Monday, December 26, 2011

Happily NOT Medicated...

I started crying during my family's gift exchange. When my family opens their presents on Christmas Eve, it is a bit of a free for all.  My sister and I hand out gifts to everyone and they open them immediately.  I sometimes envy those families on telelvision where each person opens a gift, everyone ohs and ahs over it, the person says thank you to the giver, and they move on to let someone else open their special present. Our way is more fun though.  Everyone still says thank you.  The drawback is that no one ever knows what anyone received, except for what they gave.  The only gifts I am aware of from this year are chairs my sister-in-law made for my sister and great-nephew.  She's really talented and I wish she had drawn my name which brings back to me crying.

My niece drew my name for the gift exchange this year.  She's my niece but she really fills the role of my little sister having came home from the hospital on my 16th birthday.  (I had my very own version of 16 Candles because of it ~ but that's a different story....) She was 9 when Taylor was born and she became Taylor's surrogate big sister then.  In other words, we are close. For Christmas, she gave me a orange-and-white polka dotted storage tote with stationary in it to write Taylor while he's in basic training and a picture frame shaped like a flag with a smiling man in fatigues holiding his young child. My eyes began to water.  I put it down and handed out some more gifts.  Nope...  I am not one of those people who can cry without my face registering it.  My nose become red, my skin blotches. I am an ugly cryer. When people started asking if I was okay, I went outside and really cried. My mom in typical mom fashion said...  You are going to need to get stronger.

This is the last Christmas before Taylor enters the military.  We don't know yet where he'll be next year.  I doubt he'll be home and I hope he is stationed somewhere I can visit. I thought of all that instantly when I looked at the picture frame and yes, I cried. I love Christmas.  It will never be the same. Different doesn't necessarily have to be bad though. I just need to process the changes.

My family wants to me to go to the doctor and request medication before Taylor leaves in early February. I don't want to do that.  I want to rely on prayer and the people around me and yes, Moma, my own inner strength. I know Taylor is doing what God has called him to do.  His enlistment into the Marines is a good thing. So, I am going to remain happily drug-free and non-medicated.  Pray for us.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Life is about Relationships....Not Achievements.

Today is the first day of the new school year for teachers. I have already learned something important. Last night, I spent a few hours helping the middle child of one of my best friends with her summer reading assignments.  It's one of those jobs that comes with long term friendships that you aren't sure why you are doing it, except that of course, you are doing it.

Lindsay had to read three American Literature classics to complete the assignment. She chose The Old Man and the Sea (I love this book; she hated it), Of Mice and Men (of course she loved it... it's Steinbeck), and The Joy Luck Club (I didn't say it was a classic but her teacher did, so hey..). She completed her assignments and I went over to help her tweak them, to refine them, to polish them up a little. Lindsay has often lived in the shadow of her more driven sister.  She is quieter, less inclined to demand attention. It's easy to assume she is not as intelligent as the older sister.  You would be wrong.

Lindsay had to write journal entries based on a character's point of view for each novel. When I read them, I was surprised to find that she had focused on relationships in a subtle way as she explored each book.  Ask me what Hemmingway's masterpiece is about and I will tell you it is about chasing a dream, fighting for it, and losing it. Steinbeck's tome is tragic but the connecting theme is that dream ranch that Lennie and George both idealize. Tan is showcasing how the moms want the success and lives they were never able to have. My focus is on the achievement.  Lindsay saw the people - the boy and Santiago, even Santiago and the fish... Lennie and George , of course.. but also the ranch hands as a whole... the mothers and daughters of every generation... The books are about relationships, about taking care of the people you are surrounded by.  I, in my misguided Type-A brain, had only seen the striving for achievement. I was wrong.

Today, I begin my school year with a changed focus.  It is not about achievement; Life is about relationships. Not how can I insure that I will have the best test scores, but how can I help my co-workers and my students. I'll be a better teacher for it, a better person, a better friend. Thanks Lindsay for the life lesson!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Reality Is Setting In...

Taylor was away at camp last week.  I like the way that sounds as if he was a camper exploring the forest, eating smores, and hoping that his counselor let the cabin stay up a little later tonight.  Of course, the reality is that Taylor was the counselor and his cabin was in bed nightly by 11 pm just as the rules suggest they should be. The reality is that Taylor is grown; he is an adult.  He's not a small child anymore or even a middle sized one. He is grown and the countdown to his departure has begun. The harsher reality is that I am not ready...

I have all kinds of plans to keep myself busy when Taylor leaves for basic training in January.  I'm pursuing my doctorate.  I have a close set of friends, a really great church, a loving family. I will be okay or I will fall apart.  Right now, I am worried it will be the latter...

Taylor left for camp on Monday and I watched television.  I didn't delve into my studies, go eat with friends, or clean my house.  I sat on the couch and watched television. Day 2, more of the same with some cleaning thrown in.  Day 3, I did go eat with friends before coming home to watch more television. I don't watch a lot of telelvision so I was growing concerned.  I cannot become this person.

I plan to live to 90; I hope to live to 100 if I am still lucid.  This means I have well over half my life to live.  What do I do now? Anyone have any great ideas?

Friday, June 10, 2011

What Would You Pledge And Actually Do?

My assignment for one of my classes this week is to create a pledge to future generations -things that I am willing to do now to help ensure that their future exists and is better than my present. It's an exercise meant to help students focus on the overarching trends of today and examine the impact of our actions on the future. We are supposed to create a pledge of five things addressed at the future as defined by Native Americans - "the seventh generation yet unborn". What do I pledge?

At first look, this is simple.  I want an end to war, hunger, hatred, poverty, and illiteracy. However, there's a catch. I must pledge five things to future generations and create a plan for how I can help make them a reality. It's a little trickier when I must personally do something.  I am not wishing for the unattainable anymore.  I am planning on making a difference. So, what do I pledge?

I truly do want an end to war. Since Taylor will be a Marine for years to come, this is an issue that is close to my heart.  Taylor is willing to give everything to protect our freedom. I want his service to be meaningful and not about oil fields or election results or petty disputes. Countries are destroyed, families left homeless, and entire civilizations doomed by the spectre of war.  Woodrow Wilson tried to insure that there would be no more wars at the end of World War I with his Fourteen Points.  He called for the creation of a League of Nations to settle things peacefully, but politics got in the way.  The Treaty of Versailles was created with such strict punishments on Germany that it created a situation where Hitler could come to power and led directly to WWII. Who our leaders are make a difference.  I pledge to vote in every election and to campaign for politicians who want peace while keeping America strong militarily.

Hunger must be a horrible feeling. I get a headache when I haven't eaten all day and start looking around for some chocolate.  I write that and am ashamed because I know that there are children today who will go to bed hungry.  They haven't eaten anything today.  I teach children like this. They come to school every day because they get two meals/day there free. It is summer now.  Where are they getting food? I pledge to donate to food banks in my area so that there is always a supply of food available for those who do not have the means to feed themselves. This is not the long term answer.  I am giving the man a fish without teaching him to fish.  There has to be more that I can do here to make a difference.

Hatred starts and ends at home. My part in this one is easy.  I pledge to be accepting to all. I am unworthy of the grace shown to me by my beloved Savior, so how can I hate anyone? I will work to create a climate where all around me understand that it is okay to be who you are without fear of judgement or reprisal. Theodore Roosevelt said we needed to reach a time where we are all Americans, not hyphenated Americans. He was right, but it's broader than that.  We need to reach a time when we are all people - not separated by race, creed, gender, nationality,or religion. We are all different and it is okay.

I believe that poverty and illiteracy go hand-in-hand. Education is the number one weapon that the world has against poverty. I pledge to continue to work hard at providing education and educational opportunities to my students. In some countries of the world, however, women are held back based solely on their gender.  They are impoverished because they do not have access to the same opportunities as men. I already combat this by supporting women around the world through I sponsor $25 loans to women in devloping countries to fund their small businesses.  They pay me back over time and then, I re-loan the money to another woman.  It is such a small thing, but as a single female who understands that life is hard sometimes, it helps. I pledge to fund opportunities for women around the world to make the world a better place.

It's your turn now... What do you pledge?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

You Have To Know The Right Words To Make It Better...

What are you afraid of? Snakes? Spiders? Speaking in public? I'm not afraid of any of those. I am afraid of failure. I am heart-racing, palm-sweating, shaking in my boots afraid of failure. I am afraid that I will not measure up, that I will be found to not be good enough, that someone will think I am dumb...Yesterday, I was in tears over it.

I made a bad grade in one of my doctorate classes.  I would normally offer excuses here. However, I have recently finished an article about how when successful people fail they make excuses and thus, do not learn from their mistakes.  So, no excuses.  I made a bad grade because I did not read all my materials. It was completely my fault.  I based my paper off the question asked and did not go to the supplemental material where the details required to answer the question were all spelled out. I have submitted four assignments like this which means I have three more bad grades coming. I cried.

I went to my sister's house to cry on her shoulder and she told me to get a tutor. I don't think doctorate students are supposed to need tutors, I said... She told me to take a break for a few days.  I don't have a few days; I have so much work to do... Maybe this is not my path... I continued to cry. My brother-in-law came in from work, looked at me in tears, and asked what was wrong.  I told him I made a bad grade, that I didn't think I could do this. He is a man of few words. He doesn't wax poetically and go on and on about things.  He simply said "Yeah. You can. You're the smartest person I know." With that, he left the room. That was all it took. I felt better because one person said the magical words.  He didn't hem and haw and try to think of a gazillion things to say.  He simply said that I could do this with such certainty that I believed him. He had the exact words I needed to hear.  Sometimes that is all we need.

Friday, June 3, 2011

It's Graduation Day! It's Graduation Day! Sing It With Me...

Today is the day.  Thirteen years of hard work (counting kindergarten because everything you ever needed to know was taught there) completed. In a few short hours, my baby boy will walk across the stage, shake hands with his principal, administration team, and assorted dignitaries and be a high school graduate.  I am extrememly proud of him. It's Graduation Day!

I stayed home the first two years of Taylor's life. He fought to live when the odds were against him, and I could not bring myself to leave this beautiful miracle that God had allowed me to keep.  When he was two, I went back to work and counted the hours until I could go pick him up from the preschool. I didn't have to count the entire eight hours because the school called and asked me to come get him.  He had sobbed uncontrollably since I had left.  Taylor told me between gulping sobs that he thought I had forgotten him. It broke my heart.  I could never forget this beautiful child.

The first day of kindergarten was a totally different story.  We drove up to the school, Taylor jumped out of the car and yelled BYE!  Ummmm... I think I'm going to walk you in, I said.  He allowed me to do so.  He begrudgingly let me be his overprotective mom. It was my turn for tears.  I hoped he wouldn't forget me as he explored the land of centers. I cried all the way to work.

His elementary school did not hold a kindergarten graduation.  They do, however, hold a fifth grade one to mark the transition to middle school. I remember sitting in the crowd with Taylor's father surrounded by the parents of Taylor's friends and tearing up when the strands of pomp and circumstance started.  Taylor walked down the aisle in his shirt and tie, looking so proud and so mature that I had to fight to hold back the tears. My baby boy was growing up..... and I was going to be one of those moms who cried at graduation.

In middle school, Taylor found his love for running.  He discovered teachers who he loved... and others that he hated.  He visited Washington, DC with his best friends.  He ruled the school. It seemed to last a minute.

High school has been amazing.  Taylor has grown into a fine young man. He remains friends with the same friends from elementary school and has added several new faces along the way.  His group is a wonderfully diverse mixture of guys and girls who will one day make this world a better place.... and Taylor, my Marine, will protect it.  Without a doubt, I have enjoyed every single moment of the journey. And tonight when the strands of pomp and circumstance float across Littlejohn Colliseum, I will cry... out of joy and pride... Those kind of tears are allowed. Afterall, it's graduation day!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Couple Dating Without Coupling??

Every married couple should spend quality alone time.  This is completely true.  You need to date each other.  You need to dress up and go to dinner without the kids, without the dog, without asking him if he remembered to pay the gas bill.... When you spend day in and day out being mom and dad as well as hard working employees, it is hard to remember to be the person your other half fell madly in love with in the first place.    You are sitting across from the person that can answer the questions about the doctor's appointment, the car payment, the insurance policy.  You would never discuss these things when you were first dating.  Date night is not the place to discuss them now.  Date night is about remembering who you fell in love with...

I'll let you in on a little secret though... Sometimes it is easy to remember who you were and who your spouse was when there are other people to interact with.  You see your hubby laugh or he reachs for your hand as he tells a funny story about a trip you took and BAM!  There's that spark again! This is what you want! This is what date night needs to be from time to time... definitely not all the time though.  Spend time alone too!

Finding a compatible couple to date is hard when you are married.  Either you can easily banter for hours with the wife but your hubby has absolutely nothing to say to your new found friend's husband or vice versa. We've all been there.  Couples date other couples trying to find the right combination and someone always ends up settling for a less than perfect fit, because it is really hard to find two totally compatible people who mesh well with you.  It's important to keep looking though.

Yesterday, two of my married friends asked if I would consider being half of their couple date couple.  Ummmm... I am not married, so I was a little unsure of where this was going. They have found the perfect solution though.  Brandi and I are great friends; her husband and I have a lot in common and I consider him a good friend as well. We all three mesh well, have a lot in common, and enjoy each other's company. Another single male in the church also gets along great with both of them and with me. We would make the perfect foursome as long as we are not required to date each other. I have been married; I do not want to go back down that road.  He has been married and is still very much in the healing stages while trying to raise three young children on his own. Hallmark would have us falling for each other...  I think we'll stick to dinner and game nights though.

Isn't it great when you can fix the problem simply by tweaking the boundaries?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

And Then You Get Back On...

I've always been told that when a horse throws you off, you must get back on again; if your heart gets broken, then there's another, even more perfect person waiting for you; if a door shuts, a window opens. I beleive all these pithy sayings, and therefore, I am back on.  I have not written in over a week.  I have missed stopping to put words on paper or a computer screen as it were. Life has been incredibly busy.

My doctorate classes have begun, and I am reading about a gazillion fascinating things. The brain is amazing, and the fact that one small part orchestrates everything is pretty cool to me. Human Resources was my first career, so it has been nice to revisit it as I read my required chapters and prepare to write, write, write. Curriculum is my current obsession, so I am excited to explore it in detail.  I love learning new things! I may even share a few things with you along the way.

Tomorrow is Class Day.  Taylor will march in as a senior in his cap and gown.  Tears will flow.  Maybe.. I'll even blog about it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Would You Have Stopped?

Turn on the television, and you quickly become depressed.  There is war... there is always war.  There are also natural disasters, murders, robberies, political corruption, name a crime and it is well covered. Humanity exists though.  I wanted to reassure you of this fact in case you have watched too many news stories as of late. Sometimes you have to look closely.  True human kindness abounds all around us.  We have to pay attention; we need to be the ones offering the kindness at times.

Tonight, on the way to meet friends for dinner, I noticed a plumbing service truck pull off the side of the road. Then, the cars going in either direction stopped.  My mind thought "wreck", but then, I noticed the driver of the truck bend down and walk stooped over to the middle of the road.  He was trying to pick up a small daschund that was running around in the middle of the busy road, obviously playing a game of keep away with this man.  After a few minutes with no success, the man got back in his truck and drove away.  He wasn't trying to capture HIS pet; he was trying to save someone else's pet.  How nice, I thought.  Traffic began to creep forward; no one wanted to hit the dog that was now playing on the side of the road for the most part.  Then, another car (not part of the original line) pulled over and the driver began to try to catch the dog.  Traffic stopped in both directions as this man tried to wrangle the pup. No luck, but he did succeed in getting the dog to run into a neighborhood away from the busy road. A third vehicle driven by a lady drove slowly beside the dog with her window down talking to the dog. She must have known where he lived and was leading him back home. Someone's pet is alive tonight because not one or two, but three people stopped along a busy road to make sure this little puppy did not die. How incredible is that?

If I had seen the dog before the first vehicle stopped, I would have thought to myself that I hoped the dog didn't get hit and drove on.  I had plans; I was not going to stop; I was not going to get involved. I would have been wrong.

The Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan tells us that we are to help each other regardless of what is going on. Yet, we seldom do.  How many other things - things much more significant than a dog playing on the side of a busy road - have I overlooked because I didn't want to be involved? I need to open my eyes and slow down.   I need to make a difference, no matter how small...

Would you have stopped??

Sunday, May 8, 2011

You Know The Places Where Your Memory Lives..

If I were to ask you what your alma mater looks like, you could tell me. You might now choose the obvious details that outsiders would choose; you are not an outsider.  You know the inside scoop, the hidden places.  The spots that make the school.

 I wanted to include a photo in each graduation announcement that Taylor sent out to his friends and family.  This is an area called the cave.. it is a back walkway between buildings at his school. I never knew this existed, but then again, I didn't attend school here.. I think the picture captured an artsy feel but it's not the picture I chose to include because you cannot see Taylor face.
 This is one of a group of large rocks at the bottom of the parking lot. Again, I never knew these existed as an outsider to his school.  It was our first stop.  This is Taylor's school... he knew where to go for cool shots.  This is great and feels very much like Taylor, but I didn't choose it either because you can't see his face well.
This is in front of Taylor's school.  It's the pickup area.  This I knew.  I've walked through these doors for school programs, meetings, to sign him out.  You can see his face.  I did include this in the announcement along with several other shots.  I finally decided that one picture wasn't enough.

Think about your house, your church, or your school.. Where are the special places that memories live that an outsider wouldn't know about?

Wonder Why Disney Killed All The Mothers?

There are no mothers in the Disney classics.  Go ahead.. run through the movies in your head..  I'll wait here.  Yes, Bambi had a mother, but she was killed.  She was the one and only death of a positive figure in a Disney movie until Mufassa died in The Lion King. Have you sifted through them all and realized that there are no mothers?

I wonder if Walt Disney's childhood was scarred by a horrible mother or if he knew that none of the perils that the princesses would be forced to endure would happen if a mother was around? My guess is the second one. The stories would not have worked.  Bambi's mother protected him, so she had to go to progress the story. Cinderella would have never have been forced to work more than to do her fair share of chores; Snow White's mother would have been thrilled that her daughter was the fairest of them all. Ariel's mom would have figured out a way for her to be a girl for a while without losing her voice; Belle's mother would have made her husband a famous inventor so Belle wouldn't have been lost in the woods and taken to the Beast's castle. Moms celebrate their children, love their children, protect their children..  The stories that Disney made his millions from telling simply would not work if a mother was present. A mother's love changes everything.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms reading!  May you live happily ever after.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Motherhood Should Come With A Warning..

The day Taylor was born was peaceful and calm and fun.  You wouldn't think those would be the words I would choose considering the fact that both of us almost died during his delivery; however, I remember being so excited to meet this little baby that I had carried inside my body for the last nine months and inside my dreams since I was a little girl. He was in distress and was born without a heartbeat, without a pulse, without a cry.  He fought to live, and is the wonderfully tall young future Marine that brightens my life daily.

I remember the moment I was first allowed to hold him, this dream come true.  My heart expanded.  I tell people that and they look at me strangely, and yet, it is true.  My heart grew the moment I first held Taylor.  I understood love.  I knew complete and utter devotion.  I knew that my heart would never again be mine. I was a mother.

Yes, my friends, motherhood should come with a warning... You will never again be you; you will be a mom.

Guest Blog Spot

I'm new to blogging as most of you know.  I started for Lent and have continued because it brings me joy, a place to share the many ponderings and adventures of my life.  I also read different blogs from around cyberspace. The best way to build readers for your blog is to read and comment on other blogs afterall.

One of the blogs I follow is Small Fry & Co, a crafting blog.  She offers ideas and how-tos for creating all kinds of wonderful things.  This week she has ran a series of guest blogs featuring other creative moms and new bloggers.  I am featured creative mom #7!! It is the posting I did regarding the chocolate Easter basket.  Check it out and check out the great ideas from all the truly crafty moms!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sometimes Shortcuts Will Cost You

We are all in a hurry these days.  Society as a whole is dependent on convenience items. People work so hard and play so hard that we are constantly looking for a shortcut, an easier way.  Be careful though.  Those shortcuts will cost you.

On the news yesterday, the financial news reporter warned that Hertz rentals is now charging $9/gallon for gasoline if you do not return the rental car with a completely full gas tank. $9/gallon! Is it really worth the extra $5- $6/gallon to not pump gas?  I don't think so; I bet lots of people end up paying the price though either for convenience sake or because the gas is being charged to their company expense account. Regardless of who pays, it's not a shortcut that you should take.

When I heard the report yesterday, I thought to myself who is lazy enough to pay the extra money rather than to spend the time pumping gas? Today, I realized that I was guilty of a similar thing without even thinking about it. My first doctoral program classes begin May 16th.  When I registered for classes, there was an option to order my textboks online.  I clicked the button to avoid the search for the books, to sit in my chair rather than stand in lines, to simply have them sent to me in sturdy cardboard boxes straight to my door.  They haven't arrived yet, and I am ready to start reading.  I clicked on Amazon to see if the book that the first assignment was available there.  It was.  One click and it arrived on my beloved Kindle for $15 cheaper than the original book that I had ordered.  Hmmmm.... I started typing the titles of the other books, and I had wasted a lot of money simply by clicking that easy button.  I called and canceled my bookstore order.  I re-ordered the books from Amazon and saved almost $300... That's a beach trip, a shopping spree, a webcam for my computer...  It was about to be wasted money...  That shortcut would have cost me. 

What shortcut have you taken lately without even thinking about it? Did it save you time and money or cost you???

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Only Thing To Fear Is Fear Itself..

Our house was robbed in September. The thieves shattered the glass doors and took everything of value in the house while Taylor and I were at school. My engagement ring that I hoped to pass down - gone. My grandmother's pins and brooches that she wore in the 1930s - gone. The guns that Taylor had worked and saved - gone.  The electronics - gone.  They took it all, but the worse thing that was stolen that day is my sense of security.  Someone had invaded our home, our safe haven, our sanctuary... would I ever feel safe here again?

God is amazing!  He took this horrible event and used it to show me how loved and blessed Taylor and I are. My best friend, sister, and niece showed up to help me put the house back together.  My brother-in-law installed new doors even though he was exhausted from work.  People prayed for us.  Friends, family of friends, and co-workers donated money to help us replace the essential elements.  Electronics are a necessity if you have a teenager afterall. I began to feel safe again.

Last night, when Taylor arrived home, there was a note attached to our door.  It was on torn computer paper; it was unsigned.  It was addressed to me and said they hoped I would be home "the next time we visit"...  The word visit was in quotation marks.  I have no idea who left the note.  My hope is that it was left by a student who figured out which house was mine and thought it would be a funny thing to do.  Friends feel it may be a threat; the police seem to not think so. I am scared again.

Taylor described the feeling best at dinner.  He said when he came home the day of the robbery and saw the glass everywhere, he felt physically sick.  His stomach clenched, his neck was tight, and he developed a massive headache.  Yesterday, he felt the same way.  It's not the note itself; it's the loss of innocence that the reaction to it signifies. The robbers took away our ability to see the note as anything other than a threat.

I love this house.  I want it to go back to being my sanctuary for when the world is a bit much. I want to rewind time to before the robbery, so I feel safe again. FDR told Americans that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.  I believe in that statement; I  wish the fear wasn't as palpable as it is right now. I know that God will protect us and keep us safe.  Please keep us in your prayers.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Just Ducky Cupcakes

The youngest daughter of my best friend turns ten tomorrow. To celebrate, Donna decided to make cupcakes to send to school.  Ten is a BIG birthday... ordinary cupcakes would not do, so we made ones that look like rubber duckys.  Isn't it amazing what moms do for their children?

The cupcakes turned out so cute!  You should give them a try.

 Start by baking cupcakes as you normally would.  Allow them to cool.  Then apply a thin coating of white frosting.
Since these are shaped cupcakes, you will need to add a few things to help create the duck shape.  The process is super easy.  Simply cut marshmallows in half, and add one half to the back of each cupcake to form the tail.  To form the head, add a glazed doughnut hole.  Fill in the areas in between the two pieces with extra frosting. 
 The cupcakes should look like the picture to the left at this point.  Place them in the freezer for 15 minutes so they can set up.  This makes them easier to handle and dip. Don't worry if they look a little weird at this stage.  The next few steps will fix any imperfections.

Take white frosting and add food coloring to achieve a bright yellow color or if you are lucky, buy colored frosting.  Microwave this for 45 seconds or until it reachs the consistency of whipped cream.
 Dip the frozen cupcake in the heated frosted to coat the shape.

Use a knife to insure the whole form is coated.

Allow the forms to set up until firm.
 Now it's time to make the duck come alive with personality!  It needs a face! The eyes are brown miniature M & Ms.  The beak is an orange Starburst fruit chew cut in half, pressed into an oval, and folded in half. Add to head.

 Each ducky looks completely different.  A couple of tips... Be careful making the beaks. Donna gave me much grief because I wanted to make the beaks massive... which made them fall off like Daffy Duck in the old Bugs Bunny cartoons. You need to add a small dot of white icing before adding the eyes to give it a little depth.  Go have fun!  Your children will think you are incredibly cool for taking the time to make these rather than running to the bakery.

Our children are only young once.  Take time to make memories like this.... before you know it, it will be time for the next half of your life...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bite-sized Goodness

One of Taylor's favorite meals is beans and corn bread. It's easy to make; you simply allow the beans to cook in a slow cooker during the day and then, make a cake of corn bread.  Taylor will snack on the corn bread for the next couple of days.  He loves my corn bread; I love knowing that I make something he enjoys like I enjoyed my grandmother's famous biscuits. Tonight, I gave the cornbread a twist though.

Taylor and I attended an auction this afternoon.  While Taylor bought six fishing rods and antique fishing gear, I bought a box overflowing with baking pans.  There were muffins tins of all sizes, cakes pans in various shapes, and even an apple corer for pies. The tins made me want to bake, so I did. I made 36 mini corn muffins and 30 brownie bites. They were delicious!


Taylor ate a bowl containing half a dozen without any beans to go with them.  I ate three myself and shared another three with Bella, who proceeded to gobble them down and then, toss out all of her dog food looking for more. YUM!

Change is good! Taylor loves my regular corn bread, but he also loved these mini corn muffins. Switching things up helps us break out of ruts.  Which of your favorite recipes can you switch up this week?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

It Must Be The Tiara...

One of the themes I stress as I teach US History is the role of women throughout history. In the beginning, women (like Abigail Adams) admonished their husbands to "remember the ladies" when they were forming the government of the new nation.  John Adams, of course, ignored Abigail and there was little she could do... other than make him pay for it at home.  Wives have a tendency to let their unhappiness show when they are ignored afterall... Women did not have a voice... yet.  This was way before Hillary or Palin. Our value had not been truly discovered and understood.

Today, we have female politicians fighting to change the world around them.  We have mothers researching to find the cure for their child's disease or to unlock the key with their child's learning disability.  We have stay-at-home moms teaching their children that they are the sole center of the universe and we have mother who work outside the home teaching their children that they are the most important part of the universe even if they are gone part of the time. Women can and do accomplish everything today.

Why is this my blog this morning? Simple.  Females around the world yesterday stopped in our tracks to watch Kate Middleton walk down the center aisle of Westminster Abbey and marry her prince.  The fairy tale that so many of us was reared on played out before our eyes, and so many of us simply stopped.  How many of you said to yourself, even silently, "oh... I want to marry a prince." or "oh... I want to be a princess?" We, as a gender, have came so far, accomplished so much, made incredible leaps and bounds, and we still want the fairy tale.  Me too.  Meee too.. I think it is the tiara. Maybe, we all want to wear jewels in our hair and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are special.  We are special!

When school let out yesterday, a small group of teachers met in the media center of my school for a royal wedding reception.  We had cake and punch; we wore paper tiaras and watched the recap of the wedding on the large screen.  We critiqued the dress ~ understated and elegant.  We talked about what we had read and heard about each participant in the affair ~ what the lipreaders had said William and Kate had said during the ceremony.  We all agreed that we dislike Camilla immensely and think Kate is beautiful. Then, the women gathered went home to their real life princes. Sometimes life truly is a fairy tale..

I was reminded of the best part of today's women though when I stopped for gas on my way home.  Two teenaged girls dressed in their uniforms for Powderpuff Flag Football were pumping gas beside me. They were headed to participate in the annual game where the same girls who oohed and aahed over the royal wedding would run, block, and aggressively grab flags off their opponents. Girls today are not confined to any one stereotype.  They can be romantic, girly, and tomboy-ish... They can be themselves... with or without a tiara.

Friday, April 29, 2011

And They Lived Happily Ever After... Oh I Hope So...

I remember when Diana and Charles married. I was young and I sat enthralled by the romance of the entire ceremony.  Little did I know that Charles secretly loved another or that Diana, the beautiful bride, was so insecure that she would develop an eating disorder. They painted such a beautiful picture...

Marriages end; I know that sad fact first hand.  Not every princess gets her happily ever after, but I hope that Kate does. I think this royal couple is completely different from the one we watched marry in that other royal wedding.  I believe William and Kate truly love each other.

The couple is older.  Both are in their late twenties, and have known each other for years.  They know each other; they have seen each other through the seasons.  They are familiar with each other's moods; these two seem to be friends.  He is royalty so today, they played by the rules for the most part.  He didn't look at her as she walked down the aisle, but his little brother did.  William told her she looked beautiful when she reached him. He beamed when he looked at her, and she looked adoringly at him during the ceremony. He kissed her on the balcony for all to see.  The prince blushed and looked embarrassed to have shared such a private moment with the world.  Then, he kissed her again.  The two are in love - plain and simple... Royalty or not, these two are in love and I hope the entire fairy tale come true for them.

I think one of the most telling signs that Kate does not share the heartbreaking insecurities that plagued William's mother, Diana, is the dress... No.  Not Kate's wedding dress, but the dress her sister wore as she walked behind the radiant bride. The world is watching.  Literally, the world is watching the fairy tale play out, and the sister wears a stunning white  fitted dress that shows her amazing figure.  Kate appears to not be bothered by it at all.  Bridesmaid dresses are notoriously ugly and unflattering.  The bride is after all the center of attention, and some brides go the extra mile to make sure this is the case.  Not Kate.  Pippa was gorgeous. Kate wasn't worried.  She knows that she and she alone holds William's heart.  Let the rest of the world check out her sister.

All good fairy tales end with the phrase "and they lived happily ever after". We who have been married know that the important part begins after the guests leave.  Today was the party.  The true fairy tale begins tomorrow; the true test of love is the marriage, not the wedding.  Will he bring her tea when she is sick?  Will he take turns rocking the royal babies that are sure to come? Will he gaze at her adoringly when she burns the pudding?  Will she continue to look at him with love when his family is on her last nerve, when his duties have limited their private time together yet agin?  Oh, I hope so.  I Hope So..  I Hope So... 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's Not How Many That Matters...

When I entered the chapel today, walking a few steps behind my mom and dad in the traditional family march of mourning following my aunt's casket, I looked around and was saddened by the small number of mourners present.  My aunt had been retired for a number of years; she had been mostly confined to her home the last few years due to health concerns and family issues.  There were not large numbers of people from a church congregation or from work relationships or from volunteer agencies. Most of the people there had came to lend support for one of the family members. My aunt had lived a small, quiet life the last few years of her life; she was going to have a small quiet burial. It seemed so wrong.

My aunt had a miscarriage - twin girls - when my mom was pregnant with me.  She always said that this was why I looked so much like her. I always argued that I did not resemble her.  I wanted to look like my small, elegant mother.  I refused to say that I shared any traits with this loud woman who laughed all the time and pinched my cheeks.  If you thought that older relatives who pinched little children's cheeks were simply figments of a screenwriter's imagination for television, you were wrong - my aunt, Martha, pinched my cheeks over and over when I was little.  She was beautiful too, of course; her beauty came from her laughter and her heart and those startling blue eyes of hers. Now, of course, I want to share those traits. My aunt loved to cook.  She loved sweets especially and when I was younger I loved for her to make banana split cake.  It makes me smile thinking of it now. The cake was delicious. She cried easily and went to pieces as my mom would say whenever there was a stressful situation. In a family where strong women are valued, this is not a great trait.  I cry easily too, but then I get over it.  I like to think Martha did too. I have wonderful memories of her. I wanted the chapel to be overflowing with others who would testify to her wonderfulness.

There was a song, and then the preacher began to speak.  It was a typical funeral message until he started reading things the grandchildren had told him about their grandmother. How she loved to laugh, how she would do anything for anyone, how she was an amazing cook, how you could not come visit without being fed. My eyes overflowed with tears. To these five grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and her two sons who were audibly weeping throughout the service, Martha meant everything.  They knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was a great woman, that their lives had been shaped by the bounty of her love. She didn't need an entire chapel full of people.  The family that she cherished was there. The number of mourners doesn't matter; the amount of love that you share on this earth does. Make sure that the people you love know it!  Call them right now for no other reason than to talk to them.  They'll be gone quicker than you think....

Blogger Question

For you have read daily and are not bloggers, this does not count as my blog for the day... 

However, if you are a blogger, I have a question.

I linked an older post of mine today to a Blog Hop @  I am supposed to add her button here.  I have no clue how to do that or what the really means...HELP!

Sarah @, I got the idea for blog hopping from you, so... can you help me?

Thanks Everyone!  I'll be back to blog later... :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kung Fu Kick - Wow...

On Wednesdays, Wild Wings runs a special.  For every order of wings you purchase, you get an equal order free.  It's a great deal.  Taylor and I often go and eat for less than $15, including drinks and fries.  Every other week, I go with my friends, Patsy and Ken. It's an inexpensive way to catch up over dinner. I love Wing Ding Wednesday!

During the months of April and May, the restaurant is testing new flavors.  There are two/week and you call in to vote for your favorite new flavor.  Taylor and I decided to play along tonight and tried the new marinades - Kung Fu Kick and Honey Please Curry. We tested the flavors before ordering by tasting fries dipped in the sauces.  They were delicious, so we ordered wings in these new flavors.  They were spicy! Taylor and I normally eat 8 wings/each rather quickly... Tonight, we ate rather slowly.  The wings heated up our mouths. Needless to say, the Kung Fu Kick was aptly named...  It definitely had a kick.  The Honey Please Curry had much more in common with curry than honey... With each bite, we wished that we had stuck to our old tried and true flavors.  I'm glad we tried them, but next trip, I'll order what I know I love.

If we had never tried them though, we might have missed out on a new fantastic favorite.  Never be afraid to try something new.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Picture Me Laughing...

My mom re-did my aunt's makeup today at the mortuary.  She went to view the body and decided that her sister did not look look quite like herself as she lay sleeping in eternal peace.  I'm not sure that I could do that, even for my sister. The whole conversation made me think about death and funerals and those left behind... I don't want to lie in a casket waiting for my friends and family to file past to pay their respects.  I don't want the people who share my day-to-day existence to try to figure out if my hair should be down, curled, pulled back, or styled in an updo of some sort to make me look like me.  I wear little makeup, so in death, I definitely wouldn't want it piled on to give me a healthy glow.  I would be dead afterall... There would be no need to make it appear otherwise.

I am saved. When I die, I will be in the presence of my Lord; I will no longer be here. I want my body to be cremated and to have my ashes scattered at the beach. This way, if you feel an overwhelming need to commune with me, to discuss the great mysteries of life with me, you can head to the beach. The ocean breezes will stroke your cheek; the sun will warm your skin. The sand will shift beneath your feet to remind you that life always changes and no terrible thing lasts forever.  Life always gets better. I do not want the people I love to worry over details of caskets and tombstones.  I want them to go live!

I plan to live to at least 100, so there's no need to plan anything for a long time hopefully.  When it is my time to be called home, picture me laughing.  I love to laugh.  Close your eyes and hear my laughter... Isn't that so much better than worrying about whether or not my hair and makeup looks life-like?

How do you want to be remembered?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Love You Like A Sister.... Well, Maybe Not...

My mom's sister died last night.  My mother was in the room along with my aunt's youngest son when she passed. I had visited a few hours prior to check on my mom and say goodbye to my favorite aunt.  As I watched my strong beautiful mother gently brush back the hair from her sister's face, I was reminded of how I always used to sign the notes I wrote to my friends in junior high with LYLAS (love you like a sister).  The closing was meant to convey how close the friendship was, but .... is there anyone that shares the bond that sisters do?

I am the youngest of four; my sister is the oldest.  Personality theorists would say that birth order is what defines our relationship.  They would be wrong. My sister was my first role model.  I wanted to be exactly like her. Lynn was beautiful and cool and amazing.  To her, I was a brat.  Because there were two boys and two girls in my family, we had to share a room.  She became a teenager when I was 6.  She would lock me out of the room and only allow me in to sleep. The movies would have portrayed that I resented this; I didn't. It made me imagine all sorts of adventures that she must be planning on the other side of the door. I read her magazines; I read her books.  I wanted to be the cool teenager that she was; she ignored me.  As the youngest child, I spoke baby talk when I started school.  Lynn promptly told all her friends I was mentally challenged. No one ridiculed me because there was a rule against mocking a disabled child.  She also told them that I was adopted.... At night though, in the darkness, she would talk quietly to me.  She would ask me about my day.  She would let me creep into her bed to sleep when the scary movie she had  finally let me watch proved to be too scary for my little six year old mind. I knew she loved me.

Lynn married her high school sweetheart when I was 12. I sobbed throughout the entire ceremony.  Not graceful tears that leaked from my eyes... Big gulping sobs.  My sister was leaving me. She didn't though.  Lynn would pick me up for sleepovers, send me encouragement cards in the mail, and let me wear makeup. I knew she missed me too.

Lynn and I have taken vacations together with our children, camped together, shopped together, gossiped together.  We have had screaming matches and not spoken for weeks.  We have inside jokes and call each other whenever one of us has a secret that we cannot share with anyone else on this earth.  We are each others worst critics and fiercest protectors. We laugh and laugh and laugh over stupid stuff. She can make me cry quicker than anyone. She is the other half of me.

My mother will bury her sister this week.  My heart hurts for her. I don't even want to imagine losing my forever friend.  Friendships end; sisterhood doesn't.

My sister, oldest brother, and me yesterday..

Sunday, April 24, 2011

It's Not About The Front Door

When Taylor swore in on Tuesday, his recruiter presented him with three t-shirts to commemorate the day.  One is a long sleeve black shirt that has the Marine Corps emblem on the side and Marines across the front. Taylor wore this when we went to the mall yesterday, and several people commented on it. There was a level of respect paid to him simply for wearing the shirt. Semper Fi!

However, Taylor is a Marine not because he wears a shirt that says he is.  He is a Marine because of the person he is, the fine man he has grown into. Last week, he told me that the house is only as strong as its foundation; the front door doesn't matter. That's pretty deep for an 18 year old. What he meant was that life isn't about what people can see.  What truly matters is what something or someone is founded on, what they stand for, what they are made out of. I tend to worry about appearances.  I want the titles.  I need the affirmation that I am doing a good job. None of that matters

We have spent this Easter surrounded by amazing people who have helped lay the foundation of who Taylor is - my parents, my siblings, my family... These people along with his coaches, teachers, friends, and other family members are responsible for Taylor being willing to lay down his life for ours.

Brandi taught Taylor Bible story after Bible story in Children's Church when he was younger.  He will tell you that one of the reasons that he wants to be a Marine is that someone must stand up and protect the family.  This is based upon a Bible story where the family members where placed behind the weaker parts of the wall because the leaders knew the soldiers would fight the hardest to protect their families even if the wall was weak. Brandi helped lay the foundation early.

Jared was Taylor's youth leader for a time. Jared is a Godly man, and serves as an example of the upstanding man you should strive to become.  When Taylor was in Youth, Jared explained that he tried to never lie, to NEVER lie.  Not just big lies but even small half-truths like not telling his wife what he had bought for Christmas.  What an example to have during your forming years! Jared helped lay the foundation during his teens.

Taylor and I have went on several mission trips beginning with one to Louisiana the year after Katrina.  Taylor was about 12 years old, and yet JJ put hm to work as one of the men.  Taylor became a mason's helper during that mission trip and worked for him throughout the following summer.  Taylor learned rock work, wiring, sheet rock, and a slew of other construction type skills under JJ. Tay never went through an awkward stage of self-doubt about his skills as a man because of upstanding Christian men like JJ who trusted him to work hard.

Cricket and Taylor are as close as brother and sister although they are cousins.  From the time that Taylor was born, the two have shared a special bond.  She carried him around on her bony little none-year old hip and taught him everything she knew. When I traveled for work, Cricket would move in and care for Taylor. She drove him to school, to practices, to games.  I would come home and while Taylor would be glad to see me, he mourned the loss of Cricket a little. She would allow him to ride on the trunk after getting the mail.  She would blow the horn and random people and wave.  She was fun and young and amazing. Cricket helped Taylor know he was valued and special.  She helped make sure the foundation was strong by showing Taylor love from day one.

I am leaving out a gazillion people, but the point is that Taylor is who he is because the people who have surrounded him during his lifetime.  You have made a difference (either positive or negative) on the people you meet.  Lay a strong foundation and don't worry so much about what the front door looks like...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The 7 Things Jesus Said On The Cross

Yesterday while searching the internet for Good Friday related thing, I saw several references to the 7 words that Jesus said on the cross.  They are actually phrases, but the point is that some religions have Good Friday ceremonies where they read and ponder on these 7 sayings.  Good Ole Baptists don't do this; we'd turn it into a dinner if we did.  Baptists love to eat and fellowship.  :) There is so much to be gained from Our Savior's last words as the savior in human form that I decided to share them today though.  We should all live as Jesus died.

My original thought was simply to copy and paste the entire posting from I trimmed it and added some of my own thoughts but it still a pretty large post.

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."
Luke 23:34
Jesus says this first piece of advice only in the Gospel of Luke, just after he was crucified by the soldiers. The timing of this suggests that Jesus asks his Father to primarily forgive those who have tortured him, mocked him and nailed him to the cross. This could also apply to his friends who have deserted him, to Peter who has denied him three times, to the fickle crowd, who only days before praised him on his entrance to Jerusalem, and then days later chose him over Barabbas to be crucified.

Could this not also apply to us, who daily forget him in our lives?  Does he react angrily? No, he asks his Father to forgive them, because they are ignorant! At the height of his physical suffering, his Divine love prevails and He asks His Father to forgive his enemies. Wow!  What small petty hurt are we holding on so tightly to that we refuse to forgive?  This piece of advice strikes such a cord with me.  I am slow to forgive; I really need to follow His example here.

"Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."  Luke 23:43
Even one of the criminals who Jesus has been hung between mocks Jesus. However, the criminal on the right stands up for Jesus, explaining that while the other two are guilty, "this man (Jesus) has done nothing wrong." Then, turning to Jesus, he asks, "Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom" (Luke 23:42). Ignoring his own suffering, Jesus mercifully responds. Isn't it amazing that Our Father continuously forgives and offers us grace when we are not worthy of it? The criminal simply had to ASK, and Jesus gave him pardon.

"Jesus said to his mother: "Woman, this is your son". Then he said to the disciple: "This is your mother." John 19:26-27
Mary was at the cross to watch her son die for us. How I ache for her as a mother myself.  I cannot imagine having to watch my son mocked, tortured, and crucified.  Jesus understands her pain. Jesus is concerned about taking care of his mother. Remember that the next time your mom wants you to take time out of your crazy schedule to do something for her.  Jesus' example is that we are to care for our mothers even in the worst personal time.
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"  Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34
The tone of this saying is totally different than the first three.  It has to be. This cry is from the painful heart of the human Jesus. Jesus feels separated from his Father because He is now bearing our sin. Without this separation, He does not become the Passover lamb for our salvation.  Jesus completely lives the human experience as we do, and by doing so, frees us from the clutches of sin. The burden of all the sins of humanity for a moment overwhelm the humanity of our Jesus, but it is only for a moment.  It is in defeat of his humanity that the Divine plan of His Father and Himself will be completed. It is by His death that we are redeemed. "For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all" (l Timothy 2:5-6).

"I thirst"
John 19:28
The fifth group of words from Jesus on the cross is His only human expression of His physical suffering. Jesus is now in shock. The wounds inflicted upon him in the scourging, the crowning with thorns, and the nailing upon the cross are now taking their toll. He is dying for us. 

"He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross,
so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness.
By his wounds you have been healed" (l Peter 2:24).

"It is finished";
and he bowed his head and handed over the spirit.
John 19:30
Jesus has achieved His purpose.  We have eternal life through Him. When Jesus died, He "handed over" the Spirit. They did not kill Him; He died for us.
Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit":
Gospel of Luke 23:46
The seventh word of Jesus is directed to the Father in heaven, just before He dies. Jesus recalls Psalm 31:5 - "Into thy hands I commend my spirit; thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God."  We can be redeemed at that moment too.  Jesus died for us so that we might have eternal life. 

Tomorrow, we celebrate His resurrection.  Remember that among the bunnies and eggs.  :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Jesus Died For Us. They Did Not Kill Him.

Today is Good Friday.  It is the day celebrated to commerorate the crucifiction of Jesus Christ, my Great Redeemer. The Passion of The Christ does a remarkable job visually showing the pain and agaony Jesus endured for each of us.  I cannot watch it without weeping.  I am so unworthy, and yet, He gave His life for me and you and anyone who will believe.  However, because He underwent such beatings and mocking and abuse, it may be assumed that Jesus was killed.  He was not. My Lord and Savior gave His life willingly.

The Easter Contata that we will perform Sunday includes a song entitled Behold the Lamb by Dottie Rambo. In it, I narrate several passages between the song lyrics.  My favorite section says this... "No one took his life from Him. He could have stopped the painful parade up to Calvary with a word, but He never uttered it.  Instead, He opened His arms to the beam, He opened His hands to the nails, and He allowed Himself to be crucified.... Behold the Lamb, surrendering His life, bearing our sin, absorbing the wrath of God in our place, and finally dying for our atonement."   They did not kill Him, my friends.  He died for us. Praise God!  He died for us so that we can have eternal life.

All you have to do to receive this blessing is ASK.  There is no great secret or huge hoop to jump through.  Ask. Below is the sinner's prayer in case you are struggling with what to say.  Feel free to put it in your own words.  What is in your heart is what truly matters....

"Heavenly Father, have mercy on me, a sinner. I believe in you and that your word is true. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that he died on the cross so that I may now have forgiveness for my sins and eternal life. I know that without you in my heart my life is meaningless.
I believe in my heart that you, Lord God, raised Him from the dead. Please Jesus forgive me, for every sin I have ever committed or done in my heart, please Lord Jesus forgive me and come into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior today. I need you to be my Father and my friend.
I give you my life and ask you to take full control from this moment on; I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ."

If you have said the above prayer and truly meant it, you are now a child of God.  Your old life, whatever sin it may have contained, is over.  Live for Christ.  Grow in Christ.  I will be glad to help you figure out how to do that if you would like me to do so. Leave me a comment or send me an email to

Thursday, April 21, 2011

If It Can Wait....

As a teacher, I encourage students to not wait until the last minute to start their assignments because I know that the longer they wait, the more work they will be required to rush through leading to lower retention and lower test scores. Nothing good comes from procrastination, I remind them. As a parent, I remind Taylor to do the little things now so it doesn't lead to larger problems later - check your oil, use antifreeze, brush your teeth, clean up that spill... I do not always follow my own advice, however.

A few years ago, the doctor told me I needed a hysterectomy.  I did not want this surgery, so I put it off and put it off until there was no other possibility but to have it done.  By the time I finally gave up the futile fight to retain some out-moded idea of femininity, I was severely anemic and my body had paid the consequences in a number of ways. My teeth were greatly weakened during this time, and now I need dental work.. In true Tracy fashion, I have put it off as long as I could but it is not going to get better. I have to have dental work done tomorrow that requires me to be sedated.  I am not looking forward to this procedure. Please pray that the procedure goes well, that it goes smoothly, that I am able to speak clearly so I can narrate the Easter contata that we have practiced over and over and over... Procrastination never pays.

Whatever it is that you are putting off until tomorrow... DO IT NOW! You'll be glad you did.  A stitich in time really does save nine.  Ole Ben Franklin had it right all along... By ignoring things, you only make them worse.  Get busy, and I'll hopefully be able to blog tomorrow...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Are They Measuring?

Tonight on Top Chef Masters, the chefs had to compete using bugs for ingredients and then, later they were required to cook without water, space, or fresh ingredients.  After the chefs had still managed to serve a delicious meal to their diners, one chef was sent home for not measuring up to the standards set by the judges. The point of the television show is to determine who is the best master chef.  Somewhere along the way though, the show lost this focus and decided to see how many hoops the chefs could jump through.  Are they measuring the quality of the food or the chef's jumping ability?  What are they measuring?

This strikes a cord with me. I am not a chef.  However, as a teacher, we are measured on so many things that have little to do with our ability to educate. South Carolina currently requires every student enrolled in US History to take an end-of-course exam that counts as 20% of their yearly grade.  The test consists of 55 questions and these magical questions count as much as an entire quarter's worth of material. The passage rate for this test statewide is approximately 50%.  Yes, we are giving students a test that we know half of them will not pass.  Every meeting I have attended regarding it has centered on what the teachers are not doing right to prepare our students for this test. Teachers have explained the vocabulary is too high.  The questions are confusing.  There are issues with the actual test.  We are required to keep giving it, and then, the scores go on our school report card.  We are judged using an unfair measure. The Superintendent of Education wants to cut teacher pay and base it on performance. I am not afraid of being judged based on my teaching ability; I am afraid of being judged using this test.  Measure me on the right things.

The master chefs competing tonight can cook amazing meals.  Diners call and request reservations at their restaraunts weeks in advance.  They are talented and at the top of their games; yet they get sent home because they cannot cook with bugs or without water. Teachers every day are staying up late to make creative lesson plans or grade papers.  They worry about their students who are not on target.  They tutor afterschool and come early to provide extra help.  They spend their own money to buy the materials that they think will get through to that one student.  Then, we are judged using unrealistic measures.... Measure us on the things that matter most, not one test....

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Swearing In Day

Taylor and I traveled to Columbia today so that he could take his oath to officially join the Marine Corps. The love of my life, my heart that walks outside my body bravely raised his hand and duly swore to uphold the Constitution of this great nation of ours, to protect your freedom and mine even if it cost him his life to do so.  There is not a single person alive worthy of that sacrifice and yet, my beautiful baby boy promised to give his life to save ours.  Yes, I cried.

The commander who issues the oath for all poses for photographs with each newly sworn-in recruit if their parents are present.  He asked kindly if I was okay, and I nodded through the tears. Taylor assured him that they were simply tears of pride and he is right.  I am so proud of the young man he has became. I am also terrified of the dangers and hardships he will face as any mother would be. I am saddened that he will be far away and not sleeping soundly in the next room. I know this is his path, but I will miss him.

This was it until February 6th or whenever the Marines decide his actual departure date is.  He has almost ten months to prepare to leave.  I have ten months too...

I am proud of you, Taylor.  I love you more than life itself.