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Friday, April 30, 2010

Tiny Moments of Awe

Today, as I pulled into my driveway, I saw this:

I tried to be very quiet and still, and I managed to snap these photos with my phone. There were actually 2 rabbits, although I think you can only see one in the pictures. Both little brown cottontails. Both chewing away on our clover. Both amazingly nonthreatened by my presence.

Very cool. A tiny moment of awe.

Robi and Flannery came out to see them, too, and Flannery got pretty close to them. We see them every now and then, and she'd already been calling them her "pet" rabbits, but now I'm wondering if they haven't taken to the name.

In other news, I had GI study done today at Duke. Lucky me, I got to get up early in the morning, go to the hospital, put on one of those lovely gowns, drink about a gallon of liquid barium, and stay in radiology for 3 hours while they followed it through my GI tract. Fun stuff.

The last time I'd had this study done was the morning after I'd delivered Flannery. I'd had an intestinal obstruction while I was pregnant with her, and once she was born, everything seemed fine, but they wanted to make sure. So, the morning after she was born, the radiology tech wheeled me down to radiology (and away from my 12 hour old baby), and then I had to wait the 3 excruciating hours apart from my baby all alone lying on a cold radiology table. That time, I thought the study was probably going to take 20 minutes, and no one explained to me otherwise until I was crying and blathering on and on about my newborn baby and how now I'd been apart from her for a third of her whole life. The tech who steered me back to my room took every shortcut in the hospital to hurry this crazy mama back to her daughter.

Today's study was SO much better. First of all, Flanna was at her preschool, having fun and learning. And I was not hormonal and crazy and teary-eyed. I got to read a home decorating magazine for a few hours. And to chat with some wonderful patients in the waiting room who were also subjected to the gowns and the liquid barium. And I didn't have to lie on the table the whole time. They let me walk around and sit in the waiting room in between X-rays. Much better.

And, the coolest thing? My doctor e-mailed me my results by the end of the day.

Healthy, she said. Nothing that could cause an intestinal obstruction, she said.

Another tiny moment of awe.

What tiny moments were you thankful for today?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Enjoy the Journey

Remember that happiness is a way of travel — not a destination.
--Roy M. Goodman

This pic of me is from a recent beach trip. I think I'm going to have to start rethinking my "thrown-together" beach look. But, despite the outfit, yes, this is a moment of real, pure happiness.

What moments along your journey have made you happy recently?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Get Lost in A Good Movie

Every once in a while, I'm trying to post interviews with amazing and insightful people who inspire me! Today's focus is Barbara.

Barbara is a fellow SLP I used to work with, who is also a doting grandmother to her two grandchildren, ages 10 and 5. Because her daughter has a chronic illness, Barbara keeps her grandchildren three days a week, and works closely with her ex-husband and their daughter to raise their grandchildren. All this in addition to her full time job! She has survived significant tragedy and hurt in her life, and yet is consistently positive, friendly, caring, and giving. One of the things I remember most about Barbara is that she always brought little gifts for the cafeteria workers and custodians at the school where we worked every Christmas. Also, (I didn’t work with her then, but other teachers told me this story) when one of the young teachers she worked with became pregnant (and wasn’t married—which was quite the scandal in a small town!), Barbara was the first to congratulate her and begin organizing a baby shower. She just has a huge heart for others. And I think we have a lot to learn from her. Anyway, here are Barbara’s answers to my happiness interview questions:

1. What's something small that you do regularly that makes you happy or cheers you up?

I go to the movies pretty regularly. This really cheers me up, because either I laugh a lot (comedies), or forget my own troubles for a while, and I often walk out inspired. I feel better even when I see a scary movie…because I am glad it doesn’t resemble my life at all. I’ll gladly take my own life back and not switch places.

2. What would you like for your children or grandchildren to know about happiness?

Abraham Lincoln’s quote of saying “people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be,” is what I believe to be true….which means Attitude and Perception is everything! The same thing can happen to two different people, and one person views it as a catastrophe, and the other views it as an opportunity for God and the Universe to surprise them with a happy outcome, or at the very least to learn a lesson or become stronger, more compassionate from having survived the ordeal. Every time we live through something difficult, we have more depth of character and empathy for others who have gone or will go through something similar.

3. What do you do to keep yourself and your family happy amidst life's struggles?

My grandchildren are the joy of my life! We read books and laugh together (yes, we aren’t afraid to act silly or have good, clean fun) and discuss things (deep things, too). I share inspiring stories about real people who have gone through real problems and managed to come out the other side with their Faith, Hope and Love in their heart intact, strengthened even. These are the things that have gotten me through a life of losing my parents (at 6 and 10), being neglected and abused, having chronic pain/illness, having a close relative murdered, and my daughter’s suicide. And I still believe God is Good, Loving, Forgiving, and that this is a loving, friendly Universe where most people are good and want to do good, and would not willingly hurt other people. We have the philosophy that “people are doing the best they can with what they know and who they are at any given moment.” (So who are we to judge?….live and let live.) These are the things our family concentrates on most, and are our philosophy of life!


I really love the part about how every experience gives us deeper empathy for others. And perhaps her great empathy is what makes her love movies so much...she can easily get sucked into the story, because she has such empathy even for characters in a movie.

What tough experiences in your life have given you broader empathy for others? For me, having a grandfather who was gay (even if I was young when he died), and learning the tragedy of his angry life trying to be a straight man, has given me a deep empathy for people who are lesbian and gay, since a young age. Do you think the hard experiences are worth it for the empathy you gain?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Be a Cheap Date

I've recently discovered something rather shocking about myself.

I. like. being. thrifty.

There, I said it.

It's hard to believe. I haven't always been this way.

But since this most recent phase of our marriage has consisted of us making way less money and having way more expenses than we ever have before, I've really had to develop the thrifty side of myself. (Apparently the down side of closing your own business is that the business stops actually bringing in any profit for you. Who woulda thunk it?)

Date night for us these days is Lost and a bowl of popcorn in the living room. (See, I really am a cheap date!) Family fun is a trip to the local park or to Duke Gardens. I've actually started using coupons. (Did you know Kroger has a cool online coupon feature that's simple to search for things you use regularly?) I plan my meals for each week, and only buy exactly what I will need for those meals. I make my own coffee in the morning and take it to work in a thermos. We haven't eaten out in eons, and have figured out pretty thrifty ways to eat fresh and wonderful foods. I plan meals that use my leftovers in creative ways throughout the week so that I won't waste food. I pack my lunch on days that I work a long day. I haven't wandered aimlessly through Target in months. Months! (And those of you who read this blog regularly know that that's one of my favorite hobbies!)

Yup, I have become frugal.

And it's actually not so bad. It even kinda makes me happy to have control over my spending, and to be a little bit disciplined in limiting my consumption of stuff. Money can't buy happiness. But maybe saving money can?

By the way, here's a cool personal finance blog I like. I get his daily updates, and they really help me stay focused in my thrifty ways!

P.S. The toy pictured above is one of my all time favorites for speech therapy fun! More about that in a post to come this weekend!

What are your favorite ways to save money? Do you get a strange (sort of embarrassing) thrill out of finding the best deal on a purchase before you make it? What are your favorite personal finance secrets?

Get Moving

Yesterday, my hubby was kind enough to give my daughter her bath and put her to bed while I went for a nice long walk on Duke's East Campus. For those of you who aren't familiar with Duke's Campus, there's a track around East Campus where people walk, jog, run, bike, walk their dogs, and just generally move.

It was such a happiness boost to get out in the fresh air, to see the trees blooming, to walk fast and hear the gravel crunch beneath my feet at each step, to breathe deeply and feel the strength of this healthy body I'm blessed with. It was a wonderful way to not only get my endorphins flowing with some exercise, but to also experience nature a bit, as well.

Hooray for wonderful husbands, beautiful days, and the ability to get moving (and happy!) every now and then.

How do you squeeze exercise into your life? Or, maybe you're better at it than me, and it doesn't feel squeezed in--if so, how did you get exercise to just come naturally?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Be light

"It is easy to be heavy; hard to be light." –G.K. Chesterton

I stole the above quote from Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. This quote is something I say to myself pretty regularly to try to help me respond lightheartedly to those around me. The funny thing is, my mom always says that I was the most carefree, happy kid, pretty much my whole life. But, you know, being light comes naturally for a lot of kids. (Take, for instance, my daughter and our cute neighbors in the tent there--they don't have to work at being light...they just are!) Stuff just starts to weigh us down as we get older. There's heavy stuff out there for adults. A lot of it.

It's easy to be heavy, hard to be light.

Today, I'm going to try to be light.

Wish me luck!

What are you going to do differently this week to bring yourself a bit of happiness?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Reflect on Your Story

Some of you have requested some speech ideas and tips, so I'm trying to honor that. These ideas are just general strategies that work for me, and should in no way to be taken as medical advice. If you have a child or grandchild who needs speech and language support, there is no better way to get it than in person with your very own SLP. You can find a certified SLP in your area by going here.
"The diary of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it." -James Matthew

I know this quote doesn't seem all that speechy. But give me a second.

When I was in Georgia, I was trained pretty intensively in an early intervention model called Teaming or Coaching, or the Primary Service Provider Model. Whatever you call it, the general idea was that early intervention services were provided to every child in our program by a whole team of service providers: a speech language pathologist, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, a social worker, a developmental specialist, a nutritionist, etc. So, each family in our program was assigned the whole team to support them, and then one of us served as the "coach" for the family to do the hands-on day-to-day support to help the child develop and grow. Our team met regularly to discuss concerns and to help one another with problem-solving any issues that we were having with the families we served. But for the actual service delivery portion of our work, there was just one therapist for each family.

That's right. Each family got just one of us to deliver the services and meet the goals that the whole team developed. You can imagine that we SLPs were pretty intimidated at first if a child we were assigned also had some motor concerns, and WE were the ones to provide support for all of those issues. I was not convinced at first that it was going to work, or that it was best for the kiddos we served. We were allowed covisits (visits where I would bring a PT or OT with me for a session with the child), and I was only willing to serve a few kiddos because I knew that I could have tons of covisits with the "motor" experts along with me.

But the amazing (and sort of surprising!) thing is, this teaming model worked. Fast.

Kids on our team met their goals in record time. Goals that I had initially written thinking they'd be met in around 6 months were being met in 2 or 3 months. Children were actually making so much progress that they didn't qualify for early intervention services anymore, before they aged out of the program! To put it bluntly, team kids were way outperforming kids who were being served on the traditional model.

We were surprised. We tried to figure out what was different. I mean, more services typically equals faster recovery, right? So when services were pared down to just one therapy type, how could it be that we were seeing faster progress?

After a few months of trying to figure out what was different about this new model, we finally determined that there were 2 key things that were happening for our team kids that weren't happening for our traditional model kids:
1) Because our program was new, we spent time during each of our team meetings to reflect on how it was working and how we could make it better.
2) We were building-in parent reflection (not just participation) and problem-solving opportunities into each session for our team kids.

What came out was this idea of reflection.

Apparently, when we as therapists continuously reflect on our performance and how it can improve, it actually does improve.

And when therapists support parents in becoming reflective problem-solvers for their children, their children make progress.

So now, back to the quote. Is it a reach, or do you think it applies here, too? When we take a look at the story we are trying to write for the kids we work with, as compared to the story that's actually being written, we're reflecting on what we're doing. And there's something about reflecting on things that makes us get humble pretty quickly. That makes us get our tail in gear and work hard to get a little better at whatever it is we're doing.

Parenting. Cooking. Teaching a child his /r/ sound.

So next time you've just had a great therapy session (or a terrible one, even!), take time to reflect on it. Whether you're the parent or the therapist, or the babysitter bringing the child to therapy, what strategy from today really made the difference? What just didn't work at all? Reflect, and then get to work with that new understanding you've gained.

There's a lot of research on reflective practice for educators. But here are some interesting articles about teaching physical therapists and even engineers to be more reflective practitioners, as well.

How do you build in moments to reflect on your life, on your work, on your family? For example, I blog; I sometimes write letters; I do progress reports for my speech kiddos.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

This Magic Moment

Sometimes there are moments that seem to last forever. Not to be cliche, but, when time stands still.

My first kiss.

Finding out my grandmother died.

Getting proposed to.

Waiting for news during my mom's open heart surgery.

Finding out I was pregnant.

Hearing my daughter's first cry when she was born.

At all these times in my life, the world has slowed its spinning. The background has melted away. At least briefly, I have truly been "in the moment." Experienced nothing else besides what is actually happening right then.

And then today. It happened again.

Nothing remarkable, nothing groundbreaking. It was just a normal day. There was grocery shopping, planting tomato and pepper plants, laundry. And then there was the moment.

Outside on the back lawn, my daughter and I were making bird-feeders to hang in our tree. We hung two, and then stood back to admire them. At which point, my daughter says,

"Now let's lay in the grass!"

Which we do.

It's late afternoon, so the sun makes us squint. The grass is cold on my back and a little damp from a rain yesterday. The sky is gray blue, and the clouds move slowly, slowly past. One cloud looks like rain. The sun lights up the red and green leaves of the maple tree overhead like a stained glass window. Flannery moves to lean her head in the crook of my arm. This is when time slows. When I take in just the smell of her hair, and feel just the humid breeze on my face, and listen to the sound of birds chattering and a woodpecker tapping out a rhythm nearby. This moment lasts a hundred years. Or maybe just a second or two.

Either way, it's magic.

One day, this type of intimacy with my child will be awkward and rare. One day, she'll be too busy for spontaneous sky gazing, or too logical to let the impulse become a reality.

But this moment, it'll remain.

I won't forget.

What moments in your life have made time stand still? Good or bad, there's a gravity to these moments, a "this is really my life" quality to them. I'd love to hear about yours.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Honor the Gifts You Receive

So here's the big reveal! Here's the family tree I made for my dad for his birthday! Tadaa! My vision was a little less crafty and a little more classy, but I did my best and now I'm done with it, so yay!

It feels nice to honor the gift that my dad gave me of all of the time and effort and money he put into researching our family tree. There are some really cool stories he found along the way, too, that maybe I'll put into a scrapbook one day. You know, the same day I'm gonna do all the eleven million other little projects in a zillion unfinished stages all around my house. Hah!

Anyway, working on this project made me really focus on honoring the gifts I'm given. I think there are tons of things that others do for me that I regularly take for granted, and I'm trying to be cognizant of that lately. So, I've been trying to honor gifts lately.

To not just let the sweets and trinkets Flannery got for Easter go to waste, but to allow her a little treat each day. So far, the egg carton of tiny bubble gum eggs has been her favorite! (And my favorite was the dove dark chocolates....yum!)

To take the time to help Flanna decorate the cool birdhouse my brother-in-law made for us. (Next step in the honoring process is to actually hang it outside in a place safely away from cats!)

To work hard to keep the communal herbs that dropped from the sky (er, actually from my landlord, Edna), alive and thriving. (I found out that I have mint, chives, basil, and rosemary. And I did have oregano. Until I killed it by underwatering. I guess honoring is a work in progress when delicate plants are involved.)

To appreciate the gift of a good, flexible job even amidst busy, stressful times. To take in the thousands of little gifts I get each day from my sweet clients--the little giggles, grins, smiles, funny things said, silly dances, hugs, and amazing accomplishments I get to witness every day.

To remember to gaze upon my wonderful family as a gift, a real treasure, and to treat them as so.

What gifts are you trying to honor lately?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tread Lightly

Recently, my husband, daughter, and I went to the local Life & Science museum, and one of the big hits of the day was visiting the butterfly garden there. A butterfly actually hung out on my daughter's arm for a while. It was so cute. She was very still, kind of in awe, as the butterfly climbed softly up her arm. Afterward, she said, "It was tickly!"

I've had the photo from that trip (above) on the desktop of my laptop for quite some time now, and somehow, it has really gotten into my head. I've even started doing a little visualization with it when I'm feeling frazzled, in which I tell myself to "tread like a butterfly" on those I love, and then I picture the little butterfly crawling on my daughter's arm. It's been really helpful to me to have that visualization to inspire me when I'm upset, not to snap back, but to whisper, to take a step back, to respond with a blessing, to wait, to turn the other cheek.

When I've told my daughter a thousand times to not splash in the bathtub, and then I get splashed again, I take a deep breath, count to five, picture the butterfly, and then calmly, softly, tell my daughter bath time is over because she splashed, and maybe next time if she can keep the water in the bathtub (not on me!), then she can have a longer bath. Without that visualization as inspiration, I'd probably be a lot more easily flustered and snappish, and, I hate to say it, downright harsh.

But when I remember to "tread like a butterfly" on those around me, I feel like I'm living the way I want to live. Like I'm making a choice to keep my home a calm, peaceful, and even happy one.


By the way, this post is so amazing, about getting through rough spots and then remembering once again who you are.

Do you have little ways to trick yourself into responding in a "better" way when something upsets you?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Why I'm Covered in Green Paint

Oh, I forgot to say why I was spattered in green paint. I thought I had bought a watercolor set of paints. Turns out it was oil paints. And I didn't buy any turpentine or whatever you need to clean oil paints off of your hands. And I really needed to get this family tree art project done so I could send it to my dad for his birthday. So I used the oil paints.

It was like The Cat in the Hat all over again.

But the finished product is pretty cool.

Once I send it to my dad and he sees it first, I'll post more than just this teaser pic. You know, don't want to spoil the surprise and all.

Oh, and by the way, we had goo be gone, so hopefully I won't be all green for my morning of IEP meetings tomorrow. Hooray!

Laugh a Little

With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die. ~Abraham Lincoln

Today, my husband came home to a wife who was splattered with green paint, madly cleaning the kitchen, who hadn't saved him any spaghetti, and a daughter who had sprayed half a bottle of hair mousse in her hair while the aforementioned paint-spattered wife was cleaning the kitchen, and a house that was pretty much strewn with blankets and art supplies. And all I could do was just laugh.

Is this what I thought my life would be like as a young mom?

Nope. Not one bit.

I thought I'd be a stay-at-home, non-paint-covered, homeschooling, keeping the house clean, making gorgeous meals every day, never leaving hair mousse out in reach of the 3 year old, kind of young mom.

But apparently that is not to be.

Instead, I'm a how-in-the-word did I work over 40 hours last week?, try to spend a few quality moments with the child, heat up leftover spaghetti for dinner, where did all of these blankets come from?, will oil paint never ever wash off?, oops we're out of dog food again, oh my goodness my daughter is covered in hair mousse, I guess it must be bath night, kind of young mom.

At least my husband has it all together, and went and got dog food, and gave Flanna her bath while I wrote IEPs. This IS what I thought he'd be like as a young dad...funny, calm, pretty much amazing.

Yeah, so at least there's that.

Really, all I can do is laugh sometimes at how strange I feel in this life that I'm kinda making up as I go along.


Speaking of laughing, this blog is hilarious and fun. It's about a couple who just adopted a teenage boy and are also expecting their first biological child very soon. I heart it.

How is your life different from what you'd expected right now? And what made YOU laugh today?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Be the Memory Keeper

One of the things that makes me and my family happiest is sharing happy memories together. So, as a part of my happiness project, I've made a resolution to try to be the storekeeper of happy memories for my family. I've started lots of little projects to work toward this resolution--a scrapbook for Flannery, a family tree record for both sides of our family, and more recently, I've been trying to make a DVD for the grandmothers of all the videos we have of Flannery's life so far. This weekend, as Mothers' Day is fast approaching, I've spent a ton of time on the video project, and I actually finished it! I now have a finished product--a DVD with 4 chapters (from infant to 3 year old). It's not perfect, but it's done! My husband, daughter, and I watched it today. It's really adorable. Flanna screamed and laughed and fell off the couch a few hundred times as we were watching it. I guess it was a hit!

One of my favorite times from our Easter family get-togethers was playing the piano with Flanna and Robi's mom (see the photo above!) But a really close second was when Robi's dad and aunt told some stories about Robi's extended family. I was so glad to hear some of these stories, and couldn't believe that Robi's cousins hadn't heard the stories, either. Good thing we sat around sharing memories that day!

Here's one of the doozies: Robi's aunt told the story that his great-grandma Lula had just had her first daughter, and the baby was around 3 months old when they had to move to another house. So, they packed up an old truck with all of their things, and they sat in the front of the truck. On the way to the new house, the truck hit a huge bump, and Lula was thrown out and was run over by the truck. (I guess this was before seat-belts!) The baby was fine somehow, but Lula had broken ribs, & some other injuries, and was taken to the hospital. She stayed there for many months, unable to walk or to take care of her baby. A doctor at the hospital actually asked Lula if he and his wife (who were unable to have kids) could adopt her baby. Lula seriously considered it, because she was in such bad shape, but ultimately, she refused. (I guess family helped take care of the baby during this time?) Anyway, after a few months, Lula was laying in bed, and she "saw" some tiny angels dance from the open hospital window to the foot of her hospital bed. They circled around her dancing for a few minutes, and then went back out the window. At that point, she decided that she was going to try to get up and walk, and she did. She went back home soon after and took care of her baby, and also had other children after that (doctors had told her she wouldn't be able to have more children because of the accident). She heard years later that the doctor who had asked to adopt her baby had committed suicide. She was so glad she hadn't subjected her baby to a "better" life that would actually end in tragedy.

Crazy stuff, huh?

What cool stories from your family do you just love?

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Must Read

I've been reading a blog by a mom with a son with Down Syndrome, and it has really resonated with me. Here's a link to a post about grief and painful anniversaries that is just really beautiful. Sometimes contemplating grief and loss can make us appreciate the happy moments in our lives that much more. Check out the rest of her blog, too. She's funny and witty and honest and uplifting and devastating all at once. A real must read in my book.

What have you read lately that has resonated with you?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cereal Can Make You Happy

Every once in a while, I'm trying to post interviews with amazing and insightful people who inspire me! Today's focus is Katie.

Katie was the assistant principal at a school where I used to work. (She’s now the principal there---yay, Katie!) I always remember that school, and that job in particular, as a happiness oasis in my past work experiences. And a big part of that was due to Katie. She always had a smile and a laugh ready, and she took the time to ask her teachers and staff about their lives, and to share in their joys and concerns. I was thrilled that, even with her busy life as a principal and mom of two, she found time to do a happiness interview! Here are her answers to my happiness questions:

1. What's something small that you do regularly that makes you happy or cheers you up?

Lately I have eaten a LOT of Chocolatey Delight Special K– yum! [By the way, that really is Chocolatey Delight Special K in the photo! Don't you want some now?] Of course, I don’t want to feed happiness, or I will be a blimp. Being in my husband’s arms or spending time with my daughters is the best pick me up around. God has blessed me with a beautiful family, and for that I am thankful. Often, I call my husband and just ask him to talk for just a minute or two. Just the sound of his voice helps. Jumping on the trampoline is a silly pick me up. Going into our Pre-K or special needs preschool classes is a pick me up. Oh, and I forgot to mention puppy kisses. They are the greatest!

2. What would you like for your children to know about happiness?

I try to stress all the time that although we may not have lots of money, we are so rich -– we are happy and healthy. Happiness is the most important thing to hope for in life. Strive for happiness, and your life will be good. Of course, there will always be sadness in life, but maybe that helps us to recognize the happiness that much more.

3. What do you do to keep yourself and your family happy amidst life's struggles?

We spend time together in a variety of silly ways. We always kiss goodbye, always give a happy hello, take deep breaths. I just try to keep putting life in perspective -– and to remember that there is nothing more important than family.


I agree that chocolate, preschoolers, puppies, and hugs from my husband and daughter are really the best pleasures in life! I also love that Katie said that one of the things she does to keep her family happy is to be silly. I think we often discount the whole idea of being silly with the ones we love, and it’s a really important part of family happiness!

What are your favorite silly family memories from when you were a kid?


On an unrelated, but totally amazing, sidenote, I just stumbled upon the blog of a young mom who had a traumatic brain injury, as well as her mom's blog documenting the ordeal, the recovery, and the miracles along the way. Talk about finding happiness amidst crippling struggles. This family shares the horror, the hope, and everything in between. I stayed up until after midnight reading this story, and am inspired and humbled by it.

Spring Has Sprung!

Here in Trinity Park (my little neighborhood), spring has officially sprung! I just had to take some photos of all the beautiful flowers in the yards on my way to work this morning. Beautiful!

Hope this brings you a little happiness boost!

What do you enjoy best about spring?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

7 Tips for Feeling Better About Yourself

Today was a stressful day. I still haven’t unpacked from my vacation. I have lots of deadlines coming up at work, which means tons of paperwork to get to. I had several calls to make and no child-free time to make them in. Then, I tried to make the calls, and ended up trying to sound professional with a screaming toddler in the background. Then, I spoke harshly to said screaming toddler. Then, my poor husband came home to a stressed mommy with no idea what to make for dinner. Then, I cried when he asked me how my day had been.

Not my best moment. Not my best day, actually.

But, in honor of bad days, I made a list of 7 ways to feel better. Hopefully, it will inspire me, too!

7 tips for Feeling Better about yourself:

1. Look at yourself through your own eyes. - Try not to think about how you look to others. Judge yourself by your own standards. You know what your priorities are; others don’t. For example, when my daughter was screaming today because she really wanted a sandwich right before dinner time, I was fine with letting her cry about it and not giving in. But then, I started worrying that the neighbors might hear her crying and think something was wrong. It made me a thousand times more stressed out to worry about what other people thought about the moment, rather than to just look at the situation from my own eyes and deal with it in the best way I knew how. If I can just focus on things through my own eyes, it really makes me feel better about myself.

2. Think of 3 things you’re grateful for right now. – not things that you once liked about yourself or things that you hope you will become. I stole this idea from my friend who writes the "Sharing the Journey" blog. Think of 3 things that you are thankful for about yourself right now, as you are. For example, I like how strong my body is today, I like that I am a fast report writer, & I like my crazy wavy red hair.

3. Remember a past accomplishment – Odds are, that accomplishment wasn’t easy. There were trials and hardships, but you pushed through and made it happen. Revel in that.

4. Call an old friend – Even if you just chat for 5 minutes, old friends are the best for helping you clear your fog and get back to yourself.

5. Do something small. - It’s satisfying to have a little success here and there. If the big things in your life are going a bit haywire, try finding some small successes. For me, that means I start a little project (scrapbooking, cooking, gardening, etc.) that will yield fast results.

6. Tidy up – Looking at chaos makes most of us feel stressed. Getting just one corner of a room in order and having something beautiful to look at can really boost my mood.

7. Listen to Your Body – Do you need more sleep? More protein? Maybe you haven’t been drinking enough water? Have you taken your vitamins? Sometimes when I’m feeling down, if I just get a nap or eat a snack, I feel a lot better.

By the way, this photo has absolutely nothing to do with this just makes me feel better!

What makes you feel better about yourself? Any little tips that you have to share would be wonderful!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Speechy Monday - It's Not About Me

So I was driving back from my vacation on Speechy Sunday, so I'm going to do a "Speechy Monday" post today to make up for it.

Some of you have requested some speech ideas and tips, so I'm trying to honor that. These ideas are just general strategies that work for me, and should in no way to be taken as medical advice. If you have a child or grandchild who needs speech and language support, there is no better way to get it than in person with your very own SLP. You can find a certified SLP in your area by going here.

When I speak to classes of speech language pathology graduate students and show videos of my therapy sessions, the students are often surprised that some of the videos aren’t videos of me doing therapy—they’re videos of the client's parents doing activities with the child. I’m there, of course, and usually, I've tried the activity out with the child many times before having the parents try it, but yes, there are parts of my speech sessions that aren't all about me!

Sometimes my job as an SLP is to teach families how to teach their children. And to problem-solve about what’s hard and what’s not working once they're in the midst of a teaching session. Families know their children best and are often the best judges of what strategies will or will not work with their child. Also, since they can usually “read” their child better than I can, they can often tell when their child is getting restless or bored, and can more fluidly make changes to activities to keep the child engaged. (Whereas maybe I wouldn’t have noticed the restlessness until the child just threw the puzzle piece on the floor. ☺ ) When parents have success at teaching their child a new word, and the new word isn’t just happening because of me as the speech therapist, but because of something the parent did, the natural order of things is restored a bit for the family with a child with a disability. Parents are the ones who are supposed to help their kids best. When I can help that happen, it's really a confidence- and happiness-booster (for all of us)! And when parents get on board and realize that they are the true agents of change for their child, I usually see the child's progress jump. Which really makes me happy.

I like that it’s not all about me.

What are some ways you have empowered others to make changes (big and small) in their lives? Would you rather get all the glory for it, or be behind the scenes?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Take Care of the Moments

"If we take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves." --Maria Edgeworth, O Magazine, April 2004

I'm still on vacation! Lucky me! And I've really been soaking in the moments! There have been some pretty amazing little moments, too, like:

Flying kites on the beach (amazingly, it actually worked!)
Sorting through stuff at my parents' house that they were getting rid of, and finding some really cool treasures!
Lying in the sun for a few minutes while my family and friends gave me a little break and watched my daughter!
Looking at old videos of the girls from when they were tiny.
Watching my mom collect sea shells on the beach with her granddaughters.
Having the time to play Hullaballoo with the girlies, and discovering I really love that game!

I'm so thankful for this brief time with my family. Living so far away from my parents, sister, and niece, is one of the things I really wish I could change in my life. And it's been so nice to have time enough together with them to get on one another's nerves! I'm so jealous of those families that get to annoy one another on a daily or weekly basis! I really want that! (I'm not kidding!)

How are you taking care of the moments when you're with the ones you love?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

When There's Nothing I Can Do, There's Something I Can Do

My hubby is interviewing for a job today. The perfect job for him. A job I can just see him succeeding in and loving and being very fulfilled by.

And I really hate that there's nothing I can do to help with the whole process. It's a pretty grueling process. There will be a big presentation, a day of interviews, lots of questions by lots of people all day long. I know he's up to the task, but still, I wish there was something more I could do to help out.

But, lately I've been reminding myself that when there's nothing left to do, there is something left to do. I can pray. And that's something. A rather big something, actually.

So today I'm praying in every spare little moment.

Would you mind praying, too? Or if you don't pray, sending good tenure-track thoughts to my hubby?

What do you do that helps you get through when things are out of your control?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Loud Moments in History

I'm at the beach this week with the girls in my family. It's been great to have some vacation time to just hang out together. And at the beach yesterday, I made a point to really try to be mindful of being in the moment. There were some really amazing moments.

At first, when we had just gotten to the beach, we all stood at the edge of the waves looking out at the ocean. The water was cold but not too shocking on our toes. The wind tousled my daughter's wild curls and my nieces's sleek straight hair. The girls squealed every time a wave came close. Pure happiness.

Then there was the time that we saw some fishing boats, and my daughter yelled, "Hi, Pirates!" over and over.

And then there was the time when my niece decided to make "sand angels."

And then, on a walk, we saw a jellyfish that looked exactly like a round piece of ice. Exactly.

These little moments (some quiet, and some not so quiet!) added up to a really happy day. And a memory that I hope we'll all be able to call on when we need a little lift.

What moments do you call on from your memory when you need a happiness boost?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New Growth

One of the things that makes me happiest is to grow and learn each day. Right now, I've been trying to learn a little more about gardening (as well as continuing to learn more Spanish).

Over the weekend, I was lucky enough to get to visit my brother-in-law's house and to see all of his cool plants. The pics here are of his weeping cherry tree and some bulbs that are beginning to grow in his yard. (He's obviously been at this whole gardening thing way longer than I have!) It was neat to see his hard work coming to fruition. And given that I'm really interested in the whole challenge of growing things these days, it made me appreciate the experience, and notice the little miracles of new growth, even more. I'm sure he thought I was crazy taking pictures of his plants, but it was exciting to me to see someone else's success with growing!

What everyday things do you notice now or appreciate more because of one of your learning interests? (For instance, when I was a nursing mom, I constantly noticed other nursing moms' tricks of the trade--clothes they wore that made things easier, positions they used, etc. It was so interesting suddenly!, Or once my niece was adopted, I started noticing all the ways adoption is overlooked and under-mentioned all around me--from health history forms at the doctor's office to school projects with the generic family tree templates.)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Too Fun For Words!

We've been too busy having fun for me to have time to write about it all. So here are some of the highlights in photos:

What have you enjoyed best about this weekend?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Enjoy a Good Joke

This was our first year to play any April Fool's jokes on Flanna, and we really enjoyed it! As part of my Happiness Commandment to "Have Fun," and also as a way to share and create family traditions, we brainstormed fun April Fool's tricks for today. We had lots of great ideas, but in the end, we settled on two reasonable and silly ones.

First, for breakfast, I brought Flanna a plate of pretend food--cheese, bread, and a brownie from her play kitchen. Then I pretended to busy myself in the kitchen. It took her a minute, but then she said, "but mommy, why is it not real?". After I brought her a real plate of actual food, she got a kick out of playing the same trick on the dogs... Setting the plate of pretend food on the floor and saying, "April Fools!" when they went to investigate!

Then later, after I left for work, as my hubby was getting Flanna dressed for school, he put one of my dresses on her. He said that she told him, "this is too long!".

It was such a treat to start the day in such a lighthearted way! And hopefully we're helping Flanna learn how to take a joke in some small ways, too. This is definitely a tradition I'm hoping to continue for many years in our family!

By the way, I'm heading out of town for spring break today! Hooray for rest and relaxation! And not so much of a hooray for the long drive!

But hopefully friends, family, and the beach will all be worth the long trip! Actually, I'm sure they will be.