Saturday, March 31, 2012


I've said it many times before - I love my job. There's nothing better than seeing that light bulb click on during a day's lesson. Nothing better than watching one of my students work and work and finally "get" it. I love my job.

But it does have hazards. As much as I enjoy being around my kiddos, I must say that a classroom is like a petri dish - a steamy, gross germ-garden.

I keep my classroom cool, chilly cold, I keep it downright COLD. And this helps to stem the tide of icky-sicky germs.

But this week I've been stressed and busy and stressed. And those damn germs found a way around my germ shield.

Wednesday, I was having some pointy-pinchy spasms in my back that worked their way all around to the front. My friend Robin pointed out that it was probably just a gas bubble, and I didn't worry. Then Thursday those spasms really cranked up. My back was killing me. It hurt to stand, but I couldn't sit at all. I skipped out on after school tutoring (thank you Robin for filling in) so that I could get home and take a muscle relaxer.

Lovey came home to find me piled up in the bed with the puppies as company. Later that night the dreaded puke-fest started. Friday morning, when he got up to go feed his chickens and ask what I needed, I sent him to his momma's to get me some meds. And Friday was pretty much a blur. I slept all day long.

Today, I'm out of bed but still feeling pretty yucky. My weekend plans are no longer. I think it may be another day of sleeping for me.

Teachers deserve hazard pay when viruses are going around.

Monday, March 26, 2012

my review of the hunger games movie

**this is only my opinion - for what it's worth. no one paid - or even ask me - for my opinion. i just feel compelled to share it.

I read the first book several years ago when it was assigned to Baby Jus at school. Because of his learning disability, we always read his novels together and discussed them at home. Usually he would read a page and then I would read a page - sometimes it could get very long and drawn out. Not the case with this book. We both loved it. And even caught Lovey listening in as we read and discussed it each night. Many times in our book discussions we would consider just how this or that part would be portrayed in a movie. We questions just how they would show the girl on fire and make it seem realistic. We argued which parts would be a must in the movie and which parts could be left out or altered. How would special effects teams construct a mutt? What did the people at the capital really look like? It was all discussed. We knew that a movie would eventually come. After reading books 2 & 3, we knew it would be sooner than later. And we knew that we would be forking over our money for a ticket during the first weekend. And we have been counting the days until the March 23 opening.

I have heard and read so much controversy about this movie.

Discussions about whether or not it is appropriate for children - people, it has a PG-13 rating (for intense thematic violent material and disturbing images -- all involving teens). If you are concerned about your 10 year old's reaction to such violence, then he/she probably isn't ready to see the movie - you'll easily be able to buy a your own copy in three years when he/she is mature enough to watch/discuss such violence. Do teens die in the movie? Yes, if you read the book you know this already. But honestly, the blood and gore factor is minute. The movie makers did a good job of allowing the audience a bit of the shock factor without grossing anyone out. I am not a gore-watcher, I don't do scary, I quit watching ER several seasons ago because there was so much blood on the show. That said, I expected a little more in this movie. Lovey and I both commented that we have seen much more blood and gore on network television dramas. I think the key here is that with any pre-teen or teen viewer - discussion is important. What better way to teach the value of life and the senselessness of killing? Honestly, it is difficult to watch the movie and not come out craving a good talk about what was just seen. Go see the movie with your kids and talk about it for days.

Another complaint that I have heard post-opening is it's not like the book - they left stuff out and changed some stuff. I honestly have to restrain myself from just going "DUH! Have you EVER read a book and then watched the movie?" The movie is never, ever, ever as good as the book. This movie is 2 hours and 22 minutes long - that's LONG. There is just no possible way to squeeze in every single detail of the book. And sometimes things have to change to fit the timeline. Spoiler Alert: I'm going to discuss a specific part of the movie here, if you don't want to read it, skip to the next paragraph. In the book, Katniss gets the mockingjay pin from a friend just before she leaves for the games. In the movie, the friend doesn't exist. She's not a significant character, but the pin is significant. And the script writers had to find a way to bring the pin into the movie and make it important, so Katniss gets it at the Hob, gives it to her sister with a promise that it will keep her safe, then her sister gives it back to Katniss when she volunteers as a tribute in Prim's place.

And this one blows me away - that's not what I thought they would look like? I have to say, when I first saw the trailers I thought the casting team had gotten Peeta and Gale backwards. But when I was watching the movie - it never crossed my mind. And I was absolutely blown away when I read this article tweeted by a friend. Was Cinna just what I had imagined? No, but not because he was black - I pictured him, being from the capital, as much more over-the-top. At the end of the movie, I was loving the Lenny Kravitz Cinna just as much as I had loved the Mer-version Cinna while reading the books. Again, I have to say, have you EVER read a book and then watched the movie? No matter how great the directors and producers are, it is rare that they can match the relationships that you have created and established in your head and heart while reading a great book.

And I'll stop with this one, it builds distrust and disrespect of the government. Distrust? It does make one question the motives of a government which tries to control its people. Disrespect? I don't think that's the right word. It can build an appreciation for freedoms that we take for granted. It may cause viewers to question some of the actions of a particular government. But isn't that what makes a great country? That we have a right to question and voice our opinions freely. This book and movie are great ways to introduce students to the idea of government for and by the people.

The controversial elements of this movie are exactly why teenagers SHOULD see it.1.) It makes viewers want to talk about what they have seen. 2.) It makes you think about the details from the book - I have heard many readers say that they needed to go back and re-read the book, or, like my nephew the non-reader, they want to read it for the first time. 3.) It may make us conscience of our prejudices. 4.) It may make us want to learn more about our government and the history of our country.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

my favorite buy of the weekend

Yesterday my friend, Carrie, and I went thrifting. We hit a few estate sales. A few yard sales. And a few hobby shops. I was so tired when I got home that I didn't even unload my truck. So I didn't take any pictures. So I couldn't show y'all my favorite buy of the day.

Here it is. Can you guess what it is? I'm telling you; I'm in love.

When I found it, there were two other ladies ogling it. I felt just a bit sorry for them because I knew right away they wouldn't be taking this box home.

It's an enamelware camping/tailgating/picnicing set.  And I love it.

A 12 place set neatly packed in this handy crate. And they look brand, spanking new. And I love them.

I can't wait to be at the lake, drinking coffee out of this mug in the morning. And 11 of you are welcome to join me.  But someone better bring another pot because these mugs are huge. Did I say that I love these?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

how was your saturday?

Carrie and I had been planning our thrifting day for over a week. It wasn't an extra early morning - I didn't leave home until after 8:00 a.m.

How did anyone find estate and yard sales before iphones and maps? We sucked the battery from two phones today between googling to check prices and mapping a route to a sale. And did either of us think to bring a charger? That would be a NO.

We had the addresses for a few estate sales when we headed out. We found a few more along the way. And we hit a few yard sales too.

As with all sales there are always things you hate to leave behind or the sale that almost was.

Carrie was looking for a small chest of drawers. At one estate sale we thought we had found the perfect one only to discover that someone had bought it literally minutes before we walked in the door. They hadn't even had time to put the sold tag on it. At the same place I found a small swivel rocker that I almost bought. After looking at it several times, I decided the seat back was a bit worn.

At another house I found some 1950's folding chairs. The guy had ten to sell. He had priced them at $8.00 each. I offered him $60.00 for all 10, but he wouldn't make the deal. They were cute. They were in good shape. He had more of an emotional attachment to them than I had want of them. They chairs stayed, and we moved on down the road.

After shopping for several hours, we finally stopped for burgers and onion rings. Yum! And then it was back to shopping.

It was a full day. Carrie's car was full on the trip home. So full that we almost lost it all after our very last stop of the day.

I've got some great projects to work on - I'll share them here as I get them done.

But tonight - I am tired. I haven't even unloaded my truck.

Friday, March 23, 2012

i'm easily distracted

I don't know how I ever made it through school. I start one thing but end up doing another. Yesterday I was trying to clean my bathroom - vacuum, mop, clean the bathtub and shower, etc. It took me all afternoon, and I never did clean the sinks. During the time I should have been in the bathroom cleaning, I found myself vacuuming the ceiling fan blades in my bedroom (which did need cleaning, but it wasn't what I had set out to do at that time), folding clothes in the living room, feeding the dogs, washing clothes, and checking the mail. I worked all afternoon, but got nothing finished - not even the bathroom.

And today has been no different - except that I haven't been cleaning bathrooms. I started the morning with the plan to sew. I discovered very quickly that I didn't have any elastic for the project. I hunted everywhere, no elastic. I went to my mother-in-law hoping that she might have some. She didn't. So I headed to Wal-mart. Lovey needed dog food, and Jus needed shampoo, and I also wanted some ant poison. I had tried to get it earlier in the week, but there was none to be had.

Going into the lawn and garden department was a bad move. I did find the ant stuff I needed, but I also found several bulbs that I just couldn't leave behind. I knew that Liz was working in her flower beds this morning, and she was going to give me some cannas when she dug hers up. And those bulbs would look great with the cannas.

While I was there I also picked up some t-shirts to try copying a shirt that I pinned. We'll see how that goes....

When I started home, Liz called and said that Joey was digging the cannas if I wanted any. And I told her that I would come straight there to get them. After a back porch visit, and a look at some her of new plants going in the beds, I ended up leaving with a boxful of cannas, some calla lilly bulbs, and several hollyhocks to transplant in my beds. So I just couldn't come home and sew. Those things needed to be planted. And I wanted to put out the ant poison today.

I started with the ant poison first. Then Lovey came to find me. He was getting ready to mow at the chicken houses, and the belt had broken on the mower. He was heading to town to get a new one and wanted to know if I wanted to ride with him. I don't get to run errands with him much, so I agreed to ride. The planting would just have to wait. And the sewing could be done at night.

I got back to yard work just as soon as I was home. I put out the ant poison. Not enough to cover all of the mounds, but I did get the ones closest to the house - we have so many this year. And I did some weeding in the front of the house. I decided that the cannas and calla lilly bulbs couldn't be planted where I had originally planned because that bed needs new border. I got the hollyhocks planted where I think they will grow. And scattered the other stuff around the yard where I hope it will grow. Those new bulbs I got today will have to wait until the new border is in place.

I'm planning to get back to that sewing project after supper. But who knows what might catch my attention between now and then.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

for my girls

A few weeks ago I was doing a little shopping with my nieces, Emily and Abby. I think we were in American Eagle Outfitters. They were both looking at the jewelry, and I saw the leather cuffs and immediately thought of the cuffs my friend Carrie had made a few months earlier. I asked the girls if they liked the cuffs and might like one - of course, they did, and they would. And I knew I had a project for spring break.

So yesterday in the downpour, I went thrifting for just the right leather belt that I could remake into some leather cuffs for my girls. And I scored! I found three belts that were just perfect for what I had in mind. Of course, in my excitement to get the cuffs completed, I didn't take pre-remake pictures of the belts.

Using just regular scissors, I cut the belts into wrist size pieces. After some discussion from the work crew, it was decided that the corners needed to be rounded just a tad. Here's a picture of the design on two of the belts. On the middle piece, I had already painted the white stitching along the edges.

Lovey and Clay helped me to put the snaps on. I did put on the first few, but when the paint came out I left the snaps to the guys so that I could do the fun stuff. Notice how much better the rounded corners look? I worked on these snaps. Clay had a tool to punch holes in the leather before attempting the snaps.

While painting I would punch the holes and pass the leather to the guys to add the snaps, and then get right back to painting.

Add a little color and then wipe it off. The paint stains the leather and will stay in the crevices of the stamped design.

For this one a little turquoise and yellow and it's ready for snaps.

Sometimes we painted then added snaps, sometimes we snapped then added the paint. The design of the belt helps to determine the paint colors. This flower design was a one of those belts with the name on the back. The flower design gave us lots of crevices for lots of colors.

I had three belts and didn't realize until we were almost ready to begin the project that two of them had the same design stamped in the leather - one with stitches along the edges and one without. I love the rainbow of colors on this one.

I even saved the buckle of one and did some retooling to use it on a cuff. Here it is before any paint had been added.

And here it is after painting. Doesn't even look the same at all.

I've got enough cuffs for all of my nieces to choose their favorite.

And that belt with the name? Just happens the name was Laura, and my niece Leah (nephew's wife) has a sister with that very same name. So Laura, of Laura's Journey, will get a cuff too - if she's wants one.

I've got one more that needs snaps, but we ran out. And that long one on the outside is for me and it need another row of snaps.

Take another look at the before and after. Here's the three belts I started with.

And here's my finished product.

After snaps and painting, we waxed the leather and scruffed them up a bit. Even used a hammer and banged a few with the edge of pliers. The more distressed and worn they are; the better they look.

Can't wait for the girls to choose.

Have you done a crafting project with friends and husbands? It was fun. And the husbands had some great ideas.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

new recipe - mexican mac and cheese

I never thought that one new recipe a week would be the most difficult of my resolutions to keep. Not that I've been doing great on the others during the last few weeks either. I think what has made this one the most difficult is two fold - I just don't use recipes when I cook on a daily basis, and making new recipes means lots of planning. But I am determined to get back on track with all of the resolutions, so when I saw a pin for this recipe, I knew I wanted to make it, or at least a version of it, ASAP.

I did my cooking at my friend Carrie's so that she and her husband could hep me with another project and because it has been several weeks since we had supper together and that was one of the resolutions also. Whew!

So here's my version of BHG's Mexican Mac and Cheese.

I used elbow macaroni because that's what Carrie had, and she started it cooking while I was still on my way.

While the macaroni boiled, I cooked the sausage. Another of my adaptations - I switched the pork sausage to turkey sausage in hopes of making it just a tad healthier.

When the macaroni was ready, Carrie drained it off and put it back into the pot. I used that for mixing to save washing another bowl. I added the sausage to the macaroni and then cook the onions in the same skillet. I'm all about as few dirty dishes as possible.

Once they were just softened, I add them to the pot too.  Then added the salsa Verde and two packages of pepper jack cheese. I'm glad I was stirring in that big pot - or Carrie would have had cheesey macaroni in her floor with no Lucy or Jacob to clean it up.

Next the mixture was poured into a large baking dish and ready for the oven.

After it was bubbly, I added sliced grape tomatoes and black olives (another adaptation) and put it back into the oven for just a few minutes.

It was just a little spicy, a little cheesey, and a lot yummy! I will be making this dish again.

I brought home some leftovers for the boys. Jus really liked it too.

** a revision to the revision: I made this to take to church yesterday. I had been considering this change since the night I cooked it. This time I added about a 1/2 of a jar of sundried tomatoes in oil. I also used jalapeno pepper slices with the tomatoes on top rather than olives - I plan to use both the next time I make this.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

plan a, or not

I intended to come in from Monday's activities and immediately post about what a fantastic day it had been. But by now you probably know that my plan A rarely works out - sometimes neither do plans B-X. But something always works - right now, I'm working yesterday's plan C, or maybe D.

Don't assume that plans only change because of failure. Oh no! Many times plans change because a better plan is discovered mid-route or mid-project or mid-lesson. Yesterday's plans changed mid-I-can't-keep-my-eyes-open-any-longer-nap.

The day had been planned for several weeks. The unplanned and unexpected was the after youth group Sunday night four wheeler ride by the niece and nephews. Laynie, Caleb, and Chan rode until I whined that I was ready to go home. Then I had to wait on them to come back, load Chan's ride on the trailer, take him home, unhook the loaded trailer at his house, and finally crawl into bed sometime around 1 a.m. Only to have Lucy Mercer keep me awake for a few more hours. So I was missing several hours of sleep going in to Monday's busy plan.

Brooke and I took several of the UMY kids to Little Rock to complete our March mission at the Methodist Children's Home which is part of Methodist Family Health. We reached the campus just before 9:30, hauled our supplies into the gym, and went to meet some of the kids we would be seeing. We helped to escort the 1-2 year olds to the gym for our first session - 15 screaming, squealing, laughing, giggling, very cute and cuddly toddlers playing and interacting with 5 smiling, chasing, laughing, praying, very cute and cuddly teenagers. We brought small playground kick balls for each toddler - and they were a hit. About an hour into the morning session, a group of 3-5 year olds joined us. Our plan A went right out the window when we realized the 1-2 year olds weren't leaving, and we were going to have to find a way to do the planned Bible story while the 3-5's wanted to run and play and then do the craft for 3-5's with the 1-2's crawling everywhere and wanting to get in on the action too. Finally, everyone had attempted to decorate an apron and a star clapper. We put on some music and sang and clapped and crawled and chased some more. When lunch came, we were already tired and ready for a much needed break.

It was a short break though because Scott, the guy in charge, had promised that if we got back in time, we could rock some babies. And our kids really wanted to rock some babies. We walked in during nap time for all but one baby, but managed to wake up two more and everyone got a few minutes of baby love.

We then went back to the gym to meet with  a very large group of kids from 6-17 years old. Again, plan A had been to see the 6-11 year olds and then the 12-17 year old group, but we adjusted and the afternoon session was quickly underway. The activity was one Brooke and I had done with our kids just a few weeks ago. An adaptation of Ann's post

A gym bench transformed into a prayer bench. A private moment lead by strangers and supervised by counselors. But God, as always, was forgiving. And He was present.

While small groups came to the prayer bench, the large group was downstairs doing crafts. The glowing cross necklace plan adapted to a beaded bracelet. The extra supplies thrown into the bag "just in case" used up and stretched to fill the need.

And at the end of the day, two adults and five kids used up and stretched to fill the need.

Used up and exhausted but full too. We went to fulfill a monthly mission, but God blessed us too. Watching our kids work to include even those toddlers that wanted to hang back, those that were hard to engage, listening as they asked, Do you want me to pray with you? Do you know that God forgives? Is there someone God can help you to forgive? hearing them answer the same "How do you put this together?" "Can I have one of those?" and watching them dig to the bottom of every bag again and again searching for just one more pinwheel or star to color - I came home tired reminded of what I already knew. I am blessed to be a part of God's plan.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

oh, the possibilities

Spring Break. I have been waiting longing for this week since mid-January. Yes, we have had a very mild winter. Yes, I do love those kiddos I spend so much time with each week.

But spring break, SPRING BREAK!

In January, it seems so far away.

In February, I wonder if it will ever come.

In March, I count the minutes until that final bell on Friday afternoon.

I slept better last night just knowing that today I would wake up to a full week of spring break activities.

And I sit here this morning, just soaking it all in. An entire week. Starting now. I've already gotten a text, "What are you doing today?" 

Yard work?

Spring cleaning?

Craft projects?



Decisions! Decisions!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

a farm morning

I'm enjoying this warm early-spring afternoons. And the time change is always welcome around here. Having an extra hour of daylight when I get home from school makes me want to do more. But there is another reason that I love daylight saving time - the mornings.

Yes, I grumble when that alarm chirps.

Yes, it's hard to get up when it's so dark outside.

Yes, I stumble around in the dark for the first few minutes I'm up.

But every now and then, I time it just right. Like this morning. I got up, made the coffee, took my shower, and then went into the living room to let the dogs out. And saw the prettiest foggy, blue sunrise.

Even the moon waited around to see this beautiful sunrise.

I don't think I've ever seen a blue sunrise. It was stunning. It was eerie. It was mesmerizing.

I like this one where I can just make out the cows in front of the litter shed.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light; and there was light.  - Genesis 1:1-4