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The Birthday Boy

Twenty years ago, I gave birth to my second child…a 7lb, 7oz little boy.

That boy is my Rooster.

He was an easy-going lad from the get-go, slept through the night the first evening home from the hospital, and hasn’t had problems snoozing since.

For the most part, this young man has been laid back.

We trained him early in the ways of life…he has bled Orange and Blue from the start…

He’s got a quirky sense of humor and is always ready to debate…he’s smart like that.

Rooster is quick to lend a helping hand and is eager to learn.

He is spending the summer away from home, interning at the same church in Tennessee that our former pastor now preaches at.

Fortunately, Rooster will be spending his birthday (and a few days afterward) at home thanks to timing that could only have been orchestrated by the Lord.

So it is with much love and gratefulness that I wish my sweet guy a Happy 20th Birthday!

I love you, Rooster.  You are a blessing, and I consider it an honor to be your Mama.

Spicy Watermelon Salad

Yesterday evening, I prepared a dish for my friend, Cinda.  Her mother-in-law passed away Monday evening, so I, along with other members of the Reading department at my school, am preparing a meal for her.

Cinda follows a Paleo diet…something I’m sensitive to given my own vegan lifestyle.

I found a recipe for Spicy Watermelon Salad here.

Take a look at how pretty it is…

I wanted to sample it to make sure I had followed instructions properly.

Boy, does it have some zing!  It is one of the most flavorful salads I’ve ever made!

I’m going to make another bowl of it for my Small Group on Friday.  I think that I’ll either add more greens (I used arugula) or will cut the jalapeno down to half.

If you’re looking for a summertime salad, you won’t beat this one!

Feeling the Blues on Hodgepodge Day

Yes, I’m feeling a bit of the blues on this Hodgepodge day.  In yesterday’s post, I shared that my best friend’s husband had lost his battle with cancer.  I spoke with her son after work yesterday, and he said that she was holding up well thanks to the support of their family and friends.  I also learned that my mentor’s mother-in-law had passed away Monday evening.  Cinda, my mentor, has become a good friend, so my heart is hurting for her.  There just seems to be a lot of sadness surrounding those I care about lately, but I’m thankful for God’s provision and grace.

Now, let’s get on with the questions.  Thanks, Joyce!!

1.  Under what circumstances do you do your best thinking?

I know a lot of people who function best under pressure; however, I do my best thinking when I’m relaxed.  I need to chew on ideas a while.  Most of my best thinking actually happens in the shower.  It’s where I get my best lesson plan ideas, and I often have to rush out and write them down before I forget!!

2.  Are you a risk taker? What’s one big risk you’ve taken?

I wouldn’t say that I’m a risk taker, per se.  I put a lot of thought into what I’m doing.  With that said, I set high goals for myself and work hard to achieve them.  This has often required that I step outside my comfort zone so, in a sense, I am risking myself…what I know for what is unknown.

3.  Some of the most common phobias according to the National Institute for Mental Health are-fear of spiders (arachnaphobia), snakes (ophidiophobia), heights (acrophobia), fear of spaces from which escape is difficult (agoraphobia), fear of thunder and lightening (astrophobia), fear of dogs (cynophobia), injections (trypanophobia), social situations, flying (pteromerhanophobia) and fear of germs and dirt (mysophobia). True phobias affect only about 10% of adults, but of those listed which would you rate as your greatest fear?

Well, since Joyce didn’t list fear of tornadoes, I’ll go with my second biggest fear…fear of spiders.  I will not mess with them.  I will run when I see them.  Unless I’m faced with a pregnant mama with a sac of baby spiders on her belly.  Yes, I had to take care of this and watched the baby spiders scurry all over the floor when the sac broke and they got out.  I didn’t sleep well for weeks, afraid that the bleach I had sprayed had not killed them all.

4.  Are you settled or do you feel the need to move somewhere new?

The Mr. and I have always wanted to move back to Auburn, Alabama.  We are planning on doing so in five or six years…as soon as he retires.  In fact, he’s already looking at houses online!  Auburn is one of the most beautiful towns…so serene with its country locale and proximity to our Auburn Tigers.  I cannot wait!!!  I think I’m an Alabama girl at heart.

5.  What is something you find annoying when dining in a restaurant?

I find two things annoying.  The first is when I have no vegan-friendly meals to choose from.  I cannot eat at Red Lobster without ordering vegetable side dishes, so we don’t even bother going anymore.  The second thing I find annoying is having my booth bumped by people sitting behind me.  Ugh.

6.  Daffodil yellow, sunset orange, spring green, or sky blue…your favorite color this time of year?

I love sky blue.  The sky is just beautiful here in Florida this time of the year.  Nearly every Saturday, the Mr. and I drive to the mall at the beach, and we have to go over “The Bridge.”  The view of the water and condos is gorgeous!!!

7.  If you were going to take a holiday all by yourself, where would you go?

I’d be game to go anywhere.  I can be a rather solitary person but still don’t feel as though I have real quality time to myself.  Now that my children are adults, and one of them is out of the house, I find myself learning more about ME all the time.  I wouldn’t mind exploring a place like Paris or even somewhere on this side of the pond, such as Washington, D.C. or some other history-filled location.

8.  My Random Thought

Last night, I lived out my life through Twitter…posting updates about the finale of one of my favorite shows, Dancing With the Stars.

I know for a fact that April and Rebecca were watching, for we tweeted each other a few times as we watched.

I held my breath while the results were read.

The couple I had rooted for all season WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Take a look at the smiles!!

Usually, the biggest transformation can be seen in the star; however, it’s safe to say that Maks underwent his own makeover this season.

I think that Meryl’s gentle nature, along with her strong work ethic and natural grace, allowed him to let down his guard.

He became vulnerable.

He allowed the public to see his tenderness.

For that, he endeared himself to us.

I pray that this new-found peace he has found finds a place deep inside his soul.

 

Pranked!

My school’s Senior class acted…well…classy last week.

Tradition dictates that Seniors pull a prank or two before saying Adios to high school.

Two years ago, the Seniors created a volleyball court, complete with full-sized net, sand, beach balls, and beach chairs.

It was terrific!

Last year, the Seniors put pancake syrup all over the doors, windows, and walkways of the school.

This was not cool or classy.

Thus it was with much surprise and joy that we discovered the following last Friday…

The kids had gathered together the $600 it cost to rent a pool and slide.  They also set up Kool Aid Pong (as opposed to Beer Pong).  Around lunch time, they had a cookout.

It was good, clean (literally) fun.

It made me proud to say that I teach at the BEST school in my District!!

Dear Allen

Dear Allen,

Today, you departed this world after a short but valiant fight with cancer.

Yours is a life that ended too soon.

Although I’ve known that this day would more than likely arrive, still I grieve.

I think back to the time when your sweet wife, Christina, became my best friend.  We were drawn together through our love for knitting, and we spent hours chatting in the KnittingHelp.com chatroom.

We had much in common…teenage children…husbands that had the habit of driving us nuts…fur babies who got into constant mischief.

It wasn’t until your eldest son, Austin, got badly burned and spent three months in a Shriner’s hospital that my friendship with Christina went to a deeper level.

We began talking on the phone daily.

That’s when you entered the picture.

Sometimes, when I called, you answered the phone, and we would talk about this and that.

I distinctly remember more times than not the conversations involved you sending Christina off to buy yarn…or sometimes you would be the person buying the yarn as a surprise.

Through our phone conversations and Facebook chats, I learned how deeply you cared for your family…how desperately you wanted to be a good husband and father.

You were quick to blame yourself for issues that arose.

Through the pictures that you and Christina posted online, I learned of your love for nature…how you yearned for a simpler way of life…one unencumbered by government control…the peace to live your life as you wanted.

Christina shared with me your dream of building a cabin and living off the land.

In fact, I was mightily impressed when you allowed Christina to begin raising chickens in the backyard and even built her a chicken coop to keep the hounds from stalking the winged creatures.

As I sit here in tears, I count myself fortunate to have gotten to know you over the years.  I’ll never forget overhearing you strumming a guitar and singing an original Bluegrass song you’d written.  I suspect you may have been nipping at some moonshine, but that little secret is safe with me and my two readers.

I will forever remember what would be our last conversation, and you downplayed how sick you really were.  I knew, though, from the sound of your voice, that the world would soon lose you.

Thank you for your friendship…for your honesty…for entrusting your wife’s friendship to me.

Thank you for supporting your wife’s varied interests…her love for homeless fur babies…her passion for gardening…her sudden decisions to reorganize the house.

You were always real.  You never put on airs, and people knew where they stood with you.

Don’t worry about Christina and the boys.  One thing your passing has taught me is that they have lots of family and friends who will love them through the difficult times ahead.

Though we never got to meet in person, you will forever be as much of a friend as those I see day-to-day.

It is with much love that I bid you adieu.

Love in Christ,

Nathalie

You Have Questions? I Have Answers

Today, I am giving a test.

When you teach, you can expect questions…especially before the test has “officially” started.

You can try to anticipate every single question a student might pose, but in the end, there will ALWAYS be questions.

This usually happens because students ARE NOT PAYING ATTENTION while you are giving instructions the first time.

This also happens because students DO NOT PAY ATTENTION to the carefully typed out instructions posted on the SMARTBOARD!!!

Ugh.

It is one of the most aggravating parts of teaching.

One would think that high school students would have fewer questions.

Let me address that fallacy.

THEY DO NOT!

I cannot even imagine administering a test to an elementary student…which is why I am better off teaching high school.

Today, instead of answering questions the normal way, I have decided to do the following…

Yes, I realize that you are probably cringing right now.

It’s okay.  I would be too if I was reading this on YOUR blog.

Just the thought of a 44 year old woman doing interpretive dance…in the middle of a classroom…sends shivers down my spine.

Oh wait.

I am that woman.

Heehee

Please consider this a warning that if you suddenly see “AuburnChick’s Interpretive Dancing” trending on social media, it will be me, trying to make a point.

I suspect that my teenagers will need to have eye surgery to remove the images burned into their brains.

I doubt that So You Think You Can Dance will be calling.

A Day of Whimsical Fun

Let us all take a moment to enjoy the sound of me NOT MAKING LESSON PLANS!!!

Yes, folks, that’s right.

My lesson plans for the rest of the school year are finished, as are tests and rubrics.

All remaining assignments have been entered into the computer as placeholders for the grades that will follow over the course of the next fourteen days.

And yes, you read that right…FOURTEEN DAYS!!!!

Thus it was that my day began with guilt-free fun…a bit of pampering.

After looking around on Pinterest, I decided to let my inner child have some fun…

The picture on Pinterest had minions on all ten nails.

Because I’m not quite the poster child for a Walmart shopper…*ahem…I decided to stay Redneck Classy and went with a signature finger on each hand.

My nail tech added polka dots for additional flair.

:::Like I need more flair in my life, eh?!:::

Here’s a closeup of the nails…

Those aren’t stickers.  My nail tech is that fabulous.

When I got home, the Mr. and I ran to the mall at the beach.  I have been wanting a pair of white pants, and I’d seen that Old Navy had them starting at $15.

I didn’t find the pants, but I did find a couple of dresses that fit me perfectly.  After the $5 coupon I got for trying on a pair of shorts (a special deal this weekend), I was set to go…

The next dress is simply lovely on.  The pictures do not do it justice.

I had a bit of trouble getting it zipped up and thought that, perhaps, I was a little too big for the small size I’d chosen; however, the dressing room attendant got the zipper up, and I discovered that the ribcage area is very fitted and almost acts as a support.  It is a VERY flattering dress.

I took a closeup of the lace pattern…

After trying on ten dresses, I was pooped, so the Mr. and I headed home where I got comfy on the couch for a nap.

My phone rang a few minutes later.  It was my friend, Heather.

She’s Scentsy enabler.  The new warmer I’d ordered had come in.  She offered to bring it to my house.

After we hung up, I decided I really wanted the pedicure I’d been thinking of all day, so I called, and my sweet gals told me to come on in.  I called Heather back, and she met me there.

Isn’t this one of the prettiest warmers you’ve ever seen?

She gave me a thank you gift…a free bar of some heavenly smelling wax…her appreciation for referring another friend to her.  This friend has quickly become addicted to Scentsy and has made a few purchases and had a couple of parties.

After Heather left, my nail tech finished my pedicure…

It was a day I needed so desperately.

Despite there only being fourteen days of school left, I have many, many things planned for my kids and will need to be especially flexible as schedules get crazy with Geometry EOCs (End of Course Exams) and a strange Senior Exam schedule (their exams affect EVERYONE at school, regardless of the grade).

 

 

Mother May I Hodgepodge

Sorry I skipped out on the Hodgepodge last week, but I just couldn’t do the Mother’s Day themed questions…with me having a nonexistent relationship with my mom.  Mother’s Day is always difficult for me, although my children are changing this for me a little more each year.  This week’s questions are much less emotional for me!  Let’s get to it!

1.  It’s still May, right? When were you last in the middle of something that might be described as mayhem?

Mayhem ensued on Monday when I gave two of my classes their fourth district writing assessment.  Students were ticked off.  They have been tested to death.  In fact, the state writing assessment was given in February.  Students didn’t understand the purpose of writing again when they’re in the middle of prepping for end of course exams.  Quite a few of my students decided to revolt and either wrote scathing letters to the “Powers-that-Be” or simply didn’t write anything at all.  No amount of coaxing worked.  Yes, mayhem was the order of the day.  I was glad to see 2:45 roll around.

2.  When did you last feel dismayed?

I was last dismayed on Monday evening when Charlie White got voted off of Dancing With the Stars.

Is he not the cutest thing EVER?  He’s a wonderful partner, and I’ll miss seeing his smile.  The best part was when he said that he could now openly throw his support to Meryl.  What a sweetheart!

3.  What’s a food combination you like, but other people may find strange?

I can eat hot sauce on almost anything.  People would probably find this pretty gross.

4.  It is never too late to be what you might have been.” Do you think that’s true? Why or why not?

Yes, I’d agree with this statement.  Think about all of the dreams that people put on hold to either raise a family or pursue education.  I don’t think it’s ever too late to fulfill plans you had for yourself when you were younger.  I am a prime example of this after having gotten my college degree twenty years to the month (May 2008) after graduating from high school.

5.  US News and World Report listed the best historic destinations in the US as follows-Washington D.C, Philadelphia PA, Williamsburg VA, Charleston SC, Boston MA, Richmnd VA, Savannah, GA, Santa Fe NM, Yellowstone, San Antonio TX, San Francisco CA, New Orleans LA, and Charlottesville VA.

Of those listed how many have you seen in person? Which two sites on the list would you most like to see in person?

I’ve been to Washington, D.C., Savannah, San Antonio, and New Orleans.  New Orleans has a kicking yarn store!!

Of the rest left, I’d most like to visit Boston and Williamsburg…both for the historical sites.

6.  May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. If you had to participate in a single fitness activity for the next half hour, which activity would you choose?

I would choose to go for a brisk walk.  Walking can be my thing, if my mood is right and a breeze is blowing.

7.  What did you like best about the city, town, or neighborhood where you grew up?

Well, I certainly didn’t like the annual Chitlin Jamboree!  You could smell those things cooking all over town, and the aroma was disgusting!

My favorite thing about living in the itsy bitsy small town in Alabama was the country feel.  It’s difficult to explain, but let me see if I can try to paint a picture.

I remember summers spent outside in the early evening, after my enormous yard had been cut, and the smell of fresh grass, cool against my skin.  I could lay in that grass for hours looking up at the sky.

I loved the smell of leaves burning in the Fall.  You can’t do that in a city.  That smell always told me that Christmas was around the corner.  It signified high school and college football games.  I love football season!

I loved driving through the backroads, window down, farm lands stretching for miles beside me, various crops planted and growing.

I loved the dogwood trees that grew in my backyard and bloomed around Easter, reminding me of Christ’s sacrificial love for me.

Although I had a somewhat traumatic childhood, the memories of the small town make me smile even today.  Twas the people in my life who let me down, not the country living I was blessed to be surrounded with.

8.  My Random Thought

I’ve been a rather bad blogger lately and owe this wonderful online diary of mine a thousand apologies.

I thought I’d share a few of the things that have made me happy of late…

The season finale of The Blacklist

Flowers from Chicky…proudly displayed in my classroom

Fur babies who make it difficult to leave for work each day

Italian Margarita with a shot of Amaretto…on the menu at the Olive Garden

The rare treat of a new knitting magazine

A rare curly-hair day, when the curls cooperate

Conversations in the Classroom

Encouraged on Friday night when I chatted with a precious friend who is part of my Small Group, I think I’ve decided to start a weekly post about conversations I hear (or overhear) at school.

They can be quite funny, let me tell you.

This is actually post #2 in the series because I do believe I shared a few funnies a couple of weeks ago.

I’ll start off with something funny my guy, Marquise, said last week.

It was Independent Reading time, when my students sit and read silently for X amount of minutes (between twenty and thirty depending on the time we have).

He’d been struggling to find a book ever since he finished Vampire Stalker.  I blogged about that here.

He was a few chapters into 13 Reasons Why but was complaining about how he couldn’t get into the book.

I went to my bookshelves, retrieved a different book, and set it in front of him.

He took one glance at it and said, “I don’t see Allison van Diepen’s name on that.”

Translation:  “There’s no way in heck I’m opening that book.”

He’s found a favorite author.  Sure wish she’d hurry up and write faster!  Her books do not stay on my shelves for long!

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A precious conversation ensued this morning after my students had finished taking a test.

Christian, a sweet young man I’ve had the pleasure of teaching two years in a row, walked up to my desk and asked how far I’d gotten into the book Legend.

He had read the series early in the year and had been trying to get me to read them.  Well, I’m just about finished with the first book, and I love it!  I’ll post a review eventually.

Anyhoo, he saw how close I was to finishing, and he issued the following warning, “There’s a little bit of mature content in the second and third books.”

I started chuckling, let me tell you!

I looked at him, thanked him for the heads-up, and told him I thought I could handle it.

If you knew this young man, you’d understand that he’s got to be one of the sweetest, most enthusiastic, and most sincere kids out there.

Not too long after that conversation, my mentor, Cinda, walked in to chat with me a moment.

She’s all about the kids, and she had taught in my classroom several weeks earlier in the year, so she started catching up with them.

Christian came up to her, and I shared the warning he’d given me.

We got a laugh, but Christian had more in store for us.

We began talking about the book Street Pharm, which I’d read to his class last year, and how I’d had to clean up the language quite a bit.

Christian said, “She did say one word…it’s the word for a PLACE…but it was very appropriate given the context it was used in.”

Cinda looked at me, eyebrows raised, and said, “He used the word context!”

It was a priceless moment!

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Another cute conversation occurred during fourth period.

After the test, which took my students nearly ninety minutes to complete (a simply 30-question open-note test, mind you), we were shooting the breeze.

I told my students that someone had done a Random Act of Kindness for me earlier this morning by purchasing my Chick-fil-A breakfast in the drive-thru.

Janae, a precious (notice that they are ALL precious to me) said, “Mrs. AuburnChick, that happens all the time at Chick-fil-A.  It wasn’t that random.”

She took the wind right out of my sails!!

I retorted by saying, “Girl, don’t take my specialness away from me!!”

The class had a good laugh.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————–

I think I could write a book with all of the cute things I hear every day…things said out of innocence or off the cuff in that teenager-sassy way.

A Little Bit of Sun, A Little Bit of Spanish

Yes, I’ve been quiet for the last little while.

I have lots of excuses…fatigue from teaching…other online responsibilities…laziness.

Today, though, I decided to venture back to share how my children blessed my day.

It started yesterday when I received the following…

For years, sunflowers have been my flower-of-choice.  It all started when I began growing them when we lived in Coral Springs.

Chicky developed an affinity for sunflowers, and I’ve often surprised her with sunflower arrangements.

This weekend, she took it upon herself to treat me.

I cried when I saw them.  Chicky is not overly demonstrative with her love, and we have battled one another for years in true mother-daughter fashion.

It appears as if reconciliation has begun, and my heart is filled with joy.

The ray of sunshine from these flowers will illuminate my soul long after the flowers wither away.

Rooster was not to be outdone.

After church today, he presented me with the following card…

Now folks, you must realize that we speak no Spanish.  He took Latin in high school.

He knew that I’m rather silly, so he thought it would be fun to give me this card.

I did chuckle.

Then, he typed the words on the card into Google translator and emerged from his room able to tell me what the card said…that I’m marvelous (maravillosa), and that words cannot express (empezar) how much he loves me.

He also told me that I would never forget this card.

That’s for sure!

I am so blessed to be a mother and thank my heavenly Father for the gift of motherhood.

My children fill the empty places that pervaded my heart before I had my babies.

They fulfill my need to take care of people.

They keep me grounded (boy, do they ever).

More recently, they show me love in return.

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