Saturday, November 10, 2012

opening morning

I feel as though I need to do a catchup.

And I will - just not today.

Today I'm enjoying a cup of coffee while deer hunting. I don't have a gun, I'm not out on the stand, but I'm sure watching that back corner. The same one that I can see from my stand.

While I haven't hunted in a few years, I do look forward to opening morning. I have been checking Pappaw's feeder for the last few weeks. I even check around my stand. There's no feeder there now, but the big oak tree provides lots of acorns, and the deer have been hanging out there. For weeks, I've been watching the back corner. I can see it perfectly from my living room windows and from my stand. I know what time the deer come across the pasture. I know where they will cross the creek.

This morning, like always, I was up and outside way before Pappaw got here, wondering what was taking him so long. When he finally pulled up, the sun was beginning to peek over the tree tops, but he was able to sneak to his stand and get settled before the early fog burned off.

Pappaw and I have an opening day tradition. Between 9 and 9:30, he will come off of his stand. I've got his coffee waiting. We have biscuits and sausage gravy, and we talk about what we did or didn't see.

I've got to get to the kitchen - those biscuits won't make themselves. And I just heard a shot.

Monday, August 13, 2012

going back in time

Today I officially went back to school. Kids don't come until next Monday. I've had several workshops and work days in the last few weeks, but today was my official end of summer vacation. It is always a sad day. And never any fun. Boring workshops all day. Sitting in the cafeteria in meetings for most of the day. Yuck.

These last few weeks in Arkansas have been so hot. I think that July went in the books as the hottest on record. 

Now, maybe it seems as though I'm rambling, but I do have a point. Back to school and record breaking heat do have a connection. And it is that connection which caused me to find so much enjoyment in finally arriving home this evening.

You see, during the summer I spend much of my time in a sports bra. About the only time I put on a real bra is for church or going out to eat - some special occasion. And for years now I have worn spanx type tank tops over the bra to gain some control over the giggle. But honestly, it has been so hot that I have foregone the spanx. Yep, for the last few weeks in hopes of catching even a small breeze, I have let the jelly rolls and love handles breathe. Who can worry about containing giggle when it's over 100.

But today. Today I had to go back to work. Which meant a real bra and a layer of "suck-it-in" under my shirt - like a Southern Belle tied in her corset. I would not have made a good Southern Belle. I couldn't wait to get home tonight and unleash the beast.

Not very genteel. Not very refined. But oh so comfy. Ahhhhh!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

an unexpected blessing

For the last several years I have kicked off the month of August by attending the Methodist Family Health Big Dam Bridge Walk for Children and Families with the UMY group. It is always extremely hot on the day of the walk. There were some differences in this year's walk but not in the temperature - it was HOT. In years past, we have had quite a few people in our group. And it has usually been hared for me to huff and puff my way up the the bridge. This year it was just me and a few of the youth kids. And I was able to stay at the front of the pack - even passed a lot of people because they were walking too slow! That was new for me.

When the walk was done, we went to get some supper and then headed to the lock-in at Wild River Country. After that hot afternoon, the kids are always ready to hit the water slides. Because I was the only adult, I grabbed a lounge chair and got my book out. But it was just soooo hot, even at 10:00 p.m. In hopes of cooling down just a bit, I left my perch and headed for the lazy river. As I was coming around to the exit, I noticed a women floating and walking along beside a boy in a tube. She was talking to him. The boy, in a life jacket and awkwardly laying in the tube, was obviously enjoying the ride.  When we got near the exit, another lady was waiting with a wheelchair. I thought it was neat that he was able to float in lazy river and enjoy the lock-in. And then I went back to my book and lounge chair. Soon I noticed that the ladies pushed the boy in his wheelchair back to their loungers which were just in front of me.

I didn't want to stare. I tried to return to my book. But my attention was drawn toward the boy and his caretaker? mom? youth leader? I'm really not sure. When they got back to their seats, one of the ladies covered a lounge chair in towels; I thought it might be his mother. But then the other lady lifted him out of his chair and place him on the lounger. The first lady then left. The lifter lady went on to cover the boy with a towel. Then she carefully dried him and without moving the towel managed to change his clothes. Now, I'm telling you I tried not to stare, but I was drawn to the action in front of me. It was obvious that the lady and the boy had a good relationship. Soon she lifted him again and placed him back in the wheelchair. And I wondered how many times she had lifted that boy. How many more times she would have to lift him. How many more years she would be able to lift him. And I was taken aback for just a moment. And I prayed for the boy, for the lady, for my boys, for the kids I brought with me, for the kids splashing in the water around me. And I thanked God for his many blessings.

How many times do we, in our rush and hurry, not notice God's presence in our daily lives? If I had brought more kids, if another adult had been with me, I might not have noticed the boy and his lady. I might not have seen God's angels in front of me. I might not have taken the opportunity to pray for the many people surrounding me.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

new orleans weekend

I am married to a workaholic. When he has nothing to do, he THINKS of something. Yesterday evening when it was still over 100 degrees, he comes in for a few minutes between jobs and says, "I think I'll go wash the back of the house." Really?

So a few weeks ago, I was surprised when he suggested that we go to New Orleans for our anniversary weekend. And even more surprised that he didn't back out.

We left Friday morning after he had completed his early morning chicken stuff. Lovey really likes Dairy Queen, and he was happy when we found one in the town where we stopped for lunch.

I actually made our hotel arrangements as we drove down. We stayed at the Bourbon Orleans. From our window we could look down on a small section of Bourbon street.

It was raining when we arrived. We took the umbrella with us on our first trip out but never had to use it. Several times during the weekend it sprinkled, but we managed to miss it every time.

Lovey really enjoyed people watching from our hotel window. When we checked in they asked if we wanted to move to a room with a balcony. It was $60.00 more a night, and I thought we wouldn't be in our room enough to justify that much. Had I known how much he would look out this window, I would have gladly paid for the balcony. However, we might not have gotten the rooftop view with a balcony room.

Saturday morning we walked to Cafe du Monde for beignets. And then went to the French Market. The beignets and cafe au lait were soooo good. I can't say the same for the French Market - I was disappointed.

Then we walked along the river and found the aquarium. I am a sucker for aquariums. And I wasn't at all disappointed here.

There was a small screened in area full of birds. For only a $2.00, I bought food sticks. After just a few minutes I had two birds perched on my hands eating from the sticks.

I just have to say here that New Orleans humidity and my hair did NOT get along. And this screened in area had misters! I could feel my hair getting bigger and bigger while I was out there.

I could walk around Jackson square all day. There were some amazing artists there. And the square is just beautiful. This photo of the cathedral is my favorite of the entire weekend.

We found a balcony on Bourbon street and had lunch there. The food was good, but we had to wait and wait for service.

The balconies in the Quarter are just so pretty. It took us just a minute to find the one that had the bubble machine on it. Bubbles were everywhere on this street.

In the afternoon, we were picked up at the hotel for an airboat tour of the swamps.

The pictures just don't do it justice - it was gorgeous!

And of course, we got up close and personal with a few of the locals.

After walking around the French Quarter all afternoon and our ride on the air boat, we went back to the room so that I could try to get that hair under control. I made Lovey stop for a few pictures before we went outside - I knew the hair would blowup as soon as we stepped out on the sidewalk.

Sunday morning we hit Cafe du Monde one more time. And then wondered back to the hotel and headed home. But along the the way we stopped at Middendorf's for lunch. Oh my, it was good. Maybe the best seafood we had on the trip - and we ate seafood for everything except breakfast.

It was a great weekend getaway  - no schedules at all. We just don't get the chance to do this very often. But the workaholic had a great time. Maybe I can talk him into another weekend trip soon for the next anniversary.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

christmas in july

Yep. I'm jumping on the bandwagon. Trying to get ahead of the game. I have friends on facebook who have started counting down already. The crafts stores have supplies lining the shelves. And many DIY blogs have featured projects to prepare for the Christmas season. I have been trying to resist, but to fight is futile. One night this past week, Lovey and I made a late night trip to walmart, and yesterday, I made Chex Mix! I don't know about y'all, but around here Chex Mix is a holiday staple. From just around Thanksgiving until the supplies run out in January, we make and eat A LOT of it. Once that first batch comes out of the oven, we graze on the stuff almost constantly. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, bedtime snack - we eat it all day knowing that once I go back to work in January the holiday cooking and the Chex Mix comes to an end. I have been craving the stuff for several weeks now. Why do we only make it during the holidays? I'm no nutritionist, but I would think that it would be better for us than eating potato chips. I also think that if I have access to something throughout the year then maybe I won't feel the need to founder myself on it during the holidays (I can rationalize almost anything if need be). So in the "Christmas in July" spirit, yesterday just before lunch I started mixing. And I decided that since it was so close to lunch that I would have eat Chex Mix as soon as it came from the oven. And Lovey came in just as I was stirring for the last time - he decided to wait for it too. I made a giant batch. And maybe I realized why we don't make things that require the oven to be on during for hours on the hottest day of the summer. But I had Chex Mix and I was happy. And the not foundering myself theory? I didn't eat any for breakfast this morning, but I did eat three bowls of the stuff yesterday. I'm going to take a bag of it to Brooke today. You might think sharing it goes along with the whole Christmas in July thing, and that it part of it. She loves Chex Mix as much as we do, and if I don't take her some I will feel guilty. But honestly, it's more about sharing the calories - if my butt's going to get bigger then someone else's should too.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

counting my blessings

This has been a busy week. I've been running early every morning, going to workshops during the day, and teaching at Bible school each night. And I haven't done any of it witih a willing and happy heart. Especially the VBS part. Isn't that sad to admit! I know, I should be embarassed to own up to it. But there's no use in pretending. I have grumbled and griped all summer long about it. But I knew that I needed to adjust my attitude. How can I do a good job of teaching God's message when I have such a bad attitude about it? I'm telling you, I was worried about it. But I just couldn't get in the right frame of mind. Until tonight. Tonight's lesson was about Jesus and John the Baptist. In the lesson I had to do the introduction and then pretend to be John the Baptist at the River Jordan. After telling about baptising Jesus I asked the kids "What would you give to have Jesus in your life?" And before I even finished the question, Layla (going into first grade) gets big eyes and breathes a very sincere "Everything!" And I felt a chink in my hardened heart just fall away. The kids discussed that they would do anything needed to be close to Jesus. And then I said "Well you all are telling me all sorts of things that you would do - even that you would give everything that you have to know Jesus, but what's the only thing that you HAVE to do?" And again before I had finished to question good, seven-year-old Austin whispered, "Ask. All you have to do is ask." I'm telling you, I heard that hardened heart of mine just crack wide open. When I had finished the lessons, I went into the sanctuary where the groups were gathering for the night's closing. Each year we group the kids and the UMY teenagers serve as team leaders. I sat there and watched as those teenagers danced and chased and laughed and witnessed to these kids. No grownups were forcing them to dance. No one said "You have to hug the kids in your team." It's a rule that each teenager is responsible for the safety of the kids on his or her team, but these leaders do so much more than make sure the team members are safe. They help with check-in. They clean up messes. They help with snacks. They sing and dance. They tie shoes and replace hairbows. They hug. They laugh. They play games. They chase and chase. They listen. They praise. They love. And again, I felt my heart just burst. If you are one of those parents who have brought or sent your kids to VBS this week, I thank you for allowing me to share my nights with your babies. And if you are the parent of one of those UMY teenagers, I just can't tell you how much those kids impress me on a daily basis. They are amazing. It is an honor to watch God work in them and through them.

Monday, July 23, 2012

an everday adventure

I've had an adventurous summer - ziplines and alligators and exercise, oh my. But does any of it compare with what is the everyday life of a parent? Now THAT's an adventure. I don't think there is any ride or activity that can increase my heart rate like being a parent can.

Just the other day someone asked if the bruise on my arm was from being hit by a softball. No, it's from a one-year-old. He pinched me. I let him. He fights sleep so much during the day, and when I was trying to get him to sleep  the other day, he pinched me. He wasn't being mean - he wanted to rub my shirt sleeve while he went to sleep, but I had a tank top on. He needed to sleep. I could have moved his little fingers, but I didn't want to disturb him. A few days later, I sat by his mom as she answered someone's questions explaining that she rocks him to sleep each night. No, he isn't put to bed and let to cry. He's just a baby. Yes, there are other things that could be done, like laundry. But he won't be a baby long. And I'm so glad she realizes how precious those rocking times are. Babies grow up, but laundry never goes away.

During that same week, a friend posted something about how hard it is to sit back and watch our kids make decisions that we believe to be the wrong decisions. Boy, do I know from where she speaks! Wouldn't be great if we could just sit down and rock those grown kids every night and save them from poor choices? She and her husband have done a great job - she has great kids. It's easy for me to tell her that her kids will end up making the right choices because they have have great parents. But I know she still worries.

My boys were 4 and 6 when we got them - what I wouldn't give for a night of rocking my baby boys to sleep. Over the years, we've had many conversations about being adopted. There were many questions that I just couldn't answer. But this weekend we had the opportunity to get some answers. Baby Jus and I drove almost 1,000 miles round trip so that he could meet his biological father. Ups and downs people! It was a long drive. A stay in a hotel that wasn't quite what I would have chosen. A few hours to show a stranger what a great guy my Jus has become. And it was hot! I'm so glad that he had the chance to do this. But I worried so much about what could go wrong - what can still go wrong. Believe me, I'd let him pinch the other arm if I thought it would make things go smoothly for him.

It's so much easier to worry about what can go wrong rather than what can go right. But I'm trying to focus on the what can go right.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

say it ain't so

On our way to New Orleans last Friday and between my navigation duties, I checked facebook, twitter, and email. But I couldn't get into my school email. I had changed my password just before school got out in hopes that I could stay connected all summer - but for some reason my password no longer worked. There was no way to correct the problem at that time, so I let it ride until I could go to the school on Monday. Of course when I got there the floors were being waxed, the principal was gone to a workshop, and the technology guy had just gone home for the day. I knew I was taking a chance by not calling ahead. I went to the superintendent's office and tried to log in on a computer there - didn't work. But the secretary left a message for the tech guy and later called me to let me know that he would reset my account the next morning. All of this to let you know that I had to go to the school yesterday.

July 18th - I think it may be the longest I've ever gone without stopping by the school to work on something in the summer. I have had a few calls to the principal. And I've done some work emails. And of course lots of reading and researching for school. But I haven't gone there in about six weeks. (Well, take that back - I did go by there one night a few weeks ago but it had nothing to do with work, so it doesn't count.)  There have been times that I thought about going. I have driven by several times and almost turned in. But I didn't. Each year I am soooo ready for summer, but then I spend some of my time there working. And this year, I promised myself that I would stay away.

But while I was there yesterday, the tech guy said something about me coming by to let him do some techy thing with my ipad when I came back, and I thought, "I'm not coming back yet." And then I did a quick countdown in my head and thought, "Ohhhhh, I AM coming back." I have three workshop days next week, and the following week I will have to be there preparing workshops for the next week.

How does the end of summer always sneak up on me?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

22 and counting

July 1990. Has it really been twenty-two years?

We had known each other for most of lives. We had been dating for most of the previous year. Lovey was a few weeks away from his 30th birthday. His grandmother had called me every name except Michelle - Everleena being her favorite.

It was July. And hot. And steamy from the rain. I wouldn't let Momma bring an umbrella to the church because I had prayed that it wouldn't be raining and I had faith that God had heard that prayer. Because Lovey's daddy thought I shouldn't walk alone, my brother walked beside me. And not a drop fell as we walked from the from the fellowship hall to the front door. I was surprised at the cars and trucks filling the parking lot.

Dusty, in his tiny tux, had been told and told to take the pillow to Joey. No one thought to tell him to STAND there. He made it to the front of the church, threw the pillow to Joey, and turned to run back down the aisle. His mother, matron of honor, made a one-arm-scoop and passed him off to Nannie as she made her way to the alter. She had played catch-me-ith-you-want-me many, many times.

Lovey was nervous, and I thought that he just might pass out. Soon the ceremony was over. We cut the cake, drank some punch, and drove away. But we didn't go far. Only home to change into something more appropriate for a shop party. I just thought the church parking lot was crowded. We had bar-b-q and music and beer and friends and family. The party lasted into the wee hours of the morning.

Monday morning I had to go to class. It was a few weeks before summer school was over,  and we could take a trip to celebrate. On that trip, I was the navigator and Lovey the driver. Again this weekend, I was the navigator and Lovey the driver.

We need to turn left at the next street.

Lovey drives right past it.

That was our turn! You missed it.

You have to tell me when I need to turn.

I did! I said, "We need to turn left at the next street." That was the next street. You don't listen.

I haven't changed a damn bit in twenty-two years have I?

No. You haven't.

And I like him just the way he is.

Monday, July 16, 2012

2 steps forward 3 steps back

Or something like that.

If you've read any of my very few posts this summer, then you know that I've been using a running app with the goal of being able to actually RUN. Along the way there have been great accomplishments - the first 6 minute run and then the 20 minute. But there have been set backs too - and most of them can be blamed on a broken toe the day before starting week 4.

During week 5, I thought I might die from cramps in my calf. Those cramps were from running longer times but on the wrong side of my foot (see reference to broken toe above). It took almost an entire week to get the cramps to stop.

Week 6 brought much longer run times. It started with a 9 minute run, a 3 minute walk, and then another 9 minute run. I made the first 9 minutes fine, did the 3 minute walk, and then just couldn't make the second 9 minutes. I would get about 4 minutes in and the calf muscles would cramp terribly. After trying it two different days, I decided it was the stopping to walk and then going back to running that was killing me. So I decided to just move on to W6D2 - a 20 minute run. And I did it! I was so excited to finish 20 minutes of running. The next run was a 15 minute run with a 3 minute walk and then a 10 minute run, and again I didn't do well with the run-walk-run pattern. I modified myself and decided to just run it and skip the walking part. I was running for 26 minutes - with no walking breaks. I was at the lake. And the lake has hills. And asphalt. At home I run on flat land. And gravel. During that time my butt cheeks and back were bothering me, but I thought it was just something that I would have to push through. I thought that when I got home and back to running on flat, gravel roads again it would get better. But it got worse. And I couldn't finish my runs. I tried stretching. I tried ibuprofen. I tried muscle relaxers. I tried heating pads. I have been so mad. And so disappointed.

I did some googling and read several running articles. Most mentioned that back and butt pain could be caused from a change in gait, increasing speed or distance, and changing running surfaces. Hmmm? Check, check, and check. I tried to continue running. The back got worse. I finally went to the doctor. He told me the pain was from running on my foot in a different way, increasing my run time, and changing my running surface - all the things that I had already read in those articles. He gave me pain meds and muscles relaxers and told me to keep running and when I couldn't run to walk double the time. I tried. I really tried. But I just couldn't keep running. I barely made it 13 minutes. It was so frustrating. And even finishing the time walking was killing me. So I took a few days off.

This morning I tried it again. I ran for just over 15 minutes. I increased my distance by walking to complete 3 miles. And my back and butt are killing me. I should have finished W8D3 - the full 30 minute run - by now. And I'm back to just 15 minutes? All because of a damn pinky toe. It just makes me so mad. Tomorrow I will run for a few more minutes and go the full 3 miles again. I'll just have to work my way back up. Maybe I'll get to the 30 minute run before Christmas. Uggghhhh!

It hasn't all been bad. I've done some running with friends and family. At the lake I ran with my nieces, Brooke and Leah, and my friends, Carrie and Alli. At home I've run with Carrie and neighbors, Emily and Brandon. Brooke, Carrie, and I have made lots of jokes about being runners. We can work 'cause I'm a runner now into almost any conversation. This weekend Lovey and I went to New Orleans for our anniversary. Saturday morning we were walking along the river. There were lots of people riding bikes, walking, and running. We met a group of guys who were obviously real runners - very lean, very quick. I leaned over to Lovey and said, "That's what our running group looks like when we run." He answered, "So y'all run topless?"

So you runners, I need advice. I need encouragement. I need someone to come by every morning and drag my butt out of bed.

Monday, July 9, 2012

the only thing to fear... being more than two feet off the ground. And having to find a way to get down.

Yep, I'm terrified of heights - even tiny ones. It's not the going up; it's the looking/coming down that gets me. I can stand on a desk in my classroom, and I have to hold on to something to climb down. It makes me a bit nauseous to climb a ladder for any task. I don't like looking over the edge of anything. Several years ago, Lovey and I stopped by Petite Jean Mountain to have a quick look. He hopped around on those rocks like a mountain goat. I crawled out a tiny way on a ledge for him to snap a quick picture, and he had to come out and get me - I was frozen in my tracks. So imagine my family's surprise when I suggested that we do some ziplining during our camping trip this year.

It's something I've always wanted to do. And this year just a few miles down the road from our campground there is a new place to do it. Rowdy Adventures is just off the interstate at the Okalona exit. Because there were fifteen in our group, we got a small discount on our ticket prices. There are 14 lines - it takes about two hours to complete all of them.

We had no idea what to expect before going. We pulled up to a large parking lot in front of a big cabin and some sort of wooden structure backed by the interstate on one side and woods on the other.

After signing our lives away, we paid our fees and went out to prepare for our adventure. My sister and her oldest daughter came to see us off. They took a few pictures while we "trained" for the real lines. After that no cameras were allowed.

Harnesses, helmets, and gloves were lined up waiting for us outside. The guides got a hint of what was to come right away. We had lots of discussion during this stage of the adventure. I'm sure they were already arguing over who had to take us on the course. Right away, we had to have some bigger helmets - we are some big headed people.

And no one really listened when the guides were giving directions of how to get into the harness. We are a hands-on do it our way kind of family.

We also do things in our own time. The guides were telling us to grab harnesses and helmets, but we were reading the rules, talking to each other, and making jokes about heads not fitting in the helmets.

It was nice that they gave me the same harness as the younger girls, but my but is MUCH bigger than theirs, and I quickly sent the guy in to find me a bigger harness.

The getting harnessed and helmeted was not a quick process. We laugh a lot. We talk a lot.

And there was lots of discussion of where to place parts in the harness. Brandon and Dusty had us all cracking up.

Can you tell we are family? No one plans to dress alike - it just happens.
The girls' discussions were about where to put the ponytail in the helmet.

Once we were all harnessed up, the guides tried to put us into two groups. They did the 1,2,1,2 count-off technique.

They counted, and we just stood there looking at them.

Their system was flawed. It separated mommas from babies, husbands from wives, and boyfriends from girlfriends. We quickly arranged our own two groups, and then they put us back together for a group picture.

Then it was the top of the wall and a training zip line. This is the point where my family thought I might turn around. And believe me, I thought about it.

From the moment I left that top step, I clung to a wire. The two's had to go to the far end of the platform which meant me moving on down.

That platform was crowded with all 15 of us and several guides up there. But I was so consumed with looking down and across to the other platform that I didn't even have time to consider the crowd - that would have really bothered me had I thought about it at the time.

We did listen a bit more when the guides were discussing the actual zipping rules.

I don't know exactly when, but my group let the guides know that I was scared of heights. The guides were careful to make certain that I was okay with each and every slide.  But they didn't check on me nearly as much as my group did. My group was the young couples - Dusty and Leah, Brandon and Laura, and Luke and Emily.

After everyone had a quick training zip, we were ready for the actual course. Melissia, Brooke, baby Eli,  and the cameras headed back to camp. It was a short walk to our first line.

Just like the training slide, the leaving the platform was the hard part. I loved the ride. The landings were always interesting, but they didn't bother me. I just had work up enough nerve to go off that edge.

 One guide was on the take-off platform and one guide was on the landing platform. The guides hooked us to the cable and caught us at the end, hooking us to the tree if we were off of the ground.

before my training zip
I never felt unsafe. I was scared of the edges. I was nervous on the platforms. But I knew I was safe.

From the beginning, the guides would run and jump off of the platforms. The brave souls in our groups did some of that running and jumping too. Not me, I crept to the edge of each platform, sat in my harness, and pushed myself away from the edge.Sometimes I even had to scoonch myself to the edge. I never felt rushed by the "push you off" guide. And the "catching" guide always checked that I was okay when I reached the landing platform.

There were ground to ground zips, ground to tree zips, tree to tree zips, and tree to ground zips. Some zips were really long. Some were really fast. Some were really high. And after pushing away from the platform, all were fun.

I had my own little cheering section. With each line, there was someone encouraging me at take off and someone high-fiving me at the landing. Dusty, Leah, and Brandon spent a big part of their day checking on me. I'm not going to lie - there was a tear or two shed.  About middle ways of the lines, we zipped to a tree platform, climbed a ladder even higher into the tree, and made a short zip into  another tree. Nineteen people zipping onto a tree platform, climbing a ladder, zipping twenty feet to another platform, and zipping away from that tree. It was scary. The damn ladder was the worst part. I hate climbing a ladder on the ground, and climbing one in a treetop is truly pushing my limits. but again, the guides were constantly reassuring me, checking that I was okay, and offering to help me up the ladder. I got a tad bit dizzy going up, but I knew that I was attached and wasn't going to fall. The platform at the top of the ladder was tiny. TINY! And it was in the top of the tree, so it swayed with each take off and landing. Dusty wrapped his arms around me and held me close to the tree - and we were always connected to the tree with a safety line.

By the last few lines several people were zipping upside down. Needless to say, it wasn't me. But I did get brave enough to step of the last two platforms - not run and jump, just step without sitting and scooting. On the long line across the river, I got turned around and couldn't get turned back. Just as I was turning, I realized that I might hit the platform sideways and let myself turn backwards instead. I heard the guide yelling, and it took me a second to realize what he was saying, "Feet up! Feet up!" Just then one shoe went flying and one calf smacked into the platform. I think Leah actually reached me before the catching guide did, both of them asking if I was okay and lifting me back to my feet. It was a glancing blow and not too painful. I was fine. And thankfully, Laynie's shoe didn't end up in the river (Abby wore my shoes, and I borrowed a pair of Laynie's). The last line was a quick ride back across the river onto a sandy shore. I made it on my feet.

Along the way there were little signs with sayings, several about conquering fears. There was one that I really liked. Leah and Laura both said, "That should be the title of your blog post." And I can't remember what it was. For a short time, I left my fear of heights behind me. I'm not sure that I'm ready to climb any ladders, but I am ready to go back for more ziplining.

Some things you might want to know if you go:
*Wear closed toe shoes.
*Long gym shorts might be more comfortable even if it is above 100.
*No phones or cameras on the ziplines.
*Rowdy Adventures provides three water breaks during the 14 lines. You will be ready for the water when you reach a waterbreak.
*If possible, go with a group. I wouldn't want to do it with strangers.
*There is quite a bit of walking between some of the lines.

Friday, June 22, 2012

is it just me?

Several years ago I got a notice from my principal that I would be going to a meeting in the next week or so. He didn't know much about it when I asked him, but he passed on all of the information he had received. Turns out it was a committee of teachers from across the state - around 10 of us - and a representative from the state department and the testing company that handles our state testing. And I have gone to these meetings a few times each year since that first meeting.

It is always a two day event held in Little Rock. For those of us who live several miles away, rooms are provided at the hotel where we meet. It's a nice hotel. The beds are very comfortable. The rooms are a nice size. And it's so convenient to get up the second morning and just walk downstairs for the day's meeting. And I usually have a chance to do a bit of shopping.

I get the invitation for the meeting a few months in advance. I've known for quite some now that I would be going to a meeting this week. And I had a plan. On my reading list for the summer was the Fifty Shades series. Of course, there is nowhere around here to get the books, so I planned to go to the bookstore on the first day of my overnight stay in Little Rock. I have the Kindle app and could have downloaded the book - but I wanted to have the actual book in my hand.

My Wednesday started out great. I met friends and did our morning running. I finished week 5. It was humid, even at 5:15. And already hot. I was a sweaty, stinky mess when I finished my run. I returned home, enjoyed coffee, wrote a post, took my shower, packed my bag, and headed to Little Rock. After that drive my legs were a bit sore when I walked into the hotel. I grabbed some lunch at the restaurant and went in for the meeting. For the next several hours, I sat. The longer I sat, the more sore my calves got. When the meeting was over and I went to check-in, I felt a few cramps in my now very sore calves. I decided to just take my things to my room, go to the bookstore, get my books, and come back to the hotel. On my way back to the truck, I made a detour just to check - I thought a soak in a hot tub would feel great. Unfortunately, there was no hot tub, and now I had a few more steps to make to get to my truck.

After driving across town to the bookstore, my legs were really starting to cramp. It was painful. But I wanted those books and would probably buy more. I had been waiting for a chance to go to the book store for several weeks. I found the second and third books near the door. I also found two other books that I wanted. Now I just needed that first Shades books.But it was nowhere to be found, and neither was a store employee. My sore, cramping calves and I hobbled around the store for almost 45 minutes before I found an employee. It seems that the computer near the front of the store can't be trusted to know what is in the store and what is not. The guy asked if I wanted him to order the book. Seriously? If I wanted to order it, I wouldn't have waited for several weeks and driven all the way across purchase the book. I put down the books in my hands and huffed out of the store.

I honestly thought about just going back to the hotel. My calves were hurting that bad. But I decided that I had to go to Target and get some IcyHot or something. So drive to Target, hobble to the back of the store, and guess what? There's that first book, and the third book, but no second book. Uugghhh! I had just put that back at the bookstore. But I was so mad. But I was so ticked about having to walk around for that long with no help, and my calves were cramping so bad, that I just wanted to go back to the hotel. I went looking for IcyHot. Found it near the Epsom salts. A soak sounded so comforting at that time.

I got back to the hotel and again hobbled to my room. I went down to get ice so that I could take some Ibuprofen. Came back and realized that that bathroom floor was covered in water. I grabbed a towel and threw it to the floor. Put there was quiet a lot of water. On previous visits, I once had to move rooms because the lock wouldnt' work and once my air conditioner  didn't cool. I knew the routine. A call to the front desk. They assured me that maintenance would be right up. Just when I thought my door should be rattling, the phone rang. Turns out the maintenance man was also the van driver and had gone to the airport. So I waited. I couldn't fill the tub to soak my calves because I didn't know where the water was coming from, and I didn't want to flood the entire room. So I grabbed my book and turn on the lamp nearest the chair.

Of course just as soon as I got comfortable, the phone rang - the maintenance man would be knocking soon. But he didn't come so I sat back down. Then the knock came. I hobbled over and let him in. he checked the bathroom and told me that me would be right back. Back to the chair for reading, but wait - where did my light go. The bulb had burned out. I decided that I could read from the bed. I moved my things and reached to turn the lamp on. There was no button. And then another knock at the door. The maintenance guy brought my clean towels to replace the ones I had used to soak up the water. And he told me that he had to go to his workshop and would be back. I asked him for the second time if it would just be better for me to move to another room. He assured me that I would be fine. I just wanted to take a bath and read my book, with a lamp that worked. And not have to get up to answer the door another time.

But he came back. And I had to waddle to the door again. I stood at the bathroom door while he worked. I asked again about changing rooms. But again, he assured me that I would be okay. Little did he know that by telling me this and knock repeatedly on my door, he was the one that was taking risks. He tightened something on the toilet, placed a towel around it, and told me that it should be fine. When he left I no longer had any desire to take a bath - I didn't want to enter that bathroom.

I rubbed the IcyHot on my still cramping calves, crawled in the bed, and started my book. I was burning up. After several minutes, I got back up to check the thermostat. An hour or so later, I was checking it again. I decided that my air wasn't working properly. I was not happy - a flooded bathroom, lamps that didn't work, and now the room wouldn't cool down. Had my legs not been cramping so much, I would have stormed down to front desk and thrown a huge fit.

An hour or so later I was up messing with the thermostat again. The air was working. It just wouldn't cool down enough. My normal night time house temperature is 68 - the room was about 75. I can't sleep at 75. I went into the hallway; it was cooler out there. After a few minutes, I shuffled back to the bed, rubbed on more IcyHot, and kept reading. Finally a little after 2:00 the room was down to about 70, and I feel asleep. It was very difficult to pull myself out of bed when my alarm went off at 6:00.

Why me? The next morning, the committee members discussed their glorious rests the night before. Why is it that I get the room with a near dead A/C? When so many of those cold-natured people would have never noticed.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


A few years ago administrators everywhere learned this word, and now teachers hear it at every meeting. I, personally, get sick of it by about lunch of the second day back to school. However, there is something to be said about being held accountable. I have started this running app many, many times. Each time I would say this time I will finish it. But I never have. One time I hurt my knee. One time I got sick for a few days. And several times, I just got lazy or it rained or it was too hot or it was too cold or a million other excuses - but I didn't finish. I'm not sure I ever finished w4d1.

But this time I was determined to finish it. To not only get past week 4 but to finish the entire app and actually run. But hadn't I told myself that a million other times about one exercise plan or another. Haven't we all done that? But something is different this time. This morning I finished week 5. Can I get a Whoop-whoop! Yes, you heard me correctly. I finished week 5. This morning. As in I've already done it. This time I haven't let a million excuses stop me. It hasn't been easy. It ain't pretty! But I'm doing it. I've had this phobia about running in front of people. You know - I'm too sweaty. I'm too slow. I'm too jiggly. But this time, I kept my schedule. I ran at the lake. I ran past my neighbor's house while he was outside. And this week I started running with friends. Two mornings this week I have gotten up before 5a.m. and met friends for early morning running. The broken toe has slowed me down a bit. Sunday morning, I started running with Lovey and had to walk the second half because my toe hurt so bad (I had stumped it the night before). But the next morning I got up and reran that day - and finished it. This time, I started out running my three days a week and walking the other days. And I have only skipped a few walking mornings. I didn't walk or run or anything yesterday. And you know what? I just didn't feel good all day. About halfway through the afternoon, I thought to myself, If I would have gone running this morning, I would feel better. Seriously! I really thought that! And even more importantly, I believe it.

So what's so different this time? What's making me change the way I think. This time I find myself planning my day around my exercise. For years, I tried to fit exercise into my day - it rarely worked. Something almost always bumped it further and further down the list. I couldn't walk after school because I had afterschool tutoring. I would do morning walks all summer and then stop when school started, planning to do it later in the day. But the time was just never right later in the day. This time, I have caught myself saying, Can't do that, I have to run in the morning. or Well I'll have to run first. or even Want to run with me? Just the other day my momma asked me if I was dieting too. My answer to that was a big NO. I haven't let the scales deter me. In the past, I would set myself up for failure. I changed everything at once and then couldn't stick with it. Or I would get on the scales and not see much of a change and get discouraged and quit it all. Oh, I've gotten on the scales almost everyday - they just tell me the same thing over and over again. For the last few weeks, I've lost and gained back and lost again the same 3 or 4 pounds. And I'm sort of okay with that. Would I like the weight to be dropping off? Hell yeah. But I'm just not worrying about it. This is not about me losing weight - this is about me finishing the running app. I'll worry about the numbers on the scale when I can run 30 minutes without needing an oxygen tank. And to be honest, my clothes are fitting a little more loosely. Good enough for me.

Is all of this change because of accountability? I've been posting about finishing the app. A few weeks ago, I committed to #4realfitnesschallenge. My New Year's resolution included fitness - I think I've started the c25k app three times since then. I resolved to lose 5 pounds a month and try a new recipe each week, but neither of those are happening. Running with friends has helped me this week. I really didn't want to get up this morning, but I knew they would be running so I did. They would have gone on without me and not even been upset that I didn't show up, but I wanted to run with them. The broken toe could have been a legitimate excuse to back out of the fitness challenge - but I refused to let that stop me. My little excursions this summer have been reasons to not run, but I've packed my shoes and my headphones and done it. I honestly believe that this time I have forgotten all about being accountable to the other stuff - like diets and scales, and I've been accountable to me. I don't want to fail me. I refuse to let myself down again. I've been asked several times if I plan to run a 5k when I finish the app, and honestly, I don't see that happening - but I just might.

I've got the first 20 minute run coming up soon. I'm debating whether I want to run that on my own or with the group. What would be the easiest? Running with the group increases my pace - not that my pace keeps up with theirs at all. What if I want to quit? Running with someone might push me to keep going. But running with someone might make me want to give up when my running pace slows down to not even someone else's walking pace. (It could happen, believe me.) See. These are the things that go through my mind now. I'm making decisions for me. Not for the scales. Not for the someone's challenge. Not for the blog. For me. What will work for me? I think accountability must come from within. It helps to have encouragement along the way. It helps to be challenged. It helps that someone will suffer with me. But until I want it for myself, none of the technology, none of the cheering, none of the questioning, none of the rewards in the world is going to make me do it. I'm doing it now because I finally decided that I would. I want to finish it more than I want to give in to the excuses. That's what is keeping me accountable right now.  

I'm thinking that I will start my school year by having my students discuss "accountability" and have them write about what is keeping them accountable. Do they know? Have they thought about it before? It could set a great pace for the year.

Monday, June 18, 2012

slow your roll

It's hard to imagine that some people are just now, today, having their last day of school. But it's true - it was tweeted! It just makes me sad; they now have their entire summer just waiting to be enjoyed. And mine is close to being half over. I just can't stand it. Someone stop the clock!

I've seen so many summer bucket lists. And I said several weeks ago that I would write one, but the sangria was so tasty that I finished it instead. I have been formulating plans in my head - they've just never made it to paper. But today I think I will begin my list.

1. Finish C25K app. Definitely at the top of my list. And I'm getting close. Almost. I did w5d2 this morning. It was hard. My pace is slow. My toe hurts. I have found my hip flexors, and we don't get along. My toe hurts. My arm band irritates the underside of my arm. My toe hurts. But I'm on week 5. And today I ran with friends. It was still dark, and we ran down a little side road, but they saw me running. And we have plans to run again tomorrow morning. Never thought I'd be making running dates - and getting up at to run at 5:15.

2. Revamp dining room table. I ordered new chairs a week or so ago. I have half of them put together. I want to paint and distress my table. But it's not going to happen until after my next lake trip.

3. Go zip lining. We have plans to do this while we are at the lake. I. Can't. Wait. I'm terribly, terribly afraid of heights. But I have to do this.

4. Finish organizing my craft room. I started on it way back in the winter. I want it done. Soon.

5. Lake it up. I've been camping twice already but still have the longest trip to go. I leave in just a few days. Got to get busy packing.

6. Finish some "honey-do" projects around the house. There are two holes in the sheet rock that Gingy the boxer chewed the last time she was here for recovery. And it's been a while since they have had to recover here at the house. The back door in the kitchen was blown open in a storm two or three summers ago. The door facing was damaged. Lovey started working on the knob and lost an important part; it was never found. I bought a new knob, but it can't be installed until the facing is repaired. Several rooms need some painting updates. Whew, I'm getting tired just thinking of all that needs done.

7. Make "sisters day" at The Country Store.  Every Wednesday my momma and several of her siblings meet for lunch. We call it "sisters day" even though a brother or two shows up each week. There are aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends each week, and I usually let the summer sneak by without making many visits.

8. Do some canning. I've made pickles, jam, and marmalade so far. I still want to can some jalapeno peppers. And maybe some tomato juice. Maybe.

9. Sew. I've got several projects planned. Just have to get that craft room organized so that I can get in there and sew. My niece asked about a project that I promised her but haven't finished yet. - and I hate to disappoint the nieces.

10. Float my day away. I plan on doing this at the lake. A full day of just floating. No boat rides. No projects. No school stuff. Just me and my floatie.

11. Pull an all nighter. Not the kind that yo may be thinking. A reading all nighter. I usually have several during the summer, but the running thing is messing that up. I'd rather run in the mornings - be done before 8:30, 9 at the latest - so I haven't let myself stay up past midnight too many times.

The list isn't too long yet. I'll add to it as the summer goes by. Honestly, this pretty much fills up my summer. I have to allow room for last minute activities. And things that can't be changed like VBS and professional development days. And pool days - gotta have some pool days.

I have a few days of PD this week. I'm helping my sister with a school project today. But hopefully I can get at least a small project finished before going back to the lake next week. After this trip the time just flies and the first day of work will sneak up on me. I think the planets line up in some strange formation and cause a time warp or something. July just goes by so fast. How will I have time to get it all in?

So what's on your summer bucket list?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

just peachy

To plan or not to plan?

I know some people who don't do anything without planning. And sometimes I do plan things. But not planning can work. Several years ago, I was at my sister's classroom as she finished up her last few days of her contract. After lunch we were discussing our plans for the summer. And then we decided we wanted to take the kids to the beach - right away. We made a few calls, ran home and threw a few things into a suitcase, and were on our way by 7:30. We reached the beach just after sunrise the next morning. It was one of our best beach trips ever. Around here we often fly by the seat of our pants. So when my niece called and asked, "I know this is spur of the moment, but we are going to pick peaches. Do you want to go?" Of course I said yes.

We grabbed all of our buckets and baskets, drove to the orchards, and started picking. The trees were loaded. And the smell was heavenly. We did have to watch for the honey bees. But picking was easy.

Sometimes the best ones were just out of reach, so we made Laynie climb the tree. That helped to reach some but not all. It was so hard to leave peaches on the tree.

The ground under the trees was covered with peaches that had already fallen. Sometimes when I tried to pick one peach, two more would fall to the ground. Occasionally we squished one while trying to reach a perfect peach. Everyone was glad that we had worn tennis shoes instead of flip flops.

Some limbs were just filled with perfect peaches, and I couldn't stop picking even when my hands got full.

Our buckets filled quickly. Sister had such a hard time not picking every single peach. She didn't want to leave any to waste.

But soon every bucket, basket, and tub was full. We loaded the truck and drove to the front of the orchard.

We had lots of peaches but couldn't leave without a few blueberries. Eli didn't really care what we were picking - it all looked like balls to him. And he just loves having all of his people in one spot.

Maybe we should have picked blueberries first because it didn't take me long to figure out that my bucket wasn't filling up nearly as fast. And it was much hotter without the shade of the trees. I gave up first. Laynie loves blueberries and was determined to keep picking, but she gave up soon after me. We had to drag Momma out of her row.

When I got home, I washed all of my fruit and left them on the table until the next morning. I've made peach jam, peach marmalade, and canned peaches. Friday night we ate with friends. I made pound cake with peaches and rum sauce. We also had frozen peach drinks. And I still have some peaches left.

It wasn't a planned trip. I had to do some extra work the next few days, but I'll have yummy peach jam and marmalade to eat all winter long. And we had a great afternoon.And those peach drinks were perfect for a hot afternoon swim.  Doing things spur of the moment can make some of the best memories.