Saturday, April 25, 2009

the plan advances: AZ, done

I finished my Arizona Constitution review course today, a whole day before the deadline. Remarkable, for me.

I don't know why I'm still surprised by the amount of work these courses require. Part of the problem is that I take all my classes seriously and do all the reading, and then there's the thinking, and the writing, and all of that takes more time than I think it will. So for the past four weeks I've been a little bit squished, trying to get in both the AZ and US Constitution courses' reading/thinking/writing.

Polishing off AZ felt good today. My mood lifted substantially. I wasn't aware of feeling down or oppressed but I suppose I was -- or perhaps it's just that latest uptick in my thyroid medication taking effect.

I should be good to go for the state test on June 6. And on Monday at 5PM, my scores on my biology AEPA will be available online, and if I passed, I can apply to the certification program. Sometimes I think, why am I bothering to do all this? Will I ever actually teach?

Especially on painful days or generally-falling-apart days, I wonder about the wisdom of planning to start a new, stressful full-time job just a few years shy of 50. Fortunately, my impersonation of a healthy, energetic 30-something is pretty convincing."Fake it till you make it" has been working pretty well so far, so I'll stick with it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Lilac - NH state flower

Jacaranda - Arizona Wildflowers, George & Audry Delange

Delighting, briefly,
jacaranda can't replace
remembered lilacs

Hedge Roses - Photo by Beth Oram

Bougainvillea - Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary

Lush bougainvillea
and oleander mimic
belov'd hedge roses

Forsythia - Photo by David Beaulieu

Palo Verde in bloom - Photo by Paul Sheppard

While palo verde
blooms evoke forsythia --
universal Spring.

late update

I'm three weeks in to my two new classes, one on the AZ constitution, and one on the US constitution, in preparation for my last state teacher test on June 6. The AZ course is fine, but I'm feeling like a 1L in the other, having just had to read extensively on the commerce clause. I will be happy if I never have to hear about the commerce clause again.

There have been times in the past when I've thought, Why didn't I go to law school? (Well, I know the answer to that, but I have thought it.) Now I know it's because I find it simultaneously tedious and infuriating, some of these decisions that came down and changed our course of history. Nope, I'm good where I am, no law career for me.

After the requisite 6 (or 8) weeks on the new dosage of Levoxyl (137) and keeping steady on my 10 mcg Cytomel, I had my blood work done. It took almost two weeks to hear back from the new endo, and I'm not happy. My TSH was down to 0.02, which is very low, even for me, but she wants it down to 0.01, and upped my dosage again, calling in a scrip for Levoxyl 150 for me to take Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, retest in 6 weeks, etc etc.

Three weeks ago when I had the blood drawn, I felt OK. Not great, but OK. Now I feel hot all the time and I'm having palpitations almost every day. Plus I have an unshakeable fatigue dogging me, eating away at my patience. The feeling hot thing is especially annoying because it got hot out today, I think we hit the triple digits, but I know that's not why I'm feeling hot, I'm about 6 feet away from the thermostat and it's a comfy 79 degrees in here.

I am feeling so crummy at this moment that I actually took my temperature to see if I'm running a low-grade fever: 96.9. Sheesh.

Also, I'm having itch problems again -- horribly, scalp and neck are the worst. My neck will break out in little hives three or four times a week, I have no idea why and I doubt I'll ever get an answer, but the itchiness is really annoying.

Joints are consistently a 4-5 on the pain scale, hands and feet worse from time to time. Back/flank pain seems related to how much time I spend slouched on the couch, or maybe not. It didn't bother me the days I was teaching last week, and is back now at about a 2-3, so easily ignorable for the most part.

I'm avoiding sugar (not all carbs, just refined sugar) in an effort to look a little sleeker before summer gets here, and have done well avoiding it, except last Friday when I shared a mocha with DS2 and had a few bites of DD's doughnut. I'm feeling thirsty and and kind of gross (nauseated) a lot of the time, but not so it's getting in the way of me doing anything. It would totally suck if the Domperidone stopped working.

Dr. C says he's going to try and get me off the speaking splint when I see him in 6 weeks. I'm trying to be a good patient and do my jaw stabilization exercises but I'm not, I'm supposed to do them 6x/day and I'm lucky if I remember to do them once or twice. Well, that's better than nothing, right?

I hate that I'm doing this, listing out every little thing that's bothering me -- but if I don't write it down I won't remember it (maybe that would be a good thing) -- well it would be OK if these problems went away but, not to be a pessimist or anything, with me, they aren't going away.

DH picked up my new Levoxyl, so I'll start it tomorrow as instructed. Maybe I'll feel better?

Saturday, April 11, 2009


That's "Baaaaa!" not "Bah!" Happy Easter!

This year I remembered the lamb cake pan I bought off eBay a few years ago, and the kids were enthusiastic about making one, so we went for it.

It came without directions, so I had to wing it. For future reference, here's what I learned:
- Grease and flour the pan very thoroughly, or it will stick
- the pan is not big enough to hold an entire cake mix, but it will hold more than half of one
- fill the pan basically up to the top but don't mound it in the center or it will cook over in huge globs
- referencing the previous point, put the mold on a cookie sheet before you put it in the oven, otherwise you could end up with a huge mess in your oven. It's much easier to clean a cookie sheet
- do take care to fill up the ear wells, because while the batter puffs up, it won't expand outward to fill the well
- contrary to some instructions you may find on the web, you do not fill both halves of the mold and then put them together with frosting. You put the front of the mold on your cookie sheet and fill it, then you attach the back part of the mold to the front and you bake it. The cake rises to fill the mold, or, if you don't put enough batter in, you get a lamb with a great front and flat back. I know this because after over-filling the first time, I under-filled the second, but doesn't it look cute anyway? I don't care about the back of the cake and I doubt anyone else ever will.
- in my oven, I had to bake it for an hour. Last night's first attempt fell apart because it wasn't baked to the point of having a nice brown crust that gave it some structural integrity. A white lamb cake tastes awesome -- delicate cake, mmm -- but falls apart before you can frost it.
- organic coconut flakes are a lot smaller than regular shredded coconut, which would work a lot better.
- recognize that this is more for show than eating (see point above on baking the cake to the point where it's firm), although the kids love the gobs of frosting

All in all, a successful outcome. Yesterday's practice lamb is just about gone, and we've already eaten half of the "overflow" cake made from the leftover batter. This is the frosting I used:

Meringue-Stabilized Buttercream Frosting

1 + 1/2 lb confectioner's sugar, sifted
3/4 C (about) Spectrum organic shortening
1/3 C water
2 T Just Whites powdered egg whites
1/8 t cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Combine the water, Just Whites, and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl. Beat at high speed until peaks form. Stir in 1/3 of the sugar, mix to blend. Alternately add the shortening and the rest of the sugar, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and the salt, beat well. Be sure to beat at high speed for at least 1-2 minutes to incorporate enough air so that the frosting will be spreadable. It "sets", which is essential here where it can be so hot -- and it tastes great.


I'm up late listening to the rain, wondering why I have enough willpower to avoid the jellybeans, etc but not enough to 1) do my schoolwork ahead of time or 2) go to bed at a decent hour.

Today was busy: made 2 dozen hard-cooked eggs to be dyed tomorrow, did 4 loads of laundry (which takes a while given the antique status of the dryer), and attempted a cake in the lamb cake mold I bought off eBay sometime in the past few years. The first two efforts were relatively successful (a few of the eggs cracked, no big deal), but the cake was a disaster: underbaked, and therefore incapable of holding up.

The kids assure me it tastes great, though, so they'll have practice cake to eat on Saturday and I'll make another for Easter.

The PA at my doctor's office thinks the flank pain is nerve-related and sent me for x-rays. I haven't heard anything back on them yet, and I'm still waiting to hear about my thyroid bloodwork, as well. I feel off somehow, but not getting enough sleep is contributing to that, I'm sure. We'll see what the docs say. In the meantime I have a prescription for neurontin that I'm not taking because, you know, the pain just isn't that bad, most of the time.

For the record, I did try to do some of my reading this afternoon, but I couldn't keep my eyes open and ended up napping instead. Come to think of it, that may in fact explain why I'm still up now.