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Springing to My Feet for the Hodgepodge

Hello everyone. It’s Wednesday, which means that it’s time for another round of the Hodgepodge. Joyce has cooked up some fun ones for us, so let’s jump in. Post your answers on your own blog and link up with Joyce here.

Oh, and thank you for visiting today!

1. Has spring sprung in your part of the world? How can you tell? Did March come in like a lion where you live? Going out like a lamb or something more ferocious?

I live in the Florida Panhandle, so spring has definitely sprung! it always amazes me how quickly we go from frigid 50-degree weather to blistering 80-degree temperatures. Talk about going out like a lamb!

Here’s a sign that spring is doing its thing . . . the revival of one of my plants.

I’m really enjoying watching it come back to life.

2. The last thing that caused you to spring to your feet?

Yesterday morning, I was out on my back porch and minutes into my first Zoom meeting of the day with my students when all of a sudden, my sprinklers came on. I figured I’d be okay, aside from the noise, but then I noticed that the sprinkler closest to my porch was actually spraying into the area where I was sitting. I had to grab my laptop and paperwork from my table and run inside.

I need to go back, at some point, and adjust that sprinkler.

3. Do you have a spring clean to-do list? What’s one chore on the list you’ve already managed to accomplish? What spring clean chore do you most dread?

This question made me chuckle because I don’t do spring cleaning. I clean when and what I can, and right now, that’s not much.

Now, I will say that the Mr. and I have already been cleaning out closets and cabinets in anticipation of the repair work that will need to be done in our house – repairs from Hurricane Michael.

I’ve also been selling stuff on Facebook Marketplace, so my house is a disaster. I’m choosing to turn a blind eye for now.

4. Tell us something you’ve learned about yourself or the wider world as a result of social distancing/the virus crisis.

Gosh. There are so many lessons I’m learning through this pandemic.

I’m learning that I can make do on much less than what I thought.

I’m learning just how much stuff I have wasted over the years and how rewarding it is to find ways to make things stretch.

I have learned that it takes much less toilet paper to get the job done than one thought before this pandemic made the good stuff so hard to find.

5. Something you love that’s the color pink?

I am having a hard time with this question. I guess I’d have to say that I like certain fingernail polish colors that are pink.

Baby Pink

6. My Random Thought

I am on Day 3 of online teaching, and I don’t mind admitting that I am slap worn out.

My end-of-the-day face

Monday, I got up early, put on makeup, and sort-of fixed my hair because I had an online training to attend.

After my training, I spent at least three hours on the phone with students and parents.

In between, I was averaging between 25-30 emails an hour.

Yesterday, I hosted five or six Zoom meetings with my students to give them an overview of class and how their online instruction would proceed.

It was great to see their faces. In fact, at one point, I had about fifteen kids in one meeting, and it was chaotic and noisy, much like class had been some days.

It was wonderful.

Many students expressed the wish to return to school. They are overwhelmed with the magnitude of actually having to manage their education from afar.

Teachers are feeling that way too.

We know, though, that we will adjust. I’m sure that give or take a week, we’ll have our new routines figured out and will be able to breath a little easier each day.

Right now, it feels like we are running through our days at a full-out sprint. We are ready for the foot to come off of the accelerator as we ease our way back into the slow lane.

Five Minute Friday

I saw Joyce’s newest post and the mention of the Five Minute Friday linkup, and I thought it might be fun to play along.

adjust

Disclaimer: I know it’s Saturday, but y’all my life has been nutso this week, and this is pretty much the first chance I’ve had when I’m pure and out exhausted and can sit and think of stuff besides all things teaching, which we are officially resuming in these here parts on Monday – via online means, of course.

I’ve never participated in this linkup before, so I’m a little nervous. I am a wordy sort of girl who takes loads and loads of time to write. However, I’ve had my students do timed free-writes before, so now the shoe will be on the other foot.

And I’m setting my timer NOW.

So, here I am, and today’s word is adjust.

This is a word that does not often sit well with me. I am, after all, a self-ascribed overachieving control freak. The thought of having to adjust doesn’t usually sit well with me.

The Lord is probably laughing right now because adjust is exactly what I’ve had to learn to do over the past year and a half.

In October 2018, I had to adjust, in more ways than one, after Hurricane Michael hit my beautiful corner of the world.

Everything was closed, including schools. We were out a month, and when we returned, we had to meet in a middle school down the road from our high school campus. Talk about adjusting! Our classrooms were smaller, and our schedules went from a whole day to half of that since we had to share the campus with the actual middle school teachers and kids who were based there.

Then, two months later, we adjusted again when we were able to return to our campus; but there were even more changes. Three-quarters of our teachers were housed in portables a half mile away. Nearly everyone was displaced.

So, adjust is something I’m learning to do – especially with this pandemic we are living through.

My schedule has completely changed; I’ll be teaching remotely beginning on Monday.

Many of my lesson plans went out the window. I’ll be facilitating an online program now.

And y’all, my timer just went off, but I need one more minute to close this because this post just cannot end here.

Told you I was wordy!

Adjust doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It is, as I’ve recently discovered, the springboard to the next thing coming down the road, which God is preparing in advance for all of us, if we’d just take the time to recognize His hand in our current circumstances.

The Hodgepodge is Back!

From this Side of the Pond

Y’all, I am so excited that Joyce has revived her weekly Hodgepodge! One of the blessings that the COVID19 quarantine has given me is the free time I needed to resurrect my own languishing blog. I’m sure you understand how the minutia of life can bog us down and prevent us from doing some (ahem) of the things we want to do.

Anyhoo, let’s move on . . .

If you’re not familiar with how this works, what you do is copy the questions, paste them on your own blog, answer the questions (on your blog), and then post your link at the end of Joyce’s post. The best part is visiting other people to see how they answered. I’ve made some great blogging friends this way.

So, let’s get to my answers.

1. Howdy Hodgepodgers. It’s kind of fun to be back, isn’t it?  Last time we met was September, 2018. Tell me something big-important-happy-or sad that’s happened in your life since that date. Just one thing. We don’t know how long this current isolation situation is going to last and we might need to dole out our news bit by bit.

Gosh, since many of you already know that my town got hit by Hurricane Michael on October 10, 2018, let me share a different BIG happening.

My Chicky got engaged right before New Year’s – December 30, 2019, to be exact.

Her guy, let’s call him B, called the Mr. a few days beforehand and asked his permission.

Be still my heart!

But, true to the male species type, the Mr. didn’t think to ask B when he planned on popping the question, so we sat on the edge of our seats for DAYS waiting.

We were actually grocery shopping when Chicky called, and I knew this was what she was going to tell us.

Imagine being in the produce aisle, talking to someone you’ve run into, and quickly explaining that your daughter is calling to tell you she’s engaged, and you need to run.

Is she not the cutest thing?

2. Might as well get this out of the way early on…COVID-19. On a scale of 1-5 how serious are you about keeping your distance? Explain. fyi-I didn’t create the scale but have seen it several places online. Also fyi-we won’t only have virus related questions each week, but for this first one it feels right.

1-Not at all, living normally 2-Cautious but still going out 3-Going out as needed, mostly home or working from home, still seeing friends/family 4-Extremely limited, only going out when unavoidable, minimal contact with people 5-Full lockdown, no one in or out

I’d say that we are at a 4 right now. I have run a few errands – mostly last week. We were out of town visiting family when things got super bad, so when we got home, I had to have groceries. Although I used Publix’s delivery option the first week, I still found myself in need of items, so I went right when the store opened a few days after my delivery, scored toilet paper as I walked in, and did my shopping. It was unnerving, let me tell you.

Publix delivery for the win!

On Monday, I ran to my school to grab some much-needed instructional material and a few other items like my essential oils diffusers. Even then, I saw two people, said hello from a distance, and carried on. Schools in the state of Florida are “out” until April 15th . . . for now. Teaching is supposed to resume on the 30th though.

The Mr. has had to go by his office to grab a few things to work from home, but he’s pretty much staying home as much as he can. He has Crohn’s disease, so his immune system is compromised, and he can’t afford to get sick.

3. Raise your hand if you think you might run out of steam in the cooking department before it’s all said and done? What’s something delcious you’ve cooked or eaten in your own kitchen in the past week?

I actually only cook a couple of times a week, so I’m not finding myself doing more than usual. Thankfully, most restaurants are offering curbside service, which I took advantage of on Saturday when I saw that one of my favorite places was offering margaritas to-go. Ahem.

4. What’s a television show or movie you’ve seen recently (it could be an oldie) that you really liked?

I finished watching The Circle on Netflix.

The Circle on Netflix

I’d started this series a few weeks back but stopped because some of it made me cringe a little. I wound up going back to it and am so glad I did. It’s about a group of people who use a social media forum called The Circle to communicate with each other. They aren’t allowed to see each other real-time but can only chat via a Facebook-like app. This allows some of them to misrepresent themselves, which others either suspect or don’t know at all. It’s a competition where they essentially vote each other off until there’s one winner.

I found it fascinating and so relateable given how we use social media today.

5. Share something funny you’ve seen or heard this week.

Oh gosh, y’all. I know that this virus is serious, and trust me when I say that I do not think it’s a laughing matter. My heart hurts for those who have lost loved ones or are either sick themselves or are watching those they care about fight it. I’m also stressed out, majorly, for those providing care to the sick. It’s so overwhelming.

With that said, moments of humor are good for the soul. As a teacher, I have especially enjoyed all of the homeschooling/parent/teacher memes and videos. I hope that parents will give teachers a little more credit now that they’re getting to facilitate their own children’s education.

This video got me though. All of it is TRUE! Ha!

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Can we just talk about all of the fur baby love that’s happening right now?

Raise your hand if your baby is as happy as mine now that they’re living neverending weekends?

I watched a news segment Monday evening that talked about how pet adoption numbers have gone up exponentially during this crisis. As the mama of four adopted fur babies (well, Gambit actually adopted us), my heart soared when I saw that.

Hope you guys are practicing safe physical distancing protocols (I like this term better than social distancing) from your non-furry friends.

Lemonade from Lemons

Well hello there! Did you miss me?

I came to my blog this morning thinking that I’d last posted during Christmas.

Shock of all shocks – it’s been since August 17th!

What the heck?

All I can say is that this school year was nuts BEFORE the virus hit.

I kept wanting to write – had a need to write – but life, y’all.

Just so much life.

Meanwhile, my friends, Rebecca and Jo, kept on keeeping on – one a bit more regularly than the other – but both were still writing.

My inspirations.

So today is happening.

In case you don’t know me, I am a high school English and Reading teacher in Florida. We are currently on Spring Break. Shortly after we left school on Friday, we got the news that school would be out the week after the break. A few days later, we learned that we will be out until April 15th. Who knows. The virus – this world – so crazy.

You might remember that my sweet little town was hit by Hurricane Michael in 2018. The damage that Cat 5 hurricane did to us had us living in a very surreal world for months and months. We woke up every single day asking ourselves if the whole thing was a dream.

Well, folks, here we go again.

Since I haven’t woken from that dream yet, I am starting to settle into a routine.

I decided to make a list of some things I wanted to do while social distancing. Top of the list was blogging.

So here we are!

I am trying to make lemonade from lemons.

This is going to involve more walking and blogging (not at the same time), a lot of knitting, a little bit of gardening, some reading, cooking, and Netflixing (because we’ve made that a word).

I’m also working on my lesson plans. We had to write a week’s worth of virtual lesson plans in case the unthinkable happened.

Well, it did, so we will teach those lessons. In my case, I’m tweaking what I’d planned for my English 4 classes. I’m also learning how to use Zoom, have set up my Google Classroom, and am working on adding some videos to my YouTube channel. Kids can’t object too much if they’re getting to watch YouTube, right?

I can’t help but be struck with the irony of this entire situation. We always say that we want more time to do things. Well, folks, be careful what you wish for. We have that in abundance now. The caveat is that we have to do them without many people, which, truth be told, isn’t all that bad to my introverted self. However, not being able to go to the store without the concern of contracting the virus is very disconcerting, to say the least.

I think that, besides social distancing, our attitudes are going to determine how we come out on the other side.

We can either chew on the lemons we’ve been given, pursing our lips in the process, or juice the heck out of those suckers, add some sugar, and savor the sweet taste.

Yes, life certainly hasn’t served up the most palatable of dishes; however, it’s our choice how we take in what we’ve been given.

So, let’s chat! What are some things you haven’t had time for in recent days, weeks, or months that you’re going to work on now? How are you making lemonade from lemons?

Never Lose Hope

My posts, of late, have been rather dreary.

I do apologize for that, but I’m definitely one who wears her feelings on her sleeve – or rather on my blog. I’ve never been accused of being fake, that’s for sure.

And then came Sunday . . . Easter Sunday . . . the first since October 10th when things went so very sideways (literally).

Just as Jesus rose from the dead on that very first Easter, so has hope been renewed in my own heart.

My church had been making plans for this holy day for weeks. We had been praying for good weather because, for the first time since December, we’d be having our service back in our original church parking lot.

Yesterday, I saw this picture posted on Facebook . . .

That’s an aerial view of my church. I wasn’t exaggerating when I’d previously written about its destruction. It still takes my breath away.

What can also be seen in the photo, near the top, is a tent, chairs, and what looks like a stage.

There had been many people working around the clock to ensure that we had everything we needed and many donations pouring in to help church leaders bring to fruition the plans that God had laid upon their hearts.

When I saw this picture, hope stirred within me.

Seeing, from ground level as we arrived this morning, what I’d only viewed online was something else altogether.

What you can’t see from the above picture are the other tents – a large one set up with tables and another set up with other things. There was a welcome center and tables to get coffee, water, and snacks.

There were people on media stands ready to film our service. I suspect that there was a soundboard and light thingamabob too because what occurred during the next hour resembled a concert of the most professional kind.

One of our worship leaders was singing as people arrived. I could listen to him all day; he has an incredible voice.

I posted this picture on Instagram – hence the location tag and text.

The Mr. and I settled in . . .

While behind us sat our hurricane-ravaged church building bearing witness to the fact that God’s Spirit cannot be contained within man-made structures . . .

What followed was one of the most incredibly inspiring services I’ve ever attended.

The song lyrics made me tear up; my sunglasses hid my red-rimmed eyes.

Against the backdrop of broken trees, we poured out our hearts to the One who has promised to make all things new, beginning with the sacrificial gift of His Son that day so many years ago.

My pastor’s sermon was a call to view our circumstances in a positive light – as the force to affect real change. He called for our county to stand out as different because of what we had endured.

And so, although I’ve been incredibly overwhelmed by a deep sense of frustration lately, the gathering of like-minded people, the songs we sang, the message preached – well, God used all of these things to buoy my spirit.

Rather than merely repairing what Hurricane Michael broke so badly, God will remake all of it . . . the physical and the emotional.

At the conclusion of the service, each family was encouraged to select a flower pot to take home and plant.

Unsurprisingly, the Mr. and I selected orange flowers.

They’ll be a bright spot in my front flower bed and a reminder of one of the most special Easter services I’ve ever experienced – of the hope God placed in my heart – of the reminder that though many have forgotten about us, He has not.

Happy Easter to all of you. I pray that you, too, will experience God’s personal touch in your lives today and that, if you don’t know Him, that you will seek Him out and discover, personally, a saving knowledge of His Son, Jesus.

We Told You So

191 days ago, Hurricane Michael hit my town and cut a viscous path through a number of other counties as it made its way north before finally expending its energy.

“Experts” labeled it as a strong Cat 4 storm . . . one mile shy of a Cat 5.

We knew, immediately, from the horrendous damage left behind, that these “experts” were wrong.

It was a Cat 5 through and through.

Well, it’s taken a minute or two, but today, we received official word that the storm has been reclassified as that of Cat 5 status.

I echo what every other hurricane victim is saying right now: “We told you so.”

#sorrynotsorry

The Mr. texted the news to me first thing this morning; he knew that I was doing all of the teaching things and didn’t have time to follow the latest updates.

How did I feel when I read his words?

It was a mixture of emotions . . .

Vindication for the insistence that I and everyone else I know had been putting forth about how horrible the recovery has been.

Anger at the powers-that-be for visiting my city, getting my hopes up by promising that they would help my community rebuild, and then failing to pass a funding bill to pay for recovery efforts.

Sadness at the reminder of what existed before the storm and what was left behind.

That’s the street that I drive onto every time I leave my neighborhood – a street I have frequently run up and down during my virtual races – a street that took my breath away for its beauty before the storm and now takes my breath away because it’s so shockingly devoid of standing trees.

Disappointment in a political system that claims it is for the people.

Y’all, it’s not.

It’s not for the everyday people in itsy bitsy towns struggling to survive every day.

History has proven that unless a storm hits a metropolitan area with a lot of clout, it doesn’t get the attention it so desperately needs.

This was a sign that was held up during a rally in our state capital this week. We are up to 191 days. And counting.

It’s very hard to believe in our “esteemed” political process when it fails to support the very people who elected those sitting in the drivers seat

I watched one of the national news broadcasts tonight (NBC, I’m calling you out) and was SUPREMELY saddened when I saw not one story about the change in the storm’s status.

Not one, y’all.

What the hell?

Sorry for my Redneck French.

But seriously though.

Oh, but I got to see a story about vaping.

It moved me to tears.

#notreally

I am so thankful that Hurricane Michael will forever sit in the history books as only the fourth to make landfall as a Cat 5 storm. It deserves its place for all of the havoc it has wreaked on our lives.

Today’s announcement, though, has taken us back, emotionally, to the early days of recovery. During my planning period, while I was in another room retrieving makeup tests that some of my students had taken, I had a long conversation with two other school employees. The topic: our experiences during and immediately after the storm.

We are scarred; we are battle-weary; we are stressed.

The government and media’s lack of attention continues to exasperate us.

The refusal by the Florida Department of Education to answer our requests to waive state test scores this year is pissing us off.

Thanks for putting the kids first.

#insertsarcasm

I am sorry for sounding so negative, but the public deserves to know what we are really going through since the media and political people have seen fit to sweep things under the rug.

Would you like to help? Please contact Florida’s governor and state representatives, @ them and President Trump on social media, and reach out to them any other way you can.

A big group of local teachers, students, and volunteers (I see you, Michael’s Angels) visited Tallahassee this week to make their voices heard. It was awe-inspiring to watch teenagers speak up for their education and the educators who will probably lose their jobs because of the lack of funding post-storm.

We face YEARS of recovery, and it will require many, many, many millions of dollars to do so. We cannot do this on our own. We need our country to stand beside us in deed rather than in word.

It never really feels good to say, “I told you so.” It means that someone, somewhere, did a wrong that needs to be fixed.

This is one HECK of a wrong.

It needs to be fixed.

It’s never too late.

The Unfinished Game

I am of the belief that anyone who goes through a natural disaster should be given at least a one-year reprieve from having to endure more of the hard stuff of life.

Can I hear an amen?

I guess it’s probably a good thing that I’m not in charge because that would involve a lot of people since this has been one heck of a year for many of us – what with Hurricane Michael in October, the fires in California a few months later, and the horrific tornado that ripped through Alabama most recently.

Seriously though.

Yesterday evening, my community’s heart was ripped open when we learned of the unexpected passing of a beloved doctor.

Image from WJHG.com

He was also a friend of mine – our lives first intersecting many years ago when the Mr. and I moved our family to Lynn Haven and our families’ daughters played on the same travel soccer team. The girls were the same age and wound up finishing middle and high school together.

I’m so thankful for the evolution of the smartphone. Facebook helped us stay connected after our kiddos went to college. Words with Friends was the main way we communicated, though. I could always count on him to give me a run for my money. Well, okay. If I’m being honest, he usually beat me pretty soundly. I guess you have to be kind of smart to be an OB/GYN.

One of the first things I always do when I get home from school is check on my WWF games, add my own words, and then wait for my friends to take their turns.

Although Mike was a busy doctor, he never left me hanging for long.

Except for yesterday, when I never got a response.

It was a few hours after I played my word when I heard the devastating news.

The accolades immediately began flooding his Facebook page; he was so beloved – so skilled at his specialty – so thorough in his care – so personable – so kind.

I don’t believe that I ever heard him yell a single word at the many, many soccer games we watched together. He was a calm presence on the sidelines, quietly cheering on the girls, seemingly immune to the nerve-wracking close calls we frequently endured.

I’m going to have a bit of a cry when our Words with Friends game times itself out. I refuse to end it prematurely.

Though our game will go unfinished and will eventually clear from my game history, his memory will live on.

Mamas and daddys will remember him as they watch their children grow into toddlers, teenagers, and adults – children he helped bring into the world.

Friends like me will remember close (and not-so-close) word games, gentle smiles, and photos of his recent fishing adventures.

His family will remember sweet times spent together at their large get-togethers. I know that his absence will be difficult in the coming days and months.

Please pray for Mike’s family and our community as, once again, we have been dealt another rough blow.

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