Friday, July 6, 2012

Happy Belated Birthday, America!

Better late than never, that's what I always say!!  I spent that morning (as I have every morning since I began the task) painting the outside of the house.  It looks really nice and I'm aghast at how badly it looked before!!  Unfortunately, I'm going to have to put two coats on the west side where the sun beats down on it everyday, and will probably have to do two on the east side as well.  I'm really close to having one coat all around, and will start on the trim after I have the second coat on where needed.  I also have to restain the deck and I'm running out of summer!  I could certainly grow accustomed to this lifestyle and am loving puttering around (and being up and around) on my own time.  What a difference a year makes!!

So back to the 4th of July.  Rather than grilling at home, Danny decided he wanted BBQ from Bad Brad's (I told him they would be closed, and they were).  Instead, we went to Chili's for appetizers, not realizing they were 1/2 price during happy hour and we both ate for $10!!!  It was an awesome find!  On the way home, we saw a huge plume of smoke out our way.  The color indicated it was a grass fire, and as we got closer to home, we speculated on just where the fire was burning.  It was wheat stubble in a field 2 miles northwest of us and the flames were getting dangerously close to a house on the property.  It was very windy, very smokey and very scary, especially since there had been a grass fire a mile east of that field within the past week.  Then on top of that, there was another stubble fire a half mile east of us later that night.  It's sad that people are so careless with fireworks and/or cigarettes.  Fortunately, I don't think there was any serious damage involved, but it's unsettling just the same.

Can't believe it's Friday again!  They seem to roll around a lot faster during the summer than they do during the school year!

Until the next time, Happy Trails!

Friday, June 29, 2012

The "Lazy" Days of Summer

Summer break is quickly flying by, but it's soooo great to be up and about after having spent the past 2 summers recouperating from surgery and chemo!  So many things were neglected during that time, so my to-do list is quite long, and I know I'll never get everything done, but I hope to at least make a dent in it. 

I'm happy to say that I'm enjoying my real hair, and I've had it cut 3 times now!!!  I'm not sure what to do with it exactly...I like having it short because it's easy to fix everyday, but Danny wants me to grow it out.  We'll see who wins that debate.  I'm more of a 7 a.m. riser, but have to get up at 5:20 during school and don't really want to have to get up any earlier just to do my hair...time will tell! 

We finally opened the pool last month, and was it ever gross!  The water was black and sludgey and never in my wildest dreams did I think the water would be anywhere near "blue", much less clear!  It's coming along quite nicely, although it's not quite company-ready just yet.  Danny and I have been swimming the past few evenings and it's a great way to cool off and relax after the sweltering heat we're experiencing.

One of my major tasks is to paint the outside of the house this summer, which I began this week.  It's a very slow process because I use a brush - yes, a brush - because I have to put too much pressure on a roller to get even coverage and it wears my arms out.  Plus, I'm not really in a hurry or on a time constraint, and there's something theraputic about the whole brushing process.  The color is called "Whispering Wheat", but it looks more creamy than it did on the paint chip, so it's not quite the tan color we expected.  We like it, though, and it will give our house a nice little facelift.  I'm on hold today, though...the guy who farms the land across the road decided yesterday to work his ground, and cream paint and red dirt aren't really the look I'm going for, so I'm doing other things until he finishes.

We have a guy pruning the holly bushes and removing the scraggly Rose of Sharon bushes, Crepe Myrtle bushes (which have taken over a corner of the house and deposit a zillion petals into the pool on a daily basis), and the photina shrubs which acquired some type of disease while I was down for the count.  That will make it sooo much easier to paint 2 sides of the house, and we're going to replant with a prairie, natural theme (i.e. low maintenance!).  I just hope our mockingbirds and hummingbirds don't have nests in those shrubs and that lack of cover won't scare them away!!

I've spent a lot of time in the backyard pulling weeds and planting flowers.  It looks SOOOO much better than before with 2 years' worth of weeds growing everywhere.  I also have zucchini, cucumbers, banana peppers and tomatoes planted.  So far I've harvested everything but tomatoes.  They have lots of blooms, but no fruit yet.

I finished a t-shirt quilt for Jessica for which I was rewarded with a huge smile and a big thank you.  It made my day.  Now if only I could get the other 200 shirts I have stashed made into quilts, I'd be doing great!!  The 4th nine weeks of school, my freshman class made a t-shirt quilt for Mr. Melton (our principal) as a going-away gift.  I emailed the staff and asked for specific colors of YHS shirts, and my students did the cutting, sewing, ripping, sewing, ripping, sewing, and so forth.  In spite of all the ripping and re-sewing, it turned out well and hopefully he will enjoy it.

Health-wise, I'm doing great!!  I feel good and had a PET scan the end of March and one a couple of days ago.  I won't find out the recent results until the 16th of next month, but hopefully all is well.  It occurred to me that my doctor hasn't ordered a urine test or an Octreotide scan for over a year (both of which track carcinoid), so I called and asked about that.  He said that a PET scan is more suited to my case (rather than an Octreotide scan) but that he would order the urine test.  I wasn't comfortable with that bit of information, so I called New Orleans and talked to the Carcinoid Coordinator.  She confirmed that a PET scan is indeed the best course for me at this point.  I told her that I had begun flushing again about 2-3 months ago (which was the reason for my concern) and she said than many times it is stress-induced.  I have noticed that I do tend to flush when I'm thinking of my to-do list or other things that raise my stress level, so I feel better knowing that.  I was afraid the carcinoid was on the go again. She said if the flushing gets really bad, I can do a booster shot of my Sandostatin mid-month.  As badly as those things hurt, I'll have to have a really BIG flushing problem before I'll consider that!

In September, Danny and I will be going to New Orleans for a carcinoid patient conference (at a hotel on the French Quarter!) hosted by Ochsner Clinic, and I'm really excited for it.  My surgeon will be one of the presentors and and I'm anxious to hear what they have to say compared with what we learned at MD Anderson last fall.  I've been on a drug called Afinitor for over a year now and no longer itch, which was a HUGE problem when I first began taking it.  It seems to be working for me and other than getting tired, I feel like I'm doing great on it.  Insurance scared me last month though.  I received a letter stating that it would no longer be covered as of June 23rd, and a one-month prescription costs thousands of dollars.  My doctor's office contacted them, and we're good to go for another year.  I'm also (fairly faithfully) drinking my black raspberry tea each day, which was recommended by New Orleans.  I read in a magazine recently that something in black raspberry DOES kill cancer, so I'm making a consicous effort to drink it daily.

Jessica and I will be going to Chicago next month and it's getting close enough (that I'm not wishing away my summer) to be really excited about it.  We're leaving on a Monday and driving to Hermann, Missouri to spend the night at a bed and breakfast and spend a little time in "wine country".  Even though I can no longer enjoy a glass of wine due to my liver issues, I'm hoping to be able to buy some good grape juice to bring home and drink from my wine glasses and pretend.  On the internet, Hermann looks like a really charming old German town and I think it will be really relaxing to spend a few hours brousing and visiting a winery or two.

The next day, we'll head to Chicago and a very packed schedule.  We're going to the food festival, (Taste of Chicago), taking a boat ride on the river, doing a 2K walk, going to a Cubs game and I'm not sure what else.  We're staying within walking distance of everything we're doing, so we won't have to worry about driving or traffic.  We may have to take a jaunt to Indiana and Michigan just because we'll be so close, and there are lots of museums and architecture to experience.  Whatever we wind up doing, it will be a special time for the two of us. 

I think that sums up my life since February.  Life is good, and to my fellow teachers who get bored in the summer - you're crazy!!!

Happy trails!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Back to the Future

It seems like it has been forever since I last blogged, but I've been busy, under the weather, and sometimes just plain lazy!  So here's what's been going on:

Monday, February 13 was regional FCCLA competition at Metro Tech Springlake.  After finally having been "blessed" with the snow I so desparately wanted, I dreaded having to drive a "Monster Van" (huge Chevy van) with five students that far.  We were to have left school at 8:30 a.m., and at precisely 8:30, one of the students frantically needed copies of pictures for her presentation...another needed page protectors (after having punched holes on the wrong sides of her pages) and by the time we got out of there, I was beside myself!  The highway was in great shape and we had no trouble getting to OKC, but before we actually got to Metro Tech, one of the other Yukon teachers called me to let me know that the competition had been cancelled!!  Supposedly an email was sent to all of us, however, the 3 of us at Yukon and a couple other teachers did not get the memo, so we made a wasted trip.  The worst part of it was that the 3 judges I acquired for one of the events all made the wasted trip as well.  I felt terrible!  So much for the email sent to us the Friday before which stated that if Metro Tech was open, the competition would go on!!

Another low of the day was that we lost our cat, Daphne.  We added her to our family when Danny's sister moved to Colorado several years ago, and she eventually worked her way into our house and hearts (she started out living in the garage).  Although we're not sure exactly how old she was, we know she was up in years, and she suddenly began a downward spiral the week before.  I'm glad she's out of her misery, but I still expect to see her walk out of the bedroom and sometimes think I see her walking across the kitchen. It's hard to get used to the quiet, but I must admit, I'm not going to miss all the cat hair and having to clean the litter box...

Tuesday, February 14 was Valentine's Day, and a good one it was.  There were so many hearts and flowers at was definintely in the air!!  No hearts and flowers for us, though...we bought new dishes and serving pieces.  I've had my eye on Fiestaware for a few years now, but just couldn't take the plunge because the plates looked too deep and not flat enough.  I showed Danny a picture of them and he was agreeable, so I went for it.  They are scarlet and really pretty, and I finally have a gravy boat!!

Friday, February 17 I suddenly became nauseous and had to go home.  It was so bad I wasn't sure I could drive myself home, but by the time I got things rounded up for the teachers covering my classes, I felt better.  I went straight to bed when I got home and stayed there the rest of the day.  I had to make my trip to buy groceries the next morning, but once that task was done, I was back in bed for the rest of the day, and rested a lot on Sunday as well.  I never threw up, but had other issues, so I guess it was just something going around.  I couldn't believe how quickly it hit me, though!

Monday, February 20 was staff development day, and as long as we had a certain number of points for the year, we didn't have to participate in any training...we could work in our rooms.  I got to school at my usual 7:10-ish and it was quiet and peaceful and I was able to concentrate on a report I have to submit to Career Tech.  It all broke loose after 8 a.m. when several teachers came to "work" with their young children in tow, screaming and bouncing balls and disrupting the quietness.  There is such an echo in the building that children LOVE to use their outside voices.  Fortunately, the entire day wasn't like that and I DID manage to get a lot of things done (there's still plenty to do, though!).

Tuesday, February 21 was Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras.  Since I decided to let go of the negative and focus on the positive for Lent, let me just say that you just can't fix stupid.  Period.

Wednesday, February 22 was Ash Wednesday.  Jessica came home and the 3 of us went to the ash prayer service at 6:30 a.m.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would make it to anything that early in the morning!  I guess all things are possible, though...

I took my FCCLA students back to Metro Tech for the postponed competition, and two of my three judges were available again, so all that worked out OK.  The teacher from Piedmont and I were the chairpersons for the Job Interview event and I always enjoy watching the students compete and am always amazed at how "together" some of them are.  They know who they are and where they're going and I have no doubt they will accomplish their goals!

As for the competitors I took, three of them took third place in their events, and the last two were a team.  Their event took a lot longer than everyone else's, and we waited an eternity for them to finish (we didn't leave Metro Tech until 3 p.m. and didn't get to go to Hideaway Pizza as we had planned) but they took first place and will advance to state competition next month.  Definitely worth the wait, and I think they shocked themselves!

Due to the competition, I had to miss the baby shower for Erin Brown, which was during both lunches that day, and I was one of the hostesses.  That's just the way it goes sometimes, but I hated that I had to miss it!  It sounded like everything went on without a hitch...

Thursday, February 23 was a red letter day for me.  I got my real hair cut and colored and as of the next day, I am wig-free!!!  It's so liberating and wonderful and (with the exception of my bangs being really short) it doesn't look a lot different than my wig.  It doesn't take but a few minutes to fix it, so I'm guessing short hair will be in my future.  It has a natural curl to it, and that makes styling sooo much easier than I am accustomed.

Friday, February 24, Jessica came home to have dinner with us, and we made our hotel reservations for our Chicago Holiday this summer.  We're both really excited and very anxious to spend the quality time together, and I know it will be a lot of fun.  On the agenda is the Chicago Food Festival, but beyond that, we have no plans.  We're staying at a hotel with a view of one of the Great Lakes, so that will be cool. 

Somewhere in the shuffle, Danny found out that he has diabetes, so he's on medicine twice a day and has to test his blood sugar.  When he first found out, his blood sugar was 300+, but now it hovers around 125-ish.  Wow!

So what's with all the dead skunks on the side of the road these days?  I certainly prefer them that way, but it seems I can't go anywhere without seeing a half dozen or more scattered here and there...

Today was an uneventul Monday, and I think I'm caught up on recent happenings, so with that I say, "Happy Trails!"

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Wishin' and Hopin'

Time to get caught up on my journeying once again.  The days certainly slip away quickly with way too much to do and too little time.

Friday my "I Don't Like This Class" student struck again.  This student aspires to be a teacher, so we had a discussion about that very topic.  She said she's going to be one of the cool teachers that all her students will come back and see, and they won't do bookwork but hands-on projects all the time.  She will also have a drawer full of gum so when her students want gum, she'll gladly give it to them.  The voice of experience popped up to inform her that the gum she will so freely give out will wind up on the bottoms of the desk/table tops.  She didn't have much to say after that.  The whole conversation started because we are learning about buying a house, mortgages, taxes and insurance, etc.  She doesn't understand why she needs to learn it now...why not wait until the time comes, yada, yada, yada.

Friday afternoon, the assistant principal called to see if she could "have" the sub I have scheduled for tomorrow (I'll be taking a group of students to FCCLA competition).  I told her she could not, because he's the only sub I've had all year and he knows how I do things and follows my lesson plans.  It seems he has accepted a long-term assignment for a teacher who is having a baby, and she was having contractions, so his long-term assignment begins tomorrow.  The AP asked who my Plan B sub is and I simply don't have one, so I'm back to square one.  It's such a bonus to have someone I can trust to do what I work so hard to put together for when I'm gone.  Hopefully that will happen again.

Saturday morning, Jess and I worked the ACT test.  When I was going to the test, I noticed that Mom and Dad's mailbox was mowed down, as were both of their neighbors'.  I called her and she said they knew when it happened on Friday sounded like a car ran into a brick wall...and when they looked out the window, they couldn't tell what kind of vehicle it was because by that time it was already a quarter of a mile down the road.  It's a wonder the vehicle was driveable due to the damage it caused, and...the front bumper was left at the scene of the crime!

Saturday night I finally got my birthday dinner.  We were both sick around the time of my birthday, so we finally made it to Joe's crabshack for seafood.  Now we have Valentine's Day coming up...wonder when we'll celebrate that event??

Not much is going on today...just the usual Sunday cooking and laundry and preparation for the week ahead.  I keep checking the radar and wishin' and hopin' for that snow and even sleet.  Gotta have it at least once this winter!!

Happy Trails!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Another Day, Another Week

Every evening this week, I've been in my fall asleep on the couch after dinner mode.  Finally today, I'm vertical and am going to catch up on my journey. 

Monday I went for my bi-monthly labwork and my hemoglobin count was down (9.2 and it should be 10+), so I had to get an Aranesp shot.  While I was waiting, there was a family waiting as well, and I overheard their conversation and figured out that one of them had recently been diagnosed with Carcinoid.  I shared everything I could with them until I was called to the back for my shot, and learned that the patient's journey was quite similar to my own...his doctor kept telling him his stomach issues were stress-related, though I don't know how long he had suffered.  It was long enough that the cancer had metastasized to his liver, and he suffered from flushing.  He was waiting for his first Sandostatin shot, and the family asked how long before it took effect, and I told them it was immediate.  When I took my first shot, I felt drunk, and my symptoms were quickly relieved.  I wanted so badly to tell them about my experience in New Orleans, but didn't think that would have been appropriate given that I was in the waiting room at Mercy Oncology...they might have frowned upon that.  Hopefully he will receive good care, but I just don't think his treatment will be very aggressive.

I took the baby quilt to work for show and tell with the Lunch Bunch, and got good feedback, so I'm feeling pretty confident that the recipient will like it as well.  If nothing else, she can throw it on the floor for Sawyer to play on.

Wednesday, I went to my M.D.'s office for my monthly Sandostatin shot.  I absolutely dread it each time, but it DOES do a lot of good, so I'm thankful it's available to myself and others in the same boat.  When I got home Danny had to run a couple of errands and offered dinner out, so I jumped on that like it was a lifeboat!  The cutest tale occurred as a result...on the way home Jess called and wanted to know where we were.  Danny told her we went to eat.  She said, "It's Wednesday!!"  (We go out on Friday and Saturday usually.)  Danny told her we sometimes get spontaneous...I guess you had to be there, but we got a chuckle out of it and were flattered that she was so concerned about our whereabouts.

So, the meteorologists are all saying we're going to have some snow Sunday into Monday, so I'm praying for it AND a snow day!  I went to the library today and got 3 new books just in case.  Tonight it's misty and dreary and I'm loving it...

Happy Trails!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Where Did the Weekend Go?

Friday was a pretty uneventful day except for a bit of a downpour after lunch.  I happened to walk through the foods lab and noticed water dripping from the vent hood over one of the cooktops.  A sizeable puddle had formed by the time I saw it, but the matter was addressed quickly by the front office and maybe the problem will be taken care of soon.

By the end of the day, I was on my last leg and after our usual Friday night date dinner at Poquitos, I crashed and woke up toward the end of the first half of the Thunder game.  Fortunately, the outcome was good, but not so much on Saturday night.  They were just no match for Parker's 3 point shots.  I'm sad this week because their games are out west and "late" so there's no way I can watch beyond the first half.  I guess that's better than not being able to watch at all.

Saturday I took a carload of recycling to the center, and that always makes me feel good.  I usually have a dumpster's worth and am glad to know that the landfill will be short that much trash.  My students recycle as well, though not as dilitently as I would like, but I try to make an impression.

After having turned off the alarm at 5:30 this morning, (I knew Danny would soon be getting up and I didn't have to be up for church until 6:30) I awoke abruptly at 6:15 in a panic.  I thought it was Monday and I was going to be late for work.  Was my heart ever pounding!!  I hope that wasn't a premonition of the near future!!  I know it's bound to's just a matter of when!

I'm happy to say that I FINISHED the quilt (except for sewing on the label, which I have already made)!!!!  What a relief to finally have it done!  Now I can start one of the other 37,000 projects lurking in my mind.  I certainly hope the recipient likes it...Jess still isn't convinced that it's as cool as I perceive it, and Danny has had the wisdom to keep his remarks to himself.  I guess beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.

Danny and I tried the "new" Japanese hibachi restaurant which opened in Yukon recently, Tokyo Moon.  I thought it was good, but Danny wasn't quite as impressed, especially for what it cost the two of us to eat.  I was just worried that my wig had gotten singed when the chef lit the grill on fire!!  Fotunately, all hairs were intact and unharmed.

So while reading the "Tuscan Holiday" I mentioned to Jess that we should take a mother-daughter trip this summer and visit some places in her book, "1000 Places to See Before You Die" (or something like that).  She excitedly began researching and came up with a couple places she was interested in and today we decided on Chicago, for their annual food festival.  We're both really excited and anxious to go...Danny is apprehensive about the 2 of us alone in a car for 10-11 hours.  I guess what doesn't kill you makes you stronger!!

Happy Trails!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Love is in the Air (or Maybe it's Severe Weather)

Yesterday was 2-1-12, a "fact" I find worthless but cool.  The weather has been in the upper 60's, which has been nice, but I'm sure wanting a snow day!!  Instead, there's a chance for severe weather tonight and tomorrow with a good amount of rain on the way.  Something's going to happen...I came home and was dead to the world for nearly two hours this evening. 

Today is Groundhog's Day, and I never have heard whether he saw his shadow.  Either way, I'm doubtful that any snow is in our future.  Good thing I took a picture of the "drift" on the deck...that's probably all I'll get to see this year!

Had a bad tummy day today thanks to the tacos and jalapeno dip we had for dinner last night.  I know what the next day brings, but sometimes I just crave that stuff!  This, too, shall pass, and I made it through the day so everything is good (or will be in a day or two!)

The guest speaker from earlier this week came back today to talk to my marriage and family students about housing and mortgages, etc.  Tomorrow they will be going to the computer lab to find a house for the family they are creating in class.  So far, they've only drawn for their careers/salaries and those of their spouses, and they bugged me everyday after that about when they would get to draw for how many children they have.  I sprung it on them yesterday and they were so excited.  Some have twins, some have 6, and they were still talking about it today.  I'm glad they're having so much fun with it, and am glad that they were so inquisitive of our guest speaker.  99% of them had no clue about down payments, or utility deposits, etc.  Now if only they can/will remember what they're learning and apply it when the time comes, they'll be in good shape.

I had two students bring packages of diapers for the "Diaper Dash" we're having this month to collect diapers for the Youth and Family Services agency.  My classes are in competition to see which one can bring the most diapers to support the cause.  It warms my heart when the students reach outside themselves and show compassion.

Happy Trails!