Friday, December 30, 2011

Strangeness - An Account of My Hives (LONG!)

Fair warning: This post will probably be a big downer. Read at your own risk. ALSO: It is L.O.N.G.

I've been having lots of issues since my last post. Most of them are physical, which leads to mental and emotional complications.  I'm not in a good place, mentally or physically, as 2011 draws to a close.  I'm feeling extremely frustrated - and absolutely scared out of my skull.  Here are some details.

I've been under a fair amount of stress at work this semester. So when I broke out in hives in early November, I kind of wrote it off to that. Then I realized it may be an allergic reaction to an herbal tea (sad panda!)  I got rid of the tea and hoped for rapid improvement.

There was some - but never for long.  I consulted my mom (a retired nurse with 41 years of experiences in ALL kinds of places) who advised me to go on Claritin around the clock.  Combined with some good lotion (shout out to @EucerinUS for their awesome products!) and oatmeal baths and benedryl creams and hydrocortisone creams... I reached a point of live-ability.  I wasn't cured or really even better - but I could function on a day to day basis.

Then I got sick. Initially it was a cold but it turned into a sinus infection.  Off to the doctor I went, where I recounted my issues (we think it was the chamomile in the tea).  The doctor was a sweetie and prescribed me a 5 day course of Zithromax and orders to keep taking the claritins.  This was Saturday, December 10.

Sunday evening we played games as a family and I noticed my mouth felt strange.  The family commented that it looked like I'd been smacked in the lip.  Sure enough, over the course of a few hours, my bottom lip, cheek, and top lip started to swell. I called my mom who told me to call the doctor on call for my practice. I felt bad (even though it was only 8:30 on a Sunday night) but I called.  The doctor called back almost immediately and asked all sorts of questions. I was told to stop the Zithromax immediately and to take both a Claritin and some benedryl. He said to call his office the next day to check in and to go to the ER if the swelling didn't respond to the extra meds.

By mid-day the following day, the swelling was gone.  I checked in with his nurse and all was well.  Until Tuesday night, December 13.  I felt the swelling start in my top lip that night.  I took benedryls and claritins and went to bed with an ice pack.  But in the morning my lip was no better. It was so swollen that there were blisters on the inside of my lip (near my teeth) from the swelling and stretching.  I went to work and did the best I could.  Finally, after the pestering of my students and colleagues, I called the doctor's office. I got someone to cover my class and left.

This was possibly the fastest doctor visit of my life - no waiting to be called, hadn't even finished paying my copay when they called me back! I entered the exam room and chatted with the nurse - and when she left the doctor immediately came in. We chatted and she looked me over.  She gave me another Rx - this time for a short acting anitbiotic, while keeping our fingers crossed that I wouldn't react to it.  And she gave me a steroid shot - to help me cope with the Zithromax reaction and boost me over the hump.  It worked! Within 24 hours I felt great - very little itching, no swelling, and my cold symptoms finally cleared up.

I went to Walmart that Friday (16th) and got some Zyrtec.  I added it to my routine which looks something like this:
  • 6am (school days) - shower, slather with lotion, hit hive-y areas with benedryl cream and hydrocortisone cream, take a claritin
  • all day - my creams and lotions are within reach - on my desk, night table, in my purse, lunch box, school bag, coat pocket.
  • 9pm (or bedtime) - more lotion and creams, Zyrtec, and sometimes a single benedryl (even though I know lots of info online says don't take them together, I've had to)
I found another great Eucerin product - it is amazing. I've been using it every other day as a total body wash - including a shampoo. It is called Eucerin Calming Body Wash Daily Shower Oil.  Some folks complained of a bad scent - honestly I can't tell any scent at all.  And realistically, if it worked, it could smell like a garbage dump for all I'd care.  The lotion I use is called  Eucerin Calming Cream. It is nice and thick and covers well. The only drawback for both these items is the price - the body was was $7 and the lotion was $10. One giant tube of lotion lasted a month, with heavy use... I can't say how long the body wash will last.

So, where am I now?  Well, after having been on the Zyrtec and Claritin combos for almost 2 weeks, I was in a good place. I forgot my claritin on Xmas day and had a really bad time.  I've started having angioedema (swelling related to deep hives) in recent days as well as hives breaking through the meds.  My mom convinced me to go off meds and see what happened.  Well, I didn't even make it 24 hours.  By hour 20, I was itchy and red on my legs and it only got worse. At about hour 23 I took 2 benedryls and a zyrtec. Today has been a fight to get the meds back into my system and to keep from scratching.

I know I need to see a doctor. But I also know most tests doctors run will come back with false results due to the amounts of meds in my system. So I'm stuck in a bad place.  I've eliminated anything new from my diet... now I'm looking at old stuff whose ingredients may have changed. I'm looking at things like eggs as potential culprits. I gave away or tossed many of my Xmas gifts from my students - because I'm SCARED. I'm worried about what might be the next thing that makes the reaction worse... bad enough to send me to the hospital. And that makes me worry about MONEY. Testing and doctors and medicines take lots of it. And I'm terrified that the doctors will uncover the root cause of my hives - and that it will be something awful. (Do you KNOW how many diseases and conditions have HIVES as a symptom? Here's a partial list: rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease, even some forms of breast cancers! Stay away from Google!)

I looked for a funny cartoon or image... but there isn't one. And honestly, there's nothing funny about what I'm going through.  If you would - do me a favor.  Any info you have, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant - please pass it along. I need to connect with some folks who have experienced chronic hives - and who have come out the other side. Thanks.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

For grins and giggles (videos of ME!)

I was at a workshop today (and again tomorrow) when I got a text message that my first class was "out of their minds." Gotta love that! So after talking to a colleague on the way home, I decided to make a video to be shown to the students tomorrow.  And I had so much fun making that one, I decided to make one praising my other 2 classes for behaving appropriately.  Enjoy the videos - and please pardon my:
  • crazy facial expressions (bug eyes anyone? and why does it look like I talk out of the corner of my mouth???)
  • slightly crooked appearance (stinky old tripod!)
  • accent
  • wild curly hair
Let's hope tomorrow is a better day for the one class and another fantastic one for the other 2!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall TV

So, in an effort to lighten the mood around here, whatcha watching on TV these days?  I've gotten hooked on Criminal Minds (Thanks A&E!) and NCIS (Thanks USA!) I like watching these shows in syndication - they are constantly running marathons (great for exercising to at the YMCA) and I almost always have a "new" show to watch.  This works out well for me, as a teacher - shows to watch and papers to grade.

I'm also thoroughly addicted to Mythbusters.  That season starts tonight! So does Criminal Minds.  So my DVD recorder is set.  NCIS is on Tuesdays, no conflicts.  I'm also enjoying Bones, thanks to TNT marathons. That season doesn't start on Fox until November 3rd.  Although I'm excited by the promos - Bones and Booth finally got together, now I'm hooked into seeing where they end up!

I also have rediscovered that I like CSI (Las Vegas!) with characters other than Grissom (shocker.)  I've been watching reruns of that and enjoyed the premiere with Ted Danson last week.

So, do you see the pattern that I see? Crime/murder shows and science/techy stuff I could use at school.

What are you watching this fall?  Anything I should try out? I've got Mondays and Fridays open, as well as Saturdays and Sundays. I don't stay up late but I can record stuff.  Gimme some ideas! Please?

Monday, September 26, 2011

#bedtime and #bedtimesucks

Those were the hashtags I used last night as I live tweeted our bedtime battle.  We all got kinda relaxed over the summer - the kids are older (10 and 8) and we let them stay up later.  It got out of control when we went to the beach.  Since returning (early August) Katy hasn't fallen asleep in her bed OR stayed in her bed for the whole night.  Once school started, I would BEG her to come in my bed so we could all get to sleep.  Let's face it, 8 year olds need more than 5 or 6 hours of sleep. (And I couldn't fight her at bedtime for hours and hours each night.)

Fast forward to Saturday.  DH came and sat in my office and I ended up venting my spleen on him. I just let it all go.  (It has been building up for quite a while.)  He acknowledged that we had some real issues that needed to be addressed.  So we planned out a family meeting. (I'll have to blog that separately. It was.... interesting.)

So the plan developed at the family meeting was this:
8:00 Showers
8:30 Nightly reading
9:00 Lights out, I sit in the hall in my comfy chair while the kids fall asleep

We moved the chair, my laptop was charged, and I downloaded some e-books just in case. And I commenced to tweet some of my hardest parenting moments to date. (I'll lead off with a few tweets from Saturday and earlier Sunday to set the mood...)

The tweets tell the tale.  We were at it for 3 hours (after the final tweet, DH and I swapped one last time - after I password locked Katy's computer. I had taken some Tylenol PM and don't remember much.)  Unbelievable! 

Thankfully, I had some great friends on Twitter sending support from all over the place - @LiberalGranola, @3catsandababy, and @CarelessCampers were wonderful. Knowing that there are other parents out there, going through similar stuff at one time or another really helped me stay strong.

I'm hoping tonight will be ever-so-much better - after all, can it really get worse?

No, wait! Don't answer that!

(You can follow the action for the next few nights by following the #bedtimesucks hashtag. It doesn't appear to be used often and really suits the situation.)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

First Day of School (a month late)

The girls' first day of school was August 25th.  Here are the pictures I took that day. (Better late than never!)

Katy, first day of 3rd grade
Erin, first day of 5th grade

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Coping. Or Not.

How do you cope with feeling like a failure? It has been hitting me hard lately. I just don't think I'm doing what needs to be done for my 8 year old, Katy. I'm missing something. She's so much like me, that might be part of it. She has this need to fight me on every. little. thing. Bedtime has always been an issue with her - since she was just a little squirt she's fought and argued and whined and complained. For years we sat with her.  Then we were able to move to sitting in the next room. Then, finally, she seemed to be over it. We had several years of pretty decent bedtimes - still a few problems here and there, but never for more than a few nights at a time.

Recently she's been terrible, horrible, no good, very bad. And I feel so guilty for saying that. But it is the worst it has EVER been. And I just can't handle it. Sometimes I just want to run screaming from the house, instead of deal with her. 5 nights a week it is just me @ bedtime.  DH works evenings - but often (even on school nights) she's still up when he comes home.  And on school days she's getting up at 6 - I just don't know how she can be awake for almost 18 hours a day.  And on nights when DH IS home - those are the worst.  No matter how calm I try to stay, he's got some comment about how I get her worked up and how I shouldn't worry about it and how I should just leave her be.  That eventually she'll get tired and go to bed earlier.

I've tried tiring her out (YMCA to swim/exercise.) Just made her more of a monster (even more over-tired.)

I've tried taking away important things (computer, Internet, TV, DS, fun family stuff.) She just cries and whines more.

I've tried (to my shame) spankings. Then she cries about her butt hurting.

I've tried the opposite - sweetness and light, loving, calm. I've even sat with her, laid with her - kept her company so she won't be "lonely." (One of her current favorite excuses for why she can't go to bed.)

I've tried music. She just waits until the cd has played through to come downstairs. (False hope, anyone?)

But she still doesn't go to bed without a fight. (Correction, she will go MAYBE once a week without a fight - no way to predict which night, so I can't ever bank on tonight being THE ONE.  Until it is and it is over.)

I'm trying so hard. All I could do tonight was lock myself in the bathroom and cry. She just stood in the hall and asked if I was crying and WHY was I so upset.

I don't know how to cope with this. But I've got to find a way. How can I not cope with this wonderful, spirited, brilliant, little girl? I love her so.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

End of Summer Highlights

This has been quite a summer! We've kept busy and the girls didn't mangle each other too badly.  However, EVERYONE has been grumpy the last few days.  So much so that I'm more than ready to be back at school!  I'm tired of doing things for everyone and tired of negotiating everyone's battles.  The girls are on each others' last nerve.  Annoying things aside, we've had a great summer.  Here are some recent highlights:

 Lots of self portraits this summer. The girls have discovered photography - WATCH OUT!

Several marathon games of Mono-poly (Katy's silly.)

Harry Potter Night!

A few lost teeth!

Don't ask. Just don't.

It was a good summer but I'm glad it's done.  What did you do this summer?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

When You Can't Find What You Want...

Sew it!

Some of my earliest memories are of my mom in front of her sewing machine.  It seemed like she was always whipping up things for me to wear.  Since I've been an adult, she's sewn a few things for me (dresses in college, nursing tops and dresses as a new mom) but nothing recently.  I asked her to teach me the basics - and she said yes!

So here is a little timeline for you, followed by pictures.

  • The girls and I arrived Thursday at noon. We met for lunch. Then my dad took the girls to the pool while my mom and I shopped for fabric and notions (I already had the patterns.)
  • Thursday night we discovered we made a mistake with our fabric purchase, but we were able to make it work. We cut apart the patterns and organized our pieces.
  • Friday morning we shopped at Hobby Lobby (got the right amounts of fabric!) We also hit Target and Kohls for shoes for the girls and me.
  • Friday I went to lunch with my dad then returned to learn to sew. Girls went to the pool with Grandpa.  We cut the fabric for the first dress.
  • Friday night the first dress is mostly together. We hit a few snags and had to stop and let the dress sit overnight.
  • Saturday we didn't do much more than fiddle with the first dress all day.  Girls went to the pool with Grandpa again.  Finally got dress 1 hemmed and finished at about 10pm.  We cut the fabric for dress 2.
  • Sunday my mom did all the sewing for dress 2 - it was a more complicated pattern. I went to lunch with my dad and the girls. Then when he took them to the pool, I kept my mom company and was available for fittings as needed.  Dress 2 was actually much simpler and more straightforward with WAY less modifications needed.
As promised...

Dress 1: Retro Butterick 4790 Misses' Wrap Dress

Dress 2: Simplicity 2884 It's So Easy Misses Dresses
Added placket in the "v"
Crossed the straps
I'm excited for school to start! I'm planning to wear a little sweater/shrug with both dresses to cover my arms/back. When I actually wear them, I'll post pictures :)

What do you do for clothing?  Do you find the styles and fit you like in the stores?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Vacation Pictures!

I made a quick movie in Picasa and uploaded it to YouTube.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Toes in the Water...

Enjoying our vacation to the Nth degree!  Took oodles of pictures and enjoyed playing with them in Picasa.  I was planning to upload them but the wifi is SO SLOW! So you'll get a sample with more on Sunday (when I'm home with my speedy wifi!)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

End of NaBloPoMo - Reflection

Wow, I can't believe I've done it! Those who know me IRL know that I have a bad habit of starting things and not following through. It is one of my weaknesses - I get brilliant ideas but never finish the project.

I'm proud to say I finished this one!  And I've learned a bunch - about myself, about Blogger, about Twitter, about writing for myself and not stats, about commenting on other's blogs.

I'm a geek girl at heart, totally in love with tech and what it can do.  And I love to see my site stats. It is so cool to see how people find my blog and what they are reading.  At the same time, I have to step back and remember that my blog is for me - it is my place to vent as well as my  place to talk about things that interest me.  I can share stories and pictures of my kids. I can talk about what I've read, what I'm doing in my home and at work.

Thanks for coming on this journey with me. I can't think of a better way to have spent a portion of my summer!

I'll be back in a week - we're off to the beach.  I'll try to schedule some posts for you to enjoy!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Vacation Preparation!

So this is what I have to overcome in order to get ready for the beach tomorrow...

towels, sheets, clothes, bathing suits - Oh My!

Why, oh why did I let this happen?!?!?!

And I've got to pack my clothes, supervise the girls packing, and see about finding beach toys and pack the truck. Oy!

Have you got vacation plans for this summer?

Friday, July 29, 2011

This Moment: What We Did This Summer

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
Inspired by Amanda at SouleMama.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bonus Post! Classroom Pictures

Here is a slideshow of my new classroom. Please forgive me for the blurry shots - not sure what happened.  It is definitely a work in progress! I'm amazed at how much got done in just 2 days! I can't wait to get back in to put up bulletin boards, posters, etc.

New 6th Grade Classroom - In Progress!! on PhotoPeach

Curly Girl!

At the end of the school year (early June) I found a book at the library that inspired me to make a change.  I have naturally curly hair that I've struggled with all my life.  Here are a few representative pictures of me - my hair was almost always frizzy and hard to control.

 I've been on before - there are some good tips and tricks. I've seen people talk about the CG method.  I found the answer in this book:

A-mazing!  I've struggled with my hair for so long, I have a hard time finding it beautiful. I want curls like THIS!  I'd love to be able to grow my hair long and not have it look awful.

I've found my curls. And I adore them.  Here is a shot from just a few days after I started the Curly Girl method.

Who knew my hair could do ringlets???

And here I am today - after working in my classroom for 5 hours.  My curls still look great!
Please pardon the cheesy grin, my daughter insisted. :))
So what is the big secret? What's the trick?  Here's what I go by:
  • Shampoo with a sulfate free shampoo only once a week (possibly more often after chlorine pools or an extra sweaty day)
  • Conditioner and lots of it! Use some to "wash" the hair and scalp and rinse.  Then apply more and let it sit.  Rinse some of it (for me, especially from the scalp as it makes me itchy and flaky) but leave some in the ends of the hair.
  • Apply gel when hair is sopping, dripping wet.
  • Don't use a towel or a brush (although a brush or a comb is fine on wet hair if you are detangling.) To sop up water from my hair I use an old long-sleeved t-shirt wrapped around my head. (Think something like Aunt Jemima.)
  • Keep my hands OUT of my hair! No fussing with it as it dries or afterwards.  Sometimes the gel is a little crunchy so after it is dry I'll flip my head upside down and "scrunch" the curls.  But that's it!
There is an awesome YouTube channel run by Sarah (aka WaterLily716) that can answer all your questions.  Between the book, website, and YouTube, life as a curly girl has never been better!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Not So Wordless Wednesday: Moving Day

Today is bittersweet for me. I'm excited to try something new but I really liked 4th graders.  So I leave you with some pictures of what my 4th grade room looked like for this past school year. *sigh* It certainly won't look like this next year!
Can I get away with this in 6th grade?
View from the door
Sign in/out, schedule, calendar
Behavior Star (6th grade rotates classes, no need for this. What do I do with the star???)
View from the window (near the star, above)
Cubbies - probably not doing bins, definitely not doing book boxes for 70+
I know some things will stay the same. But it is the things that are changing that make me sad. Like my beautiful star.  I love it! It's metal, so magnets stick, and I painted it nice, bright red, white and blue.

What would you do with that lovely star in your own classroom?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Library Lists: What I'm Reading Now

So my Shelfari is over in the right sidebar.  If you're into stuff like that, I highly recommend it.  I get such a kick out of reviewing and listing books I've read - not to mention stuff I'd like to read (if I can ever get my hands on it.)  Here are a few things I found (or finally got on hold!) last week at the library - I've hardly touched them!  For some reason (headaches much?) I've not read as much this week...

  • When Did I Get Like This by Amy Wilson - hilarious, this has been recommended by many online in recent days.  I'm enjoying it, but I have to read it in small doses - it makes me miss those baby days!
  • Real Leaders Don't Do PowerPoint by Christopher Witt - Since I'll be teaching 6th graders, I think I need to step away from my PPT addiction and develop my leadership/speaking skills.  I started this last night and it's kinda dry... not sure if I'll read the rest or just skim.
  • Nerds by David Anderegg, Ph.D. - Also started this last night.  Hard to describe, it is basically about nerds, geeks, why they get stereotyped, but why we need them in society. Interesting but also dry.
  • The Pioneer Woman - Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond - Next on the list to start, I read her chronicles online and of course we know how the story ends, but I'm interested to see how it got translated from blog to book.
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey - Not as "lol" as I thought it would be, I'm still enjoying reading about a strong woman who is making things work in as a professional and mother.
  • Maverick Mind by Cheri L. Florance - this is the story of a mother who is trying to keep it together with her 2 older kids and a son with strange behaviors. Slow at the beginning, it is getting better as I keep reading. I really want to know what his actual diagnosis ends up being - very interesting and makes me feel extra lucky as a parent.
I usually spend waaaaaaay too much time with trashy romance novels - escapism at its best.  I'm looking at doing a book challenge with my students in the fall and I want them to see that I'm reading a VARIETY of stuff.  And so I don't have to be embarrassed with all my "kissy books" (thanks to Katy for that.)

What are you reading?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up - 7/25

Saturday we cleaned.
Sunday we went to the pool.
Sunday night I stayed up until 2:30am after laying in bed all evening with a headache.
Amazingly I'm not a zombie right now!

That was our weekend.

Ok, ok, you know I can't leave it at that. (Although don't we want to sometimes?)  Instead, I've got a treat for you - I FINALLY got the camera out while we were at the pool. Here are some shots from yesterday, as storms were building up and thunder was rumbling.

What did you do this weekend?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

End of the Month Menu

Ahh, we are nearing the end of the month! For me it means posting for NaBloPoMo is almost over AND that it is almost time for our annual pilgrimage to the BEACH! This time next week, we'll be on the road and you'll be gifted with a scheduled post to finish out the month. Where did the time go? This month has flown by!

Here's our menu for this week:
Sunday - Pork Quesadillas (pork left-over from last night)
Monday - Pizza Cups
Tuesday - Gramma's Chicken (aka Hidden Valley Ranch chicken)
Wednesday - Hamburger Helper
Thursday - Fajitas
Friday - ?
Saturday ?-

On the activity plan for this week is nothing much - relaxing, pool, and moving me into my new classroom on Wednesday and Thursday.  I'm actually hoping I might get in on Tuesday to start packing things - we'll see!

As for today, we are off to the pool again. I'm going to get the family set up then I'm going to exercise.  I took Friday and Saturday off, so I need to get back in the habit.  I'm not sure what to do about exercising while at the beach next week.  Maybe just the hike to and from the beach will be enough. :)

Hope everyone has a great week!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday AFTERnoon

Here you go! Proof that we cleaned up the house.  The girls were remarkably good about it too.  Everyone pitched in and helped out. No one got grumpy, pissy, or otherwise hard-to-deal-with. Successful day, all around!
Katy's Room After

She likes her corner, can you tell?

Yay! Clean living room! Maybe I'll actually spend time in here...

 You don't take your life in your hands in the library any more...
 Erin's Room After

She's likes her reading corner too, eh?