Saturday, March 30, 2024

Out Like A Lamb!

Man, oh, man, March flew by! It's currently being a lamb, with warm temps and a cool breeze coming in the open windows (I had to define that, as I live in a 100 year old house and there is every likelihood that a cool breeze might be coming in through CLOSED windows). And being the weekend, it's time for the last Ten Things of Thankful for March:

1. Speaking of my 100 year old home, we got some much-needed work done on it this month that was finished on Friday. Our house is a Tudor-style, and many (okay, most) of the timbers needed to be repaired or replaced. That is done, and we are much poorer for it, but the house looks so nice! We still have things that need repaired or replaced (some of which we might actually be able to afford to do), but one thing at a time.

Old photo but only one I could find at the time

2. The four-legged inhabitant of our attic is now on the outside, and his place of ingress and egress is sealed over. We are 99% sure it was a squirrel (and that's according to the exterminator and not to any actual sightings). It's been disconcerting to hear little footsteps thundering across the ceiling above us, and all of us (including the cats) are happy for that chapter of life to end.

3. I haven't been that into March Madness this year until I learned of University of Iowa's Caitlin Cook not only becoming the all-time women's NCAA Division I scoring leader, but also making the most career points in Division I history for women AND men, breaking Pete Maravich's record that was set in 1969. We watched the game where she broke the record, and then we have continued to watch her all month. What an athlete she is! 

Caitlin Cook, University of Iowa

4. Made it through this week at school with a full moon and Easter activities all in the same week.

5. My assistant teacher Heidy is leaving me for an opportunity she couldn't pass up, and I'm happy for her, but definitely feeling sorry for me. The good news is we are going to be forever friends AND she's going to sub at our school this summer.

6. Peeps were on sale at Target.

7. When you are navigating life with a cantankerous octogenarian, it sure is handy to have a son who is a physician!

8. Scored a gorgeous, practically new Vera Bradley duffle bag today at a thrift store. Only $24! Yowza!

9. Typically, we attend church on-line, as we belong to Community Christian Church in Kansas City but live 130 miles to the south. If I COULD, I would drive up to KC every weekend to attend in person, but our on-line chat every week is fun and sometimes rowdy, and it's still a special time with my church family. We attended Good Friday services this weekend IN PERSON. It's such a moving and meaningful service, made even more so by being right there in the building. Tomorrow is Easter. Will I make it to sunrise service or will it be the 10:30 one? Either way, it will be a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus and the knowledge that He died for us so we may have eternal life with Him.

10. Not sure if this really is a thankful or not, but I'm going to participate in the A to Z Challenge again this year. "How can that be?" you say. "She can't keep up with the TToT. How is she going to do it AND the A to Z?"  I DON'T KNOW. But here's to trying. First A to Z entry will be Monday, April 1. Follow my blog or look for the posts on my Facebook page if you want to read along.

Let's see those thankfuls! Write yours, link them up, and join the hop! 

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Sunday, March 24, 2024

So I'm Late. So What's New?

I had the best of intentions for getting my Ten Things of Thankful done in a timely manner, and I failed at that, but I DID figure out how to beat the system and still link up my post with the rest of the TToT blogs. I think, anyway. When I finish this, I will find out....

Last week was Spring Break week. Did we get a week off at school? We did not. But this year, we did get ONE WHOLE DAY off. Wheeeee!!!

Anybody else get hooked on NCAA women's basketball because of University of Iowa's Caitlin Clark? On their way to the Sweet Sixteen!

It's spring. Sort of. March seems to be going out like a lion, but the tulips and hyacinths are blooming, the trees are budding, the grass is getting green, and it won't be long before we forget how FREAKING MISERABLE cold weather is.

The clearance racks at Belk department store has been oh, so kind to me.

And Ulta had my favorite perfume on sale for half price JUST as my bottle was almost empty.

We are having some much-needed work done on the exterior of our house. All of the timbers are being repaired or replaced on our Tudor-style house, and the best part (fingers crossed here) is that the squirrel that had taken up residence in our attic SEEMS to have been outside when the secret entrance to his penthouse was blocked. 

Our contractor gave us a discount for paying in cash, so I have been making cash withdrawals from the bank to pay him. I had to withdraw $9,000 last week, and the teller handed me the cash (in $100 bills) in a regular business envelope. I put the envelope in the console of the car and went back to work for a bit after the trip to the bank. At the time, I thought it would be safer to keep it there than bring it inside the school in my purse, and I was sort of right, because as I was driving home, I pulled the envelope out so I wouldn't forget it, and the money literally EXPLODED all over the car. There were $100 bills in the console, on the floor under my feet, in the seats, between the seats and the console (you know, that place where you can't reach ANYTHING that falls there). It looked like I was driving the getaway car from a bank robbery, and I just laughed and laughed, because what else are you going to do? After pulling in my driveway, I gathered all of it up and didn't lose a single bill! 

My dad and I took a little road trip from the lake house, where he now lives full time, to the (other? real? original? former?) house three hours away. We made it there and back without mishap, and that's quite a win!

While my dad was cleaning out drawers and throwing away stuff packing up every single paper clip and calculator to take back to the lake house, I was going through all my childhood things still upstairs in my room. Wow. So many memories, some happy, some bittersweet, some cringey. I took photos of many items that had once seemed so important to me, school papers, scrapbooks with keepsakes that meant the world to 10 year old me, every script I ever got from my high school theater classes, ticket stubs, etc., and then I THREW THEM AWAY. I filled four contractor-sized trash bags. I did keep a few things; my kids can throw them away when I am dead and gone. It will give them a project to do together.

I may be crazy, but I think I'm going to do the A to Z Challenge this year. Are you KIDDING, you are probably thinking, when you can't keep up with the weekly TToT and you're going to do a DAILY blog challenge? Ummmm, yes, because I'm going to write about the stuff I found in my old room!

Hope you had a week of thankfuls, too!

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Car Hospice, My Person, And Spring Thankfuls

The car my daughter has been driving for the past nine years or so was a hand-me-down from my parents. It was a 2004 Toyota Avalon, and I drove it for a several years, then my son drove it in high school, followed by my daughter driving it in high school, college, and now, law school. We had high hopes it would survive until she graduated, passed the Bar, and officially began her Big Girl job at a law firm, but the little car had different ideas. It was tired. It had seen things. It had over 200,000 miles on it. It had to have a new (to it) engine after it began belching blue smoke while my daughter was still in high school. Its ailments increased over the past few years, then a few weeks ago, it became incontinent, losing its oil God knows where, and it was determined by a mechanic to be fatal. It was time to let it go.

Fortunately, my daughter made bank at her summer internship and had some money stashed away, so after MUCH research, making of spreadsheets, and test driving, she got her very first car. This event marks the beginning of my Ten Things of Thankful.

My husband drove up to Kansas City to go with her to the dealership while she signed all the paperwork. He complained a little about it, but I told him MY daddy drove two hours each way to sit with ME in the car dealership when I bought MY first car; it's a dad thing.

My baby and her new ride

While he was in Kansas City, I spent the weekend in Branson at my dad's, because my Person and her daughter were in town. It sure did my heart good to spend time with them. 

Terri and Mackenzie

With my Person

The Hanes outlet is closing, and we made a KILLING buying new bras. Girl thing.

We may have hit SEVERAL outlet stores, actually....

We ate at all of Terri's and Mackenzie's favorite places and got frozen custard twice. TWICE.

And saw The Haygoods show FOR FREE.

The Haygoods show

We had a good dose of Spring this week. The daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips have popped out of the ground and bloomed. The red bud trees are also in bloom, the grass is greening up, and there are buds on all the trees. Winter really may be out of here when it's supposed to be!

There were a LOT of leftover bananas in the kitchen at school that were beyond eating straight up, so I took them home to make banana bread. I planned to make four loaves: two to take to school and share with everyone there and two to take to my dad. I could make enough batter for two loaves at a time in my Kitchen Aid mixer. I had the batter mixed and ready for the addition of the mashed bananas, but as I began the mashing process in a separate bowl with the back of a fork, the bowl flipped off the counter and landed upside down on the kitchen floor, dumping six VERY RIPE bananas all over the floor. I said MANY bad words, cleaned up the mess, and CAREFULLY mashed six more bananas, added them to the batter, and I STILL had enough old bananas to make two more banana breads. See? I DID have a lot of bananas! And the banana bread was appreciated by all who partook.

Saturday was a gorgeous day, warm and sunny, and my husband and I ventured out to Silver Dollar City theme park for our first visit of the 2024 season. We listened to the Homestead Pickers as per usual and took a lap around the entire park and I thought to myself, "God's in His Heaven. All's right with the world."

And it was. And it is. 

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Sunday, March 3, 2024

I'm Conscious It Was A Great Week!

I just had THE most amazing week! I attended a Conscious Discipline Advanced Institute training on St. Simons Island, Georgia. It was a small group of about 45 educators, and we spent the week delving deeply into our own journeys with Conscious Discipline, as well as improving our skills at using it with children. Conscious Discipline is an adult-first approach to social-emotional learning that was developed by Dr Becky Bailey. The week certainly made for a terrific list of thankfuls!

First and foremost, I am thankful to Nikki, my preschool director, for introducing me to CD and for sending me to trainings, especially this one. They were long days, but they were filled to bursting with learning and growing!

Nikki, my co-worker Alyssa, and I flew to St. Simons last Saturday. I'm thankful for my husband for being our Uber driver to the airport at the crack of dawn (truly, it was BEFORE the crack of dawn) AND for picking us up a week later at what turned out to be way to close to the next day's crack of dawn than i would have liked, but more on that later.

Bright-eyed and bushy tailed for the trip!

Our flight from Springfield to Dallas wasn't bad; a little turbulence as we approached DFW, but not awful (btw I hadn't flown since 2010). Then as we were lining up to board for our flight to Jacksonville, Florida, it was announced that we were changing planes, as there was a HOLE in the plane we were to take, and the pilot was not satisfied with the repair that had been made. We then had to rush from A concourse to C concourse (if you've ever been to DFW, you will understand the effort this requires), and board THAT plane. And the turbulence we had on arrival? They were a dress rehearsal for the turbulence ON STEROIDS that we had for the first 20 minutes after take-off. I was pretty convinced the plane was going to explode or drop from the sky (or both), but it didn't and we made it to Jacksonville in one piece.

We stayed at a magical place called Epworth by the Sea, a Methodist retreat center on the Brunswick River where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean on land that once was a cotton plantation. The grounds are breathtakingly gorgeous, with massive trees draped with Spanish moss and a view of the water. And you don't have to be part of a private event to stay there! It is open to the public, and the rooms are lovely. The rates are also considerably lower than they are elsewhere on the island. 

View from my balcony

We arrived a day early, so we could spend a little time exploring the island before we got down to business. We had yummy fresh shrimp Saturday night at a place called Iguanas (and yes, I, too, would have expected it to be Mexican food with that name). On Sunday, we went back down to the village and toured the lighthouse and its museum. The original lighthouse was built in 1810 and was destroyed in 1861 to prevent Federal troops from using its beacon during the Civil War. It was rebuilt in 1872 and includes a caretaker's home and is still sending out a beacon that can be seen 23 miles out into the sea. We climbed up the 129 steps (made for a time when people had much smaller feet) and bravely stood at the top without falling off.

The lighthouse at St. Simons Island

The view from the top

Night view from near the pier

While we were on top of the lighthouse, we talked to a woman who recommended a restaurant for lunch. We not only took her up on the place, but also on her recommendation for the pecan-crusted chicken tenders. If you're ever on St. Simons Island, drop into Barbara Jean's for a meal. You can thank me some time between when the basket of hot rolls, jalapeno cornbread, and pumpkin bread appears on your table and when you find that each chicken strip is the size of an entire chicken breast and you have four of them on your plate.

Hungry enough?

My almost-cousin Debbie and her husband Mike live on the island, and I got to visit them! Debbie's dad once introduced MY dad as "my wife's sister's husband's sister's husband". I'll let you work that out on your own, but suffice it to say that while we aren't related by blood, we do share the same cousins, and since ohana means family, well, I consider us family. I spent Sunday evening at their beautiful home that incidentally was on a small lagoon THAT HAD AN ALLIGATOR IN IT. Mike claims alligators are more scared of us than we are of them (yeah, right) and dive into the water when they see a person, but I'm not buying that 100%. And no, I didn't SEE an alligator (it was dark), but the VERY NEXT MORNING, a neighbor saw one sunning himself and sent Debbie a picture of it.

We did not dress alike on purpose.

Gator young'un

The training started early Monday morning. At CD events, the table you choose to sit at becomes your table, and the others at the table become your event family, and we sure ended up with a terrific one. Bonus was that our "table helper" was Master Instructor Vicky Hepler, who had been the presenter when we attended the week-long CD Institute last summer. What luck!

This school year, I have been lucky enough to have a Conscious Discipline coach come into my classroom a couple times and work with me, and I was even luckier that my coach, Amy Speidel, was the presenter at this CD training. Amy and I found we had a lot in common when we first met, and it was delightful to get the opportunity to learn even more from her! On Thursday evening, Amy announced that we were going to have a little surprise, and instead of a LITTLE surprise, it was a GIGANTIC SURPRISE of the very best kind: Dr. Becky Bailey came up from Orlando to meet us and to present to us on Friday morning. Swoon!

With Alyssa, Nikki, Dr. Bailey, and Amy

All too soon, our training was completed and our week had come to an end, but lucky us, we stayed one more day AFTER the training ended and continued with exploration, this time, visiting beaches. St. Simons Island is not known for its beaches, but we found a little strip near the lighthouse and walked along it. We got to see dolphins swimming just off shore, as well as see an ENORMOUS cargo ship carrying around 1,000 cars inside it to points unknown. Saturday morning, after checking out of Epworth, we drove to Jekyll Island to visit Driftwood Beach, which has a post-apocalyptic feel to it, then spent some time at Oceanview Beach (more dolphins seen). We then drove to Amelia Island for a quick stop at the beach there (which was the only one with an abundance of shells) before returning the rental car and beginning our journey home.

Driftwood Beach

So, the journey home was not without defugalty, but we made it home IN SPITE OF THE LAST PLANE BEING HELD TOGETHER WITH SCOTCH TAPE. And the plane change. And the connecting city change. And the fact that the new flight (back to DFW) was two hours later than the one to Charlotte had been scheduled for, but we dodged a bullet there, because on THAT flight, it was announced that there would not be bathrooms available and they'd better go before they boarded the plane. And the LAAAAATE arrival in Springfield of 12:30 am and not getting home until 2:00 am. 

Jacksonville airport

Am I exhausted? Yes.

But am I ready for the week? Also yes, because I have new tools to use with my class and a bag full of seashells for them!