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Manic Monday

Manic Monday – It’s not just a moniker.  It’s a real thing, y’all.

Especially when you’ve played all weekend.

Ahem.

As you know, I’ve been walking before school each day.  Yesterday, the first thing I noticed was how full and bright the moon was . . .

Isn’t that incredible?  I hardly needed my flashlight.

For the first time in a couple of weeks, I was able to do walk/run intervals with an overall pace of 12:26.

Of course, I ran a few minutes behind because I had freshly-washed hair to straighten, a protein shake to make, and a lunch to prep.

Sigh.

It was crazy from the moment I stepped into my classroom.  No rest for the weary, y’all.

Still, crazy makes the day go by faster sometimes, and before I knew it, I’d cajoled / non-sympathized / encouraged a bunch of less-than-thrilled, over-tired teenagers into working on (or wasting time pretending) the essays I’d assigned.  What the heck was I thinking with this unit.  Oh yeah.  I was thinking that they still needed to learn something.  Yeah.  That’s it.  😉

As much as I wanted to go straight home after work, the Mr. had left me with no gas in the car after our two trips to the beach last weekend, so off to Sam’s Club I went, where apparently nobody else had filled up over the weekend either.

Then, it was homeward bound for a grueling, hour-long workout.

It was Day 8 of the new Beachbody program I started, 80 Day Obsession.

The workout was tough, let me tell you, but I hung in there and completed all of the reps.

Go me.

Then, it was time to pay the piper.  My lack of prep work over the weekend finally caught up to me, and I spent a couple of hours getting my lunches and snacks ready for the next four days.

I am loving those sectioned containers.  I bought them on Amazon.

Of course, then I had to make dinner.  I’ve been eating Tofu Scramble since I started the new workout program.  It hits the spot.

Then, I got food ready for the Mr. – fruit and tuna salad.  We ran out of cooking oil, so I couldn’t make him dinner.  He ran out and got something.

But then with all of the prepping, there were dishes to wash.

Sigh.

I finally sat down around 8, and my watch let me know just how busy I’d been . . .

I usually live life in the slow lane.  I like it this way.  I need it this way.  This being busy thing is sort of for the birds.

How many days until summer break?

Vitamin Sea Therapy

Weekends in Florida during the spring.

They are simply the best – especially when you have a demanding job like mine.

The Mr. and I had been waiting for a warm, rain-free day, and we finally got it on Saturday.

We loaded up the car and headed out . . .

How fancy are we?

It didn’t take us long to get set up ,and all I can say is oh my happy.  I was exactly where I needed to be.

It was a fairly windy day, and our tent blew over around 3.  By 4, we were ready to go.  The temperature had dropped a little, but the wind made it feel even cooler.

We had planned on going to the pool on Sunday; however, there was an issue with the water (city problem), so we had to come up with something else.  The weather, surprisingly, was cooperating with us a second day in a row.  I told the Mr. and that I couldn’t spend the day inside.

After coming home from church, we got ourselves ready and headed out for round two.

Snacks had been packed; a quick trip to Publix for ice followed.  I waited for the hubby in the car . . .

My friend, Megan, met us out there, and we just could not have asked for a more perfect day.

Well, okay, maybe if the water had not been filled with seaweed, it would have been perfect, but it was close enough for me.

As of tonight, we have five more Mondays until summer vacation – when Sundays won’t be sad, and I can be even more relaxed when I go to the beach.

Heeding the Call of the Hodgepodge

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How awesome is it that it’s Wednesday already?  As a person who tries to look at the glass as half-full, I’m happy that Friday is only two days away.  Ha!  I’m loving Joyce’s questions this week – so much fun!  Play along by answering your own and linking up here.  Oh, and thanks for visiting my humble corner of the world!

1.  They say you learn something new every day. What did you learn yesterday?

I’m always learning something new from my students.  Yesterday, while discussing how to organize information for an essay we are writing, one of my students told me that he’d had an elementary teacher who had taught him to use a web (cluster) to organize narrative writing and an outline for informational writing.  I was a little dumbfounded because I’d never heard of that.  I asked him a few questions and learned that since narrative writing is more visual in nature, the planning of it, with the web, meshes well since it’s a visual planning too.

Oh yeah.  My mind was blown.  I’m still processing this.

2.  Have you ever had a now or never moment? Elaborate.

This is a tough and philosophical question.  When I think of now or never, it sounds like a person has an ultimate decision to make about something and the person can’t go back and make a different decision.  Am I overthinking this?  Probably.

With that said, I think that some decisions can feel like now or never moments.  For instance, when I had my second ankle surgery to remove the hardware that had been used to put my ankle back together after I broke it, I had a moment when I felt like it was now or never.  It was kind of an elective surgery that was kind of necessary to help me progress to the next stage of recovery.  I remember taking a deep breath as I was wheeled in, knowing that many people live with the hardware forever.  I also felt that if I didn’t go ahead and do it, I’d never get around to it.

Another example is that I’ve been considering getting a tattoo (or two), but I haven’t quite said yes in my brain.  If I do make this step, I’ll definitely have the now or never feeling.

3.  April 25th is National Telephone Day. Do you still have a land line or have you gone mobile only? When you receive a text message do you respond immediately? Last time you turned your phone off?  In two or three sentences share with us a story/memory/incident from your childhood (or something current if that’s too hard) where the telephone is featured.

I do still have a landline thanks to the Mr.’s job, which requires it.  When he retires, we will go mobile only to save some money, although I suspect that my landline is part of my cable package, so there’s that.

I am a person who responds to text messages immediately.  I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by doing otherwise.

The last time I turned off my phone was probably a week or two but only because I needed to update it.

As far as phone memories . . . I remember that I stayed on the phone all night years ago while talking to my boyfriend (he’s now my hubby).  I had watched one of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies and was petrified of going to sleep.  He talked me through the dark hours of the evening until I dozed off at twilight.  I don’t do scary movies, y’all!

4.  Close call, at someone’s beck and call, call the shots, call a meeting, call it quits, call in sick, call on the carpet, wake up call…which call have you ‘heard’ recently? Explain.

I’d say that I’m constantly at someone’s beck and call right now since there are still four and half weeks until the end of the year, but who’s counting.  The kids keep me on my toes, let me tell you, and that’s saying something considering that I teach teenagers.  They are in the process of writing an essay, and I promise you that they are asking a bajillion and one questions.  I feel like a mother of multiple children who are constantly calling, “Mama, Mama, Mama.”  All they really want is for me to write their essays for them.  Ha!

5.  What subject do you wish you’d paid more attention to in school?

I wish I had paid more attention in math.  I struggled so much with this subject, but as an adult, I wish I hadn’t let it beat me.  I wish I’d been more interested so that maybe I could have done better on the math part of my ACT.

6.  My Random Thought

The weather around these parts is slowly starting to warm up.  It’s still being a tad fickle, but I’ll take the warm, sunny days when I can get them.  Last Saturday night, the Mr. and I drove to the bridge to attend a wedding reception.  The couple had rented a house on the beach, and the view was incredible.

I’m a sucker for sunset beach photos.  The light, as it makes it way through the clouds is always awe-inspiring.

I don’t know how people can not believe in God when you see such handiwork.  Folks, this doesn’t happen by chance.

The Boy He Was

Last week, a friend from high school passed away.

Although it wasn’t completely unexpected, the news still shook me when I received word during dinner.

I had watched Chuck battle cancer from afar, through Facebook posts his wife wrote and tagged him in.

As I processed the fact that he was gone, my mind began to sift through memories.

Despite all of the negative press that Facebook has received the past few weeks, I am grateful for the platform that has allowed me to connect with so many friends from my childhood, including Chuck.

When we first became “friends” on Facebook, he and I “chatted” for a short while, catching each other up on the past twenty-plus years.

He had been a gifted athlete in high school – point guard for our basketball team and quarterback for the football team.  If I’m not mistaken, he also played baseball.  When you go to a small school, kids play every sport available to them.

He had gone to college after high school and ultimately fulfilled his dream of becoming a doctor.  He’d always been one of the smartest kids I’d ever known in school – the person who made academics look easy.

As I read tributes that people posted after Chuck’s passing, I wondered about what it was that would define how I would remember him.

Over and over again, my mind kept going back to a long conversation we had when I was probably a senior.  He was a year behind.  It must have been lunchtime, because I know that I wouldn’t have skipped a class.

Our high school was housed in a large, almost plantation-like house that had a gym and lunchroom built on.  It had two sets of wooden stairs on opposite sides of the main hallway.  We sat on one set of stairs . . . not the one leading up to the girls’ restroom.

It was there that he poured out his heart to me about a person he cared a lot about.  What I remember about that conversation was his sincerity and humbleness, often rare things given teenage flightiness.  I don’t know how Chuck was around other people, but I remember him being tenderhearted and all-or-nothing.

So now, when I read of how many people’s lives he touched, as a doctor and a friend, I think back to when I knew him as a boy, and I nod my head and think to myself, yeah, that doesn’t surprise me one little bit.  It’s who he was from the beginning.

Even though I’ve seen pictures of Chuck with his white doctor coat, looking all grown up, as a man in his forties should, I’ll always remember him as a boy, sitting on those steps deep in conversation or dribbling a ball down the court to the applause of those watching.

Buckets of Fun With the Hodgepodge

Look at me . . . two weeks in a row of participating in Joyce’s Hodgepodge.  Can I get a round of applause?  Ha!  Thanks for visiting today!  If you’ve never done this before, grab the questions from Joyce, link up there, and make a few new friends!

1.  Three things on your spring bucket list? If you don’t have an actual list that’s fine, pretend you do.

Spring, where art thou?  It’s been a weird one so far with hot and then cold temperatures.  Oh well, that’s not going to stop me from adding my first trip to the beach this season as item number one on the list (not a true bucket list item, I know, but can we just go with it?).

Number two:  Increasing my run intervals.  Ankle recovery is in year two, and it’s still a process, let me tell you.

Number three:  Getting abs like Autumn Calabrese.  I’m going to be starting a new Beachbody program, 80 Day Obsession, soon, and although I know it’s going to take 80 x 15 days to maybe start to see one can of a six pack set of abs, a girl can always dream, right?

2.  Where do you find rest? What restores your soul? When was the last time you did whatever it was you answered here?

Where, as in literal where or figurative?  Hmmm.  I literally find rest in my recliner at the end of each day.  I figuratively find it in the quiet hours between getting off of work and the Mr. getting home.  Empty nesting provides a lot of time for rest, and I do not keep a busy schedule, homebody that I am.

What restores my soul is time at the beach.  I find it very restorative to just lay there, listen to the surf and birds, and just be.

I last went to the beach a year ago when Chicky came to visit.  The Mr. was still too sick to go, so I didn’t get back there during the summer with my bum ankle and all.  We are planning on going a lot this year though.

3.  April is National Celery Month. Who knew? Do you like celery? What’s your favorite dish made with celery? On a veggie and dip platter which would you reach for first-carrot sticks, celery sticks, cucumbers or cherry tomatoes? 

There is a National Day for everything, it seems.

This is from a couple of weeks ago.

I do like celery,, but I can’t really say that I have a favorite dish made with it.  I use it often as the base for stews.  I’d probably go for cucumbers (peeled please) or celery from a platter.

4.  I read here eight things to do before 8 am to make your day less hectic-Start one load of laundry, drink water, empty the dishwasher, read your Bible, know what you’re having for dinner, get dressed, brain dump (two lists-one what you’re thankful for and one what’s weighing on your mind), and after the brain dump make your to-list for the day

How many of these are you currently doing? Which one do you think would help the most if you added it to your early morning routine?

Things I’m currently doing (can we pretend that I’m writing this in the morning?) are drinking water (after my pre-dawn walk), getting dressed (the work life, y’all), and reading my Bible (I try to read the First 5 app in the mornings but don’t always get to it early).

I’d love to add starting a load of laundry, but I am out of the house by 7:15, so I can’t follow that up with putting stuff in the dryer.  I am not a list person, so I will never do a brain dump as described above nor make a to-do list.  I hate lists.  My mom always left long to-do lists on weekends, which completely ruined my time off from school.  No thank you.

5.  Describe the view from your window.

Looking out my friend window, I see a rose bush that’s grown quite tall, a lot of weeds in my flower bed, and the pond across from my street.  It’s not a bad view at all!

6.  My Random Thought

I’ve been walking in the mornings before work, slowly increasing my mileage and backing up my alarm (ugh) to give me enough time.  Yesterday, I went the farthest I’ve gone since breaking my ankle . . .

That photo is from 2.5 miles in, and yes, it was pretty dang dark.  Thank heavens for the street lamps in my neighborhood.

My friend, Leanne, told me that my pace was really good.

I very slowly jogged the last half mile, which probably helped.

I have goals . . . a specific one in fact . . . an item for a non-spring bucket list.

I’m Sorry If That’s Not Your First Name

Today started out as pretty much an average day.

I got up, put in some miles, and went in to work.

It was testing day for our 9th graders, so we were on a delayed start.  Students who were not testing weren’t due until 1:05.  We rotated through four 25-minute class periods before calling it a day.

I stopped at Best Buy on the way home and then ran by the nail salon for a bit of pampering . . .

I called my friend, Christina, to wish her a happy birthday.  In the middle of our conversation, I walked to the mailbox.

That’s when my day became anything but average.

Waiting for me was a letter with a return address of Parris Island.

All of a sudden, my heart was in my throat, and I could hardly think straight.

Instantly, I was taken back to the spring of 2016 when such letters regularly populated my mailbox — all from my Rooster boy.

Christina had to get off the phone to get ready for her birthday dinner, so I wished her well, hung up, and headed straight for my letter opener (mustn’t mess up the nails).

Inside, I found a two-page, handwritten letter from a young man I’d taught three years ago.

He was writing from Marine boot camp – a dream he’d cultivated for years.

He held a special place in my heart – his whole class did, small as it was.  This class had watched as I’d become an empty nester and had sent off my own boy to Air Force basic training.

In fact, my student, who had asked me to call him Fluffy, had drawn a picture of Rooster’s dog, which I sent him while he was still in BMT.

I had given Fluffy my address after he graduated and told him that if he would send me a letter, I would write him back.  I knew the importance of supporting the young men and women in training to serve our country.

He kept his word; today’s letter was proof of that.

If you’ve never held a letter from a loved one who serves, you might not understand the range of emotions a person goes through.

It’s a combination of joy and pride as memories of that person flood your mind.

The opening words made me laugh.  Fluffy was himself, as always.

For the record, he did remember my first name and did include it on the envelope.

My mama heart hurt as I read that he’d been pretty sick.  Poor kiddo.  I’m praying that my own letter will find him well.

His second page is what brought the rush of tears.

Just look at how much he’s grown already – the sage advice he’s offering to my current charges.

My face as I finished . . . well, it was a good thing that the Mr. and I had not made any dinner plans.

You know, just this morning, another teacher and I were lamenting the woes of teaching – the ridiculous mandates – the horrid VAM system, by which we are judged as worthy and capable teachers.

This letter, from the first word to the end, made me snap my head back where it belonged.

I chose this profession to help kids recognize their potential.

God has been so gracious to allow me to see the fruit of my labor, one child at a time.

Although Fluffy may not remember my first name, I’ll always remember his.

It’s imprinted on my heart forever.

Test-Tired

I might have mentioned, a time or two, that my classes have been in test mode . . .

All.

Year.

Long.

We had the FSA and SAT in October, the ACT in December, the FSA in February, and the SAT and FSA in March.

Lots and lots and lots of testing . . .

And waiting for results . . .

And rejoicing for those who made the required scores . . .

And encouraging those who were left behind when the others got schedule changes.

There have been many snacks purchased . . .

And toted to computer labs, to be doled out when kids start falling asleep . . .

I started the year with 180 students.

I’m down to 45, most of whom have passed one or more of the above-listed tests (some moved away or changed schools for various reasons).

This is what teaching in Florida has been reduced to, folks, and I can’t help but feel badly for the kids.

A week or two ago, I heard one of my girls say that she hadn’t been to class in days because she had been testing so much, and that she had no clue how to do the work that other students had been learning while she’d been gone.

Next week, our ninth and tenth graders will test.  My kids took their tests earlier, so they are getting a break, for a change.

I’m trying to take it easy on my students because, quite frankly, we are all test-tired.

They worked on a literature project last week, and this week, they are reading articles about artificial sweeteners.

My job – helping them with their reading skills – isn’t over yet because many of my kids will be taking the SAT in June, hoping to pass before the concordant score goes up in the next few months (I’ll be in a rage over this factoid very soon).

So, if you’re looking for me around 4pm each day, here’s how you’ll find me . . .

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