Saturday, December 7, 2013

December Dailies 2013, Day 7

My son and a classmate play "Ding Dong! Merrily On High" at the Barnes and Noble Book Fair today.  He rocked it out. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

December Dailies, Day 6

Crafting with students is so much fun, especially at the holidays.  Here, students are making icasohedron ornaments for the holidays.  Good times!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

December Dailies, Day 5

This morning, I made the family some French Toast for breakfast.  I added some bananas and Cool Whip Free to mine.  Yum-o!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

December Dailies 2013, Day 4

Today, my son became a member of the National Honor Society.  I am quite proud of all of his efforts in attaining this achievement.  He's an awesome kid.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December Dailies 2013, Day 3

I teach with these crazies.  Aren't they adorable?  Bell ringers and, apparently, the new Irving Choir.  They make my heart happy.

Monday, December 2, 2013

December Daily 2013, Day 2

All of a sudden, the magic happened.  My little word caller picked a book that was too hard for him to read previously, and he read it.  All on his own.  Changing his voices for appropriate onomatopoeia.  Recalling and retelling the story we had previously read.  Persistence has paid off.   I am so proud of him.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December Daily 2013, Day 1

"Therefore, stay awake!  For you do not know on which day your Lord will come."  Matthew 24

Last night I was trolling Facebook.  Sometimes, I find myself in a labyrinth when click after click occurs.  I happened upon a post from the daughter of an old friend.  I pieced together that her dad, my friend's husband, had passed away sometime this summer from lung cancer.  That very morning, a friend and I were discussing the sudden death of a young man, and how finite of a time we all have on this earth.  We all have a starting point.  And for all of us, we have an end.  We have no idea when that end point will be.  We must live our days as if it will be the next moment, or at least TRY to do so.
I started my day going to Mass at a different church today.  Our pastor also pastors this church.  It is our sister parish, St. Mary's.  In his homily today he shared the story of a phone call he got on Friday night from a friend who was told he had about a week to live.  Cancer struck again.  They knew this would be their last call.  His friend, also a priest, shared with him that this is what they had been preaching about their whole adult lives: meeting God in heaven.  He could have despaired, but he was rejoicing.  What a message.
It truly stuck with me through my day.  Today was filled with a great deal of professional work.  I spent a lot of time in my classroom (accompanied by Max).  For whatever reason, it did not feel like drudgery, even though I was there for quite some time (5 hours).  Then, I came home, ate, and had to do some grading.  I squeezed a relaxing bath in there, too.  Despite wanting to go down to the basement and demolish our wireless router, it really was somewhat pleasant.  What a gift, as many parts of my day could have completely stressed me out.  
Other snippets of the day included:
  • Max believing that Father Jerry was indeed two separate people as he tried to accept his celebration of Mass in a different location.
  • Threatening my firstborn with physical harm if he ended up with a C in AP English for the quarter.
  • Pretty much eating out for each meal today (McDonalds. Subway, Fazolis).
  • Seeing and communicating with a variety of friends via Facebook, text message, and in real life.
  • Unpacking the Advent wreath and chilling to end my day.

December Dailies

In the scrapbooking world, there is a thing called "December Dailies."  It is meant to be a way to document your steps through the holiday season.  Scrapbookers, such as Ali Edwards, have even perfected it into profitable pursuits.  We Catholics have called this phenomenon "Advent."  I decided to do a December Dailies type of gig this year for several reasons:

  1. I think it's kind of cool that Advent actually started on December 1.  Now all those little "Advent calendars" that have 25 days in them will actually work!
  2. This is my year of slowing my row.  Taking back and soaking in.  A great year to document daily happenings.
  3. I am completing Project Life, and I will be doing a daily photo anyway (well, that's the target).  This works perfectly with that.
Onward to December Dailies of 2013.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Length of Summer

In a recent trip to Florida, the hubs and I talked about living there.  My conclusion?  Nope.  Why?  I love the change of seasons.

Fall brings changing leaves, cooler temperatures, and brilliant colors.  In my life, it also means a new group of students and a new year of learning for the whole family.  Winter brings the wonderful blanket of snow (some years more than others), the holidays, and the chill necessary for renewal.  Spring brings buds, and blooms, and the promise that, no matter what dormancy we've seen, life goes on.  

And then there's summer.  I must say, it is my favorite.  It contains my birthday, the hubs' birthday, our anniversary, the Fourth of July, and usually some much needed "recharging."  I get to mainly be a wife and mom, with some professional development sprinkled here and there.  We also have time to take extended trips and spend quality time together as a family.

Usually, I feel like summer flies by.  But, in reality, summer has roughly the same amount of days every year.  This summer, I was intentional and consistent about documenting my days in Project Life scrapbook layouts.  If you click on the link, you can see them on my sscrapbooking blog.  I am currently working on my Disney weeks.  They should be up in the next few days. 

You know what?  It makes summer seem quite long and entirely enjoyable.  I not only enjoy making the pages, but also I enjoy looking at them and seeing a really full, delightful summer.   I think my doing a photo-a-day concept has allowed me to appreciate the days that go by.  I am glad to have documented them, and maybe slowed the passage of time just a bit to savor moments like this one:


Friday, July 19, 2013

The trek begins!

Our Summer 2013 Road Trip begins today!  On our way to Orlando, FL, eventually, we departed Central IL. Max was so excited he awakened at midnight and did not go to sleep much before 2:30 or 3 AM.

Yet, look how perky he was!  All ready with the "stuff," despite the adults and semi-adult not being as "ready" as he.

We just recently stopped in Salem, IL, off of I-57 South for a potty break and to top off the tank in our new Audi Allroad.  We definitely realized the space differences between this and our beloved, and now traded in, minivan.  We are pretty snugly packed for sure!


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Being an American

The Fourth of July is, hands down, my favorite holiday of the year.  It is smack dab in the middle of summer. Many people have off from work (I recall my days in retail when that was not so!).  There are fireworks going off everywhere.  We take a moment to really reflect about our country and what patriotism really means.

I am openly critical of the government in my country because the government is set up to protect my speech.  I am allowed, whether my opinion is deemed "right" or "wrong," to criticize.  That does not mean I am not a staunch supporter of the United States.  The little face up above is why I would not want to live anywhere else.

In the public school system in my country, my son had the opportunity to enroll in school at age 3, as he was presenting developmental delays due to his autism disorder diagnosis.  He was not speaking.  He was not communicating well.  We were working with him, but he needed a jump start.  He was presented with that opportunity.  We slowly but surely progressed through Early Childhood, into Kindergarten, and through Grades 1 and 2.  He made tremendous gains.  He speaks.  He holds conversations.  He can read and write and complete math problems.  He can be a part of a class and, with the help of an aide, merge socially.

While Max's story is kind of a big deal, we have "big deals" happening all over public and private schools in our country.  Teachers who find that magic balance...the pixie dust...that allows a child to bloom at just the right time.  There are other countries who do not have this.  There are other countries where students with disabilities are marginalized and treated as less than they really are.  In the history of our own country, we have come a great distance in the area of teaching the developmentally delayed.

So, on this July 4, 2013, I feel particular pride in our country.  We teach each and every child.  We train teachers to treat children with dignity and respect, despite their backgrounds or abilities.  I am part of this educational system, and I feel fortunate that my children are as well.  With all of the system's flaws, we are definitely doing some things right.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Ode to an Old Friend

She's a little too heavy. She gets too hot too easily. She loses energy quickly. She slows down to a crawl for no real reason. She has dings and scars and is visibly worn.

However, she has also seen me through National Board recertification. She was the only one awake with me when I completed the many papers of Master's Degree, Part Deux. She edited and revised the District 87 Appraisal Documents with me. She attended meeting after meeting, even though she was rendered helpless as far as the Internet was concerned. She has been part of countless SMART Notebook files, not to mention SMART Notebook updates. She has flown with me. Created and read blogs with me. Learned to use Photoshop with me. Assisted in school projects for the kids. She takes loving care of all of my beloved photos.

Still, when I opened my e-mail and saw that my new Dell Inspiron Ultrabook was being shipped and would be here on Monday, my heart skipped a beat or two. I cannot wait for a lighter laptop that will allow me to run photo editing programs without pregnant pauses. I can't wait to have a laptop on my lap that might not feel like it wants to burn my flesh.

I am saying goodbye to a larger screen, but hello to a touch screen. I am saying goodbye to a keypad on the laptop. I am saying goodbye (well, actually, Max will be inheriting it) to an old friend.

It is time. Godspeed, Vostro 1700, Godspeed.

Finality and Fishy Metaphors in ASD-land

Tonight, we went out to celebrate our 21-year wedding anniversary.  We ate out with our kiddos.  Ignatius mentioned something about our first anniversary, and we started discussing what we did.  Scott made a comment about us spending it with a bunch of family who is "all dead" now (meaning several of his aunts).  This sent Max into an unexpected tizzy.

He has been pondering death in his own little way.  First of all, he's 8, so death is not something easily grasped.  Second of all, he has autism, so the idea of us not being 100% sure what happens when we die until we get there is not comforting.  We discuss what we believe, and he seems to "get it" as much as he can.  But then he perseverates on it and gets himself upset all over again.  At the moment, he has a schedule of what life is.  Third grade comes after second.  Fourth after third.  This goes on through high school.  And then you go to college (from his lips to God's ears).  Then you work.  Then you retire. (if you are lucky...but I can't add that, because that is like bombing the apple cart)  Then you die., heaven, which is something I cannot really explain sufficiently for his little mind.  He gets that there was "existence" before he was born.  Although he is not pleased that anything existed before him, he gets that we lived in another house without him.  He's finally not jealous of that.  However, just saying, "That was before you were born," does not cut it.

Well, where was he before he was born?  I mean, if Mommy was little, then where was he?  My favorite answer to that is "watching from heaven."  That sort of works out as acceptable.

Such a linear path his little brain has.  He is fascinating to listen to.  And challenging to answer.  But it's all good challenge.  I have to discern what I believe, and then translate it into what makes sense to him.  And we all need to be careful of offhand comments, because he listens to EVERYTHING and chews on it.  For years.  No exaggeration.

Another example, that I call: A Fishy Metaphor.  The first day we had our fish at home, he decided he wanted to give one of them a kiss.  This ended with one of them being MIA, and the others swimming in terror when they saw him.  After the obligatory anger response (despite the fact that I did not want fish...but oh, he'll be fine...yadda yadda) from his dad, Scott tried a "what if..." 

"What if you were in your bedroom and a big hand came in and snatched you up?"

Pause and reflect, won't you?

No, he did not understand this parable.  Yes, he is now terrified a giant hand will come in and snatch him.  Yes, this comment did take us two (thousand) steps back in getting the kid to sleep in his own bed.

Each day since then, my husband tries his hardest to get Max to "understand" what this meant.  As I sit and watch.  And sigh.  And thank God for this man who is trying his very best to co-parent in this weird desert of sand dunes called autism.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Serotonin Power Diet, Phase 2

Scott and I completed the Serotonin Surge phase of the Serotonin Power Diet.  We had a fairly successful Phase 1, and are moving on to Phase 2.  I have lost 6 pounds, and Scott has lost 9 pounds.  I have been exercising, and he has not.  Yup, typical dude.  The most important, we both really have been feeling the effects of changing our diet...not only what we eat but when we eat certain things, like protein and carbs.

As we enter Phase 2, it is recommended that we eliminate the evening snack.  It was carbs eaten a few hours after dinner.  I will say, I liked that snack, as I was a habitual evening snacker.  I felt like the diet was not making me sacrifice that.  The authors say that, if your cravings come back and you need the snack to calm them, go back to Phase 1.  We shall see.  Tonight is the first night without it.  After two weeks, the brain is allegedly trained to allow serotonin flow.

We also get to add a small amount of protein back into our dinner.  Tonight: chicken tacos!  I get 2 ounces of meat, and Scot gets 4 ounces.

I am getting about 3-4 workouts in during the week.  I am trying to mix cardio and weight training as much as I can.  That seems to be working well.

So, good news from here!  I am off to make egg white omelets for lunch.  Scott is home sick with a cold, and we are all off enjoying MLK's birthday.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Timeline in Pictures

Ignatius Scott Plato
Age: 7 Months, July 1997
Talents: Rolling over, sucking fingers, eating toes

Monday, January 7, 2013

Serotonin Power Diet, Day 1

Today I began the Serotonin Power Diet.  My goals:
  • To curb binge eating urges brought on by stress and my brain's reaction to my antidepressant.
  • To reel in harmful eating habits that I have acquired.  
  • To try to control nutrition to increase my body's ability to calm itself.
  • To keep from gaining any more weight, and to hopefully lose at least what I have gained since August.
I powered up my Lose It! app again.  Thank God it doesn't say something like, "Oh, it's YOU again!" when I open it. It welcomed me with open arms, well, OK, that's hyperbole.  However, some mechanism for tracking is quite welcome.  Being the data-phile that I am, I also love the stats I get with Lose It!.  Below shows today's breakdown.

I know, all the protein lovers out there just gasped.  However, the first two weeks are quite low in protein.  The diet consists of precariously placed carbs throughout the day, especially at dinner.  The vegetable part is my worst.  I am trying.  I got more vegetables in my system today than I have in a very long time.  In all, 1513 calories were consumed, I was honest with my tracking, and I stayed true to the diet (except for a couple of mints which were necessary after the onions at lunch, trust me).

Scott insists he feels better.  For me, it's hard to judge since I am presently medicated and since I feel like I am coming down with a cold.  Plus today was the first day back to "work" after two weeks at home.  Many shocks hit this system.

A really hard thing for me is the desire (not need) to snack.  We just finished a snack full of pure carbs: toasted marshmallows!  Still, I find that I have to retrain my brain to not want to eat while I work at night.  Wish me luck!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Oh, No You Di-in't

Yep, I did.

Last year, I started a journey with Cathy Zielske's Move More, Eat Well 2012.  I lasted through March, and then fell off the scrapbooking wagon.  In fact, I fell off a couple wagons.

I had successfully (?) gotten back into some rotten habits with workaholism.  And I slowly felt the insidious crud known as depression trying to grab hold again.  I was knee-deep in a Master's program, and looking down the barrel of having very little down time.  Then, when my grandmother died this summer, it sealed the depression deal: back to meds I went.

The idea of "catching up" with the Zielske and Edwards albums was daunting.  I thought they were doable because they were once a month and relatively painless.  And yet, I could not seem to keep up.  I allowed life to get in the way.

So, I decided 2 things: 1. I will be working on my Strength album to complete that over the course of the next several months. 2. I will re-commit to MMEW 2.0, this year's version with Cathy.  Wha?  So, you screwed up last year and now you are doing it again?

Well, Cathy shared that last year she gained 10 pounds.  She was leading a class of 1500 people, and she found the struggle to be a big one.  I am looking at the cusp of a weight gain that has a lot to do with being back on meds, and an equal amount to do with me and this weird brain of mine.  She was honest and real on her blog.  I respect that.

So, this journey will be tacked into last year's scrapbook, and we begin anew, this year embarking on the Serotonin Power Diet to see if I can target the area that most wishes to do me harm: the chemicals in my brain.  And I am committing to documenting WHATEVER.  If I am successful, it will be in there.  Unsuccessful--> it's going in.  I am embracing the journey, already moving quite a bit, thanks very much, but certainly NOT eating well.  This will be my year to change those habits, hopefully for good.  Or at least become aware of what is going on with me.

So, off I go!  Move More Eat Well 2.0.  Let's see where this adventure leads.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

An Open Letter to Sara Burnett

Regarding your Associated Press article published in the Pantagraph, page A4, Tuesday, January 1, 2013:

Clarification #1: Springfield is the capital of Illinois, not Chicago. If you plan to write an article about what Illinois lawmakers are discussing, it might be more credible to report from the primary source.

Clarification #2: Omitted from your article was the decision to offer early retirement incentives for the last 20-some years. The lawmakers figured that if the highest paid teachers retired, the State's underfunding of education would not look as disgusting as it was. Breakthroughs in medical science have allowed these teachers to live decades longer than anticipated. Therefore, yes, there are LOTS of healthy, retired, Baby-Boomin' teachers in our state. Yeah for them! Oopsie for the legislators.

Clarification #3: I was saddened by your bias in adding that, if IL legislators honor the Constitution of the State (my words, sorry), money would be necessarily taken from education and health care. That is already coming, so associating paying retirees the money owed to them would cut this funding is irresponsible on your part. IL neglected to place the money that was taken from teacher paychecks and invest it as it was legally obligated to do. If this were a company, we would be forming an "Occupy Springfield" movement and shunning its CEOs. Teachers will now, thanks to the November vote, be giving IL MORE money toward a fictitious pension that it has already mishandled.

Clarification #4: Richard Dye (whomever he is) is quoted in your article (was he even talking about teacher pensions?) as saying, "It's a culture of 'Where's mine?'" Actually, that IS my question. Where is my money that I put into my pension? Teachers spend careers teaching students the importance of being fair and just. Are you feeling the irony? I paid nothing into Social Security after 1999 through no choice of my own. I am told the money I put in to SS for 15 years I will not see and my husband and dependents will not see. Does that sound just?

Clarification #5: Look at a map. Don't rely only on suburban Chicago legislators as your source. In my School Finance class I learned that several suburbs of Chicago can finance themselves and need no funding from the state. We are bleeding south of I-80.

I look forward to seeing your report from the teachers taking days from their (unpaid) "vacations" to speak to legislators this Thursday and Friday. I spell my name with a capital L and two n's.


JoLynn Plato
IL teacher for 21 years