Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

We've just returned from the Christmas Eve service at the beautiful church in Delaplane, VA and I was reminded of what may be my favorite carol. We can all give our hearts during this season, no matter what tethers us financially, physically or emotionally!

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

221. In the Bleak Midwinter

Text: Christina G. Rossetti, 1830-1894
Music: Gustav Holst, 1874-1934
Tune: CRANHAM, Meter: Irr.

1. In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, 
 earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; 
 snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, 
 in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

2. Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain; 
 heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign. 
 In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed 
 the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ. 

3. Angels and archangels may have gathered there, 
 cherubim and seraphim thronged the air; 
 but his mother only, in her maiden bliss, 
 worshiped the beloved with a kiss. 

4. What can I give him, poor as I am? 
 If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; 
 if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; 
 yet what I can I give him:  give my heart.

Friday, December 23, 2011

There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays!

Here I sit with a coffee in my hand, the smells of a fantastic breakfast fill the room, the tree stands proud and dawned with ornaments, and my presents for others are wrapped and sound under the tree. Dad sits reading to us from his chosen media pastime (the newspaper, magazine, latest novel, or internet article), Mom moves between making breakfast rounds and writing Christmas cards, Willem is nestled in the basement watching, well, something, Jim takes Leif out for a romp,  and Phoebe, the latest riser, makes her way down the stairs.

All is well.

May your days be merry and bright!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Listen, listen...

Candle time is over now and reading time has passed,
Little children rest for tomorrow will come at last.
Do not pay attention to the noises of the night,
Hark angels guide you 'til God send the morning light.
(Adult/Parent Chorus)

Get out of bed
We hear it call
With that bright star
Dancing it's light

Get out of bed
We hear it call
Now is the happiest night of all...
(Children Chorus)

Listen, listen...

Listen, listen...

Listen, listen...

These lyrics have been sung by me and by many during the holiday season at school and SCORE concerts. This is one of my dad's many beautiful gifts to communities in our area and they just keep giving as we remember and are comforted by these words and melodies!

Today is my second day of a two week break and while tonight is not Christmas Eve, I am reminding myself to enjoy this beautiful season of gift-giving, love, and joy!

To revert back to a previous post- I am going to be still, and I am also going to listen!

As a reminder more to myself than to anyone... stop and smell the hot cocoa and evergreens, gaze at the poinsettias, and bundle up in that warm sweater because this is a season to savor.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


On April 16, 2007 a gunman shot and killed 33 people on the Virginia Tech campus. A stunned country and world watched and waited as the details came forward. I sat in my dorm room on Longwood's campus and let the news play on the TV all day long, my heart breaking for the families, friends, students, professors, and community involved.

Not many years later I find myself working and living in the community that's still healing from the pain and angst felt on that dreadful day. It's not a day that "must-not-be-named," on the contrary, it's a day that comes up in conversation and everyone has their own story.

At 1 PM today I had just led my students back from the library and they were changing classes. Most of my next period were settled and writing in their Day Books when I was summoned into the hall. A gunman on the Tech campus, gun shots, people dead, killer on the loose. Lockdown.

My mind wanted to jump to debating whether or not Jim's school was really considered to be Tech campus or not. Would they have told me if it was the Research Park, specifically? Or is that just known as campus? Or was it on the main campus?

Those aren't questions you can ask when there are students relying on you. Students who know that you never leave the room, unless there's something important. And those aren't thoughts you can really entertain when you have a poor poker face, and the students know that, too.

So, you just relax. And follow the lesson plan.

Until the lesson plan ends and it's really time for the students to leave.

Lockdown continued. What then?

Well, then you pretend that it's really all still fine. You see, you'd really been planning on staying with those students for an extra hour after school. The bag of tricks was poised and waiting all along, without you even knowing it!

Just break the students into groups and give them a challenge! Using only a piece of looseleaf paper, four paperclips, one rubberband, and some masking tape, make a contraption that will take the longest to fall, when dropped from the ceiling. Stand on a stool (get some weird looks and laughs from the principal and guidance counselor when the come by for checks and information), time them, get a drumroll, and announce the winners.

Still on lockdown.

Okay, now regroup and plan what you would do to make it better! New supplies, if needed. Time them, drumroll, and announce the winners!

You guessed it, still on lockdown.

New challenge! Using five pieces of copy paper, a piece of masking tape, and scissors, make the tallest, stand-alone tower you can!

20-25 minutes go by.

Lockdown is released. Buses are ready!

No measuring of towers needed. Pillars all over the classroom.


Now it's time to debate with myself about that campus topic. What is the med. school considered?

An email from Jim with the subject, "I'm OKay!" Just relax.

Pretend it's in the plan.

There were two people killed on the campus today. One was a VT Campus police officer, the other is thought to be the gunman. VT was criticized in 2007 for not communicating with the student body quickly and making sure that procedures were taken to secure a lockdown. Today VT has proven that their alert systems are far superior than they had been before.

We are thankful that our schools took the safety precautions that they did. And today I am thankful for the purpose I was given in that moment to care for others, rather than to succumb to worry and concern. We certainly don't feel less safe in our town.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Roof Over Your Head Day

I receive email updates for the holiday that goes with each day through I started going to this site to assit me in writing prompts for my students to choose from each day during Day Book time. But it's become an email that I'm eager to open every day, unlike the many spam/advertisement emails I get and immediately delete.

Sometimes they are cheesy holidays, other times I question whether there really should be a Lemon Cupcake Day or a Strawberry Shortcake Day, but sometimes I'm convicted and sometimes I become more educated.

Today I am convicted. As I took a break in my warm house from throwing clay on the wheel and listening to Christmas music, I read that today is "Roof Over Your Head Day!"

And did you know the following?

December 3, 2011 is

National Roof Over Your Head Day

Today is National Roof Over Your Head Day! Buying a house is often the single largest investment a person will make in his or her lifetime. Did you know that the homeownership rate in the United States is around 66% of the population? Studies have shown that homeowners are more active in their communities, have improved education opportunities, and report higher levels of self-esteem and happiness.
Regardless of whether you rent or own, today is an opportunity to take a moment to appreciate the roof over your head!
December is National Fruit Cake Month & National Egg Nog Month
While I hope to be a homeowner one day, I find it fascinating to hear what studies have found about those who are. It is the simple and mundane things that we take for granted that really make all of the difference in how we are in our home, our work, and in our community. Interesting and humbling!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Still, still, still...

It's easy to be swept up with the busyness of the holiday season, to rush to and fro, to yearn for vacation in the distant near future, and forget to enjoy the moments in the here and now.

As I prepped for dinner, continued with a Christmas present, walked the dogs, and made a mental list of what I should do in the morning, the song "Still, Still, Still" came onto my Pandora station.

I was reminded to be still, to sleep, and to dream.

It's time to attempt to be still in a time when I want to push and fly through.

But we can choose to be still.

Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed,
The world is sleeping,
Holy Star its vigil keeping.
Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.

Sleep, sleep, sleep,
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.
The night is peaceful all around you,
Close your eyes,
Let sleep surround you.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
'Tis the eve of our Saviour's birth.

Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.
While guardian angels without number,
Watch you as you sweetly slumber.
Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.

More lyrics:,_still,_still_lyrics_christmas_songs.html
All about Christmas Songs:

Because there will be joyous days to come, but they are also present each day. Be still and hear the falling snow!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Time

Our days were filled with laughter, jokes, sharing, games, movies, shows, cooking, wood-piling, hiking, feasting, a bonfire, crafting, singing, chatting, and delving into deeper conversations- as any truly great holiday should be spent!

Jim spent parts of his break studying (no surprise!) and I had some good therapy/energizer/brainstorming ideas sessions with my fellow teachers on both sides of the family!

Leif did give us a slight scare when he impaled himself on a stick while running through the woods, but he's recovering with a little help from some medicine and rest. No more hikes for us this weekend! Well, maybe just him ;)
Nevertheless, we've had a wonderful time with both of our families. Here are a few pictures/highlights:

Pheebs received this awesome hat from a friend and wanted a picture with the other "bearded"members of the family! :)

We became the wanna-bes!

This blog would not be complete without mentioning the two biggest highlights of this weekend, though! The first came when we had just finished the our incredible feast and Dad hopped up from the table and went to the piano (which happens to be in the same room). Without even announcing what he was doing, he proceeded to play a song that signifies Thanksgiving to our family. 

Dad was working at a Friends school in Maryland when a lead sheet just randomly appeared on his piano. He never could find the person who put it there, but when he looked over the it he decided it was the perfect Thanksgiving song- and it is! He has brought Thanksgiving Time into the lives of so many people. Every school he has taught for sang the song each Thanksgiving, some still keeping the tradition long after he moved on to another school. I even taught it to my Kindergarteners for a Thanksgiving Chapel in Louisiana!

So, when the chords began... we leapt aboard, some unable to sing because they were too choked up, and those normally too stubborn to submit to a moment like this also became swept into the mood and belted the melody with their full heart. It was heart-warming and may just turn into our own family tradition, since none of us are able to sing it as students in school anymore!

The second highlight was the opportunity for Jim's family to chat with Christine for more than an hour. She is currently studying at St. Andrews in Scotland and will be home for Christmas, but was not able to return for Thanksgiving. So, we brought her into our dining room for some of the afternoon! The first few minutes were spent like this and then people moved, got comfortable, rotated chairs, and just pretended she was right in the room with us. Technology is wonderful!

We hope you had a joyous Thanksgiving time!!!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Our Thankful List (not necessarily in order of significance):

1. To have goals, as a teacher and a medical student, to achieve and strive to meet.

2. To have a loving network of family and friends who help to guide and support us through our peaks and valleys.

3. For our house, though we often complain, which does provide us shelter from storms and a safe haven for us and our pups.

4. For our car that gets us the many miles we need to go throughout our days, weeks, months, and years.

5. To have opportunities to travel to lands unlike our own and glean lessons and a different world view from those experiences.

6. For music and it's emotional outlet and connection to memories, people, and places.

7. For the simple joys that come with hobbies and making things with our own two hands.

8. For the beautiful location where we live, with so many opportunities for great hikes, paddles, bike rides, and more.

9. For mentors who share their life experiences and invest time and energy in our own.

10. For the opportunities we have to impact the lives of others (for the good) through our occupations or future occupations.

11. For the endurance, strength, and perseverance our parents fostered within us.

12. For our health and for the health of our family and friends... we had a few scary moments this year. We are thankful.

13. For warm fires, food in the fridge and cupboards, and clean water in our faucets.

14. For the dreams we share about our future...

15. For the many things we did not list here, but should have.

We look forward to sharing Thanksgiving with both of our families this year and are thankful for the time we get to spend with them!!!

What are you thankful for this holiday season?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

That's our boy!

Though I despise allowing pets onto our furniture, Leif has basically claimed a chair. And if you sit in it then you can bet he's going to pester you for it. There's only a matter of time before you're going to get up and leave AND you probably won't remember to place something in the chair to inhibit him from claiming it as his own.

It's a tough life for our boy...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Friend & Family Connections

This weekend I trekked to Richmond and then Newport News to see some friends and then family. If I could spend every weekend, or every other weekend, doing just that then I would. It takes me some time to make friends who touch me to the core, but once that happens I have a difficult time letting go. And when it comes to my family nothing compares to the emotional connection and love I have for just being around them, observing, laughing, and, yes, crying.

In Richmond I stopped, and got stuck in some crazy marathon traffic, to have brunch with my dear suitesweet-mate Lindsay. We lived next door freshman year and have remained very close. She's like a sister or close cousin (since some of my cousins are basically sisters) to me and her mother passed away two weeks ago of ovarian cancer. She fought a good fight for two years. Hence, some tears were definitely shed... but man, Lindz is one strong woman!

Newport News was the final destination and Willem did an amazing job in his lead role of Ferdinand. He played a troubled Duke who had incestuous feelings toward his sister. Disturbing? Yes! However, it was disturbing because he played the part magnificently. His stage presence, emotion, and voice quality set him apart from the others. He made me very proud.

I'm able to officially say that he was set apart because I had a second pair of eyes with me and SHE said it first. It's not just the biased sister in me! We got to spend time with our cousin Lisa, who lives in Norfolk, VA. It was great to get to watch the show with her and then the three of us grabbed a beer afterward to debrief and catch up.

Fortunately, Lisa remembered to snap a picture with her phone or else we'd have no proof :)

You've gotta love a weekend full of loving friends and family! There's just something about close family & friend bonds that do wonders for the heart. And I mean appropriate bonds, unlike those on stage this weekend...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Peril Harbor

My students never cease to amaze me. In this case, they made what would seem to qualify as a Freudian slip. While grading my students Reader's Journals (RJs) today I came across two words that two different students substituted to represent a time in our nation's history.

"Conservation camp" for concentration or internment camp


"Peril Harbor" for Pearl Harbor

We recently read "The Bracelet," by Yoshiko Uchida, which tells the story of a young Japanese American whose family is forced to leave their home and go to an internment camp after Pearl Harbor.

I don't know about conservation camp, but Peril Harbor certainly made me stop, think, and smile.

We certainly could rename that location or event, as the following two definitions fit what occurred on that day, and what came afterward...

per·il/ˈperəl/ noun:
1. Serious and immediate danger.
2. The dangers or difficulties that arise from a particular situation or activity.

Quite intuitive, don't you think? Even if he did or did not realize it!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Savvy Skills

While Jim was woodworking this evening he cut himself and went to clean it up. Being that he is a medical student, he made sure to bandage it up very well so that he could keep working. There's no stopping his progress on his newest project. Check out his lovely handy-work!

I believe this would fall under "use the resources you have" category. He doesn't have a suture kit yet, but we always have duct tape!

Along the same lines, I wore my hair a different way yesterday at school. I showed my savvy skills at hair-dressing and switched things up a bit. And many of the students commented on how they liked my hair, stated that they had never seen my hair this way, and told me I should wear it that way more often. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I wore my hair in a ponytail! Little do they know that since my hair is just, almost, long enough to fit into a ponytail again, this will be my only hair-do for months to come!

We're a talented duo :)

Friday, November 4, 2011


In the winter, nothing beats eating a good grapefruit. I try not to let the advertisements and the creative displays at the grocery sway and convince me to buy items that weren't on my list. But grapefruits were certainly NOT on my list and boy were they calling to me!

And why shouldn't they call to me?

It's the change in the seasons, the brown of the leaves, and the beginning of cold sniffles that make it oh-so-right to get citrus, even if it isn't on "the list!"

And it's also okay if it isn't on your list the next week you head to the grocery store. They're helping me fight off any colds that may come my way.

There are so many good foods to look forward to in the colder months: hot chocolate, oatmeal, oranges, clementines, grapefruits, yorkshire pudding(!), Thanksgiving turkey and side dishes and desserts, roasts, soups, and more. More than food there are warm fires, down blankets, warm and bulky sweaters, smartwool socks, boots, and most of all, snow days!

I always struggle when people talk about their favorite season because it's so hard to choose. That's saying a lot coming from a teacher who gets her summers off! But there's so much to look forward to during every season and right now I am focusing on the wonders and positives of winter, since summer is so far away.

Thank goodness for grapefruits or I may not have begun thinking about how lovely this time of the year really is!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

58th Birthday!

Living in Blacksburg, VA almost mandates that you need to attend a VT football game at some point. Being that my dad is the biggest sports enthusiast I know, it was only a matter of time before he needed to partake in the "Hokie Nation," as they call it. And what better time to go but for his birthday!

And he truly soaked it all in. From the walk from VCOM, to viewing the airstrip with planes coming in, to watching the many RVs full of tailgaters play cornhole, to observing the flow of maroon and orange pour into Lane Stadium, to watching the whole stadium shake and dance the "Hokie Pokie," he enjoyed it all. And through watching his amazement, I enjoyed it too.

I was even brought back to my childhood when he returned from the vendor with some Cracker Jacks!!! That used to be a treat we'd have together. And as I got to the end of the bag (no, it wasn't in a box) I remembered that I used to eat all of the peanuts first, to savor the caramelized popcorn. The things you forget :)

But the best was that he said he had never been to anything like this before. The spirit and kindness of the fans and the gorgeous day made for a wonderful experience! Not only that, but it was a great game. The Hokies were down at the half and game back to win it all 30-14!

We had a blast.

And it didn't stop there. Jim had spent the morning preparing a gumbo, which he let simmer while we were at the game. He also made homemade bread! What a feast to have after a chilly day outside watching football. We spent the evening around a fire in the fireplace, as any good fall day should end.

Today is his actual birthday and therefore he got a few more presents. His favorite present was his ENO hammock!

And, much too soon, they packed up and were on their way back to Paris. What a lovely weekend!

Come back soon! We loved hosting you. Miss you both.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Catching Camaraderie

Frisbee, as I have heard and witnessed, is certainly a sport that exemplifies camaraderie and teamwork. Phoebe, my sister, joined the frisbee team at her university last year and that was all she wrote; she's in love with the sport and crazy about her friends. And it shows through her conversations and busy schedule.

This weekend we all traveled to see her and her team play their first tournament of the year. Not only was it a beautiful weekend, but it was wonderful to see her in her element. Playing a sport she loves, with people she loves, while being loved by everyone around her- she practically glowed!

And, as normally happens when you're around Phoebe, we all caught the enthusiasm!

Here are a few pictures from the weekend.

I didn't catch any of our wonderful host, David, but we had a great time catching up with a great friend. We also got to go to Capital Ale House two times in one weekend- who can complain about that? Not me! The first time we went with our friends and the second time we introduced our parents to the Richmond treasure.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fostering Reading

Yesterday, during lunch, my colleagues and I had a great conversation about reading. Specifically, reading and how it needs to be fostered within the home. If the children don't see their parents reading, then what's the point? Why do they need to read for homework while their parents sit and watch TV? It's not a skill they see used, so why is it really that important?

And, if they weren't read to throughout their childhood, then their road to literacy has had many cracks, potholes, and obstructions from the beginning. We've got to interfere before they come to the dead end.

My mom just happened to have posted these pictures this morning, reminding me of just how much reading was fostered in our household. Admittedly, I was not the biggest fan of reading. Give me an afternoon of freedom and you'd find me down in the creek or up in a tree. My siblings are incredible readers, quick readers, and analytical readers.

I was surrounded by literature, encouraged to read books that interest me, taken to the library, and read to at night. Not only that, but you would/will never find a night when my parents weren't/aren't reading. Newspapers, magazines, books, plays, and more books fill my parents' house.

I am growing into that more and more each year and being an English teacher has definitely molded me into a lover of rich texts. I never would have chosen this job for myself, that's for sure! But it wasn't because the foundation wasn't in place in my house. And I still received all of the skills I needed to make it through college and now to begin enjoying... yes, enjoying reading for pleasure and with students!!!

It's sometimes dismal for me to teach English due to the fact that we've already lost so much ground. The foundations, for these children, are still in shambles after 11 years. Construction needs to be fast, but often seems too slow and delayed. Or worse yet, they regress, for one reason or another. Many leap forward, but it's the ones we lose...

Time lost. Wasted moments. Books closed. TV on. Worlds, plots, characters left unexplored.

Tomorrow we'll finish the novel we've been reading for the last few weeks. It's a mystery and the students, both avid and lazy readers, are exploding with ideas for the suspects and how the plot is unfolding! It's truly a joy to be a part of this experience with them. Some who started out paying little attention to the novel are now the most active in the investigation and pulling pieces of the text together in their Reader's Journal or in classroom discussions. I always get a bit sad when we finish a novel, for it brings such unity to the classroom. But it's a reminder of how far we've come and drives my need/love for fostering a love for reading.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Woodsman

This week we received a HUGE and unexpected gift. A gift that Jim appreciated much more than I ever could. A gift that served as a leisure and study break, as well as a source of warmth in days to come, and an opportunity to buy new toys tools.

Yes, this week our landlord decided to take down a massive oak tree right next to our house. And, when asked, allowed us to take the fallen wood for ourselves, as long as we split it ourselves.

I came home to my husband grinning from ear to ear. He brought me outside like it was Christmas morning and showed me his new ax and his new splitter. Mind you, this medical student was in the middle of two weeks of finals, but this did not stop his drive to chop all of the wood. (It helped that another neighbor was vying for the same load of wood, too ;)

You wouldn't believe how many pictures I tried to snap of this man cutting wood. He never stopped moving, they're all blurry, and none of them catch the childish grin pasted on his face.

One day he came inside and said, "I don't know if I'll be able to move my hands in the OMM (Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine) practical tomorrow." He yearns for hard labor and exercise and opportunities to use his tools to complete a necessary task. Never seeking to something impractical or to spend extraneous money, he is known to go to some extremes. Nothing would stop him from enjoying the cutting of this wood and splitting of kindling. And, let it be known, his practical went without a flaw.

Another extreme has to do with his search for wooden pallets. This summer we went to the school board office so that I could sign my contract and Jim waited in the car while I went inside. When I got back in the car there was a pallet of wood from a parking lot across the street. He used this to make us a beautiful three-drawer dresser for the bathroom. I say beautiful, yes. That's definitely how I would describe this pallet wood furniture because he sanded it and chose pieces with a beautiful orange and blue tint. A new and prized furniture item in our house.

But most of the time he gets his pallets from the dumpster in a parking lot of a company on his bike ride home from school. It's free and it assists him in his passion for woodworking on a low budget!

This man is also finishing a dog house for our dogs. The house is made out of MANY things and all of them haven't cost us a cent. Well, all except the $6.00 straw bale I picked up from Southern States. It's made of straw, sawdust (from my school's wood shop), wooden pallets, cardboard (many, many of our old cereal boxes, shoe boxes, and whatnot), wine bottles, dirt, and mud.

To go with the theme of this week we attended the Highlander Festival in Radford, VA yesterday morning. It was a true treat to walk around the Scottish, Irish, and Celtic craft booths, hear the bagpipes, and watch the athletes in kilts compete in throwing a 17 pound rock the largest distance. Back to Jim's Scottish roots and back to his love for hard, rough tasks.

All while completing two weeks of finals. He knows how to balance. Never ceases to amaze me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

You May Say I'm a Dreamer...

But I'm not the only one :)

(Baby Me in Brooklyn, NY)

A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
Oscar Wilde

A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.
John Barrymore

All human beings are also dream beings. Dreaming ties all mankind together.
Jack Kerouac

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.
T. E. Lawrence

All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection. So I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible.
William Faulkner

Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Dreaming men are haunted men.
Stephen Vincent Benet

Dreaming or awake, we perceive only events that have meaning to us.
Jane Roberts

Dreams are the touchstones of our character.
Henry David Thoreau

Dreams are today's answers to tomorrow's questions.
Edgar Cayce

Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?
Alfred Lord Tennyson

Tonight I enjoyed reading through these quotes, as lately, I feel as though I've been dreaming, yearning, and pleading within myself for more. It's been an unsettled existence, but not unhappy, just seeking the next move. Mulling over the chess move of my opponent and willing myself to make the most careful and informed placement for what may happen next. It's exciting, really!

And it's a focused, structured, and yet open future.

Health. Vehicle. Occupation. Medical School. Family. Location. Knowledge. Travel. Opportunity. To name a few.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Pinterest has certainly piqued my interest!

It has me dreaming about vacation and time. But it's also convicted me that I need to make the time for these project to revitalize myself after long days and rough weeks. It's another tough, draining year, but we'll survive with a little help from pinterest.

Look for me on there, as that's where I've been :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday, Monday

I had already determined that today was going to be lousy. I hardly got any sleep, the weekend ended far too quickly, and far too much down time was spent grading! I wasn't quite ready.

But the students had decided that today would be anything but the dreaded Monday. This happened even in my hardest class with everyone there!

Yes, I'll take every Monday just like it was today. With time to write in my own Day Book, students getting straight to work, many opportunities to add silent speedball points, and solid work on menu choices for the novel, there's hardly anything I would change!

So Monday, you are allowed to visit again, but I am content with moving on to Tuesday :)

And I might, just might, be the only one who is hoping for a little more rain because my husband just surprised me by buying me a pair of galoshes. Keen galoshes, no less, with a cozy, fuzzy lining that will be comfortable in winter, spring, summer or fall! I wouldn't mind a good splash in a puddle now...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My Evening Outlet

Do you ever receive a gift card from someone and then wait 9 months before actually using it? Eek! Well, I do!

Today I went and purchased beads, clasps and stringing wire to make some new pieces of jewelry to jazz up my wardrobe and outfits, as well as to feed my creative urges.

Walking up and down the bead aisle in Michaels is such a fun thing to do! The colors are beautiful, grouped in warm and cool colors, brights and naturals, plastic and glass, wood and stone; a true feast for the eyes and to the touch.

If only my tastes weren't for the most expensive beads... Fortunately, there was a sale and I had a gift card.

So, after spending an hour on that aisle and two hours at home, I now have one new necklace and three new bracelets. Playing with combinations of colors and beads and then stringing and restringing made for a fun evening.

In the end I have discovered that simple is still my style.
I still feel like I am playing dress-up sometimes.
I am, after all, only 25. Right?

****Speaking of which.... HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY to my dear cousin, Julie! I hope that you are having a wonderful square-dancing jamboree this evening!!! Wish I could be there. Love you.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Laws of Nature

Recently we witnessed a snake's attempt to devour a toad.

We watched as the snake bit the hindquarters of the poor creature, amazed that it would even attempt this feat.

And just as we thought that the toad had met the end of his existence, he began to move, struggle, and fight back. Still the snake kept its steadfast clasp.

Then the toad made another valiant effort and kicked its way out of the snake's hold.

Quickly the snake slithered off and the toad sat with goo and saliva-covered legs, but it was safe.

Sometimes life just isn't fair... and sometimes it is. The laws of nature were reversed that day. It's refreshing to see that happen. A reminder to keep trying and be resilient. The outcome just might surprise us.

Monday, September 5, 2011

To Make You Feel My Love

Great weekend with great friends! It does my heart such good.

Now here I sit and try to catch up on lesson plans and grading and laundry. It has poured since we came home, so we haven't even unpacked the car! Can't say I am looking forward to that :)

This song came on Pandora and it always relaxes me. Where would we be without music to calm our nerves and cut right to our souls.

To Make You Feel My Love - Mick Mcauley & Winifred Horan Version

When the rain is blowing in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I could offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love.

When the evening shadows and the stars appear
There is no one there to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love.

I know you haven't made your mind up yet
But I wouldn't do you wrong
I knew it from the moment that we met
No doubt in my mind where you belong.

I'd go hungry, I'd go black and blue
I'd go crawling down the avenue
You know there's nothing that I wouldn't do
To make you feel my love.

The storms are raging on the rolling sea
And on the highway of regret
The winds of change are blowing wild and free
You ain't seen nothing like me yet

I could make you happy, make your dreams come true
Oh, there's nothing that I wouldn't do
Go to the ends of the earth for you
To make you feel my love

The lyrics work for a couple in love, but they also apply to our group of friends. We do have those friends who would go to the end of the earth for us, and we for them. There's often nothing that they wouldn't do. We are thankful for those who could come this weekend and those who couldn't. We are thankful for their compassion and joy.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Labor Day Camping!!!

It's finally arrived!

Ever since graduating from college I have thought it would be fun to get a group of friends together for a few days. Well, this has finally come to fruition! After a year of feeler emails, voting, and organizing, we will all arrive at the same state park tomorrow night. Everyone's signed up to bring one meal and knows their tent group! 3 campsites, 14 people (two had to back out due to family stuff with the hurricane), and 4 dogs. Too fun.

We plan on making this a tradition, as Labor Day is not a common family holiday and it's a great way to ensure that we spend time together for at least one weekend a year. There are many friends who could not make it this year, but plan on coming in the future. Perhaps one day we'll upgrade and head to a beach house, but for now we are happy to be together around a campfire and in the great outdoors.

We are very excited. Pictures to come!

Here's a picture of our hike to McAfee's Knob with a good friend, Malcolm, and his friend.

We actually did this hike on the day when most of our family was experiencing the hard rains of hurricane Irene. I suppose we are too far west and therefore only experienced extreme humidity and then dry breezes. Afterwards we went to The Homeplacw where they serve family-style and ole country cooking. Did I mention that it's all you can eat? And it's not a buffet! The perfect post-hike meal.

Who wants to visit and head there?

Have a wonderful three day weekend!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Routine Shmoutine

I do not, in the slightest, think of myself as a routine person. My body does not fall into a regular schedule and neither does my mind. I often fly by the seat of my pants for cooking dinner, getting up in the morning, or weekend or vacation plans. But I do, however, have some household chores each day and a flexible weekend schedule for laundry, grocery shopping, and whatnot.

It's a bit how I was brought up. We made it to the required activities on time and always kept a calendar for important events, but our beds were not made and our items were not always in order. And that was and is just fine.

But when you step into my classroom, routines are the name of the game. In reflecting, I don't believe I meant for this to be my motto, but that's what's happened.

During the tumultuous time that is the beginning of school, I have spent a great deal of time introducing, reviewing, practicing, and living the routines of my classroom. My throat is raw. Routines are falling into place, but they are not fully established. We still have a long way to go but there are moments where I sit back in awe of how far we've come in just a week and a half.

Without routines my classroom would spiral out of control, but with them I can hear myself think. I can check in with each student at the beginning of class and they can be independent for the first 20+ minutes of class, for now. The routines actually allow for flexibility during my lessons, which may seem absurd.

This year I have an Aspberger student in my classroom. He only comes to a few periods a day and then leaves at lunch. My class was chosen because we have a routine and it's calm. But the fly-by-your-seat teacher gets a bit nervous with this!

You see, my planning period is anything but routine and calm. During the first two periods of the day I am at my computer, in the office, back to my computer, printing to the library, retrieving paper from the library, checking with special ed, meeting with gifted resource teacher, back to the office, back at my computer, to the teachers lounge to make a copy, back to my classroom to set up the board, whoops!- back to make one last copy, and then rushing back because the students are coming.

My lesson plans are done and typed on Sunday night, but I always email them out with the disclaimer that they are "flexible." I often come up with a better idea during my planning period and then I scrap the intial plan, sometimes. Other times I follow the plans to a tee.

But the routine(s) save the day, as the student knows what to expect when he comes to class. There will be a "To Do" on the SMARTBoard with an editing assignment and writing prompts and the day's agenda will always be on the chalkboard. I normally eek that in during the last 5 minutes before the students arrive!

So, I suppose that perhaps I do fall into a routine. A fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants planning period that makes it look like I have everything together during those last few minutes.

And look, it's around 9:30 PM. Boy am I tired! Time to head for bed, as usual.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It Comes in Waves

Thursday Teacher Work Day in...

... Friday Teacher Work Day out

Driving to OBX...

...checking into hotel.

Heading out to the beach...

Body-surfing the waves with the four people above was one of the most relaxing and rejuvenating moments of the summer. My family hardly went to the beach while we were growing up, but we all love to be there. We savor it; we take every moment we can to have our feet in the sand and the salty wind in our hair. Well, on Saturday afternoon we were there. And each of the four of us were there completely. We spent a bit more than two hours standing or treading water at chest level, waiting for a good wave to ride into shore.

At one point I commented to my dad, "You seem to be hitting the waves just right over there. How do you know which spot to go?"

He shrugged with an almost comical smile and sheepish grin and said, "It comes in waves."

And it certainly did.

That evening we saw Willem perform in Lost Colony on Roanoke Island. What a production! I am so proud of him. And, can you imagine wearing this costume during HOT summer evenings, while also moving massive, heavy sets across a sandy floored stage? He's a dedicated soldier, my friends.

That night he came to visit us in our hotel for a few hours. The next day Mom and I went for a lovely walk on the beach at sunrise. It was a beautiful morning.

The sun was beautiful, the water was gorgeous, but our footprints being washed away by the waves was the most fascinating to me. Three tiny waves on the beach and our deep imprints were wiped clean. How wonderful that we can make a mark and have it removed so quickly. How humbling, too.

After the walk we got breakfast and returned to the beach for another walk with Dad. We scoured the beach for shells and shards of shells. Out and in, out and in... it was time for me to go, but I stopped and visited Willem for lunch on my way. Out and in...

Sunday night in...

... out to Monday Teacher Work Day

Tuesday Teacher Work Day in...

... out and home for my last evening before school starts.

Play and work. They, too, come in waves!