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Thankful Thursday

I think I’m going to link up with my BFF, Rebecca, for the Thankful Thursday post.  After a long week of working with my students to set up their Khan Academy accounts, I need to purposely look for things to be thankful for.

This week, I am thankful for  . . .

Two observations are behind me.  My principal came into my class on Monday – the first day we began working on the Khan Academy stuff.  This is my first experience with it, and of course he came into my first period class . . . aka the guinea pigs.  Sigh.  We had a few technology-related-password-email-blocked-website issues, but heck, that’s the real stuff of teaching.  My second observation came today.  It wasn’t so much about what I’m doing as a teacher but what my classroom flow is like.  Three other people from the district came in, along with my principal.  Thankfully, the Khan Academy stuff went smoothly, and the kids were able to explain what they were doing when asked.  I’m rather proud of them and the classroom culture we’ve established.


I am thankful that my stations are set up.  Stations are skills-based activities designed to give students much-needed practice with the standards they need to master for their standardized tests.  They are a bit of a pain to set up, but once they are done, swapping out tasks is fairly simple.  This is my seventh year doing stations, so I’m fairly good at it by now.  Still, it’s time-consuming to write the instructions, anticipating what questions the kids will have (when they are supposed to be autonomous).


I am so thankful that my classes are about half (in some cases, a third) of what they were when we started school in August.  A lot of kids have tested out due to their hard work.  I’m going to be able to provide really good individualized instruction now that my attention won’t be split across thirty students per class.


I’ll say it again and again and again, but I am thankful for YouTube videos like this one . . . a stretching workout that I found as part of the Hurt Foot Workout series.  I actually did two videos this morning.  The first one was a floor barre workout, but since it was only nineteen minutes, I wanted to do a second one.  I found a stretching video and wow, were my muscles warmed up when I finished.  I’ve missed my Piyo.  This was a gentle way to ease back into things.


I am thankful for each day that passes, bringing me closer to complete healing (whenever that will be).  On Wednesday, I did my first session of at-home physical therapy exercises since having my surgery in December.  I couldn’t do everything; I’m following the doctor’s orders by sticking with low-impact moves.  My quads were screaming at me when I finished, and the outside of my ankle hurt pretty good when I walked around at school.  Still, I’m finding that I’m able to navigate around the tables and chairs in my classroom with less difficulty than before my surgery, when the hardware in my ankle limited my range of motion.  I was very swollen by the time I left school, so there was that.

If you wouldn’t mind praying for me, I’d appreciate it.  The incision on the inside part of my ankle is still yucky.  It’s not infected, but it’s not healing very well either.  It’s still very red, and I seem to have developed a rash an inch away from the incision – not something I had after the first surgery.  I have a follow-up with my surgeon in a couple of weeks, so if it’s not better by then, I’ll make sure I discuss it with him.  I am hoping that the triple antibiotic ointment, vitamin E oil, and other essential oils I’m applying will help clear things up.


I am thankful for this salad recipe.  The edamame MAKES this, as does a peanut dressing I got from my No Excuses Detox recipe book and swapped out for the one in the salad recipe (it was horrible, and I had to throw it out).


I am thankful for new books . . .

A new devotional, which I read each night before I go to bed.

The second in the Scythe series (I am making myself wait until I finish a book I’m currently reading)

Her first book, which I just ordered and received. I have the second one, but in typical fashion, I did things backwards.

A Positively Complimentary Hodgepodge

Look at me – joining in the Hodgepodge two weeks in a row.  Go me, Go me!  Ha!  Seriously, though, thanks for visiting!  I look forward to reciprocating after work since I must do teach the children all the things.

1.  January 24th is National Compliment Day. Is it easy or not so easy for you to accept a compliment? Share a recent compliment you’ve given or received.

I guess it depends on the compliment as to whether or not it’s easy for me to accept.  If it’s something fitness-related, I’m all gushy yes, but if it’s something about teaching, I’d rather defer attention to my students or other teachers.

I give compliments to my students every day.  Yesterday, I told one of my girls that I liked her the way her hair was braided.

Yesterday, my principal complimented on what I was doing in my class when he came in to observe me the day before (despite numerous tech-related issues . . . hello blocked websites and forgotten passwords!).

2.  Ten little things you are loving right now.

Ten little things that I am loving right now are:

Being out of my boot

Driving again

Lunching on mason jar salads

Indulging in no-bake desserts

Exercising to some awesome Hurt Foot workouts on YouTube

Scooping poop in mild winter weather

Discovering delicious Instant Pot recipes

Watching the hubby and our fur babies engage in their nighttime carrot routine

Getting on track with 2nd semester lesson plans

Testing out a new griddler and a vegan waffle recipe

3.Would people describe you as a positive person? Do you see yourself that way? I read here  a list/description of eight things positive people do differently-

Positive people find something to look forward to every day, they celebrate the small stuff, they’re kind, they stay busy, accept responsibility for their actions, forgive themselves, know when to move on, and resist comparisons

Which action on the list would you say you do regularly? Which action could you add to your life to give you a more positive outlook? If you’re a positive person, what’s something you do regularly that’s not on the list?

Yes, I believe that people describe me as a positive person.  I’ve had people tell me, in the midst of a conversation about bad stuff, that I always manage to find a silver lining in everything.

I do consider myself positive as well.  If you’ve been reading my blog since I broke my ankle a little over a year ago, you’ve probably seen that as well.

Out of the actions listed above, I think the one that stands out the most is that I celebrate the small stuff.  I’ve had to, y’all, especially with all of the challenges I’ve faced recently.  I think that my habit of finding joy in every circumstance became a big part of my healing as I focused more on what I was learning to do again versus what I couldn’t (that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a few pity parties along the way).

I think that I need to work on resisting comparisons.  If you know me personally, you’re probably nodding your head right now.  I am such an overachiever and can’t help but measure myself against what others are doing.  It’s tough.

Something that I do regularly that’s not on the list . . . hmmm!  I think that staying in my own lane, trying really hard not to gossip, helps me to be positive because I’m not immersed in the drama that can either come back to bite a person or be so drenched in negativity that one can’t find the way out.

4.  Homemade chicken soup, beef stew, or a bowl of chili…what’s your pleasure on a cold winter’s day?

Hold the meat on all of the above, please.  I’ll take any homemade vegan soup, stew, or chili – I have no preference.  I found a really good Instant Pot recipe for chili and man, even my students were raving about the delicious smell as it warmed up in the mini-crockpot I use in my classroom.

5.  The best part of my day is….

. . . coming home after a day of work and finding my dogs happily waiting for me.

6.  My Random Thought

So, I missed writing a birthday post for my daughter.  I snatched this photo from her Instagram feed.  Isn’t she a cutie pie?

My sweet Chicky, who has grown up on this blog, turned 26 on Monday.

I tried to call her while I was getting ready for work, but her planning period had changed, so she couldn’t talk.  We did, however, chat after I got off.  She was on her way to tutor a student.

Hello 26-year-old-life, welcome to adulting on your birthday.

Milestones

I believe that it’s important to mark milestones in your life, no matter how big or small.

The Mr. always finds it odd that I can remember the exact dates of various happenings, but that’s just how my brain works (and I am a woman – ahem).

As such, last January 23rd was my first day of physical therapy.

It was also the first day I began driving again after spending over two months being chauffeured around by anyone willing and able to drive me.

I’d dressed the part, sporting my long Batman socks as motivation.

I remember being extremely unprepared for that appointment – and had, in fact, dressed completely wrong because I thought it was only going to be a consultation.

Instead, J took measurements of my range of motion, which were pretty much nil, and then worked out some of the knots on my Achilles tendon.  After being bound up for nine weeks, my tendon had tightened up and shrunk.

My first session with the “tool” was torture.

But I didn’t cry.

J also adjusted the height of my crutches because I wasn’t able to walk on my own yet.  That tendon was a huge issue (and still is to this day).

As I sat and recovered with the first of many, many ice packs, heating blankets, and TENS units, I received a text from the Mr.

He said that he was very sick and that I needed to take him to the emergency room.

I asked him if I had time to run by the school to prep lesson plans for a sub, and he said yes.

Little did we know just how critical his condition was.

It was one of the hardest days of my life as I sat with him for hours and hours . . .  from about 9am until the following morning at 1am . . . and listened to the doctor tell me that the Mr. was septic and might have died within a couple of days if I had not taken him in when I did.

The Mr.’s parents drove over from Bigger City, Florida because the news was so dire.  He was in very, very bad shape.

We spent the evening debating whether to tell Rooster about it when he called.  He was at a special training, and we didn’t want to worry him.

In the end, after much prayer and discussion, we decided to tell him.  He was glad to know because he was about to be unreachable, and we honestly, at that point, didn’t know if the Mr. was going to make it.

I walked with the nurses as they took the Mr. to the ICU, but I wasn’t allowed to stay – only to bid him a quick goodbye – before I left for home . . .

On my crutches.

I was a sad sight.

I fell into bed, phone close by in case the nurses called.  The Mr.’s blood pressure was too low, he had a raging infection from an abscess, and he had a host of other issues that were being closely monitored.

It was the first of many, many sleepless nights.

January 23, 2017 was the beginning of probably the hardest years the Mr. and I have ever had.

It was tough physically, emotionally, and financially.  We just seemed to get hit with bad news and bills every time we turned around.

One thing that didn’t change but actually grew stronger was our faith.

God didn’t work instant miracles but chose, instead, to grow us closer to Him through the everyday struggles – challenges that forced us to rely on Him for every single thing.

I wonder if the memory of this milestone will fade in time as others take their place in the pecking order of things.

I pray it doesn’t because I never want to forget.

I never want to forget how alone I felt the night I got home from the hospital – when I wondered if I’d be coming home alone for the rest of my life.

I never want to forget how helpless I felt as I watched the Mr. lay in his hospital bed at the mercy of God and plans we could only watch as they played out.

I never want to forget crying on the shoulders of friends who spent time with me in the hospital.  I don’t know if I’ve ever felt that vulnerable before.

I never want to forget how utterly exhausted I was as I cared for the Mr. in the immediate days and weeks after he returned home from the hospital.

I never want to forget because it is in the remembering that I admit how much I cherish the Mr., how grateful I am for God’s unfailing kindness, how much I appreciate the support and prayers of friends, and what a privilege it is to do the little things for another person, whether it’s cooking or changing sheets.

I’d lost sight of these things until I broke my ankle; the lessons were reinforced with the double whammy of the Mr.’s sickness.

Milestones are like the mile markers we see on the highway.  They tell us how far we have traveled as well as how far we have to go.

I prefer to focus on how much ground I’ve covered – the way paved ahead of time by a gracious, forgiving Heavenly Father.

4 Weeks Post-Surgery

Today marks exactly four weeks since I had a second surgery on my ankle.  You might recall that my surgeon removed the hardware that he’d placed in there the year before.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve talked about my ankle, so I thought I would bring you up to speed on my recovery thus far.

I know that I’m repeating myself when I say this, but this has been a lot more challenging than I’d anticipated.  I’ve had a few issues that nobody warned me about.  As a person who doesn’t deal too well with curve balls, this has been especially frustrating.

I’ve continued with the Hurt Foot workout videos that I found through a Google search for non-impact exercises.

I wish I’d found these videos last year after I broke my ankle and was able to exercise again.  I think I would have avoided a few of the setbacks I brought upon myself with the tougher-than-necessary routines that I literally jumped into.

Meanwhile, I was eager for the strips the nurse had put on during my seven-day, post-op appointment to fall off.  Here’s how my ankle looked on January 7th . . .

You can see that a few of the strips had come off.

January 8th marked ten days since the strips had been applied, and since they were peeling off within the ten-day window the nurse had given me, I finished the job . . .

The black dots lining the outside of the incisions were actually the scabs from the staples that had been used in lieu of stitches.  I had not seen these when I first broke my ankle because the orthopedic center had put on a cast that I wore for three weeks.  By the time it came off, the scabs had healed.

You can see how raw those incisions still were after a little over two weeks post-surgery.

They were painful too.  I’d been mandated to start massaging them aggressively to get rid of scar tissue.  The outside of my ankle felt strange though; I could feel the holes that the pins holding the plate in place had left behind.  You can even see the outline of those holes in the little Instagram video I made.

Meanwhile, I have continued to try out more videos by the same “hurt ankle” girl.  I love the shirt she wore for this one . . .

I need this shirt!

Surprisingly, these videos burn some decent calories!

I didn’t let the boot get in the way of good fashion and went all professional on my students one day . . .

I thought things were going fine even with me calling the Mr. one day with the request to bring me a sock (I’d only worn an ACE bandage) and ibuprofen.

Until January 11th.

Y’all, I’d been having some burning pain, but I figured it was just the incision hitting the boot.

Oh, but it wasn’t.

See what my ankle looked like that afternoon?

It was one angry body part and only getting madder with every hour.

I went back to using crutches to relieve the pressure that walking put on it.

I cried during dinner as I was hit by sporadic waves of pain.

The next morning, it looked like this . . .

I took pictures and sent them to my surgeon’s nurse.  She responded very quickly and told me that the PA believed that it was, most likely, a stitch abscess.  She told me to apply triple antibiotic ointment on it, cover it with a band aid, and keep a close eye on it.  She said it would probably be better in a few days.

The next morning, when I woke up, it looked like this . . .

Yep.  It had gotten bigger, more painful, and generally worse.

The Mr. wanted to take a needle to it; I adamantly refused, fearful of infection.

I did, however, send another email to my nurse while he was driving me to school and asked her if I could lance it if I properly sterilized everything.  She responded immediately, giving me the green light.

A friend at school advised me to use a warm compress to draw out the infection before I performed my at-home, self-care procedure.  I did so, putting the essential oil, Thieves, on my cloth, which I’d read would help with infection and inflammation.  I sterilized my needle while I applied the compress.

You should have seen what my ankle looked like when I pulled the cloth off.

Nasty.  I won’t post the picture (you’re welcome), but if you want to see it, click here.

I got down to work.

Oh my yuck.  It was just everything icky and more.

I had TWO abscesses.

Two.

No wonder I was hurting so badly.

I carefully squeezed out the infection, washed the area with soap and warm water, per the nurse’s instructions, and put a band aid over it.

I can honestly say that my ankle immediately felt better.  I was able to walk around the house (still in my boot) with a minimal amount of pain.  The burning sensation was gone.

However, later when I got ready to change the bandage, I noticed that I now had a deep hole in my incision, where the abscesses had been, and that hole did not want to close up.  It needed a stitch or two.

The Mr. went out and bought me butterfly bandages and incision strips.  He carefully applied a butterfly bandage with a larger bandage over that to see if that would do the trick.

After two days of this, the wound was still opening up, so we used the strips instead.  So far, so good.  I haven’t removed the strips since he applied them a few days ago, but it seems to be healing well.

The best part?

There’s no more pain or swelling in that area, so I know that the infection is gone.

Praise the Lord!

I’ve been able to work out without the burning feeling.  Yay!

So, where do I stand (literally and figuratively) today?

Well, I just put my crutches in the closet.  Woo hoo!

It’s also the last day of me having to wear the boot (and my fun sock-of-the-day, which some of my students have noticed) . . .

Hallelujah!

When I get up tomorrow morning, I’ll get to put TWO regular shoes on again.  I’m going to wear my sneakers for a few days because I need the extra support until I figure out what my tendon is doing (tight, not tight, sort of tight).

I also get to start driving again tomorrow!

The Mr. is thrilled.  He’s gotten up early every single day since I’ve been back at work to drive me there and pick me up.

He’s amazing!

I’m going to continue doing the Hurt Foot workouts until I get my next x-ray, which will be on February 8th when I go for my six-week checkup.  I’m sure they will tell me what kinds of exercises I’ll be allowed to do from that point forward.

I’m hoping to start going for walks around the neighborhood soon.  I signed up for the first Hogwarts Running Club event.  It’s a 9k, so I’ll have to split it into segments.

I’m still finding myself sore by the end of the day, and the outside of my ankle, where the plate was, is still pretty bruised up.  I know that things are healing inside; it’s just going to take more time.

I am trying to listen to my body and follow its lead.  I know that standing too long is still extra hard on me.  Building endurance is something I’ll be working on.

My students have been extra careful around me given the nature of my injury and subsequent recoveries from both surgeries.  I’m thankful for their consideration.

I’m especially grateful for your continued prayers as this journey is still far from being over.  You are a blessing to me.

Despite the ups and downs, I am able, with God’s strength, to push on with my mantra of #findingjoyinthejourney.

Staying Warm for the Hodgepodge

It’s been a minute . . . or a fortnight . . . since I’ve written but holy cow, the recovery from what was supposed to be an easy surgery has been anything but!  I’m going to try to catch up with a separate post about that tomorrow.  For today, I’m going to answer Joyce’s all-illuminating Hodgepodge questions.  Thanks for visiting, and I’ll do my best to get around to you soon!

1.  What keeps you blogging?

What keeps me blogging is the need to unload things that build up in my heart.  Even though my blogging has been a little inconsistent the last year and a half, words have been busting to get out.

I think I also write with the hope that someone who is reading about my story will connect to it as I so often do when I read others’ stories.

I love the blogging community and miss it when I don’t have time to keep up with it.  We are our own little family drawn together by the intimate nature of our writing, because writing is just that – very personal, raw, and illuminating.

2. Some people like to travel in the winter months. Do you enjoy the beach in winter? According to Southern Living the best U.S. beach towns to visit this winter are –

St Simons Island (Georgia), Hilton Head (South Carolina), Bald Head Island (North Carolina), Seaside (Florida), Bay St. Louis (Mississippi), Cape San Blas (Florida), South Padre Island (Texas), Folly Beach (South Carolina), Chincoteague (Virginia), Duck Key (Florida), Nags Head (North Carolina), and Fairhope (Alabama)

Have you been to any of the towns listed (in any season)? Which on the list appeals to you most this winter?

I live in a beach town, but I don’t go during winter.  It’s about fifteen minutes away from my house, and I don’t feel like dealing with the traffic.  I will brave it to go to the movie theater because it’s a nice one.  I’ve been to Seaside, but only very briefly.  It is very pretty!  I’d love to spend more time exploring – when it’s warm (and when Spring Break visitors aren’t there).  I’ve also been to Fairhope, but I didn’t see the beach.  It was quite a number of years ago, and I don’t really remember much about it.

If I had to choose one to visit, I’d go with Hilton Head.  I like South Carolina; the Mr. hails from Irmo.  I think it would be fun to get out of Florida, where I’ve lived for almost thirty years, and do a bit of sightseeing in another state.

3.  What’s a song you’re embarrassed to know all the lyrics to? Are you really embarrassed or do just think you should be?

“Hips Don’t Lie,” by Shakira, gets people looking at me when I start singing along.  This goes back to when my kids were in high school and I liked to car dance to it whenever it came on which, coincidentally enough, always seemed to happen when their friends were riding with us.

Yes, I was that mom, and I will not apologize for it or pay for any counseling that my kids may need because of it.

Bahahaha.

4.  When you were a kid what’s something you thought would be fantastic as an adult, but now that you’re an adult you realize it’s not all that fantastic?

I’m drawing a blank here.  When I was a kid, all I wanted was to be free from being under my mom’s thumb.  I have that, and I think it’s wonderful.  There are tasks that aren’t that great, but I think I had a realistic view of that part of life when I was younger because I was responsible for many things early on.

5.  Share a quote you hope will inspire you in 2018.

I’ve been through so much since I broke my ankle in November 2016.  I immediately grabbed hold of the following saying:

With a second surgery now behind me, and my recovery slowly in progress, I’m repeating this mantra.

I have always been a very determined person; what others perceive as setbacks, I take on as challenges.

I am stubborn.  This is where that trait helps me.

I refuse to let anything hold me down for long.

With the Lord’s help, I will get strong again – I will run again.

6.  My Random Thought

Today marks the first day of our second semester.

One half of the school year is done.

I’m having a good year and am enjoying my prep.  Watching students achieve their goals and take steps that put them closer to graduation is very gratifying.

Even while I struggled with making new seating charts yesterday, I found myself humbled to be part of their journey.

Each name that didn’t go on the chart represented another young person who, if every “i” is dotted and “t” is crossed, will walk the stage either this May or next May.

Every kiddo who got a spot on the chart represents unleashed potential waiting for the perfect time to showcase itself.

I am very hopeful for the spring and the success that’s in store for my students.

The First Day

Yesterday was my first day back at work after Christmas Break, and boy was it hard to get out of bed.

I’d only had two solid nights of sleep since school had gotten out because of my surgery, and I was still playing catch up.

I’d done my best to prep the night before by whipping up my first ever batch of Instant Pot Make-Ahead Quinoa Breakfast Bowls, a recipe by Detoxinista.  I was shocked by how easy AND flavorful it was.

I’d also found an exercise video that I could do without putting extra weight on my ankle . . .

Y’all, this gal has TONS of videos!  I was thrilled with the gold mine I discovered!

Still, though, it was super-hard to go to bed that night.  I just wasn’t feeling it.

It took awhile to drag myself out of bed.  Mind you, I am having to stick my foot into a boot before I walk anywhere, so there’s that.

I was too lazy to change into workout clothes – hence, the sweatpants which wound up being too hot.

I rather enjoyed the video.  Parts of it were a little easy, while other parts were a little more challenging.

What I liked was burning calories and getting my heart rate going a bit.

Because I’d dragged my feet, or should I say boot, getting up, I ran a bit behind.  The Mr. was not too pleased because he’d gotten up early to drive me since, once again, I am unable to drive since it’s my right ankle that’s recovering.

It was 33 degrees when we left the house – perfect weather for the use of my hand knits.

I had quite a few kids absent; the cold weather kept them bundled up at home, I suppose.  Still, being on my feet all day was harder than I’d expected.  By 5th period, I was regretting my decision not to take crutches to school.  The outside of my ankle hurt something fierce.

When I got home and removed my sock and bandage, I could see the swelling.

I was so exhausted that I went straight to bed . . .

And slept for TWO hours.  When I woke up, I thought it was morning.

I must have needed the sleep, though, because I got up, cooked dinner for the Mr., and we watched a couple of our favorite television shows.  I went to bed around 11 and slept through the night without waking up.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad first day back thanks to lesson planning that wasn’t overly ambitious yet relevant and kept my kids busy.

Only 73 days until Spring Break, but who’s counting.

New Year’s Shenanigans

I managed to stay awake until midnight New Year’s Eve.

Go me..

Actually, what helped pass the time was that the Mr. and I rented the movie, American Assassin.  It had a lot of action!

I slept in a little New Year’s morning.  It was the best night’s sleep I’d had since prior to my surgery.  Of course, it was the first time I was back in my own bed since then as well.

We got going pretty quickly and headed to the mall.  We had recently upgraded to the iPhone X and had purchased screen protectors and cases from Cellairis, a place in the mall that my Sprint guy had recommended.

Y’all, we usually buy this stuff on Amazon and don’t pay much for it; however, we weren’t willing to risk dropping our brand new phones without them being protected, so we coughed up the extra dough.  I was impressed by the young guy’s quick service and the fact that he got the protectors on without any issues.  I always ruin the first one when I do it myself.

My protector started lifting while I was out of town with family, so I visited a Cellairis in the mall there.  It took me a few hours to realize that they’d: 1) put it on crooked and 2) given me a matte protector.

Not good.

I went nuts.  I went back to that mall the next day and asked them to fix it but was told that they were out of them and to go back in a week.  I couldn’t do that because we were going back home the next day, so I figured that I’d go to the one in my own mall.

That’s what the Mr. and I were doing there at 10:00am New Year’s morning, but y’all, when we drove up, look at what we saw . . .

There were lines of people waiting to go into Dillard’s.

What the heck?

The Mr. dropped me off so he could park, and I got in the queue.  It was freezing, but the doors had just opened, so I didn’t have to wait.

Oh my goodness!  The people were NUTS!  They were almost running across the store, while I was doing my best to not get trampled or tripped.

I saw people grabbing blankets off of tables that only had 20% off sales signs.  What the heck?

I went past the shoe department, and that’s where the wacko behavior really cranked up.  I don’t even know that people cared what the shoes looked like.  They grabbed them and then jumped into a line that was marked off with a rope.

I just wanted to get out of there and into the rest of the mall.

The guy at Cellairis did NOT give me a new protector.  He had to call his boss who wouldn’t allow it because the other place had put on the wrong one.

Talked about MAD.  I was extremely angry and told the kid that it wasn’t his fault, but that this was horrible customer service.  I asked when his boss would be in, and he said later that day, but since the Mr. and I had plans to watch football, I told him we’d be back today.  He did straighten the matte protector, but y’all, do you know that it started lifting in the corner a little later?  I was DOUBLE-MAD.

I even tweeted out to corporate.

Take that!

When the Mr. met up with me, he told me that the line in the shoe department of Dillard’s was wrapped all the way around the corner.  Fortunately, he had parked in a different lot, so we didn’t have to risk our lives getting out of there.

We ran a couple of other errands before we returned home.

That’s when I got busy.

I had gotten an Instant Pot for Christmas and was eager to make my first dish, Vegetarian Instant Pot Chili.

First, I had the fun of using the new slicer that Chicky had given me to do some prep work.

You can find this at Walmart.

Look at that green, yellow, and red pepper deliciousness

I was so impressed with how quickly my veggies were chopped.

Next, it was time to get everything into the Instant Pot.  I was nervous; pressure cooking is something I haven’t done is probably twenty years, and it made me nervous back in the day.

Setup was actually pretty easy!  The manual that came with it had clear instructions.

Of course I chronicled my antics on Instagram (I saved the entire video story, posted below) . . .

The dish itself took thirty minutes to cook.

I am sooooooo glad that I asked for the model that has Bluetooth; watching its progress on my app was fascinating.

I was like a mama hen and refreshed my screen often . . .

Isn’t this cool???

The pot took a few minutes to heat up and then about ten minutes to vent.  I’d read a few things about manually venting it or allowing it to do it naturally.  I turned the valve to venting after ten minutes of letting it do its thing on its own.

The results were sooooo worth my foray into new cooking lands . . .

The recipe is flavorful.  I’d suggest adding chili powder for an extra kick.

It made quite a bit, so I’ll be eating it for lunch this week – no complaints here!

Cleanup was a piece of cake!  Everything was seriously done in one pot!  I didn’t know that you could saute in it (this recipe didn’t require it, but I read that you could saute in it on a blog) . . . something that will be handy when I want to whip something up after a tiring day of work.

I also did some baking.  The Mr. had requested the Peanut Butter Cake that he loves so much.

This thing usually sinks in the middle because he’s not allowed to have anything with baking powder, cream of tartar, or other leavening agents.  I decided to try adding a splash of lemon juice to the recipe with the hopes that it would interact with the baking soda and make the cake rise.

You can see that it worked!  I was shocked!

It looked like a real cake after I frosted it . . .

The Mr. said that the texture was spongy too.  Yay!

I wasn’t done in the kitchen, though.

Chicky had found a recipe for a Peanut Butter Lover’s Chocolate Tart, from Oh She Glows (I found the recipe online yesterday, so you’re welcome) in one of my books, but we had not had the time to prepare it, so I got busy.

Every component was homemade . . .

First I baked the crust, and then I made the filling . . .

While it was setting in the freezer, I made homemade caramel sauce and chopped peanuts for the garnish . . .

This was seriously fun to assemble!

Look how pretty it turned out!

I’m going to cut this into small slices and freeze them individually for a quick solution to a craving for something sweet.  This thing is DECADENT!

After all of that cooking, I finally sat down to watch football and knit.

I slept well again last night – past 9am – the Mr. thoughtfully got up early and fed the dogs.

We headed BACK to the mall.  Just look at the aftermath from yesterday’s sales . . .

I am so thankful that the Mr. was willing to take me out on errands.  This is the second time in just over a year that I’ve been unable to because of my ankle.

If only my makeup looked that good without the Snapchat filter!!

We first visited the Cellairis place, and this time the manager was there.  I went through the spiel again, and he had to call the owner.  I was just about ready to blow a gasket; however, I’d prayed before I’d gone into the mall, and God had answered.  The manager replaced the screen cover, even managing to apply it evenly.  Whew!

Then, the Mr. and I did a bit of shopping at American Eagle, where they were having a lot of sales.

Of course, the things that fit me perfectly weren’t on sale.  I got them anyway.  Ha!

Excuse the hair – it was clean and dry but not styled. #ChristmasBreakProblems

That outfit right there?  Yeah, it’s what I’m wearing for the first day back at school tomorrow, so if you see me, just know that I did not wear it home!

We also went by Books a Million; I had a gift card to spend!

It took two employees to locate the cookbook I wanted . . .

While looking for it, I found a lot of other books I wanted; however, I held myself to just one more . . .

Aquafaba is the liquid left over in a can of chickpeas, and it’s magical, especially if you’re a vegan and can’t use eggs for whipped stuff.  I am so excited about this cookbook!

I’m sad to see the end of the break quickly approaching.  I needed the rest that this break provided.  Although the first week of it was rough with my surgery and ensuing recovery, I still enjoyed not having to stress about writing up errant children, entering grades, or making lesson plans.

Please say a prayer for the Mr.  He’s got to get up to take me to school until the 22nd (boot removal day), and he is not an early-morning kind of guy, let me tell you.  He’s already refusing to take me to Starbucks for hot chocolate or by Panera for the free daily bagel deal that’s going on this month.

It should be an interesting series of mornings as our “together time” is put to the test.

Ha!

Ringing in 2018

I don’t know about you, but I sure was happy to bid adieu to 2017.

One year ago, I had no idea what the year had in store for me.

I had no idea that just twenty three days in, I’d find myself at the physical therapist’s office for the first of eight months’ worth of sessions.

I had no idea that a mere two hours later, on the same day, I’d find myself in the emergency room with the hubby as the patient this time and that we would spend a week in the ICU as medical professionals told us he was septic and needed a complicated surgery.

I had no idea that the Mr. and I would soon be listening to one of the top Crohn’s surgeons in the state tell us just how dire the Mr.’s health was.  The drive home from Jacksonville was filled with many tears.

I had no idea how dependent we would be on family and friends to fill in the gap with their prayers and provisions for other practical needs.

I had no idea how grueling my recovery process from my broken ankle would be and how many, many setbacks I would have – all of them so very discouraging and incredibly frustrating – and how much pain I’d have to endure.  Even the simplest tasks often felt overwhelming to complete.

I had no idea of the miracle that was in store for us as we found out that the Mr.’s health, despite great odds, was improving, and that he did not need to have the much-dreaded surgery.  The drive home from Jacksonville that day was filled with awe as we praised God for His healing touch.

I had no idea that my heart would soar to such great heights and then, mere days later, plummet to the lowest depths when I lost my precious Molly – and that the grief would still cut so deeply six months later.

I had no idea how fervently I would pray while my child was gone on his first deployment.  Being a military mom is a role that brings with it much joy and much worry.

I had no idea that I’d be facing another ankle surgery to remove hardware that I’d assumed would be a permanent part of my body since my injury the year before, and that the surgery would not be the piece of cake I’d thought it would be.

The year 2017 had so many lows, but it was rich in its blessings as well.

I had no idea how tangibly I would feel God’s arms surround me in the darkest of nights, when I came home from the hospital when the Mr. was admitted to the ICU, and I didn’t know if I would be getting a call from the nurse to give me news that his condition had worsened.  Although I shed many, many tears that week, I felt God’s peace as I navigated through the what if’s that ran rampant through my mind.

I had no idea that despite my physical challenges, I would complete every single race hosted by my virtual running club, the Hogwarts Running Club, and would also participate in a real-life 5k as well.  God was with me as I put one foot in front of the other as I covered each mile and babied my ankle afterward.

I had no idea how humbled I would become because of the hardships God would allow into my life and how much more empathetic I would become because of those experiences.

I had no idea that I would end the year with such new perspectives – for what’s important and not important – for the amount of pain I might have to face.  It’s funny how many things pale when compared to what I’ve already endured.

I am praying that 2018 will be a year of reprieve from the hard stuff of life.

I don’t expect the year to be completely void of challenges; however, I’m not afraid to ask God to put longer gaps between them so I can catch my breath a bit.

If the year turns out to be another doozy, I can say, with 100% certainty, that I will face the hard times with more strength because of my knowledge that God will be with me guiding me every step of the way.

Happy New Year to all of you!  I pray God’s blessings upon you and those you love.

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