Sunday, January 17, 2010

I'm (trying) to be back in the blog world! Trying to keep myself accountable for my time and energy.


1) Will try a new couponing system--don't clip, just date the inserts. Flip through them and write on a post-it note the items I think I would like to use (by now I can tell which coupons will probably have a free or "money making" coupon deal sometime in the future), stick the post-it on the front.

2) Ordered prints for my mom online and had them internationally shipped directly to her in Korea. I have not sent her prints in YEARS because of the barriers/excuses of uploading pics, choosing, ordering, getting them and mailing them myself to save a few dollars, etc. My girlfriend happened to take a bunch of pics and send them to me in a web album and so I was able to order them directly from there!

3) Researched virtual personal assistants (VA's) (see here, for background info, and here are some sites:

Your Man In India

Ask Sunday

Get Friday

You see, researching VA's makes me motivated to just DO those lingering tasks that I have...

4) the usual gamut of cooking, laundry, vacuming, mopping

5) Pilates, and reserved "Jillian Michael's 30 day shred" from the library

6) Church, taught Sunday school with Bruce, Birthday party with girlfriends, bought 10 children's umbrellas and fairy wands (each originally $14!) on clearance for $1 each to use for birthday presents.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

MUSEUMS off the Beaten Path

We are taking a class on utilizing field trips and museums (almost all museums have boxes of artifacts and activities you can check out, or they will come to your school and do a workshop or lecture, and their websites have lesson plans, research collaborations with students, etc. so museums are more than "just" a place for field trips).

In the past week, we have been to:

Spertus Institute of Jewish studies/children's museum
Art Institute
National Mexican Fine Art Museum
Museum of Contemporary Photo
National Vietnam Veteran's Art Museum
Pilsen neighborhood mural tour
DuSable Museum of African Art (Hyde Park right by Obama's house)
Smart Art Museum (U of Chicago campus)
Oriental Institute (Ancient Middle Eastern artifacts, like Mesopotamia and Babylon, etc. part of U of Chicago campus)
Chicago Botanic Gardens
Skokie Holocaust Museum

Needless to say, we are TIRED!

Next week we go to:

ABA Law Museum
Boathouse Museum
Surgical Science Museum
US Post office tour

So you can see these are more of the "lesser known" museums, not the "obvious" science teacher museums like the Field Museum, Science and Industry, Adler Planetarium, Fermi Lab, Argonne National Lab, Garfield Park Conservatory, etc.

And of course, every town and county has a half dozen or so other local historical and nature museums...what a blessing to live so close to so many learning centers!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gifted Ed, Sensory Processing Issues

I know I haven't been blogging; I've mostly been updating on Facebook since most (if not all) of my friends are also FB "friends." Basically, our DD has been having lots of interesting insights and developments, we visited my FIL, our house is on the market but we really don't expect to sell (hah!), and we're taking some Ed classes.

Class #1: Gifted Education. Believe it or not, this is not part of the required curriculum and most schools don't have anything about it, teachers aren't trained in it, there is no funding for it (we live under No Child Left Behind, not Every Child Get AHEAD). But this was a fascinating class, and the strategies will be good for all students, not just gifted ones, so it will truly change my teaching.

I highly recommend this book:

"Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom" by Susan Winebrenner. Some authors got permission to adapt the book for early childhood, and I hear it's quite good even though I haven't read it myself.

Let me know if you have any questions, and I can even send you some of the stuff I'm going to use in my honors chem class next year. Would you believe that after 6 years of teaching I've never taught honors? I actually used some of the strategies in Winebrenner's book in my remedial double period Algebra class last year without formal knowledge of them, because my students were having such VAST learning differences.

Class #2: Sensory Processing Disorder, sometimes called Sensory Integration Dysfunction. Absolutely fascinating subject, which I had never heard of before. Often gets misdiagnosed as ADHD or autism. It's not in the DSM but more research is being done and lobbying (if that's the right word) is being done to get it in the DSM and considered official diagnosis so that interventions can be provided. Basically, we have our 5 senses, and also have systems for determining our sense of balance, muscular strength (ex, so you know how much force to exert when lifting a carton of milk), sense of space (why I'm a terrible driver and have trouble merging into traffic, crash into my students all the time), sense of pain (why some women go into labor and have the baby and feel nothing, and why I fuss and moan over my little itchy mosquito bites and boo boos), and internal organs (I think this is like, feeling like you have to use the toilet).

Then for each of the senses, one can have a tendency to seek it and stimulate it (people who crave touch, or need to "get dizzy" by spinning around or riding wild rides, or like hot food HOT and cold food COLD), avoid it (like babies who don't like sitting on grass, or strongly disliking the feel of clothing tags, or disliking food textures, underrespond to stimulus (like people who crash into things a lot and get bruises without noticing), or have trouble modulating response to sensation (are bothered by lights that are too bright, noises that are too loud, get motion sickness, etc.). An absolutely fascinating subject, and I'm only just started the class so I don't know a lot about it. What I find interesting is that I certainly have strong sensory preferences, and so does my husband, and these differences are what sometimes drive each other crazy because we think the other person is being fussy or self-centered or rude or just annoying!

But there seem to be a wealth of websites, parent support groups (there are some on Yahoo! Groups), mainstream-audience books about "the sensory child" and techniques for development. Most of the science behind it comes from the area of Occupational Therapy (for example, how to train someone to put on socks when they scream and absolutely cannot stand the feeling of socks).

A lot of the books we are using are listed here. I read EVERY PAGE of an amazing teaching tools catalog that can be ordered or read online here ; I wrote a huge list of things in the catalog that I can make myself using things I have around the house or can obtain from craft and hardware stores and perhaps Oriental Trading Company!

Here's an easy read from TIME magazine re the subject.

Let me know what you think!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Beauty of Thrift

My daughter has needed socks for some time. We only go to places that might sell toddler socks (like Walmart, Target) once or twice a year, and never go to clothing retailers like Sears, Old Navy, Gymboree, etc.

We are so blessed to get ALL of her clothes as free hand-me-downs; I thought it would be ironic to spend $20 on a few packages of socks for her. So I had been waiting for months to get her more socks; her current socks are fine but seem to be getting tighter and fewer each week (by laundry day she is wearing mis-matched socks!).

We went to the Senior Citizens Club garage sale at the park district; for $1, you can fill an entire paper grocery bag! Too bad most of the clothes were...well, cast-offs from senior citizens! But I filled half of my bag with toddler socks from Baby Gap, about 20 pairs. They are wonderful--thick and long with reinforced toes and heels, interesting patterns and colors!

We also found a sandwich bag labelled "Free." In it were 9 tiny balls of yarn, bitty bitty scraps of yarn that loving, thrifty hands carefully re-wound and neatly saved. My daughter loved them and we came home and examined them, threaded them on an embroidery needle, and "sewed" with them on her sewing cards.

Most people would just discard tiny scraps of yarn, but these painstakingly saved bits were so beautiful. They reminded me of my grandma, who saved every single scrap of paper that came into the house (this was Seoul in the 1980's so there wasn't nearly as much print advertising and junk mail as is now), neatly trimmed each one into a square or rectangle, folded it, and placed into an origami box made out of an old calendar page. Sometimes I think my joy of thrift came from living with my grandma during my formative years. We all slept on bedrolls on the floor in a coal-heated room, used chamber pots, and we each had one cup. I used to carefully peel off the stickers I received on my school papers, glue pieces of tape onto them, and use them again.

What about you? What stories about the joy and beauty of thrift do you have to share?
I am Good at Shopping

Hubby went grocery shopping twice in a row, and I think he realized how expensive groceries have gotten and how big grocery stores are! He spent about 1.5 hours each time, and was overwhelmed by the huge selection, and difficulty with comparison shopping, and ended up spending $100. He has appreciated my couponing for months, but I think up until he went shopping, he secretly believed that I could have shorter shopping trips (like, 20-30 minutes, even though the store is 15 minutes away) and buy just a little of everything (ie, shop for the week like "normal" people) instead of buying large quantities of "random" stuff, and didn't need to chase so many deals.

Well! After his 2 time-consuming, expensive, and lengthy shopping trips, we were very very quickly out of food again (much to his surprise), and so this weekend I resumed shopping. It felt so good--I jumped out of the house while DD napped and went to Jewel, Dominick's, Walgreens, the gas station, and Staples (to pick up a print order). I was gone 2.5 hours.

For groceries alone, I spent a whopping $15 and got:

- $8.80 of first-class stamps
- Sunday paper
- Wacky Mac (colored spiral pasta)
- 6 boxes of freezer bags
- 18 chocolate bars (for prizes, for party favors, for me to eat!! :P)
- 6 packages of recycled paper plates (for our upcoming party)
- 2 frozen pizzas
- 2 packages frozen tortellini
- 4 boxes Lean Pockets (we rarely eat individual frozen convenience meals...but it's the last week of school and our house is on the market...we need easy lunches! At least they come in cardboard and not in a plastic tray)
- 2 packages of frozen whole wheat bake-n-serve rolls
- gum
- 2 bottles of salad dressing

(If this seems impossibly miraculous, I used a lot of "FREE" item coupons I got for buying a chest freezer in February, and the frozen items were Buy One, Get One Free so I got 2 for free.)

YAY! It feels so good to make contributions to the family!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

More Toddler/Big Girl Conversations Today

1) "Why do mommies have nigh-nigh?" Because God made them that way--when a mommy has a baby, the baby can't eat any food, so God made the mommies to have nigh-night to feed the baby. "So babies only have nigh nigh and no food....toddlers have nigh-nigh AND food...big girls only have food!" .....Her first Venn Diagram?!?

2) She likes to take baths with lots of water...and refilling of the water as it gets cold...I try to have all 3 of us use the toilet and THEN flush, even though we have plenty of water from the Great Lakes. I always tell her that God gave us clean water so we don't want to waste it. Today she said: "But there is LOTS of water from the faucet and the sink!! So much water!" and I said, Do you know where the water comes from? "The faucet!" Yes, and the faucet water comes from the lake. And EVERYBODY gets their water from the lake....(her eyes got big here...she never knew this) So if everyone uses too much water, what will happen to the water in the lake? "There won't be any water left!" That's right, so we only want to use just as much water as we need, and not waste too much.

3) "Mommy, animals don't wear clothes, right?" That's right; why do you think that is? "Because they don't have any like we do!" That's right, and they also don't need clothes because they have fur or special skin to keep them warm. We don't have fur, so we need clothes to keep us warm. But some people live in very hot places where it doesn't get cold, so they don't have to wear very many clothes.

4) "Mommy, some animals don't make noise, right? Because they don't have anything in their voice to make noise." That's right, some animals are very quiet. What are some animals that are quiet? "Turtles! and Crabs! and Salamanders! and Octopus! and Rabbits! and..."

5) "Pretend I was Frog, and you were Toad, and you missed me...Pretend I was Frog, and you were Toad, and I was making pasta, and you were making soup...Pretend I was Princess Suriya, and you were Peacock..."

6) "Pretend I was Peter, and you were Jesus, and you told me to come out on the water...Pretend you were Peter, and I couldn't walk at the temple...Pretend I was Moses and you were Pharoah...Pretend you were Moses, and I was Pharoah...Pretend you were Mary, and I was Martha, and Daddy was Lazarus, and he was sick...Pretend I was the hurt man and you were the Samaritan, and we went to the inn and you gave the inn-keeper some money...Pretend I was Jesus praying in the garden and you were the soldier...Pretend I was Gideon, and this is wool, and you were the angel..."

Monday, June 01, 2009

No Nigh-Nigh Tonight

Slowly, slowly we have been telling our daughter (almost 3) that "only babies and toddlers have nigh-night, big kids don't because they eat food and drink milk." She always said, "But I like nigh-nigh!" I always asked, "Why do you like it?" She used to say "because I do," or "because it's you," but lately I've been getting the feeling it's because she wants to DRINK, not really emotional. She's been asking questions like: "Why does nigh-nigh taste different than milk in a cup?" and saying, "Can I open up your nigh-nigh and pour in some more milk?" And when I asked her why she likes nigh-nigh, she says, "Because it's sweet! Sweeter than milk in a cup!" Aha....

So tonight we asked her if she wanted nigh-nigh, or milk in a cup while I snuggled her. "Milk in a cup with a snuggle!" she said joyously.

While she drank her milk in bed (I know, the cavity police will cringe, but we have to start somewhere), she chatted me away and asked me all kinds of questions. She asked me about why people vote, so we made up some mock voting situations ("Who thinks Oula should skip across the bridge?") and I held up fingers to show the two sides.

She told me how she cried and cried because another girl took "her" acorn. Some lengthy discussion revealed that the other girl had had it first. I modelled different things she could have done (asked to take turns, find her own acorn, ask the teacher for help if she can't find another acorn on her own, play with something else). I had her try to repeat them back to me, and I said that if she cries and cries, then she doesn't get anything: she doesn't get the acorn, she upsets her friend, and she is sad and not having any fun!

She has been saying things like, "This is the girls club, boys are stinky and yucky and bad" and I tell her that the Bible (which she LOVES) says to love your neighbor, and calling someone stinky and yucky and bad is not loving. So we model saying, "That person is not my favorite," or "I don't want to play with you right now."

She has been saying things like, "Food is yucky/poopy/stinky/pee pee" etc. I say that it's not nice to say that because food is a gift from God, or that there are a lot of hungry people in the world who would love to eat her food and it would hurt their feelings to hear her say that. I say she can say, "I'm not hungry" or "This isn't my favorite" or "I'm all done."

Small steps....I think this summer, when she is away from school for a month, she will go back to being the girl she used to be, the-not-so-Nickelodeon-esque girl we know she can be. I can see changes from months of reinforcement, like:

- Instead of saying "worms are yucky" or "Step on the ant and kill it!" she said, "Don't step on the ant! God made ants!"

- Tonight she said, "Food is not yucky, but I can say, 'This is not fresh.' I can say, 'This is not healthy," or I can say, 'This has too much sugar.' Right, mommy?"

-We listen to books on tape in the car, and she always says, "Louder, please!" instead of starting to wail and whine. She still whines and kicks when she is tired and bored and cranky in the car, but today she was trying so very hard and kept saying, "I want something else that's good..." and I (unprepared with no toys or snacks or interesting new books or tapes) pulled random things out of the glove compartment (pen, flashlight, padlock, emery board...), saying, "How about THIS?" with great enthusiasm. "No, not that, I want something ELSE that's good, something that's a different shape and size and color from that." We repeated this about 17 more times, and she was so patient with me even though I clearly had nothing good or interesting to do.

Hooray for our little girl, who is not so little anymore!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

We're going to try to sell and move!

After a year of commuting H - E double hockey sticks, we are going to list with a realtor and try to sell and move. Last week I met 5 realtors, and we found a realtor we like. Bruce said she is just like me, except in her fifties and blond!

Already I am tired of keeping the house "perfect," and we haven't even listed yet (it should be listed tomorrow morning!). I don't know how people can live with their house listed for months and theory, you're not supposed to have any mess or trash or recycling or anything. So we can cook, but without making any bit of mess or odor at all, we can eat, but without any bit of mess at all...etc.

At least school will be out soon; I think if we're home and get notice of a showing, we can do a quick tidy and then leave. During school, we have to have the whole house ready every single morning when we leave in case someone happens to drop by while we are at work or want to come right after work (so we won't be able to go home!).

Already I know our grocery and eating out budget is going to sky-rocket! The amount of trash we dump in landfills will increase too because piles of sorted recycling and my nifty little plastic bag dryer isn't great for leaving out. Life would be so much easier if one never had to shop, cook, and clean, wouldn't it?

Of course, if we sell, then there's the whole problem of finding a mortgage lender, buying, moving...I know people do this all the time but UGH! What a beast!

In the meantime, we are constantly getting rid of stuff. I decided to get rid of *almost* all my stained, pilly, stretched out clothes...sadly, it's pretty much all of them! I always wonder if I go through clothes faster than most people because I'm so clumsy and spill all the time. I always blame it on the fact that I'm a science teacher and always get snags/chemicals/ highlighter/sharpie/dry-erase marker/pen on myself! Really, 99% of the time it's probably chili or spaghetti sauce because I always wolf my food at my desk while working at the same time!