Friday, January 31, 2014

Wouldn't trade it for anything, but....

This has been one of THOSE weeks. It seems like every major event or deadline happened to be right around the first week of February. Some of those deadlines before, some after, but everything in it's full on crazy had to be done THIS WEEK!

So what have I done this week? Well:

I took care of Girl Scout cookies for 11 girls. I made bank deposits, ordered cookies, gave out cookies and handled our troops cookies. Thankfully, we are 12 cases from being finished with the selling of 167 cases of cookies.

I finished the last assignment and the final exam for my graduate level art history class. It was way more fun to take a grad class in the summer when I had some down time.

I prepped, printed and plated contest pieces for the Theatrical Design Contest my students are participating in. There is work is phenomenal by the way.

I challenged and inspired 75 students to research the great Dutch Master painters and really feel like a couple of "fringe" or "borderline" students felt successful for the first time all year!

I ran my children to events after school and did all of the crazy momma stuff.

and a dozen other mundane daily and weekly tasks!

So, what did I not do?

I didn't run.

I took the week off.  I am learning that sometimes you have to stop and let your body recover in order to not get injured. Last Saturday's race was really, really hard on my body. Maybe cause I will be 40 in six months or maybe cause I have colitis, but nonetheless, it was a hard race and I needed to allow my body to recover.

I am hopeful that this next week won't be so crazy. But that huge contest date is looming. And sure, those 32 contest pieces will get themselves mounted, matted and paperworked. right?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Visiting some of the GREATEST art musuems without ever leaving home!

Some of my most enduring memories are associated with museums. I have been blessed with many opportunites to see incredible works of art and artifacts in person. I never really thought about this being a "lucky" thing, it was just part of my childhood and education.

As an adult and an educator, I am realizing how fortunate I am that I have visited a number of world class museums. For many of the images I show students, I can relate stories of seeing the actual work or a work by that artist. I tell students about the smell of the museum, waiting in line for tickets or general anecdotes about my experiences.

Sadly, many (if not most) of my students have never experienced a world class museum in person. They have no real connection to the art they see in textbooks or in prints.

But yesterday, a little of this changed with the use of Google Cultural Institute!!!  Google Cultural Institute is a virtual museum where you can see the masterpieces of all time in high resolution photos. You can zoom in and actually see the brush strokes!

Even better, you can virutally visit museums! My students LOVED "walking" the halls of the Musee' d'Orsay in Paris and I loved telling them about my visit many years ago.  Or how about the Museu de Arte Moderna de Sao Paulo and see the work of my favorite working artist Beatrix Milhazes.

Check out Google Cultural Institute for yourself and if you want, you can take a look at a couple of my galleries that I've made.

I created one for the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth.

and one for Geometric Abstract art

But a word of caution... you are going to want to travel to see these in person!! So get your passport ready!

Monday, January 27, 2014

The not-so Polar Dash

The 14mile Polar Dash. 
Race Recap.
The race was about an hour and a half away from my house and it didn't start until 9am, so that meant that I actually slept in on a race day! Woohoo!
When I started out the morning, it was cold. In fact, about 45 minutes into the drive the thermometer on my car read 25 degrees. By the time the race started it was about 38 or so. It was beautiful race weather. However, it ended up being not-so polar!! I think by the time I finished running it was close to 70 degrees. I was burning up in my winter gear!
Here we are before the race.
Don't you love my skirt! :) I made skirts for me and Courtney. Then Courtney found us winter tshirts (from the children's section...) and fun socks. Yes, we were "adorable."
So how was the race? Well, it was hard. I am learning that for every "easy" race, you have a dozen hard ones! I'm still so new at this that I thought every race would get easier and I'd get faster. Not the case. There are so many intangibles that go into racing.
Back to the race...
Here we are about a 1/2 mile into the race. There were a LOT of people running. They started the 10k and 14mile people at the same time. On the divided road it was fine. But by mile 2 we were on a sidewalk on a bridge close to a turnaround, so we were all crammed on the same section of side walk! It was very frustrating.

The route was a 6 mile loop that covered a number of small ups and downs, a couple of bridges and lots of winding trail.
No spectators.
I didn't realize how much Cowtown ruined me for other races! I need crowd energy! There were NO spectators on this course. For 14 miles the only cheers you got were the people at the water stations.
The volunteers were nice and we got some great comments about our skirts. But running the same section of the route three times was hard. Passing mile marker 4 and seeing the 10 and 13 markers was demoralizing. It was a tough section (at least for me) and knowing that I had to do it two more times, then one more time was hard mentally.
I am also learning that I need to plan better for the road conditions. Wearing my older running shoes was probably not the best choice. I was great till mile 5. Then my foot started hurting a little. By mile 7 my hip was hurting. I wore my older shoes because my newer shoes had hurt my foot the week before on a long run.  I think I'm going to have to upgrade to some Hoka's for long concrete races!
In the end, I did the 14 miles in 2:31 (that includes a 3 minute stop at mile 8 for pottying and a gel). I had hoped for a better time, but I am reminding myself that I am still learning. I took gels and chews and then only at one gel at mile 8 and bummed a chew off of Courtney at mile 11. That's not enough food. And I totally skipped the water stop at mile 6. One of these days I am going to learn. My best races I eat a jelly bean or a chew at every mile marker. It gives me something to do, and that little calorie jolt is important.  I forget this. Then later when I process the race and wonder why I went from feeling strong and great at mile 9 to hurting and tired at mile 11 I remember the lack of food and water and that at that point I had been running for two hours!
But I made it to the end. Here I am coming in to the park.
And here we are with our medals!
And because running 14 miles wasn't enough....
Yes, this was AFTER the race.
(and it took multiple jumps to get a picture!)
And what will I take with me from this race? The knowledge that I am not good at a looped course and that I need spectators.
hmm.... this might change up some of my race plans for this year....

Friday, January 24, 2014

Kylie's Scissor Art

Like many 4 year olds, Kylie LOVES scissors.
She is very good with them and creates all manner of cool art pieces. Like the puppet below. She did this ALL on her own! Even better, after she cut out and colored each indivdual body part, she used stickers to tape everything together.
I kept her puppet. I love her view of the world.

What I don't love. Confetti. Kylie's Scissor Art creates a lot of confetti. EVERYWHERE. And random holes is things, like her bed sheets, a sock... you get the idea.

But it's worth it. Just look at that sweet child and her creation!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Girl Scout Cookies and Weight Watchers, a tough combination!

I don't know if it's good timing or not... but I'm the cookie mom for Lexi's Girl Scout troop, and I'm back on Weight Watchers.


Here is what my house looked like Monday afternoon.
That's 117 cases of cookies.
That 1404 boxes of deliciousness.

And let's see... Girl Scout cookies vary from about a point a piece for the most basic cookie to two points a piece for the ones I really want on WW.

So lets see.  33 cases of Samoas at 2 points a piece for each cookie
times 12 boxes per case times 14 cookies makes...

11,088 points.
I get 26 points a day.

So I could eat Samoa cookies for my full allotment of points every day for the next 426+ days. 

And then I could start on the Tagalongs.


Thanks goodness we have 11 very excited girls that are selling cookies.

Or I might be in trouble.

I am happy to report however, that even with the cookies living in my house for the last week, I still lost 2 pounds!

Whew. And I totally blew it on Saturday.
Starting the day with 3 Tagalongs for breakfast will do that to you.

February 21st can't get here soon enough!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Work in Progress

One of the things that I am really trying to focus on this year in my classroom is for my students to see me creating artwork.

This is what I am working on currently.
It's a mixed media, colored pencil, marker and watercolor piece.

I'm having a lot of fun. Working 10 seconds at a time will do that for you.  It keeps it fresh.

My students love to see that I am drawing and painting too. And they never quite know what to do when I ask them for feedback and critiques! They try to just say they like it... but nope, I force them to pick apart my work and offer suggestions.

I'm hoping to finish it next week.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Weight Watchers... again!

As a wise friend reminded me this morning...
It's not a destination... it's a journey.
My reply was that I was hoping for a destination!
What were we talking about? Weight Watchers.
Yep, while I said I wasn't going to obsess over every bite I put into my mouth this year... the only way to actually not do that is to track what I eat.. yep, track every bite.
I know it sounds weird, but when I was on Weight Watchers, I didn't obsess over food. I made smart choices and enjoyed eating.
Then I hit my goal and enjoyed food too much! I used the excuse that I was training for a marathon to eat high calorie unhealthy foods... cause surely I was burning it off!
Well, 12 pounds gained in the last year is too much! So today I rejoined and am going to focus on being healthy.
I'd like to lose 20 pounds. I'd be happy with 15. Sad that if I would have just made better choices over this last year that I could just have 8 to lose.  But isn't that the way things work!?!
My goal is to lose the 20 by my 40th birthday in June. I have time to do it right. I just have to get started!
So this morning I did it. I even took arm, bust, waist, thigh, and hip measurements. eek.
And I'm off on my journey... trying to not stare at the destination!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Reserve Grand Champion Rabbits

Lexi won Reserve Grand Champion Rabbits this weekend at our county stock show!! Yep, it was a really big deal! In Junior Livestock world, kids compete all together based on the weight/breed of the animal, not age of the kid. So as a 3rd grader and first time participant, Lexi competed with high school seniors. And she took 2nd place!!  It was really, really cool!

But let me back up a little... you can click here if you missed the post about us getting the rabbits.

This last week leading up to show was a little nerve-wracking. The rabbits had to weigh between 3 and 5 pounds a piece. Over 5 pounds and you were disqualified... but you want to be as close to 5 pounds as possible. So we played the feed game the last week. How much to feed, how much filler, and all manner of questions that we didn't even know to ask much less to answer!  We were weighing twice a day at the end afraid we were over. But we weren't sure, all we had was a food scale, and it was borrowed at that!

So we go to weigh in on Thursday afternoon and the rabbits weigh 4.7 pounds! We ended up having plenty of room and could have just kept on feeding the rabbits full feed those last few days!

Then finally, it was time to get ready for the show! 
Doug and Lexi

Lexi and Mrs. Williams our incredible FFA teacher!

Lexi had a blast walking around the barns with her friends who were showing lambs and goats. She also enjoyed showing off her rabbits to anyone who stopped by!

One last wipe down and we were ready.

When it was finally show time, Lexi did a great job getting her rabbits from the carrier into the pen. Thankfully our FFA teacher was in the pen with her and able to help out.

And then the judging started and all we could do was sit back and watch. Lexi was a pro and kept her focus on the judge the entire time. While some of the other students started talking to each other and shifting back and forth, Lexi just remained focused!

In fact, look at this awesome picture a friend of ours took! I love how you can see how tiny she is compared to some of the other exhibitors!

As we watched in the stands, Doug and I were talking. Of course, we didn't know that she would win her class and get second place overall in the breed, but we knew that she had already won. She started this process scared and unsure of what to do around an animal and so shy around new people. And now here we were and she was confident with her animals and standing tall around a bunch of people she didn't know! 

And then of course, she won Reserve Grand Champion! That was incredible! 

One excited girl! 

My entire life I have heard families talk about FFA and the impact sponsors/teachers have on kids. Now I understand it. What a gift these teachers are to our kids!

She even stopped and put Lexi's buckle on her belt!

We went home an exhausted but very happy family! Friday morning, Lexi was back out at the stock show to support her friends who were showing. There is just something incredibly special about a group of kids helping each other to succeed without any thought to what they can get out of it. Over the weekend I saw countless times kids helping each other out just because! I even got to be a tiny part of the weekend as one of the judges for the 4-H arts and crafts entries!

Then Saturday afternoon, we were back for the supper and sale. Lexi helped to serve the dinner to the buyers and then it was time for the auction. 

Aren't we country! I had to go buy a pair of jeans to wear with my boots! I now understand why you wear boots and jeans... barns are messy! :) 

Lexi's pen of rabbits was the 12th auction of the night. Only the Grand and the Reserve rabbits were sold, so Lexi making the sale was big.

Here is Lexi with two friends who helped her show off the rabbits. 

And the auction in process. They were adorable!

The high bidder was a joint purchase between a local pharmacy, Tanglewood Pharmacy and a service club, the Stephenville Evening Lions Club.

They took official pictures with the buyers, so I'm hoping I can get a better picture!

And that was it for the night. We stayed through 90 of the 186 auctions and Doug's company, McLemore Financial Group bought auction #88 a lamb and then we left. No, we didn't bring the animal home, just our rabbits. At this stock show, the animals usually stay with the kids, it's really more of a scholarship auction.

Today, Doug and Lexi are taking the rabbits back to the breeder. We've already to committed to a pen for next year!

Who knows how we will do in the future. It is possible that she could never win again. But while the winning was wonderful, it is the experience that has been life changing for our family. Lexi hadn't found her niche yet, and this was obviously her thing! Her smile and excitement was contagious. 

Lexi is now talking lambs, goats, horses and more! Kylie is talking pigs! 

What have we gotten ourselves into! :)

And a sidenote: Lexi even got to be in the newspaper! Here is the photo that was taken and here is the link:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

what does it mean to be .1 in 100,000?

One of the absolute best things about Maddie being relatively healthy the last couple years is that I'm not constantly searching the internet, reading the latest on forums and picking apart medical journals.

In fact, Maddie has done so well in the last year or so that I hadn't even read the recently published articles specifically about IgA Nephropathy. (This from the woman that has read countless scholarly articles about pediatric kidney disease and has a spreadsheet with over a hundred entries on it filled with urinalysis results, lab reports and doctor visits!)

But this week, the National Kidney Foundation posted on their facebook page about the new blood pressure guidelines for people with kidney disease, so I decided to refresh my memory and read the article.. and that lead to their website... and that lead to a couple of new articles on kidney disease.

Interestingly, one of the articles I read is about updated care for patients with glomerulonephritis (IgAN is in this family.) If Maddie went to a nephrologist presenting symptoms today like she did back in 2007 (?) her treatment might have been drastically different and much more aggressive. Hopefully with the new treatment protocols, patients and families don't have "lost years" while they try to get a diagnosis and treatment! I consider 2007 and 2008 (I think those are the years!) l"ost years" as all we did was survive and live in doctor's offices!

Reading these articles that have come out in the last year or so gives me great hope future generations of children with glomerulonephristis as more and more research is being done. It's interesting to read these studies where the pool of patients is 20 to 100 IgAN patients (and that's considered a strong, well funded and supported study!) I am reminded that while IgAN is the "most common form of primary glumerolnephritis" with up to 30% of all glomerulonephritis patients being diagnosed with IgAN it still a tiny percentage of people.  Take a look at this table below...

That's upto 30% of 7.6%.... What does that mean in numbers? Well, a recent article states that adults with IgAN are 2.5/100,000 people. Children with IgAN are .1/100,000.

Yeah. Not many people. No wonder there isn't much research!

These days I'm not worrying about research and prognosis so much. You get to a point in life that you have to say, I can't worry about that! We don't know how long Maddie will stay in remission. We don't know if it will progress to end-stage renal disease. Thankfully we are too busy LIVING life to worry about those things!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Hairdo's!

Lexi and Kylie were desperate for new do's! 
I mean desperate.

When we walked into Great Clips, I think I saw the stylists shudder.

You see, both girls have super fine hair that gets matted extremely easily.
Add that they have a TON of hair, and we get problems.
Add winter break and no schedule and you have PROBLEMS!

So finally, I loaded them up into the car and made it someone else's problem! :)

Here is Kylie having her hair worked on.  Look at how much we cut off.
I was sad to see the golden locks go, but she really, really needed shorter hair.

I didn't get a good picture of Lexi's hair in progress, but there was a lot of detangling.
I also had the stylist thin the back out. There was just too much hair!

Here are Lexi and Kylie afterwards.

See the pile on the floor... that was Lexi's hair alone!! WOW!

Afterwards, we went for yogurt. 
Isn't she adorable. I think the short hair makes her eyes look even bigger!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 was a great year... what will 2014 bring?

2013 was a great year for our family.

I looked back to see if I blogged about any resolutions for 2013 and we were just too busy!!  So here is a quick recap for you...

January:moved to new house and went to Disney World

February: ran the Cowtown Challenge which included my first 1/2 marathon.

April: ran my second 1/2 marathon, lots of kid activities, Doug and I had a weekend away.

May: finally sold our house on Cleveland! Maddie turned 13.

July: Maddie was sick, yuck! I worked out and ran a lot. I had my best month of the year from a running perspective. My Grandmother died at 97 years old. 

September: busy at school and the Big Show was performed a dozen times.

November: ran my first marathon and Doug his first 1/2 marathon and Maddie her first 5k!

And that's the condensed version! Sure there were struggles during the year, who doesn't have hurts and struggles, but the sum total of the year was great.

So looking ahead, my resolutions are pretty simple. I'm not looking to overhaul my life. But here are my goals:

1. I'm going to stop obsessing about every bite I put into my mouth. Obsessing about it doesn't make me make better choices, it only causes stress. I am healthy and strong and while I'd like to dump another 15 pounds, I refuse to stress over it. I have obsessed over food for the last 25 years, this is the year of letting it go.

2. I am going to eat 2 healthy, unprocessed meals a day. (I know, I just said I wasn't going to stress over food... but striving to eat unprocessed foods is totally different than counting calories or points!) 

3. I'm going to run a race for charity. I'd really like to do at least a 1/2 marathon for a big charity, maybe even a full.

4. I'd like to create a chore chart for the girls that incorporates accountability and incentives that actually works and that we will use! 

5. I'd like to do a family activity/date once a month. It may just be walking the trail as a family, or going to a museum, but these days are flying by and by the end of 2014 Maddie will be in high school!

And that's it. I love my life and my family. I am so very thankful for the life we live together. My family is my happy place and we are blessed.