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This is Dedicated To…

My students just finished presenting the books they created on StoryJumper.com.

If you’re a teacher or a parent of young children, I highly recommend that you create an account at this site and let your child/children go to town.  It’s a precious site and completely free!

My students really enjoyed working on it, and I will definitely be using it next year.

For their semester exam grades, students had to stand up and read their stories from the Smartboard.

What a hoot!

Although I had helped most students edit their stories, they managed to sneak in a few surprises.

I had to chuckle when one student turned the “cover” and revealed the following dedication…

Talk about motivation!

The next student totally cracked me up with her dedication…

Her first two pages of the story looked like the following (the teacher in the picture could resemble me…minus the extra pounds and the glasses)…

I’ll admit that I am still laughing about this.

One of my other students in that class got up to present her book, and her dedication was the most touching of all…

The bonds that are forged between teachers and students is strong.  With each year that passes, my own treasure trove of memories grows larger and larger.

Happy Birthday, Rooster!

Today is Rooster’s 19th birthday.


When I first began writing my blog, back in 2007, he was thirteen years old, in the sixth grade, and shorter than Chicky and me.

Now, he’s finished his first year of college, has a full-time summer job, and does odd jobs on the side.

He also towers above the entire family, standing at over six feet tall.

His love for the Lord is growing, as is his service to Him.

He was a cell leader in his Christian fraternity last semester, and he began helping with youth Bible studies at church after he returned home.

To say I am proud of the man my son is becoming is quite an understatement.

I do not know what I’ve done to deserve him.  This is yet another example of God’s grace.

To my Rooster:

You are a blessing to me.

I cherish every moment we spend in discussion…every moment we spend sitting on separate couches not saying a word.

Simply being in the same zip code…under the same roof…satisfies this Mama Bear’s soul.

I love you!



On Time for the Hodgepodge!

Boy, did I enjoy the long weekend, and I am so thankful that we have a four-day school week!  Woo Hoo!  Today marks six more days of school…technically four full days and two half!  I.  Cannot.  Wait.

Anyhoo, Joyce has more fun questions for us, so let’s get to it!

1.  What question do you often ask yourself?

The question I constantly ask myself is, “What was I thinking?!!!!”

Take, for instance, my plans for Monday.  After playing all day on Saturday and Sunday, I knew I needed to be productive.

One thing that had bugged me for quite some time was my back fence…

That’s not even the half of it.  Looking at my fence from the house was not fun.

I figured I’d clean it.  Chicky, Rooster, and I had managed this task in a couple of hours a few years ago.




First of all, I don’t own a pressure washer.  The grime on those slats needed SCRUBBING.


Second of all, Rooster was at work, and Chicky wasn’t exactly volunteering.  The Mr. was inside…doing something…like watching TV…I suppose.

My regular house cleaners weren’t cutting it.

On a whim, I threw Clorox on one panel.

The dirt rolled off.

I sent the Mr. after more bottles and a small spray bottle, and I proceeded to clean THE ENTIRE FENCE…by myself.

I felt a bit like Tom Sawyer, only my tools consisted of scrubbies, a bucket, and Clorox.

The entire job took SIX hours!

I constantly asked myself, “What was I thinking???!!!!”

The hard work was worth the aching hands, wrists, and thigh muscles, as evidenced by the photos below…

I don’t know why I always seem to bite off more than I can chew!

2.  Do you grow roses? What’s your favorite color of rose?  Ever been given a dozen roses?  Where was the prettiest rose or rose garden you remember seeing?

Actually, this might surprise you, but I do grow roses…successfully!  A few years ago, I planted Knock-Out Roses beside my garage, and they are still alive!  When my yard was redone last August, the yard guy incorporated my beloved roses into his plan.

The Mr. used to buy roses from the street vendors in Miami.  The roses were inexpensive, and he knew I how much I love fresh flowers.  I think all roses are pretty, but I’m partial to yellow and pink.

3.  Do you read the freshness dates on grocery store products?  Will you use eggs past their ‘use by’ date?  Take medication that’s expired? Buy a dented can?

While I read the freshness dates on grocery store products, I usually ignore them and trust my nose.  I learned, from a pharmacist friend, that medicine can be taken after the expiration date.  The medicine merely loses its strength past the date.  As for dented cans, yes, I’ll buy them.

4.  Should athletes be role models?

Anyone who performs for the public naturally becomes a role model.  So yes, whether they like it or not, athletes should be role models.

5.  Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal became the first explorers to reach the top of Mt. Everest on this date (May 29) back in 1953. What’s something you hope to achieve in your lifetime?

Well, first off, I’d like to finish all of these freaking certifications that go along with teaching!  I’m starting another class in two weeks…the second in my quest for my ESOL endorsement (children who speak a language other than English in the home).

A different goal is to become debt-free…and stay that way.

My goals pale in comparison to climbing a mountain.  I’m a simple girl.

6.  What would you do if you had twenty acres of land and the money to develop it any way you choose?

I think I’d keep things simple.  I grew up in south Alabama…the country…and putting a log cabin on that kind of land, fencing it in so my dogs could roam freely, and just enjoying nature would be my ideal way to enjoy such acreage.

7.  If I invite you to a party with a 7 PM start time, what time will I actually see you there?

I’m a show-up-on-time kind of gal…no deliberately late arrivals for me!

8.  My Random Thought

I want to take a moment to brag on my school.  We teach a large percentage of at-risk students.  Many are struggling learners…so behind the curve ball where it comes to education.

Well, we received our writing scores last week, and we were #1 for our district!!!

Schools that achieve this type of ranking regularly take such things for granted.

Not us.

This is evidence of the wonderful staff, instructional and non-instructional, who work together to bring out the best in our kids.

Our ranking is a testament to our students, who show incredible fortitude despite great odds.

I am sooooo meant to do what I’m doing and am sooooo thankful for the privilege and honor of doing what I do.

The Wrong Intention

When I began my fast ten days ago, I did so with the purpose of losing the flab that had accumulated around my midsection and thighs.

Although I am, for the most part, a healthy eater, over the last few months, I’d developed a few bad habits.

Things began when I went to see Chicky play soccer one weekend.  My stomach hadn’t been feeling right that day, so upon the suggestion of my friend, Barb, I’d gotten a soda to soothe things down.

Rather than a semi-harmless Sprite, I’d gotten my favorite, which I hadn’t had in a long time, a Mt. Dew.

I’d opened Pandora’s Box, for Mt. Dew has always been one of my biggest weaknesses.

As my students can tell you, I became addicted; however, I threw off this habit a couple of months ago…only to fall back into it after only a month.


I’d also begun eating candy again.

Considering that I don’t eat much (I really don’t…you can ask my family), putting these empty calories into my body left them nowhere to go but the troublesome places that cause many people angst.

Now, you must also understand that for years, I’ve struggled with a poor self image…especially where it comes to my physique.

I suspect this developed after years of watching my mom worry about hers.  I believe that she had bulimia when I was growing up, although it was hidden from us and probably not even understood by her.  She’d frequently excuse herself to “get sick” because the food bothered her, but looking back, I think it was, in fact, the disease that plagues many women, for there were signs in other places of her life.


I finally got fed up with the roll of belly fat that was beginning to hang over my waistline and knew I needed to change something.

The juice fasts I’ve done in the past have resulted in the loss of such flab, so I was eager to begin.

I must pause again here and tell you one more thing.

One or two juice fasts ago, when I was telling Super Sis about what I was doing, she’d asked (loosely remembered), “What is the reason for your fast?  Is there something you are searching for from God?”

I’d blown her off a bit by saying that I didn’t have that kind of reason…that my intention was purely for health benefits.

Keeping all of the above in mind, let me continue.

I began my fast.

I’ve been so blessed this time.  I haven’t experienced headaches or many hunger pangs.  I haven’t had many cravings (except for peanut butter), and I haven’t felt resentful.


The flab wasn’t coming off.

Still, I have persisted.

Meanwhile, I began reading a new devotion plan on my Bible app, YouVersion.  The plan, appropriately enough, was titled “Authentic Fasting.”  It was a seven day devotional series, and boy, did it have a lot to say about fasting!

Day by day, I learned what the Bible has to say about fasting and that, in fact, fasting is not something to be done for health reasons at all!  Fasting is about abstaining from the things that have led us away from God, focusing on His voice to determine His way for our lives.  Any positive body changes are the result of the fast and should never be the cause for one.

Over that seven day period, I can honestly say that God changed my heart.  He showed me how wrong I’d been going into the fast.  Although I was trying to avoid the things that had made me less than perfect (in my eyes), what I was really doing was avoiding deeper truths about myself and my relationship with Him.

Although I think that it’s fairly obvious to most people that I am a Christ follower, and I do love the Lord, I know the inner dealings of my heart and what a rebel I’ve become.

In small ways, I’ve been avoiding God, whether it’s been by not reading and studying His word daily, not praying as faithfully as I should, by harboring bad attitudes about people or situations, or…gasp…by berating myself when my body isn’t exactly as I think it should be.

At first, fasting is a challenge in self discipline.  Once that’s been mastered over the course of the first few days, and the mind becomes clearer…not clogged by the junk that is routinely put in…a real focus develops, as does the ability to hear God and develop good habits to replace the former.

What it boils to, for me this go-round, is becoming more purposeful about spending time with God on a daily basis.

The last day of my fast will be Saturday.

I know that God still has much to teach me during the interim days.

I am so grateful what He has already shown me.

I’m also thankful that He uses everything for His glory, and that my wrong intentions were turned into something positive and life changing in my heart and soul.

Oh, and that flab I spoke of before?  It’s beginning to disappear…the natural result of abstaining from all of those sodas and bags of candy.

To God be the glory for all of the changes, both physical and spiritual.

Memorial Day 2013

Today we remember.

Today we honor.

Today we thank our servicemen and women for the sacrifices they have made to keep our liberties secure.

On the Go!

Whew!  I scarcely have time to write because of a number of reasons.

First off, we have five more full days and two half days of school left!  Woo hoo!!  My lesson plans have been finished for almost a month, but I’ve been making final adjustments, grading what is getting turned in, and basically running around my classroom like a chicken with her head cut off trying to help my students finish their final projects.  By the time I get home, I am exhausted!

Second, I’m juicing, which means I’m running from the moment I get up, making orange juice to take with me and then carrot juice later in the afternoons after I get home.  I’ve also begun walking.  I found a new app called Map My Walk.  I really like it because it gives me split times and distances for my routes around my neighborhood.  Pairing the new exercise with my juicing has also left me feeling tired, and I’ve been going to bed before 11pm.  That’s HUGE for me given that I usually stay up until 1am…even on school nights.  It appears as though I’ve become a night owl!

Prepping…takes about an hour to fill that Rubbermaid container!

So delicious! The juice contains carrots, apples, celery, cucumber, spinach, and cantaloupe.

The third thing keeping me on the go is my girl, home for college for what is probably her last extended stay.  At the end of the summer, we will be packing up her furniture and taking it down south, because she and a few other girls will be renting a house. She has one more semester, and she’s planning on staying down there afterward…hopefully in a teaching position but working, nonetheless.



That’s the reality of childrearing…they eventually leave home.

In the meantime, I’m not focusing on the end of summer.  I’m enjoying the present, which means spending as much time with her and Rooster, who’s also home for the summer.

On Saturday, Chicky had me moving from the time we got up.

Ever since she was a young thing, she’s always wanted to know what she was going to be doing…EVERY MOMENT OF THE DAY.

I was exhausted just keeping up with her!!!

We had previously discussed going out and looking at things to furnish her new abode, so we took a ride to Bed Bath & Beyond.  Not finding much, and with few dollars in our pockets, we went into the mall, hit up Victoria’s Secret for the free pair of underclothing (the coupons arrive regularly in the mail), and then on to Rue 21, which has become a must-drop-by-and-see-what’s-on-sale kind of store.

I found a cute summer dress as well as a top.  When I got to the register, the gal told me I could get another dress for $1!!!!!  Seriously?  Chicky and I returned to the rack, where she picked out a dress for herself.  We made out like bandits!

Then, we went to Target.

Who doesn’t like Target?

We tried on quite a few things.  I wound up buying another dress.

It was that kind of day.

The two dresses on the left are from Rue 21.  The first one is Chicky’s. My Target dress is on the right. Love these!

Then, I ran Chicky to a local deli that is known for its fabulous chicken salad and homemade bread, where she grabbed some lunch.  I was content to watch her eat, although she did so in the car so we wouldn’t waste time.  We hopped over to Sam’s for more fruit and then ran to Publix to pick up another 25lb of carrots…

The standard question I get when I purchase these bags is, “Do you have horses?”

I really want to say, “No, I’m one of those weird ‘earthy’ people who juices.”  I kind of-might have said something to this effect before.  You should see the looks on people’s faces.  They really do think I’m weird.  It’s the same reaction I get when people learn that I’m a vegan.

After we left Publix, Chicky asked me to stop by Dunkin’ Donuts so she could grab an iced coffee.

One would think…after ALL of that running…that my Chicky would be tired.

I thought our day was over.  She spent the rest of the afternoon in her room while I prepped the newly purchased fruits and vegetables for juicing.

I then made three glasses of juice, washed the dishes, cleaned the kitchen, put away all of the clothes I’d purchased, and scooped dog poop…finally sitting down around 5.

I decided I was due a shower and put on my jammies.

That’s when I heard moaning…

The words of my girl child…

Saying…”I’m bored.”

Oh my.


I went into her room and gave her the choice to play a game.  Nope.  Make a craft.  Nope.  Knit.  Double and triple nope.  (She’s tried knitting before because I forced her.  It’s not her thing.)

I shocked her by then saying, “Want to see a movie?”

By then, it was after 7pm.  She looked up surprised.

“You’ll go see a movie?  Your hair is wet.”

“Yep.  I can dry it and fix it.”

She looked up movies and times, and we decided to see the 9:45 showing of The Croods.

She did express some hesitation though.  My girl is an early-to-bed kind of person, and she’s rarely up past 9 or 9:30.

Still, she seemed pleased, as did I.

I really do not get out much, and we hardly ever do anything together, so this spontaneous plan we had concocted sat well with both of us.

The Mr., by the way, was working, and Rooster was on his way back from filling in for a friend, and he was exhausted, so neither attended with us.

Now, we quickly figured out, when we arrived at the theater (one in town and not the nicest, by the way), that we must have been two of the LAST people to see this movie.

Our big clue?

I don’t know if you can tell, but the theater was completely EMPTY!

It was hysterical!

We had the whole thing to ourselves!

Until five minutes into the movie, when a family showed up.  But still, it was fun, and the movie was terrific!

We got home around 11:45 tired but happy.

I’m generally a homebody.  I don’t mind sitting on the couch.  In fact, I find contentment in sit-down things such as reading, knitting, and watching TV.

Being on the go with my girl, though, is turning out to be a blast!  I’m going to enjoy every second of it!

Teachers Helping Teachers

Today, I was surprised by the following…

This was a thank you gift from a teacher I had assisted with her final Reading Endorsement lesson plan.  She had emailed my friend, Barb, for help.  Barb asked me to help out since I’d recently finished the final course.

The other teacher, Angie, met with me one afternoon, and we spent an hour and a half discussing her lesson.  We had so much fun as we talked about our various teaching experiences.  She’s a sweet lady who has an easy laugh and a soft Southern twang.

From that point forward, she kept Barb and me apprised of her progress.

What fun it was to finally receive a message that said her lesson plan had been accepted!

Next up were the videos she had to film.

I encouraged her and offered further assistance, but she had things well in hand by this time.

It wasn’t long before she sent me a message practically shouting through the computer that her video had been accepted!

She came by today to bring cards of thanks for Barb and me.  Inside each was a Starbucks gift card.  She shared that she had received the final message that she had passed the class!!!

I love the opportunities that my career gives me.  I mentor children…I fill in the gap where parental figures may be absent…I coach these children through the stresses of their classes and social issues that arise at school.

I also get to work with AMAZING teachers who constantly inspire me with their outlook on the profession, their handling of various classroom issues, and their creative lesson plans.

I’m thrilled that I finally had the chance to give back after so many teachers have encouraged me during the last three years.

Teachers mentoring teachers.

Who doesn’t love that?

The Extraordinary Hodgepodge

As of this posting, there are ten more school days left followed by two teacher workdays.  Everyone is chomping at the bit to be finished…especially the teachers!  A huge thanks to Joyce for her fun, weekly questions!  Play along by posting on your own blog and linking back up with her.

Oh wait!  Before I get on to the questions, I want to give a shout-out to the Podunk, Alabama High School Class of ’88.  Twenty-five years ago, today, my classmates and I were donning our caps and gowns….preparing to end one chapter of our lives while on the threshold of the next.  Thank heavens for social media sites such as Facebook, which have allowed many of us to reconnect with one another.  I haven’t seen many of my classmates in a long time.  I hope someone throws something together this summer.

Enough reminiscing!  Time for the questions!

1.  It’s National Bike Week…do you own a bicycle? When did you last ride a bike?

I own a Trek bike (we actually own two…his and hers).  The last time I rode my bike was last summer, I believe.  I was actually thinking about getting it down and going on more bike rides.  I have the perfect neighborhood for it.

2.  What’s something you learned in school that wasn’t part of the curriculum?

Gosh…as a teenager, there were tons of lessons imparted that didn’t have anything to do with textbooks.  I learned how NOT to be a best friend…oops.  I learned that guys make for very good friends for a girl and won’t stir up drama or tell secrets…unlike girls.  I learned that earning a failing grade on a test did not doom me for overall failure in the class, and that by working extraordinarily hard, I could pull up my grade to an A (chemistry was a difficult class!).  I learned how painful it can be to be the target of a bully and can now empathize with my students.

3.  What’s a food you’ve never tried, but want to try? What’s a food you’ve tried and will never try again?

I want to try a vegan cupcake, but the places in town do not have them made ready-to-eat, unfortunately.  That’s what I get for living in Podunk, USA.

A food I will never try again is liver.  I ate it when I was younger…it was forced upon me…and I will never, ever, ever eat it again.  I’d rather starve to death.  True statement.

4.  Have you been more demanding on yourself lately or less? Why? Do you think that’s a good trend?

I’m an overachiever and am usually very demanding of myself; however, these past few weeks, I’ve actually been leaving my classroom when I’ve put in all of my required hours.  I’ve also been working less from home.  The reason is because I worked especially hard two or three weekends ago to prepare my final unit of lesson plans.  It was so worth the long hours because now I am finally able to come home and relax.

Do I think this is a good trend?

DUH!  LOL.  My life is a lot less stressful at the moment, and I’d take that any day!

5.  Who is your favorite book, movie, or TV show villain?

Boy, this is tough…especially with me being a reading teacher!  Hmmm…favorite villain.  I think I’ll have to go with Heath Ledger’s The Joker.  Last weekend, I watched the movie A Knight’s Tale, and I was reminded of how much I miss this talented actor.

6.  How concerned are you about identity theft?

I’m pretty concerned.  A few weeks ago, my bank card number was stolen.  Fortunately, my bank knew that the attempted purchase was not being made by me, so a hold was placed on my card.  I felt very violated and angry, but I also realize that this is the price of doing business in today’s world.

7.  Would you rather have an ordinary home in an extraordinary place or an extraordinary home in an ordinary place?

I think I’d like to live in an extraordinary place with a so-so house.  I don’t need fancy houses to make me happy.  Give me a beautiful view, then I’m one happy girl!

8.  My Random Thought

Today marks Day 4 of my juice fast. So far, so good.  I’m not feeling many hunger pangs, but the fatigue has set in.  This is typical for juice fasts.  I’m looking forward to the abundance of energy that will fill me as soon as these next couple of days pass.  I’ve been fortunate in that I haven’t suffered from headaches…a miracle considering that I’d been downing two large bottles of soda each day.  This go-round, I have been exercising…a contributor to the muscle soreness I’m feeling this time.

Oh, the joys of trying to be disciplined.  I’m not complaining, mind you…just sharing what’s going on with my body in case you decide to do your own fast.


Why do bad things happen to good people…children even?

I can only answer by saying that the Bible states that rain will fall on the good and the bad.

Our response should be to trust God and His promise to comfort us and bring good from the rubble that surrounds us.

I join with all of you in offering prayers for those affected by our country’s most recent tragedy.

Everfound – A Book Review

Everfound, by Neal Shusterman, is the 27th book I’ve finished this year.  It is the third and final installment in the Skinjacker series.

If you have never read any of Shusterman’s books, I strongly encourage you to run to your nearest bookstore or open up your browser to your favorite online book retailer and GET ONE OF HIS BOOKS!!!

Everfound is the fifth Shusterman book that I’ve read.

Every time I order one of his books, I sit with baited breath awaiting its arrival.

Such was the case with Everfound.

This series deals with children who are stuck between life and death.  For whatever reason, they don’t make it to the light.

The main characters – Allie, Mikey, Nick (The Chocolate Ogre), and Mary – are in a battle.  Allie, Mikey, and Nick want to help the children find their way to the light, and Mary thinks it is her purpose to keep them away from it, safe in Everlost.

The final book touched me very deeply.  At one point, I actually cried.

The climax of the story will leave you both stunned and amazed at Shusterman’s creativity.  He cleverly utilizes historic places, weaving his tale to an emotional end.

This is a must-read…for ALL ages.

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