesting page, which then condemns it to be neglected in some obscure folder forever.  Most of the time, I never look at it again.

Ideas that might make my organization easier, my therapy/work life better, and my cooking life more inspired just fall away, never to enter my mind again.  If I do happen to think about a recipe I saw for miracle soup, that makes your kids smarter and your hair longer… well, I probably didn’t check the name when I bookmarked it, so it’s hard to do a visual scan and find the right one.  I could try to google it again, but then I’d have to actually remember the name of the recipe.  I’m left with either opening every single one of the 50+ recipes in my bookmarks, or just forgetting about it again.

But Pinterest reformed me.  Now, when I need dinner inspiration (0r longer hair), I go to my Pinterest “recipes to try” board.  I quickly scan the photographs and the names, and easily come up with the recipe I want.  This is revolutionary in my life.

Another of my favorite boards is my “Gifts” board.  When I run across a cute homemade gift idea, I pin it.   My current plan is that when I finish my grad school classes on December 13th, I will then check that board again and frantically create before Christmas.  But without this board, I would be stuck then also looking for ideas, which takes me the longest anyway.  (IMPORTANT NOTE:  if you are my family and you are reading this, you either have to not follow that board, or feign surprise and awe later on…)

But the ultimate for me is the idea collection for speech-language pathology.  Once I figured out how to search out other SLP boards, my feed is now full of ideas others find that seem like a good idea for their therapy.  I can quickly scan the pictures in my feed, open in new tabs any that look interesting to me, read those posts/articles, and repin any that I want to do.  Then, when I need an idea for therapy, I quickly scan my pins, and find what I need.  I currently have SLP divided into 3 areas, but someday, when I’m super-organzied, I will divide my “SLP therapy ideas” into more specific categories, such as maybe SLP literacy, SLP articulation, SLP language, and so on.  But for now, even this is much greater than what I had going before.

The only difficult thing about this process is that Pinterest is blocked at work.  So in order to print anything out, I need to open what I want into tabs, and take my laptop to work.  OK, there’s one more difficulty–there is still no good iPad app.  I know that one is bound to change before too long!

Anyway, this all was a very long intro for a current conundrum.  While browsing Pinterest, I had an idea for a material I wanted to create. But, while this was inspired by the blog I was reading, it wasn’t the same.  How can I pin an idea that is still just in my head?  I’m assuming someone, somewhere has made this before, but they either didn’t put it on the internet, or my searching skills are failing, because I can’t find what I want.   I now have to rely on my memory to get me through until Monday, when I can create this (in all of my free time at work!), and then I can blog about it and pin it.  Stay tuned!

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Semester 4, Week 2

Yes, I’ve missed a few summary-of-grad-school posts.  But, never fear, I’m still in grad school.  However, the workload is quite heavy, and life is quite busy, and sometimes I just don’t want to write about it.   🙂

Semester 4 of 6 has a very nice ring to it!  This semester, I have Voice Disorders, Dysfluency, and Seminary in Phonology.  Whether it’s just luck of the draw or a near-end attempt to frighten us off, I’m not sure, but this is a particularly intense semester.  I also will start my first externship in just a week, adding to my paperwork load immensely.  The first one, thankfully, is also my job, so it won’t add to what I’m already used to doing (aside from the great increase in the amount of paperwork!)

I am glad to be taking all three classes, though the work load is intense.  I can do anything for 14 more weeks.

Voice Disorders:  This class has a somewhat confusing set-up for study preparation and assignment organization.  I’m still mostly sure I’m forgetting something, or misunderstanding something.  My class is on Tuesday evening.  By Tuesday, then, I need to:  finish watching the Tegrity lecture on Anatomy, finish reading Chapter 2 in the text, watch the Tegrity lecture on Voice Disorders, read 2 pdf documents and 2 Word documents.  No assignments due, just keeping up with the material, because the first quiz is coming up the week after.

Dysfluency:  This class is rather straight-forward as to what to do when, which is helpful.   Class is also on Tuesday night.  Before then, I need to:  finish reading Chapter 5 in the text, answer three discussion board questions, and read Chapter 3 in the text.

Phonology:  We have our first class meeting with our instructor on Monday!  Before then, I need to: review the lecture she provided for us since Monday was Labor day and we had no class.  And that’s it, really!  I’m mostly caught up, I think.

Externship:  Next week I want to get my system for recording hours set up, so that it’s not overwhelming when I start.  I also need to write my goals and upload them.

For fun and games, I should put what I need to do for work in here, too.  But I won’t.  If I don’t acknowledge it, it doesn’t exist.  (I’ll break the truth to myself later.  It’s the weekend, I’m going to enjoy!)

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First day(s) of school

2011-2012 started off easily.  We have 3 kids in 3 different schools, which makes for a lot more organization than last year!

First up is Miss Imagination, newly 4, starting her PreK year at her same public Montessori school.  Same teacher, many of the same classmates, but a brand-new school building!  The new building is gorgeous, and I was very jealous.

Next is Perpetual Motion Boy, almost 7 1/2, who started 2nd grade at our local Primary center.  He still gets to walk to school with me, which is a wonderful thing.

My Humorous Thinker, 9 3/4, started 5th grade at a brand-new school.  I miss him a lot at our school, and have moments where I get so confused when I get home and he’s not there.  His school goes later (2:55), and he is currently running cross country, so he’s not done until 5:15.  His school is about 15 minutes away from our house, which is hard for us.  thankfully, it’s 3 minutes from the Montessori school, so morning drop off isn’t too bad for Carl.

And, of course, me.  I started my 2nd full year at school, though it’s my 3rd year, as I started in November 2009.  I love it, still, and even got a new office for this year, which is much bigger than my previous cramped cave.

I think it will be a great year for all of us!

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How I know when I’m on vacation

7 days here…

4 runs…

2 campfires…

1 trip to the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes…

2 beach trips…

No pics.  I hate taking my camera to the beach!

countless lake swims…

3 showers.

(Kid shower/bath total = 0.)

Ahhh. 7 more days to go.

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What I wish I was doing right now…

Hunting for mulberries in the tree with Carl.  Or maybe…

Eating dinner outside with the family.  But maybe with the heat, we’d rather be….

Swimming in the pool!

Soon we will be doing these things together (well, except for the mulberries!) in Bowling Green!  With a side of….

Mammoth Cave National Park.  And….

A little bit of Nashville.  Humorous Thinker and Carl get to see a little…

While Perpetual Motion Boy, Miss Imagination, and I do a little…


Who knows what more fun we have in store for us!  Only a little bit more until I get to…

Kiss these sweet faces again.  I can’t wait!







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Constructive Criticism

One major facet of clinical boot camp is constant supervisor feedback.  I think we all came into this time knowing that our supervisors would be watching, and rating how we did; I did, at least.  However, the reality of getting that feedback hasn’t been quite so straight-forward, at least emotionally.

I am not unfamiliar to constructive criticism, and even not-so-constructive criticism.  I don’t for even a small moment think that I am perfect, or the best there ever was.  I know I have room for growth–a lot of room in many areas.   And I specifically asked to be challenged at boot camp.  On my information form, I said I wanted new things, clients that would stretch me.

Even with this mindset coming in, when I got that very first feedback form from a supervisor, it was not as easy to be so pragmatic.   The feedback form has a left column with 19 different areas.  There are then columns to check excellent, good, average, or needs improvement, along with a small area for written comments.    On my very first form (for the second session), I received several average, and most good.  It doesn’t sound so bad, but I looked at it and almost immediately started crying.

I can, even now, look back and see how silly it is. But it’s an emotional thing, to be seemingly judged on how you interact and work with a child, when you’ve only just met the child.  And while I know I have room to grow, this is one area in my life where I feel that I am actually pretty good; at least, the kids I work with make progress on their goals every year!  So to read “average”, which isn’t even bad, was hard to swallow for this overachiever.  Add this to being away from all that is familiar, living in a hotel room without my family, and I felt suddenly incapable of handling even the most minor correction.

So, I went home, and cried.  I then sent a message to the very best mentor and former supervisor there is.  When feeling discouraged, there is nothing like the encouraging words of someone who knows you well; in this case, someone who has seen me do therapy for much longer than 2 sessions total.  She talked me down, reminded me in the nicest possible way that I am here to learn, and to take feedback in that way–as an opportunity to learn even more.  She also reminded me that I am good at what I do, but that being good at it doesn’t mean I never have to learn any new tricks.

So, I did that.  I relaxed, and was able to go back and read the feedback form again with a less emotional lens.  I found that my supervisor had some great comments for me.  Her suggestions were valid.   They related to behavior management, not an area in which I normally have problems during the school year, but that’s because I know the kids with whom I work pretty well.  I could see that my method for working with a new child was not the best, and that with the wrong child, it could really backfire.  So, her suggestions would be very useful for any new child, and, for many of them, might be all they needed in the longer-term, too.

I thought about it a lot over the weekend, and then went into Tuesday’s session ready to implement it.  In this session, she even came into the room to give me a therapy suggestion.  I was able to immediately implement it, and it really made a difference.  My feedback form gave me all “good” and one “excellent”, and had many comments written on it.  I spent even more time thinking about what she was suggesting, and figuring out how to implement it.  For the Thursday session, I did it.  I did everything she was suggesting.

And, that session was amazing.  I knew it even when I was in the session.  The behavior management worked amazingly for him.  The therapy technique she gave me was perfect, and really did aid his understanding of the concept.  This is also something I’ll be able to implement at work.  The whole session felt smooth and effective.  He worked hard, and made a lot of progress on his goals.

Even before I got my feedback form, I was very happy with how the session went.  It felt good.  And then, I got the form.  This time, nearly all “excellent”.  I was happy that I was able to grow as she’d suggested, and that it really did work.

And yet, I know that my work isn’t done.  I guess this lesson is even deeper than getting “excellent” on my feedback forms.  I learned that part of growing as a clinician will mean making changes that are suggested to me, and learning how to implement those changes into therapy.  I am not suddenly completely “excellent” with no need for any other improvement, ever.  I know that on the next feedback form, I may have more “average”, as I may encounter an area in which I need to grow.  I know that I always want to be able to incorporate new ideas into my therapy, and to be able to grow and change.

Even if it sometimes makes me cry.

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Compassion and generosity from Compassion

Our family has sponsored children through Compassion International for seven years, starting when Humorous Thinker was young and Perpetual Motion Boy was just an infant. Therefore, getting letters and occasional pictures from our sponsored children, Rajes in Indonesia and Josephine in Rwanda, along with writing letters together at the dinner table, has always been a consistent part of their memories.

Here is a picture of Josephine, who is now 14. We have been sponsoring her since she was 7.

And here is Rajes, who is now 11.  We also have been sponsoring him since he was 7.

As Humorous Thinker gets older, it has been such a privilege to watch him grow compassion and generosity in his life, some of it directly related to Compassion.  Recently he has been reading the Compassion magazine which we receive periodically in the mail.  It includes a section for kids.  In the summer issue, there was something that inspired him, and I’m not even sure what it was.  One day at dinner he told Carl that he was going to only have a small portion, with no seconds, and eat no evening snack.  He wanted to do this, which is very contrary to his set pattern, because he wanted to express solidarity with the large percentage of the world who had no choice but to eat in this way.

This concept has also helped him when he’s felt frustrated, near a meltdown due to not being able to eat some food.  He is gluten free, and has been since he was 3.  Recently, though, the concept of eating different foods, or doing without, has been much more difficult for him than it ever has been before.  My attempts to cajole him, or promise different snacks later, have been mostly ineffective in placating him, and really have done little to change his heart and attitude.  However, once he learned more about what kids in other countries eat, he has  been able to treat every opportunity where he has had no hamburger bun, for instance, as an opportunity to pray for kids who are making do with much less, and might not have enough food at all.

And this all culminated in his desire to sponsor another child.  He earns some money by mowing lawns for neighbors and for us, and  he is always after ways to earn money in the home by doing extra chores.  He’s very responsible and generous, so we do try to help him find ways to earn money frequently.  He decided that he wanted to help the family support another child, and committed to give some of his money every month in order to meet the sponsorship.  He picked out the child, and wrote the first letter all on his own.  So now our family has added 5-year-old Rudic from Nicaragua.

I look forward to seeing Humorous Thinker grow in compassion and generosity through this new sponsorship, and to seeing Rudic grow as well.  It requires sacrifice and effort on HT’s part–he has to continue to earn money in order to meet his part of the sponsorship.  He has to be responsible in the letter writing.  We’ll learn more about Nicaragua, and find ways to encourage Rudic together.  And I know that Humorous Thinker, and the rest of the family, will continue to be led to remember that we have so much that it is absolutely necessary that we share some, or even most, of that with others.

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