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Choices

It’s summer break, as I might have said a time or two in recent days.

Part of my routine has been to read . . . as often as I can (in between working out, PT, and household chores).

I brought home a pile of books from my classroom library, but I have also ordered a few . . .

I’ve been wanting to read this for a couple of years now; however, I found that I couldn’t locate it at the end of the school year, so off to Amazon I went.  One of my students did her final project on this book.  I hope it’s as good as my kiddos keep telling me.

I had another book delivery a couple of days ago . . .

Thanks to Rebecca for raving over the first couple of books in the Jenny Han series.  I actually had the first two (the one pictured above is the first in the series), but again, one of the books magically “walked” off by the end of the year.

I saw the book, Wonder, on a friend’s Instagram feed and knew, after reading a synopsis of it, that I had to order it.  I suspect that it will become one of my read alouds this next school year.

I am not sure if I’ll get through all of the books that I brought home, but I certainly don’t lack for choices!

Flag Day Hodgepodge

Is it my imagination, or did the Hodgepodge image disappear from Joyce’s blog?  I couldn’t find it, so I copied it from one of my previous posts.

Anyhoo, get distracted much?  Ha!

It is time for the Hodgepodge, so if you want to play, link up with Joyce after you answer your own questions.  Thanks for visiting!!

1.  The Hodgepodge lands on June 14th this week, Flag Day in the US of A. Do you fly your country’s flag at home? Sometimes, often, or every single day? Have you ever visited the city of Brotherly Love (Philadelphia)? Did you make a point of seeing The Betsy Ross House? Have you ever made a trip to Baltimore? If so, was Fort McHenry on your itinerary? (where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write The Star Spangled Banner)

I don’t have a flag flying but want to so badly!  I’ve asked the Mr. about getting something set up, but he’s leery of doing anything to our brick, so there’s that.  I’m thinking that I might get a garden flag.

I have never visited Philadelphia.  Chicky went on a trip there either last year or the year before.  She told me that it would be a place I’d love since I’m a history buff.  I’ve also never been to Baltimore.  There really needs to be a trip in my future.

2.  Red flag or white flag? Which have you encountered most recently? Explain.

I’ve recently had to throw up the white flag in regard to physical therapy and insurance.  I’m about to have a month-long break until my new PT visits get doled out.  I’m grateful for insurance, but it sure can wreak havoc with getting the help you need in a timely manner.

3.  Are you a stay in the car listen to the end of a song kind of person? What kind of person is that?

Yeah, I guess I’d say that I will stay in the car and listen to the end of a song if it’s something I haven’t heard in awhile or if it has special meaning to me.  I guess that might sound lame given our access to music these days, but oftentimes, God uses music to speak to my heart, and I’m not ready to turn it off just because I’ve reached my destination.

4.  What are some of the traits or qualities you think a good dad possesses? In other words, what makes a good dad? What’s an expression you associate with your father?

A good father possesses wisdom, consistency, and grace.  A good father is strong but willing to let his guard down to show vulnerability.  A good father is one who’d be happy to sit down for a tea party or put his work down to go out and throw a ball around.  A good father puts his wife first and treats her like a queen so that his children will see what it’s like to be a man who has his priorities straight.  Most importantly, a good father is one who knows the one and only Father, isn’t afraid to pray with his children, and models a life of serving God.

I didn’t have a father growing up who did these things.  My parents divorced when I was very young, and except for a couple of visits, I didn’t know my dad until I had children of my own.  We only got a few short years together, which wasn’t nearly enough to build a deep relationship.  I do know that my dad was quirky, loved nature, and wasn’t afraid to be silly in front of people.  I don’t really know what expression I could associate with him, though.

5.  What’s one rule you always disagreed with while growing up? Is that rule somehow still part of your adult life? Is that a good or bad thing?

The main rule I didn’t like was that I had to be home really early the morning after I’d slept over at a friend’s house.  I didn’t understand why I couldn’t lounge around with a friend’s family . . . leisurely enjoy breakfast with them.  I did not have that rule for my own children.  I felt like it was unfair and heavy handed.  I had enough rules that my children didn’t like.  I didn’t see a reason for adding yet another.

6.  My Random Thought

You know it’s summer when I allow myself to go out to eat with the Mr. looking like this . . .

The hair was freshly washed and dried, but it wasn’t straightened or fixed in any other way.  There’s barely makeup on my face, and I was very casually dressed in a t-shirt and comfy stretch pants.  I wasn’t even sporting any jewelry.  I usually like to fix up when we go places, but it was after 6pm, he was hungry, and I figured what the heck.

I love summer vacation!

Weekend of Fun

My first weekend of summer break was a blast!  I’m sure you understand how relaxing it is when you know that you have more than two days off in a row.

I spent about four hours at my neighborhood pool on Friday.  Talking to my sweet friend, Megan, who lives in the subdivision across the street (which shares my neighborhood pool) was a rare treat.  We teach at the same school, in the same department, but we rarely have time to chill together.  She taught me something new:  how to read while sitting in the pool.  Novel idea, eh?  I read a lot poolside as well!

I managed to finish the book later that evening.  I’ve got to say that this is one of my students’ favorite authors.  This book, in particular, ranks as her top three on my scale of favorites.

Friday night, I queued up the movie “Before I Fall” on Amazon Prime.  I’d just finished reading the book, which had hooked me from the opening chapter.

The movie pretty much stuck with the book.  It was your typical teenage movie . . . not bad.  Sad, though.

I turned off my alarm and slept in on Saturday.  It was my rest day from my workout program.  Just as I was getting up, M texted me to see if I wanted to go to the store with her.  I had different plans in mind and invited her over.  You see, it was the day I had set aside to do the “We Run Free Because of the Brave 4-Miler,” a virtual race hosted by Gone for a Run.

M went with me on my walk, and we had a lot of fun chatting.  Four miles seemed to fly by . . . except for the humidity and my sore ankle.  We were wiped out when we finished.

Check out my tank top.  It’s one of my favorite race shirts; the medium fit perfectly!  Sizing is sometimes tricky with these race shirts.

I was loving the calorie burn too!

After M left, I got cleaned up, and the Mr. and I went to see the movie, The Mummy.

I liked it, although the story line was a bit confusing at first.

Before the movie started, I saw promos for the USA show, Queen of the South.  It seemed like something I might like, so I looked for it on Netflix when we got home.

It tells the story of a female drug cartel leader.  I watched four episodes that night.  I finished with Season 1 and the first episode of Season 2 (this episode was On Demand) on Sunday.  It was that good.

Sunday wound up being a chill day.  The Mr. and I attended church.  There weren’t a lot of people there.  We suspect that the reason was because the bottom dropped out of the sky shortly before the service began.  The rain put the kibosh on my hopes for going to the pool . . .

Plan B:  Knitting while I watched TV on Sunday.  It wound up being a great day of rest!

I managed to get in a bit of baking (if you’d call it that).  Here’s a picture of the Peanut Butter and Honey Chewy Granola Bars I made.  The recipe can be found here.  They are chock full of peanut butter flavor and are simply divine!

Yeah, I can’t complain at all.  Summer break has started off well.  I’m getting much-needed rest and am still being productive in the process.

Week 30

Wow!  The first week of summer vacation was so busy, and that extended even into my recovery from the trimalleolar fracture I suffered way back in November.

I changed up my schedule and went to physical therapy in the mornings instead of the afternoons.

During Monday’s visit, my ankle wasn’t nearly as sore as it had been the previous week.  Then, I went home and completed a slew of chores, which I posted about here.

On Tuesday, I got up pretty early and worked out.

Leg Day

My physical therapist had advised me to go lightly with the weights when doing lower body work.  I still managed to burn a ton of calories!

Then, I hopped in the car and headed over to Bigger City, Florida, where my surgeon is located, for the appointment I’d scheduled the week before.

Y’all, it rained ALL THE WAY there . . . from the moment I left my garage.  I was so nervous as semis passed me on the interstate and flooded my windshield with extra water.

I grabbed a sandwich from an eatery that we don’t have in Podunk, FL, and then drove to the doctor’s large office center.  There are a bajillion doctors in this practice; they are quite popular with people like me driving there from hours away to get treated by their wonderful staff.

First up was an x-ray . . .

It still boggles my mind to see all of the hardware that is surrounding my ankle.

The doctor came in and began pushing and pulling on my ankle while he listened to me describe the symptoms that had led me there.  You see, we had both thought that I was done visiting him for this injury.

He asked a few questions, squeezed a few places up and down my ankle, and then explained that I have Achilles’ Tendonosis.

Yeah, you read that right.  It’s not tendonitis.  I later googled to be able to adequately understand the difference . . .

Here’s what’s going on.  When I injured my ankle, I was bound up for nine total weeks.  During that time, I wasn’t able to use that tendon.  Once I began using it again, it had to recover from the trauma.  It’s very weak and becomes irritated very easily because it’s not flexible either.

Then, the doctor told me about the treatment . . . “heavy eccentric loading.”  This is a different physical therapy protocol from what I’ve been doing up to this point.  Whereas, we’ve focused on flexibility, mobility, and strength, now my exercises will center around working the tendon to the point of tearing it down.  I already have microfiber damage as it is.  When it repairs itself, it will be stronger.  It’s akin to what your muscles do when you work out with weights and are sore for the next few days.  They are rebuilding themselves.

Did you just cringe?

I wish I could have taken a picture of my face when the doctor described it to me.

“Sounds painful,” I told him.

He smiled and nodded.

Perspective kicked in immediately, though, and I told him that considering what I’ve already been through, I could take it.  Nothing beats the pain of breaking three bones, having your ankle immobilized in a temporary cast with no room for swelling, and not getting strong enough pain medicine those first two days.  Thank heavens for THIS doctor, who quickly remedied my early woes.

He went on to explain that my new exercises would stress the negative movements . . . i.e. the going down motion when doing calf raises or seated leg presses.

I asked him to explain how I would know if I was getting better, and he told me to ask myself the question, “Do I feel better today than I did a month ago?”

But, I told him, I can only focus on a week (and sometimes a day) at a time.

He repeated the question, “Do I feel better today than I did a month ago?”

But, but, but . . .

“Do I feel better today than I did a month ago?”

Yes, he actually said it three times.

I am slow that way.

He told me that I have an 80% chance of making a full recovery from the tendonosis if I follow the protocol.  I should be able to tell a difference in six to eight weeks.

I walked out of there with a new PT prescription and a mandate to call his nurse if I needed anything.

On Wednesday, I went back to physical therapy with the RX in hand along with the notes I’d typed into my phone.  My therapist and I had a chat; he had basically started the new protocol that Monday when he’d added a standing calf raise and an extra set of stretches to my list of exercises.  On Wednesday, he added a couple more.

That right there is me going down a step . . . over and over again.

I have had a LOT of trouble going down sets of steps.  I haven’t been doing impact things with the ankle, but it’s time.  My therapist wants to help me become fully functional; this is part of that process.

It felt wonderful, although I need to, upon reflection, practice stepping down more than one step.  As it is, I can only step down one at a time (putting my left foot down on the same step before going to the next one).  I need to learn how to walk down multiple steps in a more fluid motion.  That will come.

Now, I need to take a second to talk about that new RX.

My insurance plan allows me to have a certain number of visits every six months.  Once I use them up, they don’t cover.  I’d mentioned this a couple of months ago when I ran out.  Fortunately, my PT’s office has a special program that they allowed me to use that didn’t break the bank.  I’m on my third session of it; however, they won’t allow me to sign up for another one.  I will finish on June 19th with the session I’ve already paid for.

On Wednesday, I learned that my insurance company won’t start doling out my new visits until the end of July . . . six months after the first time I went to physical therapy (January 23).

So, there will a gap in my physical therapy.

My physical therapist went ahead and printed out home exercises, even though I still had three more visits.  He wants me to start working on them from home.

Just the front page . . . the packet is at least three pages long. Be jealous.

My home now looks like a physical therapy site . . .

All Photos-549

I was not a happy camper that day; having all of my ducks on a row is important to me, and having a fluid treatment program is integral to my healing.

BUT . . . I prayed that God would work it out, and I believe that He has.

Honestly, the break in therapy is probably a good thing.  The Mr. will be having a big surgery the end of this month, and I was going to miss a week of therapy anyway.  I’ll also need to be home with the Mr. at least a week after we get him home from the hospital; we just don’t know how he’s going to do with it being such a major surgery.

I’m going to plan on starting therapy again on July 24th, which is only about a month from when I will have stopped.  I’ll do my exercises from home, and then I’ll finish up the last six weeks at my PT’s office with my ultimate goal set at being able to jog/run again.

I had to email the nurse to find out if the doctor would write me a new script for the therapy because I’d heard that scripts are only good for thirty days.  She quickly replied to my email and assured me that it wouldn’t be a problem, so we’re good there.  I also called my insurance company to verify when my new visits would be dropped back into my account, and it looks like I’ll be ahead by one visit after that first week since I went to therapy three times the first week I started in January and I’ll only need to go twice a week once I start back.  So, I’m good there.

God took care of the details.

I guess you can see why my week was so nuts!  It was emotionally draining.

All I want to do is make a full recovery; kinks in my progress frustrate me as much as not being able to physically do the things I was doing before I broke my ankle.

I still trust God and praise Him for the way He is taking care of me.

There is still so much #joyinthejourney.  I am grateful for the people I am meeting, the things I am learning about how the body works, and the inner strength that God is cultivating inside of my heart as He heals the physical brokenness of my ankle.

Test Stress

It’s Thursday night as I’m composing this post, and I am stressed.

Why am I stressed, you might wonder?  After all, it is summer vacation, so I shouldn’t be.

I should be happily enjoying a book . . . by the pool . . .

I won’t let the answer float around for long.

Florida teachers who, about a week ago, bade adieu to our precious students, are starting to receive test scores for the recent administration of the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA).

It is my sincerest belief that his event trumps all others as the most stressful time of the year.  The state, after all, has trained us that all of our value is derived from the magical numbers associated with such scores.

It is extremely nerve wracking to pull up rosters of children we spent ten months with and go through each name to see how they fared on a test that is “supposedly” designed to showcase their knowledge.

Ahem.

I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating because the Powers that Be never seem to listen:  What the heck are the people in office thinking?

We teachers see our students as kids with faces . . . stories that differ as much as their individual DNA patterns.  The state thinks that they are all molded from the same clay and should, therefore, fit easily into cleverly designed categories.

We teachers know that our students arrive on test day with a lot of baggage . . . homelessness, frequent absenteeism, behavior issues, hunger, single or no-parent homes . . . the list goes on and on.

The state thinks that students can turn on a switch and perform on command . . . forget about the emotional stuff weighing them down.  They are, essentially, expected to be robots.

I’d love to see open-ended questions that ask students to describe books they read during the school year, because if we teachers have done our jobs properly, we will have fostered some sort of love for reading (or at least started the process).

I bet our kids would be shocked to see a question that asked them to draw a picture of the plot of a story they read.  My kids would ace this type of question . . . one that would allow them to express their knowledge in a creative manner that goes beyond A, B, C, or D.

Yeah, I’m sure those questions would get scrapped pretty quickly if they were ever mentioned during test question discussion forums.

After all, you can’t exactly quantify such answers, now can you, and the state is all about its numbers.

Looking through scores and comparing them to the previous year’s to determine learning gains produces much anxiety.  Take a look at this chart, published in the FSA manual . . .

That right there is how the state decides if a child improved or not and is part of the equation that determines if a teacher is worth his or her salt.

Seems rather fair, doesn’t it.

Ahem.

There are so many things you cannot assign a number to.

I’d like to see the state award extra points to the kids who come to school on the rainiest of days despite living on dirt roads where their buses won’t drive.

Points should be given to the kids who stayed up all night babysitting younger siblings because parents had to work double shifts to make ends meet.

We should double the amount of bonus points every time a student finishes a book and loudly exclaims how much he/she enjoyed it.  All of my students would get these points if that were the case because not a single one leaves my classroom without being able to talk about at least one book that touched their heart (or a series of them, in many cases).

What about the kids who walk or skateboard to school because the bus won’t drive out that far to get them and they have parents who are sleeping off the night shift when it’s time for their children to get to school?  They should be awarded a few points too.

But the state doesn’t care.  Nowhere in their magical formula is there a place for such seemingly “anomalies.”  Isn’t an anomaly something that is rare?  In many schools around Florida, this stuff is the norm.  Dare I say that those who make the rules are completely out of touch with the everyday “minutia” that truly is the education system.

Before I became a teacher, I was one of those “out of touch” people who had no clue what a real school looked like.

Now, I understand.

A real school is one that accepts every child, regardless of ethnicity, learning ability, or gender.  A real school accepts teachers who are just learning the ropes . . . who might have the “with-it-ness” but need time to learn a few of the basics without being completely punished for lack of experience.  A real school is one where the staff builds relationships with the kids with the knowledge that sometimes it takes a few years for the kids to grow up but, in the end, they will, and they will be celebrated as they walk across the stage to accept their diplomas.  Why punish them in the meantime if they don’t make the cut score?

To be sure, test scores can and should be used as a jumping point for reflection, both on the part of teachers, administrators and students; however, the numbers should not be the end-all, be-all.  I wish with all of my heart that the public wasn’t so hung up by the numbers and could see past them to the faces that the numbers represent.  Each face has a story; each story will tug at the sternest of hearts.

The state should place a higher priority on the business of raising children.  Doing so would naturally result in high achievement scores as students would finally believe that others are there supporting them, lifting them up when they can’t stand on their own, and eventually releasing them to fly unassisted.

As it is, the kids know that at the end of the day, it all boils down to The Test.

Which stresses them out.

Which takes us full circle.

I vote for E . . . sleep all summer until it’s time to do it all again.

Thankful Thursday

You may have noticed that I’m writing more lately.  Well, cue in summer break and a promise to myself to let my heart speak through my favorite medium . . . the written word.

I struggled, though, with an idea for today’s post . . . until I saw Rebecca’s, and then I knew I just had to join in on the fun.  So, I’m linking up with her for my first Thankful Thursday post!  I’m not going to number my items, though.

  • Summer Break – This week, I am so very thankful for summer break.  I don’t really think it’s hit me that I don’t have to go back for a couple of months; it feels more like a long weekend.  I will say, though, that I’m deriving a delicious sense of joy that I can do such things as read a book at leisure, while enjoying a glass of wine, on a Wednesday night.  Yes, that was me last night.  The glass?  I got it from BoredTeachers.com.

  • The Furminator – Y’all, I have dogs who shed.  Like seriously bad.  I’d washed the dogs on Monday, but because it took forever for them to dry, I never got them brushed out.  Molly looked horrible; her fur was sticking out in all directions.  She was also shedding all over the place.  I was vacuuming AFTER the Roomba had run.  I decided she needed a good brushing, and WOW, what a difference!  Not only does she look better now, but my house doesn’t look like it’s been snowed in.


  • Rare Impulse Buys – On Tuesday, I had an appointment with my surgeon.  His office is two hours away, because when you need a good surgeon, you don’t mind traveling.  As I was leaving the city, I passed by a fun little boutique that I knew sells Ginger Snaps.  I don’t know if you remember, but Super Sis bought me a necklace with a charm for Christmas, and I’d since purchased a few more.  You can change out the snaps according to what you’re wearing or your mood.  I absolutely love this piece of jewelry.  It’s so fun and versatile.  So, because the store is located right next to the interstate, it was convenient to run in real quick.  Oh my word, but I saw an adorable little purse, and it just called out to me, as did the Buy 4, Get 1 Free sale.  Ahem.  So, I splurged, while I talked to Super Sis on the phone (she totally agreed that I’d earned it since I survived the school year with all of my various challenges).

The two snaps in the middle are only placed there so you can see them . . . they don’t really snap in place there. That would look weird.

  • Vegan Recipes – Boy, am I thankful for people who know how to write recipes that cater to my dietary needs.  On Sunday, I whipped up a batch of Vegan Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies and Vegan Peanut Butter Date-Sweetened Cookies.  I did take a few of each to share with the physical therapy gals.  They adore baked goods.


  • Long Phone Conversations with Wonderful Friends – On the way home from my doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, I rang up my sweet friend, Jane.  She and I taught our first year together and have enjoyed a sweet friendship since that year.  She recently retired, sort-of, moved to south Florida, and continues to stay rather busy.  I miss her so much.  She’s both a friend and a mother figure.  So, we spent one hour and 47 minutes catching up . . . nearly my entire drive home.  She’s coming to town this week, so we are hoping to meet up for lunch one day.  That will definitely be an afternoon of many laughs.  I love her so.
  • New Friendships – Yesterday, I told you about a new friend I recently made.  I am extremely shy, which is kind of surprising to some people given my presence on social media and this blog; however, I don’t do the public social scene very well.  Thus, it can be hard for me to make new friends.  It’s not that I don’t want to; it’s just hard because I have so many insecurities.  I’ve been rejected a few times, hurt in ways that left lasting impressions.  Plus, it takes a lot of time to invest in a good friendship . . . time that a lot of people aren’t willing to spend or are already spending on other friendships.  I guess there’s a difference between acquaintances and deeper-level friends.  Maybe I just expect all of my acquaintances to be those deep-level friends.  Dang, but see how I overthink things?  Cue in the social awkwardness.  Anyhow, I am thankful for common bonds that bring new friendships together.

There are so many more things I am thankful for, but it’s 12:30, the sun is shining after two solid days of rain, so I’m going to head to the pool (remember the first item on this list?).

I am thankful for soooooo much, but this has been fun . . . purposely listing a few of them.  Thanks, Rebecca (I’m thankful for YOU too!!!).

God’s Timing

I am constantly in awe of God’s timing and the way He weaves the details of our lives to form an ever-expanding and beautifully complete picture.

Take, for instance, a young lady I just became friends with.  My friend, Barb, gave me her name and number after sharing with me that this gal had been offered a teaching position at the same school that I worked at my first year.

I called the gal, and her situation was eerily similar to my own . . . Christian . . . first year upper level English teacher . . . soon-to-be alternative certification student.

She wanted to know about my experiences that first year because the school is small, private, and has some things specific to it that are different from the public schools in our District.

I was able to share the story of my first year . . . the highs and lows . . . things I’d learned since then . . . mistakes I’d made that I would do over if I could.

She, too, was in awe of how God had answered her prayer for guidance regarding her decision to either accept or turn down the position.

She had been looking for a teaching position for awhile; however, as anyone who has ever looked for a job can attest to, unless you have experience in whatever field you’re looking for work in, you will not get hired.  You can’t get experience if you’re not hired.  It’s a frustrating cycle with no easy answer . . . unless someone is willing to take a chance on you.  Given the high stakes in education these days (student test scores, teacher VAM scores, budget matters, etc.), it can be extremely difficult to secure a job despite the supposed “teacher shortages” loudly trumpeted about all over the news.

We talked for a long time, and we texted the next day after she’d accepted the position.

I’m going to be sharing some of my resources with her to, hopefully, help make her first year a little easier than mine was.  At the time, I really didn’t have a mentor, except for Barb, and she was extremely busy teaching her own classroom of kiddos, so I didn’t want to monopolize her time too much.  I did have my friend, Jane, who was also a first-year teacher in a classroom down the hall.  We leaned on each other heavily that first year.  Everyone needs a Jane in her life, especially with such unique circumstances.

This time, it will be my turn to encourage, advise, praise, and console.

This experience is reminding me, yet again, what an incredible God I serve.  He loves each person and knows our needs even before we do.  His plans are perfect; He never leaves anything to chance, nor does He waste anything.

I needed this reminder as some of the details of my own life . . . healing from my ankle . . . the Mr.’s upcoming surgery . . . and everything in-between is getting muddied up a bit.

God is in the details, working behind the scenes to allow things to come to fruition . . . in the proper time.

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