Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Last week, Emma had to give a presentation speech where she made chocolate chip cookies at school. Immediately afterwards, another student made peanut butter cookies. Although Emma was allowed to leave the area immediately after she was done, later one of the other students brought the finished peanut butter cookies into the classroom to pass around. Crumbs everywhere. Emma did say something to one of her teachers, who immediately had all the students wash their hands and desks, but the damage was done. 

Emma was already on edge from the idea of peanut butter being spread around the area the students had cooked in, and then the cookie crumbs spread their way around the classroom. She was so emotionally wrought by the time she got home that it took hours for her to calm down. Whether her fear was realistic or not, she spent the day terrified that she was going to come into contact with peanut butter and accidentally kill herself. The stress reduced her immune system so much that she developed a really bad case of strep throat the next day. It was so bad the doctor gave her some liquid pain killer before we left his office, to try to ease the pain. 

I did have email contact with both her teachers and the school principal, all of whom were very apologetic. There will be reminders for teachers about how cooking with peanut butter is probably not the best thing to do at a school. In some ways, incidents like this are a good reminder for all of us that we need to continue to be vigilant. It's easy to take for granted the fact that we (and her school community) have kept her alive so far. 

In other cooking news, yesterday I made banana-chocolate chip bread and forgot to put the sugar in that was called for by the recipe. And I didn't notice it was missing until after I'd eaten a slice :-) I think I liked it better this way.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I Think I'm Broken

After dropping Emma off at school today, I got to my office about 9 am. I prepped until 10:30, including a run around the building to make copies of the lab sheets. Then I lectured for over 60 minutes (way too long for both me and students, but it had to be done), then walked at least several miles back and forth across the classroom handing back graded assignments and answering questions. (I think we should squeeze the students into a smaller room --less distance to cover.) By the time the last student finished up lab and left, my legs were aching. 

Then I went swimming, which never feels like work until I get out of the pool. And I have this slight problem with timing, where I want to get to the pool by 1 pm, so I don't actually have time to eat anything between finishing class and swimming. Sometimes my blood sugar plummets and I'm just lucky if I can get my pants on afterwards without falling over.

I went through the drive-through (of a healthy fast-food alternative that is local here) and had their Veggie Deluxe sandwich to get my blood sugar back up --shredded carrots, bell pepper slices, lettuce, tomato, and a slice of cheese on a bun. It's not a very satisfying sandwich to eat, but the drive through offers few easy and healthy choices if you want to eat while you drive.

And I had to make one more stop before I could go home. This morning Emma told me that she had to give a speech tomorrow, and needed chocolate chips for it. In fact, she has to bring in all the ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies, because her speech consists of explaining how to make them while she actually makes them, at school. And she couldn't be bothered to get them after school herself, because it might cut into the time she had with her boyfriend at the local park (we're having a heatwave of average temps: mid 20s to low 30s, and they are taking advantage of every minute of daylight). 

So, another 1/2 hour of walking around the grocery store (because it would be stupid to go in ONLY for chocolate chips when we actually need a few more things to make it through the week), and by the time I got home I was ready to collapse.

I did manage to put stuff in the refrigerator, and make a cup of coffee. Then I took some ibuprofin and sat down. I haven't moved since :-) I'm not sure I can. I might still be here tomorrow morning. We'll see.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Getting Excited

Rob and I (but mostly me) are beginning the process of planning our family trip to the UK this summer. The flights are exorbitant, but once you get over the sticker shock, it's pretty exciting to start planning. Flying nonstop is not much more expensive than having to change planes once, so our plan is to splurge on that.

We have two main locations we're focused on: the Staffordshire area, where both Emma and Rob have made long-distance friends, and Edinburgh. Right now, I'm looking at flying into London and taking a train to Stafford.

Emma's friend Katie is in the city of Stafford, and Rob's friend (whose name I don't remember) is in a small village nearby. It looks like renting a small cottage in the country and a car are in order for the Staffordshire area. The plan is to be there about a week, and in addition to visiting with the friends, there are great country-walks in the area.

Then we'll head north, by train again, to Edinburgh. Renting a flat in the city is not nearly as expensive as flying, and there are lots available. No car rental needed here --we'll just spend the week walking around the city. Rob and I have done this before (for our honeymoon), and we also have some friends who live there. 

Then back south to London, and flying home. 

But first we need to get our passports sorted! 

I know many of my readers have flown internationally (Jen in particular has had lots of tips posted on her blog), so feel free to leave suggestions in the comments!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Age of Aquarius

Humans of New York is one of my favorite Facebook pages --so many uplifting stories. But when I saw this in my newsfeed this morning:
All I could think was how when this happens to me, I just think I must've had a good night's sleep. I'm obviously lacking in imagination!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Important Updates

Okay, so maybe not so important, but still, here they are.

My Health
For those of you who have been here to support me through two hip replacements, I just wanted to let you know that I'm great! And grateful, for every comfortable swing of my hips as I walk. I feel stable and confident, even in the snow. I finally went swimming again, for the first time since getting sick in early December, and it felt fabulous. My legs did feel a bit like jelly after getting out of the pool, and I have barely been able to use my arms, which just goes to show you shouldn't take a month off!

On Saturday, while Rob took Emma to Kempo, I decided I'd start on tidying the beading area. The first thing I did was pick up some Christmas craft stuff that I wanted to get into it's proper box, which resides in our closet. As I stepped into the closet, a tube of glitter turned upside down and lost it's top. Glitter all over the floor and my slippers. Now I don't really mind a little glitter on everything, but Rob would prefer that glitter was banned from the world

So I got the hand-vacuum and cleaned it up. And then, since I had the vacuum out, I continued to clean the incredibly dusty closet floor, and made my way around the edges of the room, gathering satisfyingly large dust-bunnies from under furniture and behind doors as I went. However, when I finished, my already-tired arms were almost useless. I did manage to get some beads out of dishes and bags and into their proper containers, but not nearly all of them. I have to admit, I find creating so much easier than organizing. That's why these happened after just a tiny bit of tidying.

The large beads at the bottom are polymer clay, made by Emma Todd, who sells her beautiful work at A Polymer Penchant.
My Sister's Broken Leg
I've been Facetime chatting with my sister over the holidays, and I'm happy to report that she can now, after 8 weeks, put her weight on her ankle for a few seconds. She is working from home, but I know she's ecstatic to be able to move around her home, and can't wait until she can once again drive and run her own errands.

So, for no reason other than that I really like them, I'm going to finish this short post with a song from a band that Rob just introduced me to. Actually, it's not really a band, it's two people: Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott. I can't find a video of my current ear-worm ("don't buy a 50p telescope girl, you'll only see 50p stars") but this is one my favorite songs on their recent album.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Navigating In A Digital World

I've written before on this blog about Emma having made friends via Instagram that evolve over time to include texting and skyping. Some of these friends are regional (Chicago area), and some are far way (England, Egypt). Some of the friendships don't last long, others have already lasted well over a year, and in fact we'll be visiting her friend in England this summer. 

Recently she developed a relationship with a guy from Texas. (My first worry with all these relationships is whether or not the people she's meeting are actually teens, and not trolling perverts. However, she always skypes with them, so it's possible to see that they really are who they say they are.) A few months later, though, things turned weird when she got some texts from his number supposedly from his mother and sister, telling her he'd been rushed to the hospital because he'd attempted suicide.

The first thing we did was to reassure her that his attempted suicide was not at all her fault. Many people go through multiple heart-breaks and don't attempt suicide. Something else must be going on in his life, whether it's depression or family-related. 

But then we started discussing how much we DON'T know about people who we meet this way. We know only what they tell us --we don't see them interacting with their friends or family, we don't know their background in any objective way. Every interaction is filtered through their words. 

Based on a later text, we're pretty sure there was no suicide attempt, and all texts were from the boy. Once we reached this point, Emma quite willingly blocked all avenues of contact, so he could not access her through any kind of social media. I don't care if the boy is only 15 --that's emotional abuse, and I've been there and done that. She can't solve his problems, so it's best to sever all links.

This was a strange episode in the continuing saga of being a teen in this digital age, where the world is much smaller than it was when I was a teen. Some of the episodes have been great, some not so great, but all of them have offered learning opportunities that I think will probably come in handy as she continues to navigate through these years. Just yesterday someone set up an Instagram account, made to appear as if it was from a parent or admin of her school, and followed her and many of her classmates. She found it creepy, because there was no picture associated with it. She blocked it immediately.

I think she has good instincts, and I hope that will continue to be true once she's navigating these things without her parents around to help.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Tidying, Hopefully

One of the things I asked Santa for (aka, Rob) for Christmas was more bead storage. I have a problem, and the lack of storage has been making it worse. I didn't have the chance to make much for Christmas this year, but coming in and seeing this mess was almost as much a hindrance as the flu!

I've tried different types of storage containers, and found my favorite. So Rob got me a few more :-)
I'm having a bit of trouble starting --somehow, there are always other things that need doing that seem more urgent --class prep right now, laundry and vacuuming always. But maybe this post will keep me honest :-)