Changing the world, One Teacher at a time.

Hello and welcome to my blog page! What made me decide to jump into the blogger world you might ask? My best friend, Esther! She got me started with her fabulous sight "Crowned with Laurel" about her families journey to find their children.

I am a very passionate individual that believes every child deserves the best I have to offer as a teacher and human being. It is my hope that I can be a model to all I meet by living a life of abundance with grace and integrity. My role model was my grandmother-Grandma B. She had love in her heart for everyone and taught me everything I know about sewing, quilting, life and love.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Baking Day cometh

I am so excited! Esther and I are getting ready for our annual baking day. I am thinking of trying to find some new goodies to make with some of our standard favorites. Especially since StraightGuy and I will be hosting our extended family traditional Christmas Eve dinner at our house this year. Any suggestions????? All are welcome

My life in Old Lady stockings

Due to some really strange, unknown computer issues, I have been unable to get into my page, hence the long pause in writing.

Now that I am back to work, albeit a bit slowly, I have these wonderful knee high stockings that hold in everything. Compression stockings are what they are called. They remind me of things that my grandma would wear to help with the edema in her ankles. Hence the name Old Lady stockings! Hopefully I haven't offended anyone by that. I am thankful that I had the person I did to fit me. She was very charming and very thorough and as she has to wear support stockings all the time she shared some great knowledge about custom orders and how they come in different colors, sport socks, etc. This is a good thing as I will be wearing these for the rest of my life. I can't complain however, because they are actually really comfortable and I find that my ankles and feet don't ache like they used to before life with Old Lady stockings. My dear friend, Esther, reminded me of when she was pregnant with one of her boys and had to wear them-I think hers were pantyhose however and I understand that is a whole nother ballgame. She had quite the time getting them on and they were quite restrictive. I am VERY happy that this is not the case for me. I will take my knee highs any day over full on pantyhose compression stockings! Not to mention I get a kick out of showing off my "sexy old lady hose".

I was reminded last night of how much people missed me (that felt really, really good) since this was the first CoOp Council meeting I was able to attend since getting sick. It also mad me realize how blessed I am to regain my health and how wonderful it is to have people who care and pray for me. I was also reminded that I had neglected my duties as chairperson of the multiple committees that fall under my job-opps. I felt a little guilty but have put together a game plan to get on it first thing in January. Not to mention that the Co-Chair of the counsel is a complete blessing and has offered to help me with it and help with anything I need-I love that lady. She is a grandma who has offered her time to meet her daughters obligation to the CoOp while her daughter goes to school, so that her grandkids can benefit from the CoOp. She is cool and goes by Mimi (her grandkids word for grandma) by everyone at the school. She reminds me a lot of a younger version of my own beloved Grandma B., loving and kind and concerned about everyone as if they were her own children/grandchildren. I wish more people like that lived in this world so that those who long for and deserve a loving grandparent/parent relationship could have one. I guess that is what makes it nice when we can create our own family of choice.

I was reminded of this when I was talking to Esther yesterday about issues with her selfish sister and neglectful parents. I do not say that lightly, and I do not say these things to be mean. I just cannot honestly describe her childhood with these people as anything but neglectful emotionally and in some cases physically. My heart was breaking as she was telling me about how "put out" her sister was when she called her on the carpet about some of the selfish crase things she has done and accuses her of "constantly bringing up hurtful, spiteful childhood issues from the past." Part of me is callous and reminds myself of the mean nickname I had given her sister when we were in high school because of the rediculous sacrifices Esther made in order to make her sister more comfortable and "special". In reality it was just another example of how two messed up parents allowed their extremely selfish younger daughter run their lives as well as deprive Esther of the basic human necessities and love most healthy people get as teens and young adults. The funny thing is. Esther has processed out of all this and has grown tremedously into an incredible human being and it is the rest of the family that feels threatened by her happiness and trys to blame her for their own unhappiness. Luckily, Esther is so much healthier that she does not allow this garbage to become her own, but gentle puts it back where it belongs, on them. Unfortunately, this results in limited relationship for Esther, but as I pointed out to her yesterday. This truly does free her to focus on her immediate family and her extended family of choice who love her unconditionally, pray for her, and support her in her triumphs and struggles.

I guess that is why God puts people like Mimi in our lives. So that we know that there are people we can count on to help us through, to celebrate our victories, to lift us up, and give us someone to lift up. I still believe in praying for those in our bio family, even if we don't have a healthy relationship with them, but that doesn't mean we need to be pulled down into their self made mire.

Wow, I guess I have had a lot on my mind tonight. Cheers to all and remember to take time out for you this busy season.

As wonderful, spiritual, giving, and loving Mother Teresa was, as it shows in her personal diaries, she had no living person to fill her up when she was empty. She turned to her diaries to give honor to her doubts and shortcomings (or at least what she thought were her shortcomings). Even someone as pure and wonderful as she had times when she needed to get out the negative things that plagued her.

Find something that fills you back up so that you can be ready to be a beacon of light to others and so that your pitcher never runs out.

Love and Prayers for now...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy Monday

First and Foremost I wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to all of our military and their families. As those who know me, know that I could never do what they do, sacrifice time from my family and to be that wife waiting at home wondering if I am going to end up a widow with children to raise on my own. I have more respect for your decisions and admiration for your willingness to give of yourselves for the benefit of me and our entire nation. I am truly grateful and ask that God keeps you safe from harm until you are united again with your families. I know that this is a day late, but as we are acknowledging Veteran's Day today, I thought it only fitting to say thanks in this post.

My heart is so very full today. I have had an opportunity to rest for three weeks and I never would have taken that in my crazy life. I have discovered some wonderful books, such as the entire Redemption Series by Karen Kingsbury and Gary Smalley, and at Esther's suggestion, Leaving the Saints. I have even caught up on some paperwork that needed attention. I guess it took an illness to make me realize I needed to take a step back and regroup. I also got to spend some great restful time with my mom. I love that she is willing to jump in and help with the house and the kids. I am very thankful for her. I see that it is now my turn to be that helping hand for my beloved friends who do not have mom's nearby. I hope that I can be just a little light to shine in their lives.

Yesterday, I was in Sunday School and the topic was Kierkigaard, whom I had heard plenty about, but never really investigated. It was a bit confusing, but also reaffirming in some ways. I would like to pursue some more of his writings. I also love that "family" that I have at church. We travel a considerable way to go to our church, but it is the church I was born into and my mom and uncle still attend. Our children have possitive role models and mentors there and it is a great and loving place. Like Esther, I would love to get involved with small groups, but find it difficult to manage with the distance. We have talked about moving closer, but we love the community we live in. Such a delemia. I would imagine that God will shine a light on which path we should choose as he always does, just a matter of keeping our hearts open.

My best friend, Esther, and her daughters had a wonderful Girls Shower this weekend! I had to laugh, because every since we heard that the girls were coming home, I had thought about throwing a party for them, I just haven't been sure about how, when etc. I really felt that I needed to wait until the girls had an opportunity to bond with the family and felt it was important to spend the initial time period just as themselves. Man, was that tough-I can honestly tell you that I cried as I pulled up to the house the first time and saw Sissy playing in the yard with her. My boys must have thought I was crazy when I was yelling "there she is, there she is, there's Sissy!" at the top of my lungs.

The funny thing is, I have always wanted to do something Princess or tea party. and that was the theme for the church party. Great minds think alike. I went on line and did some research and found out, yes it is good to throw a party as well as appropriate. So I got to thinking after reading Esther's post, what if I throw a Finalization Celebration for the whole family. I know my mom would be a huge help and would love to do it. And, I think that this would be a great cause for celebration.

What do you think? I haven't even mentioned it to Esther. Any suggestions or ideas on doing this? This would also give me until Spring to put it together. Looking forward to ideas etc.

Monday, November 5, 2007 least for a few hours

Yeah, I got to go out today for a bit...okay, I know that sounds hokey, but hey, being confined to the couch is tough to do when you like to get up and go all the time. Happily, I can say I got up and went today-shhh don't tell my doc.

Having decided we needed to go to Costco-pretty much the place my husband and I do the majority of our grocery shopping, since three males in this house can consume way more than we could keep up with in the normal stores, my mom and I decided if we used the electric carts technically I would not be on my foot, so off we went. Since we were out it gave me the opportunity to mail a package from the post office (along with my mom's ballot), and hit the library for Smiley's movie that was on hold and Stretches next book in the series he is reading. Having done both of these errands it was off to Costco.

This was actually a pretty good time to do this. We hit lunch first-where else can you feed two people including drinks for less than $4.00-Yippee! Then it was a short wait for two electric carts. I got mine first-I know that sounds silly but to cover Costco when you aren't supposed to be up and around, well, this was so much easier. Not more than 10 minutes later my mom was on her own cart cruising the Christmas isles. (My mom has a perminent disability and cannot walk more than about 20 feet at a time). Happily, we quickly got our shopping done and were off back to home. My ankle and foot was fairly swollen, but I promise I will not get up from the couch tomorrow. (I just realized I have a school board meeting tonight I should go to-darn!)

So, my question is, should I really have gone to Costco today and utilized the electronic cart? Technically, I can walk now with minimal discomfort, it is the low grade fever and swelling that are keeping me on the couch - okay, not to mention that my leg still has the lovely reddess and heat. Anyway, what do you think-I felt a little weird really...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Leaving the Saints book review

Having finished the book by Martha Beck, Leaving the Saints, I thought this would be a good time to give it a bit of a review. I really liked the style in which Ms. Beck writes. She tends to be a bit cynical in some of her verbiage, but it is understandable considering the hideous childhood this woman lived through.

I found myself fascinated most, I believe, by some of the rituals, rules, and guidelines Mormon's live by. Wow, It was interesting to see the warmth, and the supportive environment she describes when she and her family moved back to Provo, Utah from Boston. Having known first hand the blunt (to say the least) demeanor of many East Coast personalities, I could see why she felt so welcome coming back to Utah. The contrast however after her husband and then she herself, left the church could best be described as a 180 degree turn around. I also found some of the "temple marriage" pieces to be interesting as well, although I think that the author omitted quite a bit, as she said that she was sworn to secrecy or fear being "disemboweled"-okay in my book that means cutting out someones internal organs. Uhh, painful?

My warning goes out to any incest or sexual abuse survivors as these are dealt with in this narrative. This topic is the backbone of the story as it centers around an afternoon of information gathering she embarks on with her abusive -now 90 something -father with her cousins hidden nearby to serve as her witnesses.

Personally, I am not a supporter of Mormonism as I find it to be chock full of inconsistencies, falsehoods, and too much control over the lives of its followers. Okay, I know that is a little harsh, but I tend to get a "weird" inclination when I hear of a incident of entire article topics disappear from microfiche when you can find them in any other state in the United States. No offence to anyone who is Mormon, but that just reminds me too much of Big Brother. No thanks!

Weigh in on this, especially if you have read this book and want to discuss it. I am interested in hearing what others thought of it.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Movin on down the road

As I was waking up this morning, I realized that I had spent an aweful long time complaining about my hospital adventure lately and not much time on my favorite topic-self-improvement, professional development. (Translation: What helps a teacher be a better teacher-or person for that matter). So I have decided to got "my train back on track" as one of my kids favorite teacher always says whenever she digresses.

So the benefit of being stuck on the couch has been the opportunity for uninterupted reading time. I have enjoyed 3 Karen Kingsbury novels for pleasure reading (I have decided to go back to the beginning and actually read the books they way they were written) and Yesterday I just picked up a Leaving the Saints by Martha Beck which was recommended to me by my dear friend, Esther. I also have various tech books/magazines I get from ASCD (a teacher magazine that has some great inovative teaching ideas etc.) and Educational Horizons from Pi Lambda Theta (Educations Honor Society). I rather enjoy reading a few different books at a time which is not always easy, but something I picked up long ago.

I love to read and have since discovered that they best way to teach how proficient readers read, is to study my own reading habits and learn along with the children. There are so many wonderful techniques that work well with Guided Reading, I love trying them out. Something I read really stuck out to me however, that is, how can we expect our students to gain deeper understanding of what they are reading by using the techniques etc. that we teach them, unless we first look at our own reading and use the same techniques and principles. Ahh lightbulb moment.

I am a huge proponent for adult book studies and had I taken the library job at one of my favorite schools, I had already been plotting to introduce a book "club" of sorts for the teachers using "fun" reading to practice Guided Reading and to help them get in touch with their own reading understanding. I would imagine this will still be something I will probably do whereever I finally end up teaching on a full time basis.

Oh, I should probably tell those of you who are not teachers, Guiding Reading is just a trade name for a process of demonstrating the skill you want the students to learn with text that is a little harder than what they could do on their own, then giving them a chance to practice the skill with the teachers help using text that is closer to what they can read on their own, then finally releasing the students to use the skill in their own level of reading, then finally bringing the students back to discuss the use of the skill, do any "tweaking" that might need to be done, etc, and celebrate the successful use of the new skill by the students as they take what they learned and apply it to new text. It is really amazing to see this in action. The students gain such a deeper understanding of what they are reading. I am still amazed by the level of conversation my 10 year old and I now have over whatever book he is currently reading. He has such deeper understanding of the characters and what is happening in the story lines that it is fun to watch him get so excited about reading. I see this so often in many of the students who have taken part in this approach to literacy. Truly inspiring...

Any thoughts, ideas that have worked for you, examples of how you approach literacy? Please share.