Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Your Wish is My Command

Today was a great day.  Everything I've thought of just happens.  

All  morning I was trying to get a hold of my friend, another teacher, and didn't know if she was at school or not.  I even called her house and her cell, and needed to talk to her about a training tomorrow.  Then, she answered her office phone.  But that wasn't the strange part - after that, I kept seeing her over and over again.  On my way to get copies, leaving the bathroom, it was like I thought of her and then she appeared.  

When I got to school today, after being gone yesterday because I can't shake this stupid cold, the sub told all of my classes (170 students) that I wouldn't be back all week.  All day I had to tell them, over and over again, that I only called in for one day and she didn't know what she was talking about.  Then, I get an email saying that I have a mandatory training for our school website, I help build it, and I have to be gone tomorrow.  It was like the universe knew.

For my training I had to gather a bunch of information about our school and thought, there's no way everyone is going to be able to get me this stuff today, it will take forever and I will be stuck for 8 hours tomorrow with nothing to do.  But, everyone in the office that I ran into, including the Principal, had it all ready for me and sent it off in an email at moment's notice.  How weird is that?

It doesn't seem like much but things just seem to be falling into place.

I even made Ian wish for what he wanted most, his chest to feel 100% better, today just in case it is just one of those days.  He woke up this morning and said, "I feel better today then I have since January."  It made my morning!  I guess this day just started off good.  I held hands with him and made a wish myself too.

It's like I ask and the universe listens today.  Ever have days like this?  So enjoyable!

So, I'm asking for bigger things, hoping today is my lucky day and if I ask for it, it will come to me.  I'm writing it down, cementing it in, putting it out there.  So here goes . . . guess what my wish is universe . . . I'm leaving it all up to you!

Monday, October 17, 2011


Ever since I was little I have had really crazy dreams. Everyone has always told me to write them down but I never have, now I wish I would have.

I have also never been one to see ghosts (unlike my husband) but I do think I have a sense of spirits.   I normally dream about horrible things that happen in places, or get creepy feelings when I walk into somewhere instead of actually seeing anything.  I think sometimes my dreams tell me if something happened somewhere or if something is going to happen.  Maybe I can see things others don't but I see them in my dreams instead. I don't know, and I know it sounds nuts but that's what I've believed since I was little.  I also know that only children usually have bad dreams and maybe it's because we process things on our own instead of with someone else.   I remember having nightmares when I was little and being terrified of falling asleep and have talked to other only children who've said the same thing.  Who knows.

Anyway, I had a really weird dream last night I thought I'd write down because in my bestie's blog she did the same and I enjoyed reading it.  I know that some people hate reading/hearing about other people's dreams so if this is you, stop reading now.  (And, there isn't a lot of punctuation in these posts because that's just how dreams are, get over it.)  :)

I dreamt last night of our house but it wasn't our house (and as I write this, just like when I told Ian this morning, I have the chills because it's so scary).  (I seriously had to stop while writing this because I'm home alone and was too scared!)   Ok so a house that was our house but really wasn't.  I was thinking of our last appraisal, which happened in real life, where the guy said our house wasn't finished and wondering why he said that.  So I went in the other room and it was like a living room that we don't use, and had no furniture in it, and some weird blue tile on the floor.   And I saw the wall, made out of ply wood and realized that's what he meant by unfinished.  The wallpaper was actually peeling off another wall and I ripped it off and it was easy, just one long sheet.  Then, on another wall, there was so faux finish made of wood and that just peeled right off too, but a thick layer, and behind it someone tried to cover up a bathroom.  It had insulation and plywood over like a full bathroom, with a tub and shower, and a door that had also been covered.

It was weird because I had never noticed it before.  No wonder our appraisal said "unfinished."  There was also a hidden corner that you turned and went down a flight of stairs to a basement that wasn't a basement at all, but a preschool.   A very old and scary preschool with tiny desks and dusty books.  Not just a preschool under our house but two, huge rooms that were really like warehouses with lots of old toys and kid things everywhere.   But the first thing we saw when turning the corner was a small boy in a wheelchair with long hair, but he really wasn't a boy, he was a doll I think, but looked real.   He rolled away as we walked down and Ian pulled a sign off the fridge that said something like, "Hi I'm Chris, come introduce yourself," written on cardboard in little kid handwriting.  He was scary and as he rolled away we never saw his face but I had a feeling I had seen him before, in dreams (dreams within my dream).  Like I had been sleeping, many nights, and he had been looking in our room at us through the crack in our door, like I had seen him before.   But there were stairs, how could he get up them?  And wasn't he a doll?   Soooooooo creepy.

Both rooms had two warehouse rolling doors that opened and outside it was raining and there were other warehouses with people working.  We also had our own forklift, apparently, that came with the warehouse that someone else was using and returned to us (driving it while wearing my sweater on just one arm) and told us about our old preschool beneath our house.   Acting like he had known all along, and us never realizing.

I immediately started thinking how great this was, a place for band practice, for all of our stuff - somewhere to throw parties!  We could clean it out, dust the rooms, get rid of all the creepy stuff, through some white paint everywhere and make it modern and cute - and our house was probably worth WAY more than we thought with this underneath!  But Ian wasn't so into it.  He was creeped out by the kid/doll and didn't want anything to do with it.

Then, I woke up.  So weird.

The night before I had a dream that I was late to a flight for a family trip to Hawaii and I had to walk on the freeway for some reason and a guy wouldn't let us through to get there in time.  I also got to the desk and didn't have my ID and as I was looking I woke up.  I was in the worst mood and super stressed when I woke up, I couldn't get it together for like 30 minutes and couldn't even tell Ian about it without feeling rushed.  Totally indicative of our recent trip to Seattle/Portland, more on this later.

And, when I was younger, I had two dreams I can remember.  I lived in an apartment just out of high school with a lot of people and always thought that place was haunted.   Electronic things would go off by themselves and other weird things would always happen so we were all convinced.  I had a dream one night that someone was shot multiple times in one of the rooms and as one of my roommates dragged her body past my room, I closed my eyes not to see her head all mangled as it went by.  I think that really happened there, for sure.

When I first moved to Arizona we lived in an apartment that was 4 apartments away from the one we lived in for 8 years all through high school.  We only lived there a year but I had a dream there that STILL freaks me out.   I dreamt of a young girl who had 3 fingers on one hand and 30 fingers on the other and scratches all over her face.  She was IN that apartment and something happened to her, I KNOW it.   She was just trying to tell me through my dreams.

Dreams are so strange.   My grandma actually wrote a dream book, it was published and I have a copy, because maybe she had crazy dreams too.  Maybe it runs in the family.  I used to look mine up online but stopped for some reason, maybe because how the heck do these people know what our subconscious is doing?!

Anyway, hope you enjoyed these, they were WAY creepier in person (well, in dreams), and they always seem so real at the time.   I invite you to share a creepy one of yours below, I'd be interested to see if anyone else dreams such crazy things!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Favorite Men + a Grandma

This past week was Fall Break for us so we headed to Oregon to see some of the favorite men in my life - my Dad and my best friend Matt.  It was a short trip and we combined two trips in one, visiting these guys and seeing Ian's grandma, Ermel, who we don't get to see very often.  Short trips often turn into an adventure and that's definitely what this trip was!

We were supposed to get into Seattle at 1:30pm, and I even booked a rental car for that time, but for some reason while I was at home, I put it in my head that our flight left Phoenix at 1:30 instead.  So, we missed our flight.  Yep, that's the truth, it wasn't delayed - it was me who delayed it!  We called the airport and they wanted us to pay an additional $400 to fly to Seattle and we just couldn't do it, and started to throw in the towel on our short trip.  But, my mom came over to take us to the airport (not knowing what happened) and called the airline to find out that if we could make it to the airport within 2 hours of our missed flight, we could go for free on standby.  Thanks for telling me that in the first place Southwest!  We ended up "home alone-ing" it to the airport just in time to catch a flight that was within our two hours and we were on our way!

(Playing Kings in the Corner on the plane was tough!)

We got to Seattle 5 hours after we were supposed to, layover in Sacramento, and met Ian's cousins Arnie and Whitney at Starbucks to see their two babies (well Emma isn't really a baby anymore).  I was so happy we got to see them!  They were leaving his grandma's and heading home while we were taking the hour drive to there so we met on the way.  Everyone had gotten together to have a nice dinner with us at his grandma's retirement place but since we missed it, they were on their way out.  It was really nice to see them and catch up, we hope to see them around Christmas again!

At around 7:30pm we got to grandma's and she showed us to our room, one of the guest rooms at the retirement community.  It was awesome!  Bigger than any hotel room we could have gotten in the small, military town she lives in, and right up the stairs from her!  I didn't want to leave!

(We are messy, I know.)

(Seriously, a flat screen?!)

(Best and biggest shower ever - for wheelchairs but who cares?!)

(Welcome baskets!)

(Grandma Campbell)
(Modeling my new leather jacket and my humid hair.)

(We don't have this in AZ!)

That night we go Subway, because we were starving from our travels, and stayed up and talked to grandma for awhile.  She was so excited to see us, we didn't even want to leave her to change from our plane clothes - we just wanted to talk to her for as long as she would stay up.  The next morning we told her we'd be up at 7am and when we were up but not ready she texted me, "Are you still sleeping?"  She couldn't wait to start the day with us!

(Subways in WA and OR are piloting gf bread.  I wish I would have known this on our trip, but Matt didn't tell me until we got to Portland!)

We ate breakfast, anything we wanted, met all of her friends, she showed us around and we even went with her to her exercise class.  We were late so when we showed up we had to sit right in the middle of about 30 old people - it was a lot of pressure!  It was hot in the room too and I was wearing big boots so I had to take them off and do it in my socks (she said everyone talked about my boots afterwards!) and I was scared to take off my sweater because of my tattoos.  (I didn't want to be disrespectful!)  The teacher was amazing and there was the cutest old man there in a grey sweatsuit, I loved him.  It was my most favorite part of our trip - working out with all the retirees.  Loved it, made me feel so good.

After going for a walk and picking blackberries, Ian's Aunt Debbie picked up grandma and she left to spend a week with her.  It was such a nice trip getting to visit grandma, staying in our gigantic room and getting to see Aunt Debbie - definitely a trip we will make again!

Next, we headed off to Portland!  We got to the car rental place in the afternoon and my dad picked us up, it was so good to see him.  I miss him when he's gone and hadn't seen him since the beginning of June!  That afternoon as we walked to the store, dad found chestnuts laying on the ground.  He asked me if we ever had roasted chestnuts before and I said no, so we picked some up and brought them back to his apartment.  We found a recipe, cooked them, and then tried to eat them.  They tasted awful!  I couldn't understand why so I looked them up online and found out we were eating HORSE CHESTNUTS not sweet chestnuts!  And right on the picture of a horse chestnut there was a skull and crossbones - they were POISONOUS!  My dad tried to kill me right when I got there!  We ended up throwing them out and thank goodness, no one got sick.  Too funny - cooking with Greg!

(The car rental guy at the Seattle airport acted like he hated us and mumbled his way though telling us what we needed to do.  But, when we got to their off site rental place, we had a free upgrade on our account.  Weird.)

(Nikki gets a bath whenever I come to town, I am allergic to her!)

(But I wish I wasn't, she is SO cute!)

We went to Dot's that night for dinner and Matt met us, and breakfast the next morning with Meaghan at Bob's Red Mill the next day (gluten free waffles/pancakes - gotta love Oregon!).  After breakfast my dad took us to a spot where he thought we could pick blackberries (we made a cobbler with him once when we visited him at the beach) but they were all dried up.  And, we ended up seeing some sweet chestnuts by the tracks too - now those ones we could have eaten!  We then went down to a new neighborhood that Matt said had good shopping and walked around.  Ian started not feeling good and it was really raining so we decided to head back home.  But not before we went to Mac! - a place that all different kids of mac & cheese!  It was AMAZING (it is my favorite food, after all) and they even had gluten free noodles! 

(We got the truffle one - DELISH!)

Later (after Ian's nap), all of us plus Tammy, my dad's girlfriend, went to the Berlin Inn, a German restaurant that Matt found that had a gluten free menu.  I got sausage and an eggplant something and it was ok, although later that night it kind of killed me, I'm not used to mystery sausage.  But, the deserts were to die for - peanut butter mousse cake - so good!  After dinner we went to Bushwhacker Cider a cider bar and had some yummy ciders that were all gluten free! 

The next day we didn't have to be at the airport until 5 so we headed downtown.  Matt took the day off and Meaghan met us.  I was on a quest for boots, didn't find any, but we did find a TON of food trucks!  We don't really have this craze yet in Arizona so it was fun looking at all of the options for lunch.  I settled on pad thai (because the lady assured me it was gf), and it was DELICIOUS.  I had never really had pad thai before but I'm sure it was the best.  You really can't beat eating and drinking in Oregon - if it weren't for the weather we'd live there!

We said goodbye and we were off, on time this time.  It was so great seeing everyone, even for such a short time and I'm glad we are starting to make it a point to go more than just once a year.  Of course there were people we missed, but we hope to be back again soon!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Life After Life

A year ago on Tuesday I went into anaphylactic shock from an allergy shot.   .01% of my allergens were injected into my body and 20 minutes later I blacked out, not waking up for hours in the hospital.  It was the scariest day of my life and I can't believe it has been a year since it happened.

I used to go to this allergist (Dr. Waddington and staff) and I really liked him at first.  He did an allergy test on me and gave me lots of prescriptions and creams that really helped.  I got my test results back and found out that out of the 60 things they tested me for, I was highly allergy (3 + marks) to every single thing except for one.  My back was a huge welt for weeks, from the test, and now I knew why it was so painful.

I started the shots in July and they seemed to be helping.  For the first time ever I didn't wake up with phlegm in my throat or a stuffy nose.  I went twice a week and because I was so allergic they only upped my allergens by .01% instead of .1% like everyone else.   Before you start the shots they tell you that they want you to wait at least 20 minutes, and it's in their paperwork, before you leave to see what kind of reaction you have.  The most that ever happened to me was that my arm puffed up and was itchy in the spot they shot me in.  I sometimes waited the full amount, but most of the time Fran, the nurse that usually gave them, let me go after 10 minutes.  I was never required to sign anything saying that I would stay, and the office never prescribed me an EpiPen, which I heard many doctors do if you are as allergic as me, and getting shots.

Many times there was another nurse who never made me stay.  She would just tell me I was ok to leave and so I did, happy that Ian and I didn't have to wait that day (since we came from school it was kind of a pain).  A year ago, she just let us leave.  Thank goodness Ian was with me and that he works with me at the same school, or I would have been alone and would not have lived to type this now.

As we were driving home, about 10 minutes later, I got really itchy.  I thought it was my dress and told him to just hurry and get home so that I could put on some pjs.  Then, I noticed tiny red bumps all over me and the inside of my mouth get itchy.  They tell you, at the doctor, that if your tongue ever feels like it's swelling up or your throat is closing to go to the hospital, but it doesn't really feel like that.  I thought I was just freaking out, stressing myself out over nothing, and just wanted to get home.  Ian suggested that maybe we stop by the house, get some pjs and then go to the hospital just in case.  I had never been to the hospital before and was scared (and if you know me, you know I am kind of a hypochondriac), so I was trying to stay calm and breathe through it (I say I was trying to "yoga" my way though it).   Thank goodness we didn't stop at home because by the time we were almost to the hospital, Ian said my lips were turning blue. 

As he drove up the center lane and ran a red light, I knew something was wrong because I was seeing spots.  It's true that when you are dying it doesn't feel like you are dying, it didn't really "feel" like anything.  When we go to the hospital I remember getting out of the car, barely, and Ian says I dropped my phone because I was fumbling with it.  Then, I hardly remember anything else.   They made him get a wheel chair to come get me, no one would help him even though he told them I couldn't breathe, and they took my vitals. I took my clothes off, put on a gown and they were talking about intubating me or giving me an epi.  They had to do a pregnancy test, because we were trying and I wasn't sure if I was pregnant, before an epi but after that I didn't need either, the three drug concoction they were giving me was apparently working.  I heard things and felt the doctor touch my foot, but I couldn't open my eyes.  I remember the medicine made me feel kind of weird and I thought, "I may just have to lean over this bed and throw up," and if you know me this means I must have really felt bad, because I NEVER am ok with throwing up.

Hours later, I opened my eyes, after a standing doctor, with a rolling laptop cart and nurse following him typing, checked on me.  He kept saying that having my eyes closed wasn't a good sign and that he was waiting for me to open my eyes.  When I did, I felt groggy, tired and sweaty. I went home and took the next couple of days off.  Things could have easily gone differently.  I could have been by myself that day and just pulled over and fell asleep, never to wake up.  I could have gone home for my pjs and not made it to the hospital in an ambulance in time or I could have been intubated, something that causes a lot of other complications.  I am lucky to still be here today, and I know that.

It took me months to recover.  I had to stop doing everything I loved - running, bikram yoga, talking a lot at school because I still couldn't take deep breaths.   After getting an inhaler, breathing treatment, EpiPen (just in case) and more medicine from urgent care, I finally started feeling better.   Our hospital visit cost us about $500 (after insurance) plus the days I missed of work, and we wrote the doctor trying to get our bills covered.  They refused, even though they had nothing put in place before hand to inform patients about this, and I was too tired to fight it.  I have never gone back and hope that no one else experiences anything like this through their office.  I have talked to doctors since who say they ALWAYS make people wait, they give them an EpiPen before starting shots and they inform the patients of the risks.  I just cannot believe my allergy place didn't do any of this, it's shocking to me.

I write this post for a couple of reasons.  The first being to trash this place again and insure that no one goes there or if someone does, they demand they sign something before getting allergy shots or drops (same thing, allergens going directly to your blood stream).  I don't want anyone going through what I went through and if me talking about it gets them to change their policies, then some good came out of it.  The second reason is to talk about allergy shots and how dangerous they are.  Yes, they help at first, yes, you may never experience this; BUT, there is a chance this could be you.  Sending your allergens to your blood stream in the form of drops or shots is not good for your body, even though it sounds good in theory that your body will be building antibodies to fight these allergens and that they won't affect you in the long run.  However, it could take years for this to work, it could be after MANY experiences of anaphylactic shock (it has happened more than once to a lot of people who get shots or drops) and it could be risking your health.  Shots of epinephrin are never good and after you have to go to the hospital anyway, for more drugs, if this happens to you.  It affected my health for months, and I would never want anyone to experience that, not being able to take deep breaths is absolutely horrible.  Believe it or not, once I stopped eating gluten, and found out that was an allergy for me, my other allergies got better.  My skin hasn't been as itchy, my nose hasn't been as stuffy and I feel better overall.   Maybe look at some other avenues before resorting to allergy shots/drops, it could be something as simple as changing your diet or exploring more homeopathic options (acupuncture and visiting a chiropractor can help too I've heard).

The final reason I write about this is maybe something I've talked about before.   I read a book by Dr. Moody called Life after Life and it's about many people's near death experiences (as I write this, I KNOW I have written about this before - a blog writer's common problem I guess).   He says that after talking to hundreds of people who have died and come back to life, they all have common elements in their stories.  It is a fascinating book and if you are interested in this, I think everyone is, then you should read it.  It will open your eyes and you will never think of death the same again.

Now, I did not die and come back, and none of these things happened to me, but I have definitely experienced "life after life."  Going through this made me reflect on my life; the people, my job, my travels, my family, my students, my dogs, etc.   It made me appreciate everything I have and realize how lucky I am to be here, every single day.  We often get wrapped up in what we have or don't have, what we want, what we are trying to accomplish, that we often forget to just be here, enjoying what has been given to us and what we've worked so hard for.  I talk all the time about living in the moment and almost dying really makes you think about this.  This is my "life after life" awakening, a year later realizing all that I've been through and all that I have and all that I'm thankful for.   It took me a while to get to this happy place, this place of love and contentment, but I am finally here and am reflecting on all of it today.  I often wonder why I was saved, what is going to happen in my life that I needed to be here for?  Last year was such a hard year I thought for awhile, "Why the heck am I still here?"  But now I know, it's just to LIVE.  It wasn't my time, and all of the pieces fell into place to save my life.

I know that something has happened in your life, like this, where you have been "born again."   Do you remember how you felt after?  Do you remember the promises you made to yourself?  Do you honor those promises today?  Take a day to remember this "life after life" event and hold on to how you felt.  Every day I am around is a gift and I so often forget this simple fact.  You are given this gift too, don't you forget it either.   Appreciate what you have, how far you've come and what you've lived through.  Focus on today and be happy, if even for a moment.  This IS your life after life, and be grateful you are here to live it.  I sure am.  I am meant for bigger things, I know it, and you are too.

Thanks for listening, THIS was a good one for me to share.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

School Clothes

When I was in high school, I had only one teacher I liked, Mr. Dicus.  He was the one who actually made me want to become a teacher (more on this later).  He was young, cute and fun and I will remember his class forever.  I wanted to be just like him when I started teaching, and I hope that I am.

The thing I noticed about ALL of my teachers was, they always wore the same 5 outfits.  I hated it, I wanted to see something new, wanted to be surprised every day, but nope.  Teachers are notorious for heading to school in a track suit with wet hair and no makeup, why is that?  So, I vowed never to be one of them.

For 90 days, one semester, I do not repeat an outfit.  I will repeat articles of clothing but never a complete outfit.  Second semester, I am allowed to because, after all, I do not have THAT many clothes.  I also am the only teacher at my school that wears heels.  I dress up and it makes me happy, less tired and ready for the day.  

This year, Ian had the idea of taking a picture of my outfits every morning before we left for school.  I thought it would be fun too, so we did it.  My friends do often ask me if I wear all of the clothes/shoes I have in my closet and I knew this would prove to them that I did.  Christie and Jenny said once, "If you looked at all of Allison's shoes, what job would you guess she had?  Not a teacher for sure!"  Hahaha I do have some crazy shoes!

Anyway, here are my outfits for your viewing enjoyment.  Almost 45 days worth of clothes (some days we skipped because we forgot, time, or because I was going to a conference).  And yes, we DO have Spirit Days, I do not dress like a nerd or hippie just because.  :)  Enjoy!

Friday, October 7, 2011

We Are Not Alone

Every year I do an assignment with my students where they have to find a song that represents them, bring in the lyrics and write about why they chose it (I wrote more about this here).  Although we have a new curriculum this year, I decided to do this project still anyway because I think it is SO important.

Very rarely do kids get to open up like this, share personal parts of their life, express them in a way where they have everyone's attention and respect and let out all of these emotions they have bottled up for so long.  This assignment makes my class a family, and could be why I've never had a fight break out in my classroom in 11 years.  My first hour enjoyed this so much they wanted to do a group hug after we were done this year, it was amazing.  It's the same reason I teach yoga at school, it allows students to feel as though they are part of something, part of a community, and are loved and supported.

This year, I heard some AMAZING songs and some very sad, uplifting, motivating and strong presentations.  It is unbelievable what my students go through, and how they never tell anyone.  My advice to teachers is this - find out about your students' lives.  Don't just discount them if they come late or don't turn in assignments, ask them what's wrong and show them you care.  Open up to them, share with them a part of your life too.  Become a family because sometimes you are the only family they've got.

I started the presentations off by doing one of my own.  I presented this song and read something I wrote about our experience this past year.  It was so healing for me and so amazing to see all of my students react to my story.  I got hugs after and it felt great.  At that moment, I was healed and they helped to heal me.  I hoped to do the same for them.

I wanted to share this presentation with you.  It really impacted me and after receiving permission from the girl who wrote it, I post it here.  Her writing moved me and the way she wrote this is absolutely astonishing.  If we would have never done this, I may have never known this side of her as a writer.  I wish I could remember her song, but here are her words:

Re-read her ending sentence.  She WAS a miracle and it's a wonder she made it out of her mother alive; and her poor mother, having to experience that while pregnant with her.  Every single time the students presented something, they ended on a positive note.  Most of them can't even get through their presentations without crying (and I will finish for them), but each and every one of them put something bright or hopeful in the end.   It is amazing how much these kids WANT happiness, WANT to heal and move on, WANT to see the light.  (Reminds me of another poem we have studied by Robert Frost, "I Have Been One Acquainted with the Night.")  

I have heard some very sad things and it weighs heavy on me, I feel every day like I carry their burden for them for a little while, after listening.  Then, I let it go, for them.  I am so happy they have an outlet in which to share, a safe place.  I am happy they share with us, with me, and it is my favorite thing we do in my class every year.  After each presentation I write a personal note on each one of their papers.  I wish for them that all of their dreams and hopes come true, and that they always see the positive - even if it is just in rising every time they fall.  They deserve the very best in their lives and I hope with all my heart they get what they want.

This project also really puts things into perspective for me.  Sharing what we've all been through brings comfort, you are not alone.  WE are not alone.  After a tragedy, you feel so lonely and find it hard to reconnect with people, with your old life, and with your old self.  But after hearing stories from others, you realize that you aren't the only one.  Sadness is everywhere, we SHARE this feeling together.  Why do I ever feel lonely in my grief when thinking of my situation?  I am not alone.  Some of these kids have been through more in life at 16 then I have at 33, and I think only of myself sometimes and my life.  Share, relate, grieve together, come together.  No one is alone, everyone can relate in some way.

The quarter is over and it's Fall Break.  Time for us all to reflect on the past, look towards the future and appreciate the present.  Write down a story of your past, put in as many details as you can, describe how you felt, what happened, what you've learned, how you've grown and something positive that came from it.  Let it go.  Release it.  Take time to reflect, heal and move on.  Breathe in, breathe out.  It feels oh so good.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Some New Furry Ladies

Did I tell you that Hammy our hamster died?  Did you even know we owned a hamster over the summer?  I can't remember if I told you, but dwarf hamsters only live 1-2 years and I think Hammy was old when we inherited him.  

(R.I.P. Hammy)

Petco and PetsMart have a Pets in the Classroom grant that you can apply for (Kindergarten through 6th grades only I think) and Ian and I decided to apply for his classroom.  He teaches Special Education Community Skills at the same school that I work at and part of his new curriculum is about animals.  So, we filled out the form, even though it is for a high school class, and hoped for the best.  He ended up getting the grant and because we couldn't wait, we headed to the pet store.

And, enter Julie into our lives.  When I saw her, I fell in love.  She is a regular sized hamster and is a really cute grey and white and I knew we had to have her when I saw her.  (She is currently running on her wheel like crazy, in the kitchen, as I type this.)  She was immediately lovable and rolled on her back when I pet her, just like a dog.  I hope to one day be her best friend and give her lots of cuddles (and feed her popcorn on a piano).

(This is Julie's new home, a two story mansion.  We are ridiculous, I know.)

So, after I decided that Julie was NOT the school hamster, Ian had to still get a hamster for his classroom.  So, once his free coupon came for a house and half off a hamster, we went back to the pet store and found Robin, a robo dwarf hamster and the smallest little girl I've ever seen.  She is truly a little, white cotton ball and she's really lovable because she is so young.  I've never held a hamster in my life but I held Robin, and it was SO MUCH FUN.

(An all pink house for the smallest, little girl.) 

(So exciting!)

(Just a cotton puff of cuteness!)

(Dual runners when Robin comes home on the weekends.)

Why do two adults with no children now own two hamsters?  I'm not sure, but we are totally enamored with them.  Hamsters are great pets, so go out and get your own, you WON'T be disappointed.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


That's it, that's me.  Plain old 33.  I don't feel older, maybe just a little wiser.

This past week was full of birthday fun.  The Sunday before my birthday we went to my mom's house to eat homemade lasagna that she makes every year.  But this time, it was made with gluten free noodles and there was gluten free french bread for dipping in the sauce.  My step-dad made me meatballs without bread crumbs and I made gluten free lemon cupcakes for all - 2 batches that morning.

Now I didn't make two batches for eating, I made two batches because I messed up the first batch!  I used Betty Crocker gluten free yellow cake mix and then combined three different gf recipes from the site to make the cupcakes.  I used this one for the frosting, this one for the cupcakes and this idea for the filling (lemon curd).  The first batch turned out so small, they didn't rise at all, that it would have been a cupcake bite, AND they were super sticky you couldn't even get them off the paper.  So, I sent Ian off to the store to get more supplies, and another mix, and tried again.  This time - delicious!  The cupcakes still didn't rise as much as I would have liked, but I filled them up higher in the tins (use metal tins and spray so they don't stick).  The frosting was out of this world, I had to triple the recipe just for one batch of cupcakes but it was worth it - I could have eaten the whole bowl by itself!

(The ulu knife my dad got us in Alaska made a great lemon zester!)

(lemon curd filling)

(Hurricane Allison strikes again!)

We headed to my mom's and enjoyed a day with my mom, step-dad, Ian's family and our nephew Reggie.  It was so nice and relaxing.  Afterwards, I stopped by my grandma's (Nani's) retirement home to drop off some lasagna to her.  We got to take a whole pan of gf lasagna home with us and ended up eating it for the entire week, no cooking.  It was awesome!

(Our nephew Reggie!)

(Mom and me)


(Gf lasagna - I'm sad I didn't get a pic right out of the over, this is after we already ate some and were ready to take it home!)

(If you are searching for a gluten free french bread roll, this is it!  They make ciabatta bread too!)

(My step-dad Joe and Ian's dad Henry.)

(The moms)

(My sister-in-law Ashley liked the blocks!)

(Reggie playing the sax like his Dad.)

(Cute little family.)

(I made my wish.)

That night we got some awful news, my friend of 18 years put herself in the hospital again.  It was a night full of worry and waiting but she finally woke up and was released late Monday night.  It was a stressful and horrible couple of days and I still worry about her every day.  I hope she gets the help she needs and we will be here to support her no matter what.  It's sad that this is part of my birthday blog but with the good comes the bad - the tide rises the tide falls.  I love you friend, and always will.

Ian started to walk on this trail by our house, so I decided to join him on Monday.  I needed to just get away and clear my head.  It was so peaceful at the top, it was not a place of worry but a place of calm.  I'm glad I went with him, it took me away from reality for a bit.

(The governor's tomb, the first Arizona governor, George W.P. Hunt.)

(No one can dispute our sunsets, they are truly the best.)

(Papago mountains - my Dad and I flew 17 hours to Australia when I was 21 and it looked exactly like this.)

(One of the gorgeous, small ponds by the zoo in Papago Park.)

 (Those buildings in the distance are downtown Phoenix, with the sunset as their backdrop.)
On my actual birthday, Wednesday I was in my second day of a conference downtown with two school friends.  My mom picked us up for lunch at the Old Spaghetti Factory and I got to sit in the caboose, my favorite spot!  They have DELICIOUS gluten free pasta and for a great price you get spaghetti, salad and ice cream for dessert (spumoni for me!).

That night I did my favorite thing with my hubby, we just laid around.  It was so relaxing and nice, I even skipped yoga to just lay on the couch!  Ian never relaxes, he's always up and doing something.  So for him to lay around, I knew he did it just for me.  

(Birthday blizzard!  Not a great pic, but I was in relax mode!) 

Friday at school my three best girlfriends came and took me to lunch (thanks Christine!).  We went to La Piccola Cucina, just like last year, and it was super fun.  I love spending time with these four ladies and can't believe it has been 18 years.  (Thanks again Christine for the lovely pic!)

(I had a box of magazines in my car that Ian was supposed to take out, oops!)

That night I took Ian to the Melting Pot fondue restaurant because he had never been.  I saw online that they had a gluten free menu (and you know exactly what you are getting because they make everything in front of you or you cook things yourself) and wanted to go.  I hadn't been in years and Ian loves cheese and chocolate so off we went.  2.5 hours later we were stuffed but it was fun!  We brought our own gf bread, cookies and brownies to dip and it was SO worth it!

(Ha, cheesy pic that they took but it came out cute!) 

The next Saturday night I celebrated my birthday with my girlfriends.  There were supposed to be eight of us going out dancing (what are we?  22?) but the twins got strep throat and some people canceled so it just turned out to be Christine, June, Mary and I.  We hopped from club to club, walked a lot, gawked at all the people and then sweated our butts off at the Firehouse until 2am.  (The music sucks there but it was the ONLY place we went with a good dance floor!)  

We discovered the same thing we always discover here in Phoenix, all the best places are gone and replaced with weird, dirty, crowded places that now serve drinks in plastic glasses.  (You know you're old when you remember when clubs served drinks in GLASS glasses!)  It was a fun night but very strange, I had no idea downtown Scottsdale was that crowded, with that particular crowd, and that it would be that nuts.  It wasn't what I expected but we made the best of it and had some fun together.  (Thanks, Christine, for the pics!)


(Mary, June, me and Christine)

(And a classic Mary pic had to be taken!)

On Sunday, after drinking only two drinks the night before, I had a killer hangover and laid on the couch all day.  It was the most fun Ian and I have had together in a long time, I don't even think we left the house all day.  We watched Tron, played with the hamsters (yes, there are two now - more on this later) and just vegged out.

My birthday came and went, time is just whizzing by.  I wish it would slow down a bit so I could enjoy a moment or two but it just keeps flying, faster and faster.  Before I know it I will be 60, in the blink of an eye.  It's so strange because when I was in high school it seemed like time moved so slow and now . . . so quickly.  Ugh, I just want a moment to breathe, to be in the present.  But it keeps on ticking by.  

Thanks to everyone who celebrated my birthday with us - it was a very happy birthday to me!  :)