Friday, October 29, 2010

Riches to rags

A couple weeks ago, I was sitting in the Brownsboro ISD District Educational Improvement Council meeting. (I am the representative for the junior high campus. That makes me sound important, but don't be fooled, no one else volunteered;) The council was discussing the district's money issues (honestly, I was kind of tuned out at this point because we had gotten off-task and stumbled onto this subject) and I hear, "You know, a school like Highland Park....(WHAT?! Ears are perked up now. Is that MY high school our Assistant Superintendent is talking about?!) ....the state could take 10% of Highland Park's money and they could go to their parents and just get that money back from them." The woman beside me says, "Well, then they should have to give 20%!" and laughs. I look at her and say, "That's MY high school." Awkward silence.....

But I knew that what was said was true. Highland Park can count on its parents to deliver what is needed for their children, whether it be their time or money. From most people's perspectives here in Brownsboro, Highland Park parents are able to do this because they are very wealthy. But I know different. I grew up there.

Obviously, most people who live in Highland Park make larger incomes than people who live in rural East Texas. Highland Park is filled with doctors and lawyers and successful business people. There are hundreds of million-(or 2 or 3 or 4 million)-dollar-homes stacked side by side, raking in the tax money for Highland Park ISD. Daddy paid $9205.62 in taxes to HPISD last year (Yeah, Daddy, I looked it up;) and Seth and I paid $952.93 to BISD. Yup, I'd say that's a sizable difference.

But you say, THEY ARE RICH! THEY CAN AFFORD IT! But you know what? They are just like you. They spend what they have. Their money is tied up in their home (or homes), their cars, college tuition, etc.

But if Highland Park ISD asked their parents for something, they would get it. And you want to know why? Not because they are rich, but because those parents have made their children's education a priority. They dream of their children going to Yale or Harvard, while some Brownsboro parents are just praying their kids graduate high school. For example, when I took off a semester from college, my friends staged a huge intervention. They thought I had lost my mind! The mentality when you grow up in HP is not IF you will go to college, but which 4 year university you will chose to attend.

Brownsboro ISD is trying for the second year in a row to pass a bond election. We want to build a new elementary school and update and add-on to the other elementary school. We want to renovate the junior high school. There is mold in our walls. Our junior high students walk across streets and through parking lots to get to class. There are major safety concerns at these campuses. They are not properly equipped for disabled students.

The improvements the school district is asking for would cost a homeowner of a $200,000 home an extra $21 a month. To me, $21 a month to pay so that my 12 year old students don't get run over by a car on their way to history class doesn't sound like too much to ask. $21 a month so my 5 year old doesn't have to breathe mold everyday sounds fair.

But, a surprising number of people in our community are against the bond. People want to make excuses as to why they are voting "No," but the real reason is that they are not making the children in their community a priority. They are not even making their own children a priority. How are the teachers supposed to inspire these children to believe that they can accomplish anything, when their own parents and community are telling them, "You aren't worth an extra $20 bucks a month?"

I grew up in a rich district and I came to Brownsboro and hoped I would be able to make difference, but I cannot do it alone. If you haven't already, please Vote Yes for our Brownsboro Schools!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Do the work

Many times it seems easier to just say it can't be done. I can't lose weight. I can't get organized. I can't get 200 little 7th graders to commit to learn this history! But God promises to help and nothing makes me want to try harder than knowing God is behind me!

"Then David continued, 'Be strong and courageous and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the temple of the Lord is finished correctly.'" I Chronicles 28:20 (NLT)

Dear Lord, help me to look to You and not to the hugeness of the work I have ahead of me. Help me not to be afraid or discouraged. I thank You for Your promise that You are with me and that You will not fail me or forsake me.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Avalon Update

Many people have asked me if I am still loving my new car. For those of you who might not know, I traded in my Chevy Tahoe for a Toyota Avalon a couple of months ago.

YES, I am still loving it. The single thing I love the most is the extra $150 in my pocket a month that we are saving in gas money. It is about $40 to fill up my tank in the Avalon, while it was around $70 for the Tahoe. I still fill up once a week, just like the Tahoe, but that $30 a week difference stacks up to be quite a chunk of change by the end of the month!

Many have wondered about the space for three carseats and fighting between siblings. Yes, it's tight, but we have not had many issues with squabbling. I can easily reach every child from the front seat, so I can usually handle whatever problem is arising in the back!

My father (and probably some others who are not quite as vocal) was concerned about the safety of my children. Direct quote from Papa John: "You are saving gas, while putting my grandchildren at risk!"

In response to these concerns, no one wants to think about an accident, especially one involving small children. Every auto crash is different. The Tahoe is large so one might assume that it is safer, but it will roll in a crash. The front and side impact ratings for the Tahoe were "adequate" while the Avalons were "good." Yes, the Avalon weighs less, but it can hold the weight of another equal sized vehicle on it's roof before starting to crush.

The single thing that keeps my children safe is their carseats. I have chosen to keep all of my children in 5 point harness seats until they are over 65 pounds. Emma Jo and Mann are in the safest seats on the market (Britax) and when I can afford one for Daniel, he will be as well, although his Graco Nautilus is also a great carseat.

I also really like that I can hide things in the trunk. It is something you may not think about with a sports utility vehicle, but your purse or valuables are in plain view. I really like that I can just throw my bag in the trunk and not worry about it.

There are too main drawbacks for me about driving a car. The first is having to bend over to get the kids in and out. It's not a huge deal getting them out because I just turn around and unbuckle all of them and they just hop out of their seats. Getting Emma Jo in and buckled is the tricky part because she is in the middle. She is finally big enough that she can climb into her own seat and she likes to "help" with her buckle, so it should get easier as she gets bigger.

The other drawback is that I tend to blend. My Tahoe was blue and there aren't that many blue Tahoes around our area. It had a big Brownsboro Bear sticker on the back too. I was recognizable! Now, with my little gray car, my friends will drive by and not see me waving like a dummy at them! Perhaps in time this will get better as well, and I guess I do need some sort of sticker to make my car more one-of-a-kind!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Can you post it?

I am back on Facebook now. I just really couldn't stand losing touch with old friends and let's be real, I like being "in the loop" with all that's going on. Too many times I heard, "What? You didn't know that? It's all over facebook!" Yeah, thanks for the call, guys.

Seth and I were sitting around the other night and I grabbed my phone to update my status and he said, "You can't post THAT!" Geez, why not? I was just posting that I was watching TV with my sweet husband. (He considered that to be a "gay" status. Luckily, it's MY status, so he doesn't get a say!;) It's not like I posted that I was headed out to the strip club or I was so drunk I couldn't walk....

That's when it hit one posts those types of things! (Well, at least no one I am friends with on facebook!:) Everyone always posts nice things about family trips or going to church or shopping, but people don't broadcast it when they are doing something that might not be approved off.

If you don't want people to know what you are doing, then why are you doing it?

God sees everything. He knows what you are doing AND what you are thinking, every second, of every day.

So, my promise to myself became that if I am doing something that I couldn't post of facebook, for all to see, maybe I need to reconsider what I am doing!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

This isn't supposed to be a lecture!

I was reading through my old blog posts and noticed an unfortunate trend. I appear to be standing on my very high soap box in most of them!

I had to laugh because the only other place I can be found on a soap box is in my classroom, lecturing kids about bullying or effort and such. But otherwise, around most people, I tend to be very agreeable. Seth regularly reminds me that my "nod-and-smile-and-agree" behavior is really annoying. "Someone could be telling you the reasons for wanting to kill you and you would be convinced that it sounds like a great idea," he says.

I tend to go with the flow, so as not to rock the boat. If someone says something that I disagree with, I usually just nod along, and listen to their opinion. Sometimes this gives the impression that I agree with what the other person is saying. Not true, I just don't like confrontation. So unless it is something I feel really passionate about, I just stick with my faithful nod.

I suppose that writing is different. I can write how I feel and then I don't necessarily have to answer to anyone about it.

So, consider this my apology. I don't mean to lecture and I don't mean to sound "holier than thou." I just have some issues that I am passionate about that I like to discuss...mainly with myself, as a I write. ;)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

How long can you go without it?

Can you function without your cell phone?

Within the last two weeks, I have left my phone at home all day not once, but twice. Not on purpose, or course! I mean, who in their right mind would wander around without their cell? Just in my hurry to get everyone out the door, my phone stayed all by its lonesome on the kitchen counter.

I have to admit, I felt uncomfortable without it. What if something happened to one of my kids at daycare? What if my car broke down or got a flat? What if I missed an important call or text?

It's kind of crazy to think how much we depend on our phones. I remember turning 16 and my mom giving me a cell phone (a big brick of a thing compared to today's models) and I was only to use it for emergencies...and I did. I kept it in the glove box of my car and I hardly ever turned it on!

Fast forward 14 years and I freak out when I leave home without it. We don't even have a land line at our house. My phone and call plan don't even allow me to do most of the cool things that my friends and family can do on their phones. But I still feel like I have to have it close to me at all times.

Patience is something we just don't need anymore. You can call whoever you want, whenever you want from where ever you want. You can update your facebook status while waiting in your car to pick up your kids. You can look up movie times, research the best buy on items while shopping, find can do almost anything from your phone!

A friend of mine once suggested a media fast. Instead of fasting from food, you fast from your cell and/or Internet. I did it for a day and felt completely disconnected with the universe, but definitely more connected with God. I guess that was kind of the point! ;)

People used to live without cell phones and the Internet everyday and it's not like it was too terribly long ago! Maybe every once in a while, we should slow down and put the phone down. See how long you can last without yours! :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Best Company

As a working mom, I am used to never stopping. I wake up early and don't stop until late at night. This is something that working moms get used to doing everyday, so then when a break is given, it's hard to know what to do with the time you suddenly have! But a feeling I didn't expect crept up on me this last time.

Yesterday evening, I dropped my kids off with my dad and Trish and headed to the high school football game. It was then that I started to feel lonely. Even when I got to the game and was surrounded by people, I felt alone. It's funny how children, even though they may not be the greatest conversationalists, make you feel like you are in wonderful company.

After the game, I was thrilled as we were standing on the field when sweet Bradie, one of my son's best friends, let me hold her. Standing there swaying with her on my hip, I felt in the best company and was saddened again with her mom took her back.

So, sitting here now, I don't want to write any more in my quiet house. I am off to pick up my company....the best in the world!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

For the Fathers

She spins and she sways
To whatever song plays
Without a care in the world
And I'm sitting here wearing
The weight of the world on my shoulders
It's been a long day
And there's still work to do
She's pulling at me
Saying "Dad I need you!
There's a ball at the castle
And I've been invited
And I need to practice my dancing
Oh please, Daddy, please!"
So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone

She says he's a nice guy and I'd be impressed
She wants to know if I approve of her dress
She says, "Dad the prom is just one week away
And I need to practice my dancin'
Oh please, Daddy, please!"

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone

But she came home today with a ring on her hand
Just glowin' and tellin' us all they had planned
She says, "Dad the wedding's still six months away but I need to practice my dancin'
Oh please, Daddy, please!"
So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Build Your House Up

"The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." Proverbs 14:1

Lord, I want to build today. I can see what this day holds: driving to daycare and work, washing dirty clothes, making another supper and teaching Texas History…the same lesson, seven times in a row. Open my eyes and shut my mouth when my actions are leaning toward destruction. May I choose inspiration, not irritation. Make me a builder empowered by your Holy Spirit with strength and wisdom. Thank You for this incredible opportunity. May I make You proud! Amen.

~From Proverbs Daily Devotion (Awesome website for Christian women! Check it out!)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Which Type of Parent are You?

When parents see their child's school on the Caller ID, there are two possible responses:

1. "Oh no, I hope he's not hurt!"


2. "Oh no, what did he do NOW?!"

I am on the other end of the line with news about your child. Sometimes it's good news, but most times, it's not so good.

It's difficult to tell a parent that their child is causing problems in my classroom and so calling parents is not my favorite thing to do.

After a few years of calling parents, I have been able to categorize parents by their initial responses during that first phone call home. (I say the first, because unfortunately, in some cases, many calls are made by the end of the school year.)

Here are the types of parents I have run across:

The Agreeable: This is the best type of parent to call. They quickly acknowledge your concerns, perhaps ask questions about the specific behavior or classroom environment and then assure you that it will be taken care of at home. They thank you for calling. Short, sweet and simple. You usually don't have to make many phone calls home to this parent throughout the year.

The Weeper: This conversation usually starts out like the Agreeable parent. But then, just when you think you are about to get off the phone, silence, followed by broken words and sniffling. This parent is typically saddened that her baby has reached puberty and has turned into an entirely different person. "What are we to do with him???" sniffle... sniffle....very awkward.

The Excuse-Giver: This parent is quick to interrupt you as you describe the problem behavior. "Oh, well, he didn't sleep well last night," or "Her dad has been out of town and it is really affecting her," or the classic and most heard of them all, "He forgot to take his medicine today." This is a well-meaning parent, and making excuses is sometimes easier than having to deal with the bad behavior.

The Defender: This parent is usually very quiet at the beginning of the conversation, hanging on your every word. It is not until she speaks that you realize that the reason that she was quiet, was so she could find a loophole for her child. "What is wrong with your instruction, your classroom or the manner in which you handled the misbehavior? This could not possibly be MY child's fault, so we must get to the bottom of why YOU are targeting MY child like this!"

The Whatever: This is the worst kind of parent contact for a teacher. If you can get this parent on the phone, you are lucky. He is usually screening your call, and that's if you can locate his number because the numbers the school has are disconnected. Once you have trapped him on the phone, he will silently listen while you describe the situation. You may have to say, "Hello, are you there?" every once in a while to make sure he hasn't hung up on you. Then he says, "Ok then, thanks for calling." CLICK. You won't get ahold of this parent again, but it's alright, because he had already forgot you called by the next time he saw his child.

So, which type of parent are you?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Cruel Intentions

Cruel Intentions was a movie that came out my freshman year of college. It was one of my very favorite movies at the time.

It's the classic good girl versus bad girl movie. You know the type of bad girl I am talking about. She plays the part of "Little Miss Perfect." She beautiful and smart and everyone wants to be her. But behind the scenes, she is vindictive, deceitful and just plain mean. She is completely different person behind closed doors.

In this movie, all of the bad girl's secrets are spilled out after her stepbrother's death. The good girl publishes his journal which reveals the true girl behind the mask. It is a wonderful ending because the bad girl gets what she deserves.

Here is a clip of the end of the movie:

Unfortunately, in real life this doesn't always happen. I personally grow impatient waiting for those mean people to "get what they deserve." Why doesn't God do something about these people??? It's hard for me to remember that it is not my place to judge. Everyone will be judged at the gates of heaven, including me, so I'd better work on being a better Christian myself and stop focusing that negative energy on others!'s still nice to see them get what they deserve when it happens! ;)