Monday, August 15, 2011

ready for my lunch box.

the summer is coming to a close. for me (a teacher), it's a mixed bag.

i am always keenly aware of this abundant blessing of a whole two months to do whateveeeeer i want. i don't take that for granted. in fact, i think i covet the idea just a little too much. we can talk about that later. over chocolate, maybe?

i have been so blessed this summer with opportunities to see family and friends around this country of ours. i've spent a great deal of time with my parents and i am realizing the older i get, the more i appreciate my time with both of them. i don't want to take that for granted, either. this summer has been a fabulous mix of travel/visiting/cook-outs/wine with friends/and quiet time alone in the stillness of everyday.

but here's a confession:

i am ready for routine again. i am such a creature of habit, that i am actually craving the alarm clock a little. while i don't always adore everything that comes with public education, i do enjoy having a daily purpose. i miss my students. re-reading some earlier posts has made that abundantly clear.

i look forward to more posts about the quirkiness of my job. stay tuned.

*sidenote: i am currently reading temple grandin's thinking in pictures: my life with autism and it is FASCINATING. please read.

so tonight, i raise my wine glass and say "cheers" to summer, in all its glory.

it's been a blessing, dear friend. see you next june.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


tomorrow is our middle school dance.

i'm not talking about the general education crowd here. no, this dance is for my population of students. those in self-contained autism or intellectual disability programs throughout the county.

this is its third year now, and from what i hear, it's a pretty big deal. one middle school hosts all of us. we jump on a yellow bus, all dolled up, and head over for some pizza, snacks, social skills lessons, and of course, dancing.

i'm not sure i'll be able to sleep tonight thinking about the awesomeness that is to come.

during social skills today, we talked about what it means to get ready for a big event like a dance.

the resounding cry? BRUSH YOUR TEETH.

yes, folks, we're *trying* to emphasize personal hygiene. it's important, is it not?

one of the boys told me that he had 13 rules to get ready for the dance. he proudly stood up and shared his insight with us. i can't remember it all, but here are some highlights:

"number one...brush your teef, comb your hair, wear colognes and dress nice.
number two...respect the ladies.
number 10 push-ups, 5 crunches, 10 more push-ups. you want to be buff. like a ladies man.
number ask a girl to dance, you put your hand out and say, 'may i have this dance?' and she will say yes."

(at this point, i asked, "but what if she says no?" he held up his finger and replied...)

"number flexible.
number nine...find a lovebug.
number eleven...use a tissue to wipe your nose. because that's nasty.
number more push-ups."

oh, i am giddy.

Friday, March 11, 2011

eastern religion.

the other day for science, we watched an episode of sid the science kid on PBS. usually, i can tolerate kid-friendly programming in small doses -- but this particular episode was proving to be more than i could handle.

it was explaining the science behind inhaling and exhaling.

to support its point, it featured a music video with a lone cartoon woman singing, "breathe in...breathe out..." over and over again.

it was just too much.

we turned off the episode before it was finished, much to the chagrin of the one little scientist in my room (the only one of my four boys actually paying attention to the sad, sad vocals coming from the TV).

the next day during morning social skills, someone brought up the music video and the adults began to chuckle at the recollection.

my little scientist/kid who is obsessed with social studies [we are multi-layered in our corner of the school] piped up and said:

breathing in and out. that's what they do when they are practicing that religion in asia. booty-ism. right?

again, it was just too much. in the very best possible way.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

you can run...but you can't hide.

ok, so anyone who knows me knows that i deal with a peculiar ailment from time to time. i once even had a pot luck celebration in its honor. i'm talking about good ol' gastroparesis.

the quick recap: i was diagnosed almost 4 years ago. it's been an exhausting/encouraging/enlightening battle that i feel like (most days) i am winning. i keep it under control with the help of medication and i've been in "remission" for about 2 years (meaning my symptoms are usually absent from day-to-day life and my diet is not that limited, compared to the months following my diagnosis).

here's the thing.

about a year ago, i realized that my stomach was getting way too much attention. it had its own name at one point. my friends, all-amazing that they are, frequently asked about my digestive health. i started to feel defined by this illness. and i started to run, not literally (at first), but i wanted nothing to do with the labels that come with GP.

weak. sick. frail. needy.

(i know now, in my older and wiser state, that these labels did not have life outside of my own mind. they simply are not true for me and for many others with gastroparesis.)

i come from a fairly charismatic background in my faith and i often joked in college that you have to "name and claim" your blessings. now i'm not so sure about this theology (?), but i did know that i no longer wanted to claim this illness. i didn't even want to speak it out-loud. it became the thing that should not be named.

and since i was in remission, it was fairly easy to dodge this bullet and any conversation associated with it.

until two weeks ago.

since the beginning of january, i've been engaged in a full-on mission to take care of my body. i've been exercising at least 5 times a week (i've started jogging! yay!), weighing my food to watch portion sizes, and eating A LOT of fiber & other good-for-you food items.

since i've been in remission, i thought i could just up the ante with my fiber/fresh vegetable intake and no one would be the wiser. i had been eating salads every now and then. why not throw in a few more? granola bars and i were BFFs. whole wheat was my motto.

my stomach had other thoughts. all of that ΓΌber-healthy eating finally caught up to me and i had to realize that while oats are good and tolerable for me, there are limits to this love.

nausea is no bueno.

it's been slightly heart-breaking and humbling. it was so sad to shop for the foods i once purchased after my diagnosis. jell-o. WHITE toast. WHITE mashed potatoes. chicken noodle soup that did not contain whole wheat pasta.

i am realizing that i need to learn that it's OK to eat semolina pasta (in small amounts). the world and my weight-loss journey will not stop because of it. it's OK to eat potatoes that are not orangey-sweet in variety. fresh vegetables can still live in my fridge, as long as they only come out to play a few times a week.

it's all OK. i know this set-back is temporary. i know my healing is still intact. i believe the Lord is continuing to fix what is broken.

as much as i may want to deny my diagnosis, running from it has some pretty awful side effects. and while i am NOT defined by this illness, i can't ignore what my body tells me.

more than that, i can't ignore what God tells me. yes, i have a crazy stomach. and yes, i am in remission (hallelujah). however, He is still in control. and i am still called to take care of my temple the best way i can -- and that means with a SMART head about me.

i also think it's no coincidence that the words associated with GP have been creeping back into my life. i missed a lot of work last week because of my overdose on all-things-bran. and i had to humbly ask a co-worker for assistance. i was forced to admit my illness (again) to which she responded with the utmost grace.

then i had a dear friend slip me this article that appeared in Richmond Magazine. it led me to this blog. and i feel like i have found a friend, though i've never met her. i know i am not alone. even within the confines of my small city in virginia.

so, i may not fully "claim" gastroparesis on the daily, but i do know that it's still there. i am still dealing with its effects from time to time. it's not a bad word.

more than anything? i am conquering it. one bran muffin at a time.

(but not more than twice a week.)

just sayin'.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

rockin' it out.

soooo, i teach a public school autism program.

i absolutely love my job. (except for that pesky legal paperwork. pshaaaw.)

why do i adore my current career path?

i laugh. everyday.

commence examples:

* one of my four boys has a strong affinity for all-things social studies. ask him anything about japan or the mariana trench or george washington carver, and he's your basic walking encyclopedia. give him some MATH problems, however, and we are on the verge of a nervous breakdown, complete with hand gestures and small groans.

no matter. he told me just last week that with all of this addition/multiplication practice i am giving him, he is "destined to be a great mathmagician." this is also the same child who has a new obsession with "papua new ga-lin-ee"

* many kids with autism engage in "TV talk" throughout life. when they can't find the words they want/need, they revert to someone else's -- usually from television or movies. my guy is no exception and most of his communication comes in this form. some favorite moments:

walking to the bus one afternoon, my guy grabs my hand and with a super-serious look on his face says, "ms. x -- did you know that 15 minutes can save you 15 percent or more on car insurance?" not what i was expecting, to say the least.

this same guy and i were sitting outside on a bench one day, waiting for his classmates. a recognizable orange van drove by and i immediately hear, clear as a bell and in that familiar jingle, "call 1-800-steamer!"

he also likes to stand up and yell, "DING-A-LING!" while pointing to the ceiling during the quietest of moments in class -- startling everyone to pieces, while he sits back down and giggles like a mad scientist.

* another of my boys likes to "rock it out" everyday -- meaning he engages in calming, self-stimulatory behavior in the form of rocking back and forth in his chair. during this time, he usually likes to sing. his favorite song to belt out? "put your records on" by corinne bailey rae. i almost die every time his sweet voice gets to "you go ahead, let your hair doooooown"

* the last of my four boys has some serious pent-up energy and if i don't allow for him to "get the energies out" at least once a day, we are headed down a rough road. my solution? we put on the song "dog days are over" after lunch and run around the room like crazed people. it's absolutely fantastic. and after our last session with florence + the machine, this little guy sat down, put his head in his hands and exclaimed, "the energies are gone. time to go home."

they have captured my heart. and i wish i could record our conversations to save for a rainy day.

for now, i'll make do with a few memories of my boys, in all of their quirky glory.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

don't stop believin'.

i am on a quest. and i'm not going to be too quiet about it.

to the point: i feel a strong conviction/desire/motivation to take care of my temple, ya'll.

i know, i know...i've said this before. i've made cheeky "resolutions" to work out & eat better.

something has clicked this time, friends. and i have YOU and you and you to thank for it.

the difference? accountability. my family & friends have been FANTASTIC in asking me how i am doing in regards to my commitment to my physical health. knowing that there are people around me "watching" -- but really, supporting -- has made all of the difference.

and isn't that what true community/accountability is about? we are CALLED to hold one another up. and the only way our sin or secrets can get battled out is to continuously expose them to the light.

consider this my plea: when you talk to me, don't be afraid to ask me about my current relationship status with my treadmill. i welcome the challenge. i need your support. i cannot fight this battle alone.

whoa. i'm feeling vulnerable! eeeeek!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

new year's day grab bag.

resurrected. (for you, girl-CK.)

1. i now have eyeglasses. i am trying to pretend they make me chic and sophisticated -- and while i only need them for reading/working on the computer/driving at night, they have CHANGED MY LIFE. see evidence of these stylish frames below.

2. grands flaky layers biscuits have got to be the modern-day equivalent of manna from heaven. i'm just sayin'.

3. do NOT go see how do you know starring reese witherspoon/owen wilson/paul rudd. you know it's bad when the best line of the movie is as follows: that's the opposite of a bus strike. it's not even worth giving context.

4. i bought a jar of chinese 5-spice for an upcoming recipe. however, i opened the jar to check out the mixture & get a preview of the goodness forthcoming...and i chickened out and couldn't make the noodle-y soup. the spice has licorice root. what? someone, please motivate me to give this one a try.

5. my delicious discovery over winter break:

6. a well-placed pun is my favorite form of humor. my current favorite (in light of my newest addition): she wears eyeglasses during math. it helps with division. [gets me every time.]

7. 1.1.11. for someone who has slight OCD-tendencies, it's a neat & clean date. i'll take it. afterall, the number one has all kind of connotations to unity & new beginnings. my charismatic self will claim both of these things. thank you, Jesus.

hit it!

(did anyone else just hear the beginning of it takes two to make a thing go ri--iiight by rob base & DJ EZ rock? no?)