Saturday, January 31, 2009

Super Bowl

There's going to be a Super Bowl party at the White House. Let's crash it! I'll admit - this is new and different. I don't believe there's ever been a president who used a Super Bowl to host a fun get together in the White House while trying avert the most catastrophic economic crisis of our lifetime... two wars with scores of our men in danger... and thousands of Americans out of work, unable to afford a Super Bowl party of their own. Wow. What a cool guy... I'm starting to believe in this. It might just work. Now, if he can just get them all to sit down and do their tax returns while watching the game, we might actually get something accomplished!

Did You Know?

What does this mean for our kids?


I am really struggling these days with the hypocrisy of the Obama administration. Oh, how I wish I lived far away from Washington, D.C., where national news is my local news... get me out of here!! I see nothing new happening in Washington, just the same old corrupt politicians being given more and more control over my life, bad decisions being made on a the whim of trying to look "new" and a general reluctance to accept any constructive criticism.

Closing Gitmo?? Why?? The only reason I've seen come up over and over for closing Gitmo is because it's a "blemish" on America. Really? Who says? Human rights groups (who say that about any prison), terrorist groups (who would love to embarrass America if it means we go easy on them AND they get their key players back) and Americans who don't believe in war (but don't want another 9/11.... by negotiating, not fighting, with terrorists). My question: if you are embarrassed by the Bush Administration and feel like what happened in the White House for the last 8 years is a blemish on our country, should we shut down the White House??? Move it to, say, Chicago? Duh. Don't close Gitmo - it's absolutely strategic for us to keep these high profile terrorist enemy combatants off our shores. Change the way it's run - YES!! But why close it?? I'm not understanding the necessity here.... As for giving up our land on Cuba.... no way. Too strategic, but Obama certainly has opened up a can of worms with this executive order!

Fund Abortion Internationally for Population Control?? Even Bill Gates knows this is no solution. Not to mention, this is NO change... it's Clinton regurgitated. No thought, no ethic involved in this one.

Waivers for Lobbyists? Don't make an executive order and then turn around and abuse your power with it. No waivers... just follow your own rules. It's that simple. You can find someone who is better suited and not look hypocritical while doing so. I have zero tolerance for inconsistent, unapologetic arrogance.

Meanwhile, we're cutting defense spending once again... because we're not involved in two wars and weapons proliferation or anything. I mean, if we want to keep America safe, by all means cut the spending where defense is concerned. No red flag there! Just a big old white one!

I need a vacation. A long vacation!

Friday, January 30, 2009

School Days

Last night, Em and I finished up her Frindle project, which turned out really cute. She had a great vision for this project (once I steered her away from the song she wanted to sing... which consisted of one line!) and really did a super job. I just hope she's as happy with it when she comes home today.

Kt is in a spelling bee today. This was supposed to be on Tuesday, but with all the snow delays and ice, they rescheduled it for today. I'm a bit uncomfortable about this one because I really didn't help her at all with this, and I feel really guilty about it!! Kt is an overachiever, who is always busy doing something. She rarely asks us for help, organizes all her own work and only occasionally "messes up", or forgets something. Our last big mess up was when she missed a deadline to submit an essay for a scholarship - and you would have thought it was the end of the world!! I assured her that, as a fifth grader, there would be many, many more opportunities to do these extra projects.... Anyway, she and another classmate won the class spelling bee, so today is the spelling bee to send a student on to the county wide spelling bee. If she wins today, I promise to be a better mom and actually help her. If she wins today, she will officially be the most over committed fifth grader I've ever met!

As for me, I'm really enjoying my job, although for the past two weeks, I've only worked one day weeks! Last week, I had MLK birthday off and inauguration day off. This week, I went in on Monday, then had two snow days. Of course, that gave me time to do my midyear student reviews, which took quite a lot longer than I'd anticipated!! Next week, my first graders will be on a field trip one day.... I'm actually looking forward to an uninterrupted Feb and March! I need some consistency with these kids!

Ledbetter Law

Obama signed a law today for equal pay for women who do equal work for me. He added his little caveat about how fitting it was that his first law signed into action was based on a premise he ran his campaign on, that we are all created equal. In the back of my mind, I kept remembering an article I read during the campaign about the way Obama paid his staff while in the Senate... and it's not exactly congruent with his words today. In case you want to read that as well, I found it... he may need a waiver so he can continue his payroll practices after signing his first bill today!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


This is not my favorite food, but for many in the world, it's a staple of life. This article today demonstrates an amazing persistence to help feed the world in a way that was sustaining, rewarding and specialized. We need more people like this:

"I feel a great sense of gratitude that I was able to contribute in this way," she (Pamela Ronald) said. "But the farmers have asked us, 'Can you develop varieties that are drought tolerant, salt tolerant? Can you develop varieties that are insect resistant?' There are always more things to work on."

It's a great read... hopefully inspiring to those who have talent, vision and a heart for the world. There are always more possibilities.... limitless!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Is Obama Really Black?

Sounds really racist, huh?? Well, it's a question I've heard of late with the silly explanation that, because Obama's mother was white, he was raised by his mother and his mother's parents that he's more white than black.... and I think the whole idea is absurd!! What I find even more offensive is that people tell me this not really taking into consideration that, while my children are not black, they are half Asian. I haven't been brazen enough to say this, mostly because these conversations take place in public, but if given the opportunity to say this in private, without embarrassing them, I will ask... then what are my children?

I have always told my girls they are Chinese and American, and we don't really give that a percentage. In truth, I'm 1/4 Scottish, 1/4 British, 1/4 Austrian and 1/4 Swedish.... and my mother always said, "You're American!!" My favorite was when Kt, at the age of 5, told her kindergarten class that she was half Chinese, half Connecticut! The truth is, they can choose what they would like to be listed as on their silly standardized tests, but they are free to choose how they identify their "nationality". If they want to say they are part Asian and they are American, that's fine. If they want to say they are part Scottish and American, that's fine as well. Who cares?? But to say they aren't Chinese.... would be absurd.

I don't know if I find the reasoning offensive, however, as much as I find the hatred infused in the wording of this claim. When I see the first family, I have no doubt in my mind that I see and African American family, no matter what they wear or who their parents are. To try to convince me otherwise would be a difficult thing to do. What will stand out to me about the first family and my own is that we are Americans, and our heritage is something we should be proud of, we should strive to educate our children to be proud of it and we should not be using it offensively. I'm sensitive here because for me, it's my kids you're talking about, too!


It has finally arrived - lots of snow! Well, a humble amount measuring around 3-4 inches. Unfortunately, there is more on the way that will switch to sleet, then freezing rain and then rain tomorrow as the temperature supposedly goes up to 40 degrees.

I've enjoyed the day inside! =) Em has been out with her friends, shoveled half the driveway and is now goofing off with the other hibernating creature in our house - Kt! The older I get, the less excited I get about weather events, cold, wool, fleece and hot chocolate. Crazy, I know. I've got my eye set on white sand beaches, pina coladas and sun, sun, sun!!!

Still, every time I've driven by a half frozen pond, fond memories of ice skating as a kid at our local park and sledding down the big church hill we lived on pop up in my old head. It was kind of fun as a kid being able to do all that so close to home. I also recall that my parents did not join us!! Well, maybe for ice skating, but not for long. So I don't feel guilty about not running around, making tiny snowmen or sledding. Just not my thing. They'll have to wait until their dad is home! =)

Looks like round two has begun, ahead of schedule. More snow and sleet on the way. Stay warm, everyone!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Belly Buttons

Who knew?

You Are Puzzled Over

You are quirky, complicated, and brilliant. You tend to feel a bit misunderstood by everyone, and that troubles you.

It's likely that you will have four or more children... whether you use birth control or not!

You are easily effected by the world around you. You are emotional and even a bit moody.

You are a bit lazy. You sometimes don't shower or brush your teeth all day.

You are quite conservative. You are neither a flirter or a flaunter.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Carbon Footprint

I thought this blog post was kind of interesting....

Funding Abortion Internationally

Obviously, I'm against this. I have many reasons that I won't get into, but I really think my biggest reason is that abortion in African countries is not a solution... or anywhere for that matter. There is an epidemic, HIV/AIDS, malaria, civil wars, extremist government takeovers.... killing off newer generations, sometimes we actually call that genocide, will not keep Africans from having more children. Why? Because 1) Africans covet children. Children are their life-blood. We can learn from them. 2) The reason they have so many.... is because only a few will survive. They are not interested in killing them before they are born. That's a crazy Western mentality. Doesn't work there.... but you'd have to actually want to solve a real problem to understand that. Let's put our money, our hard earned tax dollars, on things that matter in international countries instead of once again trying to impose "our" beliefs, that HIV/AIDS babies are better off dead (not my personal belief!), on them!

What Does that Mean?

The girls and I were having a conversation this morning that left me puzzled. See if you can follow along....

Me to Em: Next year, when you go back to school, there will be a new library! (They are going to finish the building renovations...)

Em: I know!

Me: And all the pods (clusters of classrooms for each grade) will look like the third grade pod.

Kt: You know what I hate about the third grade pod? The floor in front of it is tile, so when it rains...

Me: Well, we know from Mom's school that tile is better than carpet. It doesn't hold mold, which makes you sick.

Kt: I know...

Em: You know what makes ME sick at school? The markers.

Me: What do you mean?

Em: When I smell those Expo markers, they make my nose run. I think I'm allergic to them.

Me: You know, you're not supposed to just smell them - that's bad for you.

Em: I know! (with her mischievous giggle)

Kt: You know, if you smell those markers you can die.

Em: I KNOW!! (giggling some more)

I'm not sure what to make of that....

Thursday, January 22, 2009

in a manner that is consistent with our values and our ideals

I guess this is where everything gets a little fuzzy between Obama and I. I have no idea what he thinks OUR values and ideals are. Somehow, the thought has occurred to me that they are a little different. I guess it would have been good to have that clarified before Nov. 4, but nobody wanted to make him do that, or answer many other difficult questions. Now we're just left to wonder. As the president is signing our federal tax dollars away....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mr. Previs

I wrote a post a while ago about my (and many other's) all time favorite principal ever. As a teacher, he's really an ideal for me. I've never met anyone who is like him in leadership style, temperament, devotion to kids and staff and intelligence as an elementary school principal. Unfortunately, he left our beloved elementary school with the stain of scandal on his reputation, but a scandal that was not proved nor accepted easily by those who knew him. Why? Because the thought of this man doing something so ridiculous as changing test scores on Standardized tests, lying about it (and passing lie detector tests which indicated that he did not do this) and then resigning to protect his staff against an internal investigation.... just didn't add up. To this day, there is an active facebook group of former students who believe he is innocent. Every once in a while I check that group and just love the comments people leave that help me to remember why we loved him!! Here are some quotes:

~ "What other elementary school principal would sub for gym class ... and knowingly try to kick your a** in dodgeball????"

~ "MR. NOREN ... PLEASE REPORT TO THE CAFETERIA ... WITH A MOP!!!!" (This was a frequent announcement made by Mr. Previs, who was our only lunch aide all the years he worked at our school. He monitored the lunch room while helping kids finish up schoolwork at back tables.)

~ "Don't forget about juggling, intramural basketball, and after school roller skating, AND of course, unicycling!!! :)" (I was one of the unicyclers.... and there was clowning, double dutch jumproping....)

~ "He was one of the best people I have ever met, only cared for the kids, he was very humble, not at all showy, the absolute last person who would do something dishonest. And only people who don't know him would think otherwise. My four brothers and I all went to
Stratfield, and we are all very grateful it was when Mr. Previs was there!! We feel we are better people for having known him. If we had a The Western Onion right now I would send him a secret note to say, "Mr Previs, we all KNOW that you are the best!!"" (Every spring, we would have a school fair and the Western Onion was a little station where, for a ticket, you could write a note to someone. All afternoon and evening, we could hear it at my house!!, names would be announced.... "Deanna Lovegren, will you please come to the Western Onion!" and you'd know there was a secret note for you!!"

~ "He not only cared for all his kids, after we graduated, he kept up on all of us. He knew his kids' names and faces even after they graduated from college." (So true... he never forgot me, I was always welcome to visit, and he even offered me a job right out of college without a teaching certificate in my hand. I already had one, so I regretfully declined. That was only a year or two before this mess....)

~ "the rule of eating 2 items....what principal is there now that is that attentive to his/her students?" (He was a genius, probably the only person I ever met with a photographic memory - at least I'm pretty sure that's what it was!)

~ "Remember that slide show with the John Denver music that Mr. Previs used to play at the end of every year!! haha!" (Send in the Clowns.... he'd put together a slide show every year for the 6th grade graduation...)

~ "Of course there was always the Memorial Day parade, and to this day, the kids at Stratfield still do the "parade of the States"! That awesome tradition started with the 1986 parade...."

~ " And also had the opportunity to learn LOGO (okay NOW i'm really dating myself here) on a Apple II computer (yup, REALLY dating myself here!), and that was back in 1983-84! Oh yes, and the famous Stratfield fair in the spring....and getting free popcorn if we helped to clean up afterwards! Ahhhhh those were good times...." (I learned LOGO as well... with that little turtle!)

~ "I recall him saying that there's more than one way to solve a problem (I was part of "Operation Mind Stretch in 5th grade, plus was also part of the trial run of Odyssey of the Mind). I still have my Iowa Test Scores from when I was at Stratfield (CT Masterys did not happen until after I left there) and I believe those were *not* tampered with at all....I know my abilities, and believe in still hurts after a number of years that a principal who was so good w/ the students and teachers at Stratfield was forced to resign over "Erasergate"." (I was in PACE (Personal Achievement Creative Enrichment) and OMS (Operation Mind Stretch) as well.... run by Mr. Previs himself!)

~ "he used to play dodgebll with us!
and if u were the last one and didnt get hit 3 times he bought u an ice cream!"

~ "Roger Previs remembers every name and face he ever encountered in his tenure as principal at the Stratfield School for growing children." (True, indeed... I'm not sure any of my girls' principals can say the same...."

~ "anyone remember the after school rollerblading game where he threw hard balls at us while we skated in circles and tried to avoid a broken leg?
awesome. best principal.
live. love. roger previs."

~ "I remember getting in trouble probably 3 times a week and having to write letters of apology saying what i did and why it was wrong. THe letter had to be signed by my parents and Mr. Previs. I forged both my parents and Mr. Previs' signature. I didn't care that i forged my parents signature, but the look on Mr. Previs' face after seeing what i had tried doing is still too much for me to handle. I'm sorry Mr. Previs! I'm sorry!" (So classic....)

Of course, there are those who think he might have actually changed those test scores... but I've never seen the proof. Someone did, I just don't think it was him! My greatest challenge was trying to make Mr. Previs laugh, something he rarely did. From all the quotes here, there was no doubt he was amazing and while we all feared him as a principal, it was only because we loved and respected him and wanted him to be proud of the students he gave 100% to. Incidentally, he never had any children of his own, which to me only makes his story more remarkable. I hope he realizes that he is still loved in the hearts of those whose lives he invested in. Thanks, Mr. Previs!

Does It Feel Different?

I don't know about you, but today doesn't really feel any different than yesterday. I don't feel any more or less hopeful about the future of America, I don't feel like much has changed quite yet and I'm still wishing it was summer! =) I'm a little sad the Bushes are gone, kind of happy there are two beautiful First Children the same ages as my own girls. It just kind of feels the same.

Yesterday afternoon I finally made my trip to the grocery store. While there, I ran into a woman who announced she was from South Carolina (which was why she didn't have a discount card) so I took a stab in the dark and asked her if she was in town for the inauguration. She was African American and I've wondered if I were, I would think yesterday would have been a very significant day. She replied that she had gone and it was FREEZING! In fact, I was a little surprised she was out of the city already!! I asked her if she was able to see anything and she said only on a big screen from far away - she actually kind of sounded disgusted with the whole experience. I wished her well and reminded her that at least she could say she was there! Hmmm....

I read this afternoon that Obama has already frozen the salaries of White House staffers who make over $100,000/year. I wonder if that includes him? Imagine being on your job for one day and having your salary frozen? EEK!! Personally, I'd much rather have had the millions of dollars spent on the past three days of inaugural festivites used to pay hard working Americans their due than to have spent all that money on parties... just a thought!

Fortunately, I'm not the president. If I were..... we'd have no booing at official, historical ceremonies (just demonstrates a certain disrespect among this newer generation of Americans),
we would not plan days of lavish parties whilst campaining on economic devastation ranking up there with a Great Depression, we'd expect, at some point, to receive the same respect/disrespect we'd shown towards the office we now hold. But, I'm not the President. I don't have the advantage of doing things my way! ;-) And I'm sure you are all happy it is the way it is.

One thing that does feel a bit different to me is the prospect of having to wonder about my safety again. Under Bush, I really felt a sense of protection and well-being that I no longer feel. Maybe if I lived in Timbuktoo I'd feel that way, but being 30 miles from the White House, 10 miles from NSA.... I'm not feeling that so much anymore. I hope and pray this uneasiness goes away soon!!

So, do you feel any different today?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Midyear Review

I've been told I don't have to do this, but for my own evaluation and assessment, I'm working reviews of each of my students. Eventually I will write up something to send home with each of their packets of work from the last quarter. I thought that writing down daily notes on each student would help in this effort, and in many ways it has.... but it is also making my overly detail oriented mind possibly be over analytical.

This type of midyear assessment was laborious when I was a teacher, but now that I am a parent, I can see the value in it even more. I think to myself, on most occasions, "If I were his/her mom, what would I want/need to hear...." The students I work with only come to me because they are identified as needing my help. I just pray my help is really making a difference and really what they need! The only way to determine that is do what I'm doing!!

It's laborious, but someone's gotta do it!


I watched history in the making today. I don't know that my thoughts are that interesting, but here they are....

~ I'm proud to be an American. I'm proud that these two presidents today demonstrated what distinguished America from so many other nations, and they did in a very unprecedented way. We know from inaugurations past that it did not have to happen so smoothly, so warmly or so openly. But it did, and I'm thankful to both the Bush family and the Obama family for being so visible in their warm relationship.

~ I wonder if the oath, the fumbling of words the press needled Bush about for years but somehow jumped the barrier of presidents, was the realization of the task that lies ahead moment for Obama. Even John Roberts seemed flustered by the moment - when the eyes of the world were upon them. I do know this: Obama's tween daughter will never let him live that down! I've got one - and I know... they can be brutal!

~ Does Obama know the Lord's Prayer? (That is just a thought that popped into my mind, as Rick Warren began that, I was thinking that I wish I were there to hear 2 million people recite/listen to that!) Oh, I'd give more than a penny for Obama's thoughts... I'm not even sure he realized they were saying that!

~ I'm hoping for a scandal free presidency. I'm hoping the warmness that we witnessed between these two families is an indication that we can count on strong, non-scandalous family unit to spend some time in the White House. I think it's so important for us as a nation to have that.

~ I don't want to see our President fail, not in any area of his life. Yes, his connections, friendships, advisors make me more than nervous. The state of the nation makes me concerned. The climate of world powers and their relationships with us make me uncertain. I hope and pray for this man and his family - that they stay safe, that they make decisions based on wisdom and honor and that they remain true to the God the chose to invite to this inauguration.

~ I want Americans to recognize that this does not mean the end of racism, but the beginning of an era of reconciliation, healing and continued effort to promote equality among all individuals, regardless of race. To think we have reached an end would be premature and detrimental to the slow progress of equality among all humankind. It's an amazing day for Americans, a moment that we can finally say, "We're ready!" We should not think of it as reaching that goal just yet, though.

I, for one (of few?), am very sad to see the Bushes depart the White House. Today only solidified for me that the man who has served us for the past 8 years can put aside vicious attacks, unkind words, unfair assessment of his convictions, and look ahead and embrace the beauty of our country and it's rich history. He is a great example, I believe, to all of us and has forged a way for all Americans to work together for the common good. His grace and resolve will be sorely missed!

OK, time to get back to real life. I got some groceries to pick up!

What Do You Think?

I was just watching a live interview with a black woman on the mall from the UK. She was talking about how she came here to witness the first African-American president being sworn in because it's "like the end of racism in the US." She goes on to say, "Well, you know, in the UK we don't really have a problem with racism anymore...." Really??? I'm just trying to wrap my mind around that stunning statement... On one hand, she seems to be saying that the end of racism is equivalent to have the highest office held by a person of another race. Then again, she seems to think there is no racism in England, where the office of Prime Minister is.... held by a black person??? Has ever been held by a person of another race??? Where the Royal Family will ever be anything but white??? I'm not understanding the thinking here. What say you?


Just a little info about this bill.... wake me up in four years! YIKES!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Change that is Regurgitated

In the final hours of President Bush's leadership, CNN is reporting that the change that's coming could include a Clintonesque repeat... not the kind of change I was hoping for, but one I naturally assumed we'd see. I'm very disturbed by the prospect of my tax money being used to promote, facilitate and fund international abortion. It's one thing to legislate free choice for American citizens. It's a completely different thing to use federal tax payer dollars to support something so morally offensive, but to support and encourage that beyond our borders.... I'm repulsed. I pray for a concience for our new leaders. There is nothing "new" or anything I believe in happening in this one.

UPDATE: And here it is... your tax dollars to fund non-governmental agencies abroad to counsel and perform abortions..... I am firmly against my money being used this way.

Disney World

Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE Disney World. I just really believe it's magical and I'm a sucker for the white glove treatment!! When friends of our are planning a trip, I often get asked for "the email" that I send out. It's a little easier than reading through the whole Fodor's book. I also like to gather info from our friends who return because, truthfully, it's been 2 full years since I've stepped foot in the park. =( I'm becoming a Disney dinosaur.

This week, because it's a short school week AND people who live around DC are finding any and every excuse not to be around, a friend of ours was heading to DW and asked for my email. In that email I referred her to another mutual friend who has been going to DW about 2-3 times a year recently!! My first friend just called me this morning from DW (while it was snowing here... how depressing!) to tell me that she never did call these other friends, but had a dream last night that they ran into her in the park. She was calling to tell me that her husband had just texted from somewhere else in the park and he had just run into them!! She thought I would like to know their funny story!

After I got off the phone, T said, "I'm going to email all your friends and tell them 'NEVER call my wife at home if you're actually IN Disney World'"! I'll add to that... especially on a day off from school, in the middle of the winter, when it's snowing!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tyrants and Such

I read this piece today on just how history may treat Bush. It is intriguing.

Interestingly, I find it perplexing that Obama seems to align himself and his presidency with Lincoln's or Roosevelt's, both staunch Republican presidents. I'm actually kind of astonished, but time will tell. We'll just have to wait and see how it all plays out.

Also, my mom sent me some interesting Thomas Jefferson quotes today, the president who was Bill Clinton's "hero". Do these guys even know who their heroes really were?? Mind-boggling. Just a really good indication that I have no idea when it comes to politics. I'll just leave it all here for you to ponder! Enjoy:

When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we
shall become as corrupt as Europe.
Thomas Jefferson

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who
are willing to work and give to those who would not.
Thomas Jefferson

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A
principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.
Thomas Jefferson

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the
government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of
taking care of them.
Thomas Jefferson

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results
from too much government
Thomas Jefferson

No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.
Thomas Jefferson

The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and
bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny
in government.
Thomas Jefferson

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood
of patriots and tyrants.
Thomas Jefferson

To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas
which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
Thomas Jefferson

Very Interesting Quote

In light of the present financial crisis, it's interesting to read
what Thomas Jefferson said in 1802:

'I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our
liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow
private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by
inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will
grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until
their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Lost in Conversation

I have no concept of how a man's brain "works", if you can call it that! Tonight's perfect example:

T: How about we go out to Outback tonight with those gift cards.
Me: OK.

T falls asleep and doesn't wake up (on a Saturday night) until 6:30.

T: What do you want to do for dinner?
Me: Well, I know you said Outback, but I'm so warm here, how about fajitas from La Palapa??
T: Um, well, is that what you want?
Me: I could really use some chips and salsa.
T: So, do you want to go out or stay in.
Me: If you really want to go, I guess I could get myself out of this nice, warm bed, but I'd rather just stay in.
T: (yelling downstairs) Em, do you want to go to Outback tonight?
Me: Well, OK.... I guess I'll have to drag myself out of this warm bed and go out at 6:30 on a Saturday and wait for Outback...
T: What? Did you want to do something different?
Me: Did you listen to any of the conversation I just had with you?????

30 minutes later, we get to Outback. There is a line to pull into the parking lot. I suggest we quickly pick up our stuff we need at Target and head down to the other Outback.... after realizing even Pizzeria Uno is completely full. While in Target, T is nowhere to be found... then we see him walking towards us with his phone in hand, I mean on his ear.

Me: Who are you talking to?
T: Outback. I'm calling to see if I can get a table reservation for us.
Me: But there's no place to even park there.
T: I'm sure there will be parking by the time we get there. (It's in the same shopping center as target and we're next in line).
T: (on phone) Hi, can I make a reservation? We're about 20 minutes.... 3 of us.... oh, really? Uh, OK.
T: (to me) They can't give us anything until 7:50.
Em: Can we just go to McDonald's????
Me: Well, that's just too late.
T: How about we just order from La Palapa.
Me: And not drive to the other Outback?
T: Well, that would take us just as long.....
Me: ..................................................

I just don't understand. Nothing registers? Processing issue?? Anyway, I ended up having to go out when I didn't need to - I can process that pretty easily! Especially when it's 23 degrees outside!!

Friday, January 16, 2009


So, it's great news. Better than I'd anticipated! Nothing new to report other than I have no masses or tumors on any of my abdominal internal organs (weird, but relieving to know). I have some new meds to try to reduce the cholesterol my body so vigorously attempts to retain - so we'll see how that goes. Otherwise, I have no reason to visit the doctor again until July! I'm in shock. (I usually go every 4 months). I was even home by 4, which is unheard of. I guess there's something to be said for Friday afternoon doctor visits - nobody wants to stay long! =)

Today's the Day

Sometimes there is just nothing worse than sitting around all day waiting for a doctor's appointment. That's what I'm doing today. Today I find out those MRI results and my appointment is at 3:30! UGH! So... just finding things to do to bide my time. Impossible to keep it out of my mind.

Lunch yesterday with some neighborhood friends was fun. Water aerobics last night on one of the coldest nights I can remember!! I'm leaning towards staying in bed today on this now 15 degree morning, but instead I'm heading down to that treadmill, which has actually proven to be a good motivator in many ways. Then over to school to drop off a paper that KT left home... deja vu. It's my once a week trek for that girl!

The best part about today is remembering I only have a one day work week next week! Monday is off and Tuesday my school has off for Inauguration Day! Whoopie! I'm looking forward to that, just not looking forward to this afternoon! =(

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hearing, Ears and Such

I recently had to do this Random 25 Things about me that's going around Facebook. It was kind of funny. My old elementary/junior/high school friends really put a lot of detail into their lists. We could write books about what people shared! One of my random things was that I've had a hearing loss pretty much all my life. The assumed cause is the rolling down someone's basement steps with no railing and slamming my forehead on the stone slab at the bottom of it. The next day, most likely due to the disorientation caused by the previous days trauma, I fell down our front steps and repeated ending above on the sidewalk. I have a picture (gotta find that!) and a bump on my forehead to this day to prove it!

From that point on, I was tested for this residual hearing loss. Of course, there was no mention in here of the hereditary factors (like my grandfather being nearly deaf!) that might have played a role in such a handicap. Instead, the conclusion was drawn that I should 1. avoid playing the violin, since I am unable to hear super high frequency sounds and other super low ones. 2. avoid all rock concerts (yeah, right!). and 3. understand that sound discrimination would be an issue, especially as I get older. Well, they were right. If there is noise of any kind, I can't hear you!

I shared a portion of this being sure to add that if anyone yelled to me, either in the hallway at school or at the overly crowded 20th reunion and I appeared to be ignoring them, chances are I couldn't even hear them. It's difficult enough for me to hear a person in a crowded room yelling into my ear! As I think about it, though, there are other instances when I've been an embarrassment to my friends and family.

For example, for each of our birthdays senior year of high school, a small group of my friends and I would set up elaborate celebrations - or scavenger hunts, or kidnappings.... For mine, my friends kidnapped me, which entailed a very tight blindfold that covered my ears (mistake of utmost importance!) and took me to one of our favorite restaurant, Sidetracks. Once inside, I "announced" that I knew we were in Sidetracks, removed my blindfold and was looking at 6 very redfaced friends. They were totally quiet, looking around... until one of them finally said, "You didn't have to scream it!" Honestly, to this day, I don't recall screaming anything, but clearly I did!

Another remembrance that comes to mind, as I gather my things to head down to the basement, is the MP3 player. My husband kindly tells me to "keep it down" when I have that thing on, and he does not mean the volume! He basically told me "Don't even whisper!" Truthfully, it's embarrassing to be yelling when I don't even realize I'm yelling. When I have nothing over my ears, all anyone ever does is complain how softly I speak or that they can't even understand me. It's such a dichotomy there can only be one explanation - this hearing thing!

So, let this be a warning to you... if you see me, tap my shoulder. If you see me with headphones on, don't listen. It is sure to be a doozy!


Since this is my first year back doing anything teaching related, this is my first midyear review stuff. It's so time-consuming, even with just 8 students teaching them one subject. Of course, it's a bit more detailed, anecdotal and specialized/individualized. I'm looking back over months of instruction and seeing a lot of progress and really enjoying the students.

Today's funny moment.... one of my groups is reading a story entitled "An Elephant's Trunk" all about the things an elephant can do with it's trunk. On the back cover is a short poem about the difference between and elephant's trunk and the kind you "pack" clothes in. One of my first graders read "pick" instead of pack clothes in the trunk, so I asked him if that sounded like it made sense. Without hesitation, he replied very confidently, "No, that doesn't make any sense. That's because it's FICTION!" After I recovered, I thought to myself, "These kids are smarter than I give them credit for!"

Monday, January 12, 2009


I have nothing to write about today. I haven't heard anything about my MRI but should know sometime around Friday at 3:30. I had an uneventful Monday morning with my sweet reading group today. I hit the grocery store. My house needs a good, thorough cleaning - any volunteers? The girls were beat after school today. So much homework, no energy. Winter. My living room looks naked without Christmas in it anymore. So does the rest of my house. I'm thinking about decorating for Valentine's Day this week so my house isn't naked anymore. I love Valentine's Day. That's all my nothing for today! =)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I Don't Want to Turn Into my Grandmother!

I had a very early meeting this morning - 7:45. I'm sure that's not early for many, but for me that's enough to send me to bed for the rest of the day!! And that's where I am, with little motivation to do anything. Then this thought/memory/frightening awakening popped into my head. All growing up, what I remember most about my grandmother is that she rarely moved. She would either stay in bed all day or sit at her craft table or I could find her sitting at the bar in her house eating cheese and crackers. I don't want to do that! I need to move!!

Happy Sunday, all!

Servant Leadership

Here's a congressman I'd listen to - has decided to sleep on a cot in his office to save on housing in DC. I wonder how long he can pull that off?? I do think he has a few points here: saving during an economic crisis, being fiscally conservative before a spend it all congress, pointing out that he serves servicement in Iraq and Afghanistan who sleep in much worse conditions than his and that he's got a family back home to take care of. Why can't all politicians be as practical? Anyway, an interesting read on how one man chooses to demonstrate his leadership skills as a servant.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Em!

Today, at 3:05pm, Em will be 8. I always thought that time was appropriate as for the years I taught, that was when I was free!! And free is exactly the way Em is. Free spirited, free (strong) willed and freely engaged... if that makes any sense at all. Em is a contact person - she has to feel it all before she can process anything. From the time she was tiny, she would constantly be tugging away from us to touch... trees, walls, animals... Which brings us to a true passion in her life - animals! If there is anyone who I know that is most like Noah, it's Em. She would LOVE to be told to build an ark to save the animals - forget the people!!

It's truly a privilege and honor to be the parent of such a unique child. It's hard to believe she's 8! Em has shown us this past year her interest in traveling - but only to places that don't require shots! - and her cautious love for adventure. She has tried many new things, or let her sister try them first!! She loves math, her teachers, her classmates and most of all her sister. I'm sure somewhere in there she loves her parents as well. Last, but not least, he best friends in the world are her doggies. This year, she has trusted in God more than ever and is still processing through what it really means to believe. Her prayer life is astounding to me and she often shares with me what she has prayed and how God has answered her. Oh, to have such childlike faith!!

Wishing you, Emma-lou, a wonderful 8th year!!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Dare I Say....

Leon Panetta has about as much intelligence experience as Obama has executive experience. Should make a fine duo! There... I said it. Now I'll run back into my corner and continue observing from the sidelines. Quite the circus we have going on in politics these days!

Do It All Again?

Uh, one word. Noway! Something drastically crazy has happened with my MP3 player. Fortunately, it still plays my music, with tiny battery capacity, but enough to get me through two treadmill walks! Today, however, I glanced down and realized that according to my music box, I am still in the womb! (Breech, I might add... and was actually delivered that way... but that's my ADD interjecting!) The date of today according to my Rio is January 2, 1970. Funny. And while there are MANY things I'd love to repeat all over again, there are just as many I'd rather not go through. So, I guess I either figure out how to fast forward the date on this thing or try to ignore it! =)


I'm convinced that if my doctor told me tomorrow that my totally functioning left leg had a tumor in it, I would not be able to walk on it by sometime next week. Mind over body? Ever since my doctor told me my unsymptomatic liver is leaking, it's been figuratively burning a hole in my body. I mean, I'm not in any real pain, but I can pretty much feel a liver where I felt nothing before. It's strange to have someone make you actually think about a bodily organ in a way you never have before!!

I think this does nothing to help my OCD tendencies. I sometimes find I have hypochondria of the mind... any crazy suggestion made to me is dwelt upon until there is nothing left to be dwelt upon! I have a few of those going on all at once in my life right now, and this morning I finally took some time to clear my head of a few of these things. It was a much needed quiet time and I'm feeling a bit better, other than the occasional pang of my liver... LOL. Now, onto another much needed break - treadmill. Then birthday wrapping, quick shopping trip for that one last gift and then, if I have time, the depressing job of undecorating my house. I hate it when Christmas is over - yes, I used "quiet time" and "hate" in the same paragraph.

In my quiet time, I read about the circumsicion, redemption and blessing of Jesus and how his parents offered a sacrifice accepted from those in poverty - two doves. Very intriguing. I'm going to "hypochondriac" and OCD that thought as long as I can!

Thursday, January 08, 2009


So, I now know that "with contrast" means and IV, some crazy stuff in your veins and an awful taste in your mouth. Ick. At least that part is over, and I'm imagining there are far worse things to have to endure. The results should be in by Monday so I won't know anything until next week.

Yesterday I was walking on the treadmill for the first time in a very long time and listening to a song I must have loaded on my MP3 player ages ago, but when you have 100 songs on there, it takes some time for them to come up. Anyway, I love old hymns and this one is a favorite. Love this version by the David Crowder Band. I had hoped they had their own video of it, but someone else's will have to do. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Healthcare pt 2

This has nothing to do with Obama... yet! I receive far too much healthcare these days. Tomorrow I head over to the American Radiology facility for my very first MRI. I've known about this for a couple weeks, which only gave me more time to think up a myriad of ailments that might be revealed by such a test. I'm just praying for peace, a good report and some kind of doable solution to the issue - "slightly elevated liver enzymes" - to bring down those numbers. They've actually come down on occasion, so I know it's possible. Should Obama takeover the entire healthcare industry, I don't know what that means for this regular consumer of doctor advice!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Tomorrow it will be 79 degrees and sunny in Key West, Florida. Have I mentioned how much I'd love to live on a island?? Dream on! (At least that's what T tells me!)

Monday, January 05, 2009


I've been following this healthcare issue because I felt it was one of the bigger campaign issues. I am not a fan of the Obama plan and now I know why. I'm sort of hoping for a Hillary kind of flop on his part because if he really does this, we're all in trouble! I'm not saying our existing healthcare is any better, I'm just saying this doesn't look like a better alternative to me.

Icky Weather

So, it looks like we're finally in for it. I'm not going to say anything to the girls so as not to disappoint them should nothing transpire, as has happened many, many times! Wintry Mix beginning at 6am. I always hate that start time. It means that our transportation dude (who is in the doghouse with me right now... school bus issue) will not do anything, buses will head out, kids will be picked up and by the time our bus arrives at 8:50am the roads will be a mess and we'll all be wondering if they will make it to school. Then a bunch of buses will skid off the road, everyone will be calling in to find out why the dude didn't call off school and the local newspaper will be all over it!


Transportation dude calls off school, even though there's not a flake in sight!! We all sit back and wait, and wait, and wait.... and wonder why in the world he believed the weatherman, who is always wrong. Was he remembering the bus accidents last year when, during this same scenario, he decided not to call off school? Was he just wanting an extended New Year holiday?? Who knows, but now we are all thinking about that day we have to make up in June, and for what? Nothing!


The preferred parental option... rarely used by transportation dude because... he's not a mom! Call a late open, see if there is actually anything going to happen. If nothing happens, we don't have to make up a day and we only miss 2 hours. If something does, then call off school and we're all fine with it - had to happen, nothing we can do about it. This rarely happens... because the transportation dude is not a dudette! ;-/

A Nutty Situation

I've blogged in the past about reactions to peanut restrictions in schools, churches, etc. Here is a very interesting article about nut allergy panic or hysteria. Good information, reasonable responses to nut allergies based on age groups. I like that the researchers mentioned either have children with nut allergies or are allergic themselves. Lends a bit of credence to the article. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

What I Will Miss Most

Tomorrow I have to go back to work, the girls have to go back to school, T will return to work knowing that everyone else has to as well! Here's what I will miss most:

1. Not having to make lunches at 8:30.
2. Sleeping in.
3. Christmas
4. My family.... doing my dishes. =) Thanks, Jackie!
5. Shopping.
6. No doctor's appointments.
7. No agenda.
8. No stress.
9. The big turkey meal.
10. Time.

Oh, and my family. I miss them! Oh, and wearing jeans every single day!

Is there anything I won't miss?? Sleeping on an air mattress in my living room. I'd gladly do it again, but I don't miss it for a minute! And that one strand of blinking lights outside - what an embarrassment, eyesore and headache. I'm throwing that strand away if it doesn't cooperate!

Bye, fun Christmastime. I will miss you ever so much!

Saturday, January 03, 2009


I love my family, but I'm sad they deserted me. I now have to do all my own dishes! How dare they?? (Glad I remembered!)

My Family

Miss 'em already!

You Feel Humbled By Your Family

You are very quick to forgive your family for wrongdoings. You don't expect them to be perfect, and you try to help them out whenever it's possible.

You have confidence in your family to take care of itself and make good decisions. You especially have this confidence in the younger generation.

You've improved your family relationships through introspection. You always look at your own behavior first, and you've made changes to how you act.

You tend to be the rock in your family. You support everyone in their times of need, and they take your advice seriously.


My neighbor has been telling us about this kid's dance/aerobics class for months now, and today we decided to give it a try. Of course, the fact that they changed it from 9 to 10am on Saturdays played a huge part in us actually making it there! LOL I had thought about joining my friend in the workout room, but somehow convinced T to Zumba with me, so we stayed and did that with the girls. It was fun, but the treadmill would have been easier!! And now I remember why T and I don't go dancing! (Although it would likely be great for our health!)

Friday, January 02, 2009

Things I Would Like to Do This Year

In other words, things I'd like to do before I'm 40! I'm sort of doubting I'll do many of them, but I'll just throw some out there for fun.

1. Go on a cruise. This is looking more and more likely that it'll be without T. I gave him 15 years to try it..

2. Take at least one graduate class. I've been dragging my feet on this one - I just don't know yet what I want to be when I grow up!

3. Fly somewhere on whim. Is this even possible when you're married with kids? Can you just wake up and say, "I want to go to Australia!" and get up and go?? I'm not sure, but I'm putting it on my list.

4. Do one of each of these things daily: devotions, exercise, love on my family and learn something new. Not sure it's possible, but I think I need to try.

5. Read more than one book this year - last year was pitiful. I need to read more!

6. Visit the mouse. I haven't been anywhere near Disney anything in almost 2 years. It's a little sad because it is truly one of my favorite places.

7. Become more fiscally conscious. When we got married, I begrudgingly gave up control of any money because T really wanted the reins. I'm at a point now where, if anything happened to him I'd be lost! I need to be a little more involved. I might even use my ATM card... if I can find it!

8. Make all those doctor's appointments I dread and actually go to them. Trust me - I go enough, so the thought of adding any more is just dreadful, but I need to.

9. Scrapbooking - I'm so far behind, it's just overwhelming. I need a plan, I need printed pictures and I need to get this done!!

10. I want to visit at least 5 new places (preferably warm beaches!) this year. That shouldn't be too hard, except that sometimes I feel marooned on this island. Get me out of here!!!

Christmas Craziness Over

So, my blog stats are back to "normal", which is kind of sad. I sort of like getting close to 500 hits a day. =) Here are some interesting pics:

Cooinciding with Christmas Day... right down to the 25th. Funny. I also had my 48,000th visitor a few days ago. Someone looking for... surprisingly, I know.... Christmas letter tips from Algeria!! Wow. That might be the craziest milestone visitor, except that I missed some milestones in all the blog frenzy!! This visitor came on December 31st, so just in time to be counted as having my 48,000th blog visit in 2008.

Now we're back to my normal number of visitors - around 10. It only looks like 20 because I keep checking to see if anyone cares anymore! ;-)

Happy New Year!


Great New Years read, posted by someone we met this past summer. It's entitled As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God. You should read it. Thanks for finding and posting it, Deb.


Not ever having been on a sports team, I had a lot to learn over the past years about teamwork. I was one of those band people, which has it's own lessons to learn and some aspects of teamwork. The part that is really lost, though, is the leadership aspect. In band, leadership is somewhat dependent on ability (as it is also on a sports team), but many times it's requirements are lost to the conductor. On the teams we've worked with, missions team, leaders are "chosen", or emerge, based on commitment, passion and hopefully on an intense desire to serve others. Here are some lessons I learned this year from my team experience.

1. Teambuilding can be mundane, unless it's intentional.

Our first summer in Hungary, we went with craft projects that were easier assembled on the ground than attempting to travel with them pre-assembled. An example: a popsicle stick treasure chest, which had they been assembled before we left, would have required us to re-assemble them once we arrived. No way those things would have survived a duffel bag trip through a few countries!! In order to do this and various other crafts for 50 kids, we would set up a debrief/craft meeting in the evening. Everyone, crafty (E.O'b) and not so crafty (T!), would participate. For real, this could have been the most mundane, unexciting activity ever. Instead, it was fun. Some of that was the team, some of that was the leader team. In perspective, the leaders of our whole team would have thought that activity to be beneath them. Our leaders saw this as an opportunity to grow our team.

Fast forward to this summer. I had envisioned a few teambuilding activities that I was unable to inspire others to view as the same.... assembling crafts, making T-shirts, "fundraising", serving others. In an effort to just "get things done", many of these activities were owned by an individual or pair or a few. It's difficult to build a team with 26 people on it, but I wish we'd been more intentional about that! After this last trip, we have adopted the belief that the most effective short term teams - especially in the team building phase - are teams with 15 or fewer members. At least that's what we think.

Finally, don't underestimate the power of messy, frustrating activities in building a team. I wish to this day I'd put my foot down and made us tie dye T-shirts together!! The fact was, I didn't really care how messy or time-consuming this activity would be. I just really wanted it to be an activity we did together as a team. We would have remembered doing it together, our shirts would have been owned by us and even if they looked awful, we would have loved them!! Being handed a t-shirt just isn't the same. And no activity as a team is a time waster, unless you allow it to be. Sure - it takes time, work and effort to turn a mundane activity into an intentional team building. But the pay-off will be felt on the field.

Good team building activities:
Tie-dying T-shirts
Serving together in any capacity
putting together skits
field trips to unknown places
mall scavenger hunt (esp for team supplies!)

2. Fundraisers should be called FUNraisers or TEAMraisers.

This year, fundraising was a HUGE issue. The biggest issue was that we have phenomenal fundraising kids, and that's what they wanted to do.... raise funds!! The problem: our church is commited to raising NO funds for short term teams on church property, which includes any kind of advertising for those events. Fuzzy lines here, as church partnership ventures "seem" to have full support of in house fundraising, although as we learned this past summer, many of those were "unapproved" and just happened. Anyway, this led to many (heated) discussions of what is appropriate, inappropriate, worthwhile, waste of time, possible, impossible or just plain what were we doing anyway!! Another biproduct of this debate was the fundamental belief about fundraising for short term missions and how realistic was this as opposed to pooling those funds to support long term missionaries. Here is what I have decided is my own feeling about fundraising.

A. It should fall within the guidelines of what is acceptable in your church or it just isn't appropriate! - Outside of what is acceptable is, in my opinion, dishonorable. There were some questionable activities, I think, this summer and some (not all) were motivated out of disdain for church policy. This gets you nowhere, especially with God. Major soul searching needed in these cases.

B. All fundraising activities should focus on team building and informing others, NOT money. I stand firm in my belief that our "fundraisers" are misnamed. That is fine for a school activity that is solely intent on raising money, but our events should be solely intent on a. working together as a team, b. raising awareness about our team, it's function and those we are going to serve, and c. should not feel like a burden, but as an opportunity. We miss the point as a short term team if our only goal in these events is to raise funds. We miss an amazing opportunity to showcase our cause, to show off God and to let the world know that there are families doing great things abroad. If we are missing any of those three elements, we should just not do the fundraiser. Also, if a majority of your team can't participate, you should just skip it.

C. Fundraising guidelines need to be clear to all leaders and team members. A leader who cannot live with the guidelines shouldn't be a leader. We didn't really anticipate that our teams would be excited to sell candy bars or wash windows for complete strangers, which led to some real misunderstandings about our intentions. It is SO important to send a clear message of intent, not one of desperation.

D. Finally, BE CREATIVE!! Keeping in mind teambuilding, opportunity to make others aware and using gifts to serve, God will provide the funds. When we think it all falls on our shoulders, we get a little needy looking. When we spend hours baking together, hanging together at a local grocery store to sell our wares AND play a little music, talk to people about what God is doing in Africa and how we want to go help.... whether you come home with $1 or $100, you've accomplished something.

3. Everyone is potentially a leader.

There must always be the belief that we are looking for strengths in each and every team member, building them up, offering opportunity to succeed and fail and evaluating how we are doing. In some way, big or small, every person has the potential to be a leader. As leaders, we need to learn to be better leader builders. We need to give away things that we want to do and do the things that nobody wants to do. We need to encourage risk taking. We need to make people think differently about themselves. We've had duds, or people who just aren't ready to own their leadership skills... and part of what we do is recognize when we have one of those! God chooses and places people on our teams - work with them.

OK, that's all for now. Gotta go get ready to be pampered. LOL