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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.

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.  😦

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