Joy at 46

IMG_1456Yes, ladies and gents, I’m 46.  I’m trying not to be depressed about rounding up to 50.  It seems so much closer but I’m just one day older if you really stop and think about it.

So let’s take a pit stop, regroup, and reflect a little on this 46th milestone.

In light of the misfortunes and controversies that seem constant in our world, I’ve been revisiting what I know to be true:

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” -Socrates (or as Bill and Ted say, SO-CRATES.)

When I first studied philosophy in college, I came to the conclusion that almost everything in these classes frustrated and boggled me.  I wanted to explode trying to understand all the converging and contradicting ideas.  The idea of knowing nothing made sense to me, since I felt that I truly knew NOTHING after months of studying philosophy.  (No offense Merry and Chris Brown… I know you’ve dedicated your life’s work to studying and working out philosophical ideas.  I think my mind might be broken if I tried to think about philosophy all the time.  Mad respect to both of you.)

On Thursday, my girls decided to walk the 3.6 miles from school to home.  They thought the 8-minute drive would take them about 40 minutes to walk.  Wrong.  At the 40 minute mark, they were still 35 minutes away from home.  Turns out, the walk was an hour and 15 minutes.  (They later said, NEVER AGAIN!  They couldn’t believe HOW LONG it took them to get home.) Now they totally understand why their brother, Boy, doesn’t want to walk home anymore and just waits the 1.5 hours until dad picks him up after school every day.  On further observation, I think what made this especially hard for the girls was their expectation that it would be a shorter walk.  When they got over halfway home, they thought they’d already be at home and exhaustion and expectation made that last half hour excruciating.  Welcome to LIFE, right?  I’ve played this metaphoric scenario out more times than I’d like to admit.  I think the point of this misadventure is, just keep walking.

If you want to achieve your goals, don’t focus on them. (Video attached). If the girls hadn’t focused on the behavior it took to get home (walking) and just focused on the idea of being home, they never would have reached their goal of getting home.  This idea of focusing on the behaviors that help us reach goals seems, well, duh!  But sometimes we focus so much on goals (endpoint) that we forget that we have to DO something to get there.  Sometimes we focus so much on the endpoint that we’re paralyzed to do anything to get to our goal.

I do know a few things:

I know change is constant.

I know that loving people is important.

I know defending the weak and less fortunate is a powerful command that is often overlooked.

I know God exists.

Beyond this, I’m pretty stumped.

There have been a lot of ideas going round and round in my brain lately. I’ve been watching Making a Murderer and idea that you have to follow the evidence where it leads is fascinating to me.  Careful and deep examination of the evidence must occur if justice is to be served.

In Confessions of a Prarie Bitch, I learned that the actress that played Nellie Olson on Little House on the Prarie, Alison Arngrim, had to have more GRIT in real life than she did on the show.  The show helped her survive the tragedy of parts of her childhood and gave her an amazing outlook in adulthood.

If you don’t know anything about me, one thing you should know is that I live in my head.  I am one of the most annoyingly detailed people I know. I am a taskmaster. I make lists and check off lists all day long. This gives me some sort of creepy comfort when things seem chaotic (which is most of the time).  I’m pretty good at focusing on behaviors that help me reach goals, but one thing I’m not very good at is FUN.  You don’t put fun on a checklist, right?  (Well, I kinda did.  After bloodwork, DMV, lunch-Sushi with family, a smiling picture of the family, and a nap yesterday, I did have a plan to go Knott’s on my checklist.)  I don’t do unpredictable amusement park rides post back surgery, but I did ride one of those nauseating spin-in-circle rides. One and done.  And then, spontaneously, as we walked past the arcade, I saw a CLAW MACHINE.  Like a moth to a flame, I found as I got closer that it was a claw machine of unicorns and not just any unicorn, but Dookie, the Squatty Potty Unicorn.  Well, let’s just say, Dookie arrived promptly on my mental checklist and I was going to make the behaviors happen to reach my goal and pull Dookie out of the claw machine.  (Not sorry for the mental image.)

Here’s PURE JOY:



So, let’s end this thing with a quote from SO-CRATES:

“Whom do I call educated? First, those who manage well the circumstances they encounter day by day. Next, those who are decent and honorable in their intercourse with all men, bearing easily and good naturedly what is offensive in others and being as agreeable and reasonable to their associates as is humanly possible to be… those who hold their pleasures always under control and are not ultimately overcome by their misfortunes… those who are not spoiled by their successes, who do not desert their true selves but hold their ground steadfastly as wise and sober-minded men.”

Until the next post, love you loves.


Gastric Bypass Update:

I had biscuits with boysenberry jam on my checklist.  We went to the Chicken Restaurant at Knott’s and indulged in a down home meal of chicken, mashed potatoes, chicken soup, cherry rhubarb, and boysenberry pie. It was delicious.  This is what I wanted instead of a piece of cake.  I don’t normally eat gluten so a biscuit was indulging. It was worth every bite.  Yum.

Now back to my routine.

Courage, Computers, and that other C- word

It’s been a while…I miss you, friends.

Amidst Back-to-School nights, supply and clothes shopping, guitar lessons, laundry, cute kitty & puppers videos, attempting to make healthier dinners, reminding the kids to drink water, the deaths of McCain and Aretha, monitoring class assignments for Boy, Middle, and Little, intervening in arguments between those three, scheduling appointments, paying bills, and remembering to take my vitamins, life brings a dose of “here’s what’s most important” and you have to swallow whether you want to or not.

The 2017-18 school year was my first full-time working year since my Boy was born, 15 years ago.  (He’d like you all to know that he’s now 16 and we have scheduled THE appointment: driver’s license appointment.)  This new school year, 2018-19 has been wrought with opportunities to push my courage button in the face of hardship and inconvenience.

The Saturday before the school year, my dear colleagues and I attended the funeral of two students that died tragically over the summer.  Heartbreaking.  Incomprehensible.  The other three siblings are back at school and we are rallying to keep life as normal as possible for them. I want to say so much more about this, but to keep the privacy of this family intact, I cannot.

We hit the pavement of the 2018-19 school year ground running.  Fast-paced.  Problems as usual.  Technology problems. Questions, about the tech problems.  More questions about technology problems. Yes, I’m a teacher, but when you’re at a school with over 700 devices, and you are the one that knows just a smidgin’ more than the others, you tend to be the troubleshooter.  So the past weeks, we’ve been trying to get all our silly unresponsive bratty computers to do what they’re supposed to do…WORK!  If the computers were teenagers, it would make so much more sense.  They’ve been acting like teenagers— rebellious, talking back, diggin’ their heels in, wanting their own way.  I attempted to show them who the parent was. Most of our computers are now in working order.  Now we can finish the task of all our beginning-of-year assessments and hopefully, all those computers will submit to authority and continue to work properly.

This is the reason I woke up this morning with a-hankerin’ to write…the C-word. I don’t even want to say it. This week, I found out a dear friend has an aggressive form of breast cancer.  I want to cuss.  If you knew this person, you’d know she’s had her share of hardships, raising 8 boys, overcoming her own drug addiction, dealing with multiple tragedies in her family.  Why God? Why?  I’m still at the anger phase in the grieving process.  I don’t get it. I don’t want to get it.  She’s got the most positive attitude of just about anyone on Earth, and now this?   It really is unbelievable.

And then I get all… reflective, consumed with my own mortality, wondering what the point of all of this is.  There’s an ongoing theme in my life, and I’m sure you can relate.  There are many shit sandwiches.  I’m going to have courage in the face of this. I’m going to sit in the shit with the people I love.  It’s not fun or easy, but it’s necessary.

Love the ones you’re with.  Hold them up in prayer.  You may be all they’ve got.


Gastric Bypass Update:

I’m at 2 1/2 years post surgery. I’m maintaining.  I’d like to lose 10 more pounds, but most people do, right?



Reasons to Celebrate

Oh, my gosh!  We had our first consultation with the HERO program & Zero Energy in August of 2015.  After two years and a shitload of money, the solar panels are finally approved!  We get to flip that switch and let the sweet SoCal sun work its magic on our electric bill.  Wouldn’t it be great if the sun could solve all our problems?  All the money we save in electricity each month will likely be spent paying for something else, probably a car payment.

Oh, my gosh! Yeah, Steve’s car was stolen a couple of weeks ago, August 16th to be exact.  (I guess it’s not really a reason to celebrate.) But since we’re celebrating the sun, I’m going to look on the bright side.  Ba-dum-dum.  There is a bright side to Steve getting his car stolen. (Yeah, Joy, what’s that?).  We’ve had to learn, once again to roll with it.  (Maybe we’re slow learners.)  Fortunately, someone awesome, let us borrow a truck that just happens to have a cab for transporting our kids.  So whilst we await the news of whether or not the car is found, we have another loaned vehicle to manage our Back-to-School schedules without the struggle of scheduling with one car.  (See? There is a bright side.)


Oh my gosh! I celebrate 20 years of teaching this August. My new role at a K-5 reading intervention teacher is exciting and challenging.  It was the first year I didn’t read a story to “my” class on the first day of school.  That’s one of the things I’m going to miss about having my own classroom.  I’m going to make opportunities to read to kids though. There’s something about watching kids’ faces when they hear an exciting story that makes them laugh or wonder…that is the stuff of life.  The anticipation of what’s next?  That’s what makes a good story.  Speaking of exciting stories…


Oh my gosh! 22 years, today.  How can it be?  Steve and I have been married for 22 years.  Some of our oft used phrases are, “It’s always somethin’!”  “Through thick & thin.” “We’ve gots to roll with it.” (Grammatical error intended.) “We’ve got this.”  “That’s life.”  “Life ain’t easy, but at least we’ve got each other.”  “What? Chicken butt!” When we said “I do,” we couldn’t predict what was ahead.  We’ve had our share of hardships over the years: back surgeries, butt surgeries, kidney stones, C-sections, work changes, disappointments, and loss.  We’ve also had our share of joys and shared a ton of laughter.  Birthing two and loving on a 3rd child have brought us so much joy and fulfillment (and yes, if I’m honest, a whole lotta sleepless nights), but all these years have one thing in common, resilience.  THAT is a reason to celebrate.  I’m so grateful I get to share life with a man who loves me, for me, mess that I am.  Happy 22nd-year hun.  I don’t want to imagine life without you.  That photo up there was us when we were babies, on our honeymoon. (This was the one time I sat on his lap.  I’m not a lap sitter, but it’s a super cute photo, right?  I bought that moo moo at a thrift store in Kauai.  I might be able to fit in that again if I still had it.) 

These are reasons to celebrate.

Until another Friday.  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

Oh, my gosh!  I’ve lost…wait for it…wait for it…


100 pounds!  What?!  Yup. 100.  I weigh about once a week, not obsessively, and I was so surprised this week to see that my weight is below 150.  Do the math and add a hundred in the hundred’s place.  Yes, I have lost what amounts to ten, ten-pound bags of potatoes. I’ve lost the weight of a junior high girl.  I’ve lost the weight of 3 containers of kitty litter (those suckers are heavy).  I’ve lost the weight of about 12 gallons of milk.  Incredible.  Unbelievable.  Also, doable.  download

NYC- Food, Friends, and Fun: Part 1

So, once we were on the my dear friend’s street in Greenwich Village, the cabbie said, “Are we here?” when he thought we’d arrived at the proper address.

I said, “I don’t know if this is it, it’s my first time here.”

He said, “Oh, I thought you lived here.”

“Uh, no, I’m just a really good faker.”

We both had a giggle.

I arrived here last night to visit with my dear friend, Anny. It’s so good to love on the people you love, people.  Do it.  Life is too short not to.

This morning, she made me a lovely decadent egg scrambled magical goodness extravaganza with artichoke truffle paste, Portobello mushrooms, and zucchini.   Meanwhile, I complained about how freakin’ hot it is in her 6th floor walk up apartment and how I can’t imagine not controlling the heat in my own house.  You’ve heard before how I have issues with heat.  Now, back to the egg extravaganza (Um, can you say delish? I had seconds. Did I mention that I’m in NYC because Anny bought me a flight, but I’m also here to eat something naughty whenever I’m hungry and not feel a bit of guilt.)  

We headed off shortly after 11am, and popped into Amy’s Bread in GV for a cup of coffee and a pistachio twist.  (GV- Now we’re on initial terms because writing out Greenwich Village is too much work to spell out over and over.)  We hoofed it to the Subway headed to Central Park. CP in autumn has to be one of God’s favorite places on earth.  (Really, God, yes? I wouldn’t mind if heaven was just like this place, with a constant temperature regulated at 60 degrees.  Are you taking notes?)    

Central Park has such gorgeous fall colors and we dressed just perfectly.  Anny gifted me this fanTAStic sweater that complimented this enchanting day.  I was camouflaged.   I Spy with my little eye, something, orange.  Ah, oranges, and reds, and yellows and rustic browns.  Did I mention that fall is my favorite?   Hover over the pictures to see little snippets of my adventures today.  What a lovely day.  I get to do this again tomorrow.  Don’t hate.

(Oh, and God has told me there will be cannolis and NYC pizza in heaven, because all the streets aren’t made of gold, in the literal, like, gold-chain sense of the word, nah, the streets of gold are really streets of dough.  Golden luscious wheat dough of all shapes and sizes.  Savory and sweet. Pure Heaven.  There will be no calories or badness associated with this golden dough.  The pot at the end of the rainbow in heaven will be filled with golden dough. Can I get an amen?)

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

I ate tons today.  I also walked a whole lotta steps.  That evens things out, right?

I had a few moments where I realized that I would have really struggled with this trip a year ago.  The walking and the climbing of stairs would have been terribly hard for me.  I’m enjoying this so much more, with 75 less poundage.  That’s like almost 2 of the suitcases I carried up the 6 floor walkup, except that weight was on my body.  Yeah, on my body.  (I just have to say, Anny, you rock those stairs every day.  You kick sass.  For realz.)

Here’s me, huffin’ and puffin’ up those stairs carrying my 39-pound suitcase.  The video quality is poor, but my commentary is pretty funny.  Enjoy.


Happiness and Gumdrops

This school year has been wild. Wild I say.  There are moments when I get this tiny glimpse of the joy of life from a child’s perspective and I’m reminded that this is why I teach.  There are so many grabby hands at my time and energy as a teacher, and then a student will insert a bright spot and I’m reminded why I love this calling of teaching.

Two of my 5th grade students that I had as 3rd graders came to my 3rd grade classroom to say ‘hello’ on Crazy Hair Day (Red Ribbon Week). (I had dum-dum suckers in my hair and a handmade sign that read, “Drugs are Dum Dum.”)  As they were shelving books in my library, their conversation went like this:

Girl 1: “The classroom has changed a little.” (Spoken in a Japanese accent. When this student came to me in 3rd grade she didn’t speak hardly any English, and now, she’s reading at a 4th grade level.  I’m so proud of the progress she’s made.  She’s made it through some major hurdles in her personal life over the past few years.)

Girl 2:  “It still smells like happiness and gumdrops.”  (Yeah, she really said those.exact.words.) I had to write it down it was so cute and unexpected.

There are days when I wonder why I’m teaching.  There are so many things required of me that I don’t necessarily care a lick about, but I have to do as a part of my professional responsibilities. Then a student will say something profound or encouraging and I’m like, “Oh, yeah, THIS is why I do it.”

My job is to provide a safe place where students love to learn.  This girl’s memory of my

I don’t know what I did that was “very good, very very good” for this 3rd grade student, but I love our awesome cape, my side bangs and that I’m holding her hand. 

class made me take a deep breath and capture the feeling of satisfaction, if only for a fleeting moment. Yes, I am trying to create an environment that makes students remember something happy.  She came away from her 3rd grade year feeling like she belonged.  (Joy, you got all that from the happiness and gumdrops comment?  Uh, yeah, I did.)  You should have seen her face.  Recalling that joy makes me teary as I’m writing.

Then there are moments when I’m teaching and I do… this.  I literally do… this.  I’m not always a happy shiny teacher.  (Keeping it real.)  I get frustrated, but underneath all the layers, I think my students know I really care, and I do.  So here’s a little comic relief from one of my favorite principals.  I do this… the quick change with a head whip… regularly.  Watch on.


This one.  So true.  I love this.

So there you go, folks.  I’m reposting these videos because all my teacher friends need a little comic relief right about now. America will be so grateful that we cared for her children on Monday, Halloween!  You know the leftover candy will be eaten all the way through Friday.  Oh boy, gear up my friends.  Next week is going to be a LOOOONG week. Hopefully you won’t have to use Google Teacher Translate for any ‘licking other kids’ incidents.

Life in the classroom isn’t always happiness and gumdrops as we know, but when your students leave you, hopefully they’ll remember that you cared because I know you do.  The caring is the gumdrops.  You’re all full of gumdrops.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.


Gastric Bypass Update:

I walked enjoyed my walk today.  image-1

A Few of My Favorite Things

We’ve discussed this before, that there are many things that are not my favorites.  Days like today where the humidity spikes and I’m dripping as I go from one destination to another, not my favorite.  Drivers that speed up to get in front of me and then make an abrupt right turn without pulling over courteously or signaling, not a big fan of that.  I’m also not a fan of the Arrow Holders, you know what I’m talking about…those people that stand on the corner and hold the arrow pointing you to a business or the newest housing development.  Mostly I’m not a fan of the bosses who employ the Arrow Holders.  Why do we need this?  How do you get one of these jobs?   And does anyone ever follow the arrow ———->?

So today, I was running late, as usual, to my acupuncture appointment, because I always underestimate how much time it’s going to take me to get there.  As I entered the van, I realized that my gas light was on empty.  Conundrum: Do I make myself later by stopping for gas, or cross my fingers and hope that I can make it there on the fumes?   The phrase Gas Half Empty came to mind.  I’ve been living figuratively the past few weeks with my tank on empty and I just keep going, hoping, that I’ll make it to my destination, all the while stressed that I might not make it, that I might actually run out of gas.  If history repeats itself, what running out of gas looks like for me, is a terrible head cold or sinus infection.

I decided today, rather than focus on the things that are not my favorite, I’m going to focus on a few of my favorite things <<insert Julie Andrews cue here>> and lift myself up.

Potatoes- scalloped, hashed, souped, fried, and mashed.  My mama’s mashed potatoes are the best. My favorite.  She grew up on a farm in the community of Savoy, Arkansas.  At the age of 9, when her mother passed away, she took on the role of cooking and cleaning for her dad and two brothers.  Every morning, she’d wake up and cook a farm fresh breakfast- eggs, bacon, toast, sometimes biscuits and gravy.  (I still remember being horrified that my grandpa Roland put tomato slices on his cereal.  What?  He was one of those, “It all goes to the same place” kind of eaters.  Practical and matter of fact.) At 9, she was the caretaker.  Her childhood was forever altered at the time her mother passed.  I’ve learned so many things from my mom.  She’s my favorite mama.  One of the things she can do like nobody’s business, is make some mean mashed potatoes.  Here’s how she does it:  She peels the potatoes, as many as will fit in a big 5 quart pot, probably about 3 pounds of potatoes.  She slices the potatoes into half inch pieces and boils them until tender.  Then she drains them and saves a little of the starchy water for later.  Using a hand mixer, she adds in a stick of butter and it melts as she blends the potatoes with the mixer, slowly adding in milk and some of the starchy water.  Add salt and pepper to taste and my mama’s mashed potatoes will make you feel like you’re in heaven.  Those potatoes were weaved into dinner after dinner throughout my childhood.  Whenever my mama makes them, I feel loved.  Thanks mama.  They’re my favorite.

The last time I cut potatoes, this is what happened. It’s like God was saying, eat potatoes.  (At least, that’s how I interpreted it. If you say so God, okay, I’m listening.)


Next, the colorful people are my favorite.  Here’s one example:  I’ll tell you about a man that used to come in to Cappuccino Charlie’s almost every day when I worked there.  He called himself JA, and when I asked him what JA stood for, he said, “Jelly Ass.” Alrighty then.  Every day, he’d come in and make random comments, buy his cup of coffee, sit for awhile and look awkwardly at me and all the other customers walking through.  He talked about auras and said many nonsensical things.  He said my aura was orange.  Alrighty then.  He always wore these shoes that hearkened back to the days when people used cobblers on a regular basis.  They reminded me of the shoes that Elves made in the Elves and the Shoemaker.  These shoes where slip-ons with a heel, yes, like a 1-inch heel. Yeah, really.  He walked all over La Verne, San Dimas and Pomona in those shoes.  I’d often see him when I wasn’t working, walking around town in those same shoes.  JA made an impression.  I’ve always liked the quirky awkward types, maybe because that’s how I feel most of the time.  JA was unique.  Unique is my favorite.

The beach, specifically,

Crystal Cove.  The pictures say it all.  Go here.  It will be your favorite.

My favorite Etsy store is called For Strange Women.  The name intrigued me (because I’m strange) and when I went to the online store I became totally obsessed with trying out all the wonderful scents.  (I had to order samples. My secret is out…all my friends will be receiving my own hand-picked selection of scents from this site. If you’re offended that it comes from For Strange Women, don’t be.  You know I like you.) My absolute favorite so far is the scent, Decadence and Debauchery, doesn’t the description captivate you? il_fullxfull-197737942_33d10aa1-d748-4b04-8b7e-d84c475881f8_grande

This botanical base of immortelle petals, resins, and violet leaves is smothered in smooth layers of tobacco and vanilla bourbon. Ripe blood oranges, bergamot, and oponopax round out the top of this intense and androgynous concoction, suitable for burlesque beauties, Victorian darlings, and vaudeville sensations alike.



Here’s another of my favorite scents, Karma Kreme from Lush.  02145It’s really the best smelling cream.  I’m buying this for myself for my birthday.  I thought you all should know. If you didn’t know this about me, patchouli is my favorite.  I’ve been attracted to this scent for years and it turns out patchouli has so many uses.  I feel so happy when I use it.  Patchouli love.

Shoes… my new favorites are Fly London.  I just picked up these fantastic red ankle boots.  I can’t wait to wear them more regularly, once the October heat moves on and I can put my sandals away for awhile.  These boots are so delicious.  They’re my favorite.





Oh my gosh, tape- washi tape, masking tape, duct tape, shipping tape, I love it all.  (Scotch tape is my least favorite, because it’s boring.)  I like the colorful tapes.  If I’m going to have to handle and hang the paper that goes through these hands everyday, I might as well decorate-the-hell out of it.  Here is a samplin’ of my tape collection.  And that ain’t even all of it.  I know, you can say it, I’ve got prollems.


Coconut anything, rose oil, essential oils, freezer meals…

and oh my gosh, friends!  You’re all my favorites.  What would life be without friends?  I love you all.  I miss you all.  Let’s get together.  I’ll make some of my mama’s mashed potatoes.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.


Gastric Bypass Update:

Kinda freakin’

I’ve GAINED a few pounds.  This is distressing me.

I’m trying not to obsess.

But, if you’ve seen my tape collection, you know that obsessions come easy.

I’m walking more that I have in years.

Does that count?

Uh, yeah, Joy.  It counts.

You’re going to be fine.

Thanks. I needed that pep talk.

You’re welcome.