Monday, July 27, 2015

The Frenzied SLPs: SLP Strong

 I have a reading problem! Now that doesn't mean exactly how it sounds. I love puns and double entendre, so my problem isn't truly with reading, it's with not reading.

Let me explain: like many of you, I love books. I'm partial to fiction, but I will also read nonfiction and of course, professional reads. My problem is when I read I become so absorbed in the content that I read to the exclusion of all else. This is how it sometimes goes in our house: "Mom, what's for dinner?" Me: "Cereal!" Now some may think I'm a baaaaaad Mommy, but I prefer to think of it as modeling a lifelong appreciation of reading!

I have a pile of great reads for this summer: The Girl on the Train, Edge of Eternity, American Gods, and a recommendation from Laura of All Y'all Need titled Shotgun Lovesongs. I decided to start with The Hobbit. I can't believe I waited this long to read it. I moved on to the The Fellowship of the Ring and the Two Towers. I knew I was obsessed when, in one night, I had three dreams about Middle Earth INCLUDING seeing "Frodo Lives!" written on a wall. No joke! My thoughts are forever swirling around the characters and place names in the books and I am currently nursing a slight sunburn because rather than put down my book and move to the shade, I baked in the sun. I am now fully immersed in the final book of the trilogy, The Return of the King, and I don't want it to end.
Cooking dinner...

J.R.R. Tolkien was brilliant. He was a philologist who wrote The Hobbit as an experiment with language, new ideas and concepts. I have absolutely loved reading his work, and while he firmly stated that The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy were not an allegory for Christianity, Tolkien's deep faith was clearly revealed in his writing.

That brings me to "the best things I learned this summer." Words. Lots and lots of new words. Some of them I had a loose definition of from context, for instance I knew a league was a measure of distance, but not what measure. The meanings of some of the other words, I had no idea. As I read when I come across an unknown word, I look it up and then write it down with the definition in my journal (now you understand why I bought the speech nerd shirt).

Here is a little sampling:
Turves: the plural of turf (never imagined there was a plural for turf)
Wains: a wagon or chariot
Eyot: a small island
Fey: supernatural, unreal, otherworldly
Hauberk: a long defensive shirt falling to the knees, usually made of mail
Quail: to lose heart or courage when in danger, to shrink in fear
Swordthain: a noble soldier appointed by a king
Wold: an upland region of moorland
Embrasure: a beveled opening in a wall, especially for a door or window
League: a measure of distance, usually about three miles (unless of course it's a Hobbit league which is shorter)
Furlong: one eighth of a mile
Gibbet: a gallows built to exhibit the body of one who has been executed
Gainsay: contradict
Blench: flinch, give way in fear
Dwimmerlaik: a name give to the Lord of the Nazgûl when Éowyn confronted him
Vambrace: armor worn on the forearm
Fell: merciless, terrifying; an animal's hide; a moorland hill (Tolkien used this word a lot)
Dromund: a large ship
Perian: Hafling, Hobbit
Ghyll: a deep ravine

I found this wonderful site, The Encyclopedia of Arda: An Interactive Guide to the Works of 
J.R.R. Tolkien, that lists the rare and unusual words used in his works. If you haven't read these books yet, The movies truly do them no justice. In fact, since I am completely obsessed I began watching the movies with my son. After the first I had to walk away as I was becoming increasingly frustrated. My son, too, was frustrated, but with me, because I kept exclaiming, "That didn't happen! What? The Ents DID decide to become involved! They changed that! He didn't act like that!" Mack liked the movie better when I left!

Though I don't watch many YouTube videos, Nora thinks this is the perfect video to compliment my post. It's a little rough for me. Is this what people do for work?

Oh! I also learned this summer not to go for a run after two big cups of coffee, how to make ghee, and that I really would love to stay home all day and read. What did you learn over summer vacation?

Photo credits: Nora Doyle

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

ASHA Schools 2015: A Look at the Lighter Side

It's been one week and one day since my return to NH from Phoenix, AZ where I made my yearly pilgrimage to the ASHA Schools Conference. Each year during the summer school-based SLPs converge in a pre-appointed destination for an opportunity to hobnob with the speech-language pathology glitterati. It is a time to reconnect, share, and learn and this year was no exception.

While my time spent in the Arizona heat was edifying, it also provided time for laughs. There have been several blog posts highlighting the 2015 conference ( ( so I thought I would share the comedic side.

I arrived in Phoenix around noon on Thursday July 9th. I should have known that an adventure was in the making when my first task in AZ was to have Delta replace my battered, bent and broken suitcase. My poor bag got a swift kick from someone! I met my friend and Leadership Development Program pal, Carly and we set off in search of Alice Cooper's Coopertown. It was 104°. When I left NH it was in the low 70s. I had a window seat on my flight to AZ and in an attempt to not disturb the passengers next to me with a trip to the lav, I refrained from drinking any water. What a dope! So in order to rehydrate I had 2 ice cold brews and some salty chips. What a bigger dope, but I'm no cry baby, so I forged onward. We met another friend, Jen and made our way out to dinner. As we walked down the street I found myself involuntarily saying, "It burns." Jen and Carly both replied, "But there's a breeze." A BREEZE? Really? It felt like a blow dryer! We made our way to the restaurant where like Gollum I began shrinking into myself and after looking at the roadmap that was my eyes and accepting my jet lag, asked my girls to take me home. I was in bed by 7:30 AZ time!

Friday was spent doing what good SLPs at conferences do; plenary sessions, subject sessions, poster sessions, exhibits, and shopping. The real treat for me, though was meeting, live and in person, some amazing SLP friends that I only knew from our vast online community.

Toobaloo treat from PediaStaff. I tried to call Heidi
with it, but my call didn't go through! Hmmm?
It was Friday night and The Three Amigos were ready for a night on the town. We had seen a sign for nice burger joint and decided to have dinner. Naturally, we wanted to proudly highlight our chosen vocation, so we donned our new "Speech Nerds" tees. It never occurred to us that outside of our hotel or the convention center we might also look a little silly! 

Undaunted, we made our way down the streets of Phoenix. We found ourselves moderately lost and were approached by a man and his pedal cab. Not that we were doing any curbside diagnosing, but he spoke with his teeth clenched together. That in itself made us a little nervous, but he also offered us a ride for free. We hesitated, momentarily, and then climbed aboard. It turns out there was a simple explanation for his speech; his jaw was wired shut from a cycling accident. Phew! He took us to our destination...the Tilted Kilt. Who knew a Scottish version of Hooters existed? Upon entering I found myself exclaiming, "IS THIS A _____BAR?" We were told by a patron, that, "No this is a family establishment." Hah! That place harshed our mellow and we left shortly thereafter. Imagine my surprise when on the streets I heard a hale and hearty, "ANNIE!" It was my dear friend Erik Raj to the rescue. We spent the evening dancing and listening to some fabulous live music. Still moderately dehydrated and exhausted and with aching, happy dancing feet we left only to have to walk back to our hotel. But wait! What did my tired eyes spy? Greg our pedal cab guy and he was only a block away. My knight in shining armor. And yes, he offered us a free ride! I did ask him though, why he didn't warn us about the Tilted Kilt and if he's ever been there? His response reaffirmed the adage, "never judge a book by it's cover." He said very simply, "I refuse to patronize a place that subjectifies women." Good answer Greg!

On Saturday, while we were very interested in the sessions we also had a mission. We really wanted
a "Donald sighting." We looked everywhere, but alas no luck. The convention center did a wonderful job segregating us from Mr. Trump. My only question is, shouldn't the service elevators be a bit more secure?
I write this because on Sunday afternoon Jen discovered she had lost her sunglasses. We returned to the virtually empty convention center in search of a lost and found. We were directed by staff to this elevator and told to take it down to the security office. Okaaaaay? We rode the unlocked and easily accessible elevator down and found ourselves in the basement! After wandering around fairly lost (again) we were discovered and escorted by security to the exit. No sunglasses. We did see some nice vases and plates, though!
I took the red eye (#theredeyeisthedevil) back to NH and was met by my wonderful husband at 9:30 a.m. Monday morning having only fifteen minutes of sleep with edema laden legs and feet. It was good to get home, but I missed the fun and friends and I can hardly wait for next year! I will be sporting compression stockings this time :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

College Bound

It is incredibly hard to believe that it is my "blog-o-versary!" Or should I say, "bloggy birthday?" Whatever it's called, it means the same thing; on July 7, 2014 I began my intrepid journey into the blogosphere! What a trip!! I have written several times about how blogging has expanded my social, my professional and my personal worlds. My plan is to continue writing as long as there are those who want to read my musings and as long as my creative juices keep flowing.

The Philadelphia skyline on our way to Villanova
This post is less speech pathology related and more parent related. We have a beautiful, smart, talented, loving daughter (am I biased?) who is entering her senior year of high school. Now, our daughter is very organized and has been keeping wonderful records of all her activities. We also have a handsome, smart, talented loving son who is a little less organized. As we have been visiting colleges and getting inundated with information, it occurred to me that our son would benefit from some sort of system to keep track of all his activities. Honestly, it all really begins in freshman year and it's too late to start trying to make heads or tails of everything by the end of junior year. Hence, my On the Road to College organizer. When I completed all the organizer pages our daughter asked where it was when she started high school!?

These organizers cover everything from community service logs, to sports, to awards and offer a quick and easy way of keeping track of all the information college admissions offices require.
Print as many pages as needed and use a 5 X 7 binder or have all the pages spiral bound. In honor of my one year blog-o-versary I am offering the On the Road College Organizers for free until September 1, 2015.
Grab this set of college search organizers here!

I can't wait to get this printed and bound. I think it is going to be most helpful for Mack. I hope if you have a child preparing for college or starting high school that you find this organizer useful. As one admissions director said, "View the college search as less of a process and more of an experience." Enjoy the experience!