July 22, 2013

Long overdue

So today while  I was at the pool with the kids, I started thinking about how long it's been since I've posted an update to the blog and decided that updating today was a must. I have missed several Top-Ten Tuesday posts, and other general musings while on this unintentional hiatus from the blogging world....this should not come as a surprise to those of you who might read this although I did do a better job of keeping things update this past spring than in years past.

Where to start is always somewhat tricky when I've taken a break although I have to say it's been a relatively quiet summer for us. The twins will be starting Kindergarten in about 2 1/2 weeks...I am not sure I'm ready for that, but have come to accept the inevitable in that they are going to grow up and no matter how hard I try sometimes, I have been unsuccessful at stopping time. If anyone figures that out, please share...(although I wouldn't want to stop it all the time....just at certain times. Sometimes I'd actually like to fast forward things...like when I have to go to the dentist or when I am stuck in traffic....that sort of thing.)

Both of my children have grown-up so much....they can both swim now unassisted, which makes pool time that much more enjoyable for me, they can ride their bikes without training wheels, and are becoming really good at their Math facts and sight words in preparation for school.

Brody lost another tooth last weekend, which makes his total count up to 2 teeth lost while Caroline is just starting to have a loose tooth. I suspect by Christmas time, Brody will be singing the song "All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth" and Caroline will have lost one or be about ready to lose one.  Just my predictions, but I'll keep you posted.

We recently added two new members to our family in the way of fish......Gilly-Gulpa (fish have gills and this particular fish looked like he was always gulping so this was the name Caroline chose) and Tiger (a very small striped fish named aptly so by Brody because he looks like a tiger). Sadly, Gilly-Gulpa (Caroline's fish) did not live very long and passed away this evening. It was somewhat tragic for my 5-year old daughter, as this was her first experience at losing a pet....though after a few minutes of mourning her loss she promptly replied to me "Mommy, Gulpa is in fish heaven but he'll always live in my heart so I won't be sad anymore.....can we buy me another fish tomorrow?" There really are no words sometimes for the things they say and their reasoning....I guess I'll be fish shopping tomorrow...hopefully this one will live a little longer.

The rest of the summer we've spent time poolside, at the beach, bowling, the zoo, Mayfield dairy farm, various splash pads around town, and some good old-fashioned playing in the yard and in the house with our toys and imaginations. I have to say, I am blessed to have two children that for the most part play so well together and are able to entertain themselves.

As summer draws to a close for me, I have to say it has been nice to rejuvenate and spend time with the kids....daily I am reminded that this time is short and will pass before I know it...one day I'll be wishing that they were around to ask me to play with them, read them a story, kiss their boo-boos, or simply just hold them as they still sometimes ask me to do. Of course, they have both assured me that they will always be here with me even when they're big....we'll see how that works out, but for now I'll take it!

June 6, 2013

Top-Ten Tuesday...several days late and a top 20 to make up for it

So I've missed Top-Ten Tuesday now for two weeks in a row...guess that's what happens when school is out for the summer and everyday is like a Saturday....it's hard to keep track of what day it is when not going to school/work every day. ;) So, I am just going to pretend that today is Tuesday, though I actually think it's Wednesday and may be starting on Thursday since it looks like I'll actually be posting this blog after midnight....at any rate, as my kids and I have spent a good bit of time at the pool and riding around in the car, they've become quite the little DJ's (though a lot of the songs they make me listen to over and over aren't actually on this list) and as a result, I decided to make a list of my top 20 summer/anytime feel good songs that make you want to roll the windows down, turn the radio way up, sing at the top of your lungs, and dance like no one is watching you. I know it's a rather random mix of songs, but that's just how I roll....I like a little bit of everything, and these always bring a smile to my face....as do a few hundred more. However, I will stop at 20 for now....

1.  "Brown-Eyed Girl"  Van Morrison
2.  "Walking on Sunshine"  Katrina and The Waves
3.  " Knee Deep" Zac Brown Band
4.  "Stay (Wasting Time)"  Dave Matthews Band
5.  "Brandy" Three Dog Night
6.  "Bubbly Toes" Jack Johnson
7.  "Centerfield"  John Fogerty (This song is otherwise known as Brody's song)
8.  "Sweet Caroline" Neil Diamond (This song is otherwise known as Caroline's song...for obvious reasons)
9. "Every Thing She Does is Magic" The Police
10. "Boogie Shoes" KC and The Sunshine Band
11. "Celebration" Kool and the Gang
12.  "Wave on Wave" Pat Green
13.  "Beast of Burden"  Rolling Stones
14.  "Don't Stop Believing" Journey
15.  "Your Love" The Outfield
16. " Pride and Joy" Stevie Ray Vaughn
17. "Shook me All Night Long" ACDC
18. "Jack and Diane" John Mellencamp
19. "American Girl" Tom Petty
20. "Jesse's Girl" Rick Springfield

I think I should make this a playlist....who knows, maybe someone else reading this will too. It'd be a good one!

May 22, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday...a day late: ten pieces of advice for graduating seniors

"It's here...it's here" my children cried out this morning, (and by children I mean both my own 2 kids and all of my children at school because let's face it, they are my kids too)... "yes, it is here" I casually replied trying ever so desperately to contain my excitement over the fact that yes, it is finally here....the last day of the school year!!!!! I thought to myself this morning....I have made it another year in this profession...all without getting too many new gray hairs, only gaining 1 extra wrinkle or two, and maintaining most of my mental faculties....not too bad, I must say. As I pondered this thought about the end of another school year, I realized that I have been out of high school for 20 years....20 years......I can't believe just how quickly those 20 years have gone by. It seems like just yesterday, I was graduating high school with all of the hopes and dreams every 17 year-old has....(I was going to be rich and famous with a fabulous life, right??)

I actually can't complain about life too much especially compared to what many people have to go through or have gone through....sure, there have been some difficult times, bumps along the way if you will, but who doesn't go through that? I am very blessed with all that I have, and have to say that many of the bumps along the way or tough times I have fallen upon have actually been a result of my own doing. Some have just been part of life, but a lot have been my fault....hard to admit that, but it's true.  To that end, my top ten list is pieces of advice I would give to those who are graduating this week....just some things to consider as this new journey of "life after high school" begins....this is not intended to be professional advice, just some things I have learned along the way the past 20 years that I thought are worth sharing...

1. Learn effective communication and listening skills....even if you have to take a class for it. Being able to communicate, as well as listen are essential keys and tools for success.

2. Don't burn any bridges you may one day have to cross back over....and trust me, you will have to cross back over a bridge at least once in your lifetime.

3. Take care of your reputation by carefully considering the choices you make, and don't be afraid to stick up for what you believe in even if it is not the popular choice. You may not be liked by following this piece of advice, but you will be respected.

4. Don't buy something you don't have money in the bank to pay for. There is nothing in this world you "need" that badly. Credit is a good thing to have, but it is not something you should live off of...it's very difficult to repair bad credit once you've messed it up. (and creditors love to prey upon young college students- trust me I was once one of those)

5. Be kind to others. Not always an easy thing to do, as people will make you mad and are in general not kind. However, you will get much farther in life in the end if you are kind....(just don't mistake being kind for being a doormat. There's a difference and people will take advantage of you if you let them.)

6. Listen to your parents, professors, teachers, and in general those that are older than you. You will still likely do what you want to do anyway, as that is part of life and part of learning and growing, however those people in your life are only trying to help you safely navigate through life because they care about you. Many times they are trying to prevent you from making the same mistakes that they made.....there is wisdom with age, so listen to them even if you don't agree and/or don't want to...someday you will be one of them and you will understand.

7. Make it a point to tell those you love and care about that you love and care about them. You never know when you will see them last, and it's an awful feeling to want to tell someone and realize you can't because they're no longer here.

8. Remember when faced with tough times that someone always has it worse than you. There is something positive that can be taken away from every situation....so look for that silver lining.

9. Mistakes are going to happen...you will make them and it's okay. What makes the difference is how you handle things when you do mess up and what you learn/take away from those situations.

10. Enjoy life and all it brings....you are given one life to live, so handle it with care and make the most of it!

May 14, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday- Some of my favorite things

So my top ten list for today centers around some of my favorite things. Over this past weekend, I got to experience some of my favorite things, and got to thinking about it so thought I'd use it as a topic for today's top ten list....everyone can identify and list their favorite things...you know those things and moments in life that when you experience or think about them bring you to your "happy place", warm your heart, and make you smile. This is by no means a complete list of my favorite things nor are these necessarily in any particular order....I really enjoy a lot of things, but these are the first ten that came to my mind today when thinking of this topic.

1. My children's laughter...they have the best laughs...you know the kind that come from your belly....it's sheer delight-while individual and unique, both bring a smile to my face and brighten my day instantly. If I could bottle up their laughs and sell them, I would be a millionaire...

2. The smell of fresh cut grass... in particular on a summer evening or spring morning when wild onions have been cut along with the grass....and also the smell of freshly sharpened pencils. (I know that last one's a little strange...but it is what it is)

3. Sweet Tea- this to me is the nectar of the gods and hands down is my favorite drink....it has to be freshly brewed, sweet tea and not the northern substitution of "flavored tea" or the tea you get in a can or otherwise prepared- yes, I am a tea snob and have to say my favorite is Chick-fil-A sweet tea....its the closest thing to "gigi" tea (this is the sweet tea my grandmother used to make me when I was a little girl....it was really "a little tea with your sugar" kind of sweet tea, but it was the best...what I would give to have a tall glass of "gig" tea today....thankfully she taught me the secret before she passed away though when I make it's still not quite the same)

4. I love office supplies and office supply stores....pens, markers, paper, organizers, etc....I love them all. One of the perks of my job is that I get to use office supplies every day....am pretty sure that classifies me a somewhat of a geek, but that's okay.

5. Music- I LOVE music....really all kinds, except for the whole 90's grunge thing....I just can't get into that or super weird alternative or otherwise eclectic, artsy fartsy music....other than that, I love it all...A song with its tune and/or lyrics can always express things I feel but am unable to communicate.... Music gets me right to my core...and I don't know what I would do without it. My preference is usually directly linked to my mood at the time but there are several songs that are just staples in my musical preference. You know like the favorite pair of shoes that go with anything or your favorite pair of jeans that you can wear anytime....For some people their comfort solace is in food....for me its music.

6. Sports- I love sports....playing, watching, really anything involving sports...To me there is just nothing better than a baseball game on a summer night or spring afternoon or a football game in the Fall....whether it's a high school ball game, college game, or a professional one each has its own appeal....I love the whole experience from the hamburgers and hot dogs to the cheers and jeers of the crowd, all while watching with anticipation to see if my team is going to win....(though to be honest, I'd go and watch even if it wasn't my favorite team)....I spent a good bit of time on the ball field growing up with my dad who played when I was young, and then as I got older these were things we did together to spend time with each other...often times not a word was spoken, but the memories made and time spent is priceless....I've been to some great games in my lifetime....

7. Trivia and little know facts about random things...I am fascinated by these things....useless information although sometimes you never know when it can come in handy or when you'll need to use it for something

8. I love food.....especially good food...I think it ties in with the sensory part of who I am....and while I love to cook and enjoy home-cooked meals, I thoroughly enjoy the dining out experience.....especially when the company is good.

9. NYC-- It's my favorite city to visit....I love the hustle and bustle, the lights, the noise....it's just like the movies and there's so much to do, see, and experience there....every time I go it's something different.

10. I love life and its adventures with all the craziness, happiness, sadness, etc....it brings and am so blessed to have a good one.

Have a happy Tuesday!! :)

May 8, 2013

Unexpected appreciation

This week is teacher appreciation week, and being that I am a teacher it's been a week filled with a few little extra special treats at school. I have to say, I have enjoyed the thoughtful gestures, lunch, breakfast, and other things I have received from our PTSA, administration, and of course the students....everyone likes to feel appreciated, and they have done a great job with that here at the school where I work.
 Regardless of it's often flawed philosophies, ever-changing strategies, and a host of other things beyond my control that make this job challenging at times, I am so blessed and privileged to be in this profession and would not trade it for anything in the world.

Aside from the planned celebrations,  perhaps the most special thing was an unexpected note I received today from one of my students. You see it's the student that no one really wants to work with, often times comes into class with a slight,  what I affectionately call a "teenage" attitude, and will occasionally choose not do do anything. I have to admit this student has tried my patience a time or two, but after months of working with this student some good days and bad days, we have finally reached a mutual understanding of each other's expectations and I have been quite pleased with the progress. (I have to say, I have high expectations for my students regardless of their circumstances although knowing it make take some longer than others to meet my expectations- eventually they all get there in the end.....students/kids in general will rise to meet you if you will set the bar for them) At any rate, this particular student wrote me a note....it was a simple note, but one that warmed my heart and admittedly brought a tear to my eye. ( I had to correct some of the spelling errors and a few other things, but tried to leave it as close to its original form as possible)

The note said:

"Dear Mrs. Jenkins,
Thank you for everything you do for me and for being so kind....and oh yeah, always smiling. It makes me happy to come to your class, and I'm thankful for all your hard-work and patience you put into teaching me/us. Mostly that you believe in me and think I can be something when I get out of here. You make me want to work harder and do better in school because I don't want to let you down. You are the best.  I will miss you if I don't have you next year, but can I come by and visit you in your classroom and you will still help me, right? "

I could hardly believe it, and have to say this is a highlight in my 14-year career as an educator. Never would I have expected this from this student. If you could see this student and know this student you would really understand how remarkable this note is. For all the difficulties, challenges, and otherwise unpleasant things my profession can sometimes bring, times like these make it all worthwhile and I would do it all over again in a heart-beat without question. (It's kind of like giving birth/having kids....all the stuff you go through for 9-months of carrying them, the physical pain of having them, and then all the stuff that follows after they're born is completely worth it when they learn to talk and tell you, "mommy, I love you....or thank you mommy for taking care of me, etc...." There is nothing like it and that makes it all worthwhile.)

Happy teacher appreciation week to all! May this serve as a reminder that all is not lost and often times the most difficult, hard to handle kids are the ones who need us the most. This has definitely brightened my day....along with the beautiful, warm SUNSHINE!!!! Hopefully it will do the same for you.....

May 7, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Some famous movie quotes.....

Today in my American Lit class, we were discussing the upcoming movie release of The Great Gatsby (we are reading this novel in class currently, and the movie comes out Friday). While discussing the happenings of the novel up to the current chapter in addition to whether or not we thought the movie would be the same, the topic of great movies and movie quotes came up. Now, I love movies- watching movies is one of my favorite things to do when I have time to do so....in fact, at times I view moments and parts my life as if they were scenes from a movie....perhaps a little odd or strange, I know, but it's what I do sometimes....especially with the good memories and thoughts...gives me the opportunity to rewind, pause, press play, and repeat them etc....which can definitely make a not so good day better.... At any rate, during lunch today, I started to think about this and came up with a sort of list of famous movie quotes....This is by no means and exhaustive list, as there are far more I could have included, but rather just a few that came to mind while on this topic.....so, I thought I'd share. Enjoy!! :)

1. "You can't handle the truth" (A Few Good Men)

2. "There's no crying in baseball" (A League of Their Own)- This one is said almost daily in my house especially whenever one of my 5-year olds cries for no apparent reason.

3. "Houston, we have a problem" (Apollo, 13)
4. "What we have here is a failure to communicate" (Cool Hand Luke) - I have to admit I have used this one a time or two both at home and at school.

5. "I'll have what she's having" (When Harry met Sally)- I have to say this is one of my favorites...love this movie and this particular scene from the movie...a classic

6. "Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?" (Rush Hour)- This one is used regularly....and I have to say that when I use this one or think of this one, for some reason I feel the need to say it the way in which the character said it which is really quite something to see....

7. "Don't act like you're not impressed" (Anchorman)- One of the funniest, stupid movies I have ever seen.....you have to appreciate this kind of humor in order to appreciate this quote....it's definitely not intellectual....funny nonetheless

8. "Life is like a box of chocolates..." (Forrest Gump)- One of the more profound movie quotes...

9. "You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya...?" (Dirty Harry)

10. "Thank you sir, may I have another" (Animal House)- This one comes to mind, often with much sarcasm....especially after any rough day at work or whenever the day just seems to continue piling on things and I can't catch a break...it always makes me feel better and does the trick

Of course there are so many more I could add to this list, but this will do for now.

May 6, 2013

Funny Side of life.....Monday side up

So it's Monday, and I have just finished up a loooong day of EOCT testing at school. For those not up on school acronym's that stands for End of Course Testing. This is a contradicition in and of itself because we still have 2 1/2 weeks of school left and I am still teaching the course for which my students have just taken the end of course test. Crazy, right?? Ahhh, gotta love the school business....sometimes I really do wonder who in the world is making up the rules and when was the last time they were actually present in a real, live classroom/school? Curious as to whether or not there are others who share this view point....I will save my opinion on politics that I really can't change and focus on the fact that I am gainfully employed doing something I LOVE.....am pretty lucky in that regard because not too many people are able to say that about their jobs.

Back to Monday....Monday's are just....well, Monday's. I can't remember the last time I really got excited about Monday's except for when I have a Monday off, or have plans to do something fun, or see a friend I haven't seen in a while, and of course if it's payday...other than that, I am not a fan of Monday's.....but they do have a purpose, I suppose, though I am still searching for what that purpose is. If someone reading this knows the purpose of Monday's please let me know....

While browsing the internet over the weekend doing some research for my last few weeks of lessons at school, I came across several pictures, cartoons, etc....that depict the feeling Monday brings so I know I am not alone in my thinking....some were very humorous, some were kind of on the nasty side, and some were overly optimistic....I don't have anything incredibly enlightening to share with you today other than the fact that it's Monday....a chance to start a new week....a week closer to summer vacation....4 more days until Friday...gotta see the positive side to things, right?

At any rate, I thought I'd share some of my favorite Monday pics....maybe it'll brighten your day since the sun is still playing hide-n-seek....and hey, Monday's almost over and before you know it, it will be Friday again.....hope these make you chuckle or at least bring a half-smile to your face as they did mine....(no, it does not take much to entertain me....) Have a great Monday and week!!