Sunday, August 30, 2015

Our TK Classroom.

Last year, whenever anybody asked me if I was interested in promoting from my job as afternoon teacher to a morning position, I assured them I wasn't. I loved teaching the afternoon program, loved the morning teachers I shared a classroom with, and really appreciated being on the same schedule as Weston. When he was working nights and I was working mornings, it was hard to even catch each other for a phone call during the week and I wanted our first year of marriage to consist of as much time together as possible.

But as the summer went on, I thought about it more and I started to feel like I had more to offer than what I was able to provide in the afternoons. A job as a lead teacher in the mornings would give me a lot more responsibility and creative control…. More hours, more students, more say in what our class would be learning and how we'd be teaching it. Slowly it became something I was really interested in but in order to make it worth sacrificing a lot of time with my soon-to-be-husband, I knew the position would have to be with an age group I love and a co-teacher who I could see myself really getting along with.

When I was offered the job as a Transitional Kindergarten teacher with my sweet friend Katy as my co-lead, I couldn't have said yes faster! And while Weston and I were both a little bummed to go back to opposite schedules, he fully supported my decision since teaching TK has been my goal since I started my career in Early Education 3 years ago! I just couldn't let the chance pass me by. :)

When we came home from Atlanta I was anxious to get into our classroom and help Katy get everything ready for the school year. I worked on a lot of little projects at home and one weekend I recruited Nolan and Weston to help me hang up butcher paper and do some of the more physically demanding projects while I felt well enough to sit and be bossy. ;) They helped me out so much and last week I was able to pop in a few times before our long prep/meeting days to finish some final touches. So by the time those days arrived, our classroom was pretty much finished and we were able to focus more on diving into our school's new curriculum and lesson planning.

Friday night was Meet Your Teacher and we got to welcome almost all of our new T-Kinders and their families into our classroom. They seem like a really sweet bunch with a lot of personality and I'm so excited to get to know them and start our year together!

For our decor, we combined Katy's love of chalkboard with my love of color and ended up with a rainbow/chalkboard classroom as our home-away-from-home this year. I've never been able to decorate a classroom as the afternoon teacher, so this was a lot of fun for me to be a part of. It ended up being a place that Katy and I said we can both see ourselves happily spending so much of our time.

Here's what we ended up with!

My little corner. :) My friend Nicole made me the crayon wreath for Christmas a few years ago and Katy made that awesome feather as part of a "class warming" gift she gave me! She also included post its, a cute journal, and a box of thank-you notes which is a GREAT teacher gift. Super sweet and thoughtful! Thank you for making me feel so welcome in room 105, Katy! xo

Ps. Recognize any of these decorations from our engagement party? I knew I'd find use for those pom poms and pinwheels again!

Eeee, I'm so excited! 

Aside from the bright, happy classroom and the awesome co-teacher, a few things are really great about this year already.

Number one, we have almost an equal number of boys and girls! Last year my class AND Katy's class had about a million boys and like three girls, which is fun in a lot of ways but it can make for some really loud and rowdy days haha. It seems like there will be a little bit more balance this year. :)

Also, in Pre-K our school offers the parents a choice of how many days their children will come to school. They can come two, three, four, or five days a week which means every day is a different group of kids, a different dynamic, and when it's time for projects to be done, you spend the whole week trying to make sure that each child is able to complete the assignment on the days that they come in! TK is a 5 day program at our school, so we'll have the same 22 students every day which makes certain things a lot easier.

As mentioned, our school is introducing a new curriculum this year which can be a little overwhelming for students and teachers… but I'm excited for all the fun new things I will get to teach with this new grade level and just have a feeling that this is going to be a really fabulous year. 

Can't wait for tomorrow!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Claremont Engagement Photos.

A couple weeks before heading to Atlanta, Weston and I got to meet our wedding photographer for our engagement photo session. After throwing around a million location ideas in the weeks prior, we finally decided on Claremont. We started Downtown, where Weston and I had many of our first dates and where we got engaged, then we headed up into the local mountains to explore a few trails where Weston likes to run. I am so happy with how the pictures turned out! Weston and I agree that Richard perfectly captured our love, our relationship, and how this moment in our lives feels to us.

So excited for the beautiful images I know he will take at our wedding! Richard Cao, you're a boss.

By the way, I know this is picture overload… but if it makes me any less obnoxious, he gave us over 200 pictures and I narrowed it down to the following for posting! (which was no easy task!) ;)


v This picture was taken right where Weston proposed. Now, forever my favorite Claremont street. :)
All photos by Richard Cao.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My Journey to The CEC.

For the last few days, I've wanted to scream it from the mountaintops : I'm HOOOOMMEEEEE!

Our trip to Atlanta ended up being a more eventful and lengthy visit than we had expected. So after all of the plot twists and emotional rollercoastering that went on in the south, being home has never felt better.

Over all, our time at The Center For Endometriosis was a success. I was very impressed with The CEC's compassionate and understanding staff. It felt really incredible to walk into a doctor's office where everybody understood what I was going through. They know endo like the back of their hands and a couple of the nurses mentioned that Dr. S even performed their excision procedures at some point.

My surgery ended up being much more involved than anticipated. I ended up having an excision of endometriosis adhesions, a hysteroscopy, an appendectomy, a presacral neurectomy, and my bowels were moved! So recovery has been a more challenging and lengthy process than it was after my last lap. We ended up having to stay in Atlanta for several extra days before flying home but now we are finally back and I'm finishing recovery here in California.

The past few weeks have been one of the hardest experiences of my life but also the most rewarding. Ever since the surgery, I haven't felt any endo pain. I've had post-surgical pains, so I'm still not quite where I want to be.. but I have hope that soon I will heal and stop hurting. And then I can start living a new and improved life without endo limitations. And that is pretty damn incredible.

Those are the big updates but if you're interested in more of the details from our trip, you can continue reading below the pictures. As always, thank you so much for reading, learning about endo, following along and truly making our story a part of your own. We always feel the love and support! xo



Sunday, August 2, 2015

Beach Send-Off and Lists.

Yesterday I said farewell for now to California with friends and family at Laguna Beach. My uncle got to the beach at 6:00 am to secure us a fire pit for later at night and ended up snagging the last available pit! First thing in the morning, they were already taken for the day! So crazy!

Throughout the day, people cycled in and out, relaxing with us and soaking up the sunshine. It was really nice to have a distraction since most of my free time this week has been spent totally caught up in worry and nervousness, despite how genuinely excited and thankful I am for this opportunity - especially with some close calls this week where it looked like I may not make it to Atlanta after all.

I feel so lucky to have the people in my life that I do... and without getting too sappy or sentimental at an already really emotional time, I'll just leave it at that. But before I go, here are a few pictures from our day at the beach and a couple lists I've written up today while packing.




Things I am Taking to Atlanta With Me

1. This awesome candle to help our hotel feel a little more like home.

2. My mom and Weston because I kind of love them and I'm pretty sure I couldn't do this without them.

3. All of the sweet cards I've been given, to be hung as beautiful art in my hotel/hospital room.

4. My soft prayer blanket and even a teddy bear because seriously, a week of recovery without Toby cuddles seems impossible!

5. My "Happy Heart" because my students insist that I practice what I preach, even when I feel nervous or doubtful.

6. The comfiest pajamas I own and a lot of stretchy pants.


Things I Want to Do in Atlanta

1. Eat every peach cobbler I can find prior to surgery because soon, my endo-diet will come back into play.

2. Say goodbye to Endometriosbitch forever.

3. Find out that my body isn't completely destroyed and can still possibly house a human at some point.

4. Convince my mom to watch LOST with me for several hours each day. She would love it if she'd try it, right?!

5. Hug DeeDee, the CEC's head nurse, because after talking to her on the phone she is already one of my favorite people on earth and I can't wait to meet her and soak up all that sweet, southern hospitality.

6. ___________________?  (suggestions of things I should see/do please!)


Things I Want to Do When I'm Pain-Free!

1. Reunite with my yoga studio! I feel teary-eyed just imagining my first sun salutation, post surgery. It's been almost a year since I've felt well enough for a class!

2. Cook fun, delicious, healthy meals and find ways to convince Weston to like the same vegetables as me, because currently I like all the good ones and he likes all the yucky ones... ;)

3. Go to one of those trampoline places where all the floors and walls are bouncy and learn to do a backflip.

4. Work an entire month without calling-in sick.

5. Get married to the love of my life and dance at my wedding reception without having to sit down after every song. The band has a two hour set and I'm in it for the long haul, people!

6. Paint the walls of our future home before we move into it. Not hire somebody... I want so badly to be part of the renovation process!


Things You Can Pray For While I'm Gone

1. Traveling mercies. I am not the best at flying but usually I can soothe myself with thoughts of the awesome destination I'm headed to…. This time is kind of an exception because the destination involves me getting cut open. So I'm afraid I may go all colonial-woman-on-the-wing-churning-butter if I don't get some pre-flight prayers in.

2. For there to be some awesome thunderstorms to witness from my window whilst recovering! I'm a sucker for a good summer storm and California's are nothin' compared to what I've heard goes down in the south. I'd love to get a little taste of that.

3. For Dr. S and his staff to be as wonderful as I've heard they are. For them to find everything in my body that they need to repair, for no symptom to go untreated and for me to wake up from surgery with a better understanding of my body's condition and a much better chance at a pain-free future.

4. Please pray for my mom and Weston, my extraordinary caretakers to-be.

5. I really would love to have a pain free body. One without endo or any other surprises for a few years at least. I can't wait to start living without this condition continuously halting my life anymore. I'm counting on it. I'm hoping for it. Please join me in praying for it!

6. Lastly, for my brother and dad who will be staying home, although I know they wish they could be with us through this journey. I pray for us to be able to give them as much information as possible and keep them up to date so they will be as comforted as they can from across the country.

-          -          -          -          -

I will update here when I can, but to follow along with things a little more quickly you can find me on instagram : @kelleoh.

Leaving for the airport early in the morning!
I love you guys. Can't wait to share some (hopefully) good news soon.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Finding A Dress.

Back in high school, I had always worn hand-me-down gowns to school dances. But when Junior Prom rolled around, my mom agreed to buy me a brand new dress for the occasion! I expected our shopping day to be so fun - I'd finally get to choose the perfect gown for me, rather than settling for one that my cousin had loved. But as we walked through the LA Fashion District for hours, searching countless shops for a flattering dress at an affordable price, I started to get frustrated. It turned out that for me, this was an overwhelming task and surprisingly not fun. Although we left with a gown that I loved, the process of finding it was something I didn't care to go through again and I happily wore hand-me-downs to the remainder of my high school dances.

When it came time to start thinking about wedding dresses, I worried I'd be reliving that prom dress shopping day : disagreeing about what looked good, getting frustrated with what was available in my limited budget, feeling overwhelmed about it instead of enjoying it. But when I casually mentioned to my mom that I'd probably just buy my wedding dress online… she looked at me like I had just run over her puppy. 

So I decided it wouldn't hurt to book an appointment. 

Rather than going into it thinking "I need to find my dress today," it was just a girls afternoon with my mom and my future mother and sister in law. I wasn't going to buy anything, I was just there for fun! I made my appointment at BHLDN since I've long admired their beautiful dress selection, plus since their store is located in Beverly Hills, I knew it would give us plenty of fun places to visit before and after the appointment.

It ended up being a perfect day AND... I bought a dress! Hooray!

We started the afternoon with lunch at Gracias Madre, a vegan Mexican restaurant.

^ sangria with a chocolate covered strawberry inside? yes please!

After lunch, we headed a few blocks over to BHLDN. 

As I chatted with the consultant, my mom, Shelley, and Taryn were all browsing dresses, pulling different styles in my budget that they wanted to see me try on. After we had a few lined up, I headed back into the fitting room and was explaining to the consultant that I probably wouldn't be buying anything today, as she helped me slip into the first dress. She clasped the back and I turned to look in the mirror. 

"Uh oh." I said. It was perfect.

She started laughing and I asked her if people ever actually buy the first dress they try on. She assured me that it does happen. Sometimes it really is that easy! I held my breath as I came around the corner to show the dress to my family and stand in front of the mirror, and when the girls saw it their faces said it all - it was unanimous! :)

I ended up trying on about 5 more dresses just to see different styles, but that first one was the winner. I tried it on a second time at the end and as soon as I had it on I felt totally sure of it once again so we bought it! The consultant brought us cute little cans of champagne (nothing says "laid-back" like champagne in a can, right? ha!) and we took some pictures and celebrated together.

^ one of the lovely contenders, but not the one I chose :)

I'm so glad I decided to put my apprehension aside and make a dress appointment. It was a wonderful experience and I'm thankful that the women I love were able to be there with me for that super easy, super happy, say-yes moment. 

Another great day I'll remember forever.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Cake.


I've been in a lot of pain these past few weeks.

And although I've got my eyes on the calendar, waiting for surgery, some days that doesn't make it any easier.

When I wake up feeling well (which doesn't happen often) my instinct is to take advantage and live a little. So often my choices for the day are couch or bed. When the pain eases, there are so many more possibilities. Things that I really miss doing. Simple things : Dancing to my favorite song. Walking at a normal pace. Shopping at a store rather than online. Going out to dinner with friends.

The problem with my "seize the day" attitude is that no good day goes unpunished. No enjoyment of life ends without me curled up somewhere, hurting, trying to decide if it was worth those few minutes or hours of enjoyment to spend the next few days once again deciding between the couch and my bed.

My body punished me for wedding dress shopping. It was a lot of walking and standing, so for the next three days, I could hardly move. I missed work, I missed out on plans I'd had for weeks… I just hurt. And all I could do to not cry was look at the pictures I'd taken during that wonderful afternoon and try to relive it again each day until I felt well enough to participate in life again.

On one of those endo days, I watched the movie Cake. It's about a woman living with chronic pain and how she tries to survive that emotional and physical battle. In one scene, she and a woman from her chronic pain support group discuss a question that had been presented to them at one of their meetings : What would your dream be if you didn't have chronic pain? And one of the answers that was "sickeningly sincere" was a mother who said she dreamed of making her son a birthday cake from scratch.

It's one of those simple things that most people wouldn't think twice about, but for someone with chronic pain, it's a mountain to climb. It's reaching up high and crouching down low to get bowls and utensils and ingredients. It's standing for an extended amount of time. Lifting bags of flour. It's bending over to set the pans into the oven. More standing to frost the cake. It's more physically demanding than it probably seems.

On the 4th of July, I woke up feeling minimal pain and decided I wanted to make a dessert as my contribution to Weston's family barbecue. So I used a simple, gluten-free, cake recipe and spent the morning baking. It was so much fun getting to whip everything together and watch my vision become a delicious reality!

For me, pain is one of those things that can creep up slowly throughout the day, or just appear out of nowhere. But for the rest of the day, I felt well! Weston and I made it to both of the parties we wanted to go to, I sat by the pool, we ate delicious food and everyone enjoyed my cake. :) When it came time for fireworks, we had to walk quite a bit to get to our viewing spot, but I kept assuring my concerned family that I really felt fine to keep walking! After the fireworks, we came home and turned on The Sandlot, to watch while we slowly grew tired enough to sleep.

And that's when it appeared out of nowhere. Worse than any pain I'd had these past few weeks.

It made me sick. I sat in the bathtub at 1:00 am, crying. I crawled into bed with painkillers on my nightstand once again, and a heating pad clutched against my stomach. And I paid the price for my baking and my fun and my walking and my holiday for the rest of the night.

And friends - I'm so tired. I feel like I've been fighting an uphill battle for years. And don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for the good days and the things that I'm able to do for those hours that I feel well, but I can't imagine always having to pay the price every time I try to live my life.

So I keep praying. I keep praying that this surgery will be the thing I've been waiting for. The answer to all of my cries to God for help and comfort and healing. The final chapter in this painful season of my life that has lasted far too long.

I'm just really ready to fully live again.
One month to go.

Please, Lord, let this fix me.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

DIY Save the Dates.



For years, Weston and I said that when we were ready to get married we'd just elope. Between my pain being so unpredictable, the cost of a wedding, and the stress typically involved… a big event has never been a priority for us. But now that the time is here, out of consideration for our parents, we've decided to have a very intimate, elopement-style ceremony with just our immediate families in attendance and a week later, we are throwing a small, backyard reception so we can celebrate with our extended family and a few close friends.

Having two smaller, simpler events is a much more realistic option for me, health-wise, as opposed to cramming everything into one long, exhausting day. (Although I hope to be feeling much better by then, we just can't plan on it yet.) And as the plans come along, Weston and I are having a lot of fun with the details - trying to make sure everything will be reflective of us and true to our individual styles.

So far, this seems like the perfect compromise for us and our families.

After finalizing those decisions fairly quickly, since we were already at the 6 month mark to our reception, one of our first projects was to send out Save the Dates, which we decided to make ourselves! Although having a professional make them would have been quicker and easier... we saved a bit of money, we had a lot of fun, and I know I will always fondly remember those late night DIY sessions, slaving over the hot glue gun together! ;)

Here's how they turned out:



Our save the dates were a free printable that we found on Pinterest, filled in, and backed with gray card stock. The font and wreath graphic for the 'A' were also free downloads that we found online. We took the photo strip pictures using self-timer and after Weston and I agreed on our favorites, I pieced them together using this tutorial.

So there they are! Nice and simple. :)
On to the next little project...