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Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Sick Kiddo

My sweet Flanna has croup.  Poor thing.  It seems every virus she gets turns into croup.

She seems to feel better during the day, but the nights are just awful.  I've been sleeping with her to monitor her coughing spells.  Needless to say, we're both exhausted!

I'm hoping tonight will be a night of rest.  Fingers crossed!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hang out with outcasts

Check out the murmurers.  That's me in the teal.

I've been mentoring a student at my school recently.  Nothing big.  Just having lunch together once a week, chatting, getting to know one another, and working on writing skills a bit here and there.  

Today, I saw this student in the hall, and he asked me if I'd like a piece of gum.  My first reaction was to say no, to tell him to save the gum for one of his friends, but he offered it with such kindness that I just couldn't turn it down.  So we walked down the hallway sharing a fun experience--sour purple gum.  And I could see that he was proud of himself for creating that moment.  

There is such power in just entering into experiences with other people.   I was bowled over a little bit today when I opened my "Daily Orthodox scripture reading" e-mail to find:

Luke 19:1-10
At that time, Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaios; he was a chief collector, and rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaios, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today." So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it they all murmured, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." And Zacchaios stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost."

I hate to admit it, but I'm often like the murmurers in this story, trying to stay in a safe little bubble and not associate with people who make me uncomfortable.  Not Jesus, though. He not only associated with a sinner--He went and hung out with the sinner at the sinner's house, and ate the sinner's food.

I'm trying harder to stop the murmuring, to seek out the outcasts in Sycamore trees, to enter into their lives, to share in their experiences, and to hopefully make a small change here and there.  

Nothing huge.  Nothing salvific.  

Just a proud smile over purple gum will do.

How are you helping those around you?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Montessori Moments

Flanna's wonderful teaching assistant sent us these photos of her doing several of the "works" during her morning montessori program.  It's so neat to see what she's been working on!

What new thing are you learning right now?    

Speechy Sunday: iPad/iPod Apps for Language Therapy

Today I'm going to review a few apps that I enjoy using for language therapy.

To review, my ratings will be on a scale of 1-5 stars,  with
1 = Waste of Time, 
2 = I've seen worse, 
3 = Okay, 
4 = Better than many,  and 
5 = Amazing App.

1.  Cookie Doodle by Shoe the Goose -  5 Stars  ($. 99)
I can't say enough about this app!  I just love it!   I keep finding new ways to use it in therapy.  It's basically an interactive simulation of making cookies.   It's interactive in that it involves shaking, tilting, tapping, pinching, etc., to follow the recipe to create the dough, and then rolling, cutting, baking, and decorating to create the cookie masterpieces.  Also, after the students make a cookie, they can "eat" it, which is very satisfying, even for my upper elementary students.   I've used this app to address language goals for sequencing, verb vocabulary, verb tenses, food vocabulary, following directions, commenting, rejecting, recalling steps in a process, answering wh- questions, and writing.   (I've also used it for generalization phases of articulation and fluency therapy, but that's another post in itself.)   For the money, I am amazed at all the use I get out of this app.
several cookies from my Cookie Doodle Cookie Jar

a "2" shaped cookie that has been eaten a bit

2.  Proloquo2Go -   3 Stars  ($189.99)
When I first got my iPad, everyone told me that I needed to use Proloquo.  Basically, this app is like having a gazillion voice output AAC devices and with premade communication boards instantly at your fingertips, without all the hard work involved in learning the device.  This app has the potential to be very useful for use with children who are nonverbal or emergent language learners.  Unfortunately, I don't currently have any children at this language level on my caseload, so I've used this app in ways other than what it was likely designed for.  I've mostly used as a visual prompt system for students who need ideas for what to talk about in different situations.

Regardless of how you use it, though, I think it would be easiest to jump in to Proloquo2Go using the "categories" folder.  In the categories folder, there are preexisting communication boards that contain a variety of vocabulary for settings, topics, and activities such as "art time," bathroom," or "weather."  I specifically like the "comments" grid, which I've used as a visual cue for some of my clients who are working on social skills like commenting in a group setting.  I also like the "feelings" grid, which I've used with a few of my students with autism when I wanted a good feelings/emotions word-bank with icons quickly at my fingertips.  I only gave this app 3 stars because of its high price and because sometimes I have trouble following the organization of the folders.  However, compared to other AAC voice output devices (which can run in the thousands of dollars), this app is cheap, and pretty intuitive.   I think back to my first experiences with AAC devices (can you say, not so intuitive?), and think that had Proloquo2Go been available back then, I wouldn't have been quite so intimidated by getting started with AAC.  

Best of all, I just love the way this app says, "Kway-suh-dill-uh" for quesadilla.   It's not perfect, but it's a nice place to start for an easily accessible voice output device.

3.  Princess iSticker Lite -  3 stars (Free)
I downloaded this app over my winter break and have enjoyed using it with some of the third grade girls on my caseload.  It's basically a computerized sticker book featuring princesses and princess accessories.  I use this app to work on goals such as:  following multistep directions (ex:  Put a princess in the ballroom and then add a cake by the window.), spatial concepts (ex:  Put the prince under the rainbow, and move the raccoon beside the tree), vocabulary (ex:  stream, lake, hills, mountains, etc.), and to inspire students to write stories and imaginative narratives.  I find that starting with a blank scene is a nice way to inspire my students to describe the setting of their story with details, and that when we add princess/prince/animal stickers to the scene, it's a natural time to discuss introducing and describing characters in a story.  I've used this app as a reward for writing, as well, having students try to recreate a story using the sticker boards (this can be difficult if the story the student wrote was not about princesses, but you can be imaginative!).  I like that the app allows you to save the scenes you create to your iPhoto library, because I find that students enjoy having created such beautiful pictures themselves and want to print them to pair with their written work.  
Who let the animals into the ballroom?

4.  My Pictures Talk  by Grembe Inc.-  4 Stars  ($9.99)
This app allows you to use photos from your own iPhoto library and turn them into buttons that speak when you touch them when viewed through the My Pics Talk app.  I actually use this app on my iPhone, but I'm contemplating buying it again for use on my iPad.   I decided to buy it for my phone rather than my iPad because I can take photos with my iPhone camera and instantly use them with this app; whereas, it would require several steps to get photos into my iPad for use with My Pics Talk.  I think I've just scraped the tip of the iceberg in using this app to its fullest capability, but so far, I've used it to make social stories (walking in line, riding in the car), to create process instructions (making hot chocolate), to create personal info "interactive books" (ex:  The People in My Family), and just to scrapbook events and classroom activities for later speaking and writing activities (ex:  pumpkin patch field trip, Thanksgiving feast).  This app was relatively simple to learn to use, and I've really enjoyed using it for language therapy.  I've typically used it by recording my own voice to speak when a photo is touched; however, I think that the scrapbook feature lends itself to having students record their own voices.   (I also this it could be used with articulation and fluency clients as part of generalization and self-monitoring activities.)    What I haven't yet figured out is a good way to send the finished product to anyone else.  So, we enjoy our creations in the therapy room, but I would much rather share them with family and teachers via e-mail.  (Right now, it seems to send them as separate photo and sound files rather than a photo that produces the sound file when clicked, which I would prefer.) Anyway, if I figure the sharing piece out, I'll be sure to share my wisdom!

5.  Word Girl - Word Hunt -   3 Stars    ($ . 99)
This is a cute app starring PBS's Word Girl.  I've used this app for narrative structure lessons, with the added benefit that we can work on vocabulary and sequencing skills.  Word Girl is a secret superhero who defeats bad guys with her powerful vocabulary skills.  I like this game because it presents simple stories told aloud that all include a problem and a successful attempt to solve the problem.  After the initial scene is set up, the app switches to "quiz mode" and asks the player what the character should do to solve the problem.  Then it provides a multiple choice question "quiz" in which the player is to choose between three different options (verbs) regarding what the character should do to save the day.  If correct, the player moves immediately to a motivating game.   If incorrect, the app tells the child why that choice was wrong and to try again.  There is built in success here, because even when only one answer choice is left, the app still asks the player to choose the best answer and then says, "You're right!" and moves to the game.  The "word hunt" part of the game is played by simply tilting the iPad back and forth to move a flying Word Girl so that she catches the target word from the quiz ten times while trying to avoid flying into the bad guys.   I wish that the app said the vocabulary word she is catching along with a brief definition each time she catches it--it only says the word the first time, and the definition is only really provided once during the "quiz" section of the game.  I find myself pausing often and supplementing this game with extra language to help my students understand the story and cement the vocabulary.  I also wish the app allowed you to scroll backwards and re-watch the story game you just played.  Sometimes I'd like to review the story again immediately afterward, but so far, I haven't figured out a way to pick which story is played or to go backward within the stories. The Word Girl Word Hunt app contains many different stories, so this game can be repeated with the same students several times without losing its appeal.

So, there you have it--5 apps that I think are rather useful for language therapy.  

And now for the disclaimer:   The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only. The information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should seek the advice of your health care provider regarding any questions you have. You should not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog. The Gladdest Thing Under the Sun disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on the information on this blog.  Ideas posted here 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. 

What iPad, iPhone, or iPodTouch apps are you raving about right now?  I'd love to hear!

By the way, have you heard about the brain injury dialogues  yet?  If not, check out the trailers for this neat documentary.  I can't wait to see it!  It's going to air on PBS sometime in February or March.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Why I Wake Up and Drive in my Cold Dark Car to Work Each Day

Check out this video about the importance of autonomy, mastery, and purpose for motivating us in our work lives.  

Wow, do I ever feel lucky to have the job I do.  I think that these 3 qualities are just inherent in my job as an SLP.

Plus, my coworkers started a fabulous mentoring program at my school and are constantly finding ways to do inspiring things for our students.  Talk about adding purpose to my work.

I've got a longer post about this brewing in the back of my brain, but for now, I'll just let you watch the cool video.

What needs to change in your work life so that these 3 factors can fully motivate you?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Make it Visual

This chart makes me laugh!  You would never believe the number
 of stickers we bought to potty train Flanna.
As a speech-language pathologist, using visuals comes naturally to me.  If I want to teach a skill, a concept, a new vocabulary word, steps in a process, --pretty much anything--I usually create some visual way to teach it.  I make a graphic organizer.  I draw a picture.  I make a visual schedule.  I draw a diagram.  I make a behavior tracking chart.

But for some reason, last year, I didn't use any visual tracking system to help myself meet my happiness resolutions.  I kept thinking, "Gee, I should really make a little chart with my happiness resolutions on it that I could post somewhere so I'd see it every day.  That would totally make me keep my resolutions."

But did I ever actually do that?

Um, no.

(Perhaps that's why I only partially met some of my goals?)

So, this year, I'm going to help myself in every way possible to meet my happiness resolutions.  First of all, I kept them short and sweet.  Second, I made a google doc "Resolutions Chart," inspired by the super-organized Gretchen Rubin.  My chart is accessible from work and home e-mail and looks like this:


January 2011 - Resolutions Chart
“I will be the gladdest thing under the sun.  I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one.  I will look at cliffs and clouds with quiet eyes.  Watch the wind blow down the grass, and the grass, rise.”
DateExerciseTeach F re: GodFocus on marriagedeclutter
1 x


  (etc. for all the days of the month, and for next month's I'll change the month and the quote hopefully)

At first, I was recording how I did each of these things daily ("walked" for exercise, "ate out w/ hubby" for Focus on marriage, etc.), but now I'm being more efficient and just putting an X if I met the goals that day.  I'm hoping that soon I'll start seeing a chain of Xs emerge that will inspire me to maintain the forward momentum on my goals.  

I'm hoping this visual tracking strategy is going to keep me mindful of the big picture of what I wanted to accomplish this year.  Fingers crossed it will help!

How do you keep yourself focused on your goals?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Speak Your Child's Love Language

I've been trying to figure out my daughter Flannery's love language for a few weeks now.  I've talked with her about love, watched how she responds to different things we do, and most of all tried to pay attention to what she complains about (this is a trick Chapman mentions--often, what we complain most about is a cue to our love language).

Here's what I've gathered:

Flannery wants to be listened to, with full attention, to have us look at her and repeat back to her what she just said so she knows we really heard her.

Flannery seeks out hugs and kisses, loves to sit in our laps, wants to cuddle and snuggle, and especially enjoys watching her favorite movies while snuggling with us.

When asked what we do that makes her feel loved, she replied, "When you do things that I like."

She most often complains about us not looking when she wants us to look at something, or about her friend not listening to her.  She complains if she's talking to us and she doesn't get full attention (looking and listening to her).

She enjoys specific praise about what she's done well that day (her 3 things).

She gets very upset if she asks for help and we can't help her with a task.  She also gets very upset if a friend bumps her accidentally or pushes her away while they're playing.

She most often says, "I love you," without being prompted to, when we're cuddling/hugging/snuggling with her.

Sooooo, what do you think her love language is?  Here are the possibilities:
1.  Words of affirmation
2.  Quality time
3.  Receiving gifts
4.  Acts of service
5.  Physical touch

I'm thinking that quality time (eye contact, undivided attention, listening to her, doing things she enjoys) and physical touch (hugs, kisses, being held, pats on the back, holding her hand, being there with her, being easily accessible, etc.) are probably her primary love languages.  And I think that she appreciates words of affirmation and acts of service, but perhaps to a lesser degree.

So, I'm going to try to hug more, cuddle more, give more kisses to her, and to spend more quality time together each day.  Even 5 minutes a day of my complete undivided attention (no cooking/cleaning while we're playing!) is a good start, I think.

Have you tried to pay attention to your loved ones' love languages lately?  What have you deduced from being a super sleuth?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Funny Flanna Quotes

Showing her the initials engraved on my class ring:
Flanna:  "When I grow up, I want my name to be T.J."

This one was said by one of Flanna's little friends (walking to the park in the snow):
"I know a song about slipping-- I'm slipping, I'm slipping, I'm slipping, slipping on iiiiiiii-iiice."  (It sounded kind of punk...wish I had recorded it!)

Holding her friend's hand crossing the street:
"Hold my hand.  I don't want you to get hurt by a car, so I'll keep you safe."

After her friend had a potty-related accident:
"She was embarrassed.  She thought we wouldn't love her anymore.  But that's ok, accidents happen."

Doing yoga:
"If I'm ever sick and dying, I can just touch the edge of Jesus' clothes, and I'll get better."  (We had listened to that story earlier in the day.)

Me:  "I'm going to take the Christmas tree down this weekend." (Ahem, um, this was several weeks ago. Cough.)
Flanna:  "Nooooo!  Can't we just leave it up?  Because it looks so nice!"

Me:  "So daddy's 34 now!  What do you think you'll look like when you're 34?"
Flanna:  "I'll wear princess dresses."
Me:  "Oh, that will be lovely.  Do you think you'll have a job then?  Like a doctor or a vet?"
Flanna:  "I'll be a vet.  And I'll wear princess dresses."
(Of course.  Every vet does her best work in a ball gown.)

What made you laugh today?

My Life in Pictures: A Long Weekend

At the museum

Dinosaur Wranglers

We made crepes, yum!

Flanna has learned to make hearts.

hearts galore

So sweet!

Other highlights of our long weekend include:  Robi and I went out for German food while Flanna stayed with a wonderful sitter!  Flanna had a playdate at a friend's house, and I took the time to organize and declutter a bit!  and Flannery and I went to the Y with some friends to swim!  It was altogether a lovely lovely time.

How did you remember MLK today?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Birthday Boy!

It's my husband's birthday today!  (That's right...we're both capricorns.  My friend Debi says that's why we're so peaceful and compatible.)

Because celebrating traditions makes us so happy, Flannery and I made some neat cards for him, bought him a cooking class (I promise that wasn't a selfish gift--I really think he'll enjoy it!), and frosted some brownies for his birthday "cake."

Then we lit the candles, and Flanna helped him make a wish.

I think this is going to be a good year for him.  I can feel it in my bones.

What are you looking forward to in this new year?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Sleetman wasn't a joy to create.  
He took almost an hour of painstaking, red-fingers-freezing, sleet-smushing work.

But was he worth it?

You be the judge.

What project are you tackling that will be worth the hard work once it's done?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Sickly Snow Day

Poor Flanna's not feeling great.  I'm thinking she has another ear infection.  Ugh.

But we bundled her up and let her play in the ice and snow a few times today.  We made a mini sleet-man and pulled Flannery around East Campus in our homemade sled (a.k.a. a laundry basket with blankets and an old crib sheet inside, and a scarf for the handle).  The homemade sled worked amazingly well, and Flanna just loved going fast and sliding all over campus in it.

We also played "house" in a huge magnolia on campus.  The snow under the magnolias was much fluffier and easier to make into snowballs than the rest of the icy sleet/snow in our yard. We even saw some tiny squirrel tracks along the magnolia branches. 

 All in all, it was a great day!  Although I do wish Flannery was feeling better.  

What makes you feel better when you're sick?

A Snuggly Day

It's a small miracle!  Our little dog, Annie, is currently snuggled on the couch sleeping in Flannery's lap!   And they've been snuggling that way for over an hour now.  Flannery told me that her foot fell asleep, but she didn't want to move, because she loves snuggling with Annie so much.  How sweet!

Below are some pics of Flanna with the pups...note her "name" sweatshirt that my aunt and cousin made her.  She just loves it!

In other news, it's a snow day here!  Work and school were cancelled for everyone, and we're having a lazy day.  Poor Flanna's not feeling that well, but after she rests up a bit, we're hoping to brave the cold to make a "sleetman" (since it was more of a sleet storm than a snowstorm).    Such fun!

Who do you just love to snuggle with?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tell me how great I am, and I'll feel loved

OK, so I took the love languages quiz, and here are my results (high score meaning it's my love language, and low score meaning it's not---I think 12 is the highest possible you can get in an area).  

Words of Affirmation - 10
Quality Time - 9
Physical Touch - 8
Acts of Service - 3
Receiving Gifts - 0

I wasn't surprised that "Words of Affirmation" is the main way I feel love.  I just love compliments and gold stars (as Gretchen Rubin calls them)!  And quality time makes sense to me, too.  But I was a little surprised that physical touch meant so much to me, and that  acts of service and receiving gifts apparently doesn't speak love to me at all.  

While taking the quiz, I wondered, though-- if I were in a relationship where I never got regular thoughtful gifts and regular acts of service/help with things, would I have rated these as more important to me?  I'm not sure.  I do know, though, that my husband is always super-helpful and has never forgotten a birthday or anniversary.  He also regularly brings sweet trinkets home from his faraway conferences.  Which I think is so thoughtful.  But apparently, he could save his $ and just tell me how much he missed me while he was gone, and he'd be golden in my book!  

Has anyone else ever figured out your love language?  I'd love to hear what it is!  (Especially if you're my BFF or in my family, since I'd love to be able to show you how much I love you, in your own love language, regularly!)

By the way, it's a snow day here!  No snow yet, but stay posted!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Be a Super Sleuth

Wuv, twue wuv.
When I first got married, some wonderful person (I can't remember who!?) gave me the book, "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman.   It sounded hokey, but because many people recommended it to me, I read it.  It was a great book, very applicable to real life, with tons of valuable insights into human nature.   I figured out my "love language" (or what makes me feel loved), and Robi's, too, and I remember thinking that we naturally made one another feel loved, without having to work at it very much.  Yay for us!  (I know, we probably made people gag as sappy newlyweds!)

Fast forward 12 years.  I was reading another book by Gary Chapman recently, and it referenced the various love languages.  And I realized that I had forgotten my love language!  And my husband's!  Yikes!   (At least we're not making people gag anymore, but still!)

Luckily, at the time I realized this, I was staying with my in-laws, who happen to own a copy of the "Five Love Languages."  So, I re-read it.  And was re-inspired by the book.  Now I'm trying to figure out our love languages once again, because I wonder if they can change over time.

I was also inspired to figure out my daughter's love language.  What makes her feel most loved?   Is it physical touch?  (She does ask to be held a lot.)  Is it words of affirmation?  (She seems to enjoy her "3 Things" each night.)  Is it quality time or conversation?  (She does ask for my complete attention pretty often.)  I hate to admit it, but I've been at a loss in figuring out her primary love language.  My hubby, I can force him to take a Love Language quiz, or we can have a chat about it.  But I've sort of been being a super-sleuth to try to figure out Flanna's.

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, here's a brief summary of the whole "Love Language" idea:

Basically, every person feels loved in different ways.  Some people feel loved when we hug them.  Some feel loved when they are given our full attention.  Some feel loved when we do things to help them out.  The hard thing is that we may be speaking 4 of the 5 love languages to someone we love, but if we are not speaking their primary love language, then they may not be feeling fully loved by us.  So, if your partner's primary love language is physical touch, and you're ironing his shirts and telling him how great he is, and staring into his eyes and having deep conversations, but you're not giving him a kiss or hug or holding his hand now and then throughout the day, then he may not be feeling your love.  Crazy, right?

Anyway, so, this week, I'm on a secret mission to figure out my daughter's love language.  Do you know yours, your partner's, and your parents'/siblings'/children's love languages?  Here are the possible 5 if you're interested:

1.  Words of affirmation -  receiving compliments, hearing "I love you, because...."
2.  Quality time (and conversation) - receiving complete undivided attention with eye contact and sincere interest
3.  Receiving gifts - receiving little tokens of love, being remembered on birthdays or anniversaries
4.  Acts of service - being helped out with chores or assignments, having a partner in projects
5.  Physical touch - having people just be present and accessible, as well as receiving physical affection

I think I'm going to ask Flanna outright what makes her feel loved.  I think she'll understand that.  I'll also be monitoring her response to different actions on my part in each love language category.  This should be fun!

Want to figure out your love language?  If so, there's a quiz here, as well as some interesting info and books that are on my wish list.  I'll take the quiz and will share my results tomorrow.  I think mine will probably be "Words of Affirmation" and "Quality Time," but that's just a guess.  

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Funny Flanna Quotes

I was telling Flanna and her cousin their "3 Things" for the day (3 great things they did that showed good character that day), and Flannery remembered that she had left her drink in the other room, so she said, "Mama, can you put a bookmark in your mouth for a minute?"

I was telling Flannery the story of the 3 Little Pigs, when she had to go to the restroom, so she said, "Mama, can you pause your brain?"

I was so excited that Flannery had just read a few words in our book like "mom," "pop," and "hot," and I said:  "Wow, Flannery, you can read, sweetie!  How cool!" to which she replied, "Well, I can only read little words, but 'cept for 'Flannery'--that's a long one."   (Poor thing--it is long!)

Talking about how her dad is at a conference in New Orleans:
"Why do they call it New Orleans?  What's a old Orleans?"

Flannery looked sad a few days ago in the morning.  I asked her what was wrong.  She said,
"Hmmph.  I'm never gonna be a big sister." (crossing her arms across her chest)
Me:  What makes you say that?
Flanna:  "I prayed to God yesternight for a little sister, and it didn't happen." 
(Sigh.  Doesn't that just break your heart?  We're just not ready to try for siblings yet, but that sweet kid is planting the seeds in our hearts. And "yesternight" is one we hear a lot!)

In the bathtub:
"Mom, why do humans always have to breathe?  Why can't we be made to just, not breathe, instead?"

What made you laugh this week?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Set some Goals

Why yes, I do have 8 minutes to exercise.
8 minutes, exactly. 
I've been slow to set my New Year's Resolutions in stone this year.  I've had about 8 resolutions kicking around in my head, and I've been trying to whittle it down to the most important 3, because I've decided that I can only reasonably remember 3 resolutions, and I won't stick to resolutions I can't even remember.

I keep coming back to these 3 resolutions--resolutions that I blurted out in haste when one of my friends asked me what my resolutions would be on New Year's Eve.  But once I said them, they really did seem to make sense as my biggest priorities for this year.

I'm sure you're dying of anticipation by now.

So, here they are:

My 2011 Happiness Resolutions:
1.  Exercise.
2.  Teach my daughter about God.
3.  Be a better wife to my husband.

Those are my overall goals, and here are my short-term goals to get there (the therapist in me just has to make these goals more specific, although I like the short ones above b/c they're easy to remember).

1.  Exercise - Do my "8 minutes in the morning" moves, or yoga or pilates DVDs every day, if not in the morning, then perhaps with Flanna before bed.
2.  Teach my daughter about God - I need ideas here!   I'm thinking I'd like for her to learn a song and do a craft every week based on some sort of liturgical calendar theme.  Surely someone knows of a good place for ideas in this area?
3.  Be a better wife - I think my marriage is remarkably fun and stable, but much of that is because my husband is such a lighthearted, responsible, and understanding guy.  This year, I want to try to reduce the need for understanding:  to reduce the clutter, to keep up with laundry, to have a regular date night, and to be a source of energy rather than being drained by the time I see him at the end of the day.  (Hmm, maybe being a better wife will involve getting more sleep?)

On that note, I think it's time for bed!

What are your New Year's Resolutions for 2011?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Favorite Birthday Books

It's my birthday today!

In celebration of the nerdy mama SLP that I am, I'm going to post a list of my favorite birthday-themed children's books today.  Because that makes me super happy.

Aaaaand the winners are: 

The Birthday Zoo - by Deborah Lee Rose - this book has unique animal and verb vocabulary, which appeals to the speechy side of me.  The pictures are cute, and the text isn't too long, so the book is readable in the 20 minutes you have for reading with your kiddo before bed.  Plus, it rhymes!  I bought it before I had Flannery, to read with my preschool speech students on their birthdays, and I bring it out every year to read during Flanna's birthday now.  Such fun!

On the Night You Were Born - by Nancy Tillman - Warning!  This book will make you cry!  When I found it in the bookstore, I got all weepy and just had to buy it.  And I wasn't pregnant or anything. And they only had it in hardback.  And it was expensive.  And I am pretty cheap.  The illustrations are works of art, and the words--sigh.  I love to give this to new parents.  My hubby says if you read it too much, you'll make your child conceited.  Maybe so, but I still read it with Flannery all the time, especially on her birthday.   I mean, come on, the polar bears did dance 'til dawn the night she was born, and none of the ladybugs flew away!  It's just true.

Happy Birthday, Moon - by Frank Asch -   My mentor, Anne van Kleeck, introduced me to this author forever ago when I was in graduate school.  I love the sweet stories and concepts introduced in each book about Moonbear and his friend Little Bird.  Plus, this book takes me right back to my time doing research on book-sharing in grad school, which I really enjoyed.  I know, I'm a nerd.  But, hey, it's my birthday--I can be as geeky as I want today and no one can say anything, right?

Birthday Monsters - By Sandra Boynton -  who doesn't love a good Boynton book?  It rhymes, it's silly, and there are monsters.  Enough said.

(By the way, I don't get any money if you click on these amazon links...they're just there so you can see the cute books I'm talking about.  My mom would love it if I were technosavvy enough to put ads up on this blog, but I have to admit I'm not there yet.)

What are your favorite kids' books?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Taking Stock: What did I learn last year?

My cousin sent me this cool pic of my great aunt .
Random things I've learned:

1.  Happiness is important, but not everything.
2.  Sadness is inevitable, and can push you to change for good.
3.  It takes a village, but villages no longer just exist...we have to create our own.
4.  Family stories are important to our sense of ourselves.
5.  Reflection is good.
6.  Goals are even better.
7.  Clutter is stressful.
8.  Funny stuff happens every day.
9.  Taking photos makes you notice beauty everywhere.
10.  I have a lot to learn.

What did you learn last year?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Taking Stock: My Happiness Commandments


Our NYE pretty!
Live your priorities
Be in the moment/Pay attention
Do what needs to be done
Have fun
5 Work hard to make a connection
Do your best and be done with it
Be authentic
8 Really listen
Partner up
10 Be prompt and polite

These have worked pretty well for me this past year, but I've been thinking a lot about them, and I think I'm going to change a few for 2011.  So, here goes.

My 2011 Happiness Commandments:

1.  Live your priorities
2.  Be in the moment
3.  Do what needs to be done
4.  Be silly; have fun.
5.  Experience nature.  - this one's new, but not a new idea here on this blog.
6.  Do your best and be done with it.
7.  Breathe. - I forget this a lot, and feel better emotionally and physically when I remember to mindfully breathe.
8.  Be slow to speak.  - I think this is better than "really listen," because even when I think I'm "really listening," I'm often still preparing what I'm about to say.  This is more precisely what I need to work on.
9.  Maintain organization. -  I'm great at creating organizational systems for myself, but terrible at maintaining them.  Hopefully that will change this year?
10.  Learn new things.  - Those who read this blog regularly know how much learning new things brings me happiness.  So now I'm officially making it a commandment.

OK, so now I want to hear your 2011 Happiness Commandments!!  Please share them!

Happy New Year to all of you who faithfully read my ramblings!  If you don't want to share happiness commandments, please share ideas of what you'd like for me to write about in the coming year!  I'd love to hear what you're interested in!