Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

{Korean War Memorial...Washington, D.C.}

Thank you to all the men and women...past, present, and future...who have been willing to sacrifice for our freedom. Thank you for sacrificing your health, your safety, your peace of mind, and time with your family for our country. Thank you for being willing to die for a nation full of folks you don't even know.

Thank you also to the family members who keep up the good fight at home.

I hope we can all take a moment today and say a prayer of thanks for those who keep our blessed America free.

{Birmingham Veterans' Day parade 2010...a fabulous event if you ever get a chance to go}

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Popsicles for breakfast

I changed out of my pajamas yesterday just long enough to make a grocery run. A girl's gotta eat, ya know? I had a specific goal in mind: find some popsicle molds and make homemade popsicles. I'd been sifting through dozens of popsicle recipes all day. I was ready to roll.

It's been years since I've made homemade popsicles. I wanted to venture past the Dixie cup and craft stick method. I wanted something a little snazzier. Enter: $3 popsicle molds from Target.

{Not top-of-the-line snazzy, but snazzy enough for this girl.}

To say I was excited about my purchase was an understatement. Giddy would be an accurate description. I love popsicles more than anyone should. I like the idea of making my own and knowing exactly what is in them. I also love not spending excess money, and homemade is far cheaper than storebought. 

I really, really like popsicles. Did you know that? I'm looking into taking most of my meals in popsicle form this summer; I'll keep you posted.

Yogurt Popsicles (recipe adapted from one by Tyler Florence)
3 cups plain yogurt
1 cup fruit
juice from 1/2 lime

Mix everything together in a bowl. Spoon into popsicle molds and freeze. Enjoy!

*I used strawberries and a banana, chopped into tiny little pieces and smushed together a bit. Yum.

*Okay, the plain yogurt needs some work. I like not using flavored yogurt to control the amount of sugar but plain yogurt isn't my most favorite thing on the planet. At all. I added a few splashes of orange juice. The popsicles were really good, but I think my next batch will contain a pinch of sugar or a squirt of honey. You know, just a little somethin' to tone down the taste of the plain yogurt.

*This recipe makes a ton. My mold only makes 4 popsicles at a time, so I have about 1/2 of the mixture sitting in my fridge still waiting to be popsicle-ized. If you don't want lots of them, half this recipe.

*The flavor combinations are endless! I've got all sorts of ideas swirling around in my head. Ready yourself for endless popsicle posts this summer!

{This was breakfast this morning. Good morning, indeed!}

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Confession time

It's the first Saturday of my summer break. It's nearly 4:00 PM.

I'm still in my pajamas.

I haven't been outside all day.

I had the largest of plans for today. I was going to wake up with the sun and go for a walk. I was going to clean my whole little home top to bottom. I was going to run some errands. Eh, it didn't so much happen. Thanks for not judging. You do this, too, right???

Instead, I've watched TV. I've eaten strawberries. I've started a four whole pages! Oh, and I've taken two naps. It's been a productive day.

I feel like all those nights during the school year when I didn't get enough sleep are paying me back now. I guess I need to catch up on my sleep before I can officially start my summer adventures.

And those pajamas? I plan to lose them when I go to the grocery store in a bit, but you better believe they're going back on as soon as I get home. They're the key to my productivity, after all.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thankful Thursday, from a very tired teacher

Today was the last day of school. I've got four years of teaching under my belt, and I've now had the privilege of teaching 99 wonderful young people. I'll miss my students, but I'm not sad about two months off to rest. This girl is more than weary!

Today I am thankful for...
  • the grace of God
  • my supremely fabulous family and friends
  • my health
  • my job...I truly think that I've been called by the Lord to do this
  • my students and their parents this really was something special, and I'm glad to have been a part of it
  • Sasha...we make a pretty good teaching team!
  • Connie, who could run my classroom with her eyes closed...don't know what I'll do without her in my room next year!
  • a chips and salsa date after school today with a really great group of folks...the perfect way to celebrate the end of school
  • the students maintaining some semblance of self-control today, even after starting our morning off with the fire alarm (!) and two firetrucks (!!)'s hard to recover from that, but they did a nice job!
  • a group of my students who let Connie and I play "Just Dance" with them at the video game truck today...I was embarrasingly bad...good exercise, though!
  • a successful 5th Grade Day ceremony yesterday
  • a work day's nice to get paperwork done in a quiet, empty room :)
  • summer break
  • getting to see Kira and Elizabeth this past Tuesday
  • Suzy's new recipes this week...Loaded Potato Soup and Skyline Dip...if you think I'm not making that dip at my earliest convenience, you are sorely mistaken!
  • a shoutout on Lauren's blog...I'm so glad her college casa was unharmed when the tornado came through and that I could take a picture for her
  • summer break
  • Kate and her parents being able to carry on with their long-anticipated European vacation despite the nasty, evil, airport-closing Iceland volcano dust...can't WAIT to hear all about their trip
  • LA's dog Gidget being okay after being bitten by a rattlesnake...yikes!
  • fun summer plans and alternately, very few plans at all...having a wide open schedule makes me smile
  • a chance to rest and rejuvenate before planning for my next batch of schoolbabies
  • the American Idol finale last night...I didn't care who won, but it sure was entertaining! So many great musicians in one place, on one night...
  • air conditioning, electricity, clean running water, plenty of food, a car, shoes, clothes, a roof over my head
  • summer break

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Patchwork birthday banner

Alright friends, I'm ready to unveil The Project. I started working on The Project back in November, after stumbling across it here. Sarah Barry is a blog friend of mine, and she's just incredible. I've gotten so many sewing ideas from her. Her blog is so fun and real...check her out, and I dare you not to fall in love!

Anyway, I was searching for the perfect homemade gift for Elizabeth's first birthday. I knew I'd hit paydirt when I found this patchwork-style "happy birthday" banner...just what I was looking for. It's colorful, homespun, and something I hope they'll enjoy for years to come. Oh, and it's twelve feet long. Go big or go home, people!

Do me a favor and get a drumroll going before you see the pictures. Got it? You ready??

{boy side...Buddy and Dorothy in their supervisory positions, making sure everything stays under control}

{girl side}

This project was so fun and quite easy. It's a bit labor-intensive (lots of cutting and ironing) but I would absolutely recommend it for a beginner. I don't think I'll post a step-by-step tutorial (unless anyone is desperate for one) because Sarah Barry already did that beautifully in her post. I did vary in a couple of ways:

*I do the Wonder-Under step differently, but it all works out just the same in the end.
*I used storebought spool ribbon instead of making ribbon from scraps. This is partly because I didn't have that many scraps and partly (actually, mostly) because I'm lazy when it comes to sewing scraps together to make a ribbon.

I met Kira and Elizabeth in Montgomery yesterday evening to deliver the banner and...

I think they liked it.

Let me know if you have any questions! I'd be happy to answer them...I'm on fire with banner love these days :) If you make your own, PLEASE be sure to share a picture! I'd love to see different takes on this.

Happy Wednesday, yall!

Monday, May 23, 2011


I spent the weekend in my lovely hometown of Tuscaloosa attending a wedding with a dear friend and celebrating Grandad's birthday. It was a joyful weekend, but a cloud was hanging over my head the whole time. You see, I've been to visit several times since the tornado hit on April 27th, but I'd only seen bits and pieces of the damage. The National Guard was out in full force the last few times I was there, and rightfully so. Now that life is moving on, the most heavily damaged areas are back open.

Daddy very kindly agreed to be my driver so I could take pictures. We set out just after sunrise yesterday, and my life changed. Such intense sadness. I hated every second of seeing my hometown this way. I don't think it sunk in until last night, and I tossed and turned for over an hour thinking about all that we'd seen. I'm so glad my Daddy was with me.

As we drove through Alberta City, which is mostly leveled, this song (which we both love) came on my XM radio and it seemed like a movie score playing during the scene from a movie. Such a surreal moment in time. Click to play the song and then keep scrolling.

Picture-laden post...just so ya know.

{Forest Lake}

{Daniel and Olivia were right across the street from this at her apartment when the tornado came through.}

{H&W Drugs...we used to sell yearbook ads to them when I was on the yearbook staff in high school}

{Cedar Crest off of 15th St...Daniel lived here two years ago.}

{Two houses down...Daniel's friend Russ sat in the bathtub with his dog and made it out alive.}

{Rosedale Courts housing project}

{what's left of Full Moon Barbecue, Chuck E. Cheese, and Tuesday Morning}

{Mimi and Grandad's church in Alberta...the church Grandad grew up in...the church Daddy grew up in}

{neighborhood in Alberta}

{the ruins of Alberta Elementary School...empty of schoolbabies thanks to an early dismissal}

{twisted steel on Crescent Ridge Road}

{in the grace of God, indeed}

{I love a sense of humor, especially in ugly times.}

I still can hardly wrap my brain around this. My goal isn't to be depressing; I just don't want people to forget. The news teams have moved on, the charities will soon follow, but the work won't be done. It won't be done for a long, long time. Please say a prayer every now and then for those all over the Southeast dealing with this. I promise they won't go unnoticed.

PS--After hearing about the tornado that tore through Joplin, MO yesterday, I came up with an idea. I'm going to found The Society for People Who Hate Tornadoes and Want Them to Go Away Forever. You in?

Saturday, May 21, 2011


May seems to be a busy month for everyone. If you're a teacher, May is a particularly busy month. May keeps throwing more and more at you, without stopping to wonder if you can handle it. May is an endurance test. I love a good to-do list, and I think there are very few things more satisfying than crossing something of my list. Here's my to-do list for the next six days:
  • graduation lunch with Cousin Sarah and the grandparents
  • wedding in Tuscaloosa with one of my all-time besties, Neeley
  • Grandad's birthday supper, also in Tuscaloosa
  • sort through 300 pictures to make picture albums for every student in my class (every 5th grade teacher does that...I ain't nothin' special there)
  • finish the "6th grade survival guides" I made and send 'em home
  • clean my classroom top to bottom, inside and out...holy moly
  • continue plowing through the 20+ items on my end-of-the-year checklist
  • find a dress to wear for the 5th Grade Day ceremony
  • come up with a quick something to say when it's my turn at the 5th Grade Day ceremony
  • finish report cards
  • finish sorting papers into cumulative record files
  • thank you notes
  • "grade" each student on their combination lock "test"...their goal is three times in a row, and I think they'll do great!
  • maintain my good attitude and patience throughout a party-and-special-event-filled week at school...I hope those babies have their self-control wide open next week!
  • make the 2+ hour round trip to meet Kira in our state's great capital...gotta unload The Project before Sweet Girl's birthday party...she's sweet to drive a bit herself to meet me so that I don't have to trust the USPS to safely deliver my pride and joy
As wild as May often is, I love it. Looking through my to-do list makes me feel better. With the grace of God, I can handle this...and more, if He sees fit. My list is full because I have family and friends near me, and because I have a job. For that, I am so very thankful and don't want to forget it!

Are you a list-maker? Let me know...we should start a "Making Lists Is Clearly Superior to Not Making Lists" club. Are you in?

Happy weekend, yall!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Today, I have so much to be thankful for...
  • the grace of God
  • my loving, supportive family and friends
  • Grandad logging another year on Earth with us...I hope his goal is 70 more
  • being gainfully employed
  • clean water available whenever I want it
  • never having to experience true, debilitating hunger
  • a roof over my head, shoes on my feet, and a car to get me around
  • just enough money to take care of my needs and a few wants every now and then
  • Monday morning prayer group
  • my little $99 sewing machine...she's seen me through a lot of projects
  • exactly one week left until schoolyear 2010-2011 is over...I've enjoyed this year so much, but it's time for a break
  • healthy babies to celebrate in a big way this week...Mr. Will turned one yesterday, and Miss Elizabeth turned one today. Time sure flies. Happy birthday, little ones! You are so loved.
  • the safe arrival of healthy, handsome Colton Douglas Goodwin on May 13th...he's perfect in every way! I can't believe Sara K and Dusty have TWO kids...
  • LA and Randolph's first anniversary this week...I hope it's the first of 100 more for those two lovebirds!
  • Teacher Friend Sheila's birthday today, and the fact that, this time next year, she'll be a mama to a long-long-awaited little boy :)
  • the coaches and counselors showing the "Always Changing, Always Growing" video to the 5th graders tomorrow so the teachers don't have to...I don't know if a teacher/student relationship can recover from a viewing of such a video. Holy moly. I don't envy them!
  • a successful Honors Club end-of-the-year party today...I'm glad the 40 (!) pizzas ended up being just enough for our extra large club :)
  • Relay for Life first go-around, and I'm excited to see what it's all about!
  • the premiere of "The Bachelorette" next Monday...holy moly, I'm excited
  • a hot wedding date with Neeley this weekend...glad to spend some time with her before she moves to Texas
  • some delightful new recipes to add to my "to make" list: Cheesy Pesto Pasta Bake, Shrimp Sauce (be still, my heart...true love), and Coca-Cola Cake (one of my faves)
  • the weekend right around the corner
  • Marcel the friend Kate sent it to me this week, and I've watched it 600 times so far...precious...hysterical...


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Happy birthday, G-Daddy!

Today is my darling Grandad's birthday. It's a big ' of those once-in-a-decade birthdays that ends in a zero. I won't call him out on the great wide internet, but it's the decade one encounters between one's sixties and one's eighties. I teach math twice a day, so if you're lost, call me. We'll chat.

Top 10 Things That Make Grandad Awesome (in no particular order whatsoever)

1. He's one of the wisest people I've ever known. Seriously. Ask him anything...he probably knows it. If he doesn't, he'll make it up real quick so you'll never know the difference.

2. He whistles through his teeth. As someone who can't whistle at all, even if my life depended on it, I'm in awe of this. I wish he would make me a CD of whistled tunes.

3. He has a fabulous sense of humor. I love it...sarcastic, but without being a smart-alec. When he's sick (though I don't like when he's sick), I love to ask him how he's doing and hear him answer, "Mostly know, just dangling on the edge of the eternity. Most other people would be in the ground if they were this sick." Love it.

4. When he's not whistling, he's singing old hymns. Never the whole thing, mind you, just bits and pieces. I love to hear him sing. He could add some hymns to that "Grandad's Greatest Hits" CD.

5. He likes "Gone with the Wind" a whole lot...maybe even more than me, and that's a feat. We do have differing views on its length. I think it's perfect the way it is, and he thinks it should be over at intermission. After all, the war is over at intermission, and really, isn't the war why we watch it? No? We sometimes quote lines together. When someone compliments Mimi on something, Grandad likes to chime in with Prissy's, "Well, it was mostly me." Drives Mimi crazy, but it makes me smile.

6. He is a family-tree-tracing guru. His father (who I never met) wrote several books on our family history, and Grandad has picked up where PawPaw left off. Grandad has done mucho research and, although my head starts swimming with all the names and dates, I'm trying to get him to teach me as much as he can. It's a fun way to spend time with him.

7. He loves, loves history, and he knows pretty much everything of any importance that's ever happened in the world (or something like that...see #1). He's taught me so much about the history of our country and, particularly, the South. I wonder if I could talk him into going to one of those Civil War re-enactments with me. Wouldn't that be a hoot?

8. The man is a cemetery junkie...the older and more overgrown, the better. He loves to visit old family folks he remembers, and I like to hear the stories he tells about them. Over the last couple of years, somewhat accidentally, I've become his cemetery touring sidekick. And you know what? I love it.

{showing me his namesake...his great-great-uncle, I China Grove this past winter}

{Please, please remind me to tell you sometime about the search for Henderson Lazenby.}

9. He loves his church. He and Mimi have always been very involved, but they've both really blown me away the last few weeks. Their church, the one Grandad has attended since he was a child, was almost completely destroyed by the April 27th tornado. They've both been up there nearly every day packing boxes, loading trucks, serving food, and visiting with those who need help even worse. I'm proud of both of them.

{picture source: The Tuscaloosa News}
{See the yellow and blue umbrellas right beside each other? Mimi is under the yellow one in white pants, and Grandad is in the blue shirt standing behind her. The church is behind the photographer, and that's what's left of Alberta City. Keep praying.}

10. He always dresses nicely. 99% of the time, he's sporting a button-down shirt (tucked in, of course), dress pants, and dress shoes. And alway, always has pens and his Afrin in his shirt pocket.

11. (I couldn't contain myself. I've gotta do 11.) He'll do absolutely anything and everything for his family, especially his 11 grandkids. Drop everything and drive out of town for the day, just because somebody asked? Done. Attend innumerable recitals, games, awards ceremonies? No problem. "Grandad, can we call you G-Daddy?" I guess...if you really need to! (A handful of years ago, us grandkids convinced him he needed a rapper name. Thus, G-Daddy was born. It's fallen by the wayside, but I think it'll make a comeback.)

He makes us laugh. He's always good for advice. He's a rock in the hard times. I think he's pretty special, and I love him a lot.

Happy birthday, Grandad!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Well hey there, Monday!

This is what one of my sweet students, Fred, said this morning when he looked at the calendar. He told me that saying hey to Mondays makes it easier to get through them. He told me he says, "Well hey there, Monday!" in his head every week, but let it slip out loud today. Alrighty then. I love that kid and really hope he's planning to forgo sixth grade to stay with me next year.

You know what? Monday wasn't so bad once I properly greeted it. Try it next week; it may just change your attitude about Mondays.

*I finished The Project yesterday. I've been working on it since Novemeber, but there's been much procrastination since then. I'm fixin' to bust a gut to post pictures, but I want Kira to be surprised when she sees it. So, here are a few teasers...

{Please be kind and overlook the blurriness. It's a Monday and my hands refused to stay still.}

*Counting tomorrow, there are eight schooldays left before summer break. My fourth year of teaching is nearly in the history books. Time. Flies.

*This time next week, I'll be watching the premiere of "The Bachelorette". I'm way, way, ridiculously excited. I shouldn't like that dumb ol' show, but I do.

*I have large plans for the summer, and they largely consist of doing nothing and whatever I want to, all rolled into one. I think those are the best kinds of plans.

*Today was an unseasonably cool, dark cloud kinda day. I'm loving this cool weather and cloudy days make me happy. Is that weird? Maybe I should live in England. I visited there once and kinda fell in love...I'll look into this.

*I bought some watermelon at Publix yesterday, and I've nearly finished all of it. I won't mention how much I've consumed because, well, you'd likely be appalled and never come back here again and that would be a travesty. I could eat watermelon three times a day every day and never get sick of it.

*I learned what pentultimate means today. I'd heard it before but never knew what it meant. I heard it while watching the shuttle launch pre-game before the schoolbabies arrived this morning and looked it up. I love learning new words. It's my goal to use it in conversation at least eleven times this week...I'll report back.

*I watched the shuttle launch pre-game on the news this morning with the grandest of plans to let the students watch the pentultimate (one tally mark on my list, please) space flight. Then, I completely forgot about it. I didn't realize it until about 6:00 this evening. "A" for effort, though, right??

*Did I mention there are eight more days left in school?

Happy week, yall!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

White House, Smithsonian, and snoozing on a bus

May 5th dawned bright, blue-skyed, and chilly. We had to get ourselves packed up to head home before boarding the bus. At this point, we were exhausted. Jam-packed days and not enough sleep will do that to ya.

I went rogue and try to comandeer the bus, but Bus Driver Will put his foot down. Party pooper. At least he let me take a picture.

First stop: the White House. We didn't go inside because we've heard that, with 300+ people, it would be a security nightmare and would take forever to get us through. So, we settled for taking pictures outside.

{sniper on the roof...I can say with 114% certainty that I'd be terrible at that job.}

{Bus 3's fearless leaders...and the sniper, ready to take out two teachers if we got unruly}

We saw a handful of protestors while we were there, and I'm glad the students got to see that. I think it's important for them to appreciate that we live in a country where you can peacefully voice your dissatisfaction without being punished.

The White House is a beautiful building, but it never fails to amaze me how...not is. I mean, it's big and all, but not nearly as big as you might expect. I've never been around the sides, so maybe it's one of those houses that goes on and on in the back.

Next up, a whole day of free time at the Smithsonian. Don't tell anybody, but I love museums. I get nerdily excited about seeing famous things and learning new facts. The Smithsonian is right up my alley. This year, we hit up the Air & Space Museum, the American History Museum (hands-down my favorite), and the Natural History Museum.

{Wright brothers' originial Kitty Hawk plane frame, with new canvas}

{Buzz Aldrin's spacesuit}

{One of the engines from one of the space shuttles. HUGE! And please look at the poor girl on the left I caught mid-yawn. Bless her heart.}

{lunar module}

{Smithsonian castle...the original Smithsonian seen from the Mall}

{Julia Child's kitchen...See that white ceramic basket on the table? I almost risked arrest to make it mine. Love it.}

{Bon appetit!}

At the American History Museum, we spent over an hour in an exhibit called, "The Price of Freedom". It was amazing and very well-done. The exhibit covered all of the wars in America fought in...from pre-Revolutionary times to the present day. It was just incredible, and I learned so much.

{the Appomattox chairs}

{That's it. I'm learning how to can this summer. And I'll make myself a frilly apron to wear while I'm canning.}

{We found a "Rosie the Riveter" simulator in the WWII section. You got to practice drilling rivets without making them too tight...that would break the skin of the plane. Here I am, beginning to buckle under the pressure.}

{Rosie the Riveter I am not. The kids waiting behind me were unimpressed by my skillz.}

We saw nearly everything there was to see at the Natural History Museum last year, so we made that our last stop before meeting our group to go home. We decided to wander around just to kill time.

Have you ever been to the Natural History Museum? It's scarily, unnecessarily crowded. Crowds don't normally get to me, but this did:

There were so many people packed around the Hope Diamond that it was hard to breathe. I had to get out of there, so we headed to some of the less crowded exhibits before meeting the rest of Bus 3.

After seeing the best that D.C. has to offer, it was time to head home! We couldn't leave, though, without sitting in some more traffic. I'll never live near D.C. for this reason alone.

We stopped for supper in Virginia, and then drove back to Alabama through the night. You'd think that you could get plenty of rest on a 12-hour + bus ride, but I've accepted that I'm not designed to sleep on a bus. I can get a good snooze going, but I can't maintain it. I think I clocked about three hours overall. Thankfully, we had a weekend to recover before rejoining the real world.

This was such a wonderful trip (as it was last year) and I'm thankful to be able to help expose our students our nation's wonderful capital. Give me a year to wind down from this one, and I think I'll be ready for round three!