Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful

This title line was from a Heather Locklear hair color commercial in the 80s and 90s, I think.   My house is talking to you.  My house is looking more and more beautiful, (and right, it should, after this intense make-over.)

It’s disturbing how, after you start to fix one thing, you start to notice how there are 5,000 other things that need to be fixed.  (Here’s how the thought process goes, “Oh, I need to order blinds for the sliding glass door and the new window in the studio.” “Ooooh, I hate the blinds in the rest of the house, maybe we should get those replaced too.” “I mean, we can’t live with substandard blinds in the living room.”  Insert the Wayan brothers’ voices from White Chicks, “Omg, if I have to look at that dreadful broken screen on the door one more time, I think I might have a BF!”)  

So, back to my house, the crew is painting now, and I’m not sure I love, love, love the color of the house, but if I think of it as a shout out to the 1950’s, this new paint job fits the house.  It’s like the house was sayin’, “Take me back! I want to be what I was at my origin, paired with a sock hop, poodle skirt, and Rock Around the Clock playin’ in the background.”  My house is happy.

Week 6, at the beginning:

Week 6: Later in the week

It’s not all done yet, but we’re getting much closer.  One of the main lessons I’ve learned is, when you don’t think things are ever going to work out, they do.  They may not work out as you expect, but they’ll work out, and you adapt.

I’m thinkin’ this house might be a metaphor for life.

Life is beautiful.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

I ate totally crappy this week & didn’t exercise as much.  It may have been that trip to Vegas that threw me off kilter a bit.  All that to say, taking a few days off to Vegilax was a good thing.  Now, back on the exercise bandwagon again via walking laps at Raging Waters today!

The Way to This Girl’s Heart…

The way to this girl’s heart…is through potatoes.

I love potatoes in any form.  Hash browns, french fries, scalloped, mashed, maybe the only way I don’t love them is raw.  But my mama has been known to munch on a raw potato when she’s cuttin’ them up.  Whilst enjoying some cheesy potatoes this week, I was taken back to an episode of Freaky Eaters, “When I eat cheesy potatoes, it instantly puts a smile on my face.”  Yes, definitely, but thank God I didn’t get stuck there at age four.  I do love variety.  (I can’t imagine a cheesy potato prison. Watch this, a woman in a cheesy potato prison for 30 years.  Wow.  There are limitations to loving something.  You with me?)



The way to this girl’s heart…is through claw machines.  Yeah, that’s what I said, claw machines.  If you aren’t familiar with a claw machine, here you go:

And yes, I was at Walmart. **Unashamed.  I totally want to be like this guy.  Summer goals.  I have goals, people, goals.  Best quote: “These two seem so gettable.”  I totally think that when I’m trying for the panda in the corner.  There is strategy here, for realz. I don’t play team sports, I’m an individual sport kinda girl.  I play the claw machine, yo. Oh my garsh!  (The next video that shows after this one is a Claw Science video.  Wha?  Yeah, Claw Science.  I’m totes on that. More summer goals. By the way, I WON that pig on my first try.  Then I got greedy and spent $3.50 more trying to win a panda.)

The way to this girl’s heart…is through happy endings.  I love the end of the school year because it’s the END.  We get to start over.  (There’s a thing called summer, that we still get to have as ADULTS! We, teachers, deserve it because we encounter over 25 students ALL DAY & live through it.  Some days are HARD, especially at the end of the year.)  Summer is awesome.  This, I look forward to. Even though I’m teaching summer school, I’m still THRILLED that it’s summer.  (Thrilled. Did you hear me?  Thrilled!  I mean, I got to watch the Comey stream on my laptop and fall asleep midweek!  Soap operas and naps on a Wednesday?  This is the life.)

Listen to the song by Weezer because I’m telling you to.


Speaking of the end, it’s close.  The near-ending to this unreal construction solar panel debacle is such a huge relief.   We’re going to be ready for the final inspection by next week.  What?????  Hard to believe.  Once that’s done, I will be so relieved.  (If you pray, please ask the LAWD for grace during our final inspection.   We would love for our inspector— Code Enforcement Officer, to not scrutinize the rest of our house when he comes in to observe the fire and carbon monoxide detectors.  He is trained to find something wrong.)  



Until next Friday.  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

I’ve gotten more exercise over the past few weeks than I have in years!  My stamina has picked up and I’ve gotten over 11,000 steps many days over the past few weeks.

Let’s get real.  Here’s what I still struggle with…body image.  This is of a different sort, now that I’m thinner: my wrinkles, imperfect teeth, sagging skin on my legs and belly. Then I think, I COULD do a lot of reconstructive surgery, get lifted or enhanced boobs like so many other American women.  But I’m kinda like, no. Not gonna do it.  Why?  It’s a rabbit hole for me.  (Plus the entire budget that I could have spent on my body, I spent on my house.  Lol.)  So, y’all can deal, or not, with my gap, crazy teeth, and saggin’ skin.   If I make you uncomfortable, you can always stop reading and stop watching.  I’m here to remind you that imperfections are legitimately human.  I love you.  Deal.  I have to…



Break on Through to the Other Side

Little is struggling with breaking through to the other side. Middle School. It’s scary.  I told her a story about how, when I was 9, I moved from Arkansas to Texas. That was just before 4th grade.  I didn’t tell her this, but that was one of the hardest times of my life. Moving from my best friend, Nell, and moving to an unfamiliar Christian school where my memories are filled with the brown and yellow uniforms. (Who decides that brown and pale yellow will be THE colors of the school.  Can you say drab?  It’s the color of #1 and #2.  Just sayin’.)

This is our wall this week. The wall of our bedroom:

Week 4, Day 1

Week 4, Day 2

Week 4, Day 4   When Something Ends Up Where it Shouldn’t Be…

If you’re like me, everything relates to a song.  This one came to mind this week. Flashback to The Doors in 1967.  I’m looking forward to breaking through to the other side of this nightmare.   You with me?

Speaking of breaking through to the other side, in better news, I have been given the job that I applied for last week. I will be working with students who struggle with reading throughout grades K-5.  The bonus is, I get to stay at the school I love with people I love.  I don’t think I’m supposed to say I love people at work, but I’m going to say it anyway. Shout out to my CYP peeps!

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

I’m reflecting on the fact that, had this set of circumstances happened to me over a year ago, I likely would not have coped the same way.  I would have coped with this stress by eating and eating to mask my feelings.  I’m grateful that I have stronger & healthier coping skills now.  I am walking instead of eating.  This seems like a simple substitution, but it took me YEARS to finally put this into practice.  I never thought I’d be here, over 90 pounds lighter and coping differently. I thought I was a hopeless cause.  Losing weight was for other people, not me.

Now about the colored featured image, I Can Do Hard Things. I think it’s evident that after the past few years, that I can do hard things and not only survive, but thrive.

You can too.

Special Weekend Edition

So, the end of the school year is fully here.  I have so much to do & I just want to nap.  So I did.  I took a long Spring-er’s nap (Not to be confused with Jerry Springer.  What’s he doing now? Never mind, I don’t want to know) and woke up in a bit of a daze.

Since I’ve had a lot of other tasks to complete this week, blogging dropped to the bottom of the list.  Open House & Knott’s for Little, driving to San Clemente for Boy, root canal for husband (of which I did nothing but emotionally support, and did that poorly), Raging Waters for Middle, and EdJoin interactions and meetings and meetings for me.  You know, all in a week’s work.

Another $5,000 spent this week on the house, another $5,000, no biggie.

Then my phone decided it couldn’t handle all the work I’ve been putting it through, and I panicked and bought a new one.  The old one still works, but I can’t handle one. more. thing. right now and I must have a reliable phone.  Growing up, we always had beater 2nd-hand cars that broke down on the side of the road, and I can’t handle that, so I don’t want to relive these memories with a smartphone.  Controlling and paranoid? Maybe. (Go ahead and judge. I won’t know.)

I get all into myself and all my problems and To-Dos and then I see this.  A man-boy? crossing the road on San Dimas and Bonita, with a Darth Vader mask and a Nerf gun.  (I mean, I think I picked the wrong profession.  I want to be THAT carefree.  That amazing, that awesome.  Come on, you know you want that too. You want to be free from social constraints for just a few minutes, and bust out the Darth Vader mask whilst riding your mountain bike across the street.  You with me?)  I expect this in Hollywood, but not San Dimas.  I just smiled.  Cause that’s what I do when I see something out of the ordinary…smile.  It’s a reminder to me, stop taking everything so damn seriously.  The picture is a terrible quality, but, yes, he was wearing a mask and had his Nerf Gun precariously hanging from the side of his bike.



On my drop-off in San Clemente, I stopped for a much-needed beach fix.  (Soak it in with me, friends.  Summer will be here soon.)


This picture above is the construction that is occurring across from the amazing palm tree view in San Clemente.  I wish that was the site of our current construction work. (Oh well, I can dream.)

Here’s the update on the events of this week on the construction.  They’ve made tons of progress.  They work like a well-oiled machine.  They’re also kinda messy.  But I know they’ll clean up after themselves at the end.  (Breathe Joy, remind yourself, that the plank in your own eye is every desk you’ve ever had…messy. But you can find what you need, most of the time.  MOST of the time.)  

Here’s the recap of progress made this week on the house.  I will be so grateful when we can spread out into the studio and our bedroom again.

And the real progress of the real house, not the one with the beach view:

Until next Friday (or Saturday).  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

I’ve lost another couple pounds.  It seems crazy and impossible.  I’d still like to make to 100 pounds, but this last 10 lb is stubborn, like me.


Construction, Parenting Teenagers, Etc.: The 10th Layer of Hell

Boy’s infant face sums it up.  I called him my little monkey boy when he was this age because he had a party of red hair in the back and no hair on top, like a little old man.

Construction, constant hammering, and sawing.

Little got the stomach flu which involved hot Cheetos and spaghetti and clean-up-episode in the middle of the night. (Best husband cleaned that up.)

I spilled my coffee all over the counter yesterday.  (Best husband cleaned up again.)

I went for an ultrasound and biopsy (routine) yesterday at the gynecologist which involved being probed by strangers in holes that no one should see. Doc said, “If I’m hurting you, you can kick the nurse.”  I said, “You’re closer.”  We all giggled.  I think the nurse was a fan of my comment.  Doc said, “How are you doin’?”  I said, “I hate this, for the record.”

Parenting-fail involved sending Boy outside for a time out, squishing of a piece of his cake, and a few other choice words I won’t repeat here.

Overnight, husband now has decided to go into labor and birth another kidney stone.

This was my recap of the last two days.  This will be in Vlog form because I can’t bear to write it down.  Yesterday at the Department of BS was a nightmare, again.  Again.  Some things were accomplished, but now we have to get Zero Energy to give us the plans they drew of the solar panels and electrical panels, or have them redrawn, at our expense.

Here’s my overview of the progress made outside:


And, next week, I’m applying for a new position at work.  For the record, God DOES give us more than we can handle.  We just have to trust that He’ll help us through it.

Until next Friday. Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass update:

I think my iron levels are still out of whack. I’m taking my supplements, but occasionally I’ll feel a little dizzy, which is a side effect of anemia.  (In my case it could also be anxiety and stress.)  Hopefully, once my options are laid out from my gynecologist, we can get the menses issues under control, and my iron will level out.

I’ve really been trying to not eat and drink at the same time.  I’m supposed to wait 30 minutes after eating to drink anything. So hard.  I honestly can’t remember if I posted this video about why you shouldn’t eat and drink at the same time post gastric bypass.  I think he’s got the best visual illustration I’ve seen:


You know those times in life when you wish you could go back and change your decisions?  Yeah, I guess that’s the plotline for many popular shows and movies, maybe you’ve heard of Back to the Future, Dr. Who, or Frequency?

I feel gutted. As they are demolishing the walls, down to the studs and digging trenches outside to underpin and reinforce the foundation, I’m in a state of disbelief that we’ve finally come to a place where we’re going to be DONE with this construction-solar-panel- nightmare-from-hell.  It’s been over a year and half of back and forth with LA County about whether or not we have to move that east wall 2 feet.  We lost, they won.  Our complaint with the Contractor State License Board (CSLB) that we filed against Zero Energy (the solar panel company) resulted in no compensation, just an agreement that if the county requires us to remove the panels at any point during the construction process, Zero Energy will remove and remount them at no cost. (How generous <<sarcasm>>.)

I’ve had to accept that no matter how angry I get about this, it’s really our fault.  We shouldn’t have ever done unpermitted work on the house in the first place.  We were young and naive when we originally did the garage conversion, and at that point, we wouldn’t have had enough equity to get it permitted to code, so now we’re paying for it.  I just wish Zero Energy had said, “Uh no, we don’t put panels on unpermitted structures.”  Then we would have had to consider other options and we wouldn’t have spent the $59,000 with the HERO Program having Zero Energy do the work.  So again, related to our claims against Zero Energy, they won, we lost.  The only silver lining is that through some internet investigating, I contacted a reporter from San Diego who wrote a report about a class action lawsuit that’s been filed against the HERO Program.  As a result of his referral to an attorney, we are now a part of a lawsuit against the HERO Program. The attorney is in NYC.  We may only get $5 once that case settles, but hey, I feel like this gutted feeling is finally coming to an end.  I’ve done absolutely everything I can think of to remedy, solve and plead with the powers-that-be, and I lost.

Pause and listen to Silver Lining (I think I’ve posted this before but I still love this song!) & other songs by First Aid Kit.  Their harmonies are mesmerizing.  I love the phrase, “Gotta keep on, keepin’ on.”  That’s what I’ve had to do this year.

Sometimes we lose.  What do we do with that?  Everything has a purpose.  Sometimes we don’t know what that purpose is.  Some days we don’t figure it out.  However, I believe that this debacle has taught me to have more patience and perseverance than I thought I could muster.  If you know me, you know I HATE phone calls.  I’ve had to make so many, more than I can count right now, telling and retelling our pathetic sob story.  I can’t imagine suing people for a living.  It’s exhausting and it feels icky.  I don’t like it when things are unresolved.  This has been over a year of un-resolution.  Year of Un-Resolution.  I think we all encounter years like this.  Years that we might like to erase or restart.  Finally, I feel a resolution is coming.  The light at the end of the tunnel… is coming.

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

I wrote that first $5,000 check today, one of eight over the next 8 weeks.  The new inspector should be here next week to let them proceed.  If all goes as planned (which it rarely does, I’m under no illusions here, we’re dealing with the LA Department of BS) we should finish by the end of June. The goal, for me, is to be done by the end of July so I can get the house in order before school starts again in August.  I think this a reasonable timeline.  I think.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

I realized I’m terribly undisciplined about keeping track of grams of protein and amounts of food I eat.  I find it very confining and challenging amidst all the other responsibilities I have.  So, this week I’ve tried to do a mental tally at the end of the day of my protein intake.  I’m only getting between 30-40 grams.  I need 60-80 grams. The plan is to add a scoop of protein powder every day.  This should make up the deficit. Why so much protein?  It makes you more full so you don’t feel the need to eat as frequently, and if you don’t have enough protein your body will start pulling from your muscle mass called muscle wasting. (Now, we don’t want that, do we?  Sounds cannibalistic.  Ew.)



A Teacher’s Life: Mayday, Mayday

Mayday, Mayday.

Mayday got its start as an international distress call in 1923. It was made official in 1948. It was the idea of Frederick Mockford, who was a senior radio officer at Croydon Airport in London. He came up with the idea for “mayday” because it sounded like the French word m’aider, which means “help me.” 
Yes, that’s exactly what I want to say, “help me!” Every May, I get extremely stressed. What else is new? This is a cycle.  I know this.  But I can’t seem to mute the stress once May 1 hits.   So, in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I’m going to give you a first-hand point of view of what’s really going on in most teachers’ brains this time of year. ELD, AR, ZPD, UA, IEP, CAASPP, SBAC, LCAP, SAI, ELA, WFTBB, CTTF, CKLA, GAFE, TM, IAB, EOY, DWA—educators are the kings and queens of acronyms.  Mind you, this isn’t an exhaustive list of the acronyms that we educators encounter on a daily basis. Is your head spinning yet?

Here are a few examples of how these acronyms are used in our heads as teachers:  I have to give the EOY math test and the DWA before May 26 after the CAASPP. Translation:  I have to give the End of Year math test and the District Writing Assessment after I give the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress.  AR ends on May 26 so I have to give the STAR test to get their ZPD to factor into my ELA grade.  Translation: Accelerated Reader goals end on May 26 so I have to get their Zone of Proximal Development to factor into my English Language Arts grade.  (This will all happen before the end of the month. I’m making myself anxious just writing about it.)

Then a new craze emerges— the fidget spinner.  Last year at this time it was the flipping- water-bottle event (thank you YouTube, for that) that drove teachers batty. This year, introducing—the fidget spinner.  (If you don’t know what a fidget spinner is read this hilarious commentary from a Chicago Tribune journalist, click here.) Oh, brother. Gimme-a-break kids, I am teacher, and you need to PAY ATTENTION to learn these important ideas am required to impart to you!  The last thing you need is a status symbol toy to play with and profit from at school (yes, a student tried to sell one for $20 this week) to distract you from all the end-of-year review that we have to accomplish.  (Don’t you know that we still have 3 topics in math to finish and you don’t know how to convert feet to yards?! Damn you, customary measurement! It’s confusing and the system based in 10s makes so much more sense. Ahhhhh.) My students don’t realize how important my plans are for them, see, they don’t really feel like it applies to their life.  But Minecraft, on the other hand, is REAL LIFE.

Oh yeah, did I mention that I’ve been sludging through the depths of computer science this year and teaching my students about how to control the world in Minecraft?  They can change the day to night, fly, and control the weather.  We all want to be God, and this is as close as we can get… by experimenting in creative or survival modes in Minecraft.  Yes, in addition to teaching my students how to read and write, do the maths, be productive citizens, critical thinkers, growth mind setters, communicators, and collaborators, I am now teaching them how to become computer science experts.  Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a shift that needs to happen in education to enable students to develop a stronger skill set for the future, but for the teachers, those of us who really don’t LOVE gaming, this is a huge shift and learning curve.  Huge.  (Did I say huge?  I meant it.) 

And then, this happens:

A sweet little note brings me back to reality, to why I teach. “You are a nice and fun teacher.  Please keep your smile.”  (Oh, thank God, I still smile at this point in the year! I feel so grouchy and stressed.)  She ‘got’ me.  She drew my outfit to perfection, including the little flapper tassels hanging from my blouse, and it made my day.  It’s the little things about teaching that keep me going.  This was one of those moments.  This is one of those events that can’t be measured on a state test.  That communication between student and teacher.  She can be a difficult student at times, full of excitement and mischief, laughing inappropriately, talking across the room, distracting the students around her.  But she’s bright-as-all-get-out and likable and I like her smile too.  I hope she knows this.  Teaching, for me, is about that exchange, that interaction, that craft that is magical.

Scientifically speaking, I know what makes a teacher effective can be measured, it’s been done in many studies, but most of the data is based on how students perform on assessments.  As far as I know, educators aren’t studied for how they effectively prepare students to be good humans.  What is a good human and is that important and can the teachers, the ones that spend 6 hours a day in close proximity impact what happens to these growing humans?  I give an emphatic yes! Even if my students don’t score proficient or advanced on the CAASPP, I think they will remember that Mrs. Guiles wanted them to love to read, she wanted them to love to explore and keep learning in any capacity, and she loved them, whether or not they scored proficient or advanced. See, my students come to me with deficits, deficits that I try to fill in, however, filling all the gaps for every student is a great challenge.  I do my best.  More than anything, I want my students to have a sense that they can grow.  They may not grow as much as I want them to in 3rd grade, but I want them to take growth mindset with them to 4th grade and beyond and know that they can keep learning beyond my classroom.

So, my student’s drawing reminded me to keep smiling. A good reminder for all of us. A reminder of what it means to be human.

Teacher Appreciation Week comes at the perfect time.  All the teachers I know work extremely hard.  I’m giving a giant fist pump to all of you!  Hang in. June will be here before we know it.  Whew.

All of you need to watch this.  All teachers have had these thoughts, and if they say they haven’t, they’re lying.  Enjoy a little educator humor compliments of Gerry Brooks. He gets it.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

Today, I got weighed on one of those non-digital scales when I was at my OBGyn’s office and I weighed 4 pounds more than I did on my scale at home.  I’m telling myself that it’s not the end of the world, and it’s a different scale, so maybe it’s wrong or does it really matter?  I SHOULD have been thrilled to get weighed on that scale because over the past ten years the health assistants have had to move that weighted bar to the 200 mark and smaller weighted bar at the top beyond 200 pounds.  Now I’m stressin’ because the bar is at 150 and the smaller bar is at 14, I’ll do the maths- 164.   Joy, you make NO sense. Stop it!  It’s a different scale for Pete’s sake!  Deal. For reals.  (I did go for a longer walk tonight.  I hope I’m not becoming obsessed about the number on the scale.)  Keep yourself in check, you are not defined by that stupid scale. Really.

I’m speaking to all of you now.  Really.