Halloween PSA

It is that time again for my yearly PSA post about Halloween.  This is something that is so important to me, and I will continue to share it year after year.  My youngest daughter has a condition called Eosinophilic Esophagitis.  It is an allergic response to certain foods.  Her esophagus can become very inflamed just by eating her trigger foods, and it can cause irreversible damage.  When she was younger, this led to several dietary restrictions.  She couldn’t have dairy, eggs, corn, peas, or squash.  If you have ever read labels, you know that just about everything contains either dairy or corn.  This made her food options extremely limited, and Halloween became a source of much stress and disappointment.  I will never forget this one Halloween a few years ago when she went out trick or treating and got a bucket full of candy. That evening she sat on the floor, dumped out her whole bucket, and then began sorting through what she could eat and what she couldn’t.  As she sat there with tears running down her face realizing that the safe pile was getting smaller and smaller, my heart broke into a million pieces.  The pile of things that she could eat had less than 10 pieces of candy.  She just kept saying how unfair it was.  I felt utterly helpless because in that moment there was absolutely nothing I could do to make it better for her.   I snapped a picture to remind me of that moment and vowed to try to make a difference not just for her, but also for other kids with allergies as well. 

Teal Pumpkin

I don’t really know what Halloween is going to look like this year.  I know some people aren’t going to participate, but I know that others are determined to give kids something to look forward to in these crazy times.  I have seen people create candy tubes that you can shoot candy through from your front porch to the sidewalk to maintain distance.  I have also seen people taping sticks to the back of candy to stick in their yards for kids to easily grab as they pass.  It doesn’t really matter how you hand out treats this year.  What matters is that you have alternatives to candy for those children like mine who can’t eat the candy.  The Teal Pumpkin Project was started several years ago by another allergy mom, and it is such a brilliant movement that allows children with dietary restrictions or allergies to still be able to participate safely in Halloween.  All you have to do is to place a teal pumpkin on your porch.  You can paint your own or most stores now sell pumpkins that are already teal just for this purpose. The teal pumpkin is a symbol to those with allergies or dietary restrictions that it is safe to come to your house.   You simply get a few non-edible treats to pass out to those kids that need them.  DON’T mix them in with your candy because some people have contact allergies.  Just have a separate bowl of non-edible treats and allergy friendly candy. When kids come to my house to trick or treat, I simply ask them up front if they have any allergies.  If so, I offer them the bucket of safe treats.  You may only get one or two kids that need the safe treats, but I can’t tell you what a difference that small act will make for those children.  The good thing about it is that even if you have non-edible treats leftover, you can just pack them up and have them for the next year as well.  While my daughter is able to eat most candy now, I will ALWAYS have a Teal Pumpkin on my porch.  It saddens me every year when my teal pumpkin is the only one in our neighborhood, and my prayer is that one day every single house will have one. That is why I will continue to share about it over and over again.

Here are some inexpensive suggestions for safe treats you can purchase. 

Bouncy Balls/Spider Rings/Erasers/Rubber Ducks/Stickers/Bubbles/Silly Glasses/Crazy Straws/Mini Notepads/Mustache Lip Whistles/Vampire Teeth/Glow Sticks/Dum Dums/Finger Puppets/Stamps/Pencils/Slap Bracelets/Slinkies/Slime/Variety Pack

I urge you to consider participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project this year and every year to come.  It can truly make some child’s day, and keep some mom from worrying to death about her child’s safety.

Anchored,

**This post contains commissioned links. Should you choose to purchase items using these links, I may earn a small commission.

Blog-iversary

Wisdom Necklace

It’s my blog-iversary! I have been writing this blog for TWO years now.  Can you believe it? I am honestly proud of myself for sticking with it and continuing to show up here even when I didn’t want to sometimes.  Of course, this year has been like no other and has resulted in days where I just had nothing to write about, or I felt like I was writing the same thing over and over again.  Sometimes I sit here staring at my computer for hours typing sentences and erasing them because I can’t come up with something that I feel is worth sharing.  When you are not going anywhere or doing anything, your life becomes pretty boring.  Those days when I couldn’t complete a post are days that I felt like I let myself down and broke my commitment.  Initially, I was beating myself up for all the days that I didn’t publish something, and I even thought about quitting.  Thankfully, I eventually realized that in the grand scheme of life, it wasn’t that big of a deal if I didn’t post 4 days a week, every week of the year.  No one really cared about that but me, and I was beating myself up for silly reasons.  I also realized that I wasn’t ready to give up on something that has brought me so much joy and has challenged me in ways I never expected.  

Writing this blog has forced me to take a big look inside myself.  I have discovered weaknesses that I need to work on and areas of strength that I didn’t know I had.  It gives me the excuse I need to analyze the person I am and then strive to be a better version of that person every single day.  That is what I want for all of my readers too.  My goal with writing this blog has always been to help women, and helping myself has just been an extra bonus.   I want other women to know they aren’t alone in the world, and I want them to feel better about themselves as a whole.  It is important to be ANCHORED in who you are.  That means standing up for yourself and trusting in the person God created you to be.  While being anchored in who you are, also never stop learning, growing, and challenging yourself PIECE BY PIECE.   I strongly believe that you are never too old to stop growing as a person.  We should always strive to be better than we were the day before.  This blog has allowed me to grow into a person that I am proud of, and I want the same for all of you.   

While my second year of blogging wasn’t all that I wanted it to be, I have continued to show up, pour my heart out, and share some of my passions with all of you. For that, I am proud and so grateful. Thank you to all of you that have consistently shown up to read what little old me has to say.  It means the world to me.  The messages and comments I get are what motivate me to keep going.  If something I write resonates with just one person and helps them to feel like they aren’t alone or helps them to feel better about themselves, then it is all worth it.  Here is to another year of growing and learning and sharing my little world with all of you!  

Anchored for Another Year,

Time for a Break

I love my children with my whole heart. In fact, they are a large part of the reason that I am no longer teaching.  For so many years I had given my heart and soul to my students to the detriment of my family.  I’m sad to say that they always got the stressed out, worn down mom and were often put on the back burner. I finally realized that it was time to give my heart and soul to my family, and that required me to walk away from the classroom.  I just didn’t have the capacity to do be a good teacher and a good mom at the same time.  It truly has turned out to be an unexpected blessing.  No, it hasn’t been easy giving up that second income and relying solely on my husband’s income and I really miss my students, but there have been far more rewards that have made it all worth it.  I have always had a close relationship with my oldest daughter.  She is a lot like me in many ways, and I just get her (for the most part).  Our relationship has only grown stronger since I stopped teaching.  I love that she feels comfortable talking to me about important things.  On the other hand, my youngest and I have butted heads majorly for most of her life.  She and I are like oil and water, and she has blamed me for every single thing that has ever gone wrong in her life.  She is the kid that would argue with me just for the sake of arguing over whether or not the sky was blue. For many years, our relationship was quite combative.  She would yell at me and I would yell right back. That was basically the only way we communicated.  Over the last couple of years, I have really worked to repair our relationship and learn how to best communicate with her.  Thankfully, we have done a 180 and get along so much better.  I think she actually likes me now!  I truly love the relationships I have built with both of them now that I devote the majority of my time to them.  

Again, I love my children. I really do! However, I NEED A BREAK FROM MY CHILDREN! Yes, that is really what this post is all about, and I am totally not kidding.  Being secluded with them for the past 6/7 months has been A LOT. It was great at first.  We got to spend time together and actually talk to each other instead of running from one thing to the next never really having time to even see each other much less talk to each other.  Now, however, they are just bored out of their minds, and they come out of their rooms and just sit and talk NONSTOP, mostly about nothing important at all! They even follow me from room to room not even coming up for air.  They both have ADHD and talk super fast anyway.  When they aren’t doing anything to burn off all that excess energy, they instead talk.  They talk and talk and talk, and they do not recognize my cues that I am either busy or not listening at all.   They are completely oblivious. They just continue to talk about nonsense.  It seems to have amplified with the start of school, too. They hold it all in while they stare at their computers.  Then at the first break in their day, they just explode.  For example, my oldest just came down because it is her lunch break.  She went on a 10 minute spiel about the new update on her phone. I had to remind her multiple times that she needed to be eating her lunch instead of talking to me.

Each kid as a different show that they like to watch with me. I DVR it and then we watch it in the next day or two. In theory, this is a good thing. They still want to spend time with their mama which should make me happy, right? WRONG! I cannot stand watching T.V. or movies with them because they do not stop talking through the entire show.  I can’t pay attention or even hear what is going on in the show because of all the talking and questions about every little thing. If they would just be quiet and listen, they would know what was going on.  IT DRIVES ME NUTS!  I honestly can’t imagine living inside their heads.  Their brains work so different from mine and it seems to be running 90 miles a minute, and I just can’t keep up.  Half the time, they talk so fast that I can’t understand them.  Sometimes I can’t even follow the conversation because they jump all over the place and it just doesn’t make sense to me.  I know that is part of living with ADHD, but wow! Sometimes it is overwhelming.  I guess I should be thankful that they can at least hold it together for school.

I know that I just said at the beginning that I love that they talk to me, but I don’t have to love it 24/7, do I?  Sometimes, I just need a break.  I need an escape every now and then.  When we are stuck in the house together for 90% of the time, I just get a little stir-crazy and need some time away.  They really need to go back to school!!  They need someone else to talk to besides me.  I think all moms feel that way sometimes.  It doesn’t mean we are bad moms and don’t love our kids.  It just means that we are human, and we need to take time for ourselves to recharge (or our ears to stop ringing).   I told my husband on Saturday that I needed a mommy break, and he kind of laughed and told me that I should enjoy it while it lasts.  He says one day I will want these days back.  I know he is probably right.  It’s easier for him to say that because he isn’t here getting the brunt of it all day, everyday. I just really like quiet time, and I’m not getting much of it lately. I need it to be quiet in order for me to think and be productive. That is the difference in my brain and theirs.  They need constant noise, and I can’t operate with noise. 

I’m going to say this a third time…I love my kids.  I love being their mom.  I love their unique personalities.  I just need a break sometimes, and right now is one of those times! Seriously, can I just walk around with noise canceling headphones?

Anchored,

Time to Get Crafting

I am a crafter by nature or maybe genetics as my mom is also a crafter. I think maybe part of it is the teacher in my too.  I love making things and being creative.  I am one of those people that will see something cute and think, “I can make that.”  Instead of just simply buying it, I either then kill myself to recreate it or buy all the supplies to make it and never follow through.  This is why there is an entire wall in my office of shelves that are full of crafting materials and unfinished projects.  It isn’t that I don’t have full intentions of completing them.  It is that for so many years, my life was so crazy that I never really had the time to devote to finishing things that were for fun, so they kept getting put to the side.  Now that I have some more time on my hands, I have gotten around to a few projects like the new wreath for my front door that I am totally in love with.  (I won’t even tell you how many unfinished wreaths/door decorations I have just waiting to be done.  Let’s just say it is an outlandish number.)  It is usually the projects for my house or for me personally that never get done.  Things that I do for others are much more likely to be finished. That usually means that it is either a gift with a deadline or I am being paid to create it.  No, I don’t have a crafting business to add to my long resume of job titles, but I have been known to create things for family and friends for a small fee.  I’m not really good at charging people, so I typically only charge whatever it cost me to make it. I know…that isn’t good business, but it is what it is. 

While we were in South Carolina last week, I decided to embark on a new crafting/home improvement project.  Since we bought and moved into our house a little over a year ago, we have had the same Roman shades in the living room that came with the house.  We have 4 windows that have an arch at the top, so these shades had to have been custom made.  Traditional Roman shades don’t work with the arch so I have been searching for a similar shade that would work with the windows to replace these since they do not match the rest of my décor.  That task has proved very difficult and has been a source of much angst.  I found people that could custom make them for me, but they were going to cost me a fortune.  I finally decided that I was going to attempt to make them myself.  Keep in mind that although I am a crafter, I do not sew or own a sewing machine.  My one attempt to make curtains using my mom’s sewing machine years ago was a total disaster, and my grandmother ended up taking them apart and remade them.  I don’t know why sewing is difficult for me, but I could barely figure out how to operate the sewing machine much less than sew a straight line.  How is it that I am going to make Roman shades without sewing them you ask? Well, I am going to attempt to use that iron on tape (stitch witchery) in place of stitching.  I may be totally kidding myself in thinking that I can make this work, but I have to try. 

My task while in SC was to get my mom to help me find all the materials that I need to make the shades including fabric. Well, finding a fabric that I liked, that would work for the project, and that had enough yards in stock proved to be quite difficult. I needed a fabric that was a little stiffer to make it work.  My windows are basically floor to ceiling, so I needed more yards than any fabric store had in stock.  Every time I found a material I liked, we quickly discovered there wasn’t enough.  My mom later had the genius idea to look at regular curtain panels that I could convert to the shades.  The task then was to find a curtain that I liked that had 4 panels in stock.  This was much harder than anticipated.  I guess many places are low on inventory due to COVID production delays.  Anyway, after two days of looking, I finally found something that I like that I hope will work.  The fabric isn’t as stiff as I would like it to be, but I am hoping it will still work.  I may spray a ton of starch on it to see if that helps.  Now, I believe I have all of the pieces and parts that I need to get started.  I think my biggest task will be cutting the length of the panels to the right width.  I am not sure I will be able to cut it in a straight, even line.  At this point, though, I am not sure I care how it looks as long as it matches.  I seriously have not wanted people to come in my house for the past year because of the totally nonmatching shades. 

I seriously don’t know why I do these things to myself when I know it is going to totally stress me out! Actually, yes I do.  I would much rather kill myself trying to make them for around $150 than to pay someone else $1000 to do it for me. Can I really make shades without sewing??? Stay tuned to see the fruits of my labor.  It could be a masterpiece or an utter failure.  It may take me a whole year (or two) to get it done, though, so don’t hold your breath.

Anchored,

Baking 101

My 12-year-old has decided that she either wants to be a baker or a photographer when she grows up.  Meanwhile my 16-year-old has no clue what she wants to do with her life, but that is beside the point.  The 12-year-old has decided that she needs to practice her baking skills; so this summer I have taught her how to use the mixer, the oven, the stove, etc.  At first she was wanting to bake something new every day, but I had to quickly put a stop to that.  I was running out of eggs and milk way too fast.  We have cut it down to once or twice a week that she has been wanting to bake something constantly.  She has mostly been making box cakes, cupcakes, and cookies.  We haven’t yet ventured into her making things from scratch.  The first few times I was in the kitchen with her going step by step with everything to make sure there were no eggshells in the food and that she didn’t burn the house down.  She now has proven to me that she can handle it and has graduated to doing it on her own as long as I am somewhere in the house.  This makes her so excited as she has always loved being independent.  Plus, it has given her something to do and look forward to while we are stuck at home.  She is also enjoying constantly making fun of her sister because her sister is still too afraid to take things in and out of the oven by herself. 

While I am happy with this newfound interest, it does come with 2 huge problems.  First of all, she is an extremely messy baker.  She hasn’t quite learned how to ice things yet.  Part of it is that she doesn’t really like icing, so she never uses enough which makes the cakes crumble.  I know what you are thinking…what kid doesn’t like icing?!?!? Remember, this is the kid with all the food issues.  Anyway, I don’t know how she manages this, but she always ends up getting icing EVERYWHERE!!  I find it days later in places it never should have been in the first place.  It’s insane!  One of the things I have to constantly remind her is that if she is going to bake, she has to clean up after herself.  She seems to think that means just putting everything in the sink for her sister to wash.  You see, they both have dishwashing jobs.  The youngest loads and unloads the dishwasher and the oldest washes the pots, pans, and other things that I don’t like to put in the dishwasher.  It is really just a constant source of arguments between the two of them. It’s a work in progress for sure.  

The second problem, and probably the biggest, is that we constantly have all these sweets lying around the kitchen.  I think I gain weight just smelling them baking.  Once she has a finished product, she insists that everyone in the house tries it right away.  We have to ooh and ahh over it or she thinks she is a failure.  Then, she is constantly shoving more and more of it at us because she knows she can’t bake something else until the current baked good is gone.  Her dad isn’t really into sweets all that much, so he will eat it that first time just to please her and then not again.  Her sister likes cookies but isn’t big on cake, so she will sometimes refuse to even try it.  This causes much angst too.  Basically, it leaves me, the one who has a weakness for cakes and cupcakes, eating it all.  I think I have gained like 10 pounds just from eating all her creations.  I don’t know what to do about this dilemma because I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I cannot keep eating all this myself.  We threw out almost an entire cake last night because I just couldn’t eat it.  I am hoping that she doesn’t notice, but I am sure she will.    

Despite the mess and the added calories to my diet these days, I really love that she is interested in baking.  It gives us a common ground. When I was 11 years old, one of my mom’s best friends taught me how to bake and decorate cakes.  By the time that I was 12, close family friends were actually paying me to make birthday cakes, and it is something that I still love to do.  As I have shared before, my youngest and I butt heads A LOT.  We are like oil and water 98% of the time.  Baking is one thing that we have sort of bonded over recently, and it gives us something to laugh and talk about.  I have really tried over the past couple of years to really work on our relationship.  Things have gotten way better than they used to be, and this has sort of been the icing on the cake (pun intended).  I really love that we have this in common.  I guess it is worth the extra calories if it means we aren’t yelling at each other all the time. Bring on the cake!

Anchored,

Sleep Deprived

Does anyone have some magical remedy for the inability to sleep? If so, can you pass it along? I think I am functioning on about 3 hours of sleep right now.  I believe I have said this before, but I am one of those people whose body requires 8-10 hours of sleep.  I always have.  I was the college kid who went to bed at 9:00 every night because I knew I couldn’t function without sleep.  In the last 5 years or so, I suddenly cannot sleep.  I can’t fall asleep, and I wake up and then can’t go back to sleep.  It is really killing my brain and contributing to my migraines.  I wish I knew what was causing it. I typically go to bed between 10 and 10:30 these days, but I just lay there tossing and turning for hours on end until I finally fall asleep. I hate it because I feel like every time I move around I am waking up my husband.  Last night, I am fairly certain that I fell asleep sometime after midnight as that is the last time I remember seeing while staring at the clock.  Then, a storm rolled through at 2:00 and the booming thunder woke me back up.  I dozed off and on for a few minutes at a time for the rest of the night.  I, of course, then got up with a migraine this morning.  I get out of bed most mornings feeling like I have been run over by a big truck.  body needs sleep.  My brain needs sleep.   

I have talked about my inability to fall asleep and stay asleep repeatedly with my doctors over the years and no one seems to have any answers or remedies for me.  Most of them are surprised that my migraine medicine doesn’t make me sleepy as that is an extremely common side effect, which is why I take it per their direction at night. Sometimes I wonder if it has the opposite effect on me, but I have been taking it way longer than I have had the sleep problems.  I am certainly not willing to stop taking it either.  Even though I still get migraines, they are nowhere near as extreme or as frequent as they are when I am off the meds. Some doctors have thought that my sleep problems were related to stress, but these days I am less stressed than I have ever been. If anything, I was way more stressed when I was working full time, staying up later, and getting up earlier. I guess maybe I was just more exhausted back then that sleep came easier.  I don’t know.  It just doesn’t make any sense to me.  Should I go back to running myself ragged so that I fall asleep from mental and physical exhaustion or continue to live a less stressed life and not sleep? I’m not really a fan of either option.  Now that I am thinking about it, it really has been since I stopped teaching that the sleep problems have started.  I just don’t understand that.  

I have tried multiple things including essential oils, blue light blocking glasses, reading, and so many other things.  Nothing seems to work.  There have even been times when I have taken Tylenol PM, and I still can’t sleep.  We also keep the house pretty cool at night and run a fan year-round because sometimes I get super hot when I am asleep and wake up sweating.  It is just so crazy to me that my body craves sleep so badly, yet it doesn’t come easily.  I think I got more sleep when I had infants than I do now!  Clearly I have chronic insomnia (you know how I love diagnosing myself). Seriously, a quick appointment with “Dr. Google” confirms my diagnosis. I have ALL of the symptoms.

  • Difficulty falling asleep at night-CHECK
  • Waking up during the night-CHECK
  • Waking up too early-CHECK
  • Not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep-CHECK
  • Daytime tiredness or sleepiness-CHECK
  • Irritability, depression or anxiety-CHECK
  • Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks or remembering-CHECK,CHECK, CHECK
  • Ongoing worries about sleep-CHECK

I just want to know how to fix it, preferably without adding any medications or taking any away. I’ve tried all the things that “Dr. Google” suggests, so now what? Maybe I need to see a sleep specialist.  Do those even exist? I feel like they do. I’m getting pretty desperate at this point. I just need sleep! 

Anchored and Sleep Deprived,

Allergic to the Sun???

To add to all of my weird aliments and crazy, strange allergies to the most random things, I now believe that I am allergic to the sun or maybe heat.  It’s hard to say.  It started about a month or so ago with a random rash on my hands.  One hand was worse than the other and it seemed to come and go.  It wasn’t like hives, though.  It was large red spots that seemed to spread out over my hands, fingers, and wrists (see pictures above). I had not been in the sun with this one, but I did notice it was worse after showering. Maybe I am now allergic to water too! Who knows?  I showed it to my doctor at my last appointment, and she thought it looked like an autoimmune rash and tested me for a ton of things that of course all came back negative.  This is actually the second time I have been tested for an autoimmune disorder in the last year because of a weird rash.  The first time (see above), I had these dark red marks all around my ankles.  My doctor said it looked vascular, which is why she thought autoimmune then too.  Anyway, when I went to the beach with my friends a little over a week ago, I got another weird rash. Within 5 minutes of being on the beach it appeared all over the lower part of my legs.  It looked partly like hives and partly not.  It is hard to describe, but it isn’t like the normal hives I get when I have allergic reactions to medicines.  There were larger red spots and then tiny dark red spots that almost looked like razor burn but not exactly.  I had not shaved that morning before going either.  Anyway, it was weird.  It started out on the lower half of my legs and then slowly moved up my leg until it was covering the whole leg on both legs by the second day we were there.  My friend likes to say that the rash was caused by COVID and that I was the original source of the virus that spread to the rest of the world.  She’s so funny, isn’t she?!?!? <insert eye roll> The rash stayed there for several days after I got back home before fading away.  I can only assume that it was either from the sun or the heat because I was not using a new sunscreen or any new lotions. Some of my friends thought that it might be a sun sensitivity caused by some of my medications, but I don’t think that it is either.  I have been on the same medications for years with no issues, and I’m pretty sure that isn’t a side effect of anything that I take anyway.  All I know what that I was walking around looking like I had some contagious disease.  I’m glad that we couldn’t go anywhere in public for anyone else to see.  

I actually had a virtual visit with my doctor this morning and showed her the pictures of my legs from the beach.  She is just as baffled as I am and has referred me back to my dermatologist to take have her take look.  I’m thinking that I may need to see an allergist as well. I have never had any type of allergy testing done, surprisingly.  Most of the things that I know I am allergic to are medicines, and those give me very obvious hives.   I did develop an allergy to adhesives a few years ago and cannot use Band-Aids or paper tape for any length of time without breaking out with a localized rash that makes me want to claw my skin off.  You don’t know how unfortunate that is until you have to have things cut out of your skin all the time and have to have bandages to keep those spots protected until they heal.  I won’t even get into all that today because it’s a lot.  Then, we all know the fiasco from a little over a year ago when I suddenly became allergic to some brands of hair dye and my head was on fire for days.  I guess my skin and body are just super sensitive to things. I have no idea! I wish I knew the causes and how to prevent these crazy reactions. Why must I have the most random things? It really is quite comical to sit around wondering what strange thing is going to happen to me next! Every doctor I have ever had says that I am a unique case and that they like trying to figure me out.  I guess I will just continue to be their test subject. Maybe I should donate my body to science when I am gone.  Haha!

Anchored,

Full Speed Ahead

Wow! June came sailing in with a bang for us.  We went from zero to sixty is just a few short days. To have had practically nothing on my calendar for the past 3 months, I have to say that my June has filled up pretty quickly.  We’ve got things like doctor appointments, hair appointments, remodeling, trips, and cheer starting back up all at once. It is crazy to think about how we went from the insanity that our lives were at the start of 2020 to the absolute standstill of the past 3 months.   I had hoped that we would slowly ease back into life and that things would not get to the level of insanity that we have been living for years.  Things haven’t fully opened yet, we are not even two weeks into phase 1 of the reopening, and we are already full speed ahead.  I should have known better than to think we would ease back into life.   That is just not how we operate in our family.  The past 3 months was a very much needed break from the extreme chaos, but I am ready to get moving again.  I am praying that full chaos mode doesn’t completely return, but I guess we will just have to wait and see.  

This week marked the end of the incredibly insane 2019-2020 school year for my kiddos.  Yesterday was their last day.  While I know the school year was extremely challenging for many and certainly wasn’t ideal, I think our school system did the best they could under the circumstances.  One of my children did better than the other with the situation, but that is just a reflection of their personalities and learning styles.  Overall, though, I think they both did ok considering how drastic everything changed.  I hope things look different in the fall, but at this point, no one really knows what it going to happen.  Today I am taking my oldest for an SAT evaluation so that we can get her started in an SAT prep course over the summer.  She isn’t too happy about taking a 4-hour test on her first day of summer break, but I am certain this will help set her up for taking the SAT next year.  It is crazy that we are having to thing about SATs and college already.  

Tomorrow marks a day I have been waiting on for weeks.  I finally get to go have my hair done, and I am soooo excited.  It should be interesting to see how it all works with wearing a mask while they try to color and then wash and cut my hair.  I can just see it getting in the way or getting dye all over it.  Honestly, I could care less, though.  I just can’t wait to get the weight off my head.  This thick hair has got to go! 

Another exciting event that has been added to my June calendar is my annual girls’ beach trip with my besties.  We usually go in May just after Mother’s Day every year, but it got canceled this year due to the virus.  There was a time when we thought we were going to have to miss it this year, but we were wrong! I could not be happier that we have been able to reschedule for later this month.  I am counting down the days.  That trip every year is a non-negotiable for me.  No matter what is going on in our crazy schedule, we make it so I can go.  This year is no different. It is cheer tryout weekend for my girls, but my husband has agreed to handle it all so I can go.   The beach trip is my time yearly to recharge, and I think I need it this year more than ever.  It is also often the only time I get to see some of my besties each year, too.  I don’t even know how many years the 9 of us have been doing this yearly beach trip, but it has to be close to 10 years.  We always kid that we will be little old ladies hobbling down to the beach years from now.  

If you have been following me for a while, you know that we have been slowly doing some remodeling in our new house.  We have already redone the hardwood floors and kitchen cabinets and a few other odds and ends.  This week we started the renovation of our fireplace that has been a sore sight for me.  I hated the ugly 1980’s green marble and gold trim from the moment we first looked at this house.  The remodel started on Monday and the green is officially GONE! New tile is going in today and I cannot wait to show you all the transformation.  It looks nothing like the outdated eye sore that was there before, and they aren’t even done.  

The final exciting thing that is filling up my June is that next week, both girls will be able to get back in the gym once a week.  I cannot tell you how excited they are to get back at it.  While they have made the best of their virtual workouts, I know they would much rather be in the gym in person with their coaches. It won’t look exactly the same as there is going to be no contact tumbling but anything is better than what they have been doing.  

Who knows what else is going to be added to out June calendar, but I am happy that things are somewhat getting back to normal around here. We are ready and it’s full speed ahead!

Anchored and Rambling,

Hair Talk, AGAIN!

Has it occurred to anyone besides me the unfairness of men’s hair vs women’s in the midst of this pandemic?  My husband was able to order a hair clipper (or whatever the proper term for them is) not long into the shutdown.  He then had me watch YouTube videos on how to use them and eventually insisted that I cut his hair.  As I mentioned before, I was a nervous wreck the first time, but I did it. It turned out alright, I guess.  I have since cut his hair a second time, which was a little easier but still not something I was comfortable with.  Fortunately, the worst-case scenario if I screw it up is that he can buzz his hair and move on. I have seen so many photos of men who have done just that to get through the last few months.  While it may not be the most ideal hair cut to shave most of it or all of it off, this is an option that is acceptable for men.  

Women on the other hand are not as simple when it comes to hair. I would never dream of having my husband cut my hair like I did for him no matter how many YouTube videos he watched!   Most of us would never even imagine cutting all of our hair off or giving ourselves a buzz cut. That is just not acceptable for most women. For women with cancer, losing their hair is one of the hardest parts of chemo.  That is because hair for women is a part of our identity.  It is sad that society puts so much weight into hair, but it is an unfortunate part of our reality as women.  Our hair and how it looks tells a lot about us.  It often gives people their first real impression of who we are. No matter what your hair says about you normally, it is likely screaming right now to have something done to it. We have all be stuck in the same boat with not being able to go to a salon for months, and I know many who are looking forward to that changing soon.

Color is another difference in both men and women when it comes to hair.  No one really thinks much of men going grey.  That is accepted and often considered a source of attraction and maturity.  On the other hand, as soon as a woman starts to go grey, she starts freaking out because grey hair is viewed as a sign of aging in women.  Consequently, it is something most of us try to hide. It is certainly a double standard, but it is reality. Some women are comfortable with coloring their own hair at home, butI don’t think I could ever attempt to do it myself. I would likely screw it up and ruin my hair.  

Most women that I know obsess over their hair and finding the color and style that best suits them.  Not being able to get our hair done has been one of the hardest parts of the pandemic shut down for many of us, including me.  I am one of those people that always has to have perfectly styled hair.  It is just my nature and a part of who I am.  As someone who prefers to have my hair cut every 4 weeks and colored every 8 weeks, not having anything done to my hair in over 13 weeks is making me crazy.  I am way overdue for a cut, and there is more grey hair showing than I care to admit.   I have shared many times before that I have extremely thick hair that grows crazy fast, which is why I prefer to not push it past 8 weeks between cuts. My hair is currently so big that it looks like a bush! Even my husband commented on how big it was the other night.  It’s not frizz. It’s just really big and poofy because it is so thick.  I need it thinned out even more than I need the length cut.  On the days like today when I wash and dry my hair, it is massive! I have to flat iron it as much as possible. I swear it grows throughout the day too.  I will flatten it in the mornings and then by the afternoon, it is massive again!  I watch all these hair videos that pop up in my social media all the time, and the person doing the demonstration is always talking about ways to get more volume to your hair.  I sit there in disbelief hoping someone will one day do a tutorial on how to get rid of volume. The point is, I NEED to get my hair done soon! 

Our governor had started with phase 1 of reopening the state for everyone except for those of us in the northern tip of the state back on May 15.  Our numbers here had not supported the reopening then.  This week the governor officially announced that we could begin phase 1 here starting tomorrow.  Following that announcement, I got the best call yesterday! It was from my hair stylist letting me know that they would be opening back up tomorrow with restrictions.  While some may think that I shouldn’t, I went ahead and scheduled an appointment.  Her first available appointment wasn’t for a couple of weeks, which is evidence that others have been scheduling them too.  Yes, I know that getting my hair done is a risk, but it is one I am willing to take at this point.  I have faith in the precautions that they are taking, and we will all be wearing masks.  We can’t all live inside in fear forever, and we have to get back to normal at some point.  For the most part, we will continue to stay home for now, but I think we will start to venture out little by little. This will be my first dip into the world again, and I cannot wait!  

Anchored,

New School Guidelines

Source of Graphic Unknown

I don’t know if you all have seen the new guidelines that were released this week by the CDC for reopening schools.  The above image started floating around on social media yesterday afternoon and into the evening.  I wasn’t sure if it was an accurate depiction of what the CDC was recommending or who created it, so I did a little digging on the CDC website myself.  While some of these things listed in this image are in accordance with the guidelines, this image doesn’t give the full story.  I highly recommend that you read what is on the website versus just going on this image alone. One thing that this graphic doesn’t state is that the actual CDC guidelines say, “when feasible.”  It seems to me that they are aware that some of these will be difficult for schools to implement, but this is still what they recommend. The very first paragraph of the guideline states, “Schools can determine, in collaboration with state and local health officials to the extent possible, whether and how to implement these considerations while adjusting to meet the unique needs and circumstances of the local community. Implementation should be guided by what is feasible, practical, acceptable, and tailored to the needs of each community.” 

Now, let’s get real.  As an educator to my core, I have to give my thoughts on all this. While I understand the importance of trying to follow these guidelines to keep everyone safe, they really are all completely unrealistic, not feasible, not practical, and not acceptable.  As a former teacher of 17 years, I can’t imagine for the life of me how schools would be able to follow the majority of these recommendations.  I know (as stated) these are only guidelines and not requirements at this point, but I just don’t see how schools will be able to open if this becomes what is expected when school resumes in the fall.  Have the members of the CDC that created these guidelines ever stepped foot into a public school?

Let’s take a look at a few of these and talk about why they are not realistic or even “feasible.” 

Cloth Face Coverings

“Teach and reinforce use of cloth face coverings.  Face coverings may be challenging for students (especially younger students) to wear in all-day settings such as school. Face coverings should be worn by staff and students (particularly older students) as feasible and are most essential in times when physical distancing is difficult. Individuals should be frequently reminded not to touch the face covering and to wash their hands frequently.”

Good luck with that one!  At least they recognize that this will be difficult for younger students.  I can promise you that preschoolers and most elementary students are not going to be able to keep a mask on all day without messing with it or constantly touching their faces. I honestly don’t even think my own middle and high school kids can do it. Teachers will be telling students to wash their hands all day instead of actually teaching. As a former special education teacher, many of my students had significant sensory issues and would not at all be able to wear a mask.  Plus, there are many people that don’t have access or the means to buy cloth face masks. Is the school system going to provide them if this becomes an expectation?

Modified Layouts

“Space seating/desks at least 6 feet apart when feasible.  Turn desks to face in the same direction (rather than facing each other), or have students sit on only one side of tables, spaced apart.”

This is a big one. There is absolutely no physical way that desks can be 6 feet apart.  There is not enough space in the classroom, enough classrooms, or enough teachers to make this happen.  Some schools have thousands of students.  Class sizes would have to be reduced to no more than 8-10 students to maintain 6 feet. While a reduced class size is a dream scenario for teachers, it isn’t physically possible because it would mean more classrooms and teachers are needed to be able to educate all students.  There is already a teacher shortage, and there is not enough money to build more classrooms or add enough trailers behind the buildings to accommodate this recommendation.  This also limits how teachers instruct and best practices for learning.  Group projects and hands-on learning will be nearly impossible. Teaching as we know it will be completely different and not allow for differentiated instruction.

“Create distance between children on school buses (g., seat children one child per row, skip rows) when possible.”

This is another one that is physically impossible due to a lack of bus drivers and buses.  School systems barely have enough buses and drivers to accommodate all students when they are packed in 3 to a seat in some areas.  There is no way they will have enough drivers and buses to meet these guidelines.  It would take the buses and drivers all day going back and forth to get all students to school.  This will also increase the cost for gas to do multiple runs, which school systems don’t have the money for.

Communal Spaces

“Close communal use shared spaces such as dining halls and playgrounds with shared playground equipment if possible; otherwise, stagger use and clean and disinfect between use.  Have children bring their own meals as feasible or serve individually plated meals in classrooms instead of in a communal dining hall or cafeteria, while ensuring the safety of children with food allergies.”

They are suggesting that schools not utilize the cafeteria and instead have students eat in the classroom.  While that is possible with bagged/prepackaged lunches or lunches from home (as suggested), it means that teachers will not get a break from their students at all.  They would have to remain with their students during lunch.  In many states it is the law that teachers get a 30-minute, duty-free lunch.  In addition, if schools were to close communal spaces like playgrounds and gymnasiums, it would mean that there will be no recess or physical education. Students NEED those things. They need opportunities for physical activity, especially at the elementary level. I just don’t see this as being a possible action. There is not enough staff or time to effectively clean and disinfect equipment if schools were to have these cafeterias and gyms open and stagger use. 

Identifying Small Groups and Keeping Them Together (Cohorting)

“Ensure that student and staff groupings are as static as possible by having the same group of children stay with the same staff (all day for young children, and as much as possible for older children). Limit mixing between groups if possible.”

This is probably the one that would negatively impact the schools the most. While it is more feasible in elementary schools to keep students with one teacher all day long, it would mean that specialist that teach subjects like art, physical education, and music won’t have jobs.  To expect elementary age students in particular to stay in one room all day long without any physical activity at all is setting them up for failure.  Their little developing brains need those breaks. 

I honestly do not see how it would even be possible in the middle and high schools.  Teachers are not equipped or certified to teach all subjects at these levels if students were to stay with one teacher.  It is not realistic to think a high school Science teacher can teach English, Calculus, World History, Foreign Language, and Elective Classes!  If systems instead tried to create cohorts that travel together between teachers to limit exposure to other students, I believe it will be difficult to find enough groups of students that are all taking the exact same 7 courses. I can see this being a scheduling nightmare, as well as, limiting the amount and variety of courses offered to students. 

As you can see if you read the whole document on the CDC website, there are even more recommendations on the list than the few I just briefly covered.  There are many more reasons why the majority of these recommendations are completely unrealistic and not at all “feasible.” I have only given a few that popped into my head right away when I read the guidelines. If these guidelines do eventually become necessary requirements to keep people safe, I don’t see how students will ever be able to go back to school.  Online learning will have to become the norm.  I really am all for keeping everyone safe and healthy, but I am also all for being realistic.  No one really knows how this is all going to play out, but the one thing I do know is that the education system is going to be forever changed.  

Anchored,