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Juice Fast 2013

If you’ve been reading my blog for longer than a year, you might remember that I am all about nutrition.  I especially enjoy challenging myself with annual juice fasts.

I had planned to do my fast during Spring Break.  That plan did not materialize.  Then, I’d planned to do the juice fast a couple of weeks ago, but again, my plans changed with the arrival of my chicklets.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that you have to be in the right frame of mind going into a fast.  If you’re not, you are going to be resentful the entire time.  I had one fast like that, and I wound up coming off of it early.

Now, why would I, at 5’3″ (on my tiptoes) and between 105 and 110 pounds want to fast?

Well, first of all, my belly has accrued what I like to call Soda Pop Fat.

As a vegan, I don’t eat meat or anything else produced by an animal.

I don’t, in fact, eat a whole lot.

My weakness is Mt. Dew.  I’ve also taken to enjoying a Coca Cola.

In fact, visiting convenience stores is fun.

Folks, when your children leave for college, you’ve got to get your jollies where you can.  😀

Such indulgences lead to a little bit of extra skin around the middle, and when you’re small in stature, it is easier to spot.

So, that’s one reason why I wanted to do the fast.

A second reason for doing the fast is that I’m not a fan of allowing things to control me.  Fasting provides me with a time of focusing my energy on kicking bad habits.  I like the discipline of fighting my physical and emotional needs because, in reality, the body does not need a whole lot of food to survive.

With all of that in mind, I headed to Sams and purchased my produce.  I had to run by Publix when I couldn’t find the big bag of carrots I was looking for…

When I got home, I fired up the juicer and made my apple/orange/pineapple juice.  You can find the how-to information in this post.

Chicky’s allergies have been acting up, so I wanted to give her mega doses of Vitamin C.  I made extra so we would both be happy…

I then spent over an hour prepping my vegetables.  Doing this saves oodles of time when the juicing begins.

I took a couple of hours off and then got up and made two glasses of carrot juice.

The body can only efficiently use eight ounces of juice at a time, so I put the other glass away for an hour.  It’s important not to make too much ahead of time because freshly made juice quickly loses its live enzymes…which is the whole purpose for juicing.

I have a goal for this year’s fast.  I’d like to go longer than in the past.  We shall see.  The hardest days are the first three and the last couple…especially when I know that I’m about to end a fast.  Of course, it’s also very difficult to begin eating again, so I get stuck in a vicious emotional cycle that’s completely different from the one I battle about not eating.

Ultimately, I am excited to be getting this year’s fast underway.

I’m looking forward to my abs reappearing and a clarity of mind taking over.

Think I’ll drink my second glass of carrot juice to that!

Mentoring Budding Writers

One of the two final projects my students have begun working on is an original, fictional book.

A few weeks ago, I accidentally discovered a website called storyjumper.

After playing on it, I began thinking about how I could use it in my classroom.

Slowly, an idea was born.

I created classes and set up student nicknames.

Then, I began working on the project specs.  I found a rubric online and tweaked it.  I created project packets that included the rubric, project instructions, story maps (a CRISS template), and pages from the teacher resource area on storyjumper’s site.  I also created a Student Accountability Sheet for students to log daily progress.

I spent part of one class period reviewing the rubric and packet.

Students were not amused.  I could see their brows wrinkle up, and their eyes began to glaze over…


I showed students the following video (a link is also on storyjumper’s website)…

Next, I demonstrated how to log in.  Students enjoyed watching me begin the process of creating a book.

The kids’ curiosity had been piqued, and the grumbling died down.

They spent the rest of the period brainstorming and adding ideas to their story maps.

One thing I had not anticipated but have been blessed to watch has been the collaboration that has been occurring, unbidden, among my students.

Two of my students are creating Book 1 and Book 2 of a “series.”


What makes things even more exciting is hearing students talk about sharing their stories with their families.  One young lady told me that she had to rewrite her story because her mother lost her only copy!

Because the work is being done on a website, students are able to work from home, saving their stories as they make modifications.

This is the first time that students are asking to take work HOME!!!

I’m rotating students through the computer station in my room.  When students aren’t working on the computers, they are working on poetry packets, learning about Giving Poetry, Diamante poems, and other poem formats.  Before all is said and done, they will have created five original poems.

Meanwhile, I’m constantly moving around the classroom, helping reluctant writers pull ideas from places deep inside their minds.

It’s exhausting but thrilling work…truly an honor to be a part of.


I Crave Structure


Yesterday, I found myself extremely frustrated during my fourth period class.  I have a lunch break after this class, so I took some time to walk around outside and do some reflecting.

Why, I wondered, was I feeling like I was losing my mind?  What was it that had made my kiddos disregard my carefully laid-out plans?

And that’s when it hit me.

I need structure.

I also need consistency.

I’ll have neither of these next week when we are on a special schedule…one I’d learned about during my planning period, which occurred the hour before my fourth period class.  This alternate schedule will allow the seniors to take their exams early.  Unfortunately, the rest of the school has to adjust as well.

Basically, I’m going to have to completely revamp the beautiful schedule of activities I’d laid out for my own classes next week.  We are working on two big projects, and I only have four student computers in my room, so rotating students efficiently is going to be extremely challenging because of the scant amount of time left.

I don’t adjust well.

I never have.

I am a creature of habit.

So, during fourth period, I had become frustrated…because of my students’ actions as well as an inner turmoil that I had been unable to put a name to.

What I came to realize during my time of regrouping was that at this point, it’s all about surviving…going with the flow…while still holding my students to the high standards that have been in place all year.  There are so many hiccups in the routine…endless testing (End of Course exams will be hitting their fourth and final week while the seniors are taking final exams)…an in-school talent show…yearbook signing…the list goes on and on.

To add to the stress are students who have decided to stay home most days, with the misguided belief that the education process stopped as soon as FCAT was over.  When students do poke their heads in the door, it’s my job to help them get caught up so their GPAs don’t complete tank.


As of this writing, we have thirteen and a half more days of school (plus two teacher workdays).

I’m going to adopt the mindset of the Little Engine that Could…

“I think I can.  I think I can.”

There’s No Place Like the Hodgepodge

I’m loving Joyce’s Wizard of Oz inspired questions this week!  Play along by answering on your own blog and then linking up with Joyce!

1.  May is National Blood Pressure Month…what sends yours soaring, either literally or figuratively? What calms you down? When did you last have your bp checked?

The only time I’ve had blood pressure issues was when I was pregnant with my chicklets…especially Rooster.  My blood pressure soared, and I had to be placed on bedrest…twice!  I most recently had my blood pressure checked a few months ago as part of a health screening for a new clinic that my school district opened for employees.  I have low blood pressure, thank heavens, despite the stressful job I have.

What sends my blood pressure soaring, figuratively, is people who remove the wool from my eyes, through backstabbing meanness, taking away my naivety.  I prefer to live life with rose-colored glasses.  This view on life, which may seem simplistic, frees me from the worries that others typically struggle with.  It is at such times when I miss being a stay-at-home mom/wife, where the only wool pulling that existed occurred when I pulled the lint from the dryer.

2.  You just found $1-what do you spend it on? How about 10$ 100?

$1 – I buy Cherry Sours
$10 – I buy a book
$100 – I buy bling

3.  Mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food has been proposed, but not enacted in the US. How much attention do you give food labels before you buy? Are you in favor of labeling if it means an increase in food prices? Is this an issue you’ve been following and feel strongly about, or is this the first you’ve heard of the controversy?

I always look at labels.  I have been very health conscious ever since I began struggling with Fibromyalgia years ago.  I think that the more honest food labels are integral to people becoming more responsible as well as educated about what they are putting into their bodies.  The higher food prices might actually lead to lower medical bills if people stop buying the crap that is termed “food.”  Um yes.  I’m a bit passionate about this issue.

4.  May 15th marks the birthdate of Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz. At this point in time, are you more in need of brains, courage, heart, or a trip back home? Explain.

Right now, I am in need of two things:  courage and home.

I’ve had a rough go at work the last couple of weeks, and finding the courage to stand up for myself has been tough.

I long for the quiet days of summer spent at home…recovering from nine months of long days and evenings.  I love my job, but by the month of May, I am spent!

5.  “There’s no place like home” is an oft repeated line from Baum’s book. When was the last time you felt the truth of that statement?




As I said above, I love my job and am honored to teach.  By the end of the day, I’m worn out and eager to come home, take a hot shower, and climb into my pajamas.

6.  Steak…yes please or no thank you? What cut do you prefer and how do you like yours cooked? Sauce or no sauce? Besides your own kitchen, where’s a place you like to go to get a great steak?

I’m a vegan.  No steak, thank you very much.

7.  When was the last time you were in a genuine hurry?

I attended a meeting a couple of weeks ago, and traffic was BAD.  I ran ten minutes behind and was PANICKED.  Fortunately, my mentor, who was also attending the meeting, had also run into the same traffic and had called ahead to let the people we were meeting with know about the delay.

8.  My Random Thought

Today marks two weeks since Aubie passed away.  I was doing fine until yesterday, when I took Pele to the vet.  Unfortunately, he and Gambit had gotten into a tussle, and Pele’s lower eyelid was torn a bit.  The vet on duty was the same gal who was there with Aubie, and naturally, she asked how I was doing.  I started tearing up.  Sigh.

Then, Pele stepped on the scale.  Lo and behold, he had lost twelve pounds…since last July.  The staff asked me what we were doing to help him lose weight.  I explained that we were only feeding him two cups of food each day.  I also reminded them that Aubie had been gone two weeks, and she was the only mama that Pele had known.  I suspect that some of the lost weight has been the result of grief.

Then, when I went to check out, my total was higher than I’d expected.  Cue in awkward moment.  The bill included Aubie’s visit, which the vet had not sent me yet.  This vet’s office is so caring that they had not wanted to burden us with the bill…and a reminder of our loss.

Little reminders like these make me wonder if I’ll ever be able to think of Aubie without pain in my heart.  😦

The Scorch Trials – A Book Review

As you know, I’m constantly reading something.

My most recent book conquest was The Scorch Trials, by James Dashner. It is book #2 of his Maze Runner series.

I wasn’t super-happy with the first book, although the premise was good. Unfortunately, I think that The Hunger Games series, while written after The Maze Runner series, eclipsed Dashner’s series.

However, in the interest of honestly recommending books for my students, I have chosen to continue reading Dashner’s series. Hence, book #2.

In this installment, the crew that escaped from the maze in book #1 is put through a new set of trials. They must cross a desert and find the safe haven, where they’ll be given The Cure, which will heal them from the sickness they were infected with after they escaped.

The plot had potential; however, I found myself struggling to read my way through the book. I was curious enough to keep reading, but I can’t say that I overly enjoyed it, unlike the book I’m currently reading (review to come as soon as I finish).

I feel kind of badly writing this review, but it is an honest assessment.

The good points are that the chapters are short, and the readability is low enough that a struggling high school student can pick it up with no problem. The series is appropriate for middle school readers, by the way.

There is a lot of action, so it’s great for the boys. There are strong female characters, which will appeal to the girls. There’s also a bit of teenage romantic drama, which girls will like as well (and the boys won’t go “ick” to).

Overall, it’s not a bad series, but when compared to other teen fiction I’ve been reading of late, it’s just okay.

Iron Man 3

This past weekend, the family and I went to the movies!

The movie of choice?

Iron Man 3!

We had really enjoyed the first two installments, so we were eager to see #3.

Of course, I am always a bit leery when going to the theater simply because of the way Hollywood turns great story lines into opportunities to flaunt sex and bad language.

Well, I’ll tell you that this movie met my high standards!

There was tons of action!  There was so much comedy!  The interaction between Robert Downey Jr. and the little boy in the movie was priceless!

Walking out of the theater was hard because we just didn’t want the movie to end!

I highly recommend this movie for middle school and up (there was some killing, of course, which isn’t suitable for younger children).

Sorting Through the Memories

It’s that time of the school year when teachers everywhere begin, in earnest, the countdown to the final day of class.

Preparations are being made…final lesson plans tweaked…semester exams drawn up.

Inspirational posters, anchor charts, and student works of art are beginning to come off of walls. Folders are being cleaned out, and the recycle bins are overflowing.

Part of the closure progress for me, this year, will be to create individual class slideshows.  I’m a bit of a shutterbug and have taken hundreds of pictures of my students.  At first, they were shy…reluctant to pose for photos.  As their trust in me grew, so did their willingness to participate.

So here I sit, the Saturday after finalizing Smartboard files to be using during the next three weeks of class, working on my final big project for the year.

I’m culling through the aforementioned photos…deleting the blurry ones…and reminiscing about what each photo depicts.

I’ll admit that I am getting teary eyed as I stare at the cap and gown pictures I snapped the first couple of days.  I remember the nervous giggles as each student donned the apparel.  They didn’t know their classmates very well, so they were a little self-conscious, even though I’d set up my “studio” away from the masses.

The walk down Memory Lane continues as I pause at the pictures that depict an activity in which students had to line themselves up by last name.  They were provided one directive:  read the instructions on the board and finish the activity.  It was my chance to observe my students in action.  Not surprisingly, the students who took charge were the ones who continued to lead the class all year long…both in good ways and bad…a great example of how each skill is like a two-sided coin with potential for good and bad according to the intent.

The pictures are very revealing, showing students working together to create projects…having in-depth discussions on how to organize information (they were probably actually discussing the latest gossip)…arguing their cases with vehemence, as depicted by pointed fingers and serious facial expressions.

From beginning to end, I see a progression.

At first, students were very separate individuals.

Then, like separate droplets of water, they came together as one, drawn by common experiences, interests, and goals.

Teaching is very much like parenting.

Teachers are given new babes.  We have to learn the nuances of our charges and use our knowledge to foster relationships.

We encourage.

We set high standards.

We hold students accountable when they aren’t meeting the standards.

We equip them for life without us.

And then we watch them walk out of our classrooms on that final day, say a prayer as they leave, and wave goodbye with tears in our eyes.

Sorting through these pictures helps me to remember what a privilege it is to have the chance to impact so many lives in such a short span of time.

The pictures, which show many activities, broad smiles, and even raised eyebrows of sarcasm, bear witness to a year of hard work, friendship, and lots of love.

Nostalgic Hodgepodge

Joyce has created questions that require us to reflect on the past.  Without further ado, let’s get to it!

1.  When the children of today grow up, what do you think they’ll say about this period in time? What do you most hope they remember?

I think that tomorrow’s adults will say, just as we do today, how far technology has advanced, how teenagers in their day were way more respectful than in modern times, and how dumb they were to worry about the stuff they worried about.  Different times but same musings.

2.  National Teacher’s Day is celebrated in the US of A on the first Tuesday in May, this year May 7th…share how a particular teacher positively impacted you.

I’ve blogged about my high school English teacher, Ms. Warr, before, but yesterday afternoon, Super Sis and I were musing about teachers, and I remembered Ms. Marilyn, who taught science (the most difficult being chemistry) and Home Ec.  Her science classes were HARD, and her tests were extremely comprehensive.  I learned to study, study, study and not give up, even when a subject vexes me.  Chemistry nearly did me in, but I persevered and wound up with A’s in this class.

3.  What’s a dish your mama made, that if set in front of you today would whisk you right back to childhood?

Cream of Wheat brings back memories of a single mom trying to feed her kiddos.  I ate so much of this stuff, enjoying it at the time, that if it were ever placed in front of me again, I would turn tail and run.

4.  Mother May I was a game we played when I was growing up…no pieces, parts, or plugs required. What games from childhood do you remember loving that were also pieces, parts, and plug-free?

Ha!  I don’t think we had many toys that plugged in back in the day!  I think I’ll say that hide and seek was a game I played a lot growing up.  The only thing required were a few places to hide and a creative imagination.

5.  Besides your own mother, tell us about a woman who influenced you as a child?

This is tough.  I did not have strong role models when I was a child.  I guess a person who filled in the gap a little was my best friend, Audra’s, mom.  I spent a lot of nights in her home, and every time I arrived, she always had my favorite snacks in the fridge and cabinets.  She lavished attention on her daughter, lovingly nurtured her through illness and heartbreak, and welcomed me with open arms when I returned for visits after I got married and moved away.  She was the kind of mom I’d like to think I turned out to be.

6.  Mamma Mia! What’s the best play or musical you’ve ever seen?

The only play I’ve been to was when I was a teenager and my class took a field trip to the Shakespeare Festival.  I cannot remember what we saw.  I wasn’t interested.  I’ve never been to see a musical either; although Chicky and I have watched the movie Opera of the Phantom a number of times.  I love the music in it!

7.  What are three smells that make you feel nostalgic?

Jean Nate, freshly mowed grass, and leaves burning

The Jean Nate takes me back to my school days…

The grass makes me think of lazy summer days, and the smell of burning leaves takes me back to autumns spent growing up in a small town.

8.  My Random Thought

Today marks one week since Aubie passed away.  It hardly seems like seven days have passed.  Her absence has left a large void in our lives, and we are still getting used to not having to “switch the dogs,” not hearing her gruff bark to be let out of her room, and not worrying about the coughing and panting she did in her last weeks.  I thought I heard her coughing the other day, and the hairs on my arms stood up.

A lot has happened since then.  I picked up Rooster from college, and Chicky came home.

Chicky arrived like a whirlwind…bringing Cali with her.

Thank heavens for this precious pup.

She’s very affectionate.  She climbed into my lap the first night she got here and demanded that I look at her.  She smothered me in kisses.

She made me laugh again.

She is a wonderful reminder that life goes on…that it’s good to laugh…that it’s great to love.

Sorry for the blur. She moved at the last second.

Oh, and an update on Pele.

He’s making progress.  I found him in Aubie’s bed the night before last.  Yesterday evening, this is what he looked like…

Full House, Full Heart

Last Thursday, I drove to Auburn after school to help a certain Rooster boy pack up his stuff.

It was time to move him home for the summer!

Quite honestly, I could not (and still cannot) believe that nine months had passed since I dropped him off for his first year at Auburn!  You might remember this post…when I got home…and the one I wrote the next day.  Oy, those were sad days, and May felt like forever and a day away!

I stayed in his dorm with him Thursday night, and we got up around 9am to begin the several hours of packing and loading up that needed to be done.

Three hours later, his room was empty…

The car was loaded…

We were hitting the road, taking the scenic route home…Rooster in the lead…

I love driving through the backroads in Alabama.  One day, the Mr. and I plan to retire and live in Auburn, where we can see beautiful landscapes like the following every day…

You should have seen and heard Gambit’s reaction when Rooster walked into the house.  Gambit’s tail wagged faster than I’ve ever seen it go, and he cried out in joy.  It was something to behold.

Rooster haphazardly put everything in his room when we got home…

We took him out to dinner, and upon our return home, he settled in for some time of relaxation.

The dogs settled in as close as they could get…

The joyful homecomings weren’t over though!

Chicky arrived yesterday afternoon.

I’d bought her flowers to brighten her room and welcome her properly…

She brought Cali with her, so our brood is now complete.

Our home is brimming over with people, stuff, animals, and, most importantly, LOVE.

Our house is full, and our hearts are flooding with the joy of loved ones under the same roof once again.

How Dogs Cope With Loss

I promise that this will be the last post regarding the passing of my sweet Aubie, so don’t run away in fear of my slipping away permanently into the land of sadness.  I guess, in a way, this is my own way of coping.

The weekend was a tough one.  Tears descended at random moments.

What was rough, though, was watching as Pele, Molly, and Gambit began coming to terms with Aubie’s absence.

Friday night, the Mr. found Pele and Gambit in the crate together.

It’s important to note that Pele has been grumpy the last few months and occasionally snarls at Gambit.  They’ve even gotten into arguments a time or two.  The fact that Pele allowed Gambit to snuggle close…more than once…spoke volumes.

Just look at their faces…

I decided it they needed snuggle time, so I got down on the floor with them…

Later that evening, when the dogs were out of the crate, Gambit managed to sidle up to Pele and eased down, resting his head on Pele’s back…

This dog is addicted to the warmth of other living beings.  He often slept curled up beside Aubie.

Later this weekend, I washed Aubie’s bedding.  She had drooled a lot, and the wound on her leg had leaked (gross), so before allowing the dogs to sleep on it, I wanted to clean it up.

I thought they would eagerly pounce on it when I put it back on the floor.

I was wrong.

First, they inspected it…

Pele wasn’t sure about things…not one bit…as you can see from the way he turned his head…

They continued to sniff…every single nook and cranny…

Before walking away…

First, Pele eased behind the bed…close but not in it.  The look on his face was too much for my frayed nerves…

It didn’t take him long to get up and find a different spot on the floor to rest.  In fact, so did the other dogs…

Pele got up for another look…

In the end, he just would not/could not step onto that bed.

It absolutely broke my heart, and I was reduced to tears…yet again.

Watching my dogs grieve…especially Pele…adds another layer of sadness.

Aubie was the only Mama that Pele knew.  He followed her everywhere.  He slept with her.  He sniffed every part of her if she went somewhere without him.  He had to make sure she was safe and sound.  She was Queen Bee, and he had no problem deferring to her.

Meanwhile, Molly, who fought for Queen Bee status with Aubie and, as a result, was kept separated from her, hasn’t had as difficult of an adjustment.  She climbed on in…

This is not to say that she hasn’t been affected, for she has.

We switched out Molly and Aubie, allowing each of them time out in the common living area.  Molly has always enjoyed being by herself…in a bedroom…under the bed where it’s cool and dark.

Now that Aubie is gone, we are leaving her in the common area full-time (partly to stop her from tearing up my bedspread, which she is prone to do on a regular basis).

She doesn’t seem to be enjoying her freedom and often retreats to the back hallway near Chicky’s room.  It’s dark there.

Poor girl.

She’s a bit antisocial.  We think she’s part cat.

And Gambit?  How is he doing?

He’s somewhere in the middle.  He got in Aubie’s bed this afternoon, which I was glad to see.  He senses my mood and has been sticking even closer to me than usual.  He’s not his usual bouncy self, but he’s a guy who has always been extra sensitive to our feelings.

I’ve learned a lot of things through this experience.

I’ve learned that grieving for a pet is okay, and the depth of my sadness is okay as well.  It doesn’t make me weird.

I’ve learned that animals feel sadness too…both from their own hearts as well as their owners’.

I’m learning that the process of healing is a slow one and different for everyone…be it human or animal.

Through it all, God is the healer, and all of us will depend on His strength and wisdom to get us through those sad moments.

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