Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Two Weeks In

Everyday is a puzzle waiting to be solved.

I am almost halfway through summer school as a Sign Language Interpreter in a behavior classroom. This class is special, and when I say special I mean super cool in so many ways. I get the privilege of spending time with students who have been placed on our campus because of behavioral problems

... and we (our team) love it.

We work towards positive behavior. We use books, toys, crafts, and my favorite, music.

If one thing doesn't work, we move on to something different. It is a constant activity of reintroducing things that haven't worked in the past, hoping it might work a 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th time around.

We reinforce, with stickers, candy, or something the student really enjoys. (maybe I'll enjoy it too ;)

I've learned while working in the special education field, that a constant desire to have courage and try new things is important. Staying positive is even more important. Just because we might not be successful at one thing- at least we know we made the effort.

I strive to make the impossible, possible! It's our motto, our dream, and the reason I show up for work each day.

Happy Hump day!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Not just Speech

Last Friday was a bittersweet day. As I sealed envelopes, packed up, and turned in keys leaving a school that I worked at for 2 years. It wasn't the typical last week of school for me with parties and nothing to do. I worked more the last week of school than I did all year. Paperwork that is.
Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines... all due by June 15th.

I threw an ice cream party for all the kiddos who participated in speech therapy for the year. It's so funny watching kids and their preference of ice cream. At one point I wanted to shout, "It's a sundae for cryin' out loud, just eat it"!

All in all it was a sweet goodbye to the students I had for 2 years, 6 months, or recently added. They're all special and will be missed.

I knew I wouldn't be at this elementary school forever, but my one and only goal was to touch the lives of these kids in a positive way. I wanted to teach, train, and mold these kiddos into young men and women even if I was only there for a short time.

We worked hard together, some days were rougher than others, but when I pushed them, they knew it was because I knew they could. We talked at speech, and we talked a lot. Some days it would take everything to elicit a sound or word. You'd see me jumping around and praising galore, and at other times I would be so excited I'd cover up my tears of joy and they'd ask, "Teacher Natalie, why do you gots tears?"

They learned what praise was and knowing that it's OK to reward oneself with a snap, crackle, pop. (our handshake)

They learned that to do something great it takes hard work and time- that day will come.

They learned that anything is possible, but you need to allow your powerful brain to go there and just because it isn't easy doesn't mean it isn't possible.

We worked hard, we played hard and we knocked the crap out of the last two years in speech. The kids can feel it, they can feel their improvement and if anything they feel more important as little people.

I was lucky and I am grateful for the awesome teachers I worked with, the school psychologist I shared a room with, the office staff that I bugged to no end, and of course our fabulous principal. A school wouldn't be a school without all of you! So, THANK YOU for teaching me!

Have a great summer!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Save the Date :: Mary + Korey

I had the privilege of taking my first engagement session for one of my best friends. These two are remarkable and so fun to be around. It's never a dull moment with them, that's for sure.

Aren't they cute or what? I barely had to do anything just a snap here and there. They totally fit the part for their rustic themed wedding too. Loved
Mary's swede boots and ivory dress.
For a hot and gusty day I think this shoot turned out pretty good. It's not hard with good models either!

 I take pictures for fun and do not use photoshop :)

Let me know what you think and maybe some photography tips, friends!


Friday, June 1, 2012

Gluten Free Baby

In the past year I have learned a ton while working with children who have Autism. I see a lot of myself in these kids. One thing in particular that I noticed, is a growing population of ASD kiddos are going on Gluten Free (Wheat, Barley, Rye flour), Casein Free (dairy) diets. So what the heck is there left to eat?

When I was first informally diagnosed with Celiac Disease I had no frickin idea what this whole diet entailed. I googled, read some books and realized it's a ridiculously expensive diet. Yup, that's it.
A vast majority of spectrum kids that go on this diet show great improvements in a variety of areas. No more gold fish's and animal crackers. It's all about the rice chips and off brand Mac & Cheese.

When I first went on the diet, going to the grocery store was a entertaining experience. Carefully and diligently reading every label looking for words like enriched bleached flour or whole grain fiber- all were out of the picture.

I initially told myself to try the diet for 2-3 months to see if it worked, after 1 month I knew my body was completely different and much healthier. It  was no longer having to suffer from things it couldn't digest.

At first it was just a "me" diet but then the family slowly began to catch on. Going to the grocery store is beginning to get easier and easier, especially at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. They hand you a GFree book upon request with all of their products. Bam, easy peasy!

After a year on the diet and much Internet research, I know I'm pretty much an expert now. Occasional cheats here and there kill me but I'm getting stronger and my body loves me a tad bit more.

So with that being said, so long Birthday cakes, girl scout cookies, cheese its and quesadillas. You'll be missed.

With much Gluten Free love,