Monday, June 30, 2014

That's Just Too Much Crying For One Movie


(Don't worry, there will be no spoilers given during this blog.  So if you haven't read/seen The Fault in Our Stars, you're OK to read this.)

A few weeks ago, I hadn't even heard of this book.  I know, the 4th grade teacher who LOVES YA literature hadn't heard of the New York bestselling novel.  But, I hadn't.  Not until Peanut came home from school one day and INSISTED that I take her to see the movie that had just been released in the theater.  

She told me how she'd read the book, and just HAD to see the movie.  HAD TO.  

Being the awesome mom that I am, I agreed...on one condition: I read the book first.  Which isn't a new condition in my house.  Any time there's a movie made from a book, I read the book first.  Some people disagree with my mentality.  They think it best to see the movie first and then read the book to see how much better it is, but I work oppositely to that.  Let me read the book, see how wonderful it is, and then pick apart the movie and the differences that way.

Peanut and I have come to embrace our reading then movie seeing experience.  We read and saw all of the "Harry Potter" books/movies (in which Peanut is STILL obsessed with) and then the Twilight books/movies.  We've read all of The Hunger Games books, saw the first two movies, and we're both excited for the last two movies to come out (they're making the last book in to two movies).  I'm still in the process of reading the Divergent series, but I couldn't get Peanut in to that one.

I digress.

Anywho, with summer school and softball and baseball still going full force when the movie was released, I didn't get to read the book as quickly as I wanted to.  In fact, the library just called me last Monday to tell me that they had it available.  I would have read it when I picked it up, but Peanut wanted to read it again, first.  And she had more time for that kind of stuff.  So, I got the book back on Friday.  I read the book in about 5 hours.  I read for a couple of hours Friday night, and finished it off Saturday morning.

The book was good.  Devastatingly emotionally so.  All I could think while reading each page was why on earth anyone would want to see this book play out in real life.  No spoilers, but the book is HEARTBREAKING.  There are few books that have brought me to tears while reading them, but this one got me a couple of times.

But, I wasn't about to go back on my word about seeing the movie, so yesterday afternoon Peanut and I took off to the theater to watch The Fault in Our Stars.  

Now, I'm no newb when it comes to crying at sad movies.  I still, after watching some movies for the umpteenth time, shed a few tears.

Every time Rose tells Jack that she'll "never let go" in Titanic.

Every time a translucent Patrick Swayze appears to Demi More in Ghost

Every time Angel dies and MiMi almost dies in Rent.

The floodgates open, and the tears start to flow.  But, with each of these movies, I start crying about 10 minutes before the end of the movie.  And that's it.  Done.  Movie over.

I have NEVER watched a two hour movie where I started crying about 40 minutes in, and bawled my head off until the movie was over.  Never.  Until yesterday.  And, I'm not talking about those little lumps that appear in your throat and cause a few tears to run down your cheek kind of cries that I'm familiar with when watching sad movies.  I'm talking full out, can't breath because I'm trying so hard to hold back the sobs so that no one in the theater is disturbed by my bawling kind of tears.  

My body was shaking.  The lump in my throat was so big it was causing me pain.  And the tears were rolling down my cheek so fast, that the five napkins I went through could have been rung out and my tears collected to fill up a small container.  

And even though I was doing everything in my power to stifle my sobs, I could hear the same throughout the theater.  Wet sniffles, gasped sobs, and shielded whimpers coming from all around me. 

I even saw the one of two guys that sat two rows in front of me wipe his eyes SEVERAL times.

By the time the movie was over, my throat hurt, my eyes were swollen, and I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest and stomped on several times.  Something I've never experienced while watching a movie.  That's because most movies, despite how sad they can be, end up with a warm and fuzzy happy ending.  But, well, this one doesn't.  Hopefully that's not considered a spoiler.  But, really... no happy ending to make all those tears and ripped emotions feel any relief.  

However, it was good.  I enjoyed it, as much as I could with the whole story line.  Of course, the movie wasn't near as good as the book... but it was close.  

After seeing a good movie, I usually rave about how EVERYONE should go see it.  But, with this one?  I'm not so sure I should give that suggestion.  If you like sappy love stories, but are OK with getting your own heart broken...then go see it.  This is NOT a movie I would drag my husband/ boyfriend/ significant other to go see in order to get the romance blooming... unless you want to spend the rest of the night explaining that he's not any less of a man because he cried so hard over a movie.  This is NOT a movie I would go see with a bunch of girlfriends who are out for a good time or a night on the town...unless you want to spend the rest of the night crying in to your drinks about how unfair life can be.  This is NOT a movie I would take a child to that isn't familiar with the way cancer works... unless you want to spend your car ride home explaining cancer and the effects it can have on the body.  

In fact, just go see the movie alone if you're interested in seeing it.  Do that.  Then at least you can watch the movie, sit in your car and collect yourself, and drive home and tell everyone it was a good movie while keeping the secret of how your popcorn got so covered in tears, that it turned in to liquid right there in the bucket.  

Taking your teenage daughter who's already read the book and is fully prepared for what's going to happen is fine.  As long as you're willing to hold her hand not to provide her with support, but for your own support for keeping it together.  

All in all, I'd say the movie was horribly good.  Yes.  That's the way I'd say it.  The story is amazing.  The characters are amazing.  The two combined?  Absolute havoc on your emotions.  

But, I will say the message I took away is one that I will cherish:  Live life for TODAY.  You never know how long you have with the ones you make each moment count.

Cliche? Yes.  But, still the absolute TRUTH!

Have a great Monday, everyone!!


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Jam Packed First Couple of Weeks


The minute my butt started driving home from work on Friday, I started feeling the pangs of "Summer Fever".  Meaning, I started thinking to myself "Self, we have off seven weeks, what are we going to do to make sure we have fun?"  And, that's when I made the very quick decision to start buying tickets and booking a mini-vacation.

I got my check for working summer school on Friday, which was awesome because that meant I had the money to do something a little crazy.  Like buy season passes to Silver Dollar City.  Figured I might as well, a one day trip costs $60 per person, a season pass (bought at my bank) cost $77.  Kind of a no brainer.  Why not pay an extra $17 and have the freedom to go back any time I want between now and December 30th?

I ended up buying four adult passes and one child pass (Peanut and Butter are technically considered "adults" when it comes to theme parks).  Hubby probably won't go with us, except for the Christmas trip, so that means we can always take one extra person with us if we want to.  But, five passes only cost me $429.  And I know that sounds a lot, but we have already started planning several trips... so even if we only go three or four times over the course of the season, we'll still be saving around $600!

But, not only that, when you buy season passes you also get a book full of coupons for other places in Branson.  Now, I'm not really interested in doing a whole bunch of the "touristy" things in Branson, but there were several coupons for restaurants, so they'll probably get used.  And while looking at a website for one of the places listed in the coupon book, I saw a deal I just couldn't pass up.

There's a resort in Branson that has an indoor water park called Grand Country.  They are offering an AMAZING deal right now on a mini-vacation.  So, in my best "sales pitch" voice, let me tell you what the package contains...

- Two nights stay at the resort
- Indoor water park passes
- Tickets to TWO shows of your choice (for the whole family)
- 18 holes of Black Light or Farm Mini-Golf
- 2 Large pizzas
- $10 Game card for the arcade

That's a lot of stuff, so how much do you think that would all cost?  $400, $500 maybe?  

NOPE.  I got the whole package for $298.  How many of you are thinking about the time-share sales pitch that will probably go along with it?  You all know what I'm talking about.  I've received tons of those calls offering me packages just like this one, for a similar price, and all you have to do is sit through an easy 90 minute time share presentation.  But, the best part about this package? I don't have to attend a time-share sales pitch in order to get it.  ANYONE can get it.  Right now.  On their website.

And do you want to see the breakdown/ savings?  Oh, sure you do...

 - Two nights stay?  $220 (that's starting price)
 - Indoor water park passes (for the whole family)? $10 per person so $40 for us
- Tickets to TWO shows? $67 for family pass to EACH show.. $134
- 18 holes of golf? $9 per person 13+ and $8 for 12 and under...$35
- Two large pizzas? Let's just say around $20
 - $10 game card?  Well...duh.. $10

Grand total....$459!!

That means, I'll be saving $161 buying the package.  DONE!!

And, no folks, nobody is paying me to write this (why not, I don't know).  I'm just one of those people that gets so excited when I stumble across great deals like this I just have to share them with everyone. Seriously, though, I should really start looking in to writing PAID advertisements.  I think I'm pretty freakin' good at it.

We're going to take our little mini-vacation within the next couple of weeks.  So, that's got us covered for the first few weeks... then I'll only have four more weeks to fill with activities.  

But, there will be plenty to do like movies, swimming, laying around the house doing nothing... ah, pure summer bliss!!

I'm really so excited about this summer.  It's going to be GREAT!!


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Teachers Can't Fear Technology


"In the future, I don't view teachers being replaced by technology, but teachers who don't use tech being replaced by those that do." 

That's a quote I took from a principal I follow on Twitter.  A principal I started following while attending the Technology Summit in Joplin, Missouri yesterday.  We were tweeting during the was kind of encouraged, cause...well, it was a TECHNOLOGY summit.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself.  

Yesterday, I attended the 3rd annual Technology Summit held in Joplin, Missouri.  The summit was being held in the BRAND NEW Joplin Middle School.  It was built after the tornado took out the last school.  And, I know that this may sound terribly bad, but there was definitely some good that came out of the wreckage from that tornado.  That school is STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL.  Not only that, but they have completely catapulted themselves in to the 21st century.  

The classrooms are built in pods, having a central "commons" location and rooms with glass walls built around the outside that can all be opened up and customized to join together.  The projectors in each room have Apple TV built right in to them.  There are "teacher centers" for teachers to work in and collaborate and whatever else they need some space for.  Even the stinking water fountains look like something right out of a futuristic movie, with built in dispensers to fill up bottles.  Definitely the best locale for such an event.

There were around 300 teachers from all over SW Missouri in attendance for the conference.  I was so excited to see teachers, administrators, and tech people of all different ages so fired up about the technology tools that were going to be presented.  

The conference kicked off with a presentation from the keynote speaker, Marc Prensky.  He is an internationally acclaimed writer, consultant, and a motivational speaker for education.  He's the author of five books focused on technology and learning. He got the conference kicked off with a great talk on how education and technology are evolving.  My most favorite part was when he discussed that technology should NOT be used to redo old things, that's not what technology is for.  It's time when the the wheel DOES have to be reinvented in order to keep up with the way the vehicle it's moving is changing.  He went on to discuss how technology is NOT our future, anymore, it's our "right now".  We have to start accepting that, evolving, and embracing how technology is an extension of our brains.  

His talk got me fired up and ready to attend the first session of the day, which was actually being presented by one of my colleagues, Bill Chamberlain. (If you're interested, go visit his blog:

I've already decided that next school year, I'm going to start keeping ePortfolios for all of my students.  Digital portfolios.  That way I can get rid of all the paper that accumulates EVERYWHERE.  I can capture whatever the student has done by scanning it in, recording it, taking pictures, whatever, and then upload it all into personal online portfolios.  Then the artifact can be sent straight home.  Bill was presenting on something that would help with the endeavor:  Analog to digital.  We created examples of hands-on learning activities that happen in the classroom, and then he walked us through the process of capturing the learning digitally, sharing the learning digitally, and virtual extensions that can be applied to the lessons.  


After that, it was my turn to step up and present.  Not for the actual presentation that I was giving in the afternoon sessions, but a "spit fire round" of questioning the summit deemed as "Flash Mobs".  Long explanation short, a room, whoever is interested in the topic attends, and they get to bombard me with as many questions that I can answer in 30 minutes.  I was given the topic of using Minecraft in the classroom.

I got a pretty good turn out, and I was SO excited to see such an array of age groups that attended.  Not that I'm bashing teachers that have been teaching for 15+ years, but they tend to be the ones that fear technology a little more than those that have been teaching for less time.  And, I could tell by some facial expressions that the thought of using a game such as Minecraft was a HUGE undertaking.  I was answering questions left, right, and center and I started to see those scared facial expressions lighten just a little.  But, that was nothing compared to the person who was sitting front and center.  Marc Prensky, himself, decided to attend MY Flash Mob.  And, he wasn't going easy on me.  He was throwing tough questions my way... but I understood why he was doing it.  He wanted to see if I could explain to some of the "concerned teachers" how beneficial a game such as Minecraft could be.  When it was over, I felt like I had at least got a few people interested in using Minecraft and at least willing to look a little more in to it.  

Marc Prensky joined me in the long line for lunch, and we continued our conversation about how I was using Minecraft and my future plans for using it with my kiddos.  He was genuinely interested, and it felt really great (ego inflating) to hear that he was such a supporter for adaptation in terms of learning that's NOT JUST focused on assessment, but deeper understanding and virtual simulation of what the kids were learning about.

Once lunch was over, it was time for my presentation:  The Benefits of Blogging.  My session was supposed to start at 12:30, and at 12:28 the room was completely empty.  Not a single person had shown up, which made me think that I'd be packing up and leaving a lot earlier than originally planned. But, within those two minutes, people started showing up.  Then more people.  And even once I started introducing myself, more and more people kept flooding in.  By the time I really kicked off, it was standing room only in my room.  I had teachers standing around the back of the room, and sitting in any available place they could park themselves.  Can you say intimidating?  

But, thankfully, the presentation was a success.  I got a lot of great feedback, and had some great discussions about how blogging can really help teachers provide alternatives to some assignments, how the audience that blogs provide help students get more engaged and care more about the quality of their work, and my favorite go-to perk:  LESS PAPER!!  Plus, Bill was there with me to provide a few more resources for the teachers to take away.

All in all, the day was amazing.  I had a lot of fun, I learned a lot, I shared a lot, and I felt like I walked away apart of an amazing uprising of educational technology.

Now, if I can just get $7000 for a 72" tablet I got to play with while I was there, and put it in my classroom....oh yes, they really make those.... life would be even sweeter.

Any donors willing to pitch in?

Enjoy your Saturday, everyone!


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Taking a Walk Down Memory Lane


The left picture is me, about 4 years ago.  Dressed up for night out on the town with Sanity (one of my best friends).  The picture on the right?  Me, last night, all dressed up for a night on the town with Sanity.  Apart from the hair and the AH-MAZING aviators I'm sporting, I haven't changed all that much.  Aged just a little, I suppose, but still looking pretty good for a girl in her early thirties out for a good time.

And that's exactly what I had last night.  An awesome time.  Just like old times... four years ago, when we spent so much time together out and having fun.

It's been well over a year since we attempted the "college days night out reunion" and it was a major flop.  We were all home by 9PM, and probably in bed by 10. But, we were new teachers, then, exhausted from our weeks of working.  We just didn't have it in us to stay out until all hours of the night, dancing, laughing, and having a good time.  But, we've been doing it a while, now, and last night we were ready to try it again.

The old ladies that we are decided to start our evening off at 4PM.  Doesn't that just sound like a party waiting to happen?  Hitting the town at 4PM.  Oh yeah.  You know there's trouble to be made when people are walking up and down the street that turns in to a night hub of bars, drinking, and dancing with shopping bags in their hands.  Or their in workout gear from getting in a nice jog down the street before it's lined with drinkers falling all over themselves.  

Do you think that stopped us walking straight in to a bar, though?  Nope.  And to our astonishment, the place was PACKED.  4:30PM, and the place was already hopping with "adult beverage" activity.  

In our defense, we were actually going to dinner but got there way too early even for us to eat.  We hadn't really planned on kicking off our night on the town at 4:30 in the afternoon, but both of us were so dang excited to go out, we left WAY earlier than we should have.  But, it was OK, we sat on the patio of the little bar and just talked for over an hour.  We caught up on the all the goings on that's happened since we last saw each other.  Of course, an hour wasn't near enough to cover it all, but it was long enough until we decided we were hungry and we could pick up the conversation over dinner.  So, we walked down to the restaurant and spent another hour talking, eating, laughing, and reminiscing old times.

Once dinner was over, it was almost after 7.  We had made plans to watch a live band perform, but we found out that it didn't start until 9.  I'll be honest and admit that it sounded a little daunting.  Would we be able to make it?  

Well, I'm happy to report that not only did we make it for the show, but we were still alive and kicking after the show.  

The show was amazing.  A bunch of guys in their 50s, 60s, and I'm guessing even 70s were rocking HARD.  And their female lead singer had a voice that gave me goosebumps every time she opened her mouth.  She had a soulful, raspy voice that just reached out and grabbed everyone that was around.  I also love the fact that there were about 8 of them... three different types of guitars, a bass, a drummer, a keyboarder, a saxophone player, and the singer.  Just an all around, great time.

Once we had listened to some great tunes, I was in the mood to sing some myself.  And dance a little.  And there's only one place Sanity and I go to when those types of feelings set in.  It had been three years since we last stepped in to our "regular place", but the minute we walked in it felt like we'd been rushed back in time.  Old memories surfaced quickly, and I was back in my comfort zone, in the place I belonged.  

Thankfully the place was pretty empty, so getting up to sing my first song was easy.  I decided to go with an old favorite, a song I sang at a high school talent show:  Foolish Games by Jewel.  Not to inflate my ego, but I sounded pretty darn good.  The few people in the bar all stopped to listen to me, and it gave me the confidence boost I needed to keep getting back up on that stage even as droves of people started coming in the front door.  

To give you an idea on how much we used to frequent that place?  A regular that we used to talk to EVERY time we went in there was sitting at the bar when we walked in.  It took him a little while, but he remembered us.  He came over and we made our greetings, and he spent the next couple of hours reminiscing, singing, and dancing.  

I haven't laughed that hard in such a long time.  Or had so much fun.

Sanity and I have decided that we are not going to wait so long to do it again.  There's absolutely no reason why we can't make it a once every other month deal.  So, we've already got plans in the making for another excursion before we head back to school.  If I have my way, we'll actually do it a couple of times before we go back to school...but we'll see how that goes.

Last night helped me realize that I just have to take some time for myself every once in a while.  I can go out with a good friend, have a good time, and it's OK.  I don't have to feel guilty or worry that I'm doing something without the rest of the family.  

And that's exactly what I'm going to do... every now and then.

Today though, I'm off to the water park with the kiddos and P-Momma.  A day with the family is JUST what I need.  

Have a great Sunday, everyone!!


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Meet Gizmo

This is Gizmo.  The new addition to our family.  And what an addition he is!  I found him through a posting on Facebook.  A local woman posted that she'd found this little thing wandering outside her house.  She posted that the kitten was a female, and needed a good home.  She stated that she had dogs, so this little kitten needed somewhere that was safe to live.  My heartstrings plucked, and I just knew I had to have her.

I've been wanting another kitten for a long time.  Not for me, but for Jelly.  I absolutely love my cat, Katniss. She is my fur baby.  But, recently, Katniss has been taking a strong liking for Jelly.  She would sleep with Jelly, lay with her on the couch, and follow her around the house.  And, I'll admit, it was making me kinda jealous.  Katniss is MY cat.  It was already bad enough that I had to compete with Hubby for her attention, but now Jelly was being thrown in to the mix for me to get some snuggle time with my own cat.  So, I figured it would be good for Jelly to have her own cat to take care of.

So, when I saw the posting, I jumped on it.  I spoke with the lady that posted the pics, and she told me that the kitten looked to be in good shape.  She didn't see any signs of injury or mange or even a flea problem.  However, on the night we picked her up, the lady's sister was delivering the kitten, and we both realized that the lady hadn't really had a chance to give the kitten a full inspection.  As soon as I took her in my arms, I noticed the fleas.  Crawling all over her.  Then, there were the little scratches (probably self inflicted) all over her little body.  Finally, there was a giant bump on the top of her head that concerned me.  But, I'm not a person to turn away a cat that needs some TLC, so I took on the challenge.

We brought the cat home, and Jelly was absolutely ECSTATIC.  She thought it was the greatest thing to have her very own baby to take care of.  The first stop?  Bathroom to get some idea on how bad the flea problem was.  I picked up some flea spray and started to give her a bath, and OH EM GEE.  The fleas were coming off of her in hoards.  They were EVERYWHERE.  I was quickly wondering what I'd gotten myself in to.  I take pride in the fact that Katniss is almost 2 years old and hasn't had a SINGLE problem with fleas.  Sure, she's gotten a few on her, but I've kept the situation contained with a flea collar and nipped in the butt before it got out of hand.  This time, I didn't know if I had the ability to take care of it.  The kitten was way too young for a flea collar, and I wasn't even supposed to be using the flea spray I was using.  But, then, everything took a turn for the worse while I was cleaning her.  The knot on the top of her head popped.  Yes, you heard me right.  Popped.  As in (hold back your dry heaves), "stuff" started coming out of it.

I immediately decided this was WAY beyond my expertise and got my vet on the phone PRONTO.  She told me to take the kitten up there for them to take care of.  So, Jelly jumped in the car with me and off to the vet we went.

We found out several "surprises" once we arrived.  The first being that she was in fact a HE.  Not a female kitten at all.  Which is OK, because Katniss is spayed.  But, it's still taking some getting used to calling him by boy pronouns.  The vet took him back to give him an exam, and came back to report that he was INFESTED with fleas.  So much so, that he was showing signs of anemia from the flea bites.  The knot on his head was an abscess that required a draining tube being placed to ensure proper healing.  He also had roundworms and was severely malnourished and dehydrated.

That poor baby wouldn't have lasted a few more days without some immediate care.  Thank goodness we got him when we did.

The vet took quick action treating the abscess, the fleas, the worms, the anemia, and being malnourished.  She packed me up with antibiotics, special food, and instructions on what to do.  The first 48 hours were going to be critical to ensure survival.

I left the vet a nervous wreck.  When I said I wanted Jelly to take care of a new kitten, I didn't mean having a hand in bringing him back from the brink of death.  All I kept worrying about was Gizmo dying.  What kind of impact that would have on Jelly?  Would I be giving her a new kitty only to have it ripped from her by something as traumatic as death?

We got him home, gave him the bath the vet recommended, gave him some food, and just waited.  Jelly got him all wrapped up in one of her blankets, and all cozy in Katniss's cat bed (that she has NEVER used).  And the kitten didn't move for the rest of the evening.  I decided to sleep in the living room, so I could keep an eye on him.  He slept so soundly I had to keep getting up to make sure he was still breathing.

The next morning, I woke up on the couch to find Jelly holding Gizmo in her arms.  At first I panicked, thinking she had discovered he'd passed in the night.  But, when I heard his small meow, I relaxed.  I busied myself with getting him some food and his medicine, and he ate very well.  Jelly didn't want to leave him to go to summer school, but her dad reassured her that he'd take good care of Gizmo.

Here are two pics that Hubby sent me during the first day...

Sitting on Hubby's leg
Curled up in Hubby's blanket on his footrest
As soon as we got home that evening, Jelly was right by his side taking over the care duties.  Gizmo ate more food, took his medicine, and even played with Jelly.  She even decided that she was going to skip going to softball practice with us so that she could care for her baby.  In fact, before I left, this was taking place...

Jelly showing Gizmo how to put puzzles together
That night, Jelly decided that she should sleep in the living room with Gizmo, and Gizmo couldn't have been happier.  He hadn't really walked around a whole lot since he'd come home, so Jelly decided he should be close to her in case he needed anything...

Gizmo all snuggled up on a sleeping Jelly
We have, now, successfully made it past the 48 hour "critical time", and I'm happy to report that Gizmo is healthy, happy, and on the road to a full recovery.  He's eating, playing, following us all over the house, and is constant need of some attention.  He's already spoiled rotten.

This weekend, Butter and Jelly went to P-Momma's for a weekend with their Grammy.  Jelly wasn't so sure about leaving Gizmo so quickly, but Peanut is currently babysitting.  Gizmo has been in Peanut's room all morning, snuggled up with her on her bed.

Katniss still isn't sure about him.  She hisses when he comes within 10 feet of her, but I'm hoping they will soon become fine with one another.  Even though Katniss is spayed, I know that she can be a good momma.  We've been there, done that before.  I'm sure that once she realizes that Gizmo isn't a threat, she'll take over the duties of bathing and keeping him inline.

Before I go, I'll share a two more photos.. cause who can't get enough cute kitten photos?

A much healthier Gizmo exploring her new home

Snuggled up in his bed with a toy to keep him company
I hope everyone has a great Saturday!!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Fathers in My Life Deserve This

Today is Father's Day.  A day that honors fathers and lets them know that they get one day to be celebrated for everything they've done.  Just like mothers get Mother's Day, and grandparents get Grandparent's day.  It's important for these people to know that they should have holidays dedicated to them, to show our appreciation for everything they've done and will do for us.

My kids have an amazing father.  Sometimes, I don't think they realize it, but I know that one day they will.  My daughters will compare the qualities of the men they choose to father their children with the qualities their own father instilled in to them (just like I did when Hubby and I first got together).  My son will remember the tough love he was shown, and the way it changed his life and taught him about unconditional love.

Hubby isn't the lovey-dovey, hugs and kisses, go out and play ball in the yard kind of father some kids have.  I know that my kids often wonder why, or are sometimes a little disappointed that he's not that way.  But, he's not.  There's nothing I can do about that.  BUT, he is the man that the minute he gets home from work is out working on the pool so that it's always ready for them to jump in to.  He's the man that wakes up from only having a couple of hours of sleep to pick them up from school when one has a game or another has some other event or I have meetings to go to.  He's the man that picks them up from school or lets them stay home if they are sick, and takes care of them while they are at home.  He's the man that cooks for them every night, and thinks about foods they'll enjoy.  He's the one that keeps track of our extremely busy calendar, making sure everyone is taken care of when it comes to eating, and that nobody needs to be picked up or taken somewhere if Momma hasn't realized there's a conflict somewhere.  He's the one that has filled their lives with the various electronics that sprawl across their room and the house.  The flat screen TVs they each have, the PS3s they each have, the computers, and PSPs and cellphones.  The one that decides at 8PM that a Sonic shake sounds good, and drives over there to pick one up for everyone.. just because.  All his doing.

There are times when I wish he was more like me when it came to our kids.  At every ball game, at every school event, at all the social gatherings we attend, hugging them when they need a good hug, listening when they need someone to talk to, going out for some fun because I'm bored of sitting around the house... but both of us agreed when we got together that neither would try or be able to change the other one.  And, we keep that promise sacred, because honestly if he were to change there would be a lot I'd miss about who he is right now.

I often don't think my kids realize how much of a father he is "behind the scenes".  Whenever there's something going on with them that they tell me about, I tell him.  Back when Butter had problems with some of his teachers, Hubby was the first to say that he was going to march his behind up to the school to have a little "talk" with a teacher who expects a 5 year old to sit in their chair ALL day without getting up and speaking.  There's been times when Hubby has offered to rally behind them for causes that are important to them.  He gives me his opinions and insights about certain problems the kids have that I put in to practice for him.  He's definitely not a silent partner in this whole parenting thing.  He is the one that forces me to keep quiet when the kids take on some kind of fad that I'm not too happy about, because he believes they should be free to express themselves if it's not causing any harm to anyone.  He is a big proponent to letting them have their free time, and making their own decisions, and letting them be independent (when all I want to do is control everything).  He is VERY involved, just not the way they realize or expect him to be.  

At the end of the day, I was so blessed when he came in to my life.  He cares for and loves our children in his own way, and I know he will do anything he has to do to protect them, make them happy, and ensure that they become independent, successful, and happy adults.

Today is also quite difficult for me, when I think about my own father.

I love that man.  More than he'll probably ever know.  But, because of the "feuding" that's taking place with my mother and me, I haven't spoken to him in some time.  I could try and call him, but I know my father well enough to know that he HATES talking on the phone, and with everything that is going on would probably feel extremely uncomfortable trying to talk to me.  I don't know his feelings about the situation, how he feels, what his opinion is.  I know that he loves my mom and will stand by her no matter what, regardless of whether or not he agrees with her, because that's the kind of man he is.  He is loyal.  And, he should never have to be put in a situation where he has to choose between his wife or one of his kids.  That's why I haven't asked or expected him to do so.

There has been times when he's opened up to me, told me things I didn't expect to hear from the strong, hard shelled man that he is.  But, then I've always known that the hard outer shell is just a front.  The inside is warm, loving, caring, and loyal.  He loves his family.  He protects and defends them.  He does things he doesn't necessarily agrees with or likes doing, but does them anyway because it's expected of him.

Which sounds kind of familiar.  The same qualities that Hubby has when it comes to his own family.

I sent my father a text message this morning to wish him a happy Father's Day.  The one way I know I can reach him, and he'll know that I'm thinking about him today.  I doubt I get a response, but at least he knows that I love him.

It's sad to think about.  Reaching out to my dad through a text message, because that's the only way for me to communicate with him.

During this whole mess, he's the only person that has made me think I should just end the feud.  Just so I can have him back in my life.  But, I know that it wouldn't fix the problem.  I could put a big band-aid over it, never cleaning out the wound, but when the feelings aren't genuine... eventually the band-aid will start to peel off, and the old feelings will rush to the surface.

Which is how my family is used to dealing with problems.  But, I've seen firsthand that pushing issues away like they never happened and moving on just ends up causing bigger problems.  Because the next time someone gets upset, all the old feelings come back to haunt us, used against us, and makes the new problems 100 times worse than they really are.

I am breaking that cycle with my own children.  We don't allow that to happen in this house.  When there's a problem in my house, it gets resolved then and there.  We say what we need to say, we get all our feelings out on the table, and then we figure out the way to make sure that nothing like that happens again.  No pushing them down, no pretending nothing happened.  That's not healthy.  And, that's another credit I can give to Hubby.  He is the one that showed me how important that is.  It's why in the nine years we've been together, we've never really had a "fight".  We've had disagreements, we've got upset with each other, but they've never lasted more than a few hours.  Because he will NOT allow feelings to ferment, to explode.  He expects communication, and problem solving.

I love my dad.  He knows that, I hope.  He has done nothing to me, and I will not include him in the trouble that has become my family relationship.

I just hope that he has a great day today, and knows that I'm thinking about him.

OK, that's enough for me today.  This was supposed to be a nice, happy post... and it didn't come out that way.  So, I'm just going to leave it at that.

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to all the amazing dads out there.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

I Feel Accepted!


Yesterday morning, I opened up this email.  And, even though I knew it was going to come sooner or later, I couldn't have been more excited when I read those words.  I HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED!!  To what?  Well, Grad School.  If everything goes OK, in August I'll be starting the journey to getting my Masters Degree in Elementary Admin.  

The school where I teach was extremely lucky to be offered a cohort for Williams Woods University.  What that means is, as long as at least 8 other teachers get that same email I did, we'll actually have professors come to the school to do our program right there where I work.  No traveling, no missing work or leaving early for classes, no sitting in front of a computer every night of the week for online classes, everything will be done right there and I'll be working with people I know rather than complete strangers.  

A few months ago, I had no real intentions of going back to school any time soon.  I mean, it's something I wanted to do eventually, but I thought I'd be teaching a few more years (and carving away at some of my already overwhelming amount of student loans) before I decided to go back.  But, it's an opportunity that isn't guaranteed will be available to me again.   

The program will consist of having class one night a week for 3 hours.  We'll take one class at a time, about 6 weeks at a time.  After the first year, I'll have 15 hours of credit so that I can claim the Bachelors +15 pay raise in my salary scale.  Then, six months later, I'll graduate with my Masters and earn myself the big bucks that comes with having a Masters Degree.  (When I say "big bucks" that's speaking in teacher salary terms... so compared to what I was making, not compared to what people think of when they think of high salary terms.)

Even though it's only one class at a time and 3 hours of classwork a week, I know it will be A LOT more than that.  I know I'll have tons of work to do outside of class.  But, one class at a time will be manageable.  OK, so I won't be able to volunteer for all the extracurricular activities I often volunteer for, but I also know that it won't be the "lock myself away and never see the light of day" schooling I did while getting my Bachelors.  Back then, I was taking 15+ hours at a time.  This time around, I'll only be doing 1-3 hours college credit hours at a time.  MUCH more doable.  

When presented with the opportunity, I had the option of doing Elementary Admin or Curriculum & Instruction.  The C&I Masters is a little less demanding, but when I thought about my future, I wanted to get a degree that would have some kind of license to go with it.  A C&I Masters would make me somewhat of a top candidate for jobs that require a specialization in Curriculum & Instruction, but that's about it.  

Even though at this point in time I have no desire to ever become a principal, it doesn't mean that 15 years from now I won't want to give it a try.  A C&I Masters wouldn't give me that option.  And, I don't want to be a person that gets a masters degree and then 15 years from now has to go BACK to college to get ANOTHER degree just to pursue the opportunity for working as a principal.  Might as well get it done now, and then I'm set if the time ever comes that I decide to move out of a classroom.  

For the life of me, I don't ever see that happening, but I've spoken to enough people in administration positions that tell me they ALL felt the same way when they first started teaching.  And, I'm not going to lie, I honestly think there will be a time a LONG way down the road when I think that I might be ready to tackle the challenge of running an entire school.  I've always been a person that wants to keep moving up and challenging myself.  Being a principal is a mighty endeavor, and one that I will probably want to consider when I've spent years and years in the classroom doing what I do and gaining the knowledge needed to even consider being a principal.

It's not only about the money or the opportunities that await years down the road, getting my Masters Degree is also about showing my kids that I continue to follow my dreams, no matter what obstacles stand in my way.  In a perfect world, I would have had my Bachelors when I was 22 and my Masters by the time I was 25.. but it's not a perfect world.  That doesn't mean I can't or couldn't achieve the goals I set for myself all those years ago, when I was young and the world was mine for the taking.

Finishing school, going to college, becoming a teacher, and even getting a Masters Degree was always on my "to-do" list.  From way back when college starting becoming a thing I was focusing on (my freshman year of high school) those were my plans.  Of course, back then, the plan was to go straight for getting my Masters in one swoop.  Staying in college until it was done. Having a M.A.T. (Masters of Arts in Teaching) was the way to go in order to get a teaching degree.  But, just because I took a few detours on the way doesn't mean that any of those plans had to be crossed off my list.  

I may be 10 years older than I would have been had my life followed the course I mapped out, but I now know that situations don't always play out the way I want them to.  In fact, 99.9% of the time, situations don't play out the way I planned.  There's always a curveball being thrown my way.  But, my successes and achievements I've made in my life have been that much more important because I've seen the curveball coming, and swung with all my might until that ball makes it out of the park.  (Like that baseball analogy?  Nice, right?)  

Anywho, I have ten more days of teaching summer school, then it's a nice, long, relaxing summer break to get myself physically and mentally prepared for the 18 months that will follow.  I'm sure I'll complain.  I'm sure I'll whine.  But, I'm sure I'll keep my eyes set on the prize and be cheering with excitement once it's all over.  

Eighteen months is nothing.  I can do it.  I know I can.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Got the Summer School Fever

Today is my one and only day off this week, and will be my last day off for the next two and a half weeks.  Starting tomorrow, I begin my time of teaching summer school for 12 days.  I was lucky enough, though, to land a couple of days of substituting for a fellow co-worker who needed to take Monday and yesterday off.

Teaching the second session of summer school is hard.  Getting out of school for the year, having a few days off, and then going back to teach for two weeks isn't the most ideal situation.  Everyone that teaches summer school covets the first two week session, because it's a lot easier to carry on the routine as usual for an additional two weeks and then being done for the rest of the summer.  It doesn't really bother me either way, because as long as I'm getting some time to teach, I'm happy.

Up until Monday, my assignment that starts tomorrow was going to be teaching elementary P.E. in the morning and Minecraft in the afternoon.  I was OK with that assignment, but I had originally asked to teach Jr. High.  Last year, I had such an amazing time teaching summer school with the Jr. High kids, that I wanted another go at it this year.  Unfortunately, Jr. High teachers get first dibs on that, and there were enough of them that I wasn't able to get a spot.

However, last week, I was feeling a little relieved.  The Jr. High kids this year are quite the rambunctious group.  They are loud and hyper, and there are SO MANY OF THEM!  There are WAY more kids in the Jr. High classes than there were last year.  So, I just accepted my assignment and thanked my lucky stars that I was going to be with the elementary kids, and the time would fly by with ease.

A few weeks ago, my fellow Jr. High teacher friend found out that I was kind of bummed that I didn't get Jr. High and asked me if I wanted to sub for him for a couple of days.  I quickly agreed, thinking more about the extra money than having the opportunity to work with the older kids for a couple of days.

Well, once again, I have caught the Jr. High summer school bug and thoroughly enjoyed my last two days.  Are the kids rowdy?  Yep.  Are they loud?  Oh yes.  Can they be disrespectful?  Sure.  Did I have an absolute blast?  ABSOLUTELY!!

I was given the assignment to teach Social Studies in the morning and games in the afternoon.  The social studies topic was World War II.  I'm not exactly much of a history buff, so I was a little nervous about taking on that task.  The teacher explained what they'd been discussing for the first week and a half, and told me that the scheduled assignment for the day was for the kids to work in groups to figure out how to "ration" supplies and food to feed a family for a month.  I was also given the option to "do my own thing" if I could think of something else to do.

Do you really have to ask which option I went with?

Yeah.  I came up with something else to do.  I know these kids, for the most part.  I know their interests, I know what gets them curious and willing to give up the "I'm too cool for this stuff" routine.  That's not saying that I think what I want to do is better than what they would have done had I not been there, but I wanted to do something I was comfortable doing.  Something I had some knowledge of doing.  Something that I actually did with my 4th graders last year, and they enjoyed so much.  So, I printed off blank Facebook profile pages and had the kids create Facebook pages for people that would have lived during World War II.

At first, they were kind of unsure.  I had several that didn't want to break their routine of acting like they were 13 going on 30.. but after they saw everyone else getting in to it and talking and sharing their ideas and "status updates" they all started to follow suit.  I had some that chose to be soldiers, some that chose to be Nazis (that was a little scary), some that chose to be wives that were sent off to work in factories, some that were kids, all focused on the stuff they had learned about the war thus far.

It was so interesting to see some of the stuff kids came up with.

One of my students chose to be Eva Braun (Hitler's long-time girlfriend, short term wife).  We Googled her to get some info, so her Facebook information would be accurate.  Then the student wrote comments such as..

"Nobody knows him like I do, he thinks he's doing the right thing #Jewsarebad"

Other students made up status updates such as..

"I'd much rather be home taking care of my house than working in a factory #missmyoldlife"
"It's hard to kill people, but I want to defend my country #soldierlife"
"The world won't be saved until all Jews are gone #WorldDomination"
"I hope I can save enough sugar to make a birthday cake for my kid #rations"
"Hiding is no fun at all, but at least I have my diary #DiaryofAnneFrank"

Don't you love the hashtags?  Several of the kids really did a great job of tapping in to what they thought life would be like back then.

The afternoon was pretty laid back.  I made my first summer school mistake (probably won't be the last) by having the kids participate in a full class game of "Brain Quest Truth or Dare".

And I bet my bottom dollar that anyone read that and just thought "WHAT?? She allowed her students to play Truth or Dare??!!"  It was those feelings you're now feeling that made it a short lived game.  Once my principal heard about it, he quickly shut me down.  Not because I was doing anything inappropriate, but because of the stigma that's attached to the name of the game.

The sad part is, the stigma is attached to the game because it was a game we played as kids, and how we played it as kids.  Of course, it DEFINITELY wasn't a game we played in a classroom.  It was a game we played with our friends, and the truths and dares were always edgy, risky, and downright embarrassing.  That's NOT what I was doing AT ALL.

I had the kids break in to four teams.  Each turn, the team designated a team representative.  That rep came in to the middle of the room to answer a question from Brain Quest.  Basically that's a trivia game based on school subjects.  They had to either spell something, figure out a math puzzle, answer a social studies question, or name items in a group.  If the representative got it wrong, they had to complete a truth or a dare.  I was the keeper of the truths and dares, so I dictated what was going on.

When the kids missed a question, I had them act like monkeys, or sit in the center of the room and sing a song, stuff along those lines.  The "truths" (which I only had 2 kids choose that option) asked who they thought was the best teacher in the school and to share an embarrassing (school appropriate) moment with the class.

It was all very comical, and EVERY single kid participated without being coerced.

But, again, the name of the game got me in a little hot water.  Had I named the game "Brain Quest Challenge", I'm sure I'd have been allowed to continue.  Yet, I sometimes forget that it doesn't matter a bit how innocent something is if there's a stigma and automatic judgement attached.

So, that game was axed as fast as it was invented.  My bad, I live to learn from my mistakes.

Yesterday, I changed up my approach and the classes, instead, played a game of Pictionary Charades.  Basically, I broke each class up in to two teams and each round a person came up and got to choose to either draw or act out a given thing.  I gave them books, movies, places, things, people, etc.

Once again, EVERY single kid participated without coercion and they all had a blast.

I enjoyed my time so much that I have agreed to switch with another teacher who would like to spend some time teaching elementary kids for the second session.  I will teach Jr. High in the morning, and then teach Minecraft to the younger kids in the afternoon.  The best of both worlds.  And I can't wait!!

I don't know what it is about those older kids that makes me have such a good time.  Maybe it's because I'm a big kid at heart, and I sometimes forget that I'm 32 and the "teacher".  I participate in all the games and activities I teach, and it gives me a chance to have a lot of fun.

The best part is the fact that I earn the kids respect by being such a goofball.  I don't have to worry about them being disrespectful or misbehaving when they are with me, because I have one rule when it comes to being in my class:  Treat me the way you want to be treated.  If they are nice to me, I'm nice to them.  If they're not, well, then they realize the 30 minutes they get to spend with me will probably be the longest 30 minutes of their entire day.  It won't be fun.

I make mistakes.  Like the Truth or Dare incident.  I try and find activities I think will appeal to them, and don't really take time to think about the repercussions.  Not because I blur the line between teacher/student relationship, but because I am naive enough to think that if there's no harm in what I'm doing, nobody will care.  But, there doesn't have to be harm for their to be speculation.  And in this day and age, I'm realizing that speculation is just as bad as inappropriate behavior.  I don't have to be doing something inappropriate for speculation to come about that I am.

It makes me very sad, but I understand the rules completely. I just need some friendly reminders now and then that we live in a world where you have to be more careful than ever before.  I'm just happy that I have an administrator that can deliver the news to me in a way that helps me learn rather than knocks me down.  And I am still learning.  Nobody's perfect.  Everyone makes mistakes.  As long as I learn from them and move on, I'll be just fine.  

For the second session, I'm going to be teaching volleyball in the morning to the older kids, which is what I was going to do with the younger kids.  I like doing active stuff, it's the little bit of exercise I can make myself do.  We may throw a few games of dodgeball in to the mix, because the kids sure do love their dodgeball.  It's going to be an amazing time, and I'm going to enjoy every minute of it.

Today, though, I'm going to enjoy my last day off for a couple of weeks.  I finished reading another book, so I'm going to take a trip to my local library today and get a library card.  I don't remember the last time I was a member of a library, and that's crazy because I LOVE reading.  Having the library card will also give me something to do with Jelly when summer school is over.  She really loves me reading to her before bed, so we'll be able to run down to the library and pick out a few books.  She's also starting to read them herself, and it's so important to keep kids reading during the summer.

Alright, that's it for me.  Have an awesome Hump Day everyone!!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

It's National Best Friend Day!!


I often get quite tickled by the "National" days that spring up on my Facebook feed.  Every single day of the year has some kind of special meaning, according to

Friday was National Donut Day.  And you can bet your bottom dollar that I drove the kids and myself to Krispy Kreme to take advantage of choosing ANY donut for FREE.  Peanut and I went for a traditional raspberry filled glazed, Butter tried one of their new Brownie Batter donuts, and Jelly went for her usual colorful, sprinkled ring donut.  Not a bad day to celebrate.  Thank you, Krispy Kreme, for being a good sport and indulging the good people of Northwest Arkansas by not taking a single penny for your glorious creations.

But, did you also know that Friday was National Gardening Exercise Day, National Yo-Yo Day, National Drive-In Movie Day, or National Applesauce Cake Day?  NO?? Good heavens, why not? 

Probably, because you're a normal person, like me, and have no idea about these crazy "holidays" unless someone posts it on your Facebook feed and you decide to do a little digging to find out if that's actually true, or just someone trying to start a new trend.

Yesterday was National Chocolate Ice Cream Day (do Snickers Ice-Cream bars count?), National Trails Day, and National VCR Day.  Seriously? Where do they come up with this stuff.  Does anyone even own a VCR anymore?

And how do you celebrate something like that?  Buy the VCR a brand new, never opened, "vintage" video tape for it to chew up?

While most of the days are completely hysterical and go by without me giving them the slightest bit of thought, today's Facebook National Day reminder caught my attention.  

Today is National Best Friends Day.  

It's also National Upsy Daisy Day (what the heck is that?) and National Name Your Poison Day... really?  Well, if you're curious, according to the website National Upsy Daisy Day is supposed to promote people to get up and go "gloriously, gratefully, and gleefully".  Urm.  OK.  This fat girl gets up every day as gloriously, gratefully, and gleefully as she can possibly muster.  Sometimes it's quite comical to see me roll out of bed.  Other days, it would be best to pretend you never saw it.  And be thankful you are saved from that sight each day.  Seriously.  Be thankful.  

National Name Your Poison Day relates to "naming your poison" when it comes to picking a drink in a bar... OK, now I'm interested.  But, the actual meaning is to celebrate making a decision or a choice.  I'm going to celebrate making the decision to not celebrate some of these cockamamy holidays.  How about that?

Except, today, I am willing to scratch that, I need to take some of my time today to celebrate National Best Friends Day by giving a little shout-out to the people I consider my very best friends.

Up until a few years ago, I really didn't have a best friend.  In fact, I hadn't really had a "best friend" since high school.  My definition of a best friend was someone I spent all of my spare time with, talked to constantly on the phone, knew every intimate detail of their lives and they knowing mine.  And I didn't have that.  Nobody filled that spot.  Sure, I had friends and acquaintances, but they were really just co-workers.  People I spent time with because we were forced together because we worked together.  That's it really.  

But then, I started my last two years of college.

If you've been around these parts, reading my blog for some time, you all should recognize and know Sanity and Hope (the two pictured with me above and the middle picture on the bottom). They have been my best friends since my sophomore year of college.  We became fast friends after being put together to work on a group project.  We realized we enjoyed each others' company, and our group work then turned in to dedicating one day a week to "hang out and destress" from the toll of college work.  That then led to us spending weekends together, doing "college student" like activities like going to nightclubs, singing karaoke, and just having an absolute blast with each other.  In fact, I would go out on a limb that I spent WAY more time with Sanity and Hope than I did with my family, those last two years.  

Shortly after we graduated, I was given a framed picture of the three of us in our caps and gowns.  That picture sits happily and proudly on my desk at school.  I look at those girls every single day and think about how much we went through, how we supported each other, and how I probably would have never made it through without them.  

Since graduation, our time together has been interrupted with stuff like having to work.  Which sucks, big time.  All three of us work, have families and other friends, and don't get to see each other near as much as I'ld like.  

In fact, Hope just gave birth to a stunningly beautiful little guy.  He was born premature, and has been fighting a tough battle, but he's pulling through like a champ.  It breaks my heart that I have yet to go and see her, see him, see them both.  But, because it's been so long since Hope and I saw each other, I figure it best to give her space with her closest family and friends, and then I'll make it over to see her in a few weeks when her little bundle of miracle has completely pulled through and up for more visitors.  

Sanity is doing what she does, and I keep up with as much as I can through Facebook.  I did enjoy a well overdue chat with her, yesterday.  We're both determined to spend some quality time together this summer.  That's happening.  I'm not going through an entire summer without being with her at least some of it.  I don't think I'll have too much trouble convincing her to come spend some time with me, in my pool.  HA!!

Then there's E.  She's the newest of my "best friends".  Our friendship has just developed over the course of this school year.  When I was going through a really rough time, she was there to listen.  We hadn't been close, really, before that... but I somehow felt cosmically called to her to lean on.  She was a ray of fresh air on a very tough and thick raincloud that was hanging over my head, and I will always love her for that.  And since then, I've had no trouble going to her when I need to be told not just what I want to hear, but what I need to hear.  In my opinion, that's the definition of a true friend... someone that will be honest with you, doesn't sugar coat, but always does it reinforcing the fact that she's doing it because she cares.  I don't know how many nights we've spent texting each other through our certain situations.  I don't get to spend near as much time with her outside of work as I'd like, either, but again... I have plans to make that happen this summer.  She hasn't been informed of these "plans" yet.. but I know she reads this, so... SURPRISE!! We're hanging out this summer as much as possible, FYI.  :)

And then last, but definitely not least, there's P-Momma.  Best friend isn't exactly the right title for her.. she's like a mother to me.  She has been and always will be a grandmother to my children.  That woman has gone above and beyond to make us a part of her family, and I know she's always a phone call or a short drive away.  She calls me or texts me several times a week just to see how I'm doing, opens up her home to my crazy crew for get-togethers or just when I'm in serious need of some P-Momma time, and has always made me feel like I'm a daughter to her.  I can and do tell her EVERYTHING that's going on in my life.  She gives me motherly advice, best-friend advice, and just plain ol' lets sit down and chat time. I will always love her and she is a very important person in my life.  

I have learned over the course of the past couple of years that I am blessed with many friends.  The people I work with are more than co-workers.  We know about each others' families and special events and general stuff that's happening in each others' lives.  So, I definitely can't complain about how happy I am for having such amazing people in my life.

But, there are always those select few that you know you have a special bond with.  The feeling doesn't necessarily have to be mutual.  Meaning, I might consider these ladies my absolute best friends, but they have different people they place in that category.  And that's perfectly fine.  Just knowing that I was picked to be a part of their lives is a great honor, and one that I don't take lightly.  

Each of them, in their own way, have had a hand in shaping, molding, and guiding me through these later years of my life.  The good, the bad, the crazy, and the exciting.  When I think of the really big moments that have happened these past several years, at least one of them are a part of it.  They are all apart of one or the other.  

I can never, truly repay them for the kindness, support, love, and honesty that they've each bestowed on me.  But, just knowing that I care for them, appreciate them, and honor them on this day is my small token of showing them what they mean to me.

So, Sanity, Hope, E, and P-Momma, THANKY YOU for being the best friends this girl could ask for.

I love you all!!


Oh, and don't forget to enjoy National Upsy Daisy Day, and Pick Your Poison Day... cause, you know.. I suppose there's someway you can get up "gracefully" or make some form of decision.


Saturday, June 07, 2014

Jumping on a Bandwagon....With Some Actual FACTS!!

Oh yes.  It's another one of those days where my britches have been burned by comments and accusations that have been made about public schools, and it's caused this rant for today.

Yesterday, yet another news story was reported about a bus driver from a local school district who is in jail for sexual assualt against a minor.  The story is very vague.  In fact, here's the ENTIRE story from the website:

ROGERS -- A man who works as a bus driver for Rogers School District has been arrested on sex assault charges.

According to the Benton County Jail records, Stephen Betts, 51, faces a single charge of sexual assault. He was booked into the jail Friday afternoon.

Investigators say they got a report that Betts had inappropriate sexual contact with a girl, starting with when she was 9-years old and continuing until she was 13. The incidents started about thirteen years ago.

Rogers Public Schools says Betts was a worker in the transportation department as a driver trainer and transportation clerk. He turned his resignation in on Friday afternoon.

Betts also works at Monte Ne Baptist Church.  They declined to comment on his arrest.  On his Facebook profile, he lists his position with the church as Student Ministries Pastor.

He is being held at the Benton County Sheriff's Office awaiting a bond hearing.

So, from this report we can gather that he is currently in jail, is being charged for a sexual assault that started about 13 years ago, works for the school's transportation department, and is possibly a youth minister (if we're using his Facebook page as a source).

That's it.

It says nothing about if the charge has anything to do with a child on a school bus, a child from his church, or a child he knew some other way.  It doesn't even say if he knew the child.  There's NO INFORMATION other than what is given here.

Yet, after this story posted, the hate and accusations started flying.  People starting screaming that they were going to homeschool their children, they were done with public schools, enough is enough.  Others bashed the Christian faith stating that it was safer to be non-religious than it was to trust people that "claim" to be servants of God.  

Me, being the "can't help but add my 2 cents" kind of person that I am decided to write this comment:

As a teacher, it makes me so sad that stories like this come out and everyone starts screaming "homeschool!!" Do you know how many sexual assaults we deal with on a daily basis that happen at home?? By a FAMILY MEMBER!!! They just don't get reported to the media!!! I really wish news casters would spend a small amount of time highlighting some of the wonderful, heart-melting, amazing things teachers and school employees do EVERY DAY to protect and help children. Please do not bash the entire school system when you only ever hear the bad and NONE of the good, or none of the bad that we deal with when it comes to abuse and neglect that happens at home!!!!!!!

Very similar to what I wrote in my blog just a couple of days ago, in fact.  It makes me so mad, sad, and disappointed when people jump on a bandwagon when there is no real facts to back it up.  They bad mouth and drag public schools through the dirt because of the few stories that show up in the media.  If not that, they immediately go to religion and bash away at that.  And, I will say that ANY story about a school official committing sexual abuse is one too many, but for every one story that is publicized about a school official, 100 go by about a parent or family member abusing their kids that you never get to hear.

Yes, folks.  The truth of the matter is, teachers, principals, school counselors, and other school personnel deal with this type of horrifying news DAILY!  Except all of the reports we make don't go straight to the headlines, they are locked up safe and sound with Child Protective Services.  It's very sad to say it, but if the news only reported child abuse claims made by EVERYONE, it would be on a 24 hour constant roll.  I'm sure of it.  And, 98% of those accused would be a family member, friend of the family, or an acquaintance of the family.

And, let's not even get started with false accusations.  I've heard about kids who have falsely accused a parent or guardian because they were mad, and completely destroyed lives in the process.  Or, they fabricate stories, just a little, and what comes out is deemed abuse - even though they have no idea that their words are being misconstrued that way.  I'm not saying that ALL sexual assault claims shouldn't be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law, but sometimes...just sometimes... there are people being punished for crimes they didn't actually commit.

Not very long ago, I spoke with a counselor who shared a horrific story about a guy who basically lost his entire life thanks to a false accusation.  A six year old child accused her uncle of "inappropriate touching".  Or, at least, that's what he was charged with.  And do you know what "evidence" they needed to convict? Her word.  That's it.  No DNA, no photographs, no video, just her testimony given to a trained counselor.  Not to get too graphic, but the report stated that he touched her genitals, while laughing, and asked her if it felt funny when he touched her.  That was enough to have him charged with second degree sexual assault, 6 months in jail, and life-long sex offender registry.  Do you know what his story was?  While babysitting (he was caring for her and his own daughter at the time), she wet her pants.  He took off her wet clothes and used a cold wet wipe to clean her up.  When he was cleaning her, she screamed and laughed from the cold, and he apologized to her and asked her if she was OK, and if she felt OK.  Of course, again, that was just HIS side of the story.  And, nobody was buying it.  Why would a six year old lie about something like that?  A few months after the guy was in jail, it somehow came about that his story was in fact ACTUALLY what happened.  The little girl had basically no idea what all the fuss had been about, and during her court ordered counseling had explained to the counselor the actual events of the day, and it was used to get him released.  Still, a few years later, his life is not the same.  His wife divorced him, she got full custody of their daughter, and even though he was released, no judge seemed to be willing to "take the chance" of letting him have anything other than supervised visits with his daughter.

And just as horrific as it is that there are so many sexual abuses taking place in this country, it's just as horrific that so many are false accusations.  And, the sad part is, many of them stem from something quite innocent getting blown up to gigantic proportions.

I most definitely AM NOT defending child abusers.  Anyone that intentionally harms a child in any way should have what's coming to them.  And I have my own opinions on that, that differ quite a bit from what the federal government and the state courts think.

What I am getting at, though, is you can't make rash judgements on one story or even several stories that are reported to the media.  

Take the homeschooling rant I've seen pop up over and over again on this story, alone.  OK, so a parent doesn't like the fact that a school employee gets arrested for sexual assault and decides that homeschooling is the only way to protect their child.

Let's take a look at some statistics on that, shall we? (I got my information from,, and trainings that I have attended)

2/3 of reported sexual abuse happens from a person who knows their victim.  More than half of those reported are by a family member, friend of the family, or a family acquaintance.  58% of the sexual abuse happens IN THE HOME!  

Over 50% of sexually assaulted children reported not feeling comfortable telling a parent, but DID feel comfortable sharing it with a teacher, school counselor, or school official.

Many sexually assaulted children do NOT come from bad homes, and the parents are completely oblivious to the abuse.  They often reported some changes in behavior, mood swings, and changes in sleeping and eating habits - but other than that, had absolutely NO idea that sexual assault was even a possibility.

School personnel are often trained to identify signs of abuse, how to approach the topic of abuse without causing discomfort to the victim, and often have a higher chance of getting a victim to report the abuse.

17% of sexual abuse happens between siblings, cousins, or peers, and while the law defines the acts as sexual abuse, the perpetrator is unaware of wrong doing and is often confused or sexually curious.  Children falling in to this category are still subject to juvenile sexual offense charges, and can be incarcerated in juvenile detention facilities and/or have their name placed on a national sex registry. 

There's some facts about abuse, but what about homeschooling in general?

Even though I am a teacher in public schools, I am not against homeschooling.  AS LONG AS the right decisions have been made, research has been done, and the parent/guardian is aware at what they are getting in to.  

Homeschooling is a very tough endeavor.  If a parent or guardian uses an accredited method of homeschooling, there can be a lot of success.  There are many options out there when it comes to homeschooling.

My problem comes when a parent, who has received no real training, believes they can do a better job "teaching" their child than an actual teacher can.  They make the decision because of something like we're discussing right here - they don't feel "safe" sending their child to school.

OK, let's look at that scenario in a different light.  If that's the case, why aren't we treating and performing surgery on our own family members right at home?? Do you know how many people DIE in the hands of physicians and surgeons?  Do you know how many doctors and nurses are charged all the time for sexual abuse, malpractice, and other forms of abuse?  Then why hasn't an uprising occurred on not taking our kids to hospitals and doctors?  

Do you know why?  Because even if there was a story reported EVERY DAY about a doctor who sexually abused his/her patients, or a doctor that overdosed his/her patients, or a medical specialist who liked to take extreme risks with the lives of his/her patients, people aren't TRAINED to perform medical procedures at home.  This happens, and people just take their kids to another doctor.  Simple.  Because, they wouldn't even fathom performing medical procedures at home... where it's safe.

Educators are trained professionals.  Just like doctors.  We know how to teach, what to teach, and the skills that children need in order to succeed in the future.  When another parent screams "homeschool" and has absolutely no idea what homeschooling actually entails, that's just another slap to the educator's face that our career is worthless...means nothing...anybody can do it.

And the truth is, no.  No, not anybody can do it.  Not correctly.

I have seen my share of kids who have been homeschooled correctly versus those children whose parents just wanted their children to be "safe".  Correctly homeschooled children are being given the correct skills, learning the content they need to learn, and are socially adapted.  That's because those homeschooling parents have joined with a TRAINED organization to provide those skills.  Parents that sit at home and think they know what's best, and go to Barnes & Noble and pick up a few curriculum books and sets of flash cards are highly missing the mark.  

DO NOT judge the public school system by what the media has to say about it.  Research, learn the facts, TALK TO EDUCATORS that have been doing this a long time.  

But, unless you plan on putting your child in a plastic bubble, locking them in a safe room, and letting them have absolutely NO contact with the outside world, do NOT scream that homeschooling or keeping your child out of church is the only way to protect them.

Remember, for every one bad story you see on the news, there are THOUSANDS of GOOD stories you're not seeing. Because they are boring.  They're not "newsworthy".  

And take a second to learn some facts before you bash an entire system of people that have dedicated their lives to protect, care for, and love the children you send in to our classrooms.

OK, rant over.