Thursday, December 31, 2009

Gluten free beauty products?

Based on my digestive issues, symptoms, I am 99.9 % sure that I am sensitive to gluten. I first discovered when I was on a zero carb diet that my digestive system was working the best it had in my entire life! I talked to a gastro Dr. about it and he agreed that it was likely based on my symptoms. My test for Celiac disease came back normal, but he said that it doesn't mean that I don't have gluten sensitivity, just that I don't have that particular variation of it.

So for the past 6 months or so I have been on a gluten free diet. It is really difficult, but I have tried my best. Amy's organic foods have really yummy gluten free enchiladas and other frozen meals, so that has been a staple for me at lunch. For dinner I substitute xantham gum for flour and eliminate any bread.

The strange thing is that since my digestion has gotten better, my skin has gotten worse! I have sometimes itchy rashes on my back, torso, chest, scalp, and face. Ever since I was a pre-teen, I had small, red bumps on my face that never seemed to go away despite medicine and visits to the dermatologist. The dermatologist always referred to it as mild acne. More recently, a dermatologist diagnosed me with rosacea.

I tried a new shampoo and conditioner recently (Aveeno) because I had heard great reviews of it. I used it a couple of times and my scalp and neck broke out in an intensely itchy rash. I took Benadryl and just assumed that my skin is sensitive.

I was researching makeup that is best for sensitive skin on the internet and I came to a FAQ section on a makeup brand's website that asked "are your products gluten free?" First I had no idea that gluten was even used in makeup, and second, I wondered how that would affect digestive symptoms if used topically. It didn't make sense to me. So I started researching gluten sensitivity and beauty products and found NUMEROUS people who had a sensitivity to gluten and broke out in skin rash when using beauty products that contained wheat, rye, barley, or anything derived from these things! I went and looked at the ingredients on the label of the Aveeno shampoo that broke me out so bad and it listed 2 different kinds of gluten as making up a large percentage of the formula! Most Dr.s apparently, will tell you that gluten can only be absorbed by the digestive tract, but there is no conclusive study that this is based on.

I change beauty products about as often as I change my clothes, so when I think back to times when my skin was at its best, I was using a makeup that WAS gluten free! I am going to buy new makeup, soap, shampoo, face wash, and lotion that is gluten free. THANK GOODNESS for Burt's Bees which ALL of it's products are gluten free and much more reasonably priced than any other brand that is. I am excited to see whether this helps!

Another random thing I learned was that Gluten can cause Migraines in people who are sensitive to it! Also, my reflux has gotten better since being on a gluten-free diet. This makes me think that most Dr.s do not do enough to look for the CAUSE of symptoms. Instead, they just treat them.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

November is a busy month!

In my Mouse Ears on Halloween looking at the Sunset off of our balcony!

This month has barely started, and I already know that it is going to fly by! There is SO MUCH going on this month for me!

This week- on top of reading 2 NOVELS for one class discussion this week for my Thurs night class, I have a 7 page proposal/summative bibliography/midterm due. I also have a critique for my other class (painting) this Tuesday.

Next Week- I am excited for TAEA (art teacher) conference in Dallas! I already have a sub lined up for Friday, and I will be in Dallas for the weekend.

Nov 19- We have a conveyance walk with our builder, which basically is the step before closing.

Nov 20- I have my jury trial stemming from that ticket that I got in October of 2008!

Nov 23- Appliances go in our house!

Nov 24- We close on our house!

Our lights are on! And our fence posts are up! Now all we need is carpet, grass, landscaping, and door knobs lol!

Then- I am off for Thanksgiving Holiday! My holiday, however, will not only be filled with fun house /moving/painting rooms, etc, but with doing work on my grad school work. I have (at least) 2 more paintings to do this semester PLUS another to go with my creative paper=3 large paintings left to complete. My final paper is due Dec 3rd and my final (blue book) exam for that class is a couple of days later.

whew! I'm not sure how I will get everything done, but I am sure that November is going to fly by whether I like it or not! I can't wait til Christmas Break when I can actually rest!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Brick and stone finished, ready for sidewalk!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Brick & Stone & Sheetrock OH MY!

The builders are almost finished putting the stone on the front of our house, despite the rainy weather! The house is sheet-rocked on inside and has the first coat of paint on the walls even! The next step is stamped concrete, lights, cabinets & flooring, & plumbing to go in and fence to go up! It is looking more like a real house both on the inside and outside!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Top 10 Reasons I can't wait to move into our house!

1. Art Studio!
Needless to say, I am more than a little bit excited for this feature! It was one of the main selling points for us. We couldn't find any other houses that had anything remotely like this. Today I went to Jerry's Artarama and bought some fixtures that they were getting rid of for really cheap! I got a huge brush display, a huge rack that will hold my acrylic paints, and also rack that will hold my watercolors! (all for under $30) I got a nice adjustable easel for my birthday. Now all I need is a flat storage system for paper and such, drafting table, bookshelf, and cabinets to store supplies. I'm thinking of going to Ikea to look for the shelves and cabinets. CAN'T WAIT!

2. Having a yard
The worst part of living on the 3rd floor for me is having to take Molly & Minnie down 3 flights of stairs to go outside. It will be nice to be able to open the door and let them out in a fenced area.

3. Being closer to work
It will be a much shorter drive for me, but longer for Glenn. It won't matter too much for him though b/c he gets to work by 6 am when there is no traffic.

4. More space (duh)
I will have a HUGE closet :-) as well as more space in pretty much every other room, since we live in a 1 bedroom apt right now. It will be especially nice to have more cabinet space for pots and pans and a big pantry. As I've mentioned before we do not have room for a kitchen table where we live now. In fact, we have never had a kitchen table since we've been married. I will be so happy to finally be able to eat somewhere besides our sofa!

5. Driveway and Garage
I hate not having a garage to park in. Especially when weather gets cool and the cars fog up in the morning.

6. U-Verse Cable, etc
In the community where we are moving, we have no choice but to get U-Verse cable. Sounds weird, until you look at the heavily discounted price and then there is no other word for it than amazing! We will be paying almost half of what we have been paying for internet & basic cable in our apt, but will get internet, better cable (with DVR I think), phone, and security system!

7. EnergyStar home!
Our electric bills have been ridiculous in our apartment. We are hot all the time trying to save $ but our electric bill is expensive nonetheless. I think our apt is terribly inefficient. I am happy that our new home will be more energy efficient.

There is lots of natural light in our new place, which I love.

9. Being able to grill!
It is illegal to grill on the balcony of an apartment, therefore we have not been able to grill. I loved grilled meat and it is easy!

10. Decorating!
We have already gotten to start shaping the style of our house through our choices at the design center, but I also look forward to painting walls, picking curtains, and getting some new furniture (eventually)!

I'm sure I'm forgetting some, but you get the idea! I'll leave you with some updated pics of our house.

Friday, September 11, 2009

House Update

I drove by 'our house' after work one day this week. I snapped this pic with my phone! We now have a frame! Yay! Also, I finally get my first paycheck next week and I am excited about that as well!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Busy Week

I survived the first week of classes!

I have met half of the 1000+ students that I will be teaching! Next week I meet the other half! I also went to Clear Lake for my first week of the fall semester of Grad School 2 nights this week. I am really tired already, and feeling a bit sicky.

Today, Glenn and I had a meeting with the house builder and our slab was being poured while we were there!

It was really neat to see- I have never witnessed a house being built before! They say that next week the frame of the house will go up! Our salesman, Jarrell said that we should be in the house by THANKSGIVING! Whoo hoo! Another interesting tidbit is that my next door neighbor is a teacher, and another teacher is going to live a couple of houses down the street! I'm sure we will have a lot to talk about! This is the beginning of my Art Studio! They are going to smooth out the concrete, since I'm going to leave the floor concrete and stain it! YAY!!!

On another note, we took the girls to a dog park and here are some cute pics. They get SO excited!

on the way there:
lots of sniffing going on!

Friday, August 21, 2009

A big week!

Next week is a very exciting week! Monday is not only my 25th birthday, but the first day of school! I will meet half of the >1000 kiddos that I will teach! Yes, I will have 24 sections of students! I am nervous, but ready to get this show on the road! The anticipation is killing me! I am also ready to get my first paycheck (which won't happen for a few weeks) Here are some pics of my classroom (almost done being set up).

Also, in other news, our house should begin construction next week! Also, my new graduate school semester starts next week, so 2 nights I will be driving to Clear Lake :-P.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A House!!!

Glenn and I are getting a house built! We have been going back and forth between saving up more money and getting a bigger house in a few years, or getting a "starter" home now. We had just about decided to wait, but then we stumbled upon this builder. We were actually looking for an open house for a pre-built home, but ended up coming in the office looking at floor plans. This community offers a sort of new concept called "courtyard homes" that have their own gated yards. This model fits our needs perfectly right now! This is a picture of the model (the same floor plan we will be building). The building to the right is a detached "casita" that is decorated as a game room. Mine will be an ART STUDIO! This is a view inside the casita. I can't believe I'll have such an incredible space all for my art!

This is the view from the front door to the casita/art studio. (the model has a pool, ours definitely won't )

Our home will look similar to this one, but not exact, as this one has has lots of upgrades. I can't wait until we get to visit the Design Studio and pick out cabinets, countertops, tile, paint colors, etc!

The house should be finished by mid November so we can close on it by November 30th. (in time for the 8000 dollar tax credit!)

Saturday, July 25, 2009


I have been trying to get my migraine headaches under control this summer. I have too many to be able to rely solely on the medicine that you take when you are already getting one (to treat it) so I have to turn to preventative medicine as well.

My doctors put me on Topamax (an anti seizure medicine also used to treat migraines and sometimes bipolar disorder) and I have been gradually working up to the full dose over the past month and a half. The side effects have been AWFUL! It started with tingling limbs and mild memory loss. I would grasp for a simple word that I have always known. Then my vision became blurry, my motor skills and thinking became delayed. I have had trouble focusing on anything. I feel really tired all the time, and generally not myself. When I read the side effects (listed below) pretty much the only ones I haven't had are stomach upset or nausea. The only reason I lost my appetite was because I had no energy to cook! I thought it was funny that the drug was nicknamed "dopamax" by people who had taken it b/c I have never been on drugs but this is what I imagine being "cracked out" would feel like haha.

OH and it hasn't really helped the migraines... SO my Dr. has given me a schedule to work my dosage down to stop taking it (YAY!) and I am going to try a different medicine. I just hope it works out better for me. I never plan on taking another medicine that has a side effect listed as "confusion!"

Side effects

A GlaxoSmithKline-sponsored Phase IV study suggested that cognitive side effects may be more common with topiramate than with lamotrigine.[23] In studies of healthy volunteers, therapeutic doses of topiramate for bipolar disorder produced greater cognitive deficits than lamotrigine, including short term memory loss and word-finding difficulty. This effect has led to the occasional use of the name "dopamax" by some dissatisfied customers.[citation needed]

The side-effects reported by > 10% of subjects in at least 1 clinical study[24] Listed by prevalence: (*indicates placebo rate [%] is the same or higher than side-effect rate)

  • headache (23.8%) *[25.9%]
  • paresthesia (numbness & tingling) (23.1%)
  • upper respiratory tract infection (17.5%)
  • diarrhea (16.8%)
  • nausea (15.4%)
  • somnolence (15.4%) *[16.1%]
  • anorexia (loss of appetite) (13.3%) *[5.6%]
  • insomnia (11.9%) *[11.2%]
  • memory problems (11.2%)
  • dizziness (10.5%) *[10.5]

The side-effects most frequently leading to discontinuation of therapy with topiramate were:

  • Psychomotor slowing (4.1%)
  • Memory problems (3.3%)
  • Fatigue (3.3%)
  • Confusion (3.2%)
  • Somnolence (3.2%)

Blood clots have occurred in people given topamax, but it has not been proved that these were caused by the drug. Drug withdrawal convulsions (fits) have been reported very rarely. Psychosis (often with paranoid delusions and prominent visual hallucinations) has also been reported.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Recent Happenings

This past week I attended a 3 day professional development workshop in Houston called Capturing Kid's Hearts. I learned a lot, and one of the best things about it was that I met some of my future Owens co-workers! It makes me feel really good to that I will know a few people before the first day of classes. On Thursday, after meeting Amanda and Heather, we all went together to another teacher's birthday party at a local Mexican restaurant. It was awesome to be able to meet people in relaxed setting! Thanks to Amanda taking photos here is a pic of us and another new teacher, Lisa, and Debbie, who also works at Owens.

Friday was the Opening for the Galveston Art League Juried Show! It was a really nice reception with wine and cheese and lots of good company! My parents, my Aunt Anne, and Uncle Gary all came to support me which was awesome! I also got to meet a couple of my mom's RAT (Retired Art Teacher) friends who were great! All in all a good evening!

Saturday night, Glenn's good friend Kyle from Tulsa was in town with his wife, Amy! They are moving to Houston soon (yay!) and were looking for houses and apartments, so we got to go out to dinner and ice cream with them! I took a really cute picture of them at the ice cream parlor, but accidently erased it (still getting used to my new camera) so sorry no pics :-( but it was good to catch up with them.

Finally, today, I visited my Theta friend, Erin at her apartment. We had a low-key afternoon and hung-out by the pool, then ate lunch together. I tested out my waterproof digital camera with her, but alas, I accidently deleted those photos at the same time that I deleted the one of Amy & Kyle.

I've had a really fun and social week/weekend, but my summer school class starts tomorrow, so I'll be back to business...we'll it's printmaking, so it's fun arty business, but still school :-)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Recipe: Em's Easy Orange Chicken

Here is a recipe I made up for orange chicken that turned out pretty well:


boneless skinless chicken breasts
flour/flour alternative
green onions
jar of sugar-free orange marmalade
soy sauce
garlic (I use minced kind in jar)
water chestnuts
any other stir-fry ingredients

  • start rice cooker before cooking chicken (I cook rice for Glenn and steam Cauliflower as a rice alternative for myself, all using rice cooker)
  • cut chicken into bite-size pieces
  • coat in beaten egg and flour or flour alternative (for low carb diet)
  • pan fry in small amount of oil with garlic
  • add green onions
  • add mushrooms and other ingredients
  • Stir in orange marmalade and soy sauce to taste. If you like it saltier, add more soy sauce.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Re-evaluated Wish List

A while back I blogged about the things that I wished I could get in the near future.

Since then, we have decided to wait a while to get a house. Even though I got hired in May, I won't get my first paycheck until September, so we really can't save enough for a down payment. Well, we could come up with a small one, but would rather save a larger amount for a long list of reasons.

Instead, we are going to move into a larger 2 bedroom Apartment (not on the 3rd floor and possibly with a garage) when our lease is up in December. It actually will cost about the same as our current apartment! I have to have more space! (poor Glenn, my very expensive art supplies need a home and I need a work space!)

This decision has made many things possible for us that are really important:
  1. Glenn is going to start graduate school! His Employer will pay for it in full (which is incredible) but we have to pay for it up front. When his passing grades come in, then they will reimburse us. If we got a house now, not only would it be an expense, but Glenn would have to be distracted by things like mowing the lawn when he needs to be studying for his classes/driving to class. Glenn having a master's degree will help us financially more than anything else- after only 2 years (about the same time he will also get his professional engineer's license!)
  2. I got my new laptop! And digital camera is ordered... Like I said in my earlier post, I have needed a new laptop for a LONG TIME! I didn't just want a new laptop, I NEEDED it badly! I however, did not have to get a Mac. That is a luxury. I consider my laptop not only a study tool, work tool, but also an art supply, so I really appreciate having a Mac. I use it for photos, adjusting color, visualizing images for my paintings, etc. I am also told that artists interviewing with galleries often show their work on Mac laptops, so now I am prepared! Also, I am an expert at destroying PCs with viruses, so I thought it was time to try something different!
  3. Art Supplies! Besides my laptop, camera, and tuition, ART SUPPLIES are my biggest must-have expense! The large panels that I paint on for my Grad school work cost 25-35 dollars each (depending on which art store I find them at). Ad up the cost: I am required to do a minimum of 24 paintings of this size to graduate when it's all said and done, so not including paint, paper, paintbrushes, or any other materials =$600-840!!! Now I can relax and just get what I need when I need it.
  4. The possibility of a Vacation this year! Without a house payment, we will definitely go on a vacation!
I think I am actually forgetting some things, but you get the idea!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Happy Happy Joy Joy!!!


I entered this painting in my first juried show and won 1st place in my category! I had rushed to get this one framed for my college's graduate exhibit, then was a little bit irritated to find out that the UHCL gallery had decided (AFTER I had delivered the paintings) that they only had room for 2 works from each artist. I even had to make a special trip across Houston to go pick it up!

It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I decided to enter it in the Galveston Art League's summer Juried exhibition instead. I would have been happy just to get my work accepted into the exhibition, as many paintings that enter do not even get displayed. I got a call today that I won my category though! When the phone rang I was completely prepared for them to tell me that my painting did not make it into the show, but was absolutely shocked to find out that I won! I could not be a happier camper right now!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Off to T-Town!

I'm off to Tulsa this weekend to visit my college pals! We are going on a float trip on the Illinois river and just catching up on things in general! It should be an all around ridiculous time, as Oklahoma float trips normally are. Last time we met a guy who popped his glass eyeball out in mid-conversation and saw more mullets than we could count! This time I am prepared with a waterproof disposable camera.

On Wednesday my parents are meeting me in Tulsa and we are going to Fayetteville to visit my Grandma. It has been 2 years since I've seen her! Way too long!

It should be a good time!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Minnie's new outfits!

Minnie has needed a new harness for a while, and I can't find the kind I used to get her anymore. I decided that I could make one pretty easily, so I looked for fabric when I was at Hobby Lobby today. I got this cute polka-dot jersey material for really cheap (and I only needed a tiny bit). I bought a bottle of liquid stitches and went to work! I still need to add velcro to the harness, but it is done besides that. I decided to make a dress with the extra material and here is Miss Minnie modeling her new look!(she still has a bandana on her neck so it looks kind of funny)

Diet: Day 9

I've been missing for a few days. I was out of town for a couple of days, then I just didn't eat anything eventful.

Breakfast/lunch: Atkins shake

Snack: nuts

Dinner: Portobello Mushroom Pizzas

These were really good! I really didn't miss the bread crust as much as I thought I would! Very filling!

Dessert: Sugar-free fudge bar

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Diet-Day 4

Breakfast: Atkins shake

Lunch: uneventful salad

snack: sugar-free jello

Dinner: lean ground beef patty with salad, tomato, pickles, and avocado

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Diet: Day 3

This has been a HUNGRY day for me! I've eaten a lot more than I normally, do, but can't seem to get full! I even went back for seconds for my taco salad! I remember this stage when I've done the South Beach Diet in the past, and it goes away after a day or two. I'll just take this as a sign that it is working...

Breakfast: Atkins protein bar

snack: nuts

Lunch: Spring mix, fresh mozzarella, and tomatoes with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

snack: sugar free jello

Dinner: Bean taco salad (lettuce, refried beans, shredded cheese, taco bell hot sauce (in a bottle-it's great!))

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Diet: Day 2

Day 2

Breakfast: Atkins shake

Lunch- I ate lunch with Glenn and his co-workers at Gringo's Mexican food restaurant. I ordered a fajita salad and avoided the hard, but I was proud of myself afterward.

Dinner- I am planning to make Pasta using Spaghetti Squash!It is a large yellow squash that is about the size of a football! It is baking in the oven as we speak. We'll see how it goes! The recipe I'm using uses lean ground beef, part-skim ricotta cheese, and sugar-free pasta sauce.The squash, of course, replaces the noodles.

I also worked out today. I did an interval workout on the treadmill as the South Beach Diet book recommends. Hopefully I can keep it up without getting sick. In the past, when I am starting to get in a workout routine (about a month) I get sick and it throws off my routine.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Diet: Day 1

I decided to blog each day for at least the first 2 weeks that I am on the South Beach Diet because I think it will help keep me motivated. The first 2 weeks are the hardest b/c NO CARBS are allowed, including fruit!

Today I had to grab lunch out unfortunately, but I opted for a grilled chicken cobb salad at Panera. It was kind of expensive for fast food, but I was determined to start my diet today!

I went to the grocery store and stocked up on approved foods for phase I, so now I should be good to go for a while. Tonight I am making a chicken and black bean wrap for Glenn and chicken and black bean salad for me. I am using rotisserie chicken, tomatoes, avocados, lettuce, and black beans of course.

Yay for day 1!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Time for a diet...

I decided to start the South Beach Diet again starting today. It is the only diet that has ever worked for me. It starts out with no carbs allowed for the first 2 weeks, which I actually think is beneficial to me for digestive reasons. This may sound weird, but the only time of my life that I have had a regular digestive system was when I was eating zero carbs. I suspect that I have a gluten sensitivity. It is hard to avoid my favorite things like potatoes and bread, but it is worth it. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wish List

Ok, so it's not Christmas time or even really near my Birthday, but since I've been a student, there are things that I dream about being able to afford one day when we are both working.

1. A House (with an Art room)- of course this is the biggest one. We renewed our apartment lease for 6 months (from July) so we are hoping to save a bit of $$$ for a down payment on a house in that time. Unfortunately I won't start getting a paycheck until August, so it may not be possible to save enough money as soon as we would like. We would like to capitalize on the $8,000 tax rebate! My Artwork and supplies are eating our apartment, so I can't wait til I have my own room/studio!

2. A new Mac Laptop- I am using the same laptop that I've had since my freshman year of college. Yes, the laptop that stopped working about a month after my college classes started that year. It has had so many problems and had to be reformatted more times than I can remember. I really would like a Mac.

3. A New Digital Camera- I really like my mom's new Canon digital camera. It takes really good pictures and sells for a very reasonable price. Lately I've been using the camera on my phone or the still shots on my video camera (that aren't as high quality as a regular camera).

3. A Kitchen Table- We don't have room in our apt for a kitchen table, so we eat at our coffee table on the sofa. I can't wait til we have a real place to eat!

Job Offer!

I got a verbal job offer from the principal of an elementary school in Cy-Fair ISD to be their Art teacher! HR is slow, so they still need to call me to set up a time to sign the actual written offer, but that should happen soon.

I am soo relieved to know where I'm going to be early. This way I can plan and see what supplies are in my room before the school year starts.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pet Peeve

Today, Glenn and I were supposed to go up to Austin to visit his Grandpa in the hospital. We had just been on the road for about 20 minutes when Glenn got a call saying not to come. Apparently Grandpa didn't want any visitors. So Glenn went back to work, and I went to the grocery store since I wasn't subbing today.

I had just parked at Wal-Mart and was walking toward the entrance when a car with two men in it stopped and yelled, "MA'AM!!!" to get my attention. They then proceeded to ask "In God's glory, can you please spare some money for us?"

This really made me angry for several reasons.

1. They were two able-bodied men who could be working. If they spent the energy that they were using scouting out people in the parking lot and asking for money, they could be inquiring about employment!

2. They were driving a fairly nice looking pick-up truck, not brand-new, but not beat-up either.

3. They were using gas to circle around the Wal-Mart parking lot asking for money. If they REALLY needed money that bad, they would park the car and save gas by traveling on foot!

4. Anybody at Wal-Mart ( a discount retailer) on Tuesday in the middle of the day is either unemployed, a part-time worker, elderly or retired, disabled, or a stay at home parent, all of which probably don't have too much extra money to donate to you!

5. If you want to beg people for their hard-earned money, please don't bring God into it!

I told them, "I'm sorry I'm unemployed right now," which is true. I do work for $90/day as a substitute, but I don't get work every day. I'm also a student, so I'm paying much more money to tuition, books, my certification class, and art supplies than I am bringing in. It is a sacrifice for a goal that will pay off very soon. Yes, Glenn has a good engineering job, but we need every penny. If we do have extra money ever, we will start saving for a down-payment on a house, or pay off student loans! We have to be really careful with our money, and he has worked too hard to be throwing it away to some loser who could be working themselves! I just think that they have a lot of nerve!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The semester comes to an end and other stories

My last 2 papers for this semester are due tomorrow night. I had every intention of finishing them today, and could have except that I learned that I have to come back to campus tomorrow anyway to drop off something to another teacher for my summer class. When I found that out, I just decided to take a break and finish up tomorrow. I needed a break anyway. But I'm sooo close to being done!

My critique went well despite the fact that my teacher doesn't like the frames that 3 of my works are in. Oh well... I like them so that's what matters to me.

I've been thinking about my options for what level to teach. I always thought I would go straight into teaching high school. The students are more advanced, know how to use scissors and walk to the restroom by themselves, etc. I am starting to wonder if there will be any high school openings for me to fill though!

I have recently gotten used to the idea of teaching Middle School. Sure they all hit growth spurts at different times which leads to a comical looking group of kids, (looking at a middle school class reminds me of hobbits vs Gandalf in Lord of the rings, or the star wars bar- a tiny kid sitting next to a giant haha) and they seem to be the age group that nobody wants to teach because they have the sass of the high schoolers with the immaturity of the elementary kids, but I think they are pretty amusing.

I never thought I would teach elementary, but I am warming up to the idea. My mom started out teaching elementary and loved it. In fact the only reason she started teaching high school was because BISD doesn't have elementary art. The kids get really excited about art and suck up anything you teach them like sponges. On the down side, I've heard they stick over 50 kids in a classroom at a time- which sounds a little bit overwhelming. Surely there would be aides in a class of that size to help though. I wouldn't have as much extra after hours work like matting for contests, etc. like for high school though which leaves more time to do my own artwork and grad school. I think it could be kind of fun. I'm truly a kid at heart anyway.

I've had to remind myself to keep an open mind and that it will all work out in the end. It could be a blessing in disguise if I end up teaching a level that I hadn't anticipated. The only reason I've been set on high school is that it is familiar to me, but I know that I can do a great job on any level.

Hopefully I will find out soon though :-P

Monday, May 4, 2009

In- Between

One of the feelings that I dislike most in life is the feeling of being in-between. What I mean by this is that I don't feel like any of my work has paid off at this point. I have been working hard toward my immediate goal of being an art teacher and my long-term goal of being a professional artist, yet I still have no idea where I will be working next year.

Sometimes I feel like I've been pedaling 100 miles per hour with no destination in sight. Right now, I am at the point where I have applied to all of the school districts in feasible driving distance from where I live (some being as much as 45 minutes away), but most high schools have not started interviewing outside candidates yet, so I am waiting...

I can only take one grad school class this summer because it is the only one offered that I need, so I feel like it is time wasted that I could be working toward my degree. I should be able to take a full load while I'm not working, but no. There are 3 classes that I want/need to take for the fall, but there is no way I can take that big of a load while (hopefully) working full time and living more than an hour from my college. grrrrrr

I have done all I can do when it comes to trying to get hired! I've applied to schools, met and stayed in close contact with the arts coordinator at the district where I would prefer to work, subbed at this district, volunteered for VASE, and even presented a workshop at State VASE where all of the coordinators and art teachers from all over the state of Texas were together in one place.

I interviewed at a middle school more than a month ago and they are "still in the interview process" and was told that a decision would be made soon. Now, it is the end of the year and I understand how busy they are. I would never fault any principal for taking their time to make the right decision for their school. In fact that may be a good sign about the school that they take their art program seriously. However, I'm not sure my stomach can't take this suspense for too much longer!

I unofficially visited a high school that was supposed to have an opening with the understanding that I would be called in for an official interview once the internal hiring period ended. Come to find out the teacher who was supposed to be leaving is not leaving anymore. Great...

I have an upcoming interview for an elementary position, which is awesome, but when are the high schools going to start calling me!?! I hate that it is all totally out of my control at this point. Then- I wonder if I do get an offer from the middle or elementary school, what will I do? I really like the middle school a lot, and am open to the elementary school, but I haven't even had the opportunity to interview at a high school yet. I would have a really hard time turning down a job at that middle school, but it makes me wonder if I should be more patient and wait to see if a high school job opens up or if I should block it out of my mind and just be grateful if I get an offer from a great school like the middle school!

I will be SO HAPPY when I have been hired and will know where I am going to be next year!I really hope it happens sooner rather than later so I can actually enjoy my summer somewhat instead of "having no plans and too much time and "feeling too restless to unwind"- (Bright Eyes)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fish Heads

Here is the only of my new paintings that I have a decent picture of. I went fishing with my dad and watched him clean the fish. I must say I am so empathetic for creatures of all kinds that it made me really sad. ( I even feel sorry for the little bait minnows) I snapped a picture with my phone of the dismembered heads in the bucket and captured a really neat composition. My goal was to take a gruesome subject and make it look beautiful and even decorative. The painting is 24x35 inches, Acrylic on Panel.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good to know...

Read this Article

After subbing all day at this high school, I hurried off to my night class in Clear Lake. It wasn't until I was driving home around 10:30pm that my dad told me over the phone that the school was on the news for having a gun scare. I told him it must be a mistake because I was there and knew nothing of it. He said he saw on the news that the school had lots of construction going on and I said yes that sounds like the same school. I got home and googled it and sure enough it was the school that I subbed at ALL DAY!

In retrospect maybe I'm glad that I didn't know, since everything was ok. I probably would have been really terrified had I known. On the other hand there are procedures that teachers (and yes, even subs) have to follow in a "lockdown" situation to protect yourself and the students, that include locking your door and not opening it for anyone who knocks.

I didn't even have a key to my classroom so another teacher would have needed to lock the door. I was there with my door open most of the day and had no idea that there was any kind of threat. I guess it's possible the teachers got emails or something but none of them felt the need to inform me about this. If that's the case it makes me really mad.

It is obvious that this school needs to improve on their communication. How you ask? THEY NEED PHONES IN THE CLASSROOMS! Brazoswood hadn't been remodled in years when I went there, but one thing they did have was an advanced phone system that connected all the classrooms.

On an even scarier note, I really think I saw this person. He peeked in my classroom and was communicating with one of the students in my class from the door. This is an EXTREMELY common occurrance. I thought about telling him to move on, but something made me not do it. I just looked directly at him so he knew I saw him and then he moved on. I'm glad I didn't because who knows if that could have triggered him. (I'm not sure, but it looked a lot like him)

On a brighter note, the Last period AP English class was delightful. They did their work but got a little distracted from their assignment at the end of class because they were debating Pie V. Cheesecake! These kids came up with elaborate arguments and they were hilarious. I wish I had it on video tape! It brought me back to my school days.... :-)

Monday, March 9, 2009


I have been a bad, boring blogger lately! I'll tell you what I have been up to lately...

TODAY I did an all day observation of the art classes at a district near me that I would love to work for! I was a little nervous beforehand because I wanted to make a good impression but once I got there I really just enjoyed being around the students, with the art teachers, and in a creative learning environment! I sort of feel at home in the art classroom, which is a good thing! Although I know my first year of teaching will be hard, I feel much less nervous and intimidated about everything (both the hiring process as well as my ability to be a good teacher). I'm just ready to get hired somewhere so I can celebrate and stop worrying about the "what-if" I don't get a job scenario. After I got home from 7 hours of observing, Glenn and I ate at Olive Garden and even got dessert! I enjoyed it immensely! Now I'm half way through my observation hours for certification.

I've also been substituting now that the computer system that communicates with subs is working. That was a small battle that I don't feel like getting into. $90/ day is not bad for babysitting! ;-)

I'm working hard in my Grad school classes. This takes most of my time these days. I've started my series of portraits but sorry I don't have pictures yet. The only totally finished piece is in the People's Choice show at the Brazosport Art League for this month. It is a show where visitors to the gallery vote and the artists with the top 3 most popular work win monetary prizes. I don't expect to win, but if it happened I could use the buy more art supplies! (they are SO expensive)

My online teaching certification class is getting on my nerves. Whose idea was it to do a group project in an online class? No matter how competent the group partners are it is a difficult situation. I'll be glad when this class is behind me!

Also I have to write my mid-term paper for one of my grad classes this week...not looking forward to that.

Last but not least- it is Glenn and my 2nd Wedding Anniversary tomorrow! I decided not to take any sub jobs and don't have class. Glenn is taking the day off so we can spend the day together! I'm not sure what we are going to do, but whatever it is it will be fun!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Synesthesia...I thought I was just a visual learner

I found this really interesting article on today. I thought I was just a visual learner, but apparently I have a neurological condition called Synesthesia. I have always enjoyed listening to music because it produces visual images in my mind. (in fact I JUST wrote this in my 25 random things about me on facebook last week !) When I read, although I think I read at a high level, it takes me a long time because I have to visualize everything that is happening in my mind, so I often stop and think about it and read it again to get an even better mental picture. They say it is a "rare" condition but I would be willing to argue that it is probably pretty common, just isn't something that people are aware of or tell anyone about.

By Elizabeth Landau

-- When Julian Asher listens to an orchestra, he doesn't just hear music; he also sees it. The sounds of a violin make him see a rich burgundy color, shiny and fluid like a red wine, while a cello's music flows like honey in a golden yellow hue.

Julian Asher, genetics researcher and amateur photographer, can see colors in response to sounds.
Asher, a researcher in the department of genomic medicine at Imperial College London, has a rare condition called synesthesia, a neurological condition in which people experience a mixing of their senses. People with the condition may see colors and movement in numbers, words or sounds.

As many as 1 percent of people have the most recognizable form of synesthesia, studies say. Acclaimed Russian-American author Vladimir Nabokov, who wrote "Lolita," famously had the disorder, as did physicist Richard Feynman and composer Franz Liszt.

"Since a subtle interaction exists between sound and shape, I see q as browner than k, while s is not the light blue of c, but a curious mixture of azure and mother-of-pearl," Nabokov wrote in his memoir "Speak, Memory."

Psychologists have known for more than a century that synesthesia runs in families -- Nabokov's mother and son Dimitri also displayed forms of it -- but the specific genes have not been found.

Now, Asher and colleagues in the United Kingdom have done what they say is the first genetic analysis of synesthesia. Their findings are published this week in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Researchers collected DNA from 196 people from 43 families in which there were multiple members with synesthesia. They looked exclusively at auditory-visual synesthesia, the kind where sound triggers color, which is easier to diagnose than other possible forms. Visit, your connection for better living

They expected to find a single gene responsible for synesthesia, but they found that the condition was linked to regions on chromosomes 2, 5, 6, and 12 -- four distinct areas instead of one.

"It means that the genetics of synesthesia are much more complex than we thought," Asher said.

Brain scans have shown that people with synesthesia seem to have "cross-wiring" between brain regions, said Dr. V.S. Ramachandran, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California, San Diego.

"Nobody really had the evidence pinning it down to specific genes in specific chromosomes, and I'm delighted to hear somebody's done that," Ramachandran said.

"Cross-wiring" was shown in a study led by J.A. Nunn at Goldsmiths College, London, which found that the visual areas of the brain were activated in response to sound in people for whom sound triggers color.

Given that a normal infant's brain has excess connections between brain regions, one hypothesis is that synesthesia results when the genes that "prune" these connections away are mutated, Ramachandran said. In other words, people with synesthesia may have brain connections that would normally disappear at an early age.

Genes found in the areas of Asher's study have been connected to other mental disorders. For example, genes on chromosome 2 have also been linked to autism, Asher said.

The link between synesthesia and autism is controversial and speculative, but one of Asher's previous case studies suggests a connection. The man he examined had Asperger's syndrome -- a mild, high-functioning form of autism -- and also had an extraordinary memory capacity for numbers. In fact, he memorized 22,000 digits of the number pi.

The man's process of remembering these numbers is not simple rote recall. Instead, it is as though he were navigating a landscape, Asher said. "He says it's like walking along a path," Asher said.

The man's ability to focus intently on a dry subject is associated with Asperger's, but it's also synesthesia that helps him memorize numbers, Asher said. In fact, in this sense, synesthesia is a form of photographic memory.

One suggestion is that synesthesia and autism in a single person may make him or her a savant, someone with a singular and extreme intellectual ability.

Children with synesthesia will often show signs of it in school, because it slows down reading for some kids and makes lectures difficult to absorb for others. As awareness of learning differences grows in schools, more children are coming forward and explaining that they have trouble, leading to more diagnoses, Asher said. Interventions may include written notes or books on tape for those whose synesthesia interferes with, respectively, listening or reading.

To what extent do children with synesthesia grow up to become artists and poets? The connection is controversial, in spite of prominent examples such as Nabokov, Asher said it's a misconception that most synesthetes go into creative disciplines. His database of 900 people with the condition does not have a disproportionate number in artistic professions.

In Asher's own case, nonverbal noises such as a fire alarm or a piece of music will trigger visual sensations.

When he was a child, Asher would go to the symphony with his parents and assumed that the lights went down so that everyone could see the colors better. "I mean, why else would they do it?" he said.

"My parents asked something, and I said, 'Oh, they turned the lights off so you could see the colors,' and they had no idea what I was talking about, and that's when I realized that they didn't see what I saw," he said.

He never knew that his condition had a name until he happened to be researching the genetics of perfect pitch, which has been anecdotally linked with synesthesia.

"Even to this day, I'll run into people who study neuroscience for a living, and they've never heard of it," he said. There are organizations that promote awareness, but still a lot of people don't know about it, he said.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Spring Semester

I have been to my first classes for the semester for the spring, so I thought I would share what I'll be working on this semester.

My Texts and Images II is a class that combines Art History and literature to form an understanding of the time period from different viewpoints. It is taught by 2 professors: one for texts and one for images. Last semester we mostly studied ancient art and texts, which isn't the most exciting to me, but this semester promises to be MUCH more inspiring. We are focusing on movements that began as "counter-culture."

The books we are reading are:

A Theologico- Political Treatise by Benedict Benedict de Spinoza (1670)(Ewles translation):
This is a philosophical examination of religion and society. Apparently even though he was religious himself, he wrote the book from an objective point of view and received great criticism for it.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1831) (yay)

Notes from the Underground by Dostoevsky (1864):
an existentialist narrative.

Civilization and Its Discontent by Sigmund Freud (1930)

Mother Courage and her Children (1938):
A play set in the time of the 30 years war, but performed during WWII

The Web of Life by Fritjof Capra:
An introduction to Systems theory, which incorporates a number of disciplines which are grasped around common models of organization.

For the Images half of the class we will be studying movements starting with Renaissance art and ending with neo-expressionism. I am so excited to study these periods of art- some of my favorite!

In my Drawing-Painting-Printmaking class I will have to complete (at least) 4 22 X 30 inch or larger paintings and decide a direction to take for my final project/thesis! I have a ways to go with that because I will need at least 24 paintings to be a part of the final project, but everything I do from this point really should be done with that in mind.

All the while I am working on my teaching certification via my Region IV online class. I have never taken an online class so it is kind of odd. I will also be substitute teaching.

Hopefully I can keep up with everything!