Archive for category Life

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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Suffering? (Sermon reflection)

Today’s sermon at Christ Fellowship in Bowling Green talked about suffering.  The message focused not on why we suffer, or if we will suffer, but how do we suffer well?  I thought it was an intriguing take on the topic, and I really felt I learned a lot.  I won’t go into it all of those details; for those who are interested, I assume it will be up soon on the website.

The whole discussion on suffering really led me to thinking about the concept of how I might consider that I suffer.  Intellectually, I know I don’t suffer, not really.  I live in the United States, in a mostly middle class family, with plenty to eat, a nice house, a husband who loves me and gives so much to me, a healthy family… I could go on for quite awhile!

It seems near ridiculous for me to even contemplate suffering in a global sense. That’s not to say that people in America don’t suffer.  Many do, and I know that it will happen at some point in my life.  However, it’s not the case right now.  But, the point of all of this–I realized that if I am really honest, I do sometimes consider certain things in my life to fall into the category of “suffering.”  Upon reflection, however, they all fall into the category of, “This did not go as I planned.”

I like to make plans; even long-range plans.  Even though I know that any number of small changes could drastically change the trajectory of a given path, I still like to make plans.  And, I have found that when those plans are challenged, or even shattered, in my mind I consider it to be a big hardship, almost even suffering.

Take our move from California.   Yes, there was great uncertainty for a period of about 10 months.  We had no idea where we would be living long-term, what exactly we would be doing.  And yes, that was hard.  But was it suffering?  Not really.  We were so clearly loved by friends and family, and really never had to do without basic necessities, even with no income.  We lived with my parents for 8 months, squished into their small house, and they were never resentful.  We were supported by Carl’s parents, and they never expressed even disappointment.

Yet, it felt like suffering.  I cried about the uncertainty, and about the loss of the dreams I’d had living in the Bay Area.  I still cry, often, even today, about the loss of some very special friendships.  (side note: I did not lose these friends.  They are very special friends, and they will always be special friends, with a very sweet spot in my heart.  But it’s different when you live very far away, and I did lose that closeness of seeing someone several times a week, hanging out together, living life together.)

Certain events in the last few months have brought on another round of this “suffering.”  I had, even though I knew it wasn’t a sure thing, made my own plans to live in South Bend for years and years.  I really love it in South Bend.  I love my house, I love our neighborhood.  I love the sweet friendship between Perpetual Motion Boy and the neighbor boys.  I love my school; I love walking there.  I love the educational opportunities for Humorous Thinker on the horizon–the next two years seem promising, and then there is the option for 7-12 a school that is nearly my educational ideal for him.  I love the diversity of the community and school for Miss Imagination.  It seemed near perfect for the forever home.

But, these certain events have made this forever home an uncertain thing.  It seems likely that we could live here for 5-6 more years; after that, there is just no guarantee.  And I found myself mourning and grieving, and responding like I would to suffering, faced with yet again another shake-up of my plans.  I felt hurt, and anger… and suffering.

This morning it occurred to me that I need to draw a firm distinction in my mind and emotions between suffering and disappointment.  They are so very different.  I can be sad about the loss of a clear future plan.  I can be disappointed that I don’t know where we’ll be living 10 years from now.  But that disappointment does not mean I’m suffering.  On the contrary, the mere ability to be disappointed about something so minor shows that I really am not suffering at all.  This is not disappointment over major loss.  It’s not even a real loss, just a perceived loss, and this “loss” could lead to far greater things.  Because, 3 years ago, I never imagined this current trajectory of my life, and it is such a fun time!   It took some disappointment and sadness to get this, and the next transition we have, if we have it, may also contain sadness and disappointment, but will likely lead to some more surprised I couldn’t have even begun to dream.

It’s not suffering to have to let go of dreams.  I’m not sure I can stop creating dreams, but I do pray that with time and maturity, I will get better at letting go of them when they turn, so that they can turn into something even more than I ever could have imagined.

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It probably seems reasonable that being away from home for 5 weeks would lead to loneliness.  Today, though, the twelfth day in, is really the first day I’ve felt lonely.  I have, of course, missed my family greatly.  But I haven’t really felt lonely.  In general, it’s been too busy to be lonely.

Week one was all about meetings and paperwork.  We had to listen to information overload from 9-3 or so every day.  In addition, we had to review each file, write an Individual Treatment Plan, and write our first lesson plan for each client.  We were all together, though, all day long–no time to be lonely.  There was always someone around with whom I could chat, or eat lunch, in any spare moment we had, and we had very few.  In the evening I went out to dinner once, had a group class outside together once, went out for ice cream, and collapsed in my room.  I still had time to talk to Carl every day, and the kids most days, and I went home on Friday afternoon.

This week has been a new kind of insanity.  I have all three clients on Tues/Thurs, so they are busy days, with 3 hours of therapy, and at least an hour of taking care of paperwork.  Trying to gather materials, set up sessions, and think of fun activities that are also useful for working on specific goals (7 sessions is not a lot of time to make a lot of change in a client’s level of performance, so everything is carefully planned for the most efficacious use of time) takes up the rest of the time.  On Tuesday, I didn’t even look at my cell phone all day long, and never had time to eat lunch.  As someone who carries a caseload of 100 during the school year, I was sure 3 clients couldn’t be all that overwhelming.  And, I guess I’m not overwhelmed, but I’m surprised by how busy I am still!

On Wednesday, I did screenings at a nearby Head Start all day.  We were there from 9-3, and I drove another classmate there; we had a great chance to talk and get to know each other.   I also had great conversations with another classmate who was there.  When I got back to my room, I had to plan for Thursday’s therapy, and then got to go out for dinner and drinks to celebrate a fellow classmate’s birthday.  It was a lot of fun, and it’s harder to be lonely when you’re laughing hysterically.

Today, Thursday, was of course busy.  I woke up at 6 am and left my room at 6:20.  I had to get groceries for my first therapy session, and still needed to do paperwork on the computer before I started.  I was less scattered today, which was wonderful, and I had time to eat lunch, but it was still busy.  I managed to get all of my paperwork done to turn in by 4pm:  SOAP notes for 6 sessions, and 6 lesson plans for next week.  I had some good conversations with others, and I even squeezed in my first of 25 observations.

But now, the point of this whole post, I guess: I’m lonely.  We have a meeting tomorrow from 9-12, but then we’re done until Monday morning.  The reality of being here, away from my family, is sinking in.  I’m lonely for conversation with my husband, for sweet conversations with my kids.  I’m lonely for the familiar.  I miss South Bend, and the things that are familiar to me.    I’m an extrovert, with no plans the whole weekend with others.  There will be others here, and I know that I’ll do things, but I don’t know what they are.

I realize this is the first real quiet moment I’ve had here since I got here.  It’s been busy, and hectic, with no space for mental down time. And now that it’s here, it’s hard.  It’s not all bad–sometimes things that are hard are really good for you.  I know I will have time to think, to rest, to contemplate, to pray this weekend.  I appreciate that time!  If I consider it as a retreat, I will enjoy the time alone.   I could set up a meet up with somewhat-nearby friends, but the thought of driving even 3.5 hours one way makes me feel exhausted.  I know that mentally I will do better to stay here, even if it means I’ll be lonely.

And is it all that bad to become comfortable with the thought of loneliness?  I think not.  Sometimes I think I may need to be lonely, in order to be able to better appreciate and enjoy my family when I’m with them.  I’m sure that’s not true for everyone, but nothing makes me want to be fully present with my family than being fully absent from them.  I also know I talk too much, and sometimes being quiet is good for me, even if it takes me being alone to be quiet.  We’ll call it practice.  Not to mention, even when I’m home, I’m somewhat lonely.  I have started a lot of blog posts about loneliness and grief over missing my friends in California.  So far, they have mostly languished there, as just writing them has been therapeutic, but they are too raw to share with anyone else.  This experience of being lonely falls right along with that:  deep loneliness while still being happy.  Because, I am happy.  I am really loving boot camp, the whole experience, meeting my classmates, doing the therapy.  It’s fun right now, and it’s fun to consider that when I’m home again, I will have just one year left in the program.  I’m not sad, or depressed, or miserable.  I’m just lonely.  And maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

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Writing letters

This week, I got two letters.  One from a college best friend, and one from a California best friend.  It was so fun to get actual mail!  This week, I also went through some old letters from when I moved to Indiana from North Dakota when I was 13.  It was also really fun to read through some of those, though I couldn’t make it through all of the high school angst before needing a break.  I also have letters from Carl saved somewhere, and letters from college friends from summers away.

It made me really consider how special “real” letters are.  Yes, email and Facebook are great for quick connections.  I even have some older messages saved on old email accounts, and I could read through them.  But the personal nature of letters, the handwriting itself even, make reading through them so much more special.   It’s almost like reading the other side of my journal.  I wrote letters that expressed similar feelings to what I might write in a journal, and these old letters provide the reflection from someone else back.

I’m getting ready to leave for 5 weeks for clinical boot camp.  I will be away from home until July 29th, with a brief trip back for the 4th of July weekend.  It’s not quite vacation, as I have a lot of work to do when I’m there.  Still, I know I will have more time to myself, and a personal goal for this summer is to write letters.  To those friends mentioned above, to Carl, and to the kids.  I want them to have something special to look forward to when I’m gone, so I plan on writing to them each night and sending a daily letter.   I make no promises about how often I’ll write to others this summer, but I’m going to write.  This new habit may not make it far into the school year, when I again get behind on classwork and lesson plans and IEPs.  But for the summer, in this more relaxed time, it doesn’t matter that I can type much, much faster than I can write by hand.    I still will have 30 minuets a day to write some letters, to share encouragement with others, and to maintain connections that are very important to me.  So, two friends mentioned above, be on the lookout for letters!  One of them is already done, in fact, and should be on the way later today.

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Thirty Days

Today marks the first of thirty days where I gain an extra 20 hours a week (some weeks a lot more, some weeks a little less) to do whatever I want.  Twenty hours where I don’t have anything in particular that I have to do.  That’s right, it’s semester break!  Astute readers may notice that it’s been quite some time since my last post.   My good intentions of posting regularly fell away as the semester went on, consuming every moment of my time.   I was either doing work, or actively avoiding doing work, at which time I have no energy to do anything productive, including blog.  I’d like to believe it was a particularly hard semester, but I’m not fooling myself.  I don’t think there will be any easy semesters from here on out.

But right this moment, I’m indulging in thinking about what I will do in the next 30 days.  Being married to a pastor (and having spent my whole life listening to at least a sermon a week from some pastor) has its benefits.  There are also downfalls, like thinking of everything in sermon bullet points, best if they start with the same letter or sound.  So as I think about what I want to do, I keep finding myself building on letter categories.

In these thirty days, I will:  Run, Read, Relax, Rest.  Those of you who are Facebook friends–OK, nearly all of you–might recognize that as a status update from last December.  I’m feeling particularly creative today, though, and I’ve thought of some more.

First, I’d add Write and Recipes to the Rs.  Cooking and writing are very restful to me, and trying out new recipes is always fun, but something I do less when I am very busy.

Or, I was considering:

  • Kids, Cook, Creative projects, Coffee, Clean

That one breaks down a little at the end (I’m sure my husband broke out into laughter when he thought about me finding cleaning fun…), so I thought I’d try again.

  • Games, Gardening, Groaning with laughter after watching favorite TV shows I’ve neglected
  • Sleep, Sun, Scrabble (OK, Words With Friends, but work with me here), Sit around and do nothing (probably most accurate!)
  • Dates with my husband, Dreams (as I sleep more)
  • Early to bed, Eat, Energy
  • Family, Friends, Facebook, Fun

After much consideration, though, I’ve decided to stay with the “th” theme, to connect to my thirty days.  Here are my general plans for this semester break.

  • Thank.  I will thank Carl for being such a wonderful support during this time, and the summer to come.  I’m not quite sure what exactly that will look like, but I know he would appreciate help with the laundry, organizing my clutter that has accumulated, and more time spent together in the evenings.  Consistent date nights where I’m not thinking about the work I’ll do when I get home will also be attempted.
  • Three.  This one is for the kids.  I try to be present as much as I can, but I know I’m distracted a lot when in classes.  So, for thirty days (and then for the two weeks before leaving for boot camp when I am out of school-work), I want to read books, play games, do projects, go to the library, go for bike rides and walks, snuggle more, and spend great time with my three wonderful children.  The only activity we currently have going on is soccer for Humorous Thinker, so we’ll have plenty of time together.
  • Think.  I will leave time to think about whatever I want to think about.  It might include topics related to Speech-Language Pathology (let’s be realistic here), but will also include time in Bible study, reading about education, and any other topic which might inspire me.  I learned over winter break that it took me time to be able to read fiction, after being so engrossed in studies, and I wasted a lot of time where I just couldn’t get into a book.  So this time, I’m starting with nonfiction (first up is that Tiger Mother book I’ve heard so much about), and I might add a fiction book after a week or two, if I find one to inspire.  And I will hopefully spend some time thinking and writing, because that is an enjoyable activity for me.
  • Therapy.  OK, I still have to work during all thirty of these days.  But I don’t have enough time at work these days (caseload = over 100!) to really put as much time into planning as I’d like.  And it’s the end of the year, which means progress reports soon, and more IEPs than I care to imagine.  So to keep myself from feeling stressed out at work, at least a little bit of my thirty days will be devoted to being better at what I love to do.
  • Thigh.  The only tie-in I could think of for running.  I will work my thighs, and the rest of my legs, and my  lungs, and throw myself back into running.  Though I’ll be busy this summer at boot camp, I want to establish a pattern in the almost-two months before it begins.  I know I’ll need the time running when I’m there.
  • Thousand.  OK, if I do the math, it’s more like 240, but it will feel like a thousand.  I want to get a good 8 hours of sleep each night, but I’ll settle for as many as it takes to feel rested.  I’ll still drink coffee, but only because I love it, not because I need it.
And I think I’ll stop there.  If I keep going, I run the risk of making myself too busy, and trying to fit in words like thalamus, which brings me right back to classes.

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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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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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