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The Restoring Power of Grace

Last night, I watched the power that grace can have on a person’s life.

I attended my high school’s basketball games…both of them (JV and Varsity).  It was Senior Night, and I wanted to honor my basketball son…the young man I taught three years ago and have been providing game day snacks for the past two years, and another young man I taught four years ago.  Both are amazing human beings…polite, hard workers, and great examples to their peers.

I had the added bonus of watching a current student of mine play in his first game this season.

This young man had previously been unable to play because he had been academically ineligible.  With the end of the first semester last week, new grade point averages were configured, and he’d fallen short by one point.

He asked me for grace…the chance to get the one point he needed to be able to play.

I’d said no.

At first.

After a chat with a fellow staff member…someone I respect immensely…and a bit of soul searching and praying, I decided to have the student redo a major assignment he’d blown off.

He floated into my classroom the next morning, and I was proud to put a more-than-passing grade on the completed work.

He’d earned his point with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears…pulled an all-nighter…probably a first for him.

Thus it was that I found myself watching as the game began; he was in the starting lineup.

His coach, who had never asked for any special favors, had visited my classroom yesterday morning before school started…thanked me for working with the student and for giving him another chance.  He’d told me that this student was an excellent athlete and would be a key player next year.

Let me tell you…watching this young man play was a humbling experience.  He scored between fifteen to twenty of the team’s points.  Our guys won the game…by a slim margin of five points, I think.  It was a nail-biter of a game.

After it was over, I told my student congratulations.

He hugged me…pure joy on his face.

He thanked me.

He told me he’d never let himself get in that situation again.

I then told the coach that he hadn’t been wrong about this young man.  The coach thanked me.

Honestly, this was less about me than this student of mine.  He took action when given the chance.

Had I not extended grace, he wouldn’t have learned the lesson of the assignment.

He also wouldn’t have learned a bigger life lesson…that laziness will bite you in the rear if you allow it to become a habit.

He might have given up on me, as a teacher.

I believe that I’ve laid some groundwork that will be key to his success in the next few months as we prepare for the state reading exam and, possibly, the last two years of his high school career.

I think I learned as much as he did.

I learned that although I can and should be wary of students who might try to manipulate me into getting what they want, there are exceptions to the case, and that I’ll never know until I take a chance on someone.

I was reminded that there are a lot of gray areas when it comes to handling students’ individual situations.  I tend to think in black and white.  The gray in the middle is hard for me to navigate through.

I learned that God will make His will known to me through the use of others and to be sensitive to those times.  Trust me.  It became very obvious by the end of the day that this was something I had to do.

I hope that this experience will one day point this young man to the saving grace that Jesus extended when He gave His life on the cross.  I am so grateful for that forgiveness…the chance to redo things in my own life.  It’s only right that I do the same for others as well.  In my humanness, I sometimes forget.

Treasured Moments

A five-minute phone call to my Rooster boy during the break between classes…getting an update about upcoming plans.

A car in the garage when I arrive home from work…evidence that things are, at the moment, the same.

An hour-long conversation with my boy when I enter the house…excitement flowing from his words…brilliant smile on his face.

Late-night chat…evening plans that had led our paths to diverge now ended…a time to reconnect as a family.

Debate-after-the-debate…the boy and his father hashing it out over the Republican candidates.

These are the moments I am treasuring in my heart right now…moments that fill me with an overflowing love…moments that cause my eyes to brim over with tears.

I am grateful for each of these for I know that when spring arrives, so too will changes in this Auburnchick abode.

Multi-Tasking

Yesterday evening after dinner, I left the TV off…a very rare occurrence.

The reason?

I had cupcakes to bake for my 6th period class.  It’s small in number, and we had a number of behavior issues the first three months of school; however, with consistency and accountability, the kids have grown into a cohesive group.  They finally earned their 2,000 Class Dojo points and are having a celebratory party today.

While I prepared my vegan Crimson Velveteen Cupcakes, I was tuned into Twitter and the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study party.  It’s the first online study I’ve done, and I am so excited!  I’m in a Facebook group that’s being led by a longtime online knitting/bloggy friend.

I must have been quite the sight…laptop on my counter, mixing bowl not too close but not too far away…Pandora belting out a mixture of Ingrid Michaelson songs and Christian tracks.

I’d overfilled the cupcake liners, so when I pulled them out, there was cupcake overflow around each cupcake…that dried into hard-to-remove cupcake overflow.

Sigh.

It took me quite a while to clean the pans.  One of them is an air bake tin, so it can’t be submerged in water.

Bigger sigh.

I used some of my newfound muscles and scrubbed for a longggggggggggggggg time.

I had also decided to prep for a crockpot dish that I wanted to turn on before leaving for work.  I know myself, and it’s hard to get much accomplished in the morning besides my daily workout, shower, and beauty regimen.

Oh my, but I had to saute the chicken first, thus making ANOTHER mess that I had to scrub up.

Oh wait.  There’s more though.

While all that was transpiring, I was washing a load of clothes…of which I had to hang up about half of my stuff because I am quite particular, you see.

I was multi-tasking to the highest level…because I tend to be an overachiever, as you already know.

My students and co-workers may find me bleary-eyed in the morning.  Thank heavens for the cancellation of a regular Wednesday morning meeting.  I won’t have to be on my game immediately after stepping onto campus.

Small miracles, people.  Small miracles.

Mondays Be Like

Rough to get up to an early alarm after a weekend of sleeping in.  At least I have a lovely new wallpaper, courtesy of my Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study group!

 


 

A 20-minute workout followed by a ten-minute ab video, followed by ten minutes of stretching. I left the Charity Miles app on all day at school. I think I walked way more than two miles, but whatever. I also decided to wear heels to school. I was feeling extra sassy. Before I left, Molly needed to don the cone of shame so she wouldn’t chew on two hot spots that are on her rear end. When I got home, Gambit was scouting squirrels.

 


 

Delivery of my TurboFire Advance program, along with bands for resistance training. The glass of wine was there to soothe away stress from the day. Things are getting intense at school…crunch time during the three months we have left before state reading exams.

 


 

Twitter notification on my phone…Neal Shusterman liked a response I made to another tweeter about him. #fangirl

 


 

Chocoholic’s Nightcap

I’ve been on a mission.

Ok…I know.  I’m always on a mission, whether it’s related to teaching or exercise.

Whatever.

My latest search has been for the perfect hot chocolate recipe.

Store-bought mixes nearly always contain powdered milk or some other milk by-products.  The dairy-free mixes I’ve found haven’t been quite to my liking.

A few nights ago, I googled two things:  coconut rum and soy milk.

I saw a small blurb that explained how to substitute coconut rum for Bailey’s Irish Creme (which I can’t have because it’s got milk in it).  Then, there was a link to this recipe:  Chocoholic’s Nightcap.

I followed the instructions, substituting cacao powder for the cocoa and Tortuga Coconut Rum for the Bailey’s.

Oh.

My.

Gosh.

This stuff was delicious!

Being a former chocoholic, the level of chocolate-ness in this drink was Ah-mazing.

It was creamy too.

The rum added a nice touch, although you could make this without any alcohol and be just fine.

I did try to make this drink using my hot chocolate maker, but the milk got too foamy and just wasn’t as good.  It diluted the chocolate taste, so the third time I made it, I went back to using a saucepan to warm up the milk.

Tres divine.

I imported this recipe into MyFitnessPal, the calorie app I use, and it registered, with my modifications at 319 calories…for one cup.

Drink up.  Enjoy.  With this crazy weather we’re all experiencing, we all need to put warm goodies into our bellies.

13 Hours – A Movie Review

I’d originally planned to get up a little earlier on Saturday morning to get my long, 55-minute TurboFire workout done before my guys woke up.

Yeah.  I’m a teacher.  That alarm thing didn’t exactly work out.

I wound up waking up a little after 10 when the Mr. called me.  He had gone in to work for a bit and was making sure I was awake in time to see the movie, 13 Hours, we’d discussed a couple of days ago.

I scrambled, let me tell you, after briefly weighing whether or not to use Saturday as my “rest” day.  I’m addicted to burning calories and earning miles for my Hufflepuffs.  Plus, I’m on a roll with my Charity Miles app, and I didn’t want to break my streak.

I hoofed it, and we left a teensy bit later than the Mr. would have preferred.  The line outside the theater was long, so it took us a little while to actually get in the theater.  By the time we did, nearly all of the seats, and we’re talking the afternoon matinee, were taken up.  Because of his Crohn’s, the Mr. needs an end seat so he can get up to use the restroom without bothering anyone.

We wound up sitting in seats down on the lowest level…right in front of the screen.  Not ideal.  He was very unhappy.

It took a bit of adjusting, but we finally settled in to the movie.

Rooster and his girlfriend had gone to see this movie last week; Rooster had warned me that it had a lot of foul language, and the violence was pretty rough too.

I’ll tell you something, though.  As turned off as I get with bad language, for some reason, I didn’t notice it as much as the movie played.

I was completely caught up in the story.  I am naive, I’ll readily admit.  I’ve never really understood a whole lot about the Benghazi controversy.

Now, I do.

This movie reminded me of the long cardio workouts I do.  The pace alternated between fast and nail-biting to segments that allowed me to catch my breath and take peeks into the men’s private lives.

This movie was riveting.

It was shocking.

It was so sad.  I shed a few tears at the end.

When the Mr. and I walked out, we were both filled with two emotions:  gratefulness for those fighting for our freedom and anger at the politicians who continue to get away with the lies they told to cover their a$$e$ after things started coming to light.

I am ashamed of the way our leaders treat the military…the way they disrespect taxpayers by putting forth lies.

My heart hurts for the loved ones of those who sacrificed their lives during the Benghazi attack.  I suppose that these “soldiers,” contracted workers or special forces, don’t exist as real people to politicians.

Should this post have a political tone?

Yes.

Why?

Because we have got to make our displeasure known and VOTE.  Of course, I’m becoming more jaded as I get older and don’t believe that many people holding political offices are honest.  However, we can certainly vote OUT those currently in there (and praise God that certain other people are leaving due to term limits).

This is a must-see movie.  We plan on buying it when it comes out on DVD (and we won’t have to crane our necks to watch it).

Watch the movie.

Then, make sure your voter registration card is up-to-date.

Exercise your right as an American citizen.  Honor those who have fought and are currently fighting the good fight, whether we know any or all the details.  Their service should not be in vain.

24 on the 22nd

Dear Chicky,

Today is your 24th birthday.

Although you’re grown up now, birthdays are still special around here…hence the shout-out to you in my little corner of the internet.

I’m so proud of the life you are creating for yourself.  You are excelling in your teaching career; I’m always amazed at how well you handle your classes and your students’ special needs.

I love that you aren’t afraid to set new goals and steer your life in directions others may not see you traveling.

You inspire me with your fearlessness and the way you sometimes refuse to conform.  Walking to the beat of your own drummer is something that we all need to do every now and again.

I treasure you for the unique young woman that you are.  Truly, you are a blessing to me.

Love,

Mama

My Drug of Choice

I have a confession to make.

I’m addicted…

To a special kind of drug.

It’s not a drug that’s easily obtained.

I have to work for it.

Hard.

I’m talking blood, sweat, and tears.

Sometimes, I think I can go a day without it, but then my body protests.

So I cave in to the craving.

My drug of choice?

Adrenaline.

My dealer?

My body.

You see, every time I exercise, I get a shot of the good stuff, and it energizes me in a way that my beloved Mountain Dews never did.

The trip I’m on when adrenaline’s high kicks in is one comprised of confidence and self-fulfillment.

It’s also one of satisfaction that I’m reaching goals I’ve set for myself.

It doesn’t matter what time of the day I get my fix…the adrenaline is always ready and willing to give me a boost.

It seems fairly harmless…until I go without it.  That’s when I realize just how much I need it.

So, if you ever wonder what drives me to get up at o’dark’30, lace up my shoes, and engage in some kickboxing action, it’s because of the natural high I’ll be on afterward.

Or if you ever wonder what in the heck I’m doing jogging on the treadmill or around the neighborhood late in the afternoon after I’ve already done a morning workout and spent a day teaching my high school kiddos, you’ll better understand.

It doesn’t matter how long the session…fifteen minutes or fifty-five…or the time of day my fix occurs.

My inner-junkie gets pacified, and I become a more tolerable human being.

Mini-Vacation Time!

A couple of months ago, when we began getting to know Rooster’s girlfriend, who, by the way, is a pure delight, I learned that she and I have a few things in common.

Namely, we both love Harry Potter.

She’s from Alabama, so she hadn’t done all things Florida, including Universal Studios…aka Harry Potter World.

The Mr. decided that this was a situation that needed to be remedied, so he did his homework and secured park tickets and a lovely hotel suite.  The plan was for Chicky, who lives about thirty minutes outside Orlando, to join us.

We left last Friday.  The week had been hectic for me with first semester exams, grades to input, and new lesson plans to tweak, but I got everything done and packed Thursday night.

Yes, I am 45 years old and own my own interactive wand.  You know you’re jealous.

Friday morning, I got up early and did my TurboFire workout.  I didn’t want to get too far behind my schedule, and I figured that because I’d be stuck in the car for a number of hours, moving my body first thing in the morning would be good for me.

The drive down was easy; I napped a little bit.  Before I knew it, we were there.

Not wanting to waste time, we hurried on to the park shortly after checking into our hotel.

The Mr. had a grand plan that first evening, and we struggled to keep up as he made a beeline to the first ride he wanted to get on…the Jurassic Park water ride.

It was dark by the time we got on; the lighting was so pretty!

We were the only ones on it, so we sat in one of the back rows.  Our logic was that we wouldn’t get as wet if we weren’t sitting up front.

Let’s just say that we were wrong.  Very wrong.

The Mr. got the worst of it; his entire sweater was soaked when he got off.

I was a little luckier, but the top part of my shirt got pretty wet, as did my face and hair.  It was as if someone had thrown a bucket of water directly at our heads.

What fun though!

After we got done with the first ride, we headed over to Hogsmeade.

I wish you could have seen Rooster’s girlfriend’s face.

Her jaw dropped open when she saw the streets lit with lanterns and the snowy roofs of the various establishments.  I think I had as much fun watching her experience everything as I did the first time I visited Universal.

We did a few more things…rode the train over to Hogwarts and looked around before walking through the rest of the park.

Then, we grabbed dinner and headed back to the hotel for the night.

I used the down-time to register for the Molly Weasley Ugly Jumper Run, which the Hogwarts Running Club is hosting.  Isn’t the medal fabulous?  I paid my entry fee AND ordered a t-shirt.

Ahem.

The next morning, Chicky met us at the hotel, and we headed out.

The day was GORGEOUS and actually warm for mid-January.

I took this picture of Rooster and his girl…

Yes, they are very cute, are they not?  🙂

Boy, was I glad to see Chicky!  Even though we had recently gotten together during Christmas, any time spent away from her makes my heart hurt.  Reunions are sweet.

We did all things Harry Potter.  The kids got Butter Beer, which I can’t have because of the dairy.  I got the fizzy orange drink with cinnamon and brown sugar rimmed cup.  Delicious!

We did other stuff besides Harry Potter.  Rooster, Chicky, and I rode the Rock It roller coaster.  A random kid sat beside Chicky, and the video of his facial reactions was absolutely hysterical.

We also rode the Dueling Dragons roller coaster.  This is such a fun ride!

Shockingly, the Hulk had been dismantled for maintenance.  Its absence felt strange.

That night, we ate dinner at the Cowfish, a favorite of ours when we travel to Universal.  The food is divine; the portions quite large, as evidenced by Rooster’s burger, a peanut butter/banana concoction that he says tastes great (although he’s not a fan of bananas).

Chicky ordered a couple of things and took enough food home to treat her roommate.

It was a wonderful evening.  Saying goodbye to my girl was hard, and I actually shed a few tears when she drove away.  For some reason, this time got me…probably because we’d had such a great day.

We were whooped, and everyone hit the hay a little earlier than the night before.

The next morning was cold and misty.

See the sky behind me?  It was the perfect backdrop for Hogsmeade, but word, it kept the temperature chilly!  In fact, I’d left my jacket at the hotel thinking I’d be too warm with my thick sweater.  Wrong-O!

N, Rooster’s girlfriend, had worn a short-sleeve shirt, and she was also cold.  Our first order of business was to find something warmer to put on.

I scored with a zip-up hoodie.

N got a thin, long-sleeve shirt.

Oh, and do you see my wand?  I finally got up the nerve to practice my spells and jumped up in jubilation when my first one worked!  Rooster was not amused.  I was more excited than the little kids around me.

Ahem.

Fortunately, as the day progressed, the sun pushed out the clouds, and the temperature climbed a little.  The only thing that kept things cooler was the wind.

We ate lunch at a newly-opened restaurant, the Grill & Brew, and watched Cam Newton’s team beat Seattle.

N and I left during halftime to do more Harry Potter exploring.  This time together gave us a chance to chat.  She’s a very calm and quiet young lady…very mature…with a gentle spirit.  I adore her!

We had a lot of fun shopping, and we talked each other into getting rather expensive *ahem* Molly Weasley sweaters.

We took them to the bridge and photographed each other in front of the castle.

I will tell you that when I took N’s picture, someone rudely said, while walking by, “Oh look.  Let’s take a picture of a sweater.”

I’m afraid I showed my butt and responded, quite loudly, “That’s a very special sweater!”

The nerve of that other woman.

Sheesh.

They should have taken her ticket away…such lack of respect for a fine piece of fiber art.

Here I am sporting it at school today…

But wait…I’m getting ahead of myself.

The sweater is 100% wool and was made in Scotland.  It was also quite pricey.  Fortunately, the Mr. didn’t pitch a big fit when he saw how much I’d paid for it…two days later.  *Ahem*

We met up with the guys after their game ended…coincidentally as we were finishing our shopping…and headed back into the park to take one more stroll through the super hero island.

Then, we went back to the hotel to relax, eat a late dinner, and prepare for our departure the next day.

The next morning, I got up extra early and put in a little over four miles on the treadmill before the rest of my crew got up.

The ride home was uneventful; I slept much of the way.

I was more than ready to be home.  The dogs were extremely happy to see us, as evidenced by the picture below.  Gambit took advantage of the ten-minute stretch video I did after my forty-minute TurboFire workout (because I’m overachieving like that).  I was the perfect height for him to give me kisses.

My evening ended with a glass of wine and Downton Abbey, which I’d recorded the night before.  Whoever invented DVRs should win some sort of prize.

Props to the Mr. who generously treated us to this wonderful mini-vacation!

Always

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t allow my children to read the Harry Potter books when they were younger.  As a conservative Christian, I worried that the books about wizardry and spells would negatively affect the Bible’s teachings they were learning.

About three years ago, I read through the series out of curiosity…and the fact that my classroom library had the first couple of books (I borrowed the rest).

I was hooked from the second book on, and I read through them within a few months.

I joined the Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup on Ravelry and spent two years knitting projects that were HP-themed.

Most recently, I joined the Hogwarts Running Club (HRC) on Facebook.  What a wonderful group of people this is…everyone is so encouraging as we all seek to improve our fitness levels while having sharing our love for all things Harry Potter.

Thus it was with great sadness that word of Alan Rickman’s death spread.  He was the actor who portrayed Snape in the movies.

Oh Snape…what a tortured soul he was.  I never liked him in the books.  I couldn’t figure out if he was good or bad.  In the end, he redeemed himself mightily.  I’m still impressed with his many layers.  J.K. Rowling did an excellent job with his character development.

Rickman was the perfect person to don Snape’s robes.  I know Rickman was in a lot of other movies as well; however, this character will always stand out for me.

The HRC wanted to honor Rickman.  Within only a few short hours, this non-profit group had organized a virtual run (all runs are virtual, by the way) in which proceeds from t-shirt sales will benefit Debate Mate, a charity that Rickman was heavily involved with.

As of this writing, nearly $10,000 has been raised from shirt sales…after only seven or eight hours!  Here’s the link if you want to read more about it.

There won’t be any medals for this race because there isn’t time for the medals to be made.  The date of the race is February 21, Rickman’s birthday.

I ordered my shirt already and will be walking/jogging my way through 3.94 miles.

You don’t have to be a member of the HRC to participate.  If you enjoy walking, jogging, running, skipping, or cartwheeling through a few miles, sign up!  There are going to be hundreds of us doing this; pictures will be posted on Facebook, and tears will be shed, I’m sure.

I’m not overly sentimental; however, for some reason this has touched my heart deeply.  I’m a sucker for a good story.  I’ve always rooted for the underdog.  I’ve also been humbled by the support I am getting on HRC’s Facebook page.  To think that a group of fictional characters could be the basis for creating strong bonds outside of the book world speaks of the power of words, the love for creativity, and the kindness of humanity.

RIP, Alan Rickman.  Thanks for bridging the connection between words penned on paper and what I saw in my mind as I read.

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