Sunday, October 2, 2011

Catching Up- OKC Feis

My oh my, I got behind again!!  Jon came down with strep and simultaneously work became insane.  I wish I could tell my boss I need personal time to make sure I'm staying connected with my blog friends.  Hah!  If only...
First I owe you all pictures from the OKC feis I participated in September 17th.I, personally, had an absolute blast.  Jon was there, as was Leo, and it was so nice to have them there for support along with my great ID family.  I did well in my dances, screwed up right in front of the judge on my reel though, so I rightfully placed second (though her comments were very positive overall, so I think she liked me).  My two main goals were to dance well, better than my last feis, and to have fun.  Mission accomplished!!  I even looked forward to getting back on stage after dancing twice.  I cannot begin to tell you how big this is. Huzzah!!

A new addition to the Goode Academy (my dance school) is this little guy, Greer.  He's my dance teacher's first son and kinda like the school's kiddo too. lol  He made it through the entire day very well, sleeping for the most part, and was held by many moms at my school.  Can you blame them?

Another new thing, well for me, is that I decided to wear a wig.  That's right, I have jumped on the wig bandwagon and I don't intend on getting off.  It is just SO much easier to get ready in the morning sticking a wig on than it is curling my hair for over an hour.  Don't get me wrong, I love having my hair curled, but, as these competitions start at 8am, I'd rather spend a little extra time sleeping and warming up than on my wig.  I'm going to tinker with the look of this one, but, overall I was rather please with it.  

Leo was a HUGE hit at the feis!  I had so many people come up to me and ask to pet him, or ask what training a service dog to be is like, and I even had a couple of people thank me for being a trainer!  Initially, I was worried that fretful dance moms would freak out about his shedding (which there is a LOTof) and tell their daughters in their nice dresses to stay away, but, that didn't happen.  In fact, I was the one who was telling dancers to watch out for dog hair! lol

Leo was also useful as a pillow for worn out dancers. ;-)

Yeah, I just had to post this picture.  What a great leap by my uber talented friend, Susan.  She placed third in the highest level, Open Champion, at this feis.  I was so bummed I didn't get to see her dance as Jon and I had to book it back to Tulsa in the late afternoon.  Feisanna (plural for feis) are an all day affair, and the champs get the benefit of not having to dance first thing in the morning.  Which is just, as they've worked their tails off to get at that level.

Susan!!  Love this girl!

Greer was such a great baby during the entire feis.  He just napped or was patient with the many moms who held him so that K.t could coach and watch the dancing. I know it's a bit of overkill to have two pictures of him sleeping, but, he's so stinkin' cute how could I not??

Of course, no feis blog post would be complete without the 'Goode Academy feis camp' picture!  These are many of our dancers and their moms hanging out and eating lunch after a long morning of competition.  Thank goodness for Jon, he went out and bought me a really good hamburger, and checked us out of the hotel room, AND took care of Leo while I competed.  I didn't have to worry about much except dancing, which is a first for me!  When I completed my last dance Jon brought Leo over to me as I left the stage and I got a big hug from him and Leo.  It was wonderful to have him there and he actually told me he had fun too!  Unfortunately, Jon can't make it to the next competition as he'll have class.  I'm hoping, however, he'll be able to go to another one or two next semester.  The younger dancers have feis moms, but, I have a feis boyfriend and service dog!

What else can I say?  It was such a freakin' fantastic day!  I cannot express fully how lucky I feel to be part of such a fantastic and unique sport and to be surrounded by such lovely people.  And to have a supportive boyfriend on top of it all??  Brilliant.  Simply brilliant.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Feis Peek

My favorite photo from this weekend.  The feis was great, the Scottish Games were...meh for me, but, pretty well overall.  Suffice it to say, I'm completely wiped out, so detailed posts with plenty of pictures will have to wait.  Hope you all have had a fantastic weekend!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Feis Bound

In just over three hours Jon, Leo (yes Leo!!) and I will be on the road to OKC for the feis tomorrow. Wish us luck! I'm so excited, and a bit nervous. I promise to take plenty of pictures of Leo around all us decked out Irish dancers!

Oh and just because it's so cute here's a pic of Leo with my dance teacher's baby boy Greer. (click to see it blogger mobile wont let me adjust the size) That's his baby and loves to watch over him.. And sniff...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Irish Dance Speed Bump

I've been hitting my practice floor a lot lately, in preparation for an upcoming feis.  I kid you not, every time I set down to get my shoes on, Leo comes in and lays on my dance floor.  
I'll admit it, sometimes it's really hard to tell him to get off.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Making a House a Home

Yesterday I woke up with some seriously, near manic-ish energy.  Like, I literally woke up, ready to do something.  I have recovered from my little bug from earlier in the week and I guess that meant s**t needed to get done!  So, after practicing dance, writing in my journal, I decided to break out the paint supplies that had been sitting around for...ummm.. let's go with awhile and begin working on finally getting the dining room painted.  I was tired of this house not feeling like home and it's time we put some of our plans in motion!

From blah to bright!

It was just me for the first hour or so, then Jon came back from his biology class and helped out.  As you can see, the walls were white.  I have often felt that I'm walking through an institution because the walls are so sterile white- everywhere in this house. I love white, but, too much of it is just... irritating. Gradually we came around to painting first with the living room and then we kinda just stopped.  However, we're picking up speed with that and other projects/decorating things around here.  It really is time to put some personality in this home!  For too long it has just functioned as a living space, but, now we want more of our own little stamp to make it a place where we really feel at home.

I like it when I don't have to use the ladder.  I have this thing about falling.... and heights make it worse!  Gravity, will you ever be cool?

 Leo should be happy he's yellow already.  I'm certain he got paint on him, there's no way he could've avoided it!
The painting took us no more than four hours.  That's right, under four hours!!  God bless primer and paint together.  It really speeds up the painting process.  Is it sad that I could go on and on about that?  
After we were finished painting I looked at our furniture in there and felt really... well, I felt worse about the room!  It wasn't because of the paint, I LOVE it, but, I realized that the huge dining room table that had been sitting in there, mostly unused, was just not right for the space and new color.  Jon was given that table three years ago, it used to be his sister's.  We decided that we'd keep an eye out (we're in the process of saving money atm) for a nice, smaller dining room table, and a piano to really make the dining room a place we would go into and use for its intended purposes.  The cats used that room more than we did, and that's kinda sad when you think about it.

This morning I decided to look through Craigslist and see if anything caught my eye.  I've gone through it before for dining room tables, bookcases, etc to see if I found something that was a bargain.  No luck, obviously, so I figured what was the harm in looking through furniture for sale ads?   
And what do you know, I found a bloody table!!  And was being sold for only $150 to boot!!  I emailed Jon the ad and texted him to call me back after looking at it (he was running errands, I was cleaning house- and surfing the internet).  When he did I nearly begged him to go take a look as I was sure it would be a great table for us.  It may not be something we'll keep forever, but, it would definitely be more functional, add space for a piano, and more us!  He went over and gave me a call saying he did indeed like it and if I was good he'd bring it home.  WOOT!
I must mention here that he fit that entire thing, plus a leaf, in his Prius.  That's right, I said Prius.  Makes you wonder how much Tetris Jon played as a kid.

Two minutes.  That's all it took for the cats to begin finding sweet spots on the table.

We have swaped the tables out and I couldn't be more thrilled will the look.  It's perfect!  Not to big, but, can be added to if necessary.  We will sell the other table on Craigslist for cheap, and hopefully selling that will pay for this table.  This purchase was not planned to be so soon, but, hey life is funny sometimes.  I'm glad a little initiative and the universe throwing us a bone yielded such great results.  I can't wait for a piano to be in there and to have some nice meals on that table.

If the cats don't mind sharing the dining room that is. ;-)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lord Have Mercy *Rant Ahead*

I missed nearly a week of posting, and for that I apologize. My first week of school went well, then the second week came- and boy howdy did it come like a fleet of Mack trucks to run everyone at my school (children included) over and send us into near chaos. I didn't sleep well for another week, so it's no surprise that I've caught a bug and am staying home from work today. Sleep deprivation and stress will do that to ya, you know?
Where do I begin? (rant coming on, so if you wanna look away now, please do!)
The school district I work for is large and underfunded. Oklahoma ranks near the top of poorly funded school systems and lowest paid teachers. Not something to be proud of to say the least. There are some districts nearby that are in better shape due to the area having property taxes and all that, but, my district as a whole isn't one of them. So, it came as no surprise when they implemented a new policy to change the way things were being done and ultimately to save the district money in hopes of providing better attention to students's needs and of course let us not forget passing those bleepin' state tests that are so ever important to show the public we are teaching children stuff.
If I sound a bit bitter, I am. Not going to lie. I get the need to redo things, I get the request for accountability with the state tests, but, as far as implementing all these new changes in the name of the bottom line you loose me. Last week thanks to said policy changes my school had to cut a teacher and shift four teachers around, dissolving their classes and putting the kids into new classrooms week two of school. As things stand now we have nearly thirty children in all of our third grade, fourth grade, and kindergarten classes. Now this isn't the worst out there, but, bear in mind we have nearly a quarter of our school population with learning disabilities, many more undiagnosed/untreated, and almost fifty percent of our school are learning English at school (ELL).
And the teachers are supposed to get everyone to pass those precious state tests (3rd-6th grade) with those odds. Oh lets not even go into home environments that perpetuation illiteracy and such. I could write a book at this rate.
Last week was obviously chaotic and the staff is on edge and the students sense it. Heck, even Leo was wiped out by last Friday! I know that there are no easy solutions here, and the school district lost state funding while implementing this new policy. One large part of the problem, on the district level, is they're implementing a new policy while enforcing it with old policy rules- it only makes sense, barely, when you realize that this was ruled on and implemented in less than a year. Yeah, it makes me want to scream too.
I think what frustrates me the most is the whole bottom line mentality when it comes to education. I know it's not as prominent in other areas, but, still money is the name of the game. There are sub-cultural attitudes that contribute to children who can't read, and of course, parents who don't give a crap about their kids education will inevitably result in many of those kids being unsuccessful in school. That said, however, education is an investment, both by parents and the state. It takes time, patience, and varied resources to help a child be successful. Results take time, learning is a life long process after all. The demand, however, for success now, to educate with virtually nothing coming into poorer schools, etc etc is one of the main culprits that continues the cycle of kids who can't read, kids who turn to crime as they grow, who become parents too early, and then raise children who don't care about education because what good did it do for them when they were kids. It's sad, and it's distressing and I know the school system isn't completely at fault. These parents should be responsible for what they do to their kids, absolutely. There's no easy answer, nor a perfect school system out there. But, surely, we can do better can't we?
I apologize if this rant comes across as political, I don't intend it that way. I'm just an educator who is witnessing first hand what these policies and mentalities are doing to those children who are growing up in poverty, by no fault of their own. It is them who are the victims and it is me who is on the front line, fighting, and quickly realizing that I cannot throw myself in front of every single bullet whizzing towards nearly all the kids.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Getting My Zen On

For the past three Saturdays I have been going to an Ilyengar based yoga class. I've always been interested in doing some more yoga, but, time and money never seemed to line up. Now that I've made more time in my schedule to be a happier, less overworked human being I figured better late than never. To say this class has been doing great things for me is an understatement! My head feels clearer and my body feel better; it's as if I'm undoing the tension caused by life and the physical impact of dance and work.

Of course, Irish dance is my 'addiction' and thus I've been practicing more, taking private lessons, and gearing up for a feis September 17th in Oklahoma City. There will also be a couple of performance opportunities in the next two months which I'm going to do as well. I'm excited about the competition and performing, which is kinda new- typically I'm a nervous wreck with excited mixed in there! That began to change a couple of weeks ago, I was watching an interview with Jeff Bridges. He said something that struck me, "Have fun, but, don't take it too seriously."* Of course! I tend to take everything too seriously, and sometimes I miss out on enjoying activities because I so desperately want what I do to be perfect. This is silly of course, no one is perfect, yet I stressed myself out about every little move I did wrong in dance, and subsequently in life. I won't go into everything I view as incorrect, but, I have realized that I need to keep life and activities in perspective, because if I'm not enjoying dance, work, training Leo, etc., I truly am missing the point.
It seems that getting in shape, mentally and physically, and enjoying it really has a multitude of benefits. Which I know you're thinking, duhhh!! Even I knew this, I'm really beginning to experience these much talked about benefits for the first time. I think life offers many challenges, some wonderful, some not so. But, if you work to keep happy, live life, enjoy what it has to offer and put things in balance it seems, at least to me, that even the not so fun challenges are much easier to face.
How do you keep your life in balance?
*Jon has dubbed this statement as the Tao of The Dude. I feel like I should ring a bell every time I say it now. ;-)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

This School Week

Nothing terribly exciting report this week. Mainly I've been adjusting to my school schedule, subsequent fatigue, and Jon's new college schedule. Oh there was that whole tv thing, but, other than that things seem pretty mellow. Despite that, however, I must share with you some of the new, interesting, not so interesting, highlights of being back in school this week. And I know you are PUMPED for this right?! Am I right??!?! ;-)
Saying goodbye to the summer sleep schedule and adjusting to the new one has had its ups and downs. The wake up time hasn't bothered me too much,but, the fact that the first two nights I couldn't fall asleep has. Oh and what's up with waking up at 3:15am thinking the alarm should be going off any minute? Really, body, really?
Yesterday two-thirds of my school building had no air conditioning. Some sensor decided it had had enough with the Oklahoma heat and fried like an egg on asphalt (yes you can do that under the right circumstances). That was bad, obviously, but, what made it worse was the 106F temps yesterday. I think the teachers were about to die, or explode. The kids... well, they were sweaty and smelly, but, thank goodness there were no casualties.
The assistant superintendent visited us today and was furious our a/c had not been fixed. He made some calls and the job was done by 10am. Where was he yesterday?
I lost a student's brother after school. That was fun.
I work in a kindergarten class that has the school's only vegan. Yes, a five year old is being made into a vegan by his mother. That's a new one for me.
Leo has adjusted amazingly well. In fact, it's almost like he's 'home' in a way. He is comfortable, happy, and eager to be working and napping in class. It's awesome, and I'm one proud mamma.
Despite overcrowding in one school nearby, and two fourth grade classes bursting at the seams at my school, the school district may cut positions based strictly on our enrollment numbers. No, not that we need these people in the office running things or that we desperately need another teacher to lift the burden off of the two with forty kids in their rooms, it's all based strictly on numbers. It really boggles my mind to say the least.
I am glad to be back. Despite the insanity that being at my school brings, I'm happy to be back. My new piano lesson schedule is also working well so far. I'm still a little worried about this set up in the long term, but, so far I'm happy and still functional despite the getting-back-into-the-new-routine fatigue. To say I needed to feel like that this week is an understatement. I'm doing a mega happy dance about it, in my head b/c I'm too tired right now.
Hope your week is going well also!! Bisous y'all!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tv 'Stardom'

Well today was the first day back to school. It was great, despite my concerns and lack of sleep! Leo was amazing, and I was so surprised he got right back into the routine as if we never left. However, something happened to us today that was really, very unexpected.
We ended up on local tv!!
I was walking to class with Leo and we literally ran right into the camera crew who were interviewing my principal. Before you know it I'm getting reigned in to an interview, camera walking around with us, the whole shebang! Mind you they did get some details wrong... you all know Leo's a service dog in training, not a full fledged service dog, and he's being trained for physical disabilities, though he's rather good with the students! That said, I think those errors will go mostly unnoticed as how can you think about such details when that adorable face is involved?? Anyway, it really was an unbelievable experience for me. To get an opportunity to share what Leo and I do day in and day out is priceless, and I will NEVER forget this experience! We're really the lucky ones, Leo and I, to get the honor of helping children learn and feel better about their lives. That said, however, I'm glad many appreciate and enjoy what we do as well!
BTW forgive the many bum shots, the hair, and my stammering and overuse of 'like' and 'you know' It was humid and rainy today, and I so, SO was not expecting to do this at all!! Talk about thinking on the fly and then some!! At least Leo was as cute as ever and such a pro. So proud of him!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Summer Send Off

Last night a few friends joined us in celebrating the end of summer, as well as the gainful employment of a friend (she was laid off earlier this summer), and the start of Jon's new career venture. We decided breakfast for dinner, dubbed 'binner', was the best way to go. I mean after all, who doesn't like breakfast in the Southern tradition of carbs and artery clogging goodness?

Homemade biscuits. That's right, from scratch folks. Thank you Alton Brown, and flour, for making this all possible. Oh and butter, butter, is important in making biscuits.

When there is meat and butter, or cooking of any form, there will be a dog nearby hoping against all hope that something will drop on the floor. Louie loves anything carbon based. Which means he never leaves the kitchen when anything is being cooked.

Mmmmm..... bacon.

Strawberries so sweet they didn't require any doctoring up whatsoever. It can't get more summery than perfectly ripened strawberries.

Can we say yum?

Of course, if your going Southern, and you have homemade biscuits, there must, absolutely MUST, be gravy. Preferably, sausage gravy with cream involved. Oh yeah... we went all out on this 'binner'.

And who doesn't like pigs in a blanket? Especially when they involved Havarti cheese and gourmet sausage. How could we refuse this non-traditional addition?

Mimosas. Made with real orange juice, which come to find out, means I will absolutely love drinking them. Sorry about the wine glasses, we don't have any champagne flutes around here, so, a little improv was required.
We ate until we nearly exploded and drank through two bottles of champagne. All while watching a bootleg recording of the Book of Mormon. Not as good as seeing the show live (which if they come into town or we go to NYC I will SO pay to see it!), but, we didn't care as it still was brilliant. Such a fantastic evening and a perfect way to say adieu to summer.
On a side note, I will say I'm sad to see summer go. Tomorrow I begin working back at the school I did last year. I'm looking forward to the kids, of course, and Leo will love being back. However, I wish summer was a little longer. I've gained so much perspective these past three months. Jon and I've talked a lot, begun planning things, figuring stuff out.... I can't help but worry that work will get in the way of all of that again and I'll end up like I was last year- just going, going, going never stopping and being worn out and miserable because of it. It's hard though. I don't make a whole lot of money at the school, but, I do need the insurance, and teaching piano lessons is smart financially, but, going between the two is a lot of work. I just wish I had more time to put things in order before I begin working full time again. Just so I could have some peace of mind that stuff is done, just in case I get too caught up in the work to survive mode. I hope I'm worrying over nothing. I guess we will see soon enough!
Well, I'm going to end this on a happy note. Hope your summer is winding down nicely!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Good News Everybody!!

A couple of weeks ago, I made mention of some potentially exciting life stuff. Well, now I can share what's going on as the plans are in motion. A couple of weeks back Jon called me from work and asked what I thought about him working towards becoming a patent attorney. I didn't hesitate in expressing my 'approval', if you will, of that idea. Jon loves technology, new toys and such. He has always read blogs and articles pertaining to emerging technology from computer software to biotechnology. He also is artistically inclined to boot. This job field would allow these passions to merge with his schooling, not to mention, an increase in pay and opportunity as being a patent attorney is a fairly exclusive field within the legal world.
Our excitement led to a LOT of research. Once again I say, thank God for Google! We found out that Jon would have to go back to school to gain enough science credits to qualify for the patent bar exam. The requirements vary, giving you three-four different science class combinations. Jon decided that eight hours of consecutive chemistry courses combined with twenty four hours of various biology courses would be best, and shorter option for him. It will take roughly a full year to get all he needs out of the way, if he went to school part time while still holding down his full time job.
Next, Jon had to gain permission from his firm to be allowed some time to pursue this. Many classes he can take during the evening and there are even some courses that are offered for several hours on a Saturday. However, not all classes will be that convenient so he needs the ability to go to a morning or afternoon class during the work week. Much to our delight, Jon was given the green light to go for it. Fortunately, Jon works in the pre-paid legal division, so he isn't always having to worry about heading to court for stuff. He mainly deals with clients over the phone and writes a lot of letters on his behalf. Thanks to his ability to do all this quickly and well, gaining permission to go back to school was, to use the phrase, easy as ABC.
Last we had to figure out a cost effective way of doing this. Though our Alma Mater offers all the courses Jon needs and is easy to get to, it's impractical as it is expensive and Jon isn't going after another degree, just some classes. We decided that going to the local community college downtown, near Jon's work office, was the place to start. Once he got his basic requirements out of the way, he will attend an Oklahoma public university that has a satellite campus in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma- a 20 ish minute drive away from our house. We've already been in contact with them and they have informed us that whatever credits Jon takes at the community college will be accepted, no problem. Both of these options won't cause us a lot of financial distress even when you take getting books into account. Jon's father has even offered to chip in for some expenditures if need be.
So we are good to go! I'm so, so excited and nervous about this. It is about time that we start taking the steps to being productive adults! This process will take probably up to a year and a half as Jon has to, obviously, get the requirements and then take the grueling exam and pass that. I think he's up for it, as Jon is not one to commit lightly to anything. I'm hopeful that this won't be too difficult of a journey, and that cutting back on my after school piano lessons will help us during this 'phase'. I may even have to cut back more, but, we're going to see how things go through December and go from there. But hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
Anywho, that's the big exciting news that I was holding back. Wish us, mainly Jon, lots of luck! School starts next week!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lazy Sunday Finds

Yesterday I spent the majority of my day on the couch. It wasn't planned that way, it just happened. I know, I know... we've heard this before, right? Well, I promise, this time it was for a good reason. Promise. See, Saturday I finally went to a yoga class with Jon. It was fan-freakin'-tastic! We were both so mellow, we were practically catatonic. It didn't last long as I agreed to help out at a sleep over that evening. A sleep over that involved five tweens and two teenagers. What was I thinking??
So between extreme sleep-deprivation and soreness, oh and a nasty case of PMS, I spent most of my time bonding to my sofa. I needed to clean, help purge and organize the office, etc etc but, instead I surfed the internet and found some fun websites and a very thought provoking article. And of course, I must share with you all because I love you THAT much! Sharing is caring after all.
Seductively French- A website and business started by a woman from Arizona who loves all things French. Dangerously beautiful things to look at.
My French Country Home- Noticing the French theme? This is a blog of a UK expat, married to a Frenchman, living in the country, fixing up her home, garden, cooking, going to brocants, and sharing all of what she sees and does via gorgeous photography. Her garden has actually inspired me to work on our yard and lack of garden; even Jon loves the look of her garden and we've agreed to use it as a template for our home. I'm actually excited and have recruited a friend to help me get the beds ready for spring when fall sets in. If you know me, I rarely get excited by yard work- as in hardly ever. I blame years of weeding flower beds that never looked beautiful, so, what was the point?
Moving Abroad. The Cons- Technically published today, but, it fits with Sunday stuff so there. Jon and I have been talking a lot about future plans and what not (post about those little gems coming soon), and of course, I love the thought of moving abroad for a little bit and have been throwing that idea out quite a bit. He's a bit more hesitant, which I understand after reading expat blogs and experiencing being a foreigner living in Japan. That article explains what could go wrong with a move abroad, especially a poorly planned one. I wonder what my expat blog friends think though. Is this article spot on? Are they missing something? Are they unjustly demonizing expatriation? Please share your thoughts! I'm eager to hear them.
Alrighty, I'm off to be productive! So much to get ready before school starts and I'm working full time hours again. Does it ever end?? Love you guys and hope all is well where you're at!! Ta ta!*
*I can't believe I just typed, 'Ta, ta!' on my blog. It feels so wrong, yet, what else was I going to type? So conflicting... ;-)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It's HOT

The remnants of our lawn. This photo has NOT been altered, it really looks like that.
Last year I had an entry griping about the hot weather and how it, plus my non-airconditioned tank (ie my old car), led to a bout of heat exhaustion. Well, last year's summer weather seems mild compared to this summer. It has been hot, and I mean HOT! That last sentence is an understatement, and you'll know why in a moment.
How hot you ask? Take a gander at this article. Oklahoma has had the hottest July ever on record, no, not just for the state, but, for the whole US of A. Now, I know my freezing friends in parts of Europe would like some of this warmth, and I get that. But, believe me when I say, you do NOT want this kind of heat. It's dangerous and miserable. There's nothing about temps over 110° to enjoy. I've had to limit the amount of time the dogs are outside, take Leo on alternative routes to get into the car because the parking lots are so hot his paws could get burned. Sometimes it takes 30 minutes to an hour (depending on if there are stops or not) to cool off the car. I drink up to two liters of water a day, especially if I have dance or have errands to run. I've even had to resort to closing the doors around the house to help keep the front room cool at the hottest time of day when the sun is beating down on the west side of the home and that particular room; usually the room would warm up three degrees if I didn't take this step. Do I even need to go into how beyond grateful I am that I bought a new car that has a/c right before this hot summer started? Yeah, didn't think so!
Last spring, Jon and I were talking about fixing up the lawn and the garden beds, but, time got away from us and it never happened. I was frustrated about that, but, now I'm SO glad we didn't do a damn thing. Yes, our yard is a major disaster, the lawn is dead despite seeding, fertilizing, and having the sprinkler system going three times a day. No worries, a couple of weeks ago we called it's time of death, and started conserving water. We wouldn't have been able to save any new plants and flowers, and I'm glad we didn't end up losing the time and money. Sad, but, true.
Fortunately, there's an end in sight. Today the temperatures could stay under a hundred and tomorrow promises a storm and cooler temps. Many Facebook statuses have been anticipating the sweaters needed for low 90° highs. The nice part about a sweltering summer is the fact it will end at some point. And I'm trying all I can to repeat that to myself and not be so frustrated, annoyed, etc with this heat.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Well Poop

I went back to my amazing opthamologist today for a check-up. My vision hasn't gotten dramatically better, nor worse, since I last saw him in May so I figured things were probably kosher in my defunct eye. I go in, get my crazy eyes on (ie dilated), and wait for the doc to show up. It's always busy there and so I knew it'd be a wait. No big. He comes in and starts looking at my eyes. The right one is looking good, the retina is still a bit swollen, and a cataract has formed, which we knew would happen, but, all in all a good report.
Then he takes a gander at my left eye, which is now my 'strong' good vision out of eye. He notices that I do have some pretty good lattice degeneration going on in there. I'm thinking, "Ok, is this a problem?" and well, yeah it kinda is. Normally, this eye disease is simply monitored. If a hole and/or tear begins to form then they go in with a laser to fix things. Often, this eye disease does NOT lead to a retinal detachment in most patients; and as Wiki so kindly informed me only 40% of patients with retinal detachment have this issue, which is surprising to me, I figured it'd be higher. As my other eye had the same degeneration and we all know what that led to. So, my doc gives me the option of surgery to laser the weak tissues so as to anchor them in place and ideally prevent detachment. But, of course, there's a catch. There's always a catch...
The surgery would not guarantee my retina in my left eye will not detach; in fact, it could lead to a detachment if my surgeon were to miss a 'weak spot' that wasn't obvious to him during the surgery. That said if we were to leave my eye be and just watch and wait, I could get a detachment as, obviously, these things tend to happen- with me. So there ya have it. FUN
My surgeon said it's optional right now and I'm inclined to wait, at least for a little bit, before diving on into surgery. It's not ideal, but, I don't want to risk having two surgeries in one eye! We already have to go there with my right one, and it's not as if having eye surgery is a 'have four eye operations and get the fifth one free' sort of deal. Good news is, I am far more educated about the signs of retinal problems now. If anything at all were to go amiss, I know to contact my doc immediately.
Here's to hoping my eye will just stay the way it is, at least, for now and if it decides to go, well, let's pray we get to it before my retina detaches. Fingers crossed on this one!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I Giggled

Follow this link to view this video of Matt Damon telling off a reporter and cameraman from a Libertarian organization during a rally for education earlier this week. I laughed, a lot, and even cheered. Keep in mind tenure for teachers most definitely has some issues and yes, there are some bad teachers out there no doubt. What I love about Matt's response though, is that he points out tenure isn't the issue and the problem with the US education system is actually a multitude of complex problems. LOVE IT! And it's cool that Matt Damon's mom is a teacher and he was sticking up for her, and the multitude of great teachers out there who spend countless hours and their own money to try to educate children despite a broken system. Bravo, Matt... bravo.


We'll be back to our regularly scheduled program of the ongoing 'Great Purge and Reorganization Fest of 2011' soon. I know you guys are excited!! ;-)

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Messy [Current] Reality

Here are the promised pictures of what purging and reorganizing has been like around chez moi. I'm not going to type much because I just got back from my first Irish dance class in a month, so, I'm a wee bit... oh how do you say... out of it!
Of course, where there are bags and boxes and rustling of items, there must be a cat in the middle of it all. Tibby obviously doesn't see a problem with this, and I failed to negotiate a border treaty with him. Ah well, at least he was cute about it!
I managed to consolidate four file folders into two, numerous college binders into one, and so on and so forth. I felt the rainforest sob, I did. Thank goodness for recycling to ease my guilt.
Today's effort resulted in about a hundred dollars worth of pots and pans to donate (there are more bags and boxes btw). The shelves have more room and are cleaner to boot. Can I hear an 'HALLELUJAH!!"?
The result of Jon's efforts in the garage, and my clearing of baskets, folders, one closet, and three large tubs. The garbage men are going to HATE us...
We're going to need a [MUCH] bigger bin.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chipping Away

The great reorganization fest of 2011 has begun. A day late, but, things are rolling along.
Initially I was going to sort through just the tubs I received from my brother. But, Jon caught the bug and started going through the garage yesterday. Unfortunately, he stepped on a nail and it punctured his foot (after going through his shoe), so, a visit to Urgent Care was called for. Jon got a tetanus shot, a prescription for anti-biotics, and we were good to go. Poor thing needed to take it easy for the rest of the day, so 'difficult' for him to do especially after working hard in a hot garage. ;-)
Since Jon started to go through everything in the garage I decided to talk to him, today, about going through more than just the tubs of old stuff I've acquired. I wasn't sure he'd go for a mass purge of junk as he comes from a looooong line of pack rats from both sides of his family. In the end, much to my relief and surprise, he agreed that we will go through the entire house, top to bottom, shed the unnecessary, and reorganize everything else. We've never sorted through stuff, though I have sorted my clothes and donated some every now and then. With Jon's mild hoarding tendencies, my old crap that landed a month ago we really do need to organize and sluff off the junk that serves no other purpose than to accumulate dust. Oh yeah... It's time. Time to let go of the old stuff that holds no more meaning, put away the things that do, and clear some space for new things.
Pictures coming soon of this process. It's going to get a bit messy, literally, but, I can't wait to see the finished product!

Friday, July 29, 2011

News On The Horizon?

You guys haven't had a reminder of the cuteness I'm surrounded by everyday. Here you go. You're welcome.

How can it be, that in a few days, I have done so little, yet so much has happened? I'm almost disoriented by it all. Good stuff seems to be happening folks. I'm not at liberty to share all, but, I'll at least clue you in. Jon may have finally found an area of law he'd love to work in and would be great at. As in, he actually is motivated about something and is will to pursue it. This. is. HUGE. He has spent three years with his current firm and lately has acknowledge the lack of satisfaction he gets from it. I could've told you that two years ago, but, he's come to this realization and may just be on the verge of taking a leap of faith and go after something he wants to do.
I'm thrilled, to put it mildly. I hope I can share more with you all soon!
In the meantime, I have been offered to head up a couple of volunteer positions with my Irish dance studio I shamelessly promoted the other day. I will help take and archive photos, run a private share page for the school, and put together a yearbook at the end of this year. I'm also looking at helping out with some public relations stuff- can we say COOL!?!
I'm also on the verge of making some big scheduling decisions. First, I need to hear back what my school schedule is officially (yes, I'm still waiting to hear about that!) but I have decided to cut back on my private lesson hours. The last two-thirds of the school year I worked from 8am-6pm, four days per week, with children, on top of caring for Leo's needs, all of which made for long and draining days. Too long and much too draining. I need more time during the work week to decompress and do things around the house and practice. And if Jon is going to do what I'm thinking he'll do and I'm helping with my dance studio that extra time is all the more precious.
That's where my life stands at this point. The week has been crazy, but, exciting. Many things aren't set yet, but, I'm keeping my head up, working to get things settled and organized around the house, and bracing for new and wonderful things. I can't wait to share more with you guys soon. Say a prayer, send good vibes, thoughts or whatever you want that it all works out please! Thanks in advance!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Le Sigh

Chaos and nostalgia and an allergy nightmare
I knew it was going to come to this... one day. I could deny it all I want, stuff away stuff in storage, but, you can't get rid of it until you actually do. About three weeks back my brother came to visit. He was driving into Tulsa from my parents home that is the middle of nowhere Oklahoma. He said he had some of my stuff and I was a little overwhelmed at the thought of getting some items back.
Overwhelmed didn't begin to cover it when he brought nine large plastic tubs [seen above when I first began this sorting process] of stuff I left behind when the mutual disownment between me and my parents occurred. I sorted through the mold infested boxes pulling out precious photos, stuffed animals, and old schoolwork. These items are priceless to me and one day I will have to put them in some kind of scrapbook. That's some ways away though. The daunting task before me is to sort through everything, donate what is salvageable, throw away what is covered in mold (and there is a LOT), and safely store away anything else I find of value.
I would rather just throw these tubs into the garage storage and forget about them. However, I realize that that maneuver wouldn't really solve the problem. I hate, hate sorting through stuff, much less stuff from a life I left behind, but, if I don't do it now it'll sit there, getting grosser, and in the end it'll need to be done one way or another. It will be emotional, but, hopefully it'll be a good catharsis too.
My upcoming weekend is dedicated to sorting, organizing, and hopefully getting rid of the all this stuff that is taking up space. If this sounds like I'm trying to pump myself up about this, you're totally right. I'm also hoping that maybe Jon will be inspired to go through his 15 year old t-shirts and donate them. That maybe stretching it though. If you don't hear from me in a couple of weeks though assume the stuff got the better of me and we had to call the producers of "Hoarding Buried Alive" to stage an intervention.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Usually I Don't Ask These Things...But....

Hey all! My little Irish dance school has a new website and has a Facebook like icon on it. If you are cool with it, please click on that so we can finally get on the top of the Google search for Irish dance schools in Tulsa. Pretty please? Also, I took a bunch of the pictures on this site, so you'd be liking me too in a way. ;-) Thanks a million!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rotting My Brain With Reality [TV]

I'm house-sitting this week, the same house and dog I watched back in March. I'm enjoying the change of scenery, the pool, and relaxing. However, I do miss the lack of streaming Netflix, and ok the dogs...oh and Jon, of course. ;-) So, I've been going through the cable here recording various reality tv shows that I don't get around to watching at my own place thanks to Netflix and our dvr recordings provide more than enough 'quality' entertainment.
As I watch some of these reality shows I am coming to the realization that reality television is like candy or a really large bag of salt and vinegar potato chips. One is not enough. And once you get started it's hard to stop!
I will give you the list of what I'm watching and tell you about the specific effects it is having on me. Warning, this may seem more like a confession or stuff I'd be better off talking to a therapist about. Are you all up to the job?
'Cake Boss': I actually saw this guy at a Food Network Cake Challenge that was filming the Tulsa State Fair. I could actually find myself when that episode aired, which was pretty cool. Anyway, this guy makes amazing cakes, runs a bakery that has pastries left and right. Serious yum. Watching a couple episodes of this show make me want to run to the pantry and get some sweet treats. So, not only am I worrying about my brain rotting away, but, I am working hard on not letting my teeth rot as well!

'Say Yes to the Dress': Ohhhhhh man I knew it was NOT a good thing to click on this show on the guide menu. Jon and I have been talking about the big M and starting our lives together. As a little girl I obsessed over getting married and the wedding, but, as I aged I became a LOT more cautious about tying the knot. So, I watch this show and see these beautiful gowns, the stories, the ceremonies, think about Jon and I going to the chapel, and now I'm on Kleinfeld Bridal's Website looking at these extraordinary gowns and getting ideas. No good can come of this, can it?

'Dance Moms': Mothers who are living through their child's competitive dance careers, a large demanding dance teacher who will do whatever it takes to win, snide remarks, bitchiness to the tenth degree... This show is horrid to watch and yet I'm riveted. I know it does not represent the dance culture as a whole, but, I will say watching these women (some way, way worse than others) tear one another down, complain about the hours their kids are working (yet they keep coming back for more), all make me feel better about being an Irish dancer and our competition culture. We all like to feel a bit superior don't we? lol And now I feel as if I need to go to confession for saying that. Ugh.

'Toddlers & Tiaras': Little girls, fake tans, teased hair, competitive mothers, pageants and enough rhinestones to make a raccoon have a seizure. Need I say more to what I'm loosing in brain matter to this show? I didn't think so.

'Dog the Bounty Hunter': This is a guilty pleasure. I mean, people who were in jail, turned their lives around, began hunting down criminals, and are very successful at it. Only in America!! I don't have any guilty feelings though when I watch this show. I'm thinking this is probably a problem... a big problem.

'House Hunters International': Can we saying living vicariously through others? This makes my desire to move abroad stronger. It'll happen one day!! In the meantime I watch this show and think, "Oh wouldn't it be nice to be in Slovenia?? Paris? Italy? Ireland?' so on and so on. I could waste a lot of time dreaming thanks to this show!
And there you have it. The list of my sinful indulgences. Hopefully, by next week when I'm back at home, actual reality will set in and I will be cleansed of these thoughts from my multiple 'transgressions'. But, surely, it won't hurt to watch one or two of these on occasion will it? ;-)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Floating Misadventures

Saturday was my very first, official, float trip. Floating is a very popular pastime here in the OK, that and going to the lake. What we lack in oceanfront we make up with rivers and man made lakes. That's just how we roll in this land locked state. Essentially, when you float down the river (usually the Illinois) you go with friends, grab a cooler or two filled with beverages of your choice, water, and food, rent a raft, and basically sit in said raft, let if float down the river, paddle when need be, and drink beer and chat with friends. I have never been on a float trip, which is a travesty as I've lived here since I was 11 years old. So you can imagine how excited I was about actually participating in this beloved Okie pastime.
Saturday morning at about 6:30am Jon and I grabbed breakfast at Whataburger (their sausage, cheese, and egg biscuit sandwich is SO tasty), filled the Prius up at Quiktrip, and headed southeast to Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Nearly an hour and a half later, we arrived at one of the many places you can go to rent a raft, and met two other friends there. As the excitement builds, and builds for me Jon goes in to rent a raft and promptly walks back and says they have rented out ALL of their raft. It's not even 8:30am and they're out.
Turns out it's good to have a reservation. These can be easily arranged online or by phone. But, did Jon or my other friend who's been floating loads of times think of this? Oh of course not! So we drive to three different places, each completely rented out. The fourth place we went to had a raft, but, only took cash. We get in our cars to look for someplace with an ATM. Five minutes into this search I asked Jon if they took checks, he replied that they do. Then I told him I had his checkbook in my purse. D'oh! So we call, turn around, and head back. At this point I was ready to scream, but, I chilled out. We got on the river about an hour and fifteen minutes after we planned, but, we were going and that's all that mattered. Or so I thought.
I had to be back in Tulsa by 3pm, 4pm at the latest, to feed the dog I'm watching while I housesit. This we all knew and my friend assured me we'd be done floating the seven miles by no later than 2pm. Mind you we didn't have a watch, which caused a few problems later on. I was really enjoying floating until we asked someone what time it was and they told us it was 1:07pm and we were far from the end of our river trek.
My manic control issues took the front seat then and I was begging everyone to help me paddle to speed things up. This wasn't objected to except by one, a great guy friend, who had one (okay more like three or four if not more) too many, and didn't want to be rushed. See the thing with floating at this time of year is it is HOT. Right now, we've been suffering from extreme +100 degree temps for the better part of three weeks with no end in sight. Worst heatwave since 1980 from what I've been told. That's how it is in Oklahoma, worst blizzard ever late winter, worst heatwave in thirty years in the summer. Our weather is bi-polar medicated with stimulants. Anyways, back to my friend. He usually can handle his beer, but, when it's THAT hot it hits your harder and faster. I stopped drinking around noon as I had to drive Jon and I back to Tulsa. But, my friend, he didn't stop drinking, nor did he really eat, nor did he work to stay somewhat hydrated. A deadly trifecta that resulted in his belligerence to my need to get back to my house/dog sitting duties.
Jon, me, and drunk friend's girlfriend all begin to paddle. It was getting hotter, the river was filling with more people who had nothing but time and an endless supply of alcohol. I shouldn't have been paddling as my burned hand is still recovering, but, I sucked it up and paddled away. Oh, should I mention that I'm horrible at any activity involving the need to row? I flipped a canoe over in summer camp once as a kid and decided I really shouldn't pursue a career nor hobby involving paddles and water. We went in circles, floated sideways, but, eventually we got a rhythm going, only to get stopped by a raft in front of us or my drunk friend doing something to slow us down. At this point, floating was not so much fun and I and the rest of the sober crew were getting extremely upset by the minute.
We finally got to the end of the seven mile course and to our cars. Water and pedialyte were immediately consumed, as it was HOT and I believe I sweated off nearly all my water weight. My drunk friend and his veeerrrryyyy ticked off girlfriend got in their car and Jon and I headed out without saying much to our friends. It was past 3pm and that was hauling it towards the end, imagine if we hadn't paddled at all. An employee at the raft rental place mentioned the float trips can take up to twice as long to complete when the river levels are lower due to the summer heat. Good to know! (I hope you can hear my dripping sarcasm- it's quite potent)
I made it back to Tulsa a quarter after four, yes, I was speeding, and the dog was quite grateful to get outside and do her business, not to mention getting fed. I have decided that while the last hour and a half or so really, really sucked overall I like floating. I mean your hanging out with friends, surrounded by water and neat scenery, eating and drinking to your hearts content (but, within reason or it is not fun) so what's not to like? That said, I think next time we'll a)Call ahead to reserve a raft b) In doing this head out earlier when it is cooler and less crowded c) I will NOT make any plans on the chosen day of floating and d) Get drunk friend's sister to come with us to threaten drunk friend with telling on him to their mother. Childish? Maybe. But, after going through the whole list of what not to do on a float trip I'm willing to concede that a little policing by a sibling maybe necessary to ensure a smooth float trip.
Lessons learned!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hard Work

Dancers practicing in Nashville during the Irish dance Nationals earlier this July. I love this shot. This is what working hard looks like. I saw so much of that during my five days in Tennessee, it really blew my mind. The dedication, the discipline, the amazing dancing... that's what goes into one's few meager minutes on stage at a major competition like this.
And that is why I've begun practicing until my feet can't take it anymore! More pictures to come!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

So I Did Something Stupid...

Gotta love the comically large thumb there.
Six days ago, my last day in Nashville, I was in a bit of a blind rush. I needed to get everything in my room packed up, get ready for my day, get ready to leave Nashville, and get to my friend's competition by 9am. All was going well at 8:30am, until I reached for my curling iron. Normally, that action wouldn't be anything to write about, but, I didn't grab my curling iron in the 'non-interesting' way. I grabbed my curling iron on the hot end (obviously I wasn't looking). The hot end that was set at 450°. Yeah big a** whoops there!
Some of my burned skin, six days later. It looks a bit freakish.
So you all can imagine the scream, the tears, the running mascara, the tremendous pain, and the panic that came with all of that (and the amount of one handed last minute packing that I had no choice but to do). Fortunately, I had the state of mind to grab the aloe Lidocaine burn spray can and spray it all over my burned hand. I was also fortunate to be able to see my teacher's mother, an ER doctor who gave me great advice, and a medic was on staff at the resort hotel with the oh so miraculous silvadeen which he generously slathered all over the burn on my palm and the multiple burns on my fingers. I also had some anti-biotic ointment with numbing analgesics in it to keep the pain at bay (for the most part) during the 10 hour ride home. I have been pretty uncomfortable since that whole ordeal, but, thanks to some clarity of mind and better living through chemistry the moment it happened, things could have been a lot worse. I've had blisters, swelling, and the freakish loss of the lines on my thumbprint (the thumb got the worse of it) and on my fingers. But, I am healing and should be right as rain soon enough.
Just remember, it could always be worse! ;-)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Irish Dancers Kick- Even on The Fourth

Okay so technically speaking these pictures were taken yesterday, but, there's a lot of dancing going on today, and the kick and 4th title seemed fun, so I rolled with it. Yesterday I, along with my dance friends, [pictured above] helped to break a world record. 652 dancers in all lined up in a big room, held hands, and did a jig for five minutes. I showed up at the last minute, thinking it was over, and managed to get there just in time! Dancing that long on concrete really stinks, especially in bare feet, but, it was to break a record and now I have that as a bragging right. Go me!

I don't know who the guy next to me was, but, look at his kick! I did get a spray tan by the way; it's impossible for me to look like that without chemicals and space age technology. I figured it would be better for all if I had a tan when I wear my swimsuit here. I don't want to blind everyone! It's vain, I know, but, don't judge me. Us pale people gotta do something to blend in with the general population. Especially, when the majority of that population are spray tanned as well, bouncing around in wigs. It's an Irish dance thing.
Hope everyone is having a fun and safe Fourth of July!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Universal Truth

If there is a suitcase anywhere in the house, with or without stuff in it, a cat will find it and be in it. This is a scientific fact. At least, it should be.


I'm in Nashville watching and photographing my friends as they get ready to dance at the Irish dance North American Nationals. This competition is HUGE folks. I've literally rubbed elbows with at least three world champions and have seen some amazing dancing. More pictures to come!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Job as a Roller Coaster Ride - Sans the Puke

Thank you, for the accurate depiction!
I am not here to discuss how working at a school with low-income, high risk kids can be a crazy ride from day to day. I think I've covered that sufficiently with at least one entry per month mentioning that. lol No, what I'm about to tell you is the craziness that is working for a local public school system here in the OK. Fair warning, this will be a bit lengthy and has plenty of twists and turns. Hope you can keep up!
While I do not have the statistics on hand, let's just say that Oklahoma is ranked pretty stinkin' low compared to most of the states when it comes to funding the schools, paying our teachers, etc. So it came as no surprise that my employer had to reorganize their district to try and save money. Plans were discussed, town hall-esque meetings were held, and teachers and staff held their breath. The plans came out and the school I work for was safe. We were going to add another grade, but, we would be able to retain everyone. Phew!
But, unfortunately the feeling of relief did not last long. Soon we were told all support staff who was hired this past school year would be given non-renewal notices; the district cuts people according to time served as opposed to who the principal believes need to go. I get it, but, it does stink as I was one of those employees who received said notice. My principal reassured me this happens all the time, staff is told they're getting cut because Title 1 allotments are always changing. So, while I was nervous, I trusted my principal and everyone else's past experiences. My boss also reassured me if she couldn't get me back as a para, she would do everything in her power to get me back as a teacher's assistant.
THEN the last day of the school year comes and teachers are then told our school has to cut six 1/2 positions!!! The reason? The reorganization plan that was approved messed up the redistricting. Some students were going, some were staying, but, overall the numbers were HUGE mess. I was sad for the teachers, but, also even more worried about getting a new job. Fortunately, they were able to save positions because my school insisted that the lines were looked at closer to give a more accurate list of how many students we were going to have for 2011-2012. To add to the mess, however, there were calls about cutting the TAs who had been there for awhile. It's a good thing I don't bite my nails, because I wouldn't have any nails left!!
You think it's over right? Ohhhhhhhh no, no, no. The state legislature passed a bill that basically cut funding to public schools (mainly to primary education, naturally the universities of this state were left alone.). The district, who had just implemented a new program to save money, now faced cutbacks. So, the funding to special education programs were cut.* Forty para positions were part of the cuts. At this point, my chances of gainful employment with my school looked very dismal.
Fast forward to last night, my principal called me. I was teaching a piano lesson at the time, so, I had to call her back. I was nervous, and being me, I kept thinking it was bad news. I mean can you blame me in light of all the crap that has happened? After playing phone tag, and waiting nervously for over two hours, my principal and I talked. She has a teaching assistant position open and wanted to know if I would accept! I naturally said, 'HELL YES!' Ok so maybe I didn't say that specifically, but, I accepted. I know being a para has more clout, technically, but, with how things work at my school it would be essentially the same job. Bouncing from room to room helping in any way that I can.
I know, it's one crazy set up. I love my job as I do feel I am making a difference for children. However, by no means will I be doing this forever. I'm grateful though that I will have this experience to learn from and use for what I may do in the future. I am also grateful to have steady income and insurance!! It has been a crazy roller coaster ride working for the public school system this past school year and I think I could write a short book on my observations and thoughts about what I've seen this year. Here's to another school year, working hard to teach children who have to traverse the odds of their situation and to survive budget cuts.

*Don't get me started on how tricky this is legally and ethically. Blogspot would shut down with what I could say about this!!