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A Little Hodgepodge, a Little Reflection

I’m back at it…participating in the Hodgepodge.  I’ve been off the grid a bit with this here blog, unable to bring myself to pen the many thoughts of my summer life.  Honestly, I think I’ve just needed some distance from the laptop.  I’m beginning to come out of the rest-induced fog, though, so here I am!  Play along by joining up with Joyce!

1.  When I look at the sky I feel________________________________________.

When I look at the sky, I feel small.  Honestly.  I know that I am but a mite in the larger picture that God has designed.  Not that I am inconsequential, mind you.  I just know that I am but one speck…one pixel…in His masterpiece.

2.  If you had to run for political office, which one would you run for? Do you have any real desire to actually do this?

If I had to run for political office, I would run for Governor of the state of Florida.  My first mandate would be to require every single law-making official to spend a month in a teacher’s classroom.  Oh, not any classroom, mind you, but a classroom comprised of the very neediest children…children who live in poverty…who are lucky to have one adult living at home…who have reading problems…who go to school hungry.  I’d like these officials to take notes on how hard the teachers works to engage these children…how much money out of their own pockets the teachers spend to feed, clothe, and educate the students in the classroom…how much time the teachers spend outside of their contracted hours to research lesson plan ideas, contact parents, and make exemplars for students to follow.  As leader of this state that ranks very low on test scores, I expect that this would be the best mandate ever, and no longer would the lawmakers pass ridiculous ordinances that are unattainable because, perhaps, the lawmakers would be knowledgeable about what really happens in a classroom.

3.  What scent makes you think of home?

Home, for me, is where I currently live, thus the smell of dog makes me think of home when I’m away.  heehee

4.  How often do you take a step back to think about where you’re headed in life? Do you need more or less self-reflection?

I reflect CONSTANTLY!!  As a teacher, I won’t grow if I don’t!!!  I reflect on my teaching practices and everything else associated with my profession.

On a personal level, I am constantly reflecting on myself…namely the example I set as a Christian.  That’s the hardest for me because I desire to show people what a life led by God looks like.  I fear I’m not always good at this.

There’s a fine line you can cross between self-reflection and critique.  I don’t believe that God intends for us to down ourselves.  That’s where I struggle because of my desire to be perfect.  I think that learning to self reflect without being negative is key for me.  (I’m whispering, “Good luck with that” to myself as I type this.)

5.  July is National Ice Cream Month…besides a cone, what’s your favorite food item to top with ice cream?

Well, I can’t have ice cream because I am lactose intolerant and a vegan (although the hubby and I found sorbet in “France” at Epcot, and we ate it with a cone…delish!).  With that said, my favorite topping would have to be chocolate syrup, which I also cannot have any more, unless it’s vegan.  Still, what a wonderful way to top off this treat!

6.  What might your autobiography be called?

I really like this question.  It’s one I’ve used with my students before and one I’ve considered a time or two for myself.

What would my autobiography be called.  Hmmmm….tough one to answer.

Autobiography means that I get to come up with the title for my own life, so it’s about my perception and not someone else’s.


I’ll go back to the motto I’ve assigned for my life…

Bloom Where You are Planted
(Or Wither Up)

My Very Honest Attempt at Life and the Antics that Make Me “Me”

7.  Your least favorite mode of transportation? Why?

I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of flying.  I can and have done it, numerous times, but I always hold my breath as well as the side arms…tightly…until each flight is finished.  I think it’s incredible that humans invented a way to move, across the sky, without coming down unless purposeful about it.  The stories of plane crashes have scared me over the years, though…hence my fears.

8.  My Random Thought

I cannot believe that by this time next month, I will be finishing up my first week back at school.  I know the next few weeks are going to fly (pun intended) by, and I’m nervous, as always.  I’ve given myself until the last day of this month to revel in the summer before settling in and getting down to work.  Teachers don’t have to report back until the 12th, but there are a lot of things I can do from home.  So, if you’re looking for me this month, you’ll probably find me in a prone position…on my couch…taking advantage of my opportunities to nap in between bouts of laziness.

Vernal Equinox Shawl

Although it has seemed as though I’ve been sleeping the summer away, I have, in fact, kept myself busy…reading…watching many, many episodes of Alias, AND knitting.

“Sid, Sloan is here,” Marshall mutters in a barely-audible voice. heehee

The Harry Potter group I’m involved with on Ravelry encourages “students” to propose and complete OWLs.  An OWL is a larger project that requires more time to complete.  It’s a fairly big deal to propose and must meet the specifics of the prompt a student selects.

I set my sights on a Runes project…one that required multiple charts.  Enter in my Vernal Equinox Shawl, a free pattern you can find on Ravelry.

Here’s my swatch…

I’d purchased Cascade Alpaca yarn for it during Spring Break.

I cast on May 25th.

The project grew…and grew…and grew.

For the first time in my knitting career, I used lifelines.  A lifeline is what you create when you run thin yarn or thick thread through a row of stitches.  I used quilt thread and ran it through the live stitches on my needle after I finished each chart.  Thank heavens because there were a few times when I had to tink back to fix mistakes, and because the yarn was so thin, stitches dropped.  Fortunately, the lifeline caught the dropped stitches, so I could put them back on my needle easily.

I finally got to the bind off row and got stuck.  I wanted to do the crochet bind off but wasn’t sure how, despite visiting YouTube.  I contacted a sweet friend, and she invited me to her home on her day off.  We spent a wonderful hour and a half together while she helped me figure out the instructions.  Note to anyone doing this pattern…TRUST THE INSTRUCTIONS.  They work out in the end.  In other words, don’t overthink them (ahem).

I began the cast off the next day.  It took me over NINE HOURS to finish.

I kid you not.

I had 652 stitches on the needle and was freaked out that the stitch count wouldn’t come out right.

I had created a chart to keep track of what I was supposed to do…

Fortunately (and surprisingly), I reached the end right on track with the pattern.  God had mercy on me!!!  :D

It took me a couple of hours to block it (pin it out).  I ran my blocking wires through the decrease stitches, making points in the process.

Here’s what it looked like when I took it off of the wires…

Here are close-ups…

On Sunday, the Mr. acquiesced to my request for photography assistance.  It was simply too humid to be running back and forth between the tripod and self-timer on the camera, which is how I usually take my knitting pictures.

I’m quite proud of this shawl, so please forgive my crazy number of pictures.

I’m not sure if I’m going to propose an OWL for the Fall term.  The beginning of school is crazy-busy, and I don’t want to stress myself needlessly.  However, I do like the challenge of a larger project.  I also think that an OWL would help me take time out for myself…something I feel guilty about doing because of my teaching responsibilities.  Guess I’ll just have to pray about it.

Either way, I hope you enjoyed the photos!  Thanks for allowing me to brag a bit.  :D

A Kid’s Place

A couple of weeks ago, one of my pastors preached a sermon that resonated with me in multiple ways.

The theme was “A Kid’s Place.”  The gist was that church should be a place that welcomes children.

As the pastor made his key points, I took notes.  It was clear to me that these were lessons that every teacher should adopt for the classroom.

I’m considering making a poster for my classroom with the key points, tailored to education.  It would look something like this (imagine a pretty border and graphics):

This room is a place where…

  • You belong
  • You believe
  • You become

Too many of the babies I teach (even though they are teenagers, they are still my babies) come from environments where they are one more mouth to feed (if they are fed at all), they don’t have anyone there to build their confidence and dare them to dream…so they become what they see the adults around them becoming…dependent on society or addiction to make it through life.

My students know that I am strict.  It doesn’t take them long to figure this out, let me tell you.  By the end of the year, though, I think (and pray) that they feel as though my room is a place where every single thing…every book…every lesson plan…every word I speak…is geared toward their success.

I pray that they feel as though they belong, no matter what their background…that they believe that they can set goals and achieve them…that they can rise above their circumstances to become anything they want to.

Out of the Blue

A couple of nights ago, I had just finished reading my assignment for the Bible study my small group is doing when my phone dinged, indicating I had an email.

I popped on over to my inbox and nearly deleted what I thought was spam.  I’d been getting quite a lot of it lately (I think my school’s email filter was broken).

Thank heavens I stopped myself after seeing a glimpse of the contents on the preview screen.

Here is the email, in full…

Note the smartly placed <3 to protect the innocent.  :)

The student who sent this email is the same precious young lady who penned the uplifting words you might remember reading in this post I wrote the last day of school.

As I read the email above, I started crying, so touched by her thoughtfulness.

I am well-entrenched in my summer routine, I’m not going to lie.

I am loving my lazy summer days that allow me to wake up when I want, pee whenever I need, and, in general, indulge my every whim.

It’s hard to imagine that I’ll be venturing back to my classroom in a few short weeks to begin preparing for my new batch of students.

My student’s email was a timely reminder of the reason why I teach.

In her own words (note that she uppercased the word READING, which she loathed to do last year), I impacted her life.

The wonderful thing about teaching is that I get to do this year after year, with countless students.

Her email energized me and gave me a renewed focus.

Instead of dreading August 1st, my self-imposed “Day to Begin Planning” (even though I won’t officially report to work for a couple of weeks after that), I find myself looking forward to it.

Oh, that’s not to say that I’m not going to enjoy the rest of July, but I’m fighting the pull to begin mapping out my first couple of weeks of school.  In fact, I saw the administrator in charge of Guidance on Thursday when I ran into school for something, and he jokingly said that he was sure I had the first semester planned out.  heehee

As teachers, our goal is to lead students to internalize their education…to take ownership of it and the ways they learn.  Usually, it’s years before they appreciate those who led them down this path.

For the above young lady who has touched my heart so deeply, this process has been accelerated.  She’s so mature…so self-aware…so conscious of what’s going on around her.

I am grateful for this sweet student, and I cannot wait to hug her neck and tell her thank you in person when the new year begins.


Two Words

Yesterday morning I was up bright and early.  I had to go in for the first of two days of teacher training.

As is my routine when I’m getting ready in the morning, I turned on the radio.  I have it set to Family Life Radio, a Christian radio station.

The morning show is done by Peter and Shannyn, and one of the topics that came up was Shannyn’s family reunion that she had attended the week before.

She shared the story of one member of her very large, extended family…members of whom had traveled to the U.S. from many remote locations.  The particular family member she talked about was a young man…I think she said he was around the age of nine.  He’s deaf and can hear only the slightest sounds with the help of hearing aids.

She said that when they gathered together for a moment, he touched the cross she was wearing on her necklace.  He, too, was wearing a cross, and he said two words while pointing to them…”Same heart.”

Shannyn explained that these were the only two words he spoke the entire weekend.

They were profound, and my eyes filled with tears as Shannyn ended her story.

When you have a relationship with the Lord…when you believe in His Son, Jesus Christ, you enter into a family where the conversation doesn’t have to be filled with many words.  In fact, the love we share for our Lord transcends all languages because it stems from one place…the heart.

It’s such a simple concept but one that packs a powerful punch.

We Christians have the same heart, and it doesn’t matter where we live, what language we speak, or what cultural differences we have.

In the end, we speak the language of God’s love.

I doubt I’ll ever forget this touching lesson.

The Plan

Hola Everyone!

Although I’ve been fairly quiet this summer, I know that I went on an even drier writing spell last week.  That’s because the Mr. and I went on vacation!  I’ll be posting more about that in days to come.

For tonight’s post, I thought I’d share a little plan that he and I have devised.

It all started a couple of weeks ago when we were eating out at Chilis.

We eat out often.  I just don’t cook much.  It’s in our budget, and it works well with our opposite eating styles.


We always eat in the bar area.  It’s first-come, first-serve seating in the booths and tables around the bar, and we like being able to watch the sports on the televisions in this area.

The last time we were there, we sat ourselves in a booth and began our regular conversation…”How was work, how many naps did you take today…”

Suddenly, we became aware of a conversation going on in the booth behind us.

We tried not to eavesdrop, but the ladies sitting there was very loud.

I’m just going to tell you that certain conversations belong in the privacy of a home…or some other private place.

I couldn’t help but feel badly for one of the girls who was obviously very upset as she described her breakup with a guy who had cheated on her.

The Mr. excused himself to go to the restroom.

That’s when I heard the upset girl say, “”I miss him being in my bed.”

Oh my goodness.

What a fine dining experience (rolling my eyes).

Tonight, we went back to Chilis and sat in a booth on the other side of the one in which the boyfriend-breakup venting had occurred.  I guess that must be a booth that is specially reserved for entertainment because it did not let us down.

Once again, the Mr. and I were engrossed in our own catching up when the conversation behind us crept in our awareness.

We heard it all, let me tell you…people going to liquor stores, more relationship problems, and gripes about a church not feeding, spiritually, the young lady despite her being very involved in the church and tithing (perhaps she needs to examine her personal relationship with the Lord????).  The woman then proceeded to give advice to a patron sitting behind her.  Yes, that really happened.

Oy vey!

All we wanted was to eat a dinner that someone else had prepared!  We really did try to mind our own business, but sometimes people are SO LOUD!!!!

We did chuckle and decided that we are going to concoct a great story, sit in one of those booths, and act it out for all to hear…just for comedic affect.

If you happen to be sitting behind us, we apologize in advance.

In Their Words – Part 6

This is the last of these posts…finally!!!!!

I do hope you’ve enjoyed looking at the books that inspired struggling readers.  I promise that if MY students liked them, ANYONE would like them.  Teachers in my department almost have to stand on our heads to cajole our kids to read.

The keys are personal enthusiasm from someone who can vouch, from experience, that a book is good, a great author, short chapters (practical but necessary), and encouragement to stick with a book, even during a boring chapter.

On to the projects!

This was a very short book and an easy read for my student…a gifted football player who was easily distracted by thoughts of college football. The fact that he finished this book and looked for more in this book series made me happy. I have a picture of him working, side-by-side with a young lady, on this project, truly engaged in what he was doing. I love this young man to bits and his amazingly supportive mama, and I cannot wait to see him in the NFL draft one day. I’m also going to be waiting for my shout-out, which he’s promised to give me. :)

This is still a popular series with some of my students!! They really enjoy comparing the books to the movies, and we have good discussions about which ones are better!

The third or fourth project I’ve posted for this book. It was so popular, and I enjoyed looking at the projects and the various ways that students interpreted the book!

This is another book that is popular with the young men I teach. I really want to read it too! The gentleman who completed this project HATED to read, bless his heart. He did enjoy this book though.

This series…so popular with my 6th/7th period block…all because of one young MAN who read the first one, talked about it so much, and got nearly all of the girls in that class to read the series. They talked about this series ALL THE TIME, and it even made it onto the original young guy’s Instagram feed. The kids love the drama of it, and it obviously appeals to young men and young ladies (a gal completed the project you see above).

When I see this project, I smile, BIG TIME. The young lady who made it took a lot of time with it. She had eclectic taste in books. Thank heavens I knew this from teaching her the previous year, for I tried to buy books that appealed to her preferences as well. This project makes me smile because I’ll never forget how hard this student worked on EVERYTHING I asked her to do in class.

Had to show you the bonus feature of this project. Because my student didn’t have enough space to include everything on the checklist I was using for grading, she came up with this ingenious way to add them…a flap!!!


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