Archive for February, 2011

Today = Relaxed

Today is a holiday, and thus, I did not have to work.  I did do quite a bit, but in a very relaxed manner.

  • I slept in until 7:45 or so.  Ahhh.
  • I made pancakes, but only to fill in the gap for breakfasts the rest of the week.  The kids who were awake had already eaten, and the other was sleeping, so didn’t need them yet (Perpetual Motion Boy slept until after 8.  This is unheard of here!  That’s a nice 12 hours of sleep for him).  It was nice to make pancakes in a non-rushed manner.
  • I drank a lot of coffee, but only because I love coffee, not because I needed it to stay awake.
  • I relaxed, quietly, while the kids (and neighbor kid, over for the day) were playing.
  • I took a long, hot shower.
  • I played some card games with the neighbor kid.
  • I played Quirkle for the first time, and I love it!
  • I ate an even bigger salad than normal for lunch, since it didn’t have to fit into a container in my lunch box.
  • I did a lot of research for the next 5 resources for my project for Seminar in Child Language.  My eyes hurt from reading pdf articles online, but I could take a break when I needed.
  • I made crepes for dinner, my first time ever making crepes!  The first few were a disaster, but once I perfected how long to cook them before flipping, and how thick to pour the batter, they were good!  We had ham and cheese for dinner crepes, and Dark Chocolate Dreams + sliced bananas for dessert crepes.  I did forget to do a vegetable for dinner, in my relaxed mindset today.  I told the kids they get double tomorrow.   It was supposed to be spaghetti squash.
  • I put one grumpy Miss Imagination (maybe better called Miss Attitude at bedtime tonight) to bed while one boy played outside for 30 minutes in the fresh snow, and the other boy spent an hour shoveling the sidewalk around the block, earning the accolades of our neighbor, who said she wants him to be in charge of shoveling her sidewalk next year, for money.  Way to go, Humorous Thinker!
  • I cleaned up from dinner, and now I’m relaxing before Perpetual Motion Boy goes to bed.

The real test will be, can I get myself out of this “relaxed” mindset, and back into “way too much to do, but I have to do it anyway” mindset tomorrow at work.  You know you’ve got a lot going on when you are, for a moment, thankful when  a whole group of kids is out sick.  That’s right before realizing that it’s really only a matter of time before my boys, at the same school, get the flu that is going around.  But for a brief moment, the possibility of getting paperwork done in that 20 free minutes is exhilarating.



No iPhone for me

I have been the mostly-content user of a BlackBerry Storm since May 09. Until sometime this fall, it has met my needs and performed adequately. I don’t love the calendar; but, I don’t love any calendar.

This fall it started getting quite glitchy. The USB port stopped functioning, necessitating the purchase of an extra battery and a stand-alone battery charger. The screen cracked badly, and while it still worked, the accuracy and sensitivity was laughable. And it was really slow, no matter how many times I did a battery pull or maximized memory.

So, I began longing for an iPhone. When the announcement was made that iphone was coming to Verizon, I was absolutely convinced that I would get one. I could list many reasons why I should get one, even though just a month earlier I had said a Droid X , at $199, was too expensive… the same cost as the iPhone.

Yes, there are many great apps for speech-language therapy. I should know: I have an iPod Touch that I do use several times a week during therapy sessions. For some reason, though, I was convinced that the iPhone was still necessary.

But when it came time to actually order the phone, I couldn’t do it. Carl convinced me that as fun as it may be, it would be extraneous. I already have a smart phone. I already have an iPod Touch for the Apple apps I need for therapy. And ultimately, what I really want for therapy is an iPad. Until the time when I am ready to get one, an iPhone really serves no purpose, and drains the bank account more than we can really afford.

So, I paid for the replacement phone for my Storm (which has been under warranty), and now have a brand-new phone without the new 2-year contract. And I figured that I should try some new ways to utilize the phone. This was written entirely on my phone; but I can also use the app to keep track of ideas or start something when I am not at home.

I want to get my disorganized self using the calendar and to do lists. I do often make lists, but they are more fun: books I want to read, gift lists, web sites to look at later, that kind of thing.

I still want an iPhone, but I can wait. Or, I might stay with this phone until it dies, and keep up with saving for an iPad. Or maybe the school district will get smart boards for all. Since I will never get one without a complete school remodel (my room is more like a cell in size), and since a school remodel is not even remotely likely, I think I will stay with the iPad plan. Some day.

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Two weeks in review

I missed writing last week’s grad school update post.  Which actually did result in less efficiency and organization for me:  I completed one assignment just before the deadline, and didn’t read two chapters.  I clearly need the weekly accountability of this post.

Dysphagia:  We had no class on February 10th.   I did not use the time to get caught up on my reading, however, nor to complete the assignment that was due on the 17th.  I think on that night I relaxed and went to bed early, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  This week in class, we moved on from discussing the anatomy and physiology of the swallowing mechanism to disorders of the swallowing mechanism.   I was pretty tired, and I think I need to watch the lecture again.  I didn’t even “multi-task” during the lecture (e.g., read other things during the lecture time…), and I still can’t give details about what we discussed.  I have the PowerPoint notes, but I don’t even know for sure if we got all of the way through them.  So, I must watch again.  I had to complete a discussion board post analyzing a video about the anatomy and physiology, and we had a quiz that I completed Friday night, on the anatomical structures.

Motor Speech Disorders:  On February 9th, we talked about assessment and watched another video.  Again, my connection did not keep up with the video live, and I had to watch the video after class.  Except I haven’t done that yet, because I didn’t post about it.  This week, we discussed Flaccid Dysarthria.  After first learning about what causes it (lower motor neuron damage), the many characteristics of it (breathiness and hypernasality, to name just a few), we then watched several video clips of different patients with flaccid dysarthria.  My connection kept up, for the most part, which was nice.  It was a good class, but felt a little overwhelming.  Perhaps more clarity will be gained throughout the semester, but there are 7 different types of dysarthria.  I was thinking that each type would sound quite similar (such as, all those with flaccid dysarthria would sound similar), but that wasn’t the case at all.  I was surprised by how much variation there was within just the 3-4 clips we watched.   The diagnosis of dysarthria is going to prove to be a difficult task.  If I were writing exams in this class, I would definitely include watching video clips and determining the type of dysarthria, and so I’m trying to approach this class as if that’s what will happen.  Which means I need to review the clips we watched several more times, until I can hear the similarities.

Seminar in Child Language:  On February 8th, we discussed Evaluation and Assessment.  We also had completed a discussion board post before class on the same topic.  For the discussion board, we read a brief social-developmental history, and wrote a summary paragraph, as would be done in a report.  We also made an assessment of severity based on a brief description and test scores of another hypothetical client.  It wasn’t hard, until during class when I realized (along with a few others) that the date on the history was from 2010, and so the client was actually 15 months old, not 2;3.  Thankfully we weren’t assessing severity of that client, because her language was quite delayed if she was 2;3, but not so significant, if at all, at 15 months.

This past week, we were supposed to be discussing Principles of Intervention, but she canceled the class.  We should be able to watch a recording of another section of the class, but I haven’t done so yet.  Our discussion board post discussed prioritization of goals.

So, my to do list this week:

Sem Child Lang: Watch the Intervention lecture.  Read chapters 4 & 5 by Tuesday (no small undertaking!  100 pages of dense text.)  I did not read these chapters this summer, so it’s all new reading.  By Tuesday, do discussion board post.   The syllabus also indicates there are two articles to read (on Down Syndrome and Autism), but I haven’t yet checked course documents on Blackboard to see if they are posted.  Read those, if they are up.  Oh, and I have 5 more resources due for my research project.  My therapeutic project is due the following week, so I also need to finish that.  I have the pictures for it, but I have to put it together, then take pictures of my product and put together a PowerPoint.   Looks like I’ll be putting a lot of time into this class before Tuesday.

Motor Speech Disorders:  Finish chapter 4 (last week’s lecture), read chapters 5-6 for class on Wednesday.  Get caught up on all videos not yet watched.  Rewatch the clips on flaccid dysarthria until I have a better grasp on the characteristics.  Keep up with researching Guillian-Barre Syndrome for my project (first powerpoint due on March 30th). I also need to print several copies of the Mayo clinic rating scale to use during class.  I forgot this week, until we were in class, and then I couldn’t print because my computer was on the wrong connection (the guest network at our house) to access the printer.  Switching networks would log me out of class.  Possible to do, but a pain.  I couldn’t keep track on the word document, because it’s a scan/picture of the form.  So, the printer it is.

Dysphagia: Read chapters 3-5.  Watch last week’s lecture again.  Watch the second video posted on Blackboard, and complete discussion board post.

That’s quite a week! And that doesn’t even get me ahead of the game, just caught up.

In addition I think I need to be printing out lecture notes to reference during class.  It seems like a waste of paper, because they are on the screen on Adobe Connect, plus I have the files on my computer.  However, I need to find some way to take notes during class that makes sense.  Perhaps I could type into the powerpoint during class, but minimizing the Adobe Connect screen so as to have a powerpoint visible at the same time makes it more difficult to read.  I might give it a try, in the name of the trees.

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Dinner Splurge

Back in the day before we had any kids, a dinner splurge might be a really nice piece of fish, and a nice bottle of wine to go with it.  These days, a dinner splurge is homemade baked chicken nuggets.  Kids, how they change you.

This dinner is a splurge for several reasons.  One:  we try to eat most of our meat in some kind of combination, like stir fry, or fried rice, or soup.  This drastically cuts down the amount of meat we eat, which in turn cuts down our grocery bill.  (Theoretically cuts down our grocery bill.  I do suspect we eat more cheese because we eat less meat, and thus we end up spending nearly as much, but that’s a different story.)

And two:  we try to eat less meat for health reasons.  I don’t think we’ll ever be vegetarians (and, as clearly seen by our cheese consumption, never ever vegan!), but we are committed omnivores, with an emphasis on food that grows, was grown well, and was grown as locally as possible (this was easier in the Bay Area, I admit!).  That means that on average 3 dinners a week are meatless, and the meals where we do have meat, meat is not the focus.

But every once in awhile, you just need a good chicken nugget.  And I mean good, not mechanically separated.  I’ve not really enjoyed processed chicken nuggets in years (and being gluten free means I’ve not had the opportunity to eat many, anyway), but Jamie Oliver closed that door permanently for me.


We have had at least one person in the house eating gluten free for 6 1/2 years now, but being gluten free doesn’t exempt you from bad processed food, either.  There are gluten-free chicken nuggets out there for sale that also use mechanically separated chicken.  Years ago, though, I was just poor, so I learned how to make my own.

And that is the longest intro to the point of this post:  we had chicken nuggets for dinner tonight.  Or, more specifically, Baked Chicken Party Bites, a recipe I created for Kids With Food Allergies when Perpetual Motion Boy was little and living with multiple food allergies, all of which he outgrew.  It’s a little bit processed, as I use Rice Chex for the breading.  But Rice Chex are not too bad (and gluten free!), and make a nice crumb for the nuggets.

I cut the children off after 10 nuggets, and then hid in the kitchen to sneak a few more myself.  My favorite way to eat them is with honey.  Creative Thinker likes ketchup.  PMB likes honey.  I think Miss Imagination ate a few with honey, but ate most plain, and Carl had 7 different sauce choices going on tonight.  I also made some quick mashed potatoes (they actually were local potatoes, from BackYard Produce through Purple-Porch Co-Op ), and some perfectly steamed broccoli (from Martin’s, not at all local at this time of year).  Oh, and the chicken was from Miller Amish Country Poultry.  There would be a picture of this tasty meal, but I ate them too quickly for that.

I don’t keep track of individual meal prices, but just for kicks, this meal for our family of five cost less than $14, with enough leftover chicken to feed the kids another meal (or to make several lunches).  And I feel good about feeding it to my  kids.

May it be noted that for all of my foodie idealism, so far I still let Perpetual Motion Boy eat processed chicken meals for lunch at school.  Lunch is free, and it’s convenient to not pack every once in awhile.  I’ve not shown him that video, quite yet.  Maybe soon.  Or maybe I’ll just keep him full of healthy good food for all of the other meals, so 3 meals a week of processed food isn’t going to ruin him completely.


This week in grad school

This is probably not so exciting to anyone but me.  However, it keeps me organized and focused, so I’m doing it again.

Seminar in Child Language:  Something funny–the class is 8-10pm on Tuesday nights.  However, in an email we got over winter break, it said it would be 6-8pm.  So the first night many of us showed up at 6pm, realized that Blackboard said otherwise, and came back at 8 (oh, the beauty of online classes!)

Well, what did I do this week?  Got myself all settled in to start class at 6pm!  There was no link, no one was there, and it still took me 5 minutes to figure it out!

Anyway, after I actually got to class at the right time, I enjoyed it.  We discussed the first chapter, which included a discussion of the definition of a language disorder (more complicated than you’d think!), people-first language, and models of language disorders.

I also chose my topic for the Research Resource project: Intervention for Literacy in Early Elementary. That may be refined somewhat as I research.

Motor Speech Disorders:  I have to watch the entire lecture again.  A major portion of the lecture was a video, played over Adobe Connect.  And while it worked, for whatever reason my connection was too slow for it.  So, it played, in a choppy fashion, for 5 minutes after it finished on the professor’s end.  Which meant I didn’t get what I was supposed to get from it.  After that we covered the third chapter of our text, which was mostly a review of our entire Neurology class last semester.  I had read the chapter, and liked it a lot more than the Neurology text last semester.  Or maybe it was just the second time around, it made more sense.

However, the lecture covered a lot that wasn’t in the text, and I hadn’t printed out the lecture notes (our printer is out of paper).  So, I need to watch again so I can take notes.

My chosen topic for my two-part research topic is Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

Dysphagia:  This class continues to fascinate me.  I sit, inches from the screen, so I can watch a video of a swallow.  As she slowed it down so we could watch in detail something that is very fast, I found my pulse increasing.  And, when the video subject aspirated, I actually did gasp.  I said to a classmate, I had pretty much no undergrad education in dysphagia, so it’s all new, and fascinating.

We also discussed in detail all four stages of a normal swallow.  My throat was so dry by the end, from constant swallowing, and I was pretty sure I had some kind of disorder as it got progressively harder to swallow.  Turns out that happens when you need some water.  Good to know.

This week’s homework and to-do:

Sem Child Lang.: The first 5 resources are due Tuesday (name, citation, highlights, reservations/weaknesses, application).  Discussion board post due Tuesday.  Read Chapter 2 (Evaluation and Assessment).  Start working on making my Therapeutic Project (photo book for pronouns).

Motor Speech Disorders:  Watch last week’s lecture, take notes.  Read chapter 2 (Evaluation of Motor Speech Disorder.  Start research on Guillain-Barre.

Dysphagia:  We have no class on Thursday this week!  So I will read Chapter 2, the only thing on last week’s list that I didn’t do.  I also need more practice on drawing, and this week I will scan it.  And I need to make some contacts for my Bedside Swallow Exam, and figure out if I can use a student at school if I get a parent permission that is separate from parent permission on the IEP.

Other: I need to set up some observations.  I have to have 25 hours before boot camp, and though I’ve had that and way, way more, I’ve not ever had to keep track.  So I need a written record.  Not a problem, I’m looking forward to it.  But I need to set up some.  I want them to be various places and various ages.  So, this week, make a plan for at least those I want to do within the school district.

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Snow Day!

The Groundhog Day Blizzard of 2011 did not bring its full fury to the South Bend area.  I think we got 9-10 inches, nowhere close to as much as the January snowstorm less than a month ago,which dropped a record-setting 38.6 inches of snow from Friday morning to Saturday night (the record breaking part was the 25 inches in 24 hours).  Eight inches, even the 15 inches in some places, seems like nothing!  However, the blizzard, by definition, brings strong wind, leading to big drifts. This is all system snow as well, not lake effect snow, which means it’s heavy and dense, not light and fluffy.  We may still get up to 5 inches of snow by tomorrow morning, says the current forecast.  So, the city is still shut down.  We have no need to leave, except for that Purple Porch Co-Op later this evening.  Which is still on, but will require massive driveway-shoveling.  We’ll see.

The third snow day in the 2010-2011 school year.  Is that a record?  I’m not sure, but it’s virtually unheard of in South Bend, an urban district known for not closing school.  I don’t mind too much… the kids sure love snow days, and they already have played outside for an hour and a half, read a lot of books, played in their respective rooms, and played some computer.  But making up a third day means most likely going until June 9th now.  I have to report to Bowling Green, Kentucky by June 25th for my summer boot camp (and probably a few days earlier to move in).  As much fun as snow days are, I do want to have some time off at home with the family.  So, I’m putting in my official request:  no more snow days, SBCSC!


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