Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bon Appetit !

Dessert Chair

This year I have been chairing the dessert silent auction tables for my son's school auction. It has been fun to procure items to be placed on the table and work with our decorations committee to come up with a beautiful display for the many items we have.

I am very excited to complete the burlap bunting I am making.  I have this idea for the burlap bunting to hang over the tables with the statement Bon Appetit!  Here's a few instructions on how I went about making this item.

First I grabbed cardboard bunting cutouts from our local craft store Craft Warehouse.  I have six inch wide burlap. I needed scissors, Elmer's glue adhesive  and a place to work.

Next I took the spray adhesive and sprayed the cardboard bunting cutout completely and covered the burlap over one side.  I folded the burlap over the top flat straight edge of the cutout and sprayed adhesive on the other side. Let it dry for a few minutes and completed that for the number of bunting pieces you desire.  For me it was the same number to fit the needs of the saying.  Notice I purchased the cardboard cutouts that already had prepunched holes at the top.  This is going to allow me to have even spacing when I thread the ribbon, twine or whatever I choose to hand this bunting with.

Have I told you all how much I truly love creating things with my Silhouette Cameo machine?  Well I do. So here's what I did the next step. I downloaded a font that I loved off of and uploaded that font into my Silhouette software.  Then I typed into the silhouette software the letters and sizing that I felt to be appropriate with the size of the bunting.  I had stencils cut out with the machine.  I used the stencils and silhouette fabric paint to paint the letters on individual bunting triangles.


Once completed I will show you how I strung it together and hung it at the auction.  I have to letter the back side and add the shabby chic white flowers for a little pizazz! A little more work to go but looking great!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Silly Putty it Just Takes Time

Re-Teaching your Brain

It is all about re-training your brain to do what you already knew how to do post stroke.  I have been carrying around the toughest level of putty (blue color) and two bands (one orange and one green the colors indicate different levels of resistance) in order to complete the exercises that have been assigned to me. 
picture found on ebay advertisement

Thursday was my most recent appointment at Center of Health and Healing (CHH) the part of OHSU that is located East of I-5.  I spent the day with my husband with a few other appointments and getting some work completed.  I made my way down the tram to CHH for my appointment where I waited fro 10 minutes post appointment time. Then I was called back by a different Occupational Therapist than my previous appointment.  We discussed what continuing difficulties I was having (which I might add are not  many).  They include not being able to untwist smaller (pop bottle) caps that are twisted on too tightly, holding my cell phone in that hand while texting without fatigue and writing more than a page without fatigue. 

I was curious if the exercises I have been doing to rebuild strength were making a difference. So we checked. I held the handy dandy strength machine in each hand three times and gripped with all my might.  It turns out that my right dominant hand strength is slowly increasing from what it was last time about a few weeks ago. Similarly my individual finger strength is increasing as well.  It was a great visit.
picture found on

The Occupational Therapist asked me to show her how I was completing the exercises, so I pulled out my putty, my bands and my picture list of exercises and began the demonstration.  I indicated to her the ease I was having with some of them.  Time to switch it up.  The OT brought out a deck of cards, a block with nuts and bolts and other cards with pictures of hand (fine motor) exercises and she began to assess what difficulty with those I was having.  By the end of the appointment I had knew exercises with my silly putty and household items (deck of cards, change from coin purse) to practice daily.

The biggest piece I took away from our conversation and practice during this appointment is that really "time" is the biggest factor to increase my sensation and strength. It is really re-training my brain to work correctly again (though not far from it now) in order to do the movements that I was previously able to do.  Give it time. Give it time. Work it out and be intentional but give it time.  This is a lesson in patience for me.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sense of Community

Sense of community

I love my son's school St. Mary Catholic School!  It brings a nostalgic feeling for me each and every time I set foot into that school. The schools "feel", and "look" (school climate) is much like that of the one I grew up in Holy Redeemer Area School (now Holy Redeemer, name change).   I remember when I was growing up that I felt small and the school felt so incredibly big.  I think every grade school actually feels that way you just do not realize it until you leave and return for some random reason and then realize how small it actually was. 

My grade school career began though, at Immaculate Heart Catholic school which was located across from the park directly across from Emmanuel Hospital.  It was at this school that I was one of a few that were Caucasian attending this inner city  Catholic school. The archdiocese of Portland decided not to fund that school the year I was completing my third grade with Ms. Fasulo (so loved her as a teacher).  So the following fourth grade year I switched schools with a few of my friends and began attending Holy Redeemer.  That was a trip.

Immaculate Heart was a neat school. I remember many teachers fondly!  Fran was our Kindergarten teacher, I remember Chapter One program which is now Title IA (I manage in my current district), then there was Ms. Benjamin, Mrs. Munson and Ms. Fasulo.   It was there, where I learned other important things like dancing from my fellow classmates who were in "step", learned to roll my eyes (which was a crucial thing to know how to do to be part of the "in" group) and have built many a friendship.  It was at that particular school where I learned the most about people, humans and how color didn't matter. Mind you I was one of a few (including my sister) Caucasian students attending this school. See this grainy early 80's photo below.
Can you find me or my sister?  Oh the memories I have of this school and of my friends.  Tess and Tress the twins, Kifah, Joanna, Willie (RIP), Zawdie, Jeff, Doug, Velvet, Stephanie, Kuniko, and many more.  Two things stand out for me.  One, my first communion, where just two of us were entering that sacrament  Jacques Bontemps (Sp?) and myself.  The second, one of my favorite memories was the whole school play at Matt Dishman Community Center, The Wiz!  Wow the memories, the friendships and the community!
Holy Redeemer was no exception.  A much larger school than that of Immaculate Heart but just a community oriented and relational! I have many friends and fond memories of those times; school yard dodge ball, burn-em-out, basketball, boy crushes, girl-friend drama, dancing, and great teachers.  I remember Friday night BINGO for the adults and our parents setting up for that. I remember graduation from eighth grade and much more!  A sense of home. 

When you grow up and have your own kids, you tend to want more for them! I am selective about their education. Though I work in public school systems, I believe that there is parent choice and parent right to impart or instill their religious beliefs and access the best possible things for your children as you can.  I love the Catholic community in Stayton.  Oddly enough, I didn't realize that I had connection with Stayton through my high school Principal Father Murphy!  It wasn't until I met with Father Murphy with my soon to be husband to discuss our wedding plans that he was to preside over.    It turned into a walk down memory lane for Father!  He and my husband knew many people in common as Father Murphy was the pastor at Immaculate Conception (our current church) and worked at Regis HS there in Stayton.  He is known by all! (HOME AGAIN)
Picture from the Catholic Sentinel taken at the Installation Mass for Archbishop Sample.
Central Catholic years continued to instill community, friendship, teacher mentors and relationships (in addition to the education I received).  A sense of home, adoration for teachers, priests and nuns.  Fond memories there as well and one that I would love to impart to my own children (sense of community). I keep in touch mostly through Facebook with many of my own classmates.  A great adventure for sure.
As I have and raise my own children, I want for them, what I was able to experience, sense of community, building relationships, and a learning environment that feels like home.  St. Mary Catholic school has begun to offer that for my oldest son.  It is a community effort from the fundraising, to collaborating with teachers, to being on the same page to instill religious beliefs at home and at school.  The parents are great! The teacher (so far Preschool) has been outstanding and my son, feels comfortable, at home, and respectful! This is his HOME, just as my school climate made me have that sense of home as well.  It is my hope that my children gain as much from their educational experiences as I have from mine and find their sense of belonging, friendships and mentors. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Write a book?

I was listening to someone yesterday who was sharing a few woes about her life to me.  I suggested she and her husband co-author a book. I told her that it might be therapeutic. Her response, "We've thought about it because telling our stories verbally no one really believes it, it is all sorts of crazy!"  It got me thinking, that there are bumps in every ones road through life that one might term "CRAZY." Everyone's story is different, but what really makes a best seller?  Is is the more dramatic the real life story? The way it was written with all sorts of descriptor words that pull you as the reader in? Or is it the personal connection that can be made?  What is it?  I know of several people who are published for poetry, cookbooks, and children's books.  What inspired them to write those pieces?  Obviously, one person loves to cook a certain way, one enjoyed teaching and children's stories, and the other had a knack for writing Haiku.  They were connected with words, stories and passionate about what they were (are) doing. 

Check it out:  Peas and Thank You (a friends wife is the author) and Peas and Thank You Again cookbooks.  My fathers haiku work.  There are just a few things that I am referring to.

My sister and I often joke about writing our life story. Would people be interested in reading it? What makes our lives so special that someone would want to read about it? Would our words captivate an audience, an audience that might be one like Oprah had with her book club back when she televised her talk show (that is now obsolete).  The notoriety of being on Oprah's Book Club would be great, but is that really the reason to share your story?  Aside from being a therapeutic or cathartic means of processing or reflecting on your own life what else would the purpose of sharing our story?  To help others, to get the word out about something?  Do we share our woes? Is that proper? So many questions, so little answers.

There are educators that have their students write and publish books as part of a class assignment. Internet sites make it easy for you to get an actual bound book finished product.  Students get a sense of pride when they see their final work in that type of format. 

So I am still undecided as to "if" I will embark upon that journey. Maybe I will just stick to the blog posts from time to time and reflect upon my life's path up to today, I am young still (so I think), I certainly have things to share but don't know if I have what it takes to captivate an audience to sit down and read about "MY" life story, interests or even if I would capture those pieces.  Maybe I can con my sister into co-authoring a book in the future but for now I will stick to my blogging and own reflections and leave the writing to others.