I Know It’s Thursday, But…

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Below you can see a post I reflagged from Writerish Ramblings.  I really like the encouragement to write something, anything.  Sometimes we all need that kind of reminder.  I saw the post yesterday during my daily blog scroll, and it prompted me to jot down some ideas for my summer bucket list.

I haven’t printed out the fun summer printables I wrote about yesterday, but when I do, my bucket list is going to start off like this:

  • Lexington Legends game
  • Coney Island
  • Newport Aquarium
  • Have dinner outdoors in a new restaurant
  • Visit downtown Augusta
  • Go swimming at least three times per week
  • Have a mocktail party
  • Make outdoor crafts with Bella
  • Make homemade popsicles
  • Cook a fruit pizza
  • Go fishing
  • Have a cookout at the park
  • Throw a July 4th BBQ
  • Watch fireworks
  • Go to the drive-in

I need more ideas! What would you add to this list to ensure a memorable summer?

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Write Anything Wednesday – May 20, 2015

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Write Anything Wednesday – May 20, 2015

Writerish Ramblings

It’s Wednesday, you know what to do. Write something. An outline, a paragraph, a list. If you have time, write a short story or a few scenes. Revision counts. A blog post, or even better, write a few posts to save for times when you’re so busy you don’t have time to write. Do ten minute sprints. You might be surprised at how much you get accomplished.

Change up your routine if you normally write every day. Go outside, or to a coffee shop. If you normally use a computer, grab a journal or notepad and see if inspiration hits, and vise versa.

TURN OFF YOUR WI-FI!! Don’t worry about emails or Facebook or Twitter or anything else. All that matters is writing.

The important thing is to write. Make it a weekly don’t-mess-with-my-writing-time thing. If not today, then pick a day that works for you.

If you would like…

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A Beautiful May Mommy & Me Day!

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It’s kind of cruel to have a random day off in the middle of the week this close to the end of the school year; it tricks the brain into thinking the real thing is here.  We were out of school yesterday for Election Day, even though we have two more weeks of school after this one.  (We are also out next Monday for Memorial Day.  I’m telling you, it’s just cruel.)

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To help me get prepared for summertime, I downloaded these free printables from Classy Clutter.  As with all good printables, I found them on Pinterest, but I have revisited this blog several times the last few days because it is just so cute and useful!

I can’t even begin to describe how ecstatic I am just thinking about this summer. Yes, I’m kind of bummed that we don’t get to go to the beach, but I have so much fun stuff planned for my little family.  Last summer, I tried really hard to balance fun activities with my school work, but those summer classes were intense.  I even had my textbooks in the car on the drive to the beach and back, not to mention typing a paper on the deck while we were on vacation.  So to be able to devote my full attention to pure summertime for two solid months…I’m practically salivating at the thought!

Arabella and I kicked off summer yesterday by spending a “Mommy and Me” day around town.  We started out at the library, one of our favorite places. After that, we parked downtown and took a little walk, ending up at Whitney’s Jewelry and Gifts, an awesome little boutique where we picked up embroidered burp cloths and Bella picked out a bib for “Bubby.”  She picked lunch at the Mexican restaurant where we ran into friends and took silly selfies.  And after lunch, we went to the park, then headed home for a short nap before swim lessons.

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I can’t wait to create more memories this summer by enjoying the little things in and around our community with my amazing little family!

Down the Rabbit Hole: Prom 2015

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It comes every four years, whether we want it to or not. Prom duty.

At our school, each teacher stays with his or her homeroom for all four years of high school.  So when your homeroom students are juniors, you are in charge of the prom for the year.  Last time I was a junior sponsor, prom was a total headache.  We had to do EVERYTHING: select themes, conduct voting for themes, meet with kids to plan decor, book reservations, make decorations, set up, conduct the dance and all the logistics and chaperoning, and tear it down…it took MONTHS of preparation in advance and HOURS of work the weekend of the event.

This year we wised up.

The art teacher was contracted and paid (not nearly enough money) to plan and execute our prom.  Our class was very fortunate to have raised enough money during the last three years to hire her, as well as buy materials and food to make the prom beautiful and memorable.

The theme was “Down the Rabbit Hole,” and there were students and circus performers dressed as Alice in Wonderland characters scattered throughout the event. They posed for photos and partook of a tea party.  The Queen of Hearts was even present to crown the prom princess and queens (we had a tie). Overall, the atmosphere was very magical and Carroll-esque.

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It was still really tiring being 34 weeks pregnant and spending 7+ hours that day working the prom in various capacities, from chaperoning setup to checking purses for prohibited items during walk-in and coordinating the court and crowning ceremony.  But it was worth it to see the kids having so much fun!

Bella was just as excited as any high school student because she got to be a crown bearer.  I have never heard of any other schools around doing this, but it is a MCHS tradition that young children and grandchildren of faculty members attend prom and carry the crowns during the ceremony.  It is difficult because the crowning ceremony takes place at 10 p.m., but Bella had been looking forward to it for weeks. She even had her nails painted the same color as her dress when we went and got manicures last week.  I’m not kidding.

We hung out in the “teacher’s lounge” area so she could see everything.

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Not only was she excited about being a crown bearer, but she loves interacting with my students.  I think it is mostly because she gets so much attention…they usually gush over her because they feel like they know her from hearing stories and seeing pictures.  We were included in some of their selfies, and it tickled her to see them on my phone once the kiddos posted them to social media.  She felt so big!

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(I cropped the kids out to protect their privacy.)

A few teachers took “good” photos of us during the crowning ceremony, but their cameras were so nice that they revealed how pregnant and sweaty I really was, so I’m keeping those to myself (and untagging myself from them on Facebook).

Overall, Prom 2015 was awesome, despite a few snafus with the venue.  It was the first in a series of weekends of summer memories that I can’t wait to share with my family and friends before baby Axton arrives!

Feed the Writer

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I am glad that I have a network of fellow teacher-writers who remind me of the importance of feeding the writer.  Writing teachers who feed their own need and passion for writing help build stronger, more impassioned writers in their students.  Thankfully, the Morehead Writing Project, a division of the National Writing Project, helps me remember this.  These teachers inspire me to write more for myself, which in turn leads me to write more with my students and encourages me to build them up as writers as well.

Read more about NWP at http://www.nwp.org

So since I’ve been thinking about my NWP peeps, I decided to share a piece that I wrote during the Morehead Writing Project Summer Institute in 2011.  It focuses on a memory from my childhood and originates from the writing prompt below.  I hope you enjoy.

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The trees were mighty above me, outstretched arms aiming for the sky, caressing the clouds with pointed fingertips. We waded through the tide of brittle leaves without picking up our feet, shuffling and kicking as they resisted against our shins like ice-crusted snow. Prickly brown leaves poked at my ankles, forcing their way into the space between the hem of my jeans and the tops of my shoes.

The woods around me murmured, whispering that I was home.

As the literal distance between our parents and us grew, so did our anticipation. We flew up and down the steep hills—sometimes running, other times slipping and sliding—my cousins and I, bobbing between thick tree trunks without stopping until we reached the ledge that was our playground. The change underfoot signaled our arrival, no longer the malleable earth but the definite substance of rock beneath us. We dared not approach from the bottom, fearing whatever creatures might be nesting in the dark recesses of the fang of stone protruding from the mountain’s flesh. Instead, we came bumbling down toward the precipice at top speed. Our palms skinned against tree trunks as we grasped for a stronghold to keep us back from the cliff’s edge, human pinballs bouncing bumper to bumper. At the last possible breathless second, we slowed our stumbling feet.

That rock outcropping was our swing set, our slide, our merry-go-round in an ancient woodland of virgin timber.

If only more children could know its wonders.

But we protected, cherished, coveted our hiding place, our home away from home. Our silent secret was as safe as the security it offered. Others had been there, worked there, even mined there before us, but the majesties belonged to just us three.

Now, years later, the mine of my youthful whimsy has been excavated and depleted. I creep toward the edge of the ledge, take a deep breath, and dare to peek down at the mossy mound of earth beneath me. What I once named as fear, I now call comfort.

Anniversary Plans

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Our seventh wedding anniversary is approaching, on June 6.  We always try to do something really cool and semi-local for our anniversary, depending on our work and financial situations during the given year.  For our first anniversary, we went to Cumberland Falls in southern Kentucky to see the moonbow. It’s one of the few places in the world where there’s a “rainbow” at night from the light of the moon, and it’s only visible a few times a year.  We’ve also done the Urban Bourbon Trail in Louisville and stayed at the Seelbach Hilton Hotel there, where Fitzgerald is said to have gotten the inspiration for The Great Gatsby.  

This year, I thought I knew what we were going to do, but now we have two ideas.  And as far as ideas for summertime outings go, they’re pretty much opposites.

This music festival takes place at a pretty cool park in downtown Cincinnati, which would take us a little over an hour to drive to…not to mention finding parking and braving the crowd at 37 weeks pregnant.  And of course, being at an outdoor music festival in the summertime will bring with it certain…ahem, tempting beverages, of which I can’t currently partake.  I’m honestly not sure how much fun it will be to be that hot, sweaty, cramped, and sober while rocking out to some Kacey Musgraves.  Plus, tickets are $79 per person, and we would be out super late and away from Bella overnight.

Augusta is just the next town over from us, about 15 minutes away.  I haven’t spent much time there, but we had a Mother’s Day dinner there last Friday night with my best friends and it is such a cool, quirky little place!  We ate at a cafe that had a hopping pub across the street, and after dinner we walked next door to a pizza parlor that had a walk-up window for soft-serve ice cream.  The row houses are beautiful, and there’s such an artsy vibe.  It’s smaller than our downtown, but more revitalized and consistently….just nice.  This festival is something that is on my radar every year, but it always conflicts with our schedules.  I think it would be a very relaxing day to just stroll through the artwork and vendors, enjoying live music and festival food.

I have to go to graduation on the morning of our anniversary, and Adam will take Bella to his parents during the ceremony, before meeting me and my friends at a diner downtown which has become kind of a tradition in the last few years.  Then, we will be free to celebrate however we choose.  But what will we choose??

Knowing how I operate, I’ll find fifteen other options between now and then! But that’s one of the best things about summertime around here. There’s so much to do within an hour drive or so.  I absolutely love summer in Kentucky! If only we had a beach, my anniversary plans would be complete!

My Name is Maggie & I’m Addicted to Amazon

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My mom says Amazon is taking over the world.  Like it’s a bad thing.  It’s the same spiel I heard about WalMart and McDonald’s as a child.  Now, I credit my mama with instilling in me lots of moral and philosophical viewpoints which I still uphold today.  Avoiding big business solely on principle is simply not one of them.

Of course, that’s not to say I don’t make a concerted effort to shop locally and support independent businesses either.  I just…I just can’t stop adding to my Amazon cart. I haven’t given in and gotten a Dash Button (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t even look it up…you’ll want one), and I don’t order my groceries from the Pantry (yet).  I even created a Wish List to help curb my impulsive buying tendencies.  But man, you really just can’t beat free two-day shipping with Amazon Prime.  I’m honestly considering becoming one of those moms who orders diapers from Amazon.  Seriously.

Anyway, I’m pretty obsessed with my most recent purchases, and I’m not even going to tell you how many times I’ve tracked their shipping progress.  These items are especially important to me because they are for the “Big Sister Kit” that we are giving to Arabella when Axton arrives on June 23.  I’ve read lots of blog posts and discussion forums about the importance of making the big sibling feel special–which I know seems like common sense, but it’s nice to read suggestions and ideas from moms who have been there and done that.  She is already so excited about her baby brother, I wanted to get her some special keepsakes and practical quiet playtime toys to keep her feeling involved and entertained.

Here’s the rundown:

61p6OIcuM-L._SL1000_This will be her hospital bag, though she won’t be staying there with us.  I plan for her to be there with grandparents when Axton is born.  Since it’s a scheduled c-section, we can plan more than we could have otherwise.  When she leaves, this bag will stay in our room with her toys and snacks for when she comes back.  We will send another overnight bag with her to the grandparents’ house.

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I have a Pinterest board just for busy bag ideas.  I made several last summer for vacation, and she loved playing with them in restaurants and while relaxing on rainy beach days. I hope I still have time to make some new ones to have around the house for when she’s antsy this summer, but for the hospital I copped out and bought this Creativity Can to put in her bag.  It’s full of random odds and ends of craft and building materials.

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She hasn’t ever played with felt! I never thought about it before.  I think the novelty of it will really keep her entertained.  I remember playing with a felt board with my cousins when I was little.  We designed scenes and told stories for our characters.  I’m excited to play this with her, and I thought it would be a good activity that I can still participate in from bed or on the couch during recovery at home.

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Remember when disposable cameras were a thing? Amazon does!  I can’t believe how expensive these suckers are these days.  I’m pretty sure we got them at the dollar store for trips and projects when I was in school.  Now, the regular Kodak and Fujifilm varieties are pushing twenty dollars!  (I think they are multi packs, but still.)  The novelty Big Sister version was comparable in price, so I went for it.  She has a digital camera, but we never do anything we those pictures (we should, but this summer probably won’t be the time to get started).  How cool will it be to have a photo album of pictures of the new baby from her perspective?

61u+yZmwpwL._SL1201_This gift will not be in the Big Sister Kit. Instead, it’s going to be a special present “from” the baby.  I have a stuffed animal for her to bring to baby brother, and I’ve read about other parents doing something similar with a gift exchange.  At first I thought it seemed kind of silly, but she’s already endured months and months of us buying and preparing things that aren’t for her, so I really believe it’s a good gesture.  I wanted her to have a keepsake anyway, so what’s the harm in telling her it’s from her new baby brother? It will be so special.

I had a Big Sister shirt made for her when we told her we were expecting, but since that was at Thanksgiving, it’s a little out of season for June.  She is so girly…she is going to LOVE the sparkles and bows on this tank top! I think this is probably what she will wear to the hospital when he is born.  I also ordered her two Big Sister t-shirts to wear when she comes to visit in the days after.

So okay, fine, I’m an Amazon addict.  Even my students know it (and call me out on it).  And maybe I ordered myself an adorable pair of Kate Spade sunglasses while I was at it.  BRB…time to go track my packages…

A Taste of Summer on a Tuesday Night

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I feel like last night was a preview of all the magnificence this summer will hold.  And by magnificence I mean spending quality time with my family and just relaxing around the house.  As much as I would love to go to the beach this summer, it just isn’t feasible with the baby on the way.  If the Tuesday evening we enjoyed last night is any indication of what the rest of the summer will be like, I don’t think we’ll miss the sand or the waves one single bit.

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Arabella had her first official swimming lesson last night. I was feeling like a total slacker mom since she’s five and doesn’t know how to swim, but she’s never been interested enough to focus during a lesson.  I mean, she LOVES to play in the water, but she’s always been content to float in a a raft or a ring or play in shallow water like at the kiddie pool.  We tried swimming lessons last summer, but it didn’t really work out.  So when she mentioned swimming lessons in the bathtub last week, I called the YMCA within 12 hours, before she could change her mind.

She didn’t want to get out of the pool after her 45 minutes were up, so out came the sprinkler when we got home. She was shrieking and giggling so much the neighbors across the street were watching.  It was true bliss.

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While she was occupied, I got the new flowers planted.  I have something of a black thumb, so I’m praying these stay alive. I planted a mixture of hostas, azaleas, asparagus fern, and bellflowers, trying to mimic a mixed look they had at Lowe’s (theirs were $60…I needed two…it wasn’t happening).

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with the wreath I made on Sunday 😉

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Let’s all just pray I remember to water them…

When everything was finished, I stretched out on the sofa on the porch and read more of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August while Bella played.  I took a picture of my view, just to remember how much better what I was seeing in that moment truly felt in comparison to staring at my computer screen every night.

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I enjoyed this little taste of summer…the water, the flowers, the lazy time reading in the sun. Not too bad for a Tuesday night.

Exquisite Corpse

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We played “Exquisite Corpse” today in Creative Writing.  If you’re unfamiliar with the idea, you should totally Google it…its origins are pretty fascinating.

We tried one method which required the original writer to contribute a line using the structure “adjective noun verb adjective noun,” adding in articles and prepositions and the like as needed to make sense.  Then, that line of paper got folded backward out of sight before the page was handed off to another contributor, who added a line using the same structure. We loosened the structure as we progressed so the end result wouldn’t be so mechanical. We passed them around 7-8 times, but mine only ended up with four lines, and the last contribution was mine again.

It actually worked out pretty well on its own.

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From the Exquisite Corpse, I wrote:

a long day becomes graceful
rest
you will see

the old man gasped
at the black sky

the tall man looked
like death walking
down the road

a heavy secret quietly
rises
you will see

Back to Being Me

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Back to Being Me

It was almost instantaneous.

On Saturday, I worked all day and half the night to finish my research paper on “Araby,” and when I realized that my Theories of Teaching Writing professor had posted our final exam, I used that momentum to just go ahead and get it done.  I hit submit on my final assignment some time after midnight and slept the glorious sleep of those who’ve accomplished something in the previous 24 hours.

Sunday morning, I woke up early, had coffee, made a grocery list, made a wreath, bought flowers for the front porch, had lunch and a nap with my family, did all the laundry, cleaned out the fridge and the cupboards, went to Kroger, and started a new book just for fun.

I’m back.

I didn’t realize just how draining these last ten months had been.  Even when I wasn’t reading or writing or researching, I was dwelling on all the reading and writing and researching that needed to be done.  But enough about that.  Let’s talk about all that fun stuff I did yesterday.

I actually am some kind of weirdo…I like making the grocery list and doing the shopping.  I like to Pin new recipes and make a meal plan for the week ahead. I’m even planning to try my first adventure in freezer meals in preparation for baby Axton’s arrival next month.  I’ve really missed cooking for and with my family, so I’m excited to get out of the drive thru and into the kitchen.  Here’s one of the Pinterest recipes I can’t wait to try this week (Click the image to see the recipe).  Did I mention it’s going to be 80 degrees here all week? Fire up the grill!

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Next up on the list of things I’m excited to do now that I’m human again: home improvement projects.  Nothing major, just little things to spruce the place up. Oh, and setting up the nursery.  I’ve been ignoring my nesting instincts by keeping a running list of things to do starting this week, and it has worked, though I hate to look back and feel like I’ve put my life on pause. But that’s a rant for another day.  So, to keep from being overwhelmed, I’ve decided to start with a small task or area and tackle the whole house (inside and out…I’m trying not to be scared…) that way.  First was the refrigerator and cupboards.  Two bags of old crap thrown out: Check.  Now, the front porch.  I made this wreath, only my second so it isn’t perfect, and bought a mixture of plants to put on either side of the front door.

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After I hung it up inside to adjust it, I think I kinda want to make one to leave on that door!

I will update with pics of the front porch in all its glory when its finished, hopefully this evening.  Adam is going to complete the front landscaping within the next few weeks, so the whole exterior will have a facelift!

Once I was settled down for the day, I started a new book, and I’m seriously excited about it.  The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North.

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I’m only a couple of chapters in, but basically Harry August lives the same life over and over, always returning to the same moment of birth in the same life after he dies.  He is able to change things, but the general details are the same.  The most intriguing part is the detail revealed in the very first chapter, which was the reason I decided to download this book in the first place:

(from the book description) As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. “I nearly missed you, Doctor August,” she says. “I need to send a message.”
This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.
I brought my Kindle to school with me today so I can use it during reading time with my students.  I am relishing in the thought of kicking back and spending some time just reading for fun.
My nearly instantaneous return to myself has been pretty fantastic so far.  I can’t wait to see what the coming weeks hold as I get back to being me.