Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spring is Almost Here!

I know I'm a few weeks early, but I love spring (and it's almost here)! 

I ran across these pics this weekend that remind me of spring -- our 2006 engagement photos. 

Photos courtesy of Holloway Photography. Won this free session at a bridal show.
(Notice how much fuller my hair is than in my previous post.  Crazy. And that green spot isn't really on my shirt. Not sure what that is.)

I also ran across some more pics that I'll probably post over the next few weeks.  Before we had a baby, DK and I just didn't take very many pics.  I found a couple from a 2002 or 2003 Disney World trip, and one or two from a 2005 Hawaii trip. There just aren't very many pics to show from our dating days, so I want to save them to my blog soon.

But, yes, Spring is almost here.  I look forward to many things:

  • Beautiful weather.  Summers in the south are hot and sticky, so spring is our time to truly enjoy the outdoors. 
  • Spring Break.  I actually think we'll be staying home this Spring Break, so that means time to do some projects around the house, relax, read, and make use of the memberships we have to our local children's museum and zoo. 
  • The Fresh Beat Band.  We bought M tickets to see the Fresh Beat Band back in November, and the show is in April.  She doesn't know yet, but I'm already super excited about taking her.
  • Seeing my BFF.  One of my best friends is having a beautiful new home built, and I can't wait to go to her housewarming get-together in a couple of months.  We don't see each other enough, though we live in neighboring states.  (Speaking of BFFs in neighboring states, I have another one getting married in September -- a day after my birthday!  Already something to look foward to in the fall!)
  • Relay for Life.  I'll be doing it in my hometown this year.  I hope to make it a picnic with some relatives - that would be SO fun (and all for a good cause).
  • Work stuff.  Spring time is busy and fun at work.  Fun projects.  Then we've got a state conference coming up for the students, and then I have a teacher conference in Boston.  It'll be my first time in Boston, so I'm really looking forward to it.
And did I mention beautiful weather?  I see many days at the playground, the park, bike riding, and the zoo.  Can't wait.

I love seeing all the springtime stuff in the stores, too.  I've already picked up a few items since M and I will be doing a Bunny Aid basket this year. If you're in the Birmingham area and don't know about this already, this is a great opportunity to make a child smile. Baskets are delivered to local agencies and shelters.  If you're a relative, friend, or co-worker of mine and would like to donate a basket, let me know.  I'll deliver yours, too.  More baskets = more delighted kids.  Go here to learn more about Bunny Aid.

Enjoy the rest of your week!  Be back soon! (Goodbye, February!  Hello, March!)


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Feeling a little off? Have your thyroid checked.

Did you know that last month was Thyroid Awareness Month?  I didn't.  I probably should have.  I was diagnosed with Graves' disease five years ago. 

Honestly, I don't think about it much.  But I ran across these pics over the weekend. 

These were our annual coaches' family pics back in 2007.  Back when we were newlyweds, barely married a year.  Back when we were still brand new teachers.  Back before we even thought about having a baby.  Back when I had braces (for the second time in my life since I didn't wear my retainer as a kid).  Back when we were younger, carefree, and had no real responsibilites. 

But that's not all I see when I look at these pics.  I also see my hair -- and how very thin it was.  And I'm reminded that this was around the time I was learning to manage my little condition.  I was diagnosed about nine months prior to this picture.

If you've never heard of Graves' disease, first know that it's rarely life-threatening.  Graves' is an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid that affects the quality of life. With Graves' disease, the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, causing it to overproduce.

I never really talk about this because in the grand scheme of things, I'm healthy.  The condition is manageable and very treatable. But the condition is real.  And it DOES and HAS affected my life.  I've had my thyroid removed (ever noticed the scar on my neck?  I forget it's even there.).  I have to see an endocrinologist a couple of times a year.  I'm on hormone replacement therapy for the rest of my life (which I admit that I haven't been very good at, which has resulted in most of my problems with the condition). My doc and I have to watch my levels very closely before and during pregnancy.  And other stuff...

But today I want to tell you about it because conditions of the thyroid often go undetected.  They are very real.  And I don't want you to ignore them.

I'll give you a brief version of my story: I was in my first year of teaching when I began to notice some weight loss and changes in my personality (there are people on the other end of the spectrum -- weight gain is just as common).  And even though I was enjoying my first year on the job, I thought my symptoms were a sign that my job was affecting me more than I realized.  

But then it happened.  My hair.  It suddenly started thinning and had this weird texture.  And I remember thinking, "Okay, I'm not THAT stressed.  Something's wrong."

So I went to the doctor, and obviously he didn't like what he saw in my bloodwork.  I was referred to an endocrinologist, and was soon diagnosed.  That time in my life was a blur because I was soooo focused on being a good teacher my first year. I didn't pay as much attention to my health as I should have. 

I remember having radioactive iodine treatments and taking antithyroid drugs. And since I was of childbearing age and would probably start having children soon, my doctor and I decided that removal was the best option (radioactive iodine treatments and antithyroid drugs can be harmful to a fetus).  Plus, my thyroid was going nuts.

Surgery didn't exactly mean I was cured.  It just put me on the other end of the spectrum.  Now that my thyroid was gone, I'd have to take a pill every day to replace the hormones the thyroid produces (some pretty important hormones since they regulate metabolism).  But surgery did put me on what my doctor and I considered the healthier end of the spectrum -- for me, a young 20-something-year-old woman who would have children in the next year or two.  Taking a pill every day is easy.

My reason for bringing this all up today is because I when found these pics this weekend, I remembered the girl who ignored her health.  I chose to believe I was completely healthy when really I was not.  I ignored the symptoms that were clearly there and ended up with a fairly severe case.  Don't be like me.

Many women struggle with thyroid issues, and many cases go undetected.  Way too many.  We blame it on stress and don't face the real problems.  Thyroid issues can lead to more severe health problems -- they should not be ignored.

Go here to learn more about thyroid conditions.  If you see anything that concerns you, see your doctor.

Have a great week, everyone!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Three Things on a Wednesday

  • I love these pics of M.  They're from a random day at school a few weeks ago where her teacher was just snapping pics for fun.  She emailed them to me, and I wanted to save them to a post before they get lost in my email.  Who cares that they were taken on one of the rare days when I sent my kid to school with wild hair?  Wild hair, don't care (cue the Lil Wayne music)..though I promise it looked better when I dropped her off...

  • I have no social networking life whatsoever.  Facebook, Twitter, won't find me there.  And it's not that I'm not up on social networking -- in fact, I'm an early adopter.  I opened my first Facebook account back when it was JUST for college students (most people don't even remember that).  This was back in 2004 or 2005, my first year of grad school.  I did nothing with that account because...well, none of my friends and family were on there (of course I opened a new account years later when Facebook became a household word).  Then there's Twitter.  Yep, I was on there, too, a few years ago when it only seemed like celebs used Twitter.  Then I stopped tweeting so much because no one I knew was on Twitter.  And then there's the newest craze, the beloved Pinterest.  Yep, I was at that party too early as well.  Now I get all these emails about folks I know who are joining and are following my boards.  Sadly they won't see much pinning from me.  I've found myself logging into my Pinterest account just to follow folks back...just so I could return the love.  Then I log back out.  No pinning activity whatsoever.  Because I Just.  Don't.  Have.  Time.  Do I want to tweet?  Yes!  Do I want to pin?  Very much so!  But when I come home from my eight hours with my older children (all 125 of them), I spend the rest of my day with my family and trying to keep my house presentable.  I pop into Facebook every now and then when I'm standing in line at the grocery store or walking to my car from work.  Perfect time to comment on the cute babies or funny status posts that pop up first on my news feed.  Other than that, you won't find me on any social networking site. Maybe I can find time in the summer?

  • God sure knows how to humble me.  I'm typically not a complainer.  I always take lemons and make lemonade.  The only way I know how to live is to make something good out of the bad.  It's just easier for my heart and soul.  Well, every now and then, something happens, and I'm NOT so accepting and understanding.  And God always, always, always finds a way to humble me.  I'm getting to my point...and this is going to sound shallow...but for years, I have DREADED the day I'd have to go without a dishwasher. I DESPISE handwashing dishes.  I've hated that chore since childhood (seriously, I'd rather clean a toilet).   Well, a few weeks ago, my dishwasher broke. And I always thought that day would be devastating to me (gosh, I know this sounds shallow, but it's true!).  But you know what?  The day it happened, I was THANKFUL.  I was thankful for my warm home and safe family.  Because earlier that day, tornados ripped through this part of the state, injuring many (killing two, I believe), and destroying homes.  I'll never forget the day.  I got a call from a co-worker around five that morning (a call that early is never good).  I remember answering the phone saying, "Is everything okay?"  Of course it wasn't.  Her home was completely destroyed, and her daughter and dad were trapped inside.  Can you imagine?  I cannot.  They're alive today, thank God, and are still recovering from the injuries.  But do you know how humbling that was?  Can you imagine?  Later that day when my dishwasher just HAPPENED to die, all I could do was think about just how blessed we are. And how we can sometimes get so caught up on the little things in life. A dishwasher???  Please.
Anyhoo, just wanted to pop in and post a few things that have been on my mind.  I hope everyone's having a great week.  I am.  Super productive week at work.  Husband's home a lot more since basketball is over.  Got great feedback on my teacher survey (where the students anonymously rate each of their teachers' performance). Common responses from my students were "she's always happy/smiling," "she knows how to make me laugh," "she's strict, but fair," "everything is easily understood because of the way she teaches," "I love how she is always there to help me with anything,"...and one of my favorites..."she makes me WANT to learn."  Ahhh!  And while they also told me how I can improve (they're very honest teenagers -- gotta love 'em), the good far outweighed the bad.  Seriously, it made my week.

Enjoy the rest of your week!  Be back soon!

~ G 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cousins + Soccer + Tiaras (& Music)!

We had a great weekend! A long one, at that, since we're home today for President's Day. I've been super busy at work, so I appreciate the extra day to refresh.

We've had two weekends with family.  Last weekend M played and played with her cousins.  She also met a new cousin, E, who was here from St. Louis.  The last time I saw E was on a family beach trip four years ago.  He was a brand new baby, and I was just a few months pregnant with M.  It's so funny to see them play together.  She ran behind E the whole time, and still talks about him.

She also stayed a day with her Great Aunt A last weekend.  When I called to check on her, she quickly told me that she was having a great time, and that she'd talk to me "later." She still talks about that day.  She tells anyone who talks to her, including the random waiter from last week, about her day with Aunt A and Buddy (the dog).

This past Friday night she stayed at my mom's with my two nieces, my younger cousin, and my mom's two godchildren. Mama had six kids there! Those kids had a great time as you could imagine.

M with my two nieces -- who are SO sweet together! 

{{{My two nieces have a sibling love that is so precious -- NOTHING like their daddy and I were at that age!  We were at each others' throats all the time, yet these two love on each other like crazy.  I hope M will treat her future brother/sister like they treat each other.}}}

We also went to M's big cousin H's soccer tournament this weekend, which they won (defeating an older team)!

!!  CHAMPS  !!

M took her soccer ball to the game, so she and H's younger brothers C and M played their own little soccer game. 

Saturday night I worked a school event.  My school holds a pageant for Miss Senior Class, and this year over 100 girls sought the title.

Top 30

While 100 girls sounds like quite a bit, we're talking about 100 girls out of a senior class of 600+ kids.  That comes out to about 1/3 of the senior girls wanting the title.

One of the most rewarding things about what I do is that I get the chance to see young people grow in many ways.  And since I teach mostly freshmen, events like this senior girl pageant are extra special to me.  I see former students who have grown tremendously in confidence and grace.   Heartwarming, I tell you.

I also got to see some of my former boy students at the pageant as they served as escorts and such.  It's crazy how much the boys grow over those three years -- they're so TALL!  And they have deep voices - ha! 

Speaking of voices, we have this awesome boys choir who remind me of my favorite male acapella group, Straight No Chaser (if you've never heard Straight No Chaser, click here.  So amazing.)

There are some talented choirs at our school, but this one's probably my favorite.  Everything they perform just makes me smile.  I recorded one of their numbers Saturday night:

Aren't they adorable?

Have a great week, everyone!  Be back soon.

~ G

Disclaimer:  I typically don't post pics of my students/former students on my blog for many reasons.  But since this was a public event and the pic and video are far enough away that you can't make out faces, I've decided to break my own rule.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love and Memories

Happy Valentine's Day. :)

We don't make a big deal of Valentine's Day around here. When DK and I were dating, we did the gifts and stuff, but honestly the holiday has always been a bit silly to me (but I'm a little weird). I told DK NOT to go out and buy me anything for this day.  I do feel the need to write him a note because I'm feeling a little lovey-dovey today.  And I kinda have a GREAT husband.  I tell DK I love him every day, but every day I don't get a chance to tell him how great a husband he is.  And I sort of feel like telling him that today.  But it's NOT because of Valentine's Day, because Valentine's Day is silly. :-)

Anyway, M and I are actually home today resting up from a busy weekend with family.  We I stayed up late making Valentines for her friends at school and sent them with D this morning so they could get them at the party today.  Luckily she's too young to realize she's skipping the party at school, but we'll both get a reminder tomorrow when her cubby is filled with the goodies and Valentines.

But this post isn't about Valentine's Day.  It's about how grateful I am for the time the we had with a special someone whom we LOVED dearly.

In my last post, I mentioned some rare time that I spent with my grandmother.  Unfortunately the day after that post, Danny lost HIS grandmother...

I remember when I first met DK, his grandmother ("Granny") had been ill.  At that time, she'd battled various health issues.  She'd been very close to death a few times, and even had cancer (twice, I believe).  So it had been enough for them to believe she may not be with them too much longer.  This was before the BEGINNING of our relationship.  Danny and I have now been together 10 years.  Granny was here the whole time.  A fighter Sweet Granny was. :)

When Granny went to be with the Lord last week, in the midst of sadness, I also felt very thankful.  Thankful for the time she was here.  She got to know so many great-grandchildren (and even a couple of great-great grandchildren) that she might have never met if things had gone differently.  Most of Morgan's cousins on Danny's side (about 20 great-grandchildren) were all born in the last 10 years.  And she held and loved them all.  What a miracle. 

Several of them will actually remember spending time with Granny.  The younger ones, like my little M, may not.  But DK and I will surely keep Granny alive in M's heart.  We can share pics with her and tell her little things like:

  • Gran-Gran bought M her first Easter dress -- a beautiful, classic Feltman Brothers. The dress still hangs in M's closet. It's one of those things I could never give away or even pack away.
  • We can tell M that she loved Gran-Gran's cornbread.
  • We can tell M that she would sing "Baa Baa Black Sheep" to Gran-Gran, which was Granny's favorite nursery rhyme.
  • We can tell M that she spent several holidays at Gran-Gran's house eating good food and spending time with her big family.
  • We will tell M that Gran-Gran was a sweet lady with a soft voice and a sense of humor. 
  • We will be sure that M knows that Gran-Gran loved her so very much.
Granny was a beautiful, loving, funny woman, and I will be sure M always know that.

Granny and a Butterball M.

Four Generations 

My favorite, an old pic I got from my sister-in-law's Facebook.  
Granny with a tiny (days old) M.  

Have a great day, everyone.  Tell your loved ones -- not just husbands and wives -- how much you love them.  On this day that just HAPPENS to be about love. :-)

Be back soon.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Family Fun Night

Artist?  No, that's my Grandma! :)

The fam and I got together and painted over the weekend. Much needed fun and relaxation.  

!!  Love  !!

Hope everyone's having a great week!


Stuff I Talk About

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