Just a Drop in the Bucket

Drops in buckets.  This week has been full of drops.  Lack of drops and celebrating drops. Drops, whether you realize it or not, DO, impact your quality of life, good and bad.

Last Friday Steve had a lovely ablation.  I won’t go into details, but it involved the part of the body that you sit on. Yeah, and then Part 2 involved the part of the body that expels what we all refer to as #1.  Needless to say, when both #1 and #2 are compromised, life basically stops in its tracks (or there is a lot of painful moaning).  I’m grateful to say, we made it through the weekend and both organs that control #1 and #2 are functioning properly again.  Thank God. Let’s refer back to drops.  Drops are important.  Drops do impact you for the good or the bad.

My ablation had a much different recovery trajectory. (Thank God!)  In the video link, this patient received treatment from the same device, Minerva, that I received mine.  My gynecologist, Samuel Kassar, used this on me, for the first time with another gynecologist, nurses, and the Minerva representative present.(Yes, I was the guinea pig, I feel so sad for guinea pigs, why would people do experiments on guinea pigs? They’re so cute.) I was a teaching tool and was grateful to be completely anesthetized during the procedure.  When he told me there were going to be other people watching the procedure, I said, “Well, I’m glad I won’t be awake for that.”  He said, “Fair enough.”   (Can I get an amen from all the ladies in the room?) If you have heavy menstrual cycles that are teetering out of control and inhibiting your quality of life (for me this was extremely heavy days that made it so I needed to rush to the bathroom, which was a challenge when I only have a bathroom break during recess time.  I can’t just leave my class full of students alone. Duh. So I’d have to bleed out and hope I have a change of clothes or a sweater to cover myself the rest of the day.)  The anemia was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  The exhaustion of not being able to retain my iron levels, made me seek a solution.  Birth control pills and an IUD involved side effects and foreign objects in my body that I wasn’t willing to introduce.  A hysterectomy was too extreme and involved other hormonal side effects.  The D&C ablation seemed like the best option for me at this point in my life.  This particular dropping has significantly impacted me & I’m grateful the drops in the bucket will be basically nil from now on.

In the middle of drafting this post, I found out that our 13-year-old water heater could not be repaired without ongoing problems.  So, we were advised to get a new one.  What’s another $1000, when you’ve spent almost $90,000 over the past couple months?  Just a drop in the bucket, yo.  Drop in the bucket.

The thing is, I could be really angry about this whole hellish-home-investigation-solar- panel-construction chapter, and believe me, I’ve had my moments.  However, when I look at the bigger picture, the fact that I live in one of the richest and most financially stable places in the world, it’s hard to complain.  We may not have as much equity in our home as we had hoped at this point in time, but our house is going to value at over $530,000. (WHAT? Yeah, that’s SoCal.  Location. Location. Location.) Really, considering we bought our house in 1999, for $159,000, I think it’s a pretty darn good increase in value over 18 years.  Also, considering we had NO IDEA what we were doing when we bought this our first and only house, it has turned out to be a good investment.  Although we have been tormented by some stupid-ass decisions, i.e. not getting proper permits back in 2005.  (Live and learn from us people.  GET PERMITS! It will come back to bite you later.  It will. Or maybe it won’t.  Or maybe it will.)

Hopefully, we’ll look back at this time of our lives and say it was just a drop in the bucket. It feels a little like the chunks of rusted parts in the picture below.  These rusted parts separated from the inside of the water heater.  But now, we’ve got a new and improved water heater.  Hopefully, this is a foreshadowing of good to come.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

I’m not supposed to lift or exercise for 2 weeks after the ablation.  This freaks me out a little because I’m a bit rigid with my routine.  I don’t think I’ll fully abide by the doc’s advice.  (SHHHH!) Really, I’ll stay away from the heavy lifting (hard considering I need to clean up my classroom, “Uh kids, want to help in my classroom?”) and walk as much as I can this week to work up to my daily quota of steps.

Another Hill to Climb

I thought I was just tired because of the packing up of the entire back of the house and the mental energy required in figuring out a plan for how we’re going to pay for construction.   It turns out there’s a medical reason why I’m tired.  I’m anemic.  My doctor assured me I’m not ‘transfusion’ anemic (uh, reassuring, I think?) but I definitely need more iron.  I’ve been on the fence of anemia for years because the lovely menses, (AKA the monthly time when Aunt Flo comes to visit) has become heavier and that, coupled with my body’s need for absorption of iron at a different rate post gastric bypass, has made the perfect storm of anemia.   I’m exhausted and now there’s a medical reason.  I’ve been continuing to walk, almost daily, but I’ve felt like I’m totally dragging. I just chalked it up to typical mom exhaustion— March Madness, teaching grades 3rd and 5th, managing the lives of 3 children, you know, just, too-much-on-the-plate.  I’m relieved in some ways, to know that hopefully once my iron levels are in check, I’ll feel a little more spunk.

In other news, the saga with the house continues.  We’ve basically packed up our bedroom and the music studio into a storage pod and put everything else in the front of the house.  We’re definitely in close quarters.  It looks like we may be doing this for 3 months.  I’m hoping that’s a realistic timeline.  Meanwhile, we’re considering litigation against Zero Energy.  It’s a hot mess.  Now you feel anemic, right?

The picture is a hill that I used to avoid.  It’s quite steep, up Allen Avenue toward San Dimas Canyon.  I dreaded that hill before and I’d walk a different path.  Now I cruise up that sucker several days a week.  I thought I’d share my accomplishment.  It’s hard to see how steep it is from the photo.  IMG_1549

I will conquer this construction hill, this anemia hill, and the 2016-17 school year hill, one day at a time, with lots of naps.  Thank God for naps.  Anyone?  I give you permission to nap.  Let’s make a nap revolution.  I’m in.

I’m just too tired to write more.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.

Two Feet Converts to Miles

So, we’ve all got these things in our lives that just take 2 feet to fix.  First of all, let’s agree on an image of two feet.  Pick one.  Two feet is the distance of my face to the pan of sizzling fried bacon pan.  Two feet is the distance from my mid-thigh to my foot.  Two feet is the width of my pillow.  Two feet is less than the width of most doors. But the movement of just two feet can be paralyzing, debilitating, and make you want to roll over and throw the covers over your head and go back to sleep.  Especially when the wall of your bedroom (you know, that place where you sleep) has to be moved in two feet.

Yes, you heard that right, two feet.  That’s the requirement that the County of Los Angeles Building Code Department (Shout out, for the record, I want to punch you in the neck right now DLA BCD!) has required we move our wall in…two feet.  It doesn’t seem like a big deal when those two feet are any of the examples above because there’s no monetary requirement attached. But moving the wall those two feet is going to cost us, big big big money.  Big.

It all started when were handed a nice little bit of bonus stress (just what I’ve always wanted, I just love bonus stress, YIPPEE!) in January of 2016.  (Oh wait, it’s now January 2017, right?  Just checking.) Four months prior to January 2016, coming off one of the hottest 2015 summers on record and the air conditioning bill to prove it, I was fed up, & I wanted a change. I wanted to pay less for electricity.  I was beginning the new school year and told Steve, “We have to do something different.”  (My persistence and determination, in most cases is a blessing, in this case, it has not proven to be a blessing, just the opposite.  Curse has come to mind many times, and since we’re being honest cursing has occurred as a result.)  So in August of 2015, I did my research with Southern California Edison and began looking at energy efficient options and contacted one of their vendors for a home energy efficiency plan.  I wanted a lowdown of WHY our bill was so expensive and how we could change it.  Hindsight is 20/2o.  If only I hadn’t been so hasty and determined, we would not be dealing with this Two Foot Nightmare.  Consequently, we’ve had to involve and pay two architects, a surveyor, an attorney and a contractor.  (How many people does it take to move a wall in two feet?)  The construction hasn’t even started yet and probably won’t for several months.  Good times.  (You wish you were me right?)

This, all because I decided we HAD to save money on electricity and that solar panels would be our best option.  Those are the solar panels up above my head in the picture, that we STILL haven’t been able to use because they’re on the unpermitted part of our house. Brilliant.

Speaking of two feet, my Little and Middle are headed to winter camp today.  They are hoping for at least two feet of the powdery white stuff.  Last night I helped the girls pack for winter camp.  It’s fru-EEZing at our house today in SoCal.  I thought Santa Ana winds were hot winds, well, not today:

Moderate to strong northeast winds late through Saturday.  High pressure will settle into the Great Basin this morning with strong north winds forming aloft. This will set up a moderate to strong Santa Ana wind event, affecting much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Winds should exceed 60 mph at times in the mountains and Santa Clarita Valley, with gusts to 40 or 50 mph in the other valleys and coasts. Downed power lines and trees are possible, especially considering the loose or saturated soils caused by the recent rains.

Side note lecture: (Girls, you better wear all those clothes we packed, leg warmers, scarves, snow boots, wool socks, beanies, gloves, winter coats because it’s going to be butt cold where you’re going.  You better look like the youngest whiny brother from The Christmas Story when you walk outside at camp, because I don’t want you coming back sick.)

Two feet of snow is WAY better than moving our bedroom wall in two feet.  For now, I’ll just do what I’ve been doing.  Living life and lovin’ on my family, and try not to sweat the two feet, even though two feet seems like miles.

Until next Friday. Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

My 1-year Surgiversary is coming in 7 weeks.  I’m looking forward to seeing where my weight loss is at the end of one year.  The two feet I moved in having the GP surgery has converted to miles.   I’ve literally and figuratively moved miles this year.  I’m grateful.


Shultzie- Practical Vocabulary

So, this has happened to us all, right?  We’re sitting with a friend, spouse, date, business associate, eating something green, like a lovely spinach salad with a raspberry vinaigrette. After an hour of chit-chat or heart-to-hearts, we take a look in the mirror in the car or in the bathroom.  Stop and look in the mirror.  Check teeth.  Check nostrils.  Whoop, there it is.  Bat-in-the-cave.  (Gosh, what kind of friend doesn’t tell me when I have at bat in the cave.)  Bat-in-the-cave you ask, what’s that?

Maybe it’s because there’s not a word for what happens when you have spinach in your teeth or an unsightly boogie hangin’ post-blow.  Yes, I am speaking of the unspeakable, those embarrassing moments that happen to all of us.  We need the word for this, like a secret code to point and say, uh, you have a ______.  But you don’t want to say all the words, like, “You have spinach in your teeth.” Or “You have a boogie.”  You just need one word.  One word.  I’ve found it, in a slang dictionary.  Now you have the word, shultzie.  I have no idea the origins of this word, or if it’s legitimate. But… I…need… this word.  I’m going to start using it when necessary.  When you have one, I’m going to point at your mouth or your nose and say “shultzie” maybe with a raised eyebrow and nod.  A courtesy. You’ll know what I mean.  I am your friend. We all want to know when we have a shultzie, right? Come on.  Let’s make the world a better place and help each other.  I’m doin’ my part.

Shultzies and all, you’re fine.  You’re fine, really.  You’re alright.


Trying hard to breathe, head between my knees
Take my hand and squeeze, say I’m alright.

Whisper in my ear, “happy you are here.”
Everything seems clear, and we’re alright, we’re alright.

Tell me not to trip or to lose sight.
You are walking in my guided light.
Take my hand and help me not to shake.
Say I’m alright, I’m alright.
Say I’m alright, I’m alright.

It’s okay to fear, everything is real.
Nothing left to steal ’cause we’re alright.
We’re alright.

Tell me not to trip or to lose sight.
You are walking in my guided light.
Take my hand and help me not to shake.
Say I’m alright, I’m alright.
Say I’m alright, I’m alright.
Say I’m alright, I’m alright.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.


Gastric Bypass Update:

I’ve been eating too much candy this week.   Fear will grip me occasionally when I think I might start down the path of binge eating or stepping off the exercise train.  I can’t worry about the future and all the things that might happen.  Those what-ifs just take me down a rabbit trail that I’ve been down too many times.

So, I just do the next right thing and try not to stress about the candy.

Try not to stress about the candy.  That’s my latest piece of advice.  Take it or leave it. 😉




After weeks of coding with my students, we are finally almost ready to showcase our epic build projects in Scratch, a computer programming language that is more kid-friendly.  My brain is about to explode.  (Can I just say, if I had $1 for the times children have said, Mrs. Guiles! and mom!, I’d be a millionaire twice over.  Can I get an Amen from my teacher mamas?)

Anytime teachers have a deadline, like an Open House type event, there are always students in our classes that literally make us want to pull our hair out and go home screamin’ and runnin’ for the hills.  I mean, that wouldn’t actually happen, but that’s how we FEEL.  There are always at least 5 students sometimes 10-15 at any given moment, who ARE NOT paying attention to directions.  Their sense of urgency is practically non-existent and mine is well, on steroids, or to be honest, my sense of urgency is facilitated by a boatload of caffeine.  (I know I’m stressed when I start making more frequent visits to Starbucks. Oh, and also, I have this throbbing knot on the right side of my neck, where my shoulder and back meet.  It’s a lovely little rock that reminds me that, uh, Joy, you’ve been spending too much time staring at your computer and the computers of your students.)  What’s a girl to do?

Anyway, back to that sense of urgency.  I know how much time we have to complete our projects.  I know when the parents and community members are going to come and view these projects. And yet, though they’ve all been informed of this deadline, a few of my little darlins just decide they’re gonna chillax and pretend it’s a day on the beach.  They’ll just relax and take their time. I swear some of them look like they’re loungin’ in their beach chair, cold beverage in hand, staring at the ocean.  (Hey, maybe that’s not such a bad idea kid.  I’ll go with ya.) Then there are those that would rather do anything but the directions I’ve given, because their projects will be different and SO much better than the instructions I’ve given.  Both of these scenarios have crawled up my feisty fast typin’ fingertips and embedded themselves in my neck.  (Now I know where the phrase pain-in-the-neck comes from.)

In spite of all of this, the lack of urgency and neck pain, I am grateful that my students are able to learn about coding at a young age.  It’s hard to believe that I am teaching them how to code.  It’s complex and exhausting teaching it, but when their projects work, and their faces light up, boy, that sure is rewarding.  So, this teaching thing, as I’ve learned over the pasresiliencet 18 years, is all about resilience.  You gotta keep rising up and facing what seems like daunting obstacles for students, academically and personally.  But it’s all worth it.  I don’t feel like that every day, especially in those pain-in-the-neck moments, but I can see the forest through trees, today.

The Baby, Vaping Daddy, and Rice and Beans

So, tonight, I’m a-thinkin’ this tired mama ain’t no way, no how, gonna make no dinner. So, what’s a tired mama to do?  Buy beans and rice.  Yup.  Family favorite.

My oldest was waiting in the car as I went in the strip mall Mexican food stop, which I normally never go to, but it was right on the corner when I was driving and this was a spontaneous and desperate idea.  Right at dusk as the sky was turning dark and the temperatures started to drop, I returned to my van, rice and beans in hand.  As I returned, I noticed a Crown Victoria parked on my driver’s side.  All the windows were rolled down and when I looked in the backseat I saw a what looked like 6-month-old baby in the car seat, alone.

I said to my Boy, “Uh, there’s a baby in that car.”  Boy: “Yeah, one of the guys seemed kinda mad and he kept looking in the car at me before he went in the Vape shop.”  Me: “Uh, he’s not supposed to leave a baby in the car.”

Then as I thought for another 30 seconds, the welfare of that little baby getting to me, I decided to call the San Dimas Sheriff.  Just as I found their number, neck tatted Vaping Daddy walked out of the shop.

I rolled down my window, “Dooooddddde, you can’t leave your baby in the car like that.”

Vaping Daddy: “I just went in for a few minutes.”

Me: “Next time, take your baby in with you.”

Vaping Daddy, exasperated: “I can’t do that, it’s a Vaping Shop!”

Me: “Well then, maybe you shouldn’t bring your baby to a f__ing Vape Shop.” (Yup, I said that.)

Vaping Daddy: “It’s none of your f__ing business.”

Me: “When you leave your baby in the car, someone is going to call the police.”

Vaping Daddy: “I’ll be gone by the time they get here.”

Nice, dude, nice.  It sounded to me like, he’d had a little practice at conveniently leaving when the police were around.  And there it ended.  I verbally spanked him.  He needed a spankin’.  As I left, he stayed outside near the car and his friend handed him the loot at the door.  Later, I explained to my Boy, my audience, that it wasn’t okay to leave his baby in the car.  Boy didn’t want me to get involved, mostly because Vaping Daddy had seemed so aggressive and angry as he entered the shop.  We talked about how it went okay even though the words were aggressive.  At least he didn’t pull out a gun or knife or get physically violent.  (I was trying to look at the bright side.)

imagesSo, what do I do with this story?  I’m thinking about how I made a lot of judgments based on his behavior, his demeanor, his looks, and his words.  He was a 20-something white male, tatted heavily on his neck, and his vaping habit seemed more important than his baby.  I don’t have issues with the tats or the vaping, but I do have issues with leaving a baby in the car while he went in the shop.  Then I thought about that baby, how that baby is learning from the adults in his or her life.  I’m not sure what to think or do with that.  One thing I do know is, that I hope that baby has a lot of resilience.  I hope that baby can grow and love and be productive in this crazy world.  I hope Vaping Daddy gets his shit together and can become more resilient.  Hopefully he’ll just let his friend go in the shop next time and stay in the car with his baby.  But sometimes common sense doesn’t occur to people.  Can I get another Amen?

imgres-1Be resilient this week.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.


Gastric bypass update:

I’ve managed to continue walking even though I’m super stressed and exhausted right now.  In the past, I might not have bounced back as easily.  I think that might be resilience. 🙂







NYC My Heart Got Caught on Your Sleeve Part 2

New York City- Street Art and Color

Bubby’s in Tribeca


A moment of silence in the Big Apple

I wish I could take him home with me.

Down the street from Moe’s Butcher Shop.  Referencing the election results.

Anny’s Food Tour was amazing.  We toured NoHo and Nolita.  That’s me in a food coma at the end of the day.

Yeah, this really happened:

So New York, My Heart Got Caught on Your Sleeve.  I so much loved getting to have a taste of your life in NYC, Anny.  It hasn’t been easy.  You’ve foraged a life for yourself in one of the busiest chaotic places in the world.  Thank you for sharing this place with me.  I love your heart and I loved that you shared this quote with me.  Keepin’ that quote and sharin’ it out because I’ve shared plenty of uncool moments with you over the years, Anny.

“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.”

My final adventure on my way home, suitcase rolling down Bleeker Street, waiting for Amy’s Bread to open so I could get a cup of coffee before I hailed a cab.  As I’m standing there waiting for the employees that were hustling inside, the sign read, “Hours Open 7:30” and it was already 8:00am.  A woman out for her morning walk, stops at the door of Amy’s Bread and tries to open it.  She sees the women inside moving about and makes eye contact with one of them.  “Are they open?”  She says to me. “Uh, I don’t know, it says they open at 7:30.”  After waiting like 15 seconds and getting the clear blow off from the employee inside, she says in authentic New York form, “Well, fuck you then, I’ll get my coffee somewhere else!”  Then she stormed away and continued her walk.  So there ya go.  That was one of my last interactions in the Big Apple.  I traipsed across the street with my suitcase in tow and stopped at Rocco’s for a Cafe Au Lait.  Good choice.

New York City is like a lover, as the song below describes.  If you live there, NYC is more than a city, it’s a relationship.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

I made it to 20,000 steps for the first time in NYC.

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.