Monday, February 25, 2013

New Facility

We got to have a walk-through of our new facility on Sunday morning!  It's beautiful!

I got to see where the classroom for kids with special needs will be (MY classroom!), and got to meet lots of the people who are interested in volunteering with the 1:1 Team.  Great people, lots of excitement.  

Greg checking out wiring and speakers

it's a bit blurry, but you can see the yellow caution tape

What the cabinets in my classroom will look like (mine will all have locks!)

The campus is right across the street from a lovely orange grove! 

The lobby - there is no electricity yet and there was no HEAT, which
did affect us quite a bit because it was only 53 for a high and SUPER windy on Sunday!
And the bathrooms weren't working yet . . .
so that was a problem, too, since we all were cold . . . 

view to the south
(right behind that mountain is San Tan Mountain Regional Park, where I often hike!)

view to the East (Superstition Mountains and some clouds rolling in)

front entrance

facing South-East
(this door is into the junior high area)

And . . . some cute little tucked-in kittens!

Allistair shoved himself so tightly between me and the back of the couch
that his ears folded up like origami!
He looks very aerodynamic!

Can you see Stephen's eyebrows?
They droop down right in front of his eyes!
I think it's adorable.  I wonder if it's annoying to him?


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Green Desert

Stately Saguaros

Cholla fruit

Saguaro "bones" - what's left over when a Saguaro dies

Then after a while, the bones fall down into a pile.
 Lots of Saguaros die from being hit by lightning.

Cindy with some rocks & cacti - these actually had red spikes!
Usually the red-spiked ones are teeny!

A crumbly old Cholla -
These look like Dr. Seuss trees to me!

The Ocotillos are leafing out!
They all look like they are raising their arms to the sky and celebrating the beautiful weather!

This is what they look like close-up when they are dead.
This Octoillo is NOT celebrating!

You can see how it looks like grass is growing in between the  bushy plants . . . 

This is the close-up of part of the glorious GREEN desert!
If you look closely, it's packed with teeny-tiny white flowers!


My guess is that we hiked about three miles this morning

On to cats!

Bjarne's little nosey

Allistair cuddled right up to Baltazar, who wasn't sure he liked it

Four cats on the couch!
My spot was supposed to be in the middle.

Mr. Blue Eyes
And look at the metallic stars on my jeans!

Allistair was so sleepy that he let me mess with his paws.
He's saying, "I surrender!  But I'm too sleepy to talk about it anymore."

Bjarne's little sleepy face.

Allistair was chilly enough to snuggle up UNDER Baltazar's leg!

And the WEATHER has been weird, too!  Look!

But don't worry; we still enjoyed silly kittens.

Some mornings while I'm getting ready for the day, Allistair follows me around and makes sad little "eep" noises.  Then when I FINALLY sit down, he flops down next to me and purrs as loud as his little purrer can purr!

And Stephen likes to play.  He is a rough-houser.  Claude does not prefer that kind of play because she's a princess.  He tries to be especially cute and engaging, but she just hisses and growls.  Poor little Stephen.

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Wow!  What a great day this has been!
How could it NOT be; LOOK AT THOSE CLOUDS!
It's windy because the clouds are rolling in tonight.  Tomorrow it's expected to rain on and off all day!  I'm getting ready by amassing reading material, considering baking adventures, and firing up the fireplace (hee hee!)

ahhh . . . winter in the desert
Church update:  I had a meeting with Jessica from our new church this morning.  The one remaining concern for me (and Greg) was that our church wouldn't be on board with me using the Chirp Curriculum in the Special Needs classrooms.  I thought it might be awkward to promote my own product, but before I could get out any words on the topic, Jessica said, "I'm in.  I want your curriculum."  I was happily surprised, and I said, "That's great!  Now let me explain a few of the reasons WHY you want it!"  She got more and more thrilled the more I showed her.  At one point, she said, "You know, I have to tell you that [title of their current curriculum] has always frustrated me.  There's something missing and it's somehow hectic and too busy.  I've wanted something different, and now that I see what you've written, it is exactly what I would have wanted!"  She praised how the lessons are appropriate for all ages, and how it's adaptable for different needs.  She loved how each lesson builds from week one to week four, she loved how lessons phrase the spiritual truths we all need to know.  

Jessica brought up some more (super exciting!) even bigger possibilities, too, but I don't want to share more about that quite yet because I'm still pondering and processing those ideas.  I will be praying about them and talking more about them with her as we get things rolling.

Now that the last hurdle is out of the way, I am the Special Needs person officially.  I even get to be at the new building walk-through on Sunday in my new capacity.  :) 

So now I can share and you can check out our new church if you want: Rock Point Church!

Stephen, Allistair, and Baltazar snuggling
Allistair intently watching birdies:

Have a happy Tuesday!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Dr. C

Dr. C's office
beautiful landscaping! and a gorgeous sunny day
Today was the first appointment with a gynecologist about this recent experience of endometriosis.  Dr. C was GREAT.  Perky and kind and funny and thorough answering questions.  

Bottom line (in case you don't have time to read the whole post!)
Dr. C didn't feel that's she is the best person for me and she recommended I see the best pelvic pain doctor in the Valley (Dr. Hibner at St. Joseph's Division of Surgery and Pelvic Pain), with whom I already have an appointment (in May!)  Dr. C "happened" (thank You, God, for being involved in this!) to train with him, and she is going to call his office this afternoon on my behalf to see if she can get my appointment moved up.


I found the appointment very very encouraging for many reasons.  

#1: I'm not making a big deal out of nothing - I'm always afraid of that!
Dr. C had read through all my paperwork (amazing) and didn't think I was over-dramatizing the situation.  Remember when I said that reading my reports made me feel sad because I hadn't realized that things were really THAT serious?  Well, this doctor said, according to her interpretation of the reports, things were even worse than I thought.  The last laparoscopy (a minimally invasive "take-a-peek-around surgery through the belly button) report that was written (in 2003), my then-doctor basically said, "It's beyond me and beyond the scope of this procedure. I'm not going to do anything more right now."  (No more treatment was done after that because he retired and I wasn't told that I was supposed to pursue more treatment - !!!)  

I have always been nervous to make appointments with specialists because I figured they would be snooty and tell me my case wasn't bad enough for them to waste their time. I told Dr. C that, and she patted my stack of medical records and said, "This level of involvement definitely needs a specialist, and it's going to be an interesting case for him!"

#2: I'm headed in the right direction
I have been dithering with myself a little bit about whether I really need to go through all of this again.  I second-guessed myself about making appointments and would sort of rather stick my head in the sand and just take less estrogen, hoping that the problems would go away.  But I also knew that wasn't the best idea.  (Plus, Greg & Cindy and my parents wouldn't let me ignore it!)  But Dr. C said, "Even if we mess around with your hormone levels and your symptoms get better, it doesn't mean that the actual DISEASE is getting better."  This really will require a surgical intervention.  I'm not a person to jump at surgery, but deep down I know that this isn't fixable with just hormone changes alone.  I was anxious maybe she would say, "Silly girl.  Stop taking your estrogen and you'll be fine.  Now go away."

# 3: I need estrogen
I have felt sort of weak and foolish for using estrogen, knowing that it feeds endometriosis.  But I also know that life is really not fun for me without it.  Dr. C affirmed me by saying that it's not reasonable to expect me to be without estrogen and be miserable, especially when it wouldn't even cure the problem anyway.  

#4: It's understandable and reasonable for me to be low on energy
Dr. C said that with the level of involvement in my case, it's amazing I was able to finish graduate school.  She was not surprised at all that I haven't worked full-time since these problems started (even when there wasn't any pain, I never got my same level of energy back).  In spite of the fact that Greg provides AMAZINGLY for our family and in spite of his encouragement to rest when I need to rest, I still have never really felt like it's okay for me to not do more.  Her response made me feel very validated for the first time medically - doctors don't often think about what our lives are like outside their office, but she did, and it caused some healing for me on the inside.

#5: Someone in the field read through my records and agreed with me!
Having gone through it all myself, I can't see it clearly sometimes, so it was extremely helpful to have Dr. C read through my paperwork and give me good advice.  I feel encouraged that I'm doing the best I can do in this situation to take care of myself and get this straightened out.  I'm not making this up, I'm not making a big deal out of nothing, I'm not being silly or wasting doctors' time.

Additionally, there were a few comments made in the paperwork by my previous doctor that bothered me, and I mentioned them to Dr. C.  She laughed and said that those comments had bothered her, too, and they weren't the best way to phrase things.  For example, during my initial exam with him, Dr. M (my previous doctor) saw endometriosis growing through my cervix, and he wanted to biopsy it right there.  With no numbing or anything.  He just wanted to chop it off.  NO THANK YOU!  I asked him (reasonably!) to please wait until I was under anesthesia, since I was already in pain.  He wrote in his report "Patient begged me to wait to biopsy suspected endo until anesthesia was provided".  That word "begged" really bothered me.  Would HE have liked someone to just hack something off him because it looked interesting?  I bet not! I thought maybe I would come off as a difficult patient with new doctors when they read that.

Cindy WISELY pointed out to me last week when I mentioned those comments that when she reads a report (she's a special education teacher), she finds out more about the person writing the report than she finds out about the student, and it was probably that way with doctors, too.  She said that a good doctor can read behind the report to the doctor writing it and will see through those sorts of comments.  THANK YOU, CINDY, for sharing your brilliance with me!

So that's the story!  Thanks for asking and praying for me.  I appreciate all of you!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Health Update: As I was filling out the new patient paperwork for my doctor's appointment on Monday afternoon, I got a call from the doctor's office, telling me that my doctor was called into jury duty on Tuesday (the day of my appointment!)  We had to reschedule for this coming Monday.  The receptionist was going to try to squeeze me in with the Nurse Practitioner because she saw in my chart that I was coming in for pain, but after asking a bit about my history, she said, "No, you definitely need to see the doctor herself."  I thought it was nice and encouraging that she was trying to meet my needs even in a less than ideal situation.

I stopped using my estrogen medication (estrogen is what makes endometriosis grow) almost two weeks ago, and I haven't been having hot flashes or feeling too emotionally or mentally crazy.  Yesterday I had some mood swings and started crying for no real reason (stuff felt real at the time, but it was magnified waaay out of proportion).  Hopefully that's not a portent of things to come!  Greg is a great stabilizer for me. Since I read that women's cortisol levels and MOOD are affected by male sweat (click here for the scholarly article and here for the article in layman's terms), I laughingly decided that when I was feeling down, I would snuggle up and stick my nose in Greg's armpit.  The funny thing is that it works!  Maybe it's the sweat, maybe it's just that I'm getting some cuddles, maybe a mixture of both, but it really helps a lot.  
Thanks for sharing your sweat, honey!

Church Update:  We finished the five-week life groups training on Sunday, and the leaders asked if we would be willing to attend the next training with the plan of leading the group of people that came out of that training.  Sounds great to us!  We look forward to getting to know more people.  

The church runs a free medical clinic for the community every month, and I thought it might be helpful to have a developmental and communication specialist (me!) there in case families have concerns about their kid's development.  I could either do a screening right then and there (I have the screening tool already) or I could be there to refer parents to the appropriate free services.  So I called about that this week, and the woman who has been running it is the wife of one of the men who led the life groups training over the last five weeks.  She said, "I'm glad to get the chance to talk to you - my husband has been saying, 'I love this couple!' and he's excited you're part of our church." Then she said she had been talking to herself in the hall about "must call Christie back" when Jessica (the children's team person) walked by, and Jessica heard and started ranting and raving about how excited she is about me being there and being a great fit.  Once again, it's pretty fun to be wanted and appreciated!  I meet with Jessica this coming Wednesday for further talks about team development.  She and her kids have been really sick, so we haven't been able to really get things rolling yet, but that's perfectly fine, since I'm a little draggy anyway, and since we're getting to know the church still.  And enjoying it thoroughly, I must add!

While I'm on the topic of work stuff, if you haven't checked out my Chirp website lately, hop on over and take a peek!  I updated the design AND the content recently (as in this past week).  I even figured out how to get my logo to be my favicon (that's the cute little bitty icon that appears in the tab of the web browser!) 
And now I will be able to add videos (of lessons being taught or streaming trainings!) and password-protected pages for people who are users of the curriculum.  I have all sorts of exciting plans!

And now on to the kittens, in case your cute bucket was getting empty. 

A kitten in a canvas shopping bag!

A different kitten in a canvas shopping bag

Two kittens in the canvas shopping bag at the same time!

Three cats on the couch, giving lovey eyes to the camera (and ME, who was wielding it!)

One Allistair, who decided to rip up this large poster of some brainstorming I was doing with a group of people about the Special Needs Team months ago.

"Ahhhh . . . paper is comfy!"

Yesterday, a miracle occurred!  ALLISTAIR's tongue was sticking out!  It's usually Stephen.

Here is up-close proof!

And the Stephen followed suit.

And there was another exciting event!

And it was TOMATO soup!  Not something I would expect a kitten to like!

That was two days ago.  Last night Greg brought me some flowers (yes, he is the best husband I have ever had!) and we successfully kept them safe last night, but this morning, once the two-person zone defense was gone because Greg went to work, Allistair tipped over the vase that held the flowers, and the vase broke and water went everywhere!  That'll teach me to leave anything new and interesting on the kitchen table!  The flowers are now softly scenting the air from their position high atop the tallest bookshelf we own.

Bjarne's sweet sleeping face.

Hope you have fun plans with people you love tonight.

Thanks to all of you for being in my life and for your encouragement, love, and support.  I'm thankful for you.