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Rejuvenated and Ready

Spring Break is over.

Go ahead and have a quick little cry.


All done.

I feel rested, refreshed, and rejuvenated…ready to take on a busy four weeks.  Two weeks will be spent cramming as much as possible to prepare my students to take the FCAT, which will be held the third and fourth weeks of April (retakes for 11th and 12th graders are the second week).

My bag was slowly filled during Spring Break as I came across things I needed to take to school…or as books were delivered…

If you could, please say a prayer for teachers and students during the next few weeks.

High schoolers, in particular, face the added stress of having to pass the FCAT in order to graduate.

Oh, and for the record, today marks eleven more working Mondays before I will be on summer vacation.

But who’s counting down.


He Melted My Heart

Rooster had to work all day yesterday, so he wasn’t able to be with me much on my birthday.

He didn’t get home until almost 9:30pm.

That didn’t stop him from giving me a hug and wishing me a sweet “Happy Birthday.”

He asked me to close my eyes so he could give me a gift.

I was surprised because he doesn’t have much money, college student that he is.

He prefaced the gift giving by explaining that he couldn’t find exactly what he’d wanted to give me.  Then, he laid something in my hand.

Here’s what I saw when I opened my eyes…

That’s when he told me that he’d been unable to find an Amazon gift card at Walmart.

He also said that he expressly wanted me to use this money to buy books.

He’s seen the many, many packages that have been delivered to the house over the last few months…all filled with books for my classroom.

He knows that I work really hard to foster my students’ love for reading.

His gift and thoughtfulness melted my heart.

He reached into his own pockets (no borrowing from Daddy) to give me a gift that would keep on giving.

Rooster is such a sweet young man.  You can see his kindness in his tender heart, and he always makes me feel loved on my birthday.

I am blessed.

That’s How You Celebrate!

People have already been asking me if I’ve enjoyed my Spring Break, now that it’s almost over.

I can say, with all honesty, that it’s been the best one to date!

I got to do everything I’d hoped…

Yarn shopped…clothing shopped…stayed up late and sort-of-slept in…

The best part, though, was spending a few days with Chicky!

Chicky and her roommate, K, drove up to visit on Thursday, walking in the door an hour and a half earlier than originally planned.

Do you have grown children?

If not, you have yet to experience the joy of welcoming one back home.

I’d spent the entire afternoon cooking, and the girls were ready to chow down, beginning with the vegan-friendly Cowboy Caviar

For dinner, we ate Parmesan Chicken over Lemon Butter Pasta.

I ate my Daniel Fast Black Bean Soup.

For dessert, I’d made another batch of brownies, as well as a double-recipe of Velveteen Cupcakes…

The frosting on those cupcakes is very messy, and I’m a bit ashamed; however, after spending over five hours in the kitchen, I was simply happy that 1) The frosting turned out well and 2) That there was an end to the cooking.

We watched Catching Fire after dinner before turning in for the night.

Friday was a bust as far as venturing out.  It poured like crazy here, so I stayed inside.

For dinner, we met some of the people in our Small Group.  We went to a Mexican restaurant across the bridge and had a lovely time.  It’s a place meant for the tourists, so there was live music.

Chicky told the waitress that it was my birthday the next day, so I was serenaded…in English and Italian.  Though I was quite embarrassed, the man who did the singing was so sweet that I had to hug him afterward.

We went home fat and happy.

Today was the real treat, though.

Rooster had to work, and the Mr. took Chicky’s car to the auto shop for much-needed repairs (shout-out to our friend, T, who gave us a super-awesome deal on the repairs!).

Chicky, K, and I headed out for an afternoon of fun.

First, we visited the boutique where I’d purchased the dress and sweater I posted pictures of a few days ago.

The day was simply glorious.  I should have taken pictures.  We were down at the marina, and it was in the low 70’s…perfect weather.

We walked to a coffee shop nearby, and I treated K to her first Espresso shot.  Chicky got regular coffee, and I got hot chocolate.  The owner was a sweetheart, and Chicky was reminded of how nice the people in Podunk, USA are…something she misses living down in South Florida.

We stepped next door to a small show where I purchased a bottle of wine.  The wine came from a local winery, and on a whim, I asked the girls if they wanted to go wine tasting.  They are, after all, of age.

They did, and so we drove across the bridge to the beach.

What fun, although the experience was a bit awkward at first.

Social graces are not my thing, I fear.

We got over our nervousness and simply had a good time.

I bought a few bottles…

Don’t you just love the bottle topper?

By this time, we were starving, so we headed back into town, drove past my school, where I waved at it, and parked the car in front of one of the many stores that lined the street.

We took a leisurely stroll, glancing in the windows and reading the menus at the various restaurants before finally setting on a well-known restaurant in our area…one that I am fond of for its Mediterranean food.

We sat outside and ate…enjoying the people watching we were doing as well as the easy conversation.

By this time, we were quite tired and headed home where Chicky presented me with my birthday gifts from her…

The wine is a Riesling called “Relax.”  This was the theme of the entire package of gifts, as you can see from the body scrub, body wash, body mist, and spa socks.

Super Sis sent me this lovely bracelet…

The bracelet was made by a single mom who is part of Trades of Hope.  The proceeds go to benefit women who are trying to create a sustainable income for themselves.

Coupon Queen and Grand Pooba sent me a card and a check…much appreciated.  🙂

We then sat down and watched Frozen.  I had been singing Do You Want to Build a Snowman ever since Chicky had walked in the door.  It was good that she finally got to see the movie!

Spring Break was a total blast.

I did not work, except to answer one SOS email from a parent (a quick response).

I got to see my Chicky and spend some time with Rooster (we met for lunch after his classes ended on Thursday).

I feel rejuvenated and ready to face the next two and a half months left of school.

Most of all, I feel loved after the extra pampering (by myself and by others).

A Visit From Chicky

Guess who’s home for the weekend?

My Chicky’s school district has had this week off for Spring Break, so she and her roommate, K, drove up to spend the weekend with me!  Their other roommate, K#2, was supposed to come as well; however, she’s been feeling under the weather and decided to stay home to recuperate (i.e. keep her germs contained to her house).

I’m not sure what the next couple of days will bring, but I do know that my heart will be full, and I’ll be treasuring every moment!


A few days ago, I was looking for something in my room when I came across these binders…

As you can see, those are my binders from my Reading Endorsement classes, as well as three sets of my ESOL class documents.

Before I pulled out the paper to recycle it, I couldn’t help but thumb through the pages…remembering the angst of my final Reading Endorsement class…the practicum in which I had to film three lessons.

I texted a friend who had gone through the final class with me, and we expressed our relief that we had made it through.

I remembered how kind my instructor for the fourth class had been…how much I’d cried, though, in my efforts to get each lesson plan perfect.

I remembered the relief I had felt as each lesson had been approved.

I have a couple of friends who are taking their final two classes, and boy do I empathize!

The ESOL program had been a lot easier, but seeing the documentation reminded me what a load has been lifted off of my shoulders now that I don’t have weekly assignments to complete.

Dropping that documentation into my recycle box was analogous to letting go of much of the stress involved in being a new teacher.

My goodness, but sometimes I feel as though teachers should be awarded honorary PhDs for all of the extra certifications we are required to obtain and maintain!!

It was good to reminisce because it gave me a chance to remember the One who had gotten me through each and every class and each assignment required to show mastery.

For those who are in the middle of certification programs, hang in there.  One day, you’ll get to reminisce as well!


Like the Wind Hodgepodge Run

Oh, Happy Spring Break to you!  Wait.  You’re not Spring Breaking?  Well, don’t be hatin’ just because some of us are.


Seriously, though, I’m on Spring Break (duh), and I’m having a marvelous time (see yesterday’s post if you don’t believe me).  I want to take a few minutes, though, to answer the questions Joyce has cooked up for us.  I’m going to try to visit you guys this week since I’ll probably be sitting in a car place getting the oil changed or the car washed.  It’s Ladies’ Day.  What can I say?  Let’s get to the questions, shall we?

1. March is known as the windy month. Which of the following phrases best fits your March so far…’throw caution to the wind’, ‘three sheets to the wind’, ‘run like the wind’, or ‘see which way the wind blows’?

Well, I’m a planner, so “throwing caution to the wind”  and “see which way the wind blows” are definitely not me.  The stress of my job would justify me being “three sheets to the wind,” at times, but alas, hangovers aren’t my thing, and when you weigh, well, not very much, it would be easy to get inebriated.  “Run like the wind” fits because, with FCAT quickly drawing upon Floridians, that is exactly what I’m doing…running around like crazy trying to cram as much into my students’ brains as possible.

2.  Your favorite green food? Your favorite dish made with your favorite green food?

I like pistachios.  Those are green, right?  Hey, they are when they come back out, that’s all I know.  heehee.  I like to eat them plain…shelled by myself, of course.

3.  Ever been locked out of your home-car-office-anywhere? Do tell!

I really don’t think I’ve been locked out of any of those things.  I think that I thought I was locked out of my hotel room once…before I realized that I was trying the wrong room.  Yeah.  I’m not the brightest star in the heavens, that’s for sure.

4.  Yoda, Kermit, Shrek, The Wicked Witch of the West, Oscar the Grouch, The Grinch, or Mike Wasowski (Monsters Inc.)…of the green characters listed, which one’s your favorite and why?

The title of this post should have been your first clue.  Wise, yoda is. Yes, hmmm.

Try this link to convert your language to Yoda Speak.

5.  “The first task of a leader is to keep hope alive.”~Joe Batten Do you agree? Why or why not?

I completely agree with this statement!  You see it in battle.  You see it in the classroom.  If you can get people to believe the impossible, they will accomplish far more than they ever thought themselves capable of.  I see it ALL THE TIME with the kids I teach.  In fact, I often think that Intensive Reading is less about strategies and more about building up a child’s self esteem.  True statement.

6.  Share a favorite song with an emotion in it’s title.

This is the song that one of my assistant principals dedicated to the teachers, over the PA system, right before Friday’s final bell rang…a celebration of Spring Break.  The kids got a good laugh as I stood up dancing.  😀

7.  What’s a road trip you’d like to take?

I’ve actually thought about this question a lot in recent years.  One summer, I am planning on taking a road trip to visit some of the friends I’ve made through blogging and knitting.

I want to visit Rebecca Jo.  We met through our blogs, are the world’s BIGGEST Dancing With the Stars fans, text and tweet each other during shows, and share the same anxieties, loves, and beliefs about life.  She’s a dear sister in Christ.

I’d also visit Mary.    I actually met her when she came to Florida a few years ago.  I think that she and I connected through the Hodgepodge or through Rebecca’s blog.  Mary is a total trip…as in funny as heck…a no-nonsense gal who shares my passion for teaching along with a “let’s-keep-it-real” philosophy.

Last but not least, I want to visit my friend, Christina.  I met Christina through KnittingHelp.  I’ve talked about her often on my blog.  She is precious to me…fiery as all get-out.  Her sarcasm matches my own, and we have spent hundreds of hours on the phone.  In fact, she’s fallen asleep while talking to me.


That is the road trip I am planning, and I will do it…probably in the next two or three years since my own children are grown now.  I really hope they won’t lock me out of their homes when I visit.  LOL!

8.  My Random Thought

I was shopping in Joann’s a couple of days ago and came upon these…

The picture makes the skeins look big.  They’re not.  They’re itsy bitsy.  I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, there are patterns inside the package for the little critters you see on the packaging.  I may have to go back and buy a bag just to see…

Spring Break Shenanigans

Let’s do some math, folks.

What do you get when you add together one teacher plus Spring Break plus a beautiful day?

I realize I’m only a Reading teacher, but even I can tell you that the things listed above equal out to M-I-S-C-H-I-E-F.

Although I’d stayed up until 3:30am watching the last few episodes of Prison Break (anyone remember this WONDERFUL series)?


I cried.

Then I discovered that there was one other episode I’d never seen.


The two-hour finale.

How in the heck?

I’d boo hooed so badly over what now appears to have been the second-to-last episode that I guess I’d assumed the series ended on that note.

The last episode was two hours long.

I think I already said that.

Michael Scofield, I will always love you.  Four seasons just wasn’t enough.

But I digress.

Ok…so I wasn’t sure if I’d be doing anything except for sleeping on the couch.

The beautiful day beckoned me, though, and I gladly heeded its call.

I jumped in the car and began driving…

As a reminder, I live a few miles from the beach, and today’s drive was a long one.  The sand dunes were everywhere the condos weren’t…

I make this drive a couple of times a year and never tire of the views…

My first destination was Yarn Store #1, where I found an empty parking spot waiting for me.  Guess they’re into telepathy.  An hour later, I walked out with these goodies in tow…

The purple is Malabrigo Sock, the two round piles in the middle are Mini Mochi, and the aqua green on the right is 100% silk.


I continued driving, reaching Yarn Store #2…my favorite…a bit later.

There’s just something wonderful about yarn shopping.  I’ve shared my musings before, but they bear repeating.

When a crafter walks into a yarn store, the door shuts out the rest of the world, and the senses go into hyper-drive.

All of the worries (except for how much one can get away with spending) temporarily disappear as the colors and textures take over.

I had one particular project in mind and hunted Ravelry for others to use for yarn I spied in the store…trying to justify the ogling I was doing.

An hour or more later, I walked out with these goodies…

The top three cake patties are Cascade Alpaca Lace, which I will use for my Harry Potter OWL next term…a rather large and detailed project, which you know I’ll post about eventually.

The bottom skeins are Madelinetosh Worsted in Maple Pecan.  Perfect for the South, eh?  I’ve got a project lined up for this yarn too.

I drove toward home with a huge smile on my face and quite a few dollars lighter.  I had nine new skeins of yarn…

I still had one more errand to run.

I’d purchased a lovely blue dress a few days ago and needed a white sweater to wear over it to make it appropriate for school.

I found one, online through Facebook, at a friend’s boutique.

While there, I tried on a few other things and found a strapless dress that fit me perfectly.  The sales lady suggested I pair it with a shawl.

I chuckled.

You know me and my shawls.

Here’s what I bought at the boutique.

It had been a fine day of shopping, and this girl was T-I-R-E-D.

I’m making the most of my Spring Break.  There’s still more fun to go.

I’m going to enjoy every single second of it!

A Garden Springing Up

The pastors at my church are currently working through a series of sermons based on the book, Life’s Healing Choices:  Freedom from your Hurts, Hangups, and Habits, by John Baker.

We are going over the study guides in our Small Groups.  The Mr. and I attend one that meets on Friday nights.  We’re up to chapter two.

I’ve been reading along on the Kindle version, and let me tell you, this is an emotionally-charged book.

It’s dredging up a lot of painful memories.  The questions are difficult, but to answer less than truthfully would be dishonest and would hinder my recovery process.

A big thing we’ve been covering the past two weeks is control…how we want to control the things in our lives but can’t.

This is difficult for me, a self-professed control freak.

The hardest part, though is going back and looking at the things I’ve been through that I had no control of.  It is those things that have led to the hurts, hangups, and habits in my life.

It is those things that have led me to lead a life full of various fears.

During last week’s Small Group, the question was asked, “What is your greatest fear?”

I didn’t share.  At the time, I couldn’t really pinpoint one main fear; however, now that a few days have passed, I think I know what my main fear is.

I fear that my children will reject me, despite my desperate and flawed attempts to be a good mother.

If you’ve been reading my blog long, you already know that my relationship with my mom is nonexistent.  The separation happened gradually, over the course of my entire life.  The final break, though, has occurred within the last year and a half.

She has hurt me so many times that I just couldn’t take any more.

Over the last twenty-seven years, the Mr. has had to help me pick up the pieces of my heart more times than I can count, and quite honestly, the Super Glue we’ve been using to patch up the cracks finally ran out.

Her life choices led to things happening to me that I couldn’t control and that I still suffer the affects from.

Last week, I got very frustrated during Small Group…not with my friends, but with the thoughts that were going through my head.

I got aggravated because of the injustice of it all.

I think it’s unfair that my mom’s failings have led to so much hurt in my own life…when I didn’t get to choose those things…things that no child should ever have to face.

Then, one of my friends gently reminded me that God used those things to make me who I am today.

True statement.

I reflected on my teaching…the way I am able to connect with children who come from homes where they are not properly taken care of…where they are neglected…where they don’t have a father, a mother, or sometimes neither parent.

I seriously doubt if I’d be able to empathize with my students had I not gone through the trials of my early life.

It’s funny (not the best choice of words) how you think you’re over something and, once you start digging, you realize that you’re not.

That’s the hangup part of the study.

As to my greatest fear?

Well, I just pray that my children will see that, despite the parenting mistakes I’ve made over the years, I do love them, try to be there for them, and do my best to treat them equally.

On Sunday, one of the songs we sang was Gungor’s Beautiful Things.

I’ve posted the video for this song before, but I thought I’d share it again because it fits the topic of this post so well.

As we sang, I am not ashamed to say that tears flowed from my eyes.  The truth of the words hit my heart pretty hard.

God does make beautiful things come up from old, tired, worn-out ground.

He can lay a plow to the ground, uproot all of the weeds and things we don’t see below the surface, and plant new, beautiful, fragrant flowers.

I will never, ever claim that it is my own efforts that get me through each struggle.

I know that I am not strong enough.

God is, though, and I am so thankful for His strong arms…for His wisdom…for His love…that see me through each challenge and turns my struggles into a beautiful new garden.


“Beautiful Things”

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

Why a Man Should Never Go Purse Shopping With a Woman

Oh, Spring Break, how I love thee!

With my lesson plans finished for the first two weeks after we come back from Spring Break, I felt free.

Thus, it was without any guilt whatsoever, that the Mr. and I headed out for a day of shopping on Saturday.

We ate lunch at our favorite, vegan-friendly, pizza place.  We enjoyed people-watching while we waited for our pizzas to be prepared.

I bought a couple of items at a boutique at the beach’s mall…

For the record, those two items are not meant to be worn together.  Even I know that.  I was too lazy to take separate pictures.

I went to Ulta and treated myself to OPI Muppet polish for my tootsies…$3.50 coupon in hand.

On the way home, we stopped at Kohl’s.  The Mr. had a 20% coupon…a rare thing because all we usually get are 15% coupons.

We shopped with a vengeance.

As we looked around, the Mr. asked me what I wanted for my birthday.  It’s at the end of the month, and he, wise that he can be at times, was thinking ahead.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted…

Until I spied the purse section.

That’s when I remembered that I was in desperate need of a new one.  The purse my sister had given me two Christmases ago had straps that were nearly torn in half.

I’m rough on purses.

So, we started looking.






A man can go into a store to look for a new billfold and be out in twenty minutes happy as can be.

Women are completely different.

We need certain colors.

We want a certain number of pockets inside.

We look for roominess and wonder if the wallets we currently have are going to fit well.

We might look for short, thick straps that hang snugly over our shoulders, or we might prefer long straps that allow a purse to dangle.

Or, we might want both.

Most of the purses were 50% off, so price wasn’t really an issue.

Now, the Mr. is very opinionated.

He loves shopping more than I do.




I would eyeball a purse, and he’d give me a reason why I shouldn’t get it.

“The colors won’t be good all year.  You’ll need another one in the Fall.”

Yeah, that wasn’t the brightest comment.

“That’s too big.  You don’t need a suitcase.”

Yes, I do, because I have, like a bajillion things I might need in case of an emergency.

“You probably have 142 pens in your purse.  Get rid of them.”

Um…guilty?  I am, after all, a teacher.  Wanna make something of it?

Back and forth we went.

I kept going back to one particular purse.

Was it simple enough to pick it up and walk to the register?

Not with the Mr.

You see, there were three different styles of the purse…all different sizes.

So, I stood, pulled out the paper from each purse, and examined each one closely.

One purse wasn’t long enough to set my wallet inside.

“Turn the wallet on its end,” said the Mr.

Um, nooooo.  If a wallet is supposed to sit on its end, it will be short and square, not long and rectangular.

At one point, I looked at the Mr. and said, “This is why a man should never go shopping with a woman for a purse.”

I went on to tell him that this was a blog post in the making.


In the end, I got the purse I first laid eyes on…suitcase that it is…in the Spring colors that had grabbed my attention…

Here are the rest of the goodies purchased yesterday…

New pajamas!

I went back today and got the next thing…a dress I’d tried on yesterday but that the Mr. didn’t really like.  I bought it anyway…after asking a couple of friends for their opinions…

Baby Gifts for Maegan – The Great Reveal!

I am so excited because I can finally share some projects I’ve been working on for the last three months!

First, the back story.

My friend, Maegan, who I teach with, found out she was expecting a baby last August.  She’d been wanting a baby ever since she got married.

In January, I began knitting for the little boy she found out she is carrying.

First off the needles was a Baby Cabled Hat, knit with the Martha Steward Wool Blend…

This was a super-fast knit, and the yarn was very soft and easy to work with.

The next pattern, Sneaker Booties, was made was with the same yarn…so she’d have a matching set…

These were deceptively easy to knit.  I think I made both booties in one evening’s sitting.

The next thing I knit was the Tail a Wagging baby bib.  I used Lily Sugar’n Cream.  It, too, was a quick knit!

The last item, and the one I’m probably most proud of, is the Soothing Ripples blanket.  I began knitting it in January and probably could have finished it that month.  However, I paced myself, knit whenever I could, and finished last weekend.

The fringe added the perfect finishing touch!

I loved knitting this blanket.  It was, basically, the same two rows…over, and over, and over.

I used Caron Simply Soft for the blanket.  The drape is beautiful!

I’ll share one funny story before I end this post.

During her shower, I sat beside her, writing down the names of the people who had brought gifts so she could write thank you notes later.

When she got to my present, she unwrapped the smaller box.

Here’s the box she saw (not the bottles)…


She smiled and started to set the box down…


I casually asked, “Aren’t you going to open it?”

“Oh,” she said.  “I figured you gave me a juicer for the baby.”


My vegan reputation precedes me, I fear!

I’m glad she opened everything, and I’m thrilled that I could do something nice for her.  She’s become a good friend…listened to me cry my first year I worked at the school I’m at (it was my second year of teaching…first year teaching reading…and I was overwhelmed)…gone on escapades with me.

I love her to bits and cannot wait to welcome her little guy into the world when he makes his appearance next month.

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