Saturday, February 27, 2010

99 Things I Should Have Done

So, I haven't written a new post in approximately 37 years, and this doesn't really count, but it looked like fun. And, since nobody reads my blog anyway ;-), I can do whatever I want.

Instructions:Copy the list, bold the ones you've done (with explanations if needed), share with friends.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (middle school and high school, I played xylophone)
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyworld
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo (5th grade Christmas play...I was Head Elf #2)
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a thunder and lightning storm
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables (we had a pretty big garden when I was a kid)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke (at Scruffy Murphy's in college, and I was only a backup singer...)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted (so it was a caricature...that still counts, right?)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (I didn't actually go to the top, but only because the line was too long and I would miss my train)
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie (no, but I was in the Extraco Bank commercial in high school!)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason (so they were from my mom...whatever)
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp (Dachau, in the of the most haunting and beautiful experiences of my life)
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (her name is Dolly, and she's sitting beside my mom made her for me when my sister was born almost 23 years ago so I would have a baby to take care of too)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London (they played Stars and Stripes Forever. Weirdos.)
77. Broken a bone
78. Been a passenger on a motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book (I was in third grade, it was called "The Shrinking Shot", and it was displayed in the school library for a whole month. Yes, it counts.)
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous (I mean, locally famous...and Mike Huckabee)
92. Joined a book club
93. Got a tattoo
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Faith Like a Child

Yesterday, my buddy HD and I had our first date in a loooong time. I have a big-girl job now and he goes to big-boy school (well, pre-school) four days a week, so we don't get to hang out as much. But yesterday, I had the day off and he needed to get out of the house, so off we went to one of our favorite places in the whole wide world besides Baskin Robbins (ok, we went there too): the Mayborn Museum. Seriously, we were there so much during the summer that the employees now think he's my kid.

HD had the flu earlier in the week and had been cooped up in the house for several days, so my man was full of energy and READY TO PLAY. At one point, when he was literally bouncing off the walls of the Weather room, a random dad made a comment about how different little boys are from girls. I said, "Yes, I don't ever remember throwing myself against a wall for fun". Then I walked away and pretended I didn't know him. Just kidding...weird kid.

We hit all the favorite rooms...we looked at the turtles, and the stamps, and the big fire truck, and the "Fancy Shoe" room, in which we both had to try on various shoes and hats (and I prayed we didn't get head lice) and HD created a rather dashing outfit out of a pair of silk M.C. Hammer-esque pants, a glittery vest, wooden shoes, and a sombrero. Then we made our way down to the other end of the hallway, where we played in the water table and HD got to stand inside a giant bubble.

Directly across the hall from the bubble room is a giant walk-through replica of a beating human heart. HD usually isn't interested in it, but today he walked right inside and pressed his ear against the wall. "Is this what MY heart looks like?" he asked. "Yes, this is what your heart that's inside you looks like", I answered. I pointed out the four different parts, and how the noise that we were hearing is similar to the one that the doctor hears when he listens with his stethoscope. What happened next was one of those moments that made me wish I had a video camera so I could capture it forever:
With a big grin on his face, he crawled inside what I believe is the right ventricle, looked up at me, and asked, "Is this the part where Jesus lives?"

After I picked myself up off the floor because the sweetness killed me dead, I answered, "Yes buddy, that's the part where Jesus lives, and I hope you always remember that". Then I called his mom, who called his dad, and his grandma, and his aunt, and I'm pretty sure his Sunday school teacher.

Oh, to have faith like believe that Jesus is always inside of you, nestled there somewhere around your right ventricle, guarding your little heart at all times. As believers, we still have faith that Jesus is always there, but somewhere along the way, for many of us, the childlike innocence has worn away and fear and doubt have crept in. I know that's the case for me. I just hope that now, after witnessing a child's sweet, pure profession of his faith and trust that Jesus really is always with us, I will remember that, too.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

She made a difference.

Tonight, I went to a visitation at a funeral home for someone I've known basically my entire life. My mom has known her since elementary school, and her niece and I were best friends growing up. About two years ago, she was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, and after going through treatment and finally into remission, doctors found a brain tumor. She passed away Sunday morning, surrounded by her family, and I'm convinced she's now on Jesus's official welcoming committee. I always thought she was one of those people that everybody loved...but I apparently had no idea.

The visitation tonight was from 6-8pm. You've all been to go more out of obligation than anything, to sign the book and hug the family then leave as quickly as possible. Usually it's a quick in-and-out thing. My mom and grandmother and I went around 7 and planned to stay no more than 15 or 20 minutes; I had even made dinner plans for afterwards. When we got to the funeral home, there was a line of people wrapped halfway around the outside of the building waiting to go inside. We stood in line for almost 45 minutes before we even got close to the front of the line. It was incredible. We even joked about it..."Too bad Linda Sue didn't have any friends".

Imagine having such an impact on people that it takes almost an hour to get into your wake. Imagine touching so many lives that for over two solid hours, hundreds of people take time out of their routines to express to your family how much you mean to them. I can think of several people right now who have made that kind of impact in my life: my awesome friend Amy who is finishing up cancer treatments and isn't afraid to rock her fabulous hairdo in public :-); Tracey, who is the kind of mom I want to be someday and lets me join in the wonderful chaos of her life whenever I need a fix; Amanda ,who commiserates with me via text messages almost daily and helps make my work a little more bearable, and who is always quick to offer a movie and pitcher of sangria when I really need it; Amanda, whose story is so incredible and inspiring and who is one of the strongest and bravest women I've ever known; and sweet Lindsay, who is one of the most encouraging people I know even though her husband is in the army and was just sent to Germany for two years. All of these women have shown Jesus to me, just like Linda Sue showed Jesus to every single person she met. I am encouraged by her, and I hope you are too, to be that to someone else. And besides that, let someone you love know it, before you have to wait an hour to get into their wake. I know I definitely need to do more of that.

And when you get to heaven, look for Linda Sue. She'll be the one with the great big smile and the ready hug, welcoming you right on in.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Nothing to Say

...Except that I'm tired and I need a vacation which I won't get because I finish working at an autism camp on the 7th and start my real job on the 10th, and my kids at the camp are making me about ready to pull out my hair and scream like a crazy woman, and I really want a Reese's peanut butter cup because I've been on the South Beach diet for a month and a half and I haven't had anything white or refined and I'm LOSING MY MIND.

That is all. Carry on.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Good things come when other things are lousy.

So, just when I get all whiny about how awful my job is, something cool happened today. I'm pretty sure it's God's little way of saying "Suck it up, sister, you're here for a reason". I get it, I get it.

This morning, while attempting to remove B from every table top/high surface in the room and listening to him scream in protest (for three. hours. straight.), I forgot that Mondays are Art Days. Two very patient women from the Art Center come to camp and let the kids paint to their little hearts' content. Some of them want no part of it, but some love it. My group usually isn't too keen on the whole sitting in a chair and following directions thing, so I didn't think we'd be there long. Little did I know...

Last week, J smacked the art lady in the face within 30 seconds of sitting down. Today, she sat in a chair for eight minutes and let an assistant help her paint a picture of a rainbow. HUGE for this girl. I was sitting by D1, who loves to write and draw, and he was a little hesitant at first. I helped him paint a happy face with hair and ears....then he took off. It was like a lightbulb turned on somewhere in his little mind. He painted an elephant with two people riding on its back, a big bright rainbow, and a house under the rainbow with trees beside it. We could see him thinking about what to paint next. The coolest part was when he picked up the orange paintbrush and wrote "orange", then used the red paint to write "red". Why was this so cool, you ask? Why did the art ladies and I tear up a little at the sight of those two simple words? Because those were the two first words D1 has ever written. Ever. He writes groups of letters that resemble words all the time, but never an actual word. We didn't ask him to write those words, and we didn't spell them for him. Painting somehow stimulated a part of my sweet little guy's brain that said "Hey, we've seen these words a thousand times, let's make these wimpy teachers cry".

Needless to say, I won't forget Art Day next week.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Why do I get myself into these things?

Some of you might find this shocking (ha), but I have trouble saying no when people ask me to do things, especially when kids are involved. I'll probably babysit for you even if I have work at 7am the next morning (unless I don't like your kids, then I make up an excuse...don't worry Amanda, I've never done that to you :-) ), and I'll most likely work at XYZ event for free in the scorching heat to support the Organization for Kids with Eleven Toes or whatever. Which is why I've found myself in my current predicament.
Way back in April, I applied for a part-time job as the director of a summer day camp for kids with mental retardation and autism. I figured that, being a director, I wouldn't have to directly care for the kids, but mainly just supervise. I thought my interview went well...and then the current director called. They decided to restructure the camp a little this year, and would I be interested in being a teacher with two assistants in one of the classes? He put me on the spot...what could I say other than, "Um, sure, that sounds great". Dummy.
Now, approximately four weeks into the Camp that Never Ends, I'd like to introduce you to my hellians kiddos. Here's info about my 8 little autistic darlings:

A, aka "The Charmer": 5 years old, nonverbal, in diapers, only eats baby food. Cute as a bug, looks much younger than he is. Usually sweet and cuddly, but can throw a mean tantrum when he doesn't want to do his work. Favorite activity is throwing things up in the air. Quite possibly one of the most spoiled kids ever...his parents and (overbearing) grandparents pulled him out after the second week because he "wasn't getting enough individual attention". Whatever.

B, aka "The Climber": 5 years old, nonverbal, in diapers, never stops moving, leaves a trail of destruction everywhere he goes. Likes to bang his head on the floor when he's mad, and has been known to strip from the waist down and swing his diaper in the air like a lasso. The kid climbs on everything and tries to steal the other kids' lunch. His two-nanosecond attention span seems to be increasing....slooooowly.

D1, aka "The Cutie": 5 years old, potty trained (hallelujah), semi-verbal, relatively high functioning. Sweet boy, likes to cuddle, LOVES to write letters and numbers. He knows the names of everyone in the class, and often asks where so-and-so is. Has a crazy internal clock and knows exactly when it's time for lunch or to go home. Brother to D2, and occasionally imitates his behaviors.

E, aka "The Flasher": 6 years old, nonverbal, in diapers, one of the most severely autistic kids in the class. Loves to have his belly and arms rubbed, but can scratch without warning (I have scars). When he's happy, he has a sweet giggle. When he's mad, he pulls his pants down. Loves to walk the hallways, but throws a fit when he has to come back in the classroom. His favorite thing in the world is Dora the Explorer, which is the only way I can get him to work in the mornings.

D2, aka "The Runner": 7 years old, nonverbal, in diapers, brother to D1. He does NOT like to work, but will if you promise to take him for a walk down the hallways. Will run out of the classroom/playground/building if you look away, and boyfriend is FAST. Also has an obsession with flushing the toilet and climbing up on the cabinets to rewind E's Dora video.

C, aka "The Bottomless Pit": 7 years old, nonverbal, in diapers, will eat anything and everything that is edible. The kid is a toothpick, but never stops eating. Loves borrowing shoes from the other kids and lining them up, and freaks out if you disturb his lines. Likes playing in the dirt on the playground, and has been known to push another kid out of the way in order to sit in a teacher's lap.

J, aka "The Hitter": 8 years old, nonverbal, in diapers, severe autism. J is a mystery to me. She doesn't seem to have any interests other than beating the crap out of me when I'm not paying attention. She's got a mean backhand and uses it often. I'm learning to catch the fist before it connects with my face, but this chick's quick. I'm considering buying her a pair of boxing gloves.

K, aka "The Princess": 8 years old, verbal, potty trained, very high functioning. Likes to do what she wants, when she wants, and throws a royal tantrum if that doesn't happen. She's learning quickly that I can handle her outbursts, so we're working on taking turns and not getting our way rightthissecond. Can be a very sweet girl...when she wants to be.

Z-man: 8 years old, semi-verbal, potty trained, only comes three days each week for half a day. He loves making spaceships out of pattern blocks, and is usually pretty low-maintenance. Loves the playground, hates bowling, and would rather eat Cheez-Its over anything else in the world.

I love these little monsters, but it's been a rough four weeks. Thankfully, I have two fabulous full-time assistants, and two other helpers work with B, J, and Z three days a week. Still, though...I need a vacation from my summer vacation. Seriously.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I have a big girl job!

One question I have grown to dread over the past few weeks is "So, what are your plans for next year?" It's a very well-meaning question, and I ask it occasionally of other people. But when you have NO FREAKING CLUE what your plans are for next year, it gets old. I've had a few leads on jobs, but nothing had panned out. Well, really Monday, but close enough.

As of this August, I will officially have a real job. Not a practicum experience, not an internship, but a real big-girl job. Cool, huh? And weird. I've been a college student for 7 years. I'm not sure I'm going to know what to do with myself without spending at least 3 nights a week in Draper 139. Very, very weird.

What is this new job, you ask? Well, it's kind of complicated, which is why I'm explaining it here and hoping people will read it. My graduate degree is in School Psychology. A person with that degree (and a license, which I am currently applying for and which costs about a bajillion dollars to obtain) is called a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology, or LSSP. I will be an LSSP for Gatesville Intermediate and High schools. My main job will be to create and implement a curriculum in the campuses' behavior classrooms (basically, rooms where kids get sent if they can't handle regular classrooms/get in trouble/piss off the principal) that turns them into less of a prison and more of a rehabilitative situation. My goal is to create some kind of system where kids who are sent to the behavior units can work on improving their coping and behavior management skills and eventually work their way back into regular classrooms. I'll also be having weekly or twice weekly group counseling sessions with the kids to work on controlling their own behavior.

It's going to be a tough job, but I like a challenge. I also like working independently, which is good since I will be pretty much on my own with this. I'm hoping that I can find a program that works and then take it to other schools with similar issues.

I really miss teaching. A lot. I even applied for a few teaching jobs this year. However....I can always be a teacher. I felt like this opportunity was too good to pass up, and I can move on to other things whenever I want. I'm pretty excited about it. Mainly, I'm excited to have a job and know that the rent will get paid. But I think this will a good experience for me...and hopefully it won't cause me to lose every little bit of sanity that I have left.