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Seven Weeks Post-Op

Today marks seven weeks ago that I had surgery to repair my trimalleolar fracture.

It’s hard to believe that it was two months ago (11/13/16) that I fell and broke my ankle in three places!

I hope you’re not getting tired of these posts, but I need them to document my progress.  I also hope that they’ll be a source of inspiration to others who may be going through something similar.

I’ve got to tell you that I feel as though I’ve come a long way this past week.

I enjoyed one last day before I had to go back to school.  A nap was in order.

It was short-lived, though.  I got up and prepared another batch of the Soul-Soothing African Peanut Stew.  I wanted to have something for lunch the rest of the week.

I had a cute helper.

I went out to check the mail later in the afternoon and, on a whim, decided to see if I could crutch my way to the corner of my street.

I did, and when I got back to my house, I decided to put on the new ear buds that the Mr. had given me for Christmas…the ones that record my heartbeat and calories burned…and made another round!  I wound up walking almost a mile!  It was the first mile I’d collected for Charity Miles (check out the free app) since November 13th, the day I broke my ankle.

I cannot tell you what an emotional lift my walk was to me.  The longer I walked/crutched, the more I could envision myself walking normally again.  My gait became more natural, and I began pressing less and less on my crutches.  The weather was gorgeous that day, so being out and about was therapeutic.

We resumed school the next day.  Gambit was not amused.

It was my first day back at work since I got my boot on the 23rd of December.  Thank goodness I’d had practice walking around on crutches.

I dressed up in one of the new outfits the Mr. bought me after Christmas.

I took my scooter to work each day last week, but I only used it a couple of times.  I was supposed to be putting 75% body weight on my foot, so I knew that taking the easy way out by relying on the scooter too heavily would hinder my progress.

The first day back was a little tough, and my ankle swelled pretty good, as did my foot.  Still, I managed a fun dinner out, in the middle of the week, with my hubby…along with a rare glass of wine…rare these days because I’m being extra careful with what I’m putting into my body so the focus can be on healing.

Thank goodness for Epsom Salt!  I bought this from Amazon.  The salt is finer, so it dissolves a little better.

Last Wednesday marked a BIG milestone for me.

I got to sleep in bed WITHOUT the boot!

It was the first time in almost two months that my foot wasn’t confined while I slept.

I still kept it elevated on a pillow, but y’all…to be able to turn, gently, without five extra pounds weighing me down…

Oh my goodness!

When I woke up, nearly all of the swelling in my leg was gone.  It looked nearly normal.

Needless to say, I love bedtime now.  I’d dreaded it up to this point because I never slept well.  My sleep quality is slowly improving each night, although I am being super-careful not to twist my ankle when I turn over at night.

I went walking again on Thursday, but I think I overdid it a little.

By the end of first period on Friday, my ankle was shot.  I still have one area that hurts with regularity.  It’s the area where I think I have a pin, and it feels like a super-bad blister when it starts hurting.  The skin around it also gets red.

I took pictures of it and sent them to my nurse.  She still hasn’t responded.  Ugh.  I suspect that she must be out because she’s always so diligent to reply.

Before the weather turned cold on Friday, I did manage to get out and about (despite my sore ankle)…

I’ve definitely gotten more adept with the crutches and move along pretty well!

The weather here in Florida turned bitter cold late Friday night and through the weekend.  I’d been told that I’d be able to feel it in my bionic ankle, and boy did I ever!  It ached so badly Friday and Saturday night that I had to take Advil.  I’m praying that this gets easier with each cold season.  I cannot like this.  At all.

I must have been exhausted after the first few days back to school.  I got the best sleep since before I broke my ankle.

All of that rest was good for my ankle.  It looked amazing when I woke up.

This is the side that hit the floor directly when I fell.

This is the side that has the plate.

This is the side that has the plate.

Gambit acts as my personal escort now.  He’s constantly by my side in the house…

The Mr. and I went to a movie Saturday.  We finally saw Rogue One, which we enjoyed.  I crutched my way around the theater and up and down the stairs about three times.  On the way back to my seat after using the restroom, I saw a guy wearing a boot.  Of course I had to talk, and I learned that he’d broken his bone above his ankle the week after I broke mine.  He’s sporting a plate and screws too.  He gets around with a cane.  It seems that I keep running into people with similar injuries.  It’s my own little family.  ❤

I found these cute socks at Kohl’s on Sunday when we went shopping after church.  They were on clearance, and I wound up getting them free after we used Kohl’s cash.

I also found these slippers, which I got free as well after using my store cash.

It hurts a little to put anything around the back of my right foot.  Considering that I broke a bone in the back, that makes sense.  It’s still swollen back there!

As my healing progresses, I am gaining more independence.  I can now get myself into and out of the shower unaided.  Yay!  I can also get myself into the bathtub, on those nights that I feel like soaking my ankle this way.  I still need help getting out of the bath, though.  I’m very afraid of falling again.

I can do even more things around the house.  I ironed clothes Sunday night after the Mr. set up the ironing board for me.  I only dropped a crutch twice and spilled a cup of water once.  Oops.

I haven’t gotten a bone density test done yet, but I’m already taking supplements…

Yeah, my house is starting to look more and more like your grandma’s house.

Here’s a homeopathic gel I read about online.

You can find Arnica in gel and cream forms.  I found the above at Walmart.  I’ve had burning pain since before my cast was removed.  Massaging my leg with coconut oil had helped a little.  This gel is magic.  I can put it on and be pain free shortly afterward.  I read about it on a broken ankle support forum.  Thank you, Lord, for allowing man to invent the internet.  🙂

So, that’s my update for this week.  I continue to be amazed at God’s grace and the way He constantly provides for me.  Every time I’ve been anxious, I’ve felt His Spirit calming me down.  Though I still sometimes question why I have had to go through this, I choose to trust the Author of my story.

Thank you for your continued prayers.  I know that they are a major reason why I’m healing…why I’m so close to taking my first steps unaided.


Back in the Saddle

Well, I guess you could say it’s official.

I am back in the saddle thanks to the scooter I blogged about in my previous post.

Here it is, Saturday morning at 6:23, and I realize that I’m falling back into my old patterns…not having a lot of time to blog.

Work, y’all.

Being able to get around on the scooter has been liberating.  It’s much more stable than the crutches I was using before and a lot less cumbersome than the wheelchair I’d been tootling around in at school.

Let’s recap my week, though.

On Monday, I resumed stations with my reading students.

Stations are centers that have various comprehension activities.  The teacher is always a station.  It’s where we get to work up close and personal with the kids.  You can see that the article I was using was relevant.

Meanwhile, the weather outside had turned yucky.  It did some serious pouring, which proved a challenge when the Mr. came and picked me up from school.

He was such a gentleman.  He gave me his heavy rain jacket so I wouldn’t get wet.

Oh man, but that guy is earning some huge gems for his crown in heaven.

He also helped me put my right leg (the one with the cast) in a plastic garbage bag so it wouldn’t get wet.  It was raining that hard.

Then, with my itty bitty umbrella that I happened to have in my classroom, he first took my stuff to his car and then returned and walked beside me as I scootered to the curb.

Getting down from the curb is always challenging…more so when it is pouring.  He got me in, and I had nary a drop of water on me, and he put the scooter in the back of his car.

The poor guy.  He was sopping wet when he got in the driver’s seat.  I felt so badly for him.  He had to change his clothes when he got home so he’d have something dry to wear when he returned to work for the afternoon.

By Tuesday morning, the rain was gone. I followed my regular routine to get ready.

During my planning period, I hunkered down for some serious grading.

I just cannot get caught up.

Having extra essays to grade that I was told would be graded by other teachers irked me…especially because these essays had been written over a month ago, and the kids had been waiting on feedback.  I could have provided this weeks ago.

I still have so much grading from the substitute work the kids completed while I was out.  I stuck half of the stack in my bag to go home with me.

Tuesday evening, I was back in the kitchen cooking for the first time since I broke my ankle.  I made Tofu Scramble.

It felt so good…so normal…to be sort-of standing in front of the stove again.  The Mr. was my sous chef.  Actually, he was watching over me to make sure I didn’t do anything risky.  He very, very protective of me right now.  This whole experience with my ankle has made us appreciative of good health and over-cautious with my activities until I am healed fully.

On Wednesday, I had Day 2 of my Clinical Educator training…

I did this training so I can officially mentor student teachers.

That afternoon, when I got home, I had goodies in the mail…

That eye shadow palette had been on sale for 50% off…a rare deal that I happened to see in an email and snatched up immediately.

I needed a new iRobot.  My other one began having problems before I broke my ankle.  Even though I’d ordered and installed a new battery, there were issues that I just couldn’t fix and couldn’t justify spending money to send off to have repaired.

The vacuums were on sale the day after Thanksgiving, so I ordered one.

Merry Christmas to me!

With three very hairy dogs in the house, this appliance is a MUST-HAVE.  Hopefully, the Mr. won’t have to run the upright vacuum any more, except to get in the crevices where the Roomba can’t reach.

Oh, and one really cool thing about the new Roomba is that it is wifi-enabled!  There’s an app that you can use to set up and run the vacuum!  It took me a few minutes to figure out how to connect to it, but once I did, I was actually able to change the schedule right from my phone the next day when we decided to run it a little earlier.  How cool is that?!

Wednesday afternoon, while I waited for the Mr. to return home from work, I did more grading (he’d forgotten to place my laptop within arm’s reach).

The grading though…sigh.

The Mr. didn’t feel like cooking dinner that night, we went out to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants.  It was my first time there since I broke my ankle; it felt wonderful to be back.

Our server had a bit of a hard time understanding my order.  He wasn’t our regular guy.  I think he mistook my #3 request for three burritos.

I ate leftovers in my lunch for the next two days.

Thursday, I was back in my classroom, and it was a pretty easy day.  After school, the Mr. and I ran a couple of errands.  One that was important was getting a temporary handicap placard.  After going to the mall last weekend, I had quickly become aware of the need for parking spaces closer to the store.  I’m finding it challenging to navigate over the asphalt in parking lots; they are extremely bumpy and ridden with pebbles, which are rough on my ankle.

My doctor’s office was wonderful and emailed the form I needed within fifteen minutes of my request.  Getting the tag was a quick affair.

I have become very appreciative of such things as handicapped bathroom stalls and other accommodations for those who are not able to get around easily…things I never really thought much about before.

That night, I lesson planned…hard core…something I’d done every other night as well (in addition to the grading I was doing).  I’m trying to get my lesson plans written through the second week of January…semester exams.  My overachieving is necessary; being organized and ahead of the game will allow me to enjoy time with my family during Christmas break.

Friday could not get here quick enough.

I dressed down.


The weather had turned quite chilly, and I was all about being comfortable after dressing rather nicely despite the cast all week.

I had another rather easy day with my students.  We’ve started a new unit that involves a lot of front loading of terminology, so they got to take notes.

Chicky had taken a mental health day and had driven up here to visit a friend.  She stopped by my classroom and chatted with me for an hour.  Two of my classes were on a field trip, so I had an extra planning period.

It was wonderful to see her again.  She’d been such a blessing during my surgery.  ❤

When she left, she ate lunch with the Mr. and then hung around long enough to visit with us when we got home from school.

After she left, the Mr. and I vegetated.

After a quick dinner out at a breakfast diner place we frequent, we settled in for the evening.  There was a Star Wars marathon going on.  We were both exhausted from my first full week back at school; not thinking about anything or really doing anything was a wonderful respite.

I guess the basic point of this post is to show you that I’ve regained some normalcy.  The Mr. is still working too hard in his efforts to take care of me (his #1 priority), do his money-paying job, and maintain the house.

I’m on the countdown to get my cast off.  The day cannot get here quick enough, but there are a lot of things happening around Chez Auburnchick before then.

Although there are still near-daily tears at various frustrations, I am constantly reminded of God’s grace during this healing season.

I am still #findingjoyinthejourney even in the midst of my forays into Teardom.

The kindness shown by everyone…students, staff, friends, and even strangers…has helped me see that there is so much good in this world.

Just when I am at my lowest, God reminds me that He sees me…that He is present during this time of waiting…that His plans for me are perfect.

Back to Work, Post-Op

Yesterday was a big day for me.

It was my first day back to work, post-op!

I had stayed home Monday and Tuesday, unsure about if I was allowed to go back to work.  After going back and forth with the doctor’s office on Monday (they were slammed from the holiday weekend), I had enough information to decide to stay home that Tuesday.  I wanted to make sure my pain medication was out of my system.

Monday afternoon, I wrote out lesson plans for a sub and emailed them to my friend, Megan, who is also my department head at school.

She was so efficient that she had the copies made and instructions laid out before the end of the day.  She’s a girl after my own heart! ❤

This extra day off turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  I was able to go in for my first post-op appointment, which had been changed from Thursday to Tuesday.  I’ll give you more details on that tomorrow.

When we got home, I began revamping my lesson plans.  Fortunately, I was picking up where I’d left off two weeks prior, so all that was required was copying and pasting into my template and redoing my Smartboard file.  It took a few hours, but when I finished, I had enough to work with for a week and a half.  My plan will be to completely write my lesson plans through the first week of January.

Overachieving is just in my nature, y’all!

I did manage to relax by watching one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time…

I slept fitfully, as I’m prone to do nowadays.  I cannot wait to get back into my bed, but that is still a number of weeks away.  I don’t know if I was nervous about school or what, but I just could not get comfortable.

I woke up on my own at 5am and dozed until about 5:30 before I gave up and sat up to read my First5 devotion.

The poor Mr.  He’s not an early-morning person, but he had set his alarm for 6am, and he groggily got up, let the dogs out to potty, and helped me to the bathroom.  He set out a dining room chair so I could fix my makeup and hair while sitting down.

The Mr. fixed me a glass of calcium-fortified orange juice and a rice cake with almond butter.  I’m not a huge fan of the almond butter, even if I don’t mind it in desserts, but because it has a lot of calcium, I’m trying my best just to eat it and not complain.

I munched on breakfast while I got my face ready to face the public.

It felt good to straighten my hair.  I was pleased with what I saw in the mirror.

Then, he helped me get dressed, although he grumbled as I added jewelry.

He doesn’t do mornings well…or so I told you.

He fixed my lunchbox and got it, my school bag (every teacher has quite a few of these), and my purse out to the car.

His new responsibility…well, one of them…is taking me to school each day.  Because I’ll be relying on the generosity of others to take me home many days, he’s trying to do what he can to offset that.

First, though, I made him take a picture.

I did put on a flip flop when we got to the garage.

I’m desperate to find the black flip flop I’d worn on and off since surgery, but it’s gone missing.  Could you say a prayer that I’ll find it?  This is driving me a little nuts.

Anyhoo, we got to the car, and off we went.

We have not ridden to work together in a long time.  It was nice to be with him a few minutes before the crazy day that I was about to embark on.

As he helped me into school, I saw one of the administrators, and boy, was she unhappy.  She was more than a little upset that I was returning to school.  I must have looked pitiful.  The Mr. echoed her sentiments.  He had wanted me to stay home as well.  We just weren’t sure how this was going to work.

Another gal, Cindy, rounded me up a wheelchair, and off we went to my classroom.  I wish I’d gotten a picture of that, but I think that would have pushed the Mr. over the edge.

He and another teacher got my stuff into my room, and oh my gosh, can I just tell you that walking into that room was an experience somewhat like what I imagine Martha Stuart would have walking into my house.

All I could do was notice how messy it was!

Chairs from the previous day had not been stacked, as I’d taught my 7th period class to do.

Three Chromebooks were missing (we did find them), and magazines and books were scattered.

My heart.

I got so stressed, that I thought I felt my leg throbbing.

It was so bad, and I was beside myself.

I talked myself down and made some plans in my head.

Meanwhile, the Mr. was nervous as he helped me set up what I needed for the day…my chair, my pillow, and my crutches.

He did leave, eventually, and I felt like a new teacher on the first day of my career.

It was overwhelming.

But, I didn’t have long to wallow.  A fellow teacher came into my room with a heartfelt welcome back announcement, and we chatted.

He was followed by two other teachers, one of whom came over and gave me the biggest hug.

Other people stopped by, and boy, did they make me feel like I was home.

Before classes started, I attempted to wheel myself to the bathroom.

Can we talk about wheelchairs?

They are not easy to navigate!  I have a newfound appreciation for the skills of disabled people who play competitive sports in wheelchairs.  What coordination!  Coordination that I discovered I was lacking.


I saw my friend, LeAnne, in the hallway.  She was wheeling a scooter to me.  Perfect timing!  She took over pushing my chair and got me to the bathroom.

Folks, the sign of a good friend is one who will go in the bathroom with you and flush after you go.

I kid you not.

That sweet lady then pushed me back to my room, and we chatted.  She came by during planning period (we have the same one) and got me back to the restroom again.  Love her!

Meanwhile, class was about to begin.

My first period class…can I say how much I love them?  They came in kind of slowly, and we had a chat…how I’d broken my ankle…what I would and wouldn’t be able to do (pretty much nothing but facilitate class)…how I needed them more now than ever.

They stepped up to the plate!  We spent about fifteen minutes cleaning my room.  I was the maestro who conducted their movements.

Then, we got down to the business of education, and they cooperated fully.

I had planning next, so I got to pee and re-group, thank heavens. I snapped this selfie…

Next was my first of two groups of ninth graders.  They are a sweet group…eager to learn.  After giving my story, I let them read silently, and we did class.  What a relief!

Then was lunch, and I’ve gotta tell you that I was hurting and tired by then.  I tried to keep my leg up as much as possible, but it can get really hard.  I had gotten up on my crutches once or twice but had sat down as quickly as I could.  I know that I have to keep the swelling down for healing to happen.

Honestly, though, if I could have gone home at this point, I think I would have.  I heard my recliner calling out its siren song to me.

But I didn’t.

I sucked it up.

During lunch, I went to the restroom on my own.

No.  Easy.  Task.

Opening my heavy classroom door was a nightmare.  I saw one of my students in the hallway and asked her to help me, which she did.  Thank heavens.

Fifth period came in after class, and it was during this class period that I decided that I do not like to teach sitting down.  It’s not who I am.  I am expressive.  I move around a lot.  I get in people’s spaces.  I can see people when I stand and see if they are paying attention.

I am doing the best I can, though.

Then, the class that I knew would be the hardest came in.

I’d been told that they were noisy while I was gone.

Yeah, they came in that way.

They tried to sit in other seats too.

Let’s just say that our beginning chat wasn’t as gracious.  I asked them to not stress me out because I needed to focus on healing my bones, not my stress levels.

The first part of class went o-k-a-y.  Not perfect, by any means. It was challenging, and I was using every bit of patience I could dig up.

By 7th period, I’d had enough of their rude chatter and fussed at them pretty hard.  They were being rude, and I didn’t have time for that.

I reminded them that I was still in charge, even if I was sitting in a chair, and that I was putting their needs above my own.

That settled them a little, and they got a little quiet while they read during silent reading time.

I did get them to put their chairs up and, for the most part, they left my classroom in better shape than what I’d walked into.

The Mr. was able to pick me up after work, and I could have thrown myself into his arms if I hadn’t had the bum ankle and if I thought he would have caught me.

He got me and all of my stuff back to his car, and we proceeded home with me telling him about my day.

I teared up a bit.  I was so tired.

As soon as I could, I climbed into my recliner for a nap.

Rooster called on his way home from work to check on me, and we have a wonderful conversation.  He’s doing well with his training, yay!  He listened patiently to me, and I just enjoyed the sound of his voice.  He’ll be home soon for his wedding.  I cannot wait to hug his sweet neck.

After we hung up, I snuggled into my pillow and got about two hours of a nap in.  I slept better than I had in days.

I woke up to the Mr. coming home from work.

We Face-timed our Rooster’s girl.  It was her birthday.  Such a sweet thing.  We enjoyed seeing her face and Rooster’s as he popped onto the screen.  ❤

Chicky called while the Mr. was getting ready to head out to grab some dinner for us.  She, too, was checking on my first day back.  Gotta love my kids.  They made me feel so special and loved.

Then, I did my thing…ate dinner, got a bath, and caught up on social media.

What can I ultimately say about my day?

It was so much harder to go back than I’d thought.

Thinking about how to do things sitting down was very challenging.  Not being able to run my classroom standing up was frustrating.

Going back did help my day go by faster.  Seeing my students again…most of them…made me happy.  Especially the girl who said she had three questions:

1)  Not a question…just a hug ❤ ❤ <3)
2) Could she sign my cast (no, because I’m keeping it clean for the wedding)
3)  Was I allergic to any foods because she had made a fabulous German Chocolate cake with vanilla icing that kind of fell apart but still tasted delicious.  I hated to tell her that I couldn’t have it because it had eggs and other stuff in it, but I suggested that she Google vegan cakes.  If she made one, I’d eat that.  I don’t know if she’ll follow through, but I loved her for all of her “questions.”  ❤

Each day will present its own challenges.

I think my biggest takeaway from the first day was that I need to take care of ME.  Simply being there and having a plan will be enough for the kids…so much better than a revolving door of substitutes who, though well-meaning, are not me…not trained for my kids’ specific needs…have not built the relationships with them that I have already this year.

Thank you for your words of encouragement and your prayers.  I covet them more now than ever.  I mainly ask for prayers for healing for my bones.  That is my number one priority right now.  Bone health, too, is a concern as I look to supplement my diet with calcium-absorbent foods that I actually like to eat or can tolerate enough to choke down.   Ahem.

Thank you all!!


Popular in the Classroom This Week

I snapped a few photos of the books my students finished this week…

The gal who finished By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead was mightily upset at the ending.

The reader gets no closure, and that frustrated her to no end.

I chuckled in understanding because I’d felt the same way when I read the book a couple of years ago.

As I put a new book into her hands, I assured her that she would get a resolution in the end.  She breathed a sigh of relief as she began reading.

The gal who read P.S. I Still Love You is tearing through my books this year!  She is one of the most voracious readers I’ve ever had.  She’s also got an open mind and is willing to read just about anything!  She already read the Lunar Chronicles series…a girl after my own heart.  One day this week, she got to school and pulled out three of my books.  She’d been holding them hostage at home, unbeknownst to me.

I was super proud of the young man who finished Takedown.  He’s one of my Intensive Reading kiddos…a nice young man…quiet.  It can be difficult to get my guys to read.  He’s already started on his next book.  I can’t remember the title.

The gal who read Burned eagerly began tearing into By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead.  In fact, we found a sticky note stating that this girl wanted to read it next…the result of a book talk I’d done the first week of school.

Everything, Everything was finished by a quiet young lady in my first period class.  I had training on Wednesday.  When I returned to school on Thursday, the gal was absent, but the students sitting at her table were quick to inform me that she’d finished the book.  I might have teased her on Monday about not finishing it for me last weekend.  I was eager to steal it away to read myself.

Needless to say, it came home with me.  I’m about a third of the way through with it and will probably finish it in the next day or two and then give a book talk on it.

Taking pictures of my kids with their finished books is a new thing for me.  I plan on putting the photos in my end-of-the-year class slideshows…the uncropped versions.  I cannot wait to see them sit up straighter as their faces cross the screen.  I hope they will be as proud of themselves as I am every single time a back cover gets closed.

When You Aim High

Aim low, and you stay stagnant.

Aim high, and you go places.


It’s a lesson I try to impart on my students.

I lead by example.

All of my life, I have set goals for myself.

I’m not sure where this drive to succeed began.  I suspect it came from a need to please my mom.

Nothing was ever quite good enough for her.  Not my hairstyle, and not my grades.

I wanted to please people from an early age.

Eventually, I transferred to who I wanted to please from her to myself.

And, perhaps, the employers I’ve worked for over the years, and now, even my students.

Personal goals, though.  They are things that others cannot do for you.

For a number of years, I’ve wanted to be a runner.  I’ve toyed with the idea and made feeble, inconsistent attempts to accomplish this goal.

Last year, I ran my first IRL 5k.  Well, I walked more of it than I ran, but I did go out, among other people, and complete the route.

I joined the Hogwarts Running Club last fall and began earning medals for various distances, but still, the running was inconsistent.

Then this year, I qualified for Perfect Prefect status because I’d signed up for all seven races this year.

That didn’t mean I’d completed them, though.

Life and Florida humidity got in the way.

Until a few weeks ago when I finished my Beachbody program, 22 Minute Hard Corps.

I got serious about running.

Every time I went out, I challenged myself to walk shorter intervals and run for longer ones.

Most days, I was able to do this.  Sometimes, I couldn’t…especially if I wasn’t feeling well.

I didn’t run every day, but I knew that was okay.

I got down to the One HRC House Marathon and had one medal left…the 21k…so many miles…13.1.

Oy vey.

I figured I’d have to do the run in three or four segments.

The first round, I did 5.5 miles.

I ran nearly five of those miles.  Huge day for me.

Then, the last couple of days, I toyed with my planned run for today.

I wanted to finish.  I didn’t want to have to use a third day.

There’s a saying I’ve clung to of late…”She believed she could, and so she did.”

I believed.

And then I did.

I got up early on a SATURDAY morning…a day that all teachers live for because we don’t need to answer to an alarm clock.  Especially empty nester teachers who are not slaves to playdates or soccer schedules.

It was chilly, y’all.

I dressed the part…fuzzy hair/ear band and long sleeves to start out with.

I warmed up for the first .47 miles…the distance from my house to the entrance to my neighborhood.

Then, I pumped my arms and began my slow jog…for I am not fast, you see.

I had a tentative route planned out.

That’s what “runners” do, I’ve learned.

I knew I wanted to get the part I loathed out of the way.  It’s a lonely stretch of road.  It feels endless.

I got that done with nary a bad feeling, turned the corner, and headed up to a main road.

As I ran the next segment, I began to reconsider my route.  Dare I go straight at the light and push on up said main road to the next light?

I dared.

It wasn’t bad.  My music and the cars speeding by distracted me.

I turned the corner, intent on my pre-planned, now-altererd route, and I ran past an alternative / technical school, headed for a left turn I intended to make.

But wait!  I considered my soon-to-be footsteps carefully.

Dare I not turn the next corner but go straight, on a path I’d never been on before?

I dared.

This was a road I’d traveled more times, via car, than I could count.  It was the road that Rooster’s elementary school was on.

Daily trips for drop offs and pick ups were my life for a few years.

The distance didn’t seem to bad.

Until I was on my feet running them.

I couldn’t see the traffic light that I knew was at the end.

The road was e-n-d-l-e-s-s.

I had to cross the street where the sidewalk ended; it started over on the other side.

I crossed back when that side’s walkway ended.

And then the sidewalk ended altogether, but I could see the light by then.

I turned the corner.

And then there was NO sidewalk at all…on a heavily-traveled, two-lane road.

Oy vey.

I ran on grass that was not smooth and even angled toward a ditch at times.

I did run in the street when traffic happened to be light.  It was still pretty early for a Saturday morning.

There was no sidewalk for that stretch, but I knew that at the corner, which I could finally see and which I would turn, I’d have my beautiful, safe pavement to run on again.

I headed in a new direction…toward home…downhill part of the way.

The angels sang.

But first, a detour into my friend’s neighborhood.  I knew that it was about a mile around, and I was keeping an eye on my Garmin fitness watch.

I had a goal…a certain distance I wanted to cover.

I ran, knowing the route like the back of my hand.

I left her neighborhood and crossed the street into my own.

I knew how far around I needed to go; I had a mile left.

Somehow, it was the hardest mile.

It was also the easiest.

I knew that I was very close to attaining something I’d been working hard for.

I wound up running FURTHER than my goal.

Y’all, I covered 9.03 miles this morning.  I ran a total of 8.56 miles STRAIGHT.

Once I had left the neighborhood and started running, I had not stopped until I’d gotten back to my house.

I wanted to cry.

I was finally able to finish coloring in all of the boxes on my tracker sheet.

I made the Mr. take pictures of me.

Because I’m extra like that.

He was full of compliments.  “You stink,” he said.  Ha!  Runner’s perfume, I wanted to say.

Besides that, obtaining goals is messy business sometimes.  It definitely isn’t always pretty, as evidenced by my hair.

Later, after he’d left to go to the grocery store (ladies, be jealous), I jumped in the shower and processed my morning.

I thought about goal setting…why I do it.

I thought about my students and the goals they’d recently reflected about.

I teach my kids so much more than reading and writing, you see.

I’d had a tough week at work…namely because someone had suggested that my standards might be too high.

I just didn’t know how to respond to that.  The statement confused me.

The goals I set for my classroom…for my lessons…are the same that the state of Florida sets.

Sometimes, the state’s goals are unreasonable…especially for some of the students I teach, given their learning impairments.

For the other students, the goals are fair, I think.

But here’s the thing.  I set goals in my classroom based on the potential I see in my kids.

I know what they can accomplish, even when they don’t know it themselves yet.

They think the road is supposed to be easy.  Maybe they’ve had things handed to them.  Maybe parents have stepped in when the going has gotten tough and tried to “help” by trying to make the way easier.  Ahem.

Maybe they’ve never had people who challenged them a little beyond what they were used to, so they don’t know how to stretch themselves.

Maybe they don’t have confidence because they’ve never failed, dusted themselves off, and tried again, only to finally meet those goals.

I can relate to every single one of these thoughts.  Except the one about a parent stepping in.  Mine never did that.  Ever.  I didn’t do it for my kids either.  I was not “that” parent.

As adults, we know that life isn’t all butterflies and, dare I say, happy Disney songs.

Today, as I ran, the road was not always paved.  I’ve got the stickers on my shoes to prove it.

It was bumpy, and I had to watch for things like cracks in the sidewalk, uneven slabs of concrete, and deep puddles of dirt that begged for the opportunity to twist my ankles.

I was also by myself, music excluded.

I knew, though, that I had a cheerleader waiting in the wings (my sweet Mr.)…lots of them actually, when you consider my HRC Facebook group.

My students are not alone.  They have me, cheering them on, giving them an encouraging word, challenging them to do more, making them re-do work that was shoddy the first time.

I do not want my students to settle for just meeting goals.

I want them to “do to the most,” be “extra,” and reach for higher.

The end game isn’t necessarily a medal, although I will say that I do like each one I get for completing a race.

The result should be progress from where one started to where one wound up at the end of the day.

When my students were creating new goals for the second nine weeks, one of them wouldn’t write down anything.

“I’m doing just fine the way I am,” he said.

My jaw dropped.

“Really?” I said.  “So, you don’t think there’s anything new you can learn…any way to improve yourself?”

“Nope,” he said.

How many of us feel the same way, I wonder?

Aim low, stay stagnant…or dare I say regress.

Aim high, and the sky is the limit.

I practice what I preach.  These are life lessons, not necessarily academic ones.

They’ll get it, eventually, and maybe I’ll get more letters like the one I found on my desk on Thursday from a student I taught last year.

Always give 110%.  Never lower your standards.  Always reach for more.  By doing so, you’ll get what you wanted plus a little more to boot.  That’s never a bad thing.


Yesterday, after a long night of election-watching, I headed out the door to attend a day of training.

Attendees walked in bleary-eyed.  Most had coffee in their hands.

I wish I liked coffee, but I don’t, so I was caffeine-free and struggling a bit.

Still, I was excited at the opportunity to learn more about a topic I’ve been interested in for awhile.

Clinical Educator Training is a fancy phrase.  I don’t know why the State of Florida’s Department of Education feels the need to complicate everything.  (Because they can would be their likely answer.)

Simply put, I was there to learn how to be a mentor.  Yesterday was Day 1 of two days.  I’ll go back next month for the second part.

We got fancy binders with lots of different colored pages and even a copy of the PowerPoint presentation to help us follow along.

The best part, though, was the opportunity to talk to other teachers about the impact mentoring has had on us throughout our careers (or the lack, thereof, in the beginning).

I made a great connection with a young lady at my table.  She’s been teaching ten years in an elementary setting, but we hit it off immediately.  She even asked if she could come observe one of my classes.  I look forward to learning more from her; she’s an overachiever like me.  I think I can help her find some balance in her teaching and personal life along with introduce her to the benefits of student-selected silent reading and great read-alouds.

As the day progressed, I could not help but think of my friend, Cinda, whom I’ve written about in more than one post.

She came into my teaching life my second year.  The way she’s guided me since that time has truly been remarkable.  She’s provided a listening ear, expert suggestions, and a model of constant self-reflection.  She’s challenged me to find better ways to engage students to meet their needs…to take time to create personal relationships with my students so that kids will be willing to work for me.

God has used her to mold me into the teacher I am today…one who reaches higher…who “does the most,” as my students would say.

Although I’ve already been mentoring teachers, finishing this coursework will allow me to do it officially for teaching candidates in town who are attending programs at our local colleges.  In fact, that’s why I asked permission to attend the training.  I’d been approached a few months ago by the assistant director of the alternative teacher certification program I attended my first year of teaching.  She asked if I’d be interested in being a teacher mentor, and I jumped at the chance.  I just needed this training first.

I am grateful for a principal who allows me to attend such training sessions where I can be mentored and, in turn, help others around me.

The Art of Finessing

Finesse…it doesn’t always mean what you think it means.

Especially if you teach at the high school level.

If you’re old, like me, when you hear the word finesse, you think of doing something with style.

In a way, this sort of fits the new-fangled slang that the kids have turned it into.

According to the Urban Dictionary, finesse means, “To talk someone out of their things. Not stealing persuading someone out of their belongs, or to do you a favor.

Please do not go to Urban Dictionary and look this up for yourselves.  The sample sentence that uses the word is definitely rated PG-13.

I’m just sayin’.

So anyhow, what in the world am I doing writing about a slang word?

Well you see, I tried really, really hard to finesse something from one of my students.

It all started last night when I posted the following picture on my favorite social media sites:

This book had arrived at my house just two days prior, and although I’m already in the middle of one book, I was curious, read the first two chapters, and was hooked immediately.

Rebecca commented on Facebook and told me how much she had enjoyed reading Everything, Everything by the same author.

I got excited because I already had that book in my class, so that’s what I looked for when I got to school this morning.

I couldn’t find it.

That meant one of two things:  1) A student was reading it, or 2) Someone had made off with the book already.

As my first period students began their silent reading today, I mentioned that I was looking for the book, and one of my girls told me that she had it.

Oh my.

I was so relieved and began hatching a plan.

A plan to finesse that book right out of her hands for the weekend.

When reading time was over, I asked if she was leaving it in her folder.

No such deal.


I admitted that I had planned on finessing the book when she wasn’t looking because I really, really want to read it.

The entire class started laughing…because I was using their slang…and because I wanted her book.

She did take it home, which really is fine because I still have the newer book to read.

I’m going to have to work on my skills though.  Apparently my modus operandi is not stealthy enough.

And that’s Latin, not slang.

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