Wednesday, March 30, 2011


This week is Stanford testing at our junior high. The kids are doing pretty well. We dedicate our morning to it... well, a good portion of the morning, from 9-12. After each test, we give the students a 15 minute break. They play basketball, eat a snack, talk up a storm, just hang out and it works. They get more morning free-time than ever but they also have to quietly sit still more than ever so it's a nice trade-off. And next week, oh bless my heart and soul... next week is Spring Break! And it's loaded! I have a dentist appointment on Tuesday afternoon, I'm babysitting my grandkids from Wednesday - Friday, and I just got an email from my sister-in-law whose mother died yesterday, and the funeral will be sometime next weekend. Bless her... her mother had been suffering for quite a long time but losing a mother is still a tough situation! Anyway, I think I'll sleep all day Monday. It's the only free time I'm going to get all week!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Don't Cross That Line!

Sometimes I hate rules. I know I hate dress codes, even though I do believe in them. Enforcement is NOT fun! Yesterday, Missy showed up to school with two jackets on over a black tank top that was too large for her. Every time she moved, well, let's just say that no imagination was needed. I sent her down to the office to call mom. Missy didn't actually argue, she just offered to zip up a jacket. I told her to call. She left and I called the office to get them prepared. Missy called mom who could not come with better fitting clothes but agreement was reached that the jacket closest to the tank would be zipped all the way up. Later, mom called the school to thank us for our intervention. Seems that Missy has been feelin' like she's all that these days and home has been a war zone. Mom was grateful for the support. Our office secretary was so shocked at her gratitude that she probably stammered all over herself! First thing she did after hanging up the phone was send me an email expressing her delight over a mother who gets it and is willing to say so.

This afternoon, T was the admin guy at a game, one where a pretty good player had to sit on the bench because homework was not turned in so the overall grade was pretty awful. Although he was pretty upset, he got to work and turned in a pile of homework today. Mom thanked T for holding the line, said she didn't have to do a thing or say a thing, he got the message and did the work. Mom was grateful. It absolutely made T's day!

S is in a meeting on the other side of the country, and the temperature of most of those meetings is pretty much near boiling. We've been praying non-stop, for protection of his heart and mind, for answers that are full of clarity and seasoned with wisdom. Tonight we learned that all is well and the power of prayer is palpable around him. Go God!

We have had some tough days, nearly three weeks of tough days. Today was a sign of relief. We do what is right, because it is right, not because it is easy. Because it's not - it's tough! But it is right!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring - kind of

The seasons have changed according to the calendar and Spring has arrived... sort of. At least we're not totally positive here in Washington state. It did approach 60* today but the wind kept it a bit chilly. I am ready for the sun to shine and the rain to stop for a while. The somber, gray skies wear me down, make me tired. This is the last week for third quarter and the last study skills class with my girls for a couple of weeks. Shining brightly, tempting us beyond our ability today, the sun came out in all her glory. We did a walk and talk around our campus for about three or four laps total. I was so glad for a change and hope it stays around for a while, a long while!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Three Days?

It's been three days since I posted. I don't usually wait that long, or I haven't in a long time. But this week has been totally crazy! I'm ready for the little men in the white suits with the strait-jackets for blubbering teachers to come pick me up and put me out of my misery. But I've been told they are busy at another nearby school so I guess I'll just have to go back to junior high.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Pain of Others

I follow many blogs, not formally, not clicking the little follow button on their website, but I read them none the less. Some of them are bookmarked on my page and others I have in my bookmark menu on my computer. Many are written by people in pain. It may be horrible to say but one of the things that I always do is come away from their sites inspired by their resilience and humbly grateful for my ordinary life. I follow several people whose children have cancer or have died from cancer. I follow several whose children suffer from RAD or other acronyms that are no fun. And I follow several people who live and work in Haiti, a place we called home for 18 years. My life has changed. Ten years ago we were dealing with the challenges of Haiti. Seven years ago we were introduced to cancer and its ramifications. When we were living through our personal challenges, it just seemed like life... I mean, that was just our life. Now we are in a different space and when I read other blogs and hear about those challenges, my heart just bleeds for people! And I pray, I really do. I do not know you personally but I pray for you faithfully. My guess is that it is one of the reasons people write some of the things they write, so others will pray. God help you all!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Poetry Friday: Stay Away From The Flu

So I don't really have the flu, just a bothersome tummy, but I thought this was kind of cute. From someone in a health department, trying to keep people from spreading their germs.

Stay Away From The Flu

It is nice to get a flu shot it's true
But if you can't, here is what you can do

Tiny droplets of flu are out for you
Stay away from the droplets - stay away from the flu

If someone is sick stay three feet away
Or a sneeze or cough may spray droplets your way

And don't touch your eyes or nose or mouth
Cause droplets of virus come in by that route

Your food can bring droplets of virus to you
So first clean your hands and I'll give you a clue

Can't find a sink - don't know what to do
Use hand sanitizer, always carry with you

Place a dime size amount in the palm of the hand
And rub over both hands the best that you can

If these do not work, there is medicine too
But you have to take it within two days of flu

I hope this poem helps you not get the flu
But if you do, try not to spread it too

Coughing at someone just is not fair
Cough or sneeze into a tissue with care

And if there is no tissue that's okay too
Sneeze away and down, your sleeve will do

And if that fails, use clorox wipes - that's my mantra in my classroom. I've been through the entire class supply already this year and hit parents up for more, which they graciously provided. They didn't want their kids getting sick and it seems to make a difference. I think it's because I have each of my students wipe his/her own desk (and hands) so they are sterile as well as their work surface!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yo dit

So the word on the street is that the little man is coming home to Haiti tomorrow. I guess there just isn't enough chaos quite yet. Big earthquake, massive death, destruction, homelessness, cholera, money not getting where it needs to go - but if the big silly baby dictator with millions that weren't his gets to come home then the little guy who also took millions that weren't his gets to go home too! (Stomp foot!) What incredible egos these two have, and boy, do they like to let everyone know they've got 'em. None of this helps anyone, except the two of them. They get to feel important, loved, worshiped, and act arrogant, powerful, and influential, when everyone knows they're just insignificant, worthless, little beings. Ridiculous!

Makes Me Crazy!

I cannot abide poor grammar and spelling on websites and facebook. It drives me crazy! I suppose I should tolerate the facebook language, texting language, but the grammar errors - there, their, they're, - where, were - its, it's - to, too, two - these things really irritate me. It is especially awful to read poor grammar on mission websites. People asking for money should be careful to ask properly.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


For most of each quarter, students are involved in one enrichment class every day. These include Applied Science, ESL, Pacific Northwest History, Spanish, and Writers' Workshop. At the end of each grading period - the last 14 class days - students are involved in electives that range from Lego Building to Sewing to Weight Training to Cross Stitch to my class, Word Games. Makes sense right? English teacher = word games! Two of my boys just couldn't get into a game today so asked permission to get some poster board, then, using the scrabble tiles, began to create a crossword puzzle. They'd draw a tile from the box, think of a word that began with that letter plus the definition or clue, and work it into a grid. I love their creativity! The rest of the boys (yes, only boys signed up for this class) had about fifteen games to choose from but they all huddled around one - Apples to Apples - and laughed and played and learned. I do enjoy electives; it's so nice to watch my students having fun!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Daylight Savings Time

I have a wonderful husband. Last night he went around the house, changing all the clocks - yes, we have a lot of clocks! This morning we decided to only go to second service. It's been a hard week, for various reasons, and the lazy morning was perfect. I updated my reading list for the year. Here's what I've read:

  1. Essays 1: First Series - Ralph Waldo Emerson (love Emerson!)
  2. Stuck in the Middle (Sister to Sister) by Virginia Smith (Christian fiction: so-so)
  3. Deeper Water by Robert Whitlow (Christian mystery: okay)
  4. Hide in Plain Sight by Marta Perry (Christian mystery, based in Amish country: I really liked it)
  5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (for the 50th time, still love it!)
  6. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (brilliant!)
  7. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson (magic!)
  8. Drums of War by Edith Morris Hemingway (great for lit circles)
  9. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  10. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (love these stories)
  11. Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (sweetly old-fashioned)
  12. Emma by Jane Austen (what can I say? A-u-s-t-e-n!)
  13. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (incredible)
  14. Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo (faith-building)
  15. Fools Rush In by Janice Thompson (Christian Romance… cheesy!)
  16. Invisible by Lorena McCourtney (old lady mystery, like Murder She Wrote)
  17. The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen (old English-style novel, beginning and end were good)

We also i-Chatted with our kids in France. My those babies are growing! Love being able to watch it happen.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sierra Sleepover!

Tonight three-year-old Sierra is having her first sleep-over at Grandma's. This is a first for her, at least the first without her siblings. We have been going non-stop, playing outside scooping toys out of the pond with the cleaning net (then throwing them back in again), racing up the hillside to be on top of the world, playing hide-n-seek in the rhodies, watching Angelina Ballerina and Bob the Builder, fixing tacos for dinner, building roads with blocks and racing cars on them, splashing in the bathtub and playing with funnels... whew! When it was time for bed, we couldn't cuddle close enough to suit her! What a precious child! Mommy's parting words were that Sierra could call home all she wanted... not once! Wow! We'll hit the ground running in the morning, I'm sure. We stopped at the store to get bananas on the way home this afternoon and had to buy powdered sugar covered donettes as well and a little package of M&Ms. We may have to go shopping tomorrow too. This, my friends, is the meaning of life!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Treasure Island

We started Treasure Island in my 8th grade classes today and it went pretty well. I've had different reactions to this book over the years, so today I began by reading the first chapter aloud. It worked; they're interested. I just hope it holds, since I don't have time to read the entire book aloud!

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Painting? or Taxes?

And painting wins every time! T has known all week that I planned to go to my mother's and help her paint today. Sooooo he decides it's time to do taxes. I hate doing anything like this! I think I'm allergic. When we lived overseas, we would say to our sons, "We're going to do the books!" The boys would get on the phone, call friends, and disappear for the day. To this day our boys laugh about our dysfunction when it comes to finances. It's still happening! So this morning I spent an hour separating receipts into monthly piles then I got into my painting clothes and left the building! Didn't come home until 4 o'clock but the man's still going strong. Augh! I hate taxes!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Next Blog Button

Have you done it? Clicked the next blog>> tab at the top of the blog page? I do this frequently, especially if I am tired - like tonight. I learned that I could read Italian. The fact that I'm pretty fluent in French helps I'm sure, that and I've had six or seven years of Spanish... they're all rather related. Anyway, it's fun. Sometimes you may fall into something really weird. There's some odd cult activity out there! Sometimes you go from one new mom blog to another but quite often you will stumble upon something interesting. I've bookmarked a few that I've stumbled on... I honestly don't know all the people I follow, not at all. But what they write interests me and sometimes, that's all I need - a quiet place with a teeny bit of intellectual challenge, nothing too demanding. But I really am tired so I think I'll skip reading and try sleeping!

Poetry Friday: He Knows My Name (lyrics)

My father-in-law used to say "He knows my name" quite frequently. He did this before Tommy Walker ever wrote the lyrics to the song that I love so much. It was important to T's dad that we remember that Jesus knows us, our name, our situation, our very life. He knows it all... and He loves us anyway. That's such a good thing!

He Knows My Name

I have a maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hand

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call

I have a Father
He calls me his own
He'll never leave me
No matter where I go

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call
Copyright ©1996 Doulos Publishing

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Teacher Trash!

I don't know about you but all the nasty talk about teachers just burns me up! I teach in a private school and our kids get high test scores, as one might guess when there are fewer than 20 students in a class. But I used to teach in public schools, and when I moved here from Florida in 2006, I spent a year as a substitute teacher in several public schools, just so I could see how things are done these days in the states. I was amazed at what I found.

Many schools face a transition rate of 40% or higher! That is huge. Kids get moved from state to state, city to city, school to school. Some students, granted not a high percentage, attend three or more schools each year! Moving like this can lead to big gaps in education. Because there isn't a national curriculum, some 7th graders will take Life Science while other schools will teach their 7th graders Earth Science. Move a couple of times and you may never get Life Science!

All the medication kids take today is crazy, often quite necessary, but crazy! Many people think that ADD and ADHD kids simply lack self-discipline. Wow, that is not true! While subbing in the public schools, I have seen kids literally whirl around a room or rock themselves until they sweat just because they forgot to take their meds. These kids would give anything to be able to get through a day without driving themselves crazy! How many of these kids had parents who experimented with recreational drug use while conceiving or carrying their kids we'll never know but I am quite sure that the drug culture of modern society has led to at least some students today who are truly incapable of controlling themselves. Again, not all situations are like this but if I had a nickel for every parent who referred to experimenting during their 20s... well, my savings would look very different today! Yes, I know, I've been teaching forever!

Home life is not what it used to be either. With two parents working, or single-parent situations, kids do not get the academic help they once received at home. Learning the multiplication tables used to be a family event. Now everything is supposed to be done in school. It just doesn't work that way, especially with kids who need extra help. But it's not all the fault of home either. Society today is so different. Kids are connected to media nearly all day long, in school and out. Just ask a teacher how many of her students text each other during class. Kids are good at it. I've seen kids text with their phones in their hoodie pockets! It's crazy how wired we are in today's world.

Teachers work hard, day in and day out, and often are blamed for low test scores of students who are not getting proper rest, nutrition, supervision, interaction, or stability at home. Supposedly the going rate for babysitters these days is $8 - $12 per hour per kid. Wow! That would be amazing, right? Teachers would be well over the six-figure salary mark if that was the case. But for the vast majority of us it isn't about the money, never has been. It's about changing the world, one child at a time. I sure wish people could see that and be more respectful of the public school teachers who serve, yes serve, in their communities!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011


I am almost finished with a grammar unit on parts of speech with my 8th graders. I am so ready for this to be over! I'm sure they're even more excited to move on to literature again. Although, I'm going to bring out Treasure Island again this year and historically speaking, students have found this to be a difficult study. I debated... wasn't sure I was going to go there but it's one of those classics that students should read, should be able to identify with, should be able to produce some pretty good writing on a variety of related topics - so why not. We're going to go through it pretty fast this year. I'm cutting two days out of the reading calendar but my 8th grade classes are really small this year so I am able to accomplish so much more in a class session. I saw an interactive voting site on MSNBC asking if class size makes a difference. Are you kidding? The public school across the street has 35-40 7th/8th graders in each class and I have 11 students, 12 students, 16 students, and 18 students in my language arts classes. 40?! I think I would lose my mind! Oh Yes, Virginia, it most certainly does make a difference!