Saturday, August 21, 2010

Guest Bedroom Face Lift!

When Bryan and I first looked at our house, back in December of 2008, there was one room in particular that left quite an impression.  It was painted in alternating fat stripes of light pink and dark pink, had a large rose-themed wall hanging, and rose curtains to match.

The impression it left?  Absolute hatred!

When we decided to buy the house, we asked that the builder paint the room in the same color as the game room, which they readily did--and did again for the dog-name walls in the library and the damask-pattern walls in the dining room.  The rose-themed wall hanging went in a trash can in Ft. Worth when Victoria decided that she actually did not want it--but the rose curtains remained.

After careful consideration, Bryan and I decided to go with a western-cowboy theme in the guestroom, complete with deer pelts from his past kills.  We put all of our antique pieces in that room.  My great-grandmother's bed (once we bought our king size) and hope chest took up the center, Bryan's great-grandfather's vanity went on the wall next to the closet, and his dresser was stuck awkwardly right inside the door.  There was also a bookshelf to the left of the window, where all of the college textbooks we didn't want to part from reside.

We kept the dark navy blue and white comforter, complete with a dog-caused hole, on the bed.  And, even though they were completely out of place, the rose curtains remained.

This summer, with Victoria's future in-laws coming to stay with us for her shower, I determined to give the guest room a face lift, and Annabelle and Haley decided to keep me company!

The first thing I tried was bumping the bed over and moving the chest of drawers to sit beside the bed on the left.  Even though the dresser is fairly light, it took forever to move because I had to take many, many breaks, and Annabelle was no help at all.

I thought it looked ok, but Bryan hated it (and yelled at me for moving furniture without him while I was on restriction--apparently taking breaks doesn't excuse breaking restrictions--hey, it was a few days after Dr. G first put me on restriction, so I wasn't really thinking about it, and I DID wear my brace.  Now I know better.) 

So, he took over moving the furniture.  The bed was bumped back over a bit, and the hope chest centered.  The bookshelf was de-booked, moved to the dresser's old spot, and rebooked, while the dresser took the bookshelf's place.  
Once the furniture's positioning was agreed upon, I undertook the task of unifying the room's theme and making the space not feel as dark (because of the comforter).  JC Penny's and Hobby Lobby became my best friends!

I bought (on SALE!) a new comforter that, while still incorporating navy blue and a hint of black, also had touches of light blue, white and tan.  In and of itself, it lightened the space.   At Hobby Lobby I found two little stars, and Bryan and I mounted them on the wall on either side of the large star that we were given as a wedding gift.  I also finally bought a lampshade for the lamp and found an awesomely western metal welcome sign to hang on the wall above it.

We tucked the John Wayne picture (who's frame is falling apart) and the vanity mirror (for which we can't find the hardware at the moment) into the future nursery (aka the current junk room).  Don't worry though!  The mirror will eventually get mounted, and, once we get a new frame, John Wayne will grace the wall, along with a framed Texas flag!  

And finally, FINALLY, the rose curtains were replaced with nice light blue tab top buttoned curtains!

So now when guests come to stay, they will come into a unified, light-feeling room, and hopefully feel very, well....

One room (mostly) down, the rest to go!  I think I've found a new hobby! :-D

School Has Started!

I am so glad it is Saturday!  

Last week, we teachers returned to the orange halls of our high school to prepare for the new year.  Some of this preparation--specifically the staff development meetings-- felt like a waste of time, as it always does.  The rest--preparing the room, working with the other teachers--that part was fun.  As I always do, I find that I have missed interacting with people on a regular basis over the summer.  I'm really proud of the way my room looks too!

I will still miss the summer, especially the part about only having two flares.  My ankle has been flared, meaning I've been limping all over the place, since Monday, and the kids haven't even come back yet!  Oh well.  Though, as I mentioned in my last Not Me! Monday post, it is hard leaving the summer's flare and sickness-free existence and returning to a place where I am guaranteed to experience both.  I am still struggling with the fears I mentioned in that post too.

That said, there are things I am looking forward to this year--sponsoring the anime club, meeting my new kiddos, and working with the Spanish I planning team (our new teachers are awesome!  And one is an AGGIE!!! WHOOP!), to name a few.  Seeing my old students is high on the list too--three of my volleyball girls came to see me yesterday and it made my week!  So all in all, I am starting to feel the slow increase of excitement that comes at the beginning of every school year.

It's funny, the longer I'm in education, the more I disagree with the current trends, or at least the mentality driving the current trends.  Primarily, the insistence on entertaining the students.

Of course, "entertaining" is not the term used--the term is now "engage".  I am all for student engagement, but I draw the line at regular arts and crafts projects at the high school level, to the exclusion of lecture.  I also do not agree that teachers need to constantly use technology in their classrooms to "engage" their students.  Students have to be held accountable for engaging themselves in their education as well.  They need to learn how to apply themselves to the task at hand, even if that task is without technological and visual bells and whistles.  After all, both in college and on the job, nobody will be as desperately concerned with keeping them entertained as K-12 teachers are expected to be today.

I also get tired of hearing the "new" proposals to "fix" or "remake" the current educational system.  With few exceptions, these ideas are NOT new--and those few are not truly feasible at the national level.  If I learned anything while pursuing my Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, I learned that education is cyclical--the conceptual core of "new" ideas have fueled such "innovations" before, and yet we keep coming back around to the traditional model.

And I really wish folks would stop using the comparative argument for reform--that is that the American education system is horrible in comparison to other nations.  I would like to point out that we are the only nation that INSISTS on educating ALL of its children at the same level.  In Europe, there is a tracking test that is taken around 12--if you pass, you are on the college track, if not you go on the trade school track.  Other nations only educate the children of families who can pay for it, and even if they do offer education to their entire populace, they sure as heck aren't tracking drop-outs and punishing the schools they've left, nor are they tracking down truants and dragging them back to school.

In other words, are students are compared with the cream of the crop of other nations--so OF COURSE we come off looking bad. 

Anyway, enough of that.

On the RA front, we're continuing to try to put off surgery with cortisone shots--which are working, kind of.  I also have to continue wearing my brace on my right wrist, and continue with my 5lb weight limit on my right arm.  At my one month follow-up with Dr. G, he also did a physical examination of my left wrist and pronounced it "not a normal wrist".  Imagine my joy.  So, I am now subject to a 10lb weight limit on my left arm, and can no longer vacuum--at least not until we get a MUCH lighter weight one.  Dr. G gave us several brands to check out.

Because my ankle is already flaring, Dr. C put me on prednisone (5 mg/day as needed) and I'm going back to see him in September.

Other than all that, life is really going wonderfully.  I was able to get one room redecorated and Victoria's shower came together splendidly.  

Bryan leaves for his field test this coming Tuesday--I'm going to miss him a ton for the three weeks and three days he'll be gone BUT I will also have plenty to keep my busy!  School and water aerobics will keep my weeks hopping, and as for the weekends, well--next weekend I pick up one of my bridesmaid dresses and go get it fitted and go to Bryanne-Michelle's shower.  The weekend after that is Victoria's bachelorette party, and the weekend after THAT I am going to an Astros game with my mom and day for Hero's Night.  And the next weekend, Bryan will be home!  

Lol, but even THAT weekend I'm busy--I'm flying up to Ft. Worth for Victoria's shower up there.  And then both weddings are right around the corner, as are Thanksgiving and Christmas!  This fall is going to fly by! 

Now, to go back to enjoying the first Saturday of my school year!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Crazy Busy Week

Hello all!
I promise, I have not forgotten about this blog.  I miss posting!

That said, this is the "get everything ready" week for teachers--which means I am back at work and CRAZY busy this week.
So, there will probably be very few posts this week, other than this short one. 
BUT I promise I do have a few GREAT ones for the weekend/next week once things are a bit less chaotic.
Yes, for me it gets less chaotic when the kiddos come (not to be confused with stressful--next week will be MORE STRESSFUL, just less chaotic).
Anyway, for a hint about upcoming posts, they have to do with
1) Home decor
2) Bridal Shower
3) Health update craziness
and I'm sure
4) Stories about my first week with my new group of kiddos

I hope everyone else is having a good (and calm!) week!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Post-It Note Tuesday

It's time once again for Post-It Note Tuesday! 
This blogring was started by Supah Mommy, and I found it through my friend Arena, over at The Nerd's Wife!

As you can tell from my Not Me! Monday post, I have some anxiety (understatement) about the coming school year.  Luckily, I have an amazing husband to encourage me, pups to make me laugh, big picture goeals to keep me focused, and a week to steel myself before everything starts back up!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Not Me! Monday and the Back to School Blues

"Not Me!" Monday is a blog ring started by MckMama!  It's a ton of fun!  I found it through Arena, over at The Nerd's Wife.  It's so much fun to share all the things I have *not* been doing, and read what everyone else has *not* been up to as well!  Fair warning, the end of this post might drift into a bit of a serious mode.

First of all, it most certainly has NOT been two weeks since I participated in NOT ME! Monday!  I did NOT miss getting to unload all of the slighly silly, varyingly irresponsible, and downright sappy things that I did NOT do.  NOT ME!

Live is NOT about to get insanely busy.  

This Saturday, I am NOT hosting a bridal shower for my best friend Victoria.  
She is NOT more like a sister than a best friend, and I have NOT been giddily planning this shower for months.  
I do NOT want everything to be absolutely perfect.  
 I would never get giddy over planning a party and would never ignore the common sense that says nothing ever goes 100% perfectly.  

In preparation for said shower, I did NOT spend about 20 minutes this morning brainstorming everything that needs to be done this week before the out of town guests arrive on Friday.  
I did NOT then break things down into daily chore lists. 
 And I am NOT currently ignoring today's list to write this post.  
 I would never take the trouble to extensively organize a to-do list, just to ignore it.  

I also did NOT have a frantically bad dream about being an unprepared MOH and bridesmaid last night that incorporated BOTH of the weddings I'm standing in in October.  
 Said dream did NOT involve me sitting in a pew in a T-shirt, jeans and flip-flops, watching the beginning of the ceremony only to NOT realize that I had to go get ready.  
A frantic running around changing into my dress without taking off my T-shirt did NOT ensure.  
 I would never have anxiety dreams about my friends' weddings when I didn't have any over my own.  

The other thing I am NOT doing today is putting off getting bloodwork done.  
Why do I NOT need blood work?  Because my CPK (muscle enzyme) was NOT elevated into the 4000s on Thursday (normal is 250).  
It had NOT fallen into the 2000s on Friday (still really elevated).  
And I am most certainly NOT trying to wrangle the doctor's permission to go tomorrow instead of today. 
I would never be lazy enough to put off potentially extremely important and necessary blood work.  

Speaking of health, I am NOT seriously stressed out and partially terrified about going back to school.
It's not the kids (no, really it's not).
I am NOT worried that, with the reintroduction of the stress of teaching, that I am going to start flaring again.
I am NOT terrified that, due to my medication, I will be continually sick.
I would never let something that has not happened yet stress me out and terrify me right now.

To explain why I am NOT stressed and afraid:  
I did NOT spend the majority of last school year both in pain --to the point where my students did NOT offer to get me a wheelchair, my principal did NOT tell me I need a Rascal for bad days, and one student did NOT offer to buy me a cane.
I was NOT sick as a dog the majority of the year as well--I definitely did NOT have bouts with the Swine Flu, two rounds of Bronchitis, a stomach bug, two or three throat infections, and others I have NOT even stopped trying to remember.
I do NOT have bright, sunlit, specific memories of the very few days when I pain-free, well, and had energy.
I am NOT questioning whether I can make it through another such year. 
I would never doubt my strength of will and stamina.

It did not (again, seriously not)  make me feel better that my doctor, after I raised my school year concerns, asked what my husband did for a living, and pointed out that the time might soon come that I, medically, have to stay home.
To clarify, I did NOT incredibly enjoy the last two months as a SAHW.
I was NOT healthy the entire time, and did NOT only have two flares.
I do NOT desperately want to continue in that role.

 That said, I am NOT upset with the idea of becoming a SAHW for medical reasons.
I have NOT always considered myself stronger and tougher than that.
I do NOT hate potentially being humbled by this disease yet again.
That said, I would never stand by my pride and refuse to do what I have to do to preserve my health.
Dammit, NOT ME!
Even if I truly do NOT hate it.

Ok, enough serious stuff.  
I am NOT going to go fix myself a sandwich and a big glass of water (doc's orders that I'm NOT actually following). 
I will NOT put on a chick flick and work on my chore list.  I will NOT pleasantly contemplate picking out wedding photos with my husband for our album and helping him hang peg board in the garage tonight.  
I will NOT pretend that my gig as a SAHW is ongoing and nowhere near and ending point.
I would never ignore the unpleasant truth that school starts next week and at that point I NOT have to face both reality and my fears.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken

I found this recipe in the Fix-It and Forget-It Lightly cookbook by Phyllis Pellman Good.  I like the organization of this cookbook, and there are several recipes besides this one that I am looking forward to trying!

That said, I did make one or two adjustments to this recipe, just for the sake of convenience.

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut up
10 3/4 ounce can of condensed tomato soup
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup of vinegar
3 Tablespoons of brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon of dried basil

First off, let me point out that this recipe was meant for a 3-4 quart slow cooker.  Mine is either a 6 or a 6.5 quart.  I did not adjust for that, and ended up with some of the chicken and sauce burnt around the edges and the chicken was a bit dry.  Next time, I'm going to add a cup or two of water and hope that that solves the problem!

Now, the first step is to cut up the chicken.  First, I trimmed off the fatty and otherwise undesirable parts of the chicken and put them in a ziplock bag.  I just stated doing this--it keeps all the mess separate from the to-be-cooked chicken and helps keep the trash can from becoming rank as quickly.  

I chunked my chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and tossed them in the crock pot.

Next, it's time to mix the sauce.  First, peel and chop the onion and put it in the bowl.

Add the can of tomato soup.

Next, measure out the rest of the sauce ingredients and add them to to soup and onion.

Stir it all together thoroughly.  I like using a whisk for sauces, even chunky sauces like this one--it seems to mix everything more thoroughly than a spoon.

Once the sauce is mixed, pour it over the chicken in the crock pot.

Stir thoroughly to make sure that every chicken chunk is covered by some sauce.  Here I used a wooden spoon, both because of the consistency of the mix, and because I avoid using anything metal in my ceramic crock pot--scratches are bad!

This is also where I will add a cup or two of water next time.  Now, set the crock pot on low for 6-8 hours.  I let mine go for 7 hours this time--next time I will go ahead and only cook for 6 to help with keeping the chicken moist.  

I really enjoyed this recipe, aside from the chicken being dry.  It is a sweeter barbecue chicken however, so for Bryan it was only ok...he's not big on sweet barbecue lol.  We had long grain and wild rice and sweet potatoes for sides.  Overall a very good dinner, which I hope next time will be even better!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Our Guestroom Has Earned Its Keep!

It has been a very busy few weeks!
First of all, my cousin Brooke came to stay with us from the 17th to the 22nd.
 My car was in the shop for the first day, so we hung out around the house.  Brooke was able to get a bit of her summer homework done.  I know, summer homework?  WTH?!?  But apparently that is now the norm for pre-AP and AP classes.  
Mom drove back down that day so that we could get out of the house.  I love my mama!  She took usto get pedicures, which she generously paid for, and dinner at my favorite Chinese restaurant down here, which I covered.
Mom also took me to get my car out of the shop, which meant Brooke and I were mobile the next day.  We had a blast!  I took her to see The Sorcerer's Apprentice (which, while no cinematic masterpiece, was entertaining and very well cast).  We also went and played racquetball at my gym--by play, I mean hit the ball around for 45 minutes laughing the entire time.  Then we went to the smoothie shop!  We also hit up the bookstores and I got to buy her two books!  I love buying my younger cousins books.

On Wednesday the 21st Mom, Dad, Mama Pior, Mike, and his cousin came down, and Bryan took us all on a tour of NASA!  We got to see the lunar rovers, the full-sized mock-ups of the space shuttle and international space station, the historical Mission Control, Rocket Park, AND the cafeteria!  It was so much fun watching my husband give the tour, and once again I was impressed with the extent of his knowledge about all that we saw.  It was also nice to eat lunch with him while he was at work

Brooke went home with Mom and Dad that day.  They were leaving for the River Cabin the following day, and she didn't want to miss any of it.  Bryan and I didn't leave until Friday night, but it still was a fun weekend!

The following Tuesday, Allie came into town!  Allie lives up in the DC area now, and we haven't seen her since our wedding--two years ago!  Back in college, Bryan, she and I all lived in the same freshman dorm, and then she was my across-the-hall neighbor in the dorm sophomore year.  She's also an engineer so she and Bryan had some classes together, and were in the same study abroad group in Germany.

She also lived in the apartment complex next door to mine once we got off campus.  She would have "come over and let's bake cookies" nights--and once two of them happened, it became tradition!  (that's an Aggie reference for those of you who might not get it.--in Aggieland, if it happens twice, it's a tradition!  Whoop!)  While she was here, we talked for just about two days straight.  We also played with the pups, watched Avatar, made sure she got to eat tex-mex, Whataburger, Sonic, and barbecue.  And, OF COURSE, we made a batch of delicious chocolate chip cookies!  
 It was so good to see her!  Bryan and I are hoping to return the visit next summer.

Allie went to stay with another friend Thursday night.  While I was sad to see her go, that gave me Friday to get the guestroom ready for Mom and Dad, who came and stayed at our house while we went to Waco for Bryanne-Michelle's Wedding Party!  We rode the bike up Saturday--which, while fun, was probably not the smartest move on my part.  Once we got there, we hung out, drank beer, and met her Waco friends and family.  It was so good to see her! (Oh, and Justin too lol)
On Sunday, we got up and had breakfast.  Bryan went on back to get the car--I had to catch a ride home with Bryanne-Michelle's mama because I was so sore from the motorcycle.  That gave Bryanne-Michelle and I time to hang out!  We drove around Waco and made a quick visit to the Dr. Pepper Museum (it was too hot to stay for long!)!.
We also visited Target and walked around PetCo where we saw some mice who were set on exercising!
We grabbed lunch and ate with her mom back at the hotel.  Then her mom and I packed up and headed to the Woodlands, where my sweet husband met us with the Santa Fe.  We got home, had dinner with Mom and Dad, and collapsed into bed.

Like I said, it's been a busy couple of weeks, but it sure has been fun!!! 


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