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I Never Realized

I never realized, until this week, just how much stress I’ve been under the last hmmm hmmm years.

I’m thinking my level of stress really began in 2006 when started taking online classes, through Troy University, to finish up my bachelor’s degree.  It took me about a year and a half to reach my goal.

I had a brief reprieve from classes, homework, and tests before things started up again after I began teaching.

That first year, I went through the EPI program (alternative teacher certification).  I completed nine classes in just over six months.  Two of them were Masters level classes…all while teaching five grades.

There was always something to do, and I never had down-time.

After fining a job in the public school system, I began the arduous task of more classes…New Teacher Orientation, Reading Endorsement, and ESOL Endorsement.

Even when I finished lesson planning, I still had those classes lurking in the back of my mind.

The stress paralyzed me, rendering me unable to grocery shop or cook very often.

Fatigue was my constant companion.

I recently finished up my last ESOL class, but the reality of what I was getting in return, besides another endorsement to add to my teaching certificate, still eluded me…

Until this week.

I found myself at the grocery store TWO times…

With the cookbook.

I made dinner three nights…




Yes, I spent several hours tweaking my lesson plans, shifting them once when we were notified of our snow day and again when we had another snow day added.

Still, though, once those plans were made, including two tests, I felt myself RELAX.

Did I have more that I could do?


A teacher’s work isn’t done until we lock our doors for the summer.  Well, that’s only a pause as most of us participate in professional development during the summer.

Ok…a teacher’s work isn’t done until retirement.


The stress of always having another class to do for homework for…an assignment that is waiting approval (and the fear of having to redo it)…that’s GONE.

It was exhausting!

I had NO IDEA!

At least until this week.

I feel liberated, like I can finally enjoy it.

I am hopeful that as I learn how to manage my time better and get my lesson planning finished before each weekend, I can finally say that teaching is getting a little easier.

Snow Day in the Panhandle!

On Monday, my school district made the decision to close schools the following day.  My students were ecstatic, let me tell you.

Trust be told, so were the teachers.

I happy-danced my way out of school and got busy.

First, I went to the grocery store and picked up a few things for dinner.

Yes, you read that right.  I actually took my recipe book INTO the store and bought groceries for PLANNED meals.

I made cubed steak in gravy and rice for the guys…

What can I say?  That’s how we do dinner in the South.

After dinner, I settled myself on my couch for a few hours of lesson planning.  I had to shift my plans over a day, and then I started creating the Smartboard file for next week’s plans.  I worked until 1am, even managing to create a Denotation/Connotation test for my kids!

I finished that task up around 1am and decided to reward myself by finishing up a book (a review to follow).  I turned off my light at 3am.

Night owl, anyone?

I was shocked when I woke up at 12:15pm!  In fact, my entire house slept in, including the dogs.

Yes, I’ve trained them well…the guys too.


Look at what I woke up to find…

The dogs were curious about the ice and “crunchy” grass.  Molly even rolled around on it!

I pretty much wasted the day away…in my pajamas and robe…only emerging from the house to take out the garbage and check the mail.

I played a bit of Ruzzle…

Planned out a dog sweater, which I will cast on for in a day or two…

And worked on shifting my lesson plans again because today was declared ANOTHER snow day!

Oh hallelujah!

I know that some people in the North might poo-poo our drastic measures; however, the South isn’t prepared for things like icy roads.  Heck, drivers are bad enough on sunny days.  Throw in a bit of black ice, and there’s no hope!  The Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol wisely shut down most of our bridges, so parts of town were literally cut off from each other.

I’m finding myself thankful for a lot of things right now…a warm home, electricity, food, and the extra days to prepare for my students and rest up (yes, it’s possible to do both…kinda weird how that works).

A Sing-Along Hodgepodge

It’s a snow day here in Florida…can you believe it?  Well, actually, it’s not snowing, but conditions were serious enough to create icy roads…something we are definitely not used to!  Our school district cancelled school for the day…YIPPEE!  I’m thrilled at the gift of time I’ve been given and stayed up ALL night prepping next week’s lesson plans.  Go me!  Anyhoo…I guess we should get to the questions before I fall asleep on my keyboard (it’s after 1am as I type this…I am a night owl!).  Oh, don’t forget to link up with Joyce!!

1.  It’s  been said that one small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day. Do you think that’s true? Do you find that an easy exercise most mornings? What’s something positive you told yourself today? If you missed that boat, what’s something positive you could tell yourself tomorrow?

I do believe that having a positive outlook can affect your entire day, just as when something bad affects your mood, you’re pretty much sunk for the day.  I prepare for work each morning by listening to a Christian radio station.  I also listen to Christian music on my drive.  What better way to prep for the day than by putting the focus on God?!  Something positive I told myself yesterday (I’m probably still snoozing as you’re reading this) was that I liked my lesson plans and knew I’d have a good day.  Of course, I had to write up a young man who was very belligerent halfway through the day, so things went downhill quickly.  Grrr…

Something positive I’m telling myself now and on Thursday is that I’m grateful for the extra day we had off…time to get ahead in my lesson planning so I can have the weekend to myself!

2.  There will be karaoke at the next party you attend…are you in? Or will you be faking a sore throat?

I won’t sing in front of people.  I know my voice is bad enough when I’m speaking.  Singing…well, it’s a good thing the Lord hears my intent!  I’ll let him be the only person who hears me sing, thank you very much.

3.  January 29th is National Puzzle Day…what’s something you’ve found puzzling recently?

Something I’ve found puzzling lately is how I can raise a child who shows so little appreciation for the love I extend through the various things I do.  It’s very frustrating and disheartening…not to mention heartbreaking.  My own mother has been inattentive to me most of my life…including when I was a wee thing.  I pretty much raised myself, so I set out from the get-go to be very hands-on with my children.  It’s sad that I feel very unloved a lot of the time…by a person I’ve invested nearly every bit of energy I possess.

4.  Jigsaw, crossword, acrostic, logic, sudoku, word search…what’s your favorite kind of puzzle, and when did you last work one?

I love word puzzles so much, but I’m going to have to go with jigsaw for this answer.  I last worked a puzzle a couple of months ago when my students and I were working through our Main Idea unit.  I introduced the strategy by having them put small puzzles (purchased at the dollar store) together.  They were tough puzzles, so the kids were challenged.  It was a very fun lesson!

5.  Recently a writer by the name of Amy Glass ruffled feathers with a post she wrote saying she looks down on young women with husbands and kids and she’s not sorry. Among other things, she says women will be equal with men when we stop saying house work and real work are equally important. You can read the whole piece by clicking here.

What say you? Do you think men and women are equal in the 21st century? Why or why not?

Hmmm…I am definitely not a feminist, but I do believe that in some ways, men and women are equal.  There are certain jobs, though, that are better suited for men, and vice versa for women.  I think I’ll leave it at that.

6.  What’s a product you’ve noticed in the grocery store that you’d like to try, but haven’t yet?

Ha ha ha!  Sorry.  I had to laugh.  I don’t do much grocery shopping.  The Mr. takes care of that for us.  I have been twice this week, but only because he’s been sick.  I was too busy trying to find my way around the store to notice anything but what I was looking for.  I’m not much into eating, so most things just don’t appeal to me.  Lame, eh?

7.  The author, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) was born this week in 1832 (January 27th).  Which character from his celebrated novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, would you most like to meet, and why? Here’s a link to a character list if you need help on this one.

I’m not a big fan of this book simply because I could never make my way through the entire thing.  So, I’ve got nothing as far as this question goes.  I’m really lame today, eh?

8.  My Random Thought

This week, my students have been working their way through the various text structures (description, sequence, cause/effect, etc.).  We covered sequencing yesterday, and I had students write a paragraph, using signal words, that explained how to do something.

Take a look at what one of my students wrote…

Perhaps, with this being a snow day, I’ll see how good her instructions are.


I am just kidding…of course.









Oh, the Humiliation

I took Gambit to get a mani/pedi on Sunday.  Before we left, I decided I’d better take off the Christmas sweater he was still wearing.

Um.  Yeah.

Not cool.

He loves his sweater, though, and I haven’t been able to bear the thought of taking it off.

Fear of public embarrassment won over, though, so I removed it.

While he was getting his nails done, I shopped for another sweater.

I was thrilled to find this on the clearance rack…

It was a Large and still looked like a muscle shirt on him, so I took it off and returned it right away…before we left Petsmart.

I don’t think he minded given the not-so-cool message on the back.

Have I mentioned that I’m not very cool sometimes?

We went back to the drawing board, and I settled for the sweater you see below…

The colors are a little more “manly,” but the fit isn’t that great still.

Gambit didn’t seem to mind and sported this smile when we got home…

I think I’m going to put my knitting skills to use and whip up a customized sweater that fits him better so he won’t be too humiliated the next time I take him out in public.


Bruiser – A Book Review

I recently finished reading Bruiser, by Neal Shusterman.

This is the tenth book that I’ve read by Shusterman.  His books are chock-full of deep meaning and heart-wrenching themes.

Bruiser is no exception.

This book tells the story of a young man named Brewster who has a unique ability.  When a girl named Bronte befriends Brewster, strange things begin to happen.

Brewster’s relationship with Bronte and her twin brother, Tennyson, changes all of their lives in unexpected ways.

This book is told from the perspectives of each main character, as well as Brewster’s younger brother.

Oh word, but I rode a roller coaster of emotions with this book.

My heart broke for Brewster, as I saw the pain he allowed himself to go through because of his love for his brother and friends.

I grew angry at Bronte for trying to mold him into the person she wanted him to be.

Tennyson’s selfishness made me want to knock some sense into him!

What was most frustrating was Bronte and Tennyson’s inability to see what was clearly before them.  Grrrr!

As I think about how this book’s themes apply to real life, I’m surprised to find that most people are just like the twins.  We settle ourselves into our cozy lives, happy when we find things that satisfy us.

We foolishly allow ourselves to use things in our lives to mask the pain and heartache we face each day when, in reality, we need that pain to find our way through the difficult circumstances.

Ultimately, I saw a correlation between Brewster’s selfless sacrifice to that of Christ’s.  If you read the book, you’ll understand what I mean.  Shustermann never mentions Christianity, but one can’t help but think of it as this book reaches its climax.

I will probably do this book as a Read Aloud next fall.  The messages about not judging people by their reputation and not jumping on the bandwagon ‘just because” will ring true to my high school kids.

It rang true to this almost-44 year old gal, that’s for sure.

Adrenaline Rush…of the Nerdy Kind

Yesterday, my alarm went off at 5:30.

That’s AM, folks…not PM.

Why on earth would I get up so early on a Saturday morning?

Well, it wasn’t to attend a soccer game, as in days of old when the kiddos played and we traveled many, many weekends.


This time I got up early, leaving my sleeping fur babies behind, to attend my county’s annual Reading Conference.

Pele tried to entice me into staying home with this sad face…

It is a much-looked-forward-to event and the “go-to” happening place if you are an educator in my district or surrounding districts.

It is always held at one of the local colleges, so the venue is comfortable.

This was a special year for me, though, because I had been asked to be a presenter.

That’s right…


At first, I ha ha’d it off (as in laughed, in case my lingo didn’t come across well).

Ok…so I didn’t laugh, but I gently declined because, as a fourth-year teacher, I didn’t feel knowledgeable enough to be presenting to other, vastly superior teachers…many of whom are my official and unofficial mentors.

My thinking changed after my school’s TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment) trained my students how to use Google Drive.

A brief introduction of Ryan.

He is one of the most likeable, approachable young men (I can say this because I discovered that I’m about fifteen years older than him…give or take a couple of years).  Rooster was in two of Ryan’s history classes and adored him.  Ryan’s style of teaching suited Rooster perfectly.  It was very hands-on and made the kids apply what they were learning to fun tasks.

Ryan works out of the district office now to assist teachers with using technology in their classrooms, and he’s been invaluable to my growth as a teacher, sparking my thinking by the most casual comments or bits of how-to information.

We are working together to improve my students’ writing skills through the use of Google Drive and other technology…hence the training.

We work well together, and our conversation between classes the day he did the trainings (he stayed ALL DAY), led to a discussion about the upcoming reading conference.

He graciously invited me to be a part of the Google Drive presentation he was set to do with another TOSA (shout-out to Doug), and I was on board!  I didn’t feel the pressure of being a one-woman show.  I would, in essence, be the teacher testimonial to their techie know-how.

After we set that up, I was invited to do my OWN session…same material…in a second session of Google Drive.  Ryan generously offered to let me use the presentation that had been created for our session, so I took a leap of faith and agreed to do that session on my own.

Talk about nerves!

I speak better in front of a classroom of teenagers.

Heck…I know I’m not all there and a little…um…uncool.  I can get away with that with teenagers.  I am an adult, after all, and not expected to be cool.  Put me in front of a bunch of adults, and my legs turn to jelly!


Ryan, Doug, and I met a couple of times to discuss the presentation, and they were so sweet.  They sensed my insecurities and assured me that I would do fine.

Their confidence buoyed my spirits and, after writing a few notes of things I wanted to say, I walked in to the first session feeling prepared.

Look at the pretty ribbon I got to wear…

I do love technology, after all.  It’s always been a passion of mine, and teaching gives me an avenue for blending my love for students with my love for digital learning.

The first Google Drive session went off swimmingly.  We made a perfect team, and the information came across seamlessly.  Those guys are AWESOME, and the packed room of eager teachers seemed very receptive and excited as the presentation progressed.

As part of the presentation, we showed this very short video to give attendees a general idea of what Google Drive was about (we later expounded on it)…

The second session went well too.  I was no Ryan or Doug, that’s for sure, but I did my best and didn’t do too badly.

I am my harshest critic, and I can’t help but analyze myself.

A do-over would include me talking much more SLOWLY.  Unfortunately, when I get excited, I talk fast…VERY fast.  There’s so much in my head that I want to share that my words stumble over each other!

That’s why writing is good for me.  It forces me to write ONE SENTENCE AT A TIME…unlike talking, where ideas flow without punctuation and somewhat randomly.

I had a couple of chats with some lovely people after both sessions and left the college on an adrenaline rush.

There is nothing I like better than helping people.

The last few years, I’ve mostly been helping my students, but to take what I do and extend it to other teachers marks another turning point in my career…a step up and outside of myself.

I’m starting to get to the point where, now that my new teacher classwork is finished, I can stretch myself in different directions.

My natural enthusiasm for what I do in the classroom is beginning to spill over to conversations with colleagues.

I don’t do this because my IPDP says I have to in order to be “Highly Effective.”

It’s just a part of who I am…who we all should become as we learn more about our craft.

In the end, it makes us all better educators, which benefits the charges we’ve been blessed to take care of.

Why I Attend Sports Events at School

A typical Friday for me includes working from 7:30 until 3…rushing home to visit with Rooster and the dogs…and then rushing back to school for a few hours so I can cheer on my students as they participate in their various athletic events.

Because I had children who played sports most of their lives, I can appreciate the hard work that goes into these extracurricular activities.

Yesterday, during my first class, one of my students, who is on the JV basketball team, asked, “Mrs. AuburnChick, are you coming to the game tonight?”

It was going to be a big one…against the cross-town rival.

“Of course,” I said.

He smiled.

He’s a charming young man who has been a handful this year.

The stories I could tell…

I genuinely like him, though, despite his attempts to get his schedule changed so he wouldn’t have to be in my class.

For the record, I once overheard him tell another student that I wasn’t all that bad…that sometimes, I just get on his nerves.



I asked my student, “What is it about my going to the games that makes you happy?”

He replied, “Because I know you’re there cheering me on.”




How in the world can your heart not melt when a teenager says something like that?

He and I have come a long way from the first of the year.

I told him early on that I would go to his games, but it wasn’t until he actually saw me…more than once…at away games even…that he believed me…that he trusted me.

Are there evenings when I just want to curl up in my pj’s and knit or zone out in front of the television?


I’d be lying if I said otherwise.

However, the smiles…the acknowledgements…the nods of acceptance and appreciation I get from all of my students…cheerleaders and players…makes it all worthwhile.

Despicable Me Scarf

Chicky’s birthday was on the 22nd.

Last Saturday, I got up a little earlier so I could mail her package…

I had to send her a corny card…

One of those wrapped gifts was this…

The Mr. had seen the cup one day when he was out-and-about, and he knew that Chicky’s favorite flower is the sunflower, so he thought she might like it.

Meanwhile, I had been working on a special project, which I can finally reveal.  I worked on it from October until January.

I had originally tried to finish it by the end of October, but I was very busy with my classroom and the ESOL classes I was enrolled in, so I just couldn’t get it done by my goal.

My goal then became one of trying to finish it in time to give it as a gift to Chicky for Christmas.

I even took it to her house when she had surgery, but I didn’t get to work on it because she didn’t sleep as much as I had thought she would.

At that point, I was hoping to finish in time for her birthday.

I was happy to bind off the thing with just enough time to spare and mailed it off to Chicky.

This, my friends, is the Despicable Me Scarf, which Gru wears in the movie.

I had a bit of a problem with the mail carrier (you might remember that post), but Chicky finally received it and tweeted the following picture, which I edited to cover up her face…

When I packaged it up, I sent along a picture I’d printed of Gru…hoping she would see the connection between one of her favorite movies and the scarf.  She’s not much into my knitted items, but I thought this would okay.  It’s thin, as seems to be the style these days.  It’s also long enough to be wrapped a couple of times.

Here’s a close-up of the knitting…

I am completely loving the Harry Potter knitting community I joined on Ravelry (Go Hufflepuff!).  It’s been a wonderful motivator to get me back to one of my favorite past times…one that allows me to give homemade items from my heart.

Annoyed With Lakeland’s Post Office

Yesterday was Chicky’s birthday.

I mailed her present on Saturday and eagerly watched the tracking information.

It was out for delivery on Tuesday…the day before her birthday; yet, when she got home, she had not received it.

Say what?

Yesterday, I checked the status, and it showed as being “Available for pickup.”

I was very confused and called about six different post offices in Lakeland…trying to figure out which one her package was being handled by.

I finally reached a lady around 4pm, and she offered to check into it and call me back.

Meanwhile, I received another email saying it had been delivered.

I eagerly texted Chicky, but when she went to the mailbox, she had NOTHING.

I am freaking out right now.

It appears as though the package was delivered TO THE WRONG ADDRESS, which is completely asinine because the label I printed from the online postage I paid for, clearly shows that I typed the CORRECT address.

Have I mentioned that I’m ticked off right now?

I also paid for PRIORITY shipping…guaranteed delivery.


I’m trying to remember to pray about this, but I AM TICKED.

I don’t want someone else to have my girl’s package.

She’s the one who is supposed to fill up the package of love I sent her.


Please say a quick prayer that things get resolved.  This mama heart is stressed right now.


Chicky’s Magical Birthday

Today, Chicky turns the big 22.

It’s her magic birthday because today is January 22nd.

I’ve always heard that when your number birthday matches the day of your birth month, it’s MAGIC.

Time will tell for my girl.

All I know is that from the moment I found out I was pregnant with her, my life was magically transformed.

Preparations were made for the day she would arrive…

The tiny, one-bedroom apartment made things a bit cozy.  I didn’t mind.  She was my first, and I wanted her close to me.

Life was good in the delivery room…after I got my epidural…

Those are what we called corded phones…back in the day.

After a lot of hours of labor…a bit of pain…a couple of unexpected observers (EMT trainees…totally embarrassing at the time but I was too young to know that I could politely refuse)…Chicky was born.

Please note that yes, I am posting my face, but I do not fear because that is the look of LABOR.  I totally look different now.

Also note Chicky’s adoring look of love as she gazes upon my face for the first time.

She knew which side her bread was buttered…or where the moo moo juice was coming from, if you get my drift.


Chicky was weighed and measured and scored a perfect ten on the Apgar test.  She was a beauty from the get-go…

We took her home where we did a lot of this…

And this…

Those long nights left us sleep-deprived, let me tell you, and we caught our Zzzz’s whenever and where ever we could.

Ahhh…the magic of sleepiness, eh?

Chicky did a lot of sleeping on her own too…

Boy, did she love that swing.  It wasn’t fancy because we didn’t have money for the plug-in kind.  We had to carefully and slowly wind that sucker up when it stopped rocking so as to leave her sound asleep without startling her.

She slept a lot during her first trip to the beach.  What a good baby.

We had fun dressing her up for Easter.  She doesn’t look thrilled, does she.  We were, though, as new parents should be!

She was quite the character from the get-go.  Look at that mischievous grin…

Bath time was always fun.  She loved water from the beginning.

Truth be told, she was probably peeing in the water as I was taking that picture.  That’s her potty look.

I do hope she’s managed to outgrow that little habit…


Chicky was always getting into stuff.  Can you see her looking around for the next thing to put her hands on?  Hmmm…now that I think about it, she may be eying my big behind with the express desire for me to move it.

Trying to select a sampling of pictures to represent my precious girl’s early life was, quite honestly, too big a task for this tired teacher.

It was fun, though, as I relieved each of those moments…precious in their own way.

I became Chicky’s mom at the tender age of 21 (nearly 22), and I can’t really remember my life before becoming a mother.

That’s the magic of motherhood and why I celebrate Chicky’s birthday.

And for you, Chicky, a special message…

I pray that this is your best year yet…that is becomes that magical year we’ve talked about.

You’ve graduated from college and gotten yourself a real job.  You’re on track for a fabulous career.

You have wonderful friends and a life that is centered on the Lord.

You have a family who loves you more than you will ever know or understand…people who will never leave your side.

I pray that you enjoy this time of your life…a transitional time when you discover who you are as an adult.

I pray that you find your soul mate…someone who loves Christ and wants to serve Him in the same way that you do.

I pray that your knee heals better than new and that you continue to pursue your dreams…dreams you harbor deep in your heart and as you’re counting sheep each night.

I love you so much, through thick and thin.

As I used to sing to you before you went to bed…

I love you forever,
I’ll like you for always.
As long as I’m living,
My baby you’ll be.

You are precious…a gift that I treasure every day.


Mama ♥

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