Unexpected Solitude

Friday is my day “off,” at least from teaching, which means I’m able to go grocery shopping and run errands and other fancy stuff like that. I did the grocery shopping at Aldi a little later than usual and ended up getting home right at lunchtime.

This afternoon I did what I’ve been putting off for over a month—braved the Verizon store and tried to sort out my phone situation for when I’m in the UK. I think we got it figured out, but I’m really glad I went in instead of trying to navigate the website. Even the Verizon lady was stymied a couple of times. It turns out that being able to use your phone overseas to call or text home, and being able to use your phone to call people there, are two different things. But supposedly I will now be able to do both.

Having survived that task, I thought I’d reward myself by going to the bookstore to take in a few books, chat with the owner, and have a nice hot cup of tea. But when I arrived, there were no cars in the parking lot and I wondered if it was even open. As I approached Steve (the owner) came out of his office next door and explained that he was tied up dealing with a family crisis, but that I was welcome to browse and that if I wanted to buy something I should come back outside where he could see me and he’d take care of it. Also, there was free hot coffee in the coffee shop since his daughter was not there to run it.

What to do? I walked into the store and it was utterly deserted. If you know me at all, you know that I normally never touch coffee, but what choice did I have? (And don’t say, “You could have stayed out of the bookstore,” because that’s just crazy talk.)

So I poured myself a small cup of coffee and put some cream in it and realized that having an entire bookstore to myself was not actually a bad thing. I sipped my coffee and didn’t die or even gag. I leafed through several books and scanned the shelves in several rooms. It was relaxing and peaceful to be there, just me and the books. Eventually I picked a couple of books I wanted and then walked out on the sidewalk and stood there looking awkward until Steve emerged, and we went back into the store so I could check out. He apologized for the situation, but honestly, it was fine. I wanted a break and I got a break!

On the way home I stopped at Walmart and they were out of one of the vital things on my list, which means that tomorrow I’ll have to stop at the other Walmart on my way home from the faire, which means I’ll be in garb. *sigh*

So yeah, the faire I’ve been helping to promote is opening tomorrow, and I have to be there taking photos. If you’re local, you should come to Mount Pleasant and check it out! It’ll be hot, of course, but we have a lot more shade this year than in the previous two years. Maybe I’ll see you at the Canterbury Renaissance Festival of Northeast Texas! See website link below.


A Field Trip & Dinner Out

Where has the month gone? It seems like August just started a couple of minutes ago.

Thursdays are Geography days around here. I had two reports to update and some other prep work to do this morning. At least I felt much better prepared than I did last week!

When the gentlemen arrived, we all piled into the car and set off for the Mexican grocery store. This is a field trip I always do at the beginning of the school year, since we were going to be talking about Mexico today anyway and going to that store is a great cross-cultural experience. Not to mention the fact that the food is fabulous and affordable.

The guys all picked drinks and ordered food from the kitchen and then we brought it back to the house and ate it while watching a documentary about Mexico. Later, we also discussed the USA and Canada. Then it was time to walk them through the tedious process of drawing their own maps using pencils and tracing paper. They will each have to do six maps this way during the course of the school year. Some enjoyed it more than others!

My reward for making it through a full schedule of teaching this week was to go to my ladies’ night out for dinner tonight. We’ve never had more than four ladies, but the attendance varies and it’s always a good time. Tonight I was so delighted because my friend Kathy came, and I hadn’t seen her in several years. We keep up on Facebook, but it’s not the same. My neighbor Sylvia also joined us, and Susan, a friend from earlier homeschool days. The restaurant we chose was not crowded when we arrived, and as we sat talking it emptied out until we had the place to ourselves. It was such a lovely little respite.

Parting Shot:

My Geography Gentlemen

Still Busy

Today was yet another busy day. I had two students to prepare for—the Blond Brothers. I have taught them both before and they are great students. The younger one is a huge fan of my hot chocolate so one of the things I did yesterday was to mix up a big batch of my mix. He was glad to have it! (And his brother didn’t complain either)

This afternoon I had a couple of errands to run and also worked on organizing. Now that we’re almost two weeks into the school year, I finally got all my student files set up. I have 27 students this year—the most ever!

And of course I have also been preparing for tomorrow’s Geography class.

I finally heard from Flynn. Apparently he had crocodile and ostrich meat for supper in Kenya last night. He is working very hard!

Teaching & Critiquing

Tuesdays are my day for teaching my elementary school kids. It is a smaller class and that makes it a little less stressful for me. The challenge is trying to get through all the material I want to cover in the time I have. This morning I really had to push myself after a very short night’s sleep.

This afternoon I ran a couple of errands, was able to squeeze in a brief rest, and finished the critiquing I had to do before our critique group meeting, followed by our regular writers’ meeting. And I made more cookies to take. We had the best turnout we’ve had in several months! I was very glad as I always feel terrible when I invite someone to speak and then almost no one shows up.

More prep work to do and more teaching tomorrow! Also, I’m fasting and trying not to feel sorry for myself. I don’t talk about it much, but I still fast frequently, though not for days at a time usually. However, the time has come to add some longer fasts back in so that I can continue on toward my ultimate goal—but it’s not easy.

Also—Flynn is still in Kenya but we haven’t heard anything at all about how it’s going. We will assume everything is great!

Monday Teaching

This morning started with taking Sammy to his first day of classes. He has a bit of a dilemma in that his classes are held on a campus here in town, while his dorm is located 15 miles away on the college’s main campus—and he doesn’t have transportation. So he stayed with us last night as well as Saturday night. He was hoping to find someone he could ride with during today’s classes, but he had no luck. Hoping he can work something out soon!

Meanwhile, I had to race home and finish preparing for my big High School English class. We read Beowulf today. Some of them had heard of it and some hadn’t.

When that class ended, I had a little time to prepare for my first tutoring student of the school year. Two more will be starting on Wednesday. When you count in the prep work and grading, I now have a full-time job with frequent overtime.

After my student left, I went to pick up Sammy and then ran some errands. There is just so much to do right now I’m having a hard time remembering it all. In between all the stuff I had to do, I took a few minutes here and there to string a necklace which was unbelievably tedious because the beads were small and it was very hard to see the holes. In fact I had to resort to my big magnifying glass that I bought years ago to show the kids how to start a fire with!

I finally got the whole thing strung and the clasps attached before I realized I had made a fatal error. I am fairly certain I will have to start over and string the whole thing again. *sigh*

It is weird having the campus full of people again. So many cars and so many students when I went to the gym to walk tonight. The gym itself was relatively empty, which surprised me a little. I would have thought the students would have more time to hang out in the gym now, before they have too much homework. At any rate I am happy for the start of the school year because it means the gym is open longer hours now!

Now it is after midnight and I have just finished baking a batch of cookies for my writers meeting tomorrow. The other cookie dough is made and I will bake it tomorrow after my class. No time to lounge about these days!

At the Cross

At the Cross

Isaac Watts

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?


At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine,
And bathed in its own blood,
While all exposed to wrath divine,
The glorious Sufferer stood!


Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!


Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin.


Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt my eyes to tears.


But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.


Bon Voyage to Flynn

When I woke up this morning, the first thing on my mind was that Flynn was leaving the country today and I hadn’t had a chance to talk to him! So I texted him and asked him to call me if he got the chance.

Meanwhile, I had errands to run and lots of school prep to do. Walter and Jasper went to their yard jobs. Lucy enjoyed her last “free” Saturday before classes start on Monday.

I spent most of the day doing stuff for school but I also worked on a couple of jewelry projects. It seems like every time I make or get a new outfit, I want to make something to go with it. And creative hobbies are such a nice break from brain work.

And Flynn called this afternoon! He was sitting in a plane on a runway, waiting to take off so we had a few minutes to talk. He is on his way to Kenya for work and I am so happy he’ll get to see at least a glimpse of the country where I went to high school. I hope he takes some photos.

Late this afternoon I drove to Kilgore to fetch Sammy so he could have supper with us. He’ll stay the night and go to church with us in the morning. He has a local cell phone number now so it is easier to stay in touch with him.

Also: why can’t weekends be longer? I am having so much trouble trying to do everything I need to do on weekends?

Balloon Lessons

This morning Jasper went back to work again. His colon hasn’t been bothering him but his stomach has. He thought things through and realized that every morning when he had yogurt for breakfast, it was followed by a terrible stomachache. So this morning he had eggs instead and he was fine. He was able to work a full day. Starting next week, he’ll be working 19 hours a week and doing school the rest of the time. He had really been hoping he could continue working, so this is great news.

Meanwhile, I went up to Aldi and did my grocery shopping as usual. My reward for surviving this week was to practice packing my suitcase (carryon) for my trip this afternoon. I’ve been compulsively making and revising my packing list, but I needed to know how realistic it is given my very limited luggage space. On an earlier trip this year, I used “packing cubes” for the first time and was convinced that’s the way to go for this trip too. I’ve spent a lot of time on Travel Fashion Girl refreshing my memory on all kinds of travel hacks—even though fashion isn’t even on my radar when it comes to travel!

It was a very useful exercise. A couple of garments I had planned to take as “layers” are really too bulky to be practical in my situation. So I had to pare down my list even more. Right now my biggest challenge is figuring out how to take my camera. I’m hoping to fit it into my backpack but I haven’t actually tried it yet.

Sammy’s other big suitcase arrived today, thank goodness. He will be coming over tomorrow so he can get it then.

And finally, I witnessed an instructive game in the gym this evening during my walk. All the incoming freshmen were in there being forced to play the games the college had devised for them. (And they all appeared to be actual infants from my point of view.)

The first game they played was the infamous “balloon game” which I have seen done in many different settings. The kids were already divided into 24 color-coded groups. Each group was given 25 balloons and some string. They had to blow up the balloons and tie them to their ankles. Then, when the signal was given, they had to stomp on and pop other people’s balloons while defending their own. The goal was to have the highest number of points at the end of five minutes.

Now there were three colors of balloons, and two were worth 1 point each but the third, scarcer color was worth 3 points for each balloon. Furthermore, there were fewer than 25 people in each group, so some people would have to have two balloons tied to their ankles. The MC kept emphasizing that this was a game of strategy, not chance.

When he gave the signal for the mayhem to begin, it was clear from the start which groups took the strategy remarks seriously. Most of the groups scattered across the gym floor, merrily stomping and popping every balloon they could get to, and I daresay they enjoyed doing it. Two of the groups did not move at all. They had bunched themselves into outward-facing circles, with their balloons behind them and inaccessible to any would-be stompers. One of these groups actually linked arms all the way around, making their fortress more or less impregnable.

But the truly inspired twist that one group thought up was this: when the MC explained that some people would have to wear more than one balloon, they saw a loophole they could exploit. They got one guy and tied 3 balloons to each of his ankles, including 3 of the 3-pointers. Then they created their human fortress around Mr. Six Balloons. Of course, they also protected their own balloons as much as possible, and in fact very few got popped.

When the game ended, I was disappointed that they didn’t tally up the points and announce the winner on the spot, because I’m pretty sure it was the group with Mr. Six Balloons. Now of course the game would have been unbearably dull if everyone had used this same tactic and no one had gone on the attack. But it makes you think, doesn’t it? That group had an out-of-the-box thinker who kept his or her mind on the goal of the game and figured out a way to win legally.

A Long Two Days

This has been an exhausting week for me—and I don’t see any sign of things letting up before the end of April! So I will somehow have to get used to this level of activity and effort. At least I didn’t have to do any tutoring this week.

Yesterday was my “prepare for Geography” day. I planned to work on Geography in the morning and then leave for the airport to fetch Janet’s brother Sammy, who was flying in from Zambia to attend a local junior college for the coming school year. But then his flight was canceled, and his new flight was not due to arrive until about 10:00 p.m.

So, I did what I could in the afternoon and then left for the airport at about 7:00 p.m.—only to find out when I arrived that his flight had been delayed! I had parked in the “one-hour parking” area so had to go out and move my car.

His flight finally landed shortly after 11:00, but of course it was half an hour before passengers appeared and the luggage began arriving. Even though I hadn’t seen him for 19 years, I located Sammy quite easily as he looks like his father and brother. We waited for his luggage but one of his big suitcases did not arrive. He had to file a missing luggage report and that took a while as well. So it was midnight by the time we left the airport.

My primary entertainment on the long drive home (other than taking Sammy to Buc-ee’s) was watching the half-moon slowly rise in the sky. It seemed huge—much larger than normal for some reason. We arrived at 2:30 a.m. and I went straight to bed.

It was so, so hard to get up this morning! I don’t do well on less than five hours of sleep. I made Sammy some breakfast and then drove him over to Kilgore to register. I had hoped it would be quick and easy but they hadn’t told him what building to go to and we had to try a couple of times before we were directed to the correct one. So there went a couple of hours out of my morning that I really needed for class preparation.

Sammy finally got sorted out and I raced home and enlisted Jasper’s help. Geography starts at noon with a meal, and I didn’t have time to make anything fancy, especially after the week I’ve had, so I made a batch of keto crepes. I filled half with ham and swiss cheese, and saved the others for dessert during the break.

I hate feeling unprepared or underprepared for anything. I have worked so hard all week and I felt there just weren’t enough hours in the days! There were several moments this morning when I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry—but I didn’t have time! Jasper helped me with some of the food chores and set up the projector in the living room.

And you know what? Despite my feelings of panic and anxiety, it was okay. Everything that had to be done did get done. Well, except taking a photo of my class! This class is just four boys so I call them my Geography Gentlemen. I’ll try to get a photo next time.

All the material I wanted to cover I was able to cover. The boys seemed to like the crepes, especially the dessert version with cream cheese and strawberries and whipped cream! I think it’s going to be a great class! Everyone seems eager to learn more about the world. And yes, I took a nap after everyone left.

We have not heard back from Sammy so are assuming he is spending the night in his dorm room. Maybe tomorrow his missing suitcase will appear and I can get the rest of his luggage to him.

Meanwhile, my husband has been having a very interesting and unexpected week at work. There may be a change in his future.

Another Day, Another Class

First of all, today is Spencer’s actual twenty-fourth birthday. We didn’t see him at all so I hope he had a great day! He was my biggest baby (10 lb 14 oz) and my last home birth. Now he is not quite as tall as his big brother, but at 6’5” he is still tall by anyone’s standards!

Today I had my first late-elementary school English class. This bunch is a more normal size for me—seven kids. Two of them are neighbors’ kids and three others were in one of my classes this summer, but the other two I met for the first time today. The class time flew by and I didn’t get to cover everything I had hoped to, but at least we got started!

This afternoon I had my book club meeting, which is one of the highlights of my month. The book we read this month had some pretty graphic material that was hard to get past, but it did get better and the premise was quite thought provoking. I always enjoy our book discussions

I had plenty of schoolwork to work on this evening after my walk, and also spent some time getting our guest room ready as we will have a guest tomorrow night. I have a drive to the airport in Dallas to look forward to tomorrow.

And finally, one great thing about today is that Jasper was able to make it to work for the first time in a week!

Parting Shot:

Today’s class