Anybody waiting on the edge of their seat for my End of the Year Book Addict post and Final Total for the year??
Don't worry, it's coming. Soon.
But, first . . . here are the books I read in Nov and Dec (I'm behind, you see). I've starred the ones I gave 5 stars in my Goodreads reviews. I'll try to say a little bit about them, but I can't guarantee much because my brain is a sieve and I easily forget. (That's why I have to read so much, to keep things in my brain, because otherwise it would very quickly be emptied. haha.)
1. The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton*
I really liked this story. That's all.
2. My Secret: A PostSecret Book - Frank Warren oh, these postsecret books - such a guilty pleasure. Disturbing and comforting all at once. Do you have a secret you haven't told anyone? How would you feel about writing it on a postcard and sending it anonymously to someone you don't know? I can't decide what I think about it. But it's interesting.
3. Velvet Elvis - Rob Bell*
As I wrote in my Goodreads review this book on Christianity "has many good insights, interesting perspectives, and a unique voice that I appreciated."
4. Remembering Isaac - Ben Behunin
story of a potter who goes to take over the village pottery, and learns lessons from what other people learned from old potter. Hm, that doesn't explain it very well. But it was a bit too preachy for me. Subtlety goes a long way, folks.
5. A Live Coal in the Sea - Madeleine L'Engle*
another really great L'Engle book
6. The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank - Ellen Feldman*
this is historical fiction about the boy Peter who was in hiding with Anne Frank and what might have happened if he had survived and come to America after that ordeal (he actually didn't survive). But this story was heartrending but painfully beautiful. I really liked it.
7. If I Stay - Gayle Forman
good, but not great - and not clean enough to recommend for YA
8. Flipped - Wendelin Van Draanen*
but this YA story was fun and enjoyable
9. Born To Run - Christopher McDougal
awesome story of an obscure little tribe that runs far barefoot - and what that can mean for the rest of us
we are alright We sing very loud Yeah, we're singing
We are okay,
we are alright Close our eyes, close our mouth yeah we shut our eyes though we're in doubt"
- Joshua Radin
This song came on my ipod this morning and I had to smile as I heard it and listened to Elisabeth singing (loudly) to herself from her room. Earlier she was belting out the chorus of "Angels We Have Heard on High" complete with her own little trills and ornamentation (and her own words of course). Yesterday, Isaac was singing "Day Tripper" as he got ready for school. (if you're my FB friend, you've seen these as my status updates, but I have no qualms about being repetitive here and there)
Anyway, it just struck me this morning how wonderful this really is. That my home is filled with kids singing to themselves. Or Abigail making up dances in the basement and writing stories. Isaac pacing the floors early in the morning, "thinking" (who knows what). He has a bit of insomnia and a brain that never stops. Samuel with his love of "rock and roll" and break-dancing (don't ask). ;)
But just in case I have neglected to mention it lately . . . I just wanted to tell you that today, this morning, as I think about my life, as I look around my messy house, my endless to-do's, and despite my many failings and the chaos that is often my brain, despite the craziness of kids that fight and refuse to listen . . . somehow in the midst of all of this, (sometimes),
(I know what you're thinking: if only I had a more interesting landscape to snap pictures of.) ;)
I can feel the very edge of the end of winter approaching, though. It's a slippery, sort of illusory edge. If you look too closely, it will disappear. But I just almost see it out of the corner of my eye.
She has just recently started drawing cute little people and I love it. :) Surprisingly, in this family portrait the tallest in the group are Isaac and Abigail. She said they just kept growing and growing and growing. ;)
(this is the post I wrote on the private Healthier You blog. This past week's challenge was to eliminate all white sugar, junk food, and fast food. Going into this next week, we are continuing food journaling and the sugar/junk elimination and adding 2 servings of fruits and 3 servings of veggies everyday. Who's in???)
(ps - hope you don't mind me adding this to the already somewhat eclectic mix of blogging topics around here . . . oh well.)
Hey everybody! Another week down. :)
I don't know why I never really realized this before, but being fully committed to an idea, a goal, a change makes all the difference for me. Knowing I just "can't" eat certain things, it's not that hard for me to say no even if other family members are eating it (yes, I know it would be better for everyone to be on board together - but, baby steps, right?).
This has made me thankful for the experience I had when one of my babies had a milk protein allergy and because he was exclusively nursing, I couldn't eat ANYTHING with any milk product in it at all, or he would have blood in his stool. Casein, whey, butter, milk . . . nothing. And it's in EVERYTHING. I ate an animal cracker once - just one - and he reacted to the whey in it. So anyway, looking back on that, I know that I can resist temptations if I have to!!
So, with this past week's challenge, I am just telling myself this is something that I have to do. That helps.
Another thought process that has helped me in the past and I am using again now, is to remind myself that yes, I know how good that tastes but I just don't need to eat it right now. And whatever it is, it's not going to go away. This is not a one-time-only chance to eat something yummy that I might want. Someday, I think I will eat treats again (in moderation . . . and only occasionally). But it can wait. It will always be available another time. So I can pass it up right now. (I don't know if this is the absolute best attitude to have about giving up sugar, but so far it's working for me, so I'm going to keep with it for now.)
So, I am finding that giving up sugar is do-able! Yay! The hardest part is paying attention to labels and planning ahead a bit to make sure I won't slip (at least that's how I feel about it today, we'll see how the coming weeks go). ;)
This past week I also started with trying to get in all my fruits and vegetables since I know this is a struggle for me. What has made it easier for me is to make sure I am getting 2 servings at every meal. Yes, that gets me up to at least 6 servings, but it's just easier to plan on 2 per meal to make sure I'm getting it, rather than thinking, oh I'll just eat that for a snack later or whatever. I am just making myself eat it at every meal.
I've been eating 2 cups of raw spinach with salad dressing every single day for lunch, with whatever else I am eating. And there have been a couple times I've microwaved myself a bowl of frozen green beans to eat at the end of dinner just because I needed another serving of vegetables!
So, as we go into this next week I'd like to hear how the rest of you make sure you're getting your 5 servings a day? What fruits and veggies do you eat every day? And what do you eat for quick, easy, healthy lunches?? I hate fixing lunch. lol. I'd love to hear some new ideas. Thanks!!
I recently finished reading this marvelous little book:
which I would really highly recommend. I have 5 passages marked that I really liked, and there were probably more that I would have marked had it been my copy of the book and if I'd had a pen nearby (as it is, I was tearing off bits of the scrap paper I was using as a bookmark and hoping I would remember why I had stuck it in that page).
One of these passages tells the story of her artist friend who lived nearby on an island in the pacific northwest. She was visiting him one day and asked how his work was going. And he responded by telling a rather long and involved story of another fellow who had lived on the island.
(I'll try to paraphrase it.)
Apparently it was very common for these islanders to scavenge logs out floating in the channel to use for building. This other man saw a good log out there and rowed out to get it. He tied onto it and then started the attempt to row back to the island. But the tide then changed and pulled the log and him further south even as he continued to row north.
(ah, I'll just quote it)
"He was rowing to the north and moving fast to the south. He traveled stern first. He wanted to be going home, so toward home he kept pulling. When the sun set, at about nine o'clock, he'd swept south the length of this beach, rowing north all the way. When the moon rose a few hours later - he told us - he saw he'd swept south past the island altogether and out into the channel between here and Stuat Island. He had been rowing though those dark hours. He continued to row away from Stuart Island and continued to see it get closer.
"Then he felt the tide go slack, and then he felt it coming in again. The current had reversed."
"He kept rowing in the half moonlight. The tide poured in from the south. He kept rowing north for home - only now the log was with him. He and his log were both floating on the current, and the current was bearing them up and carrying them like platters. It started to get light at about three o'clock, and he rowed back past this island's southern tip. The sun came up, and he rowed all the length of this beach. The tide brought him home."
"He pulled up on his own beach. They got the log rolled beyond the tideline. I saw him a few days later. Everybody knew he'd been carried out almost to Stuart Island, trying to bring in a log. Everybody knew he just kept rowing in the same direction."
And then he said "So that's how my work is going." "what?" "You asked how my work is going, he said. That's how it's going. The current's got me. Feels like I'm about in the middle of the channel now. I just keep at it. I just keep hoping the tide will turn and bring me in."
So, I don't know why exactly, but this struck me. That is just how things go sometimes. Life. It's like this. And some might say that is pessimistic, or fatalistic, or irresponsible. Don't we create our own destinies? Don't we choose our happiness? Don't we control the things we do and the way our life goes?
Well. No. Not always. I don't think we always do.
Sometimes we get swept out beyond where we intended to be and the only thing we can do is to wait for the tide to change. Sometimes we just keep rowing in the direction we want to go even when we can see that we are constantly slipping the opposite way.
Sometimes the only thing we can say about an experience, or a goal, or a challenge is that we didn't give up. We didn't stop rowing. Sometimes the wait is long and everyone on the shore is pacing, concerned and alarmed, wondering what is going on, what is going wrong, where you are and what's taken you so long. But sometimes it's just all we can do to keep rowing and wait and hope for the tide. Sometimes that's enough.
So, sometimes, perhaps you might ask me, or you might ask someone else, "so how's it going?" how's the 'work' going? how are you? how's life?
And, sometimes, I might respond by telling you a story about a man on an island, who saw a log out in the channel that he wanted to bring in, who rowed out for it and got caught in the tide and kept rowing towards home all night long until the tide changed that brought him back. And that's how it's going.
I love little tiny books (including the inch-size bible that my babysitter had when I was about 4 or 5 and I always remembered it and my mom later told her about my abiding obsession, after I was all grown and gone, and the dear lady gave it to me. It's now one of my most precious material treasures).
I love mini-loaf bread pans.
And little juice glasses.
I could go on . . .
But this . . .
is one of the absolute cutest little tiny things I have ever ever seen. It sets my heart all a-pitter-patter.
I've come to the decision that IEP should stand for something else. Like some kind of internet acronym expletive that bleeds over into real life and used for all sorts of ongoing, frustrating situations. I don't know what it could stand for exactly. But I just might start using it. So, you know, just in case I accidentally blurt it out someday when my frustration boils over, be prepared to act all shocked and appalled that I would use such language. (AH IEP!!)
Otherwise, for those of you who aren't up on that new kind of urban slang, IEP actually stands for Individualized Education Plan or Program or something. It's the official legal document that means your kid is in special ed. It's the annual goals that are set up with all the modifications and accommodations that the child needs to have a "Free and Appropriate Education" (FAPE) in the "Least Restrictive Environment" (LRE). (See? By the time we're done here you'll be full of all kinds of acronyms. Let me throw out one more: this is all part of IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) that details all the rights for kids in special ed. There now. Doesn't that feel good knowing that??)
Last week, on my birthday, was Samuel's annual IEP update meeting. I dread these meetings more than I dread just about anything. This one was even worse because every 3 yrs, the kids have to be re-evaluated for eligibility. Retested, reassessed, everything redone, rethought, remade. It was time for that. Ugh. And at the last parent teacher conference, Samuel's teacher told me that he was doing so well academically, she wasn't sure if he really fit in the small self-contained class he was in. So I was afraid that they would want to try to kick him out of his class.
Sooo, in an effort to be well-informed and be able to think things through for myself beforehand, I asked to be given a copy of all of his testing results before the meeting. I also asked to be given a rough draft copy of the goals they were considering. Pretty reasonable requests, I thought. But his teacher hhmmm-ed and haaaaww-ed and (long story short) I had to ask more than once and even had to pull out the "it's my legal right as his parent to see whatever I want, whenever I want" line in order to get it. Good grief. Does everything require a fight?!? Yes. Apparently, in special ed, it does.
So, I got the results a few weeks ago. Then the day before the meeting, they finally gave me the first progress report I've seen all year, and the IEP draft. Nice.
In a nutshell, he is significantly behind in his expressive speech and language. He has some smaller problems with cognitive processing speed and working memory. And he is almost a year behind in writing and math (yes, even despite his teacher's belief that he's doing "great academically" - excuse me, huh?!?). His teacher also felt like he was reading on grade level, but when the regular ed teacher came in to discuss placing him in the reg classroom for reading groups, it appears he is behind there as well. There are only maybe a handful of kids in the grade reading at his level. uh huh. So basically, I was overwhelmingly frustrated that his teacher seems to be comparing him to the other kids in the special needs class, which makes him appear to be doing very well, rather than comparing him to normally developing kids, which seems to me to make it glaringly obvious that he needs more help. Uggggghhhhh.
SO - at the meeting we discussed possibly changing his classification . . . but in the end left it as "developmental delay" - a classification that can only be used until he turns 8. And we came up with new goals - that basically work on getting him up to speed in the areas of reading, writing and math. And of course speech therapy goals. So most of this is just fine. Nothing has really changed in terms of his placement, or goals, or classification, so we can just keep on keeping on.
But, I still just feel like we're maybe missing the mark a little. None of this addresses why he shuts down in groups and basically can't function. Or the high anxiety he experiences. Or the fact that he speaks in a different kind of rushed, stressed fashion at school that we don't hear at home. There is more going on than what we are really addressing. That's what I think.
And he doesn't really "fit" in this class, this "learning disabled" class - and yet I don't think he can function in the regular classroom. His teacher feels like he doesn't technically have a "learning disability" (even though from the research I've done, a significant problem with speech and language can actually be considered a learning disability in and of itself. I was ready to pull that out and fight for it if they had tried to change his placement, but I didn't need to). And she wants to put him in the regular class for reading, science and other stuff like that. I told her we needed to go slowly and evaluate it carefully, on an experimental basis, first. So that's the plan. I am waiting to hear when they'll start trying it out. So far, a week later, nothing has happened that I'm aware of.
This all starts to sound a little familiar doesn't it?? Haven't I been here before? Haven't we gotten anywhere in this whole mess, figured something out, made some progress? Now, I know Samuel has made progress. He is making lots of progress and I am really very happy about that. It's just . . . this. This IEP process, the classifications, the finding the right fit, the right placement, the goals, working with teachers and administrators, calling the district special ed dept to clarify my rights, calling the Disability Law Center, reading books, searching the internet and on and on . . . will there ever come a time when we feel like things are really "right"??? I don't know.
Anyway. Ugh. Sorry my thoughts kind of ramble on and on about this - and this post has gone on terribly long. If you've even read it all, thanks for listening. I guess I just want a written record of the whole entire long frustrating process. Someday, someone, somewhere, is going to find this all very helpful and reassuring. Or something. I just know it. ;) And I'm not alone, right? Someone else out there is pulling there hair out, and keeping their husband up late at night, trying not to raise their voice and wake up the children, as they decompress and talk through the frustration of it all . . . right?? Someone else out there must be wanting to join me in using "IEP" as an expletive sometimes, right? (ready? shout it with me - . . . one . . . two . . . three . . . Oh, IEP!!!!! There. That feels good, doesn't it.)
So, I may as well announce to you all that I signed up for this 8 wk challenge. I paid $15 to be a part of it, earning points for each day I follow the plan to be in the running for the "pot" at the end, and also be in the drawings for fun weekly giveaways! yahoo!! It's all about estabishing healthier habits, and not so much about losing pounds (although, of course I am hopeful that will naturally follow).
The actual HealthierYou2011 blog has gone private to allow participants a closer, more private venue to post about success, motivation, and challenges. But, just so you know what I'm up to (and added accountability), and in case anyone wants to join in just for fun, here is the plan: (I'll probably post about it at least once a week to let you know how it's going)
Week 1 (January 10th - 16th): Start Keeping a Food Journal! Each day, write down what time you wake up, the time you eat, what you eat, how much you exercise, how much water you drink and what time you go to bed.
Week 2 (January 17th - 23rd): Continue journaling. Cut out all sugar, junk food, soda pop, and fast food!
Week 3 (January 24th - 30th): Continue all above. Eat 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of vegetables per day.
Week 4 (February 1st - February 6th): Continue all above. Exercise 30 minutes per day, 4 days per week.
****For the remaining weeks, the point structure will be the same as Week 4, only with extra bonus points possible as listed below.
Week 5 (February 7th - February 13th): 1 bonus point possible for drinking at least 64 ounces of water each day for the entire week.
Week 6 (February 14th - February 20th): 1 bonus point for taking supplements each day as recommended on the packaging for the entire week.
Week 7 (February 21st - February 27th): 1 bonus point for starting your day with "Quiet Time" every day for the entire week.
Week 8 (February 28th - March 6th): 1 bonus point for getting at least 7 hours of sleep every day for the entire week.
So this week I started the food journaling. It's helpful because every time I think about eating, I have to ask myself, "do I really want to write this down?!?" and it makes me stop and think before I eat. Novel idea, eh?? haha. ;)
The hardest part, by far, for me is going to be cutting out all sugar. I can do without treats and sugary snacks. But things like not adding cinnamon sugar to my oatmeal?!? yikes. I keep thinking of more and more things I will need to do without. And I will definitely need to be more vigilant. Wish me luck!!
(and just so you know, we got a treadmill. We got a pretty good deal on a nice one that can withstand Zac's heavy mileage. So. I am very very happy about not having to walk out in the 7 degree weather with nasty winter air-pollution inversion. Plus, treadmill + podcasts = happy me time. :))
(ps - just a note of explanation: can't walk outside with podcasts or I end up getting slower and slower. need a beat to keep the pace up. But the treadmill automatically keeps a pace, so I can listen to talking. so there you go.)
One interesting little tidbit about Samuel is that he has somehow gotten into the habit of putting an exclamation point after his name whenever he writes it. So he's not just Samuel. But Samuel! (of course, he does this with his actual given first name, though, not "Samuel.")
He does it at home when he reaches up to the dry erase board on the fridge and writes his name all over it. I've seen it written in the front covers of some of our books. He's written it in my planner and other random places.
He also does it at school. Every time, at the top of the page, where it says "Name ________" he writes Samuel! I mentioned it to his teacher at parent-teacher conference awhile back, and she said she hadn't noticed it. So I started taking particular notice and . . . every paper that came home, every time, it was Samuel! Then this last week at his annual IEP meeting (more on that later), she showed his writing sample in their daily journals and it was there, as well. Samuel! Samuel! Samuel!
I'm not sure if it's that he just gets yelled at a lot at home (haha, I really and truly hope that's not the case), or if he just thinks his name deserves the extra emphasis of an exclamation point because he is important and special! Or if he just likes writing them. I don't know.
But, over the last few weeks, he really has done something spectacular. He has stopped wetting the bed wearing pull-ups at night. He is now 100%, completely and totally, pull-up free!! We bought him one of those big 18-wheeler Matchbox-type tractor trailer trucks that hold a bunch of toy cars inside them as a reward.
And, I must tell you, in a household where buying pull-ups, dealing with leaking pull-ups, wiping stinky bottoms every morning, and washing stinky pajamas has been the norm for more years than I care to count, to eliminate one more kid from the pull-up routine is HUGE (Elisabeth still to go).
And so, he is definitely deserving of an exclamation point this time! (or even two!!) Yay for Samuel! (And we'll just keep working on eliminating those extraneous exclamation points for other times) ;)
I have tons of things to post about . . . but in the meantime, here's a pic of me and my lemon cake. :) I hardly ever post pics of myself, so consider yourself special. Or something. Enjoy and Have a great weekend!
(note: Zac put the 6 candles on the cake to represent 3 and 3 because he somehow thought I was turning 33, which was kind of funny (esp since we are the same age - haha). But then we decided that it could represent 3+3 = 6. For 36. Ha.) ;)
(oh and it is funny, I just noticed that the rabbit ears tv antennae look like they're coming out of my head. I look like an insect. hahaha.)
I posted this photo a few years ago on the old blog that is now private, so I thought it'd be ok to repost it now.
Wasn't I just the cutest baby ever? (nod and agree)
And now I am 36. 36!! Crazy.
I think birthdays are important, yes even as we get older. I just think everyone needs a day of their own, to know that they matter.
And so I will celebrate it. Yay for me! Yay for another year. Yay for all the years that have gone into making me me. Yay for all the people in my life that have affected me. Yay for life. Yay for my life. My birthday. Me. :)
Remember back when I posted those incredible photos of snowflakes? After I spent some time browsing Ken Libbrecht's website a bit (snowcrystals.com), I became interested in his books and put them on my Christmas wishlist. I got this one for myself (for about $4 with shipping, thankyouverymuch) and got a different one for my mom. Anyway - I just finished reading this the other day. And although my brain hurt just a little reading all the scientific explanations about the formation of different kinds of snow crystals (yes, I've been out of school for a loooong time) - I still found it pretty fascinating. I learned a lot!
And then yesterday I finally got this book that I've had on hold from the library for months:
So now I am excited to learn how to make paper snowflakes that actually look like real snowflakes (stellar dendrites! sectored plates! oh my!). My technique has not matured since elementary school, I think, so this should be a real improvement. (and PS, yes I know I can also find instructions for paper snowflakes online, but I do better with an actual book in my hand - it's just one of those things)
Just thought I'd share my latest attempts at appreciating what is before me. Snow, snow and more snow.
Books about snow do make me happy. Making pretty messes with paper makes me happy.
And when I'm feeling ambitious, I just might go find a magnifying glass and go out for a little field study of my own and identify some snowflakes sometime.
(my own tradition of the midnight braided bread wreath, symbolizing past, present and future woven into one, how we are all interconnected and woven together, and how the end becomes the beginning. Plus it tastes really good.)
I am thinking about goals for 2011. Thinking about books to read, why I keep this blog, projects I've begun but never finished. Things I should do with my kids, how to be a better homemaker (in the best and truest sense of the word), how to strengthen my marriage. I am thinking about health - food and exercise, how to have fun and be happy, how to be a better me. I've been discouraged with goals for awhile - I make too many I never accomplish, or I have lots of "to-do" goals that are nice to achieve but don't really get anywhere, don't have a "purpose" other than to do. I'd like to spend some time figuring out my purpose and mission, so to speak. Sometimes I am not so convinced that I am doing anything that someone else could not do just as well or better. Anyway . . . I'm just thinking. Here and there, in moments as I'm falling asleep, or while I'm walking, or whatever, I am thinking . . .
oh yeah, and my birthday is next week, too. That always gets me thinking - this whole getting older thing, you know.
So. I'll let you know if and when I come up with New Year's Resolutions, or goals, or to-do lists or anything remotely similar.
I have also noticed a little tickling feeling creeping up the back of my neck - it's slightly surprising, but not unpleasant. I almost didn't recognize it, since it seems I've been somewhat lacking it for some time now. I think it's hope.
So I think the year is off to a good start. Hope yours is, too. :)