Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Still Alive

Brien's been in Florida for a week.  I've been in class for a week.  I'm handling it all juuuuuust fine.  I just miss sleep...:o(  I'm up until close to midnight most evenings as I can finally get into a state of flow after the girls have gone to bed and the kitchen is cleaned--around 8:30 or 9:00.  Assuming I work until 11:00 on school work, by the time I get all the dogs crated, the cats taken care of, and my bedtime routine stuff done, it's late

I forgot what it's like to be without sleep.  I miss it.  I hope to find it again soon...

The class is interesting so far.  It's using Google Apps in the classroom.  Last week was researching all the different bookmarking tools available.  This week, we're learning Gmail and Calendar.  I'm chuckling about Calendar because I'm putting everything from the GBBOE into electronic form.  The irony is, I switched from electronic to paper because it was just easier (and there was nothing to freak out about if technology failed me). 

As I worried about with an online class, there's just a lot of material to cover in fairly short period of time so I'm trying to find time to pack it all in. 

As for my employment, my teacher (the one I'm subbing for/with) is doing amazingly well!  She'll have surgery Monday and I'll sub for her until Friday.  That's it.  After that, I'll be in there when she needs me in a hit-or-miss fashion (waiting to see what happens with the radiation), so I'm at sixes and sevens right now.  What am I going to do???  I've been with them since October!  I'm going to miss my babies.  And, well, I need a job.  I'm going to try to just keep subbing in the building, but it's not going to be the same.  :o(  Change is hard. 

But, on the flipped side, I'm SO thrilled my teacher is better!  I knew this day would come, but back in October, February seemed so far away!

Now? I'm off to cook some dinner. Brien was supposed to stay through Friday, but is coming home early this evening.  He was going to surprise me, but decided I needed to know in case the plane crashed.  Lovely.  :oP I am keeping it a surprise from the girls. 

To that end, I'd love to have hot fish tacos awaiting him.  :o)

*************************
Sparklies:

1.  Lil's playing recorder and El's singing along.  Not so bad...:oS 
2.  I ran into Edie at the grocery this evening!  Lordy I've missed her!
3.  Fish tacos--nice, easy dinner.
4.  Brien's coming home NOW!!!

Monday, February 01, 2016

What Have I Gotten Myself Into??

When I quit teaching to stay home with Beanie, I knew, without a doubt, that I was finished.  Done.  I had NO desire to go back into any classroom and there was no way in hell you'd ever see me step foot inside an elementary school unless it had to do with my children's education.

I was so so finished. 

I was burnt out and with that knowledge (and the fact I had a practically newborn baby), I did not pursue the renewal of my teaching license.  Oh, I had all my 180 recert points.  All I lacked was a college class, but, since there was no way I was going back to teaching I didn't care.

There was, however, a flaw in my plan.  You see, just as I knew (knew!) I was meant to be a mother, I'm also meant to be a teacher. 

I can run from it.  I can gripe about the state of education (across the board, public, private, it doesn't matter), I can get up on my soapbox and preach it, I can try to hide from it, but it finds me. 

Let's think for just a minute, what did I do in the intervening years?  Hm.

1. I taught (and continue to do so) Religious Ed to a bunch of Kindergartners nearly every Sunday during the school year.

2.  I taught swimming lessons.

3.  I taught home preschool.

Yeah...

See a theme there?

And now, what am I doing?  I'm teaching.  Dammit.

I've stopped running.  I've stopped hiding.  I'm listening to God and accepting what I've known since I was a second grader setting up my own "classroom" of stuffed animals and an unwilling little sister.  I'm meant to be a teacher. 

Crap.

Remember that paragraph up there about a lapsed teaching license?  Yeah.  That's come to bite me in the butt.  I can't be considered "highly qualified" if I don't have that piece of paper, so I have to take two college classes to apply for recertification. 

UUUUUUUGH!!!! 

I DON'T WANNA TAKE A COLLEGE CLAAAAAAAAAAAAASS!!!!!!!!!

Okay, now that that's out of my system... My first class begins tomorrow.  I'm taking an online course through UVA-WISE (I don't want to hear it, Hokies, I KNOW!!) and I'm a nervous wreck.  The last time I took a class was 2005 and it was in person.  I'm not certain about this online class thing. 

I just got B through his master's.  All online.  He worked incessantly.  All the time.  No breaks.  All homework all the time.  WAAAAAHHHHH!!

To make things even more exciting, he's TDY for the next two weeks.  Wheeee!!

But, I'm me and I can do hard things.  I've done them before and I'll do them in the future.  I have Lissie's blood beating in my veins.  If she could work full time as a fourth grade teacher, single parent two toddlers and go to school for her master's and graduate with a 4.0, I sure as hell can do one piddly little online class.

I think...

Gulp.

So, if I'm really MIA, you know what's going on. 


****************************
Sparklies:


1.  So, those herbal supplements... I ran out.  I can tell you, without a doubt, they work for me.  B agrees.  (I ordered a "refill", they were delivered Jan. 22, but not to MY mailbox...argh!)

2.  The ability to take online classes which allows flexibility when your spouse is TDY and your children are not quite old enough to stay home by themselves for three hours.  

3.  Inexpensive college courses.

4.  New vacuums.  Our old Dyson is almost 14 years old.  It still works, but not like it once did and we've been gimping it along quite a bit.  The new one?  OMStars!

5.  The woman I'm subbing for's cancer is GONE!!  She still will have surgery and radiation, but no signs of the cancer on her MRI.  Hallelujah!!!

6.  Lil's plantation project is finished and turned in!


No milestones. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Odds and Ends

Sunday there was no church.  No plows had been through and we couldn't get out.  Mass was canceled (and then UNcanceled which led to some guilt on my part, but come ON, we couldn't get out!), so we stayed home and scienced.  :o)

Ellie had gotten Lily a fun "grow your own crystals" kit, and we had gotten Lil a fun glowing chemistry set and we decided to have some fun!


The crystals kit was easy enough and even came with hand eye protection.

See?

 But, wait.  What's this?!?

Seriously?  Bogus eye protection?  What the heck??

Alas, we didn't have all the necessary household chemicals to do the chemistry experiments, so we moved on to...
 LEGO!!! 

It was quite the Lego Christmas here! :o)  They put together three of seven bags and by then they were all rather fatigued, and besides, there was snow to go play in!

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For those who requested it, the Creamy Lime Oat Bar recipe!



Ingredients:

  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 teaspoons grated lime zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 375F degrees.
  • Coat 8x8 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Mix milk, lemon zest and lemon juice in medium bowl until thickened; set aside. Mix remaining ingredients in medium bowl until crumbly.
  • Press half of the crumbly mixture in pan; bake about 10 minutes or until set.
  • Spread lemon milk mixture over baked crust. Sprinkle remaining crumbly mixture over the lemon milk mixture, press down gently.
  • Bake about 20 minutes or until edges are golden brown and center is set but soft. Cool completely. Cut 4 rows by 4 rows.

Y'all, save yourself  the trouble and just double this one from the get-go.  Seriously.

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Today was my first day back after a week.  While I really enjoyed having yesterday to get a TON of errands run (and will take care of still more tomorrow), I can say, it really was lovely getting back to work today.  It was a work day and there was a list a mile long I was helping my teacher knock out.

I'm not sure how much longer I'll have this gig as she's finished with chemo and looking SO good!  She's starting to feel better as well.  She is facing surgery and then radiation, so maybe I'll be there for awhile yet.  Who knows.  I hope I am--I really can't face leaving these babies...I think of them as "mine" now too. 

***************************
Sparklies:

1. Our reading specialist was wearing a shirt with this on it today.  I loved it! 

2.  We got a new-to-us whiteboard today, replacing our chalkboard.  I'm so excited I can hardly stand it!

3.  Swimming was fantastic tonight. :o)

4.  Neighbors who help you out when you need childcare.  Love my neighbors!

5.  Papa Murphy's for dinner.  Mm.


No milestones.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Snow Days Pile Up

Tomorrow is yet another snow day.  As I've mentioned in the past, given the fact it is fairly unusual for us to get a lot of snow (although it sure doesn't seem that way given the snowfall the past couple of years...), we don't have much in the way of snow removal equipment so all man-power and snow removal is dedicated to keeping the primary and secondary roads cleared.  Neighborhoods, backroads and school parking lots be damned. 

So, here we are, snow day number three.  Not complaining, truly.  Yes, it means I'm not being paid, but, I'm having such fun with my family it's okay. :o)

The snow began Friday morning around 10:30 and it was that uber fine powdery stuff that's good for nothing but tossing in the air.  (Yes, that IS our Christmas tree--don't ask.)

The muggins pups loved it!  So did the girlies!



 Can you see the cardinal in the tree?

Here's a better shot of him. :o)

While the girls were otherwise occupied, I took the time to clean out and organize the family binders and pay bills. 

I've been unable to do my annual January decluttering and this was an excellent opportunity to do so.

 I also did quite a bit of coloring and had company. :o)

Around 4:00ish, the snow turned to sleet and freezing rain and all our snow was turned into slush which then turned into ice.  Ugh. That was that.

That's okay, though there were plenty of other fun things to do, like take naps on pups.

The freezing rain transitioned back over to snow Saturday morning and it blew and came down all night and this was the scene Sunday morning.

Hm.  Where's my street?  That was a solid sheet of ice with a thin little skiff of snow on top.

I'm always amazed by the idiots that go barreling through at 25 mph because they "have four wheel drive".  Um, yeah, that's good for snow, but not ice you cotton-headed ninny muggins!!!

We laid low the majority of the day and awaited news of school closing. The weather turned warmer so the snow softened enough to make snowballs.  The girls ran out to pound each other with snowballs and make snowmen. :o)

Me?  I cooked!  I made creamy lime oat bars, a riff on my creamy lemon oat bars. 

Limes. The most heavenly of citrus fruits.  Mm.

Here's the middle layer spread over top the base.

 All done!  (Yes, I made a double batch.)

Oh heavenly brekky...!

B also did quite a bit of cooking.  I picked up this cookbook for B for his birthday, and oh heavenly day! This is pork stew.  Yes.  Pork. Stew.  Let that sink in for a minute.  Oh the flavors.  Ahhhh.

We've also had Mexican pintos three nights.  Because, OMGoodness!!  Big old pots of beans, crock pots of stew? What else is snowy weather for?

I've been doing some sewing and coloring and other little crafty things I've missed doing.  I won't be teaching at all this week as I'm off Wednesday and Thursday and Friday are work days.  I actually think I miss my kiddos...;oP

Tomorrow is it.  We'll go back for sure come Wednesday, and I'm fine with that.  I don't want so many snow days we lose all our half days and work days from now til the end of the year like we did last year, especially now that I'm working again! o.O

For tonight I'll hunker down with a romance novel and some B&J's and enjoy knowing I have no lunches to pack and no kiddos to get up, ready and out the door in the morning.

************************
Sparklies:

1. My husband.  He's a truly good and wonderful person. 
2.  My girlies.  Yes, they fight and yes, it's annoy, but they also play together so beautifully.  That's rather amazing given the age difference.
3.  My Muggins pups.  They're so sweet and energetic and enthusiastic!
4.  My silky babies.  They're so small and sweet and equally enthusiastic. :o)
5.  The kitteh boys.  Because cats.
6.  Snow days.
7.  Crafting.
8.  Modern medicine. 

No milestones.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Snow!!!

Okay, we don't have any yet, but we WILL!! I'm almost giddy.  Lordy I love me some snow!  We are all mixed in with that crazy Snowmagedon that's going on.  We're not sure how much we're going to get because we're on the snow/rain line--of course--but I have a feeling it's going to be more than the 3" the NWS is saying to be prepared for. 

Because of the timing of the arrival of the white stuff, they've closed schools--which I feel is wise and best given the safety of our kiddos is our top priority. 

No, I won't be paid for tomorrow, but, I get to spend the day snugged up in the house with the girlies--what could be better?

I hit the grocery yesterday to avoid the crazies today.  B took Lil to the 'Jay to knock out the other essentials (such as kitteh food) while Bean and I were at swimming. 


Lil has a project due February 1, so she can really work on knocking that out.  If she's diligent, she SHOULD have enough done she can play out in the fluffy stuff once enough have accumulated. 

Beanie rightly pointed out that we can play tomorrow once we've finished our chores.  :oP  There ARE chores to be done--laundry (just a little bit compared to the ten loads I did last weekend), kitchen, bathrooms--but then it's all play.  :o) 

I'd love for B to stay home with us--I worry with him commuting those 35 miles to and from Hampton--but so far base hasn't closed.  Spoot.  I fear it will close early tomorrow and there will be a mad rush to leave base and a huge mess will ensue and it will be HOURS before he can get home.

Oh, before I forget, he has phlebitis in his right arm.  Seriously?  He went to see the doctor yesterday and as long as the pain doesn't get worse, and the redness and swelling doesn't spread we're all good.  Keep your fingers crossed.  So far today saw no changes, so I'm calling that a GOOD thing.

I think that's about it from here.  I'm ready to go tuck myself into bed with a good book and sleep in as late as I can tomorrow. :o)  Too bad B's alarm will be going off at regular time...:oS

************************
Sparklies:

1.  I love the little group of friends I've made at swimming!
2.  SNOW DAY!!
3.  No homework tonight because she did it all at the beginning of the week!
4.  Co-workers who lend your spouse fun family games.  I'll let you know how it turns out. 
5.  No alarm tomorrow.  :o) 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Running Away From Home

Karen and I ran away from home this weekend.  We ran away from husbands and children and life.  Just the two of us.  She had previously stayed in a cozy and lovely little B&B in Harrisonburg and fortuitously, there was a room available for Saturday evening.

She came and got me at 9:00 and we were on our way.

We stopped at Duck Donuts for brekky and headed on down the road.  I love how when you're traveling with a girlfriend, the time on the road seems to fly by.  Before I knew it, we were in Harrisonburg.

I had a number of new experiences this weekend, the first being staying in a B&B.  What a darling room we had!  This is the view from my bed looking at Karen's.

This is the window in the bathroom.  It is truly frosted! Isn't it gorgeous?

And, I loved the doorknobs throughout.

This mirror hangs over the mantle in the main entry room. You can see the stairs leading to the second floor reflected in it.

There were both a 100 year old barn and magnolia on the grounds.  I had wanted to explore the grounds a little further, but ran out of time.  No worries, I'm sure I'll visit again some day. :o)

I discovered it's lovely staying in this particular B&B because they have arrangements with many of the local business and wineries and Karen and I received a free dessert, free wine tasting at one winery, half-off a tasting at another, and discounts at both wineries on any wine we purchased. :o)

We began our adventures downtown where we had a lovely lunch at Clementine's.  From there we explored a bit and found the most delightful cat rescue and played with kittehs for a bit.

Then, across the street, there was a store selling vintage items.  As soon as I walked in the door I found a bowl of Shiny Brites on clearance!  I picked up six Shiny Brites to replace the ones I lost this year.  Hooray!

Then, it was time for my second new experience of the weekend--wine tasting! I'd never been and found it to be loads of fun! :o) 

It was there I decided I needed to generate a 40th year bucket list.  This year is the 40th of my life and there are things I want to/should/haven't-yet-and-want-to experience.  More on this is a bit.

We visited CrossKeys Vineyards first.  Karen tasted the whites and I the reds. 

It's funny, when I first began drinking wine, I wanted sweet whites.  I felt that reds were liking sucking on a dirty gym sock.  Somewhere along the way that all changed for me and now I'm always on the lookout for more reds to enjoy. :o)

I picked up a red table wine and a port (Mm!) and Karen got a blueberry flavored white and the white table wine.  The nice lady threw in two wine glasses for us(!) and we were on our way.

When we finished at Cross Keys, we headed on over to Bluestone Vineyard.

The sky was breathtaking and my poor little iPhone camera couldn't do it justice.

We headed inside for a tasting and again, Karen had the whites and I the reds.  I decided I wanted an additional full glass of the cabernet sauvignon (I wasn't the driver!) and headed out to enjoy the views of the mountains and the clouds and sit by the fire pit.

 We ate dinner at a fun Italian place (because pasta carbonara and garlic knots *drool*), stopped by a pharmacy for emergency girl-talk/coloring supplies and headed for "home".

I slept like a log!!  Oh how wonderful to sleep the sleep of a mama with no babies to worry about!

Then, to cap off a beautiful weekend, it began to snow.  :oD  Heavenly.  Snow and mountains and all that is beautiful in the world. 

We left H'burg sooner than we had wanted to so we could be sure to safely cross Afton.  We stopped at Short Pump Town Center to try on Danskos (I'm in love) but didn't buy anything.  Karen introduced me to Chuy's and the wonder that is the Jalapeno cream sauce (holy yumminess!) and then it was time to head back to reality.

:sigh:

Reality was a house with sick children (B hadn't wanted to let me know, but had to due to needing to find coverage for RE yesterday), loads of laundry and a bedroom and bathroom and laundry room that were disaster areas.  Eesh.

But, they weren't!!  I had asked B awhile back if he could please build me a shelf with some hooks so I could organize and hang all the swim gear we currently have.  I was tired of it hanging off the cabinet knobs in the laundry room.

Isn't it loverly??:o)

The kitchen was clean, the children fed and when I went upstairs to unpack, my bedroom and bathroom were clean as well! OMGoodness!!  Well done, B!! :o)

The laundry, well, he didn't get to it.  There were loads and loads and loads and in fact, I've spent the entire day trying to plow through it.  (There was a lesson there for the girls--if you put of doing something because it's not fun it'll still be there, but only more of it and it will be sooooo much worse...) But, he was dealing with two sick kiddos and he had already done so much!

I feel good.  So very good.  I feel rested and relaxed and wonderful.  I truly feel wonderful.  For the first time in close to a year I feel good. 

I have found my groove.  The herbal supplements are working wonders.  I'm sleeping and enjoying life and it's such a relief.  It's hard being stressed and miserable and knowing you're stressed and miserable and not being able to find your way out of it.  Especially when you're typically a Pollyanna. 

Life...

...well, life is good.  Truly.

*************************
Sparklies:

1.  My girls' weekend.  Everywhere we went folks asked what we were doing and I told them "running away from our husbands and children."  All the ladies I told loved it! ;o)  I think they got it.  :oP

2.  It was cold last night:
 Lordy but I love these guys so much!

3.  Bitty has a big ol' project due February 1 that we're only just getting started on...oy.  But, she spent today doing loads of research and even now is typing up what she found.  I'm so proud of her!

4.  I know I've shared numerous times how much I love coloring and how it's such a stress release for me.  I'm beyond thrilled there are now grown-up coloring books and that a couple of them are in my possession.  AND, I'm so chuffed I have Prismacolor colored pencils to go with.  If you've never colored with a Prismacolor, you're truly missing out--they are so soft and creamy to work with.  (Insert heart-eyed emoji here.)

I finished this guy last night.

And this today.  I jokingly shared on IG that there will be no doubt to whom this coloring book belongs. ;oP

5.  B will stay home with Miss Beanie-boo tomorrow as she still has a fever.  Well, it was there Saturday, gone Sunday and back today. No clue. But, he'll stay home so there's no worry about sub plans.  Hooray!

6.  Bean can now swallow pills.  A whole new world has opened up.

7.  B cooked dinner, packed lunches and cleaned the kitchen while I folded a load of laundry, sorted out my sock drawers (I'd worn practically nothing but athletic socks the past five years), and cleaned out the closet a bit.

8.  Hallelujah B's no longer in school!!!!!!!!!


No milestones.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Where Has This Been All My Life??

I'm privileged to be working with a woman who has been to school and trained to be a math specialist.  In fact, she actually worked as a math specialist for three years before coming here.

We're starting fractions--addition and subtraction with different denominators, mixed fractions, improper fractions, simplifying fractions, you name it--and holy smokes can fractions be awful for some kids and the adults who have to help them with their homework. 

Well, stand back, because I seriously had a life-changing moment in class today.  So life-changing in fact, that I text my friend, Courtney, who laughed at me...until I sent her these photos.  (I sound like those "one weird trick" ads, but I promise, you don't have to "click here to see". ;oP) She agreed, this is fan-freaking-tastic--and if you all knew this and didn't share it with me, I'm going to go pout, because really??

Okay, that first photo is a standard multiples chart (what we call it, the rest of the world calls it a multiplication chart).  She had it posted on the board and asked the kids if they could find 4/8 on it. 

I confess,  I struggled.  I couldn't find it for anything.  I'm too literal, I guess.  I thought, "Four eighths?  That's one half.  Where's one half on here?  It's NOT!"

But, it was.  Check this out:
 See it now?

How about 9/18? Or 12/24? See them? 

O.

M.

Goodness!! You can move up and down the row to increase or simplify the fractions!

It even works with numbers not adjacent on the chart.  Here's 3/9:
You just skip the rows that are in between. 

o.O

Where has this been all my life?!??!???!? This is BRILLIANT!!!!

So, let's say we wanted to simplify 25/45.  Well, there's 25 and there's 45 and there ya go, 5/9.  So simple.  So beautiful.  So many glasses of red wine left unconsumed.  So many tissues left unused.

Perfect.