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The Struggle is Real

Sometimes, the struggle is real.

Can you identify with any of these?

Why isn’t “oreo” considered a word?  I mean, it screams Americana!

Ankle swelling . . .

Every.

Single.

Day.

Hence the reason for my surgery next month.

Life is tough around these here parts, y’all.

Speaking of ankles, take a look at the next picture.  Will my ankle ever look normal again?

When the universe feels your pain and sends you something to help alleviate it . . .

Still crying . . . at least once a week . . . or whenever something reminds me of her . . . which is ALL.  THE.  TIME.

Tired.  All the days.

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The good news?

One.

Week.

Off.

That puts the struggle into perspective.

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Shopping, Taste Testing, and Cooking

Is it Friday yet?

This was me, on Tuesday, after I got home from school . . .

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I needed groceries.  So badly.

I needed a nap even more.

Wednesday, I pulled up my big girl pants and went to the store on my way home.  That was after I spent my entire lunch break, my planning period, and a half hour after school inputting about 400 grades.  I’d taken up three assignments this week but had figured out a more fair way to grade the third . . . only AFTER I’d put grades in for three or four of my classes – because I suck at math and like to do things the hard way.

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And no, I did not go to the grocery store with my hair in a wrap, thank you very much.

I am not that much of a redneck.

Ahem.

I am glad, though, that I pushed through my fatigue and made it to the store.  Look what I found . . .

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When you play the video, it will right itself.

But y’all . . . look at all of the options!  I had a hard time deciding which one to buy, so I didn’t choose at all . . .

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Can someone please explain to me WHY my videos are sideways?  Ugh.

Anyhoo, I decided to do some taste testing to compare.  I felt a bit like Goldilocks.

The Original Silk Nog is thin but tastes most like what I grew up drinking (before I became lactose-intolerant and a vegan).

The So Delicious Coconut Milk Holiday Nog is the thickest of the three and has a distinct flavor that I can’t quite put my finger on – maybe it’s a subtle hint of coconut. It’s almost as though I’m drinking a version I’d find on a Caribbean island. Delicious!

The Califia Farms Holiday Nog seems, on first appearance, to be the second thickest, but after going back and forth, I think it’s actually more watery in flavor.

While I was taste testing, I was also hard at work cooking up a new-to-me recipe from a blog I follow.

This recipe is called Meatless Meatloaf Cups.

I used black beans instead of the white ones suggested in the recipe.  I also used my food processor to mix everything together.  I think I’ll try mashing up everything with a fork the next time I make this for a chunkier texture.

Still, the flavor was amazing!  My house smelled like I’d been cooking real meatloaf.

The cooking didn’t stop there though.

Well, okay.  So I actually had a break . . . say a seven hour sleep break 😉 . . . and woke up with the plan to make one more dish I’d seen in an email . . .

That is Snickerdoodle Mug Cake, a recipe created by A Virtual Vegan.

Preparing it was super easy.  I used almond butter and almond milk.  I did NOT use my microwave – I quit using this appliance quite a few years ago.  Instead, I baked this in my toaster oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

The texture came out perfect!

I snacked on it all morning at school!  Since I haven’t been baking lately, the treat was especially delicious.  My taste buds were not complaining one little bit.

In the Zone With the Hodgepodge

I’m joining up with Joyce and her Hodgepodge this week!  Thank you so much for visiting as I share my own answers to her fun questions.

1.  What takes you out of your comfort zone?

Going out and socializing with people I don’t know is definitely something that takes me out of my comfort zone.  I don’t know that I do small talk very well.  I’m more of a let’s-have-a-deep-conversation-so-I-can-really-get-to-know-you kind of gal.  Plus, new situations get me nervous.  I tend to be a bit awkward and worry about the impression I’m giving people.

2.  Your least favorite spice?

I cannot think of a spice I don’t like.  I’ve discovered, in the last year or two as my cooking prowess has increased, that most spices, when combined properly, can be quite delicious.

3.  What’s a small change you’d like to make?

A small change?  Really?  You’re talking to Ms. Overachiever here.  I don’t do small anything.

Hmmm . . . if I had to choose something, though, I guess I’d change is the footwear I’ve been wearing of late.  Ever since I broke my ankle last November, I’ve only been able to wear my Vionic flip flops and sneakers.  I am longing for the day when I can wear boots.  Hopefully, after my surgery next month and the ensuing recovery, I’ll be able to stand something like boots rubbing against my ankle bones.

4.  Do you enjoy visiting historic homes? If so, of the homes you’ve visited which one was your favorite? What historic home near you is open to visitors? Have you been? Southern Living rounded up eleven of the best in the southern part of the US and they’re as follows-

Monticello (Jefferson’s home in Virginia), Nathaniel Russel House (Charleston SC), Swan House (Atlanta), Ernest Hemingway’s home (Key West), The Biltmore (Vanderbilt home in Asheville NC), Mount Vernon (Washington’s home in Virgina), San Francisco Plantation (Garyville, Louisiana), Windsor Ruins (Port Gibson Mississippi), Longue Vue House and Gardens (New Orleans), Whitehall (Palm Beach FL), and Pebble Hill Plantation (Thomasville GA)

Have you been to any on the list? Of the homes listed which would you most like to visit?

I actually do like visiting historic homes, although I haven’t done so in a number of years.  When I was seven or eight, we drove from Colorado to Washington D.C. and toured some famous homes such as Monticello and Mount Vernon.  Looking back on that experience, I’d bet you that this trip planted a love for history in my heart.

I’d love to visit the Biltmore if given the chance.

5.  What’s something you think will be obsolete in ten years? Does that make you sad or glad?

I think home telephones (i.e. land lines) will still be around given the cell phone world we are living in.

Hopefully, Urban Dictionary will be a thing of the past as well.  😛

6.  My Random Thought

One thing that will never be obsolete is yarn . . . because people will always need such finery such as socks, scarves, shawls, and hats.

Speaking of yarn, Rebecca posted this on her blog a couple of weeks ago (or was it a week ago).  Hint to my family: I want this for Christmas.  Thank you.

A Weekend of Pampering

Y’all, I just love my weekends.  Now that I’ve gotten used to leaving work at work (except for one evening a week to lesson plan), I am finding myself more relaxed.

This past weekend was so wonderful, ushered in by having Friday off in honor of Veteran’s Day.

I do love getting to turn off my alarms.

After I worked out, I took Gambit to Petsmart for a bath.

He was a smelly boy, y’all!  I hadn’t really noticed his funk until the day before when I’d taken him to get his yearly shots.  Mercy!  He was a bit freaked out and stuck to my leg with what could only be likened to a toddler’s death grip.

He was such a wuss.  He didn’t even want the treat offered to him by the vet tech . . .

He was a happy dog when we got home . . .

Not to mention a tired guy . . .

But he was stinky, so I made an appointment online the night before and headed out first thing Friday morning.  The sweetest groomer met me at the counter and assured me that Gambit would be fine.  I wish I’d gotten a picture of him as I walked away.  It reminded me of the days I used to take the kids to daycare, and they would look back at me sadly as I left.

When I returned home, Pele was depressed.  He missed his brother and didn’t understand why Gambit hadn’t returned with me.

I called a couple of hours later to check on Gambit’s progress and then headed over.  He was one happy dog, let me tell you, and he even came home with a “Pawgress” Report.  He’d done good except when he’d growled at the gal when she tried to grind one of his back paws.  Sigh.

Pele checked him over to make sure nothing bad had happened to him.

Don’t tell Pele, but he’s getting his turn at the puppy spa on Saturday.  😀

Later that afternoon, the Mr. and I headed out to a going away party for one of his coworkers.  We stayed out late.  I guess we forgot that we aren’t spring chickens any more.  What can I say?  It was hard to pull ourselves away from the fire pit his friends had built . . . so perfect for the chilly night.

The dogs were ready to have our hides for being out past our curfew.  They hadn’t eaten yet and were waiting for us in the dark house.  Oops.  We’d forgotten to leave a light on for them.  Gambit was exhausted by the time he went to bed.

I got up before my alarm clock on Saturday (thank you, time change) and worked out . . .

I spy myself walking past the mirror.

After grabbing a quick shower, I headed out to my hair appointment.  First, though, was a stop at Petsmart to pick up a couple of dog beds that I’d seen the day before – because I didn’t already have enough with three in the house.

My hair appointment was a MUST.  I get foil highlights twice a year, and I was way overdue.

I guess all of those extra vitamins I’d been taking for my bones made my hair grow out faster because my roots were long!  I think I’ll probably get my roots done a little more often.  The above is the “before” photo.

I love my hairdresser and consider her a dear friend.  We laugh so much when we get together.

She went all out and dried and straightened my hair without charging me extra.  I may have padded her tip extra to make up for that.  😉

Here’s the “after” photo . . .

When I got home, the dogs were, at first, a little leery of their new beds; however, it didn’t take them long to climb on them and settle in for the day.

Now, these beds will stay in my bedroom so I don’t have to drag beds back and forth, but I wanted to let the boys break them in first.

As you can see, the boys were quite comfortable, as was I, while we watched our Auburn Tigers BEAT Georgia.

That called for a celebration . . .

Sunday, the Mr. and I went to church, did a bit of shopping, ate dinner out, and then enjoyed a quiet evening at home.  My mood was already turning with the approach of Monday . . .

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Who doesn’t love a good Snapchat filter?

I’m already counting down the days until Friday and the beginning of an entire week off!

One Year Ago . . .

It’s funny how you can be be-bopping your way through life, not a care in the world, when all of a sudden, reality smacks you in the face . . . or rather the ankle . . . and your sense of security is ripped from you like the stickiest band aid you’ve ever had . . . and you realize how quickly life can change.

That was me, exactly one year ago today.  I wrote about it here.  I still can’t read that post because it was so traumatic.

Y’all, I don’t think I’ll ever think of November 13th the same way again, for as you know, that’s the day that I broke my ankle.

Twelve months.

365 days.

They say that time flies when you’re having fun.

While this may be true for some, I’d argue that time also flies when you’re busy learning how to do life with one good ankle.

This year will go down as one of the hardest I’ve ever experienced.

The shock of the fall, the discovery that I wasn’t going to be able to step on my right foot as the Mr. helped me to the car, the pain on the way to the emergency room, and the realization that I was down for the count for a good long while after getting the diagnosis of a Trimalleolar Fracture (three broken bones), surgery, and a two-year recovery – well, let me tell you that there were a LOT of tears.

In fact, just thinking about this milestone and the post I knew I’d be writing about it had me an emotional wreck on Sunday.

At church, as we sang “I am Redeemed,” I broke down because the words hit so close to my heart:

Seems like all I can see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “son
Stop fighting a fight that’s already been won”

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off theses heavy chains
And wipe away every stain now I’m not who I used to be
I am redeemed
I’m redeemed

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, “Child lift up your head”
I remember oh God, You’re not done with me yet

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off theses heavy chains
And wipe away every stain now I’m not who I used to be
Because I don’t have to be the old man inside of me
‘Cause his day is long dead and gone

Because I’ve got a new name, a new life I’m not the same
And a hope that will carry me home

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off theses heavy chains
And wipe away every stain now I’m not who I used to be

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off theses heavy chains
And wipe away every stain now I’m not who I used to be

Oh God I’m not who I used to be
Jesus I’m not who I used to be
Cause I am redeemed
Thank God, redeemed

This past year has changed me, for the better I’d like to think.

I used to be so anti-depend-on-someone-else-for-help, but now I realize that I cannot live my life this way – that it’s okay to ask for assistance.

I’ve become more empathetic and appreciative of the little things.

From the moment I realized that I was going to have to operate a little differently – well, okay, a lot differently, I began to look for joy in the small things.  I grasped onto these moments and held on for dear life because the road ahead of me promised to be long and challenging.

I’ve always been a person who had to be in control.  So much of my childhood was about others wielding their authority over me in a negative way that breaking free of their stronghold and becoming an independent woman armed me with a sense of vindication, validation, and victory.

And then I broke my ankle and found out that I wasn’t in control, and that all I could do was sit back, let others take care of me, and wait while God healed my broken body and spirit.

I’d hoped that I’d be one of those “miracle” patients who healed faster than any seen before and was up running half marathons a year ahead of the expected recovery time, but alas, I’m not.

I still have a ways to go, as indicated by the pain I deal with daily with an intensity that varies according to the exercises I’ve done that morning, the weather, or whatever whim strikes it.

The struggle is still so very real and incredibly humbling.  Simple motions like getting out of a chair or stepping out of the car take more time and require more attention in how I place the weight onto my foot – actions I always took for granted before but never will again.

I try not to have pity parties.  My friend, Barb, only allows a person to partake of such indulgences for a minute before moving on.  I love her for this and try to remember that when I find myself sinking into the pit of sadness.

And so, one year later, I’m focused on the blessings from my injury:

  • A closer relationship with the Mr.
  • A renewed sense of family and what it means to take care of one another
  • Friends who pray and can be relied up to help when I call
  • The opportunity to meet some very caring health care providers – the harried but kind ER nurse who took care of me that long seven hours after my injury, my surgeon, his thoughtful nurse and other staff, and my physical therapists
  • Kind-hearted students who remind me not to stand on chairs or my classroom cabinets so I won’t break anything else
  • The ability to empathize with a student last week after she broke her ankle (she’s going to see my doctor, I believe, this week and will have surgery too)

Through this experience, I’ve been reminded that God does not waste anything in our lives – that He uses everything to bring glory to His name.

I pray that as I’ve shared my ups and downs with people, I have, ultimately, honored God and His tenderness and provision in even the smallest details of my life.

While I pray that the next few months following my December surgery to have the hardware removed will be easier than last year, I know that even if they aren’t, I’ll get through them because I have the strongest support system that exists and, more importantly, a foundation built upon God’s love for me.

It’s funny.  When I first got my injury, I figured that I’d be back to my old self after the two year recovery I’d first read about while biding my time in the ER; however, over the last twelve months, I’ve come to realize that the old version no longer exists.  Much like the song I posted above says, I’m no longer who I was before.  God has used this experience to shape me more into the image that He originally intended me to be.  As I’ve cast off various chains – splint, cast, and boot – I realize that some of my chains have been internal as well:  pride, overconfidence, and ungratefulness, to name a few.  In many ways, my spirit is lighter given my renewed reliance on the One who matters most.

It’s been a painful process, both literally and figuratively, but one that I don’t know I’d take back if I could (I’d have to think a bit more on that, but the logical, trust-in-God side of me knows that this would be the right choice).

So I’m walking slowly but with more confidence knowing that I am not alone and that I am not expected to do this in my own strength.

Kind of like this . . .

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Thank you for your prayers over the past year.  May I ask that you continue praying as I push forth into the next part of my recovery?  Thank you, dear friends. ❤

This and That

Wow.  I just looked at my Flickr photos (the ones I haven’t used yet) and at my calendar, and I realized that it’s been nearly two weeks since I last posted.

How does that happen?

Ahem.

Let’s see if I can do a bit of catching up.

It’s been three weeks since my last physical therapy appointment.  I can hardly believe it.

I thought, at first, that I’d be a little lost in the afternoons, but I haven’t been.  In fact, it’s as if I never had a break in my pre-ankle-injury routine.

I’m doing physical therapy exercises at home two or three mornings a week.  I take advantage of my leg and rest days in my workout routine and do my PT then.

Gambit loves when I do my Triple Flexion exercises because they put me down on his level . . .

Some days, I still have a lot of swelling, though.

Is it any wonder that I hurt so much?  I spend a lot of time on my feet on Fridays because I can’t resist attending my school’s football games . . .

I am beyond ready for my December surgery to get my pins removed.

School has been crazy-busy.

Of course, the hard stuff sometimes starts when I’m getting ready and can’t figure out if I’m matchy-matchy.  I sent Chicky the following picture one morning . . .

Her response . . .

My rebuttal twenty minutes later . . .

I made emergency lesson plans and copied class sets.  I remember that I reluctantly did this task last year . . . maybe with a bit of rebellion in my heart . . . only to have to call upon the use of those plans when I unexpectedly needed them when I broke my ankle.  You better believe that I didn’t complain about doing this task this year.

Perspective, y’all.

My students had been doing well, but then we hit a rough couple of weeks with quite a few behavior issues.  Who knew that juniors and seniors could still make poor decisions?

I attended a few contract negotiations meetings.  I did this a few years ago; we had salary and insurance issues to stress over this year.  Our union negotiators did a good job hammering out some things, although I will say that the raise is a bit insulting considering what we teachers do on a daily basis.

This was me, getting to school super early the day after the negotiations were finished.  We had a PLC (professional learning community) day, so the kids were out.

I’ve been prepping my students for the December ACT . . .

If the kids make a 19 or higher on the reading section, they are allowed to have a schedule change and, more importantly, they satisfy the state of Florida’s reading requirement.

Bragging Moment:  Thirteen of my students made the concordant score for the SAT when they took the test this month.  Y’all, that’s THIRTEEN juniors who don’t have to stress out about this test!

These kiddos are the best motivation for the students who are still in my classes.

We’ll be switching back to SAT prep after Christmas.  I attended training last Monday for the KHAN Academy’s SAT website, and y’all, it’s fabulous!  I can’t wait to get my kids started on it!

We had another exciting thing happen here in Podunk, USA.

We got a Lucky’s Market . . .

I took one look at the baking aisle and all of the types of flour I’ve read about in recipes and nearly swooned . . .

The Mr. has been to the store two or three times and keeps missing the honey section . . .

I only bought a few things – the kombucha was a recommendation from my physical therapist.

This is me, trying the Spiced Apple . . .

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I downloaded a rewards app and got $5 off of $25 the next time I shopped.  I love that this store donates to local charities.  I make sure to take in my own bags so I can get the wooden coins to drop in the donation box.  $.10 is donated for every wooden coin.

I’ve also been busy getting to know my essential oils a little better.  I order some each month and actually went a little overboard in October . . .

I got the Cinnamon Bark for free because I’d ordered so much . . .

I love that oil!  I put a little on before class today, and one of my girls told me that she smelled chewing gum.  Ha!

I guess that’s enough catching up for right now.

If y’all wouldn’t mind praying for the Mr., we’d appreciate it.  He’s back in Jacksonville for a few tests to make sure that his body is healing from all of the craziness that happened with his Crohn’s in January.

Thanks!!

And Then There Was This

I’ve never really liked roller coasters.  The sudden twists and turns and feeling like I’m going to fall out of my seat at any time have always left me unsettled and a bit unnerved.

Well, y’all, teaching can sometimes feel just like this!

Yesterday was one of those days filled with ups and downs.  Just when you think you’re making inroads with a student, another comes along and bumps into your happy.

I’d started the day off by getting to wear a brand new Hogwarts Running Club sweatshirt from a recent race . . .

I’d gotten all in my teacher feelings of working together as one with the saying on the back . . .

But alas, teenagers have their own agendas, and they most certainly do not align with mine all that often.

To give you an idea of the silly stuff I get to deal with on almost a daily basis, take a look at the following picture . . .

That, my friends, is one of my kids who had asked for a pass to the restroom.  When he returned, he was trying to hide a bag of food inside his JROTC uniform jacket.

Another student ratted him out, and boy did I rip him a new one.  I also sent his ROTC instructors an email with the picture attached inquiring as to if this was a new part of the uniform.

Ahem.

I later found out that he’d never gone to the restroom but was across campus talking to another GIRL when his GIRLFRIEND caught him.  She has first lunch, but he has to wait until second lunch to eat.  I guess he decided to move the clock up.

I didn’t write him up for skipping.  I figured that getting busted by the girlfriend was punishment enough.

He also won’t be getting any more passes from me for a very, very long time.

Ahem.

Y’all, this is my weekday life!  I’m finding it a bit ironic that my morning’s Snapchat filter was this . . .

Someone, somewhere is laughing right now.

😀

Is it any wonder why I was exhausted by the time I got home?  I settled in for a bit of self indulgence – chips, salsa, and a 30-minute nap . . .

I got into my pajamas as a migraine etched its way across my forehead and settled in for the night (the headache, I mean) . . .

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Then, I heard the familiar sound notifying me that I had an email.

I was surprised to find this waiting for me . . .

A former student sent it to me.  I’d taught him a few years ago.  He was one of those kiddos who actually spent two years in my classroom . . . ninety minutes a day, mind you.  His class had been one of my all-time favorites, and it was an honor to watch this young man mature over the years.  He graduated two or three years ago, so I rarely bump into him these days.

His message, prompted by God, I’m sure, was just what I needed.

No, it didn’t take away my migraine, unfortunately, but it did lift my spirits.

In fact, it energized me to the point where I was able to tweak my seating arrangements (always a tough job), write sub lesson plans for an upcoming TDY day, and outline lesson plans to take me all the way through December 8th (because I’m an overachiever like that).

My to-do list seems endless, but as I’ve often said, this is so much more than a job to me.

It’s a true passion.

I second-guess myself all the time . . . a fact that I don’t think my students would believe because I have to act all confident in front of them (would you trust a leader if that person didn’t exude confidence?).

The truth is that I hear my kiddos complain – a lot.  I sometimes take it personally.  I wonder if I could be doing things better.

Sometimes, the answer is yes.

Sometimes, I’d have to say no.  Still, the kids’ comments can leave doubts in my mind and feed into my insecurities.

And then there are messages from God, disguised as emails or visits from students . . . reminders that He sees me when I’m feeling low and though I may not trust my work in the now, He’s using me to lay the groundwork for the later.

I’m so in awe that God knows me personally and loves me enough to reach down, pat me on the back, and encourage me to keep trusting Him.

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