Thursday, December 31, 2009


I finally feel like I have something to say in a blog post. After I got over the unconfirmed H1N1 I was so far behind at work and at home I did not have time to write but I also felt drained creatively as well. It took me several weeks to feel like myself again.

As Christmas approached I was still overwhelmed and felt I could not take the time to write before I got all the holiday activities taken care of. While doing so I had lots of thoughts running through my head so here they are in no particular order.

Christmas is so very different once the children of the house are young adults. There are no grandkids yet, which is a good thing, at 19 and 22 they do not need to be making babies. So I was having a hard time getting excited about Christmas. We usually put up a huge tree in the front room but with two weeks before Christmas left and the tree wasn’t even in the house yet we opted to buy a smaller prelit tree. So Paul and I went shopping December 13th right after Church because we had to. We had to go shopping because the MHMR gifts were due at the Church that evening.

For those of you wondering MHMR stands for Mental Health Mental Retardation. It is an organization that provides services to families that have child/children with these issues. Every year our church puts out an MHMR tree and members shop for a child they select. We picked a little boy that needed winter clothes and wanted a tricycle. We got almost everything on his list, I forgot to get pull-ups. We wrapped the gifts and took them to the church. While we were out we did pick up our new tree smaller prelit tree and that was it. I was still not in the mood to shop, I really felt like the Grinch. The tree actually sat in the box for a week before we sat it up.

So the weekend before Christmas I knew shopping had to get done. My love and I went shopping together to purchase family gifts. Tuesday I went to the bike shop to get my love his gift. The Christmas spirit hit me at that moment in time. My love had given me a list of what he needed from the shop. But he had always talked about a Cutter so I asked the shop owner which of the bikes was the Cutter. She showed me the bike that he had talked about for months and I decided to surprise him I got him the bike instead of the things he needed. For those of you that know me and know my love and his bike obsession you understand the big deal that this is. With the help of son #1 and son #2 I got it home, “wrapped” and hid before he got home. This is the front of his bike on Christmas morning. I was still not used to my camera and the idea that I could retake a picture.

With the arrival of December 26th came my Grandmother’s birthday. This year I paid honor to her memory by working a puzzle. My Gram loved puzzles; she always had one going on a card table in her house. So we sat at the table and over the next two days we put the puzzle together and I told my sons stories about their great-grandmother. It was nice. Son #1 had to prove that a round puzzle could be picked up and stay together.

I also got my first digital camera for Christmas and it has been fun learning to use it. One of my first pictures that I took was of the cheesecake that I made for Christmas dinner.
You might be wondering why I took a picture of the cheesecake…it did not crack. My cheesecakes always crack and while it does not ruin the taste it does ruin the presentation.

I brought no work home with me this time. I have cleaned house and I am trying to turn our spare room/junk room into an office/guest room. It is taking me longer than I would like but it is getting done. This is a very big deal I hate cleaning and bringing no work home might make some people think there is something wrong with me.

I have not made a New Years resolution in years but I am actually contemplating making one or two. So with that thought I wish the blogging world a Happy 2010.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I will start off by saying I hate missing work. It makes me crazy so when I got sick last Saturday I told myself I would be better by Monday. After all grades were due, my students would be writing their first DBQ (document based question) in class and it was the week before Thanksgiving break so it would be hard to find a sub. On top of all of that I was supposed to leave right after work Wednesday evening for Austin. I had a conference to attend with my department. Being sick for more than 24hours was not an option.

So I was really peeved Sunday evening when my body temperature went above 101. I called the on-call doctor and he called in Tamaflu. My building has had confirmed cases of H1N1, the latest case was a teacher that I eat lunch with everyday and that I sat next to during in-service training. I knew that I would not be better Monday so I put in my sub request, and I spit and sputtered the whole time I was filling out the information. Did I say I hate missing work and I really hate being sick, I am not a good patient at all. So much for thinking that the on-call doctor was wrong I was still sick Tuesday and would see my doctor Wednesday.

I went to my doctor Wednesday morning, hopeful that she would say you can go to Austin, just drink lots of water on the trip. That of course was so not what she said. I think she delights in telling me what I do not want to hear, not really but it sure seems that way. Her actual comment was you have an unconfirmed case of H1N1 and there is no reason to run the test at this point because you are on Tamaflu. She also stated that she was not surprised that I have it but was surprised that I had been successful thus far in not getting it. She told me Austin was out of the question and that I was out of work for the rest of the week. As you can imagine I was not a happy camper. She gave me prescription cough medicine and sent me home to rest.

So I came home, called in a sub for the rest of the week and went to sleep. I am still not feeling great but I do not have a fever anymore. Now that Thanksgiving break has officially started I am not worried about missing work.

I am worried that my kids are now behind by a week, lets be honest subs do not really teach they practice crowd control for the day.

One funny dream that was medicine induced did occurred early Wednesday morning. I was in a classroom before I got sick and the teacher had the famous Teddy Roosevelt political cartoon up for the kids to analyze and that must have stayed with me because T.R. was in my dream. In my dream T.R. and I were walking the halls of my school that were now shaped like Latin America but instead of carrying his "big stick" he was carrying a big pink highlighter. He had me by the arm and pointed to the math teachers that were highlighting their data, science and English were doing the same and then we got to my department. They all had their highlighters to mark up the data but they had no data to use. I sat up with a start and texted my principal at 6:30 in the morning because I realized that all the data my department need was still in my classroom. She texted back "no worries" because she brought extra data with her. Oh thank goodness was my response back to her and then I went back to sleep until 1 in the afternoon. At that point I finally admitted I was really sick and stopped thinking about work for about 15 minutes.

So the moral of my story is love your job so much that you hate missing it but if you get sick get to the doctor ASAP to get checked out. Confirmed or unconfirmed H1N1is no fun.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom

This is my Mom and I when I was 3.

In May I did a tribute to my Dad; today it is my Mom’s turn. Today my Mom turns 70. My Mom does not seem 70 to me that is a grandma age; oh wait she is a grandma and has been for the last 22 years.

So I have been trying to decide what I would say about my Mom. I think in away it was easier to write about my Dad because fathers and daughters have a different dynamic than mothers and daughters. There are so many things to say about my Mom but they do not really capture who she is.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of my Mom is her smile, when she smiles her beautiful blue eyes light up and her happiness radiates across her whole being. This smile of hers makes me smile even when I am not there to see her I can still imagine her smile. She smiles often, especially around her grandchildren.

Mom and Kenzie

My Mom is between her two brothers.

The most important part of my Mom’s life, at least from my perspective, is her family. It is how she was shaped and how at times she has defined herself and in turn how we as a family define ourselves. My Mom puts all of us first and at times has actually put herself last, even when she should have been much higher on the list. The times that she went without so that we could have what we needed. I think most Moms do this but when it is your Mom that is giving up it leaves a mark on your heart because you realize just how important you are to her.

My Mom grew up in a large loving family and she sees her sibling often. They have supported each other and their extended families through thick and thin. My Aunts and Mom giggle like school girls when they get together, especially when my Aunt from Arizona comes to town it really is like they are teenagers all over again. Food, I can not talk about my Mom and her sisters without mentioning food believe me there is always something to eat. I do not think my family ever gets together without eating, everyone brings something to share and when I am home for a visit my Mom makes what I ask for which is so cool of her.

My Mom and Dad, this is one of my favorite pictures of my parents.

I remember when I was in school the bus used to drop me off at the end of the road, it was a long walk at the beginning or end of the day with school books. I mentioned to my Mom that other kids were getting dropped off and picked up right outside their doors but we had to walk. My Mom did some investigating and went to some school board meetings and got the bus to come part way up the road so we did not have as far to go to the bus stop. It was that image of my Mom that stuck with me when I had to fight for our youngest son to receive the services he was entitled to within the public school system.

When I was sick, tired, achy or frustrated my Mom took care of me and even now if I’m sick, tired, achy or frustrated I pick up the phone and call my Mom she makes me feel better just by listening. When I was in middle school I got badly hurt on a trampoline in gym class, I had to go to the emergency room and my Mom stayed with me through that. She was there when I woke up from my knee surgery and she wiped my tears when my heart was broken by a boy. She came and stayed with us each time one of our boys was born. She cried with me when I miscarried and was happy for me and with me when I carried a pregnancy to term.

My Mom has also been a rock for my sister and brother and there have been plenty of times when we have said we do not know what we would do without Mom. She is there in a pinch and helps in whatever way she can. She and my Dad are a team and that is why when I got married I wanted both of them to walk me down the aisle and they did.

So Mom we all wish you a very happy birthday with many more to come and we all love you very much. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAY DEAR MOM HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! That is all of us sing off key, well except for Colin he is right on the mark.

I am sure my sister will also post something about our Mom with pictures as well and that Mom will see this at some point. We Love You MOM!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In the Blink of an Eye

We all know life is short and that we all die. This is a fact that we can not escape but as human beings we try to escape that reality and then it comes up and bites us in the butt. So after the news I had today I picked up the phone and called Son #2 at college, came home and hugged Son #1 and my husband when he came in the door. I sent my family an email and now instead of outlining the trade map for tomorrow’s class I am writing this.

Yesterday I had an icky feeling mid-afternoon like something was wrong but I could not put my finger on it so I just pushed it out of my mind. I get these feelings once in awhile my husband tells me I am spooky I just think that at times I am “very tuned in” to what is happening around me. Then last night I had a dream about a co-worker being at a funeral, so I was just slightly unsettled when I got to work this morning and I opened my email to read that a co-worked and friend lost her husband to a motorcycle accident yesterday afternoon. This friend of mine is a young teacher and is expecting their first child and her husband were perfect for each other. They each walked to beat of their own drum compared to the rest of us but their drum beats kept perfect time together and they were so happy. Now her life and the life of their child will be forever changed because of one moment in time.

The driver that hit him made an illegal U-turn and crossed 3 lanes of traffic to do so. To make matters worse his wife and two young children were in the vehicle and all four of them were injured as well. This is something they will live with for the rest of their lives as well. The driver could very well face vehicular manslaughter and if he does so the lives of his family will also be forever changed.

Why am I writing this all down…to help myself process this senseless act…to let some of my anger and sorrow out…I have to keep it together at school for my kids. They were upset enough as it was. So take a minute and hug the people you love or call them to say I love you.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

One More Step

At the end of the 2008/2009 school year I was nominated and applied for a teaching chair position for the school district I work for. I heard nothing over the summer so I assumed that I was not selected for an interview. I was not bothered by this because it was the first time I was nominated and I thought teachers with more experience were selected. I thought in a few years I will be able to apply again and then today I opened a surprising email.

I have been selected to interview for the postion. This interview is in a few days so I have to prepare for this interview. The first part of the interview is with a panel of "judges" that will ask me about my classroom practices and educational ideals. Then I have to "teach" a 15 minute lesson to the "students" which are the judges.

I am so excited and so nervous, I have to capture what I have 50 minutes to do and condense it to 15 minutes. I'll keep you posted. Any suggestions would be welcome.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The last 25

Okay here is my last 25 I think.

76. Having lots of students in my room for after school tutoring
77. Socratic Seminars that run themselves
78. 80 degree days in the fall
79. Sunshine
80. Making my students laugh when they are stressed
81. Dogs sleeping at my feet
82. Reading old love letters/sweet cards
83. Helping new teachers get better at their craft
84. Sticky notes
85. Cold manderin oranges
86. Comfortable shoes
87. The smell of baby powder, even though it can kick up my asthma
88. Paper Dolls
89. Carosel horses
90. Antique hand-help fans
91. Postcards
92. Dressing up for Halloween
93. Group hugs, we started doing that 22 years ago when son #1 was a baby.
94. Scapbooking
95. Hearing "I love you"
96. Reading Twas The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve after we get home for the Christmas Eve service
97. Dimples
98. Vintage clothing
99. Well written essays
100. That I actually was able to come up with 100 things that make me happy

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Things That Make Me Happy Part 3

I'm not sure I will make it all the way to 100 today but if not I'll just have to keep thinking. So here it goes.

52. Homemade ice cream or frozen yogurt
53. A bonus check
54. Sitting next to the reflective pool at the water gardens
55. Going to the Stockyards and just wandering around and checking out the "goldfish" as I wander
56. Watching a waiters face when I order a half a glass of unsweetened iced tea and lemonaide, it is called an Arnold Palmer
57. Opening presents Christmas morning
58. My birthday
59. Coming up with creative ways to get my students to learn new vocabulary
60. Trying a new resturant
61. Listening to the music I grew up with, especially when no one is home so I don't have to hear complaints
62. When I have the house to myself
63. Homemade veggie soup on a cold day
64. Being told I'm the hardest teacher in the building
65. Having friends over for the holidays
66. The belief in miracles
67. Discovering a new store or resturant
68. Shopping at a Farmer's Market
69. Going to a County Fair
70. The Main Street Art Festival
71. Days when my hands don't hurt
72. The challenge of taking grad classes
73. Running into people when I am out and about that I haven't seen in a long time
74. Discovering a new author
75. A new haircut

Okay so I still have 25 more to go; this sure is harder than it looks. I noticed a lot of mine are connected to food and work.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Things That Make Me Happy

Okay here is the next installment of however many I come up with.

31. Watching Red Wings hockey;especially when they win!
32. Writing letters of recommendation for my students.
33. Getting hugs and hand shakes from my former students as they graduate.
34. A really good salad;especially if I didn't have to make it.
35. The smell of baking chocolate.
36. Cheesecake
37. Getting into grad school.
38. Getting thank you notes in the mail.
39. Being invited to a wedding.
40. Scapbooking
41. My roses
42. The smell of a clean house
43. Baby toes (Moms understand this one)
44. Hugs and Kisses
45. Emails from my Aunts
46. Slow dancing with my Love
47. A joke or story that makes me laugh outloud
48. Black and white movies
49. Being the first person to put a knife into a brand new jar of peanut butter. As an aside son number 1 and I race each other to do this and it only counts if the old jar is completely empty. I know we are strange that way.
50. Watching re-runs of Friends.
51. Dress pants that don't need to be altered in any way.

I don't think I repeated any of the first 30 but if I did it just means that it makes me really really happy.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Most Awesome News

For those of you that have taken AP classes this will not be news to you but man it is exciting for me because of the ramifications.

When a student takes AP classes and passes the exam with a 3, 4 or 5 they are recognized by College Board. Once they pass at least 3 AP classes with a 3, 4 or 5 they are considered a National AP Scholar. It is much harder to do than people realize and the school I teach at has not had a National AP Scholar student in 10 years. That is a long drought. This year we have 2 that's right 2 and both of them had me and my AP World History class is the first AP class they took, sat for, and passed the exam.

What does this mean for my students? It means recognition by College Board, it is placed on the top of their transcript and it means money. The students that reach this level get scholarship money and for both of these students that is a very big deal. One wants to be an engineer and the other a history professor. Yes I had a little something to do with that.

So when I heard the news today I did my little happy dance, pumped my fist and said YES. If two can do it than it can be two more and two more until we are in double digits, where we belong and where I know we can get.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Things That Make Me Happy

Okay my sister started a list of things that make her happy. She plans to list 100 items and she ends her post by encouraging others to do the same so I decided to finally take her up on it.

1. Waking up next to Paul each morning, especially after we have had a fight
2. Listening to Andrew and Colin play their insturments
3. Reading a good book
4. A weekly massage
5. Hearing Colin sing
6. Holding new babies
7. Watching the light bulb go on for my students when they finally get the hang of a complex subject
8. Watching EHHS marching band in competition
9. Meeting my friend Mary for coffee so we can catch up
10. Meeting my friend Kerri for lunch
11. Long distance phone calls to talk to family and friends
12. Getting comments on my blog
13. Watching sappy movies
14. Writing
15. Curling up under a blanket when it is raining outside
16. Going to work everyday
17. Hanging out with my girlfriends
18. Antique hunting
19. Going to the Fort Worth Zoo
20. Looking at old photos
21. Baking
22. Listening to a good sermon
23. Sharing a banana split
24. Going to Broadway productions
25. Walking around the neighborhood with Paul
26. The First Day of School
27. Watching my parents together after almost 50 years
28. Finding the perfect gift
29. Visiting with out of town friends and family
30. Having a conversation with my sons about whatever comes to mind

This is my first 30 and they were hard to come up with. I typed as they came to me I'm sure if I had to put them in order of importance I would move some of them around. Pass it on make your own list.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

First Week Of School

Do you remember how you felt on the first day of school, the first week of school?

When I was a kid I loved school even though I was not a strong student at all. I loved the first day of school. New clothes for the first day or two, seeing old friends, moving up a grade and checking out the boys were all important first day and week activities. I did not have crazy dreams about forgetting to wear clothes or where my locker was. I did hope for better grades but I didn’t have crazy dreams about those either. I was just excited about school. I grew up in a very rural area with strict parents so most of the excitement that happened in my life happened at school.

Now that I am an adult I have the wonderful opportunity to experience the first day and week of school every year when I enter the classroom as a teacher. It is a wonderful feeling. This year however has been really unbelievably awesome.

Our principal that came to us in the middle of last year returned to us this year. Consistency is a wonderful thing especially in an inner-city school. Our principal worked very hard to put systems into place for the beginning of this school year. It paid off in a huge way; school opened very smoothly. Everyone was on the same page and because of this behavior has improved ten fold. We do have those kids that do not like the rules and think they run the school but they are quickly finding out they do not and that there are real consequences for their actions. The district has put some teeth into the cell phone and dress code policies which will also help with the overall discipline and attitude within the building.

I have great kids this year. Our academic coordinator did a great job of being sure the right kids got put into AP classes. I do not have any whiners, I have two skippers and that will come to a fast halt Monday when I speak to the stay in school coordinator. He and I will dog them like there is no tomorrow and they will not miss too many more days or they and their parents will be fined.

Our school is far from perfect but we are on our way to fixing what needs to fixed and improving what we can improve. So here is to a great New Year!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Birthday

Today is my birtdhay and I received the best gift from my Mom this morning in my inbox. I am going to share my Mom's gift to me with y'all. So today's post is written by my Mom.

July 29, 1962, I woke with the great desire to go to the bathroom about 2:30 a.m. Found myself in the bathroom several times thinking that the corn on the cob I had for dinner the night before was causing all the cramps. About 5:00 I decided oh no, the corn is innocent, I am having labor pains. I woke your father up and told him it was time to go to the hospital.

Now we had a 1953 Ford car that didn't always start so Dad kept it on the hill where we park our cars incase he had to roll it down to start it. I believe that morning it was good to him. We drove from Brunswick down route 2 to Bellview Maternity Hosp., between Latham and Schenectady. Since it was early Sunday morning and Dad was afraid to stop the car in case it stalled, he slowly ran through every red light we came to, lucky him most of the lights were green and except for Troy and Watervliet, very little lights to worry about.

We were at the hospital shortly after 6:30. Remember in 1962 fathers were not part of the birthing process. Once checked in the soon to be father was told where he could wait and after examining the expectant mother about how long it might take. Being a first time Mom he was told he could go and get some breakfast if he wanted to as it would take some time.

Dad went to Hoffman's Diner for breakfast while I tried to pace the labor room because it was more comfortable. The nurses kept telling me I needed to stay in bed, what did they know, I knew how I felt.

When birthing time got closer the dr. arrived and did the exam. I was wheeled into the delivery room where I was given gas to put me to sleep and you were born. Dad returned to the hospital shortly after you were born and taken in to see you immediately.

I was back in my room where they woke me up, I was very tired from spending the night on my bathroom trips and with the gas I was solidly sleeping. The nurses kept encouraging me to wake up, they finally brought you in to see me when they felt I was awake enough. I tried nursing you but you were more interesting in hic-cupping and I wanted to cry because I felt like a failure since you wouldn't stop hic-cupping. Dad wasn't around and since visiting hours were set from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 I was okay with that.

Sometime between 2 an 3 your father walked into my room with Gram and Grandpa. He had trusted his car enough to go to Stillwater and get them to see their granddaughter, for Gram it was number 2 granddaughter but for Grandpa it was his first grandchild and he just beamed from ear to ear. They had to see you in the nursery as babies were only allowed in the room with the mothers and fathers at feeding time.

Aunt Dorothy visited you in the hospital and then she went to Woolworth 5 & dime store and bought you two doll dresses to wear. You were 6 lbs. 2 ozs. and 18 1/2 inches long, perfect doll size. We were going to bring you home in a sleeper but Aunt Dorothy would not hear of that.. The doll clothes were a lot more affordable then baby clothes and Aunt Dorothy was on a tight budget. The dresses were beautiful, one was all pink and the other was pink and white.

You were probably five days old when we brought you home as that was the norm. You wore clothe diapers as disposables were just coming out and we couldn't afford them anyway.

Now you have the story of your real birthday. You can send this to Heidi or anyone you want to if you so desire.

Mom & Dad

Monday, July 20, 2009

25th Anniversary

Warning some of you might find this “sappy” if you don’t like “sappy” and pictures you might want to skip this post.

Penny Candy getting ready for our wedding.

August 11, 1984 is the day Doohickie and I got married. I’m posting this a few weeks early because August is going to be crazy busy this year. I wanted to take the time to honor him and our anniversary. We have been through a lot together both good and bad and have made it through thick and thin at times it was very thin.

So here is to a wonderful friend, father, husband, son, and uncle and may we have at least another 25 years together my love.

Doohickie and I met while we were both in college; we actually met at a fraternity party. A friend of mine liked a guy that was one of Doohickie’s fraternity brothers so off to a party I went. This good looking tall blonde, I was thinking oh maybe he is a Swede, came walking toward me and I smile to myself thinking this is more like it. Some weird guy had just finished hitting on me. I sent the weird guy on his way after a few well practiced stares and at least two cold remarks. Doohickie and I talked for awhile and then we did not see each other for awhile but when we met up again we made a date.

We had not planned on getting married right away but when Doohickie’s job offer was from a company located in California we decided to get married before moving there. So we did.

I am ready for my limo ride to the church. It had rained that morning but it stopped before we were ready to leave.

Both my Mom and my Dad were so important to me so I wanted both with me as I walked down the isle. I was so nervous as we walked down the isle.

The ceremony starts and we are united as one.

Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Doohickie.

After our honeymoon to Nova Scotia we headed out to California. We spent three years in Los Angeles and we grew up together as a couple. We were just 22 when we got married and I know that there were people that did not think we would last for more than a year or two. Our first November in California was warmer than anything we were used to so we took this picture on the pier and it was our first Christmas card together. We found it rather funny to send this back home to all of our family and friends that still lived in Yankee Land or in the Midwest.

We did not have a lot of money when we lived in LA so we used to drive around a lot and just see things. Sometimes we would drive for an hour, then stop at a McDonalds before heading back to our apartment vie a different route. The best drive ever was when we headed to Las Vegas to visit Doohickie’s parents while they were in Vegas. Doohickie wanted to take the shortest route possible and miss the LA freeways as much as possible. So he plotted out and route and after work we headed out. We did not know LA very well yet at all and he drove us right through Watts. Man that was just a little bit unsettling it looked like the race riots from the 60s were still going on. Needless to say we took the freeway home from Vegas.

While living in LA we lost a baby and then successfully had a baby our first son was born in 1987. While I was pregnant with son number 1 I had the worst morning sickness. It lasted morning noon and night. Poor Doohickie he had to open every window in the duplex before he could cook any meat because the smell would send me as quickly as I could to visit the porcelain god.

After son number 1 was born we moved to Texas. I loved Texas just slightly closer to Yankee Land but not so close that I would freeze to death in the winter time. I hate being cold and that is another thing about Doohickie he really does not like the heat and he misses the winters but he moved to Texas twice so that I could be warm and happy. Doohickie has been my rock and my comforter in the sad times of my life as well. We lost 3 more babies before son number 2 was born. He cheers me up when I get blue in June or when I miss my Yankee Land family. He encourages and supports any endeavor that I want to try and when son number 2 was diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder I continued to be a stay at home so that he could get as much therapy as was needed

Doohickie and son number one at the park and they are ready to feed the ducks.

Doohickie being a wonderful Dad. Son number one wanted Daddy to swim with him so Doohickie did and he let me take the picture as well.

He builds things when I ask him too. When son number 1 was almost 3 son number 2 was on the way so Doohickie built a captains bed for son number 1. I told him what I wanted it to look like and he built it. In fact we still have it in our spare room; neither son 1 or 2 can use it they are both to long for the bed. That’s what happens when you live in Texas your kids get really tall: 6’5” and 6’3” to be exact.

Son number two is in the denim jacket facing the camara as he stands near Doohickie. Dad knows how to climb better than Mom so he gets the honors.

Doohickie places the newest items for advancement in cub scouts on son number two. I would always get a lump in my throat when I attended one of these events with my boys. He was and is there for us when we need him to be.

1998 we took a REALLY BIG family vacation. One of our stops was Sea World in San Diego. Son number one had a new camara so he took this picture. We all loved this vacation.

His Dad and his two brothers along with his Mom and extended family influenced who he was and is. The picture of Doohickie with his Dad and his two brothers is one of my favorites. Yes he takes after his Mom’s side of the family because his Dad’s side is on the shorter side of the six foot mark.

Doohickie is a very good sport and gets talked into activities that another person would say no way to. For several years in a row he was asked to be a part of the Easter pageant, Advent program and the talent show.

One of my favorite pictures of him. He might not agree but I love his smile in this picture. He had just finished being the terrified Roman Soldier.

Doohickie as most of you know has a new hobby: his bicycles. Yes it is a plural he has more than 1 or 2. I give him grief on a regular basis for all of the bike junk and bikes in the house but in all honesty I’m glad he has started riding again. It helps him keep his weight and blood pressure down. This is good because he better not check out on me too soon I would not be happy with him. I am sure Doohickie has a picture that he likes better but I did this as a surprise so I did not want to ask where his other pictures of himself are.

The last picture is of the Doohickie family. It was taken at son number two’s high school graduation this June.

Doohickie is the love of my life he still gets to me after 25 years together and when we have been apart for more than a normal day I still get butterflies in my stomach when I see him again.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Summer is my favorite season, if it wasn’t I would be in big trouble because I live in a state were it is summer from May to October. But June is a rough month for me and mixed in with all of the happiness there is just enough sadness that I end up feeling blue and I usually end up with a migraine at some point during the month. The migraine sends me to bed and I end up dealing with my blues in my dreams.

June to me is a month of endings and some years the endings seem more final than others. June is a month of school years ending with students moving on and some graduate. In 05 and this June I watched my own sons graduate from high school. I know this is how it is supposed to happen but as I Mom I watch them growing up and the end of high school means they are grown up.

June is also a month when I am reminded of my Grandmother’s death. She has been gone for more than 10 years now but I still ache for her at times and June seems to be when it is the worst. It’s funny I don’t believe in ghosts but there are times, especially when I need guidance, I hear my Grandmother’s voice. The first few times it happened it was startling but now it just is and there are times when I find myself listening and waiting for her voice.

I get restless in June; I want to do something but I can never quite put my finger on what it is that I want to do. This is when I start to think about moving even though I don’t really want to move. It is when I think about taking a long trip to nowhere in particular but I usually don’t go too far or anywhere, money and other commitments keep me where I am.

This June did have bright spots that accompanied my blues. My youngest son graduated from high school in the top 25% of his class. Had he taken all regular classes he may have finished higher but he would not be college ready. All of this from a child that did not speak before he was almost 4 and was in the special education program until he was in 6th grade. He plays 2 instruments and sings in a beautiful deep voice that is very soothing. He has decided that he wants to become a professor of music history. If you would like to see pictures of his graduation go to doohickie's blog.

My parents were able to make the trip to Texas to see their grandson graduate and they spent three weeks with us. We went antique hunting, ate at some great restaurants, Mom and I played scrabble and we went shopping. I cried when they left, I hate good-byes.

I was very nervous about my son’s choice of college. He was accepted to three schools and his 2nd choice was my first choice but I tried really hard not to heavily influence his decision. This past week he had freshman orientation and I went with him. After the orientation was over I felt much better about his choice, I can see how he will fit in and that they will be supportive of his educational and personal goals. So in August I will help my youngest child move into his dorm and he will start the next chapter of his life.

In a couple more days another June will be gone and when July starts my blues always seem to lift and fad.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Test Scores

The unofficial results are in.

I did not have a 100% passing rate this year on the state standardized test. One of my students failed so my passing rate was 98%. I was not thrilled with this but I can not take the test for them. None of the other teachers had a 100% pass rate. In fact I and one other history teacher have had the 100% pass rate. He now teaches government and economics which are not tested.

The good news the tutoring camps paid off for the 10Th graders we saw a 10 point jump over all with some of sub-categories going up more than 10 points.

The fair new our 11Th grade scores went up 5 points over all. I was hoping for a bigger increase for the 11Th graders because this is the class they must pass to graduate. The good new we have less than 30 students that will need to retake history portion of the test over the summer.

Our special education scores also went up so the modification guides that we put in place seemed to help. We will implement these guides earlier in the year so the students really learn how to use them.

On a different note son number two graduates from high school tomorrow night. I am really not ready for this his senior year has gone by quicker than I ever thought it would or wanted it to.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Today my Dad turned 70. It does not seem possible.

I had orginally planned to do this really nice tribute to my Dad with pictures and lots of nice things to say and some funny things to say. Then my youngest got the lamest assignment I have ever seen in my life that he need help with so Dad's tribute got put on the back burner for a bit. The economics assignment actually had to be sewn on a shirt and I will not let the men in my house touch my good sewing machine. If my hands get better one day, I want to be able to use my machine. I have been able to add pictures since I posted this on May 11th.

So here is a short tribute to my Dad and maybe if time is on my side this week I can come back and add pictures to this.

This picture was taken about 10 years ago at my Aunt's home in the summer.

My Dad and Mom had me when they were young, barely 22 to be exact. My Mom tells the story that my Dad could not even say the word pregnant with regards to my Mom's condition. She was "in the family way" or "they had a loaf in the oven". My Dad was very protective of me from day one and still is or tries to be even though I am here and he is in Yankeeland.

My Dad did not graduate from high school but he made sure that we all knew how important an education was and he pushed us to do our best. Sometimes to the point that I wanted to scream because school was not easy for me and honestly there were times when I did scream "I am doing my best" and storm off down the hall. His favorite thing to do that I can laugh about now but oh I hated it at the time was to wait until I was almost to my room and he would call me back I was seething but I went. I would walk up to him and in my best scowl say "What?" He would wait and then with a totally serious face ask me "So how far would you have been if I hadn't called you back here?" I would try to stay mad it at him but in the end I laughed as I sputtered under my breath and went back down the hall.

Watching my Dad with his grandchildren is one of the biggest joys I have. He adores them even more than he adores my sister, brother and I. When he talks about his grandchildren you can hear his pride and his delight in all that they do. The pictures that would go here are many. The picture of my Dad and son number one swinging and laughing in our backyard. My Dad and son number two giving each other nuzzles. My Dad holding NP Diva as a baby with more than one party hat perched on his head.

My Dad is 70 and he is starting to show his age. I think this may be more shocking for me than for my brother and sister because I get to see him once a year. In my minds eye my Dad isn't a day over 50 yet I know that can not be right because I am closer to 50 than he is. So when I see him and he is not as young as I remember him it shocks me and unsettles me just a little.

I have wonderful pictures of my Dad most if not all of which were taken before I had or there even were digital camaras. So I will come back and add those.

I will close with this story of my Dad. My best friend and I wanted to go shopping and my Dad was heading to Wards to pick something up from the catalog department we wanted to go with him. He told us no because he did not want to wait for us he was only going to pick up one item. We insisted on going with him and he informed us that if we went and we made him wait he would put a banana peel on his head like a hat. Of course we did not believe he would do it so we got in the truck and went with him. Well you guessed it he ended up waiting for us and when we met him on the loading dock he was standing their grinning from ear to ear with the peel perched atop his head. We were young teens and we were mortified. Looking back I should have known he would do it. That is one thing about my Dad if he says he will do something he will do it.

I could not find all of the pictues I talked about because of course since I am looking for them I can not find them. I am adding some that I really do like. They are of my Dad and son number one, my Dad with my Mom, my Dad being funny in his hat before my wedding, he did not wear it to the church and my Mom and Dad with me when I graduated from college finally in 2005.

So to my Dad who will see this when my Aunt or my sister show it to him I say happy 70th Dad and we love you forever yes we do!

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Have you ever really stopped and looked at your hands? I do not mean to see do I need a manicure or did I get a paper cut just now kind of look but to really look. Hands say a lot about a person.

You are probably wondering what in the heck is she talking about? The pain in my hands woke me up this morning at 5:30; no sleeping in for me I am up. I have not slept well for the last few nights. I kept waking up because my hair was not there it is was causing weird dreams. But that is a completely different story suffice it to say I had planned to sleep in the morning.

Before I developed the problems with my hands about 7 years ago I never thought about my hands. I washed them, put lotion on them and used them a lot and I did not really take care of them.

Now I pay the price. My fingers lock, my knuckles swell, I can not quilt or cross stitch without pain after 5 or 10 minutes so it really isn't worth it to get the project out. My hands shake when I write with a pen or pencil for to long. I have several uncompleted projects that I feel awful about not finishing becuase they were started as gifts for people.

So if you do not have problems with your hands take care of them. Yes wash them and put lotion on them but be kind to them as well. If you break them or sprain them follow the doctors orders completely. When we injure ourselves when we are young we do not realize it will come back to haunt us later. If they bother you do not ignore it go to the doctor and let her tell you it is nothing to be worried about. Massage them or better yet have a professional do it for you once in awhile; believe me it feels wonderful and you will wish you had done it earlier. Rest them; do not use your hands so hard everyday without a rest during the day. I do not mean rest them at the end of a long day or when you sleep but actually stop for a few minutes during the day and just rest your hands. Cover them when it is cold and use sunblock on them.

This is my public service announcement so that you will not wake up at 5:30 in the morning because your hands hurt so bad you can not sleep.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Inspired by TC and Bone

Okay I've been thinking about cutting off my long hair but everytime I got ready to do it I chickened out.

Then I saw TC's cute cut and well Bone's is really short so when I was bored because I was still on my "flucation" I called my hairdresser and she cut it off. So I got a Liz Taylor retro cut. When Liz was in her 20s and 30s she had thick dense wavy hair which is what I have so I went with an updated version of her hair.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Teaching with the Swine Flu

Okay that is a little misleading. I wanted to catch your attention. I do not have the Swine Flu but my school is closed until May 11th because of the swine flu. If I taught a different grade level I would not be stressing this little “flucation” but I teach 10th grade AP World History. The AP test is May 14th and we have been out of school since April 30th so my kids are missing valuable instruction and after-school review time.

Then one of my overachievers emailed my work account and I had to most awesome idea. Well it took a few emails for the idea to really click. She emailed wanting to know if the shutdown was true. I told her that it was and because of that she needed to be studying on her own for the test. This young charge of mine emails back with the OMG I forgot about the test what do I need to do? I kept my fingers from typing YOU STUDY! (I have to remind myself on many occasions that my students are 15 and 16 year olds depending on when their birthday is. They must be 5 by September 1st to start kindergarten.) I told her that most of my material was at school but if she gave me a couple of hours I could start to put study guides together for her and email them to her.

This brought about another email: Ms. PC can you email these people as well and that is when it hit me like a ton of bricks. They all have Myspace pages so instead of trying to make sure I have accurate emails for everyone and sending tons of attachments I used my unused Myspace page and started to post study guides in the blog section. I make one post and check comments on the post and it is easy-peasy as my kids would say.

I have now posted 4 study guides for my little darlings. No comments from them so I do hope that they are using them to get ready for the test. This is not a test that you lightly study for. In fact I will be really nice and give you a question that they might see on the test.
Contacts between Hindus and Muslims led to
a. the seclusion of Hindu women
b. constant warfare between the two groups
c. the absorption by the Muslims of many Hindu social practices
d. mass conversion of Hindus to Islam
e. decreased trade opportunities

Take a stab at the answer, this is one of the easier questions because it is a fact question the concept questions are even harder than this.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I can not believe it

I do not have school until May 8th. Our district has closed due to the swine flu. I can not believe it.

I am such a teacher because my frist thought was dang what is going happen with the AP Test. It is May 14th how in the world are my kids going to get ready for this test without class time.

My next thought was okay I hope my students stay home while school is closed. I bet dollars to donuts that most of my kids go to the mall and the movies tomorrow.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Today we had our social studies standarized test. Our kids feel that they did well.

Then we got the bad news. One of our teachers passed away this morning as she was geting ready for work. She was 33 years old. I am still in shock and so are most of our kids. The school had professionals in the building for the staff and students.

She was a graduate of our school so some of the teachers had been her teacher or had been classmates of hers.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Most Awesome Day

For the past week and a half I have been planning an 11th grade after school "camp" to help our students study for the state required social studies test. I have been busting my butt planning and organizing this thing.

Today was the day. I was hoping for 25 kids; in the past we have had 2 kids show up. Today we had 52 show up. It was awesome. Six teachers ran the "camp" rooms and I was the director. The students had fun; they reinforced what they had learned and we identified weaknesses so that hopefully we can address those in our classes over the next two weeks.

My goal for our deptartment is an overall pass rate of 92% the first time through the test.

Tuesaday is the 10th grade "camp" I am hoping to repeat today's success.

I am exhusted but I feel so good. This is why I teach.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Lil and Morse

I was off campus today for a meeting so I actually got out of work at 3:45 this afternoon. That is the time I am allowed to leave school each day but it just does not happen. So I took care of ordering my new glasses and then I called Lil.

Lil and Morse, a couple I know from church. She is almost 89 and he delights in being the younger man. He is almost 87. Morse is a native Texan and he is a hoot-an-a-half. He was a teen during the depression and he served in World War II. Lil is also a native Texan and she is a class act. As my father would say “she is a real lady.” After I took care of my glasses I stopped in to see Lil and Morse.

I had planned to stay for a half-hour, forty-five minutes at the most. Almost two hours later I was still there. Morse does not get around as well as he used to so he does not get out much anymore. His mind is still as sharp as a tack and there is so much history in that man’s brain it is just amazing. He was also quite the artist in his day so I love looking at his WWII sketches. When I wrote my essay to get into graduate school I interviewed Morse and wrote his story into my paper. He was an excellent primary source. I also used him as a sounding board for several of my papers especially if I was not sure I had made my point in a concise manner. Morse was an editor for a newspaper after the war so he also caught my typos and such. I know we have spell check and grammar check on the computer but it does not catch everything. Morse on the other hand still catches everything.

Lil remembers the depression and her grandmother feeding the out-of-work-men that jumped of the trains just outside of Fort Worth. If they got off the trains in Fort Worth they would be arrested for riding the rails without a ticket. The engineers actually slowed the trains down outside of the city so the men could get off. Many of the men had come to Texas looking for work. Texas was not as hard hit as other states.

Lil and Morse have been together a long time. Lil still gets out she comes to church on Sundays Morse can not so when company comes Lil sits quietly next to Morse because she “knows” he need the conversation more than she does. Morse always asks her to “fill-in-the-blanks” of his story because he “knows” she has a lot to add to the conversation.There are a handful of married couples that I admire. Lil and Morse are one of those couples and hope that my husband and I will be like that when we are in our golden years.

I have known this couple for 12 years now and my life is richer because I know them.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Home and Back Again

I traveled to Yankee Land this past week. I left on a Monday afternoon with sunny skies and with temperatures in the low 70s and by the time I arrived it was dark and a very chilly 40 degrees. I definitely needed my winter coat that evening. My sister met me at the airport. My sister was celebrating her birthday; I won’t rat out her age here I will just say that she is younger than I am.

I made it safely to my destination. My luggage however did not. One of the guys that was loading our luggage had an “accident” and he had to be taken to the hospital so they stopped loading the luggage to take care of him. By the time others realized luggage still needed to be loaded our plane had taken off. Lucky for me I did not desperately need anything that was in my luggage.

Once at my sister’s house I got to see my niece NP Diva. She is always a joy to be around. She has such a sunny attitude toward life and she will be a wonderful primary grade teacher in the future. My sister’s hubby got home from work and we spent a few short hours talking. We had conversations about work, kids and of all things the art of passing gas. I am not even sure how this became the topic of conversation but it was and NP Diva and her Dad had me laughing so hard my sides hurt. I love visiting my sister and her crew they are laid back and I could just feel the stress melting away. I did not get to see the two younger members of the family. They were fast asleep when I got there.

The next morning my sister picked up my luggage before heading to work. I got to see Jack before he went to day care. This little man is a handful and I can only say he is my sister’s payback. But because he is not mine to keep I can laugh at his antics and dote on him without feeling an ounce of guilt.

My Mom came to pick me up from my sister’s and we headed out to the farm. Let me try to describe my home to you. As you leave the suburbs where my sister lives you travel through small villages and into farm land with rolling hills that are the start of the Berkshire Mountains and in the summer the area is lush and green. In March green is not found unless there are a few early snow drops in bloom. There was no snow left so it was very brown but in another month daffodils, crocuses and tulips will be in full bloom.

My parents have a 100 acre farm with woods, ponds, flats, swamps and a creek. Growing up here was at times fun, lonely and boring. I knew I was going to get out of the one horse town and live in the suburbs or the city. I just did not think I would move that far away from everyone. So going home is a mixed bag for me; while there I was able to see the deer on the flats and on the hills. In a few months there will be fawns bounding through the fields. The creek that runs behind my parent’s home was spilling over the banks. The creek in the spring has always been my favorite part of the farm. I used to spend hours sitting on the banks and just being or day dreaming. After several days of the quiet that is my parents' life.

I am ready to be back where there is a daily hum that moves at a faster pace. It is not anything my parents can understand although I have tried to explain it numerous times. Neil Diamond said it best in I am I said: L.A.'s fine, but it ain't home, New York's home, but it ain't mine no more. Texas is where I make my home but Yankee Land pulls me back. There are times when I miss driving down dirt roads, picking green beans out of the garden, sitting outside under the maple trees while I read a book. I do not miss taking care of the chickens…I hate chickens.

My Dad was still not doing as well as I would have liked but he was better than I expected. He has started to gain back the weight he lost and his cough is under control for the first time in a long time. More importantly I was able to just spend time with my Dad and my Mom. I know that sounds like a simple thing but if you live away from family you will understand how hard that really is.

When we travel home in the summer we have so many people to see and it is hard to have any quiet time with my parents. We have such a short time to squeeze in lots of visiting and sometimes it is stressful instead of relaxing. This visit was not stressful it was relaxing. Therefore I returned to Texas refreshed and ready to return to work this Monday. I was true to my word and I did not take any work with me so I graded essays Sunday. They really need to improve so we will be working on that again this week.

My favorite part of the essays is when they write a paragraph to explain to me why they did such a poor job on the essay. If they had used that time to continue writing their essay it might have received a better grade. They are either hopeful or they have yet to realize that I do not give pity grades. I use my former English and American History teachers as my role models. I did get to see both of these gentlemen on this trip. My English teacher did not accept garbage. The first paper I ever wrote for him was garbage although I did not think so at the time. He bled red all over that paper and he gave me an F--. I didn’t even know there was such a grade. I was so angry at him after all I had always made As in English. I worked my tail off in that class and managed to pass the class. The next year I had him again and the first paper I turned in that year received an A++. My American History teacher taught me to question the textbook and conventional wisdom. He made it safe to think outside of the box and to question authority. Both of these men changed my life for the better and I try to give to my students what they gave to me. The old high school has not changed much. They have added a new wing and I would give my eye teeth to have one of those nice large classrooms. They actually do have locked doors and you have to buzz to get in the building once school is in session. I was rather shocked by this development. Even in the inner city we do not have buzzers.

All in all I had a wonderful spring break that allowed me to spend time with me family and to relax which I needed more than I realized when I first booked this trip.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


In my last post I expressed the concern I have for my Dad and how I felt I needed to see him for myself. I have decided to do so. I will be heading north into Yankee land to return home for a visit.

I am not sure if other people feel this way or not. The life I have created with my husband and sons is located in Texas. We have not always lived here but have called it home for the past 12 years. Yet I find myself pulled northward in my thoughts on a regular basis and even though I do not wish to live north it is still HOME. The place I was raised shaped my life and even though it is an awkward fit I still return to see the people that I left behind.

I will spend 5 days in Yankee land 4 of them on my parents’ farm with no internet although they do now have satellite television. It is funny the satellite I could live without for 4 days the internet on the other hand is difficult to live without when I visit. This is always an adjustment for me. I rely on my email to stay in touch with the world. I also enjoy following several blogs and getting the news from several sources; none of that for 4 days.

What I will get is peace and quiet and time with my Mom and Dad. The nieces and nephews will not be on spring break so I’ll only get to see them a little bit. I will get to spend the 16th with my Sister which is a big deal because that is her birthday. I can not remember the last time I was able to see her for her birthday. I hope to stop in at my Alma Mater and see a few of the high school teachers that played a large role in my life. I usually return home in the summer when school is out of session.

I am not taking any work with me it will be here when I get back that is one thing I can count on. I will also return with a peace of mind along with less stress but at the same time I will be happy to be back in Texas and suburbia. I can only take rural farm life for so long before I need a Starbucks in the morning and a Sonic in the afternoon along with a 5 minute ride to the nearest grocery store along with a large variety of restaurants close at hand. I will also be ready to go back to work. A week off and I start to think about my other kids and I want to be back in the classroom.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Silver Linings

Some people are very organized. I am not. I write that in my PDAS every year that one of my goals as a teacher is to be more organized. I will admit this year I am a little better because I have actually put papers, documents and such in binders or folders. I did even better at the beginning of the year when I had a student assistant. He left me after three weeks because there was an opening in the advanced art class so he switched into that and I went back to organizing myself. So where am I going with this train of thought all over the place I think because it has been a rough week both on the work and home-front.

I am not one of those people that is so organized that I can compartmentalize my life; thus I only keep one blog and work and life both show up in the same blog. I know several people that keep two or three blogs I just can not do that. So for those of you that only like to read about educational items I am sorry that not everything I write is education based therefore you will be surprised at times by what you read. I hope you will continue to read and comment.

As I said in the opening paragraph this past week has been very rough not only at work but on the home-front as well. Messy part number one is too complicated to go into but it involves the lack of health insurance for a young adult in the family. From where I sit “socialized medicine” does not seem like such a bad thing if it means coverage for those who need it.

Messy part number two as if part one were not enough to deal with. Work, specifically my concern for my students’ ability to write well for the AP test and the amount of class time I am losing because of that wonderful required state assessment we must give. By this time the students’ that are taking the AP exam in May should consistently be writing at least 6s. That is not the case at all many of my students are still getting 1s and 2s. For those of you in the non-education world that did not take AP classes in high school, I didn’t my school didn’t even offer them, a 1 is equal to a 57 a 2 is equal to a 62 you get the idea. So if they are still writing 1 and 2 level papers their chances of passing this test is not good. So once again I find myself wondering what more can I do to help them get the concepts that they are missing and I look for the silver lining. The first one is rather silly but it helps: the have stopped using things and stuff in their essays. It would go something like this: “the French they had things wrong in their country so they did stuff to cause a revolution.” This was enough to make me want to pull my hair out. The other silver lining AP baby number 890, I give them made up names and numbers, that usually only wrote one or two paragraphs wrote a full essay and it was a 9 yes I said a 9 the highest score you can get. I am losing 2 days with them this week to the standardized test requirements so that is two less days of content and writing. Can the State make this any more difficult? Please do not tell them that I asked that or they just might.

Messy number three is not really messy but it is something that I hate doing. FAFSA! Ugh the paper work is a pain. Our youngest child is a senior in high school and we need to get FAFSA done and finding the time with everything else that is going on makes it very stressful. The silver lining is that he has already received one acceptance letter. We are waiting to hear from two other schools.

Messy number four is something that Bone wrote about in his blog a few posts ago. Bone’s post was excellent and once I can figure out how to link it I will. He wrote about parents growing older. Both of my parents will be 70 this year. That wouldn’t be so bad in and of itself the problem is that they live in Yankee land which for those of you in the South does not mean everywhere North. Yankees live along the East coast. Michigan for example is not Yankee land it is the Midwest. Yankees do not like being lumped with just anyone that is north of the Mason-Dixon Line we are a unique breed and not everyone can be a Yankee just like not everyone that lives in Texas is a Texan. TC I thought I would help you out with that one. I of course am a transplant because I now live in Texas so I only get to see my parents about once a year. My Dad has been under the weather for a while and I am considering making the trip home to see them during my spring break. My silver lining is I will get to see him for myself the down side to that is I am sure he will tell me I did not need to come and that I should not have wasted my money. I of course do not think it would be a waste of money but I know my Father it is what he will say. The silver lining is I know that deep inside he will be happy I came home. He wishes I would not live so far away even though he understands why I do.

So my semi-organized overlapping life is not real smooth right now but I just keep hanging on and moving forward as I hold onto those silver linings.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Letter Game

Okay, here's a fun game you should play...If you want to play, leave a comment on this post letting me know, and I'll assign you a letter. You post ten things you love that begin with your assigned letter. When people comment on your list, you give them a letter, and the chain continues on and on. My cousin Felicia assigned me the letter S. So here it goes. S's are really hard.

1. Stan - this is my Dad. He is strong, silly with his grandchildren and once wore a banana peel on his head when we went to Wards. He loves, cares for and protects his family. He is a wonderful Dad, Husband and Grandfather.

2. Silence - something I totally enjoy when I have the house to myself. I don't even turn on music.

3. Scrapbooking - my new hobby now that quilting and cross stitching have become very difficult for me.

4. Students - my favorite group of people. They come in all sizes, shapes, colors, intelligence levels and they are just enjoyable to be around.

5. Siblings - I have two. A brother and a sister. They are both younger than me and they mean the world to me. My sister is one of my very best friends. I do not to get see either of them as much as I would like to.

6. Spiral Diner - the Vegan Resturant in Fort Worth. This is a fun little place with a personality all of its own. I like it so much because in the middle of "Cowtown" and "Where the West Begins" along with the "Chisolm Trail" stop we can have a Vegan Resturant.

7. Savannah, GA - We went here for the first time in the summer of 05 and I fell in love with this city. We were only able to spend a day there. I would love to go back for at least a week and I would not mind living there if the opportunity came about.

8. Sonic Drive-In - Even though I do not eat meat anymore I still love Sonic. I love their drinks and there soft-serve ice cream. I love that I can get iced tea all year long not just in the summer.

9. Singing - even though I can not carry a tune in a bucket I still sing in the car and I sing in church. I'm pretty sure God doesn't care that I can't carry a tune in a bucket. I also love to listen to my youngest son sing. He has a beautiful rich deep voice.

10. Shayna - my wonderful niece that is more like a sister than a cousin to my two sons. She is beautiful, talented, confident, smart, sweet and funny. I love her openess and how she embraces life. She is a blessing and I am so lucky that she is a part of my life. I wish I could see her more often than I do.

That is my list it was harder than I thought it would be.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Second Semester

I like the start of the 2nd semester almost as much as the beginning of the school year. Part of the reason I like it so much is my students have a new beginning with the arrival of the new semester. If they did not do well in the first semester they have the chance to learn from their mistakes and fix it.

This new semester has already seen so many steps forward for my students and some recognition for me; both of which have given my spirits a boost even as I battle the crud.

With the arrival of the new semester I give my students the “talk”. I tell them what happened in the first semester is water under the bridge and that if they work hard this semester they will only need to make up a half credit not a whole credit. This is also where I tell them that if they don’t get it done here it is summer school or a repeat of a year with me and that they would not want to suffer me twice. This usually gets a laugh or a groan from most of my students.

I had many students battle with me in the first semester but I have one in particular that I will tell you about. This one student battled with me all through first semester. He did not turn in most of his work, was insistent that he was not smart enough or that it was too much and too hard as well. None of this was true but it is what he perceived to be true. He also believed that if he failed I would have to let him out of the class. Boy was he wrong because not only does he need my permission. He also needed the academic coordinator’s permission, the principal’s permission and his parent’s permission. This is where he underestimated my powers of persuasion. I contacted his parent’s at the end of the first semester to give them a fair warning of what was to come. I had to use the stay-in-school coordinator as my interpreter I am fluent in ASL not Spanish. Once they realized that this class will help him go to college and be successful along with the fact that he could earn up to six credit hours while in high school that was all they needed to hear. He would not be allowed out of my class and he would complete my work. I can tell you he was not happy with me at all. The first day back in class he just glared at me but then he turned in an assignment and got an 81, he just wrote a great essay and it scored a 6 on the AP World History scale. I knew he could do it and now he knows he can do it. I have seen an attitude change in this young man and the fact that his girl friend “doesn’t want to date a dummy” her words not mine sure does help. It also helped that I gave him gift advice and his girlfriend loved what he gave her. The girls in the class gave him advice that was way too expensive. It pays to have teenage sons I use what I have learned from them to help my students.

Here is another change I am seeing this semester: after school tutoring. I am after school Monday – Thursday until 5in the evening and since the second semester started I have at least seven students in my room every afternoon for help or to work on assignments. I really like this part of my day actually I love this part of my day because I get to spend more one-on-one time with my students. I also get to know them on a personal level so that I better understand them and what drives them.

By the second semester I really do know my students well and I become very protective of them. I work with their other teachers, administer, and their parents. They are my AP babies. I am the first AP class they have. Everything to this point has been Pre-AP or regular classes. They have actually asked me to talk to our principal about having AP shirts made that say AP World History Ms. Penny Candy’s AP Babies. I am not sure that it will be approved but I think it is great that they want to be known as that.
The recognition for me this year came as a surprise to me and I am honored and touched that I was named Teacher of the Year at my school. This also means that I am a candidate for Teacher of the Year for the whole district.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Disappointment and Hope

This week was final exam week for the first semester where I teach. So last weekend I graded the projects that my students turned in. They had four-and-a-half weeks to complete this assignment. The students were given a rubric and there were examples in my classroom for them to look at. This assignment could be done alone or with a partner. I was after school 8 of the 10 school days before break started so if they needed guidance or access to a computer they had an opportunity to get support or resources. The students also have my work email address if they had questions over they break they could ask in an email. I received one email from a student.

We returned to school Tuesday and the project was due Wednesday so they had a reminder to turn it in. I have 52 students and with the arrival of the due date I had less than 10 projects turned in. Thursday I had 5 projects and Friday I had 5. Granted some of these students worked with a partner so when it was all said and done 40 students turned in projects. I was disappointed because last year all of my students turned in this major project.

My disappointment grew as I graded the first 5 projects; the students had not followed directions and their grades were very low. Here is where the hope comes in as I moved through the projects they did get better and in fact a few of my students that had really struggled with earlier assignments had very good projects.

The students that did not turn in the project will feel the consequence of their decision because each of them failed the six weeks and some of them failed the semester. So then I think to myself is there a bigger hope and the answer is yes. My students are learning a valuable lesson that they need to learn sooner rather than later.

Another ray of hope came as I graded the semester finals. I gave them a modified mock AP exam and I had several students pass the test straight up without a curve. I did curve the exam in the end because there will still too many failures. This exam gave me a good read of where my students are, what they do and do not understand, what we still need to work on with regards to essays and who has a realistic shot at passing the exam and who has the potential if they really work at it.

As the new semester faces us I will use the exams and the projects as a way to motivate and move forward. My hope is that none of my students fail the second semester. I hope they have learned that deadlines are important and they have to be met even if you do not like what you have been asked to do.