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Forever Catching Up

Y’all.  It’s been over a month since I last blogged.

This.  Must.  Stop.

For real!

I love to write.

I need to paint word pictures with something besides my voice, which gets old to listen to.

It’s a promise I keep making to myself and then failing.  All I can do is recommit and keep trying, so here goes!

What’s been happening these past few weeks?

Well, for starters, I had to get my classroom ready for a new crew of students.  It’s always extremely intimidating and overwhelming to walk into my room that first day.  The sheer amount of work that needs to be done makes me hyperventilate.

I went in a couple of weeks before I “had” to report back, just to arrange the furniture.

As the days drew nearer for school to start, I received the following email from a student I taught this past school year.

I had to chuckle.  This girl has a great sense of humor!

The whole getting ready for school thing made me crave comfort food, so I whipped up a batch of my Molly Weasley’s Magically Easy Fudge…veganized, of course.

All work and no play makes Auburnchick a very boring person indeed, so I treated myself to a new book…Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

It was written in a play format, which took a bit of getting used to, but oh my.  To be caught back up in the world of all things Harry Potter made my heart so happy.  I read this in just a few hours.  I simply could not put it down!

Of course, there was napping.  A day without a nap is like a day without sunshine.

There was more reading.  Kwame Alexander is the MAN.  This book is part prose; the subject is basketball and life.  I hope my boys will give it a chance.

There was time with the pups.  They’d been so spoiled having me home all summer.

Six-day-a-week Hammer and Chisel workouts continued to occupy my time.

Wine, knitting, and Big Brother always hit the spot as well…my non-guilty pleasures.

Then, there was the day that I sat at Rooster and his girl’s apartment while the movers came and packed them up.

Did I mention that they are now married?

Oh yeah.  I didn’t.

See, here’s what happened.  Back when Rooster was getting ready to leave for Basic Training, he approached us and said that they wanted to go ahead and get married before he left.  It would be easier for her to get on his orders…something that takes forever.  All the way around, it made sense.

So, and hold on to your hats, they got engaged on a Friday, which I shared before.

That Saturday we started trying to find a judge to marry them.  We have a couple of friends who are judges, so we reached out to them.  They needed to be married by Monday so Rooster could get the paperwork back to his recruiter in time for it to be submitted.

Rooster’s girl’s parents drove down from Alabama that Saturday while she and I got pedicures.

That Sunday, we skipped church, ate lunch together, and then met the judge at a scenic location in town.

I took a LOT of pictures since it was just the seven of us…no photographer.

It was very sweet.

Rooster left two weeks later for Basic.

Which brings us to early August.  He got to come home for a few days when he transitioned from one phase of tech school to another.  He’d gotten his orders; he was going to a base out West.  She was on his orders, so she would be going with him.  The timing, much like their marriage, was harried.  They didn’t have time to drive to the base, so they flew out, six bags in tow, and left everything else here.

I cried the entire way home from the airport and the entire day.  Sending your baby across the country isn’t the easiest thing.

Life moved on, and two weeks later, I found myself sitting at their apartment.

The movers did a quick job of packing.  The timing was perfect…two or three days before I had to report for my first “official” day of pre-planning.

It was bittersweet.

And life moved on.

I did some retail therapy.  This necklace has quickly become a favorite…hand stamped by a friend’s daughter who has her own Etsy store.

I took moments to enjoy unexpected wildlife appearances.

And I napped.

With school drawing nearer, I reacquainted myself with the art of multi-tasking.  Lysa TerKeurst spoke somewhere, and I enjoyed watching the broadcast from my First5 app.

Her interview with Tim Tebow was amazing!  I’ve never listened to him speak before.  His story is a powerful one!

We had a pretty intense storm during our pre-planning days.  Thank heavens for sandbags!  Podunk, USA offered them for free, and I snagged six.  My porch routinely gets water on it when it rains heavily.  The sandbags worked like a charm!

The week of pre-planning, I gave a Smartboard presentation at the school I taught at my first year.  I went from working out to dressing up…all within an hour and a half.

Weekends continued to be mine, though.  Days at the pool and beach are respites from the stress of work.

I also ordered and received DVDs for my next two Beachbody programs…

Ever the planner.

Meanwhile, as the beginning of school got closer and closer, I got closer and closer to finishing my Hammer and Chisel program.  Balancing classroom prep, exercise, and errands for home became the name of the game.

I made some decisions for my classes.  I’m teaching two Honors English classes this year, and I wrestled about whether or not to include silent, sudent-selected reading.  I love this poster, which echoes my feelings exactly…

For the record, my Honors students are reading silently…and loving it.  That’s a story for another day.

Classroom prep had me making numerous reminders.  The beginning of the school year is absolutely exhausting.  For every sticky note I got rid of, I wrote three more to take its place.

My shirt echoed my sentiments…run, run, run.

One of my planning days was made a lot brighter when a former student, newly graduated, stopped by my room to visit.

This young man will forever be one of my favorite students ever.  I taught him when he was a ninth grader.  He has a joy for life.  I’ve rarely seen him without a smile.  He has the kindest heart, and I look forward to seeing what he accomplishes in his life.

By the end of that last planning day, my room was as ready as it was going to be.  I was pleased with the results.

I was ready for school.

I think I’ll end this post here.  I’ve let it go on far too long, and if you’ve read to this point, just WOW!  Thank you for sticking it out!  I’ll try to finish my catch-up post tomorrow and then stay on track.

Ha!

Weekending

Even though it’s my summer break, and the days kind of run together, I find myself looking forward to the weekends when the Mr. is home from work.

As new empty-nesters, we are starting to fall into routines that work for us.

I kicked off the weekend on Friday with a beach lunch date with Rooster’s girl.

We ate at one of my favorite places right on the beach.  The view…so lovely and peaceful.

Saturdays find us sleeping in.  It’s a luxury that I do not take for granted…especially with 4am wake-up calls looming on the horizon again (for me…not him).

Even though I got up late, I still managed to get in my workout.  I just don’t feel as though I can enjoy my day guilt-free if I skip out on this.  Plus, it burns extra calories that I can later eat.  🙂

Ever since Rooster left in April, we started making trips to the beach on Saturdays.  Sometimes, we just head to the neighborhood pool.

We’re getting pretty good at this, even keeping a bag ready with our towels and sunscreen.

I always throw in a book, and we fix coolers with snacks and drinks.

First, though, was lunch…a necessity given my workout.  I was starving!  I ate a bowl of West African Peanut Soup.  It’s less like a soup and more like a stew.  The next time I make it, I’ll either increase the vegetable stock or will decrease the amount of brown rice.  It’s delicious, though!!!!!

The Mr. surprised me as I was selecting my water wear.  He’d purchased a new bathing suit for me!  They’re on clearance right now at Victoria Secret.

Because the water at the beach had been FILLED with seaweed the week before, we opted for the pool this past weekend.

It.  Was.  Hot.

Unless it rains, the water is tepid…not cool.  At least it’s wet and offers a bit of respite from the heat and humidity.

I loved my new bathing suit.  It was the perfect fit.

We really enjoy watching young families at the pool.  The little kids are too cute.  I have discovered, though, that I have a limited tolerance for boys between the ages of nine and twelve years old.  Oh my, but they are LOUD at the pool!  And they are rough.  And they don’t care who they splash when they jump in.

The Mr. knew I was starting to get annoyed, so he suggested that we leave.  We’d already been there a couple of hours, so I quickly agreed.

The Mr. wasn’t feeling well, so we stayed in for dinner.  I ate another helping of the soup.

Sunday mornings find us going to church.  First, though, was my workout.

We skipped our usual lunch with friends to run to the grocery store and Hallmark.  I picked up this Itty Bitty at Hallmark…

These are all the rage with my Facebook support group.

Then, I ignored the huge pile of dirty dishes in the background below and got ready for a second stint at the pool.

The weather was uncooperative, though.  We kept a close eye on the sky and my weather app, and hoped that the promised thunderstorms would skirt us.  They did.  For all of thirty minutes before it started raining.

Back into the house we went, where I picked up the third book in The Testing series and started reading.  I couldn’t help but notice the blurb you see boxed in below.

How fitting, do you think, regarding the leadership crisis we are experiencing right now in America.

Hmmm.

I watched First5’s weekend video message, which was one of the BEST since this free app started last year.

I was in tears by the end.  God’s provision…His promises…they just awe me.

The dogs tried to use their cuteness to get me to fix them an early dinner.

Their charms did not work, by the way.  Poor babies.

Dinner was leftovers again, but I was craving something sweet.

I turned to one of my newest favorite recipes…Crazy Cake…which is so simple and contains NO eggs!  It and the chocolate buttercream frosting are vegan-friendly.

The rest of my evening consisted of Big Brother (what a crazy episode!!), Next Food Network Star, and more of my book.

I absolutely love my weekends.  We don’t run hard any more.  I’ve learned the value of lying low and taking things easy.  There’s a peace that my soul has yearned for and is now able to enjoy.

A Box of Goodies

Empty nesting is an active verb around here.

Namely adjusting to empty nest is the ongoing action.

It’s still hard to walk through the grocery store, see things that Rooster likes to eat, and then be slammed with the knowledge that he’s not home eating these things.

We no longer keep cereal, ice cream, or Cheez Its in the house.

It’s strange.

Unlike Basic Training, where care packages are strict no-no’s, tech school attendees are allowed to receive them.

I still had one box of Krave cereal from a Buy 1 Get 1 Free deal I’d taken advantage right after Rooster went to tech school.

To this cereal, I added the other items you see below…

I got out the pad of paper I’d purchased right before Rooster left for Basic Training and discovered that I had one sheet left.

That’s a lot of letter writing, y’all.

I added my words of love to the box.

He’s probably the only Airman who’s received a box that claims it has knitting notions inside.  You’ve gotta love recycling!

This box was h-e-a-v-y.

It cost me a pretty penny to mail this thing off, but it was worth it when I talked to him a week later.

He seemed happy to receive it, although he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to finish the snacks before moving on to the next phase of tech school.

I told him to make a friend and share.

🙂

I’m eking out every last chance I get to spoil him.  His girl will be the one doing that soon enough.

Some Assembly Required

Summers are always about DIY projects.

You may have seen my post about my screen door project, which is still not finished.

Sigh.

My latest adventure happened this past weekend when I decided to get busy and put together the Mr.’s birthday present.

Not the Bowflex (that’s mine), but the grill, which he’d picked out at Walmart.  Here’s the photo of the one he saw in the store…all put together, mind you.

He had wanted to purchase this one, but I poo-pooed the idea and told him it wouldn’t fit in the back of my car.

I’d be forced to eat those words later.

The box sat in the garage for over a week before I decided to give it a go.

The Mr. decided that he would go to the grocery store.

Can you say role reversal?

heehee

I had to carry the parts in separately because the box was too heavy to carry in by myself.

There were a LOT of parts…

I’ve put a LOT of things together over the years.  The labeling of parts has gotten better, let me tell you.

The manual laughed at me…

Getting started was the hardest part…kind of like beginning an essay…trying to figure out which parts were which.

I finally figured out where my first pieces were and got busy.  The dogs were a little curious.

Not very helpful though.

I got the first few steps done and then ran into a problem.

Bent parts.

The Mr. had pounded down one part to flatten it out, but these parts…they couldn’t be fixed.

The Mr. was not very happy.  This kind of thing stresses him out.

As a teacher used to thinking on her feet, I came up with a plan.

I would return the grill.

And I wouldn’t take apart the section I’d put together.

Take that.

The Mr. helped me load it in the car.  We put the non-assembled parts back in the box and stuck the section I’d finished in as it was.

The people in the Garden Center were very understanding, but I had to go to Customer Service before I could do anything.  My plan was to exchange the grill for another one in a box.  The Garden Center representative told me that there was an assembler on staff who would put it together for me.  I love how they didn’t tell us this when we’d purchased the grill the first time around.

Sheesh.

The Customer Service representative told me that she needed the old box to scan.

Really?

Sheesh.

My Garmin was racking up the steps with me going back and forth across the store.

The Garden Center rep put everything on a cart for me, and we walked BACK to the Customer Service desk.

Doesn’t that assembled section on the bottom look like a dead bug with its legs in the air?

heehee

The rep issued me a Walmart giftcard since I didn’t have the VISA giftcard that the Mr. had used to buy the first one, and then I had to go back to the Garden Center to rebuy the grill.

Sheesh.

It was the most inefficient process EVER.

The grill wouldn’t be ready until the next day, so I headed home and watched a soccer game that was HALF OVER by the time I got back.

Grrr.

The next day, I went back to get the grill.

It was beautiful.

It was put together.

Ahem.

I crossed my fingers in the hopes of it fitting into the car.  Two sweet young men worked on loading it.

It did fit, much to their surprise, and I got to listen to it rattle and clank all the way home.

The Mr. and I unloaded it, and he grilled on it the next day.

The thing is HUGE.

It needs a separate handle to roll it around.  That’s our biggest complaint.

Otherwise, the Mr. is happy.

Never Say Never When You’re Hodgepodging

The Hodgepodge…it’s the happening thing today.  Join in by linking up with Joyce!  Since I’m in a rush (it’s 2:30pm and I’m only now answering my questions), let’s get to it!

1.  Do you find yourself influencing your world, or is it more the other way around? 

I usually think of myself as a follower; however, the longer I teach, and the older I get, I’m discovering that I’m becoming more of a leader.  This could be due to maturity.  It’s probably confidence.  As such, I think I am influencing my world through my work in the classroom, my sharing (or oversharing, as the Mr. would say) on social media, and my blogging.  I’m not as quick to jump in on trends (hello, Pokemon Go…no thank you).

2.  July 14th is National Tape Measure Day…the device was patented on this date in 1868. When did you last use a tape measure? Do you always know where to find one in your house? Tell us one way in which you feel blessed ‘beyond measure’. 

I last used a tape measure two days ago when trying to determine how much fabric I would need to line two stockings I just finished knitting.

I keep this particular tape measure in my knitting bag.  I also have a tape measure by my workout DVDs so I can do before and after comparisons.

We have a couple of tape measures in the toolbox in the garage as well.

How am I blessed beyond measure?  I’d say with my husband and my children.  They are my world.  I am so grateful that God has allowed me the privilege of being a mom to two amazingly independent and successful children and having a husband who loves me the way he does.

3.  The Plaza Hotel (Eloise), The Land of Oz (The Wizard of Oz), Narnia (The Chronicles of Narnia), The Hundred Acre Wood (Winnie the Pooh), Wonderland (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), or Never Never Land (Peter Pan)…which storybook land (on this list!) would you most like to visit and why? 

I think I’d visit Never Never Land because it’s a place where you can indulge your inner child.  That’s so important in this modern day of technology and rushed schedules.  Getting back to the simple pleasures in life sounds like paradise.

4.  Where and when do you get your best ideas? 

My best ideas ALWAYS come to me in the shower.  It’s the oddest thing, but I’ve noticed this trend for a few years now.  I suspect that I’m most relaxed in the shower, with the hot water working out the tension of my day.  I’ve had the BEST lesson plan ideas while I’m in the shower.  I kid you not.

5.  So what have you been watching on TV this summer? Anything good? 

I love my summertime, non-teaching schedule.  My go-to shows are Big Brother, Next Food Network Star, MasterChef, Wayward Pines, and the Olympic trials.  I watched the EUFA tournament (Euro Soccer)…so much fun!! I’ve also got Netflix, so I’ve been working my way though Agents of Shield.  Oh, and there’s been a lot of Chopped playing on the TV.

6.  ‘Don’t swim for an hour after you eat’, ‘Dog days of summer’, ‘Knee high by the Fourth of July’…choose a summer saying from the list or share one of your own, then tell us what image or memory comes to mind when you hear it spoken.

I’ll go with “dog days of summer.”  I’m spending a lot of time with my fur babies.  They are so funny and just plain old precious.

I took this video of Pele.  He loves bath time, so I thought he would like his own little pool.  You can see from his reaction that this wasn’t quite the case.

7.  In a single sentence, sum up one life lesson you’ve learned. 

My current motto is this:  “She believed she could, and so she did.”

It’s a motto I came across after I started “running” (more like walk/jogging) last fall.

It’s a motto that says so much to me.  I have always lacked self confidence.  I have NEVER lacked determination.  Because of that determination, when I set a goal, I usually obtain it.  It doesn’t matter if it’s getting back into shape, becoming a teacher, or learning a new skill.  I don’t let obstacles get in my way.

8.  My Random Thought

Yesterday, I had to move some things to get to my sewing machine (an epic fail, by the way).

One of the things I moved was this picture…

Oh y’all.  This picture took me back…wayyyyyyy back.  These two have my heart.  My Chicky is still every bit as spunky as you see hinted at in that mischievous smile of hers, and my Rooster is still just as cute as ever.  Both are grown and pursuing careers of their own.  I miss them so much and treasure the memories that flood in whenever I give myself a moment or two to gaze upon their faces in the framed photos that are sprinkled around my house.

Monday

Because I’m trying really hard not to fall off the blogging train, I’m going to post something quick before the clock strikes midnight.

Today was a good day.

I had plans.

For an introverted teacher who spends ten months surrounded by lots and lots of people and two months shut away from the world, this is huge.

I got up early…for a summer day…and did my workout.

I started my second round of Hammer and Chisel last week.  I really need to blog about round 1.  I’ll get to that as soon as the Mr. takes my measurements.

Anyhoo, this morning, I added in an ab workout that’s not part of this program but one that I saw that Beachbody had tweeted out about.

Y’all…the first move.  Oh my golly.  It was brutal.  The bug move was fun, and the last move…totally had me smiling, in an ab torture kind of way.

Then, I jumped in the shower and got ready to head out.

I was on my way to meet a new-to-my-school reading teacher.  Along the way, I stopped at Fresh Market to hunt for brown rice syrup, an ingredient I need for a recipe I want to try.  I didn’t find it, so I moseyed on over to Ulta and catered to my inner diva with the purchase of a few bottles of nail polish.

Ahem.

Then, I met my now-new friend, J, at one of my favorite places to eat.

I asked for a certain seat, and here was my view…

Go ahead and be jealous.

J is just adorable, and I quickly took a liking to her.  We are going to have a lot of fun this year, and I know I’m going to learn a lot from her.

After we finished, I met her at our school and walked her around.  She got to see her new classroom, which she ogled over, and I gave her the low-down on teacher attire (no uniform for us!) and other things.  Then, we parted ways with her hugging me before she left!  Total sweetheart.  I can say this because I’m almost twice her age.  😛

I ran a few other errands, met up with Rooster’s girl, who came to the house to get some paperwork and then run more errands with me, and finished out my day with a bit of Food Network Star on the DVR and my current book, The Testing.

I am loving my lazy summer days.  They make up for the harried pace I run the rest of the year.

Empty Nesting – A Visual Storybook

Now that I’m blogging again, I’m going through photos I’ve uploaded to Flickr to see what stuff I need to catch you up on.

I decided that pretty much all of my pictures are ones that depict the early stages of an empty nester.

It’s not an easy transition…the house too quiet.  But I’m choosing not to wallow in my sadness…at least not too often…and embrace this new phase in my life.

The Mr. and I have had a lot of time to reconnect.  You can often find us out and about at local restaurants.  Some of our favorites are those that are on the water.

Eating dinner with the backdrop of the sun setting against the water is simply breathtaking.

These photos are unfiltered, y’all.

My days are spent loving on my fur babies.

Gambit is ours until Rooster takes him to his first duty station.

Being home means taking care of the house.  One of my sprinkler zones quit working, so I had to call in an expert.  This local husband and wife team did a great job diagnosing the problem and fixing what wound up being a broken valve for a minimal charge.

There is, of course, my daily workout time.  Sometimes, I run errands afterward (I think that’s my bathing suit peeking out underneath…maybe I went to the pool afterward?).

Empty nesting means cooking whatever I want without a whole lot of repercussions…except when a recipe fails in a major way…

Um…yeah.  Those were supposed to be vegan brownie muffins.  The batter tasted great.  Apparently either the baking soda or baking powder (whichever I used…can’t remember now) had an issue.

Ahem.

Now that I’m an empty nester, I get redo’s without anyone getting mad (I’d take the mad now any day just to have my babies home, though).

I can make such things as Red Lentil and Rice Loaf (and it actually tastes delicious)…something that nobody else will touch and that my children are probably pretty glad I waited to cook until they’d moved out…

There’s midday TV…War Eagle!

There’s homemade salad dressings with small tossed salads on the plastic plates that my boy left behind from his year at Auburn.

There’s uninterrupted reading…

And shopping trips to soothe my heart when I’m having a rough day and missing my children…

 

I can often be found staying up late at night watching Agents of Shield while knitting…

There are Saturday poolside dates with the hubby…

Or trips to the beach…

Where I engage in more uninterrupted reading (unless it’s to reminisce over years gone by when I see cute toddlers testing the water for the first time…sigh)…

And post-sun dinners out…

I am such a blessed gal.  By God’s grace, I’ve raised children who are self-sufficient citizens.  After pouring so much time and energy into making sure they arrived safely into adulthood (again by God’s grace) I’m at the point in my life where I can slow down a little…at least until school starts back up…recharge my batteries…and just be.

This empty nesting thing is bittersweet, indeed, but I take joy in my children’s accomplishments…in their independence…and I will continue to follow this latest turn in the road I call life.

A New Set of Wheels

When my boy left for Basic Training, we sold his car, per his request.

For the last two weeks, one half of the garage has sat empty…

Until yesterday morning when the following was delivered…

The Mr. has been reworking the budget in an effort to save a few dollars.  Our priorities are changing, you see, and saving for visits to the kids have taken the top spot.

One decision the Mr. made was to discontinue our lawn service and start taking care of the yard ourselves.  Ahem.  Hence, the purchase.  He also bought an aerator, which I’ll have to put together this weekend.

The Mr. is calling this his “tractor.”

Yeah, buddy.  Whatever rocks your boat.

This is empty nest at its finest, y’all.

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