The “big” city

I had forgotten how bad living in the city could be. Don’t get me wrong, I love the ‘stuff’ associated with a city. There is variety. Variety of food, shops, cultures, events, and more. This, we love and have missed living in small towns such as Wytheville and Williamsburg, Virginia. They both have their charms and amenities. Wytheville was a great place to raise a child. Everyone knows everyone and your kid is safe at the neighbors. It was great. Williamsburg was great because it had the feel of Wytheville but the amenities of a city. Bookstores and coffee shops. The drawback was once you had seen and done everything, well, you had seen and done everything. We tried to go out for a late dinner after a movie one night and just about everything was closed up.

Richmond, VA is a city and it still has a hometown feel in some places. We were out and about this morning and met some great people. We stopped into a diner for a cup of coffee not realizing we were hungry because we had eaten around six a.m. So we looked at the menu and ordered breakfast. I had eggs, grits, and a large bowl of fresh fruit and hubs had a HUGE omelet, toast, and rosemary potatoes. While we waited, we struck up a conversation with an older lady (72), her son (we think), and grandson (we think – they weren’t really clear). They were awesome! Super nice and had lived in the area for quite a long time. Well traveled and culturally savvy. Once they were gone we spoke to our waitress, who happened to also be the owner of the 821 Cafe in Carytown. The restaurant was small but full and open and jostling with life. The food was great, too.

We moved on The Tech Exchange next door and left hubs talking tech with one of the workers. We bought a Lowe’s card at Martin’s to buy a weed eater at Lowe’s we had found online because when you did that you got 50 cents per gallon off of their store gas price. The girls accidentally gave us 61 cents off and said, “Welcome to Richmond!” We went to Lowe’s, they did not have the Black and Decker weed whacker and blower combo we had seen online but looked it up at another store, and we were off. At the other store, they had one but it was missing parts so the department manager gave us the next one up for the same price! We hunter gathered our other items and used our 10% off coupon (for changing our mailing address) and the Lowe’s card. The lighting manager helped us search for some items we couldn’t find and was super nice as well!

Off to Martin’s to purchase a few groceries and then fill up the tank with out 61 cents per gallon discount. We purchased just enough items that we earned another 10 cents off!! We loved the amount of gluten-free items available but were not really impressed with much else. Oh well. We went to get gas and paid 1.12 per gallon after the discounts!!

Once home, hubby had to play with his new lawn tools while I put away groceries and started dinner. We had been out all day. So far, loving the city. Hubs came in for dinner after weed whacking and blowing the lawn and we went back out to mow with the wonderful lawn mower my dad gave us. We live on a postage stamp and the management company mows every other week when they get around to it. :/

Here is the not so great part. While getting ready to mow the lawn a man rides up on his bike and offers to mow the lawn for free. Hubs thanks him and explains that we are doing it. The man leaves his bicycle in the middle of the road and approaches hubs. He becomes belligerent when we tell him he left his bike in the middle of the street. He is fairly intoxicated, asks for cigarettes, and calls my husband “stupid.” Hubs tells him to leave after being polite doesn’t work. He had to tell him a couple of times and threaten to call the police before he would move away. So he stood in the street yelling, “Mow the grass,” and calling hubs a “motherf****r” and “stupid.” He tried to adjust his shorts and they fell to his ankles. He stood in the middle of the street as cars drove around him.

That is the problem I did not miss living in Wytheville and Williamsburg. No drunks, no being accosted in your own front yard. I miss the feeling of safety I had living in those areas. I had no problem going out for a walk at night or driving to the store. I never felt that I needed my husband to keep me safe. I am having those feelings here. I did not feel that way when I lived in San Diego, Seattle, Jacksonville, Tampa, or St. Pete. I feel that here. Maybe it is because of the racial divide I feel is in the air here. If you haven’t figured it out, I am white. I come from a multicultural/racial family as does my husband, but we are white, no doubt. I feel that I am being judged for that right now. My neighborhood is mixed, whites, blacks, Asians, Hispanics/Latinos. Seems like white is bad these days. If we looked like our ‘white’ neighbors in the neighborhood (tattoo’d, vibrantly colored hair, shved heads, etc) we would probably fit better. We look like someone’s parents. Middle class white people. No tats, no funky hair, rings, nothing distinct. Kind of funny these days. Being ‘normal’ is bad? I guess in a city like Richmond it is.

I am hoping to find my niche and get along with my neighbors. So far, most have been welcoming. If you need an apartment for a really good price, check out Atlantic Beacon. There are two units in the 1913 quad we live in across from a great park undergoing renovations. I am putting in a garden in the back yard, which doesn’t belong to the quad but the church attached to the backside of our unit. We worked a deal with the minister, we cut the lawn and they’ll let us garden back there. If you’re a gardener, it is a great spot!


Life and so forth…

It is amazing what changes for the better or worse life can bring. Since my last post about Garcinia Cambogia and my weight issues I have been diagnosed with gluten intolerance, removed all gluten and most grains from my diet, and lost nearly 30 pounds.

I am feeling better. Most of my joint pains have dissipated. My ‘bad’ lipids are in the high normal range and my ‘good’ lipids (HDL) is in the mid-high normal range. My stomach issues have nearly gone altogether.

I am trying to eat a ketogenic diet as apposed to high protein diet, which seems to work better. I am still working on getting the ratios right. I did not think it would be hard to get ‘enough’ fat in my diet but I seem to fail daily. :/ I add coconut oil and butter (grass-fed) where I can and still do not get enough. I am not a big fan beef or fish so I have to add good oils where I can. Salad at lunch with an olive oil vinaigrette, nuts, and seeds help. I like chicken but finding skin-on chicken is difficult at times.

We switched to more grass-fed, non-GMO, non-hormone, non-everything foods so I eat the same thing most days. Pea protein smoothies for breakfast (which is fine as it is simple and easy clean-up), salad for lunch, and meat and veg for dinner. Occasionally, we have potatoes or brown rice or brown rice pasta. I try to have as many green vegetables as possible when I eat them. Even my salads are spinach or kale based with romaine lettuce mixed in.

So, I am doing better. Eating-wise, that is.

Stress, well, that is a whole other thing. In the spring my husband and I decided we needed to live closer to my dad and my daughter. My dad is 85 and getting, well, 85. We want to spend as much time with him as possible and take care of him if necessary. My step-mother is 70 but had an injury to her hand that has left her less capable of doing things. We decided it would be easier for us to live closer so I started looking for a job nearer to hi location. No jobs that I was interested in appeared and I really like the comfort of my job, my students are great, and I have developed good friendships with my coworkers. I was not too devastated that a job did not appear by the end of the school year in June.

By the end of June; however, my landlord decided to end our lease – a whole two months early! He gave us five weeks notice to vacate as he wanted to move back into his house. Not our apartment, but the house. He gave notice to the residents in the house as well. 😦 As much of a shock this was as we had not planned to move until the following year, we took the bull by the horns and looked at the city where we would be closer to my dad and my daughter who lives three hours from us. The move would knock an hour off of each trek, either to her or to my dad. This was a gift in some ways and a curse in others.

Financially, the curse. We were not financially prepared to pack, move, and rent a new apartment. Physically, curse and blessing. We are strong and fairly healthy so we could pack and move ourselves with help from our daughter and a friend. The daughter came down a weekend early to go through her stuff and eliminate things she could live without, take some back to her apartment, and repack the rest. Sixteen large tubs dropped to six. WOOT! The move was brutal; however, as the temperatures were in the high 90s the week we moved. Better than this week as we have topped off at 100 for the last couple of days.

We are almost settled. We have to paint out the kitchen. The property management company did not get it done in time for us to move. We have a bed to sleep in and our clothes are nearly all put away. The living room is partially set up and we can sit comfortably.

Update: I went out to check the mail and my neighbor said she was moving out. She gave an excuse I do not believe, but that is her business. What concerns me, as we have just been in our apartment for ten days, is she said the property is in foreclosure. NOT WHAT I WANT TO HEAR! Calling the management company tomorrow to find out what is going on and figure out our future. UGH!

Just gonna’ put it in God’s hands and pray for him to protect us form whatever may come and do what is right for us. If you pray, add us to your please! Thank you.

On to reading and typing a short story my dad wrote nearly 50 years ago.


Garcinia Cambogia

Due to metabolic syndrome I have difficulty maintaining an appropriate weight. By appropriate, I mean appropriate for me. In researching Garcinia Cambogia I have found a few studies where it helps with cholesterol numbers (lowering LDL and Triglycerides) and since I am intolerant & allergic to statin drugs this may be an alternative. I am currently using fish oil and flax seed oil to get my levels down a bit, they will never be “normal, so my doc won’t freak out any more!

It seems to help with high blood pressure as well, which I have, so I am going to give it a try. If it helps with two of the issues it might help with other issues.

Metabolic Syndrome


I have just signed up for this program to earn rewards, items, and possibly cash for offering reviews on items available through Amazon. It was fairly painless to fill out the form and choose some free items to review. A couple I was looking at getting on my own and a couple I could use. I did not choose items just because they were free; I wanted to try things I felt I could actually use.

I will post a follow-up after the items come in, I use and review them, and get the points, cash, whatever. I will be posting my reviews here and the link to the Amazon review.

Let’s give it a go and see if it is worth my time and effort.

Why I’ve Stopped Doing Interviews for Yale

Math with Bad Drawings

Last year, I conducted alumni interviews for Yale applicants. It’s an easy gig. You take a smart, ambitious 17-year-old out for hot chocolate, ask them about their life, and then report back to the university, “Yup, this is another great kid.”

I recently got an email asking me to re-enlist. Was I ready for another admissions season?

I checked “No,” mostly because “Aw, hell no” wasn’t an option.

Why my reluctance? No grudge, no beef, no axe to grind. It’s just that the whole admissions process is so spectacularly crazy that participating in it— even in the peripheral role of “alumni interviewer”—feels like having spiders crawling out of my eyeballs.

In the last 15 to 20 years, Yale’s applicant pool has gone from “hypercompetitive” to “a Darwinian dystopia so cutthroat you’d feel guilty even simulating it on a computer, just in case the simulations had emotions.”

I don’t fault the admissions office. For every…

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First Grade Wizard of Oz Meteorologists

Expect the Miraculous

weather (2) - Copy

Our amazing 1st grade team and students have been working on their Wizard of Oz unit.  I love this unit because they weave in so many content standards with Wizard of Oz as their guiding text. A part of this unit is the weather standards from science.  Students have to know various kinds of weather as well as how to dress in that weather.  Since this is a part of what meteorologists do, we decided to try something new this year by looking closely at the role of meteorologists.  The goal was for students to write a weather report for the Wizard of Oz regarding the cyclone and to record the forecast in front of our green screen.

weather (4) - Copy

Students came to the library and we looked at a few videos of meteorologists reporting on severe weather. As we watched, students noticed things about the posture and speech of the meteorologist…

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Library Orientation for Kindergarten through Second Grade

Love, live, love what I am seeing on this blog! Great ideas for library classes. Thanks!

Expect the Miraculous


Each year I ponder what to do for the first of the year library orientation.  Once again, it’s a time where you want to talk about procedures, expectations, etc, but I think more and more about what message I really want students to take away.

This year we are fortunate to have author and illustrator Mike Curato coming to visit our school in October.  His book Little Elliot, Big City has so many positive messages for students to start off their year.  I decided to use this book as a conversation starter about problem solving, helping one another, being a good friend, and feeling welcome in such a big place.

As students entered the library, I played the book trailer.

Then, we opened with the story. Little Elliot, Big City has very few words on a page, but the discussions that can blossom from those simple words and powerful illustrations…

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