Category Archives: bad days

And the bathroom remodeling saga continues

refinished floor part 2Dear Journal: 

I fear I must write this quickly before I succumb to the vapors escaping from my room. As if the hardship of once again being reduced to one toilet and having to reside in the guest room was not enough, the smell of the polyurethane wafting beneath the door is making me light-headed.

But the smell does signal a step in the right direction, even as it hinders me from taking a step on my floor. And we probably won’t perish from the fumes, right?

I do hope not as I would like to actually be able to shower in my bathroom at least once before I shuffle off this mortal coil.

Before he began work on the floor, he did refinish the mirror frame, so I suppose that is also a tally in the positive column. I am still uncertain whether or not our vanity can be installed tomorrow. I do not believe that tomorrow will bring an end to this saga.

vanityDear Journal: 

The second deadline for completion of the bathroom renovations has come…and gone. As I feared, it is still not finished. While on the surface it appears to be a fully functional bathroom, there is something evil lurking within. Or rather there is something broken sitting right in plain sight.

When I walked in the door, I was thunderstruck at the addition of the vanity. I remembered it differently from the photograph I was shown, but considering that the fleeting photo I saw was viewed over a month ago, I chalked that up to a mere fault in my memory. What is not a trick of time, however, is the fact that the faucets my husband was so proud of finding at a stellar discount, are both broken, although interestingly in different ways. One has a hairline crack which cannot even be detected unless the water is turned on. The second is missing a thingamabob which does not hinder its function, but according to my husband cannot be endured.

So, in addition to the time we will be unable to use the shower due to painting and allowing the paint to dry, we also cannot use our sinks until these faucets are returned and the new ones are ordered and installed.

My husband’s prediction is a fully functional bathroom by Tuesday. I smile, nod my head in agreement, and secretly assume it will be another week.

Oh, did I mention the floor has to be resanded and resealed on Monday as well?

paintingDear Journal:

As we enter the fifth weekend with only one bathroom, I was prepared to rise from bed, sighing heavily at the prospect of two more days without progress. Miraculously, this did not end up being my lot today. For today, there was progress. Granted, that progress is completely due to my husband’s obsessive nature.

While I am still faced with the prospect of at least three more days without a functioning bathroom, today my husband took up a brush and began painting. For the past 10 hours he has been working toward two full coats of paint on the walls. The inner shower room has been completed. Now he is working on the outer area, which is much larger.

The paint is darker than I anticipated and I am anxious to see how it all comes together. But, as of this moment, I have hope.

bathroom painted with toilet.jpgDear Journal: 

While technically there was no further progress made today, late last night my husband set his paintbrush to rest.

Last night I was not able to fully appreciate it, but in the dawn of this new day, I was able to truly view his endeavor. While the paint is still darker than I expected, I do think it will grow on me.

I have been assured that tomorrow our house will be completely restored to us. Our contractor claims he must away and instead of starting the kitchen job for another client, he now says he is leaving the country. Maybe I have become a bit jaded as a result of this project, but this latest development sounds dubious.

Nevertheless, the final payment is on the counter and tomorrow our garage will once again be capable of holding two cars. Alas the project will not be finished as we are still waiting on the replacement faucets to arrive. So we will have two sinks but no way to use them. But maybe by Tuesday I can actually shower in my own bathroom.

Here’s to dreaming.


no faucets.jpgDear Journal: 

The bathroom is finished! Of course the floors are still drying so we must sleep in the guest room. And if you look at the photo, you’ll notice there are no faucets on the sinks. We are patiently awaiting replacements for the defective ones that at least made our sinks look usable. Our best estimate is that we might have working sinks on Friday.

The trim still needs to be painted and some sort of shoe molding also must be applied. In addition we need two additional lights and a vent for the shower room.

Alas, it appears I have at least one more day to endure the children’s shower. Although at this point I have become numb to the torment.

Dear Journal: 

It is a Christmas miracle! Yes, of course I do realize it is not yet Christmas. But there were snowflakes yesterday and a simple jaunt across the street today found my legs and ears nearly frozen stiff, so it’s close enough. Although really the miracle has nothing to do with the season and everything to do with with five weeks this bathroom fiasco has persisted. But as I have mentioned, this morning there was a minor miracle. Not a water into wine miracle, but a water based miracle nonetheless.

Yes, that is right dear readers, I was able to shower in my bathroom for the first time in five weeks! It took a bit of adjusting. My first hurdle was the fact that now there is only one shower door to slide open. This may not seem like much of an obstacle, but I did not want to be pelted with cold water while I waited for the water to heat. Nor did I want water to pour from the shower while I kept checking to see if the water was ready. It was a bit like being in a hotel.

Before I’d had a chance to completely digest the door dilemma, I realized there was an even weightier matter to deal with: I did not even know how to turn the water on. It took a moment or two of finagling, but then a cascade of warm water rushed out and I was able to step inside with minimal water leaking onto the floor.

Of course, since we still do not have working faucets, I still had to use the children’s bathroom to relieve myself (so I could wash my hands). I had to venture back in there right after the shower because my contact lens was bothering me and needed adjusting. Still, it was a relief not to have a child banging on the door, demanding to be let in to use the toilet while I showered.

It really does seem that this nightmare will be over soon.

Dear Journal: 

I did not write last night on the eve of our bathroom’s completion date. After all, it seemed silly to me to crow over some painted trim when today I was finally going to have working sinks, a finished floor and lovely shoe molding…the finishing touches on a job that began so long ago on that much warmer November day.

But alas, Fate has stepped in and dashed my hopes yet again. It seems at every turn I am crushed by the universe’s cruel sense of humor. Each time this job is brought to the precipice of completion, something pushes it back so it is miles from finished.

What malicious turn befell my bathroom today? Just after nine am, my husband received a message from our contractor. Despite waiting the entire week in anticipation of his arrival today, he did not appear. The message explained that he’d been delayed on his return from Singapore. Yes, as in the country half the world away. He and an old friend were “piggybacking home,” and our bathroom would have to wait until at least Monday. Yes, that is correct, our two week bathroom project has now entered its sixth week. And yes, this is now the fourth time in those six weeks that our contractor has contacted us the morning he was supposed to arrive in order to tell us he would not, in fact, be arriving.

So, for my friends who felt sad these posts were ending, I hope you’re happy. I feel your longing for amusement has inspired Fate and prolonged my suffering.

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The never ending odyssey of bathroom remodeling

toilet restoredDear Journal: 

Today I am truly thankful that our toilet was reinstalled yesterday. Nothing else in our bathroom may be functional, but thank all that is holy that the toilet is. I know some have wondered at what might appear to be an obsession with having two toilets. Our contractor chided me about it yesterday and I know was a bit bitter that he stayed later than planned (he didn’t arrive to start work until 11 am) to reinstall it, but I had a premonition that could not be ignored.

Even though it is only the four of us gathering around our table for a decadent meal this evening, my husband awoke with one of his violent migraines. I was roused much earlier than I expected by his retching. Since that first unsettling event, he has been on a continuous toilet-bed loop for the past several hours. if it were not for that second, much begged for toilet, we would all be far more miserable than we currently are.

As it is, I will be cooking a huge meal with my husband’s favorites, that he may not be able to eat. But at least he can vomit in peace without a child banging on the door with a bladder emergency.

Dear Journal:

Yet again I mourned the loss of my second bathroom. Our contractor was supposed to be here this morning. On Wednesday he spoke of finally attaching the shower doors, cleaning the floors and removing the carpet from the vanity area in order to begin work on that area in earnest. But, like so many other mornings during this project, an emergency arose. While we were celebrating my husband’s birthday with a special breakfast, our contractor called and left a message that he would not be arriving today.

So now we sit through four days of no progress at all. IF this bathroom is finished by next Friday, I will be amazed beyond belief. My hopes of a three week bathroom remodel have been dashed and I fear my revised hope of a four week remodel will meet a similar end.

At least I have mashed potatoes and cranberry orange sauce to sustain me in this, my hour of need.

Dear Journal: 

There is no progress. I am adrift in a world without my shower.


Dear Journal:

It seems silly to continue to write at this point. Nothing has changed. When I put fingers to keyboard, all I feel is despondent and lost.

bathroom vanity #2Dear Journal: 

We have been assured that the bathroom will be completed by the end of the week. To say I am dubious would be an understatement. Understatement is probably an understatement of how dubious I am about this situation. After four days without any improvements to our bathroom situation, I was desperate for some real progress today. What I found made my heart sink. Did I mention that I am dubious this project will conclude by Friday? The odd clearly are not ever in my favor.

shower doorsDear Journal: 

Today I returned home to find massive wind machines pointed toward my bathroom walls. Apparently their job is to help the “mud” on the walls. I am still uncertain as to why mud on walls is a desired aspect of construction, but I am assured it is a necessity. I was pleasantly surprised to find actual doors attached to my shower. I was nearly giddy with delight when my husband told me that tomorrow morning I would actually be able to bathe in my own shower.

But alas this happiness was short-lived. My visions of showering without Barbie dolls and plastic whales at my feet are still but dreams. Less than an hour later he requested I wait one more day to make sure everything was fully dried before I could be introduced to my new shower. I am not sure exactly why shower doors need to dry. There is so much that is utterly perplexing about construction.


refinished floor part 1Dear Journal: 

Reality has gobsmacked me once again. 28 days later, 7 days longer than I anticipated, I am still bereft because I only have one bathroom. There was a bit of a kerfuffle yesterday evening with the contractor. Apparently there were differences of opinions about how much of the small strip of the wood flooring in the bathroom needs to be finished. My husband and I fell firmly on the “all of it” side. Our contractor did not wish to refinish the the portion that will rest beneath the vanity

However, since the vanity is raised, the unfinished wood would show underneath it and the mishmash would be unseemly. Tempers flared. Words were exchanged. Nails were bitten in anxiety.

While I am happy to say that cooler heads prevailed this morning, and the contractor cane around to our way of thinking, this means almost no work was done and alas, it appears the job may spill over into next week. I nearly fainted when I heard this news.

And since this nightmare refuses to end, once the work begins on the floor tomorrow, I will be evicted from my bedroom as well. It appears I will be relegated to the guest bedroom until the floor is dry. So not only will I be down to one toilet again, I will also have to suffer in a full-size bed.

The horror!



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More odysseys in remodeling

20191121_172626Dear Journal:

Today was yet a new experience for me. My children both needed to visit the doctor, so we were home when the contractor arrived. Although I longed to extend my repose until at least 8 am, my husband was sure work would begin at 8, and I did not want to wander the house in my pajamas or be in the shower when a virtual stranger showed up to work.

As it happened, I could have enjoyed at least an hour of additional rest as no one arrived until 10. Work began quickly. Since this project began, not only has my bathroom been destroyed, but my garage is in absolute shambles. Half of it has been taken over with tools and supplies. Thankfully my husband understands the decree I made when we first moved into the house: my side of the garage will always be clean because I will never again scrape ice from my windshield in the morning. While I do appreciate still having my space in the garage, it is odd to share it with my toilet, which I sorely miss.

He trekked in and out of the house on his mission to complete complicated construction work. As I sat grading papers, wrapped in blankets to protect against the cold which wafted in from these trips to the garage, I heard the whirring of motors.

My presence was requested in my former bathroom as he was packing up. He wanted me to view the completed tiling in the shower. I am under the impression that tomorrow when I return from work the hole that was once my bathroom may actually have a completed shower and tiled bathroom floor. I am still unsure of the status of the toilet.

20191122_184657Dear Journal: 

I was hopeful, I truly was. I thought today would be the day I had real tile beneath my feet in the bathroom. Although I warned myself not to dream too big, I had a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe we’d have two toilets again.

Thankfully I am now used to having my hopes dashed against the rocks of construction. My shower may have a floor (without grout), but there is still only wood beneath my feet. Well, there would be if I was allowed to step on the floor. Alas, I am not.

20191122_184711Dear Journal: 

Nothing has changed. Life is desolate. I dream each night of tile and showerheads. Is there no end to this madness?

Dear Journal: 

There is no end to this torture. I have accepted my fate. I will forever be forced to bathe with tiny LOL dolls and plastic dolphins. There will always be a line of people waiting to use our only toilet. This is my life now.

bathroom tileDear Journal: 

Once again promises have been broken. Once again my heart is shattered. As I readied myself in the early dark of the morning, I thought today might be the last day I was forced to look at the repulsive baby blue carpet and vanity. In the depths of my soul I was reaching out for the pulchritudinous of the new vanity that has been sitting in my garage, just waiting for me to enjoy its double sinks. I held out hope that I might once again be able to use my toilet in my own bathroom.

But it twas not to be. While my shower floor has been grouted, there is now a shower curb and the floor itself has been tiled, that tile surrounds a hole where my toilet should be. And my old vanity still sits there with its single sink, mocking my pain.

bathroom destroyed vanityDear Journal: 

As we approach the holidays, I must admit that I am not jolly. Not in the least. As I bow my head to reflect on the hours I will have spent making the traditional meal for my family, I had hoped to be giving thanks for a beautiful new bathroom. Alas, it seems to me that this Thanksgiving I will not be thankful for having my toilet or my shower restored to me. There is no foreseeable way that construction will be done on time.

In fact, while I know it is actually a step toward progress, today feels like two steps further into the abyss. Our vanity and sink have been demolished. At this moment, my bathroom is devoid of all water. It is a shell of its former self.

But like the mighty Phoenix which rises from the ashes, I see the newly plumbed fixtures as a sign of hope. I realize that my hopes will no doubt be thwarted again. My heart may well be cleft in twain a time or two yet during this process. But I will persist with the idea that one day my children and I will no longer be forced to share a bathroom again.

toilet restoredDear Journal:

I never thought this day would arrive, but it does seem there has been a holiday miracle! Not the sort of miracle which involves my bathroom being truly functional, but rather the type which means while one person is showering, another can use the toilet in a completely different room!

It’s true! The bathroom may lack a shower door, an appropriately sealed shower floor, towel rods, and a toilet paper holder, but at least now I have an extra door to hide behind when everyone in my family needs something and all I want is a minute alone.

This small victory did not come easily. We were without water for over four hours today. The smell of burning, this time something pipe related in the crawl space, permeated the entire house. And our contractor is already talking about the work that will be done on Monday, which leads me to believe that I will be at least a month with only one bathroom.




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Further Odysseys in bathroom remodeling

20191114_223638Dear Journal: 

When I entered my house, there was an alarming scent of burning wood. Since my husband was home and did not seem even remotely unnerved, I deduced that nothing was currently on fire. Apparently at some point during the day a two by four was ablaze in some fashion. The details are still hazy, and the smell persists.

Much discussion was had about where the detachable showerhead would hang. At this point, as long as it is on a wall, I will be thrilled.

My husband believes there will be tile when we get home tonight. Ever the skeptic, I worry I will be disappointed.

20191114_223644Dear Journal: 

Curse my prophetic soul! My premonition that no tile would be up when I returned home did, in fact, come to pass. Evidently another calamity has befallen the head of our crew, so no work was done on Friday. So it is now another stretch of three days with no progress.

The smell of burning wood has mostly subsided, but every now and again when the wind shifts, I catch a faint vapor to remind me.

Not to be detoured, my husband has purchased a new leaf blowing machine and will begin work in our backyard, not even pausing to give our poor destroyed bathroom a second glance.

When will this nightmare existence end?



Dear Journal: 

Darkness taking over. Words failing. I am utterly miserable. Had to wait ten minutes to relieve myself while another family member showered. I believe this is what Dante wrote about in the fifth circle of hell. Must persevere, but not sure quite how to.


Dear Journal:


Dear Journal: 

You may have noticed, dear reader, that this saga skips a day. This is no accident nor a mere oversight. After facing yet another day of looking at the hole that once was my bathroom, I simply could not set fingers to keypad. I had to leave off to gather up my spirits.

I wish I could say that after 3 full days of stagnation I returned to a wall of tile. Alas, I did not. I returned to almost half a wall of tile and two seemingly random floor tiles which I am not sure are actually affixed to the floor. Apparently there was some sort of mix up at the tile store and we did not buy all the required tile.

Instead of going to my much needed exercise class, I had to go home and care for the children while my husband trekked back over to the merchantile to purchase the missing tiles.

Once again I have been assured this project will be completed before Thanksgiving, but I fear that I shall not be giving thanks for my new bathroom this year. Or perhaps ever.


Dear Journal: 

Not to be outdone by days past, but another calamity befell our bathroom today. As our contractor was creating the lovely nook that will hold a shelf for our toiletries, he discovered our wall was bowed. This required much refiguring and additional destruction in order for reconstruction to be done. Honestly, I’m not sure what it meant or what was done, only that it created a two hour setback, so limited tiling was done.

Just as I was getting over the shock of this step backwards, my husband added more bad news: apparently painting is not part of this remodel. At this rate I may never shower in my own bathroom again.



Dear Journal: 

Wonder of wonders! Our shower is actually starting to resemble a shower. At least if I don’t turn my head to where the actual showerhead would be. It is rather delightful to see the tile extending all the way to the ceiling.

Although I still don’t know how the third wall, floor, toilet, vanity, double sinks, wall surrounding the sinks, a refinished mirror, carpet pulled up, and hardwood floor beneath will be refinished by Thanksgiving.

For now I’ll close my eyes and dream that it is not just a dream.



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Odysseys in remodeling: Life with only one bathroom

20191107_182927Dear Journal: 

Today is the first day of the remodeling.  As I looked around the wreckage that was my bathroom, I felt most dismayed. I shuddered at the memories of past repairs. I stared at the place where my toilet had been and thought, “oh dear, with four of us in this house, I think I’ll miss you the most.”

Of course, that was until I entered the children’s bathroom for a shower this morning. It was then I remembered how much I hate that shower. The showerhead is tiny and hung about two inches below my head, so I have to crane my head uncomfortably far back to wash it. Not a problem for my kids who are a good 8-14 inches shorter than me. Since it is so low on the wall, I get the full force of the stream and it’s way to strong!

Will I survive living in these conditions? Honestly, I don’t know.

second day of remodeling

Dear Journal: 

As day two comes to an end, there has been some progress made, but I fear it is not enough. While I have been assured that this “floor” is great, the lack of toilet and shower are burdens to my soul. Since no work can be done on the weekend, I am forced to seek out new places of refuge.

This search led me to a new life experience: I showered at the gym. Yes, I actually ventured out of my house unshowered, something I have not attempted for years. Even when I am going directly to the gym, I get up and shower. So today threw me for a bit of a loop.

It was going well until I realized I forgot my hair gel. So, I am exercised and washed but have flat hair. When will this nightmare end?

Dear Journal:

Because day three is the Lord’s day, no work can be done on the bathroom. Things are as desloate as ever. I am starting to abandon all hope. Showering in the children’s bathroom has left me utterly bereft of happiness. Before I could even get in the shower today I had to go back to my own room three times for supplies just to make the shower possible. Also, the bathroom is turning into a jungle of towels.


Dear Journal:

I should have written yesterday, but we’ve had a setback that has left me desolate.

For the third day, no progress has been made. An emergency befell our crew and all work ceased.

In a valiant act of chivalry to bring some sort of civilization to the children’s bathroom, my husband ordered a new showerhead. In my fear of losing our only working source of cleanliness, I begged him to wait for the experts.

He ignored my wishes, but to his great consternation, the old showerhead would not budge. So once again it was a pale imitation of a shower for me this morning.

I pray our crew will be able to return today and bring some light back into this darkness.



Dear Journal:

There has been much rejoicing by some of the locals over the installation of a new showerhead in the children’s bathroom. It was certainly a marvel to behold.

I had my first experience with it this morning. To my husband’s dismay I am not as enamored of it as he is. While the increased height is a wonder and I rejoice that I no longer have to strain my neck to shower, the water pressure is a disappointment. This is touted as a rainfall showerhead to be a bit less of a sprinkle and more of a downpour!

There has been some progress made in our bathroom. My walls now sort of look like walls again and my shower has a curb if no actual floor. I have been assured these are giant leaps forward, but after the trickery of the rainfall showerhead, I feel I might have a different definition of leaps.

destroyed sink.jpg

Dear Journal: 

It has now been one week since I was last able to enjoy my beloved shower. None has been its equal since. My husband assures me that once the new showerhead is installed he will devote himself to making sure the disastrous pressure issues of the children’s bath do not haunt us in our own. I remain skeptical.

Some sort of “mud” has been placed on the floor of the shower, which my husband insists on calling the pan. I am not sure if it is actual mud or some sort of nickname created by those in the construction arts. I have been told that it must set up and dry for at least 48 hours, which has destroyed my hopes of seeing tile this week.

The work has not extended beyond the shower area. Demolition has begun around our sink. I’d hoped it would lift my spirits to see that ghastly 70’s blue tile gone, but my broken walls are a constant reminder of my broken dreams. I am not sure how much longer I can last.

mud pan

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Gluten-free Disney: Day 3

Mickey breakfastWhile my mom and I slept, enjoying the quiet that came from not sharing a hotel room with my daughter who wakes up at the crack of dawn demanding breakfast and a show, my sister snuck out of our room in search of breakfast.

Since we were staying at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, initially when she went down to Capt. Cook’s to get a quick service breakfast she asked for the Bounty Breakfast without the French toast. Although the cast member who took her order was happy to comply, she did ask if there was a reason my sister didn’t want the French toast. When my sister told her about her gluten issue, the cast member told her not to worry, that they’d get her something tasty and allergy free. My sister was thrilled because she’d really wanted to have some Mickey waffles. She knew they were just going to be waffles, but the idea of getting them in the shape of Mickey delighted her.

She was so excited by her breakfast that she took a picture of it (notice the green allergy marking in the upper left corner) and texted it to me. I ignored the vibrating, but when she came back to the room and we woke up, she raved about her breakfast adventure. Even though I was not in the mood for breakfast (I never am when I first wake up), I was thrilled to see her so happy.

Unfortunately, her happiness was to be rather short-lived.

enchanted barWednesday was our planned park-free day. We had a cabana reserved at the hotel, but not until 3 pm. While I was scrolling through some Disney news, I realized that The Enchanted Rose, Disney’s newest lounge had just opened up at the Grand Floridian the day before, so I insisted we go and check it out. I was pretty excited to be one of the first guests to experience it.

The Enchanted Rose is amazing! I have another blog about it if you want a closer look at it here. Sadly, while they do have a unique snack menu available, which a foodie like me was excited about, the kitchen doesn’t open until 5pm, so we were not able to try anything. We were, however, VERY hungry, and more than a little tipsy at that point, so food was a must!

We decided to grab some lunch at Gasparilla Island Grill. Our plan for the day was to be so casual, so no reservations had been made anywhere. We liked the fly by the seat of our pants aspect of it, so lunch at a quick service place was great for us. My mom and I both got very tasty sandwiches. I had a chicken and brie and my mom had the hot Italian. My sister decided on a Caesar salad. Since she’s still new to eating gluten-free (and I suspect her decision making abilities were not 100%), she didn’t even think about the fact that many salad dressings have gluten in them (something I had no idea about), so she forgot to ask about potential allergens.

20191009_162921At first, she was fine. We made our way back over to the Polynesian where we hung out in our cabana, drinking delicious tropical drinks like these. Mine was the best…it was the frozen margarita with lime Dole Whip. That sprinkling of orange around the rim is a chili lime salt and it was so good that I licked the rim of that cup absolutely clean of it (and bought some at Epcot). My sister got a blueberry lemonade and my mom got the Frosty Pineapple. As with every other drink we got, we passed them around so everyone could try them. We did the same thing with our second round of drinks. My cucumber and mint vojito was ok, but just did not live up to this amazing margarita. I still dream of having it again.

Not long before our cabana time ended, my sister started to look green. It wasn’t the alcohol though. She traced it back to the salad, which had been delicious, but which had gluten in the dressing. She spent the next several hours in our hotel room, piled under several blankets and still shivering.

We were supposed to do the Monorail Pub Crawl that night, but with my sister so sick, that was obviously out. While she rested in our room, my mom and I went out to see the Electrical Water Pageant. If you’ve never seen it, it’s cute and a fun little show to watch from the beach area at the Polynesian. You can check out a video I shot of it on my YouTube channel here. Since we knew we’d be able to see the fireworks from the Magic Kingdom as well, we decided to relax and enjoy our hotel bound evening.

After they were both done, we were hungry. Obviously we weren’t going to leave the hotel with my sister still not feeling well, so we opted to head over to Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. I texted my sister to let her know where we were. It had been about three hours since she’d been doubled over in pain and she was actually feeling better, so she decided to come join us.


She wasn’t super hungry, but figured she probably needed to eat. This time she was careful about her menu choice. The chicken lettuce cups were exactly what she needed. Not only were they delicious (I took a tiny bit just of the chicken), but still small enough that her stomach didn’t feel overwhelmed. They were light and tasty. Not as good as my Thai chicken and veggie flatbread, but she wasn’t even ready to glance at anything with gluten in it again (and secretly I’ll admit I was glad as I didn’t want to share it).

Not only did Trader Sam’s have great appetizers, but they also had some really tasty drinks. And the best part is that many of them come in really cool souvenir mugs. After being so horribly sick, my sister definitely deserved her Shrunken Zombie Head drink.


The best part was that instead of giving her the dirty glass, they gave her a completely new glass all boxed up and ready to take home with her. We also learned that if you want one of the fancy drinks but don’t want the fancy cup, you can still order the drink at a reduced rate. Both my mom and I took advantage of this fact. She got a mai tai and I got…well, now I don’t remember what I got, but it had pineapple in it! You can see all of the cool souvenir glasses they offer below.


So while it definitely was NOT our best day of gluten-free eating, we did learn some important lessons. And my sister was very meticulous about asking for allergy free foods for the rest of the trip.





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Teaching Tuesday: AP Scores

AP scores were released at the end of last week. As usual, I was on edge all day. My student scores did not get released until 8 pm, so I watched the message boards as teachers across the country posted their reactions long before I got even a hint about how well my students did on the test. My nerves were up even higher than usual since Trevor Packer’s (the head of College Board’s AP program) tweeted with the score breakdowns almost a week before we got to see our scores. When I saw AP Lang had 57.4% of students who got a 3, 4 or 5, it got me wondering how my students compared.

Even though I shouldn’t, I can’t help but compare my student’s AP scores with the national scores. I also find myself comparing their scores with the scores other students at our school get on completely different AP tests, which is really quite ridiculous. I know I shouldn’t feel inferior when I see my own school tweeting about how wonderful it is that 95% of our AP Spanish students got a 3, 4, or 5 on the test. I should not let that diminish how well my students did or make me think less of myself as a teacher, but at some point, it always does.

My AP Lang students did not do as well on the test as the AP Spanish students did. It’s pretty hard to. But, 78% of my students got a 3, 4 or 5 on the test. However, no one in the district is tweeting about it. This is more than a little discouraging. Especially since last year, despite the fact that 82% of my kids got a 3, 4 or 5 on the Lang test, I was not one of the teachers recognized for having a history of excellent AP scores–even though my AP Lang score has never fallen below 78% and one year all of them got a 3, 4 or 5.

Now, I realize that neither 78% or 82% sound anywhere near as impressive as 95%. However, this year, 88% of all students who took the AP Spanish test (60,000 kids worldwide) got a 3, 4 or 5 on the test. Last year, 89% of the kids who took the test got a 3, 4 or 5 on it. That means, that students at my school did 7% better than the national average this year and 9% better last year (there was a 100% rate last year). This is impressive, however, this year just under 600,000 students worldwide took the AP Lang test. That is ten times as many kids as AP Spanish. Of those nearly 600,000 kids, 57% scored a 3, 4 or 5 on the test. Last year, nearly the same number of kids took the Lang test and 55% of them got a 3, 4 or 5 on the test. My students did 21% better on the test this year and 27% better on the test last year than the national average, which I think is darn impressive and worthy of celebration.

I also had nearly twice as many students take the AP Lang exam as took the AP Spanish exam.

Do I think I’m a better teacher than our AP Spanish teacher? Absolutely not. She is an amazing teacher. Those kids work to earn those scores and both she and her students should be celebrated and congratulated. But so should mine.

And that’s where I get hung up, even though I know I shouldn’t. When I first saw my student scores, before I’d seen the scores of anyone else in my building, I was pretty happy with my kids. Six of my kids got 5’s, six got 4’s and no one got a 1. My kids did 21% better than the national average. Fourteen of my students improved their AP Lang score (from their AP Lit score last year) an entire point. Two of my students improved 2 whole points. That is HUGE progress and a cause for celebration.

But then I saw those AP Spanish scores, the tweets from the school and the message of congratulations on the school website just for that class and it got me down. I wanted to send emails to everyone in my administration office as well as the district administration office explaining just how awesome it is that 78% of our kids got a 3, 4 or 5 on the AP Lang test and why it is every bit as impressive, and maybe even more impressive, as that 95%. I also wanted to include Packer’s message that unlike all the other AP tests, “the knowledge/skills measured by this exam [AP Lang] have a very strong relationship to overall college success.” On the test that specifically measures all those skills kids need to be college ready, our school not only got an impressive 78% of kids with great scores, but those scores are 21% above the national average. We should be shouting this from the rooftop because our kids are amazing and they will succeed!

Instead, I wrote an email to my students and told them how proud I was of them. I told them not to be disappointed if their score was not quite what they hoped for. I reminded them of all they accomplished and how amazing they are. I wished them luck next year, which I seriously doubt they will need. Because even if the district isn’t singing their praises and bragging about them, they are all going off prepared for college. Even the 22% who got a 2 on the exam are not going to struggle in college. They may  have to work a little harder, but they are all going to be ok.

And I have to keep telling myself that that is what really matters. Not a number on a website.


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