Throwback Thursday: The concussion blues

This post will have to be brief as I have to severely limit my screen time. It seems last week’s car accident left me not only with a smashed car, but also with a minor concussion.

Before I went into the doctor, I thought my headache and neck/shoulder pain might just be whiplash. I looked at some symptoms online and they seemed to line up with what was going on. Concussion didn’t even cross my mind as I didn’t hit my head on anything. Turns out that you don’t have to hit your head to get a concussion. You just have to rattle your brain enough. And when I got rear ended, my brain got rattled around.

Although I’ve never had a concussion before, I’ve had to navigate the world of concussions both with my students and two years ago with my own son. His former school had a completely amazing playground surrounded by a pretty big wooded area. The kids were building a fort, something that was part of the school’s tradition. My son was inside the fort when another kid who was adding on to it accidentally dropped a log on his head. Yes, you read that right, a log.

My poor third grader got one heck of a concussion.

He missed a few days of school, but even when he could go to school, he spent hours in the nurse’s office just resting. The school nurse and I were in frequent contact and each day she’d let me know how many times he came in and for how long. In the early stages of his recovery, he was there four times a day for at least 30 minutes. Having no prior experience with concussions, if I hadn’t known how much my kid actually loved school, I might have suspected he was faking his symptoms. But he hated missing class and fun with his friends.

As the days stretched on, he spent more time in class and had fewer brain breaks. It took him about a month until he was back to normal and it was an exhausting, upsetting month for everyone. He had to go to the doctor fairly frequently because there is really no normal concussion process for very young kids who get them. There is little research done on kids under the age of 12 who get concussions, so their reactions aren’t as predictable.

When my doc told me I too had a concussion, I had a basic idea of what I was in for. What I was not ready for though, was how tired everything makes me. On Saturday I went out to lunch with my family and then we ran a few errands–Target and the library. I was so exhausted when we were done (and we spent less than 30 minutes in Target), that I napped for an hour and a half. And I am not a napper. When all is right with my head, I nap maybe three or four times a year. It’s just not something I’ve ever been good at.

However, since getting this concussion, I have napped every single day. Sometimes multiple times each day.

While the headaches aren’t as extreme now, they are still ever present, a dull ache in the back of my skull. And the fog is still there. People have to repeat info to me. And I yawn every few minutes. Just folding a load of laundry makes me exhausted.

My doc said it may take a month to feel normal again.


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Wildcard Wednesday: Pinterest recipes

I am that person who not only pins recipes on Pinterest, but actually makes them as well. In fact, at this very moment I have two different Pinterest dishes in my oven, hopefully baking to delicious perfection.

Sure, I have a lot more recipes pinned than I’ve managed to try at this point, but I’d say I’ve tried at least 20% of all my pins, and based on all of my friends boards and results, I’d say that’s above average! In fact, one of my friends will pin desserts she wants me to make for her, which I find hysterical. She won’t make them, but she knows there is at least a chance I will.

I don’t go for anything too complicated. Earlier today I glanced through a group of recipes that were housed under one pin because they promised to be delicious meatless main courses. Since my daughter has decided to go vegetarian, I am always looking for good veggie meals the whole family will enjoy (rather than just modifying her dinner). When I went through them I realized not that they were too complicated to make, but that my 7 year old, who was a bit of a picky eater before she gave up meat, would never touch most of the dishes, so I trashed that pin. I end up trashing about 10% of my initial pins because they’ll be too complex or on a full glance I know my family won’t eat them.

I also had to trash a few phenomenal looking recipes I’d pinned because when I went back to them (granted, it might have been a few years later), the pages no longer existed. That definitely made me sad. Luckily for every recipe I have to trash due to a bad link, there are 50 more that look equally good with working links. At least for now.

I’ll admit that I definitely like to look at the recipes more than I like to cook them. But I love all the variety available on Pinterest and how easy it is to flag and tag recipes my family really loves. As much as I loved pouring over cooking magazines (I used to subscribe to three different ones), I really love not having to try to remember which magazine I’d found a particular recipe in. It’s so much easier to just jump on Pinterest and scroll through my saved dishes.

True, I don’t get all the chef’s tips, histories and detailed cooking instructions on Pinterest. I also don’t get the joy of getting mail I actually want and then flipping through a magazine to see everything available. But, I still get glossy pictures and good recipes, so I’d say it’s a good trade off.

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Teaching Tuesday: Snow days part 2

Thanks to the glory that is an e-Learning day (electronic learning), even when we have snow/ice days, my students still have access to all of their work and instead of losing a day and having to make it up on MLK Day or Presidents’ Day or Spring break, we get to count it as a school day and we don’t fall behind.

I LOVE the concept of e-Learning days. They are not always the most effective instructional days, but we can get some extra skills practice in and I don’t feel like we’ve lost much time.

My only complaint is that since snow/ice days mean power can go out or services can have interruption, students aren’t required to have all of their work completed until they return to school the next day. Now, if we miss a Monday and are back on Tuesday, that’s not much of an issue for me. However, we missed a Friday. And not just any Friday, the Friday before MLK Day, which meant my students got a 4 day weekend.

Now, I have no problem with my students getting a 4 day weekend. I got one too and was pretty happy about it. The only problem I have is that technically their material, which they should have had no difficulty finishing on Friday (since there were no power outages in the area) wasn’t due until Tuesday when we went back to school.

About half of my kids did the work on Friday. I was able to then grade it and feel pretty excited about having all of my grading done. However, as the weekend stretched on, only three additional kids did their work. The rest were waiting until the last possible moment on Monday (or even early Tuesday morning) to finish their work. So, instead of being able to use that extra time off to truly get caught up on grading, I had to wait and once again get behind on my grading.

Because if we had had a regular school day on Friday, all of their work would have been turned in to me and I could have graded it over the weekend, then come to school with a completely blank slate.

Instead, I got to start the week off behind (again). This is particularly frustrating to me because my own children got all of their work done on Friday.

If my 10 and 7 year old can do it, why can’t all of my 17 and 18 year olds?

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Chocolate Monday: Green & Black’s almond bar

Green & Black almondOnce again, my local Kroger had a coupon for chocolate. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it makes me blissfully happy. This time around, it was for Green & Black’s almond bar.

I’ve never tried any chocolate from Green & Black’s before, so this was a fun new venture for me.

The wrapper is nothing spectacular to look at and neither is the bar itself. They are sort of calm, sedated pieces that I probably would have glanced right over had I not had the coupon. Yes, I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for good packaging, especially if it includes pictures of the delicious fillings inside chocolate bars–specifically caramel or fruit. I love packaging for a cherry chocolate bar that has a bright ripe cherry on the front.

But, as George Michael reminded us, “sometimes the clothes do not make the man”–I may have just watched Pitch Perfect 3 this past week. And in this case, the “clothes” wrapper doesn’t speak for the chocolate itself.

The wrapper may be plain, but the chocolate is actually pretty good. The chocolate is nice and creamy without even a hint of bitterness to it. And, it is filled with giant almonds. We’re not talking about almond chips or sliced almonds, but full, big ol’ daddy almonds which add a satisfying crunch to the bar.

Green & Black almond close upIt’s not often that that I grab a chocolate bar with almonds because I generally like my chocolate a little more adventurous. Whenever I think of a chocolate bar with almonds, I get images of my grandmother eating her old standby: Hershey’s with almonds. And while they were fine when there was nothing else to munch on, I always wanted something with a bit more panache.

Green & Black’s bar is simple. It’s not fancy. There are no whistles or bells, but it’s still pretty tasty. And, it’s Fair Trade chocolate, which always makes me feel better about my impact on our world. While this bar is not something I’d buy every day, but when I need to get back to the basics, it’ll be worth another try.


Taste: 7/10
Appearance: 5/10
Value: 6/10 (at $3.25 a bar it’s a bit more expensive than a Hershey, but it’s organic and Fair Trade)

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Free Reading Friday: Secretariat

SecretariantSecretariat by William Nack was an obligation book for me. I read it because one of my students asked me to so that she could use it for her non-fiction book project. Since I’d read Seabiscuit the year before for a similar reason, I figured this would be similar. I’d already exposed myself to the world of racing, so this book would be easy to get through, right?

WRONG! At least not for me. Now, I am not a racing fan of any sort, so I’m sure that was part of my problem with the book. Actually, it was like 90% of my problem with the book. Since I am not a fan of horse racing and do not follow it in any way, my only real knowledge of racing comes from Seabiscuit and the one time I went to the race track with my family because my aunt had won some sort competition which entitled her to a party at the racetrack. I was 15 and wasn’t even allowed to bet, so my memories of it are hazy at best.

I was prepared for an underdog race horse story with lots of descriptions of the people surrounding the horses and the races themselves. And I got that. What I was not prepared for was page upon page upon page (seriously, like 1/4 of this book) devoted to begets. It was like reading Genesis in the Bible, only for horses. This horse beget this horse beget this horse ad nauseum. I was also not expecting very detailed descriptions of horse insemination. Seabiscuit was all about one horse and his racing career. Secretariat is all about those thoroughbreds that came before him, his amazing performance and those who trained him. It made the book awfully long.

I was also not a huge fan of Nack’s storytelling. I think part of the reason I enjoyed Seabiscuit so much was because of Hillenbrand’s storytelling. I actually liked her narrative so much that I went on to read Unbroken, which was a book that appealed to me even more and I found myself engrossed in. Nack’s narrative seemed broken up by all the begets and race times. It felt more like a list than a story at times.

I was also not a huge fan of Penny Tweedy. I thought her behavior spoiled and superior throughout most of the book. If Nack was trying to paint her as a heroine in the world of racing, it is not how she came across to me. She threw too many tantrums and was far too nasty to too many people for me to like her or even sympathize with her.

For true horse racing fans I’m sure this is an interesting read. It was just not the book for me. I felt each one of the 455 pages I read and I hate when that happens.

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Throwback Thursday: Car accidents

car crash 1It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a car accident. The last car accident I was in was about 13 years ago. My husband, who was then my fiance, and I were driving home from dinner on a cold winter’s night. The roads were slick and my husband saw a row of cars in front of him that were stopped for some reason. Luckily he wasn’t going very fast, so he put the brakes on, but since the roads were slick, he still slid into the car in front of him. It was a pretty small tap and I don’t think any damage would have been done if the SUV behind us had not slid into us as well, pushing us farther into the car in front of us and them into the car that started it all by stopping in the middle of the road for no apparent reason. No one was hurt and we all were able to drive away from the accident.

Then yesterday happened.

I had just turned out of my neighborhood and was on my way to the grocery store when I saw cars up ahead of me stopped so that the lead car could make a left turn into the church parking lot. I put on my brakes and since it was a little slick out, had some trouble stopping. I pumped the brakes like I’ve been taught and although I slid just a tiny bit sideways, was still able to stop in plenty of time without leaving my lane or hitting the cars in front of me. My stop actually left me with almost a full car length in front of me, so I was relieved.

Well, until I grabbed my tea and glanced in my rear view mirror to make sure it was clear. It was not. I saw the black mini van heading right toward me and I knew there was no way she was going to be able to stop in time. Even though I saw the impact coming, I was not ready for it. She slammed into me and my car jumped forward a bit. My head followed suit. So did my tea, my cellphone, my CD’s…pretty much everything in my car.

After the shock of the initial impact, I went to reach for my phone, which I always place in a holder on my dashboard, and realized it wasn’t there. It had been thrown onto the floor of the passenger seat along with the CD’s which usually sit in a nook near my gear shift. My steering wheel, dashboard, and windshield were covered in tea that I’d grabbed to take a drink from. It tea was in a travel mug with a pretty small opening, but the impact shook me enough that it was everywhere.

I got my phone and called my husband. I was only about a minute away from my house, but on a fairly  busy road and I asked him to call the police for me. Then I got out of the car to check on the damage.

The back end of my car was pretty ugly. The bumper was cracked just about everywhere and barely hanging on. The rear panel was smushed in, which meant my trunk was pushed in. In fact, my trunk is pushed in so that both sides are now exposed to the elements. I can look into my trunk while standing next to it. My driver’s side tail light is busted as well. And there is a rather large dent on the upper part of the trunk. My poor car is not a pretty sight.

A police officer showed up pretty quickly. We pulled our cars, which were still driveable (hers did not appear to have a scratch on it), into the church parking lot. I think I was in a bit of shock. I understood what was happening, but I felt like I was working in slow motion. The officer asked me if I was ok and I told him I was. Within about twenty minutes we were able to leave and I went straight home.

Thankfully my children were not in the car with me. Not only do I think it would have scared them, but it turns out that I’m not quite ok. As soon as I got home and had a chance to process it all, I realized my shoulders and neck were sore and my head ached. I sat down in my favorite chair and pulled the heating blanket on me because I was freezing. It was a darn cold day and waiting outside with the accident for about 40 minutes had set a real chill into me.

When I’d thawed a bit and my husband got everyone some lunch, I took a big 800 mg ibuprofen pill to help with the pain. It didn’t.

I ended up taking 3 more over the course of the day and they did nothing to make me feel better. I took a few short naps and when I woke my headache was gone for about 5 minutes, but then it came right back. I’ve now had it for about 26 hours. My neck and shoulders are pretty sore too.

Luckily we are off school today, so I got an extra day to recuperate. I tried to get in to see my doctor, but she was booked solid, so my appointment is first thing tomorrow morning. I’m not sure what can be done, but I figure I should probably get checked out to make sure there’s nothing serious going on.

As soon as my husband gets home we are going to pick up a rental car. Although my car can probably be driven, I don’t feel safe making my 45 minute commute to work (with my two kids in the car) in it until it’s been inspected, which won’t happen until later this week.

So far I’ve spent two hours on the phone (two different calls) with my insurance company. I feel a little better about everything because the accident was not my fault, but I know it’s still going to be a real process getting it all taken care of.

I feel bad for the other driver. She was so upset. It was her son’s birthday and she was just trying to take him to a late breakfast at Denny’s. She had a lot going on in her personal life and was a wreck. I did my best to calm her down and tell her it would all get worked out. I know it will, but we both had pretty rotten days yesterday.


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Wildcard Wednesday: Blaze Pizza

Blaze PizzaI’ve been pretty diligent about this whole diet and exercise thing. I actually started it in August. Between August and October I managed to lose about 10 pounds, which while far from my goal, was a nice start. Then, I went on vacation to see my best friend, which meant a lot of eating out at our favorite places. Then I got back to work and had a lot of work to day and got myself stressed, which meant a bit more eating and less working out. While I only gained two pounds back, I was not keeping track of my calories and was hardly making it to the gym.

When my husband got a new job and a free membership to Life Time Fitness, I decided to check it out. I really liked it, especially since it has two amazing pools and childcare included in the membership cost. So, by mid-December, I was back in the gym. Of the 24 days of December that I was trying out/a member of the gym, I made it in 12 times, which I thought was pretty good.

About a week before the end of the year, I decided that exercise alone was not going to cut it, so I also cut back on calories. I logged back into My Fitness Pal and started tracking. I was giving this thing my all.

So far in the 17 days of January, I’ve been to the gym 13 times and I’ve yet to go over my 1400 calorie limit. I’m down four pounds and feeling pretty good about life.

As part of this new routine, I’ve been cooking a lot more, which is really important since I have total control over ingredients and therefore calories. However, every now and then I need a break from the kitchen.

This past weekend we were out running a bunch of errands and found ourselves a bit far from our house at lunch time. Looking around, I noticed a Blaze Pizza and decided it would be a great option for lunch. We’ve been to Blaze several times and really like it. If you’ve never been, it’s sort of the Subway of pizza joints. My kids love being able to custom build their own pizzas, even if it sometimes means some questionable combinations. When given the chance at unlimited toppings, my son goes a bit mad with power. My daughter sticks more to the basics: cheese pizza.

Aside from liking the actual taste of Blaze Pizza, I really like that I can control what goes on it and make sensible choices. As much as I like ooey-gooey, super fatty cheesy pepperoni pizza, I can also appreciate a healthier option. I also really love that Blaze has a great nutrition calculator so I can see what my toppings will cost me.

For my most recent Blaze creation, I started with the standard, fairly thin crust, which has 420 calories for the entire pizza. I added the red sauce, which is another 30 calories for the entire pizza. I topped it with goat cheese instead of the standard mozzarella. This adds only 100 calories instead of 220. I skipped meat to avoid extra fat and calories and instead loaded it with veggies. I stacked on spinach, onions, garlic, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, artichokes and roasted squash. All together, each piece had about 95 calories, so 3 pieces was not only filling, but also under 300 calories (and only 6 grams of fat). Not at all bad for lunch, right?

Most importantly, it tasted fantastic and since each pizza has 6 slices, I have another healthy lunch for tomorrow. Everyone in the family was satisfied and I didn’t have to spend any extra time on the Arc trainer (although I did).

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