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A Beautiful Hodgepodge

Can you believe that it’s almost the end of March?  Sheesh, but time is flying by, isn’t it!  Let’s slow things down for just a bit as we link up with Joyce for this week’s questions.  Thanks for visiting today!

1.  ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’  What’s something you’ve seen recently that you thought was beautiful?

The beach where I live is gorgeous!  I went for a walk on the beach last Friday, while I was on Spring Break.  We have clean, white sand that is easy to walk on.  I used to live on the east coast of Florida, so trust me when I say that the Panhandle really does have the most beautiful beaches.

2.  Our culture and beauty…your thoughts?

I’d like to think that our culture is starting to redefine what constitutes “beauty.”  Sure, there are still size -5 models in ads and whatnot, but honestly, I think there’s been push back, and that natural, more earthy beauty is beginning to be celebrated.

Maybe I’m out of touch with reality and don’t have a clue, but that’s my take on things.

3.  Age before beauty, beauty queen, beauty mark, beauty sleep…which beauty-ful phrase resonates with you today? Why?

I think beauty sleep is resonating with me right now.  Coming off of a different-for-me Spring Break made me crave sleep.  I took a nap Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  In fact, I plan on incorporating naptime into my daily routine once I’m out for the summer.  Life has been tiring, both physically and mentally, since…well…since forever, it seems.

4.  I read here a list of the top ten beasts animals that scare us the most-

alligators, coyotes, black bears, birds (but pigeons in particular), sharks, bats, bed bugs, rats, rattlesnakes, and the black widow spider. 

Which ‘beast’ on the list scares you the most? What is the likelihood of you having an actual encounter with that particular beast? Did a movie contribute to your fear of this creature? Have you ever had a real life encounter with any of the animals listed?

I just cannot make myself like spiders of any sort.  I do not plan on having an encounter with one any time soon, so the likelihood is zilch.  I did not acquire my fear from a movie but from real life encounters such as the time I tried to kill a big spider that was blocking my front door and discovered, when I hit the thing, that it was a PREGNANT mama spider, and all of her babies went scurrying away when I ruptured her baby sack.  I did not sleep comfortably for days despite having doused them all with bleach.  I also had a bad encounter with a humongous spider in my office at a school I worked at ten years ago.  It was hiding behind my tech binders, and when I moved a binder, it came running out.  I radioed for help on my walkie talkie, and the custodian came running.  Even he agreed that it was a big ole spider.

No spiders for me, thank you very much.

5.  Where were you when you last heard a bell ring? Was it alarming or musical?

Y’all.  I am a teacher.  I hear bells ring from 8:20am until 3:00pm each day.  They are neither alarming nor musical, although that 3pm bell is always the sweetest sound of all because it means that I can go home!

6.  What’s your favorite carb? How’s that for random?

I love spaghetti.

7.  Let’s wrap up another month of Hodgepodging and life with an acrostic. Recap your month using the word MARCH.

Attitude, like the weather,
Cold and
Hot these days.

Ten weeks until summer, y’all.  Ten.  Weeks.

But who’s counting?!

8.  My Random Thought

Y’all know I am into the Harry Potter thing.  Every sorting quiz I take tells me I’m a Hufflepuff.  I’m proud of my nurturing, cookie-loving self, let me tell you.

My running club, the Hogwarts Running Club, has updated its inventory lately, and I couldn’t resist ordering a new shirt.

The back is a mantra I repeat to myself often…especially when I’m at physical therapy trying to learn how to balance on my bum ankle or trying desperately to learn how to walk down steps again.

Just.  Fierce.

Must Have All the Shoes

Footwear has been a slight passion of mine for a number of years now.  Y’all have seen my pictures of new sandals and other fun shoes.

Breaking my ankle was a huge reality check though.  My foot still doesn’t feel great in regular shoes, and the thought of balancing on heels gives me the heebie jeebies.

Thus it is that I’ve been on the lookout for new shoes. I discovered Vionic shoes a few weeks ago, but they are pricey!  I guess you get what you pay for…lots of extra support, which I need for my pronated, non-arched right foot.

I’d already purchased one pair, but they didn’t match everything.

When we went to the Mayo Clinic last week, I convinced the Mr. to stop at a Shoe Station.  I’d already looked online and had seen that this store had a vast assortment of these shoes.  I had also found a 20% coupon.

When I got to the store, I saw an entire section of Vionic shoes…

That picture doesn’t do the section justice.

Despite the number of shoes, I had a hard time finding some that fit.  I already knew that there were some sandals I couldn’t wear because my feet are very thin.  I also did not want old lady shoes.

I did find this pair…

They weren’t the pair I’d gone in after, but they fit and were comfortable, and I’d been wanting a black pair of flip flops.

I had also seen this pair at Dillard’s and had fallen in love with them, but they weren’t available in my size at Shoe Station.

Fortunately, the gal at the register ordered the size I needed, and she even allowed me to use the 20% coupon off of them!  I only had to pay a $2 shipping charge!  They were waiting for me at home when I got back from the Mayo Clinic.

When I was in Jacksonville with the hubby, I’d done some shopping during our down time.  I ran into a Dillard’s at the mall and found this pair of shoes that I instantly fell in love with…

They also come in a grey, but I opted for black because I figured that dirt wouldn’t show up as much.  I really, really like them because they remind me of the Keds I wore as a teenager.

I am still on the lookout for the Vionic slippers…and boots…and other shoes.

For now, I’m happy.  I feel like I have some options, even if I do need to wear my sneakers most of the time still.  At least when I want to play a little, I can dress the part.

It Took a Village

Happy Monday After Spring Break…said nobody ever.


Not only was today about getting up to an o’dark 30 alarm, but it was also about logistics.

First of all, can we just say icky to the yicky and all things blah about returning back to the land of the working?  The dogs were not amused either.

The Mr. had left the afternoon before because he had another doctor appointment at the Mayo Clinic.  I didn’t go with him to this one because I’ll be going on Wednesday when he meets with his GI surgeon, so the dogs and I were on our own.

With him gone, I was also without a car.  We only have one “family” car.  He has a car for work, but he can’t use it for personal reasons.

That left it up to me to figure out how I was going to get to school…and physical therapy…and home from there.

I’d texted my friend, Megan, last week and had asked if she could pick me up in the morning.  She lives in the subdivision across the street from mine, and she’s also a teacher at my school.  We’ve given each other rides before.

Thus it was that I found myself having a flashback to my school days when I’d wait outside for my ride…

Teachers do not travel light!  I had my purse, lunchbox, and my teacher bag…filled with workout clothes for physical therapy and my sneakers (please take notice of my non-sneaker shoes…just don’t tell my physical therapist…ahem).

After I got to school, I reached out to my next door neighbor, a stay-at-home mom, to ask if she would mind letting out my dogs mid-afternoon.  With the Mr. out of town and me having PT straight from school, Pele was going to be locked up until 5:30.  Don’t even mention doggy doors.  They would not work with my dig-happy pups.  She seemed happy to help.  ❤

I had a good day at school.  My students took notes as we started a new unit.

After school, I grabbed my bag, changed, and went outside to find a friend from church waiting for me.  I’d texted her last week to ask if she could give me a ride from school to physical therapy.

Can I give a shout-out to my small group peeps?  I am not a person who likes to ask for help.  I think being rejected in the past a few times has hurt me.  Plus, I don’t like having to depend on others.  I swallowed my pride, though, and reached out, and K was so gracious.  She was even thoughtful enough to have a cold bottle of Dasani water waiting for me in her car.

All the love!!!

K even offered to return to pick me up if I didn’t have a ride home.

Fortunately, the Mr. made it back in town just as I was finishing, so I didn’t have to inconvenience anyone else.

But y’all, this day!  It reminded me of trying to coordinate two kids’ soccer and school schedules!!

As much as I have always enjoyed living on my little island, the last few months have taught me that I need others, just as they need me.

God created us for community, as hard as that is for me, so I’m trying, and I’m so grateful that while it’s uncomfortable to ask, there are people in my life right now who are willing to fill in the gap and be the support that I need.

19 Weeks

It’s Sunday, and you know what that means…I’m officially another week into my recovery process!  Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever stop counting.  I figure I might once I hit the two-year mark since so much of what I read says that a patient who has a trimalleolar fracture requires that long to get back to “normal.”  So, the countdown will continue.

So Week 19 was Spring Break for me.  I figured that it would be a good time to keep my leg up and not do much.

I was wrong.

I went to physical therapy early Monday morning.  I really, really like doing my therapy in the morning.  There’s something about starting off the day working out my ankle…carefully watched over by the people who are helping me get better.

The Mr. and I went to Jacksonville late Monday, and I did a lot of walking while I was there.  Between the large Mayo Clinic campus and the extra shopping I did, my ankle definitely didn’t get much rest.

Our first hotel room was located at the end of the hallway, near the stairs, so we opted for walking downstairs instead of taking the elevator.

Yeah…it was pretty ugly for me.  I think that even the Mr. was surprised at how much of a hard time I had.

On Wednesday, I wound up putting almost three miles on my feet, and boy did my ankle hurt for it.

I had to drive us back home on Thursday since the Mr. had been under sedation earlier that morning, but I was pleased when my ankle didn’t freeze up on me.  Of course, we did stop a number of times to stretch, so that helped.

I had a PT appointment early on Friday since they close early that day each week.  I asked one of the therapists when I would be able to start walking down stairs again, so she had me step up on a small, wooden box used for exercises and then try stepping down onto my left foot (the good one) while holding onto a pole for balance.

Y’all…the pain that stretched from my right hip to my knee…and the pain on the inside of my ankle going around to the back…it was REAL, let me tell you.  It was as though my knee was frozen and could hardly bend.


The PT is going to ask my main therapist about it when he gets back from his honeymoon this week.  She’s not sure if the issues I’m having are lack of strength in my hips and knees, lack of flexibility in my Achilles tendon and calf, or if my ankle just isn’t healed enough yet.

I’m not going to lie.  When I was in the recliner getting iced down, I shed a few silent tears.

This journey is just so hard sometimes.

Just when I think I’m doing really good, like when I thought my walking was improving, I discover that I still have so many limitations…things I cannot do like I did before.


After Friday’s physical therapy, I went home, changed, and drove out to the beach.

After a quick stop at Ulta, I decided to park near the pier (thank you, Lord, for letting me find the PERFECT, close parking spot so I didn’t have to walk far).

Although I was by myself…empty nester and all…I treated myself to lunch at my favorite beach-side eatery…

When I finished, I carefully made my way to the sand and took a walk down in the surf.

The going was easy at first; the cold, salty water a balm to my bum ankle.

I took my time as I walked and stopped when the water covered my ankles completely so I wouldn’t lose my balance when the tide reversed itself.

I don’t know how far I walked in one direction, but I finally turned around and walked back toward the pier…and then past it.

It wasn’t too crowded.  I spied a few birds…

My ankle got sore, though, and I had to cut my walk much shorter than I’d have liked.  I found a lounge chair that hadn’t been rented and sat for a spell, digging my toes into the cool sand.

I was wishing that I’d had the foresight to put on my bikini and pack a towel and sunscreen.  The sounds of the beach…the wind, birds, and laughter around me…soothed my soul.

I was on the dog-friendly side of the pier and was drawn to the cutest puppy sitting in front of me with its owner.

This was the happiest little thing ever!  It got under the beach chair and dug like crazy!

Watching that little fur baby reminded me that I had three of my own waiting for me at home, and feeling a little guilty about leaving them alone after being gone most of the week, I headed back to my car…carefully picking my way through the dips in the sand.

My ankle was D-O-N-E for the day…for the weekend.  I’d walked almost three miles…much too far for an ankle that was only four and a half months out from injury.

So, what did this week teach me?

Well, it taught me that I’m still going to have good and bad days.  In fact, I’m still going to have good and bad moments in each day.

I was reminded, when my ankle bones randomly ached and pulsed, that although I am up and about, walking without a cast or a boot, I am not anywhere near healed yet.

Just as my ankle isn’t ready to resume regular activities yet, my heart is still tender as well.  I broke down in tears two or three times this week…a weakness I thought I was past once I started walking, unaided.

And so, when I have my mini pity parties, I try to pick myself up quickly and remind myself of what I can do…like go to the pool…sans “footwear” such as a cast or a boot…

When I do that, I am able to continue #findingjoyinthejourney, praising God for all He has done, all He is doing, and all He will do.

When Two or More are Gathered

Tuesday evening, I received a Facebook message from a gal I graduated high school with.

One of our classmates has a daughter who had been in a serious car accident earlier that day.  The young lady had been flown to a hospital in a larger city.

My friend was asking for prayers; she’d included nearly our entire class in the message.  All eighteen of us.  Because when you attend a small school in a tiny town, your graduating class doesn’t number very many.

Thank heavens for social media, though.  Despite our years apart and the distance that separates us, we are coming together and praying for our friend’s daughter.

She’s got some serious injuries and is not out of the woods yet.

All of my classmates have children.  Our mama and daddy hearts are hurting.

We are gathered together, though, as God’s Word promises, knowing that He does hear prayers, that He has a plan for young K’s life, and that He will work all things out for good.

Where two or more…say 18…are gathered, God is present.

Will you join us as we lift K, my friend Pam, her other daughter (not in the accident), and their other family up in prayer?

Thank you!!

Gut Check

This week is my Spring Break.

Normally, I’d be sleeping in until 9 or 10am, lounging by the pool, and taking a nap or two every day.

This year has been a lot different.

The Mr. and I have spent the past three days at the Mayo Clinic, where he is undergoing several procedures that will help his doctor formulate a plan for treating the severe complications discovered when he became very ill in January.

Tuesday was full of several pre-op appointments.  I do believe that we walked across most of the hospital’s large campus.  The view from the 5th floor was incredible!

We did have the afternoon to ourselves.  I spent the latter part of the day sitting outside at the hotel, toddy in hand, watching Dancing With the Stars on my phone via a streaming app by my cable provider.

Wednesday was an early day; the alarm clock went off at 4:30am.


Neither of us had slept well the night before, so we were d-r-a-g-g-i-n-g.  On top of being up early, we had to load up our car because we were going to be changing hotels when we were finished with the day’s itinerary.  The nightly rate at our hotel was going up, so we had reservations at another hotel down the road.

After getting the Mr. settled, I headed down to the cafeteria for some breakfast.  The cafeteria at the hospital is large and offers a great assortment of food.  No matter what your diet, you’ll find something you can eat.  This vegan approves!

On my way back to the waiting room, I couldn’t help but notice this…

There is an entire wall dedicated to the women pioneers of the Mayo Clinic.  I didn’t take pictures of the individual boards for the women on this list, but they were beautiful!  If you’re ever here, make sure you stop and take a look at them.

Then, I went back up to wait.

Now, let me tell you, the Mayo Clinic really does things right.  Patient care is exceptional!  They don’t only care about the patients, though.  They are very mindful of caretakers.

When we’d checked the Mr. in, I’d been given a paper that required me to put my name and cell number on it.  The Mr. had been given a unique number by which I could be linked to him.  I could look at an electronic board on the wall to see where in the queue he was.  The volunteers could also use the number and the information I’d provided to give me updates throughout his procedure.

I continue to be impressed with the professionalism of the volunteers here.  They’ve all been of the elderly sort and very tender.  In fact, the ladies who were at the desk in the surgical unit on Wednesday found me, without calling my name, in a vast waiting room that was full of loved ones.

At one point, I went out to my car to retrieve an item and was struck, once again, by the beauty of the landscaping.

When you’re anxious about your loved one’s health, fountains like this, along with all of the lush lawns and bright flowers, soothe your soul and remind you of God’s presence.

The Mr. got through his procedure quite well, and we were back at our hotel by 10am, which left me a lot of time to explore a bit of Jacksonville (once I got the Mr. settled into the room).

Later that afternoon, after a brief nap, I settled in by the pool, another toddy in hand, and read a few chapters of my book.

We had another quiet evening while the Mr. prepped for the procedures he’d be having this morning (as I’m typing this, in fact).  He wasn’t feeling well, but that’s par for the course with his health right now.

We were back up at 4:30 this morning for his last day of tests before we start the long drive home.

Rather than this post just being a narrative of our week, I really wanted to talk about something besides the aesthetics of the hospital.

Being around so many people who are so ill has been a gut check…literally and figuratively.

There are so many hurting people in the world…so many needs we just don’t know about.

On Wednesday, I was struck by the young woman waiting in a separate curtained-off section in pre-op, where the Mr. was also waiting to be rolled back to the operating room.

Not that I wanted to eavesdrop or anything, but when you only have a curtain between you, you can’t help but hear things.  She was scared about her procedure.  She’d recently had a baby.  Her precious husband, who I’d noticed in the waiting room, was by her side.

Scary, y’all.

In the waiting room, which was seriously huge, there was a large contingent of people who, it appeared, were there to support a patient having some kind of surgery.  I pictured that being my family when the Mr. has his big surgery soon (date still to be determined).  The love that came from that group reached out and enveloped me as well; their smiles and gentle laughter lightened a stressful and tiring morning.

I heard a man who was checking into registration shortly after the Mr. had gone back.  This man’s surgery was going to last twelve hours!  It made the Mr.’s hour-long procedure seem minor in comparison.

Walking through the hospital, I saw so many with masks…a lady wearing a scarf on her head…people with walkers or in wheelchairs.

We’ve had a lot of health issues since November.  Because of that, I notice things I never did before, and my heart goes out to people in a completely different way.

I am more empathetic than I ever was…more understanding…more aware.

What we are going through with the Mr.’s health is serious business, but we are not alone.  There’s a world full of hurting people…some better off…some not so much.

Is this what happens when you get older…this gut check?

Maybe I should have titled this post “Heart Check,” for that is really what this experience has become.

I know that I, for one, am feeling my heart beat a little faster with a renewed appreciation for God’s hand in my life and those around me.

Marching Through the Hodgepodge

Isn’t it crazy how quickly March is flying by?  Sheesh, Louise!  So, after a brief break, Joyce is back with another round of questions.  Link up with her to play along!  Oh, and thanks for visiting!

1.  Setting aside the real March Madness (NCAA Basketball) describe something happening at your house this month that might earn the title ‘March Madness’?

As I type this, I am at the Mayo Clinic with my hubby.  He’s got another round of procedures before his doctor lays out a plan for treating him for the complications his Crohn’s brought on.  So, we’re here this week (during my Spring Break), and we go back next week to find out results from these tests.  It’s a long drive too, so that adds to the madness.

2.  What’s a favorite made up word from your childhood or a favorite from your children’s childhood? Does your family still use the word today? If there’s a story behind the origin please share.

I’ve got nothing as far as my own childhood goes, but when my kids were growing up, and we had early wake up calls for soccer, we used to call the time o’dark 30.  That has stuck over the years.

3.  Will you be doing any spring cleaning now that the season is upon us? I read here a list of 15 quick (under one hour) spring cleaning tasks. They were-

clean out a drawer, vacuum furniture, whiten tile grout, dust the nooks and crannies you don’t get to year round, degrease kitchen cabinets, wipe down walls, go behind furniture, wipe down ceiling fans, vacuum the mattress, clean the range hood, wash baseboards, shine the stainless steel, clean out vents, tackle the windows, and wipe down gadgets

Of the fifteen ‘quick’ tasks listed which two most need doing at your house? Will you do them?

Spring cleaning?  Ha!  I’m barely keeping my head above water these days, so I’d say that all fifteen tasks on the list need to be done!  I will say that going out of town makes me clean my house like nothing else.  I cannot stand to go home to a dirty house.  So, there was a spur of cleaning on Monday but nothing crazy.

4.  A favorite movie set in Paris or New York?

The first movie that came to mind was The Devil Wears Prada.  I just adore that movie, and Paris during Fashion Week?  :::swoon:::

5.  What’s put a spring in your step this month?

The warmer weather and my ankle’s continued healing have definitely put a little more pep in my step these days.

6.  Did you ever want to be a teacher? Why or why not?

I, like most little girls, played “School” when I was growing up.  I even had a large, two-sided chalkboard!  I loved the idea of imparting knowledge.  The grading, as a child, was fun too!

I did fulfill my dream.  Instead of a chalkboard, I have a Smartboard (love, love, love)!  The grading isn’t as fun as I thought it would be.  Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I really enjoy reading what my students write.  Their samples give me glimpses into their personalities.  It’s the pressure and volume of the grading that gets to me.

My favorite thing about teaching, and something I really didn’t understand until I started doing it, was the impact the kids would have on me.  Teaching high-risk kiddos is a double blessing.  I soak up the loving I give them, and the return it tenfold.

7.  What’s your favorite floral scent? Do you have this somewhere in your home or maybe in a perfume? How do you feel about florals in food? How about wines with floral notes-yay or nay?

I have discovered that I really like lavender.  I find the smell very soothing.  I get migraines if I am surrounded by floral aromas that are too strong.  I don’t have flowers around my house.  I’d like to, but life keeps me busy, and I forget to buy them.

Florals in food…hmmm…I can’t say that I’ve ever experienced this before.  Wines with floral…did somebody say wine?  Please and thank you!

8.  My Random Thought

I have much to share, but those are things that belong in different posts.

Since we’ve just been talking about florals, I’ll show you a picture I took a couple of days ago…

My roses are in full bloom.  This was a baby one.  I didn’t mention that I love the smell of roses.  I don’t necessarily like the smell in perfumes, but fresh flowers?  Yes and yes!

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

One Year Ago

One year ago, we became a family of five when my Rooster said “I do” to his sweet girl.

The cold, windy day didn’t diminish the warmth in our hearts as we watched them pledge their love and commitment to one another.

Their excitement for the future radiated out as we, along with N’s parents and the judge, listened in.

Rooster would soon be shipping out for basic training; time was of the essence, which was why their courtship was a whirlwind…their engagement a whopping two days.

I love that they are doing things their way, albeit in the Air Force’s timing.

I’ve always said that Rooster marches to the beat of his own drum.  I’m thrilled that he found a partner who’s in sync with him

Happy Anniversary, sweet babes.  I know that you already value the gift of each day having started out your marriage where every second has counted from the very beginning.

You are much loved.

18 Weeks

Today marks eighteen weeks since I broke my ankle.  I say this every week, but it bears repeating…I am in awe of God and His healing grace.

First things first.  Remember when I posted last week and said that I had not done anything that Saturday…as directed by my physical therapists?

Well, let me tell you that I noticed a HUGE difference in my ankle this week…all because I took it easy last weekend.

Normally, Mondays are hell on my ankle.  Please pardon my directness there, but that’s the only word that fits.

I seriously cannot function well and hobble into PT on Monday afternoons.  The swelling in my ankle is usually pretty bad too.

Not last week!  I’ll admit that slowing down is not how I like to do things, but I can’t argue with the results.

It’s frustrating because this means that I am still further away from a full recovery than I’d like to be.  On the other hand, I’m closer than I was four and a half months ago.

During Monday’s PT session, they measured my foot to note my range of motion / flexibility.

I’d had this done during my first visit, but I was so overwhelmed with everything that I had not bothered to ask about the numbers.  All I knew was that I couldn’t move my ankle much.

When they measure, they’re looking at the way I can move my ankle four different ways…

During my first visit, my Dorsiflexion was at -5.  I couldn’t even get to neutral (90 degrees), y’all!  Now remember, this was only a week after I’d gotten out of my boot, and I was still relying heavily on my crutches.  On Monday, I was at 20 degrees!  Granted, that was with the PT pushing on my foot.  Ahem.  But the fact that it could move toward me that far was excellent!  Get this…the normal range is 20!!!  Woo hoo!

My Plantarflexion started off at 16 degrees during my first visit.  On Monday, it was up to 30!!  The normal range for this movement is 50, so I have a ways to go.  Nearly doubling in number though was GREAT progress!

My Inversion range started at 12 degrees; on Monday, it measured at 33!  The normal range is 35, so I’m just about there!

Now, the Eversion was not great.  During my first visit, I measured at 4 degrees.  Y’all, turning my foot outward is so stinking hard!  On Monday, I was at 7 degrees.  The normal range is 15.  This was discouraging, but I have to remember that most of my hardware is on the outside of my leg.  That’s where my plate and nine pins are holding things together.  I may never get full range back, but like the Mr. said, the only people who really need this motion are those who are making moves by cutting outward.  Still, being the overachiever that I am, I’d like to be able to get back as much of it as I can.

The most important of the above are my Dorsiflexion and Plantarflexion movements.  They are what I need to take simple steps…to walk up and down stairs…to step down off of curbs…to walk uphill and downhill.  That’s why I’m required to stretch on an elevated board every time I go to therapy.  I’m giving serious consideration to purchasing one for my house, because I’ve read on message boards where people continue to struggle with the Achilles tendon getting tight long after “recovery” is over.  The price is hefty, though, so we’ll see.

Overall, I was thrilled with my measurements.  Last week was my eighth since I started physical therapy.  The progress is slowwwwww, but it’s there, nonetheless.

I didn’t get any new exercises added to my regimen.  The only thing we did was to tweak one movement.  Up to last week, I’d been sitting on a bench while using my wobble board to work on all four of the movements listed above.  On Monday, my therapist had me start standing while holding onto a pole and doing the exercises.  Monday was easy, so on Wednesday, she had me stand on my tiptoes on my left foot to put more weight on my right ankle while standing and doing the exercises.  This was decidedly harder.

I’m doing better on the Bosu ball.  The balancing is getting a little easier, although I’m super happy when each minute is over.  My hips still aren’t strong…yet another source of frustration but part of the process.

My gait is continuing to improve.  I recorded myself walking across the house.

I’ve watched it numerous times and am beginning to notice a few things.  My right leg is still stiff, and I seem to still be walking with a heavier step on that side.  It also looks like I’m walking with that foot further out.

I also noticed that my right knee seems to turn in when I walk.  I’m going to ask my physical therapist about it when he gets back from his honeymoon.  He was an athlete in high school and college and knows a lot about this stuff.

Hey, though, my walking is FASTER than it was even a couple of weeks ago!  I still go slow, because I want to focus on my form.  I also go slow because my foot still hurts when I walk.  My big toe is still feeling some pain when I push off of it, and the top part of my foot closest to my ankle is sore almost all the time.  It cracks and pops a lot when I walk, which feels wonderful but can’t be exactly normal since my left foot doesn’t do this.

The word “normal” is such a subjective word, isn’t it?

My new normal looks like this…

In addition to the Juice Plus I’ve been taking for years, I’ve now added bone health supplements…D3, B12, and a magnesium blend.  I’m also taking a turmeric blend for inflammation.

My new normal also includes a lot of days ending like this…

Under the ice is my TENS unit, emitting soothing waves of electric stimulation.


Did They See?

This morning, three principals (mine and two from other schools), along with three District-based people, visited my classroom.  They were there to quietly observe my students and take notes about what they saw around my room.

Although I’d been warned ahead of time, I was still extremely nervous.

The fact that my students were taking a test to end a unit we’d just finished made things interesting.  The observers were extremely kind, though, and I was able to speak to each of them, at various points during the visit.

As I stood in the corner of my room, keeping an eye on my students, I tried to see my room through the eyes of my visitors.

Did they look at the back counter and see a hodgepodge and somewhat messy assortment of books, or did they see a few dozen pieces of well-read, teenage-relevant literature?

As they neared the front of my room, did they see a very un-elementary-ish bulletin board and a mess of papers and notebooks below, or did they see the affirmations that nearly 80 students wrote about themselves the first week of school…their promises to ignore the negative words around them and believe in the potential inside themselves?

As they turned and glimpsed shelves of books, hastily stuck here and there, did they see more evidence of a teacher’s lack of organization, or did they exercise their Superman powers to see through the book covers and into the stories themselves…stories that are resonating with my students and the different life experiences they bring into the classroom every day?

I wondered, as they spied the table in front of my room…the one with extra copies of the day’s assessment (this was, after all, the beginning of the day with many more students to test)…if they saw only a teacher’s basic supplies…sticky notes, staplers, paperclips.  Did they possibly notice my “Hot Reads” books…the ones I spend time reading aloud to my kids each day…the ones we talk about…make connections with…learn more about life through?  And those sticky notes…they did think they were just for marking random things, or did they know that they’re used as bookmarks in the classroom, faithfully moved forward through so many books until they either wear out or students finish their books…the same students who started the year by claiming they weren’t readers.

I wondered, as they asked my students, “What have you been studying,” and my students answered, to my heartfelt delight, “text structures,” if they heard more than rote language.  Was it possible that they were able to glimpse that students were learning history while in an “English” class…that they were discovering how certain stereotypes were created and fostered over the years?

Then, as these observers left the room, I wondered if they might have taken one more look back and noticed the cap and gown near the door.  Did they see these items as just that, or did they see students gazing upon the cap ang gown, envisioning themselves wearing these items in the next couple of years?  Did they see the potential the cap and gown represent…the whispered promise that anyone can become anything?

As they closed the door after their fifteen minute visit, did they see this poster?

Fifteen minutes isn’t nearly enough time to observe my students being all of these things, because in my class, we don’t just learn about reading or English, and we don’t just take tests (hardly ever, truth be told).

We learn about life.

We learn how to have manners, how to treat each other with respect, how to work as a team, and how to stretch our brains beyond what we think we know.

We learn that no matter what our home lives are like, the moment we step into the classroom, we are part of a family where we aren’t judged by our skin colors, religious preferences, test scores, or reading levels.

We learn that everyone’s opinions matter and there’s something to be learned from everything.  We learn that nobody is better than the person sitting beside or in front him or her.

We learn to dream big, aim high, and try harder when we fall short.  We learn that we will be held accountable for our actions, our hard work, and even our laziness.

I wonder…did my observers see the real classroom…the real people…the real hearts beneath the surface?

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