Oh What a Relief it Is!


I did it!!!! I survived in the insanely busy registration season of working at a college, however classes begin next week so I’m not quite out of the woods yet. I am looking forward to a great year, and an even better fall semester, but we can talk about the specifics later.

While I have your attention for a few moments, I do want to tell you about just a few things:

1. Regular blogging begins again next week. I’ve missed it.

2. All three of my Amigos started school this week. Even the homeschooler. Somehow when I had the flexibility to choose for him to start later, especially during the busy season, I decided he should start when his sisters started.

3. I am attending my first blogging conference EVER, and I am too excited! Next month, I will be at the TYPE A Parent Conference and I am really looking forward to it. And blogger friends…if you’d like to attend, I have really good news for you! If you register for the conference and use the discount code BLOGPARTNER, you can save 25 percent off the cost of your own registration! Check it out at www.typeaparent.com.

4. My co-workers and I did the ALS Ice challenge. Because it is so hot in Texas this week, it was refreshing and insanely fun! We solicited the donation from our entire team, but only three of us were brave enough to take the challenge. ALS is a very debilitating disease that has no cure. I did it to honor one of my college classmates and sorority sisters who has been living with this disease for several years now. Please consider making it one of your causes!

That was the quick and dirty….next week I promise I’ll have more for you! But in the meantime, tell me about your August…





The August Disclaimer


Welp. It’s August. How are you feeling about that?

For me, it’s not too bad. Except it’s the busiest month of the year in my educator career. Like insanely busy.

My friends and family pretty much know it. The kids have to be reminded of it, but by August 3, they remember.

And this year, I’m breaking one of my August rules. You see, because August is so busy at work, I decided several years ago to shut it all down this month. And I’ve written about that before. Click here or here if you’d like the refresher. Between work madness and back-to-school madness for the kids, I don’t have time to focus on much else. And my attendance at family events and reunions has definitely suffered because of it.

So this year, I decided to be a little more involved with the outside world and live a little during this month. I’ll be on social media in all my glory taking selfies and engaging in weekend road trips with the kids to the family homestead. And I’ll be blogging, regularly.

But here’s the disclaimer.

My blog will run seamlessly to you, but really, the posts are not in real-time. It’s important for you to know this because if there is a natural disaster and I don’t mention it here, you need to know that I am not as insensitive as I seem. It’s only because I’m taking the month off, but my posts are not. They were written throughout the summer and saved to be published during the month.

If you can’t take the thought of feeling disconnected from me in real time, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest. Because in the sense of the true digital maven that I am, I will be connected via social media.

And here’s to a great month! See you in September!




Dear Andi, I Tried.


Warning: This post is about as insignificant as they come. But we have to talk about it. Because I have wasted most of my summer on this train wreck and it is now time for me to get off.

Let’s start from the very beginning. About 10 years ago I started watching the Bachelor and Bachelorette series on television. And after watching a few seasons, I kept getting frustrated season after season because I would allow these suitors in my heart, and they would eventually get kicked off the show. Then I’d be forced with watching the star of the show claim they were in love with someone else and I knew they weren’t.

Or, they’d pick the person I want but by the After the Final Rose episode they have parted ways. Or, as in one instance, the bachelor decided to break up with the girl he chose on national TV. And that hurt because that girl was from Dallas and everybody should know that YOU DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS.

Somehow I then decided that there are more important things in the world. And I was some comforted that Trista and Ryan Sutter are still married. So I didn’t watch it so much.

But last spring I got caught up in Juan Pablo’s season just because I thought he was a jerk and it was quite funny for me to see  the girls get frustrated and tell him off. And one of those girls was Andi Dorfman. And now, Andi is the Bachelorette.

The season began in May and I was really excited. The kids and I watched intently each week. We kind of thought that the kissing was a bit much, but it really opened up a lot of great conversations about love and relationships. Good conversations that parents need to have with their kids…and it was a good venue to bring those conversations to light.

And the kids and I decided that Brian was the one. There were a couple that just rubbed us the wrong way and some some that were strange, but we held out for Brian. And he made it pretty far, but he left the show right before hometown visits.

Now I’m sad. Because I wanted Brian to be on the home visit show…and to be there in the end. But as I always do, I got over it though because Andi seemed really happy with the four guys she had left.

So because I had a meeting at church last night, I missed the hometown visits. And today I looked on-line to see what happened. But I really had no vested interest at this point so I didn’t want to actually watch the show, but I did want to know what happened.

And low and behold, I find an entertainment blog that tells me not only what happened on the episode I missed, but the rest of the season! And…there was a video of one of the guys (supposedly the one who gets jilted in the end) talking on his cell phone on a airplane about the whole ending. He bad-mouthed Andi, the guy who supposedly won, and the whole process.

The good news is that Andi is happy. And that’s what I want. But I didn’t really want to know the outcome and hear about all of the drama. And yes, I still wish Brian was in the running. So I tried to hang in there to end, but I can’t.

Sigh. The problems we have in the first world.

What do you watch on Monday nights?

The Homeschool Workspace


Let’s talk some more about homeschool shall we?

An important part of homeschooling is being organized and organizing my son’s learning space. Since I am not the only adult that helps him with his homeschooling, everything has to be organized.

The other little pickle in our homeschooling plan is that we physically do not have a lot of space at home. So in addition to being organized, I’ve got to do it in a small space.

When I tell you I make use of every inch on one of my bookshelves, I am not kidding. So here’s what our homeschool materials/ textbook/ bookshelf looks like:

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Each shelf has specific subject areas, including a section for reference materials and magazines that we use for current events. We even keep school supplies in the bottom drawer with writing utensils, highlighters, markers, etc in the cylinder on the middle shelf.

During the school year, I am a fanatic about keeping that shelf neat and organized. Even on weekends. But in the summer, not so much. Matter of fact, if I took a picture of it today…well let’s just say I didn’t take the photo above anytime this summer.

And then there’s the walls. I keep them covered with resources related to the topics we are covering. Here’s an example:

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Sometimes I’ll place the chart paper on the wall and use it like a blackboard for him to do problems on, or he can write questions he has as he’s progressing any given lesson.

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I use the sticky back chart paper. And when we are break from school, I just take the sheets down. This summer, our dining room and living room are covered with the kids’ goals for the summer, Bible verses they are studying, and the summer chore charts.

Some families I know have dedicated rooms for all of their homeschool items, but we just don’t have the space for that so we make it work with the space we do have. And for us it works.

Enjoy your Thursday!


Let’s Talk About Homeschooling


I get a lot of emails about our decision to homeschool my oldest. Since I’m currently planning our curriculum for 8th grade, I spend a good portion of my evenings and weekends thinking about homeschool. And of course, thinking about it makes me want to talk about it to you.

In this episode, we will talk about the three things you need to do first when you are considering homeschooling. Click here to listen!



The Weekend of July 6th!


Happy Day of Dragging after the long holiday weekend!

That pretty much tells what things are like around these parts.

Oh that and today is July 7, which means it’s the day after July 6. And that isn’t a typo, because our weekend didn’t really get good until Sunday and that’s how I’m choosing to remember this Independence Day weekend.

First things first…dessert.

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This is what I decided to do this year and it was so wonderfully easy. I bought a box of ice-cream sandwiches and dipped them in red, white, and blue sprinkles. Voila!!!

Now on to other issues.

I decided to take the Three Amigos shopping on the 4th of July. They needed summer clothes and I needed retail therapy. Ya’ll it was rough. I can’t even begin to speak favorably of that experience. Gone are the days of cute matching outfits and stylishly classic separates made by a certain clothing designer with polo players as his logo.

We are now about wearing winter beanies in the summer, drop crotch pants, and arguing with any suggestion that someone by the name of  “Mom” will make.

And there’s the one child who absolutely hates trying clothes on in a store. And once she does, it’s either everything fits (when it doesn’t) or nothing works (when they do).

The whole experience made we want to declare my independence from motherhood. So I’m now working on alternatives to shopping with three tweens/ tweens. And let me tell you, because we will be on vacation with my parents next month, there were certain things I felt they absolutely had to get. Because as we all know, they need to represent our family appropriately and when it comes down to it, I’d rather just deal with their attitudes before I have to hear parenting judgments from my elders.

So it was rough. Very rough. For me and for them.

But there was also watermelon. And we all know that watermelon makes the world a better place.

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But in a quite funny turn of events, there were two little worms. And that brought great humor as all three of attitudinal children who wear winter beanies in the summer, were now terrified of live worms they discovered while shucking corn on Saturday.

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And I realize that we live in the city (well, suburbs), but we embrace some aspects of county living. And shucking corn is one of them. And that’s what we call it. To use some official term related to corn husks just isn’t right.

By then we made it to Sunday, July 6! The kids donned some of their new gear and we headed to the annual church anniversary celebration for one of our churches. Yes, you read that correctly but that’s a post for another day.

We danced.


And played sports.


And took selfies.


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And had our first snow cones of the summer. I would tell you how many we actually had, but a certain 11-year-old in my house says that I don’t need to blog about everything. So we’ll save that for another day.

snow cones


And the best part of it all, FIREWORKS!



And we had a fabulous July 6th!

How was your Independence Day weekend?

And All Of a Sudden, It’s July


Hi friends!

Thanks so much for supporting my cancerversary last month. That whole cancer experience was very weird, and celebrating my survivor status in June helps me cope with all of that. So, for many of you who read those posts last year when I was actually going through the cancer experience, I know it was a bit repetitive, but it was therapeutic for me to dedicate a whole month of blog posts to it.

So, tell me, how was your June? School did not end for us until June 13, so we really just got back in the swing of summer in the past week or so. We’ve pretty much been hanging out and relaxing…I’ve actually been trying to get them to understand that you don’t always have to go somewhere or do something to have a good time. So far, they’re not buying it.

In honor of the 4th of July this week, I thought I’d post a few pictures of my favorite 4th of July desserts. I love dessert…especially on the 4th of July, and these are two of the recipes I have tried in recent years.

read white and blue cake

This is a simple yellow cake that I made and used blueberries and strawberries for the stars and stripes. We happened to have extra peppermint candies lying around so the kids and I decided to add those on the cake as well.



Last year, I decided that I really wanted to make a trifle. Except I don’t really like pudding much. So I altered the recipe and instead of pudding I used whipped cream. And then I used colored frosting and flags to give it that Independence Day oomph!

This year, I bought 4th of July sprinkles and I’ve been scouring through Pinterest to find a recipe. I’ll definitely let you know what I decide and if you have any ideas, please share them!

Have a great holiday weekend!


Cancer Remembered: A Success!

This post is part of a month-long series on my cancer experience of 2013. They originally appeared on my blog at http://www.caringbridge.org.
I’m good. The kids are good. The surgery was successful and I AM CANCER FREE!
So I went to the doctor last Wednesday…and she said my scar was healing “beautifully.” First things first…she got over the strep throat and the 8-hour surgery with a lot of nervous 20-somethings. You know on the medical shows when the residents are trying to the “good surgerys?” That was me on June 10! They were trying to get in on my thyroid!!!!! Random yes, silly yes, but what do you think I’m supposed to be in a situation like this?
I go back to UT Southwestern in about 3 weeks to have my blood drawn. Here’s what we’re doing now…regulating the synthetic thyroid hormone in my body. And the way we regulate is totally trial and error.
So right now, I take 1.5 pills each morning. It take about 6 weeks for the medicine to get in my system, so we will check my blood levels again in 3 weeks. She will request a Complete Blood Panel (CBC) because they need to check my white blood count, red blood count, and all the other things they check when they look at your blood.
Two other things that WE SHOULD NOT WORRY ABOUT but we should look out for are my heart rate and my anemia. While I was in the hospital, I was diagnosed with anemia. I kind of knew that my iron count has been kind of low. To fix it, I take prescription iron pills…they are a little bit stronger than the over the counter vitamins.
I have to take my thyroid medicine on an empty stomach first thing in the morning…then I have to wait at least four hours until I take the iron pills with food.
On my heart…here’s the deal. Part of the big tumor was pushing up against my heart in addition to the lungs. So my heart kind of got used to working a little bit harder for me. Now the the tumor is gone, the heart is still pumping really fast because that’s what it’s used to doing. So we have to re-train the heart to pump at a normal rate. I had an EKG when I was in the hospital, so I’m good. It just doesn’t need any extra crazy in my life. We will kind of watch and see. I don’t have to take any medicine for that.
The other meds that I’m taking (with food, when I eat) are a thyroid multivitamin, and Aleve. Yes, I do still have some pain, so I only take that as needed.And finally, until we check the blood levels, I’m also taking calcium supplements…again, at least 2 hours after I’ve taken any other medicines.
To manage all these medicine rules, I set a notification on my Google calendar that tells me when I’m supposed to take it all. How do people remember all of this?


Cancer Remembered: Prepping for Surgery

This post is part of a month-long series on my cancer experience of 2013. They originally appeared on my blog at http://www.caringbridge.org.
I am in countdown mode. The past few weeks have been strange for the thyroid and me. About 10 days ago, the thyroid shifted. Which means that as I was happily cruising along with hyperthyroid symptoms, it all came to a halt when the gland stopped producing the hormone…at all.
So I then struggled with hypothyroid issues…the biggest of which for me me is the fatigue. We tried it all (with the doctor’s consent of course), and finally, I think I can live with it.
Usually people who are hyper or hypo have medicine that can control the shifts, but unfortunately, since I am prepping for surgery, that is not an option. We had to treat my symptoms with vitamins, diet, and limited stress.
That being said, I am VERY excited to be having surgery soon. Two weeks to be exact! The surgery date is June 10, and my friend Cheron asked me to tell you that she is wearing red in honor of me that day.If you feel so inclined, I’d love for you to do it to. (AKA friends, I realized this is a stretch…but you know….:)
Medically speaking, I do have a few things to do to prepare for surgery. I do these neck exercises several times a day so my neck muscles won’t spasm during surgery. I also have to take calcium supplements because a low thyroid function = low calcium in your body. And lastly, no ibruprofen or aspirin products until the end of June.
The kids are not out of school yet…they have another week. But boy are they ready! Next year I will have two middle schoolers and one in junior high. Really?

Cancer Remembered: Breaking the News


This post is part of a month-long series on my cancer experience of 2013. They originally appeared on my blog at http://www.caringbridge.org.

One of the cancer blogs I read regularly is written by a woman with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. She writes a lot about communication — especially on the things someone should and should not say to a person who has been diagnosed with cancer.

Today, I am going to share with you the things I’ve learned that I should say and not say when breaking the news about cancer. Unfortunately, you will probably have to break the news regarding a medical condition to someone in your life (that’s just the way life works), so I am here to help you through the process.
When I was first diagnosed in January, I felt the best way to inform people was to say it matter-of-factly; almost blurting it out. One moment, I would talking about the spring registration schedule, and the next minute I’d say, “I have cancer.” Once I said it, I would scramble to come up with words regarding the good prognosis, the fact that it’s a “good” cancer, anything.Then the conversation would usually end with the listener in tears and me feeling insensitive. “Why is she crying? I’m the one with the cancer.”
But it was my approach. And now, I’ve found myself breaking the news more and more since I returned to work from the non-surgery. (Yes, I’m still a little salty…the date.) I’ve found that a lot of people knew I was out, but some just thought it was coincidence, or I was at a meeting at another campus, etc. And with that comes a wave of me breaking the news all over.
So here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Start talking about the affected area. “Toni I haven’t seen you in a while, how have you been?” “You know, I’ve been off because my thyroid has been acting crazy and giving me a lot a problems.”
This is good because it sets the stage. The listener can decide if they can handle more specific news, or if they are done. Let’s continue, shall we?
“Really, Toni? What’s it doing?” “Well, it bounces back from hyperactive to hypoactive and I have a goiter. It appears that the goiter has an underlying malignancy, which means I have thyroid cancer.”
2. Give them a moment to respond in the way they are comfortable.I usually end up saying something like, “See I told you it was crazy.”
 Now…telling someone you have cancer is 10 percent about you, but 90 percent about them. They will instantly remember their uncle, or cousin or friend who has had the disease and no matter what your prognosis is, their mind will travel.
3. Relate the news to a celebrity. I am very thankful that Brooke Burke-Charvet announced her thyroid cancer when she did. I actually told her this on twitter yesterday. (You know how I feel about pop culture and social media.)
Once I announce my condition, I follow up with, “Did you see the lady from Dancing With the Stars on television? You know she just had thyroid cancer too?”
This helps because our society loves celebrities, and we tend to think they are invincible. But in reality, they get cancer too.
4. Tell them how you will keep them informed. Once people get over the initial shock, they need to know how they will keep up with your progress. Tell them they’ll see you until surgery in June, they can read your blog, whatever. Make sure they know how they can stay updated.
5. Before treatment starts, let them see you “live” with the disease.Some days, I wish I could say,  “I have cancer” so I’m staying in bed all day. But I can’t. There’s middle school drama, teen whispering, and college students who need my fashion advice. Continuing to “live” is just as important for me as it for everyone around me.
*Note: The fashion advice comment was a joke. Well, kind of.