Friday, October 31, 2008

Mike Took a Picture For Me!

Mike, over at Ozark Photos filled a request for me by taking a Fall photo there in the Ozarks. Didn't he do a great job? I think this one is my favorite, Mike. I love the steam coming off of the water in the stream. Must have been a chilly morning!

Thanks so much!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

A First in Hughes Baseball

Timothy made his first home run. It was sweet.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Do you ever feel blah?

That's what I'm feeling today. It's pretty unusual for me. I'm usually riled up about something, or thinking on something, or doing something or going somewhere (right now I'm just entertaining myself by making my words into italics). But yeah. It's a blah day.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining! I kind of need a blah day every now and again. I think today is just going to be a blah morning, because the boys have games this evening. Their games are anything but blah.

I did get to share some blahness with our middle son, though. He's kind of feeling the same way, and so we went out for a drive, just to see the countryside. It's doable now that gas is down to 2.37 a gallon. But he and I are products of our environment. We take on things that are going on around us, and right now it's just a lazy Fall day.

Enjoy your day, whatever kind of day it is, because it's LIFE, and it's all part of living!

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Waltons

My kids know who the Waltons are now! I'm so excited. So now, when I make references about how NOT like the Waltons they are, there's a glimmer of understanding.

We knew some kids who were Waltonish. It was a little bit scary, and to be quite honest I just didn't know how to react to them. I walked my kids to school every morning, and often they would be in front of us. It was 7:30 in the morning, and they were already smiling, pleasantly conversing....scary stuff. One morning I was walking close enough to hear them bid each other a good day before they split up and went to each of their classrooms. I almost stopped in mid stride. I told them they were like the Waltons. I got sweet smiles and blank stares. I mimicked the lines, "Good night John Boy....Good night Mary Ellen...Good night Jim Bob...." Nothing. It was then that I realized my kids were probably as clueless about the show as them: The modern day Waltons.

A friend of mine asked one of the parents how they do it. He smiled and replied that God gives us the children we can handle. "Well I guess God knew I could handle much more than you!" was her reply.

So....when I found the show comes on in the mornings before school starts, I took the liberty of pointing them out. The kiddos aren't impressed, and we still have the morning hurry up's and "Get your shoes and put them on in the car!" I wonder if I could bribe them for just one morning of the Waltons.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Finger

Here is Brian Regan's hilarious bit I talked about in the previous post. I promise it's completely clean.


PS. If you are interested in any more of Brian's clips, some of our favorites are Emergency Room 1 & 2, I walked on the Moon, Stupid in School (boxen and moosen are words we use in our house regularly now), and UPS.

What's Right in America

I've been ranting a bit about things that are bugging me here in the States, but I haven't given equal time to the things I love. So here goes:

Thunderstorms. We had the most awesome thunderstorm the other night, and Texas thunderstorms are my favorite. The lightening shoots across the sky in firework-like displays, and the thunder literally rolls across the sky. I remember in high school, we had a two story house with a tin roof. My bedroom was upstairs, and on nights with thunderstorms I could lay in bed and listen to the thunder and watch the displays. It's one of my favorite things.

Choice. In America, we have a choice for just about everything out there in terms of purchasing things. The cell phones I despise, food, clothing, toys, sports equipment, name it. When we have the means, we do not need to settle in our choices. We can get exactly what we want when we want it. Grant it, that ease of purchase is what has us a little bit (OK, a lot-a-bit) spoiled, but it's there.

Friendliness. I love the fact that strangers will just pop into a conversation, will wave a thank you (although a really funny comedian, Brian Regan, has a bit about this very thing. I'll try to find it and post it. It's called "the Finger" and it's not what it sounds like.), open doors for does a heart good to see those type of things.

Volunteers and Charity. People like to give of their time for no pay. It's the most selfless thing, and I believe it's one of the things that makes America strong. It's surely one of the things that makes America proud. Most of the rest of the world is focused on surviving and getting ahead. But America is in a place in her history where she can do good for others without expecting or asking for pay. And our charitable giving as a nation is unmatched. I remember after the tsunami in Thailand, the American government was criticized for not giving more, but what wasn't taken into account was the amount of private donations that were given. The GOVERNMENT didn't need to give as much, because her private citizens were. Makes me proud.

Last, but not least, education. I know the school system takes a lot of heat for things, but our teachers are pretty innovative, and they are willing to do what it takes to ensure that kids are learning. Did you know that there is a teaching style that has been part of the education system for many years (round table) that England wants to implement in it's classrooms? They send teachers here to observe it in action, and the reason it's so good is that it eliminates the back of the classroom. Every student has to be involved in the lesson. England wants to make it the standard classroom setup in their schools.

While there are a lot of things wrong here in the States, there are many more things that are right. Our democratic system is one of the best in the world, and while we may not like it all the time, or there may be corruption or negligence in the system, in reality it all comes down to us and what we allow, the choices we make. In the end, it's ours, and for better or worse, I love it!

Friday, October 03, 2008


It's my favorite time of year again, but this year I'm enjoying it in the states. I didn't realize how much I miss it here. The things I'm noticing lately are the cool temperatures in the evenings (I even shivered once last week!), the beautiful sunsets that illuminate the entire sky, FLOCKS of birds (or as the great comedian Brian Regan would say, "Flocksen of birds.")flying overhead, or assembled on power lines, big blue skies, the smell of fires in fireplaces.... I could go on. I'm really looking forward to pumpkin carving, though. Our kids have really missed that. I will definitely post pictures!

Though we're busy with speaking engagements this month, we are taking the time to just enjoy the outdoors. I think a nice drive in the country is in order.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Spin Zone

Yes, I'm ranting a bit lately. I am experiencing a little bit of reverse culture shock lately (though the positives far outweigh the negatives, mind you), so the cell phone thing, and especially the cell phone while driving thing (or worse yet, TEXTING while driving...unimagineable! I saw a woman doing this during morning traffic on the interstate this week, and she drove worse than any drunk driver I've ever seen) is something I'm just not used to.

But, this being an election year, and being out of U.S. politics for nine years (so I even missed the "hanging chad" election, and yes, I even voted though I was in a small rural town in a developing VOTE!) has caused me to realize I have not been a political observer in this country for a long time. Although, I am so glad most places have given up the little truck that drives around with the speaker on top, loudly proclaiming the virtues of their party. (Taiwan hasn't)

I am amazed at this point at the amount of spin that is out there. I used to teach a unit of study to my gifted students about elections, and the students were amazed to see how easy it is to sway others to a party's platform. They discovered that few people fact check. They could say just about anything to other classes, and if it was a popular idea, they got the vote. Once they had this experience, we back pedaled and looked at ads from local politicians (Florida was electing a governor at this point) to see if this was going on with them. They were shocked. If I had to do that lesson again, I would have them cast their votes on a candidate first, then cast them again to see if there was a change. But I digress.

Spinning the TRUTH is something that politicians were good at, but would never publicly acknowledge doing. Now, I'm seeing it as a point of pride, with interviews after debates with party "spin doctors" to talk about who did better, who swayed viewers the best.

The reason I take spinning to task, is that it goes against what we teach our children when they are younger and they only tell one side of a story, or only present elements of an event to paint themselves in a better light. They are telling the truth, but not the whole truth, for their personal benefit. They use elements of truth to present a facade and cause people think in one direction, when the opposite is actually true. There is deniability within the elements of truth rather than the whole truth. It can always be said, "Oh, you misunderstood...I never actually said...." I know people like this personally, and they are not to be trusted. Period. So why do we allow it with our candidates?

So tonight during the vice presidential debate, I'll be working to unspin the spin, and listening for real, honest truth. It's a tough job, but it's my responsibility as a citizen. I think I've got enough practice now to do a fairly decent job of it.