Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Dual Language Program

Such a proud mom.
Hannah is now reading and writing in Spanish
Last year at the age of 7 Hannah's Elementary School asked me if I would like to enroll her in the Spanish/English Dual language program, at first I was very apprehensive, as they teach 3 days a week in Spanish only and 2 days a week in English only. I was so worried that she would get very behind in Math (She is in gifted and talented advanced math) and Reading. But just the opposite happened, she actually doubled her reading level and she continued to keep all of her grades high. It turns out that when you open the part of your brain that processes new languages you get all sort of new neurons growing and firing off! I'm so proud of Hannah, last year she only understood some words, but this year, at age 8 she is writing and reading Spanish, when she reads out loud in Spanish I swear that tears come to my eyes. I'm such a big baby.
Here's Hannah before school today... She's my Angel! I'm a very proud mom!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Medical Costs

Do NOT get sick in the United States.
It's too expensive!!

I'm one of the lucky ones that has Health Insurance, well... I wouldn't say "Luck" played too much into it, as I had to EARN my education and therefor qualify for a good job that would offer me good benefits.

I have been in the position of not having Health Insurance though. Last year when I moved from San Antonio to Austin, I couldn't work, I had a broken leg and it took me a few months to get back on my feet. As soon as I was able I looked for work, and was eventually hired.

Without health insurance it can be a brutal thing, the bills come in and they aren't gentle. If you don't have health insurance you'll get the very very basics of care IF you're lucky to get any care, and that's only in an emergency situation, I don't know of any Doctors that take patients with no Insurance. Of course you always hear about those inner city places that help homeless people, but I don't have any idea about how they work.

When I was without insurance my monthly medication (Effexor) cost $90 a month. That's $3 a tablet. I take Effexor because it's the best thing I have been treated with that helps with panic attacks, since I have been on Effexor (over 7 years now) I have not had one single panic attack, so I don't even think about NOT buying it.

I do understand that health care in the UK is free, but what does "Free" entail? I know of people in the UK that have to wait weeks for procedures that we can schedule within days in the States.... the same day or next day if it's urgent. I know people in the UK that have had to have just simple anti-biotics but couldn't get in to see their Doctors for a week! A whole week. But then... I would rather wait a week, than to not have a Doctor at all...

There are so many good and so many bad factors that play into health care in the USA and the UK. I think that the pharmaceutical companies have a lot of control over things in the USA and I also know that there are a lot of medications available sooner in Europe than in the USA because of our FDA (US Food and Drug Administration).

Okay after all that blather, what I really wanted to share...

Do you remember at the beginning of the month when I had Strep Throat? It was a Saturday and I had a fever and could no longer take the pain so I went to the ER...

I received notice from my Insurance Company.

Medical Emergency Drugs (2 tablets of Basic Pain Killers that you can buy in any store):
Amount Billed: $12 That's $6 for a tablet? Really??
Amount Not Covered by Ins Company: $1.02
Amount Covered by Ins Company: $10.98

Laboratory Services:
Amount Billed: $243
Amount Not Covered by Ins. Company: $20.83
Amount Paid By Ins. Company: $222.17

Use of Medical Emergency Room: (I was there just over an hour)
Amount Billed: $900
Amount Not Covered by Ins. Company: $77.15
Amount Paid By Ins. Company: $822.85

Total Billed $1,155
Amount Not Covered by Ins. Company $99.00
Amount Paid By Ins. Company $1065
My Copay Amount at time of visit $100
My Coinsurance Amount $44.43 (I have no idea what this is, I plan to call them)

AND THE DOCTOR BILLED ME SEPARATELY!

Medical Emergency Care from Doctor: (All she did was stick a swab in my mouth).
Amount Billed $652. (FOR 10 FECKING MINUTES OF HER TIME?!?!?!)
Amount NOT Covered by Ins. Company: $420.97
Amount Covered By Ins. Company: $231.03 (Apparently they think the Doctor is taking the piss).

Any costs not covered by my Insurance company I'm liable for, but sometimes the hospital will bill you a discounted amount, which I hope is true, as of right now, my insurance company says I'm responsible for over $500 worth of my bill!

The hospital has yet to bill me. So time will tell. This is only notification from my Insurance company on what they are paying.

Aye aye aye!!

On a happier note. I LOVE my new school, the students are awesome! I love being around these teenagers, this year I'm working with 3 Down Syndrome kids. I've never had the privilege of working with kids that have this disability and HELLO... these kids ROCK, they are always so happy... Love it! But they are only a small part of my day... I wish I had them more than 45 minutes... I could just eat them up with a spoon!

Tammy x

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Back to school in Austin!

I LOVE this time of year!

I get to meet the students tomorrow that I'll be with this year.
I'm only tutoring/teaching Math and Algebra this year. Very excited about that!
I LOVE Math!
I love buying school supplies and school clothes.
I like meeting the new teachers that my children will have.
I love the excitement that my children feel.
AND... The start of school means a break in the blasting heat of Texas (by the end of October), also HALLOWEEN! I LOVE AUTUMN!

I love the smell of erasers, glue and new books... Books especially!
OOooooohh and pens and sharpened pencils! :)
I promise myself to only buy what was on the list. (I usually buy extra art supplies as it's so cheap this time of year but I'm downsizing)...  Though I love buying school supplies.. (I like to see all the new office and school supplies... I'm weird, I know), but I have to say, that these school lists take the Mick a bit, as some of the supplies are actually for the teacher! The school supply lists are getting longer and longer. Parents are even told not to mark the supplies so they can be shared with other students! It's not that I mind sharing, but I'd like to have some sort of say in the matter. So I bought Hannah and Andy a few little things that they only keep in their backpacks, that way they always have supplies for homework when they are at my moms before I pick them up, as there is an hour difference from the end of their school day and the end of my work day.

Here are the supply Lists of just Andy and Hannah. I don't have Christopher's yet.
Fifth Grade Supply List

Back pack (No wheels)
1-- 3" Binder 3 Rings
4 packs of white copy paper (For Teacher)
5 spiral notebooks
1 package of reinforcements (white circular hole protectors)
1 Turquoise 2 pocket folder for art
1 - 2 pocket folders (any color)
24--#2 Pencils (already sharpened)
1 hand held pencil sharpener with catch (no electric)
4 pink erasers
2 red pens
1 black sharpie
1 box of 12 colored crayola pencils
1 package of washable markers
1 highlithers
4 glue sticks (no liquid glue)
1 Fiskar scissors
1--12" ruler (centimeters and inches)
1 pencil box
2 packages post it notes (2 7/8in x 2 7/8in)
4 Black dry erase markers (For Teacher)
1 box of kleenex
12 oz bottle of Hand sanitizer

Third Grade Supply List

3 packages of #2 pencils (preferebly Dixon/Ticonderoga)
2 red pens
7 wide ruled notebooks (2 pruprle, 2 red, 1 yellow, 1 green and 1 blue)
2 composition book notebooks
2 packages of wide ruled loose leaf paper
2 large erasers
4 glue sticks
1 ruler with centimeters and inches (no folding rulers)
6 pocket folders (2 blue, 1 red, 1 yellow, 1 green, and 1 purple)
1 pair of fiskar scissors
2 packages of colored pencils
2 box of 16-24 count crayons
1 pencil box
1 box of quart size Ziploc bagies
1 bottle of hand sanitizer
1 backpack
1 pack of white printer paper 8 1/2 x11

So we have everything packed in bags and backpacks and Hannah is counting down the days until the first day of school! My girly is in a dual language class, she's 8 and I'm so happy that she is learning another language at such a young age. Hannah is taught in Spanish 3 days a week and English 2 days a week. She's also in advanced math. I hope that Hannah continues to love school, I do, so maybe it will continue to rub off!
                                    
Andrew thinks school is more of a place to socialize and finds that "learning thing" a bit of a nuisance!! Then of course there are school clothes to buy, no uniforms in Austin public schools... Just regular every day clothes. After 4 boys, you can't blame me for really loving pink and frills, and lucky for me "For Now" she doesn't mind me buying lace and girly things... However, my little banana is developing her own little taste and she has decided that Neon is cool (I had enough of that after Wham in the 80's) and she loves sneakers now... SNEAKERS?! So this year, it was a twist of Mommy and Hannah taste... Here are a few of mine and Hannah's favorites.

My favorite outfit... I would so wear this if I could get away with it (And my rear end was A LOT smaller :)
I love lace.

Hannah's Favorites...
Hannah loves her sparklies!

 Andy isn't into fashion, give that boy a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and he's a happy guy!
We found him some great shirts at $5 (if you buy 10) each at the website 6 Dollar Shirts. He had fun picking them out, he loves Dr. Who and Minecraft and he has a great sense of humor for an 11 year old.
I'm all done with school shopping!!
It feels so good to be back in the swing of things, up early, to bed early, working, organized, and on a schedule. I function better when I'm busy.

The one thing that I do miss is my blog hopping, I absolutely love to read blogs, I know I say that a lot but I get to see the wonderful things that people make, I get to take walks in England, I get to try new recipes, I laugh with other moms and get to travel the world, so much is gained and enjoyed from blogging and reading blogs. I will make time in my evenings and especially my weekends to catch up. I think a lot of us will be getting back to being busy.

Boy did I love my very lazy summer though
We slept in, we went for swims, we came home and watched movies, we crafted... I didn't get to go to London this summer like I wanted, but my kids dad is working out of town at the moment and I didn't want to leave for 10 days without their dad with them daily.

I'm thinking November will be a good time to catch up with Tower Bridge... Anyone up for a cuppa?
(Seriously... ).

Have a wonderful weekend,
Tammy

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Happy 17th Birthday Christopher!

Yesterday was my 3rd son's birthday. 17!!! Sweet Lord where did the time go? I swear he was only a blond haired baby running around the house in his diaper only yesterday!

I'll be honest. Because all mom's know. We all have one. "That" child. The one that gives you a run for your money. "That" one child that you know the school is calling about. "That" one child that you know will get into trouble.

Yep. This is mine.

But you know what? He's awesome. I mean. Really awesome.
From about the age of 11 I have gotten almost daily, but always weekly calls home from school. Usually he was mouthing off to a teacher. But by the time he was 15 he was doing more serious things that involved the law.

I moved cities after that. I moved him closer to family, I moved him to a whole new school. And over this year, I have seen this boy change. I have seen this boy mature. I have seen him become the person that he has always wanted to be. Last year he asked for a pair of cowboy boots. I'm a city girl, his dad is a military guy... Where did this come from?

He's been hunting on and off for a couple of years now. Last year he got his first gun, now he's on the Ranch 9 out of 10 weekends. He eats what he kills (Rabbit, Snake, Boar, Deer, Turkey), he even put one of the snake skins on his cowboy hat. YEP... This boy is a Red Neck. LOL. And I LOVE it.

Why? Because he is who he is. He is proud of who he is, he is comfortable in his own skin, he doesn't go out of his way to prove anything to anyone.

Is he an angel? Oh heck no. Though we are pretty close, he's still a mouthy wind up. There are days that I tell him I'm going to put my shoe up his backside. Though He has become a lot more respectful and matured a lot this last year, he still gives me a run for my money :) but you know what? I love this kid. I love that he works hard for his money, he paints houses, he repairs houses, he does all sorts of work with my Uncle that is a builder. He wants to join the military after he graduates from High School, I will have 2 boys in the military... What are they trying to do to their momma?!?! o.0

He plays the guitar so beautifully, he's self taught and can hear a song and then play it. He's an amazing human being.

He has Alopecia Areata. It's an auto immune disease, his body thinks that his hair follicles are enemy intruders and attacks them and kills them. He has had patches of bald in his hair on and off all of his little life, it freaked me out at first, but now I've accepted it. He's accepted it all along, this is the first time in all of his young life that he has lost all of his hair, even his eyebrows and eyelashes. He just laughs it off. He's amazing.

Last night after work (LOVE my new school by the way), we went to the Western store (Lots of them here in Texas) and bought him a new pair of cowboy boots (Some of those suckers are $800!!!!) and then we took him to Logan's Steak House for dinner, my brother and his family, my uncle and his wife, and my mom were all there... He made out like a bandit, he got hunting stuff, $150, ammo and all sorts of "manly man" stuff.

I love you Christopher Michael. Happy Birthday.
I know you will be successful in life, you already rock mine and your families world... I know one day you will be an amazing man... You're already on your way.
Opening his gifts after he ate Steak and Potato
Hanging out with family.... Oh and here in the States if you tell them it's your birthday, they sing to you... haha... So Chris was properly embarrassed!
He didn't want his cake and Ice Cream!! So I helped him eat it!
And here is What Chris looks like on the weekends. Well most weekends anyway :)
Monday all the kids are back in school in Austin, Texas. It will be a crazy busy week, for my kids and my job, but I love this time of year!
Have a great weekend!!
Tammy

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Do you compliment?

Do you compliment others?

I mean on a regular basis, I mean do you really go out of your way to tell someone that they look nice, that they have a great sense of humor, that they are great at math, that they have a great voice... Do you compliment others?

I believe that it's very important to look away from ourselves and to be happy for others, becoming too self absorbed never led to any sort of happiness, if anything it causes more anxiety, fear and over thinking.

The best way, by far, is to go through life encouraging, edifying and uplifting other people. I do this to my students on a regular basis, I do this to my children... But I've been re-thinking about how I respond to other people around me and how I am as a friend, an employee, a daughter, a sister, a partner and a work colleague.

Do I really tell people how much I appreciate them? I believe as a society (especially Americans), we "want what we want when we want it and we want it now"... Of course not getting what we want, life's everyday problems, work, children, finances and so on can send us into a quick downward spiral of negativity and self entitlement. I believe we have to make a conscious effort to be positive and to truly be happy for others.

If we are truly happy for the success of others, regardless of how small, regardless of how big, then we are self empowered, we look for nothing in return, we just want to spread pleasantness and positivity. Something the World greatly lacks enough of.

I was at the grocery store today, and I swear the clueless people were out in droves (I used another word besides "clueless' when we were out) and my negative attitude gave me a quick reality check and made me think... Are we really a product of our environment? From the way that people act as a whole these days, our learned behaviors need to be UNlearned... and in a hurry. I have to ask myself, am I part of the problem or part of the solution?

Make it your goal to compliment at least 3 times a day. At the very least, I promise you, you will feel so much better for it.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

(Taste like Reeses) Peanut Butter Balls

These sinfully delicious little guys are like heaven in your mouth.

Wait... Can I use sinful and heaven in the same sentence? :)

Ingredients:

4 Cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups Creamy Peanut butter (I used Peter Pan)
1/4 cup butter
2-3 tablespoons milk
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)
1 tablespoon Shortening.

Directions:

Mix together the powdered sugar, peanut butter and butter. Add the milk one tablespoon at a time until it forms a dough. Scoop out and roll the dough into round balls, the size and desired shape is up to you. Place your peanut butter balls into the refrigerator to harden so they are easier to cover in chocolate.

Place your chocolate chips and shortening in a bowl. Microwave a few seconds at a time, stirring occasionally until completely melted. It only took 90 seconds for my chocolate to melt completely.

With a spoon drop one ball of peanut butter mixture at a time into the melted chocolate. Scoop it up, let the excess chocolate drip off and place the ball covered in chocolate on wax paper or a non stick cookie sheet, I actually used plastic serving dishes to set mine on.

Place the chocolate covered peanut butter balls back into the refrigerator to set, once they are hard, take them out and enjoy.

WARNING... YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO EAT JUST ONE!!
I have decided these are too delicious to make all the time and will only be making them on the holidays... My backside is big enough! :)

 
 Peanut Butter Goodness
Milk Chocolate Yumminess
 
These. Are. Delicious!!
 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

It really is SO easy and Doggie trouble.

It's so easy to up-cycle a jar.

I know so many of you do this already, but I love mason jars and baby food jars that are up-cycled, they are just so cute... and with a bit of lace... it adds just a touch of elegance in the home!


I'm a complete tree hugger, and the more I read about fracking and our lack of water. The more hugging I do!
My lace kept slipping while it dried, so I made sure it stayed in place! Love these little clips, I got 6 of them for $1 at the dollar store!
Lace, jars that were used previously... and now I have "Memory Holders".. The dried flowers in these jars mean a lot to me, the little blue one was from 2005 when my oldest son went to his first Spring dance, he dressed up and put this flower on his shirt.
And the Mason jar holds flowers from my son Joshua's and Krista's wedding last October, one of the flowers were given to me to wear on my dress and the other flower was given to Hannah, Joshua's only sister. I will keep them forever.

Maybe I'm too sentimental for my own good. But that's who I am and I embrace it!
I also wanted to share what Hannah gets up to on a daily basis. I will organize a closet and walk into the bedroom to see this... I love to see her play, but when she leaves it on the floor for me to clean up? Oh no... I'm not the maid! So I will go into the Living room to have her come clean up her mess, only to find she's made another mess in another room! She's a little tornado. But I'd much rather see her playing with toys instead of being in front of the TV or a video game!
She truly is my little angel and I love her so much... My Hannah Rose, she's 8 1/2
I also want to show you the biggest trouble maker of our family... This is Rocco.
Technically he's Christopher's dog, he's a wheaten pure bread schnauzer and since Chris works a lot during the summer and since he's always either on the hunting lease or the ranch his dog is with me and the kids. When Chris is here this dog is an angel, through and through, but the minute that Rocco realizes that Chris is gone for a few days (When Chris works construction with my Uncle he stays over his house during the week because it's easier for him to get to work), anyway... Rocco will lift his leg and pee on everything! That dog has peed on brand new toys and I've threatened to find him a new home if he peed on one more thing! And then Chris will come back home for a few days and he's back to being an angel. I just don't get it. Unless Rocco has such extreme separation anxiety that he misbehaves. I don't punish Rocco when he does his wees because I never catch him in the act, I just get out the vinegar and baking soda and pray it doesn't stain and stink! And the crazy thing? It's only the bedrooms that he goes after... I adore this little guy but... He has just about cured me of wanting to own a pet!
And on a very fattening end... 
I made these Reeses peanut butter balls, and they really do taste just like a reeses peanut butter cup, they are no bake and they are so delicious and rich that when you eat them you feel like you're doing something wrong! haha! I will share the recipe in the next couple of days. For now I want to catch up on my blog reading, I've not been on the computer for a few days and I've been doing everything from my smart phone, which has just about done my eyeballs in!

Have a wonderful weekend!
Tammy x

Thursday, August 15, 2013

London 80's style!

I am a pre-autumn cleaner.
I feel as if things must be "Done" before school starts back. After all we have Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas to be organized for!

Throw planning a move into the mix and I've been going through EVERYTHING! If it didn't move I went through it, cleaned it, sold it, donated it and/or organized it!

I have 5 large sealed plastic boxes, one for each of my children, full of their favorite clothes, toys, art... and I'll put photo albums in them soon as well. These will be put in storage for years, maybe they will go to the children of my children... Who knows but my young men children don't show a lot of interest in things from their youth yet. Actually... the oldest is 22 and we all know that's only a fraction past youth! One day these memories will mean something to my boys. Until then they are safe and organized.
I feel so... relaxed now that I know everything has been purged!

Oh. Bonus ... I've made around $500 just on my "Downsizing" efforts. Mostly from brand new clothing in my closet. I shall resume being a clothes horse when I live in the UK :)
Whooaaaa doggies Tammy you're meant to be minimizing your life!! Stop thinking of a future with every shoe in every color!!

One of the items that survived my manic organizing streak was this jean jacket.
I bought this jean jacket in London in the late 80's. This jacket was £100, 23 years ago. I don't even remember where I bought it but I remember it being near a popcorn shop back then that sold all flavors of popcorn... even sour cream!

It is made from a couple of pairs of old Levis, I adore Levis but what sold me was the jacket is reversable with the inside of the jacket being made from an American flag... or more like flag looking material! But back in the 80's it was very controversial to do anything with the American flag except fly it on a flag pole!
I liked to push the envelope back then with style and clothes. I'm a lot more conservative in my dress now, but this is just a piece of my past I won't let go of... just yet
.
Have a great weekend y'all!




Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Joshua always on my mind

As most know, my 20 year old son
Joshua is in the Middle East.
A couple of days ago...
I was going through yet another box, spending my last few days of summer getting organized so that when school starts and I'm back in the classroom I can feel like I'm sorted and ready.
I found this mini notebook in a box left from when Joshua lived at home.
I made it when he was nearly 13.
Joshua was a near perfect kid and teenager.
I still well up in tears when
I remember life when he was at home.
It's been over 2 years since
Joshua went in the Air Force.
So why do I still pine for him?Ahhhhhh the empty nest stinks!
But I'm not one to stay down.
I focus on my children that I still have at home, And I focus on my own dreams, goals and personal growth. But I miss him so much.

I love you Joshua xx

I'm posting this from my phone so if it comes out all horible... I apologize in advance for my willy wonka post !!

Tammy

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why do women color their hair SO much? Wait... Maybe it's just me!

I've always messed around with my hair. A lot.
I bleached just my fringe/bangs in the 80's to have the same hair style as John Taylor from Duran Duran ... Then I shaved it on the sides... It's just growing back here.
My mom always let me do what I wanted with my hair, she said since I was a good kid, she wasn't going to fret about hair color. (Yay for my cool mom!)...

I was mostly my natural color in my 20's, I had long lovely brown hair.
I'd highlight it now and again, but nothing too extreme. Then I went blonde for a few years. 

But Then I started to approach 40. 
And for the first time in my life, I gave red a try.
Here I am on my 40th Birthday, I liked the red actually, but my mom said it made me "Look Harsh", Thanks for the brutal honesty mom!

Ginger is hot!

So why did I color my hair back brunette then?
Who knows.
This is 2009

By 2010 I was blond again
I mean for real
People would think I was undercover or something as much as I color my hair

This made me smile, this is so me!

By the beginning of 2011. Brown again.
NOW I'm starting to get on my own nerves!

That lasted a whole 2 minutes

And she's off again...
A strawberry blond in 2011

By the time 2012 rolled around, I was bleach blonde
I liked being blonde but it completely stripped my hair.

2013 and still blonde?
Wait what?!?!

For my 44th birthday my mom treated me to This look
Remember when I talked about it Here

So why do women put so much of their identity into their hair? I've mentioned before that I have a son with Alopecia Areata, he's completely without hair, no eyebrows and no eyelashes either. So I should be a lot more grateful. 

Why am I talking about this now? Because I start work in a week, and I'm fighting with myself about how I want to present myself and my hair for a new school year. The trouble with growing in my natural color, I have discovered over the last year, that I've started to get mucho grey hair. But I'm not going down without a fight... Does this make me shallow? Am I putting too much focus on something that matters not?

Look at this amazing grey hair!
I mean this is just WOW!

But I just don't know if I can do it! After my last bought of hair color in May, over the summer my roots have seriously come in and the rest is a blondish red. So ... I bought this color Saturday.
I think this Revlon Colorsilk 42 is a lovely color. A medium auburn. However, once you start coloring your hair red, you have to re-color it monthly, it washes out so quickly.

I'm more worried that I'm going through a midlife crisis.
WAIT!
I am NOT midlife.
That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

I read an article written by a Hair dresser that does hair for the stars. He said "The right hair color can give you confidence, enhance your mood and make you feel sexy"... It's an interesting article about our hair and self esteem.. It's Here

I'd really like to hear from others about this, is too much of a woman's self esteem tied to her hair? Are we programmed because of society that grey hair is the enemy instead of just believing it's a natural way to progress into another level of beauty? 

I feel pretty good about the person on the inside. But the person on the outside is a current mess!
Maybe it's the 5 kids that did it... haha!