Thursday, May 31, 2012

All the Days

I got a note today from a sweet little Hispanic first grader in our class. Her family speaks Spanish at home, so school is the main time for her to use English. I love her little Speedy Gonzalez accent and watching her compensate for what she doesn't know. Its usually something like.... "I can go to you -say.... <thinking, as she tilts her head to the side, squints her eyes, and grins> de libary?"

Sometimes after lunch, we let the kids read a book out loud to the class. The other day, she read the Dr. Seuss book, Are You My Mother? It sounded something like this:  "Den de cow said, 'Are YOU my mudder?'" She also likes to tell us about her little "brudder." It's cute, really, it is.

I helped out in her class last year in Kindergarten. We would ask the children for their lunch choice and they were to respond either "home lunch" or "school lunch." Her response was my favorite. A combo of  the word school in Spanish (Escuela) and the word school in English. It came out as "Eh-school lunch."

Here is the note I got from her today:

"All the days, you are pretty!" 

It clearly means, "I think you look pretty every day," but her wording is so much better. I'm glad she's in our class, all the days.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Recent Developments

I'm copying Shannan over at Flower Patch Farm Girl, my favorite blogger in the world! So, here are my most recent developments in *20 words or less.

1. Lululemon yoga gear. I'm slowly transitioning over to the good stuff.

2. Kombucha, the wonder drink. Who knew that fermented mushroom "tea" could be so good?? I like prefer mine in a wine glass, thank you.

3. Workout club at school with Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred."Kicking yourself in the @ss, quite literally!" Thank God for Sarah's Ipod workout mix to drown out Jillian's voice.

4. I want to move to Charleston. Tips/suggestions welcomed.

5. You've lost that lovin' feelin'....My first pair of aviators. I haven't worked up the nerve to wear them in public yet.

6. Whelan is [still] not to be trusted in this house alone. Thanks for shattering my favorite garage-sale lamp, you feline.

7. One sister gets married and moves out, the other moves in. Keeping it in the family with my roomies.

9. Eucalyptus Mint linen & room spray from Nourish. My pillows get a fine mist every night!

So...what's new with you??

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Grief Camp

Sounds depressing doesn't it? It's actually quite the opposite.  I had the privilege of spending my weekend with a group of kids who all have one thing in common: loss of loved one. Almost everyone fits into this category in one way or another. And if you don't, one day you probably will.

Camp Aloha is a weekend long grief camp for kids ages 6-17 put on by Hospice Savannah. Most people have a hard time handling death, especially when it comes to explaining it to a child. Since it's generally an uncomfortable topic & we don't really know what to say or do, often times we do nothing. We don't want to bring it up for fear of further upsetting the person, or we try to sugar coat it by saying "They're in a better place...or...everything's gonna be okay." Well, everything's not okay. Nothing we say can bring that loved one back. Nothing we say takes their hurt away. So, Camp Aloha to the rescue. Its a safe place where we can celebrate the life of that person who we miss so much. It's a place to tell their story without fear of being shushed or being told not to cry. We can spend time with others who are on the same journey. 

This was my 4th year as a counselor at Camp Aloha (after taking 2 years off...) and it was probably one of my favorites so far. This year I felt at home on those camp grounds. And as I write this, it's all hitting me at once. I didn't shed a tear over the weekend, but now that I'm home by myself and in the stillness, I can feel the tears coming. Sometimes that happens. The hustle and bustle of camp distracted me, but now it's all settling in. Everybody needs a good cry every now and then! 

I was on the Blue team this year, made up of 7 super rambunctious boys and 2 angelic girls, ages 10-12ish. My favorite age group so far, for sure. They are just old enough to truly grasp the concept of why they are at camp and they can really work through their grief. In years past I've worked with the 6-8 year olds and sometimes it feels more like babysitting to me. This year, our boys pretty much fought the whole time, but for some reason, the basketball court was magical for them. It was their place to bond. It didn't hurt that one of the counselors on our team played college basketball and they thought he was a god. Apparently our girls did too because they didn't leave the poor guy's side after witnessing his mad skills.

Lots of people are confused as to what happens at grief camp so I'll give you the run down of a few our activities. We did music therapy where the kids did some beating on the drums to signify what they were feeling in that moment about being at camp. Before we started, the music therapist gave them examples how they could play to show their emotions. Sad= a soft, slow beat. Happy= Upbeat and loud. Confused= a mixture of the two. Other examples of emotions could be: angry, overwhelmed, reflective, excited.  As each of them played their emotion, we all had to guess their what they were feeling by the way it sounded. No matter what anyone played, for each person they would yell out... "Overwhelmed!!??" It was a popular emotion...

Storytelling was combined with music this year. There were different topics written on the board to evoke memories of their loved one. For example: Food, Vacations, TV Shows, Songs, etc. 
One of the boys talked a lot about going to Italy (vacation) with his dad and eating the best pasta in the world (food).

In another group there were obstacle courses where they used teamwork and had the chance to burn off some much needed energy. One station was a brain teaser.... putting together a life sized puzzle that came out to be a roller coaster. This signified how our emotions can be like a roller coaster when someone dies and that we need to rely on each other for help.

Large, smooth river rocks were handed out during another session. The children were given paint pens to decorate their rock with the character traits of their loved one. When they were finished writing, we went around the room and shared those traits and the feelings it brought up for us to write them on the rocks. Being able to hold the rocks is a tangible way to have that special person with us all the time. 

Family Feud was my personal favorite group activity. When I tell you the topics, they're going to sound morbid, BUT! It was a cool way to get the kids thinking and working through their feelings with out sitting in a dark room with candles lit, discussing deep emotions. It was light and fun and they knew when to be serious when the time came. The topics were: 1) Foods You Eat At A Funeral
2) Places Where Funerals Can Be Held 3) Emotions You Feel About the Death of Your Loved One 4)  The Most Hurtful Things People Have Said to You in Regards to the Death  5) I'm leaving one out.....dang it...I knew I'd forget one. What better was to get them talking about their own experience at a funeral and how it made them feel.

The unstructured activities seem to be the best ones of all for the kids. Pool time, relaxing in the cabins, taking walks, and of course- basketball. It's usually a time when they open up the most. They aren't being prodded to talk about their just comes out naturally, on their own time.

The final & most sacred activity is the campfire on Saturday night. We spend an hour beforehand writing letters to our loved ones, then tie them up with a ribbon. We are invited to the campfire one group at a time. The kids seem to understand that its a special time, so we all gather silently around the flames, then after listening to a story, the kids go up individually and place their letter into a wooden box. When everyone has placed their letter into the box, it is thrown on the fire and the smoke signifies our words reaching up to heaven! When the flames die down, they kids have a chance to tell their loved one's story around the fire for everyone to hear. So- yeah- bring your tissues for that part. 

On a lighter note, I slept right through breakfast this morning. Its kind of a rule to be in the cafeteria at 8:00 am.  Pretty embarrassing to have the CEO of Hospice Savannah have to wake you up  at 9:15 and tell that the group is heading to their activity time. Way to go Caroline. Next time check the day when you set your alarm. I diligently set my alarm for 7:15 am on Saturday morning....which was the day before. Cool.  

Thinking about my sweet campers tonight....Come volunteer next year. It's amazing!


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Evening Walk on Wylly Island

Because sometimes I forget to count my blessings....

"The sound of nature always gave back more than it's God's music & it will take you home"
-The Notebook

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
-C.S. Lewis

"I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship"
-Louisa May Alcott

"For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream & will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought and will not cease to yield fruit"
-Jeremiah 17:8

"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one"
-John Lennon

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow. Do good anyway"
-Mother Teresa

"Because you have made us for yourself, our hearts are restless until they rest in you"

"Jesus cast a look on me; give me sweet simplicity."
-John Berridge (hymn)