Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Tribute to Teachers

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week and today was Teacher Appreciation Day. The kids at our elementary school are doing little things every day this week to show the teachers how much we appreciate them.

Driving around and listening to all the inspiring teacher stories on K-Love motivated me to add my little tribute.

When I think back to my school years... many teachers stand out in my mind. I really could fill pages if I were to sit here and list all the various ways particular teachers have touched my life.

Well, here is just a small small glimpse...  few gems of memory that stick out and make me smile...

Mrs Merrill - 5th Grade Teacher at Dutch Neck
-  read to us after lunch... just loved it!
-  gave out jolly ranchers for reciting the Gettysburg Address by memory
-  taught us all the bones of the body from cranium to phalanges using rhyme and rhythm
-  taught us geometry facts with song and rhythm as well... 
"the area of a tri-an-gle is... the base times the height... divided by 2"

Mrs Long - 6th Grade Teacher at Dutch Neck
-  showed us Ben Hur in class as well as a bunch of other movies... but I particularly remember Ben Hur
-  had a hamster pet in class and we took turns taking him home

Mr Enz - Elementary School String Teacher
-  he pretty much taught me how to play the violin

Mr Glass - Elementary School PE Teacher and Freshmen Field Hockey Coach
-  PE was my favorite class. I had so much fun! Loved all the sports and games... and I loved the Presidential Fitness Challenges
-  He recruited me and my good friend, Kathleen, to play on his freshmen team in high school
-  He always ran with us.. the long runs, the suicides, diagonals, and sprints at the end of practice!
-  Whenever it rained and folks started to complain... he'd say "Hey, skin is waterproof!  I shower, don't you?"

High School French Teacher - wow, I can't remember his name... but I still remember what he looks like!
-  taught us a song to remember the verbs that conjugate with etre
-  funny, funny teacher... made learning French fun

Dr Chen - 11th Grade Physics Teacher
-  motivated us by writing our names on the board if we get over 90% and another section if we get 100% (LOL prob not a motivator for everyone but it worked for me)
-   she used these two silly character names to illustrate physics word problems and though I can't remember the names I still remember the problems!

Mrs Mauro - High School Orchestra Teacher
-  let us hang out at her office before school, during lunch, after school...
-  let us hang out at her house after prom!
-  took us on an orchestra trip to DC
-  witnessed me hit my R eye with a music stand and sent me to the nurse, then to the ER to get 5-6 stitches
-  was also my homeroom teacher another time when I got hit with a field hockey ball in the R eye. I had the eye covered with a patch but she made me show her... then sent me to the nurse, who sent me to the ER... again!

Mrs Hussong (knew her as Ms Jung originally) - PE Teacher as well as Field Hockey and Girls La Crosse Coach
-  inspired me to give it all, never give up, and fight to win
-  4 memorable seasons of high school field hockey which became such a love and important part of my life...
-  would never have played girls la crosse if it weren't for her!

Oh.. I'm sure I'll think of more if I were to keep going...

Now, I send my kids to elementary school and I know they have wonderful teachers pouring out to them. I'm so grateful for all the teachers out there showering the kids with love, inspiring them... giving them hope and a future.

Thank you, teachers!!!

Friday, May 4, 2018

May the Fourth

May the fourth be with you!

Figured today would be a good day to post this blog that I had written a while ago after we came back from our Star Wars Cruise.

I wanted to list all the reasons why we loved our Disney Cruise Star Wars at Sea experience… but really it came down to the simple fact that we are Star Wars fans.

in case you can't tell, that's a view of the death star from our porthole virtual window

Highlights from our Star Wars Day at Sea…  

·      Watched all the Episodes from I-VIII of course…

·      Darth Vader and Storm Troopers paroling the boat…. throughout the day instead of the captain announcing usual cruise information, we may hear an Imperial guard letting us know that they have taken over command of our ship

·      Our kids received jedi training as padawans and then lightsaber dueled with Kylo Ren and Darth Vader…  

·      Joe acted out his dream of wearing a mask and role playing Vader with a bunch of kids in the ship’s atrium as cruise employees directed scenes from Episodes IV V and VI…

·      Interactions with all the classic characters… C3PO, R2D2, Chewbaca…

·      Entertained by all the other crazy fans on board the ship and marveling at how fanatic some are… my favorite costume was seeing someone dress up like Jabba the Hut…

·      Star Wars themed stage shows and fireworks at the end of the night…

Now, I’ve been blaming my husband for getting our four kids so into Star Wars. My husband is a fan. I mean, there are those who like Star Wars… I like Star Wars… but then there are true fans. I will not bore you with the details and the list of Star Wars toys from models to legos to whatever 3D puzzles that he has from way back when…  but I will highlight that he has made an actual light saber. I believe it is Luke’s saber from Episode IV.  All the materials used to make this saber were the materials used for the prop in the movie.  I thought this was “most impressive” since this was made back in the days before google was widely popular. Somehow he got all the parts through ebay or something to put it together. It always makes me smile when visiting friends would admire it and ask him to turn it on. It doesn’t turn on. It’s a prop. But if you want one that turns on we got like 20!  In fact, the groomsmen and bridesmaids in our wedding party each pulled out a lightsaber during our wedding reception as a surprise to us and had a little duel in front of our guests. We were introduced as husband and wife for the first time walking out to the Star Wars theme music... of course.  Our bridesmaids each slayed our groomsmen after a grueling fight… and then we had our first dance.
So our kids like Star Wars. They quote quotes and know all these random facts from the movies.  Sometimes I hear my youngest walking around humming the Kylo Ren theme song as if it is his entrance background music… (he was Kylo Ren for Halloween this year... but still… little weird)

When my third child is having a melt down, we now start asking him Star Wars trivia questions as a tactic to distract him and reset him. He and I are working on using the force to move garbage cans and using the mind trick on folks to make them do what we want… (this skill is not yet mastered)

Our girls are not as into Star Wars as the boys… but they know more trivia facts than I do about all the movies.  We have watched all 8 episodes (multiple times) as well as the spin off movie, Rogue One… and now we are eagerly waiting for Solo to come out later this month…

But confession… I actually didn’t realize just HOW huge a fan I am until it dawned on me that I was getting just as excited as the kids. I actually get goosebumps during that beginning Star Wars intro... you know… when the awesome John Williams music blasts on and you see the writing scroll down on the big screen? Total goosebumps… and I giggled in glee when Han Solo and Chewbacca stepped onto the Millenium Falcon for the first time after years… I think what it is for me is nostalgia!  I’m a very nostalgic person and I need to give credit and applause to John Williams because his brilliant music score compliments the story like no other.  His music remarkably elicits those feelings of nostalgia and adds so much depth and emotion to each character.  I am so glad that he will be composing for Episode IX.

So the rest of the cruise was great as any cruise experience goes… Disney does take it to a slightly different level when it comes to service and making your kids feel like royalty. The shows at night stand out in quality and entertainment. The food was delicious as expected but even more extraordinary were the intricately detailed themed restaurants. The water slide was fun though pools were a bit small and crowded… hard to expect more when on a boat…


Overall… it was fun and my youngest keeps asking to go back on the “Star Wars Boat”.  We’ll see… May the Fourth be with you all and tomorrow is Revenge of the Fifth! 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Flu Season May Have Peaked

So this article was in my inbox this morning from AMA Rounds (American Medical Association) and caught my eye...
CDC: flu season may have reached peak
ABC World News Tonight (2/23, story 9, 0:25, Muir) reported the flu season has led to “a disturbing number” of child deaths – 13 more have died, bringing the national season total to 97 – as infections remain at high levels in 39 states. However, “visits to doctors and” emergency departments “did tick down” according to recent reports.
        NBC Nightly News (2/23, story 6, 1:40, Holt) reported data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest the “season may have finally peaked.” Medical correspondent John Torres, MD, explained the CDC says “doctor visits and hospitalizations for flu are down,” a sign “that the worst is over.”
        USA Today (2/23, O'Donnell) reported CDC spokeswoman Kristin Nordlund said the new data are “encouraging,” considering the decline in visits to physicians and child deaths, down from 22 the week prior. She added, “It looks like we may have reached the peak of flu season,” but added that “it looks like we still have many more weeks of flu season to go.”
        CDC relies on network of surveillance methods to track flu The Wall Street Journal (2/23, McGinty, Subscription Publication) reported on the CDC’s flu surveillance data collection process, saying the agency relies on a network of hospitals, labs, and outpatient facilities to track the virus. This surveillance tends to capture only a portion of flu cases, and includes categories such as outpatient surveillance, hospitalizations, and mortality. Lynnette Brammer, head of domestic influenza surveillance for the CDC, discussed the agency’s use of surveillance and how effective these methods are. 

Great!  It sure has been unlike other winters from not just the number of patients coming in but also how long the illness lingers and the severity of the symptoms.  For example, I treated many folks who normally never needed inhalers who were now wheezing and needing neb treatments.

Since we are not totally out of the woods yet, please continue to wash your hands and practice good hygiene.  Easier said than done for little ones who love to put everything and anything in their mouths... but grownups do it, too.

Also, do not underestimate the importance of a good night's sleep and stress reduction.  The minute your sleep is disrupted or you are stressed... your immune system is lowered and that is when you may find yourself sick.

Some practical advice when you find yourself starting to get sick. Your throat usually starts to hurt and you get that "malaise" feeling.

  • take it easy and REST. 
  • drink LOTS of fluids (water... not just caffeinated beverages which dehydrates you... so coffee but also soda or tea has caffeine.  alcohol dehydrates you too!)
  • make sure you are eating nutritious meals... don't skip meals.  chicken broth if you are losing your appetite. stay hydrated and think about how to make the most of what you are taking in especially if you don't feel like eating
  • probiotics and vitamins if you don't think you are covering all your basics with your diet
  • do not give up exercising completely if you normally exercise... but maybe cut down on intensity based on how you are feeling. the better in shape you are the better chance you have of fighting it off quicker...
  • if needed can take Tylenol or Motrin for fever and aches and over the counter cough medicine to help relieve coughing so you can get rest
  • call your doctor if you feel you are not improving.. or if you improve then get worse again
And I wrote about the flu vaccine in previous posts.... but given our recent Superbowl Eagles win... (Go Eagles!) ...here's my analogy I've been using with my patients...
  • You are the Eagles team (or whatever team of your choice)...
  • The flu virus is the other team...
  • Getting the vaccine is like getting a sneak peak at the other team's plays...
  • You may not know exactly which one they will do when... but you will have more of an advantage than another team who did not see the plays
  • So... even if you do get sick after getting the flu shot... imagine how sick you'd be if you didn't get the flu shot...
That is why I always get the flu shot (to protect not just myself but my older and younger patients as well as my family)... and I try to get all my family members to get the shot.

This flu season is going down as the worse season since 2009 when Swine Flu was around. I did get the Swine Flu in 2009 and I was pregnant.  That year, we did not have the vaccine in time and I got exposed in August and was sick until November. I've never been so sick in my life before! Flu can be very serious... so glad this flu season is almost over...

Thursday, February 15, 2018

When Tragedy Hits...

So you know... I wrote that other blog the night before Valentines Day... sent it last night... but all day yesterday in the midst of the parties and fun... in the background... my heart really was in a knot . I heard the news and thought "another one??" ... but knowing this was a school setting was even more troubling to me.  I was afraid to read the details because honestly... I didn't think my brain/heart/soul could process it yet... I just needed to compartmentalize this news until I got done what I had to get done...

But last night and even this morning... I did read... and I am struck... I'm still processing...

Part of me feels a little like this is unreal...  there have been too many stories... but at a school again? It's frightening to think how little actual control we have over what happens really... and now having kids of my own it's even more frightening to me... 

My brain can't even begin to process the horror and grief that these parents must be going through...

So... I just wanted to share my "go to" verses when my mind starts to panic and worry and... basically "freak out"...

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;he delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)

Happy Valentines Day!

So, yes we are now out of the nursing, changing diaper, spoon feeding, wiping bottoms phase... well... no, there is still some bottom wiping... but we are out of the more physically taxing stage of parenthood! Now, we are sliding into the more... let's say... emotionally taxing aspect of parenthood.  We are also smack in the middle of elementary school years and I actually am loving this stage!

Today was Valentines Day. For us, this means parties at school and since all 4 of my kids are now either in preschool or in elementary school... (when do these parties end? 6th grade maybe?) last night I was up finishing like 80 valentines. LOL. Good thing for google and pinterest!

It really was a lot of fun looking up ideas and getting my kids' input on what they wanted to do. They wrote their classmates names and signed them. The older kids helped more with the making of the valentine. Past years, I think I just bought a box from the store because honestly, I had neither time nor energy. This year, I truly wanted to avoid sweets. It helped that the principle sent out a reminder about their school's "no candy" policy. There really is just way too many excuses for sugar and candy.

Speaking of which... here's little medical tidbit on sugar. Now there is a plethora of information on this subject so this is not at all an in-depth analyzation or discussion. However, as both a family doc and as a mom of four, here is my two cents:

1) Moderation is key... don't completely deprive...

This is not rocket science, but I feel this cliche is very true...
See intaking sugar is not all bad, but binging on sugar may lead to very similar type of cravings and withdrawals that is often seen in addictions. Therefore, the trick is to not to be super duper crazy limiting... (which might lead to unhealthy cravings and binging) but maybe to offer more choices and more opportunities of well rounded foods... and sugars can happen to be one of them...

2)  Don't put it on a pedestal and offer as a "reward"

I think the bigger obstacle is to debunk sugar from this high glorious position... See if we treat sugar/candy as this "trophy" for whatever good behavior etc.  then the kids too will see it as this awesome unattainable.  Now this concept is harder than I thought it'd be. I was surprised to find myself offering candy as a bribe when feeling desperate! So discovering what to replace this "treat" with may take some creative thinking since every kid is different. But the idea is to not make "candy" the prize... offer a better alternative. There has gotta be one out there!

Alright... go enjoy your sweets! Happy Valentines Day, everyone.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Go Eagles!!!!!

Happy 2018, everybody!  

I realize I am only a month late... it sure has been a while since I've blogged.  2017 is a bit of a blur... to give you an example of the state of my scattered mind... one of my so called "resolutions" for 2018 was to get my youngest to preschool with his shoes on!  Twice in 2017, I believe, this failed to happen... so he went to school in socks and another family member had to bring the shoes before recess... So as I was happily announcing this 2018 resolution to his preschool teacher... proudly showing her that he has had his shoes everyday so far and we were on week 2 of 2018... she kindly points out... " love your shirt! I have the same one... it's on backwards by the way..."

Progress not Perfection!!!

Okay... 2 huge milestones to catch you all up...
  • My oldest has now lost ALL her baby teeth
  • My youngest has been diaper free for some time now...

Now, I thought we would throw a HUGE party once we were diaper free because it really has been like 10 years of diapers.  But no... came and went... all a blur... but yay!!

Alright... keeping this short and sweet...  let's make some history...


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Stepping into Tween Years

I just got back from a very special mother daughter weekend trip with our oldest. She will be entering fifth grade this fall and going to public school... and so it's time for "the talk". Actually, since this daughter is scientifically minded and I'm comfortable talking about biology, we actually already had the nuts and bolts of "the talk" a few months back. It kinda came up while we were driving home one night from her basketball practice. One thing led to another and I just decided to lay it all out... 23 chromosomes + 23 chromosomes = 46 chromosomes and etc!

However, I remember being recommended to go through this series called Passport2Purity. I liked the idea of going away one on one to go through this project and having a structure to talk about issues that may be coming up in her life soon.

The idea is we would listen to these audio cd's together and pause to discuss the topics. I did some prep work before hand to gather materials needed for the projects at the end of each session (there were 5 sessions total).

Since dad wasn't going on the trip, he wrote in the travel journal that we presented to our daughter so that she could read it before we started listening to the sessions. It was a chance for him to speak from his heart and offer words of encouragement as she begins this journey into adolescence and adulthood. I wrote in it as well but after the trip to sandwich her experience. Hoping she will refer to this journal often as she continues to grow as I threw in there many of my favorite "go to" verses. Here are a few:
 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)  

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

The audio cd's were actually pretty interesting and fun to listen to. We listen to a lot of books on tape so this had some similarity. Parts of the audio had kids play out storylines and other parts the authors would bring up the points and ask questions. We paused many times in each session to review, answer questions, as well as hash out anything that needed to be hashed out. Each session took a little over an hour to listen to. The project itself took about 5-10 minutes and was pretty fun to do. Here's a picture of project #1:

She had to put together the harder puzzle without the box showing the final picture, while racing me tackling the easier puzzle with a box to refer to. This illustrates how hard it can be to maneuver life without a "map" to lead us. The Bible is the map, Jesus is the compass, and parents are the guides!

Topics covered includes peer pressure, sex, and dating. It is a LOT of material and all of it may or may not be appropriate or relevant at the given moment.

I did choose to complete the entire series.  We did sessions 1, 2, and 3 driving up and then 4 and 5 on the drive back. However, I did tell my daughter that we would re-visit some of the topics later when it becomes more relevant. I thought it was ok to at least go through it all so that she is aware of what is to come... but I do not expect her to fully understand or apply all of it right now.

Now for our weekend getaway... I had signed up months ago for this Masters Field Hockey Tournament (players over 35 years old) that was going to take place in Boston. I thought it'd be perfect because Boston is where my husband and I met... AND my daughter had just started playing field hockey so I thought it'd be fun for her to come up with  me and watch me play. Great idea until it dawned on me super late that it has been like 20 years since I've really played... and... I'm sorely out of shape.  Plus, I'm unfamiliar with all the new rules... and... have an obsolete stick!! LOL. Well... a lot achey and sore and humbling what this body can and cannot do anymore... BUT I had a ton of fun!

At the very end of the trip, we involved dad again. He met us as we were coming into the house to welcome her home with a hug and present her with a small gift to remember the weekend by.  We got her a little cross necklace to wear.

We also plan to finish the 500 piece puzzle together as a family and then frame it as another token to remember the weekend by. Since we are planning on going through this with each of our 4 kids, I went ahead and ordered the replacement travel journals in case they come up with later editions and the travel journals no longer match up.

So overall I'm glad we had our weekend away and I enjoyed the structure that the cd's provided. The topics were relevant and the material presented in a non-threatening... not too embarrassing way. Ultimately, it is still up to the parent how they want to use the material... what to listen to... what to skip.. but the key is to have these conversations with the child and to keep an open dialogue. I don't see this as a once and done deal... but as a springboard for ongoing discussions as things come up. It provides a solid biblical base.. and the key is biblical... so obviously this series would only work for you if you believe that the Bible is indeed the inspired Word of God.
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