Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Skinny Pictures

To celebrate reaching "goal" weight, my good friend and mentor, Brenda Flowers, took some pretty amazing photographs of my skinner body. I was a horrible model and blinked a 1000 times, but she managed to get a lot of beautiful shots. Here are a few of our favorite ones (Oprah's song is running through my head).
This is my principal shot--can I put this on the school website?Thanks Brenda!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Super Stellar Sister

My sister was offered a New Grad RN job at Redlands Community Hospital! Woo Hoo!
P.S. She is now going to be rich and get to take me out to dinner (RNs make bank)!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Teachers make an Impact

This has floated around Facebook over the past few days: Over 23,000 teachers were given pink slips in California. In honor of ALL teachers, copy this into your facebook status. We are willing to post colors of our underwear, and places we were born. Let's honor those who have made an impact in ALL of our lives! In the comments name a teacher who has impacted you!

As I got to thinking about who I'd "post" in the comment section, it occurred to me that I had several amazing teachers (all public school) that have shaped me as a student, teacher, life-longer learner, and person.
  • Mrs. Edge, Rios Elementary School, first grade: saw my strengths in school and encouraged my parents, repaired all the damage that my kindergarten teacher created
  • Mr. A, Rios, fourth grade: taught me a lot of things that we (teachers) shouldn't do with students
  • Mrs. Warford, Blossom Valley Elementary School, sixth grade: taught me how to write without worrying about my spelling, suggested typing everything, she loved history which made it come alive for me, really invested in me as a person
  • Ms. Halpin, Greenfield Middle School, seventh grade English Language Arts: books, books, and more books! She loved to read and passed that love of reading to her students. Reading together and talking about the books was her "thing" (which is now my "thing" according to my students).
  • Mrs. Rider, Greenfield, eighth grade Algebra: we bugged her every day, but she never stopped teaching or told us off. I have since apologized :)
  • Mrs. Solaway, Greenfield, US History: taught with brain-based strategies including mnemonics, hand motions, songs, etc. I have used these strategies as a student since eighth grade and teach with them daily.
  • Mrs. Ellis, Greenfield, eighth grade English/Yearbook: personally invested in every student, challenged me to be a better writer, introduced me to yearbook and the power of a great layout
  • Mr. Reck, El Capitan High School, ninth/twelfth grade English: very serious, very high expectations, and a whole lot of work--great training for AP and college work
  • Mrs. Erenfield, El Capitan, eleventh grade AP English: read every single essay we wrote and used the word "fluff" 101 times per paper for me. Truly helped me focus my writing (my grad school professors still thank her).
  • Mrs. Rosenburg, El Capitan, Chemistry: first time I ever felt competent in a science class even though I had many accidents (and won the award "Most Likely to Blow up the School").
  • Mr. Coulsby, El Capitan, tenth grade Humanities, AP Art History: forced us to critically think about everything, silly/spastic class was entertaining (which I try to channel a bit myself).
  • Mrs. Barnett, El Capitan, Yearbook: demanded excellence, leadership, and personal responsibility in yearbook. Saw leadership ability in me and pushed me to grow. Taught me how to run a stellar yearbook program!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Master Bath, Part V

The bathroom is moving forward!
We have insulation added into most of the walls and ceiling; as I write this, I can hear the staple gun making contact with studs as the final pieces are attached.
Trying to make the bathroom structure as strong as possible, Dave has added cross braces below the toilet and shower. The wall that separated the toilet and shower was not anchored to any floor joist which caused the wobbly wall. As you can see in the picture above, Dave has disconnected the wall and will reinforce it again when the new subfloor is attached.
This wall is where the old sinks lived. Not only is the vanity and sinks gone, but Dave has eliminated/capped off all of the plumbing for these sinks.
The other issue he solved was the poorly installed window (when it came out, it was clear that this may have been the main bug entry way). In the picture above, Dave has reframed the window with wall studs to keep it structurally sound and eliminate the window. Eventually, this wall will be apart of a super stellar closet :)
Before closing up the roofline with insulation and drywall, Dave installed his fan to help keep this part of the house cooler. The HVAC has also been extended into this part of the house (thank heavens for no more freezing/blazing temps).
This is what the attic fan looks like from the roof. Yes, Dave did figure out how to do some roofing repair work. He was sure glad to be done with this part of the project!

Coming next to my bathroom... finish subfloor, finish little bit of insulation, and inspection. THEN--drywall!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

10 Minute Meal

Chicken Stir-fry is a pretty easy meal that I always love to have on hand--you also can't beat that I can eat a lot of food for only 8 WW points.
  1. Defrost 2-3 chicken breasts.
  2. Cut into small pieces and saute with Pam, garlic and a bit of ginger.
  3. In a separate pan, heat 2 TBSP of Sesame Oil. Add a bag of fresh stir-fry veggies. Saute the veggies, adding garlic and ginger to taste (about five minutes).
  4. Add cooked chicken to the pan and stir.
  5. Add 1/2 cup soy sauce or teriyaki sauce to mixture.
  6. Let sit for about 5 minutes and serve!!

I also love that I can afford to eat white rice with my stir-fry because it is so low in points!!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Deja Vu

This morning I experienced a bit of Deja Vu--the experience of feeling sure that one has witnessed or experienced a new situation previously--as I rode up the elevator and walked into the lobby at Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla.
April 30, 2007, I rode up the same elevator and walked into the same doors and into the same lobby.
I thank God that today I walked in with my dad next to me instead of already waiting for me in Cardiac ICU. I also thank God that today his angiogram resulted in being told that he was "heart healthy" and needed no "intervention" instead of in 2007 when he came out with five stents placed in his heart to keep it beating properly.
In 2007, I was on my third day of my weight loss journey. The Cardiac ICU nurse looked directly at me that day and told me, "you know you'll be next if you don't lose weight."
Today, I walked in 89 pounds thinner at my goal weight. Woo hoo. Thank God that it was just deja vu and not a repeat the the first time!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


A few weeks back I officially declared my goal weight at WW and was awarded the first ever Hottie Award (read about it here). Everything got really busy, so I never actually posted about the hottie award. I decorated the cover and the inside to show off how hot our meeting actually is :)

Over the next two week, Kristen (my inspiration and the person I awarded the Hottie Award to) and Hayleigh (an amazing 15 year old who has make significant life changes and shows great maturity) have also helped make this award special. The beautiful/sassy bag was handmade and bedazzled by them.

At the end of each meeting, we share our story/passage that the Hottie wrote in the book. This week, Alice shared her story through sign language and her interpreter. Such a special time--quickly becoming my favorite part of Weight Watchers.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

CAHSEE class

They need some credit.

These twelve students (up from eight) have been nothing but a pure joy for the past five weeks. I've been incredibly honest with them that I am not sure what I'm "supposed" to be doing and no one else seems to know. I've also made it perfectly clear that I hate worksheets and I refuse to give them out just "because," yet that is what everyone is telling me to do.

Even though it has been made perfectly clear that I don't really know what it going on, they haven't given me grief. They haven't complained, they haven't tried to take advantage of me because I'm confused.

That, my dear friends, is pretty significant in my world of teaching.

Not only are they behaved wonderfully, they WANT to do better in school and on the actual CAHSEE test. There is a internal motivation that is unique.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pink Slips

They make me sick to my stomach.

Those of you who know me pretty well know that I am not an empathetic person (Melissa has even gone so far to tell me that I have a "raisin heart"), but with the current state of California education and the sheer amount of teachers who are getting pink slips rising daily, my empathy is flowing.

I even started crying today at the elementary school when a 7th year teacher was telling me about her pink slip. Yes, I know, elementary school is making me soft.

I know that everyone in the state in every profession is being effected and laid off from their careers; I understand that teachers whinning about being laid off is slightly annoying to the general population. The part that I don't think the "general population" understands about teacher layoffs is that they aren't done in a logical/rational way, they are done based on seniority ONLY. Evaluations and job performace is not a factor, nor is productivity and qualifications.

The teachers that are being laid off in RUSD have been teaching for 4-6 years, with some going all the way back to 1997! They are "younger" teachers, but they are not young. They are considered vetern teachers, they are the department chairs and site leaders. They are the force of change in our crummy system.

Again, seniority is the only deciding factor in layoffs, so that crappy, grumpy, "old" teacher who should have been FIRED (not polietly laid off) years ago...

Oh yeah, she has a job firmly in place.

And guess what...

She thinks that furlough days are pointless and could careless how many jobs because hers isn't going anywhere no matter how bad she is at it.

Master Bath Budget Planning

As we put the master bathroom back together, I am determined that we'll keep the spending within our small budget and know, at all times, the exact amount of money that we've spent and how much we have left.

This has been one of our biggest issues as we've been working room by room. Because of 1,000 small trips to Home Depot (sometimes multiple times a day), I really couldn't tell you how much we spent on the front bathroom because the expenses are spread around the ATM, Credit, Cash, gift cards, etc...

Most of the issue has been that we had no idea what we're going to need until we need it and planning ahead is my strength, not Dave's. As you read about here, here, here, and here this room has already been started and $6,000 has already been spent on the exterior wall and rough plumbing and electrical.

As I showed you a few days ago, we're now ready to move onto the next stage of the project which is putting the floor, walls, and new ceiling back together.

This project has a couple good things going for it in the money department.
  1. We've put a bathroom together before, so Dave knows a lot more of the "unexpected costs" so they can now become expected costs.
  2. I know that I need to be instrumental in the planning and I've learned A LOT watching him and Homes on Homes (love that show).
  3. There aren't 101 projects going on at the same time; the distractability is dramatically decreased.
  4. We have a firm budget of $1,600 and it is cash in-hand. We don't have any money other than that to go "over" into like last time when there was a giant chunk of cash (sadly, the giant chunk was a lot more fun).
  5. We have a firm deadline of April 7. His parents will be here the next day for his graduation and his motivation to have it done is high.
  6. After yesterday, he has one class period to attend and one final to take, and he is completely done with school!!

Where do we start this magical budgeting planning process?

For the past two weeks, I've been asking Dave to tell me what he needs to do and in what order to get him pre-thinking about it. I've been taking notes.

Saturday, I sat him down with my excel spreadsheet ready with everything he's told me and we added a lot more of the parts of the process.Home Depot was our next step. We spent two hours walking around, writing down the costs and correctly estimating how much of everything we needed. We even added a few things we'd forgotten. The first "brainstorm" list then transformed into a budget speadsheet, subtotaled into the main categories of this stage of the project (HVAC, Structural repairs, Insulation, and Drywall/Shower Inclosure). Adding Riverside's 8.85% sales tax and a 15% overage opps fund (according to Homes, this is standard for all contractors), we're budgeted at $1,660.11

I think our month budget can absorb $60.11.

This Saturday, we'll be going to Home Depot and purchasing this shopping list! And there will be $100 petty cash in our money box in case of an emergency Home Depot run...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Master Bath, Part IV

Because most of the other little projects are done around the house, Dave is now re-starting the master bathroom project. Cecilio and his wonderful team helped us move out the exterior wall, Dave got all the new electrical and plumbing done, and then it sat untouched for six months.

With time and a bit of cash, we're ready to start the next stage of this project.

Step 1: Finish demo and assess water damage to finish all structural repairs. David Lamberth comes over to help. Thanks, man!
The double sinks are gone from the place that will someday become a huge closet! No water damage found (thank God!).
The old shower pan and surround comes out. Yes, what you're looking at is the old shower with massive water damage under the fiberglass bottom.
The subfloor obviously had some damage, but the walls looked pretty good. The moment of truth came when Dave lifted the subfloor up and out...
And, fourtent for us, there is no water damage or rot on the floor joists!
Step 2: Plan to put the floor and walls back together structurally, make it warm, and stay within our $1500 budget.
More to come

Monday, March 1, 2010

Beautiful Living Room

Remember this?

The yellowy walls and holes all over the place? Walking into the living room is was beyond obvious that we bought a "fixer-upper." Our living room caused gasps of horror from many friends and even a few contractors.

Not anymore! We have had a beautiful living room since early December (even though I never blogged about it) and now when people walk in we get a totally different response! The first time my parents saw it my mom said, "whoa, beauuuuttttiful!" and then commented about it again every ten minutes or so.
I convinced Dave to go with a mocha color (it seemed pretty dark when I tested it on the walls and I'll admit I was sort of worried it would be too dark) and we continued the Swiss Coffee white on the door and trim. I love the color and how the white makes it pop! The moulding was already in the room, it just didn't pop before with the ugly yellow.
The mirror above I bought for the hall bathroom (it was too big), and it fits nicely in that spot. The cream sheer curtains have been resurrected (they have been everywhere--CBU Lancer Arms, Casa #7 and #12B, and now here) and the green/gold valances came from Wal-mart.
Using Christmas money from Grandma T and Grandpa, my mom found and bought this beautiful mirror at TJ Max for me. It is set into a picture frame of bronze-gold and matches perfectly. I haven't decided what want to put on each side of it (can't have sconces on two walls?). The plate artwork on the left wall is from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Although it looks heavy, it only weighs about 2 pounds. The colors in it are perfect to tie together this room, our current furniture and give me a place to go.
The color in this pictue is off, but you can see that the entertainment center has been moved to the other side of the room and set at an angle. It matches okay and it will definatly have to stay awhile for cost sake.
This room is done for now. Someday in the future, it will get 4 inch baseboards (after the floors are refinished) and a refinished fireplace mantle (when dad decides he has the time and paticence). It might even get a whole new wall if we decide to knock out a wall between here and the red room.