My first few months as PTA president are complete

I’ve been PTA president for a while now so thought it was time for a brief report on how it has been going. Hmmm….it is going better than I thought it would be. I had two main worries when I took this position – filling all the committee chair positions and public speaking.

Last year at this time, I think there were six or seven positions open. If the positions don’t get filled, then the rest of the board is supposed to cover the position, but last year’s PTA president did a lot of it on her own. No wonder she felt so grumpy all the time as she did most of the work herself.

Of course, the lack of committee chairs may partially be attributed to someone on the board whose personality was off-putting. She is a take-charge type with a strong personality and frankly, many of us feel it caused others to stay away from the board. This year, she isn’t back. Luckily for me, she decided to take a year off from the PTA.

So, without this individual and because I worked at it – advertising and reminding people I had positions to fill – I was able to fill every position on the board, even the hardest ones: grade-level parties and fundraising. Honestly, I thought no one would want either one.

The lady in charge of fundraising is already showing how awesome she is. I have yet to meet with the grade-level party chair, but she seems enthusiastic about the challenge of throwing parties for 626 students.

As for speaking in public, it has never been my favorite thing. I do fine with a group of about 5 or 6 but as the group gets bigger, the quieter I become. I was fine holding a meeting of our officers (six people) and did fine at our first executive board meeting, though I probably did talk a little too fast in the beginning and got done quickly.

But the biggest challenge was our first PTA meeting with the parents. This meeting is always tied to Parent Orientation, so the cafeteria was packed. And to top it off, the principal announced he was making a special announcement at the meeting. Yikes! Butterflies were definitely in my stomach before the meeting began. It isn’t like I haven’t spoken to this size crowd before. I was Treasurer for two years and had to give the financial report. But that is a short bit even if we had budget amendments to do. Now it is me up there for the whole time running the meeting. I made it through the night, but this will never be my favorite part about being PTA President.

Thankfully, meetings are only a small part of my job. Most of time is spent following up with and keeping the committee members on task. With 28 other people on the board that can be time consuming, but I am figuring out how to not let something fall through the cracks. Hmmm…eight more months of this to go. I hope they go as well as the first two months have gone.

Kids Not Feeling Well: Stay home or go to school?

School began three weeks ago. Three days in, Lexie complained her throat hurt. No fever but it was clear she had some congestion. The next morning came the familiar debate – do we send her to school because it is only a cold (or perhaps allergies) or do we keep her home?

No one likes to have to be at school or work when they don’t feel well. But the reality is that sometimes you do just need to muddle through it. And though colds can hit you hard, I don’t want Lexie to think she needs to stay home whenever she feels bad. And Lexie is the kind that would use any excuse to stay home (or up late at night).

So, the next morning, her lymph nodes are swollen. Her throat and stomach hurt. She wasn’t running a fever or throwing up – the keys to an automatic stay at home decision.

My initial reaction was to give her some cold medicine and send her to school. Yes, I may be receiving a call from the nurse later that Lexie is in her office feeling ill. But once up she might feel better and be able to make it through the school day.

But it always pulls at me that she looks and sounds so bad. She was pale and clearly feeling poorly However, I have made the decision before to keep one of the kids home only to have them running around like nothing is wrong a few hours later.

After a discussion with both my husband and then Lexie, it was decided she could stay home. I stressed to her that she couldn’t play Xbox all day, and if she began running around like nothing was wrong that I would immediately take her to school.

I did leave her home alone while I went to the dentist. When I came home, she was asleep. After lunch and some more rest, she began to perk up. By 2 p.m., she was feeling better. And she did go to school on Friday with no symptoms, which made me wonder if it was allergies verse a cold. Or perhaps the rest did its job and let her body fight off the cold.

In this case, it was a good decision to stay home. She is better and didn’t miss too much at school since it was only the fourth day of classes. But next time who knows if it will be the right decision. It would be much easier if I could stick to the fever or vomiting equals staying home and all else means going to school, but obviously it is not as easy as that.

Finding my favorite sandals again…and again

Everyone has a favorite article of clothing – a shirt, a pair of jeans, or even a pair of sandals. Maybe the shirt flatters your eyes, the jeans show off your curves or the sandals are just oh so comfortable. You wear this perfect piece of apparel until it gets a hole or falls apart.

Many, many years ago, I bought a pair of black Sketcher sandals. They were cute and comfortable with a 2 ½ inch heel. I pretty much never wear flats, and these sandals were the perfect little heels – not too high or steep to feel uncomfortable when walking long distances.

I loved these sandals. I wore them to walk the kids to and from the elementary school. I slipped them on to run to the store or for even longer trips to the zoo or the museum. They were great.

Falling apart sandals

When they started to fall apart, I happen to see another almost identical pair of Sketchers in the store…and they were on sale! I bought two pairs. So, happily, I wore that pair and the next until they fell apart.

I returned to the shoe store but this time I had no luck finding another pair. I searched online, but it seemed Sketchers didn’t make this sandal anymore. But when in doubt, you can find almost anything on Ebay – even my sandals. And they were in my size!

So, I bought another pair of the same sandals from a lady in Arizona. She had bought them and only wore them once before deciding they weren’t for her. That’s because they were meant for me. They arrived and were perfect.

I wore these up until a few weeks ago when I am sad to say they too showed signs of falling apart. Again, no replacement in the stores. And I tried on lots of sandals trying to find a suitable replacement. Nothing. Nothing offered the same comfort.

New sandals

That led me back to the Internet and eBay. I was in luck. Again, I found my size. Woo-hoo! A week later, I had another pair of my favorite sandals. They feel a little snug but soon will be broken in. Even snug they are oh so comfortable.  And while I am glad to have my favorite sandals back, I don’t want to think about what I will do when one day in the future this pair falls apart. I can’t always expect to find them on Ebay. Maybe Sketchers will just bring them back to their line of shoes. I can at least dream of that day. Until then, I am happy with my comfy sandals.

 

School is back in session!

Last Monday, school began for my kids. As much as I love spending time with Lexie and Jase, I am ready to return to my normal routine.

This is Lexie’s last year at the elementary school. The school recently changed how they are doing fifth grade. Each student now has two teachers. They go to one teacher (their primary teacher) for most of the day but in between recess and lunch, they go to another fifth grade teacher. In Lexie’s case the other teacher focuses on reading and English. I think this is to get them ready for next year when they will have 8 teachers in middle school.

As always, I sent Lexie with a letter to her teacher. In it I fill her teacher in on Lexie’s eczema, allergies and ADHD. We will have a special meeting with the teacher later in the year about Lexie’s health issues but I always like the teacher to have the info on Day 1. (Technically the teacher can review the notes from last year’s meeting but I like the personal touch.) Next year, there will be no note as she will have 8 teachers. I am going to hope her teachers read her health notes in her student file.

Jase began his second year of middle school (seventh grade). He was a lot less nervous than he was last year. Or at least as far as I know. I missed seeing him off this year as I was at a Tears & Cheers event at Lexie’s school. (That is what I get for being PTA president.) But my husband was home and left around the same time as Jase and reported he did fine.

Next year will be a totally different thing as they will both go to the same school again. And Jase will be there to walk his little sister to her first day of middle school. But I am jumping ahead of myself. Instead, let’s just enjoy this year. And I for one am happy to be back into my routine. After the first few weeks which are typically filled with back to school PTA events, I can get back to writing, which I have put off for all of August.

Packing for an Alaskan Cruise

Earlier this month, my family went on a cruise to Alaska. It was awesome. If you missed my recap, you can read it here.

Preparing for an Alaskan cruise is a bit different than other cruises to warmer climates. For one, it is cooler (highs in the 60s to 80s). And second, there is a greater chance of rain (up to a 50% chance in August). So, coming from Texas where the average temperature in August is 96 and the chance of rain is slim, it is a big difference.

Lexie and Jase in the Tracy Arm Fjord. Light jackets here.

The problem I had was trying to figure out how cool (or cold) 60 degrees would feel. And you have to realize that this is the high of the day. It won’t be 60 degrees on your morning excursion. And if that high is while your ship is at sea, you have to take into account that it is windy on the decks and balconies.

To prepare for our trip, I did a lot of research about what to bring. I read dozens of blogs. I made a list and amended it as I read other peoples experiences. I particularly liked the blogs that told you what they packed and then what they didn’t use or wish they had or hadn’t taken. That is what I am going to do here.

The family preparing to go rafting in Juneau. It was such a nice day we didn’t need the jackets or at least Jase and I would have been fine in just our long sleeve shirts. (Sorry no pictures of me. I am the one taking the photos.)

I will say that there are quite a few things that we took that we didn’t use, but if we had had different weather, we would have needed these items. It didn’t rain on our trip but for the few weeks before us, all it did was rain. Excursions were cancelled due to the weather. But for us, everything was nice and sunny.

Our trip was from Tuesday to Tuesday (7 days’ worth of clothes).

My Packing List

6 short sleeve shirts

3 long sleeve shirts (only wore 2 and only for part of the day)

3 pairs of jeans (could have gotten away with 2)

1 bathing suit (Yep, the kids and I went to the pool one day)

8 pair of underwear (brought extra in case I got wet, only used 7)

2 bras

8 socks (brought extra in case I got wet, only used 7)

PJs

1 pair of Tennis shoes (& wore one on the plane – took 2 again because of the possibility of rain)

1 pair of heeled sandals (as this is my normal footwear, and yes, I wore them around the ship)

1 pair of black heels (to go with all my evening attire)

2 evening dresses (could have done with 1)

1 black skirt

2 dressy tops (could have done with 1 less but like option of having more night-time attire)

1 casual dress

1 thin blue hoodie (never used)

1 thicker hoodie

1 fleece jacket

1 rain jacket (never used)

1 hat (never used)

Pair of gloves (never used)

The crew aboard the ship. Sweatshirts and light jackets for the brisk wind were all that was needed.

We brought the thicker hoodie and fleece jacket because every website said I would need to layer my clothes. I could have just taken one or the other. Once I had a long sleeve shirt and jacket on, I didn’t need an additional layer.

Hubby’s Packing List

1 pair of shorts (never used but then again he doesn’t wear shorts often. I wore shorts on the plane both times but not on the cruise.)

3 pairs of jeans (again, could have taken 1 less since he wore 1 on the plane too.)

1 pair of dress pants (never used)

2 polo shirts

2 dress shirts (could have done with 1 but he did wear both)

2 ties

1 suit

Dress shoes

1 pair of tennis shoes (and wore 1 pair on the plane)

6 short sleeve shirts (could have taken 5)

2 long sleeve shirts

2 pair dress socks

7 pair of regular socks

PJs

Swimsuit (never used)

Baseball hat (never used)

Gloves (never used)

Winter hat (never used)

Rain jacket (never used)

Heavy jacket

Zippered Hoodie (could have let at home)

Pullover hoodie

Other Items

Binoculars (we took 3 pair for the 4 of us – we didn’t use them as often as I thought we might and I think we could have gotten by with 2)

Sunglasses (I had read that you should take polarized sunglasses because the light bouncing off the water and glaciers – we don’t normally wear them so we could have left these at home)

MonoPod (Never used it)

Charging Port for our electronics

Mosquito repellent (never used)

Sunscreen (never used)

Backpack (Used this one on every excursion and love that it can fold up into a small bag)

Camera (a MUST though could have left the kids’ cameras at home. Jase used his iphone and Lexie didn’t seem interested in taking photos but I did use her camera which is waterproof on our river rafting excursion)

Travel Clock (I like having one in the room even though we all had our phones with us)

Toiletries and medicine (we brought what we normally use)

Because of the number of shoes and the bulkiness of packing jeans and jackets for four people, we ended up checking three bags. It was easier than trying to stuff it all into two and then we didn’t have to worry about exceeding the weight limit per bag. There were just a few things I would have left at home but honestly, I would pack many of the same things (because you can’t always expect it not to rain.) Hope this helps someone.

Knowing how to swim doesn’t stop 6-year-old from drowning

So many times, when you see a story about a child drowning, there will be comments such as “This is why my kids learned to swim” or something to that effect. People seem to think that knowing how to swim will safe guard their child from drowning. But sadly that isn’t the case as my neighbor found out.

Last Saturday, my neighbor had some friends over to enjoy her pool. That group included her daughter and her granddaughter. Six year old Ryland is a good swimmer. She has been taking lessons since she was three. She even has competed in a few swim meets. Ryland loves the pool and plays in her grandma’s (who she calls Bunny) pool all the time.

The doctors chalk it up to exhaustion causing her oxygen levels to suddenly drop while she held her breath as she tried to retrieve all of her dive sticks. The drop caused her to pass out. Her family was right there at the pool, but it still took them a moment or two to realize Ryland hadn’t come up for air. They immediately jumped in and pulled her out. She wasn’t breathing.

Luckily, there was nurse attending the party. She performed CPR as someone else called 911. Ryland began breathing again and was rushed to the hospital. While she was breathing on her own, she wasn’t conscious. They admitted her to the pediatric intensive care unit where they decided to keep her in a medically induced coma while they evaluated her.

It would be three days before they decided to bring her out of the coma. At that time, they knew she had some liver damage and there was still fluid in her lungs. But they wouldn’t know if there was any brain damage until they woke her up. Instant relief could be felt in the room as she immediately recognized her mother and her Bunny. She was able to whisper the answer to a few questions.

The next day, they took her off oxygen and even allowed her to get up though she tires easily and definitely isn’t back to her normal cheerful self. There will be a few more tests to run before she will be released from the hospital and her lungs will need the heal but so far everything miraculously looks good.

But Ryland’s story is a reminder to all of us that we need to be alert when our children are in the water. They could get a cramp, hit their head or as in the case of Ryland, suddenly pass out, and drown. Knowing how to swim is a good thing for everyone but it doesn’t make you “drown proof.”

Ryland’s mother is a single parent. While she has insurance for Ryland, there will undoubtedly be medical bills to pay. To help her out, a Go Fund Me page has been set up to collect donation to cover these costs. I know you don’t know this family but if you want to help, they and I would appreciate it. Even a small donation helps.

Alaskan Cruise recap – Glaciers, train rides, sled dogs and more

Last week, my family returned from an Alaskan cruise. And when I say family, I mean my family of four, my parents and my brother. We all had a good time.

Carnival Legend in the Tracy Arm Fjord.

So let’s see…the cruise ship – The Carnival Legend – was nice. It is an older ship and could use some TLC. The room layout was the same as last time, and Lexie still enjoyed having the top bunk. We had a balcony which I had heard was a “must” on an Alaskan cruise. And I agree with that. The views were breathtaking.

We originally had four excursions planned. One for each of our stops and then a second one in Skagway since the ship was in port for such a long time. Then while listening to a lecture on Alaska, we heard about another excursion in the Tracy Arm Fjord. It sounded great, so we rushed to sign up – and it was well worth it.

Tracy Arm Fjord

Harbor Seals next to the glacier in the Tracy Arm Fjord.

So, after our first sea day, we passed through the Tracy Arm Fjord. In case, you don’t know what a fjord is, it is a long, narrow inlet of the sea between high cliffs. It is created by a glacier. The excursion we opted to do took us closer to two glaciers and a few waterfalls than if we had stayed on board the ship. It was a little rainy, but we were inside for most of the excursion, only going outside when there were pictures to be taken. Suprisingly, this was the only rain on our whole vacation.

Skagway

White Pass caboose that we passed on our way up the mountain.

Our first stop was Skagway. We had two excursions booked for the day. The first was a train ride with my parents and brother. The White Summit Pass train goes up the mountain and then back down. So, while we were the last car on the train on our journey up, we were the first car on the train as we went back down. We saw waterfalls, old train cars and bridges and lots of beautiful views. The best thing is the train picked us up and dropped us off right next to our ship. That made it easy for us to go back to the ship for lunch before the next excursion.

Jase and Lexie at the dog sledding camp.

Lexie is a dog lover. We couldn’t go to Alaska without seeing a dog sled training camp and cuddle the puppies. We left the others and just my family of four went to see the sled dogs. It began with 18 dogs pulling us around on a six-seater metal cart. Though not as thrilling as sailing over the snow, it was pretty cool. We got to meet and pet our team afterwards.

Then, we went to the camp and held some three-week old puppies and petted some older puppies. Lexie was in heaven.

Juneau

Mendenhall Glacier and a view of the rafts we took down the river.

The next stop was Juneau, the capitol of Alaska. Our excursion for the day was a river rafting expedition. We started out on a lake in front of Mendenhall Glacier. We then rafted down the river. Only a small portion had any rapids, but it was still fun.

And we still had some time for souvenir shopping afterwards. Jase always wants something to remember each stop. Here it was a stuffed black bear. The day before it was a stuffed husky.

Ketchikan

Lumberjack climbing the pole at the Lumberjack show.

Our last stop was Ketchikan. There weren’t a lot of appealing excursions that the whole group could agree upon beside a lumberjack show. It was within walking distance of the ship. They divide the audience into two groups. Each group then had their own lumberjacks to cheer for and we were supposed to boo the other side. Jase was all for cheering but not so sure about booing anyone. Overall, it was a good show.

After the show, we hit a few shops on our way back to the ship. Jase picked up an Alaska baseball cap and a totem pole magnet as well as a post card to add to his collection of post cards he had already purchased on the ship.

Overall it was a great cruise, and I would definitely recommend an Alaskan cruise. Next week, I am going to talk about packing for an Alaskan cruise. I’ll let you know what I took and the changes I wished I had made.