Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Christian Peacekeeping Team - Stupid is as Stupid Does

I read this post by Darren in Right on the Left Coast: Views From a Conservative Teacher about the Christian Peacemaking Team that was kidnapped by the terrorists in Iraq. Here's a news story about it. I can describe the team in one word: stupid. Required viewing for anyone contemplating "peacemaking" trips into a war zone where terrorists are active would be a video of the terrorists slowing sawing off an American civilian's head with a dull knife as the civilian's initial screams of terror and pain are literally cut off, and then the terrorists taking the severed head - holding it up gleefully by the hair and then setting it down on the side of the headless body lying on the ground. Terrorists don't care who you are or why you're there. They don't care if you're a Democrat or Republican. They don't care if you're a warmonger or a peacemaker. They just want to kill you and as many others as possible. They laugh at your stupidity.

What do you KNOW about your birth date?

I HAD to share this link. Click and see what you learn about yourself.

Missing Sweet Stuff and Sunshine - Getting the Grandparent Fix

So yesterday I took the afternoon off work (1/2 day personal leave) to go with PawPaw to look at some land he is buying. We met with a builder and talked about building sites. It's gorgeous land - beautiful views and several good building sites. I got my daily exercise hiking up and down the hills. We talked about building a house and having sites available if the kids ever want to build homes there, too. A family compound sort of thing.

Afterwards, PawPaw and I went out to eat, and it hit both of us! It had been TOO long since we'd seen Sweet Stuff and Sunshine. We needed a grandparent fix. I got on the cell phone and called Stinkeroo. (Yes, I talked on the cell phone in the restaurant. Obnoxious, huh?)

TMS: Hi! Where are you?

Stinkeroo: Just pulled into the garage with the kids. Sunshine won't get out of the car. (In the background, "Sunshine, Grandma Carol is on the phone. Want to talk to her?" "No!" Sunshine is like that... sigh!)

TMS: Your dad and I have been missing the girls. (And I was quick to add) And you and SD, too, of course!

Stinkeroo: Come on over for awhile.

TMS: I promise we won't stay long. (I won't be the kind of grandmother/mother-in-law/mother that imposes.) Just long enough to play with them for a few minutes. You sure you don't mind.

Stinkeroo: Of course not. The girls will love it. (In the background. "Sunshine, Grandma Carol and PawPaw are coming over. Let's get out of the car so we can visit with them!" "No!" (I have a feeling Sunshine might be in the time-out chair by the time we get there.)

TMS: Good. We'll be there in a few minutes.

And we were. Sunshine was not in the time-out chair. Both girls were thrilled to see us, and we had a perfectly delightful 20-30 minutes talking to and playing with the girls. We left with big smiles on our faces. And, I might add, the girls and their parents also had big smiles on their faces. Sweet Stuff called me Grandma Carol. Sunshine continued to call me simply "Cawol." I answered happily to both.

Dr. Sanity Rings True Again - Liberals Use of Displacement

Just finished reading Dr. Sanity's latest post - "Textbook Examples of Displacement."

Here's an exerpt, although you really should go read the whole thing:

By blaming Bush and America, one does not have to take either the moral or physical responsibility for dealing with the real evil that has been unleashed upon the world.

Standing up against those who kidnap and behead innocents; blow themselves and others up in the name of God; and have openly and without a lick of shame discussed the annihilation of millions--now that would require real moral courage. - anti-American

I just read Michelle Malkin's post about and how they actually doctored photos in order to make the photo fit their anti-American, anti-Bush agenda. The sad thing is that the left will continue to believe the lies that spews despite evidence to the contrary.

Gianna Jessen - Abortion Survivor

Please check out Charmaine's post on Reasoned Audacity about Gianna Jessen. It provides a face to go along with a post I wrote earlier about "Pro-Choice" advocates and their denial of the reality of what an abortion really is.

For more on this and related topics, you can also check out

For another take on the issue, I go to Don, who posts to an email list I read regularly. He doesn't have a blog - so I have no link to provide. However, he made a post to the email list on this topic. I asked and he gave me permission to post his email here. What do you think?

I have been trying to figure out why Roe is so freaking important to so many people for years. To me, it was one issue, not all issues.This article made things more clear for me.The author of this article is Roger Pilon. He is vice president for legal affairs at the CatoInstitute...
the statute at issue in Roe was designed precisely to protect rights, the putative rights of the unborn. And so the basic substantive question was clear: When does the right to life begin? On that question, the Constitution is indeed silent -- mostly. Here's why. We would all agree, I hope, that if a doctor took the life of a baby one day after birth, it would be infanticide -- murder. Thus, states that protected older babies but not younger ones would doubtless be subject to equal protection challenges, at least, and would probably lose. But if taking the life of a baby one day after birth is murder, what is the difference if the act is performed one day before birth? It strains credulity to suppose there is any real difference. Well, what of two days before birth -- and so on down the line? It's impossible to draw a principled line at which to say, precisely, that this is where the right to life begins. The court's trimester taxonomy in Roe was its own invention, entitled to no more constitutional support than anyone else's opinion on the matter. And so we come to the jurisdictional question: Who decides? And on that the Constitution is not silent. Whether we believe that the right to life begins at conception or at some point over the next 270 days, we all believe, I hope, that it begins at some point along that line. We all agree, that is, that there is some point at which abortion amounts to murder. We just can't agree about where that point is. And so we're faced with a classic line-drawing problem, not unknown in other areas of the law, but here involving the criminal law and, therefore, the general police power -- the power that belongs, under the Constitution, to states. We come, then, to the heart of the matter. Just as states draw lines differently between murder and manslaughter, so too they should be expected to do so here. In fact, they were doing so when Roe was decided 32 years ago. If ever there were a case in which the court should have let the political process unfold naturally, this was it. Were the court to have done so, we would not have had over three decades of endless political and legal turmoil over this one decision, turmoil that has skewed and even poisoned every confirmation battle since. Indeed, no less than Ruth Bader Ginsburg made a similar point in her 1993 Madison Lecture at the New York University School of Law, two months before she was nominated for the high court. A more"measured" opinion, she said, might have spared the nation this pain. It would not be the end of the world, therefore, if the court were one day to overturn Roe, for the issue would simply return to the states. A conservative state like Utah might prohibit most abortions, but next door in Nevada we might see a liberal regime. On an issue about which reasonable people can have reasonable differences, that result should not surprise.
* * * So the issue is not abortion, Roe is a subversion of the Constitution- that things not mentioned in the Constitution are reserved to theStates. I think I have got it.

Carnival of Education, Week 43

Check out this week's Carnival of Education. Yours truly has a post that's mentioned. There are lots of good education-related posts featured this week.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Blue Star Banners

I wondered what a "Blue Star Family" was, and I asked Beth at Merry Christmas. She posted this reply. Good information!

Children's Books - Harry Potter, C.S. Lewis, and others

OK - I'm too pooped to write anything tonight. So I'll just refer you to my brother's blog which has a couple of great posts recently about children's books. Terrell is a 4th grade teacher in Georgia and shares my love of reading. Here is his post on Harry Potter & other children's books, and here is one on The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Enjoy!

The Morning Routine of This Blogger

Alarm rings. Hit the snooze alarm. Start thinking about my blog. Can't go back to sleep. Turn off the alarm and come upstairs to check for email and to check my blog. Read email. Check blog for new comments. Check links to see if anyone new has linked to my blog. Check TTLB ranking to see if it has changed. Check site meter to see what my totals are. Check referrals on my site meter, the locations and every other possible aspect of the site meter.

Read my mother's blog, my sister's blog, my other sister's blog, my brother's blog, my niece's blog, my other niece's blog, my other niece's husband's blog, my cousin's blog. Look at list of favorite blogs to see which ones have been recently updated. Read new posts on my favorite political blogs and my favorite education blogs. Check my other blog. Reading the blogs reminds me of something I MUST write about. Start a new post. Write. Re-Write. Re-Read. Proofread. Post. Read. See glaring mistakes. Edit. Re-post.

Glance at the clock. OMG How did it get so late! How could so much time have passed?! Will have to skip washing my hair. Slacks will cover unshaved legs. Must rush like a mad woman to make it to work on time. But first check site meter again. Check blogroll again - someone COULD have linked to me since the last time I checked. Scan AOL news. See another item or two I want to write about. Talk to self - TURN OFF THE COMPUTER, YOU MANIAC! YOU HAVE TO GO TO WORK!

Hurry downstairs. Shower, dress, do hair and make-up. Grab a Diet Coke on the way out the door. Begin the 40-minute drive to school. Use the Diet Coke to down my daily handful of vitamins and assorted medications. Possibly stop by McDonald's on the way for a half-cappuchino/half-coffee and maybe a biscuit. Get to school and head to the gym for my daily bus duty. My day has begun.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Late Evening - A Review of the Day

Totally non-sequential and non-substantial notes from today - no politics, no opinions - just notes:

It's been mostly a good day. This morning I was working with a group of fourth graders, and we were having a wonderfully deep discussion about the book we were reading. The kids were engaged in the discussion, the conversation was lively... and my principal walked in. YEA!! Sometimes it seems that impromptu visits are usually at bad times. This time it was good. I couldn't have picked a better time. Then later in the afternoon, when I was in the middle of a great read-aloud with a first grade group (I was reading Diary of a Spider to them), a fellow reading specialist from another school stopped by to borrow a book. Of course later in the afternoon my principal stopped by again to ask me something, and I'd just given my fifth grade children their Reading A-Z books to fold and put together themselves, and it was a little chaotic. But they were definitely ENGAGED in the task at hand. Not sure what reading standard that would address, though. C'est la vie!

It seems that usually if someone drops in on my classroom, I'm between groups and working at my desk. And I swear that every fire drill happens between my reading groups. When the office does the radio check with each teacher after everyone has exited the building, I have to respond that I'm present but with no students...and I figure that everyone thinks I NEVER have students with me during a fire drill - and so far I haven't.

One of the principal's visits was to ask me to attend a meeting on her behalf tomorrow morning. Don't know why it's always fun to go off-campus. Maybe it's because of all the years that I could never leave the school during the day. Now when I have the opportunity to do something like this, it's fun for me. The meeting tomorrow should prove interesting. It's a county-wide meeting about a book program sponsored by Dolly Parton. I can't recall the title of it, but I was thinking it would be cool if Dolly was at the meeting. I'll make sure I know the title of the program before I go to the meeting.

I had a good evening. PawPaw came over for dinner. I fixed meat loaf, mashed potatoes, salad and rolls. It was quite good, although the house reeked from the tomato sauce I burned. I had made a great tomato sauce to go with the meatloaf. I had put it on the stove, turned down the heat and left to take a shower. I stepped out of the shower to the acrid smell of burning tomatoes. I think my new Calphalon saucepan is ruined. After soaking for a couple hours, I was still unable to scrap all the burned crud off the bottom. It's soaking now until morning - maybe it'll come off then. Sigh! After discovering the burning tomato sauce, I just grabbed a bottle of catsup..and voila! tomato sauce for the meatloaf. Should have done that to begin with.

After PawPaw left, I came upstairs to check email and found that my mother had had another TIA this afternoon. I think that stands for transient ischemic attack. Let me check...Wow! I'm right - and even spelled it right. It was a minor spell, but I know it bothers her as it does all of us. So, please say a prayer for her. You can read her blog - she's quite a woman. She'll check in with her doctor tomorrow.

So that was my day today. I talked to Stinkeroo on the phone for awhile. She's a great daughter - still calls me every day. She said that Sweet Stuff was feeling bad today.

Okay - I've done my duty and written a post in my blog. I will now go to bed. Good night. :-)

My morning reading

Here are some posts I particularly enjoyed this morning. (Don't look for a common theme. I read all kinds of blogs):

Kim at And Rightly So linked to this article about Ramsey Clark. It made me cringe.

Beth at Merry Christmas had me laughing with her post about Tom Cruise and Brooke Shields. Tom HAS been annoying lately.

Jack at Jack Yoest also talks about celebrities. In this case, it's Gwen Stefani's new clothing line.

Joan at Daddy's Roses had this to say about how the TTLB rankings have changed over the past couple days - at least for us lower level beings. She's right. Sigh! Yesterday morning I was a Slithering Reptile, then last night I suddenly became a Crunchy Crustaceans, and this morning I'm a Wiggly Worm. Reverse evolution?

In the spirit of Martha Stewart, The Daily Chuckle had me laughing with "Last Year's Holiday Calendar."

Well, must log off and go to my real work to earn money. Can't sit here at the computer blogging all day. TTFN!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Mosul, Uraq - Thanksgving Letter

Virgil at What I'd Like To Have Said, posted a Thanksgiving Day email he received from Sgt. John Paul Furman, a soldier serving in Mosul, Iraq. You can read it here. You'll be glad to hear from one of America's finest in Iraq.

The Iraq War - and Opposition to it (Senator Chuck Hagel)

The following is from a speech entitled “U.S. Foreign Policy and the Middle East” by U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel Delivered at the Council on Foreign Relations, Washington, D.C. on November 15, 2005.

The Iraq war should not be debated in the United States on a partisan political platform. This debases our country, trivializes the seriousness of war and cheapens the service and sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. War is not a Republican or Democrat issue. The casualties of war are from both parties. The Bush Administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them. Suggesting that to challenge or criticize policy is undermining and hurting our troops is not democracy nor what this country has stood for, for over 200 years. The Democrats have an obligation to challenge in a serious and responsible manner, offering solutions and alternatives to the Administration’s policies. Vietnam was a national tragedy partly because Members of Congress failed their country, remained silent and lacked the courage to challenge the Administrations in power until it was too late. Some of us who went through that nightmare have an obligation to the 58,000 Americans who died in Vietnam to not let that happen again. To question your government is not unpatriotic – to not question your government is unpatriotic. America owes its men and women in uniform a policy worthy of their sacrifices. (emphasis is mine)

There is a difference between "questioning" and the deliberate ridiculing and undermining that is going on in the guise of patriotic questioning. Reasonable, respectful debate is great, but unfortunately that is not what is happening in most of what I see and hear in the news.

Abortion - The RIGHT to Choose?

I was asked the other day what happened to make me become conservative? Apparently my questioner didn't feel that I had always been that way. I didn't answer the question very well at the time, but the exchange made me think. Why DO I believe as I do? I will delve into some of my other conservative beliefs in other posts. This post is on the topic of abortion.

I remember as a young college woman telling anyone who asked that OF COURSE women should be in charge of their own bodies and have the right to an abortion! No doubt about it! Women should control their own bodies! End of story. No discussion. At the time I was into Ms. Magazine and the women's movement, and I was parroting the standard party line. However, once I started thinking for myself, my opinion changed.

Abortion is one of the most difficult issues we face today. No one wants to force a scared teenage girl or an overburdened mother to carry an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy to term. However, should we value human life so little that abortion is considered a form of birth control? This isn't an issue where compromise is feasible.

The standard Democratic stand on abortion is full of contradictions. The unborn baby is a baby only if the mother wants it. As in Lacey Peterson's case, if someone murders the mother, then that person can also be charged with murdering the baby. On the other hand, if the mother doesn't want the baby and decides to abort it, it becomes a "fetus", and it's okay to kill it. The father's role in the creation of the baby/fetus is only recognized after birth. They must pay for child support in the case of divorce, but they have no voice whatsoever if the mother decides the abort the baby prior to birth.

The bottom line is that we've based a law on wants. If the baby is wanted, then it is protected by law. If the baby is unwanted, then it is not protected by law.

The Democrats and pro-abortion folks hide behind lofty-sounding phrases like "Freedom of Choice" and "Pro-Choice." That sounds noble. It sounds patriotic. It sounds American. Who could argue with having the freedom to choose? Who could argue with a woman's right to determine what happens to her body?

I wish it were that simple. Once a woman is pregnant, it isn't just HER body that is involved. It is also the body of her unborn child - an unborn child that has a beating heart, ten fingers and ten toes and all internal organs. An unborn child that, even before the mother's body exhibits outward signs of pregnancy, sucks his/her thumb and stretches and kicks and makes faces.

Life is sacred, or it isn't. I repeat - no one wants to force women to have babies they don't want. However, I won't hide behind "pro-choice" terminology and deny that there is a basic matter of life and death in this issue. It can't be relegated to the realm of being a moral decision between a woman, her doctor and her god. There IS a baby involved in an abortion, and that baby's rights are not being protected or even considered. Its very existence is being denied.

It's time for the Pro-Choice people to stop their denial and the hiding behind pretty words. Then maybe both sides can work together to find a solution to the problem rather than expending their time and energy fighting each other.

Other bloggers check in on the issue of abortion - differing points of view:

Kathryn at Suitable for Mixed Company has some posts about this issue here and here. She references this article in The Washington Post.

Charmaine at Reasoned Audacity talks about spousal notification and other aspects of the abortion issue here.

Pat at Dr. Sanity talks about the toxic side effects here.

Maxed Out Mama writes about whether or not it is a religious or constitutional issue.

Stop The Insanity! Dr. Sanity Speaks...

I've been catching up on past posts on Dr. Sanity. One particular post, "Enabling Behavior for Terrorism" is right on! Here's a quote:

"They are the pacificists and the genuinely good people who continue to maintain a denial so intense that they cannot see that they are supporting Evil."

Don't we all know some of those folks! And today's post, "We Are Winning" (11/27/05) is excellent. Dr. Sanity is a new best friend.

Baldilocks in "Not Fooled Again" discusses a poll taken of both Democrats and Republicans about the effects of the criticism of the war.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

New (School) Year's Resolutions For Teachers

Being a teacher is an evolving process. Throughout each school year, each day and each lesson teachers change as they determine what is working, what is not working, what strategy needs tweaking here, and what practice needs a different twist there. In making changes, I've found that it's best to start with one or two changes, give myself time to learn them well and fine-tune them, and then add another component. That keeps the changes manageable and gives me time to make the new skills or methods my own.

Two years ago, in my last year as a classroom teacher, I made the resolution that I would read aloud to my fifth graders every day - regardless of how much content I had to cover, regardless of any other responsibilities and activities. I put the read-aloud time in my schedule, and I stuck to it without fail. Some might feel that children of that age are too old for read alouds. I learned differently when I was taking a grad course in reading. Our professor read aloud to us at the beginning of every class session (Thanks, Dr. Bertrand at MTSU), and we'd get so involved in the story that we'd plead with her to read another chapter before getting into the lecture for the day (Well, maybe postponing the lecture was a factor in our desire for hearing more of the story, too.) That was a couple years ago, and I was in my fifties. You just don't get too old for read-alouds!

Over the course of that last year with my fifth graders, I read aloud dozens of books - Frindle, The Tale of Despereaux, The Sixth Grade Nickname Game, The Lion's Paw, Edward the Emu, Pink and Say, to name a few. Some books took us two or three weeks to finish, and sometimes I'd read a picture book that we'd finish in one day. The children looked forward to the read aloud time, and so did I. I didn't question them about the text, but I encouraged the children to ask their own questions as we discussed each book.

My students' TCAP reading scores improved that year. How much did the read-aloud time affect their scores? I don't know. There's no way to measure it. I worked very hard in other ways, too. However, I believe that reading aloud to my students each day had a positive impact on their interest in and enjoyment of reading. And I believe that positive impact ultimately improved their test scores. Improving test scores wasn't my goal, though. (Shhhh! Don't tell that to the head honchos of the school system!) I wanted my students to learn to love books and reading as much as I do.

The current school year is my second as a reading specialist. Last year was my "adjusting to a new job" year. For me, it was a new school, a new faculty, a new community, and new children. I worked at developing a good relationship with the faculty, learning about the school and community and getting to know the children. It was a good year, and I felt I made a positive difference in reading achievement.

At the beginning of the current school year, I selected two resolutions for my work with children: (1) I would read aloud to each of my reading groups each day - something for the pure enjoyment of listening to great literature; and (2) Each child would keep a journal that he/she would have time to write in during class, and I would write a response to each entry.

So how's it going with my two resolutions? So far, so good. I work both with groups of struggling readers and groups of high achievers. Children from both groups look forward to reading the comments I've written in their journals, and as time has passed, many have begun writing more and more to me. Occasionally I suggest topics or questions they can address in their journals, but most of the time the children write about their weekend or about their pets or their families, sometimes they want to share something good, exciting, or sad that has happened to them - just whatever is on their minds at the time. My written responses are always directed at the content of what they've written - not about spelling or grammar or other such things. We deal with that at other times.

The read-aloud time is working out well, too. I have several thousand of my own books in my classroom (Yes, it's true - that's not a typo! I single-handedly support at least one Barnes and Noble employee!), and the children I work with can check out 3 - 5 books at a time from me. Children are starting to recommend books for the read aloud, and they're beginning to request that I re-read their favorites. I select books that lend themselves to whatever the lesson is about that day, but the primary criteria for the read-aloud is that the book is quality literature.

There are other changes I'm working on to improve my teaching. However, those are my two primary ones - the ones that are do-or-die - for this school year. At the end of the year, I'll check my students' reading scores on the various assessments. Will my students experience dramatic growth? I don't know. I can already determine that these two changes have enhanced the children's enjoyment of reading and writing, and consequently their enjoyment of school. And that's my ultimate goal.

Yet ANOTHER Family BLog - and 1930 Remembrances

My brother, Terrell, has started a blog, Alone on a Limb. He came up with the name for his blog because he's the sole Democrat in a family of Republicans. We love him anyway. Actually, his heartfelt beliefs and his perseverance in sticking to what he believes are part of why I've always admired and looked up to him. I learned a long time ago, though, not to discuss politics with him. No good can come out of that! Despite his leftist leanings, his blog is great reading, and I'm thrilled to add another "must-read" to my list of blogs.

My mother's blog, Ruthlace, is another one I check every day. She has started writing about her memories of growing up in the 1930's. I LOVE reading about her life during that time.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Joanie, My Big Sister

Today is the birthday of my sister, Joan. Every few years, her birthday falls on Thanksgiving, and this was one of those years. I was lucky because I got to visit with Joan and her birthday buddy, my niece Amanda, today. They were all here at my mother's for Thanksgving dinner. Joan has the blog, Daddy's Roses, which I read every single day. She had a great post this morning about her birthday. If you haven't read it, you should.
Joan's a wonderful big sister, and I hope she had a wonderful birthday. In the pics above, there's two of Joan as a child, and the middle photo is of Joan with her husband, Jim (who is like a brother to me because he and Joan have been together for over 42 years). Happy Birthday, Joanie!
This is my niece, Amanda, who also had a birthday today. She's gorgeous, isn't she? Happy birthday, Amanda. I enjoyed visiting with you yesterday and today. You're beautiful inside and out!

More Education Blogs I've Discovered & Being an ABD

Because there are a number of teachers who read The Median Sib regularly, I will share excellent education related blogs whenever I find them. Tonight, as a wind-down from Thanksgiving festivities, I surfed through some blogs and found some gems.

I found Jenny D., who is a doctoral candidate in education and public policy. One post, It's About Teaching Teachers, compared Japanese teacher preparation and training with that of American teachers. Although professional learning is a priority with my particular school system, it is not as high a priority as it apparently is in Japan.

Jenny D. also discusses progress on her dissertation - something that makes me particularly envious since I got sidetracked at the beginning of my dissertation and wasn't able to get back to it until too many years had gone by for my courses to count. I completed all the coursework, the written and oral qualifying exams...even the first chapter . . .but no dissertation. I dislike being an ABD, but I can't re-write my history.

Following a link in Jenny D.'s blog, I found (a)musings of a grad student by Rebecca Goetz, a doctoral candidate at Harvard. She had an article, "Do Not Fear The Blog" in The Chronicle of Higher Education that was particularly interesting to me. I liked her use of the word "metablogging." It's great reading for anyone who likes to metablog...and since I think and ponder and re-think everything I do connected with my blog, I definitely metablog!

Rebecca's blog led me to New Kid On The Hallway, which led me to two ABD blogs. Since I have no plausible means of getting out of being an ABD without starting all over (something that's not appealing at the age of 56), the titles of these two blogs caught my eye - ABD: Almost Bloody Done and ABD Mom. I enjoyed them both and will return often to keep up with their progress.

I was about to click back to my blog from ABD Mom, when Eating An Elephant caught my eye in the blogroll. I knew what it was about before I even looked at the blog. I clicked on over to look at it and found a whole LIST of ABD blogs.

So my reading is determined for the next few days. I'll read all the ABD stuff and feel envious and will look at various schools again to see if I can't convince someone to accept at least SOME of my 11-year old credits. But they won't - because I've already tried, and I just don't have the heart to start all over on it. I'll enjoy, though, reading about the struggles and triumphs of other doctoral candidates.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A Crazy Time in Birmingham & My Little Girl

This evening I got a phone call from my daughter, Stinkeroo, who was en route from Tennessee to Georgia to visit with her in-laws for Thanksgiving. She was traveling by herself with Sweet Stuff and Sunshine because my son-in-law had to stay later for work. He was about three hours behind them on the trip. Near Birmingham the traffic on the interstate came to a standstill. About that time Sunshine started complaining of a stomach ache. During our phone conversation, Sunshine started throwing up, and the phone call ended. They were stuck in traffic that wasn't moving at all, the next exit was over two miles away, it was dark, and the two year-old was vomiting repeatedly in the back seat. Not a good situation. I awaited anxiously for a call telling me everything was okay.

About 20 minutes later my phone rang again. "Mom, don't hang up the phone. I'm at an awful gas station - it's the only one here, and I'm trying to get the kids cleaned up, and it's dark and spooky here. I'm going to put the phone down, but don't hang up!" Then she set the phone down. Minutes passed. It was a bad connection. I heard a few seconds of the children and my daughter talking - loudly, and then a few seconds of silence. Noise. Silence. Noise. Silence.

She was back on the phone. "Are you still there?" Yes, I'm still there. "Keep holding on. I'm setting the phone down again." I stayed on the line, but after a few minutes the signal was lost. I called back - no answer. I was outside (to hopefully get a better signal) pacing up and down the driveway.

Stinkeroo is 30 years old. She's mature and responsible and I have enormous confidence in her. But she was by herself with two children, one of whom was throwing up and they were in an area of Birmingham that she described as spooky. I didn't even know WHAT area of Birmingham. If I needed to contact someone to help her, my only information was that she was at a "spooky" gas station right off I-65 near Birmingham. My heart was pounding.

Everything ended all right. She got the girls cleaned up enough to get back in the car and travel the remaining three hours to their destination. However, the experience reminded me yet again that parents never stop parenting. Stinkeroo may be a grown-up, but she's still my little girl.

The Education Wonks - Carnival of Education

An education/teaching website that I've found that I really enjoy and learn from is The Education Wonks. Each week the site hosts the Carnival of Education where educators can submit education related posts for consideration. It's a great way to keep informed about the opinions, thoughts and ideas of other educators. After reading through the entries for this week's Carnival, I feel encouraged that others feel the way I do, I learned more about why others might feel differently, and I also feel challenged by some new thinking.

New Blog - Merry, Merry Christmas - Check It Out!

I just discovered that Beth has started a new blog, Merry Merry Christmas. I LOVE IT! Beth started off her blog discussing the issue of separation of church and state and how that is being misinterpreted for Christmas and other holidays (Note: the word holiday came from HOLY day, as Ruth just told me!)

The Super's Blog and NCLB

I read an article about the consequences of NCLB in The Super's Blog. It provides a to-the-point example of what's happening in today's schools.

CFQOTD (Carol's Favorite Quote of the Day)

"Love is much nicer to be in than an automobile accident, a tight girdle, a higher tax bracket, or a holding pattern over Philadelphia."
~Judith Viorst~

Sweet Stuff and Sunshine and Udder Cream

Sweet Stuff and Sunshine spent the night with me Saturday so their mom and dad could celebrate the anniversary of their first date. Some people will celebrate anything to get a free night to go out to dinner and get grandma to babysit. I'm just kidding because that's not true. I called and asked to babysit because I love being with the girls. It is so heart-warming and gratifying to me for them to walk in my door and come running to hug me and then to hurry their parents out the door so they can start their evening with Grandma Carol. I love it!

We did all the grandmother-granddaughter things like water painting, playing with blocks, doing puzzles, reading books, and then snuggling up with their special fleece blankets on the sofa and watching Dora the Explorer and Roly Poly Olie with a bowl of popcorn.

Bedtime came, and I gave them their baths and got them into their pajamas. I keep a jar of "Udderly Smooth Udder Cream" next to my bed to put on my hands each night before I go to sleep. The girls love that stuff! Everytime they visit, they head straight to my bedside table to get some of the cream for their hands. We have almost a ritual for after they've had baths at my house. After bathing, they love to very seriously smooth the udder cream on their arms and legs. The more, the better.

Once they were satisfied with the amount of lotion they had rubbed on themselves, I tucked them into their sleeping bags on the floor next to my bed. Alas, they weren't ready for bed. Giggles, talking, requests for some milk.

So we got up, had some ice cream and read some more books. Finally they wound down and were tired. I tucked them into their sleeping bags again. Sunshine snuggled into her Wiggles sleeping bag with her favorie toy Ducky, and Sweet Stuff into her Dora the Explorer sleeping bag with her Cabbie. We said a bedtime prayer, I turned out the light, got into bed, and said goodnight. Less than a minute passed. Sunshine was standing beside my bed.

"You want to sleep up here?" I asked. She nodded. I lifted her up and put her in bed next to me. She immediately curled up beside me.

Quickly, Sweet Stuff was in the bed with us, too. There is nothing quite as sweet as the soft cuddliness of two precious little girls. Within two minutes they were both sound asleep. I just lay there and smiled at the perfect tenderness of the moment. I am pleased that they are secure enough with me that they can let their mom and dad leave and have a good time staying with me.

They remained in my bed for awhile, but after an hour or so (when I knew they were sound asleep), I picked each of them up in turn and put them back in their sleeping bags. Despite their sweetness, I knew I couldn't sleep well with them in the bed with me.

Early the next morning they awakened. I made waffles for Sweet Stuff and pancakes for Sunshine. We got dressed and played until their mommy and daddy arrived.

It was simply a perfect grandma-granddaughter time, and I thank God for times like that.

Sunday evening before I went to bed, I opened my jar of Udderly Smooth and saw the numerous little indentations in the surface of the cream where their small fingers had dipped repeatedly into the jar the night before, and I just smiled. Life doesn't get any better.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Twas The Night Before Katrina (Cajun Style)

This was sent to me by my friend Peggy in Louisiana. Hope you enjoy it.

'Twas the Night Before Katrina (cajun style)

'Twas de night before Katrina, when all tru da state
Not a gas pump was pumpin', Not a store open late
All da plywood was hung on de windows wit care
Knowing dat a hurricane, Soon would be dere
Da chilren were ready wit deir flashlight in hand
While rain bands from da hurricane covered over our lan
And Mom wit her Mag-lite, and me wit my cap
Has jus filled da battub for flushing our crap
When out on de lawn, there arose such a clatter
I sprang from da closet to see what was de matter
The trees on da terrace, and de neighbor's roof torn
We feared we'd be dyin' in dis terrible storm
Wit a little wind gus, so lively and quick
I membered quite clearly our walls was not brick
More rapid than Eagles, her courses they changed!
And she whistled and wafted and surged all the same.
Off shingles! Off sidings! Off rooftops! Off power!
Down trees! Down fences! Down trailers! Down towers!
On da street of New Orleans, she continued to maul,
Screaming Blow away! Blow away! Blow away all!
As da wind ripped and tossed da debris tru de sky,
I peeked out the shutters at the cars floatin' by.
So go to the attic my family did do,
With a portable radio and some batteries too.
And den in a twinkling, I heard on da set,
The end was not coming for a few hours yet!
As I calmed down da kids and was turning around
Tru de window it came with a huge crashing sound
A tree branch it was all covered in soot
De wind blew it smack-dab on top of my foot!
A bundle of twigs now lay in a stack
And my Livin' Room looked like it was under attack.
De wind how it howled, de storm very scary,
Myself and my family were all too unwary.
Da dangers of hurricanes are serious ya know,
Dey are taken for granted as Betsy did show.
Wit da winds dying down and da danger beneath,
I noticed my tool shed was missing its sheath
So I grabbed my last tarp, and nailed it on down,
Den I got in my car and drove into town.
Da traffic was awful and stores had no ice,
My 5-gallon cooler would have to suffice
Generators was scarce, not one left in town,
Dere was trees on the roads and power lines down.
FEMA was ready wit people to work,
Electrical companies came in from New York.
I sprang to da car, and gave my family a whistle,
Den away we all went like a Tomahawk missile!
You could hear us exclaim as we drove out of sight,
"The heck wit dis place, Texas seem just right!"
~Author unknown~

Tuesday's QOTD - From LilSis

"My personal philosophy: If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing.
If one is good, more is better and too much is FANTASTIC."
~LilSis Beth~

Monday, November 21, 2005

Pizza Hut Makes A Correction

Last week I wrote about driving past a Pizza Hut with the following sign out front:
I stopped by there on Friday and tried to take a picture of it with my camera phone, but there was no more memory in the camera, and I didn't know how to delete other pictures to make room for another one. So I took my digital camera with me to work today in order to snap a picture of it on my way home. Alas, when I got there I saw that they had changed the "are" to "our." Now it's just an ordinary sign - nothing special at all. Probably someone observed me trying to take pictures of it with my camera phone on Friday and figured something was up, or maybe a customer pointed out the error. Whatever - I missed my chance to document it. (Isn't it amazing the trivia that I embrace?)

Thanksgiving Break

I'm having a grand time reading the blogs of other teachers. Darren at Right on the Left Coast: Views From a Conservative Teacher, wrote THIS post about what teachers really do during all those breaks from teaching. If you're a teacher (and even if you're not), you'll enjoy it.

The Unspoken Sermon

I received the following in an email. I thought it was a great metaphor (or would it be an analogy? Or something else? Joan or Tim, tell me what it is, please!). Whatever it is, I liked it and so I'm posting it here. Maybe you'll enjoy it, too.

A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him.

It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastors visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited. The pastor made himself at home but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host watched all this in quiet contemplation. As the one lone ember's flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead. Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.

The Pastor glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it. As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek, "Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday."

We live in a world today, which tries to say too much with too little. Consequently, few listen. Sometimes the best sermons are the ones left unspoken.

Follow The Links - Teaching Sites & Blogrolling

I found a blog I hadn't read before, Number 2 Pencil witten by Kimberly. It contained some great reading along with some great teaching links. There was one post, in particular, that I enjoyed. It contained a comment by Kimberly's fiance that was hilarious because I've had a similar experience.

So I looked at the links on Kimberly's blogroll and selected one to click. I read some of that blog, liked it and blogrolled it. Clicked a link from that next blog, read some of it and blogrolled it...etc. This went on for awhile. I added a bunch of new blogs to my blogroll. Once you get started blogrolling, it's hard to stop because you don't want to forget how to get to a blog you like.

It's amazing how many great blogs there are out there - and also how many pointless ones. I enjoy finding the great ones.

Monday's QOTD

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "WOW, what a ride!"

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Living Will

A man and his wife were sitting in the living room and he said to her, "Just so you know, I never want to live in a vegetative state dependent on some machine. If that ever happens, just pull the plug."
His wife got up and unplugged the TV.

Worst Case Scenario - Dating and Sex - Ben Stiller & Something about Mary

I spent a little time this afternoon re-reading parts of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Dating and Sex, and even though I've read it a couple times, I still laugh at parts of it. In the section "How To Survive a Fashion Emergency: Shirt Caught in Zipper," there were the following words in step 3: "Apply steady force to the zipper; pull but don't yank too hard. Be careful not to pinch your fingers. Also, be sure to keep the garment away from the body, so the teeth of the zipper don't bite your skin. This is especially important if you're not wearing underwear." Do you remember the scene in "There's Something About Mary" when Bill Stiller had that problem? I laughed till I cried at that scene. And when Mary's mom tried to spray Bactine . . . It was, without a doubt, one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. If you've seen the move, you have to be laughing now just thinking of it.

Nothing profound to write about it - just that I was sitting here chucking about it and decided to share my chuckles on my blog.

Malaprops and Mistakes In Advertising

Now that I've been reading Mother Tongue Annoyances lately, I have realized that spelling and grammar mistakes in advertising are quite common! My granddaughters spent last night with me, and this morning when their mom and dad picked them up, we all went to The Franklin Chop House for brunch. After eating, Sweet Stuff wanted me to take her to the bathroom. While I stood there in the stall waiting for her to take care of business, I glanced at the stall's advertising board. Nowadays, one can't even use the bathroom without being faced (literally) by advertising. One ad was for Chadwick's Personal Fitness Training. Here is part of their ad:

"Only excepting 200 training clients, we're the most exclusive training studio in Franklin."
(I added the bold print.)

Don't you just love it? If I'd had a camera, I would have taken a photo of it to post. I got out my purse, dug around for pen and paper and copied it down. Sweet Stuff wanted to know what I was writing, and I showed her my paper. "You drew a lot, Grandma Carol!" she commented. I did. I wanted to make sure I had the exact wording along with the website address, too.

I received an email one time that contained the phrase "for all intensive purposes" instead of "for all intents and purposes." I guess someone could have an intensive purpose. I don't know. I remember a comedian, Norm Crosby, who used malaprops as his comedy, and he was hilarious.

I'll take my camera with me to work tomorrow and hope that the Pizza Hut sign I mentioned a few days ago is still there. If it is, I'll post a picture of it here.

QOTD for Sunday - Chinese Proverb

"Do not use a hatchet to remove a fly from your friend's forehead."
~A Chinese Proverb~

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Addictions - Blogging, Blankets, and Bread - and Introducing a NEW BLOG

I wrote earlier about being addicted to blogging - and that reminded me of those tied-together fleece blankets we were manic about making last year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We would get together in groups and make three or four at a time. It was crazy, but it was also a
lot of fun. We gave them as gifts, and we kept some for ourselves. I have four of the blankets that I use as throws when I watch TV because they ARE warm and soft. But, unfortunately, I also have the fabric to make three or four more - fabric that will likely sit in a drawer until I have a garage sale some day.

Before blogging and blankets, in random order, there were my addictions to online solitaire and emailing and IMing and eBay shopping. Oh yes -- there was also the year a fellow teacher gave me some sour-dough bread starter. I started making sour-dough bread, and I gave the starter to other people. For several months I made sour-dough bread regularly. It was delicious, but then the addiction faded. I haven't made it in years now.

I keep trading one addiction for another. I am thankful that drinking excessively and smoking never appealed to me because with my addictive personality, I'd be in big trouble if they were.

ALRIGHT! Someone noticed my other blog!

Just clicked on one of my favorite blogs, Suitable for Mixed Company, to catch up on Kathryn's posts, and I saw that she had a review of my other blog, The Reading Teacher. It doesn't take much to get me excited - cause I'm thrilled to have my blog mentioned in someone else's blog! YEA! Thanks, Kathryn!

Teaching - Not For The Unorganized or Weak

In looking at the blogs I check daily, I read this article in Daddy's Roses about how teaching in public schools has changed recently. Joan is right! Until last year I was a classroom teacher, too. Each year we were required to do more and more. Test scores became the focus and there was an incredible push to get more and more content into the school day. Planning periods weren't for planning. Instead, they were filled with required grade level meetings, IEP meetings, and parent-teacher conferences. It was necessary to differentiate and individualize, but it required time to plan and gather materials. There was absolutely no way to do an adequate job without putting in many hours outside the school day. And in order to do an excellent job, the after-school hours were staggering. There was constant anxiety and pressure. I was beginning to feel burned out and knew I needed a change.

Rather than change grade levels, I looked at my options. My school system had brought in several reading specialists, and the results were overwhelmingly positive. Since children's literature has always been my passion, that sounded like a good fit for me. I took the required classes to get my certification as a reading specialist, and I got the job I wanted immediately. Now I still work daily with children, and I still have incredible responsibilities. However, those responsibilities don't include the tedious, time-consuming and exhausting non-instructional chores of grading papers, doing report cards and progress reports, handling lunch money, supply money and field trip money, taking care of bus passes and permission slips, putting up bulletin boards and displays, and the minute-by-minute responsibility for every aspect of twenty-five children's school day. I can actually go to the bathroom without having to get the teacher in the adjoining classroom to keep an eye on both classes for a few minutes. I seldom need to bring any work home with me. I can actually plan during my planning periods, and I'm able to spend the full 30 minutes of my lunch period having lunch. (Note: How many business people have only 30 minutes for lunch?)

I loved being a classroom teacher, but it became too stressful trying to handle the increasing work load. I love my job now even more. I love being able to work with all grade levels of children. When I walk down the hall of the school, most of the children know me because I've worked in virtually every classroom either teaching lessons on reading strategies or training the older children to be reading buddies for the younger grades. It's nice to be able to teach a lesson to a class of students, and then go back to my classroom and work with small groups of struggling readers or advanced readers. There's lots of variety. I'm out and about the halls and classrooms of the school all day. I still have tremendous responsibilities and paperwork, but it is manageable and there is time in the day to do it.

What's the answer for classroom teachers? I don't know, but there has got to be a way to stop putting more and more responsibilities on them.

Friends - QOTD for Saturday

"There are three kinds of friends: best friends, guest friends, and pest friends."

Reflections on Eagle River (Alaska)

Taken in July 2005 on Eagle River outside of Anchorage, Alaska.

The Same Question - over and over

A child at school today asked me this riddle: What question can you ask hundreds of times each day, and each time the answer will be different, but each answer could also be correct?

Think about it...

Answer: "What time is it?"

Here's another one: Before Mount Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain in the world?

Answer: Mount Everest - it was still there, even if it hadn't been discovered yet.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Blog Addiction - Sanity Slowing Returning

I am Carol, and I am a blog addict. I started this blog because I like to write. But then I began looking at other blogs and seeing the number of visitors and all the links and all the comments and all the cool memberships in various blogging groups -- and my competitive nature kicked into high gear. Instead of being fun, it became an obsession. I had to write posts - even when I didn't have anything to say. If I had two posts yesterday, then I had to have three posts today. I had to get more people to look at my blog - that site meter had to keep going up. I had to get people to link to my blog so I could move to a higher level in the TTLB system. This evening I came to my senses. I don't know what the catalyst was - nothing out of the ordinary happened - but I'm glad that something in my thinking changed. My blog is for me. I may cancel the site meter so I can stop fixating on it. I might even take off all the ads. So far in the 2+ months I've been blogging I've accumulated about $20 in on-paper income from the various ads and links on The Median Sib...and I'll probably never see that since it has to reach a certain amount before it pays off. It would probably average less than a cent for every hour I've spent working on this blog. I don't want to continue with the blogging-as-competition mindset.

Bottom line: Don't look for as many posts from now on. However, maybe the posts will be better since I won't be stretching to find something to write about. Yea for blogging sobriety!


A six-year old lad came home with a note from his teacher suggesting that he be taken out of school, as he was "too stupid to learn." The boy's name was Thomas A. Edison.

Alfred Tennyson's grandfather gave him ten shillings for writing an elegy on his grandmother. Handing it to the boy, the old man said: "There, that's the first money you ever earned by your poetry, and take my word for it, it will be the last."

Benjamin Franklin's mother-in-law hesitated at letting her daughter marry a printer. There were already two printing offices in the United States, and she feared that the country might not be able to support a third.

~Cora M. Campbell, Sunshine Magazine~

I don't know whether or not those stories are true. If they are, then they're good lessons in not putting too much stock in what others think about us. If they're wrong then I guess old Cora M. Campbell fooled a lot of people.

QOTD for Friday

The years teach much which the days never know.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Alaskan Photography - Tundra Flower and a Riversong Sunrise

I visited Alaska this past July and loved it! I might not like it as well in the winter, but in July it was wonderful. Two of my photos turned out great -- even if I do say so myself. So here they are:
This picture was taken early one morning as the sun was rising. We were staying at Riversong Lodge which was right on a river (can't remember the name of the river, but the Iditarod goes right over the water shown in the photo). The shapes in the foreground are the posts of the dock and the motors on the boats tied up at the dock there.
During one of our hikes, I saw this tundra flower growing among some rocks. Isn't it amazing?

Harry Potter Mania (ie. J.K. Rowling would make millions writing a phone book at this point)

This post will probably make me some enemies, and I don't mean this to be insulting to Harry Potter fans - different strokes for different folks and all that...but I have to say it. The Harry Potter craze is getting old. After however many years and however many books, I'm tired of the little lightning-impressed pre-teen. Am I the only one who has no interest in the new HP film that's about to be released? Or maybe it's already in theaters - I don't know because, frankly, I don't care. I started to look it up and include some links, but that would be putting more effort into this post than it's worth.

I'm an elementary school teacher - a reading specialist, even. I read daily from a wide variety of genres, especially in children's books. So when the first Harry Potter book came out, I read it and thought it was good. Not phenomenal but good. J.K. Rowling certainly had an original and engaging story. I read the second one soon after it was published, and it was okay. Not as good as the first one but typical of sequels. The third one was tedious. I had to force myself to get through it. I didn't even bother with the ones after that. Hoping that the movie versions would be better, I saw the first two movies. They were okay, but I didn't hit pause whenever I had to take a bathroom break. They were forgettable.

For all you Harry Potter fans - more power to you. You see something in either him or the story that I don't see. Despite all the publicity and the legions of fans pledging undying devotion to HP and J.K. Rowling, I just don't like Harry Potter. Sorry.

Pizza Hut and Those Darn Sound-Similar Words

Drove past a Pizza Hut on my way home from work awhile ago. On the marquee outside they had the following:
I'll see how long it takes them to change it. I'm sure Tim at Mother Tongue Annoyances could set them straight.

The Vikings and Thor's Day

Today I worked with a group of third graders reading an article on the Vikings in the National Geographic Explorer! magazine for children.

I've been through college and graduate school, and I've taught school for over 25 years, and I learned something new today from a third grade magazine - which is a good thing. When people stop learning, they stop living. And Lord knows I have more to learn than I could possibly learn in a million years. Maybe what I learned today was in one of those long-forgotten classes from my past, and I just don't remember it. As a matter of fact, upon further thought, that's a STRONG possibility - even a probability. If that's the case, then I re-learned it today. Here it is:

The Vikings had many gods. One of Vikings' gods was Thor, the god of thunder and lightning. Our "Thursday" comes from a Viking word meaning Thor's day. TA-DA! Okay, not an earth-shattering tidbit of information, but I thought it was pretty cool. Did any of you remember it from your schooling?

QOTD for Thursday

Women can never expect to be man's equal until they can sport a beer gut and a balding head and still strut around thinking they're sexy."

Palmetto Bugs, Cheating Husbands, and a Class Full of Kindergarteners

A kindergarten teacher (I'll call her Gwen) in Florida (home of large cockroaches known as palmetto bugs) found out that her husband was not only cheating on her but had an entire separate family of two children with his girlfriend. It had been going on for YEARS and Gwen had had no inkling of it. Gwen and her husband and their two children had just moved into a new home, it was the first of a new school year, and she was exhausted. The news of his long-standing affair was the last straw. She confronted him but he was unrepentant. He told her that he was leaving her because he knew she was stronger than the girlfriend and she would survive. To say that she was devastated would be an understatement. He left. She was furious with no outlet to express it. The next day, Gwen went to school as usual - not knowing how she would make it but determined to keep life as normal as possible. As the morning wore on, one of the children told her that there was a bug in the "home living" part of the classroom. Gwen grabbed a fly swatter and went into the kitchen area where the enormous palmetto bug was crawling across the floor. Thoughts of her cheating husband combined with seeing a repulsive and gross cockroach in her classroom was too much. She snapped. The bug became her husband, and she started slamming the fly swatter against it and yelling at it: "HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME, GEORGE?" "TAKE THIS, GEORGE!" "HOW DARE YOU, GEORGE?" "GEORGE, YOU'RE SCUM!" She kept yelling and hitting the roach over and over and over until her fury had dissipated. Spent, she stopped, took a deep breath and turned around to see the children standing behind her, fixated by the spectacle. As her heartbeat and breathing slowly returned to normal, one little boy timidly asked, "How did you know the cockroach's name?"

And, friends, THAT is a TRUE story! I swear.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

George Bush, Democrats, Memory Loss and the War in Iraq

OK, so this is a political rant. I promise it'll be the last one for awhile. I'll get this out of my system and go back to posting happier and funnier topics.

I've posted several times my feelings about the press and democrats and how they're relentlessly backstabbing the United States, putting our soldiers in danger and encouraging the terrorists with their self-interested shenanigans and rewriting of history. In surfing the net tonight I found other posts that I thought were particularly good. First of all is Blame Bush - a great blog that is hilarious in pointing out the absurdity of the left. Baldilocks had a new post that referred to the Drudge Report. Suitable For Mixed Company compared what's going on to Animal Farm - a book I need to re-read. The posts I mentioned from The Median Sib are: November 15th, November 14th, November 3rd, and September 26th. Read some of these and get angry. Maybe rational and patriotic Americans are finally beginning to see how duplicitous the left is and how insidious the press is. I think once upon a time the Democratic party was about the people. That was a long time ago. Now they are blatantly self-serving and don't care what they do or who they hurt in their drive for political gain. The problem is that too many people who have always been democrats have blind loyalty to the party and can't (or won't) see the lies behind the rhetoric. Hopefully it's not too late to save America.

Avalanche of Christmas Catalogs

I guess I brought it on myself. For the past few years I've done much of my Christmas shopping online. It's quick and easy, and I loved not having to get out in the suffocating crowds and long lines at the mall. There is a penalty for shopping online, though, and that penalty is catalogs. Every day for the past few weeks, I have received catalogs from all those online stores along with every store remotely associated with those stores -- L.L. Bean, Lands End, Herrington, Victoria's Secret, Puritan's Pride, Miles Kimball, Barnes and Noble, Gevalia, E-Toys, Pfaltzgraff, Coward's...and the list goes on. L.L. Bean, in particular, sends out at least a couple catalogs each week - the Christmas catalog, the menswear catalog, the womens wear catalog, the children's catalog, the outdoor adventure catalog, another Christmas catalog...and that list goes on, too.

I remember when I took a computer course at Vanderbilt about 12 years ago, the professor told us that the time was fast approaching when people would do their shopping online. I listened to him describe how that would happen, and I thought it was absurd. Why would someone buy anything they couldn't actually see and touch? I was wrong. It didn't take long for it to happen.

It just seems incongruous that when I buy things online, it results in my receiving dozens of catalogs in the mail.

Wow! Great Quotes of the Day for Wednesday

Now, how about THIS quote! I had never seen it before last night, but it sure rings true!

"The first destroyer of the liberties of a people is he who first gave them bounties and largesses." ~Plutarch~

My LilSis sent me the following quote which goes along with the one above which I had already planned for today's QOTD. I think these two quotes are so pertinent to what's going on in the United States today.

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
John Stuart Mill - English economist & philosopher (1806 - 1873)~

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Blogging Woes

There is so much to learn. Tonight I have spent literally HOURS trying to get the "comments" parts of this blog to work the way I want them to work. But now I have TWO comment links for each post, and I can't figure out how to delete the old one. I have copied every single comment that's been posted since I started THE MEDIAN SIB, and then I pasted each of them into the new comment links. I didn't want to lose all the previous comments. I've tried everything I know with the blog template to get it to work, but to no avail. I'll probably dream about it after spending so much time on it. Sigh! Guess I'll work on it more tomorrow.

Later: Never say die. I THINK (hope! pray!) that I worked it out. Now I just hope I didn't delete something vital in the template that will make the whole thing crash! I can just imagine logging on tomorrow and having the blog gone somewhere in cyberspace, never to be found again. At least now there's just one link for comments, and it's the new one that I wanted. Yea!!!

Thunderstorms, Tornado Watches and The Single Life

One of the downsides of being single is going through thunderstorms alone. Right before I left school this afternoon, our principal announced that the PTO meeting tonight had been postponed till Thursday because of the large band of severe weather that would be going through our area throughout the evening. As I left school, the weather was overcast, but not bad. During the 40-minute drive home the weather went from overcast to windy with rain. By the time I arrived in my neighborhood, the wind was stripping the leftover leaves from the trees. It looked like it was raining leaves. As the evening has progressed, it has become worse. The thunder is now booming outside, I can hear the rain pouring down and there are reports of tornadoes in nearby counties. We are under a tornado watch until 11:00 p.m.

The first few years that I was single, I would practically hide under the bed during a thunderstorm. I don't know why they bother me so much! I never gave them a second thought when I was married. It is interesting how having another person in the house can dispell fear. I've gotten used to handling them alone now, and while they still make me decidedly nervous, I don't have the fear I used to have.

The tornado siren just started going off -- rather spooky sounding -- and amazingly LOUD -- and I'm sitting here writing in my blog! Guess I'll log off and get somewhere safe.

Later: I believe the worst of the storm is over. The tornado siren is no longer blaring, although according to the TV weather, there is another tornado warning starting now. No, don't think the worst is over. Hmmm -- looks like there is another one heading right my way. Fun fun!

Later still: According to the news, the worst is over. I made it through. Yea!! They were just showing a "shear marker" that passed directly above where I live. I believe it. It got pretty bad there for awhile. I actually was standing by the window watching it. Okay - so much for my exciting evening. Now I'm hoping that there was enough rain to flood some low lying roads resulting in school being cancelled tomorrow. Keeping my fingers crossed...

Even later still: School wasn't cancelled...not even delayed.

Life's Lessons

I found this poem awhile ago. I have no idea who wrote it or when it was written, but I like it.

Life's Lessons
I learn, as the years roll onward
And I leave the past behind,
That much I had counted sorrow
But proved that God is kind;
That many a flower I'd longed for
Had hidden a thorn of pain
And many a rugged bypath
Led to the fields of ripened grain.
The clouds that cover the sunshine;
They cannot banish the sun,
And the earth shines out the brighter
When the weary rain is done
We must stand in the deepest shadow
To see the clearest light;
And often through wrong's own darkness
Comes the welcome strength of Right.

Mainstream News: Choice of Wording is NOT Neutral or Unbiased

I saw the following headlines in the AOL news this morning:

Bush Attacks War Critics as Asia Trip Begins

Alito's Writings Boast of Work Against Abortion Rights

Isn't it interesting the choice of words? Let's look at how the interests of the democrats and press are worded:

Bush's Approval Rating Continues to Drop

Rift Appears in GOP Over Cutting Taxes and Spending

Kerry: Bring troops home over Christmas (Now isn't that all warm and fuzzy? Obviously the war-mongering Republicans want to keep the troops in Iraq and away from their homes!)

Tuesday's QOTD - My favorite!

Here's the quote on perseverance that I mentioned yesterday:

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men of talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Educationn will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."

~Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)~

Monday, November 14, 2005

DRA Testing and Children's Responses

As part of my job as a reading specialist, I administer the DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment) to many children. At the end of the test there are several items that are used to determine a child's attitude towards reading. One of the items is "Tell me what you like best about reading." As I administer the assessment, my job is to write down exactly what the child says in reply.

I've given this test hundreds of time, and the responses are usually along the lines of: "It's fun," "Some books make me laugh," or "I like the adventures." However, the other day I got responses from two different third grade children that just blew me away. Maybe they made such an impression on me because they're the reasons I enjoy reading so much. Here are their responses - word for word since that's how I had to record them:

"It takes me right into the book and I pretend I'm in the story. Like Alice in Wonderland - that really takes me into the story!"

"It's like I'm in a different world."

Those two children GET what reading is all about.

James Frey - A Million Little Pieces

I wrote a few days ago that I was mid-way through reading A MILLION LITTLE PIECES by James Frey. (Click HERE to read the previous post). I finished it this morning. Wow! What an incredible story. I have only one issue with the book: Throughout all the horrors he faced, he paints himself as quite the tough, fearless and resolute rebel - with no need for the tried and true methods of drug rehab. There were times as I was reading that I thought, "No way! He couldn't have really done that!" or "That's not realistic!" But I know nothing of the world of drug addicts and rehab, and so I can't make any judgements about it. Regardless of how closely his description of the events follow the reality, it is still a fascinating book. At the end, he tells what has happened to the various people in the story since the end of his six weeks in rehab. Reading that one page alone is enough to stop you in your tracks. Despite its language and sexual content (both of which are graphic), I think it should be required reading for high school students. It would make them think seriously about the consequences of alcohol and drug use. There is nothing glamorous or exciting about the absolute depths of despair and depravity that he experienced because of his addiction to both alcohol and drugs. If you want a book that will hold you spellbound, will both horrify you and, strangely enough, uplift you, I would recommend A MILLION LITTLE PIECES.

Bush & The Iraq War

This morning, in an open AOL poll asking the question "Did President Bush deliberately mislead the public on Iraq?" 64% of the respondants answered "yes." Since the poll included only the people who chose to participate, the numbers aren't necessarily representative of the American population. However, I believe they're at least indicative of a general public trend. The results are disturbing. Have so many Americans bought into the anti-American rhetoric of both the democrats and the mainstream press? Have they forgotten that most of the democrats that are now calling Bush a liar are also the ones that read the same intelligence and came to the same conclusions about WMD and the need to go to war in Iraq? Do they not realize that it is the anti-Bush, anti-war factions that are causing more death to our soldiers and are fueling the interests of the terrorists? And can't the American people see the blatant self-interested, opportunistic nature of the democrats and the press?

In Reasoned Audacity, Charmaine Yoest points out the ridiculous, but not surprising, call by Barbra Streisand for Bush's impeachment. Charmaine also provides a link to a post by The Anchoress which contains pre-war quotes from Clinton and others about the WMD in Iraq and the necessity of ending the threat that Iraq and Islamic terrorists pose to the world. These quotes and opinions are never mentioned in the news. The mainstream news is biased and left-wing. It would be amusing if so many people didn't swallow their bait - hook, link and sinker.

I admire George Bush for standing strong in the face of such overwhelming opposition in the press. He was given a mandate by the people of the United States in 2001 and 2002, and he has stood by his word. He is a man of truth, character and perseverance, and I trust him far more than the ones who don't hesitate to jeopardize our soldiers' safety - and ultimately America's safety - in order to further their self-interests and political agendas.

Happy Birthday, Debi!

Today is my little sister's birthday. Debi is two years younger than I am. We were very close growing up, and were sometimes quite mean to our younger sister, Beth, when we'd exclude her from our play. I've included two pictures of Debi above - well, two pictures of Beth, too, although her birthday isn't until next month. (Maybe this post will do for both of them?) Photo # 1 is Beth, Carol, and Debi building sand castles on the beach in Florida. Notice that Beth and I are looking at the camera. Debi is busy WORKING on the sand castle. Photo #2 is Beth, Daddy, David, and Debi (holding the doll). Maybe the fact that she's working in one photo and holding the doll in the other is indicative of her future. She is now the mother of FIVE (that's 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!) children - wonderful children, although they're really not children any longer. Three are grown and on their own, another is in college, and the baby, Jonathan, is a junior in high school.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Debi - one of the hardest workers I know, tireless in giving of herself and her abilities to others - a wonderful mother, daughter, sister, and friend. I love you.
Oh yes - and she is also a writer! Here are a few of her books:
When You Were a Baby
When You Were a Baby

Did I Ever Tell You about how Our Family Got Started?: Building Togetherness and Values by Sharing Stories about Your Family
Did I Ever Tell You about how Our Family Got Started?: Building Togetherness and Values by Sharing Stories about Your Family

Mother in the Middle: Searching for Peace in the Mommy Wars
Mother in the Middle: Searching for Peace in the Mommy Wars

Stress-Busters for Moms
Stress-Busters for Moms

Monday Morning QOTD - Perseverance

"I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor."
~Henry David Thoreau~
I have another favorite quote that has to do perseverance. I'll have to look it up to put on this blog. When it all boils down to the basics, perseverance is the key ingredient in anyone's success.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Cabbie - The Power of Nicknames

When I was talking with my mother this past weekend, I asked her how I got my nickname, Cabbie. I remember that both my father, mother and other family members have called me "Cabbie" off and on throughout my life. Today when I hugged my sister, Debi, bye, she called me Cabbie. To me, it's a rather tender nickname. Mother explained that she was the one who came up with my nickname. She liked to add an "ie" to her children's names as an affectionate form of their names...Terry, Joanie, Debi, Bethie. However, she didn't like Carrie for me - so she changed it to Cabbie, and Cabbie it remained. No one outside of the family ever uses the nickname, but I really like it when the family uses it. Maybe it's the sweet childhood memories that it evokes.

When my first granddaughter, Sweet Stuff, was born, I gave her a soft little stuffed animal - a dog. My daughter thought it was clever to give stuffed animals the names of whoever gave them. So the little dog became Cabbie. It turned out to be Sweet Stuff's favorite toy. She couldn't sleep unless she was holding Cabbie. As soon as I realized how attached she was to Cabbie, I got on eBay and found as many of the same little dogs as I could find. The company no longer made then, but there were collectors who still had them. I believe I ended up with six or seven of them. (Yes, I tend to go overboard - but I hated to think of Sweet Stuff EVER wanting one and not being able to have it!) Although the others dogs are fine occasionally as a poor substitute, she knows which one is the original Cabbie, and none of the others can replace it. At one point I thought that it would be nice to have my grandchildren call me Cabbie instead of Grandma Carol - but when I suggested it, Sweet Stuff looked at me like I was crazy. Cabbie was her treasured stuffed animal -- not Grandma Carol! It'll be funny to see her face the first time she hears someone in my family call me Cabbie.