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Requiem to Summer

Dear Summer,

Oh, how I miss thee already.

I miss sleeping in until 9am, staying in bed another hour, and slowly sliding out of my bed, no plan in mind and no lesson planning on the agenda.

I miss not being in a hurry because I don’t have anywhere to be.  I think the dogs will miss this too.

I miss working out at 11 or 12 instead of 4:30am.

It was a lot easier to see what I was doing without sleep clogging my eyes.

I miss no-makeup, messy-hair-bun, maybe-I’ll-shower, in-my-pajamas-by-4 days when the desire to apologize to the public at large, if I chose to go out amongst people, waned the further into vacation I got.

I miss lazy afternoons by the pool, or rather in the pool, and hours upon hours of leisure reading.

I miss Netflix binges until midnight and knitting to my heart’s content.

I miss being able to go to the bathroom whenever I want and however many times I need to.

I miss afternoon siestas – sometimes two if the need arose – because teaching is tiring business that requires months of vacation to recuperate from.

I miss afternoons spent in the kitchen, baking up all of the goodies that struck my fancy on Instagram.

I miss being able to put two complete thoughts together because my brain isn’t being pulled in a bazillion directions.

As I start my ninth year of teaching, leaving summer behind doesn’t get easier – the parting still brings sorrow to my heart.

BUT . . .

New batches of teenagers await my reading expertise and mama love.

They don’t know it yet, but they will thrive on the routines that make my classroom run like a well-oiled machine (if the stars align), not to mention the high standards to which they will be held.

I’ll spy pictures on my camera roll – reminders of warm, carefree days, and I’ll get wistful – especially when my nerves are fraught by the child who has asked, for the upteenth time, if the assignment we are working on is formative or summative (they’re all going to be summative by that point).

There will be days when I am so invigorated by my students’ aha moments that I almost forget about you (not quite though).

SO . . .

Though we must part for now, it is only temporary.

But who’s counting.

In the meantime, I’ll be doing what God has called me to do . . . bridge the gap between His littles and the big world that’s waiting for them after high school.

Weekending With Auburnchick

Y’all, this head thing is putting a crimp in my style as far as weekend fun goes.

Because I’m still having headaches, I’m being forced to lay low, which means NO beach, NO pool, and NOTHING that’s too loud.  When you live fifteen minutes from the beach, it’s a bitter pill to swallow.

True to form, I’m making the most of my downtime.

Friday, I found myself without a headache; however, the trade off was that I’d gotten NO sleep the night before.

Nada.

None.

Bet that you can’t tell from the selfie, below.  I’m a girl who pulls up her big girl pants and does life anyway.

Thursday night, I’d taken one of my new pain pills – the one with codeine (to help me sleep) – but it also had caffeine in it (to ward off the headache).  Guess which ingredient my body took to like a flea on a dog?

Yep.

I was super relaxed, though, so at least I wasn’t exactly suffering all night.

It was strange, though, because I wasn’t really tired when I got up.  I took the dogs for a ride to get them out since I can’t walk them right now.

At first, they were suspicious, but when I didn’t make the usual turn for Petsmart, they relaxed.

Gambit’s face though 😀

I was down for the count by 2pm, though, and slept a hefty two and a half hours – in bed.  The dogs were more than happy to oblige me.

I felt a little better when I got up, so I got busy in the kitchen, preparing a few things I’d been wanting to try.

First up was 5-Ingredient Vegan Peanut Butter Pudding, a recipe by Minimalist Baker.

I had prepared the pudding the day before and had it chilling in the refrigerator for twenty four hours, as directed.  It was time to put the finishing touches on it.

First of all, I learned that waxed paper is the best way to go as opposed to using saran wrap when trying to prevent a film from forming on the top of puddings and custards.  I’ll remember that for next time.

I’d gone back and forth about the topping.  Although chocolate ganache strongly appealed to me, I wanted to try something new, so I pulled out the can of coconut cream I’d put in the refrigerator a few days before and got to work on a whipped topping (the recipe is linked in with the recipe above).

I’d purchased several cans of this at Trader Joe’s over Christmas break because we don’t have this store, and I had read that to successfully make whipped cream, you have to buy cans that don’t have guar gum, which is used as a stabilizer and prevents cream from being whipped up.

I’ve tried, in the past, to make this and never gotten it right.  I guess Friday was the day!

It was light and tasty.  Yum!

I added it to my pudding.

I showed restraint by putting it in the fridge because y’all, I hadn’t eaten dinner yet!

The next dish I prepared was really a “recipe.”  I’ll admit that I cheated a little.

I wanted to warm up the jackfruit I’d purchased earlier in the week.

I’ve been very intrigued by this newly-popular food item, and although I’ve found it sold in cans online, I haven’t been able to locate it in my local stores.

Prep was fairly easy, except for the pulling-apart thing (akin to pulling apart pork when making barbecue).

Although it’s a fruit, the texture is similar to pork.  I think it would be a great food for people who are making the transition to becoming vegetarians.

I added 1/8 of a cup to each slice of pizza I had leftover from the day before.

It was delicious!  I wound up ordering a pack of six cans of jackfruit (from Amazon) so I can make stuff like this from scratch and eliminate some of the unhealthy ingredients that’s in prepackaged food.  Oh yeah, and don’t be judging me, because I know the pizza wasn’t healthy either.  It’s been a tough couple of weeks for me, so cut me some slack.  🙂

Because of my nap, I wasn’t tired that night.  Gambit was not impressed.

I slept in rather late on Saturday and quickly got dressed.  Chicky was on her way for a very brief stop enroute to see her guy.  She needed to drop a few things off.

I got to see her fur baby, Cali, who is always excited to visit us.  She’s never forgotten us after the summer that she and Chicky spent here when Chicky was still in college.

We put her in the backyard because we didn’t want to risk a less-than-friendly reception by our dogs.

Ahem.

We sent Chicky on her way with my rice cooker, a couple of homemade energy bars, and a bowl of peanut butter pudding (just so you know that I’m not a complete pig).

After she left, I made lunch for the Mr. – chicken fingers – his favorite.

Thank goodness for being a blogger who takes a lot of pictures because my memory is giving me tiny fits right now.  I blocked a project I’d finished in the wee hours of the morning.  I’ll have photos of that soon.

I didn’t go to bed too late, if you consider midnight acceptable.  It is still summer, after all.

I skipped church on Sunday because I was worried that the loud music would make my headache worse.  Although the headaches are less intense, they are constantly present, brewing beneath the surface.  I did get up, showered, dressed in street clothes, and adorned with makeup.

Go me.

Good thing too, because the Mr. called and asked if I wanted to go to Newk’s with some of our friends from church.  He picked me up, and we had a lovely time with two other couples.

Then, it was home again for the day where I rested, knit a LOT on a new project, listened to RHAP’s Big Brother updates (don’t be judging), and binged on Bosch, my latest Amazon Prime go-to show.

The Mr. and I watched the latest episode of Sharp Objects.  What a dark show; it’s so depressing!

While we watched, the Mr. tried, unsuccessfully, to ignore Pele as he ate a leftover hamburger patty.

Although I’m spending a lot of time at home these days, it’s been good for me and the dogs.

They love that they’re getting extra treats and lots of time in the yard.

We are getting so much quality time together, which is difficult during the school year.

Did you do anything exciting?  Can I live vicariously through you for a little while?  🙂

Lazy Day

Because I’d been up late Wednesday night, I slept in a bit on Thursday.

My heart was still hurting from the book I’d finished.

I took my time getting out of bed and hung out with the dogs all morning.  It was a beautiful day, and I should have gone to the pool, but mentally, I wasn’t into it.  I needed a bit of solitude.

I took a nap in my chair even though I’d slept late.  I was so tired.

Being sad will do that for you.

When I woke up, it was early afternoon.  The dogs were eager to get some fresh air.

I had been procrastinating my workout but was not about to give in and not do it, so I got dressed.

Just as I was about to get started, my phone rang.  A guy I’d called yesterday was on his way to take a look at my house.  We want to fix our gutters and get a door for our screened in porch.

The workout did not want to happen, y’all.

I persevered, though, and got it in after he left.

Day 72 – Done!

Then, I began preparing dinner for the hubby.  This is one of his new favorite dishes.

It’s a bit of a pain to put together, which is why I don’t make it that often.

The rest of my evening was chill as I blogged and watched television.

Sometimes, you just need a lazy day.

In my case, it’s been a summer of lazy days, but who’s judging (it better not be you!). 🙂

A Little Bit of Progress

Is it really August 1st?

Yesterday, I went into my classroom to try to finish up some cleaning after picking up school supplies from Walmart and Office Depot…

My goal was to clean all of the tabletops as well as my desk so that next week, I can go in and tape my Kagan mats to the tables.  I have learned that the tape won’t stick if I don’t let the cleaning products disappear fully.  Weird, I know, but there’s something like a film that’s left after I clean tables.

I also got out my lamps and other things…paper clips, notebooks, etc. and started setting up some of my tables.  I was pleased and took a panoramic…

Click to view larger image

I’d purchased a new lamp from Walmart a couple of days before.  There was one corner of my room that wasn’t well lit when I turned off the lights for videos.  With that rectified, I took another panoramic photo…

Click to embiggen

The progress is slow, but I am pleased.  Once I have the physical space set up, I can focus on tweaking my syllabi and other first-week-of-school handouts.  I also need to begin lesson planning.  My goal is to have two weeks of lesson plans finished before I go for pre-planning.

It’s slow going, but since I’m working on my own volition, I’d consider the progress quite good.  Not being in a panic, as I’ve tended to do over the years, is refreshing and means I won’t be worn out completely when I have to settle down and do the hard thinking that’s required for my lessons.

Things That Have Kept Me From Blogging

It would seem as though, despite having much more time to blog, I have chosen, instead, to do other things.

A pictorial explanation follows…

Did someone say World Cup?

Shout-out to my main soccer squeeze for helping the U.S. advance to the round of 16!

My OWL (three-month project)…halfway finished…

A return to the gym…

Zombiesrun.com – GREAT way to keep my Zombies Run C25K app synched (that’s the playlist I used one day this week)

Best workout app ever (former iFitness)!!!! Sure beats carrying around a notebook, which I used to do to keep track of my reps!

Sixteen cans of tomatoes…for about thirty cents each after BOGO and a $1.00 off of four coupon (shout-out to Coupon Queen for sending me extra coupons!!)

Infinity Cowl

Two of my loves…

Southwestern Socks – A quick, five-day project!

Southwestern Socks

Online Shopping…courtesy of shophopes.com

Another shophopes.com dress! Please excuse the hair (freshly washed and, obviously, unfixed) and the background (must invest in a full-length, over-the-door mirror)

Teacher Training

Tweeting with one of my favorite authors…and feeling star-struck when she followed me…

Chatting it up with one of my favorite shows (please note that THEY tagged ME in this conversation!)

What’s kept you busy of late?

Impactful

Today, I officially completed my fourth year of teaching.

I’ve been thinking about this day for the last couple of weeks.

I’d been reflecting…trying to put to words what my heart had been feeling.

Locking my door after closing up shop for the summer was bittersweet…

If I were to ascribe one word to each of my first three years of teaching, the list would look like the following:

Year #1 – Overwhelming (five preps and no teaching experience were a tough combination)

Year #2 – Stressful (learning how to teach remedial reading to teenagers dependent on passing the FCAT led to much angst)

Year #3 – Magtical (the pieces started coming together)

That brings me to Year #4.

The word I’d use to describe this past year would be impactful.

As I read my students’ reflections last week, had conversations with parents over the last couple of days, and talked to my mentor, Cinda, I grew to realize that my relationship building skills had grown by leaps and bounds this year.

I’ve often said that you can’t teach if you don’t have a relationship with students.

This never proved more true than this year.

One of my classes was comprised of students who were in double blocks of reading and math, so they spent over half of their day together.

That’s a lot of time for annoyances to creep in…for tempers to flare.

Flare they did, and class could get very “interesting” at times.

I worked very hard to build rapport in this class.

I didn’t always do a good job holding my tongue as frustration set in on particular rough days, but students and I learned to reflect thanks to Cinda’s modeling early in the year.

My students and I learned how to pick apart lessons that had gone awry…procedures that weren’t fitting in with the classroom environment…and changes were made.

I did this with all of my classes.  What worked for one class had to be changed for another to fit that class’s needs.

As students saw me reflecting and taking action, they began to do the same.

This was very impactful, and I witnessed students’ conversations naturally leading to introspection.

It was an amazing process to behold.

Another thing that happened this year was that my students became genuine book lovers.

I have always fought my students when it came to silent reading time.

This year, I purchased many, many books for my classroom library.

If a student found an author he/she liked, I bought all of the books by that writer.

If a student enjoyed the first book in a series, I bought the rest of the books.

Students began having conversations about their books.  I learned that just because students were talking during class did not mean the conversations were about boys/girls or the latest parties they had been to.

Kids were talking about books.

They were showing each other funny parts of the books.

They were borrowing each others’ books.

My class that had the toughest road to travel…well, that class seriously could not stop talking about books.  I’m really not kidding.

Take a look at the letter a student in that class wrote to me.  She gave it to me the last day of school.

Click to embiggen

As you saw in the letters of advice my students wrote to next year’s students, they read…a lot…and they reflected on their reading through the writing exercises that followed.

This was impactful.

The last day I had each class, students talked about how sad they were to leave…how much they were going to miss me.

They had watched the movies I had made for them…slideshows comprised of photos taken throughout the year.

They had laughed and cried as they watched the school year fly by, frame by frame.

Strong bonds were forged this year…student-to-student and student-to-teacher.

I called a parent today to discuss her son’s wonderful progress on FCAT, and we had a lengthy conversation.

She asked if I had been the person who had made the movie, and I said yes.  I had given CDs of that class’s movie to the students after they requested copies.

This mom and her son had watched the movie together at home.  I heard the tears in her voice as she said, “You done something to him with that video.  It changed him.”

He had been impacted by the images…reminders that he had been important to me.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I sat at my desk and cried after I hung up the phone…humbled at the blessings that the Lord has bestowed on me through this marvelous career He led me to.

I have so many stories I could share with you…stories I’ve constantly shared with my mentor.

I do so…not to brag but to share how amazed I am every single time someone tells me thank you.

There are so many difficult days of teaching…times when lesson plans don’t work…students misbehave…decisions get made by asinine state officials who have never stood in front of a classroom.

At the end of the day, what matters most is the impact I’ve had on each child who has crossed my threshold.

This was, by far, my best year of teaching to date.

I got into teaching because I believed in the power of shaping young minds.

I never knew that I’d be shaping their hearts as well.

The picture below shows a happy face…mine…one that is excited to go home and kick off summer vacation with a long nap.

What you don’t see is my heart…enlarged and filled to the brim with an intense love for people who, nine months ago, were strangers…now grafted into my ever-growing family.

These kiddos will always be my children, and I will never forget them nor their impact on my life.

Feeling Lazy

Don’t be a hater.

Some days I just don’t feel like doing much…

The dogs like it when I have lazy days…

Even when they do wake up, they imitate my example and lay around staring out the windows…

Yes, it’s a tough life…this summer vacation thing…but I think that I earned it.  The dogs appreciate my career choice as well as my decision to truly relax this summer.

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