Tuesday, April 12, 2016

H, I, J speeding by

House stuff, insanity and just getting by.

I knew April was going to be tough, but it is proving to be everything expected and more.  We close on both houses in ten days...HOPEFULLY.  Road blocks are teasing us. Slowly but surely I think it will all work out.  We are certainly working to pack everything and make the final step easier.  

Father in law is having surgery today. We have not been as involved as we would like, but fortunately home health has been available to make things a little easier in their household.  I don't know how long he will be in the hospital after today's kidney stone removal.  We sort of hope it will be three days which will allow for insurance to cover a recovery period in a rehab facility.  It is getting to the time where he needs constant care. Unfortunately he is not ready to accept this. 

Day to day we seem to be just getting by. Everything is getting done, but sometimes it feels like barely is the best description.  

Life is about choices.Each day I am having to choose whether to blog or go to the gym.  Yesterday, gym won.  Today, blogging...with hope that gym will be a part of it too.  Pretty sure I will go back to blogging when I can. It certainly shouldn't be a stress point. There's plenty of that without blogging being part of it.  

Friday, April 8, 2016

Growing up: Ten thoughts

Today's AtoZ post is G for growing up.  Many of us wouldn't mind going back to a certain age, with the knowledge that we have as an adult. Growing up isn't all bad, but there are many things I wish I had realized earlier in life.

1. Naps are not a bad thing.  I hated naps as a child. In kindergarten it was torture to have to stop learning time and get my mat for nap time.  Now, I fully support nap time in all grade levels and think it would be wise for the workplace as well. 

2. Oh to be as busy as I was in high school.  Yes, students have full schedules these days.  Parents of students have it much worse. We have our adult responsibilities and our parent/student responsibilities. I remember being overwhelmed as a junior and senior, but I still had time to chill.  Now, it seems that every day is jammed with adult responsibilities or kid responsibilities.  Someone the other day asked what TV shows I watched.  When do I have time to watch TV???  

3. Life is about change, deal with it.  Plans change. Situations change. Circumstances change.

4. Be flexible.  See #3.   You have to be willing to be flexible when things come up or you will drive yourself nuts.

5.  Time is valuable.  All those times I didn't have time to go home for a visit are regrets. I would love to have the opportunity for another visit with my Gran.  I know we shouldn't live with regret, and I don't agonize over it, but I have no clue what was so important that I couldn't go home some of those times.  Time is valuable, use it wisely because you can't get it back.

6. Relationships are work and if you want them to work you have to work!  Love is not enough if you don't show it, if you don't communicate, and you don't value your partner.  You really need to work on liking the person too.  That initial infatuation is not enough to build a life on. Life changes and if you do not adapt and work at your relationships the life changes will get in the way and destroy what may have once been good.

7. You get what you put in.  If you don't put in effort then you will get poor results.  You can be as fulfilled as you seek to be. To be successful in school you have to participate in school. You have to do your assignments and you have to try to get involved.  Same with life. You have to participate to get joy out of it. 

8. Health is important.  You have to take care of yourself and you can't wait until something is wrong before you start!  

9.  Rejection happens and it isn't always a bad thing.  Learn from your mistakes. Learn from the things that didn't work out. Learn from life.  You may not get the job you wanted, you may have to try something else. Life has a way of working things out and you have to walk the path.  Some things work out and some things don't. Work with what you have.

10.  You can always learn something.  Be a lifelong learner. Never stop.  Seek knowledge. It's part of the participating in life thing.  

Live life. Give joy. Be at peace.  

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Friendships, how many do you really have?

F is for friendship. Today's A-to-Z.

How many friends do you have?  How many friends do you need? Who is really a friend?  According to Facebook I have 160 friends.  These are 160 people I have met or have interacted with to some degree. Do you consider your social circle your friends?  How many of your social media friends would you call on for help?

There are several things from this 3/18/2015 TIME article that I find interesting.  Friends are necessary for our good health and our happiness.  I believe that.
According to data from the General Social Survey (GSS), the number of Americans who say they have no close friends has roughly tripled in recent decades. “Zero” is also the most common response when people are asked how many confidants they have, the GSS data show. And adult men seem to be especially bad at keeping and cultivating friendships.

My best friend is my husband. I have three others that I consider close friends and we correspond regularly, but have not seen each other in years. I have some "friends" that I see on a semi regular basis but I would not share intimate details with them or call if there was an issue.  There are very few people I would actually call with any problem.  If my three besties were closer I wouldn't hesitate to call them.

Apparently 15 is the magic number for how many close relationships we should have when it comes to our best mental and physical health.  I don't know that I have 15 individuals, friends or family, that I would consider close.  I also do not feel deprived.

I enjoy my social interactions, but I can also put my phone away and enjoy the time with my best friend.  I started a blog in 2003 and wrote regularly.  I loved the social interaction. I craved the back and forth of blogging and discussion boards. I didn't have that interaction at home and looked for it online. It had an element of fulfillment. I decided to start another blog this year and it isn't the same. It is work. I still have some of the same friends, but I have a true best friend.  He is someone who cares about what I think. Listens to my ideas, complaints, frustrations, and celebrations.  He also shares his own.  We have a wonderful partnership in all aspects of our life.  A healthy friendship makes a difference in having a healthy life.  I am now emotionally fulfilled by my relationships. I am happier with me. I am happier with life.  

I don't think it is healthy to rely on your friendships for your emotional fulfillment, but I do think that friendships are an element of good emotional health.  How many friends do you REALLY have?  Do they know that you value them?  That's the other thing, let people know that they have value.  You can contribute to their well being.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

E is for Environment

Today's A to Z Challenge is brought to you by the letter E.  This Wednesday after spring break I am missing the Island.  This trip we spent our time exploring the Audubon Bird Sanctuary.  I will be sharing images throughout the month.

Right now...my environment is not conducive to blogging. Maybe April was not the best month to try to do this.  :-/

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Doggy Daze

Rachmaninoff, Pachelbel, Tiki and Sawyer are the furbabies of our household.  Rachi, Pacha and Tiki were specifically chosen by us and Sawyer is there by default.

Rachi is our 2 year old lazy as lazy can get husky.  

The picture above is his chosen travel position, sprawled in the back of the Xterra.  He doesn't care where we go as long as he gets to go too and as long as Sawyer stays in his tiny corner of the riding area.  We chose Rachi as a 6 week old puppy.  We had been discussing our next puppy when Mr. MckTchr found out that a co-worker had husky puppies.  It was not an intentional breeding, but the parents were a good match.  The mother was a beautiful red husky and father was black and gray.  We reviewed pictures before going to look at the puppies and thought we were interested in a gray female that had piercing blue eyes. Turns out, after we removed her from chewing our shoe laces she had no interest in us.  Same for the rest of the pack.  Red ears, however, sat back quietly watching his brothers and sisters.  Once they were done fighting over our shoe laces and sniffing around they went off to wrestle with one another.  Red ears came up to see what was up.  We left that day thinking that we hadn't found our puppy in that pack.  As we left, red ears sat at the gate watching us go.  After thinking for a day or so we called the friend and said we were interested in red ears and wanted to bring him home to visit with our other dogs.  At that time we had Tiki, Pacha, and Tchaik.  We wanted to make sure that the new guy would fit in.  When we picked him up for the home visit he was calm and cuddly in the car. We got him home and even though he was a little nervous, he wasn't scared. He fit right in and had a great time playing with his new buddy Pachelbel.  He was already bigger!  We waited another week to take Rachi home for good. We stopped calling him red ears and went with our music themed naming and chose  Rachmaninoff. He is a great dog who has assumed the alpha male role quite well.  

Pachelbel, the long haired princess of the bunch. He is our most neurotic furbaby.

Pacha is four years old now. As Tiki began to age I felt like she needed someone her size to keep her young and he has been great for her.  Pacha is a long hair chocolate dachshund and his favorite thing in the world is his purple pig. 

The purple pig goes everywhere Pacha goes. We keep a supply just in case piggy is lost or damaged beyond use.  Thankfully  dogsupplies.com is kind enough to pick through their stock because Pacha will ONLY play with Kong purple piggies. Periodically we contact them for an order of piggies with specific instructions to only send purple piggies because any other color will be returned. They fulfill the order to the best of their ability each time, even calling us if they are currently out of purple.  Pacha is also the "Jacques" of the group. (A little Nemo reference for those in the know.)  Pacha takes care of cleaning all teeth and ears.  He is often seen grooming his pack.  Now, if anyone tries to take his piggy there will be snarling and teeth. Even though Pacha can't handle any new human or animal in his world, freaking out at the slightest change, he is the sweetest of our pack and everyone's cuddle buddy...He is also keeper of the toys.

Tiki is our 12 year old red dapple dachshund. Where Pachabel is the princess of the bunch, Tiki is the queen.  Rachi may assume the role of alpha but let's be clear about who is really in charge here.  Tiki might as well be a cat.  Everything is on her terms. She wishes to lay close to you because you are warm. You may rub her ears if you wish, but you had better not stop. She will continually nose you every time you try. Her ultimate goal is to get you to give her something from your plate. She hovers at our feet during food prep and will poke you with her cold pointy nose hoping it will startle you into a drop.  She is the most social of our pack, loving all other people and animals. Tiki will greet you with a wagging tale and leave a happy puddle at your feet. Her favorite person, grandpa. He's the only one old enough to understand her life woes.

Lastly, we have Sawyer.  Sawyer is our goofy lab mix.  By the size of his feet he must be mixed with Great Dane. He is tall and lanky with a curled tail, white and blonde on his belly.  There may be a little shepherd in there. We did not seek Sawyer, he found us.  A year ago, almost exactly, this six month old lanky black dog was being chased by Rachi in our back yard.  Rachi was loosing his mind over something in our FENCED back yard and it turns out to be Sawyer.  I don't know how he got there. He wasn't big enough at that time to jump the fence.  (Not the case now.) We rescued him from the Rachi chaos and made attempts to find his owner. Because he smelled of tree sap we called him Sappy for the first few days.   

Sawyer is the most high strung of our pack.  Pacha is neurotic and obsessive compulsive. Sawyer worries about everything and doesn't do change well.  He acts as if his first six months of life were not full of love and affection. He flinches, cowers, and shakes if things are not perfect in his world.  If he gets too nervous he will lose his sh*t. Literally.  That is not a fun thing to come home to.  Twice we have come home to having to air out the location of his kennel and scrub Sawyer fear off the wall, floor, anything nearby.  He ate the antique bench I painstakingly refinished. 

His presence made Rachi so upset the first few days that Rachi tore through the carpet trying to get out of the room he was in so he could finish what he started the first night. Sawyer has also eaten the corner of the stairs and will shred a rope in minutes.  He has also had a few incidents of carpet eating.  His joy is to torture Pacha by stealing the purple piggy.  Despite digging up the back yard, destroying floor and furniture, and jumping over the fence if the neighbor happens to be outside, Sawyer is now a part of the pack.  Rachi loves having someone his size to play with, even if he has zero patience for the invasion of his space when we travel.  Sawyer is my lovable big black dog.  I don't know that he will ever be Tchaik, but then Tchaikovsky was one of a kind when it comes to being man's best friend.  Sawyer will eventually settle down and be a great dog. He is learning to trust that if we leave him, we will come back.  If we take him somewhere, we will bring him back with us. When we raise our hand, we are not going to hit him.  He has a lot of issues, but we have worked through them...with minimal cursing and outrage.  

I will always miss my first big black dog. Tchaikovsky was the best, stolen by cancer two years ago, he was the good boy. 

Tchaik 2002-2014

Monday, April 4, 2016

Classroom Chaos...Back to it!

I sincerely considered 'C' being for cinnamon buns. Facing the Monday after a spring break spent at the beach was tough, and I miss the breakfast goodies.

Grades were due by 4:00 PM today so last night was spent finishing up last minute grading. Getting to bed on time was not in the cards. There were several things still left to do this morning and the 7th grade squirrels were in typical post break form.  My lesson plans were designed in such a way that I could start class with a good review then turn them loose to show what they know.  Reviews went well all day and I'm proud of them for that.  They remembered many of the basics for WWI.  Yay! Something stuck!  However, the locker combination that they have been using for the last 27 weeks of school was a mystery to many.  Same for the login and password for BrainPop.  Between the desires for socializing, the forgetfulness, and other school events that I had no control over today was a lot like herding cats.  

I'm predicting Tuesday will be a day of lethargic squirrel behavior. Five AM came way too early for  my 15yo. She's been sacked out for an hour or so this evening.  I suspect my 7th graders will struggle even though they're start time is much later than the high school's 7AM bell. It will take a few days to get back in the swing, but the end is near. We are in the final stretch, the last nine weeks. 

My mind is mush. I'm to old to not get enough sleep. 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Bye Bye Bakery

We are saying bye to the Island and bye to the bakery. Today's A to Z is about it favorite place on the island, Lighthouse Bakery.

Dauphin Island is a spot in the Gulf off the coast of Alabama. It is as non-commercial as you can get, and our favorite place to get away from it all. There are no touristy chain stores. The businesses are all locally owned and operated. If you need hardware to fix your house plumbing go to the Ship and Shore. You don't want to drive inland for grocery items, S&S.  You need liquor, same. Want to rent a bike? You have a few options. S&S has them, but you might want to call Lynn. She's the bike and kayak lady. Her office is her Jeep and she will deliver what you need. There are a few places to eat on the Island, but I can't say I recommend any of them. Islanders is the nicest, but it is over $100 for four people. Not something we want to do every night so we buy groceries inland and cook while in the Island... Except breakfast.

Breakfast comes from the Lighthouse Bakery.  They have the best food, and the best coffee, on the Island.  You won't find the most popular coffee chain anywhere close by, but you will hear just about everyone who sips their coffee say, "oooh, this is better than..." My next sentence was to explain my favorite delicacy from the bakery, but I can't choose! I just finished a pecan roll. Yesterday was an amazing cinnamon bun. Thursday was another pecan roll, with a chicken salad croissant for lunch, and Wednesday was an amazing cream cheese danish. The turnovers come in several flavors and are superb.  There's also the oatmeal pecan cookies, which I found out this morning the bakery is willing to mail to you if you ask nicely. Breakfast, lunch, and snack the bakery is our first choice on the Island. In the years we have been visiting there hasn't been anything ordered that I didn't like.

The service is as good as the food. The Lighthouse ladies work hard to provide great food with a smile.  Year to year we see the same familiar faces. Visiting the Island gives us a sense of coming home. It is not our home, but it is our home away. Dauphin Island is a place to relax and enjoy the beach without all the touristy crap to steal your attention.

Lighthouse Bakery, best buns on the beach.

*Disclaimer* Spelling and grammar errors resulting from phone typing in a moving vehicle must be ignored and forgiven.

Bye bye beach. Bye bye bakery.

Friday, April 1, 2016

April Already?

Is it April already?  Yep!!! So much going on this month.  We are enjoying the final day of our spring break vacation before heading back to reality.  It is rainy and blah here on Dauphin Island and we are still loving it.  Am I ready for the A to Z challenge? Nope.  I will be winging it for the month of April and that's OK. No real theme, but I will probably have a related quote for each post.  It is a challenge of creativity and blogging.  Looking forward to it.

A is for ATTITUDE.

I firmly believe this. Everything we approach in life we must approach with the appropriate attitude.  In teaching I see the negative often. Students, and their parents, have a blame game attitude.  They want to blame everything and every one...except the one most deserving.  

The attitude we approach life determines our joy.  Yes, bad things happen. Yes, our joy is sometimes stolen.  It is our attitude that pulls us through.  A positive approach has a much better chance of having a positive outcome.  We can choose to learn from life's adventures or we can choose to blame them.  Life has not always been easy for me. Abandoned by my mother when I was 2 and raised by an abusive father and an amazing grandmother, I appreciate the lessons I learned. I am self sufficient and practical.  I am creative and energetic, but I also have a great sense of empathy.  It is my collective life experiences that make me who I am. It is life experiences, positive and negative, that I pull from day to day.  For me it is the idea that if life gives you lemons, don't bother with lemonade.  Unless life is going to give you sugar and water, your lemonade will suck.  Hoard them and throw them at whatever rises against you.  Learn from life, it's a great teacher.