Monday, October 6, 2008

Catching Up...

It's been over five months since my last blog and A LOT has happened.

Dale and I took our annual trip to Vegas the beginning of May to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary and my 32nd birthday. We had a great time as usual. This year, we had our anniversary dinner at The Eiffel Tower Restaurant. It was wonderful and I highly recommend it. My favorite is still the food at Top of the World at the Stratosphere . It's the best! I also won a $1400 jackpot at Sam's Town!!!

Kolby graduated from Amarillo High in May. It was an incredibly emotional time for all of us. Dale and I only had six "full time" years with him where most parents have eighteen and six just wasn't long enough! He started Amarillo College the day after his eighteenth birthday in August and is doing great. He texted me this morning to tell me that he made a 91 on his second English paper. It was also his second A and in his most difficult subject. I've enjoyed watching him mature and grow over the past couple of months. I love him so much.

On June 24th I had a total abdominal hysterectomy. The first two weeks were hell! I was in the hospital for three days. While I was in the hospital, I found out that I was allergic to morphine. My whole body itched like crazy and I couldn't stop scratching. When the head nurse told me she needed to take me off my morphine drip I was so upset. Though I was itching like CRAZY, I was so scared to give up my easily accessible pain medication. The nurse reassured me that the vicatin she planned on giving me in pill form would be even better than the morphine. I must admit it was in the beginning! Unfortunately, I did not realize that a side effect of vicatin is constipation; serious constipation! Two days out of the hospital I was so nauseated and FEARED throwing up since my stomach was full of stitches. Thankfully I began taking some good meds and the only side effect was sleep... yeah! I quit taking the vicatin and once again questioned how in the world can anyone become addicted to drugs??? The side effects are enough to kill any kind of curiosity.

Five weeks after surgery I went to Las Vegas with two of my sisters for a week. We had such a great time!! And after lying down for 4 weeks, I was ready. We went out with the idea of doing what we wanted when we wanted and not committing to anything. We hit all the places that we'd never been, but had wanted to go. I recommend Firefly, a tapas bar on Paradise -- great food, great drinks, great atmosphere. I also took my sisters to the Double Down Saloon. It's a local, gothic bar that's referred to as the happiest place on earth and it's one of Dale's favorite places to go in Vegas. It's been featured on the Travel Channel twice; once with Samantha Brown and the other with Anthony Bourdain. Their house drink is called --get ready-- Ass Juice. I know, I know... gross! But it really is quite tasty!
I came home without any big winnings, but don't care. It was almost perfect. The only thing that could have made the trip better was if Taryl (my other sister) could have gone with us.

It's been three and a half months since my surgery. I keep hearing that I will feel "back to normal" again in 6 to 12 months. I try not to think about the time frame and just take life day to day.

What I have to look forward to:
  • Kolby completing his first year of college
  • full recovery from surgery
  • taking 2 classes at WT so I can complete my intern hours for my LPC
  • taking classes at AC to become a licensed substance abuse counselor

Until next time...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ode to Alcohol

I have discovered over the last ten years that I have a love/hate relationship with Alcohol. I love Friday afternoons with my girls at Leal's Mexican Cantina. We come in about 3:30, the place is empty and our precious server Amanda, a cute curly haired blonde, runs to our table with Michelob Ultras in hand. (When you drink as many as we do, you have to look after your carb intake! Thank you America for your ridiculous obsession with weight and dieting! I appreciate the fact that you have thought of us drinkers, as well.) Amanda happily serves us b/c she knows within 2 hours our moods have evolved from hate the world (a.k.a. work) to love (a.k.a. whatever) which translates to her as tip... big tip.

With each birthday that passes, I am reminded how "not young" I am anymore. My one afternoon of drinks takes me all week to recover. This is where the "hate" comes in. I hate the fact that I can't stay up all night (even if I have no desire to do that anymore), touch up the makeup, and go into work looking young and fresh and receiving compliments on how "cute" I am. I hate that one day a week of drinking requires that I go to the gym every other morning at 5:00 am to sweat my butt off so I don't have an even bigger beer belly. I hate that if I drink one glass of wine to many that I am in bed the entire next day telling myself what a loser I am.

So why do I drink you ask? Because I love the taste! (That's also when you know you're getting old.) I love ice cold bottled beer, bloody marys, twisted lime gin and tonics, martini bars, oaky Merlot and Cabernet, a glass of Chardonnay on a hot summer day, bushwackers on the beach, pina coladas for breakfast in Vegas, and introducing Yucka to friends.

Yucka (a.k.a. Yumma) is a tasty concoction introduced to me by a precious friend who knows her alcohol. This is a lovely drink that we often save for our long weekends in the mountains, but can be enjoyed anywhere. You take a can of limeade and dump it in a pitcher. Fill the limeade can with Vodka and pour into the pitcher as well. Fill the rest of the pitcher with Sprite (or Sprite Zero for dieters) and ENJOY!

Thirsty anyone? What is your drink/drinks of choice past or present?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Spring Break

As an educator, I look forward to random adventures over spring break. A couple of years ago, I was off to Austin for the South by Southwest Film Festival and finished the week at a dude ranch in Bandera, Texas. Last year, I was in Little Rock with my sister visiting family, shopping, and doing lots of eating.

This year, I was sick... so sick. The Monday before spring break I started feeling bad: body aches, nasal congestion, and a terrible headache. After spending the week doped up on every kind of Sudafed they carry at Wal-greens and it not doing a thing, I turned to the doctor's office on Thursday night. When I left I had a shot in the booty and a fist full of prescriptions... well, two prescriptions anyway. From Friday, the last day of school before spring break, until Thursday I layed on the couch while going through two boxes of Puffs Plus with lotion and watching reruns on Bravo and VH1. I am still fighting headaches and occasional dizzy spells from a stopped up ear, but at least I can breathe in time to go back to school. Yeah!

I hope your spring break was better than mine... please share.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

It's that time again..

the dreaded TAKS testing season. Yesterday I spent the day with 4th grade students who were taking the Writing TAKS test. These 9 year olds began shortly after 8:00 am. They worked diligently until 3:00 pm with two ten minute breaks and a 25 minute lunch break in between. At 3:00 pm, students lucky enough to have finished were quietly dismissed as many other 3rd, 4th and 5th grade children sat in their classrooms continuing to work.

At 4:00, I received a call from my other elementary school asking me to come quickly because there was an emergency. Twenty minutes later I walked into the second school building to find a frantic mother and irritated child waiting on the counselor. Both seemed distraught by the 5th grade (high stakes) reading test that the child had just completed. "What if she fails?" the mother asked me as she pulled me to the side. "I think she rushed. She has test anxiety. She's brilliant. She reads on a 12th grade level, but when she gets nervous she can't concentrate. What if she fails?!" As the mother was talking, many thoughts fogged my head, but the loudest most sarcastic was, "I wonder where she gets the high anxiety from?" I know, not nice, but I am tired. I quickly brought myself back. Remember, it's the dreaded TAKS testing season. After visiting with the child alone and listening to the ten year old tell me how well she did, I must admit I was completely confused. Mom's saying one thing and child is saying the opposite. This tends to be the norm in my line of work.

At 5:15, I walked down to the main office to check on any children who still may be testing. That's right, still testing - about 15. At 6:00 the pizza arrived for the 6 children still working: one fifth grader and five fourth graders. Those of us who were still there (two fifth grade teachers, three fourth grade teachers, two administrators, two custodians, one secretary, one specialized teacher, and one counselor) did our best to support these precious children by laughing and being silly if only for a short amount of time. At 6:30, with full bellies the children went back to work. At 7:50 pm the last test was handed in. A fourth grade boy finished his writing TAKS test and it only took him 12 hours.

What are we doing? As a counselor, I hear from the children, parents, teachers, and administration. No one is happy with this system and many seem to have reached their breaking points. I love education and I love the helping profession, but I think I just might be a happier, healthier person if I were some where else. "Would you like fries with that" doesn't sound too bad.

So... how do we fix this "No Child Left Unharmed?"

Saturday, September 22, 2007

What is your Wild?

Over 10 years ago, while in Dallas for the weekend, my husband announced to me that their was a book he wanted to read. Shock is not a strong enough word to describe how I felt when hearing this statement. I guess you could say he's not big on leasurely reading, other than the occasional Sunday morning newspaper. While I was out shopping, he had watched one of those Dateline type shows and the main story focused on a young man named Christopher McCandless. Chris had given away all his worldly possessions, including his name, which he changed to Alexander Supertramp, walked away from his family, his life, to walk into the Alaskan Wilderness alone. Jon Krakauer told his story in the book Into the Wild. The following is a letter Alex wrote to a friend while hitchhiking:

"So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun."

Dale and I bought Into the Wild that weekend in Dallas and read it aloud together. That was our only option because neither wanted to wait on the other to finish reading it. I have never been more captivated by another person's story in my life. He moved every person that he met. And his story moved us. Dale and I both shed several tears throughout the book. Anyone who knows us has heard about this story and been encouraged to read it. To this day, Into the Wild has stayed at the top of our favorite's list. Dale and I have always wanted to visit that place, that bus, Chris McCandless stayed in during his last months of life. We have not yet given up on that trip, either. We now have our own bus. A trip to Alaska anyone?
What are the stories that have moved or motivated you to step out of your comfort zone - encouraged you to be more than you are???

Monday, August 20, 2007

"Make new friends, but keep the old..."

I said goodbye to my dear friend Sally Vaughan on August 9 as she prepared to return to her home country of England. After living in Amarillo during the 2005-06 school year teaching Kindergarten, she returned home for 10 months. In late May of this year, she traveled back to Amarillo for an extended visit. She inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and pursue my dream of writing. In June, we attended a writing conference and were introduced to Britta Coleman through our dear friend Jodi Thomas. Sally and I were smitten with Britta-her talent, intelligence, and passion.

The time came for Sally to book a return flight home and chose to leave from DFW. This enabled us to visit Britta and her precious family in Ft Worth. What a time we had! First of all, she has a husband who is an ex educator-right up my alley. I am sure we bored Sally and Britta to death talking shop. Then, as an added bonus she has two BRILLIANT children. I don't mean strange and awkward children. I mean smart, witty, worldly children. I could not have asked for a more perfect visit to the DFW area by more perfect hosts.

We ventured out to The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth to see an amazing exhibit by an Australian hyper realist sculptor, Ron Mueck. I think my favorite piece is Two Women Grim (2005). The piece's dimensions are (approx) 33" x 18" x 15". I believe the reason I like this piece so much is because I can relate. In fact, the following evening after seeing this exhibit just the girls ventured out to Pete's Dueling Pianist Bar in downtown Fort Worth. I felt as though we were the alumni chaperon's at a frat/sorority social. I found myself talking to Sally, Britta, and Karla just as the Two Women Grim. The college crowd probably looked at us in the same way! HILARIOUS! Visit The Modern's website to see some of the other pieces in the exhibit. If you get a chance to see the exhibition in person, do it. You won't be disappointed!

After The Modern, and a great BBQ lunch, we went to The Kimbell conveniently across the street. Another exhibit I recommend visiting, if you get the chance, is The Mirror and the Mask: Portraiture in the Age of Picasso. The amount of Picasso paintings and sculptures in one room is almost overwhelming. The paintings follow the changes in his style in relation to trends in portraiture throughout Europe. The exhibition focuses on European paintings and sculptures of the period roughly from 1890 to 1980. The stories behind the paintings could possibly be more interesting than the actual pieces of art. The most thrilling part for me was seeing my favorite Van Gogh painting: Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin.

Visiting Fort Worth with my dear friend Sally was the perfect way to wrap up my summer vacation. It was hard to say goodbye to my old friend Sally and to my new friends the Coleman's (and not just b/c they are Methodist)! I look forward to another great visit again.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Happy 4th of July America

Dale, Kolby, Sam and I stood at the end of Pier A watching a fog of rain encompass the Statue of Liberty. The only way I convinced my family to go to Battery Park after dark was to see the 4th of July Fireworks and now a rainstorm may cancel the entire show. I listened to some locals standing next to us say that the rain would reach us in less than 5 minutes. No problem. We brought our umbrellas.

About 2 minutes later, we watched the rain run across the Hudson River and jump over the railing right where we stood to drench everything unprotected. Popping up our umbrellas, we heard the crowd of people standing behind us scream then scurry like mice for cover. Rain in NYC falls straight down no matter how hard or soft so we weren't quite sure where this mob of people holding umbrellas over their heads were going. Did they know something we didn't? Within 10 minutes, the rain cleared and the Statue of Liberty stood strong across the water again. Relief eased my mind. Their would be fireworks.
Loud booms and bangs filled the night air while huge explosions flew across the sky. I peeked behind us once during the show to see that the crowd of people made their way back. And then after a half hour or so, we gave up our front row seats and weaved our way out of the crowd. We enjoyed the rest of the show as we walked down the water's edge back towards our hotel.