Sunday, May 27, 2012

When I Was Little: Coffee Eyes

When I was little (three years old to be exact), there was a man who would sometimes keep nursery for my class at church. He was an older man, and he was a lot of fun. I do not remember much about him, but I do remember that he had one blue eye and one brown eye.

One time during class, he asked all of us if we drink coffee. I said that I did. My momma gave me coffee with milk and sugar all the time. He said, "Really?" (I mean who in the world, other than my momma, would give a toddler coffee to drink?), and then he said, "That's why your eyes are brown."

I can remember looking at him in disbelief. He said, "See? I only drink coffee on this side of my mouth," as he pointed to the side of his face with the brown eye.

For years, I thought that my eyes were brown because I drank coffee...

When I Was Little: The Ugly Word and The Toddler

When I was little, my car seat was in the middle of the back seat. How do I know? I remember. I remember being able to see my dad in the driver seat and my mom in the passenger seat. I can remember one time when I was riding in my carseat quite vividly. I can even remember that we were riding down Elm Street, and my dad, who at the time was not the Christian that he is now, said an ugly word. I can remember that I knew that it was an ugly word, and I can remember smiling.

Fast forward a few days. I remember sitting in my high chair in the living room. I was watching cartoons and happily eating something while my grandmother kept me. She was in the living room with me, and she was rarely ever not busy so she was probably ironing or folding towels or something. I can remember repeating that ugly word - with a smile. I thought I was so grown up. I was the baddest toddler that ever lived! ...and then, my grandmother popped my little leg. I think that's the only time she ever popped me. I did not say that word ever again. She made me promise never to say that word again, and I didn't. I can remember even thinking that I deserved being popped because I knew what I had said was not supposed to be repeated. I never was angry or upset with my grandmother for that instance. I remember this instance just that vividly.

...And as much as I hate that word now simply because it is an ugly word, I still smile when I remember how sneaky-smart I was and how grown up I felt back then. I smile even wider when I think of how my mild-mannered grandmother popped me back into my place. Strange, isn't it?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

When I Was Little: ABCs and 123s

When I was little, I loved Chef Boyardee's ABCs and 123s. I can remember asking my mom for some and then climbing into my high chair to wait for them. I watched my mom open the can, pour some into the bowl, and place the bowl in the microwave. I remember smiling when the microwave said "Ding!" Then, I remember my mom taking the bowl out of the microwave and dropping the bowl on the floor. The bowl shattered into a million pieces. There were shards of white all over this huge blob of orangy-red. I can remember my mom fussing at that bowl as she cleaned it up, and I can remember very calmly and rationally in my little toddler mind thinking, "Now, what did I do wrong?" I wasn't upset; I genuinely wanted to know how I caused the disaster. Maybe it was because I asked at night time, I could see how dark it was outside our sliding glass door. Maybe it was because I crawled into my highchair myself. But then my mom made another bowl full of ABCs and 123s and put it in front of me, and I do not remember anything but sheer happiness after that! :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

When I Was Little: Ritz Crackers

When I was little, I wanted to eat some Ritz crackers. I must have been about three years old. I asked my mom if I could eat some Ritz crackers so she gave me the box. She gave this word of caution, though, "Make sure you eat them at your table, and make sure you don't eat them and put them back." I said ok, and I toddled off with my Ritz cracker box.

I remember all of this so vividly. My brother and I had our own little, wooden, kid-sized table in our living room. We had our own little chairs for our little wooden table, too. The table was stationed between an 80's dusty blue recliner and a 70's piece-of-furniture television set. You know the sets I'm talking about - the ones you had to dust. Our set was somewhere between cherry and walnut, and the speaker screen was a 70's gold piece of diamond weave fabric. I sat down at my table in front of the TV. I happily watched cartoons as I took the cracker sleeve out of the box. I set the box to the side, and I opened the twist-tie on the cracker sleeve. Without thinking, I popped part of my cracker into my mouth as I watched cartoons. I would not stake my life on it, but I am pretty sure I was watching Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound.

As I munched on my bite of cracker, I started to put the other part of the cracker on the table when I remembered what my mom had told me, "...don't eat them and put them back." A sudden moment of confusion and panic swept over my three-year-old mind as I held my half-eaten cracker. All I could think was Don't put it back where?! In the box? Who would put a half-eaten cracker back in the box? On the table? Oh, ok. No problem. I can just hold the cracker. But what if she meant back in my hand? Oh no! What to do?! And with that thought...

...I stuffed the rest of the cracker into my mouth. My three-year-old mouth was not very big, and I had a huge wad of cracker inside. I was trying very hard to concentrate on Huckleberry Hound, but I really had to concentrate on this cracker to keep from choking. I swallowed my cracker, and then I picked up another. Without thinking, I took a bite of cracker, and then in a much quicker panic - I popped the rest of it into my mouth.

I concentrated on this cracker while making sure to rake up any crumbs even though this cracker had never had contact with the table. I did not want my mom to think that I had put it back. I still did not know where back was! Still determined to eat the crackers, I popped one in my mouth whole. This task was even more difficult than getting one started before putting the rest in my mouth. This cracker had to be washed down with Kool-Aid. The combination was less than desirable.

I gave up after only three crackers. I carefully twist-tied the cracker sleeve back into its neat little twist. I carefully placed the sleeve in the box. I made sure there were no crumbs on the table, on my Osh Kosh B'gosh's, or in my hand. I closed the box. Then, I marched my toddler little self into the kitchen, and I handed the box to my mom to which she replied, "Did you even eat any?" I nodded and went back to my table. Eating crackers was too much work.

My mom still cracks up anytime I tell that story. She does not remember a bit of it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Are you...always this articulate?

"Are you...always this articulate?" Name that movie!

I wish I was more articulate especially when I am talking to a potential employer on the phone.

I just watched Rachel Berry speak exactly what she wanted to say into her phone onto the voicemail of the lady who could potentially fulfill her dream. Yes, I know that she is a character on a TV show. There are people who can do that, though. They know exactly what they want to say and to convey, and they do it. On the spot! They don't write it out and read it over the phone like a caller on an episode of Frasier. ...not that I would do that...notes, maybe, but not word for word.

Ok, ok. Name this movie:
"No, I know what you mean, and I'm completely jealous. What happens to me when I'm provoked is that I get tongue-tied and my mind goes blank. Then, then I spend all night tossing and turning trying to figure out what I should have said."

"I have you to thank for it. For the first time in my life, when confronted with a horrible, insensitive person, I knew exactly what I wanted to say and I said it."

Ok, so I do that, too. I figure out what I should have said to someone who was less than friendly later on in the day/week/month, but my main problem these days is talking to potential employers.
I talked to all sorts of people - while cooking no less - during the Pilsbury Bake-Off. They were important people, the kind of people that made other contestants cry and/or freeze up from nervousness. Did I cry or freeze up during the Pilsbury Bake-off? Nope. I was the picture of Southern hospitality.

What is the difference between interviewing with NBC during the Pilsbury Bake-Off and interviewing with/talking on the phone with a potential employer for a teaching job? Cooking is not my passion. Teaching is.

A few years ago Bobby Flay said, "If you aren't nervous about your passion, you aren't passionate about it," to a bunch of potential Food Network Stars. The quote struck me hard. When am I most likely to be a babbling and incoherent? Answer: When I am trying to get a job.

Why can't I just tell them that I am awesome and wonderful? Why can't I brag on myself? Why can't I convey all of my above-and-beyond qualities? I blame Southern humility. It is the only time I can think of that it has shot me in the foot. *Sigh* I think I need to eat cake.

Seriously, name those movies! AND any advice?!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

When I Was Little: Kindergarten Cutting

When I was little, I was already a perfectionist. I already knew how to read before I started kindergarten, so my kindergarten teacher would occasionally let me do little jobs for her. Almost any time she got something laminated, she would ask me to cut out whatever it was. One time she got a huge pile of rolls of things that had been laminated. She asked me to cut out some of it. Since she said some I asked her how much. She told me, "Just keep cutting until I tell you to stop." Ok, simple enough. So, I went over to the carpet, and I happily began cutting out laminated stuff. That may have been the moment that I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I loved the way the scissors glided through the laminating film. I loved the way the slick laminate felt. I loved how shiny it made all of our artwork look. I loved how I had no idea what the other kids were doing because I was totally immersed in cutting out all of this shiny, slippery stuff. It was just me, the huge pile of laminate, and the brightly colored rug that was ticking the space between my socks and pants where the skin was bare. The kneeling position I was in made my pants bunch up under my knees. I was happy.

"OK, everyone line up for music!" I did not budge. I kept cutting. She told me to keep cutting until she said stop. The class lined up. Someone turned out the lights, and off they marched. I stayed in my kneeling position on the carpet, happily cutting away. I was in there a long while. I never got tired of gliding those scissors along the paper lines. I never got tired of piling the extra laminating film next to me on one side and laminated stuff on the other. I just kept going. It must have been 15 minutes later before my teacher walked into the room. She turned on the lights, and I stopped cutting for a second - only because my eyes had to adjust to the new light. Once the spots went away I noticed my teacher staring at me.

"Amber, what are you doing in here?"
"You told me to cut until you said stop."

I do not know that I even knew what lying was at that point in my life. I don't think I even would have known what it was - much less how to do it. I was very honest, and my teacher knew it. She kind of chuckled and asked if I wanted to keep cutting or go to music for a little while. I honestly can't remember which one I chose.

I recently taught a leave of absence in the school where my kindergarten teacher who is now a 5th grade teacher works. She introduced me as her former kindergarten student to her class when I came to revive her computer. I told this story to the class. She laughed, and she said, "I had forgotten all about that!" I laughed, and I said, "Oh, I remember that very well."

She e-mailed me later that day to let me know that I was the only student she ever trusted to cut out her laminated stuff. I smiled really wide. My head grew three sizes. I was happy.

P.S. I still love cutting out laminated stuff. :)

Intro to When I Was Little Series

One of my favorite lessons as a teacher is one that I stole borrowed from Jeff Anderson's Mechanically Inclined. He suggests using Jamie Lee Curtis's Book When I Was Little to help students "get" the concept of introductory phrases. Every scenario in the book starts with "When I was little,". After this lesson, I would ask students to write as many of these statements as they could think of - and they could use that list as an idea bank for journal entries. One of my students wrote 2 1/2 months worth of journal entries from that one list.
Occasionally, I will tell my mom something I remember from when I was little, and she inevitably cracks up each time. She shakes her head and wonders aloud how my brother and I ended up with any sense as adults (which is debateable). I think it would be fun to write some "When I was little's" on this blog - so I will! Coming Soon: When I Was Little: The Series.


I don't know about you...

but I tend to take off my shoes...

and they stay where I took them off until I get the sudden urge to pick up shoes or until I wear them again...

Usually, it really bothers me that my OCD self leaves shoes all over the place...not enough to pick them up, mind you, but it bothers me just the same.

Today, though, as I sat at my desk, I looked down, and this is what I saw:

I just thought they were so pretty the way they were laying together. The similar colors and the pretty set-up were total coincidences. Then, I looked to my left, and I saw this:

Hahahahahaha - My life in a nutshell. Again, the way these items fell were just total coincidences - but the 5 items I use most are in this tiny picture: purse (large...always), Propel (I am like the little girl from Signs as far as Propel bottles go - they are EVERYWHERE.), phone, medicine/ chapstick/ germ-x bag, and a recipe card. I could not have set these up better if I had tried to. So, then I looked to my left, and saw these all together:

Again, the composition of the way they were piled together was coincidental (The coincidence is probably more obvious in this picture. That cord in the top-left of the picture drives me crazy!). Minus the ivory shoes in the top picture, these are most of my favorites in a pile. To look at them another way:

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this incredibly random post. My shoes, purse, and random items made me smile today. :)  

Thursday, March 1, 2012

No Denial for the Sick - My Advice for the Autoimmune

So, I started feeling a sore throat Tuesday afternoon. By Wednesday morning, it was terrible. I was laying still in my dark room with my dog. He wanted off my bed (he's too short to jump off the bed on his own), and I kept convincing him that he didn't really want down.

Those of you who know the world of autoimmune know - every little sickness, illness, and hurt is ridiculously many times worse for us than "normal people." If you don't know yet, you either haven't been autoimmune very long, or you are still in denial.

I was in denial for a long time. Loooong time. I have always been one of those people who tried to push on through whatever. It's my personality. I am tenacious. :P You are talking to the girl who when she got her first shot at teaching a leave of absence as a new autoimmune patient would try to will the fork to move on its own when eating dinner after school each day. After school, I would crawl into bed and be as still as I possibly could to get the muscles to stop doing whatever the heck they were doing that day. My wonderful mom would put a tray of food in my lap, and I would just stare at it, starving. (I was also the teacher who stayed a few hours late every afternoon trying to better set up my room as a new teacher.) I used to think, "Maybe if I stare at the fork long enough, I will have a Matilda moment." Never happened.

But teaching was never not an option. Never. Still isn't. When you're called to a passion, you're called. I enjoyed every single minute of that first job in spite of the pain I was in, and I don't think anyone, and I mean anyone, knew about my illness and the fight I was going through at that time. Ironic now. It's kind of amazing to look back on those times now, too, because if I can teach through that and go through that, I can get through anything. Nothing is impossible with God. Nothing, nothing, nothing.

Anyway, bringing it back - I'm not in denial about the small stuff anymore. I know that I know that my poor little body does not get better on its own. I know two wonderful doctors who know this fact about me, too, and will give me the maximum dose the first time (because we have learned together that if they don't, I just have to come right back anyway). I can't just keep going to work each day when I am sick and hope that it will go away on its own. I have to go to the doctor as soon as I know that I am sick.

My Advice to You

1. Autoimmune person, you need to go to the doctor as soon as something as wrong. As soon as! I didn't go to the doctor yesterday. I wish I had (I KNOW BETTER). I went this 6:45 so that I would be the first one in the door. I did not want to sit in a room full of super germy people. I feel that pretty soon I will be sporting a doctor mask that the elderly ladies and gentlemen wear when they go to the doctor, hospital, pharmacy, walmart, etc.

2. Be proactive. Take whatever best helps your body get some immune system support. I know, I know. I have Lupus, and if I support the immune system too much, it will attack me. I don't know what that does to the rest of you, but it makes me look like a red giraffe with some weird rash. As one of my students used to say when she would see me as the giraffe, "Ew-Ugh."

I have found that Sambucol from CVS is the best immune support for me coupled with Phytaloe from Mannatech. I take that daily before going to school, the store, church, etc. Now, I know I am in one of the germiest professions, but it is not the germiest. I heard on the radio a couple of years ago that they have ruled banks as the germiest places of business because of all the germs on the paper money. The Swiss or Swedish or some "S" European country found that the flu can live on paper money for, are you ready for this, a whopping sixteen days. I share this tidbit with students.

When I feel like I might be getting a cold, I take Zicam for a couple of days. Amazingly, that often knocks it out. If I feel like I am getting anything else, I usually take Airborne. That stuff is fantastic. It even has something in it for nausea. I took some when I was very nauseated once, and that stuff knocked it out! It often knocks out whatever I think I am getting, too. I usually have some in my purse, my school lunch box, and my medicine pantry at home. Yesterday? Couldn't find it anywhere. Everyone else knows that I keep some in my purse, school lunch box, and medicine pantry, too.

3. Notice and know how the barometric pressure, various cleaning products, and the sun affect you. The sunlight makes me break out in a rash sometimes, and sometimes it makes me very weak. I have found a remedy that remedies this reaction for short periods of time outside for a few weeks at a time, and I will try to write about it another day.

The barometric pressure affects everyone. I once met a lady who has an autistic child. She took a barometer with them wherever she went because she knew that sudden changes in pressure and extreme low pressures would really affect how her son felt and consequently how he acted. The barometric pressure really affects my muscles. When it changes drastically or is really low, it can make me feel like "normal" people do that day before they get the flu. You know, they feel tired and achey...but they are still feel well enough to be in denial.

All sorts of products including cleaning products affect everyone. However, I have learned that as Lupus patients (and really patients of most any autoimmune disorder), makes us like human litmus paper for how various products affect us. We are uber sensitive to everything. We are just more sensitive than everyone else, so those adverse affects show up in us more often and with smaller amounts. The very smell of Lysol can make me break out sometimes. Again, the remedy that I have for sunlight helps with this problem now, too. When I had to mop my classroom, I would mop with white vinegar on the weekends. By the time the kids got back on Monday, they couldn't smell the vinegar.

(On a completely irrelevant side note: I used to take my little dog, too. I would let him "inspect" the classroom before breaking out the vinegar. He would find snacks that kids had stuffed in places, food wrappers that had escaped from the garbage can, toys, etc. He would also try to remove the tennis balls from the few pieces of school furniture that had tennis balls. I would close off our hallway, leave my door open, and mop. Unfortunately, if one of my co-workers from my hall showed up at school, he would promptly go ask to be temporarily adopted into their room. He does not appreciate vinegar. :) Love him.) 

Knowing how different products, sunlight, and the barometric pressure affect you can help you rule out times when you think that you may be coming down with something. If you can rule out all of this stuff, go to the doctor.

As for me, I went, and I got a shot. Thank God for shots. I am not better yet, but I am sitting in an upright position. I know that it takes three times as long for me to heal as it does for a normal person. I don't think that is an autoimmune rule, but I would suggest that you notice how long it takes your body to heal in relation to "normal" people especially if you are a teacher. It's easier to get a sub to cover a bunch of days rather than one day at a time, and as much as you want to come back the next day - get real. You don't get better on your own. Stay home, rest up, get better, and come back full force.

And smile. It heals more than you know.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Rare Times When the Bed is Made...

I love my room. It is an ode to copper and ivory with hints of gold and a few other colors. The wood is a warm mahogany-cherry. The bed and bedspread are its crowning touch. Unfortunately, the bed is rarely made.

Every time I make the bed, I think, this is great! The room looks so much more polished and beautiful, and the covers all seem right when I get into bed that night. I vow right then and there that I will start making the bed on a regular, daily basis.

...I'm not just real sure what happens the next day. I think I try to disturb the covers as little as possible and reason that since the covers are still nearly completly perfect that the slight opening in them will just make it that much easier for me to cozy up under the covers again the next night. I mean, why make them up all the way? I'm just going to get right back in them that night, right?

A couple of weeks later, the covers are all in a wad at my feet, with the bedspread covered loosely, but beautifully because of the awesome fabric, over the wad. I think to myself, what happened?!

I give up, make up my bed, fall in love with the made bed, and the cycle begins again. Sigh.


Friday, February 10, 2012

I Want to Be at School

I want to be at school. I want to be at school every school day, all day long. I miss school.