Saturday, December 30, 2006

Farewell, cruel Michigan

It's actually not Michigan that's cruel; just the weather. But no matter, since tomorrow afternoon I'm returning to Ft Myers. Although there were times I didn't know how I'd last the entire 2 weeks (my mom and I had a couple of showdowns), it really did go by quickly and I'm sad to have to say goodbye--AGAIN to family (well, most of them), especially nieces and nephews. Man, it sucks to have to keep doing that over and over, every time I leave again.

So, I'm torn, because part of me is REALLY FREAKIN' EXCITED to get back to the warmth and sunshine of Florida...but it's also cool being in Michigan, where I can just zip over to my sisters' any time I want and see what's up.

I just have to convince them all to come down south, I guess... ;)

UPDATE: According to, it's supposed to be in the high 70s/low 80s for the forseeable future. Yeah, THAT should help to ease my pain over leaving the Little People behind.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Does this look wrong to anyone else?

Or is it just me...and Missy...and Nikki...and Steve...and Katey...and Ron?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

I scanned a copy of my MRI for ya...

Tee hee.

Your IQ Is 120

Your Logical Intelligence is Below Average
Your Verbal Intelligence is Genius
Your Mathematical Intelligence is Exceptional
Your General Knowledge is Above Average

Not only are they brave...but they're funny as hell, too

Remember the John Kerry quote I posted a while back (something to the effect of, "You either get an education or you end up in Iraq")? Well, I just found this picture on Myspace and I HAD to share it with all of you.

Here's to our heroes this Christmas.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Starting next Dec. 23

Festivus. *

Who's with me? (I'm thinking me, Nik, Mis, Lynda, Shawn, Ron, Renee if she happens to be in town and whoever else we can bribe with alcohol.)

I read about it every year, but today I actually sat down and researched the different elements of it and actually, I think it's pretty damn funny. With this group (and the aforementioned alcohol), it could be a blast.

Main elements of Festivus as excerpted from Wikipedia:

The Festivus Pole
The tradition begins with a bare aluminum pole, which Frank praises for its "very high strength-to-weight ratio." During Festivus, an unadorned aluminum pole is displayed, apparently in opposition to the commercialization of highly decorated Christmas trees, and because the holiday's creator, Frank Costanza, "find[s] tinsel distracting." Local customs vary and you may be able to decorate your pole with non-threatening plain decorations, or ordinary green garland.

The Airing of Grievances
At the Festivus dinner -- a meal featuring non-holiday comfort food -- each participant tells friends and family all of the instances where they disappointed him or her that year.

The Feats of Strength
The head of the family tests his or her strength against one participant of the head's choosing. Festivus is not considered over until the head of the family has been pinned to the ground. A participant is allowed to decline to attempt to pin the head of the family only if they have something better to do instead.

*We can cheat a little and still do Christmas, too.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Life List

I started my life list tonight after watching some 4-year-olds in a karate class (don't ask); here's what I've come up with so far. I'm going to work on this a LOT more but these were the first thoughts that came to mind. (I'd like to hear some of yours, too, because I bet you all have some I want to steal.)

Go to a NASCAR race
Fly first class
Get a black belt in karate
Go somewhere requiring a passport
Quit smoking
Get married
Stop procrastinating
Return calls more quickly
Go scuba diving
Fly a plane
Ride in a hot air balloon
Have LASIK surgery
Follow things through (projects, promises, ideas, etc)
Skydive again
Change someone’s life
Meet Ryan Newman
Stop sabotaging relationships

Monday, December 18, 2006

How to kill an hour

MYSPACE's harder than it looks!

Your Name: Jen

Rules: Use the 1st letter of your name to answer each of the following...They MUST be real places, names, things...NOTHING made up! If you can't think of anything, skip it. Try to use different answers if the person in front of you had the same 1st initial. You CAN'T use your name for the boy/girl name question.

**The only one I couldn't answer was "dairy product"**

1. Athlete: Julius Erving
2. 4 letter word: Jump
3. Street name: Jackson St (in Ft Myers, I had to look it up)
4. Color: Jade (damn, that one took a while for me to think of)
5. Gifts/presents: Jewelry
6. Vehicles: Jaguar
7. Tropical Locations: Jamaica
8. College Majors: Journalism
9. Dairy Products: ???
10. Things in a Souvenir Shop: Junk =-)
11. Boy Name: James
12. Girl Name: Jill
13. Movie Titles: Just Like Heaven
14. Beers: J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale (LOL, you do NOT want to know how long it took me to find THAT one)
15. Occupations: Jock strap maker (what? That's not a job? Fine. Jockey)
16. Flowers: Juniper (that's a flower, right?)
17. Celebrities: Justin Timberlake
18. Magazines: Jack and Jill
19. U.S. Cities: Junction City, Kansas
20. Pro Sports Team: Joe Gibbs Racing ....No? Fine. Jets (New York)

And I'm going to keep looking for an answer to "dairy," too. It's just the principle of the thing now.
Back in Michigan

Thanks to everyone who has asked--and yes, I made it safely back to Michigan. I was, however, EXTREMELY hung over for most of the trip (I went out for "one drink" with some teachers after work on Friday--and I got home at about 1:30. On a side note, I got up to pack at around the next morning--I was supposed to do it after work on Friday but, of course, THAT didn't happen--and I couldn't find my suitcase. I looked EVERYWHERE. So I ended up having to pack 2 weeks worth of clothes and various supplies in what was basically a glorified duffle bag. Yeah, that sucked).

Anyway, one of teachers from my school was actually on my flight from Ft. Myers to Detroit--and we both had a bit of a layover. Naturally, we did what any good teacher would do and went to the bar. I actually almost missed my connecting flight because of it (in my defense, that flight DID leave earlier than scheduled), but it was a good way to pass the time. Plus, we "bonded" (this was a teacher I had never really hung out with before) and the 2 screwdrivers seemed to help me recover from the 8 the night before. ;)

Both flights were fine, although I jumped at every sound and clutched the arm rests for the 15 minutes before and after takeoff and landing. I've already been to Katey's house to see her tribe and will get to see Donovan and Anthony (Missy's kids) soon, hopefully tonight or tomorrow.

Mom, of course, is already getting on my nerves, but that's to be expected.

How's everyone out there?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Why people become teachers

There's more stuff piled behind the desk, too--and I had other things coming in all week.

This is why it pays to teach middle school: you have five times as many students. ;)

My kids are AWESOME.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Not sure how to title this post

I guess I'll just cut right to the chase: there's a 75% chance it's MS.

So that sucks.

But, it actually doesn't suck as bad as the other 25%, which includes vasculitis. I guess that vasculitis can be a pretty big deal when it affects the brain. At least MS won't give me a fatal anueryism or something. The test for that, though, is pretty damn invasive, so let's just hope it doesn't come to that. And there are other diseases that mimic MS, but the blood tests are more rare (I guess it's hard to find a place that is capable of testing for that) and really expensive.

Anyway, my neuro (I can't believe I actually HAVE a neurologist) said that considering the symptoms I have (including what appears to be lesions on my brain and possibly my optical nerve, which is the "multiple" in "MS"), my age and my race, "it's MS until proven otherwise." So now I need a spinal tap, which I'm having on the 2nd. (I told him that I'm the type who has to be sedated for an eyebrow waxing, and he said, "Don't worry. It's not nearly as bad as an eyebrow waxing.") After that, it'll take about 2 weeks for the results to come back. My next appointment (which is when I'll probably find out the results) is January 20-something. The spinal tap CAN come back negative for MS when it's actually positive, though, so it's by no means a definitive answer. But it's the next step. And then, positive or negative, we go from there.
Two months later...

Here are a couple of pictures from my hungover birthday trip to the gun range.

My most flattering picture? Perhaps not. But NO ONE looks good in those goggles and "ears."

See? I told you I didn't suck.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Top 100

Tomorrow (Thursday) is our last day of actual "work" at school before Christmas break (on Friday, we're having parties, etc). I was going to do something else, but I'm making a last-minute change to the lesson plan. I found an article on that I'm going to share with the kids--and with you. And then we're going to create our own Life Lists. (I got the idea when I read a post from a student who said she had done it in HER English class; I won't make them do 100, though. Maybe 25 or 30.)

As we come to the end of another year, it's generally the time for personal reflection, etc. Instead of making New Year's Resolution, I'm making some Life Resolutions. Feel free to join me.

The Life List You Must Write

"I'm not proud of everything I've done, but I have no regrets," Ann once said.

Five years after Ann Nelson's death on September 11, she's still an amazing inspiration. Here's why.

When Ann Nelson decided to learn to cook, she didn't start with a simple meal: Her first culinary endeavor was Thanksgiving dinner. Although the turkey was done at midnight, it tasted delicious and everyone had a blast. In January 2001, the 30-year-old from Stanley, North Dakota, achieved another impressive feat: She relocated to Manhattan from Chicago. "One Monday, she called and said, 'Leenie, I just accepted a job in New York.... I'll be flying out tomorrow,' " remembers her friend Eileen Swartout. "I could hear the tingle of anticipation in her voice.... She was beginning a new adventure."

Adventure was something Ann often sought out, from whizzing down mountains on Colorado ski trips to traveling solo in Peru. Once in New York, she rented an apartment in the hip SoHo area, where her boyfriend, Eric Lockovitch, and their 130-pound Newfoundland, Newman, visited her.

But on September 11, 2001, Ann's jampacked life came to a halt — she was working as a bond broker on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center. This past March, Ann's mom, Jenette, opened a file on Ann's laptop called Top 100, revealing an incomplete list of goals her daughter had hoped to accomplish. That list, printed here, may very well motivate you to start your own Top 100 — and live by it.

View Ann's list here (you'll have to copy and paste the whole link instead of just clicking it, since it stretches to two lines):
Hot hotty hot

Anyone watching The Biggest Loser finale? They're not even on the top 4 yet; they're just showing the eliminated contestants--and I'm BLOWN AWAY. As I write this, Brian is in first among this group--and may I say, he is freakin' HOT. (He was the Grizzly Jack-looking guy, with the huge beard and heart of gold.) However, Marty is in close 2nd place (for hotness; that's all I'm worried about right now, LOL. I'm having my own little competition over here).

I hope he wins the "eliminated people" weigh-in. He was SUCH a sweetheart on the show. Everyone just ADORED him. He always reminded me of Missy and Nikki's Uncle Brad.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Gimpy's home!

She came home yesterday. She's off the morphine so she's much easier to have a conversation with now. She's basically "back to normal" (have yourself a little giggle here--or a sarcastic snort, whatever) but is realizing, as she said, "the little things you take for granted." It takes her a lot longer to do EVERYTHING now, of course.

That's about all. I have my kids making her cards for extra credit (it's the last week of the semester so I figured I'd throw them an easy one; usually my extra credits involve a lot of writing and/or research--well, except for the Growing Pains theme song thing). One girl went all out and made her a really impressive pop-up card. I told her she's getting quadruple-extra-credit.

Monday, December 11, 2006

You'd better watch out, you'd better not cry....

(You may not want little eyes to see this one, unless they know that Mall Santa isn't the REAL Santa.)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Soundtrack of my life

I know you guys did this before but I just got a new iPod so now I'm finally able to play along.


So, here's how it works:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don't lie

Opening Credits:
Nothing to Lose - Josh Gracin

Waking Up:
You Raise Me Up - Josh Grobin (LOL)

First Day of School:
Love Hurts -the Cher version

Falling In Love:
Wasting Time - Kid Rock (hell yeah it's been a waste of time so far)

Being In Love:
Seasons of Love - Rent (ooh good one)

Fight Song:
Strong Enough - Cher (I shit you not)

Breaking up:
Living on a Prayer - Bon Jovi

How to Save a Life - The Fray

It's My Life - Bon Jovi (no, SERIOUSLY)

Mental Breakdown:
Irreplaceable - Beyonce (hahhahaha--see, God is reminding me that no man is worth the drama and heartache)

My Kind of Girl - Colin Raye (huh?)

You Give Love a Bad Name - Bon Jovi (shut up, they're my favorite band. I have like a billion of their songs on my iPod)

Getting Back together:
Walkaway Joe - Trisha Yearwood (holy crap)

Wedding:First, I got How to Save a Life, but I figured repeats don't count so I did it again and got To Be With You- Mr. Big

Birth of Child:
Broken Road - Rascal Flatts (THAT one gave me CHILLS)

Final Battle:
La Vie Bohiemme- Rent (I know I spelled it wrong but I'm too lazy to look it up)

Death Scene:
Runaway - Bon Jovi (who else? LOL)

Funeral Song:
You'll Accomp'ny Me - Bob Seger

End Credits:
The Longest Time - Billy Joel
Never a dull moment

My cell phone was on vibrate all morning, so I didn't realize it was blowing up until I remembered to check my messages around 1 pm. When I saw that I had 10 missed calls from my sister, I knew SOMETHING was going on.

Turns out, my mother (known as Deb on the blog, hereafter referred to as Gimpy) fell last night and broke her leg in two places (right below the knee and above the ankle). She got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and due to a blood pressure medicine that she WASN'T SUPPOSED TO BE TAKING, she apparently blacked out and fell. Thank GOD my stepdad was home (he usually works nights and he was actually supposed to be at work last night, but then the overtime got cancelled at the last minute) because Gimpy was absolutely unable to move. They had to call the ambulance and everything. (On a side note, Missy actually heard the call go out over the scanner at work last night, but she got a phone call before she heard the address. All she caught was the "55-year-old woman fell from a standing position" part. She later told me that it caught her attention because most of the "fall calls" are usually REALLY old people, like 80, and she remembered thinking, "Wow, that's kind of young--they must have been drunk or something." Nope, not drunk--just our mother).

Gimpy went into surgery this afternoon; everything went fine and she should be back home either Sunday or Monday. I'll be flying into Michigan next Saturday for my Christmas break, so I'll be there to keep an eye on the old girl and make sure she's not taking any unauthorized meds, etc. I'll also be helping with a great deal of the Christmas shopping, cooking (aka, heating up her Lean Cuisine and ordering the pizza), and other various tasks, because she's not supposed to be on her feet very much over the next couple of weeks. (That's about as long as they expect Gimpy to be out of work.)

So, all things considered, we're pretty lucky and it could have been a lot worse. Of course, this shoots my plan of laying on the couch and eating bon-bons for 2 weeks all to shit, but hey--you gotta do what you gotta do, I guess.

I draw the line and helping her shower and pee, though. She's on her own there.

UPDATE: I just called the hospital (6:15) and talked to my stepdad. Gimpy's still pretty out of it, but she knew I was on the phone. I'll call back tonight, but I don't expect she'll be much of a conversationalist till tomorrow.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I'm a fitness ma-cheen

I was just b*tchin' to Missy the other night how I'm up about 9 lbs from my low point last winter, and how I can't seem to get the scale to go down no matter what I do. I'm eating the same as I was, working out the same--what the hell?

Then I realized: when I first started to lose weight, exercising 30 minutes, 4 (or so) times a week was a big change for me, so of course it had a major effect on my body. The problem is, I've been doing that for over a year now. As a result, I'm in much better shape than I was back then (AND I'm getting healthier overall; shit, I ate VEGETABLES at lunch the other day. PEAS, even), and that same exercise routine just isn't cutting it for the lean-and-mean me. So now, clearly, I have to step it up.


For now, I'll increase it to 40 minutes at a time and see what that does. I'm also going to stop eating the school lunch (teachers get to eat free, so I figured, sure, why not?); unfortunately, school lunches these days are FAAARRR from healthy. Seriously. The "entree" is almost always fried; if we get fruit it's usually canned and swimming in fruit syrup; and the vegetables--well, I think the nutrional value has been processed right out of them. I am willing to bet that if I make the workout changes and replace the school lunch with a Lean Cuisine, I'll see some pretty decent results right there.

Of course, I should probably stop buying bulk candy at Costco, too (but COME ON--**30** FULL-SIZE candy bars for $10?! They're practically GIVING it away!). And, hmm, I bet all the drinking I've been doing since beginning my teaching career hasn't helped, either--but screw that, the drinking's staying.

So: here we go again.

Starting weight: 149 (I can still fit into all my size 8 clothes so it's not TOO bad yet, but I better get it under control before strangers start asking me when the baby's due)
Inches: I'm too damn lazy to get up and get the tape measure, but I think my waist was about a 31

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Good noggin news (relatively speaking)

I had a follow-up with my regular doctor today (the one who called last week with the preliminary MRI results). I dragged some info out of him about this whole "spots on the brain" situation (he REALLY didn't want to say much, but I told him I was gonna worry anyway, and I'd rather know what I COULD be looking at rather than wildly speculating).

Anyway, the good news is that he's pretty sure it isn't cancer, tumors or anything else really, really scary and life-threatening like that. So that in itself is a huge load lifted off my shoulders, because in my scariest moments I've been thinking about death and cancer and having to shave my head (which, for me, ranks right up there with the whole dying thing). I told him to give me worst-case scenario so I knew what I might be dealing with and he said it could be MS. (On a humorous side note, I said, "Aren't I kind of young for that?" and he goes, "No, not really.")

I've been researching MS and I do have some rather concerning signs and symptoms (especially the damage to the optic nerve and the MRI thing), but you know what, you can pick almost ANY malady, look it up and convince yourself that you "have all the symptoms." However, I've come to accept the fact that it's a possibility--and I actually feel okay about it. If THAT'S worst case, then it's not the most horrible news. I can think of lots of stuff that would have been WAY worse. And, hopefully, my life wouldn't change very much for quite a while. (Other than a new family rule that "MS patients get more shit at Christmas"--I think THAT should be implemented immediately.)

So...I can actually sleep a bit easier now. If it turns out to be MS, then at least I've had some time to research it, get educated and come to terms with it. And if it's NOT--then hey, anything else is very, very good news.
Have you ever...

...shaved with the plastic protective cover thingie still on the blade, and then when you were done felt your legs and been like, "Dude, this razor sucks" ?

Or is it just me?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Weird Al can rap, yo

Have you heard "White & Nerdy" (a parody of Chamillionaire's "Ridin' ") yet? The video is funny as hell and the lyrics are, once again, brilliant. But the most enteraining part of this song (in my opinion) is discovering that Weird Al is actually a hell of a rapper. Yes, seriously. "Amish Paradise" was just the tip of the iceburg.

Here's a link for the video (the actual link is off to the right, under his picture):

Or just the lyrics:

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Can't I just be, like, the cool older sister?

Last night, after an evening of socializing with the other teachers, I swung upstairs to see what my new friends from last weekend were up to. One of the girls just found out that she's pregnant and has decided, in the words of Miranda from Sex and the City, that she "need not be."

"Well," I said after she told me what she had decided to do, "if there's anything I can do, please let me know. You know I'm right downstairs if you need anything."

"Ooooh, I love you," she said as she threw her arms around me. "It's so, like, awesome how you look out for us. You're like our mom--"

and then she must have noticed the look on my face--

--"slash-best-friend," she finished.

Now come on. This is one of the younger girls--18, I believe. If you work the numbers, it is downright unlikely that I'd be old enough to be her mother, if not physically IMPOSSIBLE. I mean, I would have been like *12* when she was born. And that's getting a REALLY early start.

Even for THIS family.

Friday, December 01, 2006

On my board today

Oh, The Weather Outside is Frightful...

Winter is here! I'm actually welcoming it with open arms. It felt weird to put up Christmas decorations last Saturday when it was 65ยบ. NOW "it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas..."
After the hype all day yesterday about getting a foot by this morning, John was extremely disappointed when we went to bed at 11 last night with no signs of snow. I woke up at 6:30 this morning to the foot we were promised, plus some, I think. Brent is beside himself with joy and there's no school today because of it. Can life get any better for a kid? The first snow day of the year!

Brent practically rolled John out of bed this morning so they could go out and snowblow and shovel before John goes to work.

You can't really tell in the pictures, but there's about 14" in our driveway!

The whole idea of shoveling is great, but what boy can resist diving in the snow and pummeling the neighbor kids with snow balls? The snow is heavy and wet; perfect for a snowball fight! Brent is in the red.

Happy Winter to all!