Sunday, February 27, 2011

Soul Restoration for Posterity

Recently I've been taking an online class: Soul Restoration.
A heart healing process
with some forward focus.
The 6 weeks of the class are over.
We get some bonus time to review the lessons and art techniques
before the online videos will be taken down in a couple of weeks.

I have a journal of deliciously painted pages
where I've done some writing that is significant to me.

While my older grandkids were here, I shared some of the art technique videos with them.

They were fascinated with the variety and fun.
So we decided to sit ourselves down for some art time
our own little
extended generation
soul restoration session.

The older you were, the more artsy supplies you had the privilege of using.

At my age, believe me, I had a passel

of artsy supplies that I got to play with! :o)


*paint application by scraping it on with a credit card....that's fun!
*cut up cardboard from a cereal box,
glue it, paint it, mod podge it, decorate it, write on it, make it your own
*stencil experiments with sequin waste and bubble wrap
*mod podge down lace, sequin patch
*layer paint, tissue paper, mod podge, writing, outlining

And the youngers got some tools for their art fun, too
Notice the felt tip holder box below
We made it out of a cracker box, cut and folded.
I gesso'ed white over the print on the box.
Taylee did the art work---different on each side
I think you have to stand on your head to see the picture below.
It is one of my art journal pages---some juicy beginning color, before journaling
and some freshly mod podged phrases
on my "This equals This" page
in my Soul Restoration small book.

Taylee is peacefully focused and confident
in whatever art process
she gives herself
She really likes
what she creates

Rylee wrote an affirming initialed statement
to herself
plus she made an artsy bookmark

What a sweet afternoon
It's a joy to hear my grandkids' thoughts and see what they create
I love family time

Sand Tray Fun

As crispy as it was outside
it did not deter Treyson and Abree
They asked to take the "sand tray" and miniature play objects
onto the picnic table.
First, they organized all the miniatures that
had ended up in a
scrambled shuffle after some recent cousin play
All the marked bins got filled just right
"structures and objects"
Then they picked some bins to take with them outside
I hauled the heavy sand tray out

Let the world making begin!

And when you're done

You're really done!

Zonked, in fact.

Warning folks:
Rest up for the next life . . .
Apparently, making your own world is exhausting!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Friday Night Art

Had a few grandkids gather
while some parents were
having an anniversary
and night out Wiggle, wiggle
shuffle, holler
color paper designs with pens and crayons
Some persisted til all the sheet was full of patterns
Some just grinned a lot Show and Tell
Look, at mine, Grandma!
All artists
make sure they
sign and date
their work

They always share some with me
kind of hoping, they tell me,
that I'll save some
for them to see
in years to come.

Ah, yes
I put a few aside.

It is so satisfying to see
grandkids enjoying
one another
no matter
which combination of kiddos
have gathered

I am blessed. . .

life is abundant . . .

some kiddos
lots of paper and juicy pens
creativity and love flowing together
making art and memories

What's your favorite kind of kiddo memory making?

Meals on Family Wheels

While Grandma's care provider was on vacation for a week
Aunt Jana helped arrange for
family to come in
and bring evening meals to
So several familes "wheeled" over to grandma's home
with hot meals in hand
and stayed to eat and
be her company for the evening.
Grandma had a heart full of
fun visits, plus
good food
in which she enthusiastically partook.
We're thinking she may have over-enjoyed Karen's
delicious chili and cornbread.
THREE helpings
and happy with every bite!
Karen is an amazing cook.
When I got there Sunday,
grandma was having
some dramatic digestion after effects.
But she had only happy memories of the good dinners.
So, no regrets!
Thank you, family,
for your sweet offerings of love and companionship for her.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Suga' Suga', baby!

Pretty sweet. . .
Lots of kiddos buzzing around the school

the first ten minutes of the day
delivering little surprises
to adults,
other than their teachers.
to all these adults
work in cooperation:
in their learning day.

I love seeing those excited, happy faces.

And I must admit I look with favor

on a sugar cookie and

some Hershey kisses.

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you in bloggerville!

Author! Author!

We just finished reading our books to one another.

They are so pleased with their work!

"How To Be A Good Friend"

Along with working on cooperation skills

we've worked on creating our own little books

in Social Skills Small Group

each group member is

an author

an illustrator

and a "practicer" of friendship skills

Pay attention to actions

that good friends do

Brainstorm a list

Write and draw

Celebrate and share

They love to read their books to one another

showing the pictures around

like a teacher

Sometimes they act out ideas from their books

We guess

the skill they are demonstrating

There are a lot of ways to practice cooperation

and being a good friend,

even while in a small space

creating a book

* * * * *

I have used this book style for students of all ages

They are intrigued by the "magic" of creating a book out of a sheet of paper

They use their book to write down reminders for whatever issue they've been working on:

ways to relax

how to be a friend

how to comfort themselves when sad

how to cool off when mad

things to say to compliment others

things they can do better now than when they were little

They love reading any book they have written
I get a kick out of having them read it aloud and tell me about their drawing

* * * * * *

The book structure is

easy peasy
Made from one sheet of paper, several simple folds and one cut

I call it a "fold and cut" book

There are lots of online instructions on how to make this wonderfully simple book.

Here is one set of instructions, calling it a poof book:

Want to be an "instant" author?

Hurry . . . . grab a sheet of paper, a pair of scissors

and get started!

Extra Mile Bishopric

It's not in their job description
yet there they were
on my doorstep

The whole Bishopric
Big smiles
A flowering plant
And sugar cookies

"Happy Valentine's Day!"

To be remembered is a gift itself

Way into the evening on a Sunday night
after what certainly was a full day of meetings for them

Their own Sabbath marathon
of stops

Offering heaven-like remembrances

happy surprise
much appreciated

Share some love

I like me some kiddo art
This was given to me by some 3rd graders
for Counselor's Week
It's "pop art," they assured me
I covered one of my office doors with their "love"

What kid of kiddo art do you have saved,
too precious to throw out?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Give a shout out for your school counselor!

Hey, it's National School Counselors' Week
Pass along a thank you note or a bar of chocolate to your child's school counselor!
My counselor colleagues are a delightful array of heartful and skilled humans.
I learn a lot from them
and like sharing my ideas with them.


I am being celebrated in little mists of appreciation at my school.
Some of the kiddos have written notes or drawn pictures for me this week.

So cute.
Another class sang to me as I came in to teach.
"For she's a jolly good counselor, for she's . . ."
They were so excited to hand me a big poster where each had written a note.
I promised to read every word.

My job presents me with a wide range of needs.

Coming through my office door might be a child

who has had a fight with their friend.

Or they are feeling the pressure of

a full schedule,

trying to get school work done,

along with sports, lessons and family chores.

Or they are worried about their family.

It is not unusual

to listen to a kiddo

who is sad, shocked or scared ----or numb

because of

parents fighting (they can name how many emergency vehicles were there)
mom in jail (wanting to make her a picture for her wall)
critical illness in the family (parent health declining from cancer)
being evicted (worried about living under a bridge)
mental illness in the family (yelling is scary--"I just can't take it any more.")


feeling the waves.
doing the best that they can
heavy weighted
deep challenges.

And a school counselor

a quiet place

to feel

to talk

to play

to consider and decide.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Good Book - RAD

I read a good book---- fascinating to me, yet very potent and stirring, even disturbing. I think you'd have to really be into mental health to enjoy it.

But I read mental health topics all the time for "fun".

The book: Dandelion on My Pillow, Butcher Knife Beneath by Nancy Thomas.

The title gives you a clue about the intensity of this true story.

Nancy Thomas writes raw and real. She, through life experience, became an expert therapy home for children with RAD, Reactive Attachment Disorder. She and her children suffered extreme abuse from her first husband. As she worked on healing from that, it lit her interest in helping others.

When a child experiences trauma in utero or in the early years from such things as abuse, mistreatment, parental ambivalence, neglect, or separation, they may fail to attach to their parents or care givers. They miss making that link between a caring adult and getting their needs met. The child's behavior may show up like: do not trust adults, superficially charming, lack of eye contact on parents' terms, need control, destructive to self/others, cruelty to animals, lying, no impulse control, lack of conscience . . . . Maybe you've know a child who suffered these symptoms. Many parents of adopted children are dealing with these tendencies in their homes. I have worked with kiddos in the school setting who are so affected by their early experiences.

Nancy and her second husband became a therapy home. She described the sometimes chaotic, sometimes orderly process (but sounded exhausting to me!) of working with different children they took in to help. She worked closely with an experienced therapist. She described a holding therapy (child held in the therapist's lap) that was both an emotionally wrenching process for all involved and deeply healing for the child. (She worked closely with Dr. Foster Cline, who happens to be one of the Love & Logic authors. I consider him a brilliant therapist. He, too, has had foster children in his home.)

I have deep admiration for Nancy. I can't imagine the kind of energy it would take to be vigilant, loving and strong-boundaried for those kids. I really liked how she shared her thinking and what she learned from each meltdown.

If it took a day and a half for a child to decide to get the stairs swept, then that's what it took. Nancy would tell them how handy it was to know just where to find them for such a long time. She'd bring them a sandwich, and tell them she'd be back to check on them later - - - as the child spent many hours sitting on the steps, choosing NOT to follow directions. Eventually, the child would get bored, and since they couldn't wear Nancy down in her expectation, they would comply, finish the job and re-join the family.

The book gives hope for healing damaged and abused children.

No longer a therapy home parent, Nancy currently directs week long camps for attachment disordered kids and their parents. Two of my colleague/friends have been to one of the camps as staff . The goal of the week was for parents to become firm and loving in their expectation of the child---and for the child to experience the love of attachment to their parent--and to build a healthy attachment between them. The process included strict training for the child to comply to a parent request, literal attachment (hug) with parent after compliance, time in a re-focus room (open 24/7) when the child was out of compliance, the child returned to the parent to try again. All done in gentleness, firmness and with love. It's more complex than that, but that's the direction it goes.

My colleagues' witness of the difference in a child from the first day of camp to the last day is the description of a miracle.

My two friend/colleagues have written grants to see if they can put together the money to send themselves to Colorado for a two week training with Nancy Thomas. They would love to bring such a healing service to this valley. At this point, we have a gaping need in this area of therapy.

I admire these two colleague/friends and am privileged to work with them.

And back to the book, I think I was on the reserve list at my library for about six months before I finally got the book. It was worth it.

I am in awe of the human experience. The stories in this book gave me a glimpse of someone willing to face ugly behaviors with courage, and never give up the passion of continuing to learn and heal. I would love to meet her.

What do you know about attachment disorder? Where did you learn it?

Do you have an author you would love to meet?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Kiddo's sleep, size and social interaction

I attended a St Al's pediatric conference today, covering several topics. It was on sleep issues, childhood obesity and autism.

Dr Daniel Marks, pediatrician with concerns about childhood obesity, spoke about the brain being a big (and inefficient) consumer of calories. Scientists now have the ability to measure how and when the brain burns calories.

The brain uses less calories when you are watching TV than when you are sitting quietly reading a book. And the brain also burns less calories while watching TV than when sleeping! Oh really . . . that surprised me. It is because segments of the brain shut down---go inactive--when one is watching TV or playing a familiar screen-time game.

He doesn't believe in putting kids on diets. He does believe in the whole family making small life changes: walk more, sit less; play active games; park and walk; use smaller plates.

Dr Barbara Kissam, MD was the presentor about autism. She hails from Meridian Pediatrics

It's the first professional I've heard who gave what I considered useful evidence refuting the emotional uproar against immunizations (related to autism).

On their site, there is an autism screener you can check out, for free (M-CHAT). And there is an Autism Intake form, if you want to educate yourself a bit. Also there are screeners to measure if your kiddo is reaching developmental benchmarks. (All under the "Forms and Policies" button.)

The two lecturers on sleep issues were good. This was new information to me - - - how important sleep is.

But I'm too sleepy to report on that . . . . .

What have you read about the functions of sleep for our children?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What's Up, Phil?

I suppose you think Punxsutawney Phil is in Pennsylvania.
Well, he used to be.
But if you visit my office,
there he is.
He's been one of my puppet buddies for about seven years. (since Tyrel sent him to me)
Someone should tell those folks in PA!
It has been that long since Tyrel was on his mission in Punxsutawney
where he saw the location of the Ground Hog's Day celebration.
Tyrel and his companion sent me a picture of them knocking on Phil's little door. When "my" Phil answered the door, those good Elders offered him a Book of Mormon during their door approach!

Phil changed professions when he came west.
He stopped predicting the weather and
started predicting children's behavior.
He's not very good at it.
The kids grimace when Phil predicts
that if you punch a kid,
they will want to be your friend.
Then they teach him some smarter choices.

Get it together, Phil.
Maybe you should go outside and take another try at weather predicting.

Today he made off with one of my magic wands.
I'm hoping he will magic us some warmer weather.

What would you like Phil to magic up?