Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Decision

Joe's donor, Kris, spent last week at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix.  Her week was full of testing: MRI, ultrasound, blood tests, psychological testing, etc.  The donor team then looked at all the results and had a meeting today to make the decision.  The decision if she is healthy enough to still have a good quality of life with only one kidney.  We all waited to hear their decision, knowing that they are the ones with the years of medical training and experience.  Knowing that they are the ones who know intimately how expensive and risky a transplant can be.  We put our peace and trust in their decision.

They met today.  And shared test results.  And then called Kris.

They said she is one of the healthiest people they have ever tested.  The girl does spend an hour in the gym every day.  And she's a vegetarian.  They said she has no signs of diabetes or cancer.  Her kidneys function at 96% (Joe's are at 11%).  They have set the transplant date for July 10th.  Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.

Thank you everyone for your prayers and support.  We cherish all of it.  This is an amazing journey!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Summer Reading

Ah summer.  You elusive, long-sought-after, short-lived summer.  The thought alone brings a smile to my face.  Teachers get such short summers nowadays.  Don't get me going on the joke about "June, July, and August".  Most teachers I know, including moi, get two months off from regular teaching.  Yet, many work summer jobs (summer school, school improvement, etc.).  And many others go back early for pre-service and training.  For example, last year, I only had one week off when you include District Curriculum Team, the Science grant from NAU, and pre-service.

No wonder I felt disorganized all year.  I mean, I didn't even buy an uber-cute binder and make color-coded tabs!  Seriously.  I didn't.  And because I didn't get all organized in the summer, I was disorganized all year.  I went in on weekends and tried to clean my desk, but the 4 hours was usually spent just cleaning off the TOP of the desk, let alone the contents.  In fact, as I was cleaning out my desk on the last day of work, I found paperwork that I "lost" in September!  I spent hours looking for that paperwork all year.  For this reason (and a few hundred more), I am having my desk taken out of my room.  I will blog about that later, as I have found all my inspiration in the blogosphere and I LOVE the new arrangement.

This summer I will have a little more time to read....and organize.  I am still working School Improvement for the month of June.  However, Joe and I will be spending the month of July in the Transplant House in Phoenix.  Yes, I just put July and Phoenix together in the same sentence.  And no, I'm not crazy.  We found a donor for Joe and everything has aligned with a summer transplant.  PTL!  Aside from doctor visits, I'll pretty much have nothing to do this summer.  Nothing but reading that is.  That's why I am so excited to link up with Clutter-Free Classroom on her Summer Reading Linky Party.  BTW, if you haven't checked out her blog yet, you need to do so right now.  Like, right now.  I'll wait.  Yes, it's that good.

I wanted to start my summer reading with "Spaces and Places" by Debbie Diller.  Again, I'm going to make an effort at getting more organized so everything else can fall into place.  The only problem is, I read it in one day!  It was so awesome, so inspiring, so perfect, that I just could not put it down.  I pinned a ton of pics to my Pinterest so I don't forget all the awesomeness by August.

On a totally non-professional note, I am hooked on The Hunger Games series.  I read the first two books in two days.  I'm so looking forward to the third, "Mockingjay" by Suzanne Collins.  Oh, and then there's this big blue box of National Board Certification paperwork.  After years of waiting patiently, I am finally going for it!

So, my question to you is this: what books do you suggest?  I will have over a month to read, but my current rate is one book per day.  I'll need more books, y'all.  Preferably ones about organizing or Reading/Language Arts.  What are you reading this summer?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

And the winners are...............

Last night, we had our Kidney Benefit Dinner.  It was amazing.  And to think, that it all started from a little conversation a week ago.  We knew that we wanted to raise money to help our donor with transportation costs.  We had a yard sale two weeks ago and we met our goal of $500.  That money was to help her with costs form the one week of health screening.  But, we knew that we wanted to help raise $1500 more for the 2 weeks after the transplant.  A friend of mine, Amy Brown, owns Pizzeria Venti in Lakeside.  She offered her restaurant as a fundraiser.  She said that typically people make $200-$300.  Ok.  Well, that would be a start.

Another friend, Amanda Luptak, asked if we wanted to do a raffle with a gift card from WalMart.  I said no, because we would only have 6 days to put this together and in those 6 days, we both had horrendous work schedules (end-of-the-year teacher stuff).  Well, her mom-in-law took her out to eat on Monday.  While there, Amanda casually asked if the restaurant would donate a gift certificate.  They immediately said YES!  Since the first was so easy, she tried a few more businesses.  They were practically throwing gifts at her!  By the time the raffle started, we had 34 items! Nice items.  Here is the list of the items and the winners:

2 bottles of Olive Oil from Piccasols Olive Oil Company
Judy Sorenson

Bear Sculpture
Shea Middleton

Basket of Baby Items from All-Occasion Floral
Julia Martin

Carrot Cake from Cafe Bocado
Janelle Golden

Baby Afgan
Julia Martin

$25 Gift Card to Pizzeria Venti Restaurant

$50 Gift Certificate to Darbi's Restaurant
Jeff and Melissa Graves

Weekend Getaway for pets at Ruffin' It Pet Resort
Tonya Auza

$25 Gift Certificate to Donna and Company Hair Salon
Lorie Marchant

Candy Bouquet
Bruce Goode

$10 Gift Card to Tall Pines Grill
Judy Sorenson

Two Night Stay at Nine Pines Motel

Room Diffuser from Spa Estique
Lorie Marchant

Jewelry from Chef Claude
Jeff and Melissa Graves
Jordan McCarthy
The Crull Family
Janelle Golden
Bruce Goode
Bryanna McCarthy

4 Zumba Classes from The Dance Academy
Bradley Brock

$30 Gift Card to Maverick Corral Restaurant
Asa Lavendar

Windshield Repair from All Glass
Bob Taylor

5 Free Drinks from Eegee's 
Bonnie Kasey

$50 Gift Card to Jiffy Lube
Asa Lavendar

Weekend Getaway to a GORGEOUS Bed and Breakfast
Bradley Brock

Hair Cut from Kellie Hatch
Ray Crouzer

Denim Purse and Wallet by Dawn Luptak
Bruce Goode

Titanic T-Shirt from Village 8 Theatres

$50 Gift Certificate for a Massage from Melissa Graves
Shelley Watanabe

4 Movie Passes
Denise Gray

Moose Painting from Mama Bears Restaurant
Ray Crouzer

Poppy Painting from Chef Claude
Sara Middleton

Red Delicious Apple Tree from In-Bloom Nursery
Jonathon Brashear

BBQ Grill from Home Depot
Josie Ngo

I thought I would have to sit at a table, bored to death all night and beg people to buy one ticket each.  Let me tell you.  I never sat!  I barely got 4 bites of salad all day.  We were packed.  Thanks so much Amy for letting us take over your restaurant.  The prizes were so amazing and I really wished that everyone could be a winner.  As I put my hand in each basket, I prayed that God would bless the right person with each gift.  He knows who needs what.  It was such a good showing of support for Joe and Kris.  God was over it all.  Even to the point of the random lady walking in and giving us a truckload of stuff to sell at the yard sale next week.  

Oh, and that goal that we had?  We wanted to get to $1500, but some were saying we wouldn't get it and some were trying to hustle and get more businesses and auctions.  I stood firm that I didn't want to be a moneychanger and that I wanted all the glory to go to God.  People were asking how we were going to get our expenses paid.  I said that God would provide, as He always has.  Well, instead of $1500, or $250 as some predicted, we raised $2500!  That gives us enough for our donor AND we will also be able to cover most of our expenses.  God is so good.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It Just Keeps Coming!

Have you ever had a good day, where the good news just keeps coming?  This is one of those days.  I just got word that our DonorsChoose project has been funded!  Yippee!  To say that I am excited doesn't even cover it.  Here is what we will get:
Research and Report Writing Center
Research & Report Writing Center

Synonym and Antonym Crossword Puzzle Kit
Synonym & Antonym Crossword Puzzles Activity Kit

Unsolved Mystery Inferencing Cards
Unsolved Mystery Inferencing Cards Activity

Research and Respond Comprehension Center
Research & Respond Comprehension Center - Grades 4-5

Wild Weather High-Interest Nonfiction Set
Wild Weather High-Interest Nonfiction Text Set

Nonfiction Reading Comprehension Cards
Nonfiction Reading Comprehension Cards - Gr. 4-6

Reading Literature Common Core Standards Learning Center
Reading Literature Common Core Standards Learning Center

Reading Informational Text Common Core Standards Learning Center
Reading Informational Text Common Core Standards Learning Center

All in all, the project cost almost $400.  It wouldn't have been possible, were it not for the support all my donors.  Thank you Jo, Ellen, Scott, Anonymous, and Bank of the West. 

I Learn So Much From Them

Do you learn from your students?  I'm sure you do.  I do too.

In August, I signed my class up for the Disney Planet Challenge.  In a class meeting, the kids decided they wanted to do their community service science project on the Burn Zone.  Disney even donated money towards supplies for the project.  We started in earnest and zeal.

And then October happened.  For those of you who don't know me or my family, in October, my husband was suddenly diagnosed with End Stage Renal Failure.  The days I was at school, I was on auto-pilot.  When I sat down to do report cards in January, I couldn't remember teaching a single lesson in 2nd quarter. Our science project was not on my radar.

But, my kids were persistent.  We had done much of the work in September.  We continued to do a little in February and March.  Yet, the due date crept up on us.  In fact, it came and we were not done.  I told the kids, very solemnly, that we gave it a valiant effort, but we would not be able to finish.  I thought they would just be sad for a moment and then move on.  They didn't.  They wanted to finish what we had begun.  I tried to explain that the materials were due at midnight and they had to go home and had no way of getting the materials to me in time.  They were determined to finish.  What would it hurt, I thought.  I let them finish their reflections and turn them in the next day.

Then the magic happened.  Disney is in the business of magic, y'all.  I received an email telling me that they had extended my due date.  What!?  Well then, I just happen to have my student reflections right here.

Right after the contest ended, we got absorbed in state testing.  To be honest, I completely forgot about the Disney Planet Challenge.  Then, I got an email....and I opened it......and it said we had been awarded........

RUNNER UP!!!!!!!!!!!!  I was so proud of my students.  Not for earning runner up, although that did pop a few buttons.  More so because they did not give up.  Even with the deadline staring them in the face, they still finished, worked late at home, and FINISHED!

Through this process my students learned about the water cycle, weathering and erosion, and the life cycle of a plant.  I learned to never give up.  Never!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fitness Center Field Trip

I blogged a few weeks ago about local field trips that are free.  We were able to go on such a field trip yesterday; to the Fitness Center.

When we arrived at the fitness center, the diabetes awareness director gave us a presentation on childhood diabetes. 

He showed them what their blood should look like and what it looks like with too much sugar. 

He showed them what their arteries look like with too much fat built up.

He also showed them what a kidney looks like, but my kids are already pros on kidneys. :)

After that, he taught them some exercises they can do to stay healthy.  I think this was their favorite part.  What do you think?  Look at their faces!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Kidney Benefit Dinner

We found a kidney donor for Joe! The transplant will require her to be in Phoenix for 2 weeks. Although our insurance will cover the medical costs, they don't cover her transportation costs to get there, lodging while there, and meals. Our goal is to raise $1500 to help her with these costs. Your prayers are appreciated. We have partnered up with Pizzeria Venti for Saturday May 19th. Come in and mention Joe's kidney transplant and a part of your bill will go to our donor. It's that easy. Pizzeria Venti sells pizza by the slice, full Italian meals, even gelato for dessert. If you haven't yet, you have to try the bocce balls. My favorite is to grab a cappucino before going to the movies. We will also have a raffle for gift cards to local businesses. Bring the whole family. You have to eat dinner anyway, and what a great excuse to not have to cook or wash dishes! Thank you.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Techy Linky

I believe that teaching stayed pretty much the same for hundreds of years.  Yet, in the last 10 years has started to change completely.  In the past, teachers would get their training, go into their room, close the door, and teach.  Now (and I'm so excited about this), teachers can link up with other teachers from across the state, country, or even the world!  Teachers share their lessons, their ah-ha moments, the moments that make us glad we are teachers, and little hints and tips.  The 3AM teacher is one of those teachers.  She doesn't know it, but her lessons have been taught in my little classroom.  To be honest, I don't even really know where she is located.  But she has good stuff.  Consider joining her emails.  

Michelle is offering a linky party where the little, new guys can ask for tutorials on how to spruce up our blogs.  I know what you are thinking.  Susan, don't you have enough on your plate?  Yes, Joe's transplant is coming soon.  Praise God!  However, once he does have the transplant, we will be in the transplant house for 4-6 weeks.  Did y'all read that?!  Four to six weeks away from Jack and Josh (sniffle).  Four to six weeks away from my classroom (nervous butterflies).  I basically won't have anything to do for four to six weeks, except shuttle Joe to and fro doctors appointments.  I hope to spend my time catching up on my reading (yippee!) and sprucing up my blog.  So, here's what I would like to learn:
  1. how to add a grab button
  2. how to make a linky party
  3. how to add a cute signature at the bottom of my posts
  4. how to have an actual header that represents my blog
  5. how to comment on other posts and have either my cute grab button show or my header
  6. how to add "Other posts you might be interested in" at the bottom of my posts
Thank you, Michelle.  You have no idea how big your classroom is!

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Great Clean-Out!

Every day, a person's kidneys process about 200 quarts of blood to sift out about 2 quarts of waste products and extra water. They do all this without so much as a thought from us.  Well, only if your kidneys function normally.  If not, that 2 quarts (1/2 gallon) stays inside your body.  With 1/2 gallon of waste and toxins in your body EVERY DAY, you begin to think about it.  You begin to swell.  The only way to get the excess fluid out of your body is to endure dialysis.  

Joe has been on dialysis for 4 1/2 months now.  He hates it.  He hates the way it makes him feel.  I hate the way it makes him feel.  Yet, we both know that we don't have many options right now.  Except............

We found out a week ago that a friend of ours is a match for Joe!  She will be going down to Phoenix for a weeklong health screening on May 21st.  Your prayers are appreciated.  Although our insurance will cover the medical costs, they don't cover her transportation costs to get there, lodging while there, and meals.  We had a fund-raiser yard sale last weekend to help her cover those costs.  We had set a goal of $500, yet after the first day, we had sold almost everything we had but were only half-way to our goal.  What to do?  We put a blast on Facebook that we needed more stuff to sell to help us reach the goal.  Friends showed up the next morning with stuff that they had cleaned out of their closets and garages.  They were happy to give it to someone who could use it.  Us!

We are so happy to report that when we finished on the second day, we had the same amount of stuff that we started with, and had raised $615!  To me, it's similar to Jesus taking the loaves of bread and fish.  He fed the 5,000 AND still had 12 baskets left over!  I find it real interesting that Jesus performed that miracle (blessing abundantly) right after he told the lame man to "Get up!  Pick up your mat and walk." John 5:8.  Jesus just appeared to us last week and told us to get up and continue our journey.  

God-willing, our friend will pass the health screening in two weeks.  At that point, Mayo Clinic will schedule the transplant four to six weeks after that.  Again, the insurance will cover the medical costs, but not the transportation, lodging (for TWO WEEKS), and meals.  Our goal is to raise $1500 to help her with those costs.  

How to raise $1500?  I have seen some people do benefit dinners.  I was not blessed with a "cooking ability".  However, God did bless me with an amazing ability to have yard sales.  I know.  Of all the gifts.  But seriously.  I'm pretty good.  I can also bake.  Strange, because I can't cook to save my life, but I can bake just about anything.  I have decided to combine my talents to help raise the $1500.  Yard Sale/Bake Sale.

Where do you come in?  Well, we sold almost everything that we don't want/need anymore.  I most definitely do not have $1500 worth of stuff to sell at another yard sale.  But you might.  You might have closets with clothes that you haven't worn in 2 years.  You might have drawers with clothes that the kids have outgrown.  You might have bookshelves with books/games that no one is interested in.  You might have that gift that someone gave you that you don't quite know what to do with it.  You might have 3 blenders or 2 waffle makers in your over-stuffed kitchen cupboards.  Or, you might have a burning desire to bake up a batch of brownies or cookies.  

Your clean-out could help Joe's clean-out.  You get to clean out your closets, garage, and cupboards and Joe gets a new kidney.  If you are out of the area, please lift us up in prayer.  

The yard sale will be Memorial Day weekend.  You are more than welcome to drop off stuff for the yard sale anytime before that.  If you are in Whiteriver, you can even bring it to work and I will gladly take it home.  If you want to help with the bake sale part of it, I can pick up (or you drop off) your baked goods as it gets closer to the yard sale date.  Thank you!

where Glory meets my suffering