me

I’m cool with that

School started last week and for the first time since February of 2020, I’ve spend more time in a school building than out of one.
I subbed in French I and II for eighth graders.
The trickiest bit was there’s no teacher. No lesson plans.
Just me and thirty kids, and I don’t actually speak the language. My knowledge of French exists because Thing 1 and Thing 2 took French in high school.

The first day of school we did some get-to-know-you activities. Each subsequent day, I flew by the seat of my pants finding all the English speaking bits from the textbook.
Writing lesson plans isn’t actually under the job description of a substitute teacher…I’m just sayin’.
But, I survived!
At the end of the week, I met the retired French teacher who will be taking over the class until they can hire someone permanently. She reassured me I managed beautifully, and even showed me in the standard of learning that I’d already covered required material.
Go me!
But really, go those kids!
They were patient and engaged and perfectly willing to adapt.
I’ll see them twice more this week and two more times in September and already have more than enough lessons planned.

I’m heading over to ‘my old school’ this afternoon to teach in a fourth grade class, and they’ve already asked me if I’m willing to work temporarily in the front office.
I’m over here like, here’s my availability, let’s see what we can work out.

What’s great about all this is that I’m feeling good about being back to school.
What’s not great about all this is that I’m not getting as much done at home.
I am so close to being settled and feeling at home in this house…
We’ve already scheduled Baby K’s Birdie and Papa weekends through December. We need to do a few more things to ensure her safety here for extended periods of time.
She’s SO ready! When we were at her house yesterday, she kept saying, “B-Papa house!”

We’re going to make it work, because we’re just as enthusiastic about her being here with us as she is.

I’m making time for the important things.
Creating a home.
Being at school.
Writing these words.

Making time to do what I love.
I’m cool with that.

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fridge thoughts

When we were at Thing 1’s on Sunday we discovered something new on her refrigerator.

That’s right, y’all. Magnetic poetry tiles. And we spent an unusually long amount of time creating (what we considered) perfect phrases.
(author’s note: “death fart!” began as “cruel death fart!” but I stole cruel to use elsewhere
also: I did not write the phrase “death fart”)


I’m not sure why this phrase has a question mark at the end. I think YBW wrote this one, I’ll ask him.
Though I must say, “obscure wonder culture” is an excellent phrase.

I began pairing words I thought sounded interesting together.

Thing 1 got in on this and we began to seek each other’s approval before we committed to the phrase. YBW came into the kitchen to join in the creativity.

I created “anxious fluff” and Thing 1 said, “Hashtag Thing 2”.
I shared this pic in our group chat and Thing 2 wrote: I now identify as “anxious fluff”.
We laughed and told her that’s what her sister said.
And while I freaking LOVE “vibrant deception” I think my absolute favorite is “luscious indifference”.

I need all possible magnet word collections to have in the new house.
Maybe if I am or have a “righteous spirit” Santa will put a fuck-ton of them in my stocking this Christmas…?

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the break we needed

YBW and I went to visit friends last week.
I’ve known this fam for nearly twenty five years, our kids grew up together, the mom and I taught together at the old preschool. They were here for our wedding in 2015, and YBW was enthusiastic about spending good time getting to know them. Y’all, he fit right into their family, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about that!

We needed a break.
We needed to get out of this house we no longer own before we move to our new house.
We needed to disconnect from everything here.
We needed to breathe new air.

Um…the air in Tucson is fucking hot! One hundred eight degrees is no joke!
Of course it is the desert.

But funky 4th Ave provided relief in one form or another.

We got to see all four of the (adult) kids, ranging in age from twenty-seven to about to be nineteen. Even my Goddaughter, the second eldest who lives just outside of Phoenix, was able to come down and ‘work’ from her mom and dad’s for a few days!
Joy is not a big enough word, y’all!

After a few days in Tucson, we (only the parent-y adults) drove six hours to spend a few days in their house in Carlsbad.
The perfect little Pacific coast beach town!

We’re back in Virginia where we belong.
Laundry, grocery shopping and tidying the house were on my list this week.
East coast time is our enemy…but we’re hoping to become friends again sooner than later.
After sleeping from only 10:15 to 11:30pm Wednesday night, I crashed about 8:15 Thursday night and woke at 9:40 this morning. Let us hope I broke the cycle.
As we head into the weekend, I’m disappointed we won’t be at the beach with our friends, but I’ve already hugged Meredith and Beau and their mommy this week, and this weekend we’re going to see Baby K for the first time since Sunday two weeks ago!

I came home feeling refreshed (apart from the wack-a-doo sleep schedule) and ready to organize and pack for our move the end of this month.
I knew I needed a break. I knew my husband would benefit from a break. Traveling is stressful, but visiting people we love is not.
We needed this break, this trip, this time with our family of friends.
I’m ready for what’s next.

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fictional faves

I haven’t done a favorites list in quite some time and I realized I missed it.
So, I thought: what the hell, let’s do one.
This favorites list focuses on all things fictional. Any- and everything made up.
Buckle up for my fictional faves.

fictional place
The Wood between the Worlds
(The Magician’s Nephew, Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis)

fictional fam
The Dashwoods
(Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen)

fictional couple
Gomez and Morticia Addams
(The Addams Family – Charles Addams)

fictional animal
Appa
(Flying Bison from Avatar: The Last Airbender – Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko)

fictional character – male
Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce
(M*A*S*H – portrayed by Alan Alda in the television series)

fictional character – female
Pippi Longstocking
(Pippi Longstocking, et al. – Astrid Lindgren)

fictional villain
this one is a no-win tie between:
Iago
(Othello -William Shakespeare)
and
Maleficent
(Sleeping Beauty – Disney 1959 animated film)

fictional world
Neverland
(Peter Pan – J. M. Barrie)

fictional name
Ramona Geraldine Quimby
(‘Ramona Series’ – Beverly Cleary)

fictional duo
Margo and Eliot
(The Magicians – Lev Grossman)

AND
Sherlock and John
(BBC Sherlock)

AND
Jay and Silent Bob
(Clerks, Dogma, et al. – Kevin Smith)

Yeah, I know. There are three fave duos…
But I honestly couldn’t choose!

What are some of your fictional favorites?

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IWotB 2021 edition ~ day seven

YBW and I left the house at 9:20 Saturday morning headed for Blandy Experimental Farm at the State Arboretum of Virginia.
We spent about three hours wandering the gardens and taking photos.


This is the Quarters where students in residence live.

We walked down the dogwood trail.

And when we turned the corner guess what I saw!

My love of lampposts is limitless and I experience child like joy whenever I see one.
I think it goes back to reading The Chronicles of Narnia as a little girl.


I loved the curve of this stone wall.

After the arboretum, we went to see Baby K.
That girl ran straight to her Papa and leapt into his arms and my Birdie heart grew three sizes!
We played outside, sat on the porch drinking chocolate milkshakes, and enjoyed the beautiful afternoon with our beautiful granddaughter.

International Week of the Birthday was pretty damn good, y’all!

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IWotB 2021 edition ~ day six

I left the house at eight am Friday morning and didn’t return to it until nearly eight pm.
It was exhausting.
However, I was able to have a really great day!

I went to Lidl to pick up a pod swing Thing 1 wanted for Baby K.
Across the street to Costco for gas. (pulled right up to the pump, thank goodness)
After that, I was at a loss. I had to meet YBW at the new house at 11:30 so I just needed to kill time until then.
Turns out, Nora was available to meet for breakfast, so that killed an hour.
I came back to my neighborhood to drop off something for Meredith and Beau’s mom. (down the street there were three cars in front of my house – all the randos)

At the new house, YBW and I met with the building manager. He was making his list and I was adding to it. He was sincerely apologetic about the cabinets, saying he had spoken with the cabinet guy but then dropped the ball on following up. Fortunately, he was meeting with the cabinet guy right after he saw us, so we’re all gonna cross our fingers.
Our meeting was productive, and I’m content I didn’t have to use my teacher voice with him.
Shame they have to do more work, but that bit isn’t my problem.
Apparently the windows are ‘still coming’ the question is when…

It was 12:20 when I hit the road out to Thing 1’s house. Baby K was asleep when I arrived, so I was able to help Thing 1 do a bit of work around the house.
They’re finally settling in, they have much more to do, but in the six weeks they’ve lived there, they’ve made decent progress.
Last week, she took a bunch of plants home from our house and they’re on the porch at her house looking somewhat healthy. Husband N was working from home Friday and cleared all the unkempt flower bed so they could assess what was there (peonies and lilacs and hostas), and begin to decide where to plant other things.
Y’all, their house is so damn precious and I love seeing them turn it into their home!

My tiny girl work from her nap as I was in the kitchen washing my hands. She saw me and stopped, it took a moment to register what was up.
I said, “Hi Chicken.”
She said, “BEE!” and ran to me wrapping her arms around my legs and squeezing me tight, then she planted a big kiss on the back of my thigh.
I quickly dried my hands and scooped her up.
All the Baby K love!
Thing 1 needed to go to Target, so we three girls had a little road trip. OK, their Target is small, but good. And has some seriously great employees! Super helpful and friendly.

I was meeting YBW at the Mexican joint for dinner, so I left my daughter’s family at six and was sitting down to a big ass bowl of queso about forty minutes later.

First day of showings saw fifteen appointments and three agents contacted ours saying their clients were planning to write offers.
We’ll see how that goes.

Day six of International Week of the Birthday was even more wonderful than I expected!
I got to see two of my friends, my husband at the new house (in the middle of the day no less), spent time with my daughter and granddaughter, did a Target run, and had melty cheese!
I’ll take it!

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IWotB 2021 edition ~ day five

My first full day of being fifty looked like YBW and I doing the last minute tidy and clean.

Well, I tidied and cleaned while he organized the garage and junk room in the basement before trimming, and mowing the lawn.

A pleasant break in the middle of the day involved me walking up the street to make sure Meredith and Beau remained safe while their mom went to the doctor. They’re in school two days a week, and learn online three days a week and yesterday was a home day. I was happy to fill in when their dad was called into work unexpectedly.

That evening we celebrated our hard work with a visit to our local Vietnamese joint. YBW was hankering pho ga, and I especially love this lemongrass chicken dish.
Only they’ve changed their menu and out came something not at all like the dish I love. It smelled similar, so I was content.
Until I took the first bite.
I don’t eat dark meat chicken. I understand it’s more flavorful, but for me it’s a texture thing. I literally cannot chew and swallow it.
So yeah…
Honestly, it wasnt that bad. The flavor was good enough, but after swallowing whole chunks of chicken thigh I was quite finished eating, thanks.

But, the house is ready for a shit-ton of randos to come through starting Friday morning.
Please send all the good juju that it sells quickly, I’m ready to to be in our house and feel relaxed and not always trying to check off the next to-do thing.

But, let’s get real, I’ve had worse.
(smirk and a chuckle)

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IWotB 2021 edition ~ day four

When YBW asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, I made a list.
I mean of course I made a list…

On that list was three things.
1. Meadowlark
2. kebabs
3. 2 Silos

Even though it was cloudy and cool, we spent about two and a half hours at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens.
Here are a few of my favorite shots.

This is lily of the valley, birthday flower of May babies

At the pond

This right here is some Dr Seuss looking tree

Peonies are starting to bloom (big ol’ SQUEE!)

We just came up this path – last shot of the day

Before we left Vienna we stopped in at my favorite bookshop, Bards Alley.
And I ordered kebabs from the Afgan joint we love the most to be picked up on our way home. The sun finally came out so we ate late lunch on the porch.
Then we had beers with Nora and Dale at our local brewery.

It was a VERY Roby sort of day!

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IWotB 2021 edition ~ day three

Today is the day!
I’ve been alive and in this world for fifty years. (well, not till 9:13 tonight, but, you know…)
I continue to waffle between something that feels like, “Wow! Fifty!” and “How is this even possible?”

I don’t know what fifty is ‘supposed’ to feel like.
Like, should I feel more ‘grown up’ than I do most days? Because there are some days I find it hard to believe I’m any sort of grown up at all. Then some days I feel one hundred and fifty, so there is that.

Our neighbors hosted an intimate gathering Saturday evening to celebrate YBW’s and my birthdays.
We shared a delicious dinner. Bubbly flowed. As did red wine. Beer made by our friend too. Later in the evening some of us sipped on some pretty rare bourbon.
It was chilly out but we sat by the fire pit and talked into the wee hours.
I can assure you I felt celebrated, y’all. I love these people and they are the sole reason I’m sad to leave this neighborhood.

One couple is already in their fifties, the other in their late thirties.
Our fifty-something friend asked me what I thought about being fifty. What had I learned? What was I anticipating? That sort of thing…

What do I think about being fifty?
First and foremost, it’s simply a number. When I say it’s a number, I mean two things: Woot! I’ve made it to fifty! and Fifty is neither old nor young, it simply is.
I’ve made fifty revolutions around the sun. I gratefully choose to celebrate this. I’ve been here ‘getting along just singing my song’ long enough to learn a thing or two about myself and my place in the world.

What do I think about being fifty?
I think I’m finally at home in my own skin.
I know I’m smarter and more capable than I was told or taught to believe.
I feel strong and confident in my skills as a human.
I am clearly aware of my worth.
I can see value in my strengths, and possibly even more importantly, in my vulnerabilities.
I am as much as, yet also more than, the sum of my parts.

What do I think about being fifty?
I’ve done the hard work of being a mother and now I get to rest on my laurels and joyfully watch my daughters navigate their own lives.
I’ve done the hard work to learn and heal from childhood wounds and now I get to apply that to my daily life.
I accept the choices I made that helped and hindered me becoming the human I am today and I am grateful for all I’ve learned.

What do I think about being fifty?
I’m at an age where I am comfortable with the number of people I choose to have in my life. Some of these people have been with me for more than thirty years, some just in the last ten. But each one is in my world because they bring something beautiful. Each one of them is a part of my heart in real and invaluable ways.
I’m content to let relationships rest. I don’t have to be in constant contact with someone to know the value and power of the relationship. Friendships that pick right up where they left off as though no time passed are sacred and precious. Love is love is love. And the strength and power of that love can survive time apart.

What do I think about being fifty?
I am looking forward to being in a new home with my precious husband! A home we built together, and for each other. The physical manifestation of how our daily life together has become just we two.
I’m eager to explore more opportunities to learn and grow as a human. As a writer. As a photographer. As a mother. As a grandmother. As a wife. As a teacher.

I look at my life on either side of this number and more than anything I feel gratitude. I feel love. I feel empowered.

I’m grateful that every decision I’ve made, good, bad, indifferent, has brought me to this point in my life. I’m grateful to have the ability to make new decisions as I move forward. I’m grateful to have just the right number, but even more importantly, just the right sort of people in my world as I continue my life journey. I’m grateful to honor from where I come as I move forward and continue becoming.

Love is the watchword. Everything I do comes from a place of love. I strive to receive everything in love. Without love I would be nothing. Love is truly the greatest gift.

Empowered. This is a word I’ve used a decent amount in my lifetime, but I’ve not always felt it. I feel it keenly now. I am empowered by the culmination of all my experience, by the enthusiasm with which I look at my future.
I know I can do what I need to do. I know I can do what I want to do.
I know I can.
I can and I will.

Fifty sounds cool.
Like, some sort of leveling up.
My sass and smarts. My joy and pain. My love and gratitude. All sort of becoming more solid somehow.
For what more could I ask on my birthday?

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IWotB 2021 edition ~ day two

My darling friend and mentor Jessica sent me the loveliest gift to celebrate my birthday.

The concept of these wishbeads is right up my alley. Something Jessica knows intuitively.
When I called to thank her for this precious and thoughtful gift, I asked her if she knew how much I loved tigers eye.

She assured me she did know, her choice reinforced based on their meaning and her wish for me.
Her wish is contained in the little brass cylinder. A wish that spoke to finding my fierceness.
A wish filled with love from a woman with whom I share a fierce love.

My life would be not only different without Jessica in it, it would be absolutely lacking.
The word gratitude is simply not enough to express the depth and breadth of my feelings surrounding this woman. But currently it’s the only one I have, therefore I will say I’m grateful for Jessica.
And thankful for the lovely gift she sent as I celebrate my International Week of the Birthday.

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