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DIY: Homemade Detergent

Sunday, December 21, 2014

If you're my Facebook friend, then you know a month or so ago I purchased a liquid detergent from Family Dollar with a scent that can only be described as "men's deodorant." I bought it in an effort to save money, but it truly was not worth it to smell like Speed Stick for Men every darn day. Ew.

On that post, a couple of friends commented that they made their own detergent at home. They said that one batch lasts a really long time, and it ends up being around something like .05 a load. Well Suzy Homemaker I am not, but I figured I could probably get a few supplies, dump them in a bucket and stir them around. So I bought what they suggested and also consulted this link.

I finally made time to make it today. The hardest part was grating the Fels-Naptha soap because, even though my mom had let me borrow her food processor and given me the grater addition, I didn't have the thing that hooks the grater to the machine ... anyways, suffice it to say I didn't have what I needed to use the food processor, so I decided to do it by hand. I didn't want to wait another day. I was a gal on a mission. So I grated that dang soap by hand, and it seriously took me about 45 minutes per bar, so ... maybe use your food processor. Haha.

This looks like delicious cheese. While grating, I made up a long story in my head about someone thinking it was cheese and using it and then finding out it was soap.  But since I live here alone, that is unlikely to happen. Good story Anna. Tell it again.

Then I threw the Fels-Naptha into my container, and added the Borax, the Super Washing Soda, the Baking Soda, and the Oxi Clean. Then I stirred it around with a spoon.


I had some laundry I need to do (some = a ton), so I decided to give it a go. I washed socks, undies, and pajamas and they look pretty clean! Haha. At any rate, they do not smell like Speed Stick, so that in itself is a huge improvement.


Joseph

Monday, December 15, 2014

Several months ago I introduced you to a very special girl, AnnaMarie, who was 17 and desperately needed to be adopted before December. I prayed and prayed for her, and I know a lot of you prayed with me, and she FOUND A FAMILY! Or, more accurately, her family found her. :)

Sadly, AnnaMarie is not the only orphan in the world who desperately needs to be adopted ASAP. So now I'd like to introduce you to Joseph.

Joseph is 13 years old, and he has to be adopted prior to his birthday in October 2015, or else he ages out and has no hope of ever finding a family. :( Here's info from someone who met him in 2013:

Joseph is an older boy I met this past July who lives in a foster care apartment within his orphanage with two older sisters and three younger siblings. He attends a middle school in the area. Joseph excels in his Art classes and his art is displayed around his foster home and the walls of his bedroom. His foster mom was very proud of his accomplishments and made sure we didn’t leave without seeing his artwork first! Joseph seemed a little shy but we were told he does hope to be adopted. I imagine he would smile a lot more after some braces. He may be a little self conscious of his teeth but his face lights up when he talks about his artwork and I was able to catch a small shy smile.

His face lights up when he talks about his artwork?! How cute is that?! And of course he hopes to be adopted. Look at his sweet face -- and how good his artwork is!


Guys, please pray and share. Joseph's mom and dad are out there, I think they just haven't seen him yet. We have only a few months to find him a family.

Some stats I've shared before, but they amaze me every time I read them:

- Every 2.2 seconds another orphan ages out with no family to belong to and no place to call home.  These studies also show that 60% of the girls become prostitutes and 70% of the boys become hardened criminals.

- In Russia and the Ukraine, studies have shown that 10% – 15% of these children commit suicide before they reach age eighteen.

- Another Russian study reported that of the 15,000 orphans aging out of state-run institutions every year, 10% committed suicide, 5,000 were unemployed, 6,000 were homeless and 3,000 were in prison within three years

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.
- Matthew 18:2-5

Boring People

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A couple months or so ago, someone I know posted this on Facebook. There is a lot of good stuff contained within (although I am not in my mid-20s), but the absolute best thing is the very last line. And it is this:

Boring people get shit done.

That really stuck out to me. Because you know what? Boring people DO get shit done.

I'm not ever doing anything exciting. Truly the most thrilling thing that's happened around here in ages is that Snicks is in the Little Victories calendar. Go Snicks. Or perhaps that, miraculously, everything in my apartment seems to be working at the same time.

Other than that, I teach school, I grade papers, I plan lessons, I go to graduate school, I go to church, I volunteer a few places, I sit on a few boards, and I sometimes see friends. I pay my bills on time, I shop at the grocery store, I vacuum and dust once a week.

I guess people consider it somewhat of an insult to be boring, but I don't really mind it. I don't cause a scene, I don't start drama with anyone, I'm not always in some sort of turmoil. If I owe you something on a deadline, I'll get it to you. If there's a meeting I'm supposed to attend, I'll be there, or I'll let you know in advance why I cannot. I use my day planner. I like peanut butter and jelly and whatever comes on NBC.

And you know what all that means?

That's right.

I get shit done.

Thursdays with Anna.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Adventures in Being Anna Today:

- In 8th grade we were reading a story where one of the main characters is described as having a three-octave range. The kids were saying how impressive that was, and I was like "It is, but I think Mariah Carey has, like, a seven-octave range." (Turns out it's actually five, but, still, impressive. I know nothing about music.) The response?

"Who is Mariah Carey?"

I kid you not.

Oh, and then, three people all at once:

"Oh! She's Nick Cannon's wife."

...................................... yeesh.

Then another kid, "I have never heard that name before in my life."

Oh boy.

- I have been packing my lunch for school in an effort to save money. I haven't been feeling great the past couple of days, so last night I went to bed early instead of making my lunch. I ordered lunch at school today and was delighted to see it was breakfast for lunch. (I love that.) French toast, eggs, cinnamon pears, and bacon. I take my plate to my desk, and take a bite of the bacon ... where a piece promptly gets lodged between my gum and my molar.

So I'm sitting there like WHAT DO I DO? because I have A PIECE OF BACON STUCK IN MY GUMS!

I try to pick it out, and I get a little bit. So I'm feeling around with my tongue and it feels different. I can't tell if my gum is just sore or what. Fast forward to FIVE HOURS LATER and I'm sitting in my graduate class, still feeling around with my tongue, and I DISLODGE ANOTHER PIECE OF BACON from my gums. Where I had been carrying it around. Since lunch. I still am not sure if there is any remaining bacon in my gums.

- I, sadly, have a mouse issue in my apartment every winter. A friend was kind enough to send me the world's best mouse trap ever, the Rat Zapper. (If you need one, GET ONE. You will not be sorry.) The selling point is that you can just dump the trap into the garbage can without ever seeing the mouse. Unfortunately when I got home today, the Rat Zapper was blinking. (Nooooooooooooo.) I drag the trash can over, pick up the zapper, and empty it into the trash. I look long enough to see a falling image drop into the trash can. Then I shut the lid and put the trash can back.

No I didn't.

I looked.

I looked in. It was like a car wreck. I couldn't look away.

And that was my day. (Along with some other stuff.)

How to Get Away With WHAT?!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

So I've been sort of watching, sort of not that new show "How to Get Away With Murder." I wanted to look something up about it the other day, so naturally I Googled "how to get away with murder."

People.

People of the world.

Apparently these are the types of things we are Googling as a people :



Lordy day.

(Also, I'm forced to wonder, if one was really planning to kill someone, wouldn't one NOT want to have that search on one's computer? Although I guess I did Google "how to get away with murder" ... oh dear.)

Dancer Dom.

Monday, December 1, 2014

I don't have kids of my own, so for years I've spent all my proud moments on my ballet students. And they have provided me more than a gazillion opportunities to be proud of them. This week will be no exception as "The Nutcracker" is this weekend, but there's one particular student about which I muuuuuuusssssttt brag tonight.

Me and Dom together a few years back.
Dominique wasn't at the dance studio when I was growing up, so when I returned as an adult after moving back to Huntington in 2009, I met her for the first time. My first class back en pointe after many years, Dom stood at the barre with me. She was 14 or 15 when I met her but was mature beyond her years. Dom, without really knowing me, cheered me on that first class. She just kept telling me I could do it ... and I was 25 years old!

From that class we formed a close friendship, and I often felt like she was my little sister. She went on to become an asset at the dance studio, teaching classes and always being the first person to volunteer to help clean or do whatever chore was needed. More than that, she was a personal cheerleader to me. Whether I was dancing or teaching or directing the studio, Dom made me feel like I was doing a good job and she was not afraid to let me know it. She graduated two springs ago and went away to the University of Cincinnati to study dance. I miss her every day. And here's where the good part comes in ...

Dom in one of her turns as Sugar Plum Fairy at our studio.
Dom is performing "The Nutcracker" with the Dayton Ballet.

THE DAYTON. BALLET.

How did I find out about this? you may ask. Did I read it on her Facebook status? Get 10 excited texts in a row? See it on her blog?

Nope. Her dad nonchalantly mentioned it to me this weekend.

I should probably state the obvious here that she is humble humble humble.

I had to pry more info out of her, but when I did I found out the Dayton Ballet went to CCM to audition the dance department kids and they took only Dom and two others.

Another one.

EEEEEEEPPPPP!!!

She is performing Flowers and Snow with them. FLOWERS AND SNOW.

THE DAYTON BALLET.

Be still my heart.

(I should also take a moment to mention that I had and have nothing whatsoever to do with Dom's talent. I made sure she had a place to dance and that the light bill was paid and the barres were cleaned, but other than that she did this on her own with teachers far better than I!)

The thing is -- I'm so proud of Dom. SOOOOOO proud. Her talent is amazing, and I can't wait to see her dance on the professional stage! But more than that, I'm proud because she is a kind person with a heart of gold, going out of her way to make other people feel good and help wherever needed.

Proud mama here.


Gorge.

Because you can't have too many photos.

Her performing "Russian" as a guest artist in our Nutcracker last year.

For Your Favorite Teacher

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

As Black Friday shopping is right 'round the corner (and no I will not be going out that day), I thought I'd make a little list of great gifts for the teachers in your life.

1. A watch where the emphasis is on minutes and not hours, preferably one that will sync directly with the clock at one's school. Because, yes, teachers know that the difference between 10:37 a.m. and 10:40 a.m. is the difference between night and day -- one is the end of third period and the other the beginning of fourth. You're late!

2. Hand sanitizer. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you're thinking of buying this:





think again.

I mean this:





Possibly three or four of them.

3. And, while you're in that section, bleach wipes. These?




No. These:



4. A gift card to TeachersPayTeachers.com. If you haven't heard of it (and why would you if you're not a teacher) it's this great website where teachers post materials/lessons/PowerPoints, etc. that they've created and other teachers can buy them. That website has saved my life as a first-year teacher. Why reinvent the wheel when you can spend $3.25 on a quality material you know works? Trust me, the teacher in your life will thank you.

5. If you're buying for a first year teacher, consider one of these:




Because, as we walk around the school, every other teacher has one of these or something like it. Sure we've only been teaching 15 weeks, but that extra boost of confidence would be nice. (Or else we might end up doing something like this.)

6. A card telling them you love them, they're doing good work, they're shaping young minds, and, most importantly, they are not irreversibly screwing a child up for life ensuring that kid won't get into college. (We do have bouts of doubt from time to time. :) )

Teacher friends, any other good ideas?

Happy shopping! :)

We Have To Stop.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

There is something that I've been thinking about that I think we all need to internalize, no matter our religion, our race, our nationality, our socio-economic status, our political party, or anything else about us. And it's this --

We have to stop shooting each other. That can't be okay.

We have to stop threatening each other with any kind of violence.

We have to stop abusing and forgetting about the elderly members of our families and our communities.

We have to stop killing babies before they have the chance to be born.

We have to stop taking drugs and selling them to members of our communities, especially kids.

We have to stop abusing animals and leaving them abandoned to die.

We have to stop abusing our children. Those innocent faces are solely dependent on love from adults to survive.

We have to stop forgetting that there are hungry members of our communities that need our help.

We have to stop neglecting the homeless. Look at their faces, because they are children of God, just like we are.

We have to stop putting ourselves first, and others later. It's YOU first, then me.

We have to stop ignoring that there are real problems in our communities and instead do everything we can to help.

We have to stop forgetting that everyone has a bad day, and even if someone speaks to us in anger it's our choice to respond in love.

We have to stop being afraid of people who are different from us.

We have to stop putting other people down to make a point or bring ourselves up. Single moms, stay-at-home moms, working moms -- aren't you all moms? Doctors who put down lawyers to make a point about student loans and the ability to bring money in during one's career -- is that necessary?

We have to stop making our children think they are little gods. Children have to have rules and boundaries, and it will serve them better to be brought up with loving instruction and discipline.

We have to stop doing everything on party lines -- Republicans hate poor people and don't care children are starving, just like Democrats want everyone to get a free handout. Is this helping?

Imagine if everyone woke up this morning determined to put others first, respond in love, and do something to help. Put down the guns, put down the fists, put down the hate.

Guys, we HAVE to STOP. We have to stop. WE HAVE TO STOP.

"This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another." - 1 John 3:11

"Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.



Life is a Banquet

Saturday, November 22, 2014

For my 25th birthday my mom got me a copy of the movie "Auntie Mame." Till that time, my experience with Rosalind Russell was limited to "His Girl Friday," one of my favorite movies of all time. Now, Roz is pretty much my favorite actress of all time.


From the moment I popped "Auntie Mame" into my DVD player, I was smitten. There is not one thing about that movie that I do not love. The best thing about that movie is ... Auntie Mame is pretty much the greatest person who ever lived. Ever. Nothing about Auntie Mame is not awesome.

If you haven't seen the movie it is hard to describe. If you have seen it, then you don't need me to tell you. Auntie Mame loves life. She LOVES. LIFE. Her most quotable quote is, "Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death." She redecorates her apartment every couple of months or so. She had parties thanks to bootleggers during prohibition. She travelled the world. She never got down about anything. Every day was a party.

Mame saw the best in everybody and in everything. Everything she did was fun, fun, fun. She was never more than three feet away from a martini.


You know who this sounds like? Not me. Ugh. I am the most worrier, stressed-out, lame-o of all time compared to Auntie Mame. But man, I wish I was her. I have informed all my siblings that when they have kids I wish to be referred to as Auntie Mame. So far, no dice, but I think that's only because I don't have any nieces or nephews yet. My sole goal in life is pretty much to be Mame Dennis. Because Mame Dennis is legendary. Mame Dennis is fun. Mame Dennis is quirky and zany and a party to be around.

And, God knows, that's not me right now. But I pray it will be. And I will try every day to be that much fun for everyone around me, and for myself.

So, my singular goal in life: to be Auntie Mame. Game on.


For Granted.

Monday, November 17, 2014

How often do we hear about something tragic -- a life lost too soon -- and think to ourselves -- she was too young, every moment is precious, tell those you love that you do? ... and then three days later we're back to our old ways of complaining because it's too cold/our coworkers are annoying/gas prices are high?

Guilty as charged. At least I am.

I am really bad about reminding myself that we can't take any moment for granted ... and then getting annoyed when my mom asks me a question. Or something goes wrong at school. Or my Internet won't work. (Seriously Anna?)

I found out yesterday that someone my friend Sarah knows was in a serious car accident with her boyfriend. He passed away at the scene, and the young woman, her name is Sara, was in critical condition at the hospital. Sadly, she passed away today around 3:15 p.m., right as we were getting out of school. I found out when I went to Sarah's classroom to return a borrowed laptop. Feeling absolutely helpless, Sarah and I prayed together at her desk. (Another post for another time, but praise God that I work at a place where situations like that are common.) We prayed that her family, friends, teachers, and classmates find peace, and that all who hear about this use it as a reminder that life is so precious and we don't know when our last moments will be.

I pray that I will be a person who loves everyone, even those who treat me badly. That I will let little things roll off my shoulders, realizing what is really important in life. As Ebenezer Scrooge says in my family's favorite version of A Christmas Carol, God forgive me for the time I've wasted.

The young woman who passed was a senior in high school. A precious, 17-year-old child of God. Her family is not wealthy by any means, and now they are not only facing the devastating loss of their daughter, but also the mountain of medical bills and funeral expenses that come with. Consider donating? I know there are so many people in need right now, but every $5 gift helps.

I pray that God will bless you and your family and friends as we enter this holy and beautiful holiday season.

The "Neighbor" in "Love Thy Neighbor" is Everyone

Sunday, November 16, 2014

We are entering that time of year where it's so easy to get caught up in THINGS. Things you are buying other people, things on your own Christmas list. Things. Nice things, who bought the best things, is my house decorated with the prettiest things.

We're all guilty of it. I like to get gifts too. Which is why I am so glad my holiday season unofficially kicked off this weekend with an awesome food drive!

I am on the board of this little organization called The Divine Intervention. Our mission is to provide spiritual guidance and comfort to those suffering from illness or addition, going through a tough time, or just in need of a listening ear. We provide these services free of charge. We also help other local organizations that exist to benefit the needy. And it is that last thing we were working on this weekend.

There is an organization in our county called Eastern Cabell County Humanities Organization (ECCHO). They serve the poorest of the poor in the eastern part of the county in which I live. They serve about 420 families a month. FOUR HUNDRED AND TWENTY in one small part of one county. They provide food, clothing, and other basic essentials at no cost. And they are staffed solely by volunteers. Needless to say, they are always in desperate need of food. So my Divine Intervention friends and I coordinated a food drive. Not only are we a small organization, but we are a new-ish one, so when we began planning this food drive we were afraid we might not get too many donations.

Boy were we wrong.



So, so wrong.


We stood outside from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, accepting donations. Our goal was to "Fill Father Jim's Truck!" Well, Father Jim's truck was too small.

Much, much too small.

We filled FIVE trucks. Five truckloads of food were donated this weekend. Donated by a bunch of regular people who did what they could -- sacrificially gave so that others wouldn't go hungry.


It was an amazing sight to see. I was bowled over by everyone's generosity. It was the PERFECT kickoff to my holiday season. An event that helped show a selfish person like myself the true meaning of how to love others as you love yourself. I read on Amy's blog once that she decided to host an orphan for Christmas when she realized that she didn't want herself sitting alone in an orphanage on Christmas ... and THAT is what the Golden Rule really means.

The shelves at ECCHO were practically bare, and this donation barely made a dent in the need that is out there. There is so, so, so much need. But a few more people will not go hungry tonight. And you can't put a price tag on that.









Goodness.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The other night my friend Cindy invited me and my other friend Sarah to a dinner celebrating our local City Mission. Cindy recently joined the board of this organization, and she invited us to sit at her table for the event. The City Mission is about two blocks away from where I live, so I sort of see them as my neighbors. They do great work, feeding, housing, and clothing many of our area's homeless who are trying to get back on their feet. It was a great event, and I was so glad to be invited.

In the middle of the event it really just hit me -- and this sounds so stupid and obvious I know, but sometimes I just need a reminder -- that our job on earth is to care for each other. That's really it. To care for and love our neighbor -- whether it's someone we like, whether or not they deserve it, whether or not they "did it to themselves." No matter what. Our job on this earth is to care for orphans and widows, drug addicts and prostitutes, the homeless and the mentally ill. Along with our own families and friends. Regardless of our faith, regardless of their faith. Regardless if they look scary or dirty. Regardless if we have money or not.

Love each other. It's honestly that simple.

And this is a really great time of year to remember this. If you can buy $100 worth of food to donate, then do it. If you can buy a single can of green beans and that's even a stretch for you, do it. Either way, that's so awesome. And I need to too.

As I was thinking about this today I saw this really great thing online. Click through and read if you have a chance. I won't lie -- I cried while I read it. I think I was just overwhelmed by all the goodness in the world. We often hear so many bad things. It is so nice to be reminded that there is so much goodness out there. And we can see it every day if we just look. And if we can't see it or don't see it, then we need to be the goodness. And maybe someone else will see us.

Election Day.

Monday, November 3, 2014

I've been letting my mail collect at the bottom of my stairs for the past few days. Partially because I'm a Lorelai, but mostly because I wanted to see just how many campaign mailers I'd get in about five days or so.

Since the election is tomorrow I decided to pick it up this evening when I got home. I got my answer. It's 14. 14 campaign mailers in about 5 days. From both parties. No one is blameless in this endless blame game we call election season.


This morning in 8th grade language arts we were doing vocabulary. Our first word was "apathetic." So I shared an example with the students: Some people are apathetic about voting. (Which drives me nuts, but that's neither here nor there.) But just hearing the word "voting" unleashed an outpouring of thoughts from my students.

These students -- these 13-year-olds, these 8th graders -- said the following things (and I quote):

- Miss Lafferre, none of these candidates ever say what they will do for you. They just say "don't vote for my opponent." 

- It's so annoying! "I'm Alison-Something-Grimes, and I approved this message because Mitch McConnell can't hold a gun right." 

- "I'm Mitch McConnell and COAL!" 

- I can't watch TV for two minutes without seeing one of these commercials. You know how many I saw in a row the other day? Six. SIX! 

- Why can't they just tell you what they'll help with?

- Miss Lafferre, do they think that if they say something bad about their opponent -- like Evan Jenkins hates kittens -- then someone will just be like, "Really? He hates kittens? Well I'm not voting for him then!" 

And these are just the ones I remember. I finally told them that I'd like to film them saying all this and then send it to the candidates. They were like, "Will you do that? Really? That'd be great!"

America -- THIS is what we've done to our children who cannot even vote yet. We have caused children who are not even old enough to register to vote to absolutely hate the democratic process and election season. They are already fed up with political elections and they are THIRTEEN. And BOTH parties are responsible.

Candidates, I ask you -- are you proud?

SHUT UP ELSA

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Well, folks, the inevitable finally happened, and it happened in a big way.

I totally, TOTALLY dropped the ball.

Ugh.

As I've mentioned before, I'm taking one in-person class and one online class this semester. Every other Tuesday since the beginning of the semester I've had two things due for my online class: a post on the class discussion board (and a response to two other students' posts) and some sort of combination research/reflection/opinion paper on a variety of topics that I upload to Blackboard.

It's in my day planner, highlighted, what's due every other Tuesday. Because this is the kind of person that I am.

So, about a week and a half ago, knowing I'd have my discussion post and reflection/research paper due Tuesday, Oct. 21 I logged onto Blackboard to get my work done. I found out my topic for the paper was to read certain chapters in the text and write some guidelines/ideas for a middle school advisory program. Although I don't love reading textbooks, it was good information and I enjoyed coming up with my ideas. Then I saw my discussion post question was to write about the building in which I attended middle school, how it was laid out, and what my schedule was like. An opinion question -- awesome! Done and done. I logged on over the weekend in hopes I could respond to a couple of the other students' posts and get it out of the way in plenty of time for Tuesday. No dice. So I logged back on on Monday. Still no posts to respond to. When I logged back in Tuesday during the day (everything is due at midnight) there were still no posts. I absolutely could not figure it out since there were usually at least one or two others who posted early like me, but I was super busy teaching and doing some other things last week so I let it go.

WELL FORGET YOU ELSA BECAUSE I SHOULD NOT HAVE LET IT GO! I should have seen it for the (bright, bright, bright, bright, bright) red flag it was.

Anna. ANNA. The discussion post is not due till Tuesday, NOVEMBER 4.

(Do you see where I'm going with this?)

Following that line of thinking one is forced to wonder THEN WHAT ELSE WAS DUE LAST WEEK?

So glad you asked. The answer is -- a second paper I did not do.

UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. For whatever reason our teacher had decided to do two papers last week and no discussion post. And I have no idea how I missed it. The dates were right there on the list.

Needless to say I spent an hour doing it tonight and then uploaded it to Blackboard. I also emailed my teacher telling her I was super embarrassed, explained my mistake, and let her know I completely understood that I would receive only partial -- or no -- credit. I think God was with me at least somewhat, however, as I realized after checking the syllabus that late work is accepted for partial credit, but work over a week late will not be accepted at all. And a week late would be midnight tonight. I really only logged on to check what was due next week, and I have no idea how I got around to realizing what I had done -- or failed to do as the case may be.

I am now one of those students that does not turn their work in. I want to die. I have never, ever not turned something in! A big part of me wants to call my mom and let her know that I have a missing assignment and my grade will be lower than expected. (Kathy, I hope you are reading this.)

I am seriously about to go put my own name on the clipboard.

It was 1991 in the Cafeteria ...

Monday, October 27, 2014

It occurred to me the other day that I work in an historic room.

See, when I attended school where I now teach, my classroom and the one next to it were all one big room. It was our cafeteria, where we ate our lunches every day. The school has grown a lot in all these years, so now the old cafeteria is two classrooms.

But in 1991, it was the cafeteria.

Also in 1991 my friend Ashley and I were in the first grade. And I have a very clear memory of sitting across from her at the lunch table one day when she told me she was "going to be a doctor and marry a doctor and have lots of money."

Well, here's Ashley now:



That's her photo on the faculty page of her program, In His Image. All these years later, spot on.

I believe first grade was about the time I wanted to  be working at McDonald's because I loved Happy Meals. I guess we can't all be Ashleys. :)

But really -- it made me smile the other day when I realized that I am teaching in the same room Ashley told me this years ago. In the same building where we began our friendship all those years ago.

Life is so funny, isn't it?

Who in the World Am I?

Monday, October 20, 2014

A few years ago my brother Thomas painted me a scene from Alice in Wonderland. It hangs in my upstairs hall right now.

I've always loved Alice. She was a regular girl who had a big (and super weird) adventure. Also, there is so much dialogue applicable to everyday life:

Curioser and curioser.

How can you read a book with no pictures?

We are all mad here.

I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.

Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle.

I'm never sure what I'm going to be, from one minute to another.

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense.

You see? Alice really couldn't make much more sense.

Besides the fact that I generally love Alice, there is one major reason I love the painting Thomas made for me. (Okay, okay, besides the OTHER reason that my brother painted it for me.)




Thomas painted the scene where Alice gets stuck in the White Rabbit's house because she's grown too large after eating the "eat me" cookie. He painted her arms pushing up, up, up against the ceiling. Alice, too big for the situation. Too big for her circumstances. Just, really, too big for her life.

I feel like this Alice a lot. Not that I am something special, but often I feel too big for my situation. For my circumstances. For my life. Like I'm pushing on the edges of something bigger, but unfortunately all I'm accomplishing is just pushing against the roof, which is pushing back. Like if I got any bigger I just might burst ... or find myself falling, falling, falling through the center of the earth into Wonderland.

I don't know if this is what Thomas intended when he painted this for me, but I think about it every time I see it, which is multiple times a day. I think about little Alice, pushing against the roof of the house, her head touching the ceiling, her legs having nowhere to go. Too big for where she is, but not sure how to get smaller -- or how to get out.

Cannibalism, Rap Names, and Queen

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Heard around school this week:

- In 6th grade we read an excerpt of the book "Drylongso" called "Storm-a-Dust." The main characters are a family that lives on a farm and depends on their crops to eat. A dust storm hits, and I was asking the kids why this dust storm is so bad. Of course, the answer is, if they don't have crops, they don't eat. One of my (very precocious) students, we'll call him Nathan, says, "Well they could also turn to cannibalism." This particular student is on the shorter side, so, jokingly, I said "Well you know Nathan, people usually eat the smallest people first!" And he was like "I'm not the smallest!" And the kids starting deciding who the smallest was, and a couple of them said "It's Maria!" (not her real name). And Maria, a normally very quiet child, shouts out, "You don't want me, I'm bony!" I honestly had to stop class to laugh. It was SO funny.

- One of my 8th graders informed me the other day his rap name is Willie G. Which might not sound that funny if you don't know the kid, but it cracked me up. Like who tells their Language Arts teacher about their rap name?

- Due to a funeral luncheon taking place in our kids' lunchroom (our Parish Hall) the other day, the 8th grade had to eat lunch in my room. They asked if I could turn on some music. Having previously been told that they could either listen to Christian or classical music in school, they said, "What about oldies?" "Oldies I can do," I said. "Do you all mean like Beatles oldies or like 90s oldies?" (Which are oldies to them.) They said, and I quote, "Queen! What about Queen? Can we listen to Queen?" If you know me, you know that Queen is my all-time favorite band. Ever. I was like "Are you guys serious? Because Queen is my favorite band EVER." So we listened to Under Pressure and then Another One Bites the Dust. And then, the ultimate Queen song, perhaps the best song ever recorded, Bohemian Rhapsody. The 8th grade girls treated me to a live concert of this song. Right through the bell for their 6th period class. So, for the first, and perhaps only, time in my teaching career I went upstairs and told a fellow teacher that her next class would be late "because they are wrapping up their live performance of Bohemian Rhapsody." I can't make this stuff up.

Middle school guys. It's as wacky as you remember!

For your viewing pleasure:


Baby Snicks vs. the Vacuum Cleaner

Thursday, October 16, 2014

There are only about five spots in the house that Snickers will ever be. So pretty much if you can't find him in four spots, he's in the fifth. No exceptions.


So when I saw him in the living room today, I thought it was safe to vacuum under the bed in my room three minutes later.

But since he's a ninja, turns out I practically attacked Snicks with the vacuum cleaner. I just started vacuuming and basically shoved him aside. He gave me the side eye and then left.

To go to where I can only assume is the spot where he hides his journal chronicling the indignities he has suffered. 



The Mountaineers, a Bunny, Jamberry, and a Llama

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Anybody catch the Mountaineers game yesterday? The one everyone (self included) was sure they were going to lose when they were down by two touchdowns in the 4th quarter? The one that was then won with seconds to spare when redshirt sophomore Josh Lambert kicked a 55-yard field goal -- with distance to spare -- right through the center of the uprights to win the game on the road?

FOR REAL.

Dude I honestly do not care what team you support, if you like college football, then that is legit. I'm still not over it.

*****************

You know how you know you're really a teacher? When you are super excited to teach your lessons this week. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not really ever thrilled to teach things like transitive and intransitive verbs or progressive tenses -- but I do try to make it fun. But we start a new quarter tomorrow, and I'm excited for some reading we have to do this week as well as some new writing projects we're starting. At the very least, I'm glad about the organization that I (think, pray, hope) I'm starting this quarter with. I worked all day today on everything, so here's hoping!

*****************

Some things that have been going on around my life lately:




World's cutest bunny figures out what the chew log Alex got him is for ... two years later.



Me and a llama at Junior League of Huntington's Touch a Truck event. I'll stay with bunnies.


Best Jamberry order of all time! Sugar&Spice, Pumpkin Spice, Icy Boysenberry Polka and Rose Gold Sparkle! I'm wearing Pumpkin Spice and I LOVE IT!


A double rainbow that I saw on my way to Morgantown a couple weeks ago!



 I have never seen so many rainbows in my life like I did that day! 



Last week's WVU vs. Kansas game. It was so fun, but so cold!



A photo of me and Allie that made it onto the jumbotron! You just have to put it on Twitter and tag it! 


Another shot of the world's cutest bunny. Looking off into space. Lord only knows.

Have a great week! 

Coworkers.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

There are a lot of scary things about starting a new job, but I can honestly say that one of the scariest is getting new coworkers. The people you work with really become your family because you see their faces for so many hours every day. They know what you go through and what a big chunk of your life is like.

I've been blessed with some pretty awesome coworkers in my life. I honestly think one reason God has had me at so many jobs was to bless me with awesome coworkers who became lifelong friends. It pretty much all started with my friend Sophie who was a coworker at the preschool I worked at in Prague. Sophie and I are so different in so many ways, but we were such good friends. I loved going to school every day to see her. We had some wonderful times, and she was a wonderful support system. After Sophie came Katie. We worked together for several months at my first job in D.C. Katie and I ran a (awesome!) blog together, and she is one of my dearest friends! Post-Katie was my best girl Colleen. Colleen and I met at my second job in D.C. and she is most definitely a life-long friend. In fact, I have boarded not one but TWO planes in order to visit Colleen over the past couple of years. Colleen is such a good friend. We text all the time, often in emoji-only speak. Colleen has been a solid friend through good times and not-so-good times. For that, I am always grateful. When I worked at the Huntington Museum of Art, I became really close with my coworker Cindy. She and I always worked on events together and ate lunch together, and she is probably the most positive person I ever met. Cindy was always happy, always brightening other people's days. When I moved to the magazine, I only had two coworkers. Luckily, Jenette, Crista, and I got along great. We supported each other and vented to each other, which was an absolute necessity. We had inside jokes and traditions we started. It was awesome! 

So when I started work at Our Lady of Fatima, I wasn't sure what to expect. Sure -- I knew a couple of the teachers because they had been my teachers, but they weren't in the middle school. I knew that another new female teacher had been hired, and I even "knew" her. I say "knew" because Sarah is quite a few years younger than me, but she danced at another local studio growing up and our dads used to work together and her mom was a teacher at the middle school I attended, but we hadn't seen each other in a gazillion years. Every day I went to Fatima to get my classroom together, hoping Sarah would be there. One day, I walked down the hallway and saw her door open in the light on. So I went in. "Hey Sarah!" -- effectively scaring the crap out of her and effectively starting our friendship. A friendship for which I am eternally grateful. On my way to Morgantown last weekend I had a lot of time to think, and I realized that Sarah being there has made this year a crazy fun adventure instead of a terrifying mess. We share all the same students. All. I see her before school, between every class, at lunch, and for hours after school. She knows my whole life because we spend our whole life at school. I have no idea what next year will bring for either of us, so I'm soaking up this year because it has been so great. God certainly had this one all planned out, and for that I am forever grateful.


Here's to you Sarah Hayes! :) 


The Other Side of the Desk

Thursday, October 2, 2014

One thing we don't have a lot of at our school is available substitute teachers. Meaning sometimes everyone just has to pitch in! Our 5th grade teacher's mother recently passed away and her funeral was today. Our middle school science teacher was also out, at camp with our 7th graders. We had a sub who was able to step in for 5th grade in the morning and someone else who was going to come for 5th grade in the afternoon. Unfortunately that sub was unable to make it, and our principal needed someone to sit with the 5th grade for the last hour of the day. Usually at this time I'm teaching 7th grade, but since they were not at school today, I volunteered to take on the 5th grade for the end of the day.

Those kids -- what a delight! So well behaved and polite. What was so weird is that the 5th grade teacher was also my 5th grade teacher. Needless to say, I left the teacher a note, telling her how nice her class is and how much I look forward to having them next year in 6th grade. But, of course, I also had to tell her to please not put me on the clipboard (our discipline system) for sitting at her desk -- and using her computer! It's in inside joke we've had for a while. Not that I ever got in trouble in school, but I got on the clipboard once in 5th grade for talking, and I told this teacher at the beginning of the school year that hearing her say the word "clipboard" still strikes fear in my heart!

This teacher teaches in the same room, at the same desk. It felt so weird to be on that side of the desk in that classroom. I absolutely love this teacher. As I sat in her room, at her desk, and looked around the room, I almost teared up thinking about how funny it is how things work out sometimes. How God must smile when we're 10 years old and in 5th grade, knowing where He'll have us 20 years later when we're 30. Amazing, isn't it?

Love you Mrs. Cole! (I mean ... Patty. I'm still working on it!)

A Sale at the Target

Monday, September 29, 2014

I've mentioned my sister Erin on this blog before a time or two. And it seems Erin's number has come up yet again by virtue of a couple of things she's done for me lately that have just been amazing.

My 30th birthday was in July. About 2 weeks after the fact I got a letter in the mail from my sister Emma. It was on really cute stationery and she wrote about her feelings about me and how even though we're far apart in age she really thinks we're friends and not just sisters. It made my day! Then I got a note from my BFF Story. As her writing always does, it changed my life! And it was on cute stationery! Then I got a letter from my friends Kim and Dave Irwin. I absolutely love them, and I was so touched they had taken the time to wish me a happy birthday! Their letter was also on cute stationery. Then I got a letter from my friend Jenny Moosa (Story's mom). So nice! And ... also on cute stationery. When I got a letter from my friend Ashley also on cute -- and identical -- stationery I started getting a little amazed.

Turns out there wasn't a rush on cute stationery at the Target.

"Wow!" I thought. "Target must have had a rush on the world's cutest stationery and everyone knew about it but me!"

Suffice it to say it took me a solid month to realize that everyone I know who live in a bunch of different states didn't all show up at Target on their day off and randomly purchase identical stationery.

Nope. Erin had bought all of it. And sent it to a bunch of my friends. And asked them to write me for my birthday.

Best. Gift. Ever.

Or so I thought, until I received part 2 of my gift.


Last weekend I was in Morgantown to see my grandparents, my sisters, and the Mountaineers. When we went to pick my sister up for the football game, she handed me a photo album. Contained inside is pages and pages of photos -- photos of my great-grandparents, my great aunts and uncles, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, my parents and my siblings. Decades and decades of Lafferre-Massullo-Putlovis-Thomas history. Every evening I flip through the pages and I tear up because of all the wonderful things contained on those pages. Pages of my history -- my people -- the people and places where I come from; people who made me who I am.

That's my great-grandmother (Anna) at the top right, and my grandmother Mamaw (Helen) at the bottom.

That's my grandparents' wedding photo there, and my Pap at the bottom.

This is my mom and three of her siblings. From the right, that's my Uncle Bob, Uncle Marc, my mom, and my Uncle Paul.

These are photos of me and my sister and my cousins. The top shows my sister Erin, me, my cousin Anthony, my cousin Jonathan, and my cousin David. The bottom is me, my cousin Rebecca, my cousin Anthony, and my sister Erin.

I love this photo. They are senior pictures my grandparents gave each other! 
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