A Journey with Type 1 Diabetes

Today I’m excited to have my first guest blogger share a story that’s near and dear to her heart. Kim Gordon and I met in college and were music majors together. Our friendship has only grown stronger in the many years that have passed since graduation, and I’m excited to introduce her to you today as she sheds some light on a health issue that affects so many.

JDFR 

Most of you will not be surprised by the fact that I have Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). (Although I am shocked when people I have known for a couple years notice my insulin pump for the first time.) I want to share my T1D Journey with you. This coming September will mark 25 years since my diagnosis. I have signed-up to participate in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) One Walk on October 21, 2017, in honor of my journey with diabetes. I count it a celebration because the Lord has sustained my life throughout this time, and He will continue to do so as I journey on.

As you read my story, please do not feel sorry for me! That’s not the point! My disease is treatable. Tough? OH yes, sometimes so frustrating and hard to figure out. But I want you to understand where I’ve been and how far I’ve come: to see how far medical science has helped change my life. I was in high school when I realized that if I had been born just 50 years earlier, I would probably have died very young and quite possibly very painfully. I want you to understand the life of a Type 1 Diabetic so that you can see why finding a cure is so important to me and many others!

My journey began in 1992. I was just living my 7-year- old life, preparing to start 2 nd grade, and enjoying one last summer hoorah with my family. We were headed to Savannah, GA for a few days of fun before school started back. My sister and I were prone to UTI’s and, low and behold, on the way down, I started showing signs of yet another UTI (with no public restrooms to be found along the country backroads). As any wonderful parents would do, mine stopped and purchased some cranberry juice to help rid my system of bacteria. I chugged it for a few days until we could get back home to see a doctor. I was also thirsty non-stop, but this made sense with all the sugar in fruit juice, right? So, we made it back home and started a new school year. On Friday of the first week back, I was still just not feeling well. My mom worked at my school, so she called my dad to come get me and take me to the doctor. Her “motherly instincts”—and, I believe, the Lord—led her to have our family practitioner, Dr. Pennington, test my blood sugar. Just as she suspected, my blood sugar was a good bit elevated: two-hundred and something. I don’t really recall what happened right after that discovery, but what I do
remember, was that, before long I was being admitted to the children’s floor at NEGA Medical Center.

Unfortunately, as my mom likes to point out on a regular basis: WE HAD NO CLUE WHAT WE WERE DOING! I was 7 years old, due to turn 8 the following month. We didn’t know what a Pediatric Endocrinologist was—at least I certainly didn’t, and we didn’t have Google back in those days. We were paired with an Endocrinologist in Gainesville who was not accustomed to juvenile patients. He admitted me to the hospital—something we later learned was not necessary. I wasn’t comatose, or even close. Again, we didn’t know. So I spent a night or 2 or 3 in NEGA learning about counting fats (yes, fats!), giving myself shots, “sticking my finger” (aka testing my blood sugar), and living life with diabetes. Whatever that meant!? (I also learned, at about 1 o’clock in the morning—when I couldn’t sleep because I was home sick—that men could be nurses, too! Ask my mom sometime how embarrassed she was during this discovery of mine!)

The evening I was discharged from the hospital, we immediately went to join my sister and the rest of my dad’s family for a cook-out. People felt badly for me of course, and with me already being the baby of the family, I was no stranger to being petted and doted on. I vividly remember my mom silently scolding someone who told me “sorry” to my face. I honestly didn’t realize that it wasn’t very common for 2 nd graders to have diabetes. It was just normal to me because my parents and the doctor always presented my situation in a very matter-of- fact way. And the reality is, that mindset has probably spared my life in many ways. My parents supported me tremendously, but diabetes was never an excuse to seek unnecessary attention or exceptions. Which leads me to my next point: I have always been supported on this journey.

The greatest support of all has come from my parents. My mom likes to refer to herself as “The Old, Mean Mama”. I didn’t fall into pity parties often. I have always been happy-go- lucky and enjoyed life to the fullest, but there were some tough times. I remember in 2 nd grade a boy laughed at me because I couldn’t eat the icing on a cupcake. Not a big deal, but when you’re already frustrated with your situation, it’s like the last straw. After a nice, long talk, my Old Mean Mama told me I had a few minutes to cry and then move on. Because, “Kimberly, if you cry and feel bad for yourself will you still have diabetes? Yes, you will. So cry and get it out, and move on with life!” Little did I know, she promptly
went to her room, shut the door, and had a good cry herself. My dad always put on a supportive face in front of me, but later in my life I have learned that he also struggled a good bit himself. He told my mom that I wouldn’t have to “do this forever”: meaning finger pricks, shots, etc. After all, “It’s 1992, Susan! There is something they can do!” Well, it’s now 2017, and I’m still doing a good bit of the same therapies.  I can remember my mom fussing with insurance companies over the phone, getting up at all hours of the morning – every 3 months – to drive me to Egleston for my check-ups so she could get
back to work for half a day, searching for insulin in the middle of the night in a town with NO 24 -hour pharmacies, searching for strange sizes of batteries for my first insulin pump, being chased by a cop when she was speeding to my aid in 6 th grade, making-up and altering recipes to be “sugar-free” so I could enjoy close to normal treats, and everything in-between.

I hate to start giving shout-outs because I know I’ll miss people. To my sister, who has always been my defender, comforter and second mom (only when she feels she HAS to be, which she still does today), has been willing to support and help me in any way she can. Well, almost. I don’t think she has ever put a needle through my skin. She has always come to my rescue with low blood sugar in the middle of the night and short-lived pity parties…even at the age of 32. (Sorry, Mama!) There were pharmacists and pharmacy techs who ordered the uncommon meds I had to try. My 3 rd Grade teacher, Mrs. Burns, kept “50/fifty” candy so that I could have similar treats with the rest of my peers. To the school secretary, Mrs. Nancy, in 4 – 6 th grades, who kept all my supplies in her office and would call my mom and give her updates to my high and low blood sugar surprises…something she certainly was not trained or paid to do. My church leaders who took me on trips without fearing the worst. My family and my friends’ families who trusted me to take care of myself and invited me to sleep-over and on trips, making sure
they had diet drinks and sugar-free treats for me.

The greatest part of my writing this is to give credit and glory where it is due! Ultimately, to my Heavenly Father, who has sustained me these 25 years…well, really all 32 ½. I have not once passed out due to low blood sugars (in fact I have woken up from a dead sleep and registered 12), I have never been in a coma or even close—not even an episode of ketoacidosis. I currently have no known damage to my eyes, veins/arteries in my legs or near my heart. I also have no known nerve damage in my extremities or anywhere in between. I am blessed—blessed beyond measure! And I do not boast in my own power and strength, because I know that these are all gifts from the Lord!

Has diabetes changed my life? Oh, yes! In many ways! If you did not have the pleasure of knowing me as a young child, you should know I was a QUIET child—especially in public. Shocking, I know! I spoke only when spoken to (because my parents wouldn’t let me be rude), and most of the time I was a nervous and easily frightened child. I was fairly obedient, and always wanted to follow the rules—i.e. didn’t talk a lot out of turn or when I was in class. Again, shocking! So if you ask my parents, especially my Mama, they will tell you that diabetes truly turned me into a different person. My mom says I haven’t stopped talking since we left NEGA on Labor Day in 1992. Sorry, not sorry! I had to learn to speak up for my needs, which has helped me learn to speak up for others. I had to be more responsible at a young age in order to care for myself and keep my body healthy. I can fill in my name, DOB, SS#, and all my ailments and medications for medical files in a matter of seconds! The list could go on…

Do I have fears about the effects of T1D? Most certainly. I fear the things that are yet to come. Many of the negative effects of diabetes don’t rear their ugly heads immediately. The reality of this disease is that it can slowly and silently cause damage not immediately recognizable to the human eye. I fear that I should not become pregnant (which at the rate I’m going with marriage—or the lack thereof, this may never be a problem!) for fear of losing my vision, kidney function, or even my life. I fear eventually losing fingers, toes, limbs, sensations, kidney function, having a heart attack or stroke, etc. I fear that my family may one day have to care for me when I should be caring for them. I’m a fairly fearful person, so I won’t continue with listing my fears because regardless of what happens to this body of mine, I have a hope that lasts beyond this life. Part of my story includes the fact that I am insulin resistant. I have a condition called Poly-Cystic Ovarian
Syndrome. One of the major side-effects of PCOS is insulin resistance. So I give my body insulin through my insulin pump, but my body does not use it properly. If you are familiar with the endocrine/hormonal systems of your body, then you know that when one major organ goes…more will usually follow. At the age of 7, we discovered my pancreas was no longer functioning; in my early 20’s I was diagnosed with PCOS; and at 25, we discovered my thyroid was UNDER-active. Of course it was, because over-active
would’ve just been too convenient. All of these factors play major roles in weight gain and retention. This is why my weight has been and will be a constant battle. I like to say if you just looked at my medical charts, you’d think I was 65 years old. And then I laugh, because sometimes you just have to!

Where did my Type 1 gene come from? My Granny Ruth. My daddy’s mother was the mother to 8 children, and she was diagnosed “Type II” because of her age (she was over 18 years old) in the early 60’s. BUT, she was insulin dependent until her death at age 68. After her death in 1998, the medical world determined that you can be over the age of 18 and still have Type 1 (insulin dependent), and you can be under the age of 18 and have Type 2 (not insulin dependent). My first cousin, Josh, was diagnosed with T1D at age 24. We most likely inherited the gene from the same place.

T1D is an expensive disease. Without medical insurance, and my wonderful family, I would be in debt up to my ears—or in poor health. I have gone without medical insurance only for a few months since 1992, and those were some trying times. Yet even in those days, God sustained me, and I never went without ONE thing that I needed. Ever! Did you know that one blood sugar test strip costs over $1? One test strip. Most T1’s use 4 – 5 daily. My 3 month supply of insulin without insurance is over $2,000, and the Symlin injections I take 3 times daily to help my body correctly use insulin would be over $5,000 for a 3-month supply. This is another reason why I have chosen to raise money for the JDRF. I may never see a cure for diabetes in my lifetime, but I would love to help provide hope for the generations after me. Hopefully we will soon see fewer and fewer children and adults be insulin-dependent diabetics. Maybe one day a 7-year- old will get the diagnosis of T1D, but she will undergo one procedure with many needles and tests for several days, and then the rest of her life will be “normal” and mostly needle-less. Maybe one day, someone will get a T1D diagnosis and pay a few large medical bills up front and then move on with life without 100’s of them.

Again, I just wanted to share my story. I’ve never shared it publically – mainly because many people have far more severe diseases that aren’t even treatable, much less curable – and I don’t want pity or pats on the back. There are those who are in far worse situations than me! Please DO NOT feel obligated to make a donation to my JDRF One Walk fundraiser. There are many causes that we all feel pulled and obligated to give to. Please don’t feel that way in this case! If you are able to donate please follow this link:

Kim’s JDRF One Walk

AND if you want to join me Saturday, October 21st for the Atlanta One Walk to celebrate my T1Diaversary, sign-up at:

JDRF Walk Georgia Chapter 4147

and I will see you there! (When you register, you can make your donation/fundraiser amount $0 with no problem at all!) *Also, if you are going to walk and would like to be included on a t-shirt order let me know that as well! 

***The following is just a friendly PSA based on my personal interactions with well-meaning people. The statements are TRUE, but if you don’t have a great sense of humor you should stop reading here.***

Things I wish people knew and understood about the ‘betus:

1. “Sugar” is not a disease. Sugar is a compound. No one can medically be diagnosed with “Sugar”. It’s called Diabetes… Type 1 or Type 2. I do not have “sugar”. I have Type 1 Diabetes.

2. Diabetes is not diagnosed based on a scale or stages. There is Type 1 Diabetes, and there is Type 2 Diabetes. That is all. For instance: If a person is diagnosed with cancer they may have Stage 1, 2, 3, or 4. Diabetes is either controlled or not controlled. I want to laugh out loud when I hear someone say, “Did you hear about Blanche? She has ‘dia’betus REAL bad!” Well, Blanche may have Diabetes, but she either chooses to do what it takes to keep it under control or she does whatever she wants and does not care to take control of her disease.

3. Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes are two DIFFERENT beasts! I know my body type is listed as “more to love”, but I could lose every inch and ounce of fat on my body, and I will STILL have T1D! Walking is an excellent activity, and it does help reduce blood glucose levels. Just know that I could walk the distance around the globe 3 times, and I will STILL have T1D. If you have Type 2 Diabetes please do NOT boast of your 4.7 and 5.2 A1C’s to those of us with T1D… we are NOT happy for you (only in your moment of boasting, but we will eventually be reminded of our happiness for you and your excellent A1C), and our diseases are a good bit different from each other. Some of us T1’s work diligently for 7.0 – 8.0 A1C results.

4. If a Diabetic has seen a medical professional or has simply Googled their disease, they know what they can and cannot eat (The real question is SHOULD, and we can all ask ourselves that question). We do not need the “sugar police” at church, family, or friend gatherings watching what we put on our plates or in our mouths. There are sliding scales that we use to determine the amount of insulin we take for the amount of carbohydrates we eat (different for every person)…therefore, with insulin intake, the only difference is the number of carbohydrates we eat. For example: a small apple, a slice of bread, and one regular size Reese’s cup share similar carbohydrate counts. You would take nearly the same amount of insulin for either of these 3 choices.

5. Diabetics were not asked who we wanted our television spokesman to be, but if they had taken a poll we would still have voted Wilford Brimley as the one to remind us: “Check your blood sugar. Check it often.”

Candid Over Coffee ~ 2.23.17

This morning I am drinking my coffee at an Einstein Brothers in Athens, Georgia. My students are down the street in rehearsals for All-State Chorus, and I am relishing the chance to sit down with some coffee without interruption. Life has been a little extra crazy lately, hence my lack of posts these last few weeks. My husband just got a new job (praise God!) and so our two younger children are going to daycare. This means all new responsibilities at night to prepare for the next day and new routines for our sweet little baby. Our oldest child started t-ball, which means more commitments to write in on our calendar. And then of course, just our daily schedule with three kids under the age of 5 is a little nuts. But everyone seems to be doing really well. We are healthy, we are joyful, and we are starting this new season of our lives with excitement.

At school, my choirs are rehearsing for our Large Group Performance Evaluation. We perform two pieces for a panel of three judges and receive feedback and scores. Then we sight read for another judge to again receive feedback and scores. Some days I leave work thinking how great our rehearsals were and how well we are doing. Other days, I leave wondering why it’s not coming together like I want it to. Teaching singing can be so challenging; I can’t tell my sopranos to just move this vocal cord to this place. That’s not how our voices work. It’s such an experimental process for the singer to find what works. It’s a lot of “try this” and “relax” and “don’t do that.” But I have a fantastic group of kids this year that are eager to learn and improve. Seriously, a teacher’s dream.

And this weekend I am with three of my students as they participate in All-State Chorus. They are having an amazing time, just as I did when I was a part of All-State as a student. I can’t help but remember my own experiences every time I come to this event. This event used to be held in Savannah, so it’s a little harder to be nostalgic in a completely different city, but when I sit in on rehearsals and listen to the concerts, I feel like it was just last year that I was performing with the All-State Chorus. And now, as a teacher, I have a whole new appreciation for my music teachers, for the time and resources they invested, and always with great enthusiasm. Those people have impacted my life in tremendous ways. There is no doubt I am who I am because of them. And even if I had not chosen a career in music education, I know that their impact would still be a lasting one. They nurtured a love and appreciation for music within me, but they also chose to love me as a person. I can’t tell you how often I hear from someone that they took piano lessons or a music class in which the teacher was “mean” or “so strict” and those people walked away from that experience with a bad taste in their mouth. Thankfully, I just can’t relate to that sentiment. My teachers have been truly wonderful. I will forever be grateful to them, and it reminds me of my responsibility of carrying on their legacies to my students now.

Do you have a music teacher that left their mark on your life? Good or bad? I would love to hear about it here, along with any crazy memories you have from their classes or being a part of ensembles.

Technology Ideas: Padlet

Over the last two weeks I have been doing my best to bring more technology in to my classroom. This is something that is greatly emphasized at my school, and yet I still struggle with it. It’s not that I’m opposed to technology in my classroom, it’s just that I feel that there are always problems that pop up. Sometimes I feel that we are trying to incorporate technology for the sake of incorporating technology instead of actually increasing our classroom’s efficiency or learning. There have been several instances in which I’ve tried to use the latest app or web-based activity to teach a new lesson, but after trying to help students recover passwords, gain wi-fi access, and giving out separate instructions to Apple users and Android users, well I feel that I’ve lost too much instructional time. My classes are much too large to purchase tablets for everyone and even the computer labs are too small for my groups. So many obstacles!

Still, I know that there are those brilliant teachers out there using technology with such ease, and their lesson plans always go smoothly and are loved by the students. Their students are engaged and productive. Maybe I can find my way to this dream world? I’ve decided to give it another shot. So this past month I decided to try out one new idea. My goal was to focus on one new techie idea that could enhance what I’m already doing with my students and then I could try to work through the hiccups as they came along. I decided to use Padlet in my classroom, an oldie but goodie. You can find it at Padlet.com and it’s free. It allows myself and students to post anything and everything on the screen in real time. I decided perhaps this could enhance my classroom listening exercises.

If you’re looking for something fairly simple to start with, this is a great one. I already have my students listen to recordings each week in our “Listening Fridays”. After we listen together, we have a class discussion over what we heard. This is one of my students’ favorite activities each week, but it’s impossible to take input from every single student in a class of 50. With Padlet, I found that I’m finally giving every student a voice.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Have your students go to padlet.com and create a user account. If using cell phones, there is a free app that you can use.
  2. Create a Padlet! You can customize it in so many ways. Then post questions on the Padlet wall that you want students to answer.
  3. Give a link to the students to get to the padlet you created. There are a number of ways you can do this. I had the most success with embedding my padlet to our class website (as hosted by the school), so since students already were accustomed to going to this site, they had no trouble finding the padlet. OR, you can easily create a QR code just by looking at the “Share” options on your padlet. The padlet app has a QR reader built in.

Begin your discussion! Have students click anywhere on the padlet to share their response. Their answers will immediately pop up on everyone’s padlet no matter what screen they are looking at. I love this for our listening activities because the students can begin discussing the topic while still listening in silence. Students are held accountable for their answers because their user name will show up with what they type, thus taking care of the class clown that is always looking for the chance to be inappropriate.

It took 3 or 4 days for me to work out the best process for using this program, but now that I have the bugs worked out, I’m making it a point to use it with the students every week. They seem to be enjoying it and now since it’s a regular part of our class, it fits in to our lessons seamlessly. Victory!

I would love to hear how you use this program or another techie gadget in your classroom. What are your favorites?

 

 

Candid over Coffee ~ 1.20.2017

Today’s coffee conversation is actually happening over sweet tea. Chik-fil-A sweet tea, to be precise. I ran out of coffee last night — oh, the horror — so I couldn’t prep any coffee for this morning. I probably wouldn’t have felt like putting it together last night anyway as I got home late after judging All-State Chorus auditions all evening. When my alarm went off this morning, I remembered that there was no coffee waiting for me downstairs, so I hit my snooze button several times. Several times. After seeing how bare my pantry was, I decided chicken biscuits were the way to go, and I just can’t go to Chik-fil-A without getting a large sweet tea. I am a Georgia girl, after all.

I’m ready for the weekend. It has been a great week at work, but I’m tired and ready to be at home with my boys. It’s supposed to rain all weekend, so I’m planning on bumming it in my favorite sweats and slippers while watching movies and playing Legos and Lincoln Logs with the kiddos. I am also anxious to catch up on some reading. I’m in the middle of a book called The Oregon Trail by Rinker Buck. I’ve never heard of this author before, but I came across this book on a table at Barnes & Noble. Let me just stop first and say how much I relish an afternoon of wandering around Barnes & Noble. I could spend hours in there. So on an afternoon of perusing the best sellers last summer, I found this non-fiction book and was intrigued. It’s all about two brothers who travel across the Oregon Trail in a covered wagon. They follow old maps and current stone markers to travel in the still visible wagon wheel ruts of the pioneers. Except they are doing it all in our modern day world.

My husband thought it completely random that I bought this book. Since when did I have an interest in such a topic? I do like history, but I’ve never given much thought to the settlers in the West. And yet, this idea was so crazy and interesting to me. A few weeks ago I finally was able to start reading it, and I’m fascinated! I’ve learned so much and have found it so interesting. Rinker Buck is a talented writer who really did his research and has some incredible life experiences to share.

Can you imagine going on such an adventure? Every time I put the book down, I’m left wanting to jump in the car and put hundreds of miles on the odometer. There are too many states in our own country that I haven’t seen, and I am getting anxious to see new sights and meet new people. I’ve been blessed to travel out of the country just a handful of times, but it’s not enough. I want to see more of this great big world.

While I’m not really in a position to pack my bags for a road trip right now (3 young children and that whole job thing) I am realizing that it’s something I want to make happen when possible. I’m thankful for books like this one that can allow me to share in wild adventures that others have had while planning my own. I would love to know — what are you reading right now? What crazy desires has your book planted in your head?

 

Candid over Coffee ~ 1.13.17

I’ve missed my Friday updates these last couple of weeks — oops! I was sick over the last few days of 2016 (food poisoning–lovely). Then on January 4th, I went back to work.

So let’s catch up, shall we?

I went back to work. On January 4th. Yes, that is the big thing in my life right now. I’m adjusting to being back on a busy schedule. It’s still not going to be our “normal” yet. My husband was laid off from his job a few months ago, and so he is still at home right now. That means my littlest guy does not have to go to daycare yet, which makes this mommy happy. Still, I am away from him and missing him like crazy. He IS pretty wonderful.

On the flip side, it is really good to be back in the classroom. Going back to the early mornings has been brutal, but my students have welcomed me back enthusiastically and are excited to be singing with me again. That has made it much easier to come back. It feels good to be at the piano again and teaching new music. I’ve tried out some new lesson plans that have been really successful, and my fellow teachers know what a great feeling that is. I can’t say enough about what fabulous kids I have in my program this semester, and so they keep me smiling and they keep me motivated. I’m counting on a great spring semester.

My coffee habit has served me well since going back to work. My coffee maker is prepped the night before and starts running at 4:40AM. It’s a good thing I am the only one up at that time because no one in my house would like me very much. After that first cup of coffee, I begin to feel like I can leave the house after all. Then I continue to drink coffee until about 10:30, at which point I switch to water. Or sometimes sweet tea. I prefer the sweet tea, if we’re being honest.

Regardless of how grumpy I feel upon waking up after a night of too little sleep (because EVERY night is like that these days), I am aware of how richly God has blessed me and how He has given me a purpose in my family and in my classroom. I’m ready to see what He has in store for me in this new year. So ready.


 

The New Year is Here!

I can’t start a new year without writing down my resolutions. It’s just what I do. Every. Single. Year. And they typically look the same.

Eat healthier.

Cook at home more often.

Get organized.

Be more active. Exercise.

Keep a clean house. Tackle chores daily.

And then, when February rolls around and I haven’t stuck to my resolutions, I get stressed out and then beat myself up over failing at things I think I should be able to do as an adult.

By the way, this whole “adulting” thing has lost its novelty. It’s overrated, really.

2016 was a tough year. My family dealt with the loss of loved ones, changes in jobs, and the stress that attaches itself to such major changes. God allowed us to walk this difficult road, and He also decided that 2016 is when we needed our precious new baby to arrive and bring us new joy in the midst of our pain. It was quite a year. Things did not always go the way I had planned, that’s for certain, and I found myself getting so caught up in striving to achieve my idea of the perfect mom/teacher/homemaker/cook/volunteer that when I faltered – which was daily – I felt like a tremendous failure and became overwhelmed with frustration. This frustration then overflowed in to my daily interactions with the ones I love the most, which was the last thing I wanted. We had too much going on last year and instead of cutting myself some slack, I beat myself up. So this year, I am resolving to give myself a break. No more stressing out over a lesson plan that didn’t go exactly the way I envisioned it. No more losing my cool when the house gets messy.  No more getting upset because my to do list didn’t get done.

To do lists. That’s another thing that has to change this year. I am big on making lists, and I always, ALWAYS fill them with a 33 hour workload and then kick myself over not having it done when it’s time to go to bed 18 hours later. No more! I am resolving to scale back on things that “have” to get done each day, and instead prioritize what really needs to get done. New items on my to do list will include playing in the floor with my boys, sitting down to talk with my husband, and taking plenty of deep breaths when the day gets crazy, as it surely will.

2016 taught me that you never know what is around the corner. Interruptions come, both big and small. A year ago, I would not have guessed that our lives would look like they do right now. Even on a small scale, sticking to my plans for the day can be tricky with high school students and three young sons. I have to accept this truth and adjust accordingly. Now, hopefully someone can remind me that I wrote these words when the craziness of 2017 sets in.

Candid Over Coffee: Mommy Needs Her Coffee

I attribute my love for coffee to my grandmothers. While my mom loathes the taste of coffee, my Granny always drank her morning coffee, and my Grandma can not function without it. Coffee is a staple for my day, and it has to come early in my morning routine. When I was a kid and would spend the night at my Grandma’s house, my siblings and I knew the rule: don’t talk to Grandma until she has had her coffee. This was not a joke, either. I can remember coming out of the bedroom to find Grandma sitting by the window overlooking her rose bushes as she stared out at the North Georgia mountains. I could usually tell if she had just poured her coffee, in which case I went back to my bedroom to read for a few minutes while she had her quiet time.

I now hear myself telling my boys that “mommy needs some quiet time” while I drink my coffee. Like my Grandma, I am not a morning person, but coffee helps me cope. As my siblings will tell you, this is just one of many traits that I inherited from my Grandma. I think she is smart to have always insisted on quiet time in the mornings. I have found that when I can get it, my quiet moments in the morning with a hot cup of joe in my hands are precious for many reasons. Mostly, it gives me a chance to reflect. Put the smartphone down, turn the tv off, and just think. That’s when I am really “candid” with myself.

If you google the word, candid is defined as being “truthful and straightforward; frank.” My goal in creating this blog was to be truthful and straightforward about life as a high school choral director, both in and out of the classroom. Sometimes it’s easy to be candid on social media and in our conversations with others, but other times it can be difficult. Sometimes our life is just not going as planned. Other times, we are so distracted that we are missing a lot of what is going on around us. How often do we just sit without distractions? Really, when was the last time you just sat still, alone, and without looking at a screen? For me, it is rare. Too often, if I have a free moment, I am picking up my phone and scrolling through Facebook, or I am adding items to my “to do” list. I spend my work days with over 150 teenagers and then come home to three children under the age of 5. I need time to just be still.

This time to myself is best accompanied by lots of caffeine poured in to a mug that has a special memory attached to it. It is so good to be able to “just sit.” So today, I am reminding myself that my Grandma has it right when she makes her coffee time a priority. It’s ok for me to tell the kids that Mommy will be better after she has had her coffee time. That Grandma of mine is a smart woman.

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Waiting for fireworks to start after our 4th of July Family Picnic, 2009

 

Candid Over Coffee: It’s early

It’s an early morning for our first coffee chat. Our new addition to the family decided to start the day at 5:15AM. That really shouldn’t be so bad since I’m typically up by 5AM when I’m working. However, since little man refuses to go to bed before midnight, I wasn’t particularly appreciative of the early start today. Really, if I am being honest, I have nothing to complain about. Today is his two month birthday, and he typically sleeps through the night. My first two never slept–even still, my oldest routinely gets up at least once a night. It has been awesome having a baby that sleeps so much. I know it can’t possibly last. In fact, it probably will change right about the time that I return to work.

Return to work. That time will be here in the blink of an eye. I’ve already started taking some time to do some lesson and rehearsal planning for when I return to the classroom. This is my first maternity leave that has lasted longer than 8 weeks. I took 8 weeks with my first child due to difficulties at home. What difficulties? While we were still in the hospital after the birth of our son, our best friend went by our house to feed our dogs. When he arrived, he found water running out the back door. A pipe had burst in our upstairs bathroom and had flooded most of the house. We couldn’t even come home to stay with our new baby. Instead, we went to live with my Grandmother that first week -oh how thankful I was to be with her during such a stressful time. When we got the ok from ServePro to come back home, we lived out of the bonus room and guest bathroom for about four weeks. When it was time for the contractors to come in and try to put our house back together (seriously, they had to rebuild walls, ceilings, new floors, everything), we moved in to a hotel room for two weeks. Throughout this craziness, my husband had just started a new job with his company and was having to put in extra hours at the office in addition to managing the problems with our house, insurance claims, and being a new father. It. was. nuts. We moved back home about a week before I returned to work. On my second maternity leave, our house behaved itself and I only took 6 weeks. That was still tough. With this pregnancy, I knew I would take an extended leave. What a difference it has made! Especially since it has been during the holidays.

Holidays. All music teachers have particularly crazy holiday seasons due to extra rehearsals, holiday performances, and more. While I still have my church’s musical program to prepare for and perform in, it has felt very odd to not be working on Christmas music with students. I have actually really missed it. I am hoping my students are loving the holiday music I picked for their winter concert. I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t get to work on it with them, because I happened to love the music I picked out for them. Holiday music is some of the best work we do all year. Who can be in a bad mood when you are singing Christmas music? It certainly simplifies classroom management when everyone is in a good mood and they are enjoying the task at hand.

My little guy is done with his morning nap (which was much too short) and so it’s time for me to refill my Christmas mug with one more cup of coffee and turn my attention back to him. Thanks for reading my random Friday morning train of thoughts. I’m hoping to share more of my scatter-brained self on Fridays, which means a lot of random ramblings, and in between the Friday posts I hope to offer some helpful articles for the classroom and that life you’re supposed to have outside of the classroom.

Candid Over Coffee

Almost a year ago, I decided I needed a new coffee maker. More importantly, a bigger coffee maker. While I love my Keurig Mini and my tiny French Press, a measly six ounces of caffeine wasn’t getting the job done.
I researched coffee makers for days – I was not messing around. I finally found one that keeps up to 8 cups of coffee hot in a reserve tank, so all I would have to do after making coffee is push my mug up against a small lever and I would immediately be served hot coffee – for up to four hours after I made it.

I bought it. I loved it. I drank excessive amounts of coffee every day for a month.

And then I found out I was pregnant. I had to back off of the caffeine, and so with a sad face, I put the Goliath coffee maker in the back of the pantry.

About two weeks ago, I excitedly put my practically-brand-new coffee maker back in it’s spot on the kitchen counter and I have fallen in love all over again. I love sitting in my living room with my hot cup of coffee and having a few moments of reflection. It’s always my chance to let my mind work through some of the things ahead of me in the day or consider things going on in my life, both good and bad. It does me a world of good to just take time to sit and let my thoughts wander and roam.

If it’s good with you, my friends, I would like to start a new series on the blog. I’ll be here on Friday mornings with my cup of coffee, sharing some of my thoughts for the week. I would love for you to join me and jump in to the conversation with me! Brew some coffee…two cups, at least…and pop on over to the blog!
 

A Happy Thanksgiving

This year’s Thanksgiving looks very different. There are loved ones missing from our tables this year. Some of our traditional meals are being moved to new places since those loved ones are not here to host any longer. There are new worries this year that we didn’t have last year. But there are also new faces. They are tiny new faces, and one of them is that of my six week old son. A year ago, I was not anticipating any of these changes.

And yet, like last year, I am still watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade as I prepare my Granny’s macaroni and cheese recipe. Like last year, I am bouncing between numerous Thanksgiving feasts all week because we have such a big family that loves to gather around the table. Like last year, I am thankful. I am thankful for time with family this week. I am thankful that I serve a loving, almighty God. He gives, He takes away, but He always loves us and cares for us.

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Happy Thanksgiving.