Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Meme #978

Taking another break from an all-too-serious piece I am writing on nursing homes, I ran across this meme from Alicia and Ann. I am going to answer it with a few changes. I like the idea of an occasional meme as they are much easier (not to mention short) to write, but they still develop the craft. I am thinking of borrowing Ann’s Monday Meme in my classroom next year, but here it goes The Alphabet Meme…

A – Age: I am 47 (or will be in a few weeks). I have traveled a very complicated road to get here. Of course it wasn’t what I expected, but it has been fulfilling. Sometimes I feel really old and sometimes I don’t feel any older than I did when I was 20.

B – Band listening to right now: My iPod has the most diverse music on it and sometimes I hit shuffle just to see what happens. It usually goes: country, pop, classic rock, new age, contemporary Christian and classical (I even have some bluegrass).

C – Career future: My career is education; notice I didn’t say teaching because often I am the student. I thought I wanted to go into educational administration-even got the degree, but then I think your job becomes “beans, busses and basketball”-not education. I still want to be about education.

D – Dad’s name: It is Edwin-my son’s middle name as well.

E – Easiest person to talk to: Kent is the easiest person to talk to about anything, coming in a close second is Ginny, but that has developed over years and years. I am a pretty open book with my close friends and used to be with others, but over the past few years I tend to shut myself off more if I find I have trust issues.

F – Favorite song: I don’t have a favorite, but I can chronicle my life by songs. If a song comes on the radio or my iPod I normally have a life experience connected to it.

G – Gummy Bears or Gummy Worms: LOVE the Gummy Bears.

H – Hometown: This is always an interesting question. Technically I don’t have one. My father was a minister and we moved quite often, but I always say I “grew up” in Hasting, Nebraska. It is where I spent my teenage years – what a great place to raise a teen.

I – Instruments: I play the piano—not well, but can get by. I took violin lessons through high school.

J – Job: I have been working since I was 15. I sold shoes for the most part. I was a bank teller (not a very good one), walked beans and rogued corn—the rest have been associated with education in some form and I wouldn’t call them “jobs”.

K – Kids: I have 6 of those—two sons; 3 step-sons; 1 step-daughter

L – Longest car ride ever: I am not sure as we drove everywhere when I was growing up, but it would have to be the summer we drove from St. Louis, Missouri to Miami, Florida.

M – Mom’s name: Martha Janice, but folks only know her by Jan or Janice. It is also my middle name.

N – Number of people you consider your closest friends: There are about four gals who I trust explicitly and accept unconditionally. They have been there through thick and thin—life and death—and I am proud to call each of them my friend.

P – Phobia[s]: I used to have a dental phobia, but that is changing. I don’t particularly like to fly, but am stubborn enough to NEVER let it stop me from doing so.

Q – Quote: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
-Alvin Toffler-
This is what NCLB is NOT getting right now. It isn't about the "test", but about learning, unlearning and relearning.

R – Reason to smile: I am loved. (This is a great answer Ann)

S – Song you sang last: “Brave” by Jamie O’Neil

T – Time you wake up: That’s a good question: during the school year—5:50AM—during the summer: not so much.

U – Unknown fact about me: I am SCUBA certified.

V – Vegetable you hate: Peas—yucky—texture issues.

W – Worst habit: Biting my nails—I hate it, but there are several more bad habits I harbor

X – X-rays you’ve had: Over the years—about every x-ray known to man, but I have never broken a bone—yet…

Y – Yummy food: California rolls and crab legs are my favorites.

Z – Zodiac sign: I am a Leo—and I don’t get the zodiac thing but here is today’s horoscope—rather interesting for those of you who know me well:
“Because you may often be impulsive, concentrated and spontaneous, you could find yourself representing your company, lecturing or teaching. A well-trained sales person could do well to learn your techniques because you tend to rush in where others fear to tread. Your energy is magnanimous. There is something essential that starts or causes something else to happen--a reaction or response when you promote a product, instruct or lecture. Others will benefit from your experience and your leadership. You may be able to enjoy and value your own life situation today. There is much laughter and merriment in your home this afternoon and evening. A visitor may compliment you on your tastes or belongings”

OK--now it is your turn. Be sure to link back or let me know when you complete the meme.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


My 13-year-old has a subscription to “Electronic Gaming Monthly”. It is one of few written materials he actually reads. So last week, he received the following in the mail:

For those of you squinting your eyes to read, it says:

“Welcome to Maxim!
This note is to inform you that Electronic Gaming Monthly has ceased publishing with the January 2009 issue. The balance of your paid subscription will be fulfilled with Maxim. If you are already a subscriber to Maxim, the balance of your Electronic Gaming Monthly subscription will be added to your existing Maxim subscription.”

Now, here is my take on this absurd replacement:
There are going to be millions of extremely happy adolescent boys, but on the other hand a million really ticked off parents. Mark me in the latter group. Seriously, is this an equal substitute for a gaming magazine?

Besides scantily clad women on almost every page, the articles in this magazine include: “The Drinking Man’s Guide to Summer”, “Fantasy Island”, “I Like to Punish People” and “The Sex Checklist: What bedroom taboos should you encourage your girl to break”. So, apparently the balance of my 13-year-old’s gaming magazine with be filled with the adolescent equivalent to soft porn.

For those of you wondering, of course I have crafted a written response to this absurdity stating my mind and demanding a refund, but why should I have to…why wasn't there someone in the magazine’s marketing team intelligent enough to say “Know what guys—this is simply a bad idea.". Seriously?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Educational Alternatives Provide Opportunities for ALL

I have been a public school educator for 25 years. When it employs dedicated teachers and is the conduit for proven best practices, I believe whole-heartedly in the public school system. I am also unafraid to admit that public school isn’t for everyone. Alternatives to public education fulfill a void, yet are often viewed with disdain by those who do not understand the value of such options. There has never been a better example of this fact than my nephew. The middle of three brothers, he is one brilliant fourth-grader. The problem is that school just didn’t challenge him. The small school he attended didn’t offer enrichment programs and what’s worse his teacher didn’t like the fact that he “worked ahead” and would become disruptive because he was—bored. I was fearful the school was going to devastate his enthusiasm and his natural lust for learning. So, one evening while talking with my brother, I asked if they had ever considered home schooling him. Startled, he answered, “Oh my, we have been thinking about this, but were not sure if it was the right direction to go, but now that you as an educator brought it up, perhaps we need to think about this option more seriously.”

The choice to home school my nephew was not a haphazard determination. My sister-in-law didn’t think she was the “home school type”. She sold herself short—she is actually perfect for the job: organized, creative, intelligent and extremely resourceful. After researching curriculum, joining a local home school network and soliciting help from professionals, my nephew is now being home schooled and is thriving. He is encountering learning as it was meant to be for him. It is so much fun to examine the artifacts of his learning experiences including science experiments, erupting volcanoes, crystals, cell models and what not. He is learning “Grammar with a Giggle”, journaling, creating and exploring science. What’s more he is happy and enjoying his education once again.

My stepson is another example of the fact that “public schools are not one-size-fits-all”. He was an adolescent when his mother died. Life experiences, along with disillusionment with his high school academics left him without much success. After spending more time with him, I suggested to his father that perhaps my stepson should take the GED and get on with his college experience. He did just that and passed the GED the first time with honors-all this without studying (except for the writing, which after a 20 minute refresher he passed a couple of weeks later). Yes, the child is brilliant, yet public school wasn’t for him. He now can enter college at the appropriate age and continue from there.

It’s not that I think our schools are in dire straights and in need of massive reform, quite the reverse. My assertion, contrary to the tenants of “No Child Left Behind”, is that not every program, every occupation, every club is suited for everyone. Even with the best intentions, programs, educators, administrators, parents and students not ALL children learn the same way or at the same proficiency level.

Do schools need to be held accountable? Sure. Does the education system need to try harder to engage learners? You bet! But a government mandate that considers every child able to achieve at the exact same level is not the answer either. The answer lies in the fact that a child’s education is multifaceted. It should take into consideration the individual, the strengths of the school, and the expertise of the educators involved. We often sell short the alternatives to public education, when for some kids; those alternatives are the only way they will never be “left behind”.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Jungle Test

What to do when you have nothing to write??? Find a filler:

You Are Dramatic

You are colorful and charismatic. You get and hold people's attention.

Right now, you are seeking peace and tranquility in your life.

You are drawn to people who are energetic and blissful.

You feel like there are a few minor things in your life that need to be changed.

You find that any decision you have to make needs to be slept on... often for multiple nights.

Now it is your turn:

Monday, June 15, 2009


- Go to Google image search.
- Type in your answer to each question.
- Choose a picture from the first page.
- Use this website ( to make your collage.
- Save the image for use in this note.
- Tag the people whose mosaics you want to

Here are the questions...
What is your name?
What is your favorite food?
What is your hometown?
What is your favorite color?
What is your favorite movie?
What is your favorite drink?
What is your dream vacation?
What is your favorite dessert?
What is one word to describe yourself?
What are you feeling right now?
What do you love most in the world?
What do you want to be IF you grow up?

Monday, June 08, 2009

Growing Old--Gracefully?

I have been thinking about aging recently. I don't do this often. I am not in any way obsessed with growing older, but there are times in my life when the inevitability of aging wears heavy on my mind and heart. It isn't that the alternative is appealing either because I have no desire to relive youth, at least not without the wisdom I possess today, but lately I have been thinking about what it means to age gracefully.

I remember when my mother was the age I am today. I thought she was old. When my grandmother was my age—she was ancient, but when I look at my peers, they don't appear old to me. On the contrary, I think my friends are more active and in better mental and physical shape than they were years ago. We hold memberships to the health club, or at least have purchased Wii Fit. We buy whole foods, and take a multitude of vitamins and herbs researched to make our lives healthier. On the other hand, we do converse more about individual aches and pains than we did when we were young, although we speak equally of current events, politics, theology and education. We read books about how to keep our bodies and brains active over the latest John Grisham novel, but even that is not unusual. So what’s the deal with getting older?

My mother turns 70 this year, which seems impossible to me. Her life is inspirational. At 70, she still teaches kindergarten at an intercity school that boasts a 98% minority/95% poverty rate. The only signs of aging I see in her are that she complains more about being “tired”—well, I think she has earned that privilege. She walks on a regular basis, reads veraciously and remains active at her church. At times, she has more energy than me. She just doesn’t seem old to me, perhaps she really isn’t. Maybe age IS relative.

I am a better mother now than when I was younger. I know I am better wife than I was in my 30’s, and am convinced I am more conscious about my health than I was then. I don’t; however, obsess about the outward signs of aging as much the internal ones like the inability to remember someone’s name I ought to recall or where I put my car keys.

Aging gracefully has more to do with one’s mind-set than anything else. Perhaps what needs to be measured in aging is the significance found in the now; those who are touched by how we live and the value we’ve added to the world. As Joan Baez so eloquently stated, “You don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you're going to live. Now.” That’s aging---gracefully.

Give Me Words to Speak....

The past couple of months I have felt like the songwriter Aaron Shust with the lyrics to Give Me Words to Speak...

Give me Words to speak Don’t let my Spirit sleep Cause I can’t think of anything worth saying

Finding the words again has been my quest...and I think I have arrived at least temporarily. 50-Something Mom's Blog has been quite patient and I have two pieces ready to go for them and am working on a couple for this blog.

What I have learned in the midst of this dry spot is that I feel incomplete when I am not writing. There is a certain balance writing gives to my life. It isn't that I care about publishing, but I miss the interaction with words and the making sense of life that happens here (at least for me).