Friday, December 31, 2010

Where does the time go?

No, this isn't an introspective email about the last year. :)  Just the last couple of days.  I've been productive and lazy interchangeably...then all of a sudden it's 2:45 on NYE and my house is a mess and OH MY GOSH I JUST REMEMBERED I'M SUPPOSED TO TAKE SOCKS TO THE PARTY TONIGHT FOR STAR OF HOPE.  So I run out the door to Target (major bad decision...there was not one person still in their Houston home...they were all in the mall parking lot.) 

I skipped that and went to HEB because I had also forgotten something when I grocery shopped last night.  SCORE!  HEB sells men's socks!  Then raced home, put away all the groceries, PILED up my desk with all the paperwork I have yet to handle as well as the little Christmas items that somehow didn't get packed away and checked on the food items that have already been started.

Seriously!  Where did the last couple of days go?

It probably didn't help that I stayed up til 4:30 this morning reading...when I was getting up at 7:30...then took a two hour nap about noon because I could no longer keep my eyes open.

Ready or not, here midnight comes!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Year End Retrospective

At the beginning of the year, I started "The List" of things I wanted to accomplish this year.  Some of those things happened.  Some of the desires changed.  Some of them are still desires, but haven't happened yet.  This is my "end of the year" update.  I think I will do this next year, too.  It was fun and I enjoyed it a lot!  (Partly because I LOVE marking things off a list and partly because it's fun to set goals and then get motivated to achieve them...(so I can mark them off the list!))

This was the original posting:

They are in absolutely no particular order.

__1. Take a self-defense class

_x_2. Pay off medical bills

__3. Go to Chicago

__4. Go skydiving

__5. Take a course on gun safety, get a license to carry a gun and purchase one

_x_6. Re-take the GRE (long story) and work HARD at completing my Master's degree

_x_7. Go cash predominantly (I'm not sure cash only is even an option anymore)

_x_8. Go on a mission trip

_x_9. Plant things (I'm being vague on purpose) in my garden

_x_10. Cook more regularly

_x_11. Figure out why my wifi doesn't work at home

_x_12. Use everything in my pantry before going grocery shopping

_x_13. Re-read the Proverbs 31 woman study...focus hard on the character traits the Lord leads me too

__14. Meet Angie Smith

__15. Visit Crosspoint Church

__16. Meet Brandi and Pete Wilson

__17. Meet the first few requirements in Dave Ramsey's list of 'acting your wage' (I'm using my own words here)

That's what I can think of right now. 17 is an odd number to end on, but I'm okay with that. I can add more later if I want to! :)

These are the items I added through the year.

__Researching PhD programs

__Going on a cruise

_x_Post more regularly

__Spend quality time with the Lord more regularly.

_x_Take more pictures of life as it happens!

_x_Write my little Compassion boy more often.

__Plan fun lessons on the SMART board for next year.

__Have my neighbors over for dinner.


Well, as you can see, I didn't accomplish it all...but hey, that gives me a good place to start for next year!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


We had a fun day at school today!


We do these types of days three times a year.  We get the kiddos excited about writing and also provide them with experiences to write about!  (Two birds with one stone, so to speak.)

Every year, schools in our feeder pattern are asked to exchange stories students have written.  We're given a certain prompt, a certain window to do it in, etc.  We've never wanted to participate in this, because the timeline doesn't work well.  Also, it's asking us to grade someone else's class of papers.  And trusting someone else to grade ours?  No thank you.  This year, when our principal declined,  (We can do that due to our exemplary status.) she was asked to give a snippet of our writing curriculum.  This was in early November.  She responded with information about one of our big writing days.  We had just had our first one at the end of October.  She ended up presenting the info at a principals' meeting...and then was inundated with people wanting to observe our next presentation.

Voila, we had 50 visitors today!  We didn't change any part of our presentation.  They're welcome to come, but we do this for the kids.  While the students were icing their cupcakes and writing down their brainstorming ideas in their journal, Mary and I fielded a bunch of questions while also helping children.

Then our wonderful team took the students outside for a track break and Mary and I gave a 25 minute overview to all the visitors and had a mini Q & A session.  It was fun because I love teaching teachers, but it was EXHAUSTING 'first day of school' kind of exhausting.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Just a few thoughts

I'm currently sitting at a covered dining room table with boxes of Christmas decorations all around my house.  Can we say "MUCH BETTER THAN GRAD SCHOOL PAPERS!"

Yes.  Yes, we can.

This week has already been busy, but I'm having fun, too!

I submitted my last paper of grad school last night.  What a blessing!  Afterwards, I took a big sigh of relief and then ordered Domino's to be delivered.  Yesssss!

Today I've run errands for work and personal pleasure and then come home to clean and decorate.  I won't get it all done tonight, but only because I don't want to rush.  I want to enjoy it!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

For the love!

I was putting on make-up this morning and had the little brush used to apply powdery substances in my hand.  I use it to apply eyeshadow.  I always use it to apply eyeshadow.  Uh-huh...always.  K?  K.  So my hand is heading to my eye to apply the shadow, but my eye didn't get closed in time and "poof" that little brush went straight to my eyeball! 

OUCH!  "What do I do now?" was my first thought.  It's not as if I can take a Kleenex to my eyeball.

That ended up being exactly what I did though.  Gently.

Talk about bad hand-eye coordination!

Friday, December 03, 2010

December is HERE!

I'm looking forward to this month so much!

I know it has already started, so that might be a weird thing to say.  But I am.  I'm ready to be finished with grad school and December is the month!  THE month!  Wa-hooo!

I took a final on Wednesday.  I didn't do great on it, but with all the other points with the semester, I'm not worried about it.  And it's over!  That's the main thing!

I have a paper due Monday night.  While I haven't started writing it yet, I have all the prep work finished for it and that's a huge burden off.  This weekend is fairly busy, but the paper will still be written!

And that is my last milestone!  I'm not "walking."  I just don't care enough, but I've got the papers in the mail saying I'm ready and set to graduate.  I just have to finish the 6 hours from this semester.  Well, there's only a few days left and then I'll have done it! 

My parents threw me a wonderful surprise graduation party while we were in Oklahoma City last Friday.  Both sides of extended family came and I felt so blessed and encouraged.  It was exciting, completely unexpected and a huge blessing.  So fun!

My house is a mess right now.  Fall decor is still up.  Christmas boxes are unloaded from the car, but don't have any where to go.  The sink is full of dishes.  Black Friday shopping bags are sitting in the bedroom.  I can't even blame grad school work this week.  There just hasn't been time to work on grad school or clean/put away! 

Ah, well.  Just a couple more days.  Then I'll breathe a HUGE (read: gargantuan) sigh of relief and really enjoy this month.

There are parties coming up that I could say YES to attend.  Do you know how big that is?  I've had to say "no" to almost every invitation this semester.  Honestly, life got very narrow...and very lonely.  I'm so excited to attend activities, meet friends for coffee or dinner and even initiate things at my house!
Yay for December!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Creative? Me?

I've been doing a study of Proverbs 31 off and on for about a year now.  I've really enjoyed it...certainly learning a lot from it, and hopefully applying it, too!

The study is broken into lessons, with each lesson focusing on a particular verse from Proverbs 31. 

I've always struggled with one particular verse...24. 

"She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies sashes for the merchants."

The lesson title for this verse is "Creative."  I've never thought of myself as creative.  I can use a sewing machine (and I'm using the word "can" loosely here...meaning I can do it with a little guidance.)  I know how to put a picture up on the wall.  (Deciding where to put it is another matter.) I can wield a paint brush.  (Choose a color?  Choose which wall to paint?  Texturing?  Not so much.) I have the ability to do these things, but I don't have an eye for what looks really good.  I know what I like in decorating, but I don't always know what I want before it's time to decorate.  (Bring Hobby Lobby home?  That's my motto.) 

I have friends that make baby blankets and diaper bags and clothing.  Other friends play music beautifully.  My mom and aunt are fabulous at decorating a home on any type of budget.  Other friends have a fun sense of humor and make the world a better place through laughter.  I've just never had that ability or talent or gift....and I kind of think it's all three!

I was talking about this in small group the week we got to this lesson and our mentor said, "You're a teacher.  You tutor children.  That IS creative.  You can help guide them through a confusing concept, see them understand and move forward with new knowledge.  I definitely think that's creativity." 

I don't know if I can articulate how that rocked my world.  ME?  Creative?  That's something to describe beautiful women who already have it all together.  Creative women are ones who can show their family and friends they love them through a tangible item that can be touched, seen, heard.  Creativity means praising the Lord through a beautiful voice or instrument.  I'm not creative. 

But I received her words.  I have such respect for her, and have for years, even though I didn't know her well...having listened to her speak at a couple different events, being friends with people who were friends with her...watching her in action, and soaking up the words of a woman who is further along in her Christian walk than I am.  I received her words in a way I might not have from a peer. 

Hmmm, creative. 

I am creative.  Helping a child to learn is creative.  Saying these words...typing freeing. 

I'm so glad our singles' group is working to bring women together from across life's phases to learn from each other and encourage each other!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What would you say?

My assignment for this week was to write a response article to this article in TIME magazine.  We were to pretend we are nationally known and being paid an exorbitant rate to write this piece.

If you had to write one sentence to explain why you are nationally known in your field, what would you say?  Dream big folks!  What do you want to do with your career?  What do you wish you did differently but for some reason (in or out of your control) that hasn't happened? 

I'll start us off :)

Alyssa Ross, a former elementary school educator nationally known for her creative vocabulary activities well adapted to engage any student in learning a wider lexicon and a current professor of education majors at a well-known southern university wrote a follow-up article.   

Monday, November 15, 2010

A fresh (inhale deeply!) smile

I walked in to my patio this afternoon...rushing a bit because the a/c and heating man was on his way...and stopped dead in my tracks. Who brought me FLOWERS!? My hands are full, so I can't open the note right away...and my name isn't on the front, so there's no way for me to recognize the handwriting.

I come inside and quickly divest myself of everything in my hands then admire my bright pink BEAUTIFUL blooms as I tear open the note and smile and laugh at the blessing I have received.

They are in a vase, sitting right beside me as I sit at my computer...and they make me smile just by seeing them out of the corner of my eye!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Keep readin', readin', readin'
Though they're overwhel-helmed
Keep those students readin', right now!

Sang to the tune of Rawhide
Published for my enjoyment =)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Light at end of tunnel

We all use that phrase.  "I can see the light at the end of the tunnel."  I've used it repeatedly to refer to a semester in grad school or the end of the school year when I know I'm about to be kid free for the summer!  Or really any long term committment that was almost completed.

After I completed the paper last weekend on Affirmative Action, I started to feel as if I could see the light at the end of the tunnel for the completion of grad school.  The problem with this particular time of "seeing the light" is that I started acting, just a little bit, as if I was already out of the tunnel.  I have one more class session, one more short paper, two more loooong papers and one more final.  It's very doable.  But it's still work, and they're definitely not completed.  So I'm not out of the tunnel, yet!

Last night I went to Nutcracker Market with some friends (and realize I'm a bad group shopper) and then over to Julie B's house to watch Newsies with the girls.  We had so much fun, and I'm really glad I went!  It's made today a little hard to knuckle down though.  I've been up four hours and have been productive in that time period, but I'm only starting school work after posting this...which wasn't so much supposed to happen.

Fall Fun

I'll be making vegetarian chili this afternoon for Fall Fun tonight! 

When I first heard "vegetarian chili," I turned up my mental nose and thought "tofu?  in chili?  gross!"  But this isn't tofu at all and it's REALLY good!  I've served it to manly men and petite women and all have given it two thumbs up!

Our Bible study class is having a Fall Fun event this evening with a chili cook-off and pumpkin carving contest.  We're also going to have the Texas A&M/Baylor game playing on three different televisions!   Apple cider and a bunch of fall decor will complete the fall-themed evening and the Lord has blessed us with cool weather just in time!

I'm looking forward to it!  Will post pics!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Pardon me while I act like a 2 year old

I don't wanna integrate Huntington into this research paper.  He's a loony conservative who doesn't represent us very well.  I've got my thoughts down on paper, but we have to integrate all the readings together...and I just don't wanna!

No! NO! No! 

Sigh...ok...I'll go do it.

Resting in Christ

My Sunday school class is having a retreat this weekend.  Acreage, campfire, sprawling house, no television, dirt roads, running water, swing sets, volleyball get the idea.  Nature in a civilized favorite retreat.

I have a paper on preventing bias in young children due Monday night at midnight.  There was quite a bit of reading in preparation for this paper and I realized on Thursday afternoon that I had read one of the wrong books.  Yikes!  Saturday was spent finishing the correct book and also watching a required film.

Due to this assignment, I wasn't able to go the retreat, but I did pop out there for a brief time during the praise and worship/campfire.  Julie and Dan are finished with their leadership roles and we presented Julie with the gift we had collected for her. (Dan had to make a sudden trip out of town.)  We also prayed for her and spent time in prayer for our new leaders as well.  It was a sweet time for sure.

The part I wasn't expecting is the reminder to rest in Christ.  Josh had prepared a short devo and he focused on sharing our yoke with Christ...resting with Christ.  I remember him saying, "I don't ever think, at the end of a day, 'Man, I shouldn't have spent so much time with the Lord this morning.  I didn't get enough done at work.  But there are definitely times I think 'I wish I had spent more time with Christ today.  I think today might have gone better, then." 

I haven't been spending time in the Word lately.  I haven't been going to Christ with my struggles.  My soul is weary from trudging through.  A friend mentioned something to me on the phone awhile back about making sure to have quality time with Christ and I remember thinking "You just don't understand.  I don't have TIME."  I know better than that.  As I'm typing this, I'm shaking my head at my own stupidity.  Seriously?  I'm 30 years old and have been a child of God for 22 years.  You would think I would have learned something by now!

My paper is rough, but I'll get it finished today.  I feel pretty good about it.  There are two more papers to write.  They WILL get finished.  I'm choosing to rest in the Lord instead of worry about it.  I realize that will be a daily battle...especially closer to the due date for each one.  Feel free to remind me if I slip and start stressing.

(I know I'll regret typing that last sentence, but I'm still not going to take it out! )

Saturday, November 06, 2010

A reminder...

I had Taco Bell for dinner last night.  I don't think I had eaten it since college...and was reminded why adults don't need to eat there.  It is gross and cheap, thus a love of college students. 


Friday, November 05, 2010

Riddle me this...

Three cars pull up from separate ways and stop at a a 4 way stop sign.  All three cars proceed through the intersection at the same time without a collision.

How does this work?

Monday, November 01, 2010

Now I remember/understand

Last night was Halloween.  I was home with all the lights on and a bowl of candy ready to go.  My doorbell rang a few times...almost all with older children that were not dressed up and were carrying around pillowcases for their candy.  They were also picky about what candy they would take.

Now I remember why my parents started leaving the house for the evening of's not fun when it's punks.

Friday, October 29, 2010


We had a gradebook problem...just a little one.  Basically one student needed to be changed to a different class assignment.  The registrar made the change and the update happened overnight.  Except when that happened, it erased ALL of his grades!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I'm tired and I'm feeling a little whiny and OH MY WORD this weekend was fun, but busy.  (And yes, I'm aware that really none of that sentence in anyway relates, much less should be in the same sentence.)

There's just something about being around people that have known me a long time.  Y'all know what I'm talking about.  The tears flow.  The laughter doesn't stop.  The drama that had been is brought up and laughed about or conveniently forgotten because you're just that loved.  I had that this weekend.  And I needed it...badly.  I didn't realize how much I needed it until Friday night as the tears are flowing.  Each time we gather, we give prayer requests.  Am had brought the most recent list with her and we updated and then exchanged new ones and prayed for each other.  It was emotional, uplifting, encouraging and a sweet time of sisters in communion with the Holy Spirit kneeling at Christ's throne beseeching Him on a wide spectrum of topics.  And HE cares.  And so do we, each of us committing to pray and fussing at each other when life situations arise that we don't communicate. 

I absolutely adore my Ouachita girls and am so thankful the Lord has blessed me with their friendships.  We don't talk as much between girls' weekends as we intend to or want to, but each time we get together, we really do pick up where we left off. 

Sunday night I saw a grade for my most recent "Columbus is a murdering man" paper.  It stunk.  Truly.  And I emailed the instructor because I had been told the draft was very good and I made the corrections mentioned.  So why is the final grade so low?  I read my email to Mom to make sure I was being respectful and she agreed it was.  I was reamed by the instructor in his response.  Always nice. 

One student posted on the discussion board.  He was basically asking if anyone else was having difficulty processing the amount of information we're having to read.  He's overwhelmed.  (It's heavy material and LOTS of it.  The next assignment requires two whole books, parts of two other books, multiple articles (or a whole book), a movie and interviewing three different people.  The topic is affirmative action.  A good topic by all means, but a heavy topic.  An emotional topic.  And our paper is due two weeks from today.  Only three weeks after the last paper.  All of the students in this class work full time and are taking other classes too, so the amount of reading for this class is quite difficult to accomplish.)  Anyway, he posted his feelings of being overwhelmed.  The professor's response?  "Good problem." 

So I receive the instructor's email reaming me regarding my last paper.  He wants me to rewrite it.  (Ha!  As if there is time for that!)  The professor thinks it's good that her students are overwhelmed with material.  All of this led to my fb status last night: "No one appreciates a professor who has the perspective that her class is the only thing important."


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Walk of Faith

Isn't the Lord good? 

He is.  All the time.  Literally.  ALL of the time, the Lord is good.  But sometimes, I forget that.  Or don't trust that.  Or don't walk in the faith of that truth.

As all I've been talking about lately is grad school, why differ from the norm?  I'll give a grad school example of how the Lord was good to me today.  I'll write a different post tomorrow on what the Lord showed me in class tonight, because He is awesome.  But for now, a student's example. 

I turned in a paper two weeks ago.  It was a first draft and was worth 7 points total.  I received the instructor's comments and overall grade added up to 5, but he had the total as 6.  At first, my flesh thought "Hey, he made a mistake...who am I to correct him?"

We are to make revisions based on the instructor's comments and turn it in tomorrow.  I completed that yesterday afternoon and was convicted to email him about the grade disparity.  I just heard back.  He said he gave me an extra point for my overall work and he didn't think a 5 reflected that.  The Lord blessed my obedience by allowing me to hear a compliment.  I've never had a strong self-efficacy regarding my writing and slowly but surely the Lord is using different people to allow me to see a different perspective.  Not only did I truly earn the 6; it wasn't just a typo, but I also received a compliment.  That assignment was really hard, so to hear that the instructor thought I did well was good to hear!

God rocks!

I'm never going to get it right...and I need to stop beating myself up about it.

A friend of mine has this has his FB status today: 

"Every week when I leave church I am convicted of just how much I rely on myself and how I can handle things.... And how little I rely on Christ and how HE handles everything! I'm 32 years old and it seems I have to learn this weekly... Make that daily."

Not even an hour ago, I was on the phone with my mom fussing about how much grad school is ruling my life.  I mean SERIOUSLY ruling my life.  I have a paper due tomorrow, a thesis outline and references due Wednesday, a Reflection paper due Wednesday, a huge paper due November 8 that has probably 100 hours of preparation linked to it...and I could go on and on.  Yes, the test yesterday is over.  Yes, that is a HUGE relieft to have it off my plate...but there is still more to do.  Work is really overwhelming right now too.  REALLY OVERWHELMING.  Our district wants an effective teacher in every classroom and in the process to make that happen, they're going to send MANY effective teachers packing.  I won't go into the details since this is a public blog. 

In the course of my conversation with Mom, I tell her I have to remind myself that I really do WANT this degree.  I CHOSE to go to school.  I WANT to graduate and I HAVE learned A LOT and ENJOYED most of my classes and learning.

All of that to say, J's status really hit home. I need to be relying on Christ alone.  I need to go to Him when I'm tired and overwhelmed.  I need to quit relying on my own energy, stamina, knowledge and experience.  I need to realize He is my refuge.  My cup isn't currently overflowing...and that's my own fault because I'm not going to Christ or spending time in His word daily.

So often I feel as if I'm making it.  I'm in control.  I've got my act together.  That's a crock.  I have a black heart full of sin and I'm a messed up woman.  Christ has redeemed me and too often I forget that.

Jesus, thanks for the reminder.  I needed it today.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Easier Things

Does anybody else look at the pile of laundry that needs washed or the stack of papers to grade or the blank lesson plans and think "You know, I really need to arrange the books on my bookshelf?"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Just a thought...

I've taken today off work to study for the Comps on Saturday.  I took Tuesday of last week off work, too.  I've made tons of progress and feel ok about the test.

During these days, I've gone for walks, done laundry, watered plants, worked in the kitchen, etc.  I absolutely love sitting at my dining room table with the window cracked open and the blinds all through the house letting sunlight stream through.

While enjoying these days at home, I've decided something.

It would really be better for children to have two months off school when they can be outside enjoying beautiful weather.  It's not scorching hot.  It's not dry and blistering.  It's absolutely beautiful, with crisp cool air and even a breeze sometimes! 

I know this may not be the case across the nation, but I think we should go to school in June, July and August and instead be off in September, October and November...but that's just me.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Emotional Eating

I didn't sleep well Monday night...stayed up too late and then was restless throughout the night. 

Which means Tuesday was full of caffeinated beverages!

At the end of the day, I read this post...and by the end I'm tearing up because I want a baby someday, too and laughing because she's just so real.

A parent of a 4th grader (not one of mine) came and talked with me about a project she was helping us with.  Long story short, she's not going to to do it...

She'd already rubbed me the wrong way a few weeks back about being willing to help her child's teacher, but not willing to do enough to help me too.  The project is making the game Concentration with vocabulary words and definitions.  Several parents are helping and they're all making 10 sets of each list of words.  5 sets for one reading teacher and 5 sets for the other reading teacher.  This particular mom wasn't willing to make 10 sets...and wanted me to find another parent willing to make my 5 sets.  Yeah...rude.

And now, she's not going to do it at all.

So I'm tired because I didn't sleep well.

I've dealt with a parent that is backing out when we need the materials she had volunteered to do.

I've read a post that has me laughing and crying.

But mostly, I'm tired.

I go home and eat chocolate pie...ummm, half the pie.

Yeah, not supposed to do that.  (I hear Hagrid in my head saying "I wasn't supposed to tell you that.  I was NOT supposed to tell you that.)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Move it along!

Yesterday I worked on outlining one of the eight questions I have to be prepared for next Saturday.

It's an outline.

It's over 5 pages long.

On to the next question!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Remember those commercials?

I woke up at 5:49 this morning and my first thought was "Yikes!  I didn't set an alarm.  Thank you Lord for waking me up"  then I set my alarm for 6:00 and lightly dozed off.  I snoozed at 6:00 and 6:05 and 6:11 I remembered today is Saturday.


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Sore Knee

Our church had the Lord's Supper on Sunday.  Traditionally, we have tables around the Worship Center with the bread and juice.  Whenever you feel ready, you get up and go get some from the deacons passing it out.  During the time of quiet music and reflection, I stood up to get in line.  Two friends were still praying and I had to stretch my legs a bit to get past them.  I lost my balance and cracked my knee against that little box thingy on the chair in front of us that holds the Bible and pens, etc. 

I don't have a war wound (sadness!)

But it's still very sore =(

Sunday, October 03, 2010

This week's paper (different from paper in previous post)

Every Wednesday for my Principles of Human Learning class, we have a Reflection Paper due.  We read a chapter and sometimes an assigned article and then answer some questions.  The paper is approximately 2-3 pages in length and isn't necessarily difficult, because it asks for classroom examples and perspectives based on experience, though it does take time.  This is the assignment that is due this Wednesday.  I love it!

Reflection Assignment #5

This assignment will NOT BE accepted late.

Papers should be neatly typed and formatted in the following style:
Heading: Name, EPSY 6340, Reflection Paper #5, and Date
Margins: 1” (left, right, top, bottom)
Font: Times New Roman / Size 12
Line Spacing: Double spaced

Due Date: Hard copy due October 6, 2010

Read Chapter 7 in your text and be prepared to discuss Cognition and Instruction in class on October 6. In addition, complete the exercise below.

1. Your assignment this week is the result of the analysis of two prevailing variables and one intervening variable. The two prevailing variables are:

 Dr. Schoger needs time to grade midterm exams.

 The students in EPSY 6340 studied hard for their midterm and need a break.

The intervening variable is:

 Dr. Schoger will be out of town for the next two weekends – one for pleasure, one for business,

Analysis of these variables, and their significant effect on the participants, demonstrate a need for a “freebie” this week for the reflection assignment. There is one thing you will be required to turn in, though. Print this page, and fill out the statement below.

I studied so hard for my midterm exam that I will positively reinforce myself this weekend by doing something nice for myself.

This is what I did for myself:


Grading Rubric:

Student did something nice to reinforce appropriate studying behavior - 10 points

Saturday, October 02, 2010

A paper written...twice...but not finished

I've written, in all fairness, two different incomplete papers today. 

The assignment: Assimilate and think about the issues raised by the authors.  In your essay,
(a) Write a letter to the Texas School Board members with your proposal for the revision of the social studies curriculum.
(b) Include main ideas and examples from the sources in this assignment or write a forward or afterword using the assignment's materials.  Finally,
(c) Discuss the implications of the authors' arguments for you, personally, and your chosen area of work.  Give specific examples.

Why should this be confusing?

Well, there is the word "essay" and the word "letter."  Those are not the same.  There is also the assumption that all students in this class are familiar with the state's social studies curriculum.  I am a social studies teacher and completed all of my schooling in Texas, but not all students in this class have that background.  None of our readings included the current state curriculum.  The assigned readings were quite extensive and intense, thus anyone needing to research the state curriculum would be quite taxed on time to be able to do so. 

What if I don't think there needs to be any changes?  (I mean...based on the assigned readings.)

One book we were assigned to read was from an extreme conservative.  The kind of conservative that thinks America should return to an entirely Anglo-Protestant republic, which gives all conservatives a bad name.  The other book we were assigned to read touts Washington and our Founding Fathers to be rich, white, Protestant men that were only concerned with lining their pocketbooks and giving themselves freedom.  Lincoln didn't really care about slavery.  Every politician and army in our nation's history was only concerned for Manifest Destiny.  We murdered anyone who got in our way.

You could say I didn't do much agreeing as I read.

I began one paper, that was quite well written and researched, if I do say so myself.  But it didn't really address the assignment.  I was on page 5 (the assignment is for 7 pages.)

I've saved it...though I'm not sure to what end.

And I started over. 

I'm on page 5 again....and stopping for the evening.

I'm at least on the right track now, but there is still some rewriting and editing and writing and then rewriting again that needs done. 

Friday, October 01, 2010

Phantom Noises

I thought I had posted about this already...but I can't find it.  Alas, it's today's post! :)

I've been hearing phantom noises lately.  At first, I would hear my cell phone ring as if it were coming from another know, distant, faint, but noticeable.  Except, my phone would be sitting at my elbow and obviously not ringing.  I shrugged it off as being a neighbor's phone...but weird (because that would be a REALLY loud ring for me to be able to hear it and because almost no one uses the same ring I do.)

Then a couple of weeks ago, I sat straight up in bed about 1:30 in the morning having heard the door bell.  I hesitantly checked the door.  No one was there.  No one was outside.  No one was anywhere near my house...nor did I hear giggling from some prank child around the corner.

I heard the doorbell again last night about 3:45am.  I did NOT go to the door this time.  I think I'm imagining things...but how the heck does it wake me up from (what had been) a SOUND SLEEP?

I'm still hearing the phantom phone rings, too.  It happens 3 or 4 times a week.  And the doorbell thing has now happened 3 times in the last couple of weeks.

Ugh...I need therapy!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

One thing FINISHED!

Read that title and picture me throwing my fists up in the air in celebration while I shout "FINISHED!"

I took my Principles of Human Learning midterm tonight.  I feel pretty good about it overall, but more importantly.....


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Major headway!  Major!  MAJOR, I tell you!

I have 8 questions to study for my Comps test on Oct 16.  I now feel extremely confidant about one entire question and quite confidant about another entire question (yes, entire!  not just part!)

I also finished reading about the awfulness that was our nation's beginning.  (I'm being sarcastic...I mean I'm not, because that's what I had to read about...but the fact that the author (and thus the professor for choosing this book) are painting it to the extreme would be an understatement indeed.)  The fact that I have zero respect for my professor (outside of the fact she is in the position of controling my grade)...

I still have two chapters to read about how Anglo-Protestants are at fault for everything our nation has ever done badly.  Then I am to write a letter to the State Board of Education proposing changes to the Social Studies curriculum...changes from this reading!  Lord, help!  (He already has...I'm planning to quote Pastor Gregg from Sunday's sermon!)

Buuuuut, I steered off topic.  I read one chapter (almost 50 pages) and prepared for two essay questions.  Success!

Now, I'm off to bed!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Thank you, Lord!

I just emailed my pysch professor and asked if my thesis outline could be turned in Oct 20 instead of Oct 13. (My comps test is Oct 16) and she said that would be fine! I almost didn't ask...because I didn't want her to think I don't think her class is important...but she was pretty supportive when the Comps test came up last week in class and I just decided to go for it. Praise the Lord!

It means the weekend of Comps will be the test and then working on my thesis outline...but it means I can take that totally off my plate until after the test!!!!

Praising Him!!!

Power Outage

We lost power at school on Friday.  Children enjoy hearing themselves squeal when lights barely flicker, much less go out altogether!  At first, the power was out for about five minutes.  They just barely came back on before they went off again...this time for close to an hour!  It was after lunch, but not quite dismissal time.  We do have windows, but due to the rain, it certainly wasn't sunny out.  The students did a great job of completing the assignment we were on, then we had fun by cleaning out our desks and our totes.  Children LOVE cleaning things!  It's amazing to me, because you know they don't like cleaning at home...but they absolutely love cleaning things at school.  We threw away old papers, wiped out desks, put books in their proper places, etc. 

All in all, they did great, but it was sure an interesting afternoon!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bunko Fun

We had a ladies' event at my house last night.  Sheri, Dawn and Meredith did an awesome job planning it!  I was asked to provide the location and didn't have to do any of the other prep was fantastic!

I really do need to get better at taking pictures! =( 

We had 15 girls by the end of the night.  Most were new to Bunko, but it's an easy game and all picked up on the rules quickly.  Sheri had planned 'get to know you' questions to ask before each round, so it was a great way for all of us to get to know each other.  Paradigm is growing so quickly that many people didn't know each other.  "If you found a $100 bill, what is the first thing you would spend it on?" and "If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?"  are fun questions with short answers...and then the head table's bell would ring and everyone was focused on those die!

We had lots of laughter and many talked about getting together for future game nights!

Saturday, September 25, 2010


I thought this was interesting...
I know I've already written about being overwhelmed, but as that is my life right now and this is my blog, I'm going to write about it again.

My Principles of Human Learning midterm is Wednesday.

I have a major paper due on October 4 in Cultural Foundations of American Education. I am to write a letter to the State Board of Education proposing changes to the Texas Social Studies Curriculum. So far I've read about how Columbus was really a mass murderer in one book and in another I've read about how we should go back to our Anglo-Protestant roots as that is clearly the only people group the founding fathers wanted to give freedom. Oh, let me tell you. (I hate it when conservatives are portrayed as being man does not speak for us all.)

On October 13, I need to turn in a title, references and outline for a thesis paper within my Principles of Human Learning class. I am researching Vocabulary Instruction with English Language Learners. I never write outlines for papers. I just start writing...and usually do pretty well. This will be an extra step and while I appreciate the fact that it makes me stay on top of the research, it is something else on my plate.

October 16 is my Comps Test. I have a packet to study with 8 questions. There will be 3 on the test. Here is just a sampling:
"Develop a list of 6 books that you consider "The Best of Children's Literature" (this does not necessarily mean 'old' books like Black Beauty). Select two realistic fiction novels, two historical fiction novels, and two fantasy novels. Defend your choices and include in your rationale specific ways that these books meet the criteria for excellence in each genre. What age or grade level does each book seem best suited for, or does it defy such boundaries? What is it that places each of these books head and shoulders above the hundreds of other juvenile books that are available?"

Breaking it down...I have to choose 6 books (out of thousands). I have to know and understand the criteria for each genre. I have to be discerning with age and grade appropriate materials and be able to identify why these books are 'head and shoulders above the rest.' This is hours of work. This is only one question. There are seven others.

I am not a person that can usually say 'no' when asked to do something. So far I have said no to two different things. Yes, I'm actually proud of myself, thank you. (And the people I said 'no' to were very understanding and supportive about it!)

Morale is really down at work right now. Really down. I won't go in to details because this post has been long enough, but it's another thing weighing on me.

Looking over a calendar...well, I can understand why I'm overwhelmed. I just want October 16 to be over.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dad's Visit

Dad came in town on Tuesday night for business. He had a show to work Wednesday and Thursday as well as some appointments, but we were able to hang out in the evenings.

I am blessed that my family lives close enough to be able to drive down fairly often!

I took Dad to Lupe's to enjoy beef fajitas. Well, actually Dad took me to Lupe's! :)

Last night, we both got in late. He had a client dinner and I had grad school. But this morning, we got up and went walking.

Dad's dad just moved into an assisted living facility, so Dad caught me up on all the happenings. In cleaning out Papa's house, they came across many pictures that hadn't been seen in years. It was fun to have a family history lesson!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Blogging and Recipe Update

I've blogged more this month than June, July and August combined. I find that interesting since those are the summer months. And I'm a teacher. Meaning I have more time in the summer...but whatever.

Everyone absolutely LOVED these rolls! Even people that don't like blue cheese thought they were wonderful. I think I'll try feta next time...just to be different.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pastry Brush, where are thou?

I bought a silicone pastry brush on Saturday. On Sunday, I went looking for it and realized I didn't remember putting it away. I dug through a pretty gross trash can to get to the plastic luck. I looked in the trunk of my car to see if it had fallen out...nope. I had finally handled a big stack of paperwork Saturday night, which mean the receipt had been shredded, so I have no idea if I actually paid for it...but either way, it's not here.


I've been feeling lots of extreme emotions lately.

Satisfaction at the completion of a hard assignment.

Confusion in the midst of several changes at work.

Feelings of low morale at work while our uppermost administration makes some changes. One co-worker said it best, "The administration doesn't trust us, and we don't trust the administration." There is currently a chopping block set up and it feels as if most any one's head is on it.

Frustration with school and one of the classes' assignments. They don't seem to make sense. They also don't seem to show respect to all sides. As a believer in Jesus Christ, my flesh is frustrated when the world wants and demands respect from all, but does not give it to all...and Christianity and Christians seem to draw the short straw continually. I am aware the Bible talks about this, prepares us for it even, but that does not make it easy.

Loneliness...I'm struggling for community. A friend hurt my feelings pretty deeply several months ago. I'm not sure how to solve it...or if it's 'solvable' and if it is, what to do about it. It seems as if everyone is living a life that doesn't include me. I know that's not the case and at the moment maybe I'm having a pity party, but the hurt is there. Tears are welling up as I type this and since I'm not a crier, I'm not sure how to handle that.

Sadness...a good friend of mine is hurting deeply due to situations completely out of her control. And I hurt for her. I know prayer is powerful. I've seen its results...lived them...believe in them. But I want to do something more than pray and I just don't know what to do.

Overwhelmed. Grad school is kicking my tail. I know it's over soon. I get that. But it's not over right now. And it's not just the semester of classes, but the Comprehensive Examination I have to take in the middle of October before I am eligible for graduation. UH stinks when it comes to anything administrative and I constantly feel behind the curve when it comes to being prepared.

Loss and assistant principal is moving to Fort Worth. She's already gone most days of the week, usually in school one or two days every other week. She's officially gone in December. She is the glue that keeps our school running. Don't think I haven't thought about following her!

Drowning...the medical bills have started in again. I sat down to pay bills last night and quickly felt as if I didn't know which way was up. I've had to stop saving money, because those funds are needed to pay bills. I've never had debt before and do not like how this feels.

Like I said...extreme emotions...and none of them have been very good. I'm frustrated, confused, overwhelmed and feel as if I don't really have an end in sight. Not true, I realize, but my feeling nonetheless.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mystery Rolls

I found a new recipe from The Pioneer Woman. She's like my personal cookbook. I don't have to flip pages. I just type in a key word or click on a category and skim for something I like.

Becca asked me to bring a snack of some type to class so we'll see what people think about these!

Fall Leaves and Temperatures

I know it's a little early in the season. I mean, it's not even officially 'Autumn' according to the calendar.

But I want it to be.

I want cooler temperatures.

I LOVE Fall decorations.

I see little scarecrows and pumpkins and mums and hunter green and burnt orange and rust red in the stores and I imagine my house covered in them.

I'm ready for crisp breezes and long sleeve shirts and boots and pumpkin spice wafting through my house.

I'm ready for fall.

So...I redesigned the blog colors with Fall in mind.

I might be able to wait until next weekend to decorate for my all time favorite season...but I doubt it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dinner for the Neighbors

It's been on my list for awhile.

I've been a little nervous to actually do it. I mean Jesus would want me to and people think Jesus is weird. Hospitality? In your home? With kinda complete strangers? Who does that in today's day and age?

But I want to have them over. I want to get to know them. This home may be temporary, but why should that stop me? I've been here a little over a year and so far I know almost all my direct neighbors by name and all of them by sight. I know what a few of them do for a living and can chat with the little old ladies as they move down the sidewalk with their walker and their dog attached to it. (Something that never ceases to stop my heart's beat for a moment!) But I don't know much more than that. I want to change that.

I'm not sure how or when...but soon.

Why would it be a big deal? I mean, they're neighbors. I live near them. But it's not like I have anyone's phone number. I don't know their last names. And it's a little awkward to go knock on their door and say, "Hey, want to come to dinner?" So I'm hoping to do it casually. When I see them in passing. Now the decisions of what to serve, how many of them to invite (there are 7 in all, plus me) and also trying to figure out if any of them already know each other!

You can make fun at my inner conundrum if you'd like.

But I still want to do it.

Spending a Day Off

Yesterday was Fall Holiday in HISD, so we didn't have school. However, the building was open (which doesn't ever) so I was able to go catch up on a few things. I couldn't stay late on Thursday afternoon, so didn't have lesson plans finished, papers graded or copies ready for next week. That's never a good feeling, so I was glad to get in and accomplish quite a bit.

Then I ran to UH. As I posted about earlier, I'd been given the wrong textbook. I drove around for awhile...Have you ever tried to find parking on a college campus?! And then was able to handle the book. They gave me my money back and I purchased four of the five books I do need for this class. Yep, I said five books. I still need to buy the other one. Gotta find it in paperback first...I wasn't willing to pay for the hardback version.

After that, I walked across campus to the building I meet in for classes so I could turn in paperwork for a test I have to take in October. Turns out, I wasn't able to do that...I didn't have all the correct papers with me, so something to do another day.

My last stop of the day was to recycle all the items that had been in my trunk for about a month...just waiting for me to be anywhere near the recycling plant.

Home at 3:45...about the time I would have arrived home if I had actually worked yesterday. But not having kids is a nice break and accomplishing errands is always a good way to mark things off a list.

Now to pay bills, clean the house and do some baking! But first...Lupe's for lunch. Mmmmm!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

If you can hear me, clap once.

Every teacher has a bag full of tricks for getting a group of students' attention.

The classroom may get too noisy during group work. The assembly hasn't quite started yet, but the conversations sure have! Going home...oh, the woes of dismissal duty. I HATE DISMISSAL DUTY! Yes, I just shouted that out loud in my head. It's the end of the day on Thursday. We don't have school on Friday. I should be ecstatic, but instead my eyes are almost crossed from the pain of this headache. Why do I have a headache?

There are more than 200 students in the cafeteria during dismissal and that is my assigned duty station. I have no control over the number of children. I am asked to keep them quiet and get them safely on their bus or day care van.

Typically, when an adult says (in a regular voice) "If you can hear me, clap once. If you can hear me, clap twice" it takes just a moment to have a completely silent room...even a large room. Not so at dismissal. The caucophony of sound is beyond anything any child cares to change. They feel as if they are free and they do not care to be restrained. There are approximately 6 adults in the room. Some of them care about the noise and the dismissal procedures. But sometimes, we just want to chat and don't pay attention to the din of sound echoing around us. Hey, it's the end of the day and we're tired, too.

My throat hurts from trying to project my voice to be heard. My head hurts from the noise and frustration of trying to get all those kiddos safely (and quickly) out the door.

Any teachers out there? Can I get an "Amen!"


I've seen several FB statuses about looking at the clock and it being 9:11. I'm not saying that has never happened to me, but I don't remember it. I do however, look at the clock and see 7:11 quite frequently.

I remember a time when I was 7 years old and my sister was 11 years old. We both got a kick out of our ages being 7/11 and joked about selling slurpies to the public. I know it's a little thing, but we laughed about it and I still smile each time I look at the clock and see 7:11.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Private Eye

I'm a crime show junkie...I admit it. I've never been in to the reality television. It just seems stupid to me. (Can we still be friends?) But the crime shows...I love them! My newest faves are White Collar, Covert Affairs and Rizzoli and Isles, but I also love CSI: NY, NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles. Oh and how could I forget Criminal Minds! Derek Morgan, you are my husband. You just don't know it yet!

I DVR all of them (oh, the I love thee!) and love catching up on multiple shows at once while unwinding from a long week.

So yes, I love the crime shows, but I have found myself turning into an investigator in my personal life. I don't mean asking nosy questions. I just mean in general observation skills. I'll start noticing the cars around me and practicing how long I can memorize their license plate. What if they commit some heinous crime and the police need to find them and I'm their only lead!?

I know. I'm a nerd. It's okay. I've embraced it.

This morning a big truck was a little too close to my bumper. There was plenty of room for him to go around, but apparently he didn't want to. I changed lanes and we ended up being next to each other at a red light. I made a point to see it was a RAM 2500, gray in color and when he pulled out at the light, he had one of those attachments at the back with (what looked like) a motor of some sort to run a machine. I couldn't see the plates and then noticed he was turning...into the fire station. So first thought, ok...he's a fireman (um, is he hot? Man! Wish I'd gotten a better look, because there is just something about a man in uniform!) Then I thought...I'd better pay attention this afternoon, because if the fire station has been blown up, I want to let them know I saw something suspicious.

Yes. Yes. I have a sickness.

Monday, September 13, 2010

If it weren't screwed on...

I have several tupperware containers of vegetable soup in my classroom fridge. Hi...have you been in Houston lately? Yeah...don't want to eat hot soup. Blech, blah, nope.

I'll take it home and freeze it until December...or January...when we might have a few days of cold weather.

So today I ran to McDonald''s the only drive thru place close enough to school where teachers can run and be back in time to eat and still pick up our students from the cafeteria on time.

I pull up to the pay window and see the car in front of me drive off. Not pull off.

I pull forward to the 2nd window and see Happy Meals, multiple drinks, etc and say "I think that might be theirs" and about this time the SUV started to back up. She had been just about to pull out of the parking lot. The embarrassed mom rolled her window down and laughingly said, "I don't know where my mind is today."

We've all had those days before I think!

What happened to etiquette?

I know there are definitely things about "old-fashioned" etiquette that no one misses. Ladies unable to breathe from tight corsets or practicing their posture by walking around with books on their heads.

But there are some things that etiquette is good for. =)

I once read from Ann Landers or Dear Abby...I can't remember which, that etiquette is there to help society interact.

Most ladies like it when a man opens the door for them. We'll call that chivalry, but it falls under the etiquette umbrella nonetheless.

I teach my students to walk through an open door, but to put their arm on the handle to hold it open for the person behind them. Some children like to try to beat the closing door and dash inside, then the door slams into another person or closes in their face. We don't need a door man, but simply each holding it open for the person behind us.

Sometimes it seems our society or our generation has let etiquette go with the excuse of "This is who I with it."

People are perpetually late to a meeting or event with a predetermined start time. Or invite someone else without asking the host/hostess providing the meal. RSVPs don't seem to mean anything. One might say yes and then no show, say no and then come or simply never reply at all. Have you ever provided a meal for people and had unexpected guests? Or spent money and time only to have fewer people? It's frustrating, isn't it?

I realize this is a soapbox for me, and yes, I'll step off it now.

Oh last thing. I've also noticed that the person being affronted is frowned upon when reacting as if something is wrong. I don't understand that either.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wrong book

I just realized the textbook I have for my online class is the wrong one.

We didn't need it for our first assignment, so I haven't pulled it out until now.

I bought it from the campus bookstore...walked in, told them the two classes I was taking and she handed me two texts. I didn't pay attention to their titles, just paid for them and left.

Now, I'm hoping they'll take it back and give me the one I really need!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sniff, Sniff...Mmmmm!

After surgery this summer, I stumbled into bed and slept for a little over two hours. Mom was a gem and ran to Walgreens to pick up my prescriptions and Sam's for some food. When I woke up, I smelled something heavenly in the kitchen. She had brought home one of those ready-to-eat rotisserie chickens and was cooking some fresh green beans. I wasn't supposed to be eating much, but the medicine needed me to have something on my stomach heavier than applesauce.

My mouth began watering immediately upon inhaling...even as my eyes weren't quite open while walking down the hall towards the kitchen. I hadn't eaten anything in about 24 hours and the smell of that chicken...Mmmm! That chicken and green beans were wonderful!

I ended up having about three small meals in the span of about four hours...all consisting of chicken, green beans and applesauce. Maybe an interesting combination, but I still remember its yumminess!

Do you have a meal like that? I don't mean a holiday meal...we all have those. I mean a meal that you attach to a specific event and now that item seems to taste even better?

I bought a rotisserie chicken today at HEB. I put all my other groceries away, but couldn't resist slicing off a piece of golden brown deliciousness!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Seeing Stars

I was getting in my car last night after leaving a restaurant. The large SUV next to me was pretty close. The driver was in it and the car was in reverse, but wasn't moving. The driver was chatting on the phone, but I wasn't sure how much time I had to get in the car or if I should wait. After realizing she wasn't moving, I decided to go for it.

It had been a long day at work and kind of a tiring week, so I was pretty weary. I'm not sure if that's the reason or if the closeness of the vehicle or my unusally high heels. Whatever the reason, I really whacked my head on the roof of my car as I was trying to get in. It is swollen and now 12 hours later, I still have a headache.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Say what I intend

I have a group of friends that live all over the country. We try to get together once a year, but it doesn't always happen. Some of us are better about keeping up in between times than others, but everyone comes when we get together. At the end of each of our weekends, one of the girls always says, "I know I say this every time, but I really am going to try to be better at keeping in touch." We all know it's not going to happen, but everyone smiles and hugs and says good bye.

In Haiti, the missionary pastor led our devotions each evening. He asked us to use personal pronouns when we were sharing. Instead of saying, "We say yes, when we mean maybe" he challenged us to say, "I want to be a person of my word. I want to say yes and mean yes. I want to say no and mean no." Using personal pronouns encourages transparency and intimacy. I've really tried hard to do that over the past 6 weeks. When I typed this blog post title, I first typed "Say what we intend" then immediately went back to change it.

I have zero control over what others do.

I do have control over my actions and I can say what I mean. I can follow up on what I have promised. I can say no and not waffle later.

I am working to be better at that!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

An Adult Topic...Budget

My computer is old. Really old. Like probably 8 years old...maybe more. So it's slowly dying on me. I'd love for it to last another year, but just not sure if that is going to happen.

I'm planning to move next summer...and would love to buy a condo or townhouse when that happens...but that means a downpayment...and just not sure if that is going to happen.

I have one more semester of grad school...which means tuition. I'd like to do it without getting a loan, but just not sure if that is going to happen.

I had an unexpected expense come up. I mean...I knew the situation of the expense was there...but did not have any idea how much the expense was going to be. It's in...Sigh

...Lord, sometimes I miss being a child and trusting Mom and Dad to figure out all the paperwork part of life.

So many thoughts...

Summer seems to be a time that fills up quickly. It seems to be a pattern that I have about three days or so in which I do nothing but laundry and sleep and read FICTION that I get to choose! Then everything starts happening. This summer it was grad school and tutoring former students and preparing to leave the country and preparing to lead Vacation Bible School the day I came back into the country. (Yes, I said 'yes' to too much.) Then being out of the country and coming straight back to Vacation Bible School. The day VBS was over, I left for Plano. We had a great time, but were busy there as well. Mom took a few days off work and we ran all over Dallas looking for fabric for her to have some throw pillows and a shower curtain made. Her colors are hard to find and so it took some searching!

Angela came home with me and we had fun going to an Astros game and the zoo and just taking it easy around the house. Ang is very low key and enjoys 'sister time' no matter what we do!

She left Wednesday and I had a training Thursday and Friday. Yesterday and today have been busy filled with errands that need to get done before I go back to work on Monday and Mom comes in town tonight. We're planning to sew curtains and work in my classroom some.

Whew! Summer is busy!

Yet there is still time for thinking... thinking sometimes gets me in trouble. Does anybody else think that? (um, about your own thinking...not mine!)

Thinks I've thought

I wish I knew how to be a better friend.
I need to pray more often.
I need to spend more time in the Word.
I wish I ate healthier.
I wish I had people to cook for on a more regular basis.
It is REALLY hot in Houston.
People in Haiti need help. I wish I could do more. I feel bad that I'm not doing more. I feel selfish that I don't do more.
Sometimes reading fiction is not good for my heart.
Sometimes people ask me deep questions and I don't know what they mean or what they're asking and I feel bad that I'm not that deep.

Then I start to think how selfish I am that all those thoughts are all about me and my feelings and reactions to things...and the cycle starts all over again.

Lord, help me to be dependent on You and You alone. Help me to conform my thoughts to Your thoughts and my ways to Your ways.

Overhauled List

Sooo....I'm yet again going to ignore that I've been an absentee blogger this summer. I'm just going to jump into the post.

My January List has actually made it waaaay longer than I thought it would. It needs some overhaul though. Some things don't need to be talked about for a they're being taken off the list. Some things are on a back burner the stove altogether, so they're being moved. That's what this post is for.

I realize this list is definitely for me...and that nobody else would have any reason to care about it...that's okay. I'll post other things soon. This is for me to be able to look back on things and use it kind of as an accountability.

Things I'm still interested in pursuing (or adding to the list):

Researching PhD programs
Cooking more regularly
Going to Chicago
Going on a cruise
Meet Angie Smith
Visit Crosspoint Church
Meet Brandi and Pete Wilson
Re-read the Proverbs 31 woman study...focus hard on the character traits the Lord leads me too
Go cash predominantly
Post more regularly
Spend quality time with the Lord more regularly.
Take more pictures of life as it happens!
Write my little Compassion boy more often.
Plan fun lessons on the SMART board for next year.
Have my neighbors over for dinner.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

God's lesson

A couple weeks ago I was very much aware of a lesson God was teaching me. Sometimes I feel like I'm not aware of His lessons or aware of them later than I should have been.

I was in a bit of a leadership role and things were pretty busy. Not chaotic, but busy. One lady was very smiley when we were face to face, but phone conversations and emails were another matter. She was very critical of the job being done...and not just my job, in fact, very little to do with anything I could control. Anyway, she would tirade, but then when we saw each other again, she was all smiles. It was odd. But that's a little beside the point. During that same week, I received some other news. Nothing that had anything to do with her or anything I was sharing publicly, but not news that was all warm and fuzzy.

It made me remember, I never have any idea what someone else is dealing with in their life. Maybe they're sharing it with others. Maybe they're not. Maybe I would be in that circle, maybe I wouldn't. It doesn't matter if it's the waitress at Chili's or a parent of a student or my neighbor or a close friend. The Lord was reminding me to treat others like I would want to be treated...ALL the time.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Haiti: Part I of...I'm not sure yet

Most of you know I recently traveled to Haiti. This was a scouting trip of sorts to make plans for a full-on trip in March. MJ and I were VERY BLESSED to be able to take this trip. We have outlined a sketch of what the March trip will look like (construction and medical) and made lists of supplies that are needed and supplies to avoid.

Most of you that read my blog have probably already received the below in an email. Each day of the trip, we wrote a brief post of that day's events. When we travel in March, we will do the same thing. These posts can be found on the church's mission blog. Over the next few days, I hope to compile more of an emotional reaction to the time in Haiti. This is more of the nuts and bolts of it all. Thank you for your patience as I process through the trip. Thank you for your prayers as we traveled!

I'm adding a few pictures throughout this post. They're not necessarily from that day or events, but they do represent Haiti.

A baby girl standing in the doorway of her one room house.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010
We had a bit of a delay in Houston and missed our connecting flight. It was the last flight to Fort Lauderdale of the night, but the Lord is full of provisions and we were rerouted to Miami! However, our bags did not make it. Thankfully, we had been instructed to pack our clothing in our carryons but the missing luggage included all the food and medical supplies we were bringing.
A short 20 minute drive to Fort Lauderdale, we fell into bed in the wee morning hours.

A couple of sweet boys that weren't quite sure how to respond to us.

Thursday, July 8, 2010
The Lord multiplied our sleep and we were able to arrive at the airport in the nick of time…literally! They closed the international flight check-in right after us (and we walked straight up the desk, past a REALLY LONG line of passengers!) We traveled through security quickly and met up with the Austin group of 12 at our gate. That flight went very smoothly and we’re in Haiti! The team and the family here at Haiti Bible Mission have all been so welcoming! We have already made friends, shared laughs and concerns with traversing a new country. MJ is the only one of the 14 of us that have ever been to Haiti before, so it is a new experience for us all!
We just ate a DELICIOUS dinner of rice with beef stew topping and plantains and petta. Absolutely yummy! Dave Stockeland, the HBM Director, led devotions this evening and asked us to ask ourselves questions when we’re reading God’s Word. “Is there a command I need to obey? Is there a promise I need to claim? Is there an example I need to follow? Is there an example I need to avoid? Does this show me something about the Lord? About myself?” These are questions we plan to ask ourselves in the coming days through our personal devotions.
Thank you for your prayers! Haiti does not participate in Daylight Savings Time, so we’re on the same time clock y’all are! It’s 7:30 right now and we’re planning to shower and go to bed!
Alyssa and MJ

Isn't she precious! Lord, remind me to pray for these children!

Friday, July 9, 2010
We awoke this morning to roosters and the clicking of donkey hoofs outside our window (at 5:30am)! After a yummy breakfast of pancakes and pineapple, the men cut and removed nails from long pieces of wood. This wood later in the morning would be used to construct support for a tin roof at a gym that Mark Stockeland works out at–for $3 a month! This gym is more of a work out room, and the weights are recycled car parts (the bars were axles, the weights on either end are gears from big trucks). Construction at the gym attracted quite a crowd, but many of the onlookers jumped right in and helped us paint or nail the boards together. We returned to the mission house to eat lunch and sort the medical supplies the Austin team brought. Ours are sitting hopefully in Houston in our lost bags. This afternoon we drove about 45 min up to the mountains to the Stockeland's home church. The church is on the outskirts of a village nestled in the woods. Beyond the woods is a river. Near the river bank, there is a huge soccer field. Mark had arranged a soccer game with the teenage boys of the village to play against our team, along with the boys that live on the compound with the Stockeland family. Both teams played a great game! There was a convention going on at the church tonight, and will continue with 4 services tomorrow, and ending on Sunday morning. We were able to meet and pray for the pastor of the church, Pastor Eric, after the service tonight. He was so excited to stand next to MJ because finally he was taller than someone!!!! It was such a blessing to be able to pray over Pastor Eric. The precious Haitian girls prepared another wonderful dinner. We’re LOVING the native food! Pastor Dave leads devotions each night and asked specifically that any who share would use the pronouns ‘I and me,” making it more meaningful…more personal. Stop and think: When you hear someone sharing what the Lord has taught you, and they use “we” or “they” it doesn’t mean as much as when they use “I” and “me.” Something to change in our own conversations.
The Austin group is heading to another camp tomorrow where they will spend the night. We will stay here in town before leaving Sunday morning.
We appreciate all prayers! Love you all!
MJ and Alyssa

There was an Auburn fan or two on our team, so this one made several people smile.

Saturday, July 10, 2010
Today has been a fun day beginning with taxi rides on ‘motos’ to the market! We walked around fresh fruit, vegetables, fish markets and butcher shops. A very interesting and awesome experience! The fresher the meat, the more flies. Yumm! It was great to see Mark interact with his valued sellers. He explained that he does shop at various vendors at times to share the wealth, but really tries to be loyal to a few, specifically some that are believers knowing they can support their families and further the Kingdom.
From the market, we traveled back to yesterday’s construction site and continued our work on the roof and painting the posts. We finished that project when we ran out of supplies…a few more sheets of tin are needed and Mark will handle that in the coming days.
MJ and Alyssa were able to talk to Mark and Dave about plans for a group’s trip in March and we are excited about our preparations. We look forward to helping to build a refugee house as well as set up a medical clinic in the same area as the construction workers. Lacey (Mark’s wife) said the construction will bring the people and then the clinic can help them!
This afternoon the rest of the Austin team left for an overnight trip to a village that is a 2 hour drive and a 1 1/2 hour hike. MJ and Alyssa stayed at the Stockeland’s house due to our early morning flight. We weatherproofed the metal gates to their garage and then helped Lacey with dinner.
We look forward to the upcoming months of planning and praying over our trip and the team that God already has in place.
Please pray for us as we travel tomorrow, in Haiti, by ourselves. The system the Stockeland’s have in place is very good, but we are still new to this!
Love you all and will talk to you when we arrive in Miami, approximately 7:00pm.
Alyssa and MJ

This is the airport in Jeremie!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Uncluttered = Calm

I didn't always understand, as a child, when Mom would talk about not being able to relax if there were things everywhere. I thought "Of course you can. You sit down. You relax. What's the big deal if there is clutter? How do the two (clutter and relaxation) have anything to do with each other? I understand. I am TOTALLY my mother's daughter!

I don't mind a little clutter. But eventually I have to pick it up. And I REALLY don't like it when the clutter builds up and up and up...and goes on and on and on.

The past month, I've had things in my apartment. I'm tutoring this summer, so some school materials came home for me to use. Some are in the dining room and some are in the living room. Discreet...but there.

Two different piles for a garage sale took up my living room for two weeks. The garage sale came and went and I got rid of all of that.

Then just a few days later, all the VBS craft supplies came home to stay. 5 boxes and a few bags were lined neatly up under my wall of clocks. Not in the way, but taking up space. Gradually a few would find their way to a different home, but the pile remained. Haiti food supplies were next. A different corner had peanut butter, pancake syrup, bandaids, Tylenol, Desitin, stickers, bubbles, and you get the idea!

I love VBS and I am thrilled and beyond blessed to go to Haiti.

But I was ready for my home to be calm.

MJ and I packed all the food and medical supplies for Haiti on Saturday. One corner clear! The suitcases are sitting along my bookshelf, but it's not piles!

Andrew loaded all the VBS boxes in to his car today, so that cleared out the whole living room!

I put a lot of the school/tutoring materials (from the dining room) in my car to drop off at school tomorrow. I brought a lot more home than I needed, just not sure what all we would use, so I'm returning what I don't need.

Not everything is back in place. There are still some piles that need to be 'put away,' but overall I'm feeling a little more at home and less chaotic.

I know. tree.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Reading Teacher's Thoughts

I don't often post things about teaching philosophy, and I probably still won't do it too often, but in keeping with yesterday's post...

The Rights of the Reader
By Daniel Pennac

1. The right to not read.
2. The right to skip pages.
3. The right to not finish.
4. The right to reread.
5. The right to read anything.
6. The right to escapism.
7. The right to read anywhere.
8. The right to browse.
9. The right to read out loud.
10. The right not to defend your tastes.
Source: Pennac, 2006.

According to Miller:

Book Review Criteria
• Quotes from the book
• Quotes from famous writers and reviewers
• Cliffhanger questions
• Personal reactions and opinions
• Awards the book and author have won
• Recommended reading age
• Other books by the same author
• Comparisons with other books

The following are my favorite reasons (by Jen Robinson) to read children's books, but I've linked to the entire list!
By Jen Robinson

5. It clues you in on cultural references that you may have missed (both current and classical.)
9. It’s often inspirational – reading about heroes and bravery and loyalty makes you want to be a better person. And couldn’t we all do with some of that?
10. Did I mention that it’s fun?

Source: Jen Robinson’s Book Page, 2005.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Book Review

As you'll see in my last post, I recently read The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child. She promotes having students write book reviews. For my presentation today, I wrote a book review of the book! =)

This little blurb was inside a cute clip art pic of an open book with a little bird in the top left corner, kinda peering into the book, but that doesn't really transfer to the blog...

An reviewer writes of The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child, “In less than a week, I became a Book Whisperer, too.”

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child is a title that immediately piqued my interest. Donalyn Miller writes as if she is a real person, even telling the reader right off the bat, “I am not a reading researcher. I am not a reading policy expert. I do not have a PhD. What I am is a reading teacher.” Soon, I found out she is a reading teacher in Texas! Texas! I was thrilled to have a book in my hands written by a teacher that understands the high-stakes of our high-stakes testing. In my mind, she had instant credibility. She addressed her credibility immediately, “My source of credibility is that I am a teacher who inspires my students to read a lot and love reading long after they leave my class.”

Miller’s core belief is that children need to be able to choose what they read. How do you awaken the inner reader? You teach them to read for pleasure! A simple concept, but not one many teachers are putting into practice. Her requirement? Every child will read 40 books during the school year. Forty books! Some of her students don’t think that is possible, but she is vague when they ask what the consequences are for not meeting the goal because failure is not an option. If a child read 1 or 2 books last year and reads 26 books this year, then who cares if they don’t read 40? They increased their reading by 1200%!

Miller refers to every child as a reader and thinks we should change the lingo and better address each child’s needs. Instead of ‘struggling’ readers, they are developing readers. Dormant readers are those that will do what you tell them to do, flying under every teacher’s radar because you know they will pass the test. Underground readers are those who frustrate teachers. They are gifted readers that fail tests because “they see the reading they are asked to do in school as completely disconnected from the reading they prefer to do on their own.”

She outlines traditional practices in the classroom and then gives very do-able alternatives for that practice. Reading Logs? Chunk ‘em! Book Reports? No more! Round Robin Reading? It’s outta here! Buuuut, you’ll have to read her book to find out what the alternatives are!

I recommend this book for every 3rd-8th grade teacher. Not just the language arts teachers, but every teacher that works with children reading chapter books!

Donalyn Miller also writes a blog for Look for The Book Whisperer’s summer challenge of reading a book a day this summer!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Self Reflection Activity

I'm going to ignore, for the moment, the fact that I've been an absentee blogger for the past month and jump right in to this post.

I'm in grad school right now and have a book report due on Tuesday. My professor is phenomenal and chose books he thought applied to where we are as teachers.

My book is called The Book Whisperer Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child and it is inspiring! I recommend it for all teachers of grades 3-7!

I'm about halfway through it and it gave a "Self Reflection Activity"

Without further ado:

What were your reading experiences as a child? My parents read aloud to me as far back as I can remember. Little Women was a mother/daughter favorite! I quickly fell in love with Nancy Drew (I always wanted her to end up with Frank instead of Ned!) all the Babysitters and the Sweet Valley Twins and gradually moved on to anything by Janette Oke or Grace Livingston Hill.

Were these positive or negative experiences for you? Absolutely positive! I would read so much, my parents grounded me from reading if my homework wasn't done! I thought it was funny that my friends were grounded to their room to read!

Do you see yourself as a reader now? I still love to read today, though don't have as much time for it as I would like...

How do you share your reading experiences --both current experiences and those from the past--with your students? Oo, good question! I don't think I do this very well. I'm sure I've told stories at some point about reading as a child to my students...but I don't think I talk about it much with them. After reading this book, I will for sure!

With which group of readers in your classroom do you most identify--the underground readers, the developing readers or the dormant readers? Definitely the underground reader...I would score low marks on novel quizzes and tests because the questions would be over minute details from a chapter I had read 8 weeks ago and the class was just completing it!

Who have been your role models for reading? Hmm, that's a good question. My mom enjoys reading, but read mostly magazines when I was a girl. She reads books more often now and we'll recommend them to each other. I don't know of a specific role model for reading...

List the last five books you have read. The Truth Seeker by Dee Henderson, Pirates by David L. Harrison, Tap Dancing on the Roof by Linda Sue Park, Shades of Blue by Karen Kingsbury, In Harm's Way by Irene Hannon

How long did it take for you to read these books? Pirates and Tap Dancing on the Roof were read in less than 20 minutes each...They're children's books and I was reading them aloud to my tutoring students. I read In Harm's Way on my first day of summer vacation. Shades of Blue took a little longer, because it was snatches at night before bed. The Truth Seeker was a casual stroll, because I've read it so many times. It's an old friend.

Which books were read for a job or for a school-related purpose? Hmmm, I'll say Pirates and Tap Dancing on the Roof were both read for a school-related purpose. They're ok. They're both on the Name That Book List and I think both are Bluebonnet books this next year, too. They're both poetry books. Pirates has PHENOMENAL illustrations!

Which books were read for pleasure? In Harm's Way, The Truth Seeker, Shades of Blue were all read for pleasure (And I highly recommend them all!)

Sunday, May 30, 2010


The last two weeks have been a little say the least. I was on the VIPS luncheon committee, which means I helped plan the luncheon to show our school volunteers appreciation. Two of us had subs in our room on the day of the luncheon and everyone on the committee was supposed to bring all their fake and real greenery and flowers from home. I didn't take any pics of the actual luncheon. :( But it turned out wonderful! We catered from Sweet Tomatoes and had a garden theme with greenery everywhere, a red wagon with a Boston fern in it, my green tricycle with begonias and sunflowers in it, in front of a white picket fence. There's even a garden-y mural on the wall! So pretty!

Anyway, I still have some of those needed items not put away yet.

Then, that same night, I left for our singles retreat. I'm a light packer, but my bag is sitting in my kitchen doorway waiting to be fully unpacked. So far, I've just grabbed stuff out of it as I needed it.

This year, teachers had to do more in our classrooms than normal to prepare for summer. There's some construction going on in our building due to that Bond money from several years ago finally opening up. Yay! Which means, more stuff had to be off the floor, more items needed covered, and more items needed to come home.

Then, of course, the typical items needed to come home.

And, it WAAAS the last day of school and all, so there's all the teacher gifts! :)

Add bills and miscellaneous paperwork on top of that...

So how does the post title have anything to do with this?

I found a business card for Theresa's Cleaning Services in my doorway when I went to check yesterday's mail.

Too bad, I'd have to clean before she could come clean!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Just look at my Green Thumb (HA!)

I decided today was the day to do some more work in my garden. I've been wanting to get out there for awhile...itching to get out there really, but the end of the school year kinda controls a teacher's life. But today was my first day of FREEEEEEDOM and I embraced it full force!

I'd heard about a nursery in town that sells native Houston plants only. I decided that was a wise place to start (well, to go...start doesn't really work since I've been to Home Depot like 50 times...but I'm going to use 'start' loosely here to mean 'start for this particular session of garden work' mmmk?)

Joshua's was great! Joshua himself showed me around and helped me find plants that work for all shade, a fountain and let me meander through on my own, too! He was great about checking in on me occasionally, though. Amazing how a little service gets attention now, huh? Anyway, I digress...I came away with lots of goodies!

The fountain mechanism will go in this pot.

He searched, found and gave me a stopper to go in the bottom of the pot and recommended gorilla glue to seal the stopper. I'd never even heard of it, but tried not to look like a complete idiot (though me asking where to purchase it might have given me away.) I waited to ask my dad (after I'd left Joshua's) if it was gorilla the animal or guerrilla the bad guy. Ha!

One quick stop at Lowe's to find this stuff and I was on my way home to unload!

I'd bought a shovel at Home Depot on Friday and after watering my new plants (they were in the trunk, which equals oven this time of year!) immediately began to tackle the cast iron plants that wholeheartedly earn their name! They can withstand anything! I moved four clumps (groupings? plants? how many of them make a plant? *shrug*) to the brick wall of the condo. They were a little difficult to get up, but more so because I had to use the shovel by the fence area and there just wasn't much maneuvering room. The ground was much easier to dig into than I thought it would be!

I've watered them well and am counting on their reputation to come through the trauma of transplantation!

I came across a few tree roots as I was digging. Some were easier to get up than others. I didn't get any pics...because my camera battery died...and because I was really grimy and disgusting....but man, some of those roots were kicking my tail! Some of them were no where near a tree! So I have NO IDEA how long they really were. I pulled up as much of each tendril as possible....but quickly changed my opinion of the tenaciousness of tree roots. Holy Cow! Tentacle is more like it!

I planted the English Ivy where most of the hard core tree roots used to be.

I'll probably end up buying another flat of it, but Joshua suggested (and it made perfect sense to me!) "Buy a little of several things and see what flourishes!"

This is called "Viola something or other." I didn't get it planted today, but plan to first thing in the morning...when it's not quite so hot! I'm not quite sure where it's going to need to be thinking.

When I transplanted the cast iron plants, it quickly became obvious the bird cage- turned-planter-for-begonia needed to move. This is where I have it now. Buuuut, I plan to put the fountain there eventually (as in tomorrow, if I can figure out an extension cord issue) so it will be moving again soon.

These are a couple of additions from a week or so ago when I stopped at Home Depot to replace my dead plants. I had some English Ivy here before...but it had all died. (I just heard your thoughts. "Didn't she just plant English Ivy? Why did she do that if it was all dying?") I told Joshua that and he said "You have to water the s&*! out of English Ivy if it's in the ground....and you have to water it EVERY DAY if you have it in pots." Umm, yeah.. I hadn't done that. So here's hoping Miss "I Like Things to Be Simple and Take Care of Themselves" remembers to water my English Ivy way more often than I had been.

I started this back in October!

First post
Second Step in Patio Progress
For some reason, I thought I'd posted updates more often...oh well, here's the last one...embedded in another post!

That one wasn't the last one after all! I found this one!

And this is as of today!

More pics coming as more work is done!