student of teaching: practicing patience

School is out and I've been thinking about the past year -- saw a lot, did a lot, learned a lot... and while I would like to be able to summarize my experience in one short (or very long) post, it's taking me a while to process.

Last Spring, I took an education course on diversity with a very interesting professor. One of our books (written by my professor) Becoming a Student of Teaching has frequently entered my mind throughout this first year of teaching that I just wrapped up. Or maybe I should just say that the title of the book is what I've been thinking about. My first year as a teacher was filled with countless ups and downs. Unfortunately, there were fewer peaks than valleys. But positively, in a lot of ways, those low points put me back in the "classroom" on an almost-daily basis. Professionally, a lot was thrown my way this year, I had gaps to fill, lessons to learn, other lessons to earn (more on that in a future post) and I am, no doubt, going to be a "student of teaching" for a long time to come if the classroom is where I stay. So... in celebration of making it out of my first year alive I'm allowing myself to process all of these mini-lessons and compile them into several little "jewels of wisdom," if you will, that will make up this series, "student of teaching" (using that phrase in honor of my diversity professor, of course). None of these are revelations... thousands of people have learned these lessons before me, I am sure. But that doesn't in any way downplay the major effect they've had on my professional (and sometimes personal) life.

Without a doubt my hardest lesson earned and perhaps the longest lesson to learn was... patience. Just...... patience. Or, really, practicing patience. How many times have I heard that "Patience is a virtue." Or believed that it was just something characteristic to someone's personality? A trait to be inherited. I never really thought much about it being a practice instead. Of course there were all those church lessons and devotions over the years given completely to learning patience but all of that never could have prepared me for the kind of patience I would need last school year. The patience I needed, and that I gained a little of, was not something I could inherit or learn about in a youth devotional. It took practice.

If any of you do (or have ever) practice yoga or pilates, then you know what I'm talking about. Yea, you can use yoga every now and then to break up your workout routine or flex those little-used muscles, but unless you stick with it and turn it into a practice, it does you little good over the long-term. It's effects aren't meant to be strictly physical; its benefits go a little deeper than that. Just like patience isn't meant to strictly get you through the day; its purpose is greater than that. Initially, I used calming "techniques" (or a shallow version of patience) to simply get me through the day and when the day was over it was total meltdown and frustration.

Next day... wake-up, get ready, brace myself for what was coming, go through the motions, get through the day, sigh and silently fume on the way home, dinner, wind down, sleep, and repeat. It was like a beginner's sun salutation over... and over....... and over again. No substance or rooted strength; just doing it and scraping by. I was feeling the burnout and finally just surrendered myself to patience. It was the only other option (well... the only other options besides melting down publicly or becoming a hateful, unhappy person most of the time). And, just like yoga, it took practice. I was sore at first, too stubborn to really let it take me through, but it didn't take long to reap the benefits.

Before I started teaching, patience was not one of my virtues. I don't think I actually believe it is a virtue at all anymore. A practice? Yea, I think so.


taking the plunge

Standard warning: This post is allll baby crazyness. Feel free to move on. And come back from vacay, gal pals, so I can have some adult interaction and not blog about diapers. Thanks.

A few weeks ago, I took the plunge to cloth diapering (well, mostly, I am "hybrid" cloth diapering if you want to be specific) for a few reasons:
1. We're trying to save money.
2. For whatever reason, I have become hyper-aware and irrationally afraid of the chlorine in disposable diapers. (Think about it... that's a LOT of chlorine on your baby's cute little toosh.)
3. I still don't have both feet on board the Global Warming Express but after five months of throwing out the Diaper Genie's sausage link bags of soiled disposable diapers and knowing how long they take to break down... I feel just a little bit guilty from time to time. Not always but there are times.
4. I cannot deny this as a small piece of my silly reasoning: they just make baby booties look so dang CUTE! Help me.

So... after I waited for those five hours at the hospital for my embolization, only to be sent home, Paul and I had the rest of the day wide open so what did we do? Well, he went to the golf store while I went on my mission at Babies R Us (Two random things we do not have in the "Classic City"... O'Charley's and a Babies R Us.). How adult of us. I toyed with the idea of "hybrid" cloth diapering for a while. (There is just not way I could ever go straight to cloth because I've been spoiled by disposables for the last five + months.) So in my research I landed on gDiapers, a hyrbid cloth diapering "system." (Why do they call them "systems?" Is that supposed to sound more interesting like it's an XBOX or something? Baby terminology baffles me. But, obviously by this post, I fall prey to it in some areas of my life. I need a life.) Anyway... these little diapers are basically a cloth cover and snap-in liner BUT they also make disposable inserts. Which would defeat the whole purpose of this little "system" in the first place except that they are flushable, compost-able and they decompose much faster than regular disposable. So you've basically got three options (flush, compost, dispose) but either way, they break down much faster, they're chlorine-free and they're still almost as quick and easy as disposables once you get the fit down.

I don't flush anymore. One too-full diaper and I was literally taking the plunge. (Not to mention our guest/G toilet is the spawn.) No casualties to speak of but it could've been a close one. If I use the disposable gDiaper liners, I just dipose of them as normal to let them break down naturally. But, the best part cloth-wise is that the little g covers hold your regular ole cloth panel. Which is great for the wet diapers, easy to wash in its own load. For the poop? Ohmygoshhelpme I will never ever EVER use cloth again if Gray is even maybe going to be pushing one out. Never been so grossed out, I don't know how people do it. I still use regular disposables for that and for when we go out... they are just easier to tote around and no clean-up necessary. And G goes much longer without a diaper change (because I guess they breathe a little better and keep the moisture away from his skin which = no diaper rash = a happy Graybaybay) so I'm already noticing a huge decrease in diaper waste. Win.

But really... how cute is his bum?

They come in a lot of bright colors which is fun. You know, if you consider colored diaper covers to be "fun."

And just for cuteness... my little guy snoozing. My heart could just explode.


bit by bit

Rediscovered this with G from one of my very favorite stories when I was a child:

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Please pray for my friends, the Blonshines. Specifically, for Erin. She is starting her second battle against leukemia. Some rough chemo with the goal of quick remission and then hopefully a bone marrow transplant to follow. This is such an incredible girl and a very special family; an overwhelming example of what it means to put your faith in action. Huge inspiration.

You can follow all of the details on Erin's progress here or click on the "Blonshines" link in my blogroll.


teething is so 2008

Gray is lucky right now for two reasons:
1. He is ridiculously cute.
2. Saintly people somewhere in baby land make "teething toys" that are not liquid-filled "teething rings."

If it were not for these two things, Gray would be screaming in teethie horridness in our coat closet while I rip my hair out and throw all of our breakables out the living room window.

There is just no other way to say it: teething bites. I'm over it. New trend, please.

Most teething toys/rings I've seen are made of hard plastic or filled with liquid so that you can throw them in the fridge and, minutes later, somehow attach them to your baby's gums in hope of a few fuss-free minutes. It's a good idea, and I'm assuming that most parents find this to be a successful teething strategy, but so far this just doesn't fly with G. He plays with the teething ring(s) for a little while in his hands which is great for distraction but that's about it. He's not a fan of the cold-plastic-in-mouth thing yet. Maybe soon, I'm still holding on.

Enter the RaZberry.

If I were a G Baby, I would love it for (at least) these few reasons:
1. It's like a pacifier.
2. Silicone is softer than plastic and, other than flesh, that's what he's used to.
3. Real raspberries are delicious and, not to mention, super cute.
4. Little Mr. Independent can hold it himself.

But since I'm not G Baby, I love it for these reasons:
1. It's cheap.
2. It's cuter than the average teething ring. (How shallow of me, I know.)
3. It's made of one piece of silicone so no worries about detached parts becoming a choking hazard. (These are my thoughts now? Hm.)
4. G can hold it, play with it, throw it on the floor and (most importantly, obvi) put-in-mouth all by himself.
5. It stops the fussing! (Which makes me think, Who cares if it's cute?)

Seriously, this thing is the bomb.com. Which is why I have two. And want to buy stock and 8 bazillion more.


(If you have a weird aversion to raspberries, the Born Free silicone teether (which we affectionately refer to as "the chew bone" around here) is pretty good too. But at more cost and with less cuteness.)

EDIT:: Did I ever update my faithful readers on the rescheduled surgery dates? Not sure if I did... I guess I could look through old entries but I am way too lazy for all of that business right now.

a look into daddy daycare

I found these on Paul's computer. Maybe this is what "getting krunk" in daddy daycare means when I'm gone...

This one is my favorite


people i love: happy birthday, katie!

Today is Katie's birthday! Here is an ode, in some of my favorite pictures, to my partner in crime/betch/bffl/and maid of honor.

We met and became friends through our d-group at Wesley during our freshman year at Auburn. Here we all are with Becca, our leader, at her bridal shower in Birmingham.

Junior year, we went to NYC for Spring Break and went on the Sex and the City tour (highly recommended, by the way... even if you don't like SATC it is a great tour of the city). Here we are on Carrie's stoop. This was one of the best trips ever. Katie was the angel from above who introduced me to the fabulous insanity that is SATC.

We got super cheap raffle tickets to see Wicked. Amazing show. (Also her idea. She'd seen it the year before in NYC and would not stop raving until I finally saw it with my own eyes.)

There are many reasons for Katie to think I am crazy, but this could be in the top 10 (maybe 20). All summer I'd been wanting to go to this little bar that I loved and had told Katie time and time again that it was awesome, low-key, great wine and dessert blah blah blah. So, finally we go and, of course, there was some sort of gay pride acoustic concert going on. (Before you are offended by me, I have no problem with people living a homosexual lifestyle. But we were living in a deep south college town so it was maybe just a tiiiiny bit odd to see it there, of all places.) It was the two of us girls, just looking for a relaxed wine-and-dessert kind of evening, in a room full of in-your-face gay women (and I mean in. your. face.) and I'm pretty sure it ruined any chance that Katie would ever go back with me again haha. But she is good about humoring my whims.

Here we are at our favorite little hang-out, our last semester in Auburn. Some of my favorite college times. These pictures make me miss my long(er) hair.

One of the many reasons I love this galpal? She actually encouraged this behavior and let me think I could win the best costume prize. She even used her fashion merchandising skillz to help me make the poncho. So selfless, she is.

Two words: GRAVE RAVE.

This picture almost makes me ache with nostalgia. At the Iron Bowl, 2007 (the last game of our college careers, wah).

And, the source of most of my nostalgia lately... our wedding weekend...

At the luncheon

Katie with Paul and I at the rehearsal

If you think that you had the best Maid of Honor at your wedding, YOU WOULD BE WRONG. Katie seriously bent over backwards for me on my wedding day. I mean... she was practically part of Cirque du Soleil. I did not have to worry about a single thing all day, she took care of everything. I will pretty much forever be grateful for that because I was in a glass case of emotion that day (and I am not of the emo kind).

Happy Birthday, Katie! Love you!

(please don't hurt me)

everyday things that freak me out, part 2

I've been a slack blogger, forgive me. If you want to play the blame game, put your bets on Stephenie Meyer. The last three books in her Twilight series have been keeping an unbreakable hold on my free time lately. I bet there are entire blogs dedicated to their awesomeness.

6. The women from "The View." Help me. Is anyone NOT freaked out (even a little) by this bunch?

7. Leaving the house without pants on. My first thought is, "Who would do that?" but it frightens me no less.

8. Sauce. Barf. Don't even get me started on how many pieces of great sushi are ruined by sticky, questionable sauce. It doesn't even sound delicious .

9. Mayonnaise. The taste. The texture (barforrific). The way that, no matter how clean a sandwich-er you are, its greasy film always manages to coat the outside of the jar. Even typing this makes me want to scream. Maybe I have told this before but I will never ever EVER forget the one time my old roommate, K, dipped a knife in a jar of mayo and licked it right in front of me (she, very unlike me, loves mayonnaise). I may also never recover from the time I was making Paul a sandwich (or probably three, knowing his appetite) and a gelatinous glob of mayo landed on the top of my left foot. I don't care who you are, that stuff is freaky.

10. Spiders. When I see a spider in the house at 9am sometimes I have trouble sleeping at night, fearing there might be more hiding in the bed sheets. I don't even want to admit how many times I woke up the night after Paul found a black widow in our yard. Irrational, I know.

11. Oprah. Or should I say, "OhhhhPPPRUUUHHHHHHHH!" One of the most dangerously powerful women in the world. There are too many reasons I could give on this one. Now keep in mind, I didn't say that I hate her show. Though I don't like it most of the time, every now and then there is a little jewel of an afternoon hour that I can spend with her show and actually enjoy it.

You may think I'm being a little Negative Nancy harping on all of these everyday things that I loathe but never fear, my favorite and most beloved every day things are coming soon... you know, once I am no longer prey to the fictional world of Edward Cullen. ;) (I really should stop using emoticons but I just can't help myself.)

Celebration post coming soon!


And before I forget, congratulations are in order for the Scobeys! Their sweet baby girl finally decided to make her grand debut! Congratulations, Scobey fam!


questions, part 2 - guilt

What is your least favorite thing about being a mom? Easy. I'm sure there is a better word for it but it is more or less guilt and I really think that all new moms experience it at some point. Sometimes I just feel like I can never do enough or that what I am doing is not the right thing. At night or on long drives in the car, it's hard not to wonder if maybe I could have done more or made a better choice. When I get some rare time to myself it's wonderful but in the back of my mind I almost feel guilty that I even want to get away in the first place. That guilt was really tough to get over during those first few weeks. But I just had to realize that I'm always going to make the choices that I honestly believe are the best for my family and that wanting time to myself doesn't mean I don't want to be with them. And I won't even start on the guilt of being a new working mom. That new mama guilt is hands down my least favorite thing about being a parent.

And, if you want to know my favorite... there is just nothing sweeter and more rewarding than G curled up like a little bean and sleeping on my chest and lightly breathing on my face. He's definitely not bean-sized anymore (well... I don't know that he was ever that small) and I already miss it so much. Bitty bean-sized baby's breath is the best. That and his quirky little toothless smile.


everyday things that freak me out

In no particular order.

1. Aluminum foil. In the past, aluminum foil was my best kitchen friend. I might have even loved that shiny silver wrap if for no other reason than for the sound it makes when you crinkle it around the edges of your leftovers dish. That was until I sliced my finger on its conveniently serated metal edge. Burned like the dickens and for the next two days at work (in my coffee shop days, before I was government hired help), I had to explain the Hello Kitty bandaid covering my right index fingertip. "Ohhh, you know, I just had a little run-in with my foil box. No big." And over the the past two months, idiota that I am, I've occasionally been reading a message board about homemade baby food and the Crazies are all, "If you use aluminum foil to cover the cube tray your baby is going to die!!!! The shards, the shards!!!"

2. Beef salesmen. Maybe this isn't an everyday thing for you guys but I can count at three times over the last few months since G was born (so technically, this is not an everyday thing for me either but that is not the point) that a meat salesman has come to my door. They stopped by again yesterday. Who sells steak door-to-door?! And if it's been sitting in the back of your pick-up truck all afternoon, tell me again how that's sanitary? This is enough for me to become one of those people with the "No Soliciting" sign by the doorbell.

3. Jarred baby food. What I'm really talking about here is tapioca pudding. Who in the world thought it would be a good idea to make TAPIOCA pudding... and then shove it into a jar and sell it? And why on earth, when I was 10 years old, did I get the curiosity to try baby food and then proceed to CHOOSE tapioca pudding?? I am ruined for life. Thank God for homemade baby food and the Beaba Babycook. And for crazy mom forums that remind you that aluminum foil kills.

4. Styrofoam. What IS that stuff?

5. Athlete's Foot. I've never had this, thank goodness, but I will never forget the time in the third grade when I went to Rock Eagle with my Girl Scout troop and our leader reminded us at least a dozen times to wear our Adidas sandles in the shower so we wouldn't get it. That bathroom was pretty rank so I was thankful for her warning.

...to be continued.


you can call me olga

Lately, something strange has been going on in my sleep. Or maybe I just haven't been sleeping well (I do know this much). Whatever the cause, my dreams have arrived at a new level of weird this week. It is normal for me to have dreams that leave me feeling a little cuckoo and I could probably make an entire blog series out of them. Really, they are that weird. But, for now, I will leave you with one that left me feeling particularly unbalanced this morning.

This is a repetitive dream for me. Kind of like the cliche "falling" dream. It is always the same dream in the beginning but about halfway through something changes and takes it in a different direction. For a long time, it was sort of like Bella's dream in New Moon (don't you want to punch me in the face for making this reference?) in the way that it is mostly predictable to a point and it always leaves me feeling confused when I wake. But now, it is totally taking on a life of its own and rocking my midnight world. Seriously, can't even make this stuff up.

How it starts, every time*: I am some sort of mysterious Russian spy. No one tells me this or ceremoniously dubs me worth of carrying out spy activities. I just know that my name is Olga, I am a spy and that I am carrying classified ticking-time-bomb kind of information (Usually in an ordinary envelope but sometimes in my vintage Hummel music box.). I am in the middle of a pasta wilderness and, in order to get to wherever I'm going, I have to navigate my way through chutes made of hollow pasta. Sometimes it takes many chutes, steps and ladders to get to the end, where I typically end up in a bowl of noodles, swimming and struggling my way to the edge. And at this point, the variation begins.

Last night, I started out in usual spy-envelope-macaroni-slide style but at the end of the slide, instead of landing in a pit of linguine, I land gracefully in the middle of a Manhattan Starbucks. I am dressed like a less crazy version of Mary Kate Olsen, circa 2006 (I think this came from watching the third season of Weeds). Louboutin heels, big ugly sunglasses on the table, hair all a mess and some coffee deliciousness on the table in front of me. I am trying to be cool and discreet until Lil Bow Wow walks in (to get the story behind me and LBW, you're gonna have to ask Brittany. I am too ashamed to tell it here). Luckily, I brought my camera along so I snap a Myspace-style picture with Bow Wow and get back to spy business. However, UNluckily, this grabs the attention of The Donald who is sitting two tables down, next to the window. He approaches me and says, "I know," then spins on his heel and leaves the building. I put on my ginormous sunglasses, walk outside, snap my fingers to cue the rain (apparently I can make it rain?), and follow him all the way to Tiffany & Co. It is there that I lose him but remember that I have to pick up my telepathic earpiece on the seventeenth floor (is there even a seventeenth floor at Tiffany's?... I'm pretty sure there isn't). I hop on the elevator and the little elevator-butler-guy (who just so happens to be Johnny Depp's Willy Wonka) winks, takes the envelope and hits the "Kraft Mac N Cheese" button. We shoot through the roof and I am furious because we missed the second floor. I say something in Russian and he tells me to "QUIT MUMBLING! MUMBLER!" and at that moment the elevator becomes Skybar in Auburn, AL and we are dancing to 17th floor (this was like a rap/hip hop cover band that used to come to Auburn a lot, especially during football season). I go to use the restroom and when I walk back out, I am in the Manhattan Starbucks again.

Whew. Anyone into dream interpretation? Do you have a repetitive dream like this? What is the craziest thing to ever happen in your dreamland?

*Except for the one time I started out in a McDonald's playplace and had to find the informational time-bomb in the ballpit.

five months

Yesterday, G celebrated his five month birthday! Okay, so we didn't actually do anything for it but I like to do the little blog celebration anyway. :) This is by far my favorite stage of babyness right now. He's still cuddly but growing much more independent and is so freakin happy (almost) all the time, I love it. I haven't done too much G-blogging lately so here are a few of my favorite Fun G Things right now...

LOTS of babbling
Reaching for me/Paul from his bouncer
Fewer feedings (yes, this is a Fun Thing in my book)
Rice cereal (he looooves this whole eat-like-a-real-person thing)
Pumping his legs
Putting everything in his mouth
His neck is mostly visible now!
Chunky baby thighs... those rolls are to die for
Even better... his cankle rolls. Perfect for nibbling
Thumb sucker... I love this, it's too cute.
Napping... he's becoming a better napper for sure
He loves to grab our faces, pull my hair, chew on our noses...
Teething... I hate the fussy part, but it's fun that pretty soon we can expect some little toofies to break through!
Still loves to "stand"
Sticking his tongue out
Chewin on his little piggies
Sitting up mostly on his own

I've noticed a few people documenting other things about baby stages/sizes/more technical crazyness so, if for nothing else than reference when we go down this road with baby #2, I think I might start doing a little monthly check-in. Even though all babies are a little different, maybe it will help someone else out?? (This is really more for me and could be terribly boring, don't say I didn't warn you.)
  • Clothes -- mostly still in 3-6M but some 9M. 6-12/9-12M are all still too big. (Janie and Jack is the only brand so far that has been completely non-parallel to his sizes... he can still wear a lot of their 0-3M. Which is great because their boy clothes are presh.)
  • Diapers -- size 3's in both Pampers and Huggies. Medium in gDiapers (more on this later, maybe tonight) and we can use just a basic cloth prefold with the medium gD's.
  • Developmental milestones -- these are things I have not put a whole lot of stock in just yet. During those first few weeks couped up at home, I read a little here and there but pretty quickly put the books down. My overall feeling on this is pretty consistent with (I think it was them) the Sears'... developmentally, it is more about just progressing and not so much about the actual timing. But I do think that it's important to check in on them from time to time. At the last well check-up, we filled out a research-based questionnaire about his physical and social/emotional developments and he was perfect on all of those which was reassuring.
  • Feeding -- G eats about 5-6 times per day, depending on whether or not he wakes in the middle of the night. Either 4 bottles plus one feeding of rice cereal and water or 5-6 6-8oz. bottles. Sometimes he goes beyond four hours between each one.
  • Holding the bottle -- He is loving trying to hold the bottle on his own and actually does pretty well with it most of the time. Last night, on the way home from my parents', he held his bottle for most of the feeding and I had my own little party in the backseat of the car. How wonderful it will be when he does it on his own all the time!
  • Sitting -- I guess this is a developmental milestone? He is becoming such a big sitter. I can't wait until he can sit up all on his own so we can play on the floor without me supporting him.
Okay, I will stop with the Blah now. Coming soon (maybe tonight, maybe this weekend... next week??)... practicing patience, more crafting, and taking the plunge to hybrid cloth diapering. Man, this blog is just soooo interesting, huh? Ha.


the longer version

Today, on Facebook (hello, social media addiction), I gave the short version: no embolization today and no surgery tomorrow.

Here is the longer version... this morning, we woke up at the ungodly hour of 3:30am, got dressed, didn't hurry out the door at about 4:15ish. Got to Emory at about 5:30 (right on time, go us) and proceeded to wait. Didn't actually wait too long before they called me back to pre-op. Changed into the nasty gown and super comfy socks (seriously... their hospital socks are the bomb.com), put that goofy hair net on and... "Actually, they're not ready for you." I thought maybe, "Oh, they're just running a little behind, I mean it IS pretty early, even for surgeons." No... like, they actually weren't even going to be ready for me for a while. I had two choices: change back into my clothes and sit in a stiff waiting room chair or go to an empty post-op room with a TV and take a little nap. Hmmm, tough choice but I'll take number two for 500. We were in there for about... an hour and a half/close to two hours.

8:30ish rolls around... "Okay, they're calling for you... ready?" Pshh yea, let's get this show on the road. I answer the same questions again... State your name, What's your date of birth?, What are you here for?, Allergies?, Blah?, Blah blah? (I know it's necessary but those questions get seriously old. Just imagine how old they must get for the people who have to ask them.) Paul goes to the restroom, I'm about to get an IV started and one of the nurses is all, "Oh, yeaaaaa, actually they're NOT ready for you." At this point, I just knew something was up (at some point earlier in the morning I heard "emergency" a few times so that was a hint) and that, most likely, this embolization was just not gonna happen today.

So... we go back to the post-op room again... Paul goes for a little breakfast and to see my parents in the waiting area and a few minutes later he walks back in with the radiologist who starts with "I have some explaining to do." And then he explained about the five (yes, FIVE) people who came in last night/this morning with brain hemorrhaging. Obviously, an emergency of large proportions. Needless to say, with some of the remodeling they are going through, there would be no obtaining an OR for my procedure. Maybe just a little irritating that it took five hours to learn this but hey... five people somewhere in that hospital were bleeding... IN THEIR BRAIN. If I, or someone I love, were one of those people, I'm pretty sure I'd want them clearing the OR schedule too.

And so now we are just waiting to reschedule, hopefully ASAP. But, in the meantime, Paul and I are catching up on Weeds, Season 3. :)


Questions, part 1

My youngest sister-in-law, Emma, left with G a little while ago and I was already crying before she even pulled out of the driveway. It's going to be at least four to five days before I even get to see him and probably another week beyond that before I will hold him. Today, G and I went to Target for a few last minute hospital things and I got a little weepy, so I hoped that was me "getting it out of my system." Apparently not. So, now I am blogging to keep my mind busy. And, boy, I've got my work cut out for me because some of the questions I've gotten on comments, texts and email are pretty heavy stuff. Definitely might take me a few days to process a couple of them. But, in the meantime, I'll get to the first installment. If you come up with more questions to keep my soon-to-be-idle hands busy, you can always leave them in the comments, text, Twitter, email, Facebook... you know, any and all forms of social media that totally captivate my internet life. :) Round one, here we go...

1) Can you post pictures of your tattoos, or are they in un-postable spots? How long did it take you to decide what you wanted and where you wanted them? I can "soytanly" post some pictures. None of them are in inappropriate places. I thought about all of them for (probably) a year or so? The first, I had no part in designing, the second (though simple) was my own and the third I needed help to finalize. The decision on where to get them is always easy... I go by what I call the Wedding Dress Rule. If you can see it when I'm in my wedding dress, it is inappropriately placed. Really, if you can see a tattoo when I'm wearing any dress, it is too much. I love tattoos but when I am with a person, or presenting myself to someone professionally, I want their focus to be on me, not on my tattoo. And I just realized it's pretty hard to take a picture of a specific place on your own body so the quality of the first one is pretty horrid but you'll get the idea.

This little dove is on my hip. She's pretty small (probably a little less than 2" x 2") and I did absolutely no designing on this one. I really didn't have to because it was almost exactly as I wanted. My only request was that there be no olive branch.

My second, I don't have a picture, is a celtic cross on my back (also very small). Like birds, I am always fascinated by celtic crosses... no rhyme or reason, I just love them. This one I took to a guy with exactly what I wanted and he drew it up for me and while intricate crosses are beautiful, for gaudyness' sake I wanted to keep this one simple.

And my third, prettiest and largest (about 5-6" width and length), is an old sailor-style swallow on my back right "love handle" area. (This would be the one that surprises people the most and the one that, if she had her way, my mom would force me to remove. She hates tattoos, even if she never even sees them.) On this one I needed help with the design as I am not quite the gifted artiste. Traditionally, this style of swallow has three colors -- deep red, green and yellow (and you'll also see a lot of blue substituting for the green). But I am a lover of brighter, more upbeat coloring and happy detailing. I think I went two or three different times before we got the final image. I was going to go with a traditional three colors -- minty green, brassy yellow and bright red -- but I really wanted to throw the purple in for some contrast with the mint green. My favorite. (This picture was taken the day it was done so the colors pop a little more than they do now.)

(by Lance at Sacred Heart II here in Athens)

2) What are your favorite and least favorite things about teaching? Wow, this is a tough one. I actually have a post scheduled to go up later (next week) about one of the many things I've learned over the past year (my first year teaching). I'm just starting a whole new "series" about this called Student of Teaching (or What Teaching Taught Me), which I'll explain in that post. But, if I'm keeping it short (ha, riiight)...

One of my favorite things, but maybe the biggest growing pain of all, is patience. Before I started teaching, I maybe would have used "patient" to describe myself. And, if you had asked me to describe myself again in August of last year, that word would not have even made the list. Teaching is easy. Yep, you heard me right... teaching is the easy part and requires very little to no patience at all. But teaching a student how to learn is a different story completely. And getting them to actually enjoy the process? Now THAT takes patience. Took patience. And is still teaching me patience. I know I've got a long way to go before I perfect the art of patience but I've skipped across a thousand oceans from where I was in August. Like I said, a whole 'nother post coming about this one but it would fall under one of my favorite things/lessons learned.

One of my least favorite things... discipline. For the most part, if you come out of the gate with high expectations... a good percentage of the students will live up to that. But, there are some that, for many reasons I'll never understand, have so much trouble with school. Not always with the learning but with the structure. I taught a lot of students who have no structure at home, don't even know what "consequence" means. This whole concept of "discipline" will be coming up in my little lessons learned series but it is definitely one of my least favorite things.

Teaching has broadened my sense of humor and given me a little more compassion. But really... my absolute favorite thing might be hearing their fart jokes... ;)

Okay, folks, that's all I got. New Moon awaits me... (yes, I am finally on the Twilight bandwagon, now leave me alone).

Tomorrow, at an ungodly hour of the morning, I will wake up and check-in at Emory for my embolization. If I remember the computer and have working internet, I will post and let you all know how it went. Otherwise, I will see you on the other side of my surgery at some point later in the week. :) Much love, blog friends.


mr. high maintenance

Yes, those are in sequence. This baby has been high maintenance the past two days. Teething, I hate you.


the swallow

I took the plunge and re-opened my Etsy shop. Well, it's actually a new, shiny Etsy shop because I deleted the old one but, you know. So... The Swallow is back in business. I've only listed five jewelry items so far because, well... I got tired. Greeting cards are on the way but, like I said, I just got tired. And I'm on this whole jewelry kick thang and there's just no turning back now. If you see something you like and are a faithful blog friend of mine, contact me and maybe we can talk cheap on payment. And by cheap I mean a large latte and a coffee date because I am in serious need of caffeine and adult interaction. G is presh but he only knows so many words... er, syllables. In the meantime, I'm also creating a "sites i like" section in the sidebar, which is where I will put a permanent link to The Swallow.

Last year, when I originally opened The Swallow, I got the same question a lot: Where did I get the name? Well, it's pretty simple. For some reason, I'm really obsessed with birds. Which is probably why I could look at little Evie Scobey's nursery all day and not get sick of it. Birds. I just love 'em. And apparently I especially love illustrations of birds because I have two permanently inked under my skin. A dove and a swallow. My largest and favorite is a semi-large Sailor Jerry-style swallow (it is part of my Etsy "banner"). I got some help designing it at a place here in Athens and I just love the way it turned out. Swallows (in real life and ink life) are beautiful. I love the symbolism, too, but mostly they are just pretty little birds. Anyway, this tends to really shock people that I know (especially my mother because, if it were up to her, I would have had them all removed last summer). I conclude that this is either because you cannot normally see any of them or because this just does not match up with the picture they have painted of me in their minds.

And there are apparently a lot of other things about me that surprise people. For instance, last week my youngest sister-in-law just learned that I played the piano for, like, 10 years. I'm not saying that there's a reason she would know this, I just find it funny that it was surprising. Much like how I find it odd when that one of my very best friends was recently surprised that I sang in an acoustic-type "band" at the college ministry I was a part of my first two years at Auburn. Not that it was a really huge part of my life there but the ministry was a big part of my life and I thought that the smaller parts would have come up at some point. And in keeping with the little Etsy theme of this post, many are surprised by the variety of crafts I like to do. I guess most people just choose one and stick with it? In high school I was in the marching band (pre-GAC days) and the fact that this is strange to some is the biggest shocker of all because when I ask what kind of visual they had before this knowledge... it always goes to cheerleader! What?!! I know I can be pretty peppy (read: crazy... though sleep deprivation has changed this a bit) but me as a cheerleader? Don't think so. No. Thank. You.

All this brings me to the thought that with my surgery coming up very soon I'm unsure how much blogging I'll do. Or maybe I should say I'm unsure of how much brain-powered blogging I'll do. And today, while I was thinking about this whole deal I just talked about, I thought I would open this here blog up to questions while I am "away." A kind of "Ask me anything" carnival. (Well, maybe not carnival, I don't have enough readers for all that jazz but maybe a little flea market fair will do.)

So... what do you want to know about me? Or is there something you know, or have learned, about me that doesn't quite match up with what you expected? Do you want to know if I would rather eat three raw eggs or a single slice of fruit cake?

While you're thinking, click on over to The Swallow and give me some feedback. KThanks.


freak tumor update

(New post below this one.)

Here's the update from yesterday which, honestly, isn't much of an update at all.

On Tuesday morning (the 9th), I will be admitted. Tuesday is the angiogram embolization and Wednesday is the actual surgery.

Yesterday, I did all of the pre-op testing (just bloodwork and whatnot) and answered 80 million questions over and over again for about 4 hours between pre-op and the radiologist's office. In pre-op they did the bloodwork, of course, I answered all those questions (including scary ones like "Would you like a pastor to visit with you before your surgery?") and I also spoke with a student and NP from anesthesia and also a PA for my radiologist. Basically, got a check-in time (butt-crack-of-dawn on Tuesday) and answered more of those questions for them.

After pre-op, we went over to the radiologist's office where I was given a full neuro work-up kind of thing by one of the nurses (memory task, walk in a straight line, "close your eyes and touch your nose" ... that kind of stuff). Then another doctor (I believe she was a resident) went through the whole deal about what my tumor is, how they plan to embolize it before surgery, etc. So, if you're interested in this kind of stuff (and I tend to be), here's the lowdown for that part: On Tuesday morning, the radiologist will do an angiogram embolization for me. Or, I should say, he will hopefully be performing an embolization. There is a chance (about 20%) that they will not find an artery to embolize. In order for them to embolize, it needs to be a direct artery to the tumor. If there are no good arteries that are specific to the tumor, they will not do the embolization due to risk of stroke or vision loss. Also, if you're curious (and I usually am), they do not aim for 100% on this type of procedure. The goal is, instead, to minimize the bloodflow as much as possible in order to reduce the risk of bleeding or, if there is bleeding, to reduce the amount of blood loss and also to reduce the time of surgery (longer surgery = more risk, no embolization = more risk for bleeding). So, if you're into probability/odds/chance kind of lingo (and I usually am) there is about an 80% chance that they will be able to find an artery to embolize. I really hope that they will find an artery so that the risk for surgery will be a little less.

If you're into risks and more chance and probability (and I usually am), the biggest risk for this surgery is stroke. That risk falls under about 5%. With my age and overall good health factored in, that risk is a little lower. And with an effective embolization of a good artery specific to the tumor, the risk is even a little lower than that. So overall, the odds are for me. I would like it more if there was no risk at all but, of course, every surgery carries risks. I just hope that my youth and good health will play in my favor.

Regarding time, the angiogram embolization will most likely take a couple of hours (most of that is just finding an artery). And, though I'm not sure (I emailed my surgeon's nurse tonight), I think the surgery will probably be about the same.

And finally, if you're interested in the scar part of this whole thing (this was actually not even a question in my mind until my doctor brought it up), I will indeed have an "L"-shaped scar on my neck. People keep cringing and asking if this bothers me. No, it doesn't. I take showers every day, I regularly go to the hair salon and I generally like to look nice but I am not one to be very attached to my looks in that way. My hair, my skin, my clothes... they can't do anything for me and they definitely don't enhance my quality of life. But my health does have every thing to do with how I live my life and that's much more important than a silly little scar.

And finally-finally, if you're thinking I've left G out of the surgery equation, I haven't. Paul's mom is a true Godsend and will be taking care of him while we are at the hospital. (Really, she is a Godsend all the way around because on days when Paul was not able to stay at home with him while I was at work, she kept him. She worked with our schedules and even came to the house to get him so we wouldn't have to allow an extra 20 minutes in the mornings. Aren't we so blessed by her?!) Also, I won't be able to pick him up/lift him for a few weeks after my surgery so I will have someone here to help me while I'm recovering at home.

Mmk, I think that's all the updates I have. Nervous but ready to just get it over with.

(New post below this one.)


while i'm on a jewelry kick...

... I feel the need to go into another random detail about my life. Actually, more of a celebration of a random but very special person in my life. It really does have something to do with jewelry and crafting, I promise, but you'll have to bear with me for a minute. (Or, if you just want to skip my rambling and go straight to the eye candy, go to the bottom of this post and click on the "Chiyo Jewel" link. It is a link to a site that sells my old roommate's handmade jewelry -- seriously, you will love it SHE IS AMAZING!) Anyway, back to my nostalgia...

During my freshman year I lived in a private dorm due to full campus housing when I finally decided to enroll at Auburn instead of WCU. For the most part, it was great. The rooms were much more spacious than campus housing, an unlimited in-house meal plan was included and I was a 5-minute walk from most of my classes but even closer to frequent my favorite little coffee shop downtown. Oh, the convenience of dorm life! But the very best part was that the Japanese foreign exchange students roomed there during their 9-month stay in Auburn. And during my first month or two of living there (it was called The Commons at the time in case you were wondering), I was offered an opportunity that I could not refuse -- to share a room with one of the foreign exchange students! (I might note at this point that the students had already been in America for 6 months -- they arrived in March and stayed through December.) For my readers who do not know this about me, I am an only child. I had never shared a room, or even a house, with another person my age until college. And really, all I wanted in a roommate was someone who wanted to share things, even if those things weren't necessarily my interests. This didn't work out (not at all) with my first roommate so when this opportunity came up I pounced.

Enter Chiyo, my Japanese-foreign-exchange-student roommate and my best friend freshman year. Our friendship was so quick to grow. (I'll be first to admit, I am not one of the easiest people to get to know. I can talk to most people and I enjoy investing myself in friendships but most of the time it takes a lot of time and effort to really get to that point of trust and authenticity so vital to great friendships. But there are a few relationships in my life in which this happened really quickly. And my quick friendship with Chiyo was just that.) We shared everything and I loved it! I helped her with English (though her speaking skills were really incredible already) and she helped me learn some conversational Japanese. I would have to think long and hard to come up with even a single negative (or even neutral) thing about my experience living Chiyo -- by far the best roommate experience ever! I am even jealous of myself when I think about it haha.

Chiyo has a great faith story, too. I'm not sure that I remember all of the details exactly anymore but I think it all started (this was all before we met and became roommates) when she started attending an English bible study. Something was stirring and she became a Christian. And as if that wasn't already a life change for her, she met her still-boyfriend in campus ministry. Yes, they are still together and going strong! (They see each other only about once a year.) Is that love or what??

But mostly, Chiyo was just an all-around super fun, positive person to be around. Such a joyful person, you can't help but just be happy around her. :) And what all of this has to do with jewelry... Chiyo was also a very skilled jewelry artist. (I say artist because... well, just look at her website and you'll see.) I remember so many afternoons that Chiyo would sit on the floor with her beads and make amazing pieces of jewelry. She taught me to make a few things and I actually still have one of the rings she taught me to make with seed beads. But anyway... she is still making jewelry and doing a fine job of it. Her pieces are all gorgeous and unique. This is basically my totally shameless plug for Chiyo Jewel. Take a look and be amazed! Yesterday, she also posted that one of her clients is also selling her jewelry, which you can see here. (If you, like me, do not understand even a word of written Japanese, you'll like her site better because she also posts in English.)

Here are my favorites:


have i mentioned how much i love summer?

Really, I am LOVING this free time. Or at least the free time that I do have with this little Chunk of mine. I almost forgot what it was like to do so many Amanda Things. Especially craft-related Amanda Things. I'm very slowly getting back into making greeting cards (When I say slowly I mean sloooo....oooo..wwly.). Haven't done any sewing yet but I have a few projects in mind should I ever pull the machine back out.

Anyway, over the past week or so I've been getting back into making jewelry. (Another random craft fact about me: I used to make almost all of my own earrings and bracelets back in the day. I liked things to be simple and cutesie without all the "I BOUGHT THIS ON MEGA-CLEARANCE AT CLAIRE'S" non-appeal. And if I was just feeling real crazy, sometimes I would make earrings for friends if there was a holiday.) I had been toying with some ideas in my head for a while but mostly it was one of my co-workers who actually inspired me to get back into doing it. So, while I was at Hobby Lobby scoping out 50% off card-making supplies I mozied on over to the beads and behold, they too were 50% off! And then it was all over for me.

I got beads of all kinds... glass, ceramics, jade, turquoise, seed beads, "naturals"... picked up some stretch cord and wire and I was good to go. I held off on the metals (jump rings, clasps, fish hooks, flat posts, crimp beads, etc.) because, if you don't know this already, everything in Hobby Lobby goes on sale pretty frequently. I figured since beads were on sale last week that metal beads and jewelry supplies would probably be on sale this week, and I was right. (I love the Hob Lob but what I'm saying is you should probably never buy anything at Hobby Lobby unless it is 50% off... if it's not on sale this week, chances are it will be in the next few.)

So ANYWAY... I'll just stop talking and get to the pictures.

Here is what I made with some of my haul...

A couple of bracelets -- I made them both with stretch cord so that (hopefully) G won't break them when he pulls a little bit.

"Natural" flat ovals alternating with limey-yellow turquoise stones.

A few sets of earrings...

Mustardy-yellow ceramic donuts with teal glass bead in center.

And some danglies...

I want to make these with large purple stones next time so they'll look like eggplants.

Okay, I'm spent.

Tomorrow, I go to Emory for my pre-op work-up and to meet with the radiologist who will be doing the embolization (a week from today). If I know anything after that of course I'll report.

just wondering...