Sunday, November 29, 2009

Zoo Moments and Flu Moments

Zoo Moment 1: Two weeks ago, Em and I went to the Jacksonville Zoo with one of my teacher friends, his wife, and son. KPB turned 5 in May. Em turned 5 in September. The two played together wonderfully...

On the Panda sculptures.

Walking along one of the zoo pathways. (Too cute!)

Counting the Koi fish in the pond.

Posing on a carousel zebra. (The morning attire, before it warmed up enough that the kiddos could wear short sleeves.)

Travel Moments: Em and I left Florida on Saturday 11/21 at around 7:30 a.m. We drove all day until we arrived at my parents' home in Ohio. Em was a SUPER traveler. I was very pleased with her behavior. And though I was grateful for the L.eapster2 we had purchased, she actually kept busy with drawing and "arts and crafts" projects just as much as she played with the L2.

Sunday 11/22 was a take-it-easy day. Since DH was unable to travel with us, Em and I shared the guest bed. I thought I would dislike this, as Em tends to be a squirm-worm when she sleeps. However, sleeping with Em was a treat...I enjoyed our cuddle time in the mornings, and our end of the day conversations in the evenings. And she didn't move around nearly as much as she used to.

Sunday night we were able to go to the Colu.mbus Z.oo with my parents. Each December they display lights there in the evening time. I hadn't attended the light show event since my freshman year of college. It's come a long way! From just white lights in the front part of the zoo to colored lights and animal lights throughout the entire zoo. We had a super time!

Zoo Moment 2:

Grandma and Emma inside the zoo entrance

Pretty light display

The pond near the main entrance of the zoo. So pretty to view the lights and their reflections in the water.

Cool giraffe lights

I LOVED this baby monkey. Super cute!

Em petting a sea urchin inside the zoo's aquarium.

Emma and Grandpa

Paying homage to our friends and family who were in Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Unfortunately, my pics of the reindeer didn't turn out.
Em was thrilled: "Oooh! Look! REAL reindeer! Their antlers are sooooo long! Hey, where's Rudolph? I don't see a reindeer with a red nose? Huh."

Em was able to hug Santa and tell him what she'd like for Christmas ("A big kitchen for my Barbies.")

Em and Santa converse.

I have a SUPER cute pic of Em and Santa I'm saving for will be our Christmas card pic this year. :)

Em was tickled to be able to decorate her own sugar cookie with Mrs. Claus.

Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday: We were able to hang out and have family time with my parents and sister, Laurel.

Monday night Laurel and I went to see the New Moon movie. LOVED it! This book is my least favorite of the 4 in the Twilight saga, but I thought the film was super. (I'm longing to see it again however, as the couple we sat in front of "whispered" loudly the entire movie. And the girl in front of us kept texting and the light from her phone was shining right at me. SOOO annoying!)

Wednesday night Laurel and I were able to attend the "In the Heights" musical production showing in the lovely Ohio Theater in downtown Columbus. We had a fun girls night out. The musical was really well done---they incorporated rap and Latin music into the storyline. It was very unique. And though not my favorite type of music, I enjoyed the show. Our tickets were an early Christmas present from our parents who also kindly babysat Emma while we attended the show. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

Thursday Brought: Board games, cookie decorating, family time, the aroma of Thanksgiving dinner, and Emma's first meal in my parents' formal dining room. (My mom reminded me that Emma has asked every summer if we could "eat in there sometime" while pointing to the dining room.)

Some of the crazy turkey/pilgrim/candy hodgepodge cookies that we decorated.

Em's cookie "Don't eat this one. It's for me, cuz' I already licked it." LOL!

3 of my favorite ladies on the planet---My mom, daughter, and younger sister.

Flu Moments: I woke up around 2 a.m. Emma was hot to the touch. She had stripped down to just her underwear, but was still extremely hot. (Meanwhile, I was in pants/longsleeve shirt PJs with socks and was "just right" temperature wise.) I re-covered Em with a sheet and light blanket, which she promptly kicked off.

I woke my Mom to ask if they had a thermometer. They didn't. However, Mom felt Em and agreed she definitely had a high fever. My Mom then woke my Dad who quickly dressed and went to find a 24-hour store to purchase T.ylenol for Em. (Windy, rainy weather of course---Thanks, Dad for trooping through it for us!)

While my Dad was gone, Emma woke up, ran to the toilet, and vomited. I held her hair and rubbed her back as she whimpered. We found a "barf bucket" to place by our bed, and headed back to bed. Em fell asleep in my arms. A few minutes later, Emma woke up, jumped out of bed, threw up, got a sip of water, and groggily climbed back into bed. She repeated this process SIX times before my Dad got home with medicine. Wow. That's a lot of vomit for her little stomach. (And NO, she didn't eat her chocolate covered cookie...this definitely wasn't over indulgence.)

Dad got home around 3 a.m. He had also purchased a thermometer. Em's temp was 102.8. Poor baby! We coaxed her as best we could to take the T.ylenol. (Dad couldn't find any chewables and Em hates the liquid kind.) After she finally took some medicine, we returned to bed. Em slept for 2 hours before waking and vomiting again.

When we woke in the morning on Friday, Em was listless and still not feeling well. Though her temp was down to 99.3, I was concerned. First and foremost I was worried about Em's illness. Secondly, I was freaking out---we were scheduled to drive all day on Saturday to return to Florida. What if she was still sick?

We ended up taking Em to an Urgent Care center. (Thank goodness we took the "barf bucket" with us, as Em threw up again in the car on the way to the doctor.) We quickly learned that both urgent care centers in my hometown were closed due to the holiday. Dad drove us to an urgent care center in a neighboring town. Meanwhile, Em was dozing on and off against my arm.

They tried to complete a strep throat culture, but Em wouldn't cooperate. She kept closing her mouth and refusing to open wide. (Little booger!) The doctor ended up prescribing an antibiotic.
By Friday evening, Em was starting to perk up again. Whew!

Saturday we were able to leave as scheduled. Em was fabulous in the car again! (Thank God we've had NO vomiting since we were on the way to the doctor on Friday.) We drove all day again and arrived home in Jacksonville last night at around 10:30 p.m.

Em finished her antibiotic today. She seems to be back to it's back to school and work for all tomorrow.

Thanks: What I'm thankful for this year...

--A DH who cleaned the house while Em and I were away.
--A DH who has stuck to his guns with his writing project...I hope you get published, my Sweet! And either way, I'm proud of you for finishing your first novel!
--A daughter who travels loooong distances without excessive whining or complaining.
--A daughter who has a great musical ear. I love hearing her sing from the backseat. "Hit me with your best away!"
--Parents who are so loving and caring towards Emma. I love watching you interact with my girl!
--A sister who is fun to hang out with...wish you lived closer, Lal!
--A job I care about. Though at times overwhelming, I am glad to have a job that I enjoy.
--Blog buddies. Since I began this blog, it has been an emotional outlet. However, I never anticipated the love and encouragement I've encountered from others...from people whom I've never met in real life, yet feel close to. Thank you, dear readers!

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to all. Two and a half weeks until winter break....I can't wait! I am looking forward to catching up with all my blog friends. I feel like work has been kicking my butt this quarter, so I've been negligent about blogging as much as I'd like to.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Thanksgiving: Emma and I will be leaving this Saturday 11/21 to drive to Ohio. We'll be with my parents and younger sister for Thanksgiving! WOOT WOOT! (No word yet on if my older sister will be able to join us, or not.) I feel bad that DH will be stuck here, as he doesn't have vacation time....but he'll be with his parents, so it's not like he's totally alone. Schools here are closed Weds-Fri. I received confirmation last week that I was approved to get Monday and Tuesday off as "sick leave." Yay! A whole week of vacation, but only 2 days going against my pool of leave time. Can't wait to see my family!

Bonus Money: For the first time in 7 years of teaching, I qualified for bonus pay! I received a $1700 check on Nov 6th. YIPPEE!!!!!!! We were able to "catch up" after last month's huge car repair bill, buy a few fun items, and still have a little to put away. Awesome!

I wasn't on the original list of employees to receive bonus pay. But I completed an appeal form, First they emailed saying I didn't qualify. A few weeks later I received a letter saying they still had funds in the "bonus pot" after giving out bonuses to those who qualified. Thus they gave the remaining money to the "tier 2" teachers. So, I'm a "tier 2" ---whatever the heck that means---but I'll take it!! I told DH it will be worth it to appeal from now on just to see how often I qualify.

Also, I've spoken to the union rep at my school about finding out how bonus recipients are determined. Because I only teach level 1 students, I think I have a lower chance of making the "gains" required of teachers. We'll see what comes of it... But, I'm feeling good about things overall, as I know several teachers who have taught for many years and have never received the bonus.

L.eapster 2: We purchased a L2 for Emma with some of my bonus dough. Normally, we wouldn't buy an electronic game this close to Christmas. However, since she and I are travelling alone on a 14 hour road trip, I wanted her to have something to keep her quiet in the car so she doesn't drive me completely and totally crazy occupy her time. It's a really neat system. She loves it. And I like that the games are all educational. I've been surprised at how quickly she has taught herself to use the system. Kids and electronics. Gotta love it.

Zoo Day: This weekend Em and I went to the Zoo with friends made when I was teaching at my prior school. (KB is a teacher there.) Em and KB's son KRB are both 5 and got along wonderfully. I'll post pictures soon... LB (the wife) is pregnant again. She gives me hope that after a long lull between kiddos it CAN HAPPEN again. We hope to spend time with their family more often! Last year we all went to the B.ethlehem village set up at a local church together, I think we'll go together this year too. Yay!

I love how children connect. The entire car ride to the zoo, Em and KRB were bashful and didn't say much. But after a few moments in the zoo they were chasing after each other, "Emma, c'mon" and even holding hands at a few points. SOOOO cute!

Blogging: I've been a lurker, dear Blog Buddies. I've popped on, read entries without commenting. I've been a busy bee. Had to get allllll of my grading and lesson plans done before vacation. (Now my lesson plans are finished 3 weeks ahead---woot woot!)

A complete and total idiot busy official person within the school decided that the Monday we come back from Thanksgiving will be progress report day for 2nd quarter. Ack! This means all my grades need to be caught up. Thus, I've been a grading, grading, grading guru. My grades are caught up now. And I intentionally created lesson plans for this week and next that won't have any major grading.

Anyway...hopefully during my week in Ohio, I'll be able to catch up with you, my fellow bloggies. I've been thinking of you!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Perfect Moment Monday--I Love You

DH and I learned last year that Em does best behaviorally in the morning-time, if we all leave the house together at the same time. (DH always drops Em off at pre-school/daycare and I pick her up in the afternoons.)

We've gotten our morning routine down to a science. We load up our separate cars and then DH and Em follow me as we drive a few blocks to merge onto the highway. After a few miles of driving, I slow up as DH turns off at the exit for Em's school. This enables us to have a few moments of "waving" time each day. I always wave and then end with the sign language "I love you" sign...

I have fond memories of using the "I love you" symbol with my family when I was growing up. I remember being in a school concert in 3rd grade. As I stood on the risers with my classmates, I scanned the audience until I found my parents. My Mom discretely held up an "I love you" hand. I was tickled pink!

The Christmas I was in 5th grade, I was in the hospital for 2 days due to an infection in my stomach lining. (Bleck!) My sisters made a huge posterboard card for me. As my younger sister, was too young for visiting hours, they stood outside the hospital window and waved the card at me. I remember my 6 year old sister, Laurel holding the giant card so I could see her "get well" and Christmas wishes. At the end of her card holding, she put the card down and held up an "I love you" hand. I can still visualize her tiny body wrapped in a large pink coat. I can see her pink and purple gloved hands...
(FYI---the hospital staff had mercy for us since it was Christmas. They allowed her in to visit even though she was under the age limit.)

The "I love yous" have continued into adult hood. I still get teary thinking about my parents and Laurel standing on the porch waving good-bye and "I love you" to DH and I when we left their house after our first vacation/visit from Florida to Ohio.

Today my daughter joined in the trend...
As she and DH drove onto the exit ramp we had our usual good-bye waving. But this time, before I held up my daily "I love you sign," my little girl held up her own "I love you" for me.
What a perfect moment!

To read about other perfect moments, check out Weebles Wobblog HERE.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday Ruminations

Halloween: Em decided a few weeks ago she was going to trick-or-treat in the Supergirl costume my Mom sent for her birthday. She had a blast....and WOW what a TON of candy! I think we only went to 15 or so houses, but the amount she collected was enough to fill a large mixing bowl. Wowsers.

We went to DH's parents' house last night. We hadn't seen them since August! Due to us being out of town for Emma's birthday, DH's Mom working most weekends, and them being out of state for 2 weeks on vacation last month, we just hadn't been able to connect with them in person.

Em was thrilled with the B.arbie items and H.ighSchoolMus.ical dolls Nana and Papa gave her as a belated birthday present.

Paycheck Vacuum: Sighs. My car started making a loud noise on Thursday afternoon. We were able to get it into the repair shop...$957 for a broken air conditioning compressor. Yikes! Sucked my paycheck right out from under us. And while part of me was willing to go without A.C. for a bit, the mechanic advised against it, as it could lead to further belt and/or engine damage. Argh!

Emma "The Bad": I spoke with her teacher in person. Ms. T admitted that she DID show students "some" of the news on TV. She claims to have only shown a news clip from when Summer was still missing and her mother was crying and distraught saying that she missed her. The teacher said she wanted to reiterate to the students how sad their parents would be if they were ever lost or ran away. And to help remind students not to ever go somewhere with a stranger. I was extremely fired up by this...especially since the school director told me she had asked the teacher NOT to turn the news into a stranger-danger lesson... However, as time has gone on, I'm mostly over it now. I don't like the way things were handled, but I believe Ms. T really had the students' best interest at heart. Ms. T mentioned multiple times that like me, she was disappointed that students parents had allowed their 4/5 year olds to view the entire newscast. She said that students discussing the news had been going on the entire week---from when Summer was only missing, to when Summer was found dead, to news footage of her funeral. And while the way she "taught" students the importance of staying with their parents is NOT what I would have wanted for Em...the reality is that I cannot control what happens when Em is at school. Gulp!

Emma "The Good/Funny": DH was at work on Saturday while I was home with Em. I was in the shower and DH called. DH and I have specific ring tones attached to our cells, so when we are the ones making incoming "home" calls, we're able to identify the call by sound. Em can't reach our home phone when it is hanging in the receiver. So she got my cell phone off the table in our foyer and CALLED DH's CELL and left him a voicemail: "Hi Daddy. This is your little girl, Emma. Mommy is in the shower. You can call us back after lunch time, okay?" I didn't know she even knew HOW to dial my cell, let alone how to locate DH's number on it. Too, too funny!

Books: I've been updating my Books Read list on the left sidebar of my blog. However, it's been awhile since I posted about anything that I've read. Recently I read the first 4 books in L.J. Smith's The Vampire Diaries series. I found the books to be enjoyable, fast reads. However, I was stunned by how similar some of the vampire characteristics are to the vampires in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga. I was further surprised in researching the Internet and publishing dates to learn that the Vampire Diaries novels were released a decade before Meyer's books. And though I LOVE the Twilight books and think Edward and the Cullen family could kick the Salvatore family's vampire butts any was a bit of an eye opener for me to see that some of Meyer's ideas weren't 100% original. What a bummer!

This weekend I've started a new young adult series: The Shadow Children by Margaret Peterson Haddix. I read the first two books (Among the Hidden and Among the Impostors) yesterday, and started on Among the Betrayed today. The books are about a society that only permits families to have 2 children or less. There is a "Population Police" that captures (and sometimes kills) any 3rd (or higher) children. The main character of the first 2 books is a 12-year-old boy named Luke, who is an illegal 3rd child. I don't want to give away plot details....but the books have been entertaining and suspenseful. I will definitely be recommending them to my 8th graders.

DH's Novel: He has promised to let me read the ENTIRE first draft over Thanksgiving weekend. Yay! Meanwhile, he toggles between editing his first book and working on writing his second. Super cool!

Emmaisms: Let's close with some Emmaisms. First, a conversation I jotted down from July 4th, regarding excellent teachers and bendable straws:

Em: These are called antignal straws.

Me: They are? Who taught you that?

Em: Let's just say that I have a really good teacher.

Me: Oh. Did Miss Stephanie teach you that?

Em: No.

Me: Then where did you learn it?

Em: I just taught myself.

(She may be a "really good teacher," but how about some modesty?)

10/13/09 On learning more about the world:

Daddy, did you know there's a place in this world called Duval County?

(Yup...and you've lived in it your whole life, Kid.)

10/17/09 On transportation:

"A long, long time ago people didn't have any cars....they only had taxis."

(Forget the camel, donkey, horse, or elephant...taxis have apparently been around for years.)

11/1/09 On elderly parents:

"I get to have 5 scoops of Mac&Cheese, since I'm 5. Sorry, Mommy. I know you're 101. But we don't have 101 scoops, so you'll have to just have 5 too."

(I'm aging quite nicely, if I do say so myself...)