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Nine Years Ago

Nine years ago, today, I began my blogging journey.

You can read that first post here.

Chicky was playing in a soccer tournament in San Diego.  That was a fun trip, even if I was in the middle of my return back to college and had two big papers to write during our trip.

During these nine years of blogging, I’ve published almost 2,300 posts!

I’ve been a pretty regular blogger except for the last year or two.

I have a couple of blog friends who have been with me from the get-go.  Rebecca was the first blogger I connected with, and we’ve been friends from the beginning.

I’ve been friends with Mary for awhile as well, and we actually got to meet a few years ago.  We are hoping to get together when she comes to Podunk, USA during Christmas!

My blog is the place where I chronicled my children’s growing up years.  So many of those years were spent on the road…visiting one soccer field after another.

Over the years, we’ve had a few pets pass away, and we’ve acquired other furry friends.

It’s hard to believe that empty nesting wasn’t even something on my radar when I began blogging.  Now, it’s my station in life.  In fact, we’ll have an “official” celebration in a month when Rooster and N say “I Do” for the second time…only this time extended family and friends will be present.

Over the years, my blog has detailed joys and tears, separations and reunions.

You know.  Life.

I’ve shared traveling adventures (Alaska, the Caribbean, Disney, and Universal) and shopping forays (hello knitting stores in Las Vegas).

And who can forget my recent stories about fitness and vegan baking?

I feel as though this blog is one of my children.

I’ve nurtured it and, in the craziness of life, not paid as much attention to it as I should have.

Maybe it’s more like a fine wine that’s just getting better as it ages.

Yes, I think I like this analogy much better.

heehee

Gosh, y’all, but I’m almost getting emotional as I reminisce.

As shy as I am in-person, I don’t mind sharing things here.

Although I’m nervous about being rejected by “real” people, I don’t have that fear here.

I tell things like they are, hopefully in a way that others find entertaining.

I’m real, not rich monetarily, and…well…just me.

If you ever meet me IRL after reading my blog, I think you’ll find that to be true.

If you’re still reading my blog after all these years, I offer my sincerest thank you for sticking it out.

If you’re new, then I welcome you with open arms and hope you’ll settle in for awhile.

I’m like the weather in Florida.  If you don’t like something, chances are high that I’ll give you something totally different the next day.

Cheers to a great nine years, and here’s to a fantastic 10th!

A Student Revisits Her Blog

When you teach, you often wonder how much of an impact you are really having on your students…how permanent the impressions are that you leave.

Well, last night, I got a shock when Google Reader pulled up a new post by one of the students I had the honor of teaching last year.

You might remember MartyTheSmarty.

Oh yes, this was one of my most talented writers.  Her gift for words (both oral and written) were far advanced for her age.

She had stopped blogging as soon as the school year ended, and I’ll admit that I was disappointed.  Of all the people to blog, I figured it would be her.

Of course, she is a senior this year and carrying a challenging course load.  Her goal is to become a doctor, and she has the brains and focus to do so.

Still, she was a student I’d connected with immediately, and I’d missed her.

The link above will take you to her post.  Please take a moment to visit her and, if led, leave her a comment.

I promise that you won’t regret the time you spend over there.  Her humor will leave you chuckling, and her honest self-assessment will impress you.

This girl is going places.

I don’t really know if I’ve left lasting impressions, but this young lady certainly left one on me.  A part of my heart belongs to this fine young lady, and I cannot wait to see what amazing things she accomplishes in the future.

Happy 4th Blogiversary to Me!

Ok…so I already posted once today, but for some reason, the date that I saw as I uploaded my post gave me pause.

It seemed familiar to me, so I checked back.

Four years ago today, I wrote my first post.  You can read it here.

It was pretty lame, if I say so myself.

At the time, I was in San Diego for a soccer tournament.

I was also very stressed because I was working my way through Troy University’s online degree program, and I had lots of papers to write.

I spent Thanksgiving day holed up in the hotel room writing those papers.

Why did I decide to create a blog in the middle of my chaos-of-a-life?

I don’t know.

I think I needed an outlet.

Poor Super Sis.

Her ears needed a break.

Oh, she never complained, but I know myself all too well.

I’m long-winded.

I think that people avoid me sometimes because I cannot seem to answer questions with simple answers.

So, my blog was born.

Here are some interesting stats:

Not counting this entry, I’ve written 1,250 posts.

I’ve received 3,560 comments.

DQ, a friend from KnittingHelp, was the first person (other than indiscriminate spammers) to comment, and I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to discover that someone was actually reading what I wrote!

Rebecca first commented in August 2008, and she and I quickly developed a bloggy friendship.  In fact, I think that her’s was the first blog I began reading and commenting on regularly.  It didn’t take me long to discover a soul sister in this amazing young woman, and I know that if we lived in the same city, we would be at each other’s houses all the time laughing it up or yelling at Dancing With the Stars and Big Brother.

Over the years, I’ve “met” quite a few other amazing bloggers.  Sometimes, I’ve connected with them through comments they’ve made on other blogs.  Other times, they’ve somehow found my blog, started commenting frequently, and the friendships grew.

April is one such friend.  She is such a woman of God.  What initially connected me to her was our shared experiences of our daughters’ sports-related college recruiting.  As I began reading her blog regularly, I sensed that this woman had a deep, deep love for her family.  And they love her back, unconditionally.  She’s an inspiration to me.

Mary is another friend I met.  Though she has three boys, our love for soccer and band quickly drew us together.  Plus, we’re both in the field of education.  I was fortunate to meet Mary when she made a special trip down to Podunk, USA.  She’s a hoot, let me tell you.  I love her sense of humor.  What a wonderful lady!

This four-year blogging journey has seen its ups and downs.

Ups include my graduation, finally, from college.  I’ve written about Chicky and Rooster’s high school days, Chicky’s soccer adventures, both high school and travel, and her college adventures.  You’ve read how Rooster’s foray into band converted me from a soccer mom to a band mom.  Childrearing has never left me wordless, and there are still plenty of stories brewing in my head.  😀

I’ve written about my new career…teaching…and the ups and downs that have gone along with that.

I’ve been very open about my love for God and appreciation for Jesus’s sacrifice for me.  Such writings have gotten me into hot water in my personal life, but so be it.

Four years might not seem like forever, but when I look back over my 1000+ posts, I realize that it really is a long time.

It sometimes amazes me to go back and read through what I’ve “penned.”

There have been so many changes in my life, both personally and professionally.

I’m so grateful that I’ve shared what I’ve shared, no matter what others may have thought along the way.

I have no regrets except that sometimes I still hold back.

There’s still a lot of stuff I keep bottled up.

Some of that will stay that way…some stories unwritten.

You can be assured, though, that plenty more will be forthcoming.

Thanks for traveling this journey with me.

People always ask me, “Why in the world would you blog?  Why would you want to put all of that stuff out there?”

Besides having this incredible need to pour out much of my soul somewhere, I also know that I, myself, have drawn comfort from others’ experiences.  I can be a solitary figure.  Just knowing that someone else has gone through something similar to me, though that person may not know it, inspires me to share my own thoughts, concerns, and sometimes just blah blah, for lack of a better term.

Quite honestly, though, I never started this blog for anyone other than myself.  The mere fact that others do read it and connect with it and, thus, me, is humbling and fascinating.

So, with all of that said (I did say that I’m long-winded), here’s to four years of blogging at 1am, crying over my keyboard often during those posts, and, quite simply, putting most of it “out there.”

Thanks for being a sounding board, and thanks for your words of encouragement.  It’s nice knowing I’m not alone.

THAT’s the heart of blogging!

1001

Oh.

My.

Word.

I was checking out my blog stats this morning, and I saw the following number: 1000

Folks…that means that this is post #1001…

I am shocked beyond belief.

How in the world have I found enough to say in 1001 different ways?

I mean…I always knew I had the propensity for talking a lot.  That is, after all, one reason why I decided to become a blogger.

But still.

Can you imagine how many words I’ve actually typed/deleted/retyped?

It is quite astounding.

I am almost at a loss for words.

(Almost, but not quite)

AuburnChick Meets a Bloggy Friend

Blogging has opened up a whole new world for me.   Because I tend to be a bit of a loner, I don’t have a lot of IRL (in real life) friends.  I don’t quite know why.  I think part of the reason is that I feel very shy and insecure when talking to people.

BUT, put me on the internet, and my inner Nathalie comes out.  I express myself better in the written form, and there’s also a little button called “backspace” that allows me to delete the things I don’t want to say.

My bloggy world has grown over the years, and I have met a few people whose friendships have crossed the border of Blog World to Facebook World.  If you are one of my students reading this, please take heed that said friendships have been nurtured for months on end before I have opened myself up to real-world connections.

Anyhoo…

This week, one of my blog-Facebook friendships opened up further.

I got to meet a friend in person…face-to-face!!

A couple of weeks ago, Mary sent me an email letting me know that she would be in my neck of the woods after Christmas.

She asked if I would like to meet.

I didn’t even have to think about it.  I answered immediately with a resounding YES!

We met at a local shopping mall…the newest and nicest one near me.

We had agreed to meet at Starbucks, and when I approached, I saw her sitting outside.  She was easy to spot because, unlike me, she posts pictures of herself on her blog.  Yay for that!

We greeted each other with a hug, and she introduced me to her husband and MS (middle son).  We sat down and talked as if this was something we regularly do.

It wasn’t long before YS (youngest son) and FEZ (foreign exchange student) walked up.  They had been strolling around the outdoor mall.

After a while, Chicky and Guy Friend, who had been out shopping, stopped by.  After they left, Mary’s guys left, and we were left alone to chat some more.

I’m telling you…it was so much fun!  We had immediately been drawn to each others’ blogs because we share a lot of common interests…soccer, SEC football, education, and band.

She has a gentle southern accent that warmed my heart.  As an Alabama girl who lost her own accent during my years of living in Miami, when I hear the southern twang, I am taken home again.

We finally went our separate ways, hugging as we parted.

I left with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.  God is so good.  He uses every avenue to connect people.  It is another reason why I am in awe of Him.

And to Mary I want to say that it was such a pleasure meeting you!  I just know that if we lived closer to each other, we would meet up regularly at Starbucks, enjoy a cup of brew (or hot chocolate, in my case) and while the hours away.  You are a dear friend to me, and I am so thankful that your family went out of its way to meet little ole me.  Hugs, my Friend!

Happy 3rd Blogiversary to Me!

Three years ago today, I created my blog.

You can read my first post here.

Why did I start blogging?

Well, it was all because of a new web site called Ravelry.

If you are not a knitter or crocheter, you will have no idea what I’m talking about.

Ravelry is a site that was created so that yarnaholics could stay in contact with one another, search for patterns, and, in general, feed the passion for all things yarn.

On November 20, 2007, my official Ravelry “invite” arrived in my email.  See, back in those days, the web site was backlogged with requests, and you had to wait a couple of weeks to be set up in the system.

I had flown, with the family, to San Diego to watch Chicky play in a soccer tournament.  Although I had massive amounts of college work, I allowed myself small breaks.

Hence my decision to finally check out the Ravelry site I’d heard so much about.

In the process of customizing my profile, I saw a blank space for a blog.

“What’s this?” I asked myself.

I decided to investigate further.

One thing led to another, and you know me and technology.  We go together like chocolate and my mouth.

I spontaneously decided to create a blog.

I quickly did some research and decided to use WordPress.

For a long time, I had nursed a desire to write.  I had tried writing in a journal, but it just wasn’t my forte.  There was something about handwriting my words that just did not please me.

I think the problem is that my fingers could not keep up with the words in my head.

If you’ve ever met me in person, you know that I speak rapid-fire, much like my mom.

My brain works that way as well (unless it’s trying to compute figures).

Typing my thoughts sounded like something right up my alley.

I always had a lot to say.  My poor sister…I often felt bad for her…having to listen as I droned on and on about whatever it was that was currently on my mind.

Blogging provided a much-needed outlet for all of the stuff I had swirling in my head.

My blog has become a diary of sorts.

Sure, it’s open for all to read, but in some weird way, I feel a lot more comfortable confiding my thoughts in this medium.

As I write, I am forced to put into words the very emotions that, at times, threaten to overwhelm me.

Again, if you know me in person, you understand exactly what I mean.

There’s a lot going on inside of me, and I can’t hide it.  I’m not “emo” (as teenagers like to call it).  I am passionate.  I feel things very deeply.

The problem is that when I try to express myself verbally, my words often get jumbled together and wind up sounding incoherent.  I can only imagine what people must think as they walk away after a conversation with me…

“Lord have mercy on that poor girl.”

And so I have blogged…

And blogged…

And blogged.

My blog doesn’t tell me to be quiet.  My blog doesn’t wave its hand in a “hurry-up” type of motion.  My blog as never told me, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

My blog has never rolled its eyes or talked about me behind my back.  It’s always been here, waiting for me to come back and lay bare more of my heart and mind.

If you don’t blog, you probably think I’ve jumped off of the deep end.

My response is that I did that a long time ago.  heehee

I think that sometimes my students don’t understand why I require them to blog.  I don’t really expect them to this early in the game.

But they will…probably sooner than they expect.  I have a sneaky suspicion that a few of them will be echoing my sentiments on their own blogiversaries.

You know…I am ever mindful that God’s hand is in everything…even this very public forum in which I almost-daily share my joys, my hopes, my fears, and my struggles.

He has used this blog to bring me in contact with some very neat people.  Together, we share each others’ triumphs and tragedies.

And so, on this day, I wish my blog a happy blogiversary.  It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come in such a short time.  I look forward to discovering more about myself with each new blogiversary.

Week 12 of Teaching

How much time does it take to prepare for five classes?

A lot!

I spent 15 hours working on lesson plans the weekend before starting Week 12.  Although I was tired, I felt good about what I had in store for my kids…

I should have warned them, though.

See, intermingled with those 15 hours was a whole can of refried beans and six hours of DVR’d Hell’s Kitchen episodes.

Um…yeah.

Lesson #511:  Never eat an entire can of refried beans, mixed with salsa, the night before you have to teach.  It can lead to a misery worse than any faced by an Edgar Allen Poe protagonist.

Just sayin’.

So, what did all of that work produce?

This wonderful assignment…

Followed by this rubric (click both sections to view the larger versions)…

To say my students were freaked out would be a slight understatement.  I had originally planned for the project to be due the following Monday, but my Juniors were beside themselves because of prior obligations.  In the end, I moved the due date to Wednesday.  They were visibly relieved.

Their blogging adventures continue to amaze me, and their creative writing is becoming just that…creative.

Tigger is one of my seniors, and from the first, she has loathed the blogging assignment.  In fact, one of her posts this week yammed on about how she had nothing to say, blah, blah, blah.

And then something magical happened.

As she continued her rambling, she began talking about herself, her family, and her pets.

And she posted pictures.  Here’s one, just to give you a taste (please visit her blog and comment…she could use the encouragement)…

 

Oh.

My.

Word.

I was floored.

This is a student who has not opened up much in class.  I’ve seen the sparkle in her eyes, but she has continued to hold back during class discussions.

I learned more about her from that single post than I had in the eleven weeks of school.

The next day at school, I told her how proud I was.

She beamed.

And then she went and shocked me again.

She posted on Friday…with more pictures…more glimpses into who she is outside of the school.

I am blown away.

This assignment is turning into everything I’d hoped it would.

Speaking of blogging…CoreofLore told me about a scholarship that is available for students who blog!!  Although the deadline just passed, it was interesting to learn that there is money available for students who use this type of forum to express themselves!

Getting back to The Pit and the Pendulum…

After reading/discussing it out loud, we began watching the movie version that I had borrowed from Rooster’s school (it’s nice to have connections)…

This movie was made in 1964, and it stars Vincent Price.  Although the movie strays greatly from Poe’s story, Price is fabulous!

Meanwhile, my 6th graders had to turn in “Why Read” posters.  We had read the poem, “To Young Readers” by Gwendolyn Brooks and discussed various reasons why people read…

To Young Readers
by Gwendolyn Brooks

Good books are
bandages
and voyages
and linkages to Light;

are keys and hammers,
ripe redeemers,
dials and bells and
healing hallelujah.

Good books are good nutrition.
A reader is a Guest
nourished, by riches of the Feast,
to lift, to launch, and to applaud the world.

Students had to select four metaphors, illustrate them, and explain how what the metaphors meant (reading is a key that unlocks the door to knowledge, etc.).

I wish I had taken pictures of the posters, but I forgot.  They were wonderful, though.  Trust me.

Next, we began studying functional documents…

Sound like fun?  Not really, but I did my best to make it interesting, tasking the kids with making their own applications for organizations of their choosing.  Most of the students made applications for being on soccer teams.  We had discussed text features, their purposes, and how they aid readers in understanding what information is being requested.

My ninth graders read and discussed Mark Twain’s “Life on the Mississippi.”  Then, they were tasked with the job of illustrating their own Vocabulary Bingo cards, which contained words from the reading.

“M” did a fabulous job on hers…

 

I was disappointed after this class took its vocabulary test on Thursday.  With the exception of “M,” most of the students did not do as well as I had hoped.  Plan B will commence…one that is a little less hard-core and suited to the class’s academic level.  I think we will be going back to the basics, which should only serve to build confidence as they achieve success one small step at a time.

This class and I also had a bit of a set back on Friday, which leads me to share another lesson.

Lesson #512:  Always come to class prepared (as a teacher, I mean).

I have my ninth graders right after lunch, and about ten minutes before the bell rang, I realized that I had not made the copies I needed for class.

Well, of course the copier wouldn’t play nice, so it took forever to finish the job.  Meanwhile, the bell had rung, and I had run to my classroom and gotten my students settled.  The routine is that they are supposed to answer the Bell Ringer on the board and sit quietly for class to begin.

After nine-plus weeks, I figured they had it down by now.

Boy was I wrong.

When my copies were finished, I went back to my room…only to discover that they were throwing stuff around.

My fuse, being short because of the copier issues, completely blew, and I…yelled…at my students.

I had promised myself that I would never be one of “those” teachers who yelled, and there I went and did it!

Although I was justified in my anger, I certainly should not have acted that way, but it took me a few minutes to cool off.  In the meantime, I heaped work on them.  They sat, arguing with every sentence I uttered.

I was so angry that I didn’t care.

Then, we “officially” began class.

Once I got them settled down, we actually had a good discussion about Mark Twain.  Although sullen, the students participated.

With five minutes left in class, I looked at them, dramatically inhaled deeply, and did what I knew was right.

I apologized.

I explained that I had treated them just as disrespectfully as they had treated me (it wasn’t just the throwing of items, but it was the arguing and talking over me too).  This class knows that I care.  They know that I have never yelled at them.  So, I hoped that they knew that I was sincere in my apology.

I explained that they would have an extra day to do the work I had assigned them, extending mercy so that they could study for a Monday math test.

This was a very humbling experience for me.

I’m finding teaching to be this way.

Moving on…

My Sophomores have been doing a unit on grammar.  The focus for the week was nouns, and let me tell you…they are a little more complicated than we thought!  I taught them about changing singular to singular possessive and plural into plural possessive.  We also worked on collective nouns…definitely a confusing topic for even the best of bloggers!!

These kids ate it up, though, and we did board work to review for the massive test I gave them on Friday…

 

After doing the above exercise, “M” went so far as to say, “I get it, and this time I really mean it.”

He had been telling me he understood everything when, in fact, he didn’t.

Silly boy.  I told him not to ever do that because I do not mind spending more time explaining.

On Thursday, all of my classes took their vocabulary tests…

It was the first time my 6th graders had taken one of these boogers in my class.  Because we had played Vocabulary Charades the day before, I had full confidence that they would do well.

They did.

Now, let me tell you about a neat thing that happened this week.  My high school classes got to attend a local political forum, which was held at another school.  Nusi and Seeking Life were selected to sit on a panel comprised of students from local high schools.  Students were given several opportunities to ask the panel of candidates questions, which they had worked on beforehand.  The forum was broadcast live on our local television station.

My girls were poised, and their questions were very well thought out, as were all of the students’ from other schools.

It was neat to be up close and personal with those running for office, and I actually learned about some issues that I had never heard of before.

You’ll forgive me for not being in the know, but I scarcely have time to watch the news, much less read the newspaper.

And so, Friday finally arrived.

I was beat.  It had been a very long, tiring week.

I had homework…

Oh, and before I close the book on Week 12, I had to share a few funny quotes from my students (things they actually said to me).  You know, it was a full moon this week.  Perhaps that affected everyone…

You don’t act like you’re 40.  You act like you’re 26.

 

You showered this morning?

 

Adverbs are adjectives for verbs.

 

You can have my lunch if you want.  My mom doesn’t cook very well.

 

Don’t think I’ll share that last one with the mom during any parent/teacher conferences.

Happy 1st Blogversary to Me

I can’t believe I let the day slip by without posting about it.  I had the best intentions…even wrote down the date in my calendar.  But did I bother to check my calendar yesterday?  Nope.  Sometimes I wonder why I even carry it around. What is even funnier is that last night’s Prize Puzzle on Wheel of Fortune was “blogger.”  It just didn’t register.

Anyhow, yesterday was my 1st Blogversary!  I’ve been thinking about this for a while now.  What would I do to mark this important milestone?

First off, I thought I take a stroll down memory lane.

One year ago yesterday, November 20, 2007, I was in San Diego.  The family had flown over for Soccer Chick to partipate in a tournament.  We left a few days before the first day of play so we could do some sightseeing.  I was still taking college classes, so I didn’t venture out of the hotel too much.  I missed the trip to the San Diego Zoo, and I also missed the showing of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  I had books to read and papers to write.

Meanwhile, in internet land, I was awaiting my invite to Ravelry.  It arrived on November 20th.  Of course, I had to take a break from my hard work and check out what Ravelry had to offer.  In the process, I got busy setting up my profile.

Now, remember that I am a computer nerd through and through.  I couldn’t help but notice an area on my profile for linking your blog.  This perked my interest.  I began researching blog web sites and decided to use WordPress.  I quickly set up my blog and proceeded to write my first post.  It wasn’t the most clever, but it got me started.  I did manage to get my school work done that weekend, but I was forever changed.  From that point on, I would, in the back of my mind, consider all happenings as possible fodder for my blog.  If you crossed my path, you were not immune to being written about.

Along the way, I have blogged about my pets many times.  This and this and this are a few of my favorite posts about them.  In fact, my second post was about my darling critters.

Another favorite topic is my children.  I wrote about Soccer Chick’s athletic feats in this post, and this one, and this one.  This post, however, is my favorite.  It was like I dug out the very core of my heart and put it out here for all to see.

Rockin’ Rooster has been the topic of several of my posts.  This one and this one and this one are my favorites.

Of course, I’ve had many posts about my knitting.  That was the factor that drove my interest into this thing we call blogging.  What a difficult task to pick out my favorite posts, but here are a few…

Who can forget my first real yarn splurge in VegasThis post drew one of the highest number of views.  This post contains pictures of a project I semi-designed.  I was real proud of it.  And who can forget my Lace Leaf Scarf, detailed here.

Now, I realize that my blog doesn’t generate the kind of stats that might rival the Yarn Harlot’s, but for someone who hasn’t written a book or isn’t an expert in knitting, I can’t complain.

Throughout the year, I’ve written 176 posts, including this one.  Y’all have commented 392 times!  My blog has been viewed 9,397 times.  This stat humbles me.  I never actually expected people to be interested enough to read, let alone comment, on my posts.

I’m proud of the way my writing has developed.  I’ve always fancied myself a woman of letters.  Somehow my spoken words get jumbled together, but when I write…well, the words just seem to pour forth so much easier!

Thank you for the support and encouragement over this past year.  I’ve made some wonderful blogging friends.  I believe that God put us here to glorify Him, first of all, but also to support one another.  You have given back so much more than I ever expected or hoped for.

Here’s to a GREAT year!  May the next year of blogging be even better!

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