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One Month Into School

We’ve been in school about a month now.  As is typical of the beginning of the year, it’s been hectic.  Setting up classroom routines and norms takes a lot of time and effort.

One of the things we did the first week was to create affirmations.  We did this activity after reading and discussing an article about brain gardening.  It was such a fabulous piece of text and helped us understand how our brains are physically affected by affirmations and “killer statements,” those things that stymie learning.

The day of our Open House, I finally got around to stapling the affirmations to a bulletin board.

I know the board is a bit of a hot mess.  If you’ve ever studied how boys learn, this sure isn’t the way (they need things framed in an organized manner).

However, I was in a bit of a hurry, and I wanted to get everyone’s statements posted.

Next year, I’ll probably have cutouts of flowers so students can write in the center of them for a more “garden-y” look.

Thank heavens there wasn’t a Bulletin Board 101 class in college.  I fear I would have failed.


Here’s what my guided reading table looked like a couple of hours before Open House.

I had decided to just stay at work when school ended so I could grade MAZE assessments.  Oy vey.  I worked for over two hours and didn’t even finish!


Skipping along a couple of weeks…

On Tuesday, I administered a Text Features summative assessment after spending two and a half weeks on this unit.  To review for the test, I found a Kahoot that was already created and edited it a bit to suit my needs.

I was so excited as students came into class that day because I knew how much fun they were about to have.

It was their first experience using my Chromebooks and their phones (for academic purposes) in my class.

They went crazy over the game; their competitive sides really came out.

They might have made a lot of noise.  Thank heavens for the concrete wall that separates my room from the computer lab next door.

We wound up playing the game again a couple of days later when students asked.  They said it was much better than a standard review.  Can you believe that some students still got some answers wrong on the game?!  It was one last chance to clear up some misunderstandings.

As you can see, we’ve been hard at work and playing a bit (hello Friday night football).

We’re off to a great start, and I couldn’t be happier.

Falling Back into the Hodgepodge

When last I posted, it was September 9th, and I was celebrating my anniversary.  This blogging thing…it’s so hard right now…hard to find the energy…hard to find the time…hard to find the desire when all I want to do is to stay unplugged on the evenings when I am not lesson planning.  I hope you’ll forgive me.  My heart is full of so many things, but moving the words out to my fingers just seems to be one thing I cannot do consistently right now.

Seasons of life…just like earth’s seasons…ever changing, eh?

Which brings us to this very fall-ish themed Hodgepodge.  Play along by answering on your own blog and linking up with Joyce.  Oh, and thanks for visiting!  <3

1.  What have you ‘fallen for’ recently?

I’ve recently fallen for the (Skinny!) Oatmeal Cookie Smoothie.

I’m following a lean eating plan put out by Beach Body, eating a reduced amount of calories each day and watching my portions closely.

I have never been a fan of smoothies, but this one is to die for.  It smells and tastes just like a cookie.  I leave out the honey and raisins and substitute soy milk for the almond milk to help me get enough calories (yes, I’m having a huge problem getting enough) and protein.  Oh, and I grind my oatmeal first (love, love, love my Ninja) and have recently started adding a tablespoon of chia seeds (grinded up with the oatmeal) for protein and fiber.

2.  What’s something you’re ‘squirreling away‘ for later?

With this eating plan, I feel like every day, I’m squirreling away portions for later.  I get nervous about using them up that I tend to save them for the end of the day, which is probably one reason why I’m not getting enough calories.

Sigh…this fitness thing is tough!

3.  How do you like your apples? Sweet? Tart? Crisp? Cooked? Apples are one of the superfoods for fall…how often do you eat an apple either plain or as part of a favorite recipe? What’s your favorite variety?

Lately, I like my apples sweet.  Hello Ambrosia apples!  Yum!  A must is that they are crisp.  Rooster and I spent all summer looking for the perfect apple.  Most were mushy.  It was discouraging.

I prefer to eat my apples in the simplest way possible…peeled and with a bit of natural peanut butter.  This has been my go-to mini-meal of late.

4.  According to Fodor’s the ten best fall foliage trips in the US of A are-Aspen Colorado, The Catskills New York, The Berkshires Massachusetts, Columbia River Gorge Oregon, Green Mountain Byway Vermont, Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway New Mexico, Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, Upper Peninsula Michigan, Lake of the Ozarks Missouri, and Glacier National Park Montana. Which would you most like to visit this fall and why?

I’m going to be honest here.  I don’t care to take any foliage trips.  While I enjoy nature, I don’t actively get out in it for such things as camping, hiking, or whatnot.  If I’m going to see the leaves change, I’d prefer that it be while living in Auburn, Alabama.  That’s my dream…to retire there soon.  Then, I’ll have the pleasure of watching my Tigers play while the leaves turn colors and fall.

5.  The topic of legalizing marijuana was raised in the most recent televised political debate so let’s wade in too. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia currently have laws legalizing marijuana in some form. Four states have legalize marijuana for recreational use. Your thoughts?

I think this is a terrible idea and more evidence of how far our country is sinking in its immoral laws.  First, we had the legalization of gay marriage; now it’s this.  I’m appalled.  I also find it ironic that the “leader” of this country (whatever) is greeting the Pope when he (not the Pope) is pushing for such immoral legislation.

Sorry to get on my soapbox, but I’m so disgusted.  I cannot wait for the next big election, and I pray that Conservatives will make their voices heart through their ballots.

6.  Are you okay to watch a movie already in progress or do you need to always see it from the beginning? How about jumping into a TV series somewhere in the middle? Is that okay? 

I don’t mind movies already in progress, but jumping into a TV series in the middle…oy vey!  One gets invested in the story line and characters.  How can one get into a series without starting from the beginning?

7.  Thursday (September 24) is National Punctuation Day. What rule of punctuation trips you up most often? What rule of punctuation, when broken by someone else, bugs you the most?

Oh, punctuation.  How you vex me vicariously through the high school students I teach.  I despise grammar mistakes.  Right now, my classes are working their way through capitalization rules.  I just graded a non-grammar test I gave yesterday.  It had short answer responses.  What did about half of my kiddos do?  They didn’t capitalize the first word of their sentences in their answers.  Sigh.  It’s like herding cats.

Honestly, most punctuation mistakes drive me nuts.

The one I struggle with often is when to use hyphens in words.  I’m forever looking things up to double-check.

8.  My Random Thought

Here’s a sneak peek of me…the second day of my third week of my new fitness regimen…

What am I doing?

I’m a quarter of the way through Beach Body’s Piyo program…

It’s very regimented.  I’ve been getting up earlier and working out before school.  I’ve got a calendar of which video to do on which day (there are more DVDs…more workouts that you don’t see on that screen above).

For the record, yesterday, I was finally able to do Burpees for the first time!  Yay!

I’m doing meal prep for long days…

It’s hard work.

Nothing worth having comes easily, eh?

I know one thing.  When I reach my personal goal, I’ll be especially proud of myself…especially because this sure as heck isn’t as easy as it might have been ten or fifteen years ago.

A Ray of Sunshine

Today was my 26th wedding anniversary.

I started off the day early, early, early with a workout, shower, and a careful selection of my wardrobe for work…

Yes, that is my redneck outfit, and yes, I am standing on a toilet, thank you very much.

Because I am cool like that.

Twenty-six years, and the Mr. hasn’t dumped me for a more refined woman.

God bless him.

Anniversaries should be considered national holidays or something (just staying married should be celebrated by everyone in these days and times of quickie divorces), and, as such, things should go perfectly on such special days.

However, I am Auburnchick, where what can go wrong will go wrong.

I got to work a few minutes late for a meeting that I’d totally forgotten about.


A mere few minutes after arriving, I was informed that I had a bit of a wardrobe issue…as in something that needed changing…before I interacted with children.


So, while another teacher watched my class, I drove home (thank goodness I live in Small Town, USA), changed my clothes, and headed back to school.

Oh, the transformation.  I went from Redneck Chic to Express store, professional chic.  The change gave me the opportunity to wear the new shirt I’d bought ON CLEARANCE during a flash sale a couple of weeks ago.  It paired well with my black skinny jeans.

Anyhoo, I was not a very happy camper, despite my rather fake smile in the picture above), having my morning thrown off like that.  I was also missing my sweet first period class and all of the plans I’d made.

Fortunately, when I walked in, they were doing EXACTLY what they were supposed to be doing…in their ASSIGNED seats.  In fact, the teacher next door didn’t hear a peep out of them for the first twenty minutes I was gone.

I gave them double Dojo points.  They earned it.

With those snafus, I was flustered, but I rallied.

Near the end of second period, one of the school’s secretaries delivered a box to my room.  During my planning, I opened it and discovered this beautiful flower arrangement, which the Mr. had thoughtfully ordered…

Sunflowers have always been my favorite.  They smelled heavenly and completely brightened up my room and my mood.

The day wound up going pretty well.

Despite feeling completely overwhelmed, still, and a step behind where I’d like to be at this point in the week, I am smiling.

I am so blessed to have a husband who has stuck by me through some difficult times.  We’re at a point in our lives where we are able to focus on each other more, let issues that once bothered us go by the wayside quicker, and plain old have fun, like young kids, together.

Happy Anniversary, hon!  Love you more than I say and more than you know.  <3

Unplanned Upgrade

Yesterday, I posted about my family’s trip to Universal Studios.

I thought I’d share about a little BIG mishap that occurred during that weekend.

After Chicky got to our hotel, we hopped on a bus to take us to the park.  I decided to check in with my social media sites during the ride, but alas, I made a sad discovery when I pulled my phone out of the crossover purse I always use on trips…

Ever since I purchased my iPhone 5s nearly two years ago, I’d kept it in a LifeProof case.

Have I dropped it a few times?  Of course.  The case had always worked perfectly, though.  That’s why I was super-confused about how the screen had cracked.  I had just used my phone in my hotel room while I waited for Chicky to arrive.

I was slightly devastated but, after discovering that the phone itself still worked, I decided to carry on and not let it spoil my weekend.

I love technology, so not brooding was a purposeful decision.

Still, I tried to figure out what I could do.  Although I had been paying for phone insurance, I knew my deductible would be about $200.  I was due for an upgrade in January, so the thought of paying so much money when I was going to purchase a new phone at that time just set wrong with me.

There really wasn’t anything I could do while I was out of town.

All I knew was that I could hardly see my screen, so I had to come up with a solution when I got home.

That Monday afternoon, I greeted the dogs when I got home and headed out to the Sprint store.  After grilling the rep endlessly about my options, I wound up ordering an iPhone 6 Plus, the model I’d had my eye on for months, and signed up for the iPhone for Life plan.

I’m not keen on “leasing” my phone.  Everything in me screams out that renting is NOT good; however, this is the way that most phone companies are going these days, so my hands were tied.

Three days later, a package arrived…

In face, quite a few packages arrived that evening (more on the other packages in a later post…if I ever get around to it).

I had ordered a Speck case and a Tech Armor screen protector from Amazon.  I really, really like the new case…

I’ve got a small issue with the screen protector; there is one small area around the Home button that didn’t adhere.  I’m working with the company to get a replacement.

Other than that, I’m loving the new phone…especially the 5.5″ screen.  I had backed up all of my apps, pictures, and other information in iTunes while I’d waited for the new phone to arrival.  This made setup of the 6 Plus so much easier.

I like that my battery is lasting a lot longer between charging.  My old phone had started shutting down at 40%…a big deal considering how much I’m away from home, either working at school or running errands.

I’ll admit that I don’t like it when my hand is forced; however, things wound up ending well, so I can’t complain too much.

Weekend of Fun

A week and a half ago, I did something I rarely do…

I took two days off of work – a Friday and a Monday.


Well, to play, of course!

The Mr.’s work schedule was chaotic this summer; coordinating a weekend trip around his and Rooster’s schedules proved un-doable.

Thus it was that we found ourselves at Universal Studios the second week of school.  We stayed at the Cabana Beach Resort, where the Mr. had reserved a family suite…tres beautiful.  <3

Chicky doesn’t live too far from Orlando, so she drove over and met us there Saturday morning…just in time to go to the parks!  We had tickets for both – Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios.

Oh goodness, but just seeing Chicky made me happy.  She was last in town in June for a friend’s wedding.  Our visit was somewhat short; she’s a homebody…as in her own home…because she’s all grown up now.  ;)

Watching my babies (cause they’ll always be my babies) walking together, conversing about who knows what, made my heart sing with joy.

The first day started out beautiful. We quickly got on The Hulk.  I wasn’t scared until we were seated.  I remembered doing well during Spring Break when the Mr. and I rode it, but I also remember feeling just a little bit queasy when it was over because of the final twist.

This time around, I was better prepared for the flips and turns and got off the ride smiling.

Our day turned, eventually, as the weather changed from being sunny to a dull overcast…typical Florida summer weather.  The rain drove us back to the hotel after dinner at the Cowfish (a great restaurant at CityWalk, if you’re ever at Universal).

That night, we were checking out the weather for the next day, and it was supposed to rain…like an 80% chance…EVERY.  SINGLE.  HOUR.

Well, I prayed mightily before I went to sleep, claiming God’s promise that we could move mountains if we had faith.  I asked that God would allow our little part of Orlando to be rain-free until we finished all of the rides we wanted to go on.  It’s so rare that all four of us can get together, that I wanted to eke out as much fun from the day as possible.

God was so faithful and answered my prayers!  The day started off a bit hazy, but the sky quickly cleared up.

We got into Harry Potter World early because we were staying at one of the park’s hotels.  Boy, did we take advantage of this extra time!  We quickly jumped on the Dueling Dragons ride.  We’d ridden it the day before, but because there are two different tracks, we got on the second one.  The Mr. wasn’t super thrilled; roller coasters are getting harder for him to ride.


What fun!

After that ride, we walked quickly back to the Rock It roller coaster, which we’d tried to ride the day before but couldn’t because it had gotten shut down with the inclement weather.

The Mr., who was going to pass on it the day before, got shamed into riding with us.  It was the main ride that Rooster wanted to go on.  As we waited in line, we discovered that rather than having an over-the-shoulder harness, the ride had a thick waist shield.

I’ll admit that I got a little freaked out.  This ride requires you to go straight up really high, so you’re looking up at the sky before you get to the top of a dropoff.  SCARY.  It flips and twists too!  We were so scared we’d fall out.

I sat beside Rooster, and Chicky and the Mr. sat behind us.

I screamed the first two drops but then began laughing hysterically when I thought I heard the Mr. screaming.  It was, in fact, the man in front of us.

Still, I found the ride exhilarating.

After we got off, we discovered that the ride had cameras in front of every seat, so we could watch ourselves as we were riding.




I wish I had bought the video of the Mr. and Chicky; the contrast in their faces was PRICELESS.  Chicky smiled and laughed the entire time.  The Mr.’s face was screwed up like he was enduring torture.  Hysterical stuff.

This was me after I finished…the ride behind me (see the arrows…you go up the left side of them…on your back)…

We managed to everything we wanted to do…the Minions ride…so much fun!!  The Mr. and I had waited for an hour and a half before it got shut down during our previous visit, so we were especially happy to finally get to ride it.

We visited Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley and indulged in beverages…

That was a creamy orange drink with cinnamon and brown sugar around the rim.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  I was licking my fingers for hours afterward.

One of the main things I wanted to do was go on the water rides.  We’d purchased ponchos because I had forgotten to bring mine after loaning them to my friend, Barb, a few months ago.  Thank goodness we had them because the water rides SOAK you through and through!  What fun though!  I highly recommend them if you ever visit Universal.

This was me after the Barges ride.

I didn’t really buy much in the way of souvenirs.  I did get this comic shirt though…so cute and so much fun to wear!

I liked it so much that I wore it to dinner that night.  I did a sneak-selfie as we walked to the Hard Rock Cafe at CityWalk…

Oh, and the rain that I asked God to keep at bay?  He answered!!!  It didn’t start raining until after we’d gotten off of the last ride we’d planned for the day.  Then, the bottom fell out of the sky…as we began making our way to the bus and, ultimately, our hotel.

Don’t ever NOT ask for something.  God does hear!

Chicky didn’t join us for dinner.  She had gone back home so she could teach the next day.  Her school was only starting its second week, so she didn’t want to take off time.

The food at the Hard Rock was divine…

I don’t remember what the guys ate; I had the veggie sandwich.  Rooster enjoyed the cheesecake while the Mr. and I inhaled its delicious aroma from afar.


What a fantastic weekend we had.  We created so many fun memories…even more precious now that my chicklets are grown and spending less and less time with us.

Learning to Rest

Gee whiz, but time flies so fast these days!!!  I can scarcely believe that it’s been nearly twenty-one days since my last post.  Good gravy!

When last I posted, the new school year was about to begin.  On Friday, we finished our third week.

Thus far, things are going swimmingly.  To say I was nervous would be an understatement.  Despite this being my sixth year, I still experienced anxiety in the days leading up to the 18th.

I am pleased to report that I am loving my classes.  God has turned what was, potentially, a nightmare of a schedule into one with hidden blessings.

I always enjoy my students; however, the mixture of them in various classes doesn’t always work well.  Personalities are that way, don’t you know.  This year, though, the kids are getting along better.

There have been a few issues, to be sure, but what can you expect when you’ve got between fifty and sixty hormonal teenagers crossing your threshold each day.  Still, considering all of that, things have gone well.

No matter how smoothly school goes, one thing doesn’t change.

The fatigue.

There’s a crap-ton of it.  I find myself bone-tired every day.

My students require a lot of hands-on assistance; putting papers into folders a certain way can take my students entire class periods.

I kid you not.

The first few weeks are all about teaching procedures and getting organized.  I thrive on both…so do my kiddos once they learn the way I like things.

I’m trying hard not to bring work other than lesson planning home with me; however, I cannot seem to get caught up.  That’s why I found myself, after the Auburn game yesterday, grading…

I read everything and leave comments all over the place.  I want each student to feel special.  Feedback and, more importantly, accountability, are very important…especially to my students…many of whom don’t experience much of either once they leave school each day.

It’s exhausting though.

Molly felt my pain yesterday…

It was my full intention to finish my grading today…Sunday…after church.

God had a special message for me, though, spoken through one of our youth pastors who preached our sermon today.

We’re currently going through a series that mimics school subjects.  Today’s topic was about Recess.

We were reminded about why God created the Sabbath…a day of rest.

Several things struck me as I listened.

First and foremost…God didn’t need to rest.

I don’t know why I’ve never considered that before.  I mean, He is God, after all.  He never grows weary.


I can be so slow sometimes.

God created the Sabbath to set a precedent for us.  We are to set aside (keep holy) the seventh day (without getting legalistic, which the Pharisees did).

I needed this reminder to keep my time at home as work-free as possible.  I started doing this last fall, and although I didn’t always get assignments graded the day after they were turned in, my students, surprisingly, understood and even empathized.  God worked everything out, as He always does.

I will admit that I’m struggling, though…the pull to get something constructive done is strong.  I already sent one email to my reading department…I just could not help myself.

As far as the rest of my day goes, I think I’ll cast on a new knitting project.  I’m not playing in my Harry Potter House Cup this term.  I stressed myself out this summer by committing to a lot of knitting-related projects and didn’t get to read as much as I wanted.  Getting to knit without extra pressure of points will be good for me (by the way, Hufflepuff won the Cup this summer…which I played a role in).

Resting on the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments.  My daily First5 Bible study is creating a renewal in my heart.  The more time I spend reading God’s Word, reflecting, and praying, the more I want to live out His commands.  He has been incredibly faithful in the tangible way He’s answering my prayers.  I know that He will honor my efforts as I fight my inner overachieving nature to serve Him more diligently.

Ready, Set, Teach!

This afternoon, I left my classroom around 3pm, ready to head home after a week of prep work.

Click to embiggen

The things I’d hidden away in June had been pulled out…the room reset.

Thanks to one of my school’s secretaries, my tables were located and needed only to be rearranged.  My favorite art teacher lent his muscle and helped me move the extra furniture out (see the before and after pictures below).

I’d loaded up my car with my much-beloved mini-fridge and boxes of notebooks and folders…an overflowing bag of novels balanced precariously on top…just another day at the office.

I’d created a poster for my door, following a template I’d first seen on Facebook and later printed from this website (found the markers at Joann’s Fabrics).

Although my teacher computer wouldn’t work the past two days, I didn’t let that stop me.

I rearranged books and created lesson plans.  I set up students in Remind 101, Plickers, ClassDojo, and my Smartboard response system.

I spent a lot of time with a couple of newbie teachers in my department, hired a scant few days ago.

They were stressing…majorly.  My heart went out to them.

Despite the numerous in-service meetings and endless to-do list, something strange has occurred.

I feel at peace.

I’m enjoying a calm that has eluded me the night before the first day of school in all of my previous years of teaching.

I don’t know most of the students who will enter my room tomorrow.  I have only talked with one, actually, and that was because he was good friends with a student I taught last year.

I’ll have over fifty new names and faces to memorize.

I remain serene.

I talked about this to Cinda, my friend and mentor.  She happened to call me early this afternoon while I was still at school.

She expressed pleasure at how far she’s seen me travel the past four years that she’s known me.  Though I expressed trepidation at teaching an ESE class this year, she allayed my fears and told me that I possessed the skills to teach these students…that she’d witnessed how I created relationships with children…how my classroom management provided much-needed structure and consistency.

And so I’ll head to bed after spending time in God’s Word.

I’ll thank Him for the confidence that the past five years has provided.

I’ll ask for His nudging when it’s time to wake up…I’ve set three alarms just to be sure.

I’ll read my First 5 devotion before I get out of bed, and I’ll spend time in prayer.

Then, I’ll greet my day, genuinely excited…eager to greet a new group of 9th grade homeroom students (my 12th grade homeroom kiddos graduated this past May after we spent four years together).

Ready or not, here I come…jumping eagerly into my sixth year of teaching.



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