Wednesday, October 28, 2009

GETTING THE STEPS IN

Kentucky Employees Health Plan is sponsoring a fitness initiative through Virgin Health Miles. For a discounted rate, we can purchase a pedometer that will download our steps into an account each day. If you meet certain step goals each month, you could win cash prizes, and let's face it. Who doesn't like winning cash prizes?

So, I decided to jump on the bandwagon.

One of my kids spied the pedometer yesterday, and, in the middle of class, asked, "Is that your MP3 player, Miss Murray?" And I mean, who wouldn't multi-task like that, right? Considering I can't walk and chew gums most days, not me!

I told the class what it was and explained that Miss Murray was trying to be healthier and be more fit. That explanation, of course, snow-balled into the "well, what's your goal, Miss Murray" conversation. So, I thought, "why not!" I told them that I was trying to walk 10,000 steps each day, and I invited anyone who wanted to help me earn more steps, to join me at recess for a couple of laps around the playground.

Surprisingly, I had a few kids join me, and as we walked by a few 5th graders, they asked what we were doing.

One of my girls, who happens to be the daughter of a colleague and friend, shot back, "Oh we're helping Miss Murray earn points for her thermometer!"

I guess I'm doing that as well!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

LIVING IN SOME NEW, SCHNAZZY DIGS

Yesterday, one of my students wrote in his poem that once he gets a million dollars, he's going to build his momma a mansion, and then he's "going to build Miss Murray one too."

God bless that child! How could he have possibly known I wouldn't be able to afford to build one myself!?

GETTING TOO OLD FOR THIS

My sister Ann and her friends, Heather and Deb, came over to my swinging bachelorette pad last night for dinner (which was an awesome penne pasta dish, salad, and mixed berry crisp, by the way) and cards.

It was a school night for me ... I don't typically plan such forays into fun on school nights. But I figured why not!?

I'll tell you why not! Because come five o'clock the next morning, one's eyes feel like sand paper, and it becomes very, very difficult to pull one's over-weight, under-slept body out of bed.

And it pains me to even admit that I'm getting too old to go to bed at 11:15 p.m., because I swear to you, I was 25 years old when I woke up yesterday morning!

Insert heavy sigh here ...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A QUOTE THAT WARMS MY HEART

I'm borrowing a line from Carrie today, but I just love talking with her .... as she said, it does my heart good to chat with her because we are so much alike, and she totally gets me, which most folks don't!

She called me today on her way home from Ohio, and we spent a good deal of time chatting again about life, our struggles, our dreams, our lives, and of course, we ended up talking about work. She understands why I've killed myself at work, because she falls into the same trap I do. Today, I was describing to her a person I've worked with, and I said, "She's like the Wonderbra of teachers!"

That, in and of itself, is a quote to be wrestled with. However, the true gem of the conversation came toward the end, when Carrie so timely said:

"Listen, dude. We don't have to be the Wonderbra of teachers. So long as we keep the girls up. If their eyes are facing forward, we're good to go!"

I don't know about the rest of the world, but (and I quote some of my favorite people down here in the south), that there is some dag gone good logic!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

13 DOWN, 37 MORE TO GO!!

To Kill a Mockingbird
By Harper Lee

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view ... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it." Atticus to his daughter Scout

What a beautifully written, timeless novel! I was mesmerized from beginning to end ... the simplicity in its complexity. It was a novel that touched me deeply.

I've read some commentaries that state it was sad that Harper Lee never wrote any other novels. How could she? She said it all ... wrote it all ... in this one book. This was her bright and shining moment ... absolutely brilliant.

Growing up, I'd heard the plot was about a black man accused of raping a white girl. Because that it what everyone talked about, I assumed that was the central plot. However, that couldn't be further from the truth. The true central plot was about two children growing up in world of inequalities and inequities, and their father's struggle to raise them to be tolerant, fair, and just. It was a touching portrayal of family, love, life, and loss.

"I wanted you so see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do ... she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew."

Atticus tells this to his son Jem after a neighbor of theirs dies from a long, hard-fought battle with drug addiction. They are powerful words that I think speak volumes to the kind of man Atticus was, and the type of life he tried to live for his children. He was the bravest character I ever knew.

This is a book about racism, acceptance, unconditional love, doing the right thing -- the not the popular thing, standing up for one's rights, standing up when it is right, standing up when no one else will ... it's about courage, bravery, benevolence ...social castes and social mores ... it's about innocence and the wilting of that innocence and it's about coming of age.

This is a MUST READ book, if ever there was one!


Some more of my favorite quotes from the book:
"Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

"The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."

"an Atticus, when they finally saw him, why he hadn't done any of those things ... Atticus, he was real nice ... " His hands were under my chin, pulling up the cover, tucking it around me. "Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them."

Friday, October 23, 2009

GOOD FRIENDS AND NOT LETTING THE JOY GET ROBBED

*Certain names may have been changed for privacy.

You know when you struggle ...struggle in the mire of your inner self and what the world is telling you and the way you're feeling about yourself ... and it's this mass of ugliness and sadness and anger and rage and confusion all rolled into one toxic cocktail that just really brings you down?

Yeah ... that was me last night.

Introspection is both healthy and lethal, and I was having one of those crazy combos last night ... full of second-guessing and worry about worth in the eyes of others and questioning the minutiae of my days, and then Carrie called.

And for three hours, she and I really talked about life and the demands our days and the demands we put on our days and our crazy self-talk and our need to be better, always better ... and then she said something to me.

"You know, co-teaching with Samantha* has really changed my perspective on things."

"Really? How so?"

"Well, I knew that she'd had a hysterectomy, but what I didn't realize is that she had it because she had cancer. So, she's a survivor. She survived cancer. And you know what she said to me one? She said, 'You know what? Life's too short. My family and my friends are my priority. Yes, this job is important, but it's not my life. It really isn't my life'."

Wow. How soon I forget that fact.

Carrie said that she's really trying to focus on the positive and laugh at the things that used to get her completely unwound, and you know what. I need to do that, too.

I can make excuses for everything I do in my life. I really can. I'm the queen of excuse-making, but the bottom line is that at some point, I have to embrace this life and really, truly enjoy it! I've only got this one, and I'm not entirely sure how long it will last. So, rather than make myself crazy over the silly stuff ... the crazy people I come into contact with daily ... or the hurt feelings perceived or otherwise ... I need to be in the moment, embracing the positive.

What a different quality of life I could lead if I approached everything with a laid-back, Pollyanna attitude.

So, I'm working toward a new goal, and that is not letting my joy be robbed by the craziness that is my world. Embrace every last ounce of this life ...

I think of the new movie coming out on Amelia Earhart. Why do we gravitate to people like that? Because folks like her embraced a dream and chased after it.

I've got bigger dreams, and I can't reach them if I'm wallowing in the negative stuff.

Enough already!

At some point, the cycle has to be broken, and why not start with me!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

BACK ROADS

Woodford County road ...


A little blurry, but yes, this is a road in Franklin County!

HIDDEN TREASURES



This is one of the things that I love so much about Kentucky. You can drive along and suddenly find a hidden treasure like these ... just nestled in amongst the foliage. Amazing!

IF THESE WALLS COULD SPEAK ... OH THE STORIES THEY MIGHT BE ABLE TO TELL

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

CINCINNATI CITYSCAPE

I went to see a good college friend, Dr. Amy Gutman, and her husband, son, and furry crew in Cincinnati. They showed me a great time -- I was completely spoiled.

Some highlights for your viewing pleasure ...

DINNER GUESTS

I had Erin, Joe, and Ben over for dinner tonight, as they are getting ready to move and have no food in their house.

Ben fell in LOVE with Emmy! The two of them played almost non-stop -- well, when Ben wasn't playing in her food bowl or water bowl or playing on the steps.

Here are some photos I snapped of Ben playing with Emmy (who you can't see) in her Kitty Cubes. They were having a blast!


In this particular photo, you can't see either Ben or the cat -- they are both in the tube. Thus the reason it's so blurry!

Here's a very unflattering photo of myself having a very nice chat with Ben, courtesy of Ben's mommy.

12 DOWN, 38 MORE TO GO

Photo from: http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780142000366,00.html

The Florabama Ladies Auxiliary and Sewing Circle

by Lois Battle

At the heart of this book is this question: what happens to you when your entire world has been turned upside down and you're some how supposed to pick up and move on? What do you do?

That's exactly what happens to Bonnie Duke Cullman in this book. When her husband leaves her, and in the process, announces that he's going bankrupt, her neat, little society wife life is rocked to its very core. What is a woman without any out of the home working history going to manage on her own?

At the same time, a lingerie factory in Florabama, Alabama, shuts its operations down and moves to Mexico, leaving its workforce without their "next step."

This story is really about the parallel lives of Bonnie Cullman and a core group of women she's been commissioned to help and how they all pull themselves up by their collective boot straps to make their lives more than what they were before it all came collapsing down around their feet.

It's an easy read that is enjoyable, if not slightly humorous at times. Good for the beach ...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM, JOIN 'EM!

THE DISASTER THAT IS MY GUEST BEDROOM CLOSET

When I moved into my townhouse three and a half years ago, I had 8 boxes that I just shoved into the guest bedroom closet because, quite frankly, I didn't want to deal with them. They were heavy ... they were meant to be at school ... I just didn't have time to deal with them ...

Oh the laundry list of excuses was endless, and for three and a half years, I successfully ignored the desire to clean out that closet ... until Thursday. For some unknown reason, on Thursday, I got a bee in my bonnet about cleaning out that closet.

I should have left well enough alone as now all the contents of that closet, or maybe the great majority of the contents of that closet, are now spread out around the guest bedroom floor.


UGH! I hate this organization business. It makes me crazy. Sometimes, I wish I could just drop a match on it and walk away. Wouldn't that be efficient?

Okay ... bad idea. But still ...

Friday, October 16, 2009

TAKING SPILLS

I had to make a mad dash to the Plant Board to pay my bill ... it was due yesterday, and in all the craziness of cleaning out my guest bedroom closet (more to come on that later), I completely forgot to run the bill downtown.

As I was walking across the street to get back into my truck, I stepped into a depression in the cement. That act was enough to throw me completely off, and there I went ... in the middle of a busy Frankfort street ... splayed out so attractively, purse and keys going flying.

How utterly embarrassing, and yet, how utterly just like me!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

IT'S A LITTER BOX NOT A SAND BOX!!!!



This is Emmy's latest shenanigan ... playing in her litter box. Today, I was able to catch the whole incident on "film."

TO DO LIST FOR TUESDAY

  1. Dust
  2. Vacuum
  3. Clean out ALL closets
  4. Take clothes to consignment shop
  5. Organize clutter -- get rid of stuff I don't use.
  6. Organize paper -- pitch what isn't important. Find an organized home for what is important.
  7. Clean out storage unit -- most of that is useless crap!
  8. 30 minutes of exercise.
  9. READ, READ, READ!
Hmmmm ... I'd better get started!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

CREATURE COMFORTS OF HOME

My sister, Ann, and I were in Meijer in Lexington today, and I was so excited because I got to purchase some of my favorite Michigan products (Meijer being a Michigan-owned business and all). As I tap away on these keys, I am happily sipping hot apple cider from some our wonderful Michigan apples, and I bought a half peck of Jonathon apples and didn't have to pay like $5.00 a pound for them! Finally, and most importantly, I bought a container of what I consider gold ... Michigan Brand Cottage Cheese. It is the BEST cottage cheese ever made, and I've done some pretty scientific research on this.

Oh I'm ever so giddy now ... fall can officially begin now ... ahhhhh!

Photo from http://www.ikdist.com/michigan.htm

OH MAN! WHAT A BUMMER!

Much as it pains me to do it, I am going downstairs to turn on the heat. It's CHILLY here in the Bluegrass today.

I think I'm also going to brew some hot tea, curl up under a quilt, and read my brains out! Ahhhh ... Fall Break. LOVE IT!!!!

Friday, October 09, 2009

10 & 11 DOWN, 39 MORE TO GO

I've been a reading fool this week. With two doctor's offices to sit and wait in and lots of vacation time, I've had the luxury of reading! I just finished one of the books today. The other one was finished a week and a half ago, but I've been under the weather, and thus, didn't feel like writing about it.

My goal of get 50 books read in a year seems like it's an insurmountable task now, but I'm going to give it a valiant effort during these Fall Break weeks! So, without further adieu, here are my thoughts on my two most recent reads.

Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani (photo copied from the amazon.com page: http://www.amazon.com/Very-Valentine-Novel-Adriana-Trigiani/dp/0061257052)

As many of you know, Adriana Trigiani is a favorite author of mine. I fell in love with her Big Stone Gap series. At the time I read the series, I was going through a dark period in my life, and her main character Ave's struggles really mirrored many of my own struggles. It struck a very deep and resonate chord with me. Who knew I'd move to the state so closely related to the action and setting of the book!?!? Karma, fate? Whatever, it's so cool!

So, I was very eager to get my hands on this book, Very Valentine, and read it cover to cover. It did not disappoint!

Granted, it wasn't filled with my sweet characters from Big Stone Gap ... those characters will always hold an indelible place in my heart, and are not at all replaceable. However, I loved reading about the world of shoes ... the Old World way of designing and creating them ... and I just LOVED that the book didn't end in a sugary-sweet, everyone-gets-the-guy-in-the-end way that so many books do. It followed a certain line of real life, and that was refreshing for me.

I just love the way Ms. Trigiani paints a picture in my mind, and as I always tell my fourth graders, the mark of a good author is that he or she can paint a vivid picture in their readers' minds with their words.

That she did!

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus

This book I sort of compare with the movie Schindler's List. The movie was good, but you didn't walk away with a warm and fuzzy feeling. In fact, you walked away emotionally, mentally, and physically drained, with much to chew on.

I finished this book, our latest book club selection, this afternoon, and I've been puzzling over it ... chewing on it's content ... ever since. I can't say that I loved the book. I can't say that I hated the book. The book, for me, just was. What I can say is that it's left me thinking about the religious implications, and the social implications and the social statements on Native Americans, African Americans, and women in our culture, and any sort of book that can do that has to have some redeemable value, right?

I did find it extremely interesting that Jim Fergus did a relatively believable job of writing from a woman's perspective, which, I have to admit, I thought would fail miserably. I did feel at times, that May Dodd, his main character, was still a bit silly, but again, he's a male attempting to write the female perspective.

I don't want to give the plot away, as there are twists and turns that are both predictable and not so predictable, throughout the book. However, I will say that the general premise of the book is that the American government, in 1875, agrees to trade the Cheyenne nation 1,000 horses for 1,000 white women in a plan that is so silly in it's simplicity, you feel like it's something that could actually have been proposed.

It has many weighty issues that I am sure will be debated brilliantly in our next book club.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

IT'S FALL BREAK ... TIME TO GET SICK AND CONTEMPLATE LIFE

Fall Break officially started for me last Friday at approximately 2:41 p.m. ... give or take a few seconds. And almost on cue, I started feeling my chest fill up, my throat start getting raw, and my sinuses close off. From that point until now, I've felt like a zombie, fighting what I can only describe as an unholy concoction of kid germs mixed with pollen from corn tassels and rapidly molding leaves and dirt.

I finally feel normal today, save for the overwhelming desire to take cat naps and the Kleenex that is permanently affixed to my nose. Third day of Fall Break, and I finally feel like I can relax and enjoy the break I worked hard to get to.

Friday, October 02, 2009

GRAD SCHOOL, FALL BREAK, AND MENTAL BREAK DOWNS

At 2:41:01 p.m., my Fall Break starts. I've been running like a crazy woman since I started school on August 1st. So, honestly, I didn't realize I needed a break until about 7:16 a.m., last Friday. That's about the time that I ran head-long into a brick wall.

I think I'd be completely giddy about fall break if I wasn't so tired. I slept from 7:45 p.m. to about 10:45 p.m. in a chair in front of the living room. Emmy was worried about me, apparently, because I woke up to a furry, meowing cat face in mine! You'd think I'd had enough of sleep for a while, but turns out, I needed more, because, no sooner had my head hit my pillow than I was out again, and I didn't regain consciousness again until 5 a.m.

Got the email AND letter from Georgetown College yesterday. I've been accepted to grad school. Again, I'd be super pumped about it if I was a.) a little less exhausted, and b.) had actual money to afford it. I don't have the first clue how I'm going to pay for it. So, I'm employing this little thing I call TRUST ... TRUST in a God bigger than me.

There's a part of me that feels like I'm on the verge of a mental break down. Not sure what that's all about, except for maybe the exhaustion. I'm hoping that getting through the Cadet Buck Store today, where I may buy a spray can of silly string and hit as many children as I can with it, might just ease some of the tension.

It can't hurt, right?