Proud Mama

I am riding on a winner’s high right now. Best & Brightest (a local competition for high school students) was last night – and my kids killed! In 15 categories we placed in 9 – with 6 first places wins. AND – one of my favorites won the overall award. AMAZING NIGHT with some of my AMAZING kids.¬† Yes – I am bragging about my kids and my school!

The big deal with this competition, though, is not that these kids are smart are capable. They ARE the best in certain areas (math, science, music, art, etc) – and they are nominated and vetted by the teachers as the school winners. However, half of the points in this competition are based on their community service – the fact that the world is a better place because they are in it. These kids spend their time working and volunteering to make the world fun and happy and wonderful. In the four years I’ve known them, these 15 kids have volunteered almost a combined total of 10,000 hours.

Look at all those brilliant, talented, funny kids - that I didn't get permission from to post this picture.... :)

Look at all those brilliant, talented, funny kids – that I didn’t get permission from to post this picture…. ūüôā

Stats like that make me cringe – I used to think that I was a good high school student. I mean, I worked hard, got into a good school, did the deal – but these kids have tagged sharks, written books, built gardens, led voting registration drives, played sports with special needs children, AND SO MUCH MORE!

My community is better because they are in it – in reality, my own personal world is better. They make ME better. They are AWESOME!




1 Comment

May 16, 2014 · 2:10 am

Why Should I Be Happy Today?!

Today I was spending time trying to figure out what to post as my happy day picture. Instead I kept thinking of issues that were popping up at work and in my life:

  • At work a 0 dark 30 for testing…AGAIN (Day 6 of 14)
  • No air conditioning…AGAIN (read 87 degrees and 100% humidity at 7:00)
  • Personnel issues at work
  • Scary bad things in my friends’ lives
  • I sweat through my first outfit of the day before lunch
  • I had a second wardrobe issue later in the afternoon

The list continued to grow, but one of my friends said it best РSometimes life is just messy.

There’s messy things that just happen. We rise to the occasion and put out these fires – or we don’t. And when we don’t, the world continues to turn. Because I don’t know about you, but I’m not solving world peace….I’m just doing my best in the little part of the world I live in.

I’m on Day 44 of my 100 days of this happiness challenge, and I think I have realized that sometime the happiness in my day comes because my life is not that tragic. The “bad” stuff is just little stuff that can be fixed. I have a home. I have food. My kids (although sometimes a total pain) are healthy and generally pretty happy, well-adjusted people. All of my NEEDS are met – not all my wants (still wishing for a million dollars and a maid…and really I’d take just the maid these days).

Just sometimes – life is messy.

Look at me and those well-adjusted kids!

Look at me and those well-adjusted kids!

So I picked up dinner on the way home (no messy kitchen to clean up).

I  cut up a t-shirt I like for a workout shirt.
I rode 5 miles with Sada.

After dinner, I walked and talked with a buddy.

I enjoyed being alive, with a slightly messy but pretty wonderful life.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Some Days Call for Deep Dish

The blog I wanted to write was a funny recount of my day, including a bizarre wardrobe malfunction – the whole day reminding me that no one is prepared for every situation, but there is a way to fix most things. However – instead I am going to write about this amazing deep dish pizza that I’m getting ready to devour.


Homemade Pizza Sauce

Homemade Pizza Sauce

Deep dish pizza starts with homemade dough and sauce. The dough – use any dough recipe you can find. The trick though is making sure it has some oil in it and part semolina or whole wheat flour to help it keep its shape. The sauce – saut√© a couple of coarsely chopped cloves of garlic in some olive oil, add your favorite seasonings (basil, oregano, red pepper) to the oil, then dump in a large box of diced tomatoes, a splash of red wine, and a little bit of sugar. Let it boil then bring it to a simmer until it’s thick – mashing the tomatoes as you stir it every now and then.

Look at all those toppings

Look at all those toppings

The preparation – I use a nice stoneware pan or a cast iron skillet. Smush the dough all around the pan and up the side at least an inch and a half. Then line it with really thick sliced mozzarella cheese. ¬†You can go fancy, but we like to use Boars Head from the deli for this part. This pan called for about 1/2 a pound of cheese. Layer in your toppings – today’s choices are sausage, peppers, onions, and mushrooms. I kind of wanted some olives, but alas – none in the pantry. The toppings can be ¬†filled almost to the top of the dough

Saucy - but not TOO saucy

Saucy – but not TOO saucy

Then put A LITTLE BIT of sauce on top. Maybe just a cup or so. (It would be half of the homemade sauce from above.) It should be just enough to make is moist. It’s going to get more liquid and if you use more you will end up with soup. I cover it all up with a bunch of fresh shredded parmesan cheese. Stick it in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 35 – 40 minutes until it’s bubbly and good. ¬†I will be enjoying mine with a glass of red wine in just a second. Sweet! Enjoy your Wednesday night – I am!

Dinner is served

Dinner is served

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Just a Southern Girl

The older I get, the more I hear myself calling people “Darling” and “Dear Heart.” I cringe when I hear my twang on a recording.

These small things sometimes make me wonder if I need to spend a summer in New England¬†or maybe take elocution¬†lessons – very My Fair Lady style. I don’t want people to judge me based on their notions of a Southern woman – put me in some category that I don’t really want to fit in.

However there are times when I am super proud of my Southern-ness, and that is usually during large-scale holidays (or small scale ones that I use as an excuse to get into the kitchen). ¬†There is something about making food to share with someone else that is incredibly fulfilling. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love it when someone tells me they like something. In reality, I get an emotional high when a plate is emptied or when someone goes back for seconds.

Yeah Deviled Eggs!!

Yeah Deviled Eggs!!

My culinary moment this week? Easter deviled eggs. Notherng says a Southern woman cares like creamy, mayonaisey-y goodness on a silver platter.  And the best part Рis that you HAVE to share them. You have to bring them to an event and then spend time with friends, family, others who want to celebrate with you. Food as celebration Рa Southern legacy that I am happy to be a part of.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Just Another Cheesy Commercial

I was on Facebook and a couple of my friends posted this video from Thai Insurance -it’s supposed to make you cry. Yeah – I don’t cry much at cheesy stuff like this. And I didn’t this time. I didn’t even turn the sound up….the first time it played. I’m viewed it more than a few times now, though.

The first thing I noticed was how poor and dirty the city was. The video is filled with poverty. I wondered why a company would make a commercial like this and who would watch it. Was it meant to just be an attempt at a viral video by pulling on human heartstrings? Is there a product to buy at the end?

But then the little girl¬†shows up in her school uniform. That was the moment. I had been watching this video from such a commercialistic standpoint. I put the situation outside of my cultural norm and I allied myself with the cynical man behind the count. I think I even shook my head too! I¬†mean, who cries at stuff like this? But she got to me – education is something she had to beg for. It wasn’t something that was expected. It was a privilege that she begged for – and that someone else, a stranger, was willing to sacrifice for.

Our lives are so busy  and so full of so many objects that it is hard to put value on the simple things in life. A simple meal of basic proportions, fresh fruit as a luxury, or no air conditioning. These are things that I would see as a burden. If I want to help someone, I can write a check or donate my used items or volunteer one day. But what have I sacrificed for that experience? Maybe a cup of Starbucks or some time away from my hobbies.

Although this video talks about feeling emotions and experience happiness it has another message as well. The true privilege of our lives as humans in the ability to connect with each. We are not meant to exist in isolation.¬†Yet, how often do you look someone in the eye when you speak with them–giving them the full attention of your mind and respecting their presence? How often do you truly connect with another human?

It is a rare thing for me. I am often playing a part – mother, boss, teacher, friend – and those things all take tremendous amounts of energy and focus. I am attempting to give the other parties what it is they need from me at that moment.

Connection, though, with others happens when you allow someone to see you as you see them. Where each party is refreshed by the encounter. The expectation of fixing something doesn’t exist. The need for resolution is gone. It is simply a connection in which you share space and humanness with each other, respecting the time you have and granting each other the gift of being yourself.

Happiness grows from acknowledging and respecting these connections.


1 Comment

Filed under Life

Let’s Talk Deodorant

One never really notices or thinks about deodorant….unless it stops working.¬† Living in Florida, it’s something that can go terribly wrong, terribly quickly. And I’m not talking the large white smear up the black dress that you threw on while late for work (yeah that was last week).

Leon High School, a beautiful, REALLY old building with a REALLY old A/C system.

Leon High School, a beautiful, REALLY old building with a REALLY old A/C system.

Today was a sultry day. The rain threatened, humidity was at 99%, and the thermometer broke 80 degrees by 9:00. And in my 77-year-old brick building, the air conditioner ceased to work in the front office. The compressor, which I’m sure is older than I am, gave it up. The new one is ordered and we have been promised it’s delivery by tomorrow afternoon (rush shipping).¬† I’m hoping that by Wednesday there will be cool air….but I’m not holding my breath. I dreamed of cool breezes in the morning, and by the afternoon, my dripping hair and sweaty clothes brought thoughts of ice and cold showers.¬† I sweat through my shirt (long sleeve denim) and my shoes (sans socks) felt super icky – I know sexy right.

So while going to the water cooler to get another class a water, I began to think about my deodorant – which was already reaching its breaking point.¬† I was thinking about the aluminum-based compounds, parabens, all kinds of weird scents and chemicals that get placed in regular deodorant. Are they good for me? Are they bad for me? Do they cause cancer? I’ve gone back and forth with these questions, as cancer seems to be a recurring theme with a lot of females in my family. There is nothing conclusive about it, as indicated by the National Institute of Health, but there is enough data to show that there is a link with some things. So this one small link sent me on a search over the last year for something that can keep me from smelling like a Wookie at work.

What have I tried? So far this is the list with the pros and cons:

Crystal – Crystal Stick Body Deodorant, 4.25 oz sticks This stuff is great in many ways. It feels like you have nothing on, keeps odors at bay, and leaves on marks on anything. Downside? It doesn’t help with sweat – so in the summer in Florida – it really isn’t going to work well with some of my fabric choices. If you’re not a big perspirer, though, I would definitely give it a go. The premise is that the salt kills the bacteria that makes you funky.

Next, I tried several homemade remedies – compounds built with baking soda or cornstarch, binding agents, probiotics – you name it is was mixed and used. My favorite source of information was a blog with more information than I could stand. Now really – some of it worked really well and was my favorite – but the gross factor got me. I had to rub it on with my fingers and then it was on my hand and it was just a mess.

Round 3?? Let’s try a spray. I bought EO Organic Deodorant Spray, Citrus, 4 Fluid Ounce
– and liked it. But it’s super easy to make. My bottle right now has Everclear, tea tree oil, and sweet orange oil. I feel fresh and clean when I put it on and it’s the same deal with the salt. So if the salt stick ever clogs your skin or you want something girly smelling – so the way to go.¬† But today this method failed me. SWEAT THROUGH MY SHIRT. Ugh!

So today, I’m back to the drawing board. I am taking advice, suggestions, comments, and odd looks. I mean really, who thinks about their deodorant in such detail…right?! In the meantime, I’m going to find a tank dress and some flip flops that fit the school dress code for tomorrow.


Filed under Uncategorized

Making the happy

As I kid I used to LOVE getting mail…and actually, I still love mail – when it’s not advertisements or a bill, and even sometimes that’s fun – like when the credit card has a zero balance – WHAT WHAT!!

Back on point, thought, there is something magical about sending stuff out into the world and it ending up at the right place. I prefer magic to computer-operated sorting and manual labor.

Last week I sent several little boxes out into the world. In each one was something I had made, as well as little bit of my happiness in making it. There was a sense of excitement and dread, though. I hoped that each gift would work or fit right, but you never really know. So what if it didn’t…or what if they lied about it. I wanted to make someone else as happy as I was in creating the gift.


Marshall and his new “fancy” sweater

THEN – I got this picture from my sister in law. Not only did the sweater I made fit my nephew – he LOVED it…and declared it his outfit for fancy day at school. This picture made me smile all night and most of today. I mean – come on – I want a fancy day sweater now! Actually, I want more of my actions to create that sense of pure happiness in someone.

As an aside – I started this whole blogging thing again because of the aforementioned sister-in-law. I’m super glad that my brother had the sense to marry her – even if she does make me feel bad because she ALWAYS sends thank you cards. Her blog about being a mommy makes me remember to find joy in all the mommy moments I get to have each day.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized