Saturday, December 31, 2005

My Baby Girl - My Stinkeroo

December 31, 1974. What a day! That was the day that my beautiful daughter, Larisa, was born. It is impossible for any baby to be wanted and loved more. And it's hard for me to believe that my precocious, smart, curly-haired angel is 31 years old today.

I've included the four photos above because of what they represent. The picture of Larisa as a baby, asleep with her arms flung out is precious to me because that's how she slept as a baby - relaxed and secure. In each part of her life she gives her all - her children, her marriage, her family, her friends, her job -- even her sleep -- although as the mother of two preschoolers she doesn't get nearly enough nowadays.

When she was almost four, her brother was born. She didn't show a bit of jealousy but enjoyed her new role as big sister. The two of them were close growing up, and they continue to be good friends today.

My father, known as Grandshaw, gave her the nickname Stinkeroo when she was little, and I still call her that occasionally. She was Stinkeroo - her brother was Scalawag.

I love the photo of her in the striped sweater. That mischievous grin shows her funny side. She has a terrific sense of humor, but balances that with kindness and compassion. She was a tomboy at times, and very feminine at others. She'd play soccer and basketball, but she wanted bows in her hair. And that's funny because she has to practically bribe her own two daughters to put a bow in their hair for a special occasion.

The school photo also reminds me of her first day of kindergarten when she asked her father, "Which looks more like a school girl?" Then she proceeded to model carrying her bookbag over her shoulder and then carrying it by her side. She wanted to be sure to do things properly.

The wedding photo shows her with her husband, Steven, and their dog, Caesar - who is a story unto himself. A few years after the wedding, they became parents to the angel I call Sweet Stuff here, and then a couple years later, Sunshine came along. I always knew Larisa would be a good mother, but watching her with Sweet Stuff and Sunshine, I am just amazed at what a wonderful job she is doing with the most important job anyone can have.

Today Larisa is a successful business woman, and she daily juggles a zilliion demands. She calls her mother (me!) every single day, and now I talk with her whenever I have an important decision to make. She's my friend, my little girl, my tee-not, my Stinkeroo, my precious, precious daughter.

Happy birthday, Larisa. I love you!

Friday, December 30, 2005


The day before Christmas my daughter was baking an apple cake as she chatted with 4 1/2-year old Sweet Stuff. She was telling Sweet Stuff about the real meaning of Christmas and how it isn't just about Santa Claus and giving and receiving gifts. It is Jesus' birthday. Sweet Stuff immediately made a connection - the cake my daughter was making was obviously Jesus' birthday cake. Realizing how well that fit in with what she'd been talking about, Larisa agreed - of course the cake was Jesus' birthday cake. That's when Sweet Stuff carried the conversation to a new level.

"Jesus was at Megan's birthday party the other day, and he told me he liked orange sprinkles. So we need to put orange sprinkles on his birthday cake," she said matter-of-factly.

My daughter looked at Sweet Stuff. "Jesus was at Megan's birthday party?"

"Yes, and he told me he wanted orange sprinkles on his birthday cake."

Not one to question a child's chat with Jesus, my daughter complied. So orange sprinkles were scattered across the cream cheese frosting. The next morning, my daughter decided to have a slice of apple cake for breakfast.

Sweet Stuff came into the kitchen. Shocked, she asked, "ARE YOU EATING GOD'S CAKE?"

"Yes," my daughter replied, hastening to explain, "It's all right with God." That satisfied Sweet Stuff, and the issue was resolved.

Now our family recipe for apple cake with cream cheese frosting has a new name. It is simply "God's Cake."

2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups oil
3 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup nuts, chopped finely
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3 cups apples, peeled and chopped finely

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans. Combine sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla. Beat well. Add mixture of flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix in the apples and nuts. Pour in cake pans and bake for 30 minutes. You can also make the cake in a bundt pan and bake for an hour. However, the icing is what makes it so good, and the icing covers less cake if you use a bundt pan.

8 oz. cream cheese
1 stick butter
1 cup finely chopped nuts
2 tsp. vanilla
1 pound box powdered sugar
orange sprinkles

Let cream cheese and butter soften. Add vanilla. Add powdered sugar a little at a time and mix well. Add nuts. When cake is cool, ice each layer and stack. Scatter orange sprinkles over the top. Yummy!

If you happen to use the recipe, let me know how it turns out - and I hope you enjoy God's Cake!

The Shopping Cart Incident

After we finished walking all over the 90 acres with a metal detector (found one cap pistol, two knives, two complete horseshoes, two pieces of a horseshoe, and several pieces of wire and chain), I told PawPaw I'd run by the grocery store to get some steaks to grill for dinner. I walked into Kroger and didn't see any shopping carts.

I looked around and saw an elderly man coming in from the parking lot to return his shopping cart. I met him at the door and told him I'd take the cart. People have done that for me before, and I always appreciated the few seconds they saved me. However, instead of turning around and going back to the parking lot, he continued inside the store. That's when it hit me -- he had gone to the parking lot to get a shopping cart, and was on his way inside to do his shopping, and I had commandeered his cart!

"Here!" I called to him as he walked away from me into the store, "I thought you were returning the cart. You can have it back." He didn't turn around - he just waved his hand and kept going - probably thinking I was a rude and pushy lady who stole shopping carts from defenseless little old men for kicks.

So now I'm an official Kroger cart-napper.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


I received the following in an email. Go ahead and thank me now because I took the "email this to all your friends . . ." portion out of it. You're welcome.

The story and thought are good ones, however, and I think there's an important message here:


One day a woman's husband died, and on that clear, cold morning, in the warmth of their bedroom, the wife was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't any more. No more hugs, no more special moments to celebrate together, no more phone calls just to chat, no more "just one minute." Sometimes, what we care about the most gets all used up and goes away never to return before we can say good-bye or say "I love you!"

So while we have it . . . it's best we love it . . . and care for it and fix it when it's broken . . . and heal it when it's sick. This is true for marriage and old cars . . . and children with bad report cards and dogs with bad hips and aging parents and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it . . . because we are worth it.

Some things we keep -- like a best friend who moved away or a classmate we grew up with; or a co-worker we worked with. There are just some things that make us happy, no matter what.
Life is important, like people we know who are special . . . and so, We keep them close!

Now for my "keeper" story: I was in the grocery store this afternoon buying some last minute items for the dinner I fixed for some in-town and out-of-town family. I heard someone call my name, turned around and saw a woman I had known in the church singles group a few years ago. She had been married for 29 years, divorced, was active in the singles group for a few years and then met Charles, and she married him. They've been happily married for almost six years now. As we caught up with what has been happening to each other in the two years since we last saw each other, I told her that I was single...again - that the second marriage had been a mistake from the beginning and only lasted a year. As she was offering sympathy, I assured her that it was okay. Then I told her that my first husband and I were getting back together. He and I were married for 28 years when we divorced 8 years ago. Her next remark was one I'll always remember. With a wistful look in her eye, she said,

"I saw my ex on Christmas when the family got together, and when I looked at him, I knew that we could have worked it out. But at that time I was just weary of all the problems, and I didn't want to work it out."

Although she's happy now with her second husband, she regrets that her first marriage had been a keeper that she let go.

I wish I could end this post by writing something profound, but the message is in the two stories - and they can stand on their own.

Just Desserts

I found this cartoon over at Dr. Sanity - and loved it! Figured I'd pass it along to you here. (Dr. Sanity has some recipes - yes RECIPES!! - to share along with the cartoon. I copied those, too.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Life for The Median Sib in 2005 - a Review

I was watching TV, and they've started all the year-in-review shows. I decided to write my personal year-in-review. However, I can't remember much from early in the year...maybe nothing spectacular happened during the winter and early spring. So here are the highlights of 2005 for me:

(1) January: I started riding mountain bikes with PawPaw - great exercise and fun, but decided I could only handle it in cool weather - the helmet does horrible things to one's hair after sweating in it. So when June got here, I had to stop until the fall.

(2) May: I finished my first year as a reading specialist - great job - and and now I'm happily in my second year out of a regular classroom.

(3) June: I babysat Sunshine and Sweet Stuff for a full week while their parents went to the beach with friends. Wonderful and exhausting at the same time. There is absolutely not a time as tender as being with children first thing in the morning when they're sleepy-eyed and sweet and cuddly.

(4) July: PawPaw and I went to Alaska. I LOVED Alaska. We saw moose, grizzlies, caribou and Dall sheep in the wild. Enjoyed it so much, we've already scheduled another trip next September.

(5) July (continued): On the trip to Alaska I went fishing and caught a salmon. We wore waders and fished in the middle of a river. Catching a salmon is something I've always wanted to do. I caught my salmon the evening before we went home. That meant that I released it after I caught it. PawPaw had caught one earlier in the week, and we got the cook at the lodge where we stayed to cook it. It was delicious, and it fed about 16 people!

(6) July (still continued): We biked for 24 miles along some of the most incredible scenery in Denali park in Alaska. We had seen a grizzly bear with two cubs earlier along the route, and to say I was a LITTLE apprehensive would be an understatement.

(7) September: I started The Median Sib. Blogging has been both fun and therapeutic. PawPaw and Stinkeroo both can't figure out WHAT I get out of blogging. It makes no sense to them.

(8) October: I went camping by myself. It was great - except for the "by myself" part. However, I proved a point by going alone - I am woman, hear me roar and all that . Afterwards I went camping several times with PawPaw, and that was definitely a better way to enjoy the world of camping.

(9) November: After numerous stops and starts throughout the year, PawPaw and I got back together - for good.

(10) December: I did NO Christmas decorating for the first time ever. PawPaw put up my Christmas tree, and then he, Sweet Stuff and Sunshine decorated it. That was it. Nothing else. Zilch. I won't do that again. I enjoy having a Christmas-y house too much.

I'll almost definitely come up with other outstanding events for the year as I think about it more. For now, though, that's it.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Home Again

Home again! It's Monday night, and I'm back home and blogging again. I had a wonderful Christmas weekend with lots of visiting and fun. Highlights include:

Friday dinner with the children and grandkids - watching the little ones open their gifts and seeing their excitement.

Eating dinner today at my mother's with 48 family members! All seven of us siblings were there! Then doing the gift exchange - one person at time. It took forever, but it was so much fun! Two regrets: I didn't get a picture of the 7 of us together with our mother, and I wasn't able to stay very long.

Taking a hike yesterday on PawPaw's country property in the cold afternoon with occasional drizzly rain - very refreshing!

Holding my niece who is ten months old and having her smile at me.

Driving around town with PawPaw's mother, brother, sister-in-law last night to look at the Christmas decorations.

Flying home tonight with PawPaw in his small plane -- flying above the clouds and seeing a spectacular sunset that everyone below couldn't see because of the cloud cover. Then going from 6,000 ft to 4,000 ft as we neared Nashville which put us right in the clouds - rather spooky flying 150 mph and not able to see anything...just trusting the instruments.

Now I am looking forward to tomorrow when I'll get to visit Sweet Stuff and Sunshine and have them show me all the goodies that Santa Claus brought them.

Monthly Marathon for 2006

You are invited to join the MONTHLY MARATHON blogroll. It is a group of people who promise to walk or run a marathon each month - not all at once but one or two miles at a time - to equal 26.2 miles each month. A 30-minute moderately-paced walk five days a week will MORE than do it.

We already have six people on our blogroll for the 2006 Monthly Marathon. I'll add you to the blogroll when you join, and I'll provide you with information for adding the blogroll to your site. Membership has requirements, though. Click on the icon below to go to the Monthly Marathon website. You'll find more information there.

I hope you'll join us! It will be a good way to get in some good exercise for 2006, and it will also provide motivation and comraderie with fellow Monthly Marathoners.
If you want to join the blogroll, just leave a comment to that effect, and I'll put you on the blogroll, and we'll get started on January 1st. Only people who are committed to a MONTHLY MARATHON in 2006 will be added.
Walking, jogging, or running (crawling, hopping and/or skipping, if you choose) a marathon each month is do-able for most people. I repeat - you don't do an entire marathon at once -- just a mile or two each day (30 minutes of moderate walking each day will be more than sufficient) - and you can even have a few days off each month.
Get off your butt and get moving and join the fun! Perseverance is the key!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Christmas Weekend Reading

I will be leaving shortly for a couple of brief holidays trips -- to my mother-in-law's and later to my mother's home for family get-togethers. Three full days away from a computer. I should be posting again on Tuesday. In the meantime, I will leave you with some good reading. Please click often on the links below and also the links on the sidebar.

Just read a post by Charmaine at Reasoned Audacity that addresses the question "What is a lady?" And it begs a further question: Do I want to be a feminist or a lady? Are the two mutually exclusive? What do you think?

Dr. Sanity has some definite ideas about The Idiot's Guide To Victimhood. Check it out. Do you think she's right?

Angie over at Ficken Chingers (sounds a little dirty, doesn't it?) asked A Question about why people think being a jerk or a bitch is cool. I've noticed this in some blogs.

And over at The Reflective Teacher, there's a wonderful post about a unique writing exercise. I've written about this post before, but I can't help it. I love it!

Utenzi discusses a Washington Post article on the first appearance of white skin. Fascinating when you think of the historical and current implications of skin color.

If you're in the mood for some light-hearted entertainment or maybe you need to have some riddles to stump your school-age children, you can visit Daddy's Roses where Joan has a post of Christmas Riddles.

Click over to Alone On a Limb and read Terry's Top Ten Christmas Memories. I loved it - probably because several of them are also my favorite Christmas memories.

Those are just a few of the posts I've enjoyed reading lately.

Hope all of you who visit THE MEDIAN SIB have a wonderful Christmas - and if you don't celebrate Christmas, have a wonderful weekend. I'll be back blogging on Tuesday.

Unexpected Visitors

The phone rang early this morning. Looking at caller ID, I saw that it was my daughter. However, when I answered, there was no sound from the other side for a few seconds, and then a quiet little voice said, "Grandma Carol, can we come over now?"

"Sweet Stuff, of course you can! Are you sick?" I thought that maybe she wasn't feeling well, and my daughter wanted to keep her home from daycare. I was wrong. Apparently both Sunshine and Sweet Stuff woke up this morning and wanted to start the Christmas party early. Everyone is coming to my house this evening for our family Christmas dinner and gift exchange. Sweet Stuff and Sunshine wanted to come over and help Grandma Carol NOW!

So they've been here all morning. They've helped me make an apple pie and some pecan pies. They've helped me get the Chicken Cheese Corn Chowder started. All you moms and grandmoms know how "helpful" two-year olds and four-year olds can be. And now they're using the rhythm instruments to sing Christmas carols! Only a grandmother would enjoy the ringing of bells, shaking of tambourines and mini-cymbals and little voices making up their own Christmas songs... "I will help you with a merry bow..." each word emphasized with ringing bells and cymbals and tambourines.

Sunshine's latest trick is grabbing her own (or my) boobs and yelling, "BOOBIE! BOOBIE!" We definitely need to channel that energy in another direction!

I am a little sad, though. Sunshine has always refused to call me Grandma Carol. It's always been simply "Cawol!" She has now started calling me Grandma Carol all the time. Another sign of how fast she is growing.

A full day of Sunshine and Sweet Stuff! Life doesn't get any better!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

THURSDAY THIRTEEN - Thirteen Reasons That Today Will Be A Good Day!

Thirteen Reasons That Today Will Be A Good Day For THE MEDIAN SIB

1. At 12:10 this afternoon school will be out for Christmas.

2. At 12:11 I will be OUTTA there!

3. First stop: manicure.

4. Second stop: pedicure

5. Third stop: Hair stylist for a trim and highlighting

6. When I get home my house will look neat and wonderful because the housekeeper will be here sometime during the morning.

7. I will make dinner for PawPaw and myself tonight.

8. I have all my Christmas shopping done.

9. I am looking forward to tomorrow night when my little family will gather for our Christmas dinner and gift-exchange.

10. I'm current with thank you notes for gifts I've received from children at school.

11. School will be an easy-going day because there's an assembly first thing, and then the classes will have their holiday parties. For me, that translates into no reading groups or lessons for me today.

12. Referring back to #11, that means I can catch up on paperwork that I need to do.

13. When I go to bed tonight, I will NOT have to set the alarm clock.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens! (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)






Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Love Explained

Loving is not just looking at each other, it's looking in the same direction.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand, and Stars, 1939~

The Dreaded "F" Word . . . again

Just an hour ago - morning bus duty in the gym. Several children in one of the first grade lines raise their hands. I walk over.

They exclaim, "John said a bad word."

John is shaking his head, "No, I didn't."

"Yes he did!"

"John," I ask, "What did you say?"

Without hesitation, John replies, "F*ck."

At first I'm not sure I heard correctly. I ask him to come with me, and I motion the other bus room monitor over. "John," I say, "Tell Miss Norma what you said."

"F*ck!" John replies, "but I don't know what that means!"

"You know it's not a nice word - even if you don't know what it means," Miss Norma replies.

So now I must write up a behavior form for John which he will take home to be signed by his parents. The principal will talk with him. John is already well known by the people in the school who handle behavior issues.

I'm curious - what would you other teachers do in this situation?

For another "F" word post, go HERE.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Carnival of Education - Winter Hibernation Edition

This week's Carnival of Education: The Winter Hibernation Edition has just been published. Go there NOW to read great posts in the field of education. My post on the balanced calendar is part of this week's carnival. Great reading - GO!

The Header Photograph

This is the photograph from which Beth took the photograph of me for the header. From right to left, there's Terry (Terry the Terrible Terror as we not-so-affectionately called him at the time), Debi, Daddy, David (the baby), and me. Taken in 1958, that would make me nine years old at the time. Lord, I'm old.

Hmmm now that I think of it...when you list something right to left, is it your right as you face the computer screen, or is it from the right side of the screen as it faces you? I don't know. If you have the answer, let me know. In the meantime, I won't lose sleep over it.

Start Digging!

After a lot of starts and stops and indecision, today PawPaw finally closed on the land he has been considering. That means...YEA! We will start building a house soon. I think that by this time next year, it should be built and we can be moved in and settled. It's exciting! That's the land where we camped out several weeks ago. That also means...I will put my townhouse up for sale soon. Double YEA! Which also mean (sigh!) I will have to move again...probably twice. I am probably the world's record holder for the most moves within a few years.

Self-Chosen Ignorance

"No matter how busy you think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance."
~Atwood H. Townsend~

(Now isn't that the perfect quote for a reading specialist to put on her blog?)

Christmas Countdown - reciprocity in Christmas cards

Despite my declaration on Saturday that I WOULD finish my Christmas shopping that morning, I didn't. During one of my breaks at school yesterday, I logged onto Amazon.Com and took care of a couple of items. They were gifts for children, though - the easy gifts. I still have two other gifts to buy. I'm wimping out on my own children's gifts. They're both getting checks - and not very big ones at that. They're both adults - money is what they need most.

I had high hopes of sending Christmas cards this year. I decided last night to just scrap the idea. It was too late, and I was too tired to spend several hours on it. It is interesting. I've received TWO Christmas cards this year. Usually by this time I have received lots of cards. However, usually by this time, I've already sent out my own. My conclusion is that MOST of the people on my Christmas list, then, only send Christmas cards to people who send them one. Next conclusion: Who wants a Christmas card from someone who sends them only as a reciprocal action. Nahhhh - not me.

I'm still in a bad mood because my school doesn't get out until Thursday! I have so much to do to get ready for Christmas, and there will be no time to do it. So Bah Humbug! on my school system! My solution to not having enough time to do what I need to do? I just won't do everything. Christmas cards? nix them. Decorating the house? Nope. Christmas tree? Well, I put it up, and last night the granddaughters put a few ornaments along the bottom - it looks perfect to me. I won't decorate it further.

So...deep breath! Everything is fine. What isn't done doesn't have to be done. I will enjoy the season and stop obsessing over what I don't have time to do. I feel better already.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Trials and Tribulations of Fruitcake

It's that time of year again....

Does anyone really like fruitcake?

(More therapy is needed!)

Happy Birthday, Bethums!

Today is my baby sister Beth's birthday. Let's see... in the top photo she's the one that's topless. Very brazen, isn't she? (he he he) And in the group photo, she's the baby that my oldest sister, Janice, is holding. (I'm the one in capris.) That photo includes all seven siblings, by the way, because my mother (on the right) was pregnant with the youngest, David, at the time.

Beth is the youngest girl in the family, and I've always thought her name fits her - sweet and feminine. Today's she's the hardworking director of a children's home, and she's the author of two blogs - Blue Star Chronicles and Merry Christmas. She also is the mother of two wonderful young adults.

She recently (yesterday) wrote a post about the joys of chocolate. I thought the photo of her "licking the bowl" was appropriate for the occasion.

Happy birthday to Beth! Hope your day brings you joy and love. I love you.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Perfect House Plan, Revisited

JSC, one of my faithful readers (and she'd better be since she's my sister), asked about a house plan that I posted a couple months ago. Go HERE to see the nicest house plan I've found yet.

Monthly Marathon - Who wants to join??

The New Year is almost here, and I have a good idea for those of us who want some inspiration to exercise regularly. Let's do a MONTHLY MARATHON. I'm going to work on a blogroll for it. Here are the conditions to join the blogroll:

(1) For 2006, you promise to walk, run, skip, hop, or crawl 26.2 miles each month. This is a very do-able goal. You can cover 1 miles 26+ days each month, 2 miles 13+ days per month...You get the idea.
(2) You will check in each month with your total mileage for the month.

Who's interested? Let me know, and I'll get the blogroll started by the first of the year!

Writing To The Tune of a Hershey Kiss

Just read a great post over at The Reflective Teacher. If you teach writing ... or want your kiddos to really think, check THIS out. I will be taking Hershey Kisses to school with me tomorrow. (YES, doggone it! I still have 3 and 1/2 more days of school before the break! Crazy!)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Styling! New Safer Dress Fabric!

Just finished going through my morning blog reading, and I found THIS POST at Jack Yoest about a new style of dress. What do you think?

Pesto Dip -- DELICIOUS!

I went to a party Wednesday evening, and the hostess served crackers with a pesto dip. It was wonderful! She gave me the recipe, and it is extremely easy to make:

1/4 cup pesto (well stirred)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped fine (get the kind that's packed in oil, drain)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Mix well with a spoon - it'll be sorta crumbly. Serve with crackers (I like Wheat Thins, but other similar crackers are good, too).

That's it. I made this dip to take to the meeting I attended yesterday, and every bit of it was eaten. So give it a try!

Dancing in the, in the Bonus Room then!

Just got up (LOVE sleeping late on Saturday mornings) and checked my blog for comments, and I saw that The Median Sib has moved up to (drumroll, please!) LARGE MAMMAL status on TTLB's Ecosystem! Fun! Fun!

I probably won't post much this weekend. I've got housecleaning to do - those exciting tasks of laundry, picking up the junk I've left lying around all week, and putting the few dishes I used throughout the week into the dishwasher. I only ate dinner at home two nights this week, and both times I just had a bowl of cereal. So there's not much to do in that area. I was too tired (aka lazy) to put them in the dishwasher at the time.

PawPaw will come by to pick me up in about two hours, and we're going out to finish ALL (yes, I DO mean ALL) our Christmas shopping. I will NOT come home until every gift is bought! Then tonight we'll decorate his Christmas tree.

Both kids are out of town this weekend - Stinkeroo & her family are visiting friends in St. Louis, and Scalawag has gone hunting - don't know if he's duck hunting or deer hunting. I should call Meah to see what she's doing this weekend - or maybe she went with Scalawag, although I kinda doubt it.

Here's to weekends! I love 'em!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Support For Our Troops

If you want to show your support for our troops, you can find some excellent suggestions for how to add a little enjoyment to their time in Iraq over at Blue Star Chronicles.

The Apprentice - Disappointed in Randal

I watched every episode of "The Apprentice" this season, and after last week's show, I was certain that Donald Trump would select both Randal and Rebecca to be his apprentice. However on last night's episode, it didn't happen that way. Trump chose Randal, and then he offered Randal the opportunity to show his loyalty and generosity by asking him if he thought Rebecca should be hired, too. And Randal said no. He said the title of the show is "The Apprentice", not "The Apprenti" (I THINK that's what he said instead of "The Apprentices.") Either way, he blew it.

I respected him up to that point, and then he showed his true nature - which is greedy and disloyal. I'm no longer one of his fans. He talked so much the past couple episodes about how he respected Rebecca and felt she was a good leader, a good friend and a worthy opponent. And then he stabbed her in the back because he wanted to keep all the "glory" for himself.

Shame on you, Randal! If the shoe had been on the other foot, Rebecca would have stood up for you. You showed how small you really are.

What Sort of Intellectual Are You?

Give this quiz a try. It'll make you think! Here is my result.

You're an introspective intellectual.

What Sort of Intellectual Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla


Thirteen Things about THE MEDIAN SIB

1. I'm starting my FIRST Thursday Thirteen on a Friday. I hope no one holds that against me. I didn't want to wait until next Thursday to get started.

2. I haven't been to the mall a single time this Christmas season.

3. I still have lots of Christmas shopping to do...maybe tomorrow.

4. I've thought I might make some frozen meals for my two married children to help them on those hectic evenings after work when they don't feel like preparing a meal. Just a thought - I don't know if they'd really like that for a Christmas gift or not. I'll have to decide soon.

5. A friend told me the other night that she had told everyone in her family to contribute to a charity in her name - and she told them the charity she preferred. She said she felt really good about the decision and her kids were happy with it, too. I know my daughter has already bought me a gift for this year. So I can't switch and ask for a charity donation instead. Next year, though, I'm going to ask for everyone who wants to give me a gift to donate to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in my name instead. I like that idea.

6. I'm a teacher - a reading specialist - and we don't get out of school until December 22nd - which is too close to Christmas!

7. However, we don't go back to school until January 9th. So I'll enjoy extra time off after Christmas.

8. My two granddaughters are the lights of my life. They're 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 - and I KNOW I'd better not leave off those half years!

9. I'm glad I found the Thursday Thirteen links because this will be a good way to get to know people and to make myself THINK about what's going on in my life.

10. I was in an all-day meeting today with other reading specialists in my county, and it was mostly a very good day. I learned a lot from one speaker, in particular.

11. I think I've got the best job in the world. Except for the pay, being a reading specialist is wonderful.

12. I married in 1969 and divorced in 1997. However, my ex and I are now back together again and have been working on all the issues that led to the divorce. Things look very promising for us.

13. Referring back to #12, we're looking at house plans, and that is a lot of fun!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

A Day in the Life of Veronika

Jane at Cozy Reader

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Do The Math!

I saw this on another blog, and I clicked away from it too soon. So I don't remember which blog had it. If it's your quote, I'll be glad to give you credit for it. I thought it was a great answer to WHY DO WE BLOG?

Therapy is expensive. Blogging is cheap. You do the math!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Too Busy to Post?

I've been so busy this evening working with the designer of my blog template that I hadn't even thought of actually WRITING a post for my blog! And here it is just a few minutes till midnight. I'll have to post this in the next five minutes in order to make sure I have a post for today. I don't think I've missed a day since I started the blog in September.

This business of designing an original template takes a lot of time, and I'm not even the one doing the work! I'm just the one offering opinions and suggestions. My designer, Beth, and I are novices at this, and we're slowly learning how to do it. And again, I emphasize that SHE is the one doing all the work. I really like the look of my blog now, though. Still a little more fine-tuning to go, and it will be done...for now.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A PINK-Nosed Reindeer?

Last night was the Christmas program at Sweet Stuff's and Sunshine's school. Since I've gone to the school numerous times over the past few years to pick up one or both girls for various reasons, I've consequently met most of their friends and their friends' parents. However, I wasn't prepared to be greeted by one mom with a "Hi Grandma Carol!" Sigh! I'm Grandma Carol even to other adults!

Sweet Stuff was dressed as a Christmas Tree in order to sing "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" and "We Wish You A Merry Christmas." She has a beautiful voice and really enjoyed singing the songs. Hers was the loudest voice there! Not too loud, though -- just sweet!

All the children in Sunshine's class got their noses painted red to go along with "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Sunshine would have none of that! She's the only girl in her class - 14 boys and Sunshine. She's accustomed to getting her own way. She insisted that the teacher paint her nose pink since pink is her favorite color. The teacher was happy to comply. So we now have a new Christmas character - Sunshine the PINK-nosed Reindeer. Sunshine also will not smile for a picture! She is a VERY determined two-year old.

A "Balanced Calendar" for Schools

My school system is considering a balanced calendar for next year. That means that there would be two weeks between quarters during the school year, and then about eight weeks off during the summer. There would still be the same number of school days in the year as there are now.

It sounds like a great idea to me. During those two week breaks, children who are struggling would have the opportunity for additional help, other children could be involved in enrichment activities, families could take vacations during off-season times, and it would provide teachers with a little breathing room between quarters - breathing room that will undoubtedly be used by many teacher to help struggling learners and for further professional learning.

After polling the teachers and the parents, the results are almost tied. Elementary teachers and parents tended to be in favor of the balanced calendar. Middle school and high school teachers and parents tended to not want it. Here are the official numbers: 8,641 people polled were in favor of it, 8,962 were not in favor of it, and 1,657 were undecided or had no opinion. With those numbers, the balanced calendar most likely will not be implemented next year - at least not county-wide. There is some talk of trying it with clusters of schools. Discussions will resume after the holidays.

I am disappointed. People who have been in a district with a balanced calendar have told me that they like it - a lot! I haven't had the opportunity to talk with anyone who has experienced a balanced calendar who didn't like it. The second-hand arguments I've heard against it are that it interferes with high school athletics and band, and that it could possibly have a negative effect on college entrance exams.

I want to understand both sides from people who have actually experienced an alternative school calendar. My questions are: What do you think of a balanced calendar? Have you worked in a district that had such a calendar? What do you feel are the advantages and disadvantages of a balanced calendar?

I've given my input to the calendar committee, and it will be interesting to see how this evenly-split issue is handled.

See THIS earlier post about the topic, and then a RESPONSE to that post. I also found THIS link that describes a study done this year on the pros and cons of the balanced calendar - very informative.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Alaska Bound Again!

Eagle River Reflections

Sunrise at Riversong Lodge

A Tundra Flower Amid Rocks

I'm excited that PawPaw and I have already made reservations for next September to go to Alaska again. We'll stay at the same lodge in Denali that we stayed this past July. I'm excited because we'll be there the last week that the lodge will be open for the season. There will likely be snow on the ground - and even without snow, it will be well into fall and the colors should be spectacular. Also, a famous photographer (can't recall his name) will be there to help us with our wildlife and nature photography. Unfortunately, in order to make the trip I will have to take off work without pay since I'm only allotted two personal leave days each year. But that's okay - this trip will be worth it.

I've posted photos from July's Alaska trip previously. However, I'll do it again. I really love looking at them! (Oh well, the pics landed at the beginning of this post instead of the end, and I'll just leave them there rather than moving them.)

Lighten up! Corny? Funny? Teacher Jokes

OK, I admit it. Some of these are groaners. Oh, all right -- ALL of them are. But maybe they'll put a smile on your face anyway.

TEACHER: Maria, go to the map and find North America.
MARIA: Here it is.
TEACHER: Correct. Now class, who discovered America?
CLASS: Maria.

TEACHER: Why are you late, Frank?
FRANK: Because of the sign.
TEACHER: What sign?
FRANK: The one that says, "School Ahead, Go Slow."

TEACHER: John, why are you doing your multiplication on the floor?
JOHN: You told me to do it without using tables.

TEACHER: Glenn, how do you spell "crocodile?"
TEACHER: No, that's wrong.
GLENN: Maybe it is wrong, but you asked me how I spell it.

TEACHER: Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?
TEACHER: What are you talking about?
DONALD: Yesterday you said it's H to O.

TEACHER: Winnie, name one important thing that we didn't have years ago.

TEACHER: Goss, why do you always get so dirty?
GOSS: Well, I'm a lot closer to the ground than you are.

TEACHER: Millie, give me a sentence starting with "I."
MILLIE: I is...
TEACHER: No, Millie..... Always say, "I am."
MILLIE:All right... "I" am the ninth letter of the alphabet."

TEACHER: George Washington not only chopped down his father's cherry tree, but also admitted it. Now, Louie, do you know why his father didn't punish him?
LOUIS: Because George still had the ax in his hand.

TEACHER: Now, Simon, tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?
SIMON: No sir, I don't have to, my Mom is a good cook.

TEACHER: Clyde, your composition on "My Dog" is exactly the same as your brother's. Did you copy his?
CLYDE: No, teacher, it's the same dog.

TEACHER: Harold, what do you call a person who keeps talking when people are no longer interested?
HAROLD: A teacher.

(Another tip of the hat to my friend, JeNan - the queen of forwarded jokes and cartoons!)

Monday, December 12, 2005

On Being a Parent

Before you were conceived I wanted you
Before you were born I loved you
Before you were here an hour I would die for you
This is the miracle of life.

~Maureen Hawkins~

Clemency for Tookie Williams

According the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word "clemency" means "a: the disposition to be merciful and especially to moderate the severity of punishment due b: an act or instance of leniency."

Tookie Williams has already received clemency. Since being convicted of murdering four individuals who had done him no wrong - they just happened to be in his way - Tookie Williams has been given 24 years. He has had a bed to sleep in, three square meals a day, an opportunity to exercise and to visit with his friends and family. He's been able to make phone calls and watch television and work. He has been able to collaborate with others to write books. He has met with well known people in the political, musical and acting arenas. He has had a movie made about his life. Unbelievably, he has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize - more than once. He has web pages devoted to drumming up support for him. Most people recognize his name.

Tookie Williams has already received clemency. Since the day Tookie Williams brutally murdered them, his four victims have been dead. End of their stories. Tookie offered them no clemency, no death with dignity, no opportunity for a last visit with friends or family or even for a final meal or a prayer. He ridiculed the death gurgles of one young victim. Few people know their names, and few are mourning their deaths.

Tookie Williams has already received clemency. He has had 24 years - almost the equivalent of the entire lifetime of the young convenience store worker he killed.

Some worry about the message that Tookie's death will send to children and young people. Tookie Williams' death will teach them that there are consequences for murder - that no matter who protests on your behalf, eventually you must pay the price. Children will learn that they must consider those consequences before commiting a crime rather than murdering first and reforming later.

A death sentence is a horrible thing, but unlike his victims, his death will be merciful. Tookie Williams will get his last meal and his last visit and prayer with clergy. Instead of being threatened and painfully shot like his victims, he will experience a pain-free death - a death he earned when he willfully and mercilessly and brutally took the lives of four other unique and precious human beings.

Tookie Williams has already received clemency.

Other blog posts on the subject:
Baldilocks has phenomenal posts HERE and HERE. (The first link is long but worth the read.) She has an older post HERE as well.

Beth at Merry Christmas has some choice words for Arnold.

Larry at Blame Bush! writes that Swarzenegger to terminate beloved children's author.

The Anchoress has some insights - as does her husband.

Snowman Wisdom

Thanks again to my non-blogging friend JeNan who keeps sending me items such as the following:

Lessons to be learned from a snowman...
-Get over it. It's okay if you're a little bottom heavy.
-Hold your ground, even when the heat is on.
-Wearing white is always appropriate.
-Winter is a time to be happy, quiet, and reflective.
-It takes a few extra rolls to make a good midsection.
-There's nothing better than a foul weather friend.
-The key to life is to be a jolly, happy soul.
-We're all made up mostly of water.
-You know you've made it when they write a song about you.
-Accessorize! Accessorize! Accessorize!
-Avoid yellow snow.
-Always use a sun blocker; and be careful of exposure to the sun.
-Sure, it's embarrassing when you can't see your feet. Get over it.
-It's fun to hang out in the front yard; great way to see the neighbors.
-Always put your best foot forward. Keeps you looking for solid ground.
-There's no stopping you once you're on a roll. Be careful on hills.
-It's not the size of the carrot, but the placement that counts.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

I like you - even if you ARE a conservative

The Anchoress has a right-on post entitled "How Can I like You, you're a Conservative!" It's worth reading.

Blogger Etiquette

Mike, over at Ramblings and Rhetoric had THIS post about etiquette in blogging. He has some great points. Although I think my etiquette has always been pretty good, I'll be doing more clicking from now on when I'm reading other blogs.

A Country Christmas Parade in Leiper's Fork

PawPaw and I headed over to Leiper's Fork yesterday to see their annual Christmas parade. Leiper's Fork is an unincorporated community with strong historical roots. Since PawPaw is buying land nearby and we're going to build a house there, we figured it would be good to start participating in community events.

The Christmas parade was FANTABULOUS! It was held on the narrow road that goes through the business district. As we stood along the road, we could easily talk to the people in the parade.

Highlights of the parade included:

A man wearing western attire and carrying a rifle who kept shouting to the crowds, "I hope you get a BANG out of Christmas!"

A septic tank pump truck with a Christmas wreath on front - Apparently the only requirement for participation was to have some type of Christmas decoration, or maybe the company paid a fee to participate. PawPaw and I laughed at the idea of a septic tank truck in a Christmas parade. Only in Leiper's Fork...

Lots of John Deere tractors - festooned with wreaths or other Christmas items

Bagpipe players

Middle school age baton twirlers

Three guys riding lawn mowers and twirling them in circles on the street

An orange Dukes of Hazzard car that repeatedly revved up the motor and blared that signature horn followed by an antique police car which repeatedly sounded its siren - a mini police chase in slow motion

Everyone who was considering running for office in that community or county - big cars with campaign signs on the side, along with the requisite Christmas wreath or Santa hat

Lots of horse riders and horse- or mule-drawn carriages

A float with Wee Miss Franklin - a little girl of about 3 or 4 years of age who handled riding on the float very well - smiling and throwing candy to onlookers

Santa was atop the local fire truck, and Rudolph mingled with the crowds.

A small group of sheep was herded along the parade route.

Two alpacas on leashes were part of the parade, too.

Everyone in the parade had buckets of candy that they freely tossed to onlookers. A young boy next to us (obviously an experienced parade watcher) came prepared with a bag which he completely filled by the time the parade was over. I left most of the candy for the children, but managed to scoop up a Tootsie Roll and a Hershey's Kiss that came my way. I needed my chocolate fix for the day. I was disappointed that PawPaw nabbed the only Snickers that landed near us.

It may seem that the parade was rather hokey. It was - but in a fun and heart-warming way. Everyone was smiling and having a good time. It wasn't a slick and sophisticated parade, but slick and sophisticated wasn't the goal. The community wanted the down-hown, country, redneck, fun parade they had. Puckett's Grocery was doing a booming business. We saw a county music star who lives in the community. The people in the parade and the people watching the parade were talking to each other as the parade passed. There were lots and lots of children there. There were no strangers in Leiper's Fork yesterday. Watching the Christmas parade will be an annual event for us from now on.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Men's Right To Choose

Just read a new post by Darren at Right on the Left Coast: Views From a Conservative Teacher. It is fascinating for me to see the topic of abortion from the point of view of man who had a child of his aborted without his knowledge. Head on over and read it.

The Excitement of it! So Close and Yet So Far

I just checked my "status" on the TTLB ecosystem (a compulsive habit that I stoop to numerous times each day), and I saw that I am only 8 links from becoming a large mammal. Well, maybe 9 links, depending on whether TTLB goes by the number of link or the "link score." Either way - Oh. My. Goodness. Despite that I truly AM a large mammal, it would be gratifying to have myself officially classified as such. I keep looking for my pouch -- and figured that maybe TTLB classified my pooch of my stomach as a pouch and mistakenly listed me as a marauding marsupial instead. Here's to 8 (or 9) more blogs linking to THE MEDIAN SIB! Just click the "blogroll me" link to your left.

Funny! Funny!

Click on THIS LINK to go to Daddy's Roses, and read that post and follow the links there to one of the funniest three pages I've seen lately.

Harry Potter - Hogwarts or Hogwash?

We walked up to the ticket booth, and PawPaw asked for "Two Senior Potters." Without blinking an eye, the girl rang up two senior priced tickets to Harry Potter, while I was falling out laughing. Over the course of the evening, I probably repeated "Two Senior Potters!" ten times while laughing uncontrollably. I share this story with you in order to illustrate that I was in a good mood this evening - laughing, having a splendid time and ready to enjoy a movie.

When PawPaw suggested seeing the new Harry Potter movie, I eagerly agreed. I had written a negative post about Harry Potter a few weeks ago, and so I was determined that I would see the new movie (that fans had described as the best one yet) and finally understand what all the hullabaloo is about. I went into the theater with the highest hopes and expectations - along with my giggles about the aforementioned "two senior potters." Midway through the movie, when I was having to force myself to stay awake and pay attention, I gave up. We remained through to the end just to make sure there wasn't something worthwhile that we might miss otherwise. But the fact is - Harry Potter is simply not for me. It was boring. It was absurd. To me, it was just plain stupid. I realize I'm in the minority. What can I say? That's my personal opinion. I'm sure there are lots of movies I've loved that other people think are ridiculous.

PawPaw summed up our feelings as we left the theater ....."Instead of Hogwarts, they should have called it Hogwash."

Friday, December 09, 2005


I'm so excited! I'll be getting a whole new look for THE MEDIAN SIB in just a few days. I have a fantastic designer working on it - and I LOVE what she has done so far. She just has to finish tweaking it here and there to get it perfect - well, she also has to find a suitable photo of my next to eldest sibling - the one who apparently didn't pose for many full-length photos! But we'll persevere and locate the perfect one somewhere in the boxes of old family photos.

So be watching for the new and improved look of THE MEDIAN SIB.

By the way, my designer is Beth. When she showed me her initial idea for THE MEDIAN SIB a couple days ago, I realized that she "GOT" what I was looking for. However, don't everyone start asking her to design your blog template right away. I want her to finish mine first!

Christmas is Christmas - a Spade is a Spade - The Bible is the Bible

Check THIS POST by Terry at Alone on a Limb. He is following up on THIS POST on Ruthlace that I mentioned yesterday. Rather than going off on extreme right or left swings, they present refreshingly reasonable insights into these particular current issues.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A Variety of Reading for the Evening - The Bible, PEACAN pound cake recipe, potty humor, radio talk show fools, and Venezuela

I hope you'll check out Ruthlace and read THIS latest post. This is the best explanation for why the Bible should be used in all schools - public and private.

Then, if you have a hankering for a great PEA-CAN pound cake recipe, check out Merry Christmas. I happen to know Beth - and I didn't realize she actually knows HOW to cook, but maybe I was wrong.

Then for a hilarious post, check out the POTTY POST on Daddy's Roses.

You might recall a couple days ago I raged about a local radio talk show host who was spouting off uninformed information about my school system. Terry at Alone on a Limb took my side with THIS post. It made me feel so much better for Terry to take up for me! That'll show old Steve Gill!

For a troubling story about Venezuela, go to Cozy Reader and read THIS story about how the president of Venezuela has "invited" Americans to go home.

He He! Giggle, Giggle! -- The "F" Word

My computer at school has been down since last Friday morning. Lord! That's a WEEK of no computer in my classroom. That means I can't work on my reading newsletter or the school's literary magazine since they're on the school's server - which I can't access. I also can't make quick email checks between reading groups. Instead, I must hike down to the library or the computer lab to use one of their computers to send or read email whenever I get more than a few minutes free.

This afternoon, I went to the computer lab only to discover that a fifth grade class was in there. However since several computers were still open I checked with the teacher to be sure it was okay, and I slipped in next to a student who's in one of my reading groups. I proceeded to check my email. One of my emails was from another reading specialist (thanks, JeNan). Now imagine how I felt when I had to not laugh and disrupt what the kids were doing and then hope-like-crazy the fifth grader next to me didn't see the following (she didn't - she was too engrossed in her math project):

Whatever you do . . .

I mean NEVER . . .

NEVER Fart in a wet suit!

Which brings me to the title of this post - the "F" word. Many years ago when I was teaching second grade, a little boy came up to me and said so seriously, "Mrs. J., Bobby said the 'F' word!"

Surprised, I asked, "He did? Tell me exactly what he said."

"Oh no, I couldn't say THAT!" He was visibly distressed.

"It's okay, you're not saying it - you won't get into trouble. You are just reporting to me so I can decide what should be done about it."

With lowered voice, he answered, "Bobby said 'fart.'"

Later note: Please read the comments for more stories about children and those "special" words.

Yea for Positive Parenting

OK, I'll qualify what I'm about to relate by stating that I don't know these people, and I don't know the context for the remark I overheard. The child was not upset or crying and from outward appearances, she looked reasonably happy. Here's what happened:

I was walking down the school hallway on Tuesday and passed a mom, dad and daughter who had just left the cafeteria and were headed toward the kindergarten/first grade hallway. That would indicate that the little girl was most likely 5 - 7 years old.

As they walked past me, I overheard the father ask the child, "Did anything bad happen at school today?"

Again, I don't know the context and I don't know what prompted the question. We all know that the questions we ask and how we ask the questions determine the information we receive. I can't think of a good reason to ask that particular question. Can you?

Rudolph's Revenge, Outlaw Rabbit, and Mistletoe

More cartoons for your viewing pleasure...
(Thanks to my friend, Ann, for passing these along to me yesterday)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

It Is Disgraceful!

A Teacher's Prayer

I got this from my friend, JeNan, today - and considering the weather forecast, I felt it was appropriate to share it here. I have no clue who wrote it - it just had initials at the end.

Teacher's Prayer for Snow
Oh, Lord, let it snow.
Let it drift and let it blow.
In the morning, no real fuss,
Just enough to stop the bus.
Enough to make the county say:
"There will be no school today."
Let the radio report: "Snow's deep!"
And I'll roll over for more sleep.
Then later on, say maybe ten,
I'll turn the radio on again.
Just in time to hear them say:
"It's strange, the snow has gone away."
And then I'll know, You made it stop.
So I can go to the mall and shop.
Please, Lord, just hear my teacher's plea,
And make it snow for the kids and me.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Food For Thought - Great Blog Posts

Surfing blogdom again instead of sleeping. Found some good posts that are worth a look-see.

Are You Conservative has THIS post about rewriting history.

And the new issue (#44) of The Carnival of Education just came out. Once again, one of my posts is included. YEA! Go HERE to read all the great articles in this week's carnival.

And for fun, check out Darren's post of the greatest movie line of all time at Right on the Left Coast: View From a Conservative Teacher.

My Guest Blog - Sanity's Bluff

I hope everyone who visits THE MEDIAN SIB will also click on the link to Sanity's Bluff which is on the sidebar. Sanity's Bluff is written by a trucker who has strong feelings and opinions about what's going on in the world. He definitely leans right and tells it as he sees it. Whether you're on the right or on the left or in the middle, you'll find something you can agree with or argue with on Sanity's Bluff. Sanity's Bluff also includes some great photos, art prints, cartoons and drawings to go along with the posts. What do you think of John Kerry? You'll find one strong opinion HERE. And how about news reporting these days? He's got an opinion about that, too.

The Balanced Calendar and Steve Gill

Yesterday morning on my way to school I listened to the Steve Gill Show on WTN, 99.7. I have to admit that my feelings were hurt. Steve was talking about Williamson County School's consideration of a balanced calendar. Steve does not like the idea.

A few weeks ago every school in our district had a mandatory faculty meeting where the proposed calendar was presented and we were given the opportunity to express our feelings about it and vote on it. The vote turned out in favor of it. Elementary teachers tended to vote for it. High school teachers tended to vote against it. The majority of the arguments against the balanced calendar centered around how it would affect high school athletic programs and band camp, and how it might negatively impact scores on college entrance exams.

Steve raged on about how our director was trying to push things through without giving anyone other than teachers the opportunity for input. Quite simply, he didn't know what he was talking about. After the teachers voted, there was more discussion and then meetings were set up to get parent and community input. Via our new phone communication system, each family with children in the school system was notified of the proposal and how they could voice their views about it. A discussion board was set up weeks ago for teachers and administrators to debate the pros and cons of it. All along it was stressed that the proposal was simply that - a proposal. Not a done deal. The school district wanted discussion and input in order to make an informed and fair decision.

It's fine to believe that a balanced calendar is a bad idea. There are many teachers who feel the same way. Here's where Steve went too far, though. He went into a rant about how STUPID the teachers must be if they thought this NITWIT idea would result in fewer days of school. There isn't a single teacher who believes that we would get more days off with the proposed calendar. We are intelligent, well educated people who work exceptionally hard at our jobs. Most of us could make much more money and have more opportunity for advancement if we had gone into another field. However, we chose teaching because we care about children and want to make a positive difference in their lives.

Another of Steve's rants was about how many days off teachers get. He feels that teachers get too much time off. Remember the old joke: What are the three best reasons for being a teacher? June, July, and August! First of all, this past year teachers were back at school the first week in August. Secondly, teachers are ten-month employees. We are not paid for those two months off in the summer although most of us work many days during that time without pay.

So, lay off the teachers, Steve. The balanced calendar is a proposal, and everyone in the community has the opportunity to provide input. It isn't being forced on anyone. It has been proposed, and now it is being discussed and debated. The final decision will be based on that discussion and debate.

Insect Trap Warfare

In my never-ceasing crusade to keep my readership well-informed, I am providing documentation for a previous post of mine about the adhesive pest traps in my classroom. I took my digital camera to school today for my documentation effort. The photos show two of the five (that I've found) adhesive traps in my classroom. The others were in locations that were too difficult to reach for a photo - and I SURE wasn't going to move the traps to a more photographic location. Lovely, isn't it?

Pooting Up The Chrismis Lights

I only have five minutes between reading groups, but I had to log on quickly to share the following story.

My third graders were writing in their journals this morning. Jason wrote the following in his:

"Yesterday I pooted up the Chrismis lights. It was fun."

I loved keeping a straight face and smiling as he eagerly shared his writing with the group. None of the other children noticed anything unusual about it. And haven't we all felt like pooting up something every now and then?

Immediate Withdrawal from Washington, D.C.

Just got this from my friend, Dorothy, in Birmingham.

If you consider that there have been an average of 160,000 troops in the Iraq theater of operations during the last 22 months, and a totalof 2112 deaths, that gives a firearm death rate of 60 per 100,000. The rate in Washington D.C. is 80.6 per 100,000.That means that you are about 25% more likely to be shot and killed in our nation's capitol, which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, than you are in Iraq. Conclusion: We should immediately pull out of Washington D.C.

I have NO idea if the statistics are true or not. Either way, I still love the logic. I heard a very similar comment on the radio the other day, except they referred to San Francisco's murder rate instead of D.C.

Parental Notification

I'm staying up WAY too late! I started surfing blogs, and suddenly several hours have passed! However, I had to go ahead and post the following item.

I saw this post by Darren at Right on the Left Coast: Views From a Conservative Teacher. Here's an exerpt, although you'll want to read the entire post.

So we trust teenagers to make some medical decisions for themselves (abortions) but not others (aspirin), and we don't trust them to drink alcohol. We must keep secrets from their parents, but expect the parents to be responsible for them and their actions. And we help the children keep secrets from their parents. Wow!

Charmaine at Reasoned Audacity has this post related to the topic.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Blogger Woes, Sanity's Bluff, and Christmas

A quick potpouri of items:
I couldn't access THE MEDIAN SIB after work today because Blogger was shut down. So no new posts for now. I have several in the works, and will post them tomorrow, hopefully.

In the meantime, visit the blog I have highlighted in the sidebar, Sanity's Bluff. He has strong opinions and expresses them well. I'll write more about Sanity's Bluff tomorrow.

For your viewing enjoyment, here's a cartoon I saw in my high school newsletter this afternoon:

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Camping Trip - Lightning, Thunder and Rain, OH MY!

First you have to understand that "the land" is 90 acres with one very rough road going into it for a short distance. And please understand that I'm being incredibly generous to even call it a "road." The area where we wanted to camp was, naturally, not next to that road. That meant parking the jeep at the end of the road and then carrying our camping supplies down a hill and then up an even bigger and steeper hill. We pared down our supplies as much as possible, but it still involved three round trips for me, and four round trips for PawPaw. Since it had been raining, several of those trips involved lugging dry firewood for the campfire. We both got a good workout making those trips.

I can "rough it" as long as two needs are met: (1) I must have a convenient and reasonably private place for me to take care of bodily functions; and (2) I must have a place that is comfortable to sleep. (All women may now voice their agreement with these two conditions!)

As soon as we determined the spot to pitch the tent, I scouted around nearby to find a potty spot. Men just have an easier time when it comes to peeing in the woods. I found a good place and made sure I could get there easily if the need should arise in the middle of the night (which it didn't, thank goodness!).

I already had a great "sleep system" worked out - Coleman twin-size air mattress, foam "egg-carton" pad, my pillow and my 30-degree sleeping bag.

So we were set. We put up the tent, cleared a space for our campfire and got the fire going. It was only 4:00 p.m. at that point. No rain so far. We simply sat by the campfire and talked for a long time -- occasionally walking around and talking about where to build a house.

The land has a lot of history to it. It is near the site of the Battle of Franklin, and troops camped out on the hill where PawPaw and I were camping. It was sobering to think of the young soldiers who had to camp there without benefit of all the modern camping supplies that we had.

By five it was dark. We started dinner. I brought everything ready to go - a small zip lock bag of chopped onions and peppers, a small package of sliced steak, and a couple potatoes. I cut the potatoes into strips, placed them in some aluminum foil and added water to it so they would steam and not burn, a little s & p and sealed it well and put it directly in the fire. Then I used my nifty little camp stove and sauteed the onions, peppers and steak - added a little worchestershire sauce for flavor. Dinner was fabulous. I always take plastic plates I bought for the grandkids when I go camping because they're the only non-glass plates I have. So I ate from a Wiggles plate, and PawPaw ate from a Hello Kitty plate.

Sitting around the campfire was nice - talking, listening to the sounds around us. We were on a high ridge and could see for a long distance all around. At one point there was gunfire (yes GUNFIRE!!!) not too far away -- 10 shots close together, then 9, then 10 again, and 10 more - we counted. Yes, it made me nervous!! It crossed my mind that if we could see for a long distance all around, then our campfire could be seen from all around, too. A blazing campfire announcing to one and all that some crazy folks were camping up on that hill!

Soon it started to lightly rain. We had put up a tarp over the entrance to the tent and out for a few feets away from it. We put our camp chairs under the tarp and continued to enjoy the fire. We put some water in a pot on the fire and made hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was perfect for such a cold rainy evening. Earlier in the afternoon as I was about to leave my house, I had thought "hmm, I might need a hat and gloves," and I went back to get them. WISE decision! I would have been uncomfortably cold if I hadn't brought them.

Around eight we went to bed. It started raining harder, and off and on throughout the night it stormed. At one point the wind was really strong and there was lots of thunder and lightning. We woke briefly but then went back to sleep.

Six o'clock this morning, we were up, and by 6:40 the fire was roaring, the coffee was perking, and we were eating our breakfast of ham and cheese and toast. We did more walking around and talking, and then headed home around nine. It was a great camping trip, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. Now I am headed off to relax in the jacuzzi for awhile! From roughing it to luxury!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

It's COLD. It's RAINING. Let's Go Camping!

PawPaw and I are going camping tonight. We'll camp out on the land that PawPaw is buying. We're probably nuts because the temperature is hovering near freezing, and it is raining. I'm looking forward to it. I'll have a full report tomorrow.

A Catholic Funeral

Just got back from a funeral. It was the first Catholic funeral I've ever attended. It was also the longest funeral I've ever attended - well over an hour. However, it was enough to make me consider converting to Catholicism - not really, but I was still impressed. The visitation service last night and the funeral today were both incredible - full of loving remembrances of a man who had touched many lives -- his wife of 55 years, nine children, numerous grandchildren, friends and business associates. As PawPaw, Stinkeroo and I left the visitation last night, we all agreed that THAT was what a memorial/funeral service should be like. I may not agree with the Catholic church on other things, but they sure have the right plan when it comes to memorial services.

November 22nd, September 11th...and for me, December 3rd

Some dates are stamped indelibly in our minds. For most Americans November 22nd and September 11th are unforgettable. For me, December 3rd is also on the list. That's the day in 1986 that my father died suddenly. I loved my father, and my memories of him are precious to me. I am sad that my grandchildren will never have the opportunity to know him. I wrote the following piece three years after his death. It was published in The Tennessean, Nashville's daily newspaper, on 11/23/89.

Until three years ago, I never really thought much about Thanksgiving. It provided two days off work, the opportunity to visit family and a chance to do some Christmas shopping. It was fun and had a lot of historical significance, but there wasn't anything to make it more special to me than other holidays.

Thanksgiving 1986 changed that.

In 1986, we had just moved to the Nashville area and decided to invite my family there for Thanksgiving weekend. With my parents, siblings, their spouses and children, we had a total of 26 people staying at our home for three days.

I planned well. We had mattresses and sleeping bags in almost every room. I set up a household chore chart and assigned each person a job, and each family brought a covered dish to share. It was a wonderful weekend.

On Thanksgiving Day, my father carved the turkey, said the blessing in his wonderfully rich voice and we had a traditional Thanksgiving meal. We sat around the fireplace that evening, sipping hot chocolate and spiced tea, watching movies and talking.

The day after Thanksgiving, we headed off to the State Fairgrounds for an arts and crafts show. Daddy had recently retired and had become interested in woodworking. He planned to give each of his grandchildren a hand-made wooden toy for Christmas. He wanted sleds for the boys and doll cradles for the girls. With 14 grandchildren, it was no small task. As we walked through the fairgrounds, Daddy talked to different woodworkers, jotting down ideas, and occasionally buying patterns for projects that interested him.

Later that evening, our plans included a trip to the Grand Ole Opry. At the last minute, our babysitting arrangements fell through. My husband gave up his ticket to stay home and babysit with all the children so I could go with my parents, brothers and sisters to the show.

It was a night to remember. When my mother was a young girl, Minnie Pearl came to her small mill town in Georgia and directed a play. Mother was in the play and so enjoyed knowing Minnie that she and Daddy following Minnie's career after that. Much to Mother's and Daddy's disappointment, however, Minnie Pearl wasn't listed on the program that night. Midway through Roy Acuff's segment of the show, though, she walked on the stage and gave a wonderful performance. It seemed like the perfect ending to a perfect weekend.

The next morning, everyone busily packed for the trip home. Daddy was a preacher, and he was anxious to get home and prepare for Sunday's service. As he and Mother drove out of the driveway, my sister, Debi, stopped them. Her son, Andrew, had just received a new camera and wanted to get a picture of Grandshaw (the nickname all the grandchildren used for Daddy).

As usual, Daddy was happy to stop whatever he was doing to help his grandchildren. So, they parked the car and came back inside. The grandchildren clustered around him and Mother, and we all took pictures - picture of Grandshaw, Mother and all the children.

Soon, everyone was gone, amid shouted goodbyes and promises to get together again at Christmas. We got together much sooner than that. Four days after everyone left, I got the phone call: My father was dead of heart failure.

One Friday, we were celebrating at the Grand Ole Opry; the next Friday we were standing around a grave, hand in hand, grieving for Daddy.

The pictures that we had taken just a few days earlier became precious keepsakes, and Thanksgving because extra special as we remembered the last time our family was complete.

After Daddy's funeral service, we went into his basement. We found several cradles already made, and the patterns and wood for the sleds laid out. My brothers, Terry and David, took the sleds and cradles to their home to finish, and on Christmas morning each grandchild recieved a last gift from Grandshaw.

Sticky Insect Traps

A month or so ago, an extermination company came to our school and set out lots of those little sticky insect traps. There are four or five in my classroom - under a table, beside the outside door, behind bookshelves. To my knowledge, the company hasn't been back. Yesterday, as I walked around the room, I saw that every single trap is now solid black on the inside with insects trapped in the adhesive. From what I could see (without picking them up or getting too close), the culprits are mostly crickets. I'm sure there are other insects there, too, along with some spiders. It is SO gross!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Can NCLB help Ryan?

I arrived at school this morning with just enough time to walk to the gym for my morning bus duty. Bus duty only lasts for ten minutes - ten minutes of controlled chaos. There are probably a couple hundred kids in the gym, along with two teachers to supervise. Despite the noise, I enjoy being there to greet the children as they get off the buses and then sit in the gym to wait for the bell to go to their classrooms.

There are several kids who make a point to greet me with a hug or a quick chat each morning. Ryan is one of the ones who never fails to seek me out before going to the cafeteria for breakfast. This morning, he seemed particularly anxious to talk to me.

As soon as he got close enough, he burst out, "We had to call an ambulance to my house last night because my mama couldn't breathe."

"Oh no, Ryan. I'm so sorry. Is she okay now?"

"Yes, she's fine now."

"Oh good! I'm glad she's okay. Does she have asthma? Is that why she had a hard time breathing?"

Ryan looked around and lowered his voice. "No, she was drunk. The doctor told her that she had to stop drinking." He brightened, "She said she would."

"I'm sorry, Ryan. Are you okay?"

"Yeah, but I'm tired. I didn't get to sleep last night." He started towards the cafeteria, but then turned back, "Mama said I could tell one person. So it's okay I told you."

"Of course it's okay to tell me."

Ryan then headed off for his breakfast.

And that is why some children won't make that all-important goal of one year's growth in reading and math during a school year. Too many children must deal with problems much more important to them than their schoolwork. Who cares if 5 x 6 = 30 if your mom had to be rushed to the hospital because she drank too much and you didn't get any sleep because you were left to wonder all night whether or not she was alive?

After Ryan walked away, I looked over the sea of children there in the gym - all those happy, solemn, animated, frowning, talking, laughing faces - each one a unique and precious child. And I realized anew that we never know what children must deal with outside of school. Our few hours with them are just a small window into their world. Ryan shared his secret with me, but I wondered what secrets other children were keeping to themselves.

Update 12/6/05
I talked with our school's guidance counselor about Ryan. The guidance counselor, social worker and student support services teachers are all aware of the situation and are working with Ryan's family. The bad news is that alcoholism is difficult to overcome. There is a hard road ahead for the whole family. The good news is that Ryan and his brothers have both parents at home, and Ryan's mom told the guidance counselor that she wants help. Maybe the episode the other night was the catalyst for her to seek help. Our school has provided clothes, shoes, coats and school supplies for the children in the family for several years. Outreach groups provide Thanksgiving baskets and Christmas gifts, too. Ryan has a strong network of support from the school and community. I pray that it will be enough.