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A Musical Hodgepodge

After a bit of a hiatus, I am back and excited to participate in this week’s Hodgepodge.  Thanks, Joyce, for posting these questions, even as you’re snuggling that precious grandson of yours!  Now, let’s get to my answers!

1.  April is National Jazz Appreciation Month. Are you a fan? If so what’s a favorite you’d recommend to someone new to jazz listening?

I can’t really say that I’m a fan.  I do appreciate music, but I don’t listen to jazz it and probably could only list out a few  musicians in this genre.

2.  Mandolin, ukulele, harp, accordion or banjo…which would you be most interested in learning to play? Or do you already play one of the instruments listed?

I think it would be fun to learn how to play the banjo.  Growing up in the South, I grew to love the sound of this instrument, and I always enjoy it when someone at church pulls one out for worship.

3.  Do you judge a book by it’s cover? Elaborate. You may answer in either/both the literal or figurative sense of the word.

I’m human, so I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I do, sometimes, judge a book by its color.

I think that teaching has changed this tendency, though.  A lot of my kiddos present tough exteriors as defense mechanisms.  I’ve learned that taking time to get to know them . . . to compliment them . . . to show them that I’m interested in them goes a long way and removes some of the walls they keep around their hearts.

As far as books and covers, well, there again I do judge them, initially, from how they look on the outside.  Let’s face it, folks.  Publishers need to help their writers market their books with eye-catching covers.  They are the first things that entice us to pick up their books and at least turn them over to read the blurbs on the backs.  I’ve often skipped over books (and have probably missed out on great plots) because the covers weren’t alluring enough.

As I said, I’m human.

4.  According to a recent study the ten most nutritious foods are-almonds, cherimoya (supposed to taste like a cross between a pineapple/banana), ocean perch, flatfish (such as flounder and halibut), chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, swiss chard, pork fat (shocking! but I don’t think they mean bacon), beet greens, and red snapper. Are any of these foods a regular part of your diet? Any you’ve never ever tasted? Which would you be most inclined to add to your diet?

I would have to say that almonds and chia seeds are a regular part of my vegan diet.  I’ve never tasted cherimoya (sounds interesting), Swiss chard, perch, flatfish, beet greens, or red snapper.  I guess I’d be most inclined to add the fruit to my diet, if given the chance.

5.  Besides a major holiday what is the most recent thing you’ve celebrated with your people? Tell us how.

The most recent thing I’ve celebrated with my people was my birthday last month.  Chicky was on Spring Break, visiting a guy friend nearby, and drove over to eat dinner with us.

We went out to a popular Mexican restaurant . . . a local establishment that has divine food.

Unbeknownst to me, she arranged for a surprise after we’d finished.  Of course, we had to wear the special sombreros . . .

I was both mortified and entertained by this guy (I do not like to be the center of attention).  He certainly earned his keep, let me tell you.

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The singing came with dessert, which I couldn’t really eat.  Chicky dug into it though.

The evening was definitely memorable!

6.  My Random Thought

So, while we’re on the topic of birthdays, allow me a moment to share what my sister gave me.

But first, the video of me opening it.  Excuse the hair (ahem) and lack of makeup.  I was about to go for my pre-work, o’dark’thirty walk – no fixing up required.

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After I finally got it opened, I found this . . .

The Mr. had snuck into my jewelry collection and given her a list of the charms I already had.  Of course, he told me later that he had a hard time getting to the bracelet because I wear it almost every day.

Here’s a closer look at the charm . . .

It was the perfect gift given my love for books and my job as a reading teacher.

I discovered that it opened up and had a special message inside . . .

“Ignore the things you have to do and just enjoy a book or two.”

What a lovely addition to the other charms!

Dear Tuesday

Dear Tuesday,

No offense or anything, but I wish you were Saturday.

It’s only two days into the week, and I’m already dreaming of this . . .

Even though my testing is over, I’m still teaching all of the reading things because the kids I have left are awaiting their FSA test scores.

Let’s just say that while some of my students are enjoying my very relevant (ahem) lesson on artificial sweeteners, one of my classes is less than impressed, and that’s making for the longest 47 minutes EVER.

So, not to be ungrateful or anything, but seriously, don’t be mad that I want to fast forward.  It’s not personal because I feel the same way about Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Friday is like Saturday-Eve, so there’s a bit more love going on there and a whole lot of visualizing myself here  . . .

After walking when it’s not the butt crack of dawn . . .

Yours Truly,

A very tired teacher who’s officially on the countdown toward summer, when I can give Tuesday the love it deserves

It’s Been Awhile

I’m BAAAAAAACKKKKKKKK.

Y’all.  Life.  It’s just been

So.

Busy.

Hence, my nearly six-week absence.

Sigh.

But the busy has been good, I promise.

It’s going to take me a week and a day to get you caught up, so why don’t I start where I left off.

And no, I’m no going to write everything in one post.

Ha!

I think the first thing I want to talk about is my ankle.  My last post alluded to a final appointment I’d had with my surgeon.

That appointment took place February 9th, exactly two months ago today.

I took the afternoon off because my doctor is a solid two-hour drive away.  Of course, I stopped by Which Wich to grab lunch since, at the time, the one in my town had not opened yet.

I also ran by Shoe Station.  This store is my jam, y’all.  I like to buy my Vionic shoes there because I can use a store coupon.  These shoes are expensive, let me tell you.

Super Sis was supposed to meet me there, but she wound up having a meeting to attend, so I had to go solo.  I sent her pictures of the shoes I was trying on . . .

I was giggling when I found these shoes because, just that morning, I’d been thinking that I needed a silver pair.

Ask and ye shall receive.

I also found these adorable (and comfy) flip flops . . .

I didn’t know what to do . . . which pair to buy . . . because the struggle is always real when you’re shoe shopping . . .

I made it easy on myself and got both.

Then, I headed to my appointment.  I hoped that arriving early would result in getting in and out and, thus home, quicker.

Yeah, that didn’t happen.  I had to wait over an hour just to get back to a room and then about another thirty minutes for the doctor to come in . . .

Knowing that I had a two-hour drive ahead of me, in the dusk, was not an appealing thought.

But, and that’s a BIG but, my surgeon is amazing as is his nursing staff, so I put on a smile when he came in.

My surgeon has the best bedside manner.  He’s professional and patient and allows his patients to talk.

And boy do I talk.

Ahem.

After he walked in, he pulled up my new x-rays.

He told me that things looked great and asked how I was feeling.

I told him that the second surgery had really thrown me for a loop – that it was much harder than I’d expected.

He reiterated the fact that my injury had been quite serious.

It still seemed surreal – hearing him say that made me feel better about the aches and pains I was still going through because, if I can be frank, I had sometimes felt like a baby and that people sometimes felt like I was exaggerating my discomfort.  I’d heard at least one comment to that effect.

Then, we got down to business.

I had a few *cough* questions and a couple of concerns as I showed him my ankle . . .

That’s the incision on the inner part of my ankle – the incision I’d had problem with after my second surgery.

The outside incision looked really good though.

There was also the matter of the swelling, which wouldn’t go away . . .

Then, he pulled up a stool and grabbed my ankle, gently of course, and maneuvered it this way and that to check for range of motion.

I described how I’d taken a needle and drained the stitch abscess, per his nurse’s instructions, a few weeks prior.  However, there was still a stitch poking through the skin.  He took a closer look, got out a needle, and proceeded to try to coax it out.

He kept asking if he was hurting me, but honestly, after everything I’d been through since I broke it in 2016, the discomfort was minimal.  He wound up not being able to remove the stitch.  He gave me information about pulling it out if my body decided to expel it later (it had receded back into my incision).

We then went through my list of questions, and I learned that I could expect the swelling to continue for up to another year.

Yay.

Ahem.

I asked what kinds of exercises I could do, and he gave me the ALL CLEAR for all exercises, including RUNNING!

He assured me that my diagnosis a few month prior of osteoporosis (have I shared this here yet?) would not affect my ability to run and that, in fact, running would be good for strengthening my bones.

Yay!

I floated on air as I left.

Before I’d had the second surgery, I’d questioned my decision a bit, and I certainly wondered if I’d done the right thing after the surgery with all of the issues I dealt with.

I can say that I’ve seen a lot of progress in my recovery in the past few weeks.  I still have some pain, but most days, it’s at a two or a three.  I’ve had a couple of bad days here and there, but that’s so much better than having a bad day every day.

I am so thankful that God led me to this doctor and the orthopedic practice that took care of me.

I am still healing, but I can finally see light at the end of what has been a freakishly-long tunnel.

I am, as always, #findingjoyinthejourney.

A Taxing Hodgepodge

Y’all, it’s been over a MONTH since I’ve blogged.

I’m so ashamed.

Life.  It’s getting in the way.

For now, I’m here, so why don’t I just try this again, beginning with Joyce’s Hodgepodge.

1.  Are you currently operating at 100% capacity? If not, what % are you? What’s keeping you there?

Well, that depends on where I am.  At school, I’m running on 300%.  I put the blame on testing season.  It’s not pretty.  At all.

At home, I’m operating at 50% capacity.  I’m fighting either a chest cold or spring-time temperature changes.  I feel yucky when I first wake up, go do my job, and then feel yucky at night again.  It’s been a vicious cycle.

2.  Have you done your taxes? Planned/booked a summer holiday? Thought about or started your ‘spring cleaning’? Besides what’s listed here, tell us one task that needs doing before spring rolls around.

The hubby filed our taxes a few weeks ago.  He’s good like that.  We are planning a summer holiday to visit Rooster and his sweet wife.  We haven’t picked a date yet; that’s dependent on Rooster’s work schedule, which is always up-in-the-air (literally, since he’s in the Air Force).

Spring cleaning will begin as soon as I start feeling better.  I’ve got company coming or else I wouldn’t bother.

What needs doing?  Um, everything?  Ugh.  It’s going to get very ugly before all is said and done.

3.  What’s a favorite food from your part of the country?

I live near the beach, so even though I don’t eat meat, a local favorite is seafood.  Personally, I’m digging Chick fil A’s sweet tea.  That’s food, right?  I mean, I do live in the South, y’all.

Ahem.

4.  This isn’t a leap year, but let’s run with it anyway…look before you leap, a leap of faith, grow by leaps and bounds, leap to conclusions, leap at the opportunity…which phrase might best be applied to your life currently (or recently)? Explain.

I think the phrase that best fits my life right now is that I’m growing by leaps and bounds.  I’ve had a new prep this school year – getting juniors and seniors ready for the ACT, SAT, and the FSA.  So much test prep – in the hopes that we can get them graduated.  It’s been quite the learning experience and one that I am enjoying immensely.  I still get to utilize my knowledge of helping kids with their reading skills, and there’s added pressure with the kids so close to graduation, but it’s fun to interact with the older students, as opposed to the tenth grade kiddos I’ve taught for the past six years.

5.  As the month draws to a close list five fun and/or fabulous things (large or small) you noticed or experienced in February.

The LAST appointment with my ankle surgeon! Remember that I broke my ankle in November 2016.  The recovery continues, but this was a HUGE milestone!  I’m planning on blogging about my progress.


Incredible weather – what a teaser for the spring!


Early morning / before-school walks – a new thing for me and something I’m enjoying immensely

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Gorgeous sunrises – the BEST thing about being up so early each morning

The opening of Which Wich, my new favorite fast food restaurant.  When you live in Podunk, USA, you appreciate things like this!

6.  My Random Thought

I mentioned that we are in the throes of testing season.  Well, actually, we’ve been in that season all year long since I’m teaching upperclassmen this year, but we just started a big round of it.  As always, I grabbed some treats for the kids . . .

This is the first time that I’ve gotten Now and Laters.  The kids LOVED them.  They were still talking about them on Tuesday.  The kids who weren’t in my testing room were actually complaining.  I’m a strict teacher, but I try to be extra gentle on test days and spoil the kids rotten to alleviate their stress.  I think I’ll pick up another box or two of the beloved candy before we test next month.  We still have three more days.  Fun times, y’all!

Thankful Thursday

I think I’m going to link up with my BFF, Rebecca, for the Thankful Thursday post.  After a long week of working with my students to set up their Khan Academy accounts, I need to purposely look for things to be thankful for.

This week, I am thankful for  . . .

Two observations are behind me.  My principal came into my class on Monday – the first day we began working on the Khan Academy stuff.  This is my first experience with it, and of course he came into my first period class . . . aka the guinea pigs.  Sigh.  We had a few technology-related-password-email-blocked-website issues, but heck, that’s the real stuff of teaching.  My second observation came today.  It wasn’t so much about what I’m doing as a teacher but what my classroom flow is like.  Three other people from the district came in, along with my principal.  Thankfully, the Khan Academy stuff went smoothly, and the kids were able to explain what they were doing when asked.  I’m rather proud of them and the classroom culture we’ve established.


I am thankful that my stations are set up.  Stations are skills-based activities designed to give students much-needed practice with the standards they need to master for their standardized tests.  They are a bit of a pain to set up, but once they are done, swapping out tasks is fairly simple.  This is my seventh year doing stations, so I’m fairly good at it by now.  Still, it’s time-consuming to write the instructions, anticipating what questions the kids will have (when they are supposed to be autonomous).


I am so thankful that my classes are about half (in some cases, a third) of what they were when we started school in August.  A lot of kids have tested out due to their hard work.  I’m going to be able to provide really good individualized instruction now that my attention won’t be split across thirty students per class.


I’ll say it again and again and again, but I am thankful for YouTube videos like this one . . . a stretching workout that I found as part of the Hurt Foot Workout series.  I actually did two videos this morning.  The first one was a floor barre workout, but since it was only nineteen minutes, I wanted to do a second one.  I found a stretching video and wow, were my muscles warmed up when I finished.  I’ve missed my Piyo.  This was a gentle way to ease back into things.


I am thankful for each day that passes, bringing me closer to complete healing (whenever that will be).  On Wednesday, I did my first session of at-home physical therapy exercises since having my surgery in December.  I couldn’t do everything; I’m following the doctor’s orders by sticking with low-impact moves.  My quads were screaming at me when I finished, and the outside of my ankle hurt pretty good when I walked around at school.  Still, I’m finding that I’m able to navigate around the tables and chairs in my classroom with less difficulty than before my surgery, when the hardware in my ankle limited my range of motion.  I was very swollen by the time I left school, so there was that.

If you wouldn’t mind praying for me, I’d appreciate it.  The incision on the inside part of my ankle is still yucky.  It’s not infected, but it’s not healing very well either.  It’s still very red, and I seem to have developed a rash an inch away from the incision – not something I had after the first surgery.  I have a follow-up with my surgeon in a couple of weeks, so if it’s not better by then, I’ll make sure I discuss it with him.  I am hoping that the triple antibiotic ointment, vitamin E oil, and other essential oils I’m applying will help clear things up.


I am thankful for this salad recipe.  The edamame MAKES this, as does a peanut dressing I got from my No Excuses Detox recipe book and swapped out for the one in the salad recipe (it was horrible, and I had to throw it out).


I am thankful for new books . . .

A new devotional, which I read each night before I go to bed.

The second in the Scythe series (I am making myself wait until I finish a book I’m currently reading)

Her first book, which I just ordered and received. I have the second one, but in typical fashion, I did things backwards.

A Positively Complimentary Hodgepodge

Look at me – joining in the Hodgepodge two weeks in a row.  Go me, Go me!  Ha!  Seriously, though, thanks for visiting!  I look forward to reciprocating after work since I must do teach the children all the things.

1.  January 24th is National Compliment Day. Is it easy or not so easy for you to accept a compliment? Share a recent compliment you’ve given or received.

I guess it depends on the compliment as to whether or not it’s easy for me to accept.  If it’s something fitness-related, I’m all gushy yes, but if it’s something about teaching, I’d rather defer attention to my students or other teachers.

I give compliments to my students every day.  Yesterday, I told one of my girls that I liked her the way her hair was braided.

Yesterday, my principal complimented on what I was doing in my class when he came in to observe me the day before (despite numerous tech-related issues . . . hello blocked websites and forgotten passwords!).

2.  Ten little things you are loving right now.

Ten little things that I am loving right now are:

Being out of my boot

Driving again

Lunching on mason jar salads

Indulging in no-bake desserts

Exercising to some awesome Hurt Foot workouts on YouTube

Scooping poop in mild winter weather

Discovering delicious Instant Pot recipes

Watching the hubby and our fur babies engage in their nighttime carrot routine

Getting on track with 2nd semester lesson plans

Testing out a new griddler and a vegan waffle recipe

3.Would people describe you as a positive person? Do you see yourself that way? I read here  a list/description of eight things positive people do differently-

Positive people find something to look forward to every day, they celebrate the small stuff, they’re kind, they stay busy, accept responsibility for their actions, forgive themselves, know when to move on, and resist comparisons

Which action on the list would you say you do regularly? Which action could you add to your life to give you a more positive outlook? If you’re a positive person, what’s something you do regularly that’s not on the list?

Yes, I believe that people describe me as a positive person.  I’ve had people tell me, in the midst of a conversation about bad stuff, that I always manage to find a silver lining in everything.

I do consider myself positive as well.  If you’ve been reading my blog since I broke my ankle a little over a year ago, you’ve probably seen that as well.

Out of the actions listed above, I think the one that stands out the most is that I celebrate the small stuff.  I’ve had to, y’all, especially with all of the challenges I’ve faced recently.  I think that my habit of finding joy in every circumstance became a big part of my healing as I focused more on what I was learning to do again versus what I couldn’t (that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a few pity parties along the way).

I think that I need to work on resisting comparisons.  If you know me personally, you’re probably nodding your head right now.  I am such an overachiever and can’t help but measure myself against what others are doing.  It’s tough.

Something that I do regularly that’s not on the list . . . hmmm!  I think that staying in my own lane, trying really hard not to gossip, helps me to be positive because I’m not immersed in the drama that can either come back to bite a person or be so drenched in negativity that one can’t find the way out.

4.  Homemade chicken soup, beef stew, or a bowl of chili…what’s your pleasure on a cold winter’s day?

Hold the meat on all of the above, please.  I’ll take any homemade vegan soup, stew, or chili – I have no preference.  I found a really good Instant Pot recipe for chili and man, even my students were raving about the delicious smell as it warmed up in the mini-crockpot I use in my classroom.

5.  The best part of my day is….

. . . coming home after a day of work and finding my dogs happily waiting for me.

6.  My Random Thought

So, I missed writing a birthday post for my daughter.  I snatched this photo from her Instagram feed.  Isn’t she a cutie pie?

My sweet Chicky, who has grown up on this blog, turned 26 on Monday.

I tried to call her while I was getting ready for work, but her planning period had changed, so she couldn’t talk.  We did, however, chat after I got off.  She was on her way to tutor a student.

Hello 26-year-old-life, welcome to adulting on your birthday.

Milestones

I believe that it’s important to mark milestones in your life, no matter how big or small.

The Mr. always finds it odd that I can remember the exact dates of various happenings, but that’s just how my brain works (and I am a woman – ahem).

As such, last January 23rd was my first day of physical therapy.

It was also the first day I began driving again after spending over two months being chauffeured around by anyone willing and able to drive me.

I’d dressed the part, sporting my long Batman socks as motivation.

I remember being extremely unprepared for that appointment – and had, in fact, dressed completely wrong because I thought it was only going to be a consultation.

Instead, J took measurements of my range of motion, which were pretty much nil, and then worked out some of the knots on my Achilles tendon.  After being bound up for nine weeks, my tendon had tightened up and shrunk.

My first session with the “tool” was torture.

But I didn’t cry.

J also adjusted the height of my crutches because I wasn’t able to walk on my own yet.  That tendon was a huge issue (and still is to this day).

As I sat and recovered with the first of many, many ice packs, heating blankets, and TENS units, I received a text from the Mr.

He said that he was very sick and that I needed to take him to the emergency room.

I asked him if I had time to run by the school to prep lesson plans for a sub, and he said yes.

Little did we know just how critical his condition was.

It was one of the hardest days of my life as I sat with him for hours and hours . . .  from about 9am until the following morning at 1am . . . and listened to the doctor tell me that the Mr. was septic and might have died within a couple of days if I had not taken him in when I did.

The Mr.’s parents drove over from Bigger City, Florida because the news was so dire.  He was in very, very bad shape.

We spent the evening debating whether to tell Rooster about it when he called.  He was at a special training, and we didn’t want to worry him.

In the end, after much prayer and discussion, we decided to tell him.  He was glad to know because he was about to be unreachable, and we honestly, at that point, didn’t know if the Mr. was going to make it.

I walked with the nurses as they took the Mr. to the ICU, but I wasn’t allowed to stay – only to bid him a quick goodbye – before I left for home . . .

On my crutches.

I was a sad sight.

I fell into bed, phone close by in case the nurses called.  The Mr.’s blood pressure was too low, he had a raging infection from an abscess, and he had a host of other issues that were being closely monitored.

It was the first of many, many sleepless nights.

January 23, 2017 was the beginning of probably the hardest years the Mr. and I have ever had.

It was tough physically, emotionally, and financially.  We just seemed to get hit with bad news and bills every time we turned around.

One thing that didn’t change but actually grew stronger was our faith.

God didn’t work instant miracles but chose, instead, to grow us closer to Him through the everyday struggles – challenges that forced us to rely on Him for every single thing.

I wonder if the memory of this milestone will fade in time as others take their place in the pecking order of things.

I pray it doesn’t because I never want to forget.

I never want to forget how alone I felt the night I got home from the hospital – when I wondered if I’d be coming home alone for the rest of my life.

I never want to forget how helpless I felt as I watched the Mr. lay in his hospital bed at the mercy of God and plans we could only watch as they played out.

I never want to forget crying on the shoulders of friends who spent time with me in the hospital.  I don’t know if I’ve ever felt that vulnerable before.

I never want to forget how utterly exhausted I was as I cared for the Mr. in the immediate days and weeks after he returned home from the hospital.

I never want to forget because it is in the remembering that I admit how much I cherish the Mr., how grateful I am for God’s unfailing kindness, how much I appreciate the support and prayers of friends, and what a privilege it is to do the little things for another person, whether it’s cooking or changing sheets.

I’d lost sight of these things until I broke my ankle; the lessons were reinforced with the double whammy of the Mr.’s sickness.

Milestones are like the mile markers we see on the highway.  They tell us how far we have traveled as well as how far we have to go.

I prefer to focus on how much ground I’ve covered – the way paved ahead of time by a gracious, forgiving Heavenly Father.

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