Sunday, November 10, 2013

Looking through a window

I'm not sure if everyone has given up on me writing, (rightfully so) but I have something to share and I promise it was worth the wait.

This past week has been one of the greatest of my life. Its given me a view of how life could be. It was a special week when communities from all over Ireland come together to make music together. In the course of a week we build our own orchestra, everyone participates no matter our level of musical ability. The orchestra is divided into four parts. There is a percussion section made up of African drums, blocks and more. There is a traditional section that is made up of instruments like violins, harps,  and flutes. The third section is bells, which I was part of. The final group was the polycords. Polycords look like dulcimers, but each cord on it is the same note. so no matter which string is hit the same note is played. the polycord members are seated together based on which note they have.  when the conductor points to a group they play the note together. Its like a big harp made up of 30 people. The sound it creates together is pretty amazing.

The first day of practice, I was amazed how together everyone already was, the commonality of having a passion for music, seem to cut out all stereotypes and limitations. From that point on, I was truly given a lesson on how wonderful life can be when you stop paying attention to differences but instead focus on what we have in common.

It was so nice because everyone could be their self, it was okay if someone got really excited and started bouncing up or down. Katrina decided she wanted to help conduct and she had so much fun with it. She actually helped conduct one of the pieces at the concert.

As part of the week, the drumming group from our community performed in a local theater. The process leading up to the concert was so much fun. It was really nice to finally share what we had worked on with everyone. And because one of the guys is super awesome, I can now share it with you as well!

There was a moment in the week when we were at a pub with other communities relaxing and enjoying the music. We filled the floor dancing in circles, I was twirling and jumping with Katrina, watching her laugh and smile. Everyone around me young, old and all abilities danced sharing the love of the music. Just at that moment I felt all my passions, feelings and thoughts collide together in perfect harmony. It didn't matter where I'd been or where I was going. What I had done or not done.
 I felt like I was where I was suppose to be exactly at that moment, at that place.
At that moment I finally felt complete.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

festivals, walks and good moments

This past week has been all about getting into routines and getting comfortable with each other. I'm already using my teaching skills including behavior analysis and person centered planning. Thank you professors! :)
One of my favorite parts of this program is the lack of a big barrier between employees and clients. First and foremost Camphill sees the people we work with as human beings. That means there's much more freedom to do things with friends. Last Saturday morning, I picked up Lisa from her house and we went for a hike. We ended up sitting next to a lake and listening to Celtic music, something we both enjoy. It was just a nice relaxing time with a friend. That's the way life should be.

We still have many classes in the afternoons. This week we added yoga and felting both are a lot of fun. On Fridays there is an adult education course. This week the subject was different types of rocks and how they are formed. Its great when you utilize the resources around you to use as teaching tools.

This past weekend was my first festival. Its called St. Michaelmas. It celebrates the harvest and also conquering your fears. We collected one of every vegetable, fruit, flowers, and even milk that we have at Camphill and placed them on a alter made of hay bales. It makes you realize how much we get from the land. It's pretty amazing.

I went on a long hike yesterday through the countryside and to a beach. It felt so good to just be walking in the sunshine, breathing fresh air. I finally feel at peace, I can enjoy the world around me without stressing that I'm neglecting an assignment or exam. Its a good feeling.



New pics for October:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Magic of the Arts

This week has been a very interesting one though slightly crazy. I'm already starting to use behavior plans and ABC charts that I've learned to use as a teacher.
One idea that has been growing in my head this week, is the realization of how much the use of the arts such as painting, dancing, and music can be a way to connect with  others when normal communication is difficult.
Almost everyday there is a class in the afternoon here that uses the arts.
On Tuesdays we have a painting class. We just finished a project creating a dragon from torn paper to celebrate St. Michealmas. Everyone could participate whether it was painting, tearing the paper or gluing fingers together. :) 

I went to my first African drumming session with Lisa. The class is fantastic, each of the participants get a chance to do what they do best. Some dance in the middle while everyone gives them a beat on the drums. Others conduct and some sing tunes. Even Lisa got the chance to lead everyone doing movements and sounds. There is so much you can do when you take the time to see and then use each person's talent. At the moment the class is prepping for a concert coming up in a few weeks, I'll keep you updated!

Today's theme was dance! This afternoon there was a session for some of the younger people. The teacher does great with adapting to what everyone can do. Lisa can do some of the dance moves when I use the hand over hand method. We've got comfortable enough with each other, that she leans on me sometimes during breaks. When you work closely with another person doing movements, you make connections and understandings that don't require speech.

 There was a moment at the end of the class when everyone was doing the same motion, there was a calm feeling like we were all on the same brain wave and totally just understood each other.

Art is an amazing tool!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Its a wonderful day in the neighborhood!

Today was so amazing!!!

This morning, one of the classes from St. Francis came to visit. I knew all the teachers that came and most of the students. They were excited to see me. :) It was really nice talking to Elaine who is from my class I taught in. She said that hopefully my class is going to come for a visit in a week or two! It was very cool seeing the graduated students show their old classmates around the land.

In the afternoon, I made a trip to Tralee with two other co-workers to apply for our visas. I was a bit nervous if I would get it, but guess what!!! I'm official! I even have a card with my face on it to prove it. :) I'm definitely breathing better knowing that I can stay instead of being shipped out of town.

But the absolute and most fantastic part of the whole day happened when we dropped off Lisa to her mom. As we stood next to the car talking to her mother, Lisa walked over to me and gave me a big hug. I realize it might not seem like a big deal, but she doesn't initiate contact with others very often especially not with a hug. So for her to give me one, was an amazing thing and it means the world to me. I've had a lot happening this week, I've been trying hard to learn everything and trying to be more help then a hindrance. In a way, Lisa hugging me was her way of saying I am enough. :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My real age

Hello Everyone!

Recent tidbits:

Woke up early and went to the beach, got my feet in the ocean of course :)

 Just as I started to walk back to the house, I saw this behind me!


 The rainbow was so bright that reflected off the water, it was pretty amazing.

Later I went to town with Sophie, one of the other co-workers. We took the long way around that follows the entrance of the bay. There is some rocks along it that look exactly like old drift wood until you touch it.
We hosted the community meal for the week. I made blackberry cobbler, using berries I had picked along the road. It turned out pretty good even with me converting measurements. :)
In the afternoon we took a group to Inch beach that is outside Dingle: 

I spent the time running barefoot in and out of the water with one of the co-worker's 4 year old daughter. She speaks only German and I English  but we both understood running around and being silly together. I have decided that I'm actually  a 4 year old, I just pretend to be older :)

This is Thomas, one of our friends in the community, his version of a good day at the beach is a coke, a bit of chocolate and a soft sand dune to sit on.
There is a small group in Dingle that does Zumba each Monday night, I join a group from Camphill that was going including my housemate and friend Katrina:
I had heard that Katrina is a great dancer and they were right, she was fantastic! She was totally in to it singing the songs and dancing her heart out, I had so much fun dancing with her. I need to learn some of her moves. :) 

More to come!  Hope everyone is having a good week!


Friday, September 13, 2013


You know that you've had a good but full day when you fall asleep while typing your blog. I woke up this morning refreshed with my laptop still next to me in bed.
I'm so excited right now. All the coworkers (interns) are here now so we have been in planning meetings for the year. The more I learn about how the program works the more excited I am for the year.
Camphill is putting a learning program together for the younger members of the community who are under 25. Its a bit like IEPs where we write and create goals to work towards with the individuals. The staff are giving me the chance to set up Lisa's goals and to put them into motion. I have so many ideas when I work one-on-one. I love problem solving and finding ways to let people show their strengths and to give them the chance to be as independent as possible. Usually there is not enough time or freedom to try them but this time I can. :) I have a year to help an already amazing person show what she can do. I can't think of a better way to spend a year. :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

little moments


 Sometimes we get so caught up and focused on making it through the day, that we forget to stop to realize what is happening around us.  There might be someone walking next to you who could use a kind word or someone across the room trying to share a smile or laugh with you. These moments can seem small compared to craziness of the day but they are what connect us as human beings and they make each day a little bit brighter. <3


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Random thoughts of the day

As I reach the 7th day here I have some random thoughts:
1. I really should remember that light switches are outside the rooms instead of fumbling around in the dark every time.
2. There is a old barber shop song about me or at least about a girl named Katie: 
Some of the older staff knew the song so they practiced it before I came so they could sing it to me. Its quickly becoming my theme song around the land. One of the guys has started to sing it every time he sees me. :)
3. There is a difference between a coffee pot, a herbal tea pot and a black tea pot. And if you mix them up, everyone ends up pouring the wrong drinks. :)
4. There is no such thing as a sunny day or a rainy day in dingle, most days have both! 
5. Its interesting talking to people from different countries who have studied special education as well but they have different experiences and trainings.
6. There is evidently a recipe called chutney. it calls for both apples and tomatoes. I'm intrigued but also slightly wary. :)
7. I need to catch up on sleep so I can spend sometime outside watching the stars.
Good night all!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Today was my first day hanging out with  this fantastic person:

 This is Lisa, she just graduated from St. Francis, the school I student taught at in Ireland. She's a super happy person, she enjoys music and instruments. Its hard not to smile when you are around her. At this point Lisa is getting the chance to try out the different areas of the farm which works perfect because everything is new to me too. We went to the weaving shop today and we gathered apples. 
The staff are giving me a chance to try different adaptations with her, which is fantastic! I really want to find ways to let her be as independent as possible and also to give her the chance to show her strengths. I'm definitely looking forward to spending more time with Lisa in the coming months.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Shooting over the cliffs

Today was a busy day, even though it was Sunday there was a lot happening.
One of the full time staff held a shooting tournament for the locals to raise money for Camphill.  A few of us helped with taking tea and coffee to ward off the cold.
I got the chance to take a tractor ride up to the top of the cliffs and watch the locals shoot clay pigeons over the edge of the cliffs. Definitely something you don't see everyday. 

This afternoon, we had a house warming party for the new home that has been rebuilt for the community. One of the great things about this community is they love to sing. Anytime everyone is together, they take the time to sit down together and sing songs. :) Its pretty fantastic. It feels good to be singing again. 
Tomorrow is my first official work day! Looking forward to it :)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A little bit down the road....

If you happen perchance to go for a walk
perhaps take a stroll down a small country road.
What you see before you
 will make you wonder and marvel
 but remember to feel
  the cool wind that swirls around you
and to listen to
the gulls who sing while sailing through the air.


First walk to the beach and cliffs:

Friday, September 6, 2013

Iron Chef: Ireland edition

Today! On Iron Chef we offer these key ingredients:

One of the jobs everyone takes turns with, is cooking the noon meal. We can take any of the ingredients from the garden/ farm and come up with our own concoctions (preferably edible!). Its a little intimidating at first and I still have a lot to learn about how to cook some of the vegetables they grow. I surprised myself though and managed to make a pretty decent Shepard's pie and some berry apple crumble. It must not have been too bad because all the dishes were scraped clean. :) I think I like cooking from scratch.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A good way to wake up in the morning!

Hello everyone :)
When I woke up this morning, I was surprised to find this view outside my window, I can see both the Dingle peninsula and the Atlantic ocean.


I'm still in a bit of a daze from switching time zones but from first day perspective, this experience looks like it could be an amazing one. There is very good people here who live by a motto that makes for a very positive outlook on life.
I will continue to add more pictures and stories as I go but for now, I have a very important meeting with my bed. :)

Monday, March 4, 2013

These are the Days I Live for


These are the days I live for. 

I sit here covered and grinning ear to ear.

I smell of shaving cream from playing with Georgia. Both of us were laughing hysterically as I tried putting the cream in her hand and she played keep away. We spent a long time squishing the cream between our hands. She was so happy and smiling I teared up. 

I'm covered in red, orange, and yellow paint from making hand prints on cards for Mother's Day. All the students got involved, even the ones that don't like textures. 

My hands are warm from holding Ellyson's hands as she jumped on the trampoline over and over again, happier then she's ever been, seeing how high she can jump. 

And my mind is calm from later holding her as she fell asleep in my arms.

Some days can be rough and others crazy but because of days like this,

 I'll never stop loving what I do.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Walking Companion

A Saturday or two ago, I decided to go on a day hike towards the back of the National Park. In the back section there is an old mansion called Muckross, two lakes and the Torc waterfall. The hike takes about an hour to reach the back area, so its too far for me to go during my wanderings after school during the week. 

On my way out of town for my adventure, I saw a dog wandering around.

 he came up to me and I petted him for a bit.I noticed he didn't have a collar but seemed in good shape. I've learned that some of the local's dogs wander during the day and then find their way back home at night. I started to walk on but I noticed he was following me. 
He ended up joining me for the whole hike. He would walk far ahead but turn around ever so often to make sure I was still there.
 We kindly  looked after each other. He would wait while I took a picture and I would wait while he ran up a side trail. A few times I thought he was going to run off but he always stuck with me. He never barked once, he would say hello to the people and dogs going by but then keeping trotting on. 

We made it all the way to the Torc waterfall. 

It's absolutely beautiful, the waterfall flows down for half a mile to the nearest river. All the rocks were covered with bright green moss. I couldn't get over how vibrant the colors were. 

I was exhausted by the time we got there so I sat on a rock at the bottom of the falls. To my surprise my walking companion joined me. 

It was calming sitting next to the falling water, smelling the wet moss and petting my new friend.
After resting a bit, we headed back towards town. he gave me a heart attack a few times because he liked to       run across the road to investigate and then run back across.

 We both made it back though in one piece. I was curious about what he would do once we got back. I made sure we went back to the horse carriage area where we met. he followed me for a bit longer but then started wandering elsewhere. I asked one of the carriage drivers if they had seem him before or knew who he belonged to. The driver said that the dog's name is Oscar Wilde and he wanders around during the day and goes home at night.

It makes me wonder what other adventures Oscar Wilde has been on if he was willing to walk with me on my adventure. And if his owner even knows them.

I enjoyed having a walking partner and he definitely made my day much better. Perhaps I'll have to write a children's story one day about my walking companion, Oscar Wilde.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Some Lessons Learned and ITS HERE!!

Hi everyone! Sorry for the long break in writing. I've been learning a few good lessons the past week.

1. Hostel floors are hard, thus when you drop your computer from the top bunk bed.... it will probably break.

2. Alas, even adventurers get sick sometimes. I'm having to learn to have patience with myself which can be the hardest thing to do.

Now that I have learned these lessons and  have a fixed computer and good medicine, I am good for the second half of Ireland!

I have lots of adventures to put up, so for the next few days I'll be adding them on here. The first little bit I can't help but share tonight.
Guess what I saw walking down the street today?????

Spring is coming!
 Its so strange because February in Ohio means lots of snow but here its the beginning of spring. There is daffodils blooming everywhere and the sunshine was even poking out.

I'll try to mentally send it back to Ohio for everyone. but take heart, Spring is coming!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Why Technology is Fantastic

To counter act the previous blog, let me say that today went much better! Extra sunshine turned students frowns upside down and it made my day so much better seeing them smiling and laughing again. 

Why Technology is Fantastic!

So as a teacher I've know for awhile that technology is a great classroom tool and I've had some great experiences with them especially via the epic-ness of Jason and Carla Ellis. :)

In the past two weeks, I've seen some of the best examples of why teachers should use technology. 
The classroom I'm working with recently received a Smart-board and I-pad and they have open some major doors for the students.

Elia is one of my two boys in the class. He's very happy go lucky and is usually the one laughing. He tends to space out a lot and its hard to get him to focus on a project or activity you put in front of him.
BUT the moment you put him in the front of the Smart-board magic happens.  

He loves it so much and its helped his ability to focus and track moving objects. It always makes me smiling watching him use it.

Ellyson is one of my other students that has benefited. She's my energy ball that's always on the go. I'm lucky if  I can get her focused on something for 30 seconds. 

The Ipad has been fantastic for her.

The graphics on the Ipad catches her attention and she is able to focus on it much longer then a book. The fact that its portable means that it can go with her when shes hopping around too.

Best invention ever made is the hard rubber cover that is on it. the pad has been dropped, bounced and thrown and somehow still remains in one piece by the end of the day.

Seeing these kids interacting with technology is a big reminder to myself to never underestimate the use of technology in my own classrooms. 

The days fly by.

Hello everyone, I apologize for the delay in writing. There's been sunshine outside after school the past few days and I've already learned that you have to enjoy it while its here before it starts raining again. So I've been dunking in the hostel to drop off my bag and then headed on over to the trails in the park everyday after school. It's a good way to stretch my legs and clear my head from the day.

The last day or two has been a little rough at school because of sickness and winter blues, but hopefully with the extra sun things will get better!

New blog coming after school!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ring around the Kerry

I spent this weekend on the move! I was itching last week to wander around the country and national park so I did. On Sunday I went hiking/wandering in the park; I almost made it to the next town. :) 
BUT........Saturday was the greatest day ever! 

The hostel I'm staying at offers tours in the area including a day bus trip around the Ring of Kerry.

The Ring of  Kerry is a road path that circles around the sides of County Kerry. By the time your finished you see the vastly different landscapes that fill it.  

I lucked out and had a older gentleman as my tour guide that has traveled around the ring for years. He knew the best view points to stop at and the best stories about the passing villages. 
Many towns have harvest festivals in the fall but one of the villages has a very "unique" tradition. Each year the men of the town go into the mountains and catch a wild mountain goat. They give him a crown and make him the king of the town for three days as the towns people celebrate. At the end of the time the goat is released back in the wild, probably shaking his head at how odd people are. :)

Another town we passed through was a popular vacationing place for Charlie Chaplin and his family. Chaplin  loved Ireland and the ocean so he eventually bought a house there and became part of the community. The town has honored him by statue and plaque next to the sea as well as a local museum that displays local art depicting him. 

I totally understand how Chaplin felt, every stop we made was  breathtaking with valleys, mountains and rivers around every corner but the ocean and coast are by far the most heart-stopping.  

We stopped at Chaplin's seaside town for lunch. The moment I saw the ocean, I made a bee line to it. As many of you know, I love water and take any chance I can to play in it. The day was so incredibly beautiful. The sun was out and the sky was a bright blue. 

I climbed around on the rocks and before long had my shoes off and my jeans rolled up.

 I was so happy  and peaceful standing barefooted in the ocean with the wind blowing past me and only the sound of the tide and birds around me. I stopped worrying about everything and just breathed in the clean cool air.
I think I could have stayed there forever. 

 The last stop we made was at Lady's View that is located at the top part of Killarney's National Park. 

The story goes that Queen Victoria was visiting Ireland and requested that her ladies in waiting set up a picnic at the viewing point. 
Well, the Queen arrived early and the ladies didn't have everything prepared, so she screamed at them for several minutes in front of all the locals.  
In solidarity, the locals named  the view point after the ladies in waiting rather then in the Queens honor. 

The trip was amazing and I would definitely recommend it to anyone passing by. Its the best way to see this part of Ireland in a short amount of time.  
I took a lot of pictures and it was extremely hard to pick ones for the blog because each pic is so different. I uploaded them all online so definitely take a peek. The ones here barely scrape the surface.