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Einstein’s classmate

English: Albert Einstein Français : portrait d...

English: Albert Einstein Français : portrait d’Albert Einstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Could you imagine being in class with Albert Einstein? Drawing upon the notions you have of him and his genius level accomplishments, what kind of classmate do you think he was? I am willing to bet that very few know some lesser known facts about Einstein. Did you know he was failing in school? He did poorly in public school. He struggled. You would be surprised about how many famous people have learning or other challenges.

I got to meet Henry Winkler, the Fonz from Happy Days, a popular TV show back in the 70’s. He has a great story about his struggle with dyslexia. I urge you to read more about his success and creative means of getting around tricky situations. He has  done a great job of adapting.

Other people you may not know that have learning challenges are Cher, Tom Cruise, George Patton, Walt Disney, and Danny Glover just to name a few. One that might not surprise you is Robin Williams, he is ADHD. One can easily see how his hyper behavior has led to some great opportunities for him. Please run a search to see the hundreds of people whom we often think are perfect who struggle in the same ways many of us do. These folks didn’t allow their challenges to weigh them down. They used the gifts that came along with the challenges to their advantage.

Gifts? Yes, I said that correctly. For every struggle there is usually a gift but you must look for it. Many dyslexic or learning challenged people are good comedians. They feed off of others expressions if they misunderstand and use a quick wit to distract so the other person isn’t aware they honestly didn’t know an answer. Laughter is a great distraction. Many are artists, gifted writers thanks to word processors now a day, scientist, researchers, etc. They found what they were good at doing and pursued those areas intensely. Also, they more often than not had someone who believed  in them which supported their drive to overcome the challenges.

I think most of Einstein’s classmates were pretty surprised at his accomplishments later in life.  You never know who might be the next Einstein. Test scores would not have put him at the top of the class. I often wonder why we relay on those so much. I wonder how many Einsteins are out there who were denied access to further education due to a low score? How many wonderful discoveries, cures, and wonders have we denied due to test scores and rote learning practices?


The brain went splat but didn’t splatter

Part two of the body parts adventure. I must note that I am overwhelmed with the vast number of texts, emails, and calls of concerns about my mental and emotional welfare from friends who follow my pinterest. It would have gone totally unnoticed if it was October. Really, who pins such horrors year round? uh, me. All those who truly know me would never be shocked at anything I pin but then again it is like Facebook, an open window to my soul – ha ha!!!!! or should I say, BAHHH HAAAAA HAAAAA!!!!

Young Frankenstein opens this week. Took the brain to the theater for a test run. Folks, this was not an easy task. I was assigned to create a brain that would go splat but not splatter. The gummy bear version with the mega packets of gelatin would not hold up to the steamy stage lighting. Splat…splatter…mush…oops- clean up on the path to the castle!!! Silicone is the key to the ultimate splat but not splatter of matter. Must add here that one must choose one’s words wisely when going into the prop creation shop called Home Depot.  When asked what I needed caulking for, without a slight thought I responded, “for a brain.” That was definitely not what the home improvement specialist had in mind as one of the multi uses of silicone caulking. Talking about a priceless moment. The nice man got me the best pseudo brain matter compound available and continued to pick my brain for other creative ways to use the common household items to be found in the vast aisles of the behemoth store. Towards the end of the grand tour of Home Depot via the eyes of a prop jock he asked how in the world did I get so creative.

I pondered that thought as I was moving about the lab creating of glowing golp and ogre dandruff (yep, that one got your attention didn’t it?). My conclusion is that I wasn’t forced to read at a second grade in kindergarten nor was I adding double-digit numbers. I learned to socialize, open my own milk carton, and got to run free for extended periods of time on the playground. If I didn’t have something, no one would buy it for me I just had to make it or make do. I wasn’t glued to the television or a gaming system though Atari was popular back then. I grew up on a farm so the woods and pasture gave me a million story moments as I built forts, played spy, and blazed trails late into the night on weekends. I wasn’t doing homework until midnight. I learned manners. Read books for pleasure on topics I enjoyed without taking some computerized test to prove I read it for some paper award and party at the end of the year. Yes, I will say openly that I do believe Accelerated Reader is one of the worst things to happen in the schools. I was a free learner who tapped my creative mind to design, draw, make, imagine, etc.  Off my soapbox now.

A student asked me how I came up with the splat not splatter matter. My response was I just put a little thought on the problem and sorted through a couple of thousands of scenarios until something was within my budget and looked like fun to do, that is how that happened. You would have thought I spoke some foreign language. Then came the worse response, “I could never do that.”

I do believe there will be some mischief on the set to get these kids’ minds in gear. Stay tune to part three – The Brain does Matter!!!

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The body part farm

Cover of "Gross Grub (Kidbacks)"

Cover of Gross Grub (Kidbacks)

Not every day one is asked to procure a brain and other body parts, unless you design sets and props. But when I was asked, it was a giggle moment. I am also the queen of Halloween so my stock pile of gross things is ever-growing. My talent to create props plus my love of all things Halloween set me up for the task of procuring these lab of horrors for an upcoming spring production of  Young Frankenstein. Admit to being up to the challenge as well as delighted that my skills and hobbies led to me being highly sought out for the task. Not just anyone has a jar of eyeballs and ears about the house.

As a former teacher it was always fun to bring in such to the classroom. I tended to go towards the edible sorts having the students join me in creating the annual “Gross Grub” feast. But gross grub specialities have been in the family recipe books for years. I especially love making the peanutbutter and white chocolate eye balls

The gross grub meal has been a Halloween tradition in my family since my son was 5 years old. I had a hard time getting him to eat healthy. But as we know many 5-year-old boys are in to the total gross bit so out of that came forth the gross grub meals. We had “worms in the mud” which were cut hot dogs in baked beans. We had “litter box delight” which was nothing more than cheese rice with extended home-made meatballs shaped like… well, what is often found in litter boxes. A favorite is “finger foods” which are sometimes biscuits or carrot sticks, etc, cut and shapes like fingers to be dipped in a variety of dips. I have a special recipe for nuclear dip which is green and kind of glows. If you are not on the creative side then just add green food coloring to just about anything. It makes it look gross and usually will be gobbled up quickly.

Check out the book posted if you are interested in preparing some interesting and gross meals. Have tried them all over the years to which I can say they are all quite tastey as well as a shocking visual to the eye.

I learned quick how to get the veggies in without a notice. These ideas are not on the visual gross side but the content is often thought of as gross by kids. I put spinach in lasagna or any Italian dish. Often in sweet potato recipes I will add carrots as well. Just grind up the offending icky veggies and place in sauces to mask the green color and the kids will never know the difference. Then after a few years break the news that they have eaten such and delight in the faces they make when they realize they have munched down on those icky veggies for years. Bahaaaahaaaa!!!!

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Time travel

Cover of "Somewhere in Time (Collector's ...

Cover of Somewhere in Time (Collector’s Edition)

Ever look at the coins in your pocket and noticed the date? Did your mind wander back to that time in your life? 1978 – what a year! Started high school and discovered the wonders of grown up movies; in marched chick flicks. Not sure if that was the worse thing that ever happened to me or the best. My first was Superman. Some may argue about that being a chick flick but in my book it was the most romantic movie I had ever seen. Christopher Reeves set the bar high. Then there was If Ever I See You Again, a hope that if I lost a love then may be I could find him again. That was reinforced by the 1980’s movie, Somewhere In Time. Again, another Christopher Reeves delight. There were several more but those are the ones I recall with a smile and a blush.

That was also the year of my first love. One never forgets that first guy who stole your heart. Must admit the Christopher Reeves theme was weighing in, I only dated guys with dark hair. This started a bad labeling of the guys by my dad;” tall dark and ugly,” ” tall dark and talented,” ” tall dark and athletic,” and lastly,” tall dark and he has to go!” I pray none of them will read this because I would hate to admit which was which.

We all have those memories that are often forgotten until there is a small unexpected memory jolt. For a brief moment I was that freshman feeling so grown up yet still scared to death that now I was in the adult world of high school. Yes, at that moment I did think I was all grown up. HA!!Sometimes we need those escapes back to help us become more in touch with ourselves. I remembered the dreams, the frustrations and the heart breaks of that year and then some. Looking back helped me to see how far I have come. Yet it also brought back some forgotten dreams. Have I accomplished those of that wide-eyed teen girl of 15? Surprisingly, I am finally getting around to some of those. Has taken me long enough but still I am making those happen.

Pick up a coin, any one will do. Look at the date. What were you doing during that year? What were your dreams? What influenced your life? Now leap forward to the present day, how is it different?  Have fun time traveling via a pocket full of change. Never know what past events might trigger thoughts and ponderings. Hmmm, I wonder what “tall  dark and he has to go!”  is doing now?

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A picnic in the cemetary

Photograph by Jeff Martin, taken at the Oaknd Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia.

Photograph by Jeff Martin, taken at the Oaknd Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia.

If you turned back time some 100 years you would find this a common practice. Actually, cemeteries were thought of as parks way back in the day. Most had areas designed just for that purpose. I admit I found it strange to hear but as a person who finds old cemeteries more like museums of incredible statues and mausoleums, I could see how this was true of that time period.  Savannah, Georgia has some of the most beautiful cemeteries. A friend recently visited Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia and shared several photos of statues that could rival any found in the high museum of art.

So why blog about this? Well, I wanted to encourage folks to think outside of their preconceived notions about places and things. Beauty is all around us, sometimes it is found in the most unlikely places. We often think of places with a very negative attitude out of fear or misunderstandings. Places like a cemetery are associated with death, fear, pain, and other negative emotions. But that should not keep us from finding the positive that is there.

What other places have you avoided due to some misunderstandings, fears or preconceived notions? Is it possible you have missed out on something because you avoided going there? Sometimes it is not all that we have determined it to be based upon some limited facts or old wives tells. I encourage you to face those fears and take a journey to some of those places you have avoided to see if you can seek out the hidden wonders that are there. But for the record, I would not take a midnight picnic in a cemetery…some lingering thoughts about certain stories do limit me to doing my exploring during the daylight hours. Just saying.

One of the beautiful works of art in the Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia. Taken by photographer, Jeff Martin.

One of the beautiful works of art in the Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia. Taken by photographer, Jeff Martin.


Setting the mood

Isn’t that a big Valentine’s Day theme? What mood do you expect on that day? For some it will be romance for others it will th excitement of a sugar rush as visions of chocolates dance in their heads. For some it will be a time of remembrance of special loves from the past or of a future love one hopes to have this time next year. Whatever the mood is it is one set by the colors and one’s notion of the holiday.Why can’t every day be like a holiday mood? Must we have a special reason to set the mood?

Today was a day filled with last-minute grant writing and play practice. The mood was not festive because I allowed myself to get caught up in the rush of details not the excitement of accomplishment as the deadline approached. I got caught up in the doubts and “oh, no” thoughts. Why did I do that? That stick’en think’en crawled its way back into the moment which set the mood. I noticed it tried to creep its way into the reading session at play practice. Once I saw I was dwelling in the negative I stopped briefly to taken the positive laughter and vibes of those around me. YES!! it can happen. I captured their mood and pulled it in to push out the stink’en think’en. The mood doesn’t always have to be about me setting it, it can be from others if i allow it to seep in. Surrounding myself with the positive totally changed my outlook as well as the quality of performance I was able to project. Even though my character is a stink’en think’en sort for the most part, it doesn’t mean I have to be.

I hope you find a positive mood to set for tomorrow. If life is throwing you frustrations then take a moment to find some positive to surround yourself in. Facebook always seems to have an endless supply of giggle posts so pop in. Spend sometime around funny people. Turn on a mood setter some “Don’t worry, be Happy!” is always a great one. Think you will find tasks less troublesome if you find that happy mood rocking in your life.

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As a fan of the movie as well as a former special education teacher, this is an excellent article that can apply to everyone.

It's a Wunderful Life

Lessons from The Princess Bride for Parents w/ Kiddos on the Spectrum

I’ll be honest, I had never heard about the movie “The Princess Bride” until I got to BYU.  It seemed that every Friday, there was a movie theater, campus or auditorium that had a “Princess Bride” feature.  It was seriously one of the most popular date sites on campus and you could count on one or two people quoting THE ENTIRE MOVIE!

Fast forward what, 20 yrs and I now have a wife who LOVES (and can quote) the movie  . . . . . . though she DOESN’T love BYU.  Anyway, it was a matter of time that someone came up with a Princess Bride and Autism connection.  Click on the pic or link up top to see the article!  Fun stuff!

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Hand-made with Love

The lines aren’t crisp. The contain contains iconic symbols only known between the creator and the receiver. It is unique. Personal and no doubt hand-made with love. Nothing more romantic or precious than receiving something a loved one has created specifically for you. Knowing that it was never a random grab from the local store, it was well thought out and planned specifically for you. Each pen stroke, touch of glue or thread every single concept the creator was so

Love note

Love note

in tune and engrossed in the thoughts of you that it manifested into a gift. A touch of love for you never to be repeated. A moment taken from a busy day to spend dwelling on you as it was birthed from the heart and escaped to be shaped by loving hands.

Make someone’s Valentine’s Day. Take time to make something for that someone special. You do not have to be an artist. Be creative. Cook a favorite meal with a creative twist. Write a poem. Have their favorite music playing. Creating a special atmosphere counts as well.

Start a new tradition. Hand-made with love!!

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This should be promoted more. When I worked at a deaf school we had several teachers who used hearing dogs. I wished we could have had a program that would have helped the kids get hearing dogs.

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Art at Heart

English: A heart-shaped cookie

English: A heart-shaped cookie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tis February, the month we all think a bit more about both art and hearts. The artistic chocolates in their fancy boxes, romantic cards, the… not what I am thinking about. Did you know creating art is good for the heart? Art releases both tension and those wonderful feelie good hormones. Music, dance, painting,writing, creative baking, or scribbling can influence your day in a positive way.

I dare you to create your special Valentine a card. Whip up a special chocolate treat (yes, cooking is very artistic as well as creative). Karaoke his or her favorite song. Plan a nice slow dance just because. Or you can get the kids to decorate the house (this works well for the classroom, too) with hearts and all sorts of festive creations. Encourage your kids to make creative Valentines instead of buying them. Check out Family Fun Magazine for lots of awesome family creative activities. Art does affect kids behavior so get them involved!

Turn on the music, get that pen doodling, and put a little kick in your step as you make your way to the copy room. I can promise it will enlighten and brighten your day of you add a wee bit of art to your heart today.

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