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An Earthy Hodgepodge


It’s been awhile since I participated in the Hodgepodge mainly because I haven’t been blogging as consistently these past few months.  I just finished typing next week’s lesson plans, so I’m all about having a bit of blog fun.

The drill is this…post your own answers on your own blog and then link back up with Joyce.  Easy peasy!  Now, on to the questions!

1.  Have you ever had to wear a uniform? If yes, tell us more. Did you love it or hate it?

I had to wear a uniform, of sorts, when I worked at a local law enforcement agency.  I.  Hated.  It.  I loathed the ironing that was involved each week.  I loathed the polo shirts with the agency’s logo (though I am thankful for the agency itself, the colors were butt-ugly).  I am not a uniform type of girl, that is for sure.

2.  April 22nd is Earth Day. What is one thing you do personally to be a good steward of planet Earth?

Although we do not have curbside recycling in Podunk, USA, my years spent in Big City, South Florida trained me to separate plastics, paper, cardboard, and cans.  So, I still separate these items and take them to a recycling facility in town.  I feel that it is something I can do, so why not?!

3.  Brown rice, quinoa, or couscous…your healthy grain of choice? How often are one of the three on your menu at home?  Given a choice between white rice, brown rice, wild rice, and fried rice which would you go for? 

I think couscous has a strange texture.  I don’t know if I’ve had quinoa…probably given my vegan lifestyle.  Brown rice is kind of chewy, but I can tolerate it.  I guess I’d choose the brown rice from the three.  I never serve any of these at home, though.  That would require cooking.  LOL.  I prefer white rice if given an ultimate choice.

4.  In your opinion, who has the best job ever?

I know I should probably say teachers because I am, after all, one; however, the work required outside of working hours is ridiculous, as are the endless meetings and mind-numbing paperwork.  The payoff is the relationship with the kids, which I absolutely love and thrive on.

I think that writers have the best job because they can work from home and create something from nothing.  I would enjoy trying my hand at this…from home…in my pajamas.  One can always dream, eh?

5.  What’s a situation in your life currently requiring patience? 

A situation in my life requiring patience is work…specifically the issue the state of Florida is mucking its way through regarding the new FSA test and teacher evaluations.  I’m so frustrated that I can hardly stand it.  It’s so unfair that teachers are still going to be held accountable for the results of a new test that has had its validity and reliability questioned.  Ugh!

6.  Do you live your life around days of the week? Explain.

I am a teacher.  I live my life around every weekday…every holiday…every test my students must endure…every class period.  I pee on schedule, copy on schedule, and adjust for the craziness that can and does occur in between.

7.  In a nod to the A to Z challenge happening around town this month, what ‘R word’ best describes your April? 


I’m getting rather tired of the rain because it’s infringing on my pool time…much desired to fight the stress of the week.  My grass is green, though, but scooping dog poop is near to impossible.  My trees are also suffering, as evidenced by the following picture of my back yard.

8.  My Random Thought

I’ve been a bit indulgent of late.

I bought a couple of new books for my classroom.  They were snatched up by eager teenagers the moment I finished presenting them…

The Testing – Supposed to be a cross between The Hunger Games and Divergent The Adoration of Jenna Fox – One of the English teachers I proctored with had this book with him. I read three pages and was hooked…promptly ordering it that afternoon.

I bought a new dress from ShopHopes…one of my favorite online stores…

Online shopping requires nerves of steel…will things fit or won’t they?

This one fit, thank heavens, and I paired it with the new boots I bought after Christmas…

I threw on a brown sweater and was good to go for the day!

Pampering…it can be so good sometimes!

Creamy Tomato Soup – The Vegan Way

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a box (two cartons) of almond milk.  I noticed a recipe for Creamy Tomato Soup on the box and peeled it off…

The recipe is available here.

It was so easy to prepare, and the aroma of fresh herbs made my home smell like those of good moms and wives…you know…the kind who actually cook dinner more than once a week.  🙂

I doubled the recipe so I would have lunch a few days this week.

Monday’s breakfast and lunch, prepped Sunday night. Go me!

My finished product didn’t look as red as the picture on the site, but the taste…oh my…so delicious and BETTER than the Campbells version I’d grown up eating but can no longer have because of my lactose-intolerance / vegan lifestyle.

I highly recommend this recipe.

I’d also recommend that if you’re looking for new recipes, check out Silk’s site (link was posted above).  I perused, quickly, and this site might just turn me into a cook after all.  🙂

Indulging my Inner Techie

On Saturday, I did what all teachers do.

I slept in.

Oh wait.  I’m LYING!

That’s what I usually do.

This past Saturday, I got up at the same time I do during the week and drove myself to one of our local colleges.  My school district was hosting a technology expo.

Carl Hooker was the keynote speaker, and he was FABULOUS!

Borrowed (I hope he doesn’t mind) from his website.

He’s been involved in education for quite a few years and is very knowledgeable about helping implement technology into classrooms.

He was funny.  His stories were inspiring.

If you ever get the chance to hear him speak, run, don’t walk.  I don’t typically sit and attain well.  The hour during which he spoke flew by.

After his speech, conference attendees had a menu of 45-minute sessions to attend.  We simply picked what we wanted and went to the assigned rooms.  There were five different session groupings with lunch scheduled for halfway through the day (no vegan options though, so I didn’t eat).

I, along with three other reading teachers from my school, presented during the second session.  We demonstrated how we use Google applications (Docs and Forms) in the classroom.  One of the teachers talked about how she uses Chrome Books to access IXL for grammar practice and Vocaroo for fluency practice.

We received a lot of positive responses, which made this experience quite the adrenaline rush.

Most of the sessions were conducted by teachers and other district staff.  I loved this, because we weren’t listening to sales pitches.  We got to hear how our peers are using various applications in the classroom.

My favorite session was the one about TouchCast.  It is a FREE app with which you can create news-types of videos.

Did I mention that it is FREE?  I had taken my iPad to the expo and downloaded the app during the presentation.  Oh word, but I will totally be playing with this when I have time during the summer.  I’ve already decided that I’ll probably use it to create an introduction of myself for the first day of school in August.

One of the neat things about this app is that you can imbed pictures, files, and links that are CLICKABLE and accessible to those who have access to the videos.

Borrowed from a Google search…totally NOT me or my hand pointing in the picture! 🙂


Cool, eh?

I attended a session about using Twitter in an educational environment.  I learned about TweetDeck.  I don’t know if this is available on mobile devices, but it is available on a regular laptop/desktop type of computer.  It allows you to manage multiple user accounts, which I think would help me should I decide to create a classroom Twitter account.  I despise having to log in and out of separate accounts.

The last hour of the expo was spent with District technology personnel sitting as a panel on a stage presenting some of their favorite and most useful apps.

I was downloading like crazy, let me tell you, and by the time this session was over, my phone looked like this…

Plickers is a free app that allows for very fast and fun formative assessments.  You print their FREE cards, laminate, if you want, for longevity, and assign them to students (the same students get the same cards so you’ll know who’s card belongs to whose).  They hold the cards a certain way to answer questions, and you use your device’s camera to scan the cards while they are holding them up.  It’s a very fast process, and you can display the results on a screen for all to see.

I’d heard of this before and read about it, but it looked like too much work to set up.  I’m willing to invest the time after seeing the app in action.  I know my students will LOVE it!

One last app that I found incredibly fun was Kahoot.

It is an interactive response app/site that allows students (or anyone) to answer questions, once they’ve linked to the game via a QR code or the website.  There’s only an Android version of the app right now, but all mobile devices can access the games.  I have an iPhone, and I didn’t have any problems participating.

I could see myself using this for so many things in my classroom…bellwork…vocabulary review…an exit ticket.  The possibilities are endless!

By the time I got home that afternoon, I was whooped and had to take a short nap before dinner…

Learning new things can be exhausting!

Mondays Be Like

The looks I get as I head out the door on Monday mornings…

Is it Friday yet?

Sundays are for…

After a morning spent at church with a follow-up of lunch with friends, a typical Sunday afternoon in Chez Auburnchick looks like this…

And this…

Thank you, DVR!

And this…

What does your day look like?

Age of Adaline – A Movie Review

So, what does a teacher who’s in the middle of testing do on a Tuesday night?

Well, if she has a great movie theater, she gets invited to preview a new movie!

Ok, to be honest, it was the Mr. who received the invite because the reward card is in his name, but since I am the one who prints these invitations, I don’t feel dishonest by claiming ownership of them.


We received an invite to see the movie Age of Adaline

I had seen commercials for this movie and thought that it looked like something I’d enjoy.

The deal with these tickets is that the theater starts doling them out at 4pm, which meant that I had to leave straight from work to get there.  Traffic was a BEAR, and it took me over 45 minutes to drive the fairly short distance.

I talked to Super Sis on the way because, get this, I was going to have NOBODY to attend the movie with!


I felt like a social outcast.

Despite that, I continued with my plan.

I decided that I’d probably just stay over that way because the thought of driving home…a journey that would probably take an hour with only a short time with my fur babies before having to make the drive again…just wasn’t worth it.

On the other hand, I’m not used to being out and about like that by myself.

Super Sis cheered me on, as did Rooster when I made one last-ditch effort to find a date for the night.  He had small group though.

Thus, I found myself in line…a longer one than the time the Mr. and I had gone to pick up tickets for The Duff.  Apparently, Age of Adaline was getting a higher billing due to some of the actors (i.e. Harrison Ford).

After getting my tickets, I went to my favorite pizzeria, which offers Daiya cheese and vegan friendly pizza…

Dinner for one, anybody?

I’d seated myself outside to enjoy the pleasant weather when I spied two ladies I knew from my church.  They stopped to chat, and I learned that they were attending the movie too!

Here’s where God inserted Himself…

These sweet ladies invited me to sit with them in the theater so I wouldn’t have to be by myself.

So much for my little pity party, eh?

We agreed to meet back at the theater later.

I ate dinner and went back to my car to finish reading a book.

Then, I headed to the theater.

The line started early…as in 6:15.  The movie was sold-out.  The theater had overbooked.  I wanted to make sure I got a seat!

My friends arrived shortly after me, so we chatted while we waited.

Two of us even walked back to our cars together because the theater wasn’t collecting phones in ziplock bags this time (as it had done for The Duff).


The theater couldn’t take a chance that someone would record the movie.  It doesn’t open until the 24th.

We wound up getting PERFECT seats in the theater…right in the middle and high enough that we wouldn’t have to crane our necks.

We watched those clips where you’re encouraged to turn off your phones.

Some in our audience quipped about how they would turn them off IF THEY HAD THEM.


We then saw a screen encouraging us to post photos and videos with a hashtag of #ageofadaline.

To which I commented, loudly enough to entertain more than a few people, “So they can find us and arrest us.”

I also proclaimed that we could all take selfies…in front of our cars…and tag the movie.

The irony was not lost on anyone!

Finally, the movie started.

Oh, what a lovely little story!

It’s about a young woman named Adaline.  She gets into a car accident that alters her body so that she stops aging.

There’s a love story-mystery involved.

There’s a scene that brought tears to my eyes…it hit too close to home, strangely enough.  My friend, Rebecca, will know what I’m talking about once she sees this, which I’m sure she will.

I loved the flashbacks in this movie.  Because Adaline had lived through six decades without aging, she’d been through the Roaring 20’s and the hippie 60’s.  I loved the costuming and makeup work.  It looked so authentic!

I loved Blake Lively.  She was well-cast and oh so elegant.

Michiel Huisman was adorable.  I didn’t know who he was prior to this movie.  I do now!

Harrison Ford…well, he was Harrison Ford…still dreamy.


I don’t think there was any cursing.  If so, it was very minor.  This is a PG-13 movie.

There was a scene with inappropriate banter that irritated me because it was completely unnecessary.  I despise stuff like that.

I also didn’t like the fact that Blake’s character sleeps with a couple of guys without much thought.  There wasn’t nudity, but the message struck a wrong chord with me.

Overall, it’s a cute movie that reminded me a bit of Benjamin Button and The Green Mile (think of Tom Hanks at the end of the movie).

How Teachers Celebrate

If you’ve read my blog since August, you know it’s been a long year for me.

New standards…a new state test…a disappointing VAM score.


This past week, students and teachers endured four very long day of reading tests.

I personally proctored 720 minutes of said tests.

The students were incredible!  Props to my Guidance department for its organization.  Shout-out to my fellow proctors.  By Thursday, Mr. A and I had our routine down pat.

Grades that didn’t test had delayed starts each day, so the first class didn’t have to report for duty until 1:05.

On Thursday, the LAST day of testing, I happily closed the door of the testing lab for the final time this go-round.

After I had returned my test materials to the guidance counselors and wheeled my cooler back to my classroom, I knew I needed a way to get rid of the adrenaline flowing through my body.

With one eye watching my classroom door, I let loose…

When I got home, I dared to post it on Instagram.

And Facebook.

Because, if you’ll remember, I am “basic.”  Look it up in Urban Dictionary if you don’t understand the term.


Rooster commented on the video, and when I didn’t understand, I called him.  He was at work, you see.

He explained that he was questioning my sanity because there wasn’t any music playing.

I assured him that there was music playing in my head.

Please don’t get out a white jacket, okay?

I’m fine.  Really.

But…his words stuck with me, so I turned on my internet-enabled television and got on Youtube.

Oh yes I did.

I found the song that I should have danced to earlier…

And I posted that on Instagram.

And Facebook.

The Mr. called about this time.

“Hey, what are you up to?” he asked.

“Oh, nothing.  Just hanging out,” I said.


You see, a teacher builds up a LOT of stress during the year.

I had more moves to share…more extra energy with which to share with…

And I posted that on Instagram.

And Facebook.

Be thankful that Instagram has a limit of fifteen seconds, because I danced for the length of BOTH songs.


You guys know how much I love Dancing with the Stars.  For a number of years, I have often said that there should be a show called Dancing with the Teachers.

Do you think I’d be a good candidate or would you be more inclined to agree with the following picture that a friend posted on my wall today?


Battle Cry…The Modern Version

Last week, the Mr. and I went to dinner.

After we left, the Mr. asked me to send Rooster a message letting him know.  Despite living in the same house, we have crazy schedules that require us to do a lot of our communicating via hand wave out the car window as we pass each other (remember that we are Rednecks) or via our cell phones.

I never heard from Rooster and grew concerned, so I checked my messages to make sure I hadn’t overlooked something.

That is when I saw it…

The message I had sent.

I started laughing so hard that my stomach hurt.

A lot.

The Mr. looked at me quizzically.

It was hard to catch my breath.

This is what I had typed…

Auto-correct had struck again.

I, in my hurried way (so normal for me) had not proofread (what a great lesson for my students, eh?) before I’d pressed the Send button.

All I could picture was the Mr. and me dressed for battle…riding off into the sunset.

At least we’d fed our fur babies first.


Before and After…Day 1

Day 1 of testing is over.

I went into school looking like this…

Then I lugged four 40-bottle cases of water, a cooler, two heavily-laden bags of goodies, my mini-crockpot with a healthy heaping of homemade potato soup, and my purse into school.

It looks like split pea soup. It’s only green because of the leeks.

While it was raining.

I had an amazing crew of helpers this morning.  Ms. K rocked out the seating charts.  Headphones were Lysoled…twice.

Two groups of ninth graders tested with me today.  All were extremely respectful and patient, even when we had some issues with the computer sounds.  The second group was even understanding when we didn’t finish in time for them to have their entire lunch period.

When you’re a teacher, testing is so stressful because you want to make sure that you follow every rule to the letter so you don’t do anything to jeopardize a student’s success.

I got home looking like this…

I should probably be planning to go to bed at 7pm.

Instead, I’ll be working on next week’s lesson plans so I won’t have to worry about them the rest of the week.

I also need to be able to get into the copy room on Wednesday, when I have my next planning period.  We are on a delayed start most of this week, and the schedules are staggered so we can meet with all of our classes during a two-day period.  Thus, teachers will lose two of our planning periods this week.

Can we fast forward to Friday?  There’s no telling how bad my Day 4 “After” look will be.

The Calm Before the Testing

Since about January, I have purposely made it my mission to create boundaries around myself to allow myself down time to relax from the stress that accompanies my teaching career.

This new habit of mine was especially important this weekend…the calm before the storm of testing that will follow in the next four days.

Friday evening, the Mr. and I went to a restaurant that has a lovely view of the water.  It was a good way to begin the weekend…especially after a day in which I’d felt unusually overwhelmed with last-minute mandates I rushed through in my desire to prepare my students adequately.

I was so exhausted, I went to bed at 9:30…a very early evening if you know my night-owl tendencies.

Saturday was all about reading, getting a pedicure, and watching Furious 7 with my guys.

The sequel to Stuck in Neutral, which I read aloud to my students. I’ll begin reading this book to one of my classes next Monday.

I spent today (Sunday) attending church in the morning, eating lunch with friends, and then relaxing the rest of the afternoon at home.

I made it my mission to carve out a day of calm, relishing in God’s splendor, displayed in my Knock-Out Roses (forgive my lack of pine straw…we will be adding some soon).

The unopened blooms reminded me of my students’ untapped potential…potential that I pray reveals itself during the next four days of testing they will endure.

I took a few minutes to pack up goodies I’d purchased on Saturday at Sam’s Club.  I’ll pass these out to the hundred students who will test in my room.

After a fairly short nap and leftovers, I settled in for an evening of television.  Once Upon a Time, Secrets and Lies, and American Odyssey were my shows of choice with A.D. The Bible Continues and Wolf Hall being recorded.  I’ll probably have to watch one of them tomorrow night.  I don’t dare burn the midnight oil tonight with the huge responsibilities I have this week.

If you’re not a teacher, dating one, or married to one, I doubt that you can fully appreciate the stress that we endure each year during pivotal test days.

We wonder if we’ve done enough.  There’s always one more thing we could tell our kids.

We worry that our kids will properly care for themselves physically and mentally (i.e. eat and sleep).  For the kids who suffer from test anxiety, the worry is tripled.

We whisper prayers that the lessons we taught the eight months will have stuck…that our kiddos will remember how to distinguish between a theme and a main idea…that they will understand what it means to summarize objectively a passage given, should they be asked to do so.

Is it any wonder that teachers crave calm and quiet?

Please pray for Florida middle and high school students as they take the new FSA reading exam this week.

It is so different from the FCAT they’ve been used to.

They have not had time to adjust (the State should have allowed students to grow up with the test, but I digress).

Students and teachers have no idea how the tests will be scored or when they will receive results.

Calm is a word all of us need right now…the calm that only God’s presence can bring.

Thanks, friends!!

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