Monday, May 22, 2017

Summer Goals Check-In #1

I know, technically, it's not even summer vacation yet.  But I felt like this was a good time for a baseline check of how things are going in each of my selected areas of interest.  I'll try to do this every couple of weeks this summer to keep you, my dozens of readers, up-to-date and to keep myself honest.

  • Read more. -  I haven't started reading yet, unless you count the books I bought for my nieces. But it's on starting Thursday.  I haven't completely organized my reading list, but I'm looking forward to a lot of time in my sun room reading this summer.  
  • Turn off the TV.  - Not doing so hot on this one either, but I am exercising while I watch, so that's an improvement, at least.  I mean, Netflix released the new season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt this weekend and I got hooked on their new true crime documentary, The Keepers.  The Lemonade episode of Kimmy is so great (and the season as a whole has some great laughs).  But let me talk for a minute about The Keepers.  I still have two episodes left and I am so intrigued by that entire story.  I don't want to spoil it with too many details, but it's a murder mystery involving a nun, but so much more is revealed in the process.  I highly recommend the series.  
  • Lose weight/Eat right. - I'm doing really well with this particular goal.  I've lost 13.2 pounds since I started about two weeks ago.  I'm watching what I eat (using the Lose It! app) and exercising a lot (thanks, Fitbit!).  I still have a long way to reach my first goal, but it certainly doesn't seem like such a pipe dream anymore.  
  • Learn to cook. -  Okay, I'm not really eating junk, but  I'm also not really cooking yet.  I've pinned some recipes that I'm interested in and I'm looking forward to having plenty of time to work on them.  
  • Prep curriculum. - I'm in the "gathering up what I need" stage at the moment.  Of course, I also live very close to my school, so it's not like I can't come trade out when I needed.  I am looking forward to putting together some fun projects for next year for a several of my classes. (At this point, I'm not even totally sure what all I'm teaching next year, but I am working on what I know.)
  • Go on adventures.  - With my sister having time off each week, I'm guaranteed an adventure or two at some point.  I'm also going to be hanging with the nieces a lot more, so who knows what we might be up to?!  
I'm well on my way to summer vacation!  Wednesday is my last official day, so I'm looking forward to not waking up to an alarm on Thursday.  I will check back in on my goals Monday, June 5.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. May 17th is National Pack Rat Day. Sidebar-should we be celebrating this? Hmmm...
Are you a pack rat? Even if you're not a full fledged pack rat, most people have one thing or another they struggle to part with. Tell us what's yours.

As a pack rat in recovery, I don't know that we should be celebrating that.  I think teachers are pack rats by necessity, because I always think I'll use whatever I'm saving for school. Sometimes I do, but most of the time it just takes up space in a cabinet or crate.  So, I'm working to really thin out things at home and at school this summer.

Also, when did we get all these "national whatever day" notifications?  Why does everything need a day?  


2. What are two things you know you should know how to do, but you don't?


I don't know how to change a tire. I know that I should, but I've always happily let my dad take care of most of that kind of thing.  I don't know that I should be able to do this, but I wish I could tile floors. It would be much easier to take care of that myself rather than pay someone and I really want tile in my bathroom and in my front room.  I'm handy enough, but that's beyond my skills set.


3. Do you crave sugar? Do you add sugar to your coffee and/or tea? Do you use artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes? When dining out is dessert a given? Are you someone who has slain the sugar dragon, and if so tell us how you did it.

I do crave sugar.  I have to have at least some in my hot tea, but will drink unsweetened iced tea.  I will use a pack of Splenda in a pinch, but I don't like the taste of artificial stuff.  I love dessert, but since I'm working to lose weight, I'm trying to be very selective about what and when I have it.  (Though they had Dippin' Dots at school on Monday, and I definitely had some.  Also, the guy who invented them graduated from my school system, so we get them from time to time.)  


4. What's a trend it took a while for you to come round to, but now you can't imagine living without?


Leggings.  I love them so much.  I wear them underneath my dresses and my tunics and it makes it very hard to love my jeans again.  


5. What's a song that reminds you of a specific incident in your life? Please elaborate.


It's funny that you ask this question this week, because it's basically the assignment my Music Appreciation kids are working on right now.  They have to create an entire timeline, but I'm just going to stick to one memory.  

I was in the eighth grade and it was about this time of year, and our high boys team had the opportunity to play another school at (old) Busch Stadium.  School was let out, and it seems like the whole county went north for the game.  Our boys played in the early afternoon, then we had tickets to watch the Cardinals that night.  My friends and their parents all stayed overnight at the hotel across the street and we all went to this little diner/bar area in the hotel and the song "Cheap Seats" by Alabama came on the jukebox.  It was a brand new song at the time and we sang along, laughing and smiling at each other.  I can still see everyone's faces.  And whenever I hear that song, I'm instantly transported right back to that sweet moment.


6. Insert your own random thought here.


I realize this was very much my random thought last week, but by the time you're reading this, I will only have five more days of work for the school year!  And I am ready for a break from that grind more with every passing moment.  I'm ready to have my own routine and schedule!  I'm ready to not wake up with an alarm clock every day.  And I'm really ready to get to work on my summer goals!!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Summer Goals

Like I said in the Hodgepodge, I'm just a couple weeks away from summer vacation.  I often joke that they have to give teachers a break so that we are willing to come back and do it all over again.  Summer is definitely about refocusing and restoration for me, but left to my own devices, I am the worst.  I stay up late and sleep later, watch too much TV and spend more time than I possibly should lounging around.  So, for this summer, I'm setting forth a few goals.


  • Read more.  -  I've already put forth the 2017 Book Challenge, but I'm only doing so-so at that. I just don't have the focus to read during the school year, so I'm going to really work on making some headway this summer.  I have a shelf full (and a Kindle full) of great books just waiting to be read!
  • Turn off the TV.  -  I love television.  I always have.  But I'm spending too much time with it. This summer, I want watching TV to be an event, not constant background noise.
  • Lose weight/Eat right.  -  My little sister gets married March of 2018.  I desperately need to lose some weight before that happens.  My big goal is 60 pounds, but I'm focusing on the daily goal of just surviving each day without completely losing it and eating an entire pan of brownies for now.
  • Learn to cook.  -  I can read a recipe, but I don't enjoy cooking.  I just don't.  But I know that to be ultimately successful at losing weight, I need to stop eating pre-packaged crap.  This means I'm going to have to be able to successfully prep and cook things that are good for me to eat.  So, that will be interesting.
  • Prep curriculum for 2017-18 - I'm teaching two different sections of American History, World History, and Music Appreciation, and while I've taught these classes before, I have several things I would like to work on before going at it again.  My goal is to spend at least a day or two a week focused on getting these plans into working order.  (And this is why teachers are never fully on break.)
  • Go on adventures.  -  I love a good adventure.  Whether it's going some place I've never been or just looking more closely at places I thought I knew, I want to go have some fun this summer!  

I know these are mostly the lame things that people always say, but I really mean them and I am fully prepared to show proof this summer as needed.  And most of all, I can't wait to get started!   (Only nine days to go!!)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Share a favorite memory of your mother or share a favorite something from your own life as a mother. If you're a mother (or stepmom) tell us how your experience as a mom differs from your own mother's experience.

I get my hysterical laughter from my mama.  When we think something is truly and wholly funny, we are known to laugh until no sound comes out and tears stream down our faces.  One such instance was years ago, when my mom, dad, brother and I had gone out to dinner.  My brother was maybe nine, and displeased that we had decided to eat Chinese food.  He remains one of the funniest people I know, and was that way even then.  He started in on a comedy routine that had Mom and I laughing so hard that by the time the waitress came to take our order, we looked like there had been some kind of tragedy at the table.  I was blessed to grow up in a house where wit and laughter were always encouraged.


2. In May we celebrate teachers (May 9) and nurses (May 6) both. Most every family has at least one in their midst, so tell us something (or a few things) you appreciate about the teacher or nurse on your family tree.


You can't hit a branch of my family tree that doesn't have a teacher or a nurse in it.  It goes back generations.  Maybe that's because post-Civil War, both were considered acceptable positions for women, but it's definitely there.  Both of my parents, one first cousin and I are teachers, my sister and two aunts are nurses.  So maybe it's simply the lineage in both of those fields of service that I appreciate so much. 


3. Chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad...which would you go for if all three were on the menu? On bread or a bed of lettuce? If you answered bread, what kind of bread would make it the perfect sandwich?


I don't like anything in a salad.  It just grosses me out.  If I had to pick, I would go with some kind of chunky chicken salad with no egg.  And definitely some good homemade bread of some type.  Because who can pass up bread?


4. Do you have a desk? Is it organized? If so, share your secret to keeping it that way. If you don't have a desk, where in your home do you take care of family paperwork and business? Where do you normally sit to blog?


I have a desk in my office at home and a desk at school.  Neither are particularly organized, but I know where most things are.  My school desk is especially out of control this time of year.  (see picture for reference.)  This is what the end of the year looks like in desk form.  Being a teacher is hard, people!




5. When I was nine years old....


my little sister was born.  And I thought she was exactly what I wanted, until she got big enough to be in my things.  There were some sketchy years when she was a student in my classroom and I was still living at home.  But now that we are both adults, we are best friends.   


6. Insert your own random thought here.


I love my job.  I was born to be a teacher.  But I am so ready for summer vacation I could scream!  Good thing we only have two more weeks!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. April showers bring May flowers or so the saying goes. Has your April been filled with showers? Do you carry an umbrella, wear a slicker, or make a run for it? Besides rain, what else has filled your April? 

We have had a very rainy spring!  In fact, it rained for most of Friday's track meet.  I had an umbrella, but that wasn't always as effective as I might have liked.  Aside from rain, I started the month with the school musical, had spring break, and then went right into track.  Love the downhill slope to the end of the school year.


2. What's something you could you give a 30-minute presentation on at a moment's notice and with zero preparation?


I'd like to think I could give a decent presentation on most things teacher-related.  Plus, I do sort of make my living doing several 30-minute presentations a day on history and literature.  (Though I might still need some notes for those.)


3. Share with us a favorite food memory from childhood.


My favorite memory is making dumpling with my grandma.  She would give us little chunks of dough and when we were tall enough we could help put them into the pot on the stove.  She's still living and occasionally still makes them and it's still my favorite.

4. What's a song you thought you knew the lyrics to, but later discovered you were wrong?


I'm kind of a lyric fanatic.  As a singer, it's kind of essential to know the words.  I'm the worst at remembering lyrics, but I do usually know what the words are supposed to be.


5. According to one travel website, the most overrated tourist attractions in America are-
Niagara Falls (NY), Hollywood Walk of Fame (California), Times Square (NYC), Epcot (FL), Seattle Space Needle (WA), and Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market (Boston). How many of these have you seen in person? Did you feel like a tourist? Did you care? Tell us about a place (not on the list) you've visited that might be considered a tourist trap, but you love it anyway.


Of that list, I've only been to Times Square.  I was 17 and definitely felt like a tourist, but it was still fun to see.  I live near the Gateway Arch of St. Louis, and it's really not particularly exciting to see (It really is just a big metal arch), but I still remember looking for it every time we went into the city as a kid.  They have done some renovations on the museum and I would like to check it out sometime once it is reopened.


6. Your signature clothing item?


I don't know what it is for sure, but it's definitely black.  I also am really fond of hoop earrings and most recently, leggings with tunics.
 

7. What's an experience you've had you think everyone should experience at least once? Why?


I would say participating in theater.  Even if it's just not of interest to you, I think it's eye-opening when you see the amount of work that goes in to even a small show.  Plus, I think that learning how to perform on a stage is a good life skill.


8. Insert your own random thought here.


I cannot wait to see Lucie Silvas and Chris Stapleton Friday night!!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge (Because I'm Averaging One a Month)


1. Setting aside the real March Madness (NCAA Basketball) describe something happening at your house this month that might earn the title 'March Madness'?

I put on a musical with about 70 or so kids participating and it happens to end right at the end of the month.  This year we are doing Beauty and the Beast and the music is difficult and the costumes are elaborate, and did I mention all the children??  Pretty much everything about my life right now is madness.


2. What's a favorite made up word from your childhood or a favorite from your children's childhood? Does your family still use the word today? If there's a story behind the origin please share.


I don't really recall one from my own childhood.  I was a dramatic kid, but I'm not sure that I ever had a made up word.


3. Will you be doing any spring cleaning now that the season is upon us? I read here a list of 15 quick (under one hour) spring cleaning tasks. They were-

clean out a drawer, vacuum furniture, whiten tile grout, dust the nooks and crannies you don't get to year round, degrease kitchen cabinets, wipe down walls, go behind furniture, wipe down ceiling fans, vacuum the mattress, clean the range hood, wash baseboards, shine the stainless steel, clean out vents, tackle the windows, and wipe down gadgets

Of the fifteen 'quick' tasks listed which two most need doing at your house? Will you do them?


Oh, Joyce, I need to do all 15 of these.  But, all of them will have to wait until I get to spring break.  I have several home improvement/cleaning projects that I'm hoping to get done during that time off. To answer the question, I will go with dusting the nooks and crannies and cleaning out drawers.  


4. A favorite movie set in Paris or New York?


I really had to think about this one, but I finally settled on the first (and only good) Sex In The City movie.  I don't think it gets much more New York City than that.  If I really went digging, I'm sure I could come up with a few more.


5. What's put a spring in your step this month?


The fact that it feels like spring again for the most part.  It warmed up early in February, but then we had a cold snap and even some brief snows before it warmed up again in the last week or so.  I'm ready for it to feel like spring, but the summer heat can take its time.  


6. Did you ever want to be a teacher? Why or why not?


I spent all of high school and one and half years of college saying that I didn't want to be a teacher.  My mom taught kindergarten most of my life and my dad teaches high school vocational classes (auto body and repair).  I couldn't imagine going into education until I did AmeriCorps.  I worked with at-risk kids and loved it, and after that there wasn't really any doubt what I was going to be.  I've been teaching for 14 years now and I can't imagine loving anything else.



7.  What's your favorite floral scent? Do you have this somewhere in your home or maybe in a perfume? How do you feel about florals in food? How about wines with floral notes-yay or nay?

I like the smell of real flowers, but I don't enjoy floral candles or anything like that.  I'm more of a vanilla or coconut type of girl.  And as much as I enjoy wine, I'm never good at determining what notes are in them.  If it doesn't taste like the bottom of an oak barrel, I'll probably drink it.


8. Insert your own random thought here.


I've been having weird dreams for the last week or so.  They wake me up and then I go back to sleep and have a different weird dream and I pretty much do this all night.  I'm not sure what's causing it, but I would really like for it to stop.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Hodgepodge 2/15

1. What do/did you call your grandparents? If it's something unusual tell us the story behind the name. If you're a grandparent what do your grands call you? Who chose your moniker?

I called both sets of grandparents Grandma and Grandpa, then just added their first names.  However, the great-grandkids call my two living grandmothers Gigi and Granny Jo, so that's what I call them the most these days.


2. Ever taken a road trip along the California Coast? If so what was the highlight of your trek? If not, any desire to do so? If you were to take a trip along the California Coast what's one attraction you'd have on your must-see list?


I have never been to California.  I would be happy to see any of it,  Obviously, the iconic figures like the Golden Gate Bridge would be on my list.  


3. What are three things you don't know how to do?


Knit, Sew, Crochet.  Many have tried to teach me.  All have failed.


4. Tom Peters is quoted as saying, 'Celebrate what you want to see more of.' If that's true what will you celebrate and more importantly, how will you celebrate?


I'm trying very hard to celebrate love and the lifting up of others.  This is easier some days than others.  Yesterday, for instance, instead of being bitter about Valentine's Day, I donated to a couple of causes I believe deeply in, and did some not-so-random acts of kindness.  I'm celebrating small victories, every single day.


5. Thursday (February 16) is National Almond Day. Do you like almonds? Which would you prefer-an Almond Joy or a macaron? What's something you make that calls for almonds?


I love almonds.  I will eat them in anything or raw.  I don't like salted almonds, though.  


6. What does Saturday morning look like at your house?


If things go well, I'm cozy in my pajamas watching a little television or reading a book.


7. Share with us a favorite book you've read this winter.


I haven't made much progress on my book goal for the month, but my favorite book of the winter so far is definitely Forward by Abby Wambach.  I basically read it in one sitting.  It's well-written and a great look at what gives someone the drive to work toward that level of greatness and the toll it can take, as well.


8.  Insert your own random thought here.


This is one of my busiest weeks of the winter.  I'm booked every night with some school obligation or the other and I'm just tired.  But next week looks tame by comparison.