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When Today is Hard

Gosh, but yesterday was one of those hard teaching days.

Well, actually it was only part of the day but still.

When things are going well, and then they don’t, it’s easy to doubt myself.  This year has been complicated two-fold with a broken ankle and the Mr.’s recent health crisis.  Questions constantly swirl in my mind.

Am I really a good teacher?

Am I still connecting with my students?

Am I leaving a lasting impact on their lives?

That’s when God gently reminds me that yes, I am, doing all of the above.

Running into this precious sweet girl…a young lady I taught six years ago…

She was in my first class at my current school…my second year of teaching but my first as a reading teacher.

I had no idea what I was doing with this prep.

This young lady sat in the back of my classroom, smiled, and nodded at everything I said.

I kid you not.

She lit up my world every day she was in class, and let me tell you, I don’t remember her missing many, if any.

She continued to brighten up my days each year that she was at my school until she graduated.  She and I are friends on Facebook now, and I love watching her continue to mature.  She is incredible.

I ran into her at Walmart when she had taken the day off of work to raise money for her church.

Go ahead and let your heart take that in a moment.

Every time we get together, she thanks me for being a wonderful teacher and getting her through her ninth grade year.

I love her, that’s for sure.  She made me a better teacher and a better human being.  She’s as beautiful inside as on the outside.

And then on Saturday, while out shopping at the mall, I ran into a current student of mine…another ninth grader.

She’s rough around the edges, y’all, but I love her.  I don’t know why the toughest kids manage to burrow their way into my heart, but they do.

She insisted that we take a selfie, and I acquiesced.  She often tells me that I’m her favorite teacher.  I think it’s because I don’t judge her.  I just listen.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t speak up if I think she needs to clean up her act, but I love her no matter what.

Thinking about her brings to mind one of my favorite students ever.  I’ll call him KH for short.

He was another ninth grader I taught about five years ago, I think.

I ran into him when Chicky was up here a couple of weekends ago (I should have started this post with him so it would be chronological…and the fact that we are working on text structure in my class has obviously left its mark on my brain…ha!).

Anyhoo…he was a dream to teach…once I got past his tough exterior.  What a teddy bear this young man is.  Every time I see him, I have to give him a hug.  He’s in college now and doing well.  I’m not surprised.  He’s always been determined.

And then there’s M, a sweet girl I taught either three or four years ago (there goes that time thing again).  She did the high school graduation thing and has been trying to find her way.  She recently came back into my life because she works at my physical therapist’s office.  She came and sat beside me during my second session and encouraged me.  She texts me to see how I’m doing.  I’m working with her to help her pass one of her college entry exams, so we have dinner together sometimes.  She’s becoming a friend now.  The mentoring hasn’t stopped, but it’s on a more adult level now.

I could keep on describing my kids to you, but you’d probably get bored and stop reading.

The point is that when I’m feeling like I’m not making a difference, God puts the kids from my past forefront in my mind.  He reminds me that I didn’t think I was having an impact back when they were in my classroom either…that I doubted myself back then.  Confidence is something I have always struggled with.

Even though I can’t see the changes immediately, God is working on them.

And so I go forth, a little battle weary some days, but trusting in His plan and looking to Him for the energy to push through even when my feelings have been hurt or when I wonder if I’ve said or done the right thing.

When today is hard, I need to revisit this post and praise God for what He’s done, what He’s doing, and what He’s going to do next.

Puppy Loving

Saturday was simply glorious around these parts.

The sun was shining, and the temperature got up to 78 degrees.

I cannot remember February ever being this warm before.

I spent some time in the back yard loving on the dogs.

Pele loves the sun.

He was very cooperative when I started taking selfies.

Gosh, but I love this guy.  He’s our oldest now; every day with him is a gift.

Pele may be the oldest, but Molly is the one in charge.

I ordered a new collar for her from Kelli, a high school friend who has an Etsy store that specializes in dog collars and leashes.  Her work is top-notch, let me tell you.

This is the third collar I’ve purchased from Kelli.  They are so strong and stylish too!  Molly didn’t mind posing for me in the yard…

Alas, but I didn’t take any photos with Gambit!  Shocker, I know, but he did get loved on…just not photographed.

Ha!

This weekend’s weather provided a tantalizing whiff of spring, which is right around the corner.

15 Weeks

I’m sitting here, writing this blog, and marveling at the fact that, as of 11:30pm tonight, it will be fifteen weeks since I broke my ankle.

There weren’t any significant changes in my ankle this week…at least not that I could see.

My new sneakers are wonderful.  If I wasn’t walking so slowly, I hardly suspect that people would know that I’d hurt it.

The first thing my physical therapist asks when I walk in twice a week is, “How’s the ankle feeling?”

Honestly, it’s a day-by-day thing.  Sometimes, I know from the way it feels when I put on my shoes, how it’s going to do.

Other days, it surprises me.

I’m never pain-free, and I’m always hobbling by the end of the day.  The amount of swelling varies but is never completely gone.

I’m not complaining, mind you.  I am still so grateful for the healing that has occurred and the healing that is continuing.

I started doing some stretching exercises this past week in an attempt to alleviate the knee pain that started a couple of weeks ago.  My PT says it’s because I’m not strong yet.  I think it’s due to my right leg being underused for all of those weeks.  I lost flexibility in my knee.  I’m borrowing moves from my Piyo workout routine.  I love the Warrior positions.  I’ve been practicing my balancing…not easy, let me tell you!  Down dog looks rather ugly, but I can do it with my heels lifted off the floor.

I also discovered that I can still do push-ups!  That was a pleasant surprise.  My upper body is strong because of all of the walking I did via crutches.

I’m also doing some good old fashioned stretching.

On Saturday, I went out and did a little shoe shopping…yeah, again.

This time, I was on the hunt for stylish sandals that offer support for my non-arched, pronated right foot (the broken one).

Last Sunday, my friend, Barb, had told me about Vionics.  I’d never heard about this company, but when Pamela commented on my Hodgepodge post last Wednesday and mentioned Vionics, I knew I needed to check them out.

I went to a local store first and saw this display when I walked in…

The staff was incredibly knowledgeable.  They used some of the same words that my PT had used to describe my foot, which made me feel a lot more comfortable.  I was a little dismayed (but I didn’t show it) when one of the clerks told me that she could tell which ankle I’d broken…that my legs looked nothing alike (ignore my ugly toenails…I’d just taken off the polish).

I don’t know why, but my heart hurt.  I know that I’ve made a lot of progress since I broke it.  Heck, I’m walking for heaven’s sake.  Maybe it’s vanity, but I want things to look normal again.  Maybe it’s fear that they won’t.  That’s a question I’m going to tuck away to ask my surgeon when I go to a followup visit in April.

I was having a rough morning with my ankle, though.  You can see this from the redness.  There’s still a lot of healing going on.  Plus, one of the other PTs told me that foot injuries are the worst because of the impact that gravity has on them.

Anyhow…back to my shoe story.

I was super honest with the clerks and told them that I was only looking…trying to get an idea of how the supportive shoes felt on my feet.  I tried on three pairs and fell in love with these flip flops…

I don’t think I’ve ever worn flip flops with support in the arches before.

They felt like butter…smooth.

Oh my.

For the price tag, they better!  We’re talking $74.95 or something like that.  I didn’t buy them.

I tried on two more pairs, which I did not photograph.  I absolutely could not stand one pair…the straps were just ugly.

This girl is NOT about to get old lady shoes, despite my need for arch support.

Vanity is indeed my middle name.

The other pair I tried on looked nice…on the shelf…but on my feet, not so much.  I have long feet, but the clerk said that they are thin, so wider bottom shoes don’t work on my feet.

Dang.

I went to Dillard’s next and was surprised with the selection.

I tried these on…

Oh.

My.

Goodness.

I.  Loved.  Them.

And another hefty price tag…

I also tried on a pair of flats, which I didn’t take a picture of but liked.  I needed a smaller size, though, which the store didn’t have.

One other pair of shoes I tried on were these…

They weren’t Vionics.  I can’t remember the name now.  I liked the look but was concerned that there wasn’t enough support.

So, I went home without buying a single pair, but I will go back at some point and buy at least two of them.

That ended the week, except for a day spent cooking…prepping for the week…and washing dishes.

Maple-Nut Cookie Bars

Maple-Nut Cookie Bars

I continue to find myself grateful that I am able to drive, run errands, and work around the house.  These are things I couldn’t do for so many weeks that rather than being chores, I consider them privileges.

Perspective is everything, y’all.

It’s My Turn

When I broke my ankle three and a half months ago, the Mr. and I did quite the role reversal.  For the first time since I was on bedrest when I was pregnant with our children, the Mr. was taking care of me…ensuring that every single need was filled.

Little did we know how quickly the tides would turn.

Now, it’s my turn to take care of him.

I’ve been leery of writing about this because I wanted to respect his privacy.  I haven’t posted much on social media and only recently have begun alluding to his situation.

I’m sharing now in the hope that you will pray for him.

The day after I started driving again, he became extremely ill.  He was so sick that he asked me to take him to the emergency room.  I was just finishing up my first physical therapy session.  I left, ran to the school to get things set up for my classes, and ran home to pick him up.

We wound up spending thirteen hours in the ER before he was admitted to the ICU.

He remained in the ICU for a week.

He was suffering from a serious complication of his Crohn’s Disease.  He’s had Crohn’s for about thirty years.  It gave him a fit during those early years, but he’d managed to keep it somewhat in check in recent times.

Or so we thought.

The first night in the ER was rough.  We were told that he would have died if we hadn’t taken him in within the next day or two.

Talk about frightened!

The doctors also talked about doing surgery…immediately.

That got his mom and dad on the road.  They joined us in the ER late that night, and we waited together for more tests.

His stay in the ICU was filled with ups and downs.  I went back and forth between the hospital and home.  I also made a couple of trips to school to get things situated.  It was a day-by-day process.  Surgery was a frequent topic of discussion, but by this time, the Mr. was ready to get out and see a specialist elsewhere.

That’s exactly what we did after he got out of the hospital, and he’s now under the care of an excellent surgeon at the Mayo Clinic.

Our first visit there didn’t give us great news.  It was tough to listen to the doctor describe the long road to recovery.  It’s a journey that will require much time.  The surgeon is still in the process of assessing the Mr.’s health to formulate a definitive plan of action.

Meanwhile, we have been at the mercy of things that are completely out of our control.

It’s been a disconcerting thing to deal with…so frustrating when we go from having a decent day to a crap-awful one.

I returned to work a week and a half after tending to him, but my heart is pulled in different directions.

We both feel sucker-punched; the events of the last three-plus months surreal to say the least.

We are people who work.  We are steady and fairly drama-free.

I think I have cried more during these last few months than I have my entire life put together.

Through all of this, we continue to trust God and thank Him for His provision.  It has been so evident.

Many people are praying for us…me with my ankle and him with his plumbing.

We are a hot mess, let me tell you.

Our health issues have brought us closer, though.  I saw a tender side of him that I didn’t know existed when he cared for me during my crisis.

I pray that he’s seeing the same from me now that it’s my turn to take care of him.

Will you join us as we continue to lift the Mr. up in prayer.  Please pray for discernment for us, wisdom for the doctors, and healing so that things can get back to normal.

Thank you so much for your continued love and support. ❤

Nothing Fishy About the Hodgepodge

It’s hit or miss for me when it comes to participating in the Hodgepodge.  Life, y’all, has thrown me for a loop.  Let’s just celebrate the fact that I am here this week!  Join up with Joyce to have your own bit of fun!

1.  Have you ever been fishing? Did you catch a fish? If so did you keep it or throw it back? If you haven’t been fishing is that something you’d like to try?

Fish out of water, big fish in a small pond, living in a fishbowl, packed in like sardines, this is a fine kettle of fish, plenty of fish in the sea, fish or cut bait…which fishy phrase most recently applies to some area of your life?

I have been fishing a few times but haven’t ever caught anything, which is why I have never enjoyed it much.  I did get a kick out of watching my children fish when they were wee things, though.  Seeing the smiles on their faces brought joy to my heart.

I think the phrase “fish out of water” best fits me right now.  With all of our health issues of late, I am feeling lost as I begin to wade through unfamiliar territory.  It’s a bit disconcerting, let me tell you.

2.  What’s something you’re always fishing for in your purse, wallet, desk, or kitchen junk drawer?

I’m usually trying to find my wallet in my purse.  I switched things up a bit after Christmas when I got a new purse and downsized my wallet.  Although I have more space in my purse, I seem to have a hard time putting my hands on my wallet.  Sigh.  The struggle is real, y’all!

3.  Your favorite fish tale or movie?

I’m all about The Little Mermaid.  The songs from this movie make me sing.  Out loud.  While I’m running.  Because I’m cool like that.

4.  Are you sunrise, daylight, twilight or night? Explain why you chose your answer.

Twilight is my jam…especially when the Mr. and I are dining out next to the water, which is all around us here on the Gulf.  The end of the day is such a wonderful time of winding down and relaxing.

5. What’s the oldest piece of clothing you own and still wear?

I have a black leather jacket that I bought when my kids were toddlers.  It’s worn in and worn smooth, making it very comfortable.

6.  We’ve got one more month of (officially) winter here in the Northern hemisphere. Are you feeling the need for a getaway? What’s been the best and worst part of your winter so far?

Getaway?  After the crazy three and a half months we’ve had, I need a vacation.  From life.  The best part of my winter was spending time with my kids during Christmas.  The worst part has been watching the Mr. become ill.  It’s been a stressful time filled with mixed blessings.

7.  The Wednesday Hodgepodge lands on National Margarita Day…will you be celebrating? Frozen or on the rocks? Are you a Jimmy Buffet fan? If so, what’s your favorite JB tune?

I wish I was celebrating, but alas, I will be meeting up with family to grab the Mr. and take him home.  He had a doctor’s appointment and a few tests at the clinic that is four hours away.  By the time I will have worked, driven to meet him, and gotten back home, I’ll be wiped out.  I love my margaritas on the rocks, and being from sunny Florida, I am definitely a Jimmy Buffet fan.  I can’t say that I have a favorite.  They all make me want to run away to an island and dream my days away.

8.  My Random Thought

In case you didn’t read my post from a couple of days ago, my physical therapist strongly advised that I buy new, supportive sneakers.  I wore my new Asics at school for the first time yesterday, and man, what a difference!

I can honestly say that my pain level was radically decreased.  I usually can hardly walk by the end of the day.  Teaching is tiring for people who don’t have broken ankles to recover from.  Imagine doing it after an ankle break!

I am one happy girl!

A Visit from Chicky

This weekend, the Mr. and I were treated to a visit from our sweet Chicky.

When I found out that she had President’s Day off, I asked if she would consider coming home for the weekend.  The Mr. has been very ill, so I thought he’d cheer up if he could spend time with her.

Now, let me tell you that I have amazing children.  You’ve heard me wax poetic about them in the past.

Chicky has been especially attentive ever since I broke my ankle.  She stayed with us for two weeks during Christmas vacation.  We loved having her home.

She drove up on Saturday and completely surprised the Mr. when she walked in the door.

After she visited awhile, we decided to run some errands.  She was considering upgrading her phone, so off we went to the Sprint store.  She got her phone, and we drove out to the beach to do a bit of shopping.  First, though, she wanted to go to the actual beach to take some pictures with her new phone.  She wanted to try out the new camera on it.

I was a little nervous about walking on the sand but desperately needed to be in my happy place.

Y’all…the weather was perfect…the sand cool to the touch but not uncomfortably so…the water frigid.

Slipping my toes into the sand felt so very right.  I carefully walked to the shore, avoiding as many holes as I could.  My physical therapist told me it was good for me to walk on it (he said this after the fact, so at least I wasn’t in trouble!).

I snapped a few photos of her, and she even agreed to a selfie (forgive my face…I didn’t fix my hair or put on much makeup)…

Yes, I am posting her face for the FIRST TIME EVER!  I asked, and she agreed.

Isn’t she just the cutest thing ever? ❤ ❤ ❤

Because traffic was a bear, it took us forever to do just a couple of things, so we headed home to cook a late dinner.  The Mr. has been going to bed pretty early each night, so it was all he could do to hang on while we made up his fish and mashed potatoes.

She went to bed early because, heck, she’s a teacher and sleeps all the days when she’s not teaching.

We got up and went to church the next morning, and I got a good picture of her and the Mr.  I won’t post that because the Mr. is blog-o-phobic.  Ha!

Then, after lunch, Chicky and I headed out for an hour and a half drive.  I was on the hunt for new sneakers (see yesterday’s post), and we needed to return something the Mr. had bought his mom for Christmas.

I sang and car danced on the way, much to her chagrin.  It would seem that some things (or people) don’t change no matter how much time passes.  😀

Chicky couldn’t resist a little treat.  She’s a healthy eater, so the splurge was a rare one.

Yes, she is adorable, is she not?

I heart her much.

I appreciated having her feedback on the shoes, although she made me chuckle when she told me not to limp while I was trying them on.  I think she forgot that I’m recovering from a broken ankle.  Actually, she hasn’t forgotten because it permeates all of my conversations.

Ahem.

We had a grand time shopping and found a couple of good deals.  Overall, we didn’t spend much, though, despite the temptations we faced at World Market and Fresh Market.

Dinner was fish again for Chicky and the Mr. and a Tomato Basil Pasta recipe I’d made the day before (Oh She Glows has wonderful recipes) for me.

After dinner, she and I settled in for a movie…London Has Fallen…and then she headed to bed.

She and the Mr. left early yesterday morning.  She needed to go back home, and she was dropping the Mr. off at his parents’ house.  They are going to be taking him to his next doctor appointment so I can stay home and work.

Although I’m used to my life as an empty nester, it’s so easy to slip into the new-yet-familiar routine that having your children home brings.  I sure do miss my kiddos when they aren’t here, which is why Chicky’s visit meant so much.

Don’t be a stranger, sweet girl.  You are a blessing.  ❤

14 Weeks

Y’all…fourteen weeks…can you believe that’s how long ago I broke my ankle?

Yeah, I’m sure you can since it seems to be the ONLY thing I blog about lately.

Ha!

Three and a half months may not seem like a long time…except when you have a break…or rather three…like mine.

So, what new things can I do?

Well, I’ve pretty much been doing the same exercises at PT.  It’s been the slowest process ever!  I was never the most patient person (pun unintended), but I have learned that one cannot rush the healing.

I’m still doing my workouts at home too.  It’s important to keep my ankle moving so I can gain back mobility and flexibility.

Gambit is a very supportive partner…

These calf stretches are my least favorite things of all.  I do three minutes of them and then three minutes of shin stretches (the same movement but with my knee slightly bent).  They.  Are.  Painful.

I even do my workouts when my ankle is swollen after a hard day.  Going the extra mile is tough sometimes but worth it.

I bought bands after my physical therapist added more resistance exercises to get my hips and other leg parts stronger.

I’m not kidding.  I am determined to run again one day.

I started taking a new supplement…Curcumin…after reading about it in a couple of magazines and online.

It’s supposed to be great for inflammation and pain, which I suffer from on a daily basis.  I ordered this bottle from Amazon.  I’ll probably try it for a couple of months before I decide if it will be a permanent part of my regimen.

I’m still limping and have been having hip and knee pain that, we believe, is due from my gait.  My physical therapist took a look at my shoes and grew very dismayed.  Apparently, my sneakers, which I love, offered no support.  I don’t have much of an arch in my right foot and am pronated on that side.  That means that my foot turns inward (not my toes…the arch),  I also need more support to help me walk better.  I have a tendency to roll the top part of my foot to the outside to avoid the pain brought on as I push off from my big toe in my walking motion.

So, I went out shopping.

My PT had suggested three different brands, and we had looked online together to pick out a particular style.  He gave me pointers on what to look for.

I thought I was going to get a pair of Brooks, which I had eons ago and loved.  I saw this blue pair at Dicks and wanted them, but they didn’t have my size.

I tried on a different color in what I thought was my size (I found out I was wrong the next day).  I didn’t like the color at all but liked the feel of the shoe.

I went out the next day.  The first stop was Hibbits, which had the Adrenaline 15.  I wasn’t a fan of the colors though.  The red on the top just clashed with the blue (see the collage below).

Next, I went to the Finish Line.  They had the blue shoes in my size!  But alas, the guy at Hibbit had suggested that I try Asics, which was a brand my PT had recommended, so to make a more educated decision, I tried on a pair.

Oy vey, but the decision became so hard!  The Brooks and Asics felt so good!  The Brooks were more bulky but a little wider in the toe area.  The Asics were smaller overall and a bit more narrow in the toes, but they had more cushioning in the heel area, which I figured would help me with my broken ankle.

I asked Chicky, who was with me (I’ll talk about our visit in another post) and texted the Mr. for opinions.  They both liked the look of the Asics better but told me to get what felt the best.

I decided on the Asics (larger square above).  The price tag was hefty, but the sales clerk gave me $20 off after I gave him my broken ankle sob story.  Ha!

One good thing about trying on all of the shoes was that my ankle made a loud POP during the process.

Like I said, this was a GOOD thing.  My ankle has so much scar tissue in it, and despite the PT’s maneuvering, we haven’t been able to break it up.  The motion of sliding my foot in and out of the shoes must have been just what the doctor ordered.

I felt my ankle and foot area pop a few more times after that, which was also good.  I told my PT about it this morning, and he thinks that maybe I’m turning a corner now.  Scar tissue really limits mobility.  Fingers crossed that it continues!

Another small sign of progress happened this morning at physical therapy when they bumped me up to 1.5lb weights on my legs for my leg raises.

I’ll tell you what.  I had no idea that rehabbing my ankle would involve so many muscles!

After physical therapy, I ran a couple of errands and then got busy in my back yard.  The weather here was gorgeous, and I had almost four months of dog poop to scoop.  Five bags worth.  It was ugly.

Then, I decided that some branches that had been littering the yard for weeks on end after several storms needed to go.  The Mr. was going to ask a couple of work buddies to come and help out, but I thought, “Auburnchick, you’re an overachiever, and the PT said that your ankle is getting stronger.  Why not try to move the branches on your own.”

So, I got out the wagon the Mr. bought to transport our beach stuff and loaded it up with debris.

I was super, duper careful so I wouldn’t turn my ankle, and the going was s-l-o-w because my legs just aren’t as strong as they were before I got hurt.

But…

I.

Did.

It.

It took about five loads, and by the end, I was hobbling, but I finished.

Talk about proud!  I totally should have put in my wireless ear buds so I could get a calorie count.  I’m fairly certain I burned seven or eight hundred big ones.

I continue to make progress, albeit slowly, but who cares?!

I am so encouraged by people who tell me how nice it is to see me up and around.  I ran into a gal from work at Petsmart today (we didn’t have school), and before she left, she said this to me.  She totally made my day, as did the sweet young gal I saw at church yesterday (hey, Tiff!) who said the same thing.  She’s an absolute doll…so positive…just like her mama who told me how great I looked.  Oh the love.  ❤

Although I really want to run, my time is coming.  My physical therapist said that he’s going to start adding new things next week.  I have asked him to challenge me, which he says he will do as soon as he’s sure my ankle can take it so I don’t regress.

I am going through Lysa TerKeurst’s study, Finding I Am, and a quote from her book struck me today.  She said that Jesus doesn’t participate in the rat race…that He likes slower scenarios.

This has been my life for the past fourteen weeks.  I’m learning patience and trust as I continue #findingjoyinthejourney.

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