Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Other Graduation

This part was supposed to go into that Brady Bunch post, but it was just getting too long.

I graduated, too.

Yesterday, I graduated from middle school again. I've quit my teaching job so that I can go into the bakery business. It feels like a graduation. Remember when you graduated from high school and/or college and it was all exciting and scary? You knew what you were going to do, but it was so different from what you'd been doing that the unknowns made you kind of nervous? You just didn't know what it was going to be like. This feels just like that.

I used my special education certification to be a middle school In-School Suspension and Alternative School teacher for seven years. Oh, the stories I could tell... and probably will one day. And oh, the things I learned. I learned a lot about myself and the kind of person I want to be. I learned a whole lot about parenting and the kind of people I want my kids to be.

I learned patience.
I learned forgiveness.
I learned to let it go.
I learned how to say no.
I learned to keep a straight face (almost).
I learned how to listen.
I learned what to listen to and what to ignore.
I learned that I can't fix everything that needs fixing.
I learned how to ask for help.
I learned that it's OK to be different.
I learned that it's OK to let people be wrong.

Most importantly, I learned that people matter. Everyone has a story, and every story is important. Maybe not interesting, but important. People matter and deserve to be celebrated. I think that it is this notion, more than anything else, that led me into the cake decorating profession. People matter. I want to make cakes for people that they use to celebrate what's important to them. I want to use this next part of my life to be a part of someone's joy rather than their embarrassment and guilt.

Remember that time I walked into a classroom to borrow something from another teacher and a kid burst into tears at the sight of me? Yeah, kids don't generally do that when you're there with a cake.

It's a terrible waste of the withering glare that I carefully honed over the last seven years, I'll admit.

It's time to move on. But holy cow, I'm going to miss my coworkers.

Thanks for the adventures, you guys.

Don't Fight the Tide, Come Along For the Ride

That's not a Bama reference, for the record. It's from this:

You should watch the video because I shouldn't be the only one with that groovy tune stuck in her head.

Let's face it... they were no Partridge Family. Behold, the origins of autotune!

What was I-? Oh, yes. Might be time to get the TSH checked again. SQUIRREL!

<real post>
It's graduation season!

I've made a couple of graduation cakes- I hope to make a LOT more this time next year.

There is so much gear in my cake room that I literally forgot I had a  Cricut Cake until I was trying to figure out how to do this cake. It is time to move all this stuff into a shop, right?

Both of the monsters graduated from their respective schools.

Bug's graduation was in her school cafeteria.

There was a lovely reception spread and the teachers called the kids' names and gave out awards. Bug won her class art award. The ceremony was short and sweet. And, Bug's amazing teacher made each kid a scrapbook with pictures of them doing things throughout their entire pre-K year. They're full of pictures, poems, handprints, and stories. And they're all hand-made. Those things must have taken hours and hours, and I absolutely treasure it.

This is the same teacher who came to Bug's ballet recital and birthday party. I've known teachers who have invested their lives into their students before, but they're rare. It's phenomenal seeing it happen from the parent perspective. We were very lucky this year and will miss Mrs. Grouby terribly.

Oh, yeah. And, Bug managed to test to mastery on all the kindergarden standards by the end of pre-K. Sheesh.

Then, a quick stop at the doctor for this sinus infection and I was off to meet the family at Boo's graduation.

Boo's graduation was in the rec center next to his school. It was hotter and much more crowded than Bug's ceremony. There was no reception after, and many parents were talking on their cell phones throughout the program. Not cool.

Boo wore a medal around his neck that said "Honor Roll". He got all S's on all his academics (and conduct) all year. 

 See the picture on the board behind them? Boo's teacher made a movie of her class and their adventures this year. She gave each kid a copy It's adorable. Boo's watched it at least a dozen times so far.

But the best thing Boo's teacher sent home was the writing journal. She took that kid right there, the kid who couldn't hold a pencil correctly, the kid who was scared to learn to read, and she made him a writer. He writes all the time. All. The. Time. I now understand that it's because Ms. Mark built in her class the habit of writing. When Boo sees something that might be worth writing down, he does it. You can see that habit develop in the writing journal.

There's a page for every day. The early pages are mostly random marks and drawings. Near the scribbles, in neat teacher handwriting, the intent of the message is translated.

As the year progresses, the letters become more easily recognized, words form, spelling happens, and punctuation starts. It's amazing. The May entries are multi-sentence paragraphs about life as a kindergartener.

He also reads now. This teacher gave our son a love of books- mostly Junie B. Jones. He's always enjoyed being read to, but now he can read to himself.

Next year, the kids will be back together at the same school. They were separated this year because the pre-K program is only run out of two locations in our school system.

For now, though, we're looking at a summer of adventure and baking. It's going to be a good one!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Back to the Real World

I'm home!
This is what I found when I came home.
This morning, I left mom's bright and early so that I could wade through the morning rush hour traffic and drive from the east side of Atlanta to the west side of Birmingham. Oy, people need to pay attention to each other. But, at least I'm off the low iodine diet so I had my friend, Mr. Starbucks, in the car to make the drive more bearable. And the car has been completely scrubbed out with 409, so it was pretty darn pleasant to drive. Plus, it was full of gas I got for cheap using my Kroger card:
Sad that this counts for cheap, isn't it?
This time, I parked in the 6th Ave parking deck. This is the third UAB parking deck I've used, and it's my new favorite. Free patient parking for nuclear medicine AND reserved patient parking places right next to the entrance? Yes, please.

No other spaces on either side of this reserved space. I felt so important.
So I used my keen navigational skills and years of airport experience to find my way to nuclear medicine.
At least there's no moving sidewalk to contend with.
Another day, another bracelet.

And then, in to the scan.

This was my third experience in the old radioactive thyroid scanner-majig. This is the same machine they use to test thyroid function, so it's pretty familiar. I've done thyroid scans in the machines at Eastside Medical, at East Alabama, an now at UAB. They should give commemorative pins or something for collectors. And, just like the machines at Eastside an EAMC, the machine at UAB lulled me to sleep. Three for three, sleeping through thyroid scans.

The scans were fine. I have some thyroid tissue in my neck that's currently dying from the radiation- that's the cause of that neck pain. I also have some uptake in my carotid, but we're not going to worry about that. Overall, RAI was a success. Hooray!

My scans. The black spots are radioactive- the big black splotch is the residual thyroid tissue in my neck.
I'm still radioactive, but I can go back to work tomorrow.

The international symbol for "Hug me!"
I think it's something like sixteen more days of school, and then I'm a professional baker! Exciting! My letter of resignation is written and ready to print. My ICES convention registration is finished. I'm going to start my LLC and permit paperwork next week. Holy smokes! Oh! And I have these super cute cake and cake pop stands to show off at my first demo next weekend:

Using suckers to demonstrate the cake pop stands because making cake pops is a pain in the thyroid.
The new phone will be here tomorrow- I chose to sacrifice my cell phone so that I could stay in contact with people and take pictures. Now, it's radioactive and it has to go. But it's ok- I was due for an upgrade, and the texter is messing up on this phone anyway.

Seven days away from my husband and kids was AWFUL!
Sleeping as late as I wanted was pretty good.
The low iodine diet is of the devil.
The food at mom's house makes up for it.
Eight days off of work was the spring break I never had.
Going back in tomorrow is going to be TOUGH. (But Doss made me biscotti, so the day can't be a total downer. You hear that, day? YOU CAN'T BE A TOTAL DOWNER!)

RAI by the numbers:
Trips to UAB this week: 4
hours admitted to the hospital: 23
miles in the car: 1,216
hours in the scanner: 1.5
copay: $200 (I wonder if cancer insurance will work for this treatment, too?)
nights at mom's: 6
cake stands made for the demo: 12
kids' teeth lost while I was gone: 1
days the girl stayed home from school, sick, while I was gone: 2
number of final exams the kids "helped" Doss give to night classes: 2
when I want to see another piece of hard candy: never

And that's most of a part of some of the story of my first RAI treatment.