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Changing the Lesson Plans and Taking Time to Reflect

Tomorrow marks the end of over six weeks of ACT preparation.

My students are battle-weary, as am I.

In the midst of some of the most boring lessons ever, there’s been an underlying tension.  My students took the FSA Retakes early in October, and we had all been waiting with baited breath for the results.

Well, y’all, we got the scores back two days ago.

My assistant principal quietly delivered them to me late Tuesday afternoon.

My hopes were high as I dug in; my nerves were strung tightly as I eagerly scanned pages and pages of test scores.

My heart soared as I read the names of the students who had acquired the score required to pass, and it plummeted when I saw the scores of those who had fallen short, some by only one or two points.

I took the list home to run some numbers.  I prayed.  Super Sis called me, and I asked her to pray.  I also texted Rebecca and asked her to pray.

You see, the next day, I was tasked with telling my kids if they had passed or not.

Stressful much?

I worried about how I would deliver the news . . . how the kids would respond . . . how I would help them rebound given the ACT test fast approaching.

The next morning, I opened the door between my classroom and the empty one beside it and called each student alphabetically while keeping an eye on the kids in my room.

I had last year’s scores in front of me to help me show the kids how much they had improved (or perhaps regressed) from the spring test administration.

I expected a lot of tears or even anger when I had to deliver less-than-stellar news.  What I got, instead, surprised and impressed me.

Most of the kids took the news well.  Many were quick to reflect and honestly admitted that they’d fallen asleep during the test, had been distracted, or just hadn’t been in the mood that day.

One young lady told me, with a determined look on her face, that she was going to ace the ACT.  Her motivation and confidence had increased ten-fold.

Then, there were the kids who received good news . . . that they had, in fact, passed.

The looks on their faces were priceless as the realization that they wouldn’t have to sit for another FSA test ever again settled in.

One young man, who I’d had the pleasure of teaching two years ago and learned that he’d passed, waltzed back into my classroom and announced his good news.  I heard one of my girls say, “Congratulations!  Now, you get to graduate.”  Her words were sincere; this was a good friend of hers.

My students continued to impress me throughout the day as they handled the news with a grace that eased my tender heart.  A few were disappointed after discovering that they’d barely missed the mark.  Those were the hardest on me.

Overall, though, the day had gone surprisingly well, and I realized that I had not needed to worry so much.  God had prepared the way through the prayers offered up on my behalf.

As a result of yesterday’s test results, I decided to change up my lesson plans for today.

As I’d talked with my kids yesterday, I’d heard their weary voices.

They are test-tired.  With the district’s common assessments, delivered via the computer in most cases, they are constantly being assessed.  Plus, we’d been working on ACT passages for so long that they couldn’t take any more.

So, despite my wanting to review the mock ACT reading test I’d given them on Monday, I decided to allow their voices to alter our course today.

Instead, I had them record their FSA scores on a sheet I’d created for them.  We had done this in August for the spring scores, and it had been illuminating.  Most, at the time, had no clue what they’d made.

Today, I walked them through finding the percentage of correct answers for all sections of the spring and fall FSAs.  Then, they compared their scores to see where they had improved and what they needed to work on.

You should have heard their comments.  One young lady told me that she realized that her score had been affected by the divorce her parents are going through.  They are fighting over who the children will live with.

Doesn’t that just break your heart?

Another young lady told me that she had lost her car keys and drivers license the day of the test, so that’s all she could think about.  I told her that I didn’t blame her, but that on an important test day, she had to find a way to block out everything else.

I told the kids that it was important to take time to reflect . . . that they needed to understand their strengths and weaknesses . . . that their parents couldn’t be the ones managing their academics for them because, ultimately, it was the kids who would be doing the work and trying to pass.

It was during my sixth period class when my principal came into my class for an unannounced observation – part of my yearly evaluation.

He got to witness my high-spirited class ask probing questions about the FSA, the ACT, and if could they get away with not really trying on the ACT (yes, this was really asked).  I absolutely loved watching them take the reins of their learning because this is really the end goal – for the kids to handle their business with a bit of gentle leading.

I am grateful for the last couple of days because, quite honestly, it can be extremely difficult to find time to sit down with over one hundred students and have truly meaningful conversations.  At best, I can do this with two or three in each class each day.

I think that the few minutes we spent chatting, one-on-one, reminded them that I am in their corner, despite pushing them so hard the last few weeks, and that I am listening to their feedback.

While this has been a time of growth for them, it has also been a time of growth for me.  My students continue to remind me what’s important – taking time to reflect and being willing to adjust.

It’s what’s best for them, and really, it’s what’s best for me as well.

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Thankful Thursday – Thanksgiving 2017

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!  Today, I’m joining up with Rebecca for her weekly Thankful Thursday post!

This Thanksgiving has some special significance to me because I remember the way I spent last year’s holiday – three days post-op, dog sick from the side effects of my pain medicine, unable to eat, and plain old miserable.

You shouldn’t find it any surprise when I list, as the first thing I’m thankful for this week, the ability to walk and, so important to me, work out.

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I am so thankful for the essential oils that keep my ankle pain and emotions at bay . . .

There’s a roll on bottle inside. The combination of oils in this blend is so soothing!

For the baths I’m planning on taking after I get my stitches out after my surgery

For my migraines. I hope the hefty price tag proves worthwhile.

I love the rewards program through Young Living.  I’m earning points for my purchases, and when I spend a certain amount, I get free items with my order!

Free!

That Christmas Spirit you see?  Oh my goodness!  It’s amazing!  I have it in a USB diffuser that I run in my car.  ❤

Also free – The Pine oil will be perfect in this ornament diffuser!

I am thankful for my fur babies.  Molly took a piece of my heart with her when she passed away this summer.  My boys keep me grounded and help me remember to keep loving even when it’s hard.

I am thankful for a husband who didn’t mind that our Thanksgiving meal wasn’t all that fancy given our lack of company this year.  He went with the flow, ate the spaghetti squash and spaghetti sauce that I prepared, and never complained.

I set a fine table, don’t you think?

I am thankful for those who create vegan recipes so people like me can still eat good food, like this dish – Cheesy Lentil Bolognese Casserole – from Oh She Glows.

It took a couple of hours from start to finish to put this together – mainly because I accidentally dropped the carrots and potatoes I’d cooked for the “cheese” sauce in the dirty side of my sink and had to boil more.  :::Slaps forehead:::

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I used this marinara sauce, which I found at Publix.  It’s one of the few I’ve seen that doesn’t have added sugar or other unnecessary additives . . .

The smell coming from the oven reminded me of an Italian restaurant.  Seriously.

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The “cheese” sauce is absolutely divine and MAKES this dish!  I’ll be eating on it for days and days.

Another recipe I made for Thanksgiving is this Vegan French Silk Pie, by Detoxinista.

I’m fairly certain that it’s the most decadent dessert I’ve ever made.  It’s that good (and deceptively quick to assemble).

I am very, very, VERY thankful for technology that allows me to see my babies’ faces when we talk on the phone, should they choose.  The Mr. and I chatted with Rooster and his sweet wife for forty five today.  Seeing the smiles on their faces, the little nuances when they cracked jokes, their raised eyebrows at the sarcasm thrown digitally across the miles – well, it made our hearts swell with love.

I hope you have a wonderful day and that, if possible, you’re able to spend it with loved ones.

Giving Thanks for the Hodgepodge

Happy Almost-Thanksgiving, y’all!  I’m very impressed, but not at all surprised, that Joyce put together another fun list of questions given her precious company this week.  ❤ ❤ ❤

Thanks for visiting, y’all, and have a wonderful holiday!  Oh, and if you’re new to this, link up with Joyce to play along!

1.  Traditionhow tightly do you cling to tradition when it comes to holiday gatherings and celebrations? For instance do you always do the cooking, never eat at home, always go to grandma’s, never miss the parade, always watch football, never change the menu, always eat at 2 PM, etc.? Have you ever celebrated Christmas or Thanksgiving away from hearth, home, and family? How did that feel?

I used to cling to tradition like crazy.  I am a creature of habit and do not do change well; however, my life became rather chaotic from the moment that Rooster announced that he was enlisting in the Air Force.  I quickly learned that I couldn’t hold onto traditions quite as tightly; rather, I’d have to adapt.  So, I’m trying.

As far as traditions that we’ve observed down in these parts, the Mr. and I have hosted Thanksgiving ever since we lived in Miami.  Our family used to drive down, and I’d do most of the cooking.  When we moved closer to the family, we continued to have them over.  That changed last year when I had my ankle surgery four days before the holiday, and the Mr. and I spent that week alone, except for a quick visit from Chicky.

This year, the Mr. and I are on our own, unless Chicky drives up, which I’m still not sure of.  I won’t be cooking this year either for various reasons.  It will be a rather nontraditional day for us.

We always watch football on Thanksgiving, so that won’t change.

The only Thanksgivings we haven’t celebrated at home have been the ones when we were on cruises.  What a fun way to celebrate the holiday!

As far as Christmas, we have, for the most part, gone to the Mr.’s parents’ house.  The only exception was the year that Chicky had knee surgery.  We spent Christmas getting her back on her feet.  It was very strange to be away from the rest of the family.

Last year, we were fortunate that Rooster and his wife were able to be here.  Actually, they had their big wedding right before the holiday and spent the week after visiting us and her parents.  It was heavenly.  I knew that this would be one of our last years observing so many of our Christmas traditions.

This year, the Mr. and I will be home, with Chicky, because he is on call, and I’m having another ankle surgery on the 21st.

It’s a year of firsts for us.

2.  Help...is it easy for you to ask for help or are you a do-it-yourselfer? How is that a good/bad thing?

Well, prior to this past year, it was difficult for me to ask for help because I am definitely a DIY kind of gal.  After breaking my ankle, I had to rely on everyone for everything.  Then, the Mr. got super sick in January, and the asking kept on going.  I’ve tried not to ask for help too often because I don’t want to be a burden on anyone, but the good thing has been that I’ve learned that most people really will help if asked.

3.  Abundance…what is there an abundance of in your kitchen?

I have an abundance of flour – so many types of flour.  I am so grateful that the internet is a plethora of vegan recipes; however, I often plan to make something, buy the flour, and then forget which recipe I’d bought it for.  The struggle is real, y’all!

4.  Namethe smallest thing you’re thankful for? the biggest?

The smallest thing I am thankful for is having the week to nap . . . every day . . . (click the photo to play)

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The biggest thing I am thankful for is a loving, gracious God whose plan for my life is perfect, even when I don’t understand the reasons for some of the things He allows into it.

5.  Key...What do you think is the key to living a more grateful life?

I think that the key to living a more grateful life is having a humble attitude.  When we get too big for our britches, we become ungrateful and begin to take things for granted.  Things can change in a nanosecond.  This is a lesson I’ve learned this year both with my struggle to recuperate from my ankle injury, my husband’s illness, and the passing of our beloved fur baby, Molly.

I am not strong on my own, and I sure as heck cannot do life with the grace of my precious heavenly Father.

6.  My Random Thought

I could make a list of all the things I am thankful for; however, I’m sure they’re the same things that most of you would include as well.

Instead, I’ll share this adorable video, which I took the other night.

This year has been one of the toughest I’ve ever had.  As mentioned above, I lost my buddy, Molly, this summer, and my heart just hasn’t healed yet.  I don’t know if it will ever be the same.

However, I am finding so much solace with my two boys.  I recently splurged and bought two more dog beds, which stay in my room.  I’ve been leaving the door open in the afternoons, after the Roomba has run, and the other night, I discovered that they’d gotten tired of waiting for me to go to bed.  They took matters in to their own paws.

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Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Marking Time

Last week, I wrote about the one year anniversary of my ankle injury.

Well, today marks one year since I underwent the surgery to fix my broken ankle.

I had to wait a week from the day I broke it because I’d broken the skin when I’d scratched my leg after they took off the splint that the ER had put on it the night I broke it.  The doctor couldn’t operate until that scratch healed because of the risk of infection (the incision was going to be right where I’d scratched my leg).

It had been a long week of waiting filled with a lot of pain, boredom, and tears.

When that day finally came, I was more than thankful.

Chicky made the long drive to be with me and to support the Mr., who was more than a little stressed.

I woke up in comfort; the medical staff was incredible, their tenderness so evident in even the smallest details of my care.

I was dismayed, however, to learn that the surgeon had discovered that my bones were in bad shape, thus making the surgery extremely challenging.

I went home with what I’d like to call a bionic ankle, minus the superpower abilities that should accompany such hardware.

 

My surgery, a mere four days before Thanksgiving, made for a less-than-holiday(ish) week as I struggled through the initial days of extreme pain and sickness from my medicine.

The Mr. was such a trooper and doted on me, patiently waiting out my frequent burst of tears in between decorating the house for Christmas.

I don’t know that I’ll ever approach Thanksgiving the same way that I did before breaking my ankle.

I am so very thankful for the smallest things – things that most people take for granted – being able to walk (ok, so this isn’t a small thing), taking a shower unassisted, and being able to sleep under the covers (I spent over two months sleeping on my back with my right leg laying on top of my blankets and sheets).

I’m still learning to go with the flow and not feel resentful when things don’t work out like I planned.  That word “plan” makes me chuckle because clearly things can change in an instant.

#findingjoyinthejourney isn’t just my hashtag.  It’s my mantra.

I constantly remind myself to find a reason to be happy in whatever circumstances surround me.  Even when I’m disappointed or hurt (physically or emotionally), there’s always a reason to be joyful.

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.

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.

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. ❤

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