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Something Magical

Something magical is happening.

I don’t know why this surprises me because it’s a recurring event every year.

My students are reading.

And enjoying it.

They are selecting books they never thought they would read, and they are finishing them.

These aren’t little books either.

They are two, three, and four hundred pages.

They aren’t middle school books but every bit high school level.

Oh sure, my students started out reading the smaller ones, but it didn’t take long for the allure of the pretty covers, enticing plot descriptions on the back covers, and my book talks to lure them in.

I started a new thing this year.  I’ve begun taking pictures of my kids with the books they finish.

A few have been shy, yet they always comply.

Here are a few from this past week…

These aren’t my Honors babies, y’all.

These are my struggling readers.

They are reading books about very mature topics…drug addiction, brain injuries, and school shootings.

They are reading books that feed their imaginations and challenge their thinking about society.

The young man who read Crank wanted to give up a few times.  I encouraged him to push on.  By the time he started getting tired, he was nearly finished, and I wanted him to experience the joy of finishing something.

On Friday, when he finished, he told me, “I didn’t like the way the book ended.”  We then had a discussion about what he’d said.

Progress, y’all.  He’d invested himself in the book and made connections…enough to form a judgment about the plot.

There are so many tough things about teaching…so many things that cause me angst.

The scale tips, though, when I get to walk alongside my precious charges as they explore new worlds…choose books they never thought they would enjoy…express feelings of shock and joy as characters make choices they agree or disagree with.

One young lady, not pictured above…I’ll grab her picture on Monday…finally moved on from Bluford series books to a new book, Scars.

This girl is one tough cookie…probably among the most challenging that I’m teaching this year…but I recognized early on how much she loves to read, and I often have to ask her to put away her book so she can focus on the whole group lesson I’m facilitating that day.

There’s some real magic happening in my room these days, and I am honored that God is allowing me to be a small part of it.

Just Be Yourself

I saw a thing going around Facebook the other day.

People were asking Siri what they should wear for Halloween.

Sounded interesting, so I gave it a try.

Her response?


Myself.  That’s a one-of-a-kind costume that nobody will ever be able to duplicate.

And the world exhaled loudly in relief.


For really, though.  Who am I?

I am an oxymoron at times…an introvert who loves posting updates on social media.

That’s the Vegan Tuscan Pumpkin Pasta Sauce I saw because I was on social media and noticed that Detoxinista had posted a much lovelier picture of it…along with the link for the recipe.

I am the girl who decides to change my life by enrolling in college as an adult to two nearly-grown children and, when the oldest starts college, begins her teaching career.  Yet, I am deathly afraid of such critters as the one you see below…

Gambit killed that snake earlier that afternoon.  You should have seen him slinging it around while I was screaming for him to drop it.  I finally chased him away from it when I grabbed the pooper scooper and went after him.

I am a Redneck.

And then, because I’m so scared of stuff like this, I waited for the Mr. to get home to dispose of it and hid behind the car so he wouldn’t chase me with it on his way out to the pond across the street.

Bravery has its limits.

I am the girl who puts on a mean face when my students won’t behave yet sheds tears when a sweet friend at work leaves an unexpected gift in my teacher mailbox.

I am the girl who is terrified of rejection after years of feeling like I don’t fit in yet takes advantage of an opportunity to exercise my teacher voice and make a difference state-wide.

Now that I’m officially back to blogging regularly, I’ll dedicate an entire post to that experience.

So, you can probably understand my confusion when Siri told me to go as myself.

I am not schizophrenic, nor am I bipolar, which aren’t jokes, by the way.

I’m just your everyday gal with very different sides to my personality.  On the one hand, I’m a shy rule-follower.  The older I get, the more adventurous I’m becoming…not enough to walk in and be the life of the party, mind you, but frustrated enough with the status quo to take steps toward change.

Whether it’s fitness or teaching, I’m always looking for a way to learn something new or improve what already exists.

I gave Siri a loaded question.  She gave me a simple answer.

Don’t be afraid to be me.

Making Headway

Do you remember playing “School” when you were younger?

Super Sis and I did.  All the time.  We even had a chalkboard.

I loved being the teacher.

My favorite thing?


Be careful what you wish for.

This is currently my life…

For a person who always used to leave her desk clean and tidy, this makes me want to hyperventilate.

And then there’s the bag that keeps traveling back and forth with me each day…

That’s not counting the big stack I graded at school yesterday.


One extra class, y’all, and I have become the Titanic that is struggling to stay afloat.


When I get my lesson plans finished and have a quiet evening to grade, I find gems like this…

This young man has a new favorite author.

And then there was this…

That, my friends, is a 9th grade student’s work.  She has claimed that she’s not good at writing.  I beg to differ.

Grades are due on the 27th.

I still have about 35 essays to grade…thankfully online because I’m an overachiever and required my students to type them and submit them on our learning management system.

Shout-out to the student who revised her essay on her iPod using Google Docs…

I’ve never been one of those teachers who barely beats a deadline but…


I think I’ll just pat myself on the progress I’ve made in the last couple of days and just ride that wave…

For a minute or two.


Slaving Away at the Hodgepodge

Ok, so I’m not exactly slaving away with my answers this week, but I had a hard time finding a catchy title, so slaving it is!  Now, it sounds like Joyce is slaving away as she puts the finishing touches on her new house!  You go girl!  The sneak peeks hint at a gorgeous home!  Let’s get to my answers for her questions, shall we?

1.  What would you say is your strongest sense? 

My strongest sense would have to be smell.  I can smell a cigarette from a mile away, and I’m very sensitive to perfumes and lotions.

2.  Do you believe in the idea of a ‘sixth sense’? Why or why not?

I actually do believe in this.  I know it sounds strange coming from a Christian, but I’ve had too many strange things happen to doubt this.  I knew that something bad had happened to my dad the day he passed away.  I couldn’t explain it, but I got physically ill that afternoon.  I didn’t find out until late that night that he had died.

3.  When do you most feel like a slave to time? Explain.

I feel most like a slave to time when school is in session.  It is then when I live my life in 45-minute segments.  That’s why long holidays and, especially, summers are so precious to me…being free of time constraints.

4.  Have you ever worked in a restaurant? How would you rate the experience? If you could own a restaurant what kind would it be?

I have never worked in a restaurant.  If I could own one, I’d make it one that had a lot of vegan dishes that would appeal to the community as a whole.  One of my biggest frustrations is trying to find good food options when dining out.

5.  Ever traced your family tree? Share something interesting you learned there.

I have never traced my family tree.  I suspect that it would be interesting, though, because I already know that my dad’s side of the family is from France and Germany.  I can only imagine where their relatives came from.

6.  What did your childhood bedroom look like?

I lived in a lot of places when I was younger because my mom was always moving.  The house I spent the most time in was a plantation-style house.  My room was very large.  It had a fireplace in it until it was removed.  I had two closets and a room/attic thing off of it.  I never went in it, though, because it was rumored to have a fake leg in it from the previous owner.  The room was wallpapered, as was the custom back in the 80’s, and had plush carpeting.  I had a canopy bed, that I kept until the day I got married, and a large desk.

7.  Anyone who knows me knows I love_______________________?

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to knit.

My latest creation…Hogwarts Express Shawl.

Look at the owls!

This was a very easy project, and I was able to use leftover beads from a previous project.

8.  My Random Thought

My 9th grade students have been working on an essay for the last month.  They’ve spent the past three weeks in the computer lab typing, peer-editing, and revising their essays.  Yesterday was the first day back in my classroom.  I found it very sweet to see the relief on their faces as they entered my room.  It was like they were coming home…to the books I’ve been adding…to their place of comfort.  I adore these kids.

Why I Love Tuesdays

A Tuesday is good for a few reasons.

  1. It isn’t Monday.
  2. It is one more day closer to Friday.
  3. It’s the day that the JROTC kids at my school dress up in their blues.

Reason #3 is one of my favorites.

The kids come in all spiffed up, every hair in place (at least before P.E.).

They are more respectful when they wear their uniforms.

Their backs are straighter when they walk.

They are so proud.

Just today, two of my students were talking, and one was teasing the other.  When I inquired, my boy proudly pointed to a certain pin.

He’d just been promoted to A1C (Airman First Class).  He had taken the test and passed.

I didn’t know that they did this in high school.

My student went on to explain that he was now an E3.

My female student said that she’d be that rank as soon as she took the test.

Can I tell you how very much my heart soared?

My Rooster is in the Air Force, and he graduated from basic training as an A1C.

Oh y’all, the connections.

I used to dislike Tuesdays.

My Rooster left for basic training on a Tuesday, and I thought my heart would never recover.

Every Tuesday, I relieve a bit of that sadness when I read, on my Facebook support group, about sad see-you-laters that others are making.

And then today happened, when God showed me a way to be happy on a Tuesday (besides reasons #1 and 2).

Seeing my JROTC students reminds me of the pride I have, not only in this country, but in my son and others who choose to serve so selflessly.

Weekend Shenanigans

Besides the wedding that I attended on Saturday night, I had other bits of fun this weekend.

Friday afternoon, I could not function.  After the horrible news of my school’s student losing his battle with a brief illness, it was all I could do to climb in my recliner and pull a blanket over myself.  I slept for an hour and a half.

I don’t think we even went out to dinner.  I’m pretty sure I ate leftovers.  That’s how heavy my heart was.

My nap, though, had given me a bit of energy, and because I needed to decompress from the day, I stayed up late watching college football and practicing my calligraphy skills.

I have much to learn.  Rebecca and I chatted via Instagram, and she said that she’d been watching YouTube videos.  Her beginner work looks like what my advanced skills will be like.  She’s amazing!

Still, it was good to focus on something besides being sad.

Saturday morning, I got up and worked out…finishing Week 7 of 22 Minute Hard Corps.  I have one week left!

After a nap early that afternoon, I got ready for the wedding that I posted about yesterday.  I wound up going to bed around 10:30.  I had not slept much the night before and was just exhausted.

Sunday morning, I slept in a little.  Sundays are my rest days…as in exercise rest…so I don’t have to be up early.  I felt so much better.

We attended church, ate lunch with friends (love them!), and headed home.

I immediately went back out and did a bit of shopping.

Our Office Max is going out of business, so I picked up a bag of goodies…glue sticks, erasers, and paper to indulge in my new calligraphy hobby…

I had Bath and Body Works coupons and really wanted more Pink Chiffon shower gel.  I love their B3G3F deals!  They’ve got their holiday scents out, and oh word!  I had a hard time deciding on something!  I have to be very careful with scents because they can lead to migraines.  I’m very sensitive and can’t do anything too strong.  That’s why I like the Pink Chiffon.  It’s a soft smell that is just right.  I also snagged a bottle of Warm Vanilla shower gel because I still have lotion leftover, and, well, I just have to be matchy-matchy.

OCD anyone?

I took another nap when I got home.

Teachers just cannot get enough sleep, y’all.

And that, in a nutshell, was my weekend.  The Mr. and I didn’t go out Sunday night for dinner, and yes, I really needed to be working on figuring out why my refrigerator isn’t making ice…again.  This happened a few months ago before Rooster left for basic training.  I either fixed it or got lucky that time.  I suspect that all I need to do is make a call to Sears for a repair guy, and the problem will suddenly resolve itself.  That’s what happened the last time…before the guy came…and I canceled my appointment and saved a whole lot of money.

This is going to be another challenging week, I suspect, as students continue to grieve for their friend.  I believe that the funeral will be held on Saturday at my church.  Please keep us in your prayers.

A Fall Wedding

Yesterday, I got all gussied up so that the Mr. and I could attend the wedding of a young lady we had known for fifteen years.

We first met her when we moved to Podunk, USA, and Chicky began playing on the same soccer team as her younger sister.

When you play travel soccer, you get to be very good friends with the families of the other players.  Strong bonds are forged…bonds that don’t go away when life leads you down different paths.

It was such a joy to watch people arrive…since we always seem to be the first to arrive at every single wedding we attend.

The location was a favorite for weddings.  We have a LOT of water around these here parts, and it provides a beautiful backdrop for fancy shindigs.

We saw a lot of the kids’ friends from high school.

Oh, it was a love fest, let me tell you.

Watching this beautiful young lady walk down the aisle to the man of her dreams brought tears to my eyes.

Photo cred to a gal I snagged this from on Facebook.  I know she wouldn’t mind. 😉

You should have seen the groom’s face as his precious bride made her way down that aisle on the arm of her father.

Both men had tears in their eyes…for very different reasons.

The ceremony was very traditional and so very sweet, and it wasn’t long before they got to do the kiss thing and walk off as husband and wife.

Meanwhile, we headed to the clubhouse for the reception.  I took a few pictures because this is the same place where Rooster and his girl will have their wedding in December (remember that they are already married, but this will be the big ceremony).

Everything was so shiny and oh so classy.  The decor took my breath away.

We sat at a table in front of the wedding party’s.

As we waited for the bride and groom to arrive, we chatted with friends.  The Mr. snagged some food to munch on.  There wasn’t anything that I could eat due to my food allergies and vegan lifestyle.  I knew I would be able to eat later when I got home, so it wasn’t a big deal.

Meanwhile, the conversation was really the most important thing.  Having the chance to catch up with the young people who had been such a big part of our lives for so many years was simply incredible.  Hearing about how they were renovating homes they’d purchased and making strides in their careers made me wish that time could slow down a bit.

How sweet, too, as we watched the bridal party arrive and then participate in the time-honored traditions that make weddings the sweet events that they are…first dance husband/wife…father/daughter dance…mother/son dance.

Oh, my heart.  Moved so very much it was.

We loved hearing the bride’s sister make her toast.  These girls…so special to us.

I’m not a huge socializer…introvert that I am…but I did seek out the bride’s parents.

Her mom is a classy lady.  She wore a long blue dress that was heavenly.  I love this woman to pieces, and seeing her smile was wonderful.  We don’t get to see each other very often.

I also spent time chatting with the bride’s father.  Oh boy, it was hard to see the tears in his eyes as he described his bittersweet feelings about having his oldest daughter leave.  Being a dad and letting go is so hard.

The DJs got cranked up after the cake had been cut, and I did dance to a few songs before the Mr. and I headed home to catch the last couple of college football games on TV.

Priorities, people.  Males.  Sigh.  I could have stayed all night just soaking up the love that made that large reception room so very, very small.

I look forward to the next soccer girl getting married so that we can all join once together in celebration.

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