Birthday Girl

Tomorrow my sweet Kenzie Dog turns six years old, so of course I have to dedicate a post to how awesome and hilarious she is.

Fifteen Things to Know about Kenz

1. She is a doggie model. 
She doesn't actually model for a living, but she thinks she does. Her hair and makeup is always perfect, and I often look over to see her modeling for a crowd, like this.
2. When she gets really excited, she breaks into her Crazy Run.
The Crazy Run is her type of manic running in which her ears fly up and down and her back feet can't keep up with her front.
It can be seen on the beach, in the snow, or on any hardwood floor where she is being chased, and it is hilarious.
3. She specializes in yoga, and by that I mean she will balance on 3 legs and lean all the way over to one side in order to get her inner thigh scratched. 
4. She is loyal. When I'm out of town, she acts like she likes other people and then drops them like a bad habit when I get home. She stays right by my side at all times.
(And did I mention she's also a doggie model?)
5.  Girl knows how to eat, and if she had her way she would eat all.day.long.
She especially loves cheese.
She can literally decipher the difference between the crackling of a cheese wrapper and the sound of any other sort of wrapper, and will come running from far and wide to sink her teeth into some.
6. She's a hip-hop dancer. 
Like I mentioned before, if I act like I'm going to scratch her inner thigh, she'll lift up one of her legs and point it out straight. But then if I switch and act like I'm going to scratch her other thigh, she'll drop the original leg and lift the new leg up. She will literally switch back and forth and back and forth and do a little boogie.
It may be her most hilarious skill.
7. She is the cutest, softest, snuggliest dog I've ever met. She loves her morning rub down and will basically roll over for just about anyone who is willing to give her a good scratch.
8. She sleeps right up against my stomach and she snores like a champ.
And though we start out the night lying parallel to each other, she always manages to wind up sprawled out exactly perpendicular to me and takes up an impossible amount of space in the bed.
9. She has a very high IQ and has developed a new way to get me near her treat jar. She'll squeak her toy and act like she wants to play to get me off the couch, and then she'll run around while I chase behind her, stopping and sitting right in front of her treats.  
The first time she did it I just burst out laughing and thought clever!
10. She barks and wags her tail at the same time when she sees other dogs- she is excited to say hi, and yet she doesn't realize that the sound coming out of her mouth is warning other dogs to stay away.
11. She loves going on walks and will bow her head down when she sees me with her leash so that it's easier for me to hook it to her collar.
12. She is a dog park snob. She literally wants nothing to do with any dog in a dog park, and has perfected a lip snarl to let the other dogs know that she thinks she's too good to be there.
13. She loves riding in the car and going for boat rides.
Her favorite thing to do in the car is sit on my lap in the passenger seat and stick her head out the window.
She loves this so much that I even roll the windows down in the winter for a few minutes so she can get her fix.
14. She makes me laugh every single day and I don't know what I'd do without her. When I'm happy she wants to play, and when I'm sick, she knows it and will lay by my side and guard me for hours. She's my girl. And she is, without a doubt, the best dog I could have ever hoped to call my own.
15.  She's happy... 
and she shows it.

Happy Birthday to you,  my Sweet Kenzie Girl!
I love you so much.


Thanks, Dominos & a Little ADD

I am all over the place right now.
I got home from the beach less than an hour ago and already I have made and scrapped immediate plans to paint a dresser, hang pictures, clean the kitchen (this one never wins out) and organize my closet.
And yet each of my ideas flows into my head and then instantaneously out.
So I have settled on uploading pictures from my trip to the beach, which wasn't even on the original list of choices I gave myself.
Welcome to five minutes of life inside my brain!

(Ok so literally I got distracted after I started this post yesterday, which is ironic considering I was writing about not being able to stay on task.)
It is now 24 hours later, and I have two quick things to discuss with you guys.

1. Today I discovered that I am not the only person in the world who makes a certain set of remarks as I pass through double doors~
When a person holds 2 doors for me, one right after the other, I always say 'thank you' as I pass through the first door and 'thanks'  as I walk through the second.
To me, this just feels right.
Two 'thank you's seems repetitive, yet one 'thank you' and a 'silence' feels awkward.
So I do the thank you...thanks.
But I've always wondered what everyone else says.
So today I made sure to listen up as I exited my local Panara.
I held two doors in a row wide open for a gentleman, and low and behold if I didn't get a thank you...thanks.
So now my research is complete.
I'd say that the behavior of two subjects is enough to draw an accurate conclusion.
You can take my word for it that this is the polite way to handle a two-door exit.

2. Have you ever played Mexican Train Dominos?
I ran out and bought it two years ago, the day I read in US Magazine that Ashton and Demi love to play.
I had envisioned sitting around with my friends at a huge dining room table, laughing and playing dominos like celebrities.
But this didn't work out for 3 reasons:
1. Playing Dominos isn't that funny.
2. At the time of the purchase, I lived in a one bedroom apartment with a kitchen table that seated four.
3. My friends and I couldn't figure out how to play.
There was a time when I invited people over just to sit with me and reread the directions.
And time after time we got stuck on what exactly the Mexican Trains had to do with the whole Dominos thing.
Maybe this brain teaser is what keeps Demi looking so young.

Cut to a few months ago when one of my students asked me if I knew how to play.
No! But I've been trying to learn for 2 years!
And so I brought in my game, he made a copy of his directions, and he taught me to play during indoor recess.
And let me tell you- playing against an eight year-old on the linoleum floor of my classroom made me feel like a real movie star.
I still haven't played enough to determine whether any strategy's involved,
but being a celebrity now, I don't really care about that.

Let me know what your double-door rule is, and if you're a Dominos connoisseur yourself :).


One Hundred

Yesterday was the last day of school.
I can't believe it- the year's over.
Four full, adventurous years of teaching come and gone.
My first 100 students.

It hit me on my way home~
I have laughed with, cried with, learned from and taught one hundred kids who will 
take on the world one day.
And oh, how they have enriched my life.

Yesterday was surreal. 
Because not only did I say goodbye to my own students, but to my first students ever,who graduated from 6th grade and are moving onto middle school
The students who taught me how to teach~
Who made me fall in love with my career.
I'll really miss them.

And then there are my amazing students from this year.
17 boys (and we're talking boys' boys) and 8 girls, who kept me on my toes in the very best way.
Hilarious, inquisitive balls of energy who soaked up everything I said, all day long.
And how we laughed, and questioned, and talked.
They want to be scientists and doctors and basketball players and teachers.
And they will be.

This last week was crazy. 
We packed in the Economics Fair, the Egg Drop Contest, the Ancient Greek Olympics, our End of the Year Party, our End of the Year Showcase (the parents loved the skit and the scrapbooks!), an awards presentation, 2 assemblies, and of course, some dance parties. 

I was also dragged on stage to participate in a Tae Kwon Do demonstration, and broke a block of wood with my fist in front of the whole school. 
Then I kissed my bicep. ha.

Yesterday at the last minute I had each of my students write a letter for me to give my new students next year. I told them to write a few encouraging words, what to expect, what gets on my nerves, etc.

A few favorites:
Dear Student,
       Miss Robinson is the most fun teacher ever and sometimes she brings in her dog or gives us ice cream. You'll never want to leave her.

Dear New Student,
      Have a nice year with Miss Robinson. You are the most lucky student in the world! I hope you have fun with her. You are going to go on a field trip to the Capitol. You will also have lots of parties and you will be so happy with this awesome teacher.

Dear Miss Robinson's Student,
      If you're in Miss Robinson's class you will have a blast with her because she is awesome plus you get to make gingerbread houses near Christmas. These are some projects you might do when you're in Miss Robinson's class: Greek Gods and Goddesses Day, Egg Drop contest and more. You will LOVE her.

Dear 3rd Grade Students,
     Miss Robinson is the best teacher you'll ever have, so don't be nervous! You'll do lots of fun projects. You'll have the best year ever.

Dear Miss R. Students,
      You'll have the best year of your life.

(That one doesn't mince words :))

Teaching is a labor of love.
And countless reasons draw me back for more.
Including yesterday, when I looked at my 25 students on their last day of 3rd grade, tears rolling down faces and eyes shining brightly, and felt in my heart the impact I have made on their lives.
It was one heck of a year.

So to you, 3rd graders of 2011:

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own.  And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

You'll look up and down streets.  Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town.

It's opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don't worry.  Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.


You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!

Happy Sweet Summertime to my OES family and all of our fellow teachers!
(and thanks to Sarah for inspiring me to reread Oh the Places You'll Go. I just love it. And you.)


The Man

My Dad...

has the biggest smile, the strongest hugs, and the best dance moves in all of America.
He has a hearty laugh, a pinky that points a little to the left, and a sneeze that sounds exactly like the Big Bad Wolf.
He's hilarious. and thoughtful. and loyal to his core.
And he's a hard worker. The hardest worker I know.
He believes in me. and he feels so proud of me.
And that feels really, really good.

Oh, how I love him~ my one and only Big Kat.
Happy Fathers Day, Dad :)



Excuse My Language

Last week my brother came to school with me, and we were sitting outside together talking during recess.
My student came up as we were discussing the class play.
Below, an excerpt from the discussion.

Miley: We're putting on a class play?!
Jason: Yes.
Miley: What is it called?
Jason: I don't know yet- I'm going to write it. 
Miley: Oh.
Jason:Why? Do you want to be the star?
Miley: YES!
Jason: Ok, well I'll need to see your acting skills. 
Pretend you just got bitten by a Deer Tick. 
Ready? Go.

Miley: WaitHuh??!? What's a Beer D*ck?!

I. About.Died.


Shutter Love: Wind

Things are absolutely crazy here.
The official countdown 'til summertime  is 4 1/2 days, and yet I literally have a list of 15 parties/showcases/award ceremonies/projects to plan/host/organize/grade.
(Fellow teachers: Can I get an Amen?)
This year I seemed to have overestimated the amount of time I would have between the SOLs and the end of the school year, and thus have planned a few too many fun activities.
I spent my morning listening to my students present their 'How To' projects.
I learned everything from 'How to' windsurf to 'How to' take care of a bunny
(I shant be getting one.)
I spent my afternoon flinging egg containers from the roof of the school (click here if you think I sound crazy), and tomorrow I will host the Ancient Greek Olympics sometime between voting for the SCA, and attending the band and strings concert.
Not to mention the 25 memory books I'm in the process of making for my students, the End of the Year Class Party I'm planning, and the End of the Year Showcase I'm hosting for my students' parents, in which my students will perform a skit that I am not yet done writing.
Sooo pretty much I need to get back to work!

When I saw this week's Shutter Love theme was Wind, I knew just the picture I had to post.
I took it last week of Kenz while we were on a boat ride in Annapolis.
This is Wind Blown Happiness.


This Just In...

There are 12 days of school left.
and 12 days of school = 18 days until Rehoboth Beach,
and 29 days until the D-12 reunite for Jocy's wedding, 
and 31 days until I go on an African Safari.
~This Just In~
I. Love. Summer.

Tonight we're hosting a going away party for our great friends Priya and Todd.
I have been trying to avoid the fact that they are moving to Cleveland.
I guess the best way to do this is not to host them a going away party, but I couldn't help it.
So anyway, I need to get back to start swiffering, or the Big Mama will pass out upon arrival to our house.
But I just need to cover a few quick things.

1. My parents celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary on May 20th!
We double dated with them and ate at Chart House on the water and it was awesome.
39 years is a heck of a long time to like someone
 and yet somehow they've managed to and have thrived together now for 4 decades. 
thank you.
2. This year we celebrated Mothers Day @ my cousin Shana's house and the whole gang was there.
We now have two great-grand babies in the family.
I am officially obsessed with them, and their parents.
(Happy Birthday, Summer!)
3. Ohhh do I have a story for you about Memorial Day weekend.
It starts in with hitting a deer...
and ends with riding home in a tow truck between Chris and Zyndall (the tow truck driver) for 
100 miles.
Just you wait.

4. I am still on my quest to own a boat.
and I have received approximately no donations since I opened my 
Buy Jessica a Boat so she Stops Talking about Wanting a Boat fund.
However, we did get to spend all of Monday at my Aunt and Uncle's house on the water in Annapolis.
and I would take spending time with them over owning my own boat any day.
Unless of course I could do both :)
5. My brother and I went to the ballet last night.
We saw Don Quixote at the Kennedy Center.
And in watching it I realized the one reason I could never be a ballerina, besides the fact that I have no idea how to do ballet:
My A.D.D would interfere too much with my being a member of the company.
These gals get to dance maybe once every 10 minutes, and then have to stand frozen on the stage and watch the prima ballerina shine.
All the while holding their arms up in a ridiculous arch.
And you know the whole time they're hoping she falls and twists her ankle so they can swoop in and steal her part, if only to get a chance to run off stage like she does and rest their arms.
So, no, I shant be a ballerina anytime soon.
I'd need a Crossword puzzle on stage to pass the time.
And a costume that holds my arms up.

(and yes, Big Mama, I will now Swiffer.)


Glaring Oversight

 For the tens of millions of you who read my blog once a day week in search of the truth a reason not to work out...
I have a confession to make:
I am the perpetrator of a glaring case of journalistic oversight.

The issue has just been called to my attention,
(please refer to the subtle comment following the post in the link below)
and I can not wait another moment to give credit where credit is due.

In my overwhelmingly popular March 7, 2011 post entitled
Fresh (and Deliciously Healthy) Spring Rolls,
I failed to mention that it was
the-one-and-only-Big Girl
who in fact taught me to create these angelic, I'd-take-'em-over-diamonds-anyday spring rolls in the first place. 

Yes that's right ladies and gentlemen~
It was Oscar night and I arrived at her house, stomach rumbling.
and there she is, in all of her glory, chopping vegetables with a grace I've never seen.
and before I know it we're soaking and stuffing and rolling and cutting and
spring rolls fit only for a post on such an exclusive site as
Garden Patch.

So a big shout out to my modest best friend, for the spring rolls and life in general:)
You're hilarious.


Who's Ready for a Beer?

I am literally having the weirdest 24 hours ever.
It started last night when I was on a bike ride.
There I am, cruising along singing Sugarland at the top of my lungs 
(reoccurring theme in stories about my bike)
when all of a sudden some kind of freaking bug flies in my eye.
Well, that's normal, right? I mean, it happens...
Not like this bug.
It literally felt like someone had just sprayed poisonous chemicals into my eye.
I lept off the bike and tried to get the bug out, but couldn't, all the while feeling like my eye is on fire.
So I ride back to my house with my hand over one eye like a pirate,
and race into the house crying.
I rinse my eye out forever and can't find the little devil bug anywhere, though my eye still kills.
But ice packs, eye drops and 30 minutes later, the bug finally appears on the front of my eye and I am able to get it out.
So I go to bed with a burning, red eye, hoping all will be well this morning.

Cut to 7 am when I wake up and open my eyes.
Scratch that.
when I wake up and open ONE eye, because the other one is swollen shut.
I mean really.
I go to the bathroom and low and behold it's actually not just my eye that's swollen, it's the entire right side of my face.
I literally look like I have 2 different faces!

It is now clear I will not be going to work.
So before conferencing into a meeting I was supposed to attend, I make an eye doctor appt. with a doctor I have never seen.

After one appt. falls through, I arrive for my new scheduled appt. @ 12 pm.
 I leave, scarred for life, @ 2 pm. 
I'm not kidding you, this appt. was straight out of an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

At first, all appears to be normal. 
I do notice she's a big talker, but other than that she is very friendly.
In no time flat, however, the appointment goes south due to the following reasons:

1. I believe she is paid per 15 minutes by my insurance company, because rather than meet with me and then write herself all of her notes, she stops mid-appointment twice, for 10 minutes, to fill out her chart.
While I sit there, eye all goopy, staring into space.

2. She thought today would be a great time to teach me every living thing under the sun there is to know about eyes. We're talking models of eyes, pictures of eyes, pictures of eyes with diseases that I may one day have as an elderly person.
It was incredible. 
When she walked to her bookshelf and said she wanted to show me some pictures I thought
'you...have got... to be kidding me'.

3. Though my eye is red and swollen, she decides what I am actually there for is a full on routine eye exam and tries to con me into getting my eyes dilated,
and then seems a little miffed when I decline as politely as possible.
I mean it's like going to the doctors for strep throat and next thing you know you're getting a mammogram.
It's ridiculous!

4. After 17.45 hours of sitting in the chair, she diagnoses the issue with my eye and prescribes antibiotic eye drops.
Oh wait I take that back.
She literally walks back over to the bookshelf
(as I'm thinking Dear God, not more glaucoma shots)
and gets a medical dictionary to look up what type of medicine she should give me.
Faith. That's what I have right about now.

5. Last but not least, she wants to call the pharmacy to make sure they have what she's prescribing for me.
So she goes to look up the number of my pharmacy (I'm thinking on the computer)
and comes back with the freaking Yellow Pages!
What is this, 1984?
And of course the number was wrong, and of course we had to talk about how the number was wrong, and also call 18 other pharmacies.
Annnd my eye is still burning this entire time.
For the love of God.

After picking up my prescription from the pharmacy, I decide to drive by the mall to boost my spirits,
and it seems to be working when I finally find a new pair of sunglasses I absolutely love.
See, I have had the same pair of Banana Republic Sunglasses for almost 3 years.
And while I still like them a lot, they are a bit scratched up.
So I thought 'well, Jessica, you've managed to hang onto these sunglasses no problem for 3 years, so you've earned yourself a new pair of shades'.
So I buy new ones.
Not as a replacement, but as an 'in addition to'.
I literally have had absolutely no problem whatsoever keeping track of these things for 3 freaking years, and then I go to buy new ones, and BAM the other ones vanish willy nilly.
I literally can't find them anywhere
I even called the store where I had worn them for a minute
(because I was a little self-conscious about my gooey eye for goodness sake)
and they haven't seen them.
Sounds like a case of Sticky Fingers to me!

Anyway, this has been the last 24 hours of my life.
Now who's ready for a beer?

P.S.~ I Love You...

...and San Diego- you're not too bad yourself!

Why don't I live in California?
Why doesn't everyone live in California?
It's hot, it's sunny, it's close to the ocean and the mountains, you can camp (or ski!) in the middle of January, AND, it's scenic and beautiful!
If I didn't want to tell you about my spring break vacation so badly, I'd be packing my bags right now!

It's been 6 weeks since my California trip (can you tell it was SOL season?!) so I wanted to make sure I got this one down in the record books before another second passed.

San Diego & Palm Springs, CA
4.15.11-4.23.11 Nights 10-17

We planned a California spring break this year instead of our usual Key West digs, because our beautiful family friend Katie was getting married in San Diego.
Being the reasonable people that we are, we thought we'd better spend the entire week in California and, post-wedding, head to the Palm Springs sunshine.
(Thank you, Katie!!)

Katie is a class act.
She is the 3rd daughter of my mom's best friend, Wanda.
And our mothers wove a common thread around our clans before Katie and I were even born.
We've grown up together~
Our families have grown up together.

Katie got married outside at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Mission Bay.
The sun was shining down on all of us, especially Katie and David, and it was a truly joyous occasion.
We spent our evening at the reception dancing, laughing, and relishing in our time with friends.
While lying in our hotel room before heading to Palm Springs, I thanked my mom for having a friendship like the one she shares with Wanda.
One that's lifelong and encompasses both our families.
Because you can't pay for this kind of love.
and only a few people know you from birth.
and to have found a big, extended family in the Mitchell brood is priceless.

Congratulations to you, Katie and David~
I know you'll make each other laugh through all of the wonderful years ahead.
After the wedding weekend in San Diego (also full of sea lions, pool time, and my new found love of paddle boarding) it was on to Palm Springs for a little R & R.
We rented a house for the week and couldn't have loved it more.
There's such a difference in a house opposed to a hotel room.
We felt like natives, like we really belonged there and could come and go as we pleased.
And let me tell you~ Palm Springs is divine.
The weather is hot, but dry, with a zero percent chance of precipitation.
Literally zero.
We ate delicious food, rode a revolving gondola above the clouds, and relaxed at a luxurious mineral spa.
It was just the break I needed to gear up for the stressful work weeks ahead.
The perfect Spring Break hideout and a definite must return.

Thanks for a great week, California!
You haven't seen the last of me.

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