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Monday, April 30, 2012

Make a Change


This week’s Do Good Day is going to be a little different than what I had originally planned.  You know what?  That’s okay.  If you don’t bend you break, and I get to make up the rules anyway.  I do have a good reason. 

My mind is still reeling from this past weekend.  The course of events that started on Thursday evening has only recently ended and there is so much to process, but I’ll fill you in on it tomorrow.  I hope it’s as interesting on screen as it was in real life.  There’s a hint for you!  [wink wink]

In my mind it’s gonna read like a best seller.  What would the blurb on the back cover say?

There are spills and chills.  Emotional highs and lows will keep you on the edge of your seat.  There’s trauma, drama, and a Gypsy Mama!

How’s that for a tease?  There is good to come out of this weekend and I’m going to take care of that today.  I was (in)Couraged to send a card or two (10) to friends – there’s another hint.  I’m going to do just that.  I want you to do the same.  A real card!  You know the ones that you have to lick the envelope and address.  Then you put on a stamp, you know, those little square sticky things.  They still make those.

I have one other simple challenge.  Make a change with your change this week.  Are you going to McDonald’s this week (yeah, me either)? Drop that change in the little box for the Ronald McDonald House Charities.  They do great work providing lodging for families of hospitalized children.  It’s so easy to help out. Other places often have change donation boxes, too.

Next week we’re talking SHOES!!  Seriously, who doesn’t love shoes?

Until then, tell me in the comments:
Who will you send a card, or note (or even an email) to this week?
How did you do good and what other ways do you know to do good?  I’d love to learn more.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Of Rollercoasters and Paper Towels



I’ve gotta say I’m feeling a little weak in my gut right now.  Not exactly sick to my stomach, but quivery like that.  I think rollercoasters leave you feeling like that.  While I haven’t been to King’s Dominion or Busch Gardens today, I have had quite the ride.  The ups and downs have left me dizzy, exhausted and quite frankly feeling like a borderline failure.





Let’s start with the basic facts; I have a 3 year old BOY!  All boy, all the time!  It’s not for the faint of heart raising one of these precious little beings creatures boys.  They really should come with a case of hydrogen peroxide and a lifetime supply of paper towels.  I know that’s not terribly eco-friendly of me, but some things just need to go into the trash!  Some sort of dial, gauge or adjustment system would be handy, too.

So what makes this day any different?  We had a MAJOR milestone today!  I know what you are thinking.  He’s completely potty-trained. No.  There wouldn’t have been any downs if that were the case.  No, my little genius boy read his first word today.  We were in the van on our way to music this morning when he simply states, “Z and O and O says zoo.”  Then he showed me the sign for a local zoo way off the road.  Who says you can’t learn anything from toys or tv – and reading a bazillion books and constantly working on letters and their sounds?

As the day progressed we had little bumps of extreme sweetness, willful defiance, infectious laughter, and outright spitefulness.  Baking cookies together ended in tears.  Why, oh why, can just the simplest thing turn into a major ordeal?  He is my Refiner’s Fire.  My dross is pulled up right to the surface and instead of seeing our heavenly Father in the reflection I see me in him.  Talk about an ugly, humbling moment!  But that’s just one of many.

The root of so much ill is a lack of good restful sleep.  This doesn’t account for everything, but a lot of it, and we’ve been dealing with this for about 9 months now.  Today we got the go ahead to try a remedy to help with the sleep.  So after refusing to eat his requested dinner (a whole other series there, my friends) I made him a bowl of applesauce with the remedy in it.  Ahh… hopefully we would have a peaceful restful night.
 
Then there was blood, and lots of it.  Remember the part about the paper towels and hydrogen peroxide?  Somehow he slipped and fell flat on his face on the wood floor as we were going to bed.  I knew it was bad.  I’d watched him fall and could not tell you how it happened, he just went down.  Hard and Fast!  The morning will tell if we made the right decision not to go to the ER.  His lip is busted.  I think his front teeth are okay.  The remedy has kicked in so I’ll go in with the Neosporin to do the doctoring as he sleeps.

That strength of will that shouts “NO” and pushes back from the table melts with tears.  It also melts my heart and my anger and frustration right away.  It leaves the core of bewilderment and inadequacy that any parent, I’m sure, feels at some point.  Everyday perhaps?  And then trying to give thanks in the hard, I know that there could be harder.  A little of a son’s blood from an accident is just a reminder of so much of a Son’s blood that it was followed by water.  And then I truly give thanks for rollercoasters, and paper towels, and hydrogen peroxide, and especially sons.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Stuttering in Young Children

I'm convinced that the creator of the Looney Tunes characters was a speech-language pathologist (SLP) in a past life.  This week I’m are going to talk about sweet lovable Porky Pig.  Yes, you don't have to be an SLP to figure out that Porky has a stuttering problem. 





Now, we don't know the exact age of Porky so it is hard for me to say if it is just a normal dysfluent phase in his/her development or if in fact it is a true stuttering disorder.  If Porky is between the ages of 3-5, or thereabouts, I am going to say it is most likely a developmental phase and he should snap out of it. So parents of young children don't stress out about this.  The saying "never let them see you sweat" is good advice if you have a child who is "stuttering" and are younger than 6. 

Some things you can do are the same things that Porky's friends need to do. Here they are:

1.     Don't draw attention to the dysfluncies.
2.     Allow your child as much time as he/she needs to express themselves. 
3.     Don't interrupt them and "help" them get their words out.
4.     Be a good speaking role model. Speak slowly, don't interrupt others or allow others to interrupt you.
5.     Remain calm and do not let on that you are concerned over the dysfluncies, this will make your child anxious and could increase the dysfluncies.
6.     Make sure all caregivers are on the same page and understand how to react, or I guess I should really say, NOT react. 

Tune in next week when we will talk about another Looney Tunes character, maybe Tweety, or Sylvester, or Donald Duck.....so many characters, so many speech problems.....aaahhhhhh.

What are your specific questions about stuttering and if you are dealing with a true stuttering disorder?  Let me know.   
-Jennifer


Picture credit:  http://clipart-for-free.blogspot.com/2008/08/porky-pig-clipart.html

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Well


This was originally written for Allume's "31 Days to a Better Writer"  Challenge.  Part of that is to link up today with a post from the past month.  I haven't been blogging that long, so I took something from there that you've never read.  It also keeps with my theme of Word Wednesdays.  Books are the well from which  writers draw words and stay refreshed.  Need some refreshing?  Grab a book:


#BetterWriter

Reading a book is something that you don’t have to remind me to do.  Finishing a book is a completely different story, pun intended!  Admittedly, most books I read are not quick read page turners.  Right now I’m working on several: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas, Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani, and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.  One of the things is not like the others…..  I also have 3 knitting reference books checked out from the library.  Oh wait, how could I have forgotten?  I finish at a minimum 3 kids’ books per day reading to my son.  That boy loves a book!  I love that he loves books!

Picking a favorite book is a tough one for me.  There are a couple I could name.  For me it’s more about favorite authors.  I have several that are true favorites and for various reasons.  I could read page upon page by Willa Cather describing a wheat field in the wind and sunlight.  C.S. Lewis puts me in my place when I get too big for my britches and think I’m the least bit smart or understanding of God’s marvelous ways.  He has also taken me to other planets (did you know he wrote sci-fi first?) and to other worlds with rings and furniture.

Speaking of rings, Tolkein can draw me through hundreds and hundreds of pages with thirst for more when the last page is ended.  Madeleine L’Engle was over my head in elementary school, but I tracked her down and then discovered she even had books for me as an adult.  Who knew that Meg would grow up and have a daughter of her own?  Then there’s my homegirl, Adriana Trigiani.  Basically this is the only contemporary fiction I read because I haven’t found anything else I like.  Kingsolver is a little preachy and a lot of the other stuff out there just isn’t my style or is trashy.  Adriana, though, can take me back to my mountains and my childhood with her Big Stone Gap books, or to New York City in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, or 5 years ago.  She settles you in and then turns the steering wheel straight toward a gasp and laugh you weren’t expecting.  I like that.

Maybe now you know a little more about me and where I run across these words I don't know.  I’m a geeky dreamer who wishes I was waaaay more glamorous than I actually am.  I’m also a thinker who is still trying to figure out exactly what I think.  It all goes back to the fact that in many ways and about many things, Amy learns.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

An Extrovert in Isolation

I am a person who loves other people.  I want to meet them, know them, introduce them to others, and build a relationship on some level.  Obviously, some will be deeper than others for any number of reasons.  I also enjoy time alone with just a good book or magazine and something warm to drink, though.  You can’t be “on” 24/7.  However, I feel my little guy would beg to differ on this point.

I am so blessed to have friends and acquaintances all over the country, the world, and here in sunny cyberspace.  The latter has only come about recently.  As for the others, I met them the old-fashioned way – MOVING!  Counting college and grad school, I’ve lived in 11 different places, 12 if you count the two times I loved lived in Chicago.  That’s a lot of cardboard and packing tape, my friends!  Some of you can relate.

This last move 10 months ago was a new experience.  This is the first move we’ve made with a child.  You make different choices when there is a third person involved and the options are so different from what you are used to.  We live on a cul-de-sac on a very quiet street!  It’s great for playing in the street, not so much for getting to know people.  The area is also so large that even co-workers of the hubby and fellow churchgoers are necessarily nearby.  This has been very difficult adjustment for me.  





I jumped at the chance to attend in(RL), a stay-at- home, get-to-know-each-other conference setup by the wonderful ladies at in(Courage).  So, this weekend I’ll be hanging out with The Gypsy Mama and about 20 other fabulous women that I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet, but I will.  As I said at the beginning I LOVE THAT!  If you had no idea this was coming rest easy.  I hear through little birdies that they are already scheming for next year. If you are up for a little spontaneity, find a local meetup and go for it!  I’d love to meet you!

Monday, April 23, 2012

A GOOD Cup of Coffee

For me, nothing quite gets the day started like a good hot cup of Joe, java, caffe, COFFEE!!  If it’s good, I can drink it black, but I really love it with just a little milk in it.  Ooh, can’t just smell it now?  If you are a coffee drinker, even the words probably made your mouth start watering.  But what if you could be drink a GOOD cup of coffee?  What’s the difference?  Read on.


I first encountered Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee while visiting a church.  They had complimentary coffee set out with a donation box and a sign showing what the coffee was all about.  The coffee was really, really good and I was intrigued.  So, of course, we put money in the box.  When we got home I worked the Google on the internet machine and was amazed.  This was a company about more than making great coffee.

Their motto is “Drink coffee. Do good.”  They started with a mission in 2001 to aid in reconciliation in the nation of Rwanda after a horrible civil war that was nothing less than genocide.  Over 10 years later their reach has gone beyond these borders to other coffee-producing nations.  Through the “Do Good Initiative” much work has been done to aid communities with basic needs and beyond.

So, take a few minutes to check them out.  You can also follow them on Pinterest or Twitter.  Buy some coffee if you want to support them and have your own GOOD cup of coffee.  I can personally recommend the Chiang Mai and the Zimbabwe varieties, both are excellent.  If you work with hospitality at your church, or other organization, they have whole kits to get you set up there.  I realize there are many issues around Fair Trade products, but behind it all are people just trying to make a life.

I think I need a refill now.

Friday, April 20, 2012

About Life with a New Blog

I feel like this has been a rollercoaster ride.  I was overwhelmed by the rush of support (and comments) that I received on my first 2 or 3 postings.  This was thanks in part to the lovely new friends I’ve made at Better Writer.  It’s been hard to not feel a letdown.  But seriously, I can’t read every blog I would like to every day.  Why should I expect the same from others?  That’s unreasonable.  And that is the first thing I’ve learned.  I can be unreasonable.  I hold my 3 year old to a higher standard than I will hold myself sometimes.  A 3 year old!!  Wake up and smell the goldfish!  What kind of way to live is that?

I’ve also learned how breathless we become outside of community.  It is a suffocation of sorts to be in isolation from friends and fellow sojourners.  We thrive and are courageous when we know others have our backs, including my wonderful little sister.  We’ll take that risk we’ve been secretly dreaming of because someone was bold enough to ask us to do it – OUT LOUD!  Maybe we jump because we don’t want to disappoint others.  In the end, aren’t we the ones who would’ve been left disappointed?  Community is the thing that catches us when we take the leap, and fall flat on our faces.  It is also what pulls us up, dusts us off, and sets us on our way again.  This is where I receive blessing and am able to give it at the same time.  To all my new found friends, I thank you for both.  I also learned that old friendship is worth driving roughly 2 hours in suburban D.C. rush hour traffic to maintain.  Friendships are worth the effort!

On a more practical note, I am learning how to follow through more, manage my precious time better and even getting some new skills.  If you had told me 2 months ago I would be manipulating HTML code, I would’ve looked at you quizzically and said, “Huh?”  But that is just what I was doing a couple nights this week.  My inner geek is thriving.  Do you smell that?  It’s the smoke coming out of my ears from the little gears in my head turning.  They’ve needed to be shaken loose and this is just the thing to do it.

This is all still a work in progress, or WIP as the savvy kids say.  I’ll learn more and in time laugh at the notion that I started this at all with so few tricks in my bag.  Didn’t I know that it would be a long trip and that I needed to prepare more?  Well, I’m just keeping my eyes peeled for those little roadside stops to pick up what I need and want.  Aren’t those the dearest treasures?  The things you found on your journeys.  You, readers, are that for me.  Deepest thanks.






I linked this up with Pieces of Amy today.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Communication Station with Jennifer

I want to introduce you today to my sister, Jennifer.  Check out her page for the facts.  What you won't see there is that she is creative, funny and just about the best thing you could hope to get in a little sister.  Every Thursday, or thereabouts, she is going to share her expertise with us - this is the Communication Station.  Hop on!!


If you suspect that your child is not developing or late in developing speech and language skills or other developmental milestones as compared to others their age, the first thing you should do is start a conversation with your pediatrician. When you take your young child in for a routine check-up, the doctor is only seeing your child a couple of times a year for a very limited amount of time, so the fact that the pediatrician may not pick up on your concerns is not surprising.


Children are often very quiet and nervous when visiting the doctor’s office, so the pediatrician is probably not surprised that your child is not talking, non-compliant, or even having a tantrum. You as a parent need to be proactive in starting the conversation with your child’s pediatrician. Ask for a referral to a speech-language pathologist or developmental pediatrician, especially if you suspect autism.


There are many services in your community that can provide services at no or very minimal cost to you. Look for resources with early intervention services and the public schools to help get started. It can be a scary thing to think that your child may have some delays, but you should follow your instinct and get it checked out. The earlier a child starts receiving intervention services, the better the outcome. Don’t wait! In my personal opinion and professional experience, the greatest window of opportunity is between the ages of 2-5.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Word Up!

I know, I know.  I’ve already told you I was an 80’s teen, so you are just going to have to expect some of these shenanigans.  I love a good pun or a clever play on words.  Words are mighty fun playthings, yet powerful tools all at the same time.  I want to honor them and use them in an honoring way.  That’s what my Wednesdays are all about.  Just for fun, I may even join in on a Wordless Wednesday  just for the fun of it.  I still have to figure out that putting in a picture thingy.

I love to read.  I used to do it a lot more before the Little Guy came along.  I love to learn, hence the title.  Reading is a great way to learn, but every now and then…. There it is again.  That word, you know the one.  It’s one of those 50-cent words.  You’ve seen it lots of times but just haven’t been able to put your finger on what it means.  Who keeps a dictionary on hand to look those up?  By the time you get to a computer to look it up you’ve forgotten what it was or that you were even bothered by it.

 I want to figure out what those words mean and fill you in, too.  Maybe we’ll even try to sneak them into a conversation.  Won’t others just think we are so smart?  Probably not, but you will.  I’ve started a list, but like I said you forget about them.  Send me your words.  You know you aren’t alone, I probably won’t know it either, but I would like to.  Is there a fringe benefit to this?  Yes.  You can start smoking your opponents in Words with Friends!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Green & Local Tuesday

Hello Friends and good Tuesday morning to you all. There I go again with those hypothetical mass greetings.  This is our first Tuesday together and you are probably wondering what you are in for this time.  For the time being Tuesdays will celebrate all things green and local, which is just another shade of green in my book.
We’ll look at ways you can get a little greener in your life and support your community.  As always, I’d love for you to fill me in on your personal faves that you think others would like to know about.  My hope is that you will learn something new and share it.  I want to encourage you to step out of your norm and pursue a new (or old) passion unapologetically.

We have such a myriad of topics that present themselves to us here: food, recycling, recreation, entertainment, service, homemaking, travel, education.  There are many more, I’m sure.  Let me say up front that I am not an expert in any of these fields – I’m just curious and have run across some interesting things that I want to share.  I want to introduce you to national and global organizations that make a difference.  If something piques your interest, hop onboard.  I’m sure they’d love to have you.  I’ll provide links when I can, pictures, if I can figure it out, and a push off.

From time to time, I may wander off this path.  I hope you’ll allow me the freedom to do so.  This is a journey for me as well.  Sometimes the detours are where the memories and big moments happen.  We are free to explore and grow and diversify.  That’s what I’m doing simply by writing these words.  Won’t you go with me?  What would you like to see?  Let me know below.  Thanks.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Do Good Days

I want to set up a regular schedule of postings to help you enjoy the things you love and do good at the same time.  “What kinds of things?” you may ask.  How about chocolate, coffee, shoes… most people have at least heard of TOMS shoes and the work they do. There may be many that we’ll discover as we journey together.

I want to introduce you to companies and organizations that DO GOOD WHILE DOING WELL.  I also want to hear about what you find that we can share.  Some may be old news to you, but I hope you will learn about new ones as well.  I may use phrases that are vaguely familiar; I’ll help define those for you.  I also want to show you how to be an active participant and encourage you to make any change you are capable of making.  Some involve a little monetary sacrifice, others just a little time or inconvenience.  I think we place too high a priority on convenience at the detriment of others.  This can also be a challenge to you.

We’ll start here next week.  I think it entirely appropriate that we start our Monday morning with a GOOD cup of coffee.  I know it is necessary for me, and generally for the health and welfare of those around me.  In the meantime, let me know who or what you are passionate about that also lets you help others at the same time.  Just leave it in the comments below.  Thanks for your input.  We’ll learn about this together.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Five Minute Friday - Good-bye

Today I'm linking up with The Gypsy Mama for Five Minute Friday.  Here are her rules for this fun little game: 

Want to play Five Minute Friday? It’s easy peasy!
1. Write for 5 minutes flat on the prompt- no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Meet & encourage someone who linked up before you.

 Good-bye

That word I’ve said thousands of times.  Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it never is.  I’ll be saying it again in just a few days.  This time it will be as loved ones leave us, not the other way around.  I’ve had my mother in law with us this whole week.  It has been wonderful.  In just an hour or so my parents will arrive for the weekend.  Then on Monday they’ll be gone.  There will be an early morning good-bye.  Then it’s just the two of us again – all day, every day.  No more adult conversation.  No more freedom to schedule an appointment.  This will be a selfish good-bye.  It will also be sad.  We are so blessed to be part of a big, loving family.  For now, we are separated by 6 hours of driving, and it doesn’t get easier for the little guy.  But he is learning to appreciate and love tie with family.  I think that is a gift that many never are given.  It is hard, but we are better for it.  Good-byes make the hellos so much more meaningful.

Time!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

It's the 80's, Baby!

Since we’re all new here, I think I should let you know just a little about me.  Hopefully, you’ll see a bigger picture that gets fleshed out over time.  For now, I want to give you just a little random insight.  I’m all about the random joys and trivia in life.  There’s a little fuzzy math here on my age.  I’ll be upfront with you.  I’m 42, and I’ve earned every day of it.  Our age tells so much about us because it puts us in a specific “when”.  This is about part of my when.

I admit, I enjoy 80’s techno pop and junk food.  I’m a baby of the 70’s and hit the sweet spot of music by being in high school in the 80’s.  This was also the coming of age of Doritos.  How many long band or choir practices or parties involved orange nacho cheese coated fingers.  And then, as if it couldn’t get any better – Cool Ranch Doritos.  HEAVEN to a teen!

All the while there was great music going in the background.  Music so great that you hear it all the time in grocery stores.  These are the songs that get stuck in your head.  You spin me right round, baby, right round, like a record baby, right round, round, round.  Okay.  Hand’s up.  How many of you actually had a record player?  I did, it had a picture of a back pocket of a pair of jeans on the lid.  If I say, “Oh, Yeah” are you immediately picturing Ferris Bueller and a flying Ferrari?

Maybe “enjoy” is too mild for what this is.  Maybe it’s a special kind of love that is reserved only for your first crush.  Not the kind that ended in hurt and angst, but the kind that ended with the cancellation of CHiPs or just outgrowing whatever band member that graced your bedroom wall.  Unlike these, I can get my music fix or a bag of Doritos any time.  That is why I also enjoy Zumba and will be burning off some chips in the morning, also all the fun Easter candy that made its way into my mouth.

In case you’re wondering, it was John Taylor from Duran Duran on my wall. So now it’s your turn.  I’d love to know a random bit about you and your when.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Here We Go

Enough dilly-dallying!  Let’s get this show on the road.  Welcome to Amy Learns.  That’s obviously a hypothetical welcome because there may not actually be anyone here.  If a blog launches in the woods and no one hears it, do you still have SEO?  I’m not sure that even makes sense but it seemed funny to me.  I guess I should tell you now, if you are reading this or any other post on here you will be subjected to my own peculiar brand of humor.  I have a feeling I think it is funnier than most others.  Consider yourself/ves warned.

So what’s all this going to be about?  I’m not entirely sure to be honest.  I know that I have things in my head that I think would be useful to others.  I want to share those things with anyone who will listen.  I want to be the person that one day will give you an a-ha moment.  I love to learn new things, hence the title, and share them.  If you are reading this, maybe there is something you’d like to know about.  Tell me and I’ll see if I can help you out.  If not, I’ll at least try to send you to the one who can.  That’s the other thing I really like to do.  I’m a connector.  I love to see people build relationships, find answers, and discover new loves that were hidden before.

One of the big things I’m learning about right now is this whole world of blogging.  Can I tell you that I honestly had no clue the expanse of this universe until a couple years ago!  And like, or unlike, our own it is definitely expanding.  I hope that my skills and proficiency will follow suit.  I’ll share what I learn, mistakes I make and encourage you if you want to give it a shot.  In light of my newbie status, I ask for some leeway as far as my writing skills go.  I’ve never considered myself a writer, but I am an avid thinker and a vivid dreamer.  I think that this will be a very productive medium for me to get it all out.

Thanks for stopping by.  I can’t promise that I will be back here tomorrow.  Like I said I’m figuring this all out and a posting schedule is part of that process.  I hope you are intrigued enough to check back.  Maybe you’ll even want to subscribe or follow on Twitter so you’ll be aware of when something happens.  Poke around, get comfortable and introduce yourself.  I’m Amy, it’s nice to meet you (again, that’s hypothetical – you may not even be here.)