Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Parent-Teacher Conference Day

I'm stealing this joke from a website today.  There is no author listed, but I've heard it before.  Tonight is our first of two nights for parent/teacher conferences.  Being a music teacher I usually don't get very many "customers".  Every now and then I get the uber-responsible parent that comes to check how their child is doing in music class.  Usually they're my best students.  The students I have problems with are usually having problems in their classroom also.  
I know this joke isn't about conferences, but you could probably insert the word conferences wherever it says inservice.  Enjoy!

Inservice Joke
A teacher died and went to heaven. St. Peter welcomed her in and said
he would show her to her place in heaven.  The first neighborhood was
lovely. People were out on the park-like lawns, socializing,
Bar-B-Q-ing, playing golf on a beautifully landscaped golf course, and
having a fine time.
"Oh, this is wonderful," says the school teacher to St. Peter, "Is
this where I'll be staying?"
"No, this is the doctors' area," replied St. Peter.
They continue the journey and come to another beautiful neighborhood.
Again everyone is outside socializing. People are on tennis courts,
swimming in pools, etc.  "My, this IS paradise," gushed the teacher,
"Is this my  neighborhood?"
"No, no, the teacher's area is next."
They move on among the clouds until they reach and equally beautiful
neighborhood, but no one is outside. No one is visible anywhere and
the houses appear to be closed and empty.
"Well, here we are," said St. Peter with a smile, "Isn't this a fine
place to be?"
"Yes," replied the teacher with noticeable disappointment in her
"Don't many teachers make it to heaven? I don't see anyone else here?"
"Sure, we get lots of teachers. Don't worry they'll all be here
tomorrow. They're just down in hell for another inservice."

Monday, February 27, 2012

Interesting weekend

Unfortunately I can say that I have ridden in an ambulance before.  Unfortunately I can also say that I've ridden in an ambulance from a school before.  However, I had not ridden in one from West Marshall until Friday.   I don't care to do it again.
Thursday I started feeling horrible.  I would get really hot and flushed.  I felt dizzy, light headed, etc.  I thought maybe I was getting the flu.  I went to the school nurse and had her check my blood pressure.  It was 130 over 90 or something close to that.  That's very high for me.  Even when I was pregnant, the bottom number barely hit 80.
Eventually the bad feelings passed and I kind of dismissed it.  Friday morning they hit again only this time I was having chest pains.  With history of heart disease in my family, I started panicking.  I thought maybe I was having a panic attack, so I went into my classroom, turned off the lights and tried to calm myself down.  It wasn't working.  I called down to the office and asked for my principal to come help.  From there things were kind of a blur.
The next thing I remember is being in the ambulance on the way to Marshalltown.  Mike met us there and they started running tests.  Xrays, bloodwork, history.  The works.
They quickly ruled out my heart which I was very grateful.  My bloodwork also came back very good.
So for the next 3 hours we waited in the E.R.   The room wouldn't stop spinning.  Finally the nurse came in and told us what they were thinking.  I had an inner ear infection.  What?!?!?!  How could an inner ear infection cause all those other symptoms.
The infection was causing Vertigo which was making both me and the room spin.  When the Vertigo would "flare up"  (that's the only way I know to describe this) it would cause my blood pressure to rise.  When that rose, my heart was pumping harder which was causing the pain in my chest.  They were all related.
So I went home with a motion sickness patch behind my ear.  I also am not allowed to drive or walk up and downstairs.  Friday night and Saturday I was fine as long as I was laying down.  Got very boring.  I as able to read since that was up close, but I had a hard time watching tv as that distance made the room spin.
Sunday was a little better and I was able to sit up most of the day.  Today I'm going to attempt school as long as I can sit down most of the time.  I'm not promising I'll make the whole day, but I need to try.
The dr. did say that even when the infection is cleared up, Vertigo is something I could deal with for the rest of my life.
Now I have an excuse to be dizzy and clumsy.  Unfortunately I could have used this excuse a long time ago.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Yet another NAILED IT!

Well, this one is all on me.  With the introduction of Pinterest, my non-creative juices have begun flowing.    I love seeing all the cute artsy stuff they display and I know it's not a possibility that they would end up looking like that if I tried them.  However, it hasn't stopped me from trying.
For Christmas-ish my mom and Dave found a very nice used sewing machine.  I had told them I wanted one to just repair hems, simple stitches, etc.  They found one at a refurbishing shop for me.  I did some practice runs on different materials then dove in to my first project.  Since my weight loss, I have many t-shirts that are way too big for me now so I found a project where you cut and sew them to make your own reusable grocery bags.  It actually wasn't a flop.  It's not the prettiest thing I've ever done, but it is functional.  I have a couple other simple sewing projects that shouldn't be too bad.
But, then I got the brilliant idea that I could be doing something amazing like my mom does.  My mom actually helped start her church's Prayer Shawl Ministry.  Prayer shawls are just that.  They are a beautiful shawl that as they are being knitted, prayers go into them.  They are then given to individuals/families during challenging times and those prayers are laid over them when they put them on.  They are very beautiful yet also very comforting.  This isn't the site of my mom's group, but this is the basic premise.  http://www.shawlministry.com/
So I got in my head I needed to be doing something like this but I knew I needed to start small and learn first.  So I got both a "Knitting for Dummies" kit and "Crochet Scarf Kit".  There have been many "Pins" with cute crochet things and I thought I would try that first.  That was my first mistake.
The first issue I had was creating the stupid slip knot.  I know how to make a slip knot, but on a crochet needle added a new challenge.  After half an hour and four youtube tutorial videos later, I finally had a slip knot to start the project.  So here's the package of what I was working towards.
Notice the words "it's easy" and "beginner" on the package.  Don't let those fools suck you in to thinking either of those things.
So I got my chain going.  I restarted it a couple of times finally getting the feel for how tight, how to hold everything, etc.  I did not, however, restart the stupid slip knot.  I made sure that stayed put each restart.  So I was trying to follow the directions, which are in English, but these are words I don't know.    Words like foundation chain and half double crochet stitches.  Other foreign words like "begin the second row" seemed to elude me.  So in my oblivious proud bliss of making my "foundation chain" I kept going.  I ended up with this....
I know it doesn't look like much but it's actually about 5 yards long.  The directions called for a chain of 16.  I think I have about 18 times that much, but I couldn't figure out how to turn around.  There's a part in the directions that say "make half double crochet stitch" that kept eluding me.  I think it has to be because of the purple yarn.  I bet if I try a different color it will totally work.  So once again I can cry out "NAILED IT!"  Better yet, I'm sure I can totally find a market for Barbie scarves or if I make the home made Mod Podge recipe I can glue it to a vase and it will totally make that beautiful.  Always the resourceful one I am.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Poodle or Sheep? You decide.

So this is the finished product of the baking escapade that happened Tuesday night.  Last night (Wednesday) Rachel and I were trying to make them look like sheep.  Welllll........  This was my creation.  I have to say, Rachel's actually looked a little better than mine.  That's probably because the sugar-starved hypoglycemic child shoved as many marshmallows on hers that would stick to the frosting.  Hers was much fluffier looking.  With that being said, however, with her fine-motor skills issues her frosting face looked a little scarier than mine.  I would have snapped a picture of it to compare the two, but she had it stuffed in her mouth out of fear I would tell her she couldn't eat it.

Here's the image we were looking at trying to duplicate.  Our dreams were pretty grandiose.
As you can see our intentions were pretty good.  One of our problems was that I sent Mike to the store. His goal was to buy black gel frosting in a tube.  He came back with blue and it's one of those squeezable pouches that you have to use your own decorating tips to squeeze it out which I don't own.
He meant well.  :)  I will say he does a lot of our grocery shopping since he's off on days in between.  However, asking him to buy a "specialty" item is way out of his comfort zone.  He knows where the basics are and does really well as long as it's on the list.  I often shop without a list, which isn't always the best idea, but I can image my cabinets in my head and see what I'm missing.  It's a blessing and a curse.
Anyway, I digress.  Back to the sheep.  So big marshmallows were the head and a cut one made the ears.  Little ones were to be the wool.  Mine looks like an Easter peep that didn't quite make the check list.  I recently found a Pinterest site that shows flopped crafts or recipes.  http://craftfail.com/  This site is laugh-out-loud-with-tears-running-down-your-cheeks-funny.  Don't worry about me taking any business away from you Jenn.  This wasn't a Pinterest recipe, but I'm pretty sure I "NAILED IT"!!!!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kids in the Kitchen

Brittany (8) has been getting very interested in cooking/baking recently.  Monday Rachel was at Kids Club after school and I let Brittany help me put supper together.  If Rachel had been there it would have been a fight on whose turn it was to help.  We were making homemade pizza for the night.  I make the dough in my bread machine and freeze it.  I use whole wheat flour to help it fill us up better.  I usually make 3-4 batches in one day.  I love seeing that easy meal in the freezer when I'm out of ideas.  :)
As we were assembling the pizza she said she wanted to make cookies.  I told her to go get her cookbook that Grandma got her for her birthday and choose an idea.  Of course she gravitated right toward the chocolate recipe.  (A child after my own heart.)
When Rachel got home from Kids Club and found out that Brittany was helping with the supper she informed me that she wanted to make something too.  (Sigh)  She went and got her cookbook and chose a recipe herself.  Of course the hypoglycemic child that shouldn't have too much sugar found the page with cupcakes and frosting.  She does need those kind of treats every now and then though.
So last night the baking was on.  Brittany helped make most of her cookies.  She helped measure things and stirred as strong as she could.  We were making chocolate thumbprint cookies.  When they baked though the thumbprint disappeared.  Here's her picture of helping.

She really enjoyed the process and we might have to find some more recipes for her try.  We might have to find some healthier ones though if we're going to make a habit of this.

For the cupcakes, Rachel is more interested in the frosting and decorating part which we'll do tonight, but she had some help in making the cupcakes.
I guess that was the extent of her helping.  We'll see if I can get a better picture tonight.  Hopefully the final product will be interesting, maybe good for a laugh if nothing else.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Special Kind of Crazy

4:30am.  Alarm goes off.  What kind of crazy woman gets up at 4:30am if she doesn't have to?  Yeah, you guessed it.  I do.
4:30am is get up for workout time.  My crazy friend, Dana, organizes a Tuesday/Thursday aerobic session that starts at 4:45am.  Today was step aerobics and she kicked my butt.    I love that each day is different though.  We do all things from exercise balls to bands to weights to just abs.  My least favorites are the interval training and ultimate workout.  They make me suck air rather hard.  But as much as I love to hate them, they do give me some of the best workouts.
So tomorrow 4:30am is going to go off again and it's a day in the high school weight room.  Dana meets me there and pushes me hard on the treadmill, weights and any other torture device she can find.  If Chris is there, she pushes me hard also.  I love those friends that are there for me through this weight loss.  They are great motivators and I couldn't do this without them.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunday Happenings

Yesterday the kids and I went to the 8am service for church.  Yes, I said 8am.  This service, for obvious reasons, has a much smaller crowd, a much calmer setting and is way more relaxed.  I truly like the 10am service with the full Lutheran service, but Rachel handles the calmer service so much better.
After church we had Sunday School.  I am now on the Board of Education at church and was in charge of Sunday School today.  The lesson was "Joseph interprets Pharaoh's Dreams".  There was not a great amount of material for crafts for this lesson, so I needed to fill the time in another way.  I had my own kids act out the story here at home and filmed it on our iPad.  Brittany played the role of Joseph.  Seth and Rachel were the two that were imprisoned with him.  Later in the story, Rachel played the part of the Pharaoh, and Seth aided the roles of the skinny cows eating the fat cows.  They had a lot of fun with it and I was very proud of them when we displayed it to the Sunday School group yesterday.
When we got home from church, I changed out of my church clothes and proceeded to get some reading minutes.  For those of you not familiar with the West Marshall district, we celebrate the whole month of February for Dr. Seuss.  We have a reading minutes challenge for the whole school working toward a prize.  As I was laying there I remembered someone say something about the Dollar Theater in Ames.  I quick looked it up on my phone and found a movie the kids would like.  So I quick redressed and got the kids in the car and headed to Ames.
We ate out for lunch and were on our way to the theater.  The tickets were literally $1 and since we had just eaten, did not need snacks.  We saw Alvin and the Chipmunks:  Chipwrecked, for $4 for the 4 of us.  On our way out of town, we hit Culvers and I had free Scoopie coupons from Kids Meal bags, so we all had a free scoop of ice cream.  We had a great day out for very cheap and then came home to get reading minutes.
I know.  Kind of a boring post about our family, but the kids loved it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

New Family Member

As it seems, I'm thinking my blog is going to be more along the line of randomness.  Today's blog is going to be about an upcoming new family member.  My wonderful mother has found an amazing man to celebrate life together.  His name is Dave, and my sister and I absolutely think the world of him.
They met on-line.   That good-ol' eHarmony stuff really works.  Mom went to Alabama for January as she has in the past, and apparently three weeks apart just isn't going to cut it anymore.
We're not sure of the special date yet, but we can't wait for Dave to be a part of our family.
Here's a picture of the happy couple.
Congratulations to you two!!!  We love you Dave, and we love how happy you've made mom.  Thank you.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Before & "After"

I thought today I'd do a before and "after" pictures of my weight loss.  I put after in quotations because I don't consider myself done with my weight loss, so the after isn't done.  Sorry for the bad pictures.  I just used my iPad to quick take pictures of my school pictures, but you can see the difference.  I look at the "fat" pictures and I feel like I had to have been holding my breath to make my cheeks look that big.  Now school pictures, I know, aren't the greatest pictures to judge from, but I think these two show a good difference from a year.
The first picture is from the Fall of 2009.  I really don't even think that was at my heaviest but I can't find last year's picture.

The next picture is from the Fall of 2011.  This would be about 8 sizes smaller and 80-90 pounds lighter.
Just doing a better diet and more consistent exercise is how I've gotten this far.  I know I still have a long way to go, but boy do I feel better.  I think my dad's passing of heart disease scared me quite a bit. I don't have heart problems, but knowing he did and knowing my weight would be a huge factor against me got me moving.  I also want to be able to keep up with my kids as long as I can.  They are a great motivation.  Happy Friday!!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

This is going to be one of those random posts today.  These are called Terra Eco Pearls.  They start out about the size of a grain of rice.  When water is added to them, they expand to about the size of a marble.  They are usually used as an alternative to potting soil for inside plants.  We found them at the Home & Garden Show this weekend in Des Moines.  They had a sample out so you could feel them and we instantly thought of Rachel.  She runs her hands through them and just loves the feel of them.  It's very soothing and calming to her.  If you let them dry up they will go back to their original size and you just add water to rehydrate them.  That's probably what we'll do so they don't lose their "wow" factor.  I'm including a picture from a website that sells them that shows how they're probably "supposed" to be used and they're very pretty.   Instead of soil you just add an indoor fertilizer to the plant and just water them like normal.  Very eco-friendly things.  Just a fun hint for those kids that need something different to calm down.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Good morning.  I thought it was time I joined the blogging world.  There are a lot of times I think I have something to share, but just don't have a place or way to do it, so here I am.
I'm not exactly sure what the focus of my blog will be yet.  We have a lot of issues/blessings within our family and I have a lot of ideas that have worked and a lot to learn.   I think I'll just start by sharing a little about my family today.
My name is Laura and I live in State Center, IA.  We've lived here 3 1/2 years after living in Minnesota for 7 years.  I teach PK-5 elementary music at West Marshall Schools and will finally be full-time next year!!!!  I absolutely love my job!!!  I have an amazing room to teach in with lots of space and many instruments.  We're also members of the St. Paul Lutheran church here in town and I just recently joined the Board of Education.
I am also on an incredible weight loss journey.  Due to a daughter's diagnosis (I'll explain further down), our family switched our entire eating habits.  Just by changing foods I lost about 10 pounds on my own.  I started adding moderate exercise to that and the weight started melting off.  I gained new energy and new I was getting healthier from it.  15 months later I'm down almost 90 pounds!!!!  I still have a ways to go, but am so grateful for the transformation.   I'll try and post some before and after pics soon.
My husband, Mike, of 10 years, works at an ethanol plant 20 miles from our home.  Right now he works a swing shift of 12-hour shifts.  Soon (we hope) he'll be switching departments and will be working Monday-Friday from 8-4.  Normal people hours!!!!!
Our three kids are Brittany, Rachel and Seth.
Brittany is 8 and in 2nd grade this year.  She is an excellent student and loves school.  She is one of those kids that typically asks for extra homework and is sometimes bored with what they're working on.  Brittany is also taking piano lessons.  (Not by me though.)  She is an excellent reader and plows through chapter books.  This month is a reading minutes contest and she eats that kind of challenge up big time.  She is also a very responsible child.  She loves helping in the kitchen, "baby-sitting" her brother and helping around the house.
Rachel is 7 and in 1st grade.  Rachel is also a good student and has just recently really started into reading.  She's starting chapter books and is very proud of herself when she completes one.  Rachel is also taking piano lessons which comes very naturally to her.  She also is an amazing singer and sang a solo in the church Christmas program in December.  Rachel does have a few challenges associated with her name.  Last fall we got her diagnosed with hypoglycemia.  The dr. said we needed to eat very naturally and healthy.  We also decided to do this change as a family.  It would not be fair to tell a 6-year-old that this was her food and here was ours.  We did away with processed food and excess sugar and started eating much better.  Her fasting blood sugars went from 60s and 70s to 100s and 110s from these changes which is where she should be when she wakes up in the morning.  Rachel also has other recent issues that I still haven't come to terms with, but might come up in future blogs.
Seth is our 5-year-old and is all boy.  I never thought having a boy from girls would be so different, but wow....  He has absolutely no fear.  When he does a dare-devil stunt, even if he gets hurt from it, he's back doing it again trying to perfect it.  He also goes non-stop from sunup to sundown.  The only time he's still is when he has to be in school or when he gets his iPad time at home.  Winter makes for long months stuck inside for him.  He loves being outside running amuck on his bike at full speeds.   Seth is in preschool this year and his really grown up with it.  He'll be in Kindergarten next year and I think other than just calming him down, he's totally ready for it.
Well, that's just a glimpse of our life today.  As I said, there are lots of things I'd like to blog about and might need some direction as to a specific topic.  For now it might just be a family update.
Have a great day!!!!