Random Thoughts Thursday (on a Friday)

Today, I received a check from the state’s unclaimed treasury.  My name has been in the database for at least fifteen years. The amount was listed as “under $200.” When it was printed in the paper, relatives would call my mom, telling her they saw my name on the list.  (I don’t know if this sort of thing happens in other states, but it was a huge deal twenty years ago in these parts.) My mom would, in turn, call me, reminding me of my “free money.”  Whenever someone mentioned the list being in the paper, I would wait for Mom’s call. When I first made the list, for me to claim my money, I had to go to the office and fill out paperwork.  Later, I would also need to produce my marriage certificate to prove that I used to be the name in the database and find paperwork showing I once lived at my parent’s house.  I would set the intention to dig through records to find the necessary paperwork but never got around to actually doing it. Like all great information previously available in the newspaper, the database moved online.  Eventually, you could submit the claim via the treasury website, which I did a few months ago.  Today, I received a letter from the treasury department.  After years of my mom nagging me to file the claim, the case is closed.  It is bittersweet, that is one less thing for her to haunt me about.  I feel like I should do something special with the money, all $183 of it. I definitely need to spend it doing something with Mike and Liam.  That’s what Mom would have wanted me to do with it.

I love that Liam shares my weird sense of humor.  He and I can say something random and silly and manage to roll with it far longer than anyone should.  This morning, while trying to get him out of bed, he began singing about the need to stay under the covers.  We spent the entire morning singing a narrative of everything we did, titling our antics, “Friday Morning: the Musical,” sung to the tune of “Elmo the Musical.”

“Staying under the covers now!”

“Brush your teeth in the bathroom!’

“Did you get your socks on?”

Yeah, we are hysterical. Trust me, it was funnier if you were there.

Also, we picked right back up when we came home from school.

When I was sixteen, I began adding piercings up my left ear.   Every week or so, my mother would check my ear for extra piercings.  Luckily, she never committed the number to memory, so she never realized when she counted a new hole. I am thankful that sixteen-year-old me was wise enough to add all of these piercings in a straight line, allowing me to still wear studs up my ear as an adult.  I currently have eight holes in my left ear and four in my right.   I am also thankful that teenaged me was wise enough to rebel through piercing rather than tattoos.  Piercings are easier to change your mind about and remove.  There have been gaps of time when I’ve removed my earrings; no one can see the holes unless I mention it to them. (Oddly enough, my second tattoo, which I had done at age 38, contains REM lyrics in my mom’s handwriting. REM was my favorite band in high school, proving that maybe I could have been trusted to choose permanent body art as a teenager. However, anyone who knew me in high school knows that my fashion choices were not at all timeless.)


Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala Yousafzai’s father, liked a Tweet I chared on my school’s Twitter! My students read her book. I took a picture of them during their Socratic Seminar.  I did not tag anyone in the Tweet, yet he managed to find and like it. The books influenced my students, bringing them to discuss women’s rights and other issues affecting the world.  As a teacher, there are few moments greater than when your students demonstrate the ability think critically about an issue. Not only did that happen, someone I greatly admire acknowledged our work!

I’m now finishing my third week of eating dairy-free.  We went out to dinner last Friday and I was able to find something to eat without issue.  My sinuses continue to improve, and my skin hasn’t looked this great since I was pregnant.  My stomach issues have not changed much, forcing me to continue my search for that culprit. I’m happy with my skin and running proves slightly easier (because I am breathing better), convincing me to stick with the dairy-free diet.

I love that being a teacher provides so many new beginnings.  For example, I get two starts to a “new year,” one in January and another in September.  A few weeks into January, a new semester begins.  I love the notion of beginnings.  They’re so hopeful.  At each of these beginnings, I assess and create goals.  Every September comes with the promise of keeping a sleep schedule, meal planning on Sundays, and keeping the house mildly tidy during the week.  (This year, I’ve actually maintained these routines!) January promises to stop eating the terrible diet that begins at Halloween and runs through New Year’s Day.  Ten days in the house allows me to clear through closets and various spots to get rid of items we haven’t used during the previous year. When we go back to school that first week of January, the house is at its cleanest.  The new semester brings a clean slate to think about successes, reflect upon my practice, and start anew.  I added a giant chalkboard wall to my classroom.  It contains the steps of the latest project, complete with final products, checkpoints, and due dates along the way. I am hoping that having an outline bringing us through the next two months will keep us on track, avoiding the inevitable panic scramble at the end of the semester.

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
― L.M. Montgomery

We Are on a Break!

I recently decided to break up with cheese.  Well, Mike convinced me to give up cheese for a little while and see how I felt.  I had already decided to give up my small cup of ice cream each night.  (I’m working out like crazy and gaining weight, but that is another story.)

We spent ten days together stuck inside a tiny house hiding from frigid temperatures.  The weekend before Christmas, I made two delicious mac and cheese recipes for different sets of guests.  The first used cheddar cheeses and Sriracha, the other asked for sharp cheeses and pancetta.  I made pulled pork to top the cheddar mac and cheese.  Because I am terrible at math and following recipes, I gathered the ingredients based on their pre-shredded amounts. Once I ran them through my shredder, I had a ridiculous amount of cheese, which led to ridiculous amounts of mac and cheese.

Mike and I spent the following week eating mac and cheese, refusing to spend money going out to eat or grocery shopping when there was a fridge full of perfectly good leftovers. At night, we snacked on meats and cheeses after Liam went to bed.  We were on vacation! We could live it up!

My indulging caught up with me.  I gained five pounds.  This brought my weight right past my “Oh Crap” weight.  (Does anyone else have a weight hierarchy?  I imagine mine like the threat pyramid the government uses. It consists of Yay!, Good/Okay, Watch it Now/Reel It In, and Oh Crap.)

I also noticed that my face, which has been pretty clear, started to look like it belonged to a teenager.  More like, it belonged to an awkward teenager who had both pimples and laugh lines.  My biggest issues involved my stomach.  I won’t get into the details, but Liam and Mike became fearful of sitting near me.

While Mike and I were getting ready for bed, he mentioned the amount of cheese I had been consuming and asked if I had ever considered giving up dairy.

Anyone who knows me knows this would normally be laughed off.  I love cheese!  (By the way, there is a name for someone who loves cheese; we are known as turophiles.) However, I had read quite a few articles about the benefits of eliminating dairy, including improvements to skin, stomach, and sinuses.  My sinuses have been throbbing, causing me pain under my eyes and into my jaw.  Netti pots, Claritin, hot compresses, and nasal sprays are no longer helping.  I was planning to use the ENT referral my primary care doctor gave me at my physical.  I really try to avoid taking medications.  If giving up dairy would help me breath better and be pain-free, it’s worth a shot!

Now comes the difficult part, actually giving up cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products.  I use almond milk in my morning smoothies.  I can use that when having cereal and scrambled eggs. I purchased a plant-based butter type spread and soy-based yogurt.

I am now seven days into my breakup with dairy.  So far, it isn’t as bad as I feared.  It might be the placebo effect, but I swear that I am already breathing easier. I can breath deeper than I previously could. During my run Tuesday, I slowed down because my legs were tired, not because of breathing difficulties.  Today, I ran my longest run! However, I know the cheese fit will kick in soon.  While it is a bit too early to say whether it has helped clear my skin, I have noticed no new breakouts in the past few days.

This news is bittersweet.  I am glad that I am experiencing excellent results from giving up dairy.  Honestly, I was hoping that it would not work and I could go back to being my awesome, cheese-loving self.