Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bowling Braces and Family Recipes

The title of this post came from a conversation I had with some writer friends on Twitter last night. We were all talking about how we all suffer from one form or another of carpal tunnel syndrome from typing all the time. The tendons in my hand hurt all the way up to my shoulder. It's probably a combination tendonitis and carpal tunnel. So we were brainstorming as to things that could help us. Being writers, our imaginations run rampant and these kind of conversations can be both informing and hysterical all at the same time.

Having said that, my first thing I'm grateful for on today's post is my writer community friends I have met on Twitter. The list is long and diverse as far as who they are, what they write and where they live, but we all have things in common, we love to write. We talk about plot twists and turns, problems we're having, or successes. It's just a great community to be a part of.

Don't get me wrong, I love being a music teacher and going to music teacher meetings is great. But this group...they're global and they're always around to give advice, opinions, support or just participate in a conversation that distracts from frustrations. If I started naming them, it would take the rest of the page and I would probably forget somebody. They know who they are and they all have my admiration. :)
And by the way...I do have on my bowling brace and it is helping..but I wasn't brave enough to try the whiskey while I was typing. I will name the names of the ones in the convo last night, because they are so funny. I'll ID them by their twitter handles: @calistataylor @robertklewis @jemifraser and @Lit_Gal  Great people for sure. :) If you find them on Twitter, check out their blogs. They're awesome.

The second thing I'm thankful for is my immediate family. I am lucky enough to still have both my parents, in great health, both my siblings are still in their first marriage, as am I, which now a days is a huge feat. We also enjoy each others company, which is not always the case in some families. Lucky for us, there's not really any major family drama that goes on, and I, being the middle 'peacemaker' child, thrives in that. 

I'm also grateful for passed down recipes. Namely, Mom's dressing. I love it. It's the best thing ever. I could just eat that and not worry about the turkey or chicken. I'm also grateful that my sister-in-law has learned to make it. She's been making it for several years now and has gotten it down to as perfect as my mom makes it. So, at some point, I'll have to bug her about giving me 'dressing lessons'. :)  I've perfected another of my mom's recipes, her chocolate chess pie. This pie is so good, my oldest daughter asked for it one year instead of a birthday cake. That's how much she loves it. Must've inherited that from me. ;)

I'm leaving now to start my day of preparations for tomorrow's Thanksgiving feast at my mom's house. I hope all of you have a Happy Thanksgiving, or just a great Thursday if you're not in the U.S.



Sunday, November 20, 2011

Good Grief

I almost didn't want to post anything because it's been so long, but then I feel like I need to. If for no other reason than to break the 'perfection' cycle that I have in my brain. It tells me, 'Well, you're not doing that perfectly, so you just need to stop doing it all together.
So for my first Grateful shout out, It's going to Marla Cilley. The Flylady.

I don't know how many of you have heard of her, but she has helped me a lot. I discovered her website years ago. Now, I wish I could tell you I have all my routines down and my house is spotless all the time, but I can't say that. But I can say, she's made me aware of my streak of perfectionism I didn't even know was in there.

It's that wee small voice that tells you not to do something because it might not be perfect. I hadn't posted on here because I didn't have time for a few days and then the perfectionism monster reared it's ugly head. So here it is, Nov. 20th. I allowed that dang monster to control me and not post on here for 10 days because I'd gotten a few days behind. It's an insidious creature, perfectionism. I thought it didn't exist in me at all and that's why my house was always a wreck, but she explains on her website, that isn't the case at all. We put things off because we can't do them perfectly. That was when it hit me that she was talking to me. Huge revelation. So now, the routines I do have established are helping me keep some amount of peace in my house. I'm doing the 'Before bed routine' which basically means do as much as you can do the night before for the next day. I never go to bed without laying out clothes for the next day and locating everything, including shoes for me and my daughter, the autistic one. Backpack is by the door and anything else I need to walk out the door with. I have to say, mornings are spent eating and reading before I leave in the morning after we're done brushing teeth and hair.Hardly any running around trying to find this or that before the bus comes. It's pretty dang peaceful. :)

Now that it's close to Christmas, she has Holiday Cruising Missions to Cruise through the holidays. It's great to help you do a little at a time so the holidays aren't so stressful. I haven't done every mission, but I've done a lot of them and have my lists of what I've needed to buy ahead of time for Thanksgiving and Christmas as far as baking goes. So now that I've bought a little here and there, I won't go broke trying to buy it all at once.
Here's her website. If you've never heard of it, and you have trouble keeping a clean house, you need her.

Another grateful shout out goes to my friend Calista Taylor. She's been a friend of mine on Twitter for a while and I also met her on Agent Query Connect a few years ago, when I first was learning the in's and out's of writing. She has been an invaluable source of support and a friend I can bounce ideas off of. She's been writing longer than I have so she's already been down a few of the roads I'm traveling down now. She helped me with a problem that's been plaguing me for about a year now in my MS. The solution was so simple, but I hadn't thought of it or anyone else I'd talked to about it. It resulted in my having to rewrite most of it, but I really feel like this is what will work and work well. I sent her my newest first page and she gave it a thumbs up. Coming from her, somebody that really knows, I took that as a huge step in the right direction.
I'm happy to report that as of this afternoon, I finished the first chapter in the newest revision with 17 pages worth of MS. I also started with a different main character and I think that helps it tremendously. So cheers Cali! I'm SO grateful for you! You can follow her steampunk romance blog at She's written a series called, "Viridis" of which I've read the first one and the second 'Devil on a Sparrow's wing" I'm almost halfway through with. They're ebooks, so you need to download them asap. If you like steamy romances with a mystery twisting around, you'll like this. :) This is NOT a YA book. It's an Women's fiction book, just to make sure you understand...steamy.

I'm going to stop at two grateful shout-outs so my arm won't hurt so bad from typing.
I'll try to get back on here and shout out more things and people I'm grateful for. :) Hope you have a great week and a Happy Thanksgiving if you're in the U.S.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Man...I'm getting behind

I may have to stop doing the gratitude journal on here. It's getting closer to the time of our evaluation. So I'm having to spend more time on that and less time on writing on my blog. I still may use Facebook for my 'attitude of gratitude', but I'm falling behind on here and it's bugging me. I'm trying not to stress about our evals too much. As it is, we're set up not to be able to score too high because this is supposed to be for a 90-minute block of time and we only have 35 minutes. That's the first problem. The 2nd problem is this evaluation is tailored to a classroom teacher and we teach music, so  a lot of the criteria don't even apply to us.
So there's that....
Makes for a pretty disheartening attempt at having a good score. I'm to the point that I just don't want to lose my job because this new evaluation is beyond flawed. It needs some major tweaking. Some of it is good and in theory and on looks really good. In reality, I can't actually hit every subpoint in all twelve points in a 35 minute lesson...I don't care how good I am...and dad gum it...I'm a good music teacher. I go into a losing battle, I'll do the best I can. Get a half way decent score, which doesn't really reflect my ability...and just deal with it for now...
Makes me want to look for employment in another line of work, but in these times, I need to stay where I'm at a little longer. I wish the 'writer' thing would work out and then I wouldn't have to worry about it.
I guess we'll just wait and see.

As far as being grateful, I am definitely grateful for a job that I love. I love my kids, I love the people I work with, who I've given shout-outs to on here before. I have the kind of job where I marvel at the fact that they pay me to do it. It is one of the best jobs in the world. I'm not saying it's's one of the hardest jobs too, but I do love it.

I'm grateful that my health is at a point where I can still eat or drink what ever I want. I didn't say there weren't gaining weight, but I don't have to worry about a diabetic coma when I drink this Sundrop I'm about to drink. This is GOOD stuff. Been a long time since I drank any.

I'm grateful for Shannon's cheer coach. She is motivating to the girls and expects them to work hard. She also loves them and would do anything for them. Her bar is set high and she constantly preaches character to them, which I think is a great lesson they need to learn in high school. Parents can tell kids things, but sometimes it sticks better when it's a coach that tells them.

This was taken after they'd gotten done with camp. They were all crying because the seniors were crying and because their coach had bragged on them and told them they were the best group in 13 years she's ever coached. We love her. :)

I'm also grateful for Shannon's friends. I believe high school can make or break you, depending on who you end up hanging around with. When Shannon made the cheerleading squad with 6 of her other friends from her middle school, I knew she would have a great high school career. Her friends are everything you could ask for in a group. Her first year of high school, she was in a group of 11. These kiddos have been through 16th birthday parties, getting their licenses, and all kinds of fun high school memories. They are sweet, good kids who I love like my own. I will really miss her friends when she graduates high school. They're an awesome bunch.

Great bunch of girls right here. :) Love these kiddos! 
They're holding their fingers to show a 1 and 3.. because they'll graduate in 2013. Aren't they smart? Came up with that all on their own. :)
And of course Shannon's oldest friend, Kaitlyn
I'll have to have a whole other post on Kaitlyn...she's such a great kid. She calls me her second mommy and if we needed to take her in, we would in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gratitude Journal Nov. 7th.

1..I am grateful for today's weather. It was just...glorious. By 9:00 am, I didn't even need a jacket. The sun was warm, the breeze was cool, the clouds were puffy and all different interesting shapes and the sky was azure like the Caribbean ocean. All day long. Just perfect. I always imagine what Heaven looks like and I know the sky looks like that. I wish I'd taken a picture of the sky today. We even had a blimp fly over our school. I was flying really low, which I'd never seen before. It must've taken off from the Smyrna Airport, which isn't too far away from our school.

2.  I am grateful for my flag. I learned how to twirl a really big, heavy metal flagpole in the spring of 1982. My arm has been bothering me lately from all the typing I'm doing during the day and at night. So today, I got the bright idea to go grab my trusty flagpole from my high school and college days and see if it would strengthen my arm a little. I went out in the dark, which makes it much harder to toss...I still can, by the way..;) My waver friends Kris and Bo would be proud of me for still being able to whip it around a little. ;) It did help some, but I need to do it for an hour...I'll try 8 & 8's Bo. I'll see if that

I've been doing really well with posting 5 things to be grateful for, but exhaustion is kicking in tonight more than usual, and my arm is giving me fits, so I'm going to cut it off today and hopefully write more tomorrow.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gratitude Journal-Weekend edition Nov.4,5,6th

Ok...I got home from the Riverdale ballgame, which they WON (Whoo hoo), late and I didn't feel like sitting at the computer after sitting out in the cold for several hours so I broke my routine. I'd done really well about posting every night until Friday.Then Sat. I just So here I am on Sunday night at 7:24, trying to type and not fall asleep. The time change will take a few days to get used to. I vote we just leave it alone, that way we would never have to adjust and readjust our body clocks every spring and fall.
 So...things that I am thankful for...I thought since I'm several days behind, I would still only do five, but then I decided if I had one or two more to add them. Maybe I'll get on a never know with me. Once I get going it's hard to stop me. :)

1.  On Friday night, I was grateful for my neighbor of 19 years, Brenda. She and her daughters, Janice and Melissa have been a part of our family since we had Shannon. When she was born, Janice was 15, so she babysat for us the first time we went anywhere. Greg and I went to see the Lion King when it came out in the theaters the FIRST time, in the summer of 1994 after Shannon was born in May. After that, a friendship turned into gaining members of the family. Janice or Melissa would babysit for us and Shannon LOVED them. Still does to this day. Brenda sat in the cold with me on Friday night to watch Shannon cheer and because Riverdale was playing Coffee County, which is where Janice's kids go after they leave her elementary school.  This is Janice, Shannon and her son, Jaden.

2.  And I'm grateful for Brenda, one of my bestest buddies.

She and I have been best friends for I can't even tell you how many years. She's one of those people I don't have to talk to every day, but I know if I ever need her, I can pick up the phone and she's right there for whatever. Sometimes I just call her because I haven't talked to her in a while and she'll do the same thing with me. Sometimes we do it on the same day after we haven't talked to each other in a week or two. We do that a LOT. It's so funny. I think our brains run on the same wavelength or something. She's been a major support system for me with my writing endeavors and everything else. She reads what I write and tells me what she likes or what's not clear. I completely trust her because I know she'll tell me the truth, like she always has. Your true friends will tell you what you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear. That's her. I love her and am so glad she's been a part of my adult life and my kid's lives.

3. I am grateful for Saturday being the perfect Fall day. Full sunny sky, the air was cool, but warm enough not to need a jacket. I'm grateful for the leaves falling off the trees so Cass can rake them. She had a blast playing in them too.

This is all that's left of the leaves on the maple tree in the front yard.  The rest are on the ground.

4.  I'm also grateful for Cassidy. Obviously, God sends you challenges in your life to learn from them and I must've been in sore need of major amounts of patience. She's taught me patience, negotiating skills, and to appreciate every little thing. When she stopped talking, and the Autism took her words, she used to beat her head against the floor or against the wall and cry because she was so frustrated. I wanted to cry too because it was like we were starting all over again. In a way, we were. She had to learn how to talk all over again. I can remember saying to other moms in the waiting room at Special Kids, "I wish she would just talk."
And they all said, "Just'll get your wish and then she won't shut up." And they'd laugh. They were  SO right. It's that whole 'Be careful what you wish for' thing.  She talks quite a bit now. Sometimes it's a good thing and sometimes it's maddening. Like, drive you crazy, pull your hair out maddening. She 'self-talks' most of the time, but when you can get her attention, you can carry on a conversation with her. For her to even get to that point took a lot of speech therapy.
Being in middle school has been hard on both of us the past two years. Last year was ok,but this year has been much worse. Luckily, she's a likeable kid whose happy the majority of the time. She's upstairs right now working a 1000 piece puzzle because she likes to do it. If you tell her she did a good job with something she'll say, "Yeah...I know." I wish I had her self esteem. :) When I finally do begin to publish my stories, I hope to make a little extra money to put back for her.

5.  I'm grateful for this gift God has given me called writing. I absolutely love it. So much that sometimes I can sit at the laptop for hours and then when my hand and arm start hurting I realize I've been sitting here with my characters talking and I'm typing away writing down everything they're saying and I'm seeing. I usually go back at least 3 or 4 times and change things or make the sentence tighter.  I love it. I hope I'll always be able to do it. It gives me another outlet to be creative. I just hope my brain doesn't give out with Alzheimer's. I forget things so often, that's a really big fear of mine. I'm hoping writing and teaching music will keep my brain active enough to ward off anything like that.

So...that was my weekend list. What things are you grateful for? Little or doesn't matter. If you're grateful for someone in your life, you should tell them. You never know how many moments you have left with them.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cold Rainy Days-Gratitude Journal Nov. 3rd

Today has just kinda sucked.
I don't have too many days that I can say that, but today just did. It rained and was cold all day. :P My daughter has not been doing well at school lately. Her behavior is getting out of hand. I don't know if it's hormones, (7th grade) or the fact that emotionally, she's more like a 7 year old and they don't do well with middle school kids. So there's that...
As I sit here bummed about those things, there are other things that I am grateful for.

1. I'm grateful for my partner teacher, Amanda. We get a long so well, it's almost ridiculous. ;) She's WAY younger than 20 year difference. I could be this girl's We both have very different brains which is why we do so well together. She's SUPER organized and I'm not, which keeps me on the straight and narrow. Since I'm more laid back, if something changes, I can usually go with it and completely change what I'm doing if I have to, she's not good with change. It kinda freaks her out, so I'm there to talk her down and keep her sane. Like I's the best partnership ever. I could've written a list of character traits and sent it up to Heaven requesting a partner teacher I could actually teach with and still wouldn't have gotten anybody as good as she is. She's the one the

2.  While I'm being grateful for people at school, I'll go ahead and say I'm grateful for my friend in the middle, Maribeth. We've taught together at our school for years and years. She's gotten me into Bunco groups and turned me into a Twi-hard, yep...I totally blame her! ;) She's that friend that will do whatever you need, whenever you need it. She's given me rides to school when my car was dead and I've picked up her mail when she's been out of town. Just an all-around fun person to know. Went to my first midnight premiere when Breaking Dawn came out at Barnes and Noble with her and now going to see the movie with her! It's just two weeks away and yes, we already have our tickets. Don't's just fun! :) This picture was taken at the midnight premiere of Eclipse! 1st midnight movie premiere I'd ever been too because it was in the summer.

3.  While I'm being grateful for people at work, I'll go ahead and give a shout out to my buddy Melissa.
 She's our next door neighbor art teacher. She's also in a leaky, falling down portable and loves it as much as we do because it keeps her off a cart. A natural talent in art for sure, if we ask her to make us a sign or something, she's always whipping something up that looks absolutely wonderful. She and I trade music likes back and forth and always enlighten each other on our newest favorite tunes. She introduced me to Pandora and has recently turned me onto the Civil Wars. We both share a love for 'The Ellen Show' and we talk about everything, which is cool. It's nice to have somebody to talk to and know they won't judge you and they keep your secrets. That's a pretty good friend to have.  She also has a Breaking Dawn ticket..;)
She's in her twenties too. I'm surrounded by

4.  I'm grateful for my warm house. On this nasty cold, rainy day, my house is warm. Can't get much better than knowing your family is safe and sound in a warm house. This is the only house we've ever lived in. Not too many people our age can say that. Usually, by now people have moved to a bigger house, but when we bought it, the upstairs wasn't finished, so we've just grown into it. I wish I could say it was paid off, but we've finished the upstairs and added a covered patio in the back, so that's taken about three refinances to get that done.

5.  I'm grateful for my warm cup of coffee I just drank and the warm chili I'm eating. We have more than enough food of which I am grateful for. In this day of everybody losing their job and not knowing where their next meal is coming from, I'm definitely grateful to have the money to buy what we need to eat.

6. This is a bonus since it was such a sucky day. I'm grateful for the sunrise I saw this morning. It was clouds of red and purple streaking over the horizon before the bus came to pick up Cass. Simply beautiful. And before the clouds rolled in, the sun shined on the fall leaves and it was a gorgeous sight. I guess because the storm clouds weren't too far off in the West making it a little darker than normal did the sun seem a little brighter when it came up. And today, instead of being in my portable, I was on the road going to an inservice, so I got to enjoy it.
Hope your day has been a good one and that you can think of some things or people in your life to be grateful for.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Kindle, Twitter friends, Cancer and Hugs-Nov. 2

I'm not sure I can keep up this pace every night by writing 5 things I'm grateful for, but then, in theory, we should be able to write an endless list.

So here's my list for today.

1.  I'm grateful for my Kindle. This thing, while not a fancy touch screen Kindle, has given me the opportunity to download books and not clutter up my house, which I desperately needed. My house is cluttered enough and bringing more books into it, would just make it worse.

2. I'm grateful for my writer friends I've made this summer on Twitter. The reason I even have this blog is because they told me I needed one. I'd started this back in 2009 and then just lost interest in it. Didn't really feel like I had anything to say that anyone would care about reading, so I just let it fall by the wayside. Then this summer, I started following writers and agents and have made some really great friends. They've encouraged me to the point where I guest posted on their blogs and even wrote three short stories this summer that I wouldn't have ever tried to write other wise without them pushing me to do it. So I'm thankful for my goat posse friends, but especially Cherie, A.M., Michelle, Anita, Jennifer and Jean They've encouraged me when I SO didn't think I had enough talent to hang with them at all. I linked their names to their awesome blogs so you can see just what I'm talking about.

3. I'm grateful that when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, the chemo pills worked and she didn't suffer with too many side effects and it hasn't come back. We just watched a documentary on this lady that was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a pretty rough go of it, but she survived. Her friend that she met during her treatment didn't. She was an African-American lady that didn't have insurance, so she was diagnosed too late.

4. I'm also grateful that my dad, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer this past year has had his treatment work as well, with little side effects, other than him being a little more tired than normal. I've got cancer on both sides of my family...maybe I should be paranoid.

5. I'm grateful for my husband's hugs. He's been sick and I've had to keep my distance, but today he felt good enough that he wanted to hold me for a minute. You don't realize how much you crave physical attention until it goes away. Even just for a few days, he was craving it by the time he got home from work today. Poor guy...he's felt like crap for about 4 days now. Hugs are good for your well-being I think. So I was glad he felt good enough to give me one.

I also realized in the car, that I haven't been to the gyno doc in a long time...I think it's been a year...going on two now..oops. I need to get on that and have a mammogram too.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Gratitude Journal-Nov. 1

I wasn't sure what else to call these posts, so until I come up with something else, I guess that will do for now.'s list:

1.  I'm grateful for my once a week trip to Barnes and Noble's cafe to meet my dear friend, Annie.

This is she and her son. Annie and I have a lot in common. I taught both of her kids at my school. Her oldest and my oldest are the same age. Her youngest and my youngest both have Autism. In this picture, he has on a CAPE shirt, which is the special needs sports league that both of our kids play in.  We started meeting at B&N during the summer for frappachinos and just to hang out because we had time. Now we make it a priority to meet once a week, just to talk. We talk about everything going on in our lives. She works in an elementary school like I do, so we have a lot in common there too. I think it's like a mini therapy session for both of us. We get to enjoy each other's company, bounce ideas off each other and we have a passion for Pumpkin Spiced Lattes! :)

2.  I'm grateful for the return of an old friend and the making of a new one. My friend, the PE teacher, has been out for 12 weeks. She just had a baby the day school started back and even though we saw her at school with the baby and bringing her oldest daughter to school, it wasn't the same as having her there every day. I've missed her. I'm so glad she's back. And the brand new teacher that did her interim while she was gone was also fabulous. We adopted her quickly and she became a part of our school family in the blink of an eye. But with the return of the old teacher, the new teacher had to leave us. We kept trying to figure out ways to keep them both, but no such luck. But we have made a permanent friend, where ever she goes, we were her first real teaching job and she won't ever forget us. I know we won't forget her.

3.  I'm grateful for hope. Sometimes that's all we have. My youngest had a hard day at school today. I got a phone call today from her resource teacher telling me she was disruptive in all her classes today. When I got home, I asked my daughter about it. When she's not in the heat of the moment, she can talk about what's bothering her, but when she's upset or frustrated, it's like her brain locks up and she doesn't have the words to say what's wrong. She told me her brain 'freezes'. That makes sense if you think about it. A kid that had a language delay most of their little life is likely to have that problem when they're older. So I told her to write down what's wrong if she can't say the words. I hope it helps. That's all I've got right now.

4.  I'm grateful for my job. Being an elementary music teacher is probably one of the most fun jobs ever...besides being the P.E. teachers. They have as much fun as we do. I walk up the wood wheelchair ramp that leads up to the music and art portables every day and I never dread it. I can't imagine having to work at a job that you hate. That would have to be one of the worst feelings in the world. My first class of the day this year is 1st grade. I love how they get so excited about EVERYTHING. Helps keep my perspective on what's important.

5. I'm grateful for one of my 5th grade students today. I'm not going to name him because this is the internet and it can be a scary place. But I have to say, this kid has made a turn around this year that I'm so proud of. I've been his music teacher since he was in Kindergarten, so I've watched him grow up. Until this year, he has been a bit of a .....what's a good word? ....'Stinker'  seems to fit. One of those kids that you correct when you see them doing something and they either flat out deny it, (even when you saw them) , they try to blame somebody else or they or they try to argue with you and justify it.
That drives me bananas when kids do that. This year, he's acting so different. I don't know why and it doesn't really matter...I just think it's great. I've told him too, but I think I need to tell him again before the week is over. He's playing a part on an instrument that's a little bit hard and he's really gotten it, so I've bragged on him for that too. I love to see kids improve and have a sense of pride about them. I hope it continues for him.
That's all for tonight. Hopefully, I'll have more tomorrow. :)