Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Gaining Perspective

How important are all the little details of life? Speaking from my own experience, the importance of little details depend on how attached I am to something or someone and also how big of a role something plays in my life. When thinking about my relationship with my son, I thought I was the wiser and my job has been to impart my ideas and perspective to him. Now that he's having his own life experiences that shape him, he's developing his own perspectives. Something happened early on Christmas Eve morning to change his perspective on the world a little bit - he and his father were in a car accident. My son is lucky - he has some cuts on his face and a broken rib, but is basically fine. Strangely enough, I don't notice his cuts and bruises as much as I notice what he's saying. He made sure to let me know that the doctor told him that if the lady who rammed into their car were driving only a little faster, that he and his dad might not be here. He also told me things I've never heard from him - things like he is grateful to God that he is okay. Also, he had some things that were ruined by the EMT's when they were taking care of him. He didn't want them listed in the insurance report because they are just "things". These things he says are surprising to me because I've never heard K speak like this before. You know, aside from being extremely relieved that no one was hurt seriously in the accident, I can't help but think it happened for some reason and that the after-effects are not all negative. When I hear my son for once, not be caught up into the materialism of Christmas, be a little more free with his affection towards the ones who care about him, and express his gratitude for even small thigns, it makes me realize he's gained some perspective that I had no hand in giving to him.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

How To Fend Off An Unwanted Kiss From Relatives

This is the title of the Mad Lib we completed this morning while sitting around the living room drinking coffee. My son got the "MAD LIBS Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: HOLIDAYS" edition in his stocking from Santa, so we thought we'd have a little fun with it. Here is a story about how to fend off an unwanted kiss from relatives:

When running from the would-be kissing relative, you don't want to be rude. Employ these tactics to remain kiss free!

  • Carry a present, a chicken, or a child in front of you as you enter.
  • Extend your free toe in a wide arc and move into the moose position.
  • Carry a glass of coffee or a liver at all times, and poorly take a sip or a bite as Jennifer approaches.
  • Avoid standing under bushes - you are supposed to be kissed while underneath!
  • Sneeze, drive, or scratch your elbow just as the person moves closer - that should do the trick!

Another good item for the easily amused (such as myself) is magnetic poetry! From Santa, I received the version that has famous movie quotes. For fun, you can combine quotes like "I love the smell of Napalm in the morning" with "Get your stinking hands off me, you damn dirty ape!" to come up with this gem pictured below:

Monday, December 19, 2005

Cranium: The Game For Your Whole Brain

Last night, H and I had some of my new friends over for dinner and some games. I have owned the game "Cranium" for some time now and have never gotten a chance to play it until last night. Let me just say that it's my new favorite party game. Well, okay, it ties with "Apples to Apples". Wait, wasn't my favorite "Settlers of Catan"? Jeez, I can't keep track! Oh yeah, back to Cranium...

So, this game is good for a laugh because different people have different ideas on how to convey a certain message. For instance, how in the hell do you act out "hormone" using only gestures and actions with no words. So, I start making kissy motions and then point to my ovaries - H should be able to figure it out, right? Wrong! I can't even remember all the guesses he gave, but none of them were even close. I love the "star performer" category, but acting things out is not my forte. I did do fairly well on the "humdingers" in which you have to hum a tune and your partner has to guess the title of the song. I was able to hum a Beach Boys tune and get H to guess "Hound Dog". My difficulties were answering the "data head" and the "creative cat" questions. Data head questions are simply trivia questions that are in three formats - either open-ended, multiple choice, or true/false. For creative cat, I was able to guess fairly well when H was the artist/sculptor, but I can't draw worth beans. The "word worms" were so-so, but mostly consisted of either spelling a semi-difficult word or spelling certain words backwards. I found that if I closed my eyes, I did much better at spelling words backwards.

The shocking moment of the evening was when Mike and I had to act out "Mae West" and all he did was say "howdy y'all" in a very girly voice and sit on his wife's lap and she guessed it correctly after about two tries! H and I sat there dumbfounded. However, we were able to surprise them with our Cranial abilities when H had to sculpt "Stonehenge" and I guessed it just from the letter "t" modeled in clay.

The slogan on the box is fairly accurate - it is a game for your whole brain. Every person has their own "thing" and this game is pretty good about catering to different abilities that people have. So, next time you have friends over for dinner, consider a rousing game of Cranium for some after dinner entertainment.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Can I Get a "Hallelujah!!!"

I can give myself a "Hallelujah!!" because I am now officially on winter break until I go back to work on January 3rd. As much as I complain about my job, I love the breaks I get. Also, even though the kids were incredibly hyper today, I did get some nice gifts and sentiments. One sixth grade boy wrote in my Christmas card: "Dear Ms. X (not my real name), Thank you for helping me with my language skills and all that. Hope your Christmas is filled with joy and love". Isn't that sweet? Even if he didn't write all of it himself, what a great sentiment. It reminds me of an Oprah episode that I saw part of where she interviewed Faith Hill. Faith grew up in the south and her family taught her how to be thankful for each day by asking questions like "Is everyone I love healthy and safe? If so, I'm happy and thankful for this day." I know it sounds corny, but this sort of thing is what Christmas means to me and what it should mean. I've posted recently about being a scrooge this year, but really, certain things well up inside me. All I have to do is hear "O Holy Night" (which is my favorite Christmas song) or hear the local radio stations talk about their toy drive and how many children they were able to help. What puts a tear in my eye is when I hear that some families just want food for Christmas. Are all of us grateful that we have full bellies? I didn't intend to get all mushy with this post, but I'm not just thankful for my time off for the holidays, but spending my time with people who I love very much - my family. After all, the spirit of Christmas doesn't need to be any more complicated than that....

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Stocking Was Hung by the Chimney with Care

Another thing that puts me in the Christmas spirit besides chocolate and sweets is making holiday crafts. K has never had a home-made stocking, so I decided it was about time he had one. It may not look like much, but this is the first quilted item I've made without a pattern or a kit. To give credit where credit is due, the nice salesperson at Eddie's Quilting Bee in Mountainview, CA helped me figure out the yardage to buy (but I picked out the fabric) and gave me some basic directions. I found a template on the Martha Stewart website for the basic shape and I had to refresh my memory on how to construct a basic 9-square, but it all went pretty well. The trickiest part was getting the lining correct. All in all, a pretty good ending for being a stocking-with-no-pattern virgin.


It happens at least once a year without fail. This year was no exception - in fact, it's happened twice already and it's not even Christmas break. Two of my wonderful little guys have "flashed" at school. I got to thinking about this phenomenon and wondering why little boys (kindergarten through second grade age) think that people want to see their thingy. I can't remember a year I've worked at a school and this has not happened. What's worse is that it's usually a kid I work with. Go figure! After all, do most of my students have difficulties with problem solving, appropriate social skills, and yes, even reasoning skills? Youbetcha. However, I also work with girls with those same issues who don't flash people on the playground, although the boys outnumber the girls in special education by at least 4 to 1. I think the only difference is that girls seem to wait to expose themselves until their late teens/early twenties until they are approached for the latest "Girls Gone Wild" video or until they are "falling-down-drunk" and in some sleazy country bar riding on the mechanical bull (no, I didn't do this, but I've seen it with my own eyes). Why do little boys and bigger girls expose themselves? Well, I can only surmise that the little boys do it for the reaction/attention that they get. So, why do big girls flash? Probably for the same reason little boys do....

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Christmas Treasures

During this Christmas season, I have been somewhat of a grinch. I'm not particularly moved by any Christmas songs and I don't enjoy fighting the crowd to get my Christmas gifts purchased. However, there are two things that I always love about the holiday season - time off from work and of course, the treats! Two examples of the wonderful Christmas treasures that I have had so far are pictured below. The first is a box of Wintry Peppermint Wonders from Trader Joe's, which is a gift that our friends brought us the other night when we had them over for dinner and games. I had never had these little gems before, but you can be sure that I'll be having some of these again!

The second treat is really yummy - the Burnt Almond Cake (which comes in white, chocolate, or marble) from a local place in San Jose called Dick's Bakery. I discovered this wonderful place from one of my fellow SLP's last week because she brought this heavenly creation to our holiday party.

So, if you're like me and having trouble "getting in the holiday spirit", try one of these Christmas treasures!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Life's Lessons

I'm always so caught up in what I can teach the kids I work with, but this week, for whatever reason, I've been struck by how much they teach me. While I'm busy teaching them such important things like "only one person should be talking at a time", they have been hard at work trying to show me what's really important. Here are some of the things that my kids teach me on a daily basis:

  • you should give and get hugs every day - the more, the better
  • when you're happy, smile big - with all your teeth showing
  • it's okay to cry when you're sad or angry
  • honesty is the best policy
  • jumping in puddles is fun
  • why not have fun every day
  • you feel better after you throw a fit
  • if I don't ask for something, I won't get it
  • people like to be told they're doing a good job, even if it's not perfect
  • life is too boring if you're sitting still - being "on the move" is much better

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

If It Feels Good, Do It

I'm not talking about drugs or alcohol, but exercise. I think I'm being sent a message and I get it, loud and clear. It's like a voice is yelling at me "Get off your butt and do something active!". The messages come in different forms. Yesterday, a fellow blogger posted about the evils of the Atkins diet (which I totally agree with, since I went on it with disastrous results). Another message has come in the form of my health woes of late and the fact that when I talk to my 80 year-old grandma, she seems more active than me. Those two were just warming me up for today. A parent who was dropping his children off at school (he had walked them there), felt faint outside of the school (his kids had gone inside) and suffered from a heart attack right on the spot. He passed away a few hours later at the hospital. I didn't know this man, but those who did were very upset and we had our psychologist there for students and/or staff who needed counseling. I don't know why his death struck me like it did, but I started to think about the amount of time I sit of my butt versus the time I spend actually doing something. At work, my job is pretty sedentary - I get up and walk to classrooms to get kids, but beyond that, I'm sitting. At home, I am tired from work, so I sit more. Then I thought about my family history - both parents have had heart attacks before age of 60 (both were mild, but still...), and my grandfather on my mom's side (mom's dad) passed away from a heart attack at age 49. On my dad's side, the history is a bit sketchy, but I know heart disease runs in that side as well. All of that was enough to make me want to go hole up at home, but instead, I started thinking about when I was the healthiest of my life and how I reacted to events of the day. I didn't go home - I went out walking. Anytime I was stressed from grad school or I needed a "time-out", I exercised. So what did I do today after work? I went to the gym and spent a good hour on a cardio workout. Because of my recent condition, I cannot lift weights, but at least I'm doing something constructive. You know what else? It felt good. So, since it feels good and might prevent me from dying of heart disease, I need to make a habit of exercise and just "do it".

Monday, December 05, 2005

An Early Christmas

So now that I'm an old fuddy-duddy, I don't really need to be surprised at Christmas anymore. No, I'm not a scrooge, but it's just that Christmas has taken on a different meaning for me since I've moved away from my hometown. I don't get excited at getting presents, although I enjoy giving them if I know the person well enough to buy something for them that I know they would like without asking for a list. I hate lists - why must I make a list to tell someone what to buy me. Even worse, why am I buying for a person who feels the need to give me a list? One side of my family draws names - each person only buys for one other person (not including kids) and spends approximately $50. That's nice and all, but if I have to tell someone what I want, I might as well go buy it myself and save everyone the hassle. On my mom's side of the family, I can buy people things without needing lists. That's how it should be. Whatever happened to spontenaeity? Okay, I've fallen somewhere in the middle of spontaneous and ho-hum. H and I decided to give each other our Christmas presents early, but at least we trusted our instincts. So, this holiday season, courtesy of H, I am now able to listen to my iPod in my car because I now have a car stereo that supports it. Now, I don't have to go through the torture of listening to the radio DJ's flap their gums while I'm stuck in the car on my way to and home again from work. I can plug my iPod in and listen to any mix I want to to help tune out the world around my car.

Here is my first playlist for the drive tomorrow:

Hand in My Pocket - Alanis Morrisette, Eight Days a Week - Beatles, Hysteria - Def Leppard, Listen to the Music - Doobie Brothers, Hotel California - Eagles, Hound Dog - Elvis, Over My Head - Fleetwood Mac, I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor, Lightning Crashes - Live, What's Going On? - Marvin Gaye, Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen, Mrs. Robinson - Simon & Garfunkle, Give A Little Bit - Supertramp, The Promise - When In Rome, and Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Depths of Hell

This is where my body's been sent to. I remember feeling like I was "falling apart" only one other time in my life - when I was 18 and was sick for about 5 months with mono. It's not that I have anything that horrible or painful, but it's just the amount of things. My hair breaks off at the ends now, my fingernails look weird sometimes, my heels are dry, I think I'm getting wrinkles, and to top it all off, now I have this lovely thing called costochondritis. I have been having pain in my chest right below my sternum and now get to take old people medicine - anti-inflammatories. Yes, yes, it helps because now I can actually blow my nose or cough without thinking my chest is going to implode. An added benefit is that I can now lay on my side without my chest hurting (I couldn't before). That's all nice and dandy, but the damn anti-inflammatories make me tired, make it so my stomach feels like it's doing flip flops and flop flips, and they make me burp (a very embarrassing thing for a delicate flower such as myself). Now I'm starting to realize that my grandmas were right - it's hell to get old!