Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sing a new song

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord. --Ephesians 5:19

Music is a large part of my life. Growing up in a musical family, I was exposed to many types of musical opportunities, and developed an appreciation for many musical genres. As I go about my day to day life, there is a constant stream of music on my mind, in my ears,and on my tongue.

The day may be gloomy, with dark clouds and sleet coming down. At times, depending on what else is going on in my life, my mood will match that. Even when I'm upset there is a song that will match my mood or feelings. Often, the music of my mood is what gets me out of the funk, and on to better things.

The children in my classroom have grown accustomed to me breaking out in song. They grin and giggle each time, and then turn back to their work. Sometimes if they know the song, they'll sing along with me. Even if they don't, they try to hum along. In their time with me they've been exposed to many more types of music than they would have otherwise, as well as the exposure to academics, of course. :)

When one sings, the whole body reverberates with the sound. Deeper breaths=more oxygen in your system=quite the calming effect. For me, it heals my body and lifts my spirits. When preparing for surgery, there were only 2 things I was really concerned about. One of them was what my voice would be like afterwards, and if it were gone, how I would deal with it. I deal with all the "stuff" of life through music, and how do you come to terms with things when your ways of processing are taken away from you? I will be forever thankful for the fact that I'm still able to sing.

All of that to really say this: Today was a tough day for me. There are things that I'm worried about with family members and today brought no answers, even though they were promised. To add to that, I had a student in class who had a difficult day. He's one of my behavior students, and while he's had a good year this year, today must have been a challenge for him. In reaction to it, flying pencils, chairs and books were made a part of my day today. Through it all I had a song going through my head. I've been listening to a lot of Carrie Newcomer lately. She has plenty of songs that reflect my moods and beliefs. One of her songs is called "Geodes" and speaks of how we sometimes overlook the truly wonderful things in life. The chorus of the song especially resonated with me today.

All these things that we call familiar,
Are just miracles clothed in the common place.
You’ll see it if you try in the next stranger's eyes,
God walks around in muddy boots,
Sometimes rags and that's the truth.
You can't always tell, but sometimes you just know.

The student today comes from an awful family life. He's clothed in castoffs from other foster children who've moved on, much too big and worn. His academic needs are enormous--not because he isn't a smart little boy, but because life circumstances have gotten in the way. While he's had quite the history of behavior problems in the past, this is really the first instance he has ever shown aggression with me. Today there was a substitute teacher in his regular education classroom, and any change for a student with behavior issues can cause problems. I'm unsure whether the chaos of the classroom was what caused the problem, or whether there was something deeper bothering him. In either case he doesn't have the skills to express what is truly at the root of the problem. Even while I was dodging items today, I knew that somewhere within is the child he's been all year long for me. Instead of anger at him, I felt an incredible sadness, and an anger that he's had to deal with so much in his short life. I was able to get him calmed down, and he was able to apologize to me before leaving my room this afternoon. I'm hopeful that he is able to find some peace and that we'll be back to our normal relationship tomorrow morning.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pinning Ceremony

This evening is my pinning ceremony, a celebration of all my hard work, and signifying an end to the classes I've been taking over the past 2 years.

The graduation ceremony starts at 6:30 at the Bowne Corby building (BCCC) and reception will follow. You are invited if you'd like to come!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

So thankful

I am so blessed to have the family I have.

Heading into Thanksgiving and the Christmas season this year, I was filled with uncertainty. With all the changes in my life recently, I knew that not being able to eat the foods of tradition would be hard for me. In my daily life sticking to the gluten free diet is relatively free from angst, but the holiday season is all about tradition. And most of our traditions center around FOOD!

Again, I must say how blessed I am. Both the Buller and Johnson sides of my family really made an effort to include me and my special diet in our holiday traditions. Whether it was making gravy from cornstarch; making sure the soups for our gathering were gluten free; baking Ostkaka with tapioca and rice flours; making amazing flour-less desserts for dinner or purchases of special rice pastas--everyone really made me feel included. My parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins have really thrown themselves into learning about this, and helping me stay safe. THANK YOU!

Even my grandmother revamped her cooking for me. I knew that going into this she would most likely be the one that would struggle with it the most. She's amazed me at how well she substituted and was willing to try different things. We even spent time baking caramel cinnamon rolls together one afternoon. While they weren't quite what she would normally produce, they were good (even she admitted that, and she's a tough critic!).

I'm including one of the desserts that we made during my time on the farm. Aunt Terri found it in one of her internet searches... These little cakes are scrumptious! We served them with Aunt Terri's homemade icecream (thanks to Mulberry the cow, too!).

Lavish Lava Cakes (originally from the Hagen Dazs website)
1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
5 T. butter
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. finely ground espresso beans (I may have used a bit more! ;) )
t T. unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter six 3/4 cup ramekins or custard cups (we used muffin tins).

In the microwave heat chocolate and butter on medium power for 1-2 minutes until butter is melted. Stir, reheating if necessary to melt chocolate; set aside. Stir egg yolks and 2 T. sugar into chocolate/butter mixture. Add espresso.

Place egg whites in a large mixing bowl; beat until foamy. Combine remaining 2 T sugar and cocoa powder, gradually beat into whites, until soft peaks fold over when beaters are lifted.

Stir 1/3 of the chocolate/butter mixture into the whites mixture. Gently fold in remaining chocolate mixture until completely combined. Divide evenly between cups. (Can cover at this point and refrigerate up to 24 hours before baking.)

Bake 10-12 minutes until puffy and cracks form on top. Edges should be firm and center moist between the cracks. (Bake 14-16 min. if refrigerated) Cool 3 minutes . Then either serve in ramekins or invert and serve on little plates with ice cream and dusting of cocoa powder.