9/11 - Teaching Togetherness With Kids

Many of you know that I work with kids in the foster care system a few times a month.  I get to develop educational lessons with a heavy focus in current events and art.


Suck it Janie and Jack, There is a New Designer in Town!

I have to say, I am pretty proud of my latest creation.

1.  I love pleated ruffles
2.  I made this with my own pattern
3.  I figured out how to double stitch
4.  It actually fits Gigi (my biggest accomplishment)


Recipe Management - Great Solution!

Hey ya'll......

I love the idea of electronic data storage and time management tools.  I still enjoy tangible management as well.  Those who know me well know of my obsession with textures.  Paper, fabrics, silky smooth to the touch - I love it.


Follow Up: How I Lowered my Blood Pressure in Six Weeks

I have the secret!  I lowered my blood pressure from 140/90 (average) to 127/80 in six weeks!  You will never believe how I did it!

Diet and Exercise.

No secret.  Plain and simple......if you think you are eating healthy, and the bulk of the items in your diet have a shelf life of over a month,  you probably are not. 

After much research, here is what helped me..........

  • No caffeine after 7:30 am
  • Total sodium of each meal no higher then 700mg (This is KEY).  Less than 650 is best.
  • Increase raw veggies and fruits
  • Drink 90 ounces of water per day
  • Red meat only1-2 times per week (hard when you have a freezer full of Organic beef in your garage!)
  • Limit desserts and sugar
  • Replace half sugar in coffee with Truvia
  • Run like Forrest Gump.  7-9 miles per week over 3 days
  • Cross train 2 days - challenge different muscle groups
  • Stretch every day!
  • Weight training
For me, five days in the gym for 45 minutes - 1 hour is the only way I can lose.  I am thinking 4 days will be great for maintenance.

The results since 1/10/11:
  • 15 pounds lost
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lowered my running time - from a 11.30 minute mile to 9.00 minute mile.  Two miles in 18.32.
  • Placed second in a 5K
So there you have it.  I am still a work in progress, but for a 36 year old who gave birth to 3 children, I think that is pretty satisfying!


I figured it out. Be good to yourself.

So it begins.......

I have hit the point of my life where I need medical intervention.  I am 36 years old and I am faced with the fact that I may have to be put on blood pressure medicine to regulate my overachieving blood pressure.  My heart is "Type-A" just like my personality.

Not to bore you, but my BP (Blood Pressure) has always been 120/80 if not slightly below.  When I was diagnosed with Pregnancy Induced Hypertension with each pregnancy, my body has adapted this new high pressure as a norm.  I have had consistent high readings, so now we (my team of Geriatric Specialists and myself) are going to give a natural approach one-last-try.

The plan is low sodium, low cholesterol, low caffeine.  Fat chance. No pun intended!

When you have to watch everything you eat, it is amazing how much junk is in the food we eat.  I am amazed at how much sodium our food is packed with in today's supermarket.  I am not on my soapbox, I just want to admit that I typically paid attention to fat content, carbs, sugar and if it had High Fructose Corn Syrup.  If you are eating low sodium choices, odds are the rest is going to follow.  Healthy choices are typically low in everything if it's low in sodium.

Cholesterol is not that hard to control, plus I have high fiber diet to clean out my stressed arteries.  My cholesterol was not an issue last time - although my "bad" cholesterol was low, but my "good" cholesterol is high (must be all the avocados and nuts).

Caffeine - now I drink 12oz of caffeine per day compared to 60oz before......I know, crazy.  I drink water and I like it.

Exercise - well, I am not going more than FIVE days per week.  I run 3 days a week, cross train 2 days per week and lift weights and do ab work 5 days per week.  That is already under control.

Not only did I learn what my fate could be, I also learned another life lesson.  While reflecting on my life choices, I clearly see how our choices effect our body over time and not overnight. 

My advice for my children is this:

"you do things in your twenties which will affect your thirties and the choices you make in your thirties affect the rest of your life".

It would be a good idea to make smart choices in your twenties - but that is truly a time to figure things out and form a real sense of self.  In your thirties - get it together.  Start to live your life as your "future self".

When I lived in San Francisco, I was checking out at a grocery store (buying Hamburger Helper I'm sure) and an older woman was checking out behind me and after light chit-chat she said she was 89 years old.  I asked her what her secret was.  She said "I walk every day and I only eat organic food". 

What the heck is the deal with organic Food?  This was 2002, and I was in San Francisco of all places and organic was not that well known.  Consumers were still skeptical about the organic label and unsure if it was just an excuse to charge more.  I didn't know at the time, but that little old granny was going to fill a void that had been open.

Twenty years ago I watched my Grandma have a heart attack in front of me.  I was six years old.  I was playing in the living room and she was in the back bedroom of our ranch-style home when she had her heart attack.  I remember looking passively and not thinking it was a big deal.  I watched the paramedics come in and place her on a gurney.  I remember the oxygen cannula.  I remember that the paramedics were men.  I remember her telling one that he had beautiful, blue eyes.  I remember the broken breathing patterns and the moaning.  She passed away shortly after.  I didn't realize what an affect it would have on me 18 - 20 years later.  I have never felt the affects of that day until I started dealing with my own health issues.

So the granny I met in San Francisco may have given a little foreshadow to what my doctor and I are attempting right now.  I can break the cycle and hope that I can give my kids a healthy guide for a healthy heart.  Back to basics.

This blog is a selfish act to heal thy soul if you will, but if you can take any message away it's to "be kind to yourself".  Your grandkids will thank you later!


Back to Basics......Craft Competition 2010!

Many of you are familiar with the annual craft competition my family participates in every year on Christmas Eve.  The anticipation and build up is the best part.....usually around September we say things like "Where can I get 20 light bulbs?  I need them for my craft this year...."  This leaves the other party wondering what the heck the craft could be that needs 20 light bulbs.  There is never a clear winner, we can't all agree on the same one.  We ask guests to decide and they are all to kind to award someone that title.

Without further ado......

Christmas Craft Competition 2010

The Matriarch
This would be a Christmas Card holder.  Unfortunately some of the clothespins fell off......but cute nonetheless.  The good news is it is enough slots for all the cards we got this year (ahem....).  Mimi was proud of her creation.

Matt and Bri Bri
If you cannot see the detail, they hand punched the sillhouette with little holes in sheet metal.  Overachievers.

Kay Kay and Nafin
One of my personal favorites, however I think we all lost brain cells because of the paint fumes.  Her unborn child may have a third arm.  It is a magazine tree, spray painted gold.  It was folded and sprayed with precision and felt very stable.  A for effort.

Yours Truly

My first attempt was a snow globe - FAIL.  Even after letting the paint cure for 50 hours, it seeped in the water.  The day before I came up with a great idea to exacto knife cut an image and lettering out of cardstock, mount text from a book behind it and give everyone a different one.  Mine says "Peace" includes a dove and the mounted text is out of MLK Jr's biography.  Fitting for the week!

Here is a reminder of last years:

My hot cocoa tray
KayKay's ribbon wreath

Matt and Bri Bri's Snowman hat centerpiece
Mimi's Triple Ho

I looked for a few years back....project for another day.

I am already thinking of next years.....dun dun dun.....


Luck or Money - What if you don't have either?

Following up to my last post about the education lottery, here is the latest.

There are 4 types of Kindergartens:
1)  Magnet - application/lottery/testing
2)  Public
3)  Private
4)  Parochial

We applied to two schools that involve a lottery system.  The lottery is only for a spot for your child to "test" (a state which has low test scores tests Kindergartners, go figure). Yadda, yadda, yadda we got picked for one.  Jack tested and he liked the "teachers" he met.  He was excited to see friends leaving as he was arriving.  This looked promising.  It is a Math and Science school which for him is perfect.  He is already excelling at math which is not surprising since his Grandpa is a Senior Editor of College Math Textbooks.  He gets numbers and counted to 1000 the other day. 

Saturday we got the news in the form of a letter:  "....although your son meets the requirements, we do not have a spot for him at this time".

Lovely.  We were sad primarily because this school may have been the right choice for him.  Now rewind two days....

I attended the actual "lottery" of the Magnet school.  More out of curiosity then anything.  There were many people there who knew each other and the generic conversation that filled the lobby was a reminder of how nervous the parents were.

Approximately 280 students applied.  Those names are assigned a number and the number gets randomized in a spreadsheet.  They test twenty-five and enroll ten (from our category).  For entertainment purposes, they announce the first fifty names.  After I heard only one familiar name, I walked up to the front to see where Jack was ranked - #140.  So, if 115 families pull out, we may have a chance to TEST.

Plan C, D, and E are being executed.

I was okay with not making the lottery, but my math whiz five year old not getting in the math school really rubbed me the wrong way.  It left me feeling defeated and that my hands were tied.

This leads me to believe that in under performing school systems, the only individuals who have an increased chance at a competitive education is those who have money for private school (which locally is 6K - 14K per school year) or luck.  Pure luck.  We did everything in our power to ensure that Jack got off to the right start.  I even concentrated really hard on my SASE making sure my address was written to perfection.  The ladies at the UPS Store helped me package up my "files" to send in.  They were excited for us.  But, dumb luck it is.

So now we are revisiting the public school which many Charleston natives claim is "great", and that has been confusing.  Friends of ours calls the main strip out here "the tracks".  We live on the right side of the tracks, and the school is on the "wrong side".  The construction of a Golf Course community was halted due to the economy which would have made the area very desirable.  Instead the school has been on lockdown twice this past year due to gun activity in a close perimeter to the school, the test scores have been skewed because the school has a higher population of Special Education students whose test scores factor in, and 15 out of 25 kindergarten kids could not pick out a rabbit during animal bingo.

Jack can pick out a rabbit and tell you what his diet consists of, their native habitat and closest animal relative (I am stretching it).  I am not trying to "brag", it's just that we know he needs a challenge, I am not sure he can get it there.

I cannot afford three private school tuition.  The Magnet schools were a great option.  So now that our luck ran out AND we don't have an unlimited amount of tuition funds stashed, we have to entertain the fact that we may just send our child to the school that requires the least effort to enter and may offer him less then he could have gotten if our number was called.

This leads me to a quote that I posted on Facebook the other day which was "If you think the grass is greener on the other side, then take care of your own lawn and make it greener".  This quote reinforces the idea that if we do put Jack in the local public school that we stay close to his journey, make suggestions about his curriculum, be involved and supplement him at home with what others may be learning in other schools, not just in South Carolina, but out of state as well.

There are may parents in the same boat as us and they are going to look at schools they did not even consider prior to the "Week of Rejection".  The population explosion of 2005/2006 is making an impact this year.

Anyways, I am at a crossroads with our next move.  I have more school visits and more families to "poll" and we will decide.  I just wanted to update from the last post for those who have been following this side show.
Please share thoughts or words of optimism with me.  I am open to hearing others thoughts!

Thanks for reading!