Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A (really late) long weekend roundup


I'm putting off writing a final exam tonight to post something seemed a good use of time.

Also, tomorrow I'm chaperoning the 2nd graders on their annual field trip to the zoo.  I'm excited, but also already tired. I'm punting on nighttime plans as the phrase, "wake me when it's time to go to work on Friday is already looking good."  This is a rescheduled trip from earlier in the month when we had, you guessed it, more weather delays.  I'm very grateful that among days filled with End of Grade testing that the school allowed the trip to go on.

I would have SO much rather been sitting on a beach or a river but I'll take the following, this was my starting point on Friday afternoon, research papers a plenty!

Saturday- took my boys plus two more kids to let my friend with husband with recent surgery get some child free time in post extended family leaving.  The kids did so well playing in the pool (because what kid doesn't love a pool) that I texted her and said PLEASE don't come back soon, please take a nap.

Saturday night- Bill took the boys camping.  This was a first for Ian.  Sat night went well, but Sunday morning, like at 6 am involved lots and lots of fighting.  So everyone came home early. Obviously the below picture was the BEFORE, not the AFTER.

What did mom do with all that glorious time?  Had coffee with a friend, picked up dinner, and sludged on through the 60+ public policy research papers that came in Friday. Never fear, there were some funny moments like this one:

I wish I could say that this was a spellcheck anomaly, but alas there was cursing and the phrase, "sack up and get a new fight as a closing line."  This student needs a post graduation plan that involves comedy writing.

Sunday I went to church by myself, took Ben to a birthday party, and then we hosted friends over for a holiday weekend grill out.  We again hit the pool and between four kids and four very tired parents were relieved when they all crashed watching Frozen.

Memorial Day- I took the boys solo to a favorite place, Durham Science and Life.  I intended to be there at opening and stay 'till lunch.  I did make it to opening, but stayed until two hours before closing.  We loved a new exhibit call Build it Bamboo.  I SO LOVE this place and never, ever get tired of going.  There is always something new to do!

By Monday night I finished up the last of the research papers in addition to a fiction book I had been reading on all weekend.  Between the two I think I read over 1000 pages of something in the last week.

A busy but also good weekend as this is an equally busy short week.

I think I can, I think I can.. make it to the end of the school year! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Funny

Pardon me while I dig out over the weekend from grading 60+ public policy research papers.  Seeing into my crystal ball, aka..going into a holiday weekend I offered extra points for students who turned in early.  As of last night twenty-one papers already turned in and graded.  The rest will be graded over the weekend returned Tuesday in time for four days of presentations and lots of candy eating to burn out the last week before exams.

I DID convince Bill to take the boys camping (Ian too!) Saturday night so I can grade in a quiet house over some take-out and drinky-drink.  The plan is to finish up and porch sit with something I want to read in the form of a good book or go see God's Pocket (Christina Hendricks of Mad Men and one of Phil Hoffman's last movies.)  So far we are 1 for 1 in papers submitted on income tax reform and farm subsidies.  I GAVE them the opportunity to pick their own topic and someone picked FARM SUBSIDIES!

I normally don't read or repost/forward whatever friends intend me to do with all the mindless crap they post  (Yes, I'm looking at you people that post quiz results like "what kind of house are you?" how about the one you bought?) Or those friends that feel the need to post pictures of 1/2 naked pictures of their kids, the food they are about to eat, their feet, or snarky e-cards)  BUT...

My friend and also mother to boys posted this the other day and man o man was I about dying. EVERY.SINGLE.THING is true... down to the asking "why are you wiping boogers on your wall?"

ahem.. Ben?

If it takes a villiage to raise a child, that same villiage is needed to help us scrub pee off our floors and convince us that our sons will make it to voting age with all bones in tact.

*good decision making optional*

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Take a lesson from your elders

It is Senior week at my school.  Yesterday was "Seniors as Seniors day." With their permission to post online, I was just about dying laughing with two of my students showed up dressed like this-

I swear the one in the blue suit looks like every person over 60 I went to church with in SC, down to the Palmetto lapel pin she was wearing.  I asked if they had ever seen "the Golden Girls" and of course their spring chicken-selves had not.

Earlier in the week there was an announcement from our school administration that any and all Senior pranks would not be tolerated and could result in one of two things:  police action or denial of graduation.

uh... can we get a cheer of "Donna Martin Graduates" about now

After polling my seniors I got the skinny on the many "plans" that were now kiboshed.

1. Filling a dump truck up with water and jumping from the 3rd floor windows.  Uh... physics people, unless you seal the truck bed are you going to be replenishing the water as fast as it leaks?  Cost?  Water source?

2. Laying down in the cafeteria and refusing to go to class.  Yes, nothing says "how can I get hepatitis (not really) like laying down on a school floor, esp one where food is served.  Actually my standing joke not to lay on my classroom floor is "are you looking to get hepatitis?, then get up"

3. Tailgate in which they hired local restaurant Cook Out to grill out in the parking lot

4.Riding their middle school bikes from the local Walmart 1/4 mile away and taking up the one and only road into school (this I have to admit was a good prank)

I reminded them that while nothing is worth risking not graduating, I was sorry that none of their plans came to fruition.  I did also happen to leave this picture on my projector this morning when they came in and then played totally dumb when they asked what was up with people jumping off a bridge.

My answer?  "You Seniors need to take a lesson from your elders. If you are going to Go Big, you gotta go off campus.  Hwy 11 bridge in upstate SC is a good place to start."

Not the smartest of all decisions I'll admit.  But when you are 18 and think you own the world, some memories are just this side of epic.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Overheard at one of the many "play a game, get a prize" booths, aka pay some skeevy man $5 bucks for your kid to "win" a prize at the Gotta Be NC Festival last weekend

Ben- "Mom, if we pop all those balloons with the darts can I get that Pokemon for my room"

Mom- "Uh, no. That is not a Pokemon."

Ben- "What is it?"

Mom- "Something for adults"

Ben- "You mean like you drinking coffee and Uncle Brian smoking"

Mom- "Something like that, why don't you get that Mo' Money cash bear instead"

Ben- "what does Mo' Money mean"

Mom- "I'm loosing this conversation, so I'm going to be quiet. By the way, can you convince your brother we don't need a life-size dolphin.  He doesn't want to listen to me."

Obviously, I lost that conversation too.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Weekend Roundup

Yes, on Tuesday.  Good intentions are often met with days filled with work, late meetings, make up soccer games, making dinner, cleaning up, taking out trash, making lunches, and walking dogs.  Yep, sounds like every working parent I know!. Come kids in bed you are falling asleep in the 30 minutes you have before needing to go to bed yourself.

This could have been named, the weekend when we realize what being over scheduled means for our family. Actually, I would contend that I think we do a decent job during the school year balancing out kids activities, school/daycare, commuting, and duel income jobs.  As much as it would be nice for them to play overlapping sports or be on a neighborhood swim league, doing one thing at a time is about all I can handle during the school year.  When I think back to how my mom juggled working full time as a daycare director and teaching piano 20-25 hours each week AND made sure that Brian and I had the opportunity for after school activities, it was only because of my grandparents.

In the early 80s my grandparents, Ben and Mary-Hall Jobe, moved from Florida where they had retired after a 30 year run as a high school English teacher and department store owner in Paris, TN. After a hurricane had destroyed their condo.  They moved to Easley, in fact they moved two streets over from my childhood home.  I remember many days in their matching old people cars taking us to ballet, art lessons,
t-ball and football practice, Scouts, and lots of Wednesday afternoon/evenings at our church.

When I think about how much time I spent with them in comparison to what Ben and Ian spend with Pam, I'm a little sad.  Given if Pam was local, she also would likely be working full time and would only see the boys weekends.  I don't think she would be the taxi service my grandparents served as for my family.  Still though, when she is gone I will likely regret that she wasn't a bigger part of their lives.  A high school friend bought my grandparents house and the last time I was down he invited me and Brian over.  The boys were incredulous in how close we lived to our grandparents given the one or two times a year they see theirs. I was overjoyed to see my friend Mark's kids again in Ben and Mary-Hall's home as I have so many great memories in their home.

Friday, our soccer practice was canceled due to a wet field.  Bill had worked almost every night last week until after 9 or 10 at work on a deadline, so Friday night knowing the same was coming, we picked up dinner out, came home and basically crashed after walking the dog and getting ice cream.

Saturday, Ben had a soccer tournament and Ian, Little Kickers Practice.  For Ian, the end of season was met with a medal and free doughnut coupon.  He is moving to the league Ben has played for in the U5 program this fall.  He seems to love soccer.  Maybe it's just all the running, regardless. I love his expression looking down.

When Ben's team was eliminated early, I decided to take the boys to the "Gotta Be NC" Festival.  Think all the best of the bigger NC State fair without the crowds or admission but all the awful fair food and primo people watching.  I headed out for Bill to get some work done from home and not have to head back into the office over the weekend. It was a PERFECT day to be outside with no humidity and 72 degree, sunny weather.  I love some NC spring almost summertime.

The boys picked hush puppies and cotton candy, I snacked on roasted corn.  We went to a BMX bike competition.  We rode rides a plenty.  I'm typically the purse holder at any amusement park.  Ben seems to take after me. Not surprisingly, Ian wanted to go on anything that of course he was not old enough to do that involved spinning upside down.  The boys took great pride in the two times we rode the giant spinning strawberry ride and were chanting, "make mom puke" at the top of their lungs.  As we stood in line watching those in front of us, Ben was scheming on how to get the best rotation for puke sake.

Before we left I let each boy pick a game to play, knowing I was about to loose 10 bucks on more total crap we didn't need.  Isn't that a whole chapter in parenthood, the one entitled, "I'm secreting loathing this moment, but I'm doing this for my kid."

Sunday Ben had an all day chess tournament and took 3rd place in his group.  Bill took Ben while I watched Ian and worked in the yard.  One of the places Ian and I went to buy flowers had mechanical horse to ride as part of a playground area.  I let Ian ride while I was nearby, and of course he rode the horse in nearly every way possible, minus actually sitting in the saddle.  When he escaped away from me when we went to another area of the store, I quickly returned and found him talking to a man asking him to restart the horse. When I pulled him aside with a mini Come to Jesus meeting about not 1. wandering off and 2.  talking to strangers,  his answer, "I said please when I asked him."  This kid is killing me slowly.

Sunday night I hosted some mom friends over to enjoy slushy drinks on my newly cleaned porch. It was a nice way to end a busy, but also good weekend.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Project Runway- an Occasional Friday Series- Girly, girl edition

One of the things I love about spring and summer is the changeover to warm weather clothes.  I'm a dress kinda girl when the weather become hot and sticky.  In part I love the flexibility of dresses due to my workplace which vacillates between burning up hot and ice cube freezing.  I try and dress in layers, and most days have a little cardi or jacket I can take off if needed.

I bought three new dresses this season for a steal, all three dresses were around 150.00 together.  I tried to make all outfits I could dress up or down.  All can be easily packed for my summer trips to WA and CA. Something tells me I better pack my best, most conservative outfits to fit in for the Week on Reagan!

Up first a fit and flare dress in jade green from Old Navy.  Rarely do I copy everything on a store display down to the accessories.  I loved this garden floral print with the dress.  It's like wearing spring.

Next is a sleeveless linen shirtdress with pintucking placards across the chest.  I actually found this scarf that is yellow/lime green, black and white before I found the dress.  I love the blocked, modern color of the scarf. I feel a little like a flight attendant with how long the scarf feels tied.  I hope to get some other ideas on other ways to wear the scarf for maximum amount of color shown.

Lastly, while buying a pair of shoes, I needed 20 more dollars to get free shipping.  I found this coral colored shirtdress on clearance that looks like I ripped off Jackie Kennedy.  I needed some chunky all white jewelry and a thin belt.  A Charming Charlie has recently opened nearby.  While I feel about 900 years old when I walked in, for another 20 bucks I got a belt, necklace and matching earrings.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A-Tisket, A-Tasket, a Flower for Your Basket (or 40th birthday party)

My friend Jen hosted a 40th birthday party over the weekend.  Originally I planned to do a small floral arrangement and give her privately. Somewhere along the way we were talking flowers and she asked if I would do the party arrangements.  I was honored.  Actually more than honored, full-on excited.  I asked her to send me pictures of what the cake would look like as well as the tablecloths to be used.

Friday afternoon I figured that Trader Joe's had restocked for an expected mother's day rush of flower buying and that I would have plenty of choice.

This was the starting point on Friday night as I stripped leaves, thorns, trimmed stems, and pounded woody stalks for maximum water uptake.  While you can't see the cooler, I joke that that my blue cooler emblazoned with "South Carolina" on the side my dad got for a safety award at his job as BellSouth has been used for more times than I ever guessed. Sadly, it doesn't have a Confederate flag to commemorate the great state but I did get some stares when I was traipsing around the store, stocking it full of flowers.  I settled on bouquets of  lilies, roses, snapdragon, daisy, tulips, hydrangea and tons of filler in unique textures.  I added cut bearded iris from my yard as well as some vines to trail.

*Disclaimer, I cut one stalk of iris from my neighbors yard.  It was perfect in color I lacked and yes, I should have asked, but I kinda didn't. It was waaaay early Saturday morning when I was up normal weekday time attempting to get ahead on a busy day.  I'll make it up to my neighbors by mowing more of our communal yard later this week.

Jen had told me that she wanted to match the flowers to the cake that our friend Eileen was making in hues of purples and pinks.  Here was the cake that Sugar Mama made.  The cake which was strawberry on the inside and had lemon frosting to be tinted lavender. I LOVE this cake, think sunshine in your mouth it is so sweet and tart.  Eileen used real lemon juice in the frosting only to find it changed to smurf blue over night when exposed to refrigeration resulting in her last minute having to remake the cake.  The final result was gorgeous and so romantic.

I made three arrangements, the first I'm calling "large and in charge" as it was about 3 ft in height including a heavy cut crystal vase.

Arrangement two used one of Jen's own vases so I tried to make the vase a focal point and pull out the orange/pink accents with variegated tulips and pink edged white roses (in the back left.)

The third arrangement, while the smallest was my favorite.  I borrowed the ribbon idea from something I once saw at Southern Season.  Outside of stealing neighbor's flowers, I also snap pictures obsessively of ideas I like and then attempt to recreate.  Everything I've ever arranged is self taught.  I'm in need of some actual technique lessons if I ever want to be legit!

I totally concede that if I arranged flowers day-in, day-out that it would become routine and monotonous and yes, like any job it would be just that, a job with deadlines and requirements and unhappy customers.  As I round out this school year I am determined to figure out a way to make this a second career.  I never did contact the local florist that I know about apprenticing with her this spring and summer busy season. Frankly, work has not let up and with soccer on the weekends, it would be be hard to be available.

I do think I am going to forward the following picture and ask if it's too late for work with her over the summer.  By age 50 and 20 years of service to the state I can retire with partial benefits.  If ever there was a "I think I can" mantra to make it for the next decade of teaching, the potential of a job career switch that involves being surrounded by flowers, doing something I love, would be a reason.

Thank you Jen for the opportunity. Happiest of 40th birthdays, dear friend.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day '14... aka Best Laid Plans, well you know...

The plan was for me to swing back by the house after church and pick up the boys and Bill for an Mother's Day picnic lunch and plan to visit the Duke Lemur Center.  The plan had involved the below treasure hunt map complete with details of the day including the phrase, "monkeys throwing poop."

How many other mother's day celebrations involved the potential for monkeys throwing poop?  While not completely jazzed about walking around looking at lemurs, I had wanted to do something as a family that Bill would actually want to do.  While that might sound bad, I also can tell you that after 18 years of marriage, divide and conquer is the usual strategy with the kids on the weekends. It is rare that we all four are anywhere more than a couple of hours outside our house. All family events must be well planned and have hopeful high payoff for all parties. Being outside for loud, active boys is a plus. What better place than a local Lemur conservatory and a picnic to start.

I get home from church to find Bill cleaning up vomit and Ian laying on the floor of his room.  It appears in the short time span of excited children giving me a ninja cat card with sound of "Kung Fu Fighting" and returning from church, much had transpired. Bill attributed the vomit to the fact that Ian and Ben split a large pizza for dinner on Saturday night.  I attributed it to what I hoped would be a short stomach bug. I proceeded to cancel plans with our friends we had planned to meet and call the Duke Lemur Center to give away our 2 pm spot. By giving away our spot we are back on a wait list for a June weekend to open up for which I am hoping for Father's Day weekend.

While bummed, the day was not a total loss, Bill helped me powerwash the front porch.  I had scrubbed the back porch and deck solo last weekend, but didn't even have time to start on the front.  Whether he helped out due to feeling bad about the lost day, it was appreciated and unexpected.  

Ian cycled sleeping and puking until early afternoon and after a monster nap, was his normal self by dinner.   While obviously not at school today, I think (and hope) he will be ok for tomorrow.  Bill and I are splitting the workday so neither of us have to take a full day in the midst of deadlines and last day before AP Exam prep with students. If last night is any indicator, I found Ben and Ian hanging off the bathroom door jumping into the tub doing cannon balls into the water.  If all goes well today, I hope Ian is back tomorrow. This is after all the kid who had 5 stitches last Mother's Day.

Ben also had really great behavior yesterday, even after the disappointment of not seeing monkeys throw poop at each other.   Needless to say I really oversold this point to the boys.

Was it an ideal mother's day, nope.  Did it involve an emergency room and stitches like last year?  Nope.
Did Bill remind me that Mother's day (like Valentine's Day) is a commercial glut designed by corporate America to line the pockets of the card and flower industry, yep.  But, his actions reminded me that helping out with a sick kid as well as helping me with the house was likely better than any gift he could buy.

Friday, May 9, 2014

May Love List- Mother's Day

Happy early mother's day!  For the first time ever I managed to purchase a giftcard after checking my mother in law's Amazon wishlist, bought my standard, "from your son and daughter in law" card, got Bill's signature, managed to make with paint and evil school supply glitter a card from the boys, AND managed to mail it all in time to arrive before mother's day for my mother in law.

I would like to say I'm rockin' this mothering thing, but at least one night this week we ate cereal for dinner and I got latest pick up award almost every day this week for both schools.  End of the year = accelerated

I asked the boys what they wanted to put on their cards and Ben said, "we should send her real flowers glued on with glitter."  We settled for the standard kid friendly handprint flowers (with glitter.)  As far as our plans for the weekend, it includes more soccer, a friend's 40th birthday celebration, finishing reading and grading the remaining master's portfolios I'm on contract to finish by Monday. Also on tap is renting out the patio of a local restaurant to run a last ditch review on Saturday for my AP Gov't student's upcoming test next week. I'm trying hard to make Sunday a play and have fun day without obligation.  

I purchased tickets to the Duke Lemur Center for a tour on Mother's Day.  I'm not sure that Hallmark has a special "woodland animal lover" card section, but if so, it calls Bill to partake.  I wanted to come up with a event to enjoy the day and one that Bill would actively want to participate in doing as a family.  We are meeting up with Durham friends before for a picnic outside since the weather is predicted nice.

Earlier in the week I saw the Raleigh-Durham 2014 Listen To Your Mother show.  I asked several friends if they wanted to join me, and when I looked as if I was going solo, I thought about bailing. But then I thought of how good last year's show had been and struck out on my own.  Like last year I laughed, I brushed back tears, I was amazed at the writing and performance of each story.  I'm not sure if last year they included a quote from each of the entries on the back of the program, but I loved this addition for 2014.

Happy mother's day to you.  May this weekend, as well as everyday, find you spending it doing what makes your heart full.  I'm so very thankful that I'm mom to my almost eight year old Ben.

and a crazy active 4 year old Ian

and for the 36 years I called her mom

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Passing the torch

Yesterday I was asked to speak at our monthly faculty meeting to recruit more veteran teachers i.e...the "old crusty ones like me" to participate in summer mentor training and reduce the workload on our current mentors.  Instead of a one to one ratio, each of us have 3-4 people that we meet with weekly, conduct informal observations, and basically serve a a sounding board.   Basically I was tasked to sell a program that provides no monetary compensation for the time invested in additional paperwork. I have become stealth with how I have fit this into my day/week. Meetings take place walking to lunchroom/outside duty or as a weekly Google doc to share challenges/solutions between those I mentor as the concerns are often similar.

So, what angle did I take to sell what otherwise is a non appetizing program?  This one:

When in Kenya we were asked before the village who had gathered to greet us to introduce ourselves.  I went through the cursory name, age, marital status, number of kids but it was when I said, "I teach secondary school" that the crowd began clapping and standing in my honor.  I stopped talking, and looked over at TJ, our leader and he said, "different response, right" and smiled. Needless to say I was humbled at their sheer appreciation of what I do for a bulk of my waking hours.    I went on to talk about how encouragement is the reason that many of us are veteran teachers and that passing the torch and being an encouragement to the new teachers has never been more important.  I briefly talked about how I fit what is no more than an additional hour or two each week with the payoff as immense.

When I came home in addition to making changes in being more intentional in relationships, I wanted for ways to look to be an encouragement, especially at work.  Yes, I will be the first person to tell you I am a realist and can also point out the challenges which are never ending in a school bureaucracy. At work I am also person who will leave my coworkers notes on your desk or candy in your mailbox  I greet my students with humor and a genuine interest in how they are doing. Just try to be a complainy, surly teenager when I am hurling candy at you for right answers in class from my infamous ginormous candy bag (i.e all the candy I have taken out of my house from various holidays.)  I have worked hard not to let the negative chatter at work be something I become mired down into believing is total truth in the profession. I often times stick in my earbuds when in the workroom, even if there is not a sound coming through to block being sucked into conversation.

Over the last months, for the beginning teachers that I mentor and my student teacher, I left them chocolate spelling out "FRIDAY" on their desks, made them Easter baskets filled with candy and also notes on all the ways they had made a difference in the lives of their students. I have left little arrangements of flowers and a count down calendar for spring break.  I tried to model for them that relationships, not only with them, but also the professional ones they make with their students/families will help them weather the difficult days.

When my student teacher left about a week ago I put together a first year survival basket including:
  • A ream of bright copier paper (because who doesn't smile at lime green paper as well at paper being a common out of pocket expense for teachers)
  • Tissues (for their tears or more likely hers)
  • Go with everything scarf (for days that you are running late or stayed up way too late likely grading)
  • Sparkly bag for all your pens and pencils (my student teacher loved anything hot pink or with glitter.. hello 20 year olds)
  • Starbucks gift card (self explanatory)
  • Yummy smelling bath products (for nights to say screw grading and take a bath instead)
  • a DYI cocktail kit (when all the above items fail)

When I say that working with my student teacher as well as the beginning teachers this past year has made me look at this profession differently, know that I say I regret saying no all the other years I've been asked to serve as a supervising teacher or mentor.  Not to say that I wouldn't have had someone as wonderful as my student teacher and the beginning teachers I've worked with this year.  All have been professional, having solid work ethics, and the ability to be flexible.  Early in our time together we realized that my student teacher's program director didn't want her teaching my multiple sections of semester long AP Gov't classes. She instead she traded off an equally difficult situation to teach my one lone US history as well as cobbling two other teacher's courses, traveling all over the building teaching three different subjects.

In additional to learning balancing time management on crack, she also got a 101 in how to break up a fistfight, deal with students who sprinted out of class past her onto the football field, and more parent contacts/meetings that she once commented she ever expected.  Through it all I could not have asked for anyone better and I hope whatever school hires her recognizes the gem they have in their midst.  The real deal in the making, she is.

I come back to what makes a difference and it was my own mentor, Marty Broda, that back in 2000 showed me kindness, honesty when I needed to hear it, and the ability to let me fail and learn along with celebrating success.  I am still in this profession much due to her believing in me and the Universe letting my pairing with her happen.

Encouragement and kindness are about finding the smallest of ways to meet someone where they are and finding ways to leave them better than you found them.  

This is teacher appreciation week, even if you are less than thrilled with your teacher placement for this year,please consider a note of encouragement over any tangible gift you can gift.  It will be appreciated.

Monday, May 5, 2014


It was beautiful weekend, filled with sun drenched, non-humid days.  There was a moment when I was walking the dog both days that I looked up through the trees filtering the sunlight and thought this is a little piece of Heaven in total perfectness.

Friday I left work in time to go the gym to run laps and do TRX strength training.  I picked up the dog and headed to take Ben to his soccer practice.  I am loving doing double duty to get the dog walked while watching Ben practicing from the sidelines.  Ben is loving playing goalie for part of each practice and game.

Saturday we had a soccer game for Ben and Little Kickers practice for Ian all before lunch.  I took the kids for much needed haircuts then Bill took the boys to Free Comic Book Day while I graded the first of three master's portfolios I'm on contract to grade. Can we say watching someone else's teaching video and reading the close to 65 pages of commentary and unit/plans makes me feel very sorry for the poor schmuck who had to watch/read mine!

Saturday night Ben's soccer team had a parents vs kids scrimmage and pizza potluck.  Bill totally busted falling on the ground within the first ten minutes and jammed his thumb.  Can we say a man cold for the same injury Ian would have shaken off and kept going.   It was a fun night and once again I'm very thankful for the acceptance of the other families accepting Ben as a new player this season.  Ian and hung out at the nearby playground where mom got stuck in this play tube thing.  Can we say embarrassing to have your 4 year old yelling,  "my mom's stuck" at the top of his lungs for all to hear?

Sunday I took the boys to early church then picked up Bill to head to the State Farmer's Market Restaurant.  There is something awesome about biscuits and hush puppies that works magic over two fighting boys.  Maybe it was their mouths were stuffed full of Southern goodness to not fight for a blessed 30 minutes.

I only picked up ferns from my favorite nursery as I need some time to plan out what I want to plant based on past success/failures.  I'll be back again later in the month to buy my bigger haul.  I will say thought, that walking among rows and rows of plants, my head started planning containers I could combine with colors and textures.

Once home, I scrubbed down the back screened-in porch and powerwashed all the slats and floors along with the cushions in anticipation for primo porch sitting.  I only managed to finish the back porch and deck, but they will be perfect for enjoying a dinner on the grill later tonight.

Lastly, on Sunday I took the boys along with another 2nd grade year old friend we've known since Ben was 6 weeks old to KidJam at our church.  Basically it's a big outdoor festival with bouncers (including the ill placed one behind Ben's head), games, food trucks, giant hamster balls, and oh yes...

Ian's million dollar arm that knocked out the bullseye.

Somewhere in there were typical weekend chores and the usual refereeing of children, but I am loving some beautiful spring weather giving me any and all reasons to be outside.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Frozen on Fridays #4

Since I missed posting a freezer recipe for April I’ll start the first Friday of May off with a favorite for breakfast in our home, Whole Wheat Sour Cream Blueberry Muffins.  The recipe is from a book of favorite recipes from the teacher at my elementary school, Forrest Acres Elementary in Easley, SC. 
My guess is that my mom bought the book as a fundraiser for the school at some point.  It makes me smile to see many of my former teachers names a recipes listed. 

I substituted whole wheat flour for the self –rising white flour.  All other ingredients I kept the same. I did use skim milk and nonfat yogurt, I make these as a double batch and freeze the extras for busy mornings.  They are great with lemon Greek yogurt from Trader Joes. 

Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins- Mrs. Betty Woodham (my 5th grade science teacher)
1/3 cup unsalted butter (softened)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
¾ cup milk
½ cup sour cream
1 cup blueberries
Preheat oven to 375.  Cream butter, sugar, egg and vanilla.  In a separate bowl. Sift flour and baking powder together. Add creamed mixture alternating with milk and sour cream.  Lastly, fold in blueberries.  Spoon into greased muffin tins and sprinkle with the crumb topping listed below.

Crumb topping (optional)
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1.3 flour
½ tsp cinnamon

Bake 20-25 min

Thursday, May 1, 2014

April Wrap Up

There is a point each spring where it seems that everything is in bloom at the same time. I love April not only because Ian was born in 2010 on April 14th, but also for the sense of rebirth that comes as longer spring days replace cold, dark winter days.

In April I/we

- Enjoyed a much needed Spring break with trips to the beach and to visit Grandmommy in Atlanta
- Read 3 books, including the amazing nearly 700 page Command and Control by Eric Scholsser.  Why not for everyone, this is nonfiction writing and investigation at its best.  On the flip side, I am breaking up with Aimee Bender after a short story collection and a fiction novel (both read in April.) There has to be a post on why I just can't spend any more time with her writing.  When you morph one of your characters into a chair, you have crossed the line to Crazytown.
- Finalized summer travel plans/flights/hotels for teacher seminars times two.  Can we say 17 child-free days in July?
- Finalized summer camp/care for the boys.  Once again, I'm working my budget like a boss.
- Began spring cleaning including finishing up the garage with super organization of all things that roll
- Mini-freeze ahead session replenishing with 12 main course meals to get me to the end of the school year
-Got caught up on Mad Men.  The final season is set in 1968.  Heaven is one of my favorite years in American history through the lens of key characters Don, Peggy, Joan, and Roger.  Watch it for the fashion if for nothing else!

As we head into May, primo porch sitting month, I leave you with two favorite pictures from April.

Awaiting spring as one of the bushes outside my front porch kicks winter to the curb

Sweetness times two (also loudness times two, dirty/smelly times two, arguing times two)