Friday, August 12, 2011

Big Kid School

My kids start school in less than two weeks. Big kid school. Actually, elementary school, but they started calling it "Big Kid School" back in May and haven't yet been convinced that elementary is the appropriate name.

My kids will be riding a school bus. They got to ride one for field trips when they were in VPK, and they loved it. But now they'll be riding one almost every single day, to and from school. They're in heaven.

Last night their school held an informal ice cream social, so that new families and those with kindergarten kids would be able to tour through the school and meet some of the staff. It was very nice...the kids had gone on a tour on a field trip in VPK, but they really got excited even more this time around. And of course, the ice cream didn't hurt, either! I was very excited to see about a dozen familiar faces...with any luck, some of those kids will be in Megan or Jeremy's class.

Yes, Megan and Jeremy will be in separate classes this year. I had hoped to keep them together, but I have been talking to a lot of teacher friends lately and the general consensus was that separating them now would be a big benefit for them and for their teachers. I called the school at the beginning of this week and requested the switch to different classrooms, so for the first time in forever, they will not be together for most of the day. They'll ride the bus together, and they might get to see each other at lunch or recess, but the rest of the time they'll be making their own friends in their own classes! I'm a wreck, but I know that it's only me being the typical protective mom when I feel like this is not right. I'll be fine after school begins and they get settled in.

But I can guarantee that I'll cry on the first day, even though I'm pretty sure they won't!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The "G" Word

OK, so it's not a "BAD" word, but these days, gluten is not something I like to discuss. Three weeks ago I got the results back from my doctor, and he said I would need to be retested in three the meantime, I am now on a gluten-free diet. Gluten. Of all things, this is what gives me issues? Really? The funny thing is that I didn't have textbook symptoms for gluten intolerance. The only reason I was even tested was because the month before that they diagnosed me with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, and apparently gluten can be an issue for people with that sometimes (HT is an autoimmune disorder).

What I've learned in the last three weeks is that gluten is in just about everything. Well, not really, but it sure feels like it! Gluten is found in products made from wheat, barley or rye. It's in a lot of processed foods. I figured I'd really have trouble not being able to eat cookies, or brownies, or cake at birthday parties. But what I REALLY miss more than almost anything else is bread. Plain ol' sandwich bread, so I can have a PB&J sandwich (which before now was a traditional lunch item around here!). I've been eating lots of salad, and for anyone who really knows me, they understand that this is impressive...because I really don't like salad! I adore baked potatoes and they are my saving grace at lunchtime now. I celebrate when I find gluten-free items in the grocery store I think I can actually bring myself to eat. Fresh fruit's always a valid option! I'm even getting really good at reading labels. I've also made Betty Crocker's gluten-free cookies and brownies from the store-bought mix. They aren't bad, but they definitely aren't as good as the "real" thing, either. I told Steve the other day that I finally figured out what makes food taste so good...gluten!

It's not something I plan to bring up at parties. I actually went to a jewelry catalog party at my neighbor's house Thursday night...she was serving wine and a number of awesome goodies. Baklava was the one that really made me feel like crawling under a table and crying, but I am proud that over the last three weeks, I've been able to resist all things with gluten! For someone who has NEVER been on a real diet, I've actually surprised myself (and my mother, too, since she admitted the other day that she couldn't believe I'd made it this far). I was getting ready to come back home from the jewelry party and my neighbor said, "I didn't see you eat anything! Fix yourself a plate to take home!" and I had to politely explain that I couldn't have gluten. She felt bad, but I told her it wasn't necessary. I can stand to skip certain things, that's for sure. :)

The doctor told me something very important when he diagnosed me with HT and then mentioned the possibility of gluten issues. He also has HT, and celiac disease (which is what they will test me for when I go back to see him in September, based on my next round of test results). He said, "You can choose to manage this, or it can manage you." I think that was probably the best thing he could have said to me. I don't know if I could ever diet just for weight loss (though goodness knows I could use it). I really don't think I could do a "fad" diet either. But I know this is for the best, for my future and my health, and that really does make all the difference. My kids deserve to have two healthy, responsible parents. I am is day 22...and I am learning that I am a lot stronger than I thought I was. Even though I still miss bread!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Catching Up...Again

I have not blogged in almost three months!!! I don't have many followers, so I doubt the world has stood still since then, of course. :) But things have been quite crazy since April.

In May we had Mother's Day, Relay For Life, and the annual Gala for the Flagler Health Care Foundation. I take photos at the Gala each year and it's a "work" weekend for me and Steve, but we always have a lot of fun.

In June, the kids graduated from VPK. I was so proud...they had a really cute graduation ceremony in the multi-purpose room at their school, and they had a slideshow with pictures from throughout the school year. The kids sang songs and did a couple of skits, reciting the months of the year, days of the week, the alphabet and other fun little things. We left the very next day for a quick trip to Orlando, which was so much fun. I'll make a separate post sometime soon to show some fun pictures from that trip.

June feels like it flew by in a blur. I cannot believe we're already in JULY! We had a great time at the splash park with some friends on Sunday, and then yesterday was the 4th of July and we spent the evening with friends again...there's nothing that beats watching the fireworks show over the St. Augustine bayfront. Annual traditions are such wonderful things, and that's one of my favorites!

The kids begin Kindergarten next month (wow, that feels weird to type...for so long it's been "in August"). They are SO ready for it to start now, but I have to keep reminding them that it's summer and it's time to have fun and relax! Time flies way too quickly these days.

I'll close here with a pic from the fireworks trip last night. It's one of the few pictures of all four of us that we've had taken in recent months, and I'm so glad my friend Becky (Jeremy's godmother) was there to take it for me, since we so rarely get a decent picture of all four of us! :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Relay For Life

We are less than five weeks away from the Relay For Life of St. Augustine. I feel like it's been forever since I blogged about anything...probably because it kind of has been forever! :) But the Relay is something very important to me, so I thought I'd post a quick blog about why.

The Relay is the signature event for the American Cancer Society. Steve and I have been participating for more than 10 years now...this year makes 11. We started because the hospital where we worked had a team that participated, and we got hooked on how fun the event is. There are six different events held in St. Johns County, but we have always participated directly with the St. Augustine location (there's also Pedro Menendez, World Golf Village, Bartram Trail, Ponte Vedra and now Nocatee). Teams set up campsites around a track (ours is at St. Augustine High School) and from noon on a Saturday until 6 a.m. on Sunday, they participate in the wild and crazy activities. The main idea is to have someone walking laps on the track at all times during the 18 hours. Each campsite has a fundraiser or two (or five) planned. For example, this year we're selling tickets for a chance drawing and the winner will get a 32" flat-screen television.

At noon when the event kicks off, the first lap is walked by cancer survivors and their caregivers. It's so amazing to see how many people have been affected by cancer...too often we focus on the negative, counting those we have lost. We need the reminder that there are those who survive cancer and make every day count. They are the ones we celebrate! The most powerful realization I get every year when I watch that first lap is that cancer sees no affects the young, the old, men and women, people of all nationalities.

At 9 p.m. (for our Relay events, anyway...your mileage may vary), the luminaries that surround the track are lit. Each paper bag bears the name of someone who has survived cancer or someone who has been lost to cancer. The candles inside are lit and the lights on the track are dimmed. We walk in silence around the track, listening to the PA system while someone speaks the names of those recognized. Each year the list gets's a scary thing to realize that next year, more names will be added. But in the bleachers there are luminaries on one side of the track that spell out the word HOPE and on the other side spell out the word CURE. Because that's what we're there for...we hope for a cure so that one day cancer will not be such a threat.

Steve's grandfather had lung cancer. I don't know many of the details about what he went through. But my grandmother also had lung cancer. I was 13 when she was diagnosed, and I remember being so scared that she would die from it. She had drastic surgery and part of her lung was removed. She was in remission for years. She developed emphysema and eventually passed away due to complications. Cancer wasn't what killed her, but it compromised her system in a way that she couldn't recover fully. She also had several battles with skin cancer (partly due to the fact that she was a sun bather, and partly due to natural heredity). We write our grandparents' names on a luminary each every year and it gives me mixed feelings when it comes time to watch them be lit. But I know that we are doing our part to make sure that others might have a better chance when it comes to cancer.

There are a lot of technical details about Relay that I won't post here, because my main purpose is just to inform others about what Relay is and why we participate. Steve and I started Relaying each year in memory of our grandparents, but we have watched as friends and other acquaintances have gone through cancer battles of their own, or with their family's devastating to realize how many people cancer affects. Our goal is that one day, Megan and Jeremy will not even have Relay each year, because a cure will be found. It's a lofty goal, but we pray for it each year!

If you'll be in the St. Augustine area the weekend of May 14-15, let me know...we'd love to have you stop by and visit our team's campsite. :) The more the merrier!!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Six Weeks

It's been almost six weeks since my last post...whoa. You don't realize how much time flies until you look at timestamps! :)

Things have been moving along quickly around here, and we're just doing the best we can to keep up. The kids and I are getting into a great routine with them in school. I've even started to get them more involved in things when we get home in the afternoons...they are now responsible for taking their snack boxes out of their backpacks and putting them on the kitchen counter, and putting their homework folders on the dining room table for me. Megan's new favorite thing to do is choose her snack for each day. Jeremy would be happy with goldfish crackers or fruit snacks every day of the week, but Megan has been closely watching her classmates and taking mental notes on what kind of variety they have. I do my best to get a few different things and then I've got to break out the reverse psychology every now and then ("Honey, I know you want a banana, but we don't have any. I guess you don't want these grapes since you had your heart set on a banana..." and then she jumps on the idea of grapes). It's such a minor issue that I don't mind's actually kind of funny.

Two weeks ago the kids got to go on a field trip to the Alligator Farm. I went with them (of course!). My "big" camera was out of commission (the lens was in the shop), so I had to take my "little" camera instead. In keeping with my "then" and "now" photos, I thought I'd post this...the kids and I went to the Alligator Farm in February 2008, nearly three years ago, and the difference is pretty funny after three years!



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Half a Decade!

Yesterday was Megan and Jeremy's FIFTH birthday. My kids are five. I cannot wrap my head around's a great feeling, but there's a very small part of me that is sad because I know they're really out of their "baby" stage now. Half a decade of being a mom has taught me that they're ready to move on long before I am. But I'm proud of who they are. They're open and friendly. They're talkative. They love to laugh and smile. Sure, we have moments when I want to hide and pretend I don't know them (what mom doesn't? LOL)...but that's normal. It's part of the package!

At the end of the day, I know one thing. They are my kids, and I am proud, honored and blessed to be their mom.

Happy birthday, Megan and Jeremy!

"When I count my blessings, I count you twice!" -Irish Proverb

Friday, November 26, 2010

Giving Thanks - 2010 Edition

Last year I was "challenged" to write something I'm thankful for every day in the month of November in preparation for Thanksgiving. In 2009, I didn't get started on the first day...I actually only found out about the challenge a little more than a week into the month. This year, I started the challenge again, but this time did so on the first of the month!!!

I posted something different each day on Facebook as my status update, and I kept track of them in a Word document to make posting on my blog a little easier. It was so fun this year...several friends who noticed my project started participating, too. And I had someone leave me a comment on my Facebook page that she looked forward to seeing my update each day because it helped to remind her of all the things she is thankful for in her life, too. We live in a world that is non-stop action, it seems like. Taking time to appreciate the little things is so refreshing! It's given me yet another reminder that it's the people, not necessarily the things, in life that make living so worthwhile.

Here's my list for 2010!

Day 1 of Counting My Blessings: I am thankful for my wonderful husband. Happiness really is being married to your best friend.

Day 2 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for Megan. She's older than her brother by less than a minute, but she never lets us forget that she's his big sister. There's always a smile on my face when she hugs me and tells me I'm her best friend. :)

Day 3 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for Jeremy. He is a resilient and fun little boy with a grin that melts my heart. When I tell him he's my favorite son, he responds that I'm his favorite mommy. That's my boy!!!

Day 4 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for our home. We've lived here almost nine years's not fancy, or large, or "perfect." But it's not just a house really is a HOME. I am thankful for a roof over our heads and a safe place to raise our children.

Day 5 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for my parents. They have always taught my brother and I to treat others the way we would like to be treated. They have given us unconditional love and devotion. It's amazing to watch my parents with their six grandchildren and know how lucky these kids are to have a Grammie and Grandpa who love them so much, too!

Day 6 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for the cooler weather (however long it may last!).

Day 7 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for family members who are like friends...and friends who are like family members. :)

Day 8 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for my children's VPK teachers. They have amazing amounts of patience and they make school "fun" for all of the kids in the class. Megan and Jeremy consistently come home with happy stories about the things they have learned, and I enjoy seeing how much they've grown in just a couple of months.

Day 9 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for my brother, Kris. We've been there for each other through thick and thin, and I have a lot of great memories from our childhood together. He's an awesome uncle to my kids, and he's given me a sister-in-law, two nieces and two nephews to love and adore, too!

Day 10 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for the gift of laughter. Whether it's because of a joke told by a friend, something silly the kids have said or done, or just the realization that I've done something silly myself, there really is no better medicine than laughter.

Day 11 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for all of our country's military men and women who have served or are currently serving. Freedom isn't free, but I'm so glad to live in the land of the free and the home of the BRAVE. Happy Veterans Day, everyone!

Day 12 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for my friend Wanda, because she had a medical emergency earlier this year and has made an amazing recovery. She's my "walkin', talkin' miracle friend," and I am so grateful for her. She's a fantastic wife, mother and friend, and I love every chance I get to hang out with her!

Day 13 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for things that remind me of my grandparents. They've been gone for a while now (14 years and 12 years), but every now and then something happens that brings great memories back for me. They were fantastic people and I miss them so much!

Day 14 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for the opportunity to celebrate with a friend who is welcoming her first baby next month. She has a lot of adventures ahead of her and I am so excited for her and her husband!

Day 15 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for my Flagler Hospital family. I left my job almost five years ago to stay home with the twins, but there are still so many happy, smiling faces and I feel like I am back "home" whenever I go there to visit. :)

Day 16 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful that something as simple and easy as pizza night with my family can make me so happy. :)

Day 17 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for the love of God, who knows what even our smallest hopes are and takes care of us. We may not always understand why things happen (or why other things don't happen), but there are reasons for everything.

Day 18 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for my health and the health of my family. We can handle the occasional cough or sniffle, or the minor backache or headache...there are so many others who are facing so much worse.

Day 19 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for the opportunity to spend time with a friend/dorm neighbor from college. It's been over 10 years since I've seen her, and I can't wait 'til she arrives this evening!

Day 20 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for a busy schedule, because it means I'm rarely bored (even though downtime is sometimes nice, too!).

Day 21 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for my camera and the many photos we've taken of the kids over the course of five years. They're turning five just three weeks from tomorrow and I have so much fun taking a walk down memory lane whenever I get a chance...I can't believe how fast time has flown!

Day 22 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for friends who call just to say hello. I can get so caught up in everyday responsibilities (like raising kids, work, errands, etc.) and it's nice to just hear a friendly voice!

Day 23 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for the crazy things the kids come up Megan's "epiphany" that her teeth are kind of shaped like candy corn, or Jeremy's plan to be an astronaut who plays basketball in space. Life can be taken too seriously sometimes...they remind me to lighten up once in a while!

Day 24 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for the opportunity to work from home, because it's allowed me to stay home with my kids for the last (almost) five years. With Steve's schedule being so random (working every other weekend, switching from days to nights to days every two months), it's nice to be able to be home when he’s home, too!

Day 25 of Counting My Blessings: Today I am thankful for the opportunity to count my blessings for the last 24 days! I'm thankful for all my friends, for my family, and for the chance to get together with loved ones today for wonderful meals. I'm thankful that there are always blessings to be found, especially when you really start watching for them. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!