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Just Don’t Do It

I am utterly disgusted.

If you’ve seen TV or read social media in the past two days, this might look familiar:

I rarely post about political things, although you’d have to be pretty dense to not guess about my leanings towards various hot topics.

The above, though, makes me sick to my stomach.

I am appalled that a company like Nike would create this horrible advertisement.

The above person and the ‘movement” he started caused me to boycott NFL football.

That’s big.

I love football.  I spent much of my childhood holed up in my room on Sunday afternoons watching the Broncos duke it out with the 49’ers.

I just can’t anymore.

The words in the ad itself are so hypocritical that I can’t even read them without seeing red.

And white.

And blue.

As in the flag that REAL heroes sacrifice their lives for every single day.

An athlete does not do this.

Especially an athlete who refuses to pay homage to a symbol that represents said person’s freedom to play a sport that he may (or in this case isn’t) gifted with.

This advertisement offends me on so many levels.

First of all, I am a consumer of athletic apparel.  I may not be a professional, but I am an athlete nonetheless.  I live in workout shorts, tops, and other such things all of the summer and when I’m not working during the school year.

Of course, I did switch to Asics shoes after my physical therapist told me that Nike shoes were crap.  He didn’t know it then, but he was on to something.

Second, I am a naturalized American citizen.  I take this very seriously and consider it a great honor to live in this incredible country.  Is it perfect?  Heck no.  I despise politics and even turned off my answering machine because I deplore the messages being left on it by so-called “candidates.”  Despite that, I would never disrespect it by doing what the above-photoed person does when in the presence of such an iconic symbol.

Call me judgemental.  I don’t care.

Last, but most importantly, I am the proud mom of a service member.  He serves our country alongside thousands of others to secure the freedom we enjoy in this country and to promote peace around the world.

The above-photographed person knows NOTHING of sacrifice.

Nothing.

Leaving your family to play in an “away” game doesn’t count.

Those serving are away from their families for months and years.

Pulling a muscle or, dare I say, tearing a ligament – well, these are minor compared to the devastating injuries that our men and women in uniform suffer from.

Some people pay the ultimate price, but it’s certainly not a loss of playing time on AstroTurf.

Our brave men and women in uniform believe in something, alright.

It’s called country before self.

They give up everything.

That’s the real definition of sacrifice.

 

The Cure for Insomnia

If you suffer from insomnia, I have the cure.

It’s called teaching.

I promise you that you’ll be sleeping like a baby after Day 1.

I have always been a person who falls asleep easily; however, I started having problems this summer after I hurt my back and then, later, hit my head.

My woes ended the first day of school, though, because I hit the ground running and have hardly stopped.

I spent the first week and a half teaching my students my classroom procedures and setting expectations.

Buy-in is extremely important for my reading students, so I explained about testing options and the required concordant scores to test out.

My students are Juniors who have never taken the SAT or the ACT, so they had no idea what these score reports looked like.  I believe that it’s important to put kids in the drivers seats of their learning, so I showed them (and gave them copies).

I also had my students reflect on the spring test they took.  This is a form I created a few years ago.

Now, even though the first week was only three days long, this girl was beat!  I dressed down that Friday morning with the evening’s football game in mind.

Isn’t that shirt just the best?  I’d seen an ad for it during the summer and had ordered it right away.  I’d set it aside when it arrived in the mail, knowing that I’d wear it the first Friday of the school year.

The first game of the year was something special.  Our football stadium had been under construction for over a year, and we had the honor of hosting the first football match against a city rival.

I was a bit miffed that teachers were no longer allowed to stand on the track, close to our peeps, but my friend, Leanne, let me sit in the seats her hubby had paid for (teachers don’t pay, but these were reserved seats).  The view was incredible, as was the company.

This was the most moving part of the entire night.  I always think of my Rooster and his service to this country when the National Anthem is played.

My school beat the other school.  It was fun to hear the names of the football players making tackles or scoring touchdowns.  I still didn’t know their names by heart, so I sat with my class rosters pulled up on my phone, cross-checking names.  Ha!

I met friends for some post-game celebrating and then headed to home and to bed.

I think I’ll stop this post right here because y’all, it’s after 8pm on a Tuesday, and your girl is freakishly tired.

I still have so much to catch up on.  I’ll get there.  Eventually.  Just like always.

But seriously, if you need any help with your sleep, give me a ring.  There are lots of job vacancies in these here parts.  We’ll entice you with our beautiful beaches, great coworkers like Your’s Truly, and a never-ending stream of restful nights.

18 Strong

Thirty years ago, a group of eighteen bright-eyed, bushy-tailed young people donned caps and gowns and spread our wings, ready to take on the world.

Some of us flew to far off lands:  Miami, Hawaii, and North Carolina.  Others stayed closer to home, the allure of small-town living anchoring them firmly in place.

We’ve lived a lot of life during the past three decades.  We’ve gotten married, raised families, crafted careers, loved on grand babies, and even, for a lucky one or two, retired.

We’ve had a lot of personal ups and downs.  Many of us have lost mothers and fathers – parents who not only raised us but were integral to every other classmate’s upbringing.  When you hail from a small town, everyone knows everyone, and you’re always at someone else’s house being fed and loved on.

We’ve watched, from afar, as classmates have faced challenges:  physical, emotional, and relational.  It’s par for the course in life.

Despite the changes we’ve faced as we’ve gotten older, one thing has stayed the same – our love for one another.

I think I can speak for every one of my classmates when I say that this love has been especially meaningful this past week as we received the sad, sad news that we had lost one of our own.

Our friend, Angela, went to be with Jesus early Tuesday morning.

She fought her battle with cancer bravely and with one of the most positive attitudes imaginable – a testament to the kind of person she was.

Our hearts are devastated, and the sense of loss is keen.

Even though I had not seen Angela since we graduated, my heart is tender as memories of our time together have been rushing to the surface of my mind.

I moved to our small town in April of my 4th grade year, went to school in a bigger town the next year, and then started at our private school in the 6th grade.

By then, nearly everyone in the class had been together since kindergarten.  Angela’s mom, Ms. Dolly, was THE kindergarten teacher in the town.  It was a tight-knit group.

As I began learning the ways of small-town schooling, I quickly noticed how sweet Angela was.  She was tiny, with long brown hair that she always wore in a side ponytail, and a soft voice.

She was a busy girl with dance lessons and cheerleading practice.  Her partner was the tallest gal in our class, Beth.

In the days leading up to Christmas, the girls gave gifts to one another.  This was something new to me.  We never did this in the schools I attended before.

Angela was artsy.  She could draw anything, and her writing was beautiful.  I still have the plate she made for me that first or second year.

I’ve moved a LOT over the last thirty years; this plate has traveled with me everywhere.  In fact, I wouldn’t even let my kids eat on it when they lived at home because I didn’t want it to get messed up.

It is a link to my past – maybe silly to some people but important to me nonetheless.

Because Angela lived in a small town ten minutes away from my small town, I didn’t see her much in the non-school hours.  I do, however, remember the day she invited me to attend an Auburn basketball game.  Her dad was taking her, and she wanted a friend to go with her.  I think either her brother or sister was a student there at the time.  It was the first time I’d been invited to an event like that, and I remember how excited I was.  We had wonderful seats – low and at one end near the basketball goal.  It was a magical afternoon.

True to form, we both changed as we grew into our adolescent skins.  I remember the August she came back to school with acrylic nails, short hair, and MAKEUP.  Y’all, this girl had grown up over the summer, and it took some getting used to!  Back in the day, nobody wore acrylic nails.  One thing I learned is that changing how you look on the outside doesn’t mean that you’re a different person on the inside.  That was Angela.

10th or 11th Grade Prom

I don’t remember a lot of specific interactions with her our last couple of years in school.  I know that sounds awful, but y’all, this gal is getting older and time has a way of smudging the edges of memories.

I do, however, vividly recall one evening when we went to an under-18 club.  I drove, we partied, cleanly of course, and then headed home.  South Alabama is really just a network of two-lane country roads with the occasional highway thrown in for good measure.

I got lost and, having absolutely no sense of direction and essentially no street lights to guide me, crossed over one of these highways (four solid lanes) without even pausing at the stop sign that I never saw.

God was watching out for us that night, let me tell you, because that highway was devoid of cars at that moment in time.  We didn’t realize what had happened until I turned around to go back and then saw the sign.  It was scary, to say the least, but Angela laughed it off.  I’m not sure if she ever rode anywhere with me again, though.

Ahem.

I lost track of her after graduation, but others in the class were good about keeping me posted on some of the happenings in her life.  Some were quite devastating, while others were incredibly uplifting.

Last fall, our little group got together; Angela had come to town, so they gathered at a favorite restaurant from back in the day.

I wish I’d been able to attend, because the pictures show what a wonderful time everyone had.

You’d never know that this sweet girl lost her precious mama the summer before and that she, herself, was fighting a terrible illness.

Just look at Angela’s smile in each photo.  I can look back through old yearbooks and see the same expression in every picture.

I’m the only girl missing from the group photo below.

I saw a picture that someone posted a few days ago.  It showed Angela in a hospital bed, hair done up in French braids, bright smile on her face despite the medical equipment around her.  She was radiant.

My heart is hurting as I type this, the knowledge that her husband, young daughter, and other family and friends are saying their final see you laters to her during this afternoon’s funeral.

Though she is no longer in pain and has been reunited with others who have passed on before her, it’s still hard.

Her loss is sobering.

It is a reminder of how precious friendships are, no matter the years that pass.

The day after Angela passed away, we learned that our former math teacher had also entered heaven.  Ms. Lyon was 100 years old; she’d retired the year we graduated.

Our little group has been chatting via Facebook Messenger, and the sweet memories we have been sharing over the last few days have been priceless.

I remember being eighteen and so ready to get out of Dodge.

Our chats have made me wistful for days gone by, and I wish I could tell my younger self to not be in such a hurry to leave.

As I have watched the interactions between my own students this week – especially the spirited (ahem) ones, I have been taken back to a simpler time, when my biggest worry was wondering which word parts Ms. Warr was going to ask for on her notorious vocabulary tests or if I was going to use the correct formula on Ms. Marilyn’s chemistry exams.

I remember the days of Christy dragging me around as I held onto a mop (oh the stupidity of youth), Toby coming up with the craziest antics, and the girls literally helping the boys pass English every year.

Every Friday night when I attend my own school’s football games, I am invigorated by the sounds of the cheerleaders, the roars of the crowd, and the pounding of cleats as they rush down the field.  Our boys could play some football, let me tell you.

It’s sensory overload, but it’s the good kind – the type that sends me back to when we were 18 strong.

We played hard, we fought fiercely, but ultimately we loved deeply.

We will always feel like a piece of our hearts is missing.  I am thankful that we have the assurance of heaven – that we will get to see our sweet Angela again one day – that we will one day catch up on our lives from all of the years spent apart.

Rest up, precious Angela, for a grand reunion will greet you one day when the Class of ’88 becomes eighteen once again.

Year 9, Day 1

Yesterday was the first day of my ninth year of teaching.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself because it’s so hard to believe that so much time as passed since my first year.

I woke up before my alarm – typical for the first day because I always fret about oversleeping.

I made myself roll back over, though, and only hit the snooze one time before crawling out of bed.

I had miles to put in.

Yep.  Isn’t that the creepiest photo?   Here’s an even creepier one.

Ha!

The sun was barely coming up when I finished.  I snapped this beautiful photo of the pond across from my house as I made the final loop . . .

I was pleased with my distance.

I showered, carefully applied makeup, and dressed in the clothes I’d semi-agonized over the evening before.  First impressions are always important, even when your clientele is a group of teenagers.

Yes, I am wearing wedges.  I’d been wanting to give this another try since they had not graced my feet in almost two years, before I broke my ankle.  Gianni Bini and first days of school go along marvelously, don’t you think?

I packed a pair of Vionic sandals just in case my feet gave out, which they did around lunch time.

I was pleasantly surprised when I entered my classroom . . .

Notice anything?

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Y’all, the cleaning crew had set up the chairs around my tables!  I always leave them stacked in groups of five to make it easier to sweep and mop my floors.  I have NEVER had a crew set up my room this way.  My room was so inviting!

I was a little nervous, as I always am.  Timing is a huge issue with me the first couple of weeks of school; getting back in the rhythm of the bells and planning each day’s workload can be challenging.

One of our art teachers sent out an email inviting anyone who wanted to go to his room for a pre-school prayer to join.  I did, and those of us gathered there held hands in a circle while he prayed.

It was wonderful – the absolutely perfect start to our school year.  I’m so fortunate to work with selfless educators.

I was also a bit anxious about how my newer and stricter cell phone policy would be received.

I had labeled every seat with numbers and had assigned those numbers to my roster of students.  Everything was done alphabetically and numerically to keep things easy for all of us.  As students walked into my room, I asked them to check the board, where I had the rosters and numbers listed, put their cell phones in the corresponding pocket numbers, and sit at the same seat number.

It was a beautiful thing to behold.

For the most part, the policy was well received, and I barely heard any complaints.  A couple of my classes had about half of the kids who put their phones up . . . until I told them that I’d be taking attendance based on the cell phones present in the pockets.

You better believe that those kiddos got up really fast and placed their phones in their appropriate spots.  Nobody wanted a phone call home that they had missed my class.

I did have a few kids here and there who either had not taken their phones to school or plain old didn’t have one because their phones were broken.  Hmmm.

Now, I am not dumb enough to think that some people might have been lying, but the cell phone policy I’ll go over with them today will explain, in detail, the consequences for being caught with phones during non-approved times.

This is the first year that I’ve been this strict.  I think that a few other teachers are doing something similar, so the consistency should help.

The morning flew by; my classes were angels.

I’m hoping that this wasn’t the honeymoon phase.

But seriously, my first period class is the smallest.  They were either still half asleep or their personalities just messhed well together because they were a true delight.

My bellwork was fun.

I wanted to do a different kind of icebreaker.  When students finished writing their responses, I did a stand up, hand up, pair up activity.  This is what took the MOST time and threw my schedule off.  Kids have to be taught EVERYTHING.  I put music on to get them moving around the classroom – 60’s music.  So much fun!  Then, I taught them guidelines for being good listeners and good speakers.  Everyone got a turn to share with their partners, and we shared out a few answers as a group.

Good times, y’all.

I have fourth period planning this year which runs into both lunches, so I’ve got an extra long time strung together.  I am not complaining at all.  Someone could market time and make out like a bandit!  I was able to eat leftover Mexican Quinoa Stew, which I’d made the afternoon before, and indulged in a homemade cupcake.

Lunch was interesting.  I got caught in a downpour as I made my way from one building to another.  The gutters around our school are horrible.  Water comes down between them, so you’re essentially walking through waterfalls when you go from one section of awnings to another.  I begged my principal for a ride in the golf cart, which has a roof.  I mean, this girl had straightened her hair for school.  I’d gone all out.

He handed me an umbrella instead.

Chivalry anyone?

Ahem.

Gianni Bini got wet, so I slipped into my sandals (my feet were thanking me), and I proceeded to teach my afternoon classes.

Night and day, y’all.

I think we should just do morning school and be done with our day.  Kids cannot function after lunch.  They just can’t.

One of my classes was quite spirited.  I suspect that they will be my challenge class this year.  The kids have some big personalities that I’ll have to tame.

Fortunately, my last class of the day, and also the largest class, was the sweetest group of kiddos.  I’m praying they stay this way so we can all end the day a bit quieter and calmer.

I stayed a little later after the final bell rang because who in the world really has their act together that first day?

That’s about right, y’all.

Honestly, though, I think the day went very well.  I am nervous about the lesson planning involved with my English 3 class (I have two sections this year), but I felt as though I exuded confidence in my reading classes.  I have kiddos who do not want to be in reading, but I think that as we proceed and trust grows between us (teacher and student), all will be well.

Requiem to Summer

Dear Summer,

Oh, how I miss thee already.

I miss sleeping in until 9am, staying in bed another hour, and slowly sliding out of my bed, no plan in mind and no lesson planning on the agenda.

I miss not being in a hurry because I don’t have anywhere to be.  I think the dogs will miss this too.

I miss working out at 11 or 12 instead of 4:30am.

It was a lot easier to see what I was doing without sleep clogging my eyes.

I miss no-makeup, messy-hair-bun, maybe-I’ll-shower, in-my-pajamas-by-4 days when the desire to apologize to the public at large, if I chose to go out amongst people, waned the further into vacation I got.

I miss lazy afternoons by the pool, or rather in the pool, and hours upon hours of leisure reading.

I miss Netflix binges until midnight and knitting to my heart’s content.

I miss being able to go to the bathroom whenever I want and however many times I need to.

I miss afternoon siestas – sometimes two if the need arose – because teaching is tiring business that requires months of vacation to recuperate from.

I miss afternoons spent in the kitchen, baking up all of the goodies that struck my fancy on Instagram.

I miss being able to put two complete thoughts together because my brain isn’t being pulled in a bazillion directions.

As I start my ninth year of teaching, leaving summer behind doesn’t get easier – the parting still brings sorrow to my heart.

BUT . . .

New batches of teenagers await my reading expertise and mama love.

They don’t know it yet, but they will thrive on the routines that make my classroom run like a well-oiled machine (if the stars align), not to mention the high standards to which they will be held.

I’ll spy pictures on my camera roll – reminders of warm, carefree days, and I’ll get wistful – especially when my nerves are fraught by the child who has asked, for the upteenth time, if the assignment we are working on is formative or summative (they’re all going to be summative by that point).

There will be days when I am so invigorated by my students’ aha moments that I almost forget about you (not quite though).

SO . . .

Though we must part for now, it is only temporary.

But who’s counting.

In the meantime, I’ll be doing what God has called me to do . . . bridge the gap between His littles and the big world that’s waiting for them after high school.

Weekend Miscellany

Miscellany – yes, that’s a word.  I looked it up just to be sure.

Let’s talk about random things from the weekend.

Saturday

I got in my walk and did #somuchgood

Here’s the photo without the Charity Miles info . . . because Gambit is so cute.

I received a package in the mail . . .

Megan showed hers off during our meeting last Thursday, and I think two or three of us ordered one on the spot.  I’ll let you know how it works!  I’m hopeful because being able to stand in proximity to some of my more spirited students, as opposed to standing in front of the board, will take my classroom management skills up a few notches!

I spent most of the day reading and finished this book . . .

It was excellent!  I gave it four stars on Goodreads.  The author has another book coming out in January.  I’ll probably pre-order it.

Sunday

I slept in, opting to skip church because of the loud music and my head. The dogs were not amused because they were waiting for breakfast.

After they ate, I went for a walk.  Then, I did some laminating.

For some reason, I was really tired, so I slept for an hour.  Unfortunately, I woke up to find a migraine brewing.

I also had a craving for a cherry slushy, so I loaded up the boys and took them along for the ride.

Aren’t their faces priceless?

Despite taking a pain pill, which I had been able to avoid the past few days, the headache lingered.

I decided to do some baking.  I used the same recipe as last week, but this time, I topped them with chocolate frosting, a suggestion from the recipe writer (she kindly responded to the question I asked on her Instagram post).

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The frosting is amazing!  It tastes like the kind I’ve always bought at the store.

The Mr. had been at work all day, not his usual schedule but that’s how it goes.  When he got home, he saw that I wasn’t feeling well and kindly ate leftovers.  Bless him.

Meanwhile, I wound up a skein of yarn for a new project.

Weekends sure do fly by, even when you’re not doing a whole lot.

Friday Fun Day

Since I made the copies I needed on Thursday, I didn’t need to go into school on Friday.  Truth be told, I don’t have a key to the building I work in, and my school district only works four-day weeks during the summer, so the building was locked up and secured with an alarm, so there’s that.

I wound up sleeping in, which resulted in not getting out to walk until ten.

The heat was bad, but I didn’t let that stop me from getting the job done.

After that, I headed out to take care of a few things.  I spent quite a bit of time at Walmart.  I have a football player I provide goody bags for during the season, and since our first game is on the 17th, I wanted to get some stuff for him.

This is the list he made me last year . . .

I’d left it at home, but since it’s my third year as his football mama, I think I did good operating from memory.

That will last me the entire season, I think.  I still need to buy his Gatorade and fruit.

Later, I checked the mail and found this . . .

I am such a fangirl!!

When I was setting up the books in my classroom, I noticed that the first in this series had not turned up.  Someone walked out with it without checking it out on the form I have.  Ugh.  I’d ordered a replacement for it and plan to book talk it the second week of school.

I really can’t remember the rest of the day.  I think I tried to nap but couldn’t.  I must have been on my feet awhile because by the end of the day, the knot on my right foot was not looking good.

I’m researching non-surgical treatments for bunions.  The thought of surgery and being off of my feet for months is not appealing.

I definitely enjoyed my last Friday off before the crazy ensues!

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