Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Reverend Countess Jan speaks...

so you'd better listen up--hehehe.
Okay, so I have enjoyed this title thing a bit much, but I thought that a little name (or title) dropping wouldn't be too bad, so I thought I'd list a few...

Reverend Countess Jan the Surprised of Much Bottom (yours truly)
His Grace Lord Edward the Blue of Longer Interval (hubby)
Sir Ethan the Imaginary of Heffton St Mallet (younger son, eldest has not selected yet)
Baroness Kristin the Venal of Happy Bottomshire (my friend)
Imperial Majesty Annie the Educated of Molton St Anywhere (my Aunt)
Her Exalted Highness Duchess Laurie the Cosmopolitan of Middle Witchampton (my cousin)
Her Excellency Suzanne the Sage of Leighton Buzzard (friend) **NEW**

I just love these and I will give updates periodically.

Post Christmas Update

Okay, between the coughing crud around here and all of the post-Christmas malaise, I am afraid that I haven't had much opportunity to update my blog and put up the pictures that I have taken.

First off, the gifts. This is the most ambitious I have been since having children in making gifts. I was beginning to believe that I have bitten off more than I could chew. Fortunately, the adrenaline rush resulting from the fear of not having gifts ready in time enabled me to finish up with a couple of days to spare. Of course, I was crocheting in my sleep, but I suppose that is to be expected. Here are the fruits of some of my labors.
This photo shows hats and matching scarves that I made for my two nieces and my two boys. The framed images are scrapbook pages that I made with pictures of my boys and a top ten list of what I love about each of them. I framed them for my parents' Christmas gift. I kept a set for me, too. I didn't take new photos of the "big blue blob" for my brother or the blankets that I had completed earlier for my boys. On an up note, my boys were thrilled with the things that their mommy made them. Even a family friend commented that it was so nice to see kids truly appreciate someone taking the time to make something special for them. Of course, I couldn't just leave well enough alone... I had to do something with my left over yarns a couple of days before Christmas. So, I purchased a giant skein of Red Heart Super Saver worsted yarn in black to use to separate the hodge-podge of colors that I have in my left over stash. Hopefully, the black can calm it down a bit. Some of the colors are a bit loud. This is a new ripple pattern that I am trying out from the Winter 2007 issue of Crochet Today. I like how it is working out. It makes soft waves, as opposed to the sharp points on the blanket I completed for younger son. The yarn I purchased was inexpensive and since half of the blanket will be made of left overs, this is truly a frugal project. The picture above is how it looked as I was starting it. It was taken in the morning of Christmas Eve.This is how it looked this afternoon. Since I haven't felt like doing much else, I have made a bit of progress on it. I am not sure what it will become. Maybe a couch throw for home. Maybe a gift for someone. Maybe a charity piece. It hasn't told me yet :-)

On other news, I have been enjoying taking oldest son to his behavioral therapy group since I can meet my friend Kristin for coffee and commiseration. Love that part!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Please address me by my title...

To the upper right side of this blog, you will find my new title. I laughed until I nearly cried at the fanny reference at the end. But, it is appropriate and in my newfound regalness, I will not be ashamed.

As for my new fortune cookie, I will be watching the fruit a bit more carefully from now on...

Her regalness is signing off.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas to All!

Well, this last week has flown by like a cyclone! Younger son and I have gotten the "crud," which is basically a cold, but for us, it has become a chest cold. I am trying to have it not turn into bronchitis (like last year) and he has asthma, so it's always a challenge.

This year is winding down fast and I wanted to wish everyone who reads this blog (okay, both of you) a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for a happy and productive 2008!

The Christmas carnage is over at our house. It all began last night with Christmas Eve at Granny's house with family. It was loud and chaotic.

Then we had Santa's visitation and gifts at our house this morning. It was loud and chaotic. It was also 4:30 in the God forsaken morning. Ugh.

This was followed by hubby's dad and aunt coming by with, yet more gifts, around lunchtime.
Guess what? Loud and chaotic? You betcha! Whew!

But, the boys have had a wonderful Christmas and are happy. I am tickled that the boys seemed happiest about the few items that I had crocheted for them. It warms a Mommy's heart.

Anyway, I will post pictures when I am able. Love to all.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Whew!

Well, we made it! School is out for Christmas break and we went to the Staff Christmas party for our school last night. It's always loads of fun to cut loose and relax with friends.

One of my students came and stayed with my boys last night and they had a blast (well, the boys did. Not sure how Morgan fared!). They enjoyed having someone to play with them. My youngest has a huge crush on Morgan, so I am sure that kept things lively. But, she is an amazingly good sport about it. I'm fortunate to know so many good kids at our school that I can find a sitter when I need to.

The Senior class and I went out to lunch at a local Mexican restaurant yesterday for our Christmas party. They had a gift swap and they laughed and carried on. They presented me with a gorgeous royal blue (our school colors) fleece jacket to wear. It fits like a dream and is so soft. I am tickled pink (er, royal blue)!

My youngest son's Christmas play was a big hit. He was the Christmas tree (and a cute one, at that). All of the kids did an amazing job. Too cute!

Older son's class got to go to the local American Pie and gorge on pizza for their party.

Poor hubby had to get up and go to work this morning while we all got to stay home. Hate that part!

I finished a couple more hats for gifts. I will try to post a picture soon. I still have a few more to go....

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Do a Good Thing this Christmas!!!

My Senior class and I are sending 50 Christmas cards with well wishes to American Soldiers who are recovering from injuries in Iraq or Afghanistan. We invite you and your family to do the same.
Send cards with well wishes to:
A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20307-5001

Another option is to send cards via email to soldiers who are currently serving overseas. The Xerox Corporation has generously funded this. If you go to the website www.letssaythanks.com and plug in your name, hometown, and a message, they will print your card and send it at their own expense to a soldier who is currently serving.

In both of these programs, you can't choose who gets the cards, but isn't that the Christmas Spirit in action? It doesn't matter who they are or who you are--it matters the work that they are doing on our behalf. This is also a way to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in folks of all ages.

There are no excuses! Everyone who is reading this can send an e-card (or 20) and it won't cost them a thing. Before you ignore this, ask yourself how many of the freedoms that you enjoy are worth ignoring???

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Stick a fork in me...

I am done! Whew! I am ecstatic to report that I have finished my first ever ripple blanket for my younger son's Christmas. I was really sweating getting this one finished--it just seemed to go on forever. Actually, I had originally planned to have the stripes run across the bed, but even though I followed the pattern carefully, it seemed like the weight of the yarn kept pulling it wider and although I added stripe after stripe, it never seemed to get much longer.

Well, I put it on the bed the other night (the boys were having a sleepover with the suckers, uh, I mean grandparents) and realized that I could turn it so that the stripes run down the length of the bed and it only needed a small border to finish off. Needless to say, I went with it.

On retrospect, I like the stripes running this way; it's a bit more dramatic and different that way.

Of course, the same day, older son told me that he liked it when I made things for him and that he really wanted a homemade hat, scarf, and mittens for Christmas. NOW, he tells me this. Ugh!!!

I have enough left over yarn from the ripple to do a set for younger son, but I don't know if I have quite enough for older son's. But, I might. Maybe I could come up with a striped set so that I can use lots of different colors. At least these projects will go by faster than a bed sized blanket. God knows, I don't have enough to do.... :-)

On the kitten front, baby Delilah has been a wonderful addition to the family. We all love her to pieces. She is active and playful and loves attention. She is curled up next to me as I type this. We have laughed and laughed at her antics. Truly, she went from being an unwanted, starving little thing to a vibrant bundle of blessings for us. Love that!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Meet Delilah!


A Pounding!

I love it when we have a "pounding" at Church!!!

We recently have had a lovely lady and her daugher join our church. Unbeknownst to us, they were living in the local shelter. Well, that wouldn't do. The elders have located a house for them to live in and are helping her to find work.

That's where we come in. As major needs are being met, church members are volunteering to meet the smaller needs (linens, lamps, cleaning supplies, etc.). That's when we start "pounding!" We start bringing small containers of food stuffs (a pound of this, a pound of that, get it?) and fill the pantry. By the time everyone gives a bit, there is lots of good, nutritious food for the family!

Plus, we are doing good while sounding like we are doing something a bit naughty--gotta love that!

Another busy week!

Nothing like running around like a chicken with its proverbial head cut off to make a week just fly by!

The fourth grade teacher decided that she couldn't deal with the class pet any longer (and my younger son was so upset) so we volunteered to take the bunny. Her name is Diva. The boys say that they will rename her, but they keep calling her Diva, so we will see.

Then one of my students who is working toward being a veterinarian one day, found an abandoned kitten who was only 3 weeks old and far too young to be away from her mother. Since she works part time at the local vet clinic, she had access to everything she needed to help to nurse the baby back to reasonable health. Unfortunately, she lives in a family with cat allergies (all except her) and the vet couldn't board the baby forever. So, he gave her until Friday of that week to find a permanent home for her (the local rescue shelters are all full). So guess who has a new baby??? You guessed it, Mama Sucker!

Her name is Delilah, which translates as delicate in Hebrew. She certainly is a delicate little baby. Yes, I know the story of Samson and Delilah, but we don't have a male, longhaired cat named Samson, so that crisis is averted and besides, I don't think she is big enough to use the clippers yet.

She is a calico baby and is so loving and sweet. I will post pictures as soon as I can. Right now, she has just learned to eat from a saucer. For the first few days, we had to spoon feed her which was utterly hysterical.

Diana, our adult cat is not impressed. She pouts and hisses and carries on. She will have to get over it, but it reminds me so much of when my youngest was born and my oldest cried and screamed to see his Mommy holding another baby.

We have been richly blessed this week.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Creative people!

On Thanksgiving evening, we went over to my Aunt and Uncle's house for desserts and a Christmas tree lighting ceremony (they have trees down their winding driveway that light up).

It was fun. The kids played and laughed and we sang Christmas carols. Good stuff.

One thing that really stood out to me was that my aunt did a fabulous job decorating with lots of good, shiny stuff. She put little Christmas lights in colored bottles of different shapes and grouped them together to make a festive display. Mostly made from throw away items. Some even had some little bottle drapes made of chain and beads. Very cute, very festive, very classy.

I laughed with hubby when I got home that if I did it, it would look like lights thrown in a bottle. When she does it, it looks like a million bucks. But, it's a good, frugal idea, only a different look from the one with the potpourri in it that I posted about before. If you want to see how it is made, check out my original blog post and look for the comments. Bev Qualheim (whose original pattern this is) put a link to the original location of the post on her blog. Love that!

The Latest Project...


Here it is. I started a new project for younger son's Christmas. Of course, he was looking over my shoulder while I was trying to find an appropriate colorway and informed me that if he ever received such a wonderful gift that his would just have to be all in greens. As a matter of fact, he pointed out a 3-toned white to green ripple afghan that he really liked.

Nothing like a challenge, huh? I have never crocheted anything that really needed a written pattern before. Plus, this is an unknown entity and I have a hard deadline of Christmas. Wonderful. Ugh. I had to slip off to Wally World with my Mom on Thanksgiving Day to buy yarn in the appropriate greens. Specifically, greens that would go well together, look similar to the picture he fell in love with, and that wouldn't break the bank. Sounds easy, right--NOT!

I settled on a light sage green, a medium sea green, and a creamy winter white. The stripe pattern was born of necessity. The original picture showed a very regular, dark, medium, light pattern which repeated. In this case, I chose not to do that since the light and the medium greens are a little too close in tone, so they needed the white to be between them in order to keep them distinct. Also, the creamy white and the light green are about half the cost of the darker green yarn. Since this entire afghan is being crocheted with two strands of worsted weight yarn, this is going to take a lot of yarn. I am going to make it to be a blanket on his twin bed. So, I decided to alter the stripes up to use the cheaper yarns at a ratio of about 2 to 1 with the darker green. I think this shows up pretty well in the picture.

I took the picture this morning and kept working on it quite a bit. Right now it measures about 58-60 inches wide and about 26 inches long. I have quite a way to go and I am sweating it since I am back to school tomorrow and I won't have nearly as much time to work on it as I have these last few days.

Well, I need to take a shower and go grade papers for school that I have been putting off all week~

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope that you and yours have had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Have you considered what you are thankful for this year?
Is it your freedom?
Is it your family?
Your health?
God?

It's worth thinking about. And since you are so grateful, what are you going to do to express it?
Hmmm.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

$20 saved!

Ugh! I have just finished giving the boys their Thanksgiving haircuts. I won't say that it is an easy way to save $10 per head, but it does add up to $20 saved!

Apparently, the easiest way to make a child squirm is to ask them to sit still. It really tests my manual dexterity (of which I have very little) to get this done without making my darling children look like side show freaks, but I have managed fairly well thus far.

I am exhausted.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thank God for the What-Not!

Every other Sunday is Dinner after church at my house. Alternating weeks, we eat at my parent's home. Being a lazy bum today we had sandwiches and chips (in my own defense, last time, I fixed chicken and dumplings, mashed potatoes, green beans, biscuits, and a cake).

Today, we sat down to eat and younger son said the blessing, "Dear God, thank you for Cheetos and what-not on the table. Oh, and help us be good. In Jesus' name, amen."

Hmmm. I bet you can guess what his favorite food on the table was. It was all we adults could do to keep from bursting out laughing.

But, isn't there a lesson in it? We get excited about the Cheetos, but God provides the "what-not" as well. Aren't we to be grateful for the parts we are less excited about, too?

Out of the mouth of babes....

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Yay! Thanksgiving Break~!!!

Wow! The last week has been an absolute whirlwind around here. At school, we had our first basketball games and pep rally. This included the infamous "slime a senior" and "slime a staff member" game. The kids and staff bought tickets to have someone in either category slimed.

Well, I didn't win, but I did have to sit out as a decoy so the chosen sucker wouldn't know for sure it would be them. An overzealous student ensured that I would get to experience some slime as well. Unfortunately, my new, expensive, ugly, orthopedic shoes were covered and I feared that they would be ruined. The good news is that they survived, although 2 days later, they are still soggy.

I went back into the school on Friday to catch up on some grading. I did, ultimately, bring some home, but got most of it done and loaded into the computer system.

Today, we are going to take a photo of a colleague of mine in a wedding dress with a llama. I think hubby said something about a black and white artsy print. It will be interesting to see how this will all turn out.

Business is picking up on the photography end with folks wanting pictures for Christmas cards and giving. It is great to see hubby so excited about it. He does such amazing work.

Anyway, I am left with a filthy house to clean and lots of Christmas projects that are in progress. But, a week off is a happy thing!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Rain! Glorious rain!

Well, for all of the jokes about Georgia's Governor, Sonny Perdue, praying for rain, we did receive the answer to the prayers of many Georgian's in the form of a storm with heavy rains during the night.

We have needed rain so terribly, it was truly a blessing--and a long awaited one at that.

Keep praying for rain. Clearly, our petitions are being heard!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Two more days...

It's the teacher's lament: two more days before break begins. I think we need it as much as the students do!

Actually, it hasn't been a bad week on the school front. Lots of activity, but no real problems to speak of. I had a major test in one class on Monday and I have another big test to administer on Thursday. Then a week off to rest up. I'll go in on Friday to catch up paperwork while we have no students, but then I am home free.

I can't wait. I would love to finish the giant granny square that I am making for my oldest son for Christmas so I can start on the one for the little one.

More soon.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Gifts finished and unfinished as of yet...

This is my current project, a bed sized blanket or bedspread for my oldest son. It is made of deep, rich colors. At first, I was calling it jewelled tones, but they are really deeper than that. The center is the deepest green chenille yarn. The next row is cobalt blue, followed by a rich burgundy, and amethyst purple. Each row is separated by a soft, winter white row. The colors ran together without the separation row. It looks much better than in the picture.

Right now, it is about 35 inches by 45 inches. I am hoping that I can get it finished in time for Christmas, but I will also have to make one for my youngest son (Rabbit Boy, in the post below) also. So, I have my work cut out for me! But, my kiddos get excited when I have made them something, so it makes it all worth while!
This is the completed big, blue, blob. It is a blanket crocheted from a single (HUGE) granny square. It was simple to complete, if not time consuming. It's around 5.5 feet square. It is made up entirely of acrylic yarns in blue colors, ranging from very pale to navy.
This is a closeup of the center section of the quilt.

My Very Own Super-Hero!



Introducing Rabbit Boy--the hottest thing to ever fight crime wearing green swim goggles and a camouflage cape, don't'cha think?

Out of Touch!

I wish I could relay that all has been quiet here in the Deep South and that is why I haven't posted much recently. But, life has been coming at us fast and furious here and the splatter factor is off the charts!

First off, we have had our first round a stomach viruses for the year. First my youngest got it, then my oldest, and then, of course, good ol' Mom gets a whopper of a case of it and has to take 2 days off from work. I hate being out of work because it seems like everything goes completely nuts in my classroom and it takes days to get it all back in sync.

My parents, took my boys to Albany, GA to see the new animal park and aquarium. They had the time of their little lives! My parents looked a little worse for wear, but the boys were happy!

I have been concerned about getting Christmas together this year and have prayed about it. Lo, and behold, I wandered into a warehouse sale that I hadn't even heard about and found wonderful deals. I think I am largely through with Christmas for everyone except hubby and my kiddos. It's a wonderful relief.

On the crafting front, I have completed a scarf and hat for my niece. I have made another niece a hat and still have to do a matching scarf. I have purchased yarn on closeout ($1 a skein at Dollar Tree) to make two scarves for two cousins who are Florida State fans.

I am working on a mega-granny square blanket in deep, jewel tones that hopefully will become a bedspread or blanket for my oldest son's twin bed. In order to give it to him for Christmas, I will have to make one in random green tones for his younger brother. We'll see if I can do it in time without re-awakening the tendonitis curse that I developed from obsessive knitting a few years back. Ridiculous, I know, but I have an awesome knitting tension now. It was worth it!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More Christmas Stuff...

I have been working on more Christmas gifts recently. I need to work out for my health, but my crafts have taken over as my current stress relief. So far, I have made a lovely, royal blue prayer shawl as a surprise gift for a colleague who is dear to me. This is my second prayer shawl and I would like to make another one but I will have to see if I have time between now and Christmas. I had ordered cute little bracelets from a school fundraiser with the ten commandments on little charms around them for my nieces. I completed a cute little multi-colored hat and matching scarf for one niece. Now, I will have to make a set for the other niece. Can't figure out what colors yet, though. I'm trying to use up my stash for gifts as much as possible as I have created a storage nightmare for myself :-)

Next, I am trying a new design for a doggie sweater for my doggie which we share with my parents. She is such a sweet little baby, but she always acts like she is freezing to death. My first two attempts gave us a cute bandana and a sweater that won't stay on. So, this time, I am trying to knit it in the round with a knitting loom so that it will be extra stretchy, but fit pretty closely. I'm hoping that it will just be a matter of getting the arm holes in the right spot. I am modifying this off of a chihuahua pattern and making it longer through the torso for my little mini-doxie/terrier mix. Hopefully, this one will work. The nicest part is that I am not looking for perfection on this one. Next, I will have to go back to working on the gifts that must be fabulous looking.

I feel pretty psyched that I have some gifts ready to go and it's not even November yet. I made a set of nice slipper socks a while back that I can give to someone also. When I wasn't working, I did lots of canning fruits and veggies and could use those for gift baskets at Christmas. That did take a lot of pressure off during the actual Christmas season as the only thing that I had to do for the majority of our gifts was just assembling the baskets and making sure they looked cute. That was always easy-breezy!

on a different note, my oldest was out sick today. He seems to starting a mild head cold, but he gets so emotional about anything that feels out of the ordinary that I kept him home to keep him calm. Aspie's can get so overly emotional sometimes. I could have made him go to school, but I can pretty much guarantee that he wouldn't get any real work done and neither would I (I would spend my day trying to help deal with him). So, he has rested up and has a better shot of behaving tomorrow. Plus, I always have the ace in the hole: if you behave today, you can go home and spend the night with Granny and Grandpa. There is no better bribery than that!

Friday is our Fall Festival at work. It will be a long day, but we always manage to make a good time of it. Hard work, when accompanied by good friends and wicked senses of humor usually make for time to go a flyin'. Hopefully we will have a good turn out and lots of community support. I'll be helping with the silent auction primarily and that is usually a big hit.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

School, and Flu Shots, and Tears--Oh Joy!

Well, it has been an interesting week for us. We have had an abbreviated week at school (even more than our usual 4 day week) because of a teacher work day on Monday. It was nice to have a day to catch up on all of my paperwork, etc.

Today, we left right after school and went to the pediatrician's office for the walk in (cattle call) flu shot clinic times. Needless to say, I didn't tell the boys until I absolutely had to. They still didn't handle it well. Additionally, it was packed and noisy in the office which throws my oldest (Aspie) into absolute fits.

My oldest was an absolute trooper. He hasn't had to get flu shots before because of the lack of availability of the preservative (ethyl mercury) free version of the vaccine. This year, we were able to get our injections from single-dose vials that don't require any additional preservatives (Hallelujah!). My youngest has athsma and we really don't want to risk a bout of flu. The oldest doesn't process and expel mercury from his system like a normal child, so we have avoided any unnecessary immunizations that might contain mercury. I refuse to expose him to any mercury that is avoidable at all. I really don't see the logic in exposing any child to ANY amount of mercury at all-but particularly not a child with a known history of problems with mercury lingering in his tissues.

My youngest has gone for all out drama with his shot. He cried, he wailed like a paid mourner, he couldn't give himself a bath for the pain. Yes, shots hurt, but I believe that things like kidney stones and childbirth would have to rate higher on the pain scale. With this kid, a paper cut could be permanently debilitating to hear him!

But, tomorrow promises to be a better day. The boys are both going on a field trip to the Super Scientific Circus and are excited. My parents are driving them, so I don't have to worry about the older one getting overwhelmed and no one knowing how to handle him or the younger one needing a breathing treatment and no one knowing how to administer it.

Plus, it's always easier if I don't have to get a sub for my classroom. I am so grateful for the support that my parents give me and the boys. I am blessed.

Monday, October 15, 2007

working out

I made it up this morning to work out a bit before getting ready for work. It's amazing to me that this has been such a struggle, when I regularly did this for months before I broke my foot.

Anyway, I got up and did 20 minutes on the elliptical. Not much, I realize, but maybe enough to spur my metabolism a little bit. I will do a resistance band workout after work.

Now if I can only do this again tomorrow...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

More Christmas ideas...

I saw on a blog that Bev Qualheim has (she is from www.bevscountrycottage.com) of an idea that I had seen before but forgotten about. It is a jar or decorative piece of glasswork layered with Christmas lights and potpourri. The top is covered with a doily and tied with ribbon. When plugged in, the lights heat up the potpourri and give off a lovely scent. It's a good Christmas gift, but can be left out year round.

Another idea is a gift that I received last year from Margaret (a teaching colleague and friend). It is a glass brick with a hole drilled in it (hubby can handle that part). It is filled with white Christmas lights and tied up like a present with a lovely wired ribbon. Under the tree, it looks like a gift that glows. Very cool and the ribbon can be changed to match occasions or decors. It could be left out year round if decorated correctly. I suppose you could add some silk or dried flowers to the bow also for a more victorian feel.

Now, I have more to consider. Hmmm. I LOVE sparkly gifts.

My teammates made it!

I just got off of the phone with Misty and she survived the 3-Day! I am so proud of her and Denise and Kristin. These ladies have really given of themselves to make the world a better place. The only thing better is if I could have joined them.

My aunt sent me a link to quiltpink.com which is a group that makes quilts to sell to raise money for breast cancer research. Maybe I will make a quilt to help Misty and Kristin fundraise next year. Hmmm. I can still participate and I like that idea.

Boys and Haircuts

Okay, the boys have gotten downright scraggly in the last couple of weeks, but it finally got so bad that I could ignore it no further. So, I broke down and (finally) handed out 40 minutes or so of "threats and haircuts." It's not that I am being mean, it's just that my kids can sit perfectly still for half an hour in front of a professional hairstylist, but they can't sit still for more than 30 seconds for me. The threats sound something like one or more of the following:
I am NOT going to cut your ear off
Sit still. I can't do a good job if you're moving.
Don't move your head.
If you don't sit still, I will cut your ear off--but it will be your own fault
Stop whining
I did NOT poke you with the scissors, but I just might if you don't hush.
Sit still!
Hold you head still or you'll have a freakish haircut!
Did I mention, sit still--or else?

Okay, I have never claimed to have the market cornered on great parenting skills, but this one thing really tries my patience. I love the goomers and I hate it when they look scraggly and unkept so haircuts will be a recurrent issue. Plus, the professionals aren't open tomorrow and I saved $$$.

By the way, the boys actually look really nice and respectable. Looks can be deceiving....

Church fellowship gathering

Our church had a lovely fall gathering last night at the home of one of our elders. They have a lovely spread out in the country with corrals of horses behind their yard. The boys enjoyed it and our aspie seldom really enjoys anything that involves lots of people because it makes him so apprehensive and nervous that he will do something wrong.

But, we cooked hotdogs over an open fire, petted the horses, made s'mores and enjoyed one another's company. It's been a long time since we have gotten to socialize as a family since it's so tough for oldest child.

But, it was worth it. I felt much more encouraged as we went to worship this morning.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I have (had) a chili dog...

Our dog, Daisy, is half terrier and half mini-dacshund. She is currently living with Granny and Grandpa because she has two major issues. The first is that she has the world's smallest bladder and pees all over everything--constantly. At the grandparent's house, Granny is home during the day to let her out often. The second issue is that the poor thing is so cold natured that she is constantly shivering.

So, I have made her two little prototype dog clothing pieces to keep her warm. Am I a sucker or what? The first is a half granny square with ties that she can wear like a shawl. The other is a long rectangle with a ruffle over the butt and loops to put her front legs through. I will have to post pictures if I can ever get some of her wearing her new duds.

We went into a pet store lately, and they were selling all sorts of dog clothes at outrageous prices. At least these could be made from yarn left overs and some time.

Pondering Christmas ideas...

It's that time of year again when I get antsy trying to figure out ideas for Christmas gifts that won't break the bank. As usual, once the panic passes, then I am usually caught up in the creative spirit. I never seem to have enough time to get enough crafty stuff completed, but absolutely LOVE making gifts instead of just buying them.

Of course, I do stupid stuff like talk to the gifts as I make them, giggle over them, and such--but that's my sick state of mind and I end up having a really great time with it all. Plus, it's a help to the budget that I can usually make things that end up being more sentimental or valuable than just the sum of the materials that I have put together.

So, now I just have to decide what to do. I have lots of yarn on hand, so projects that use that up would be a winner. I have recently taught myself to crochet and have done enough knitting in one sitting to give myself tendonitis one year... (have I mentioned that I am an all or nothing kind of gal???). So, there are options there.

I have fabric around (boy, do I ever have fabric, but that is another story/storage nightmare) so quilted gifts are an option. I have done some machine quilting in the past for smaller pieces and it turned out well. Large quilts inevitably get bunched up on the back when I try to work with them. I'm still working on fixing that one. So, Christmas pillows and decorations are big hits with my family (we have several Santa collectors). Table runners are usually easy and quick to complete. Placemats, pot holders, with matching napkins are pretty easy also. Hmmm... there are options here also.

I could take up excess fabric and crochet a rug from it. If I have enough in the right colorways, then that is a great, inexpensive gift.

I have been enamored with the idea of gift baskets full of mixes in a jar and such. Maybe a meal theme would work well for that (soup in a jar, salad dressing mix, brownies in a jar, etc.). I used to do lots of gift baskets with home canned jams and jellies. I haven't been able to can so much these last couple of years, so that is not terribly likely. But, the mixes might work also.

I have found a website that shows how to crochet a decorative edging around fabric items and that can be really nice. Since hubby bought me the set of nice crochet hooks, I have the small ones that can punch through an evenweave fabric. So, a nice edging on pillowcases is an option. I could even do some embroidery work on them first to add more color.

There is a monthly sale at the Sock Shoppe in Griffin, GA which often has wonderful, fluffy towels at bargain prices ($1 for regular towels, $3 for bath sheets which could really be cut into 2 ample kids towels). When (if) you can find good, neutral colors, they can be embellished easily with trims and ribbons to look spectacular.

Hmmm... Decisions, decisions. Did I mention that panic sets in before I can settle into my crafting???

Senior Pictures

We are finally getting some reasonable weather for taking Senior Pics. It's hard to take good shots when the students are sweating to death. Plus, some want fall scenes with changing leaves, etc. for their photos. It's tough to pull off outdoor shoots when it is 101+ degrees out. Nothing like sweaty students...

But, it's really good to see them all dolled up and ready for their formal pictures.

In the springtime we will do the infamous cap and gown photos. Those are fun, too.

All of these babies are growing up. Sigh.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The 3-Day starts today!

Well, the 3-Day walk starts today and I am rooting and praying for my teammates as they complete the event!

Go Misty, Kristin, and Denise!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I'm proud...


This is what I have been doing lately. These are two hats with booties and a baby afghan for our former preacher's first grandchild. After three daughters, his first grandchild will be a boy--he's a little tickled about that.

It's been fun working on baby stuff. It works up fast and it's so darn cute! I have laughed and oohed and aahed over the little booties and reminisced over when my babies were little (although my oldest was NEVER that tiny--his 3 month old size clothes were pretty darn full right away).

The blanket is just a huge granny square. But it makes for good, mindless crocheting for in front of the tv. I guess this is what I am doing for stress relief these days since working out isn't doing it for me much. It's probably because I can't work out for the duration that I did before my injury. But, I have got to get it together.

The 3-day starts tomorrow. I am rooting for my team--BIG TIME!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

3-Day Praises!

Hurrahs and big hugs to Misty, Kristin, and Denise, the remnant of team 3-Day Supporters! They will report in 2 days to do a 60 mile walk to raise money for breast cancer research.

I am both insanely jealous and really proud of them all!

It's Official!

Okay, I have finally hit the big 4-0. I guess the good news is that I am way more bummed that the 3-day walk will go on without me. My pity party goes something like this: everyone will be having fun without me. Oh well.

But, I had a good day yesterday. I didn't take on anything major and we just took everything slow and easy. We did go out for dinner last night and it was lovely. Eddie and the boys got me an excellent set of crochet hooks so that I can continue my crafting fun.

I have finished the big blue blob for a Christmas gift. Plus, I have just finished a lovely baby afghan with 2 matching hats and 2 pairs of booties for the expected grandson of our former preacher. It's so sweet to work on baby stuff. This is the first grandchild for a family that had only daughters and no sons, so this is going to be one spoiled rotten baby! Of course, I have a really soft spot for baby boys...

The only really bad part is that I am going to have to really start cleaning and working hard around the house while I am on fall break to keep my mind off of the 3-day. Yuck! I'd rather be lazy...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Birthday Pandemonium Week

Whew! What a week. My oldest kiddo's birthday was on Tuesday. He is eleven years old. I can't stand it. Some days seem to take years to complete and yet the whole 11 years has flown by. Go figure.

Granny transported cupcakes, ice cream cups, and drinks in a cooler to school on Tuesday for the classroom party since I was teaching and couldn't do it myself. Two of the girls made up a cheer to commemorate the birthday shenanigans.

We had the obligatory family party Tuesday night after work. We ate hot dogs and had ice cream cake. My nieces couldn't make it, so that was a bummer, but it was a nice get together, even if I did have to clean my house wearing an aircast.

Friday, I was scheduled to work detention at school, and we went in early. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the students who were assigned to work didn't show up, so we left after about an hour. So, we set off to Decatur to pick up my new orthotics and orthopedic shoes. This saved us a trip on Saturday. It took over 1 1/2 hours to get there--ugh! I ran into two detours due to road work and then my directions were incorrect. We are probably lucky to have found the place at all. But, we got them and all is well. If only I could wear them now. I go back to the orthopedist on the 27th and with any luck I will be able to use real shoes instead of THE BOOT.

Today, we picked up a friend and took my boys and friend to the movies for the "official kid gathering." We sat through Mr. Bean's Holiday and I can honestly say that it is a supreme act of parental love to sit through that much slapstick and Monty Python mimickry. Don't get me wrong, I love Python, just not bad rip offs of their skits. The boys, however, laughed until I thought they would pee their pants, so it was a successful outing. Now, they are all over here, running around the through my house. But, it 's a good thing.

My youngest son has had friends over on numerous occasions. Even kids who come over to see both of my kids, gravitate toward my youngest. My aspie son sometimes joins in and sometimes does not. This is the first time that he has asked a kid (who is 3 years older than him) over and they have really had a blast and he is here for my aspie son, not for the other one, who is also joining in the play. My kid really feels special and it makes my heart sing. Today, it is all about him. I am grateful.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It's good to have Super Friends!

One of my favorite classes to teach is British Literature. The kids seem to really enjoy the Arthurian legends and this year was no exception. One story in particular, "Gawain and the Green Knight" is the first story where a knight (a superhero in his time) wore someone else's magical girdle (made much like underwear that pull up really high) outside his clothing to protect him. After the kids got past the man wearing another man's underwear part, they realized that our modern superheroes wear their underwear on the outside too.


I'll give you three guesses as to what the assignment was that arose from this discussion...
The first two don't count.
Yes, this lad, dressed as a cheap disco ball, complete with Superman undies and a cape, is my 18 year old brother. Pray for me.
These are all of my little Superheroes (Matthew, Michael, Mikhail, Stephanie, Nathan in front). What a motley crew they turned out to be!
Yes, this student attempted to be terribly risque in his choice of Superhero names. His superpower was the ability to search out large mammary glands in teenage girls (much like the skills of ordinary teenage boys, but that is another story). Unfortunately, grammar prevailed and he only confused folks with the label of "Double D D's" emblazoned on his chest. While everyone knew what he meant, they realized that he really hadn't said it after all.

I think everyone should grow up and be a teacher. It's good for giggles at least!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Birthday week

Well, my oldest turns 11 years old tomorrow. I can't believe how old he is getting. He is so excited about it, that he is really driving me crazy. He just can't wait.

He'll have a good time tomorrow.
He'll drive me insane tonight.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I'm a Proud Mama

This week, I received an invitation for my younger son to participate in the Gifted Program at our school. I am so proud of him. He absolutely loves school and to learn.

This class will meet twice a week with the Headmaster of our school. The kids will work on doing hands on science experiments and history projects. I think he will really groove on this.

As for my older son, he has done extremely well this week in school. The new computer and software has helped his attitude tremendously. I have spent this week in total awe of how well he has done with the help of his new technology. His attitude has improved dramatically. I knew that academics were very stressful for him, but I didn't realize how a little success would help him relax about school.

I feel so blessed. God is good.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Secret

My friend, Karen, told me about a book that she was reading when I was on vacation with her. It was called The Secret. She tried to explain to me what it was about and I was really intrigued.

The other day, hubby and I were in a bookstore and he saw the book and asked if that was the book that Karen told us about. It was, so I got it.

It was a little odd getting into it at first, but once I got past the first little bit and got accustomed to the odd terminology at times, I realized that it touched upon some really familiar things.

As I read, I bounced back and forth between memories of scriptures and moral lessons and the long, rambling talks that Misty and I had during our marathon training sessions (that broke my foot and eventually sidelined Misty, too).

This author synthesized down Biblical messages to basically explain why and how, "you reap what you sow." For something so basic and so simple, it is really awe inspiring once you get into it and really grasp it.

I am amazed how much of this concept I knew and I respected and I believed, but I didn't embrace and use it.

Okay, maybe I don't scream obscene things at other drivers when I am mad, because of these lessons, but I didn't accept how these types of lessons instruct us on a deeper level: how my attitudes and my thoughts and emotions are affecting the world around me.

It's the key to achieving deeper faith. It's the key to developing balance in your life. It's the key to keeping your sanity, long term, when surrounded by hormonal teenagers at work every day.

And I had missed it.

Blessings!

One of the biggest things about the recent educational testing is that our son needs extensive use of adaptive technologies in order to be successful academically. Technology=Money and that has been in short supply lately. It was a stretch to pay for the testing!

But, my parents jumped up, unbidden, and provided a laptop, voice recognition software, headphones, printer, and educational software, and a few audio books to get our little guy started. It's an early birthday gift, but I am the one who feels gifted far more than he does--and he really does!

What can I say? Prayers are answered. Needs are met. Kids are loved.
God is good.

Growing Like a Weed

My little wheezer has grown so much over the summer that when we put long pants on him, they are all capri-length. So, we ran today and got a great deal at the Old Navy outlet. They are becoming an Old Navy (sans Outlet) and are having a 50% off sale. So, I got two pairs of really good fitting jeans for the price of one. I'm a happy camper!

I will go back for more over the weekend. I wonder if they have anything to fit the older son....
Hmmm.

Educational Testing

It became apparent last year that we needed more information about how my Aspie thinks and works and processes information so that we can help him more with his academics. So, on the advice of some wonderful doctors and therapists, we made an appointment with a Neuropsychologist in Fayetteville. We had to wait months for our first meeting.

Dr. Lynda Boucougnani-Whitehead has turned out to be an absolutely fabulous person as well as a true professional. She and my kid hit it off right away and she has an uncanny ability to appreciate him where he is now, without judging him for any deficits that he may have.

Well, we went this past Friday to meet with her about his results. It was very, very informative, but an overwhelming amount of information to process at one time. We met for over 2 hours and only touched the tip of the iceberg. But, at least we didn't smack the iceberg Titanic style and self-destruct!

After a couple of days of looking at this report and processing the myriad of suggestions and techniques, I think I have almost wrapped my head around this stuff. We are looking at a pretty severe non-verbal learning disorder in addition to the Asperger's syndrome. His working memory is faulty and he lacks executive functioning skills and the ability to visualize anything. It's going to be a long road ahead.

The good news is that we're not cutting our own road through virgin forest or unfriendly terrain. The road exists. Its adequate. It's just likely to be pretty bumpy at times. But the destination is worth getting to, so it will be okay--even if our butts go numb at times during the journey. And it is a journey.

Some days it is pretty surreal. But, that may be due to myself more than my son!

New Meds and Healthy Kids for now

To catch up with the last couple of weeks...
We've had multiple medication changes for my little asthmatic. But the best solution has been to dress him like he is going to the frozen arctic. Apparently, the AC is so cool, that once he gets chilled, it's all over.

I took the kids with me to be casted for my new orthotics and to purchase my first two pair of orthopedic shoes. Not a time to have kids with you, but, hey, what's a Mom to do?

I'm getting sick of the boot. Really sick.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Feeling crafty

Okay, I am at home with asthmatic younger son today. Every time we get a rainy spell or temperature change, his asthma goes nuts. If this continues, I am going to have to insist on a medication change. The current medicine works really well for most of the year and it is non-steroidal and has very few side effects and I like that, but we are missing lots of school at this point and the year is just now getting started.

The giant granny square blanket (or blue blob) that I started has morphed into a Christmas gift for someone. I won't say who, because I want it to remain a secret, but it's a family member. I think it will be cool. The larger it gets, the better it looks. It has a varigated blue center that ranges from sky blue to navy. That is followed by a wide band of a medium, wedgewood blue, and a band that I have just started of navy blue. The larger it gets, the more I like it.

I did learn that there is a Project Linus chapter in Griffin and I would like to work with some kids and other staff members to maybe make a group donation from the school. Another teacher, Leigh Ann said she would do it with me and she is the one who suggested Project Linus. I think it is really good to show the kids by example about charitable works done for Christ. Often, we adults, talk about helping others and we might do things individually, but how often do we work on such things alongside our kids and students so that they may truly experience the joy of giving?

Speaking of giving, one of my students is going to Romania in November in order to minister to the homeless there as well as to spread the Gospel in general. One of the ways that he is asking for support is with donations of new blankets. Now, I knew that I would support this young man's desire to spread God's plan, but I love the idea of sending a tangible symbol of Christian love to people who are cold and freezing in Romania. Hubby and I could write a check and that money would be put to good use, but this is an opportunity for the kids to take part as well. They can earn money to provide blankets themselves. They can shop with me to decide which blankets to purchase. They can help me find the best blankets for the least money so we can do more. If we write a check, the boys may never really understand how $ spreads the Word. But, they understand being cold and tired. They have some idea of what it would be like to be forced to be outside in that cold. They will know that they, themselves, made an extra effort to show kindness to someone that they will never meet. Someone who can't say thank you; someone who is genuinely in NEED.

My boys are obsessed with wants these days. It's nice to break it down to show NEEDS and how it is scripturally correct to sacrifice a bit (or a lot) in order to demonstrate God's love and blessings to someone in need. My youngest started writing his Santa list today in between breathing treatments. While, I don't blame him for wanting things (I want things, too), I do want both of my boys to learn to prioritize between NEEDS and WANTS.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

clomp, step, clomp, step

Okay, I am getting somewhat used to the sound of trying to be mobile in an aircast boot. On the whole, I think I am doing pretty well. I am still bummed about the walk, but I have accepted that. Basically, I am really missing my early morning walks. It was a reason to get up in the morning. It gave structure and purpose to my day. It was social time, too. I was walking and enjoying the company of a good friend.

My doctor has approved that I can ride an exercise bike and resume my elliptical as long as I build up slowly. But, while it has seemed so easy to get up and meet Misty, I can't seem to make myself do it just for me. Plus, my foot aches and throbs just from my daily grind of being on my feet, so I am not terribly crazy about trying to do more and making my life miserable earlier in the day.

I have found a way to help ease my stress. I have gotten out my knitting and began to start making a few things again. It helps to feel like I am being somewhat productive, at least. Last night, I decided to give crocheting a whirl. I knew how to do a very little bit of crocheting from when I was a little girl and a neighbor showed me. I found a good tutorial on the internet and followed along. I don't know if it was due to the fact that I had played around with a hook and yarn so many years ago, or if it is just easier in that I only had to learn to really manipulate one hook with one hand as opposed to two needles in both hands, but I seemed to pick it up really simply. Don't get me wrong, I am by no means an expert, but I didn't struggle for days in order to feel comfortable making basic stitches. It took DAYS and DAYS with knitting and my tension is still not the best and I have been playing with it off and on for 3 years or so. For what it's worth, I am enjoying it. I love having options.

I have scored some awesome fabrics from the dollar table at Wal-Mart in the last 10 days or so. I don't have much time to sew and I am a very rank beginner, but my Mom has gotten excited that I have lost my 40 lbs or so and she is helping me a bunch! She has made up a beautiful microsuede into a full, gored skirt that is dreamy. It is a dark, chocolate brown and with topstitching, it looks just like suede. It's going to be gorgeous for this fall. She is also making a matching jacket. It's yummy. I did find some gorgeous taupe fabric for a suit and some khaki for a light cardigan with 3/4 sleeves. I will likely wear that lots at school when it gets chilly.

Mom also found some fabrics that I had bought years ago (before my weight had gotten so high) and pulled it out and some of it was in colors that I am trying to work around. Subtle greens, browns, touches of burgundy. So, my wardrobe is growing without my having to spend much money. It's good since I don't have much left since losing weight. Instead of grungy t-shirts and jeans that don't fit, I will have a few skirts, pants, and such that can be put together in a number of ways. I've never been this coordinated in my wardrobe and I think I am going to really like it!

School is going well this year, so far. Other than a few issues with enforcing dress codes, I haven't had any real problems. I am sticking to my high standards and insistence in classroom order to really push the kids. I think it's going to pay off, overall. I think we will see an increase in SAT scores in the next couple of years. Plus, I have seen a decline in both work ethic and critical thinking skills over my career. So, that is what I am stressing. Critical thinking and the desire to work hard to achieve a goal is likely to be a definitive factor in future success for these kids. Oh well, I will get off of my soapbox for now!

Happy Labor day!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Feeling a bit better.

Today, I was able to do a few minutes on the elliptical with my aircast boot on. I will have to work up very, very slowly so as not to stress my foot or pull part of my legs from wearing the boot. But, it's something. Now, I am feeling a little better.

I did some ab work last night and am just about to do some more.

Also, I tried on a pair of pants that my Mom had. They are a size 18. I usually wear an 18W and haven't been able to get into a regular pair of 18s. They fit. So, I am feeling a bit inspired again.

Run Forrest, run.

Sorry to have been out of touch for so long, but I have been battling a situation that I really haven't felt up to blogging about. Right after I returned home from vacation, I apparently (on my very first post-vacation training walk) managed to develop a stress fracture in the 4th metatarsal in my left foot. It was discolored and swollen and a little sore, but I could walk okay, so I took a few days off from walking. I soaked in hot water with epsom salts, alternated that with soaking in a bucket of ice water, and took alleve for swelling. I could get the swelling somewhat down, but never all the way gone and it would come back easily.

After a few days, I strapped on my shoes and went out and managed to complete the first 8 miles of a planned 14 mile walk. My foot didn't really hurt, but I could feel it swelling in my shoe, so I stopped and went to the walk in side of my doctor's office. At this point, I had been walking on it for a week.

The doctor explained how difficult it is to diagnose a stress fracture vs. metatarsalgia and that it often won't show up on an x-ray at all for several weeks. Nevertheless, insurance insists on an x-ray being the first test done in these situations. Since it was the weekend and since I could walk on it, I was instructed to come back on Monday after work to get my x-ray and start the process.

I returned Monday to find that their x-ray machine was down and they scrambled to find a local radiologist that could fit me in that late in the day. I arrived at the chosen one with paperwork in hand at 4:45 pm. I was x-rayed and stayed to talk to the radiologist to find out if he thought that the foot was broken. He did not. At least we could rule out acute fracture (where the bone was broken all the way through).

I played phone tag with the doctor's office for a couple of days and couldn't get a straight answer from anyone I talked to. How ridiculous! Finally, a nurse calls and tells me that I have a referral to an orthopedist and tells me who to call to make my appt.

So, the following Monday (now 3 weeks since I first hurt my foot) I see my new orthopedist foot specialist. After a review of my x-ray under an especially bright bulb, he sees the tell-tale signs of a stress fracture. Actually, he sees more of the side effects of what happens to the bone in the presence of a stress fracture instead of the actual fracture. The good news is that it is a very small break, the fraction of the size of a human hair.

The bad news got a bit more emotional. He hung up my x-rays to explain to me what was going on. Even I could see that there was a big problem with my foot. Then he asked the magic question: Were you completely club footed at birth or just partially? I explained that I wore braces (in the shoes, no, not the Forrest Gump kind) as a child, but that it was because I had some bones in the wrong places, but that it had been fixed and that I had never had club foot--my uncle had, but I had not. He picked up my foot and showed me the tell-tale signs of corrected club foot. They were all there.

I knew I had weird feet. Always had them. But, corrected club foot was serious, the kind of thing that required careful and constant care to prevent things like broken bones in the foot! The doctor explained that I was in a generation of kids that they didn't use the term "club foot" with unless surgery was the only option. Because of surgeries that were only partially successful in the past, there was a stigma attached to the term club foot. Club foot meant crippled to many people and often people felt that there was no use in treating it. Hence, I had a genetic mutation in my feet and braces would straighten the bones. My ankles were always straight, so surgery wasn't necessary at all. Just special orthotics in my ugly, orthopedic shoes. I wore this lovely combo from kindergarten through my seventh grade year.

I can remember being so happy to get out of the special shoes and to go with my Mom to Fayva (blast from the past, huh?) for the express purpose of buying cute shoes like everyone else had. I was a kid in a candy store. But, I digress.

Unfortunately, while my feet were relatively straight, the bones inside were still angled, some of which ran almost 45 degrees across my foot before connecting at a bizarre angle to my toes, leaving significant areas of my feet without any real support. The doctor said that it was no wonder that I am clumsy. I have absolutely no side to side stability.

But, there are some nasty realities to having corrected club feet. One is that I should have always been wearing orthopedic shoes. Now, I will have to wear them forever. Perhaps that is not a good thing, ultimately, but it feels like a horrible curse after having to wear them for years when I was a kid and wanted so desperately to fit in. I must admit, that this is the part that has been the most difficult for me. Also, I shouldn't have ever been training for a distance walking event at all. The doctor thinks that I should be able to eventually resume some walking for fitness, but no more than an hour or two--tops, ever.

So that is the end of my dream of the 3-day. I am crushed. It is over. I feel as if I have let down my team, my walking partner, and worst of all, myself.

Now, I am in an aircast and am at sixes and sevens with myself. I miss getting up early to walk. I feel sluggish and useless. Oh well. I can't change it.

Now, I struggle to accept it.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Back from vacation--bummer!

Well, we spent a wonderful week on Jekyll Island, Georgia this past week. We met my best friend from Tennessee and her two beautiful daughters. It was a lot of fun and it's always cool that when we get together that life is all about the kids. It's laid back and relaxed and noisy and chaotic. By the end of the week, the adults are pulling their hair out and the kids are exhausted. It's a good thing.

The best part is that the kids need absolutely no time to get back into the swing of things. Even though they haven't seen each other or spoken in a year, they picked back up as if they had been together the day before. They just never miss a beat. Of course, it's like that for me and Karen also, but it's fun to watch how well the kids get along. It made going back home (and to reality) hard for all of us. But, we'll see each other in October, as she is coming down to be at the closing ceremonies for the 3-day with us. I'm so excited that she would even consider coming down to support me in this. It's cool.

Unfortunately, on the way back home, my car picked up a horrible noise and we had to limp it back home. But, we made it home safe and hubby is working hard to get it back up and running so I can return to work tomorrow. It wasn't a great time to have another expense to take care of, but at least it appears that he can do the work himself, which helps.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Trauma and more trauma

This week has been a rough one. My youngest son's beloved Hamster, Donnie, died. Then, our puppy (bloodhound/coonhound mix) attacked our smaller dog. Scary. I realize that it's the hunting instinct coming out in her and that our small dog is about the size of a small cat (or coon, or large rabbit, etc.). So, we are put in the sad position of finding a new home for a dog that me and the kids really love. As far as being around people goes, Savannah is a joy with a sweet, calm temperament. But, she is going to kill Daisy if we are not very careful. So, a dear friend is helping us to find a good home for her. It will be sad, though.

We are getting geared up for a week of beach time. Each year, we meet my best friend and her family in the Georgia keys for a week that revolves around kids and casual fun. I look so forward to it and so do my hubby and boys.

Hubby is taking pictures at a wedding in Macon, Georgia today. Hoping that the photography business begins to take off with more regular work. He is so talented. I know that people will be thrilled with his images. It's an exciting time.

I am also gearing up for fundraising for the 3-day walk. I am about halfway to my goal and I really will feel much better when my $2,200 is all turned in. So, I am sending out more letters and am working to make sure that our Crop for the Cure is a success.

Today, we walked 13 miles to get ahead of the training schedule. That way, I don't have to do a long slog of a walk alone in a strange place. We had to leave at 5 am to avoid it being too hot and muggy to safely walk. It will only be worse at the coast.

Good news: our renters may want to buy the house they are leasing from us. That would be a major blessing in our lives. Pray for us!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Another pound gone!

I attribute it to the long walk yesterday more than to the new diet pill that I have taken exactly one time, but I have lost another pound! Woo Hoo! Yay for me! Yipee!

So, now it is a total lost of 38.4 lbs. All of these little losses are finally starting to add up into something that feels substantial. I like that feeling!

I took today off from walking because my muscles are very sore and locked up in my lower body. A little google research (and advice from my walking buddy) indicates that since my potassium levels can't be depleted with the amount of sports drinks (sugar free, of course) and bananas I am eating, that I probably have lactic acid locked up in my muscle fibers and I need to get it out.

I am sending out another round of fundraising letters today and tomorrow, so I can finally reach my goal.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

12 miles--whew!

Well, my walking partner and I have walked for 12 miles this morning and I must admit that I am pretty tired now. We left at 5 am and walked till 9 am. We are definitely not pushing for speed, but only for endurance this time.

I really hurt when I finally finished. After some alleve and a hot shower, I was feeling much better in time to rush eldest son to his Asperger's behavioral therapy group session. While he was in the session, I took flyers to Scrapbooks, Invitations, and More in Peachtree City. It was the first time I had been there and it was amazing! It took my breath away with all of the beautiful embellishments and stickers. They also had loads and loads of stuff with guy themes. It's easy to find girly stuff, but some of us have little boys (not so little anymore).

Now, I really don't feel bad overall, but my feet are a tad sore and I am kind of stiff when I move in certain ways. I can definitely tell that I worked hard!

I also had my follow up appointment with the doctor yesterday. She recommended that I keep with the new antidepresant regimen and add a small, half dose of an diet pill in order to help kick my metabolism up a notch. So, today is the first day that I will have tried it. We'll see how it goes. If it goes well this month, I may be able to move up to a whole dose in a month or so. I'm holding my breath to see if it helps. I sure hope so.

Now, I just have to continue on with fundraising.

Friday, July 20, 2007

A little help from my Mom

It's really kind of unbelievable--really too good to be true. I have lost weight again, overnight. I have now lost 37.4 pounds. Believe it or not, this whole thing with breaking the plateau and all is my Mom's fault.

She called me a couple of days ago and told me about an article that she had seen in a magazine while waiting in line to check out at the local grocery store. It talked about a person who had a metabolic imbalance. Supplementing her diet with digestive enzymes allowed her to lose a significant amount of weight after really struggling with it for a very long time. Mom knew that my Aspie takes digestive enzymes to help him with stomach aches, constipation, etc.

She told me about the story and asked me if I had ever considered taking enzymes myself. I explained that I knew it wouldn't hurt me as long as they are plant-derived. But, even though I had read books about enzyme therapy when determining whether to try them with my son, I had never read anything that made the connection between supplementation and weight loss.

So, being the computer nerd that I am, I immediately did a Google search with my Mom on the phone (Love DSL!) and began reading articles that I found. It became very clear, very quickly that it was certainly possible that this could be helpful for certain folks. I determined a reasonable supplementation schedule (had a bit of experience with that part due to my son) and started that very evening. That was Wednesday night.

All that I have changed in my diet and exercise plans is adding the enzymes with water. So far, I am going to the bathroom way more than I used to and I feel a tad more energetic. It really seems like it is causing my system to be able to flush out the fat. It's a dumb analogy, but I really think that I have spending this time eating well and exercising to "prime the well-pump" so to speak. Now I am waiting for the water to flow and flow and flow.

Even if this is a short lived phenomenon, I am going to ride it until the wheels fall off and enjoy every minute of it!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Finally!

I did it! I really, really, finally did it! The scale has dropped below the horrid 200 mark. I have struggled and struggled for over a month wondering if I would ever see another loss or if I was forever stuck at this weight. Whew! I am SO glad that is over and I can continue on with my progress. Never before have I been able to stick with anything long enough to get past a plateau. I have never been able to lose more than 10 pounds or so--ever. Now, I can say that I have lost 35.8 pounds.

I have hated each and every day of this plateau and each and every step I have logged during it because it seemed like all of my efforts would never pay off. Now I can honestly say that sticking with it has been worth it.

I have to admit that I am still a little bit disapointed that I haven't lost more of my weight over the summer while I have had more time to devote to planning, working out, cooking, etc. But, I am pleased with my loss. Now, I guess it is time to set a new goal. So, here goes: I would like to be able to say that I have lost 40 pounds by the time school starts. That amounts to a little less than 5 lbs to lose in about 2-3 weeks. Now, I just have to make that happen.

By the way, walked 6 miles with Misty and did well. It was awfully muggy today, though.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Training updates...

I thought that I would have more time to update this blog, etc. during the summer, but it sure hasn't worked out that way.

Monday: 11 miles. Did fine. Stiff when I finished, but after an alleve, I felt really good. Not sore the next day at all. Hung out with the kids at a friend's house and got sunburned.

Tuesday: 6 miles. No problem. Took oldest son to behavioral therapy.

Wednesday: 6 miles. Piece of cake. Took oldest son to work on educational testing series.

Tomorrow we are doing 6 and should do another 6 on Friday. This will give us about 35 miles this week. Not too shabby!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Updates on stuff!

Well, I am pleased to say that the anti-depressants are working. I am feeling better, but I am still kind of sleepy. Not as sleepy as I would be without the meds, but I'm not exactly perky either. I am still waiting to see what my bloodwork says.

I did (finally) go for my baseline mammogram. Let's just say that it was an experience. It was certainly not as bad as I had imagined it to be, but I did end up a little sore and bruised.

On the training front...I completed my second 10 mile walk this week. I did much better this time and wasn't very sore afterwards. I was really glad about that.

Tomorrow, we are doing our 11 mile walk to get it out of the way. At least I am making progress with training.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Doctor's visit

I saw the Nurse Practitioner yesterday and we talked a great deal about the anxiety symptoms that I have developing as well as metabolic issues. She agreed that I should be seriously dropping weight with the amount of exercise I am getting and the calories that I am taking in. I feel somewhat vindicated now. I really thought that I was working awfully hard for the small losses that I am experiencing. She also is going to try and help me find the answer to my hair loss issues. I don't know that anything much can be done, but at least I will know for sure.

I go in to the doctor's office early on Monday and get fasting blood work done. The Nurse Practitioner is running lots of tests to see what can be reasonably done to bump up my metabolism. I am already taking synthetic thyroid hormone and it may be time to increase my dosage.

I am on a different anti-depressant for now. I am to try it for 3-4 weeks to determine how effective it is at this dosage. If all goes well, I may be a good candidate for shots to help maximize my liver function. This may help to boost my metabolism by allowing fat to be mobilized out of my system faster. There are some other options. We'll discuss those when I go back for my follow up visits.

I guess the story is that there is some hope on the horizon. With any luck (and prayers) my weight loss will be appropriate for the amount of work I am putting into this. The less weight I have hanging on my joints for the 3-day, the better off I will be.

Training Milestone

Well, I did it. I completed a ten mile training walk today. It was really, really hard. By the end of mile 7, my feet were getting sore and I had to stop several times on the last 1-2 miles to let various cramps subside. But, I do feel somewhat accomplished just for having finished it.

I came home and took a long, hot bath with epsom salts and followed it up with an Alleve chaser! We'll see how I feel in the morning.

Meet the neuropsychologist!

Hubby and I went to meet the neuropsychologist yesterday for the intake interview for our Aspie son. She will test to see exactly how his brain works so that we can more effectively work with him, particularly in academic settings.

She was really wonderful and warm. It's really easy to tell when someone in the healthcare field (mental health or otherwise) really gets a kid like ours. She gets it. I feel very reassured that she will be able to get the very best out of our kid. Now, I can't wait to get the final reports, etc. and know how best to proceed.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Happy Independence Day!

Okay, this post is a day late (and a dollar short), but I did not want to let the 4th of July go by without comment. It's all too easy to forget the meaning of this holiday and to use it as an excuse to have a cookout.

We had a very low-key day and topped it off with the local fireworks show. It was nice. The boys laughed and carried on. They have been going over the Granny's house to play with some local kids who have turned out to be very nice kids. It's wonderful to see my boys (especially my oldest with Asperger's) get out and play appropriately with other kids and be a little bit carefree.

Today, I walked with Misty for 6 miles. It felt really good. Misty walked 10 miles yesterday and I need to do the same before the end of the weekend. Hope it doesn't make me sick like the 8 miles last weekend did. I am kind of dreading it for that reason.

Tomorrow, I will go to see my doctor to discuss changing my anti-depressant medication. I think it's time. Then, I will meet hubby to go to the intake interview for my oldest's son's educational testing. I will be glad to get this process underway and get more information.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Fireworks!

Tonight, we were invited to join my walking partner and her family at a 4th of July celebration at her church, Rock Springs Congregational Methodist Church. We had a lovely picnic on the lawn and then the torrential rains came. But, it cleared up in time for a really great fireworks display. The kids hooted and hollered and played. Even my Aspie was interacting with folks. It was a good day.

Unfortunately, the rains forced the cancellation of the bluegrass concert that had been scheduled. But, overall a nice time was had by all.

Hit the wall!

Well, I went on my first 8 mile walk yesterday and while that last mile was very, very difficult, it wasn't until I stopped walking and was cooling down that I really began to feel terrible. As I was driving the 6.5 miles back home, I had to pull over three times to throw up.

Even though I had drank lots of water and sugar-free electrolyte drinks, the heat just really got to me. My feet were swollen and I soaked them in ice water when I got home. That helped me feel comfortable, but I was lightheaded off and on for a couple of hours. I scared myself a little bit on that one.

I'll leave earlier from now on so I won't be in the heat and high humidity for too long. I can also leave a cooler of drinks at my lap point so I can get fresh ones and dump my empties. That should also help.

This weekend, I need to walk a 10 mile continuous path with 8 miles the following day. I'm a little concerned about that one. I don't want to make myself sick again. It's just really hard to get up and leave home before 7 am.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

False alarm on the chicken pox

The doctor said that the rash wasn't chicken pox, but from a virus that had been running rampant through kids in our area. Nothing serious, but that it would take about a week to get rid of the sore throat. So, we are past that hurdle and I am glad.

I have finally gotten some of the Injinji toe socks to protect my toes and keep them from rubbing together. It does seem to help some, although the affected toes are still sore from the initial injury, but it is getting better. Today, I put a blister shield on my little toe and then the toe socks and walked. It felt better, but it really hurt to pull off that blister shield. I trimmed my toenail way down to keep it from pulling when I pull off the tape, but I don't know if that will be enough. I may have to switch to wrapping the toe with something that won't stick so aggressively.

Then again, maybe it will toughen up again. I can hope.

I walked 3 miles with Dad yesteday and again this morning. Last night, I did 3 miles on the elliptical (it's easier on my toes). I have got to get my distance back, somehow, without tearing up my toes. Hmmm.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Off to the doctor's office...

John is still sick. The fever seems to have broken, but his throat is still sore. He has a few more blisters. I called the nurse and she wants us to come in. So, we will see!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Chicken Pox?

Uh oh. Oldest son has developed a fever, sore throat, and some mysterious, blistery sores. Sure sounds like chicken pox to me. Poor guy. Now he's stuck inside with no screen time and feeling like crud.

He wanted to spend the night with his Granny & Grandpa last night for some intensive TLC. They are really great with him. It was nice to know that he was in good hands.

Hubby is doing a photo shoot this afternoon. A bridal shoot for his portfolio. Can't wait to see the images.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The No TV Blues

Well, my autistic son has begun having some troubles, so after a consultation with his psychiatrist (Dr. Eric Fier--absolutely AWESOME!) we have decided to remove all "screen" time (video games, tv, handheld games, etc.) from him to see how that affects him.

So far, the results have been outstanding. He is interacting more and much more observant of different social ques and ways of doing things. Over time, I think this could help his maturity a great deal.

But, he does sorely miss his games and tv. It's not been easy on him (although he is a great deal more pleasant overall). I hope that the pull that these activities have on him will diminish somewhat in time. It would be nice to use a very limited amount of tv or a game as a reward. Or, take the family to a movie together. But, for now, that is out of the question so that he can adjust and (literally) suffer withdrawal symptoms like with any other addiction.

It's so easy for all kids to get way too wrapped up in the "boob tube" and video games. I just wasn't aware of exactly how wrapped up my son got until I took it away and saw for myself the importance that he placed on it.

Walking, blisters, and more

Well, I have been able to monopolize my friend Misty's time for mornings this week getting in lots of training miles. It's a hoot--truly social time. I enjoy it so much. Unfortunately, her husband is going to be off work for 2 weeks and he will walk with her instead. Bummer.

But, today I managed to walk 6 miles for the second time this week. It was really good except that I had a sore toe during the last 1/4 mile that we did. I thought I had a hot spot. Apparently, I was developing a huge blood blister on my little toe.

When I got home and took off my shoes my toe was swollen twice the size of normal and stained the color of blackberry juice. Nice. It hurts. So I have been taking it easy today. I guess I am back to my workout tapes (barefoot, thank goodness) or maybe my elliptical if I am super careful about my footwear. Oh well.

Tomorrow, I guess I will help to clean out the garage to set up a "real" photography studio. We have gotten a line on some lovely wedding dresses to put models in. It's really exciting!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Blessings upon blessings!

Friday morning, I went to pick up Ethan from camp and he seemed to have a really good time. But, it became very clear that he felt convicted in his heart. On the way home, he asked if he could be baptized.

After talking with him, it became clear that he genuinely understood why he wanted to be baptized and it was for all of the right reasons. So, at 7 pm, we met hubby and the rest of the family at the church and he was baptized into the Body of Christ. I am so proud of him.

He's a good kid!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

It's Official! 2007 Crop for the Cure!!!

We have our location and now we need you to come and support our efforts. We will be at the Rock Springs Congregational Methodist Church in Milner, Georgia on August 24-25, 2007. It's going to be an absolute blast! It's Friday 6-10 pm and Saturday 9 am to 6 pm. We're providing food, drinks, snacks, a t-shirt, and vendors to demo loads of cool stuff! Did I mention that we have a masseuse coming in case you get a stiff neck while cropping your heart out?

Participants who register by August 1st will pay $60 for both days. As always, if you can't participate, you can always donate to help offset our costs!

I am SO excited about this one. It's going to be fun and full of surprises. Please help me spread the word to all of your scrapbooking friends and contacts. All net proceeds benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Atlanta 2007 Walk for the Cure. Email me at janhatchett@bellsouth.net and I will send you a registration form.

I can't wait!!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hail, Fire, and Brimstone

Well, happy anniversary to me. Hubby and I went out to celebrate 20 years. An evening out that didn't involve running a few errands after a rushed dinner. No kiddos. Hand holding, etc.

Okay, dinner and a movie is probably not considered a dramatic event for a 20th wedding anniversary, but it works for us. I did design and print a large print of a photo that hubby had taken and had it framed for over the mantle. Oddly, for a photographer and family, we had a shocking few examples of his work around. He really seemed to appreciate it. Go figure.

So, we went to a lovely Japanese restaurant and hibachi grill in McDonough and from there went to see Spiderman 3. Well, we got to see half of it. More or less. By the time that the winds began whipping around the building and the hail was pelting the metal security door in a vertical trajectory, it became hard to even hear the movie, much less pay attention to it.

We were evacuated to the commons area of the facility so that they could monitor where everyone was. The commons area is floor to (elevated) ceiling windows--WINDOWS!!! The reason they gave us for making us leave the individual theater we were in was because of the TORNADO WARNING. Okay, for some crazy reason I don't think that an adult came up with this plan. Personally, they should have herded everyone into a single (windowless) theater so that in the event of a real weather emergency, we would have been protected from glass (a' la shrapnel) travelling at high velocity. But, I digress...

So, we did manage to have an anniversary celebration that was unlike the 19 that we had previously held. This is the first time to watch half a movie and listen to lots of unsupervised teens screaming uplifting and encouraging things like, "We're all gonna' die!" in front of the poor children that came to the movies with parents. No amount of snuggling with Mama or Daddy could keep those kids from hearing those comments and from their reactions, they didn't see it as dark humor. Poor kids.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Autism in the News

Lately, it seems that Autism is a hot topic in the news. I saw a report on Fox News tonight about the lawsuit that is being heard about the possibility of a link between a vaccine preservative used pre-1999 called thimerosol. Thimerosol contains a significant amount of ethyl mercury.

My oldest received these vaccines. I don't know that the mercury involved caused my son's autism, but I do believe that it could have aggravated certain genetic factors that he carries. I do know from testing that we have had done, that his body holds on to various metals and does not remove them from his system as normally occurs. It has taken a serious amount of detoxification to remove elevated levels of several metals from his body.

Unfortunately, I do not know that we will ever get a straight answer from governmental agencies regarding this issue. Perhaps because they will not want to accept responsibility/liability for their actions. We live in a terribly litigious society. Even if they knew that a small percentage of children would be affected, they would be bankrupted from the resultant lawsuits. In this world, it is unheard of for the public to understand that mistakes happen and that there is often no one to blame. Yet, we work incessantly to place blame instead of working wholeheartedly to solve the problem and identify the underlying issues.

I hereby officially blame this whole Autism mess on the purple speckled, green drooling monster that lives under my bed. And knowing that we have placed blame, we can get on to the real issues.

Enough crap. Figure out the underlying causes so we can get to fixing this mess. Help my son. Give him his whole life back instead of forcing him to rely on a faulty neurology and learning all things by rote. Is it so much to ask that he can walk across an uneven surface without feeling panicky that he could fall? Is it too much to ask that he be able to ride a two-wheeled bike like the other kids? That he could go to camp--not a special camp for Autistic kids, but a real, in the woods, arts and crafts, swimming, fishing, pranking the other cabins type of camp?

Autism sucks. Letting political garbage affect the lives of children sucks more.

Stop it.

It's Camping Time!

Well, younger son had a small attack of nerves on the way to the camp today, but managed to do just fine. We met his friend and they got bunks (top bunks--apparently, those are the bunks that all of the kids want) that are facing head to head in a corner. They were giggling and getting their sleeping bags and things all arranged to their satisfaction.

We even ran into another friend and his family there, too. Plus, several kids and adults from our school are working at the camp, too. So, I feel really good about it. I just hope that he has a wonderful time with his friends.

Stinky Walking Weather

Yuck! Dad and I went out to walk this morning and it was so incredibly humid that it honestly was harder to walk 3 miles today than the 6 that I walked on Saturday. The funny thing is that it was 97 degrees on Saturday morning and only 81 degrees this morning. But, with all of the humidity in the air, car exhaust, smog, and every foul smell that you can imagine was trapped in that thick air. Yuck! I felt filthy just having been in that nasty air.

Tomorrow, I am walking with Misty. Hopefully, the air will be a whole lot more wholesome to breathe. I don't like the sensation of needing to wring out my lungs before taking my next breath.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Cross-Training and Camp!

To be a little different, I decided to start doing some tapes at home to stay out of the heat and to do some serious ab work (the abs are the worst of my trouble spots right now). The waist is the only thing that is keeping me in Women's sizes right now. Firmer abs means smaller clothes!

On another note, my youngest son was invited to attend a local church camp with his best friend. Unfortunately, we only had 2 days notice about this. So, we have been running around like lunatics getting everything set up and packed. This is his first time to do anthing like this, so I am the worried Mama, but I do want him to have a good time.

One of the drawbacks of having a child with autism (particularly an oldest child) is that it is really easy to forget that the younger child is capable of vastly different things than the older child. I am afraid that I have really (unintentionally) held him back from trying things. For example, my parents taught him how to ride a bike this week. All of his friends from school have been riding bikes for years now. Oops. We also need to work on some other sports related skills. But, now my older child is feeling left out because he struggles so much with these skills. We have offerred to purchase a 3 wheeler type bike and he told us that he wants to ride a bike just like everyone else rides. We will begin trying to help him learn to balance on a bike and maybe (with lots of prayer) he can learn to ride.

Tomorrow, I am walking with Dad. Bright and early. I'd really like to do another 6 mile route, but we will see how time goes with this. I have to be sure that younger son is ready for camp on time. So, I will play it by ear. And try not to cry!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

I completed 6 miles today!

Wow! It took me all day to get around to typing this up because I was so sleepy! I met my Dad at 7:30 am this morning and we walked the first 3 miles together and then I just re-traced our steps to add an additional 6 miles. I am so proud of myself!

My regular walking partner, Misty, hurt her back, so I am not sure how much walking she will be doing for the next few days, but I can always walk with Dad. But, since she is convalescing, we are planning our first annual, "Crop for the Cure" to help with fundraising for the 3-Day.

We should know about our (fingers crossed) location tomorrow. Can't wait to begin publicizing it! As soon as we can finalize the info, I will post it here and hope you all can help me to spread the news. Also, remember the t-shirts for sale at my Cafepress.com store. Just click the link on the right side to check them out. All proceeds support the 3-Day Walk as well.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Weather Woes

The weather is fighting me like crazy. I woke up this morning with a horrible sinus headache, so I didn't walk. I figured that I would walk later in the day when the temperature finally went down. But, then we had a lightning storm, so I decided to spend more quality time with my elliptical trainer. Oh well.

Hopefully, tomorrow I can do an outside walk. I'd better actually quit playing with my new hobby (digital scrapbooking) and go to bed at a reasonable time since I will have to hit the road by 7 am in order to avoid the worst of the heat.

But, darn, the layouts that I am doing are so CUTE! See the one at the top right of the screen.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Just Plugging Along...

As of this morning, I have lost exactly 31 pounds! So, yay for me!
I have been walking in the early mornings with my Dad this week, desperately trying to stay out of the horrible heat and humidity. It was 101 degrees yesterday, not a lot of fun for a fair chick like me. Next week, the friend that I usually walk with will likely be available again.