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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

13 Thursday . . . Fall

1) Windows opened. Okay, I live in Texas and it's just not that often we really get to open our windows -- house or car. Most of the time we go from blazing Texas summers (um . . . fall is generally just late summer this far south) to freezing Texas winters. (All right, for those of you who live in the north, I know it's not really that cold here, but frankly, once it hits the low 30s and the wind is blowing about a million miles per hour, it's cold as far as I'm concerned and I can't keep my windows open.) So I happen to enjoy the brief respite of fall and open windows.

2) Crunchy leaves. Most people love the changing leaves, like to watch them finally let go and drift lazily to ground. Not me. I like 'em already down and dead. I love crunchy leaves and acorns beneath my feet. I always feel like I'm really getting somewhere when I walk through the racket.

3) House decorations. During the summer, it's simply too blooming hot to worry about putting up house decorations on the outside, so I wait for fall and then I can enjoy Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations. As my kids say when Christmas rolls around, "It looks like Santa threw up on the house." Okay, a little graphic, but you get the point. I like outside decorations.

4) Sweaters -- what's not to love about something warm and fuzzy?

5) Fuzzy blankets -- same principal as sweaters.

6) Cuddling. It cools down, I open the windows, leave the ceiling fans on high, and then snuggle with my hubby under a fuzzy blanket. Yep, those are great evenings.

7) Hot, spiced tea. It's comfort food (or liquid). Warm and soothing, tempting and relaxing. Yeah, I love tea on cool evenings.

8) Speaking of comfort food . . . that would definitely rank on my 13 Thursday list. Steaming bowls of chili, homemade beef stew, a huge pot of chicken and dumplins – those are foods to warm any heart or tummy with the onset of fall.

9) Halloween is another reason I love autumn. There is something youthful, magical, and downright fun about kids parading up and down the streets dressed in their greatest fantasy costume. Why do we give that power of true belief away when we grow up?

10) Baking. I love holiday treats, um and so do my hips. This year I’m going sugar-free. Should be interesting to see how my recipes convert from the calorie-laden, sugar-packed fare of year’s past. Hey, if it doesn’t work, I can go always go back to a bigger pants’ size, but how exciting to think I can have my cake and eat it too – without the guilt or the calories.

11) Cold, clear, fall nights where the stars are close enough to touch. At least that’s how it seems when the air turns nippy and night arrives early. And the smell of autumn. Perhaps, it’s just the nip in the air, but I truly love the scents of fall.

12) Football. I’ve got to admit I do find a good game interesting. Maybe it’s simply that my family loves football, and we all enjoy cheering on our teams, shouting over bad calls, and lazy Sunday afternoons spent together.

13) Naps. Yep, that’s my favorite all time reason for loving autumn. In the summer I always have too much to do, and spring is all about pruning and planting and embracing the budding of new life. But quiet chilly afternoons and frosty twilight evenings are about peace, serenity and the occasional, deliciously enjoyed nap. Remember in Kindergarten when napping seemed for babies and who wanted to be a baby anymore? Hey, pick me. I do. Naptime is best enjoyed by those who can truly appreciate the simple pleasure of a nap ‘time-out’. Personally, I think giving up Kindergarten was severely overrated.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thirteen things I learned since turning 40 . . .

Okay, I had an absolute blast writing this blog entry. I knew I'd enjoyed life more since turning 40 and now I know why.

1) Gravity wins – no matter what you do, what you nip, tuck, stretch, strap down or hoist up, gravity wins.

2) I’m not as nice as I used to be – I have loads less patience for stupidity. Okay, mine included. Why do I put my glasses down when I know I won’t find them again? Where is that magical place that I keep putting my ‘most important’ documents? Why do people bother explaining things or giving directions when they don’t know how something works or WHERE they are, much less where I need to be? If I ordered a coke, I probably don’t want a sprite. Okay, end of that rant.

3) I’m nicer than I used to be – I finally understand when friends are in a funk and I can be genuinely sympathetic without being cloyingly smothering.

4) I learned the word ‘NO’Wow! That knowledge took awhile to show up.

5) I despise small-minded folks – whether they are bigots, racists, exclusive spiritual-puritans, chauvinists, extreme feminists, republicans who hate democrats or democrats who hate republicans. I’m sure that’s not all, but the rest I’ve wiped from my mind for the moment.

6) I’m not as smart as I want to be, but not as dumb as my children think I am.

7) I love the quiet. Okay, maybe it’s not really quiet. I love the wind as it brushes through my Cypress trees and rustles the needles around. I love the mundane sound of my ceiling fan. The sound of children’s laughter in the distance. I love the rush of water, determined and unstoppable, as it surges to shore. So, maybe I just love peace.

8) A good glass of wine can counteract the evils of PMS, post PMS, pre PMS, possible PMS, and it should-be PMS. Midol is for husbands.

9) My eyes are lazy. At least, that’s the reason the doc gives for the glasses I need.

10) I’ve become something of a smart-aleck this late in life. Or maybe I’ve always been a smart-aleck; I just enjoy it more now.

11) Good friends are irreplaceable and the true wine of life. They can right wrongs, deflect sadness, increase happiness, and generally make you smile.

12) I don’t think technology is all it’s cracked up to be. What happened to the simple way of doing something? Is there really a need for 40 buttons on a remote? Any remote? Why do the lights in my car have six different settings? How about on and off? When I need more passwords to access my accounts than I lived in years, even dog years, technology has gone overboard.

13) I like to smile often; laugh hard; enjoy simple pleasures; avoid too much stress, sugar, and bad-tempered people; and I like saying ‘I love you.’ If someone I care about leaves tomorrow, I want them to have no doubt as too how much I loved them today.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

13 things I learned from teaching 4th grade:

1) Teachers, any of them, are not paid enough – NOT by a long shot!

2) A one-size educational system does not fit all children! Meaning – the government’s plan, ‘No child left behind’, doesn’t actually mean children aren’t left behind OR aren't passed on to grades before they are truly ready.

3) There are way too many chiefs (government bureaucracy regulations) and too few Indians (actual teachers) involved in today’s educational decisions.

4) After writing several weeks on the board, I can remember true cursive writing.

5) 4th grade English is harder than I remembered.

6) Nine and ten year olds (4th graders) have wonderful imaginations. Want to know all the possibilities that can be observed through a telescope? Ask a nine-year-old.

7) Apparently being married 26 years is something amazing to 4th graders, as one of my students expressed: “You mean you’re married to the same guy for all that time . . . and like, all at once?” Uh, yeah, that’s what I meant!

8) It is physically impossible for nine and ten year olds to NOT talk. Something like exploding heads results.

9) 4th graders like to smile and laugh. They prefer teachers who smile and laugh, too.

10) It is not possible to be TOO silly when explaining (teaching) anything. As a matter of fact, the funnier the teaching, the higher the success in learning retention.

11) Education riddle: When completing any assignment, what one thing will most 4th graders forget? To write their name on the paper.

12) The most annoying sound in the world is a pencil sharpener.

13) Teachers are heroes. If you haven’t told your kids’ teachers, or grandkids’ teachers, or simply the person who you know is a teacher that they are great . . . do it.

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