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California – Day 3

After the first two days of adventures, we decided to stay local.  The driving for hours had been taxing on Rooster and N, so we gave them a reprieve.

While they slept in, I got up and worked out, determined to stick to my routine.

Everyone was still sleeping when I got back – probably the only smart ones of the bunch.  Ha!

Since we’d decided to stick close to home, we weren’t in a big hurry to get out and about.

I think that this was the day we ate sushi for lunch.

Later, we ventured out, first to Fleet Feet, a shoe store that I was super excited to visit.

I’d read, in my Hogwarts Running Club’s Facebook group, about the amazing (and free) foot analysis that the store gives each customer.  When I’d researched locations, I’d discovered that there was a store close to the kids, and N was very agreeable to doing this with me.

What they do is have you step on a machine that takes a 3-D scan of your feet.

I wish I’d gotten a picture of the machine.

It took less than a minute.

Then, the gal, who I found out was the store manager, sat down with me and showed me the results on her iPad.

Take a look . . .

Is that not the coolest thing you’ve ever seen?

Not only do you see what your feet look like, top to bottom and side to side, but you get a lot of other information, like the length of each foot, the width of different sections of your foot (this will be helpful for sock knitting), and the amount of arch in your feet.

I’d always known that one foot was bigger than the other, but I’d kind of forgotten that my feet were wide.

The gal suggested that I go up to size 8.5 shoes.  Say what?  I usually wear 8’s, so this was interesting.  She also told me that I needed to buy wide shoes.

Y’all, this is plain old embarrassing.  I grew up in the South and went barefoot from May through August.  I know that’s what made my feet spread out, but I’ve been living with horse blinders on and NOT buying wide shoes.  Guess that’s why I’m having some other issues now.

The gal also told me that . . . get this . . . I have bunions.

Wait, what?

Yeah.  I had no idea what they were except that two people at my school have had surgery for them and have had to be in a boot for their surgeries.

Y’all, I flipping have bunions.




See those knots below my big toes?  I thought those were normal.

They aren’t.

I’ve done some reading about them since, and if you don’t treat them, they will affect your toes and will push them into the other ones, thus disfiguring your feet.


What was also interesting was the view from the top.  Can you see my right ankle and the swelling that’s still there.


The gal looked at my shoes and the inserts I had in them.  She told me that I’d bought super good shoes, and that it was great that I was using my inserts . . . Happy Feet . . . which my first physical therapist had recommended given the pronation in my feet.  Her only suggestion was to get wide shoes the next time I make a purchase.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have a pair of ASICS in my size, wide variety, for me to try on.  I’ll do that the next time I’m at the outlet store near me.

I did wind up buying a new pair of Vionic flip flops.  They were so comfortable, and she gave me a little discount, so there was that.

Oh, and she emailed the link for the scan, so I can have access to it whenever I want.

I highly, highly recommend getting a fitting at this store, if you have one near you.  Some locations have customers run on a treadmill to analyze their gait.  The store I visited was too small to offer this service.

After we left the store, we headed toward Rooster’s base.  N works there too.  I’d told them that I wanted to see where they worked so I could picture it in my mind when we chatted.

Rooster took us the back way – the scenic route – and it did not feel like we were in California.  I could have sworn that we were driving on back roads in Alabama . . . except for the “hills.”

He took us to his squadron, and we got to meet his boss and another guy who happened to be there . . . on a Saturday . . . because the Air Force never sleeps.

We got to see Rooster’s closet of an office – I’m not exaggerating.  We also got to look at the different awards his squadron has won for their skill.  It was an impressive array and made me so proud.

As we drove around base, we got to see, from a distance, the plane that he flies on, and I was struck by its size.  I guess I’d always envisioned the type that had carried us across the country to visit our kids.  We also got to see another BIG plane (the name of it escapes me).

Y’all, I am a student of history and have read a lot about the planes and ships that have shaped our country’s military history.  I was in awe.

N took us to see where she works.  She has the privilege of caring for children who’s parents and grandparents have medical appointments on base.  Each Air Force base provides this service, which is so fabulous given that most people are stationed far from family who could lend a helping hand.  N has a tender heart for children – another thing to love about her.  ❤

We visited the BX and another store in the base’s mall.

I picked up a couple of things . . .

I love this little shot glass . . .

I didn’t take any pictures on the base.

I did take some video of our drive back . . . those country roads called out to me.

Dinner was very chill.  Rooster and N ate leftovers, while the Mr. and I ordered something from a Chinese restaurant.  We took N’s car, and boy was that an adventure.  Ahem.

When we got back, I settled in for some knitting.  Gus was very curious . . .

That ended Day 3.  We had another big adventure planned for the next day, so an easy day had been a MUST!

California – Day 2

Day 2 of our California vacation started with an early-morning workout and a trek on the treadmill.  I never tired of the view . . . talk about motivating!

When I returned to the apartment, everyone was still asleep, which gave me time to shower and dress without hogging the bathroom.

When N woke up and saw what I was wearing (a cute tank top and blue jeans with holes), she strongly urged me to change, explaining that I would be very cold when we got to our destination.

Y’all, can I just be real here?  I like to dress up when we are out and about.  Call me high maintenance.  Whatever.

With that said, Rooster’s girl is super smart, and I trust her judgment.  So, I changed into a long-sleeve shirt and non-holey pants.  I did leave on my Vionic flip flops.  Ha!

Even with the wardrobe change, it wasn’t long before we were out the door for another adventure.  I took my knitting along for the ride.

Our destination?

Take a look at the video below . . .

It was the Golden Gate Bridge!!!!

Y’all, I was so excited!!

The neat thing is that you’ll just be driving along, round the curve, and BAM, it’s just there.

It is so gorgeous; the color specifically chosen to stand out against the landscape (I read this on a billboard you’ll see a photo of in a bit.

You can hear, in the video above, the kids explaining that people actually walk the bridge.  I’d read on a website not to do that, but I think if I ever go back, I wouldn’t mind.  Wouldn’t that make for some great photos – looking up at the architecture?

Rooster found a free place to park, kind of amazing given the high price of everything in California, and as soon as he opened his car door, I was EXTREMELY glad that I’d heeded N’s advice.

The wind was blowing fiercely, which you’ll also notice with my messy hair in the pictures that follow.

It was also f-r-e-e-z-i-n-g.

I had not expected this.  I mean, it was the middle of June . . . in North America.  It had been in the high 70’s the day before.  If I had worn the sundress from the day before, I would have been done for.

We carefully made out way down the street, under a short tunnel, and to the buildings that surround the base of the bridge.

First, a pit stop at the restroom where the line to the ladies area was long.

The area felt a little dirty and very touristy, but hey, the bridge is a landmark that begs the adoration of the masses.

We’d packed leftovers from the day before to eat as a picnic lunch.  Our original intent had been to visit Crissy Field, another popular tourist spot; however, the weather was foggy, overcast, and cold, so we didn’t.  Instead, we headed toward the Roundhouse Cafe.

It reminded me of something you’d see in one of the lands of Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.  It was round and had tall windows with a bar and stools running around it.  There were no “tables” to speak of.  There was also a place to order food, which we didn’t need.

We set ourselves up and ate while enjoying the view.

Y’all, I was so giddy.  I couldn’t believe that I was sitting within throwing distance of the GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE.

Isn’t that crazy?

I saw people from all walks of life walking up and then down the steps.  One gal was a runner . . . wearing a sports bra and capris.  Brrrrr!

I saw ladies wearing heels (heck to the no) and families with young children.

This place truly was a mecca, of sorts.

After we finished eating, we headed out and made our way down to a more scenic area  near the water where we could grab some pictures.

Of course, there was the selfie . . .

And then the selfie with the Mr.

After taking a group selfie, it was time for pictures with the Mr., which Rooster snapped for us.

I took a few pictures of the kids too.  They’re seriously precious, let me tell you.

It was so foggy that I couldn’t see too far out over the water.  Alcatraz was barely visible, but honestly, I wasn’t sure what to look for, so there was that.

I did manage to capture some pretty neat photos of the bridge, enshrouded by clouds.

Doesn’t this look like something you’d see in a movie?

The view was awe-inspiring.  It’s just amazing how much knowledge God has imparted to mankind to build such incredible structures like this bridge.

Before leaving, I wanted another photo.  I think this one will find its way into a frame.

The cold got to us, so we carefully made our way up the steep trail and visited the shop that sits at the base of the bridge.

We made a couple of small purchases.  My favorite was this puzzle, which I put together when we got home.

Look how tiny the pieces are!

I’m in the process of matting it.  I think I’ll mount it to a frame and place it alongside a picture of us as a way to remember that fun adventure.

We headed back “home” after our shopping excursion.

Gus was happy to see us.  I puppy sat while the kids and the Mr. headed to their regular gym to work out.

We took it easy until dinner time, when we headed out to Blaze Pizza, which was having its grand opening down the street from the kids’ apartment.  They were offering each patron a free small pizza.  We couldn’t turn that down!

The line was out the door, but the restaurant had its act together; all employees were on deck and served with a smile.

There was a mishap with my pizza, though.  It made it all the way through the line, but someone dropped it while placing it into the oven.  They had to start from scratch, and it took forever.  Ugh.  I tried to be understanding.  The pizza was worth it!  I love that this place has vegan options!

That pretty much took care of our day, with the exception of the guys watching some baseball and me knitting on the couch until bedtime.  Driving around California is exhausting; it takes a longggggggg time to get places because of the traffic.  I’m not complaining, mind you, because all I had to do was ride.  We were pacing ourselves because we still had several days left in our trip.

California – Day 1

Day 1 technically began when we landed at 12:30am.

Oh, and hello snack machine.  I was s-t-a-r-v-i-n-g.  I discovered this treat while waiting for my luggage.

Enough about that though.

Props to Rooster and N for staying up late to make the hour-long drive to pick us up.  Even though I had not slept in almost twenty-four hours, I was pumped!  If you’re a military mama, you know the joy of seeing your loved one, stationed so far away.

We chatted the entire way back to their apartment, and I made some videos, one of which is below.

We greeted Gus, their dog, when we got in.  He was so excited to see us, despite the late hour.

After chatting a few minutes, we headed to bed.  By then, it was about 2:30am.

Now, I’d packed a lot of stuff, a third of which was workout attire.  I’d been doing Beach Body’s 80 Day Obsession, and I did not want to miss a routine.  I’d installed the Beach Body On Demand app and had downloaded the workouts I’d need while I was away.

Rooster’s apartment complex has a gym, and the kids had told me how to get in.  My plan was to wake up before everyone else, do my thing, and then make it back in time to get going with that day’s adventure.

The gym was amazing!

Look at that view!!

Look at all of that space and those mats!

I don’t use circuit machines, but for anyone who does . . .

I had packed my sliders and resistance loops along with my workout sheets, so I was set.

I loved the free weights.  They were easy to hold on to (not all weights are, y’all).

I had such a great workout!  Look at the picture below and how I’m bending that right leg.  This program has helped me so much with my strength and flexibility!

I got on the treadmill when I finished my workout and put in a couple of miles because I knew that we would be in the car, and my legs were used to moving!

When I got back to the apartment, everyone was awake and waiting for me!  I’d misjudged my time, so I had to hurry and get ready.

Then, we were off for our first adventure.

Now, driving in the wee hours of the morning, it had been dark, so we had not gotten a true look at the land.  Mid-morning, things looked a lot different!

There were BIG hills, and everything was brown.  Rooster explained that things turn green in the winter, when they get the bulk of their rain.  It was not what I expected, that’s for sure.

So, where were we going?

Well, the part of California where the kids live is close to Napa and Sonoma – land of the wine making.  Visiting a vineyard was high on my list.  Rooster’s wife, N, is such an awesome young lady.  She had researched wineries and had talked to friends.  She found the perfect place for us, which I’ll show you in a moment.

Meanwhile, we were driving.  The closer to Napa we got, the more the landscape changed. We passed vineyard after vineyard.  It was amazing!  We also passed a wine train.  I kid you not.  We had looked at those tours, but they were expensive.  Maybe next time.  😀

With all of the chatter in the car, it didn’t seem like it took any time until we arrived at our destination . . .

V. Sattui Winery was beautiful from the road, and even more lovely when we got out of the car.

We walked under this lovely arbor to get to the entrance . . .

We were greeted warmly by employees who explained how to go about with the wine tasting.  First, though, we wanted to do a bit of exploring.  We saw this building (I’m not sure what it’s used for) . . .

There was an old wine cellar that we didn’t go into.

The main attraction was the deli and shop.  That’s where the action was happening.

The cheese department was incredible and made me wish that I wasn’t lactose intolerant.

Rooster and N got some of it before we left.

There was a variety of balsamic vinegars to taste including this passion fruit one, which I am probably going to have to order – it was divine.

N had checked on the food available in the deli to make sure that I would have something to eat (told you that she’s fabulous).  The winery had picnic tables set up outside for people to eat at, and our plan had been to buy lunch and eat there.

Here’s a sample of the menu . . .

Here’s what I wound up getting . . .

Both were delicious; I had some of the anti-pasta leftover, which I ate the next day.  The Kale Salad was good, but I’ve learned that kale and I do not get along, no matter how it’s doctored up.  Just sayin’!

The day could not have been more perfect for visiting wineries.  Look at that sunny sky!  It could have been raining, for all I cared, because I was with my kids.  Nothing could have removed that smile from my face.  ❤

After we packed up our leftovers, we went back into the winery for more fun – shopping and wine tasting!

The way it worked was that for $20, each person could taste up to five different wines.

Rooster’s wife had been advised, by a friend, to find a younger person to help us with this.  Enter Ed, our fabulous guide to all things wine.

We really had no idea where to start, so he asked if we liked sweet or dry.  We preferred sweet, so he started us off with the Off-Dry Riesling, which he said was actually closer to sweet than dry.

I am a HUGE fan of Riesling, so this was exactly what I wanted to hear.  This one was really good.  I do not care for dry wine.  This was perfect – not too sweet and definitely not dry.  Even Rooster enjoyed it, which was interesting because I’d never seen him drink wine before.  Ahhhh . . . the joys of having adult children – responsible adult children, I might add.

The next wine we tried was Gamay Rouge.

It was a little sweeter than the first wine; you could taste the strawberries, cherries, and cranberries used to make it.

Now, the Mr. is not a wine guy.  The SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) he’s on to manage his Crohn’s restricts the types of alcohol he can have.

Ed, being the awesome guide that he was, noticed that the Mr. wasn’t participating and asked if he liked bourbon.  He said that he did, so Ed pulled this out.

That is actually a dessert wine – blended with brandy.  The Mr. really, really liked it.  You should have seen his eyes light up.  I didn’t try it, well just because (although the Mr. said I should because it’s really sweet).

Ed pulled out another bottle of something for the Mr. to try (I can’t remember what it was), but he liked the Madeira better.

Next up for those of us tasting wine was Bacci Rosato.

This is a rose wine with a host of fruits involved in the making.  It was okay – not bad but not my favorite.

The next wine we tried was a Moscato (didn’t take a picture).  It was sweet and very tasty.

Another wine we tried was Muscat (again, no picture).  I think this one was a sparkling wine, so it had some fizz.  Now it was pretty darned good – tasted like Sprite.

The last thing Ed presented us with was a combination of the Moscato and the Gamay Rouge . . .

Y’all, this was dessert in a glass!  It was so delightful and refreshing!

The only left to do when we finished was to decide what to buy.  We were so fortunate because Ed wound up not charging us for the tasting.  We knew that Rooster was going to be free because the winery offers free tastings to those on active duty with the military.  Well, Ed blessed us by comping the entire experience – for all of us!  That left us more money to buy wine!

I knew that I couldn’t get anything home without incurring some breakage, so the only option left was to purchase some for shipping.  The winery required either six or twelve bottle purchases.


I filled out the order form, all the while chalking the purchase up to souvenirs.  Ha!

I also bought N a one of the bottles that she’d enjoyed.

We just received our wine order a couple of days ago – on the Mr.’s birthday – perfect timing since the Madeira was his birthday gift from me (it was pricey, let me tell you).

That’s going to last awhile because I rarely drink wine at home these days – part of my attempt to eat and drink healthier.

After the wine tasting, we loaded up in the car and headed in the direction of home.  We did make a couple of stops first.

We had seen this sign going in, and people had stopped to take pictures, so we made sure to stop and grab our own.

I took one of the four of us, which I won’t post, and then Rooster took a photo of the Mr. and me.

Of course I grabbed a selfie, not noticing, until later, the people behind me (people can be so oblivious sometimes – talking about them, not me).

I’m not sure why, but these railroad tracks caught my attention . . .

Maybe it was the connection between trains and the West.

We made one other stop in downtown Napa.  I’d scouted out yarn stores, and this one was not too far off the beaten path.

Yarns on First is the name of the shop.  It’s not large, but it has a good array of yarns.

I wanted to hurry since this stop was obviously all about me, so I immediately asked the lady inside if she could point me to yarn that had been produced locally.

First up was the Twirl, which I believe is made, from start to finish, by someone local (she even raises the sheep).  I found a shawlette pattern, Oh Helen, on Ravelry that I’m going to use this for.

I also bought this . . .

This yarn will be made into a pair of socks.  Of course.

We walked around a bit in downtown Napa.

Isn’t this mural pretty?

Then, we headed back to the apartment.

To avoid traffic, N navigated Rooster a scenic route home.

There were lots and lots of sharp curves, which Rooster drove around carefully and skillfully.

In fact, I rode in the backseat of the car the entire time we were in California.  I didn’t get carsick one time – a first for me and a tribute to the kids’ excellent driving.

Meanwhile, Chicky sent me this picture of the dogs . . . getting their evening snack.

Yes, they were totally spoiled while we were gone.

Dinner that evening was at a restaurant called BJ’s.  What a fun place; it had a large menu with several dishes that I could eat with my vegan diet.

Gus, Rooster and N’s fur baby, was extremely happy when we got back and settled in for the night.

Y’all, I slept so good that night.  If you’ll remember, we’d gotten in at 12:30, gone to bed at 2:30, and then I’d gotten up around 6.  It had been a wonderfully busy day – the start to a great vacation.

Two Weeks Ago

Two weeks ago, a little something-something began.

But first, my morning walk.

The sunrises I see each time I head out make getting up early . . . during summer break . . . so worth it.

I took a different route because I wanted to add more mileage.  The second half mile was long and boring, although going back home, it was all downhill and not nearly as bad.

I was pleased with the distance I covered . . . the longest during my continued ankle recovery.

It was important that I stick to my routine because it wouldn’t be long until I’d be changing that up.

I’d packed the day before . . . a trip looming on the horizon.

Isn’t it funny how fur babies know when you’re getting ready to leave?  The guilt they impart with their cute faces is always so hard to look at!

Chicky had been spending the summer around these here parts . . . visiting a friend . . . spending time with her grandparents.  She drove over so she could pet / house sit, and she wound up giving us a ride to the airport.

Because we live in Podunk, USA, getting checked in was a breeze.  The only thing left to do was wait.

And take silly selfies to send to Super Sis . . .

And not so-silly selfies with the Mr. to send to the children . . .

We should have been buying food because, as we’d later learn, we would, essentially, get no dinner since our flight was so late.

It wasn’t long before we got boarded and waited to take off.  It was just enough time for another selfie because y’all, I am all about documenting every second of every adventure.

To distract me, I got out my knitting.  I had started a new project a few days before, much to my happiness.  I hadn’t knit much in months!

Of course, our first stop was Atlanta because every flight goes through this metropolis.  I am usually a nervous flyer, but this time, I had a lot more peace, for some reason.  I also had a window seat, and our placement on the plane was perfect for looking at the terrain we were passing over.

We got a little nervous because as we neared Atlanta, the pilot notified us that he would be circling around a few extra times because the stormy weather had delayed other flights from landing.

We had a SMALL time-frame for our connecting flight and watched the minutes tick down.  We finally got on the ground and hopped out of our seats in the hopes that we would deplane quickly.  We apologized to those around us as we explained that we were in a hurry.

The Atlanta airport is HUGE, so we knew that we would have to hustle.  Fortunately, I’d installed the Trippie app (thanks for that tip, Megan).  What a great app too!  It showed our location in the airport and exactly where we needed to go to get on our next flight.

The only caveat was that the Mr. and I had to pee.  Really, really bad.  We were super worried about the time it would take on this pit stop, but when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go.

Fortunately, we were able to hop on the train, which ran every minute and a half and was similar to riding the monorail at Disney.  It was super fast, but we hustled off, past the delightful food courts and restaurants, and to our flight’s waiting area with about fifteen minutes to spare.

We were able to line up first for our assigned boarding section, but then we learned that the flight attendants who would be on our plane had also been delayed by their incoming flight, so we waited.

I sure wish we’d known how long we would have to wait because we could have grabbed food.  By then, it was almost 9pm, and we were STARVING.  We were afraid to leave our station, though, so we stayed put, and it wasn’t long before we were able to board.

During this trip, we were flying with Delta.  I had downloaded the GogoEntertainment app to access in-flight videos, but it turned out that I didn’t need it because each seat had its own screen.

I was also super pleased to discover that I could charge my phone through the screen (something I figured out when I saw someone else do it).  Yay!

Y’all, there were so many options on that screen!  There were television shows, live TV, and recent movies!!!!  I was psyched!

Hello Liam.  You always make my heart go pitter-patter, even during a thriller like The Commuter.

Now, I had made a bit of a bonehead move and left my earbuds in my carry on bag, which I finally got the Mr. to get down from the overhead bin for me.  Unfortunately, the new earbuds for the new iPhone don’t have the correct audio end to plug into devices, so I was screwed.  Well, until the flight attendants passed out free ear buds.  Yay!  Except that mine didn’t work very well.  I guess I could have asked for a different pair.  Hindsight, y’all.  Still, I made do the best I could.

Because it was late, I didn’t want to turn on my light to knit.  I just didn’t want to bother anyone.  During this leg of the journey, there were three seats on our side, and a nice man was sitting beside me (beside the window).  He never said a word to me, but I didn’t want to disturb him.

After my movie, I played a word game.  I finally won a game . . . minutes before we landed.

The view as we neared the airport was breathtaking.

So, are you wondering where we wound up?

Here’s a clue . . .

That was another neat thing we had access to on the screens in front of us – flight information.  I loved playing with the map . . . zooming in . . .

To see that we were within spitting distance of our Rooster and his sweet wife.


When Rooster was here in March, we had compared our calendars and booked our tickets.  I’d been anticipating our visit for three months!!!

I think that I’ll end the post here.  My plan (fingers crossed) is to blog about each day we spent in California, one post each.

It’s Officially Summer!

It’s been a minute, or two or three, since my last post on June 1.

What can I say except that I’ve been in recovery mode.  Teaching is seriously tiring business, y’all.

I’m going to do my best to play catch up, but it’s going to take me about a week and a half of posts to do that.


The last week of school, I’d worked hard to prepare my classroom for the break.  My principal has always been extremely gracious and allowed us to cut out of there when our checklists are done.

When I got to my room on the 4th (Monday), all I had to do was put a few things in my car.  Unfortunately, I’d left my car keys in my classroom and had to walk all the way across campus to retrieve them.  I decided to leave my chair beside my car.  It’s a really comfortable chair that I was afraid would get “borrowed” by someone else, so it needed to go home with me.

We had a quick faculty meeting for some parting words from our principal.  I didn’t eat the cake, but it was a lovely gesture.

Afterwards, I went back to my room for one last walk-through.

Then, it was time to lock the door, turn in my keys, and hightail it out of there.

My face as I got into my car says everything.

I ran home, worked out, and then ran back out to meet a few teachers for lunch . . . the sit down kind where you don’t have to inhale your food.  We went to a new-to-me Thai restaurant.  Tofu Masaman is my jam, y’all.

Then, I headed home and spent time at the pool . . . something I’d been looking forward to for weeks.

I had already decided that I wasn’t going to be a slug and sleep in too late each day.  I’m desperate to maintain my schedule of walking early, before the heat and humidity make it impossible.

Gambit was a little confused when I got back, sat in my chair, and didn’t get up to shower and dress for work.

It didn’t take him too long to adjust, though, and I persisted with my routine.

I love seeing little critters like the one above while I’m out and about.

I packed in a few things the first week of vacation.  Lunch with Jane, the friend I made my first year of teaching, was a priority.

I love her.  So very much.

Check out this sunrise from the 7th . . .

I’m still doing the 80 Day Obsession Beach Body program.  I have been working out after my walks.  Doing things this way (as opposed to doing my workouts in the afternoons, which work forces me to do) has allowed me to have fun the rest of the day.

A must that first week was a trip to the beach with a good friend.

It had been raining every day, so the sunny sky was a treat!

I was a little drained when I got home, as the sun and sand are prone to do, but I got up early and put in my miles the next morning.

I also spent a few hours back at the pool.

It was blissfully quiet – a rare thing that week as all of the kids had been enjoying their free time out there.

Of course, they showed up a couple of hours later.

The first weekend of my break found me here . . . dealing with my front yard, which had been neglected.

But first, my pre-dawn walk . . .

Then, the yard . . .

I’d been walking past that sight during my walks each day and had been despising the eye sore that was my house.  Ugh.

I had not edged in months (sorry, neighbors); I had a hard time finding the edge of the sidewalk.  The grass was so thick that it took several passes with the edger to cut through the overgrown outcroppings.

Sweeping that up was a bear.  I burned MAJOR calories.

Look at all of those clippings!!!

It was worth the effort.  I think my neighbors might start speaking to me again.  😀

I definitely earned my pool time reward.

Thus ended the first week of my break.  To be sure, I did some grocery shopping and cooked. I think I recall doing other housework, but I didn’t take pictures of that stuff.

I tried to pace myself better than I have in the past, when I’ve jumped in and done way too much those first few days and worn myself out.

Can we say yay to summer and self-care?!

Priceless Smiles

I mentioned, in yesterday’s post, that my school had its graduation ceremony on Tuesday, and that I had photos I’d be sharing.

Well, surprise, surprise, surprise, but I’m actually following through on that post.


Y’all, I know that I sound like a broken record sometimes, but seriously, teaching can be so rewarding sometimes.

Graduation is the culmination of everything amazing, not to mention the payoff for endless hours of hard work, for both students and teachers.

I was nervous about the weather that evening because Subtropical Storm Alberto had just passed through the day before, and it had rained ALL morning.  The kids usually sit out on the football field for commencement; however, Plan B was that graduation would take place in the gym if thunderstorms decided to come our way.  That would have left students with two graduation tickets instead of ten, severely limiting the number of family/friends allowed to attend.

I got to the gym, where students were milling around in their caps and gowns.  It was a great chance to speak with them and pose for pictures.

As it got closer to showtime, I stepped outside and walked to the field.  The sky was absolutely glorious – and free of rain.

We teachers milled around at one end of the field while we waited for the graduates to arrive, pageant style.

As we began to walk across the field as the ceremony began, the sky had changed colors. It took my breath away.

My school district just rebuilt our stadium; a large screen now stands at one end of the field. I absolutely loved seeing things up close. This sight made my heart flutter; gratefulness for those serving overwhelmed me.

After listening to various speakers, it was finally time for the main event – the reading of each graduating senior’s name and his/her walk across the stage.

The teacher’s section, off to the side, was in close proximity to the red-clad kiddos, and it was with much affection and joy that I hopped out of my seat to hug the necks of the kids I’d had the pleasure of teaching. Some had graced my classroom two years ago as sophomores, while others had joined me this year as juniors (graduating a year early) and seniors. A few of my sophomores from two years ago were back with me as seniors this year, so we knew each other well.

I snapped a few selfies. They are priceless and speak volumes to the emotions that were running rampant that night.


The young lady in the photo above was a student of mine two years ago . . . a petite, feisty gal who had a strong work ethic that I held in high regard. A couple of weeks ago, during Teacher Appreciation Week, she posted the sweetest tribute to me. A friend saw it (I do not friend students on Facebook) and had tagged me in a comment. I was sitting in my driveway reading it and crying as her words entered my soul – her gratefulness for me a balm to my weary heart.

The student in the photo below was a tenderhearted young lady who had to overcome a lot of obstacles this year to stay the course. She was methodical about her work and quick to share a smile. I adored having her in my class.

The next young lady worked so hard all year. She was uber-quiet and completely focused on her goal of graduating. She went the extra mile with every assignment and worked hard outside of class to improve her reading. One of the high points of my year was giving her the good news that not only did she pass her SAT, but she blew the required score out of the water. Hearing this soft-spoken young lady shout out in exuberant joy while jumping up and down in my class brought me to tears. I know, from experience, how meaningful it is when you have to work especially hard for something.

The next young lady kept things very real in my class.  She was sassy to the core, but she was a mature kind of sassy.  She knew the line she couldn’t cross and often kept other students in check.  She was fiercely independent and worked long hours at a job outside of school.  I remember when she took the December ACT.  Many of my students had signed up for that test (it was another pathway toward graduation), and I’d surprised my students by showing up at the test site.  As I’d handed out pencils, mints, and other snacks, I’d spoken words of encouragement.  This gal’s surprise that I would show up, on a Saturday (i.e. my day off) spoke volumes and cemented a trust that had been formative at that point.

She had covered her eyes and begged me not to look when we’d signed onto her account to check her scores two weeks later.  Truth be told, I had already known that she’d passed, but she was scared to death.  Her shock and joy were a sight to behold.  She was extremely emotional as she prepared to walk across the stage, just moments after we snapped this photo.

I’ll never forget the young man in my final photo.  I remember the first time he walked into my classroom.  For some reason, I think he came a day or two after school started, and I knew, from the way other students greeted him, that he was popular.  I also spied a mischievous glint in his eye.  Oh yeah, he’d been a character his first three years of high school, or so I hear.  😉

This young man surprised me though.  He was always respectful and heeded my requests to stop talking and get back on task.  He never spoke a cross word.  It was incredibly satisfying when we learned that he had passed his reading exam, although he was sad when his schedule was changed since he no longer needed my class.  Every single time he walked past my room between classes, he spoke to me with a smile on his face.  It was with much joy that we hugged one another as he prepared to accept his diploma.

Y’all, these are the smiles of students who achieved the goals they set for themselves the first day they walked into my room.

I pray that as they encounter curve balls during their lives, they’ll remember the obstacles they overcame early on.

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