Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The plight of our creative minds: the gifted child defined

The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this:

A human creature born abnormally, inhumanely sensitive.
To them... a touch is a blow,
a sound is a noise,
a misfortune is a tragedy,
a joy is an ecstasy,
a friend is a lover,
a lover is a god,
and failure is death.

Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create --
so that without the creating of music
or poetry
or books
or buildings
or something of meaning,
their very breath is cut off...

They must create, must pour out creation.
By some strange, unknown, inward urgency
they are not really alive unless they are creating.

~Pearl S. Buck

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Crazy Stuff

So during my presentation on Thursday, my eyes were drawn to a lady in the back. She looked very familiar, to the point that I thought I knew her from somewhere, but couldn't place her. After speaking, I tried to get back to her, but she left before I could get there. We went back to the hotel and packed up so that we could leave after the last session. I met her in the lobby, doing the same thing. "You're the lady from the workshop I've been talking about," she said. I thanked her, then told her she was very familiar to me. We discussed various places we've lived, and never came to a mutual agreement on where we could have met. She got on her elevator while I stayed back with my friends. Just as the elevator door was about to close, she held the door open and said, "WAIT! Where did you go to school?" "Missouri State," I said. "Then you had my mom. She was the only Special Ed professor there, and one of the first in the States," she said. "I look just like her." Wow. And we met. At my Visual Spatial session where we discussed visual memory. From two states away. Twenty three years later. Blew my mind. It sure validated my studies!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


I finally finished my presentation for later this week!  Most of the load is lifted, except for the actual presentation.  I think I'll be glad when it's over.

And we named the cat.  Dapper Dan.  It fits.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Old Thanksgiving, New People

I love this time of year.  The colors, the changing temperatures and especially the holidays.  Halloween was fun this year.  Four times I answered the door and heard, "Mrs Hughes!" from behind masks.  They got the good candy. ;)  Our school has wonderful traditions like Grandparent's Day and Turkey Bowl.  And tomorrow I get to enjoy my favorite holiday of the year:  Thanksgiving.  It's the one time of year that everyone gets together to fellowship and catch up.  We take walks, play games, and wake up at ungodly hours to go shopping.  The nice thing, though, is that there really isn't any pressure tradition-wise.  There are so many people in the mix now, and everyone literally brings a little something to the table.  It's a come one, come all venture, and there's always someone new to get to know, some new food to try.  Of course there is the traditional fare:  the turkey and stuffing, gravy and fixin's, but there are also the new things and new people.  The only thing to count on at Thanksgiving is that it's going to be different.

That's a good tradition to have, I think.  We're too big to try and stay the same!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Oh My Word.

So apparently my presentation at the state conference has been selected to be taped for professional development statewide. Game on...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Our newest addition

We've been pet-less for awhile now.  For about 10 years.  And the iguana doesn't count as a pet.  Not really anyway.  You can't love on an iguana.  They get testy about that.  And getting hit with an iguana tail is much like getting slapped.  It's not loving in any way.

T has been the most vocal about no pets.  He really hates walking into a house and being able to smell that a pet lives there.  So he's been very adamant about no indoor pets.  We've been focused on dogs for awhile, with our minds set on black labs.  Our minds are still set that way...they are just the coolest dogs.  A black lab named Bo adopted us when we lived in Weatherford in 2000.  It followed T everywhere.  He would walk these four mile treks, and that dog would go everywhere he went, playing in streams as it went.  "Now THAT'S a dog!" he would say.  So if we do get a dog at some point, I believe a black lab is the only thing that will do.  But we need a fence first.  That will take some time.

So it was surprising last week when T brought home a cat.  A young, black and white cat.  And it's been taking over our house every since.  We immediately went out and bought it play things and a litter box.  It was tentative at first, but now, the house is his domain.  We know this, because he's willing to take on anything or anyone that gets in his path.  We walk up the stairs and we get pounced.  Downstairs.  Pounced.  By doors, pounced.  He also goes on little rampages and tears through the house, bouncing off walls, running sideways on the couch.  He plays chase with the boys.  They even gang up on him, with each boy scaring him to different rooms, but he just darts by them, turns around in the room and heads back out again, usually with the boys on their hands and knees laughing too hard to pursue.

The cat is T's baby, too.  I pointed out to T that it's funny that he was the one that was so vocal about not having a pet, and this one has him wrapped around it's little paw-pinky.  T said, "Yeah, but you should thank me.  I held out for the best one!"

So now it's on to naming him.  He's been here a week with no name.  We're not real good at that part.  Our last cat was named Big Kitty.  But she lived 22 years. Maybe we should keep it simple again and name it Cat.  If names are any indication, he'll be with us awhile.  It should be fun.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

It takes so little

There's a teacher I admire.  She's been teaching a long time, and is close to retirement, yet she's continually learning and trying new things.  And she has a love and passion for teaching kids.

I got to talk to her at length yesterday, after a district meeting.  As GT teachers, we meet once a month to share ideas, make sure we're all on the same page, and to plan for our summer field trip with our students. Yesterday, the meeting was in my class.  She stayed after, talking about what she was doing in her class, and I always come away with new ideas after talking to her.

But she shared a little more with me yesterday.  She shared her heart.  We were talking about difficult students we've had, and she recently had a moment with one of those students that we teachers only dream about.  Her "difficult" student just got accepted to a University, with scholarships to boot.  She's going to be a missions director.

This student hadn't forgotten my friend, though.  My friend worked with her since kinder, and took time to do little things outside the realm of normal teaching with her.  She walked her from her bus to her class.  She colored with her.  She listened and cared when other teachers didn't.  This teacher saw something in this little girl that no one else did.

So the now-grown-up little girl took my friend to lunch recently.  During the course of the lunch, the "girl" stopped and said, "There's something I need to say to you."  Of course my friend stopped and listened.  "If our paths had never crossed," the girl said, "You would not have changed.  You would be the exact person I'm sitting across today.  I know that.  But..." she continued, "if our paths had never crossed, I would definitely not be the same person sitting across from you today."

Tears.  Lots of them.  And not just between the girl and my friend, but between my friend and me now.

"How many teachers go through their career never really knowing if they made a difference?  You now know!"  I said.  You know what she said to me?  She said, "But that's not what made me cry then or now.  What makes me cry is the fact that it took so little to change the course of her life."

Humble pie.  As always, I took that conversation and made it about our profession, about success as a teacher, about proof that she made a difference.  She on the other hand, saw the real issue at hand.  "How many," she said, "get passed over, without ever having a lifeline.  She was a troubled little girl that didn't fit into our neat little boxes.  How many just get passed over?  It really takes so little."

It was a great question.  One of those life lesson questions that motivates us to do better.  It's the reminder of why we get into teaching.  It's not just about good lessons, great ideas, learning and great questions.  It's about people.  Little people who grow up and become big people.  And those big people can make a difference in this world, good or bad.

Sometimes all they need is a walk.  Or a coloring buddy.

Or someone just to see them.  It makes a difference.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ends and beginnings

I know I've complained about how hard the rating position was, but wow.  What a learning experience.  I'm glad I was able to rate, even though it meant long hours and a little less sleep.

I've been thinking about getting my Master's for awhile, but I've not been happy with the choices available.  I want to study something I'm passionate about, not just a degree that means more pay.  Enter the Master's of Education with an emphasis in mind, brain and education!  It's a mixture of neuroscience and education and has got me so excited I can hardly stand it!

Apparently this is a new field, and this degree looks at the way the brain learns and matches it with educational strategies so that those in this field can design better curriculum that meets the needs of kids' learning styles whether they have learning disabilities or not.  It's the path I've been on since teaching at the international school in Taiwan.

So...GRE, here I come!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Rating is...

SOOOO  HAAARD!  I'm glad I'm doing it, but....IT'S SO HARD!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Healing the Blind Spots

Have you ever been in a situation for a prolonged period of time, then come out of it only to be left with residual effects? 

Well, I've had the realization this week that that is what I'm dealing with, and I'm finally able to let go.  It also tells me just how unhealthy things were for me for so long.

My husband and I worked in an environment overseas that was very competitive, and not in a healthy way.  Sad, because there was no reason for it to be, but there it is.  I'm not sure why it was, but there was a need for those we worked with in our region to compete and vie for positions.  T and I didn't think like that, so it was disheartening to have it happen.  We just wanted to put our heads down and do our work.  We didn't want to be part of the politics.  In my opinion, people who do their work from the standpoint of personal agendas are not people I want to work with.  There is always a questioning of motives, or an inability to speak freely because of others who want to discredit or take credit for the work.

It wasn't the recognition that we wanted.  T and I both are background people.  We don't like the spotlight, and would rather someone else take it.  It was more about stealing.  The stealing of ideas to present as their own, the stealing of words (hearing your own words coming out of someone else's mouth), or even the stealing of joy.  I was glad to be rid of it all when the time came.  I figured those people, the ones who behaved in this way, deserved each other.  I'm not sure what goes on now, but I can imagine things eventually get very lonely, because you can only undermine those close to you for so long before people get sick of it.  I imagine there are many serial friendships rather than long-lasting deep friendships. 

But I realized lately that the actions of those few had a great impact on me.  I became hypersensitive to making sure credit was given where credit was due.  And I was probably a bit too harsh with folks who tried to steal the spotlight from someone else, instead of letting them enjoy their moment.  (Harsh in my mind and my opinion of them, not openly)

I've had the privilege the last few years of working with people who are selfless, who don't care about the spotlight.  Their "Do Whatever It Takes" attitudes have no egos.  They may get accolades, they may not.  It doesn't matter.  It's the kind of attitude I had when I first went overseas...before I became jaded.  It's sad that I found that in secular work.

But now, I'm OK with those needing to take credit that isn't theirs.  I realize they must need it, and it really doesn't matter to me. It's a little sad to me, but I'm at a healthier point in my life and can truthfully say that if someone needs the spotlight, I'm OK if they take it.  I'll still give credit where credit is due, because that's fair.

And in the end, as I'm coming to realize, it's all fair.  The good and the bad of it.  Because eventually each person gets the credit they deserve. For the right reasons.  

Friday, September 30, 2011

Oh no, I'm not busy enough...

You would think I'd learned my lesson last year in terms of being busy during the school year.  But no.  I didn't.  Teaching at two schools isn't enough. Neither is testing at both of those schools.  And never mind the fact that this is Timo's senior year and all that that implies.  I had to add rater to my list of duties.

It's a good deal, mind you.  And it will look good on a resume should I ever need it again.  But still.  Adding additional hours to these weeks is....not well thought out? 

But for now, I'm enjoying the experience.  I really am glad I did it. 


Sunday, September 18, 2011

TAGT and me - YIKES!

I've had this passion in my educational life the past few years.  It started in Taiwan, when I was teaching at the international school there.  I was trying to figure out how to reach a handful of students within that community.  They struggled in the classroom, but they were obviously smart and talented.  Teachers were beginning to give up on them.

I noticed that these students were mainly students who were ADD, ADHD or ultra-creative in the way they expressed themselves.  They HATED to be told the steps to do things.  Rather, they liked to figure out steps on their own.  They loved problem solving, and in fact, that's where they got their energy from.  Telling these students how to do things sucked the life right out of them.  However, if I put a problem on the board with the answer, and asked them how I got the answer, their eyes immediately lit up, and they were involved.  I had them hook, line and sinker.  Once they learned the steps in this way, they had them forever.  No skill and practice was needed at all.

I didn't come up with these initial ideas on my own.  I found a website constructed by a woman named Dr. Linda Kreger Silverman.  She had been studying these types of students since the 70's, and had even coined the term that we use to describe them to this day:  the Visual Spatial learner.  I studied just about everything Dr. Silverman published on this type of student, and I've become a huge advocate for this type of learner at my schools.  I've found that these students are huge assets in any classroom, and have amazing learning abilities, even though they learn quite differently from the way we teach in a regular classroom.  They struggle desperately in the early years, and if not caught early, these learners can become so beaten down that they lose all interest in school and eventually drop out.

I happen to be married to a visual spatial learner, and I'm one myself.  As a result, two of my children also learn in this manner.  So you can see the amount of personal interest I have in the topic, and why, after no thought whatsoever, I submitted this topic as one I would be willing to present at the Texas Association of Gifted and Talented conference, held in Austin this year.  It's a state conference, and GT teachers from all over the state attend to learn more about the students we hope to inspire.  I never thought my topic would be accepted.  It was.

So now I'm presenting about visual spatial learners to teachers from all over the state this November.  And to make it even more nerve wrecking, Dr. Linda Kruger Silverman is one of the keynote speakers. 

What was I thinking????  Better get my game on!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Almost here

So we officially have 6 more days of Summer.  I'm not sad to see this one go.  Earlier this week we had our 80th day of 100-plus degree weather.  At least it broke a record!  If I'm going to go through something like that, I want a record to show for it.

I remember a similar Summer back in the 80's.  But back then I spent a lot of time in the community pool, and ate a lot of peaches. :)  It seemed easier then.  Plus, our air conditioners never went out.

That said, Fall is coming in quite nicely.  Yesterday was 84, and we even had a little rain.  The shadows are starting to change, and that love for all things Fall is waking back up.  I'm ready for everything this season brings.

Happy Fall, Ya'll!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


I am now a rater.  SaWEET!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Today I'm a:

shoe tie-er
tear drier
nose wiper
ponytail repairer
hall monitor
math instructor
learning assessor
laundry folder
casserole baker
gas pumper
four square referee
swim team booster club member
bill payer

.....and there's still 40 minutes left in my day

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Waiting Room

Waiting rooms can be a bit awkward:  sitting next to or across from strangers, not sure where to look, avoiding eye contact.  We were "blessed" to be able to sit for an hour and a half in such a room this week. 

Seventh grade is a grade in which booster shots are needed, and since the new school year came up so quickly, of course I had to scramble to get San in for his shots.  Other seventh graders apparently were in the same boat.

This found us sitting together in said waiting room, San looking down, me looking around, but not looking in one place very long.

Then there was music.  We couldn't really place it, until one seventh grader suddenly picked up her purse.  She looked up and glanced around the room, only to see all of us staring at her.  Her eyes went back to her purse, her fingers fumbling with the zipper.  "Oh my gosh, the ZIPPER'S BROKEN," was her frantic cry as she worked to quickly silence the music.

Finally, the zipper budged.  She grabbed her phone, clicked the button, put the phone to her ear and walked out of the waiting room.  There was silence again.  But a quick glance around the room revealed knowing smiles, since we all at some time or another had been in this exact circumstance.

But the silence was again suddenly broken by a young male voice:

"All I gotta say is she is NOT my sister!"

Then peels of laughter.

And for that brief moment, all of us strangers enjoyed a small, shared moment.  It was adorable, fun, and relieved a lot of tension.

And it was something worth writing about.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011


I know I've said it before, and I've gushed too much about the people I work with, but I'm going to gush some more.

These past two days our school retreat has been taking place.  It's a time when we as a staff get together and focus on our theme for the year.  Sometimes the theme is specific, like focusing on standards or data, but this year our focus is Excellence.  We were given a card with a quote by Brian Harbor, and I am going to display it in front of my desk so I see it every day:

"The pursuit of excellence is not to be a quest for superiority, and is not about competition or about outstripping others (which is usually done for one's own glory or significance, or for the praise or applause of men.)

SUCCESS means being the best.
EXCELLENCE means being your best.
SUCCESS, to many, means being better than everyone else.
EXCELLENCE means being better tomorrow than you were yesterday.
SUCCESS means exceeding the achievements of other people.
EXCELLENCE means matching your practice with your potential.
~Brian Harbor

I'm pumped.  Looking forward to see what a year of excellence can do!

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Useta:  something that was a usual occurrence in the past.  "I useta live in Taiwan."  Useta.

I useta:

hate Chinese food
love the show "Dallas"
listen to KLBJ
have skinny arms
drive fast
get caught up in drama
spell good
have really, really good grammar
get walked on
think I knew a lot
cross stitch
sunbathe.  With crisco.
have blonde hair
dream about being a horse trainer
love to travel
trust everyone
never cry
be competitive...

but not anymore.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Connecting with Distant Relatives

There's something about family that gives us roots, makes us feel grounded.  I am blessed to a HUGE degree to have strong family ties with my immediate family as well as extended family.  Having shared memories with cousins and seeing events from my memory from another perspective is so fun. 

I got to see some cousins today.  While I only got to spend 5 hours with them, the talking and laughter that we shared was priceless.  We talked about memories from when we were young, Mimi and Papa's house, stories about my dad and his sister from his sister's side of things (their family is known for being quite the pranksters.  With seven kids in the house, the stories are endless!) and so much more.  It's nice to know my following my cousins around didn't bug them too much.  It was also fun to know they had similar "bowling" stories, and having a similar sense of humor is just icing on the cake.

My daughter went with me.  She has a close connection with these cousins of mine.  I'm not sure why, but she just fits in so well.  And I love passing down this history and sense of belonging to her.

I guess the reason the roots and history is so important is it adds to our sense of purpose and responsibility.  You really don't want to let family down when there are strong ties involved.  And being able to laugh and joke brings people together in ways that even geography can't replace. 

Family is the tie that binds, but laughter is the glue that holds it all together. :)  Love, love, love my family.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sacred Work

A few months back, when things were crazy-busy at school, I was thinking about my kids and the life we led just a few years ago and I compared it to our life now.  Back then, we had the luxury of being on pedestals, unfortunately.  We were revered for our choice to go overseas as missionaries, and to serve in a place where no one had served before.  In fact, I wrote about it here.  The reverence placed on our position then as opposed to where we are working now has been concerning to me, because in my mind, the service aspect of our lives have not changed.  Only location.

Back when we lived overseas and I started blogging, I took part in a blog tour with Marcus Goodyear, an editor with the High Calling.  It's a branch organization of H. E. Butts, from H. E. B. grocery stores.  Mr. Butts is a huge believer in the High Calling of the every day worker.  In fact, he runs a camp for those workers called "Laity Lodge."  He uses his work as a nationally known grocer to serve others and to glorify God in his everyday work.  Mr. Butts also has 30 second radio blurbs in which he encourages the everyday laborer to use their work to serve others and to show our love of God through the quality and character of our work. It was then that I started noticing the disparity between those who were professional ministers and those who served but worked regular, secular jobs.  The former had an easier time doing ministry because it was what they were paid to do yet they received the accolades, while the latter had a harder time with ministry because it was done in their extra time, yet they received no recognition for their hard work.  Yet through it all, it is because of the lay worker that any type of ministry actually exists!

See, the thing that bothered me to my core while I was an "overseas missionary,"  (I've never stopped being a missionary) was the sense of entitlement I saw in my fellow missionaries, even when they knew they were living better than most people in the states, let alone the people they were there to reach.  And even in that lifestyle, they would complain, or find loopholes in the system in order to gain financial advantages.  They would present themselves as living worse off than they were or being needier than they were, in order to gain sympathy from those in the States who didn't know any better, so that some giving, hard-working soul would hand over their hardworking dollars to them.  They knew that lay person worked harder than they themselves ever intended to, yet they greedily accepted the money. I believe there will be special consequences for those people. Even now it sickens me.

But I happened upon this book called Mission Critical: 90 Days of Meditations for the Marketplace by Dwight Hill, and it completely affirmed this thought process I've had for awhile now.  The book discusses how we as Christians have placed ministers and missionaries on a pedestal of christian service, but don't see the value in what we as lay persons do on a daily basis.  We see our work as a "necessary drudgery" in order to make money, when we should be seeing it as a way of life in which the nature of man "should find its proper exercise and delight and so fulfill itself, to the glory of God." (p. 11)  Mr. Hill writes that even Paul, one of Christianity's most famous and sold-out missionaries said in his letter to the Thessalonians, "You should follow our example.  We are not idle when we are with you, nor do we eat anyone's food without paying for it.  Rather, we work night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you."

I think back to my mom's grandfather, Reuben Shinn.  He was a minister.  It was what he was called to do.  So in order to minister, he had to work to sustain his ministry.  He worked as a doctor during the week, and on weekends he ministered to four different churches.  He traveled to each church once a month so that the ministry could continue and the people in those communities could have church services on a regular, albeit limited, basis.

My husband and I no longer work in overseas ministry.  But that does not mean we are not missionaries.  We see our daily work as a work of service to those around us, and a way to bring glory to God in the workplace by working hard, and having a work ethic that glorifies Him.  Do I have bad days?  Yes.  But there is always the recognition that my life is a testimony to others.  The work I do is a High Calling.  It is Sacred Work, and I'm thankful that God has allowed me to do it.  I pray our ministers today learn to connect with this part of the people they serve.  I know God will bless them for it.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

What the World is Looking For:

Men who are not for sale; Men who are honest, sound from center to circumference, true to the heart's core.
Men with consciences as centered as the needle to the Pole.
Men who will stand for right if the Heaven's totter and the earth reels.
Men who can tell the truth and look the world right in the eye.
Men who neither brag nor run. Men who neither flag nor flinch.
Men who can have courage without shouting it.
Men in whom the courage of everlasting life runs still, deep and strong.
Men who will know their message and tell it.
Men who know their place and fill it.
Men who know their business and attend to it.
Men who will not lie, shirk or dodge.
Men who are not too lazy to work, nor too proud to be poor.
Men who are willing to eat what they have grown and wear what they have paid for.
Men who are not ashamed to say "no" with emphasis and who are not ashamed to say "I can't afford it."
God is looking for men. He wants those who can unite together around common faith - who can join hands in a common task - and who have come to the kingdom for such a time as this. God give us men.
~ Senator Frank Carlson.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Let me get this straight.

Regarding the Casey Anthony trial and the logic (or lack thereof) used:

-If Caylee died as a result of an accidental drowning, why was there duct tape covering her nose and mouth?
-Doesn't the admission of the accidental drowning indicate an acknowledgment of knowledge of the death, and therefore knowledge of where the body was?
-Doesn't that lead to knowledge of who placed the body there, and who put the tape on the nose and mouth?
-If that's the case, why the tape if she had drowned?

I'm just not following the logic here.  Put aside how she died.
She died, and Casey said it was an accidental drowning.  The jury agreed that she misled police regarding where Caylee was and the fact that she had died.  So there is acknowledgment that they were there when the body was disposed.  So why didn't anyone ask why the tape then?  Why was it necessary for them to tape her mouth when they disposed of her?  In a garbage bag.  In the woods.

If there is EVER a reason for teaching thinking skills in the classroom....    ugh.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The best apology against false acusers...

"... is silence and sufferance, and honest deeds set against dishonest words” - John Milton

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Man of Mine

I was recently bragging about my husband.  I don't do that often, mainly because he hates it.  But I was was talking with some friends at lunch yesterday, and they were asking me what I was doing this summer.  I indicated my husband and I were building a storage shed in our back yard.  They ended up asking me what my husband can't do, and the only answer I could give them was "stand in a spotlight." 

It's true, though.  Big Dad can do anything.  He has supplied me with two homes. He's a provider.  He fixes our cars so that we don't have to give tons of money to other people for doing it.  He builds things like sheds.  He hunts to provide food for our family.  He fishes.  He has raised bees.  He quilts (yes, my daughter actually has a quilt he made for her, completely by hand.  No sewing machine touched it!).  And before you starting thinking he's not a manly man, just check out the picture below.  He's a mountain conqueror (twice), a language learner (three times), and a major backpacker.  Even with a hurt back, he could out trek men half his age who hired personal trainers in order to get into shape to come trek with him.

More than that, though.  He's loyal.  Extremely so.  To lose his loyalty means a betrayal in a big way.  He's funny.  No, hilarious!  He's a risk taker. He's patriotic. He works hard at whatever he does.  He doesn't do anything halfway.  It's all or nothing.  I believe I mentioned he's hilarious.  You just can't point that out enough.

Finally, though, he's a man of principle.  He will stand for what he believes in.   He can tell just by being with someone for a few minutes if they are genuine or not.  He values genuineness, and does not put up with the personality ethic.  If you say it, you better do it, and be a person of your word.

Yep, Man of Mine is a man among men.  I think I'll keep him.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Three and a Half Muskateers

After visiting my parent's home this weekend and looking through old photo albums, a lot of childhood memories came flooding back.  I mentioned Joey the Crow.  That was an unusual one. 

But another fun memory was with a few twenty somethings that let me hang out with them.  I was in jr. high, but they liked me and let me in on a lot of their hooligan behaviors.  Bonnie, Melanie and Geri enjoyed a bit of mischief every now and then, and I could keep a secret.  I can't remember why they let me come along, but they did.

At first they were the "Three Muskateers" and were known for surprise TP attacks.  I had to be part of it.  I learned the art of TPing from them.  There's a toss and spin that has to happen to keep the streamers long.  You have to use cheap toilet paper.  It makes clean up that much harder.  And if you really want to make things tough, you turn on the sprinklers.

We got caught once.  A police officer saw us running up to a house with rolls of toilet paper in hand, and stopped us.  One of the sweet talkers pleaded with the officer, letting him know that a church staff member had this coming.  "Go ahead," he said.  "And make sure you're quiet about it!"  Yes!

After that night, we became the "Three and a Half Muskateers."  I was a privileged member of an elite TP attack squad.  That's sayin' something.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

So apparently...

...I get to present at the State TAG conference next November.  I'd be nervous if I wasn't so passionate about the topic.  Of course, it's not November yet.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Joey the Crow

When I look back on the events of my childhood and all of my various experiences, I find that I have a few that are a little bit strange.  Joey the Crow is one of them.

It's not all clear.  More like snapshots, but one thing is clear:  Joey like to dive bomb.  I don't think he lived on our block for long, and I remember hearing that he was let go in the wild somewhere in Big Bear mountains. 

There are two specific memories.  One is of me riding my bike down the street, and Joey landing on my back.  The boys on the block, who had a football game going in the middle of the street, all fell on the ground laughing.

The second is of Lewis.  Lewis was the guy who lived across the street.  My brother and I were out in the front yard in our Sunday clothes, and Joey started diving.  Lewis came outside, laughing hysterically and pointing. He shouldn't have.  It took Joey's attention away from us!  Joey started on Lewis until Lewis literally crawled back into the house.  It was absolutely perfect timing.

I haven't thought about Joey the Crow in awhile, but the memories that are coming back kept me smiling all day.  I love how memories work like that.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Seen and Heard during trip to Galveston:

*Pelicans flying in formation
*A volunteer with a passion for teaching kids about conservation
*Dolphins in the wild
*Shrimp boats
*Oil derricks
*Pelicans skimming the ocean, inches above the water
*"This is so COOOOL!"
*Waking up to a seal looking down at me
*"There's no way this trip can get better than this."
*Hotdogs on the beach
*Sandcastle contest
*Free coffee mugs from diners
*Giggling, laughing, screaming
*"Mrs. Hugheses!"
*eyes wide open
*sweetness and kindness in the midst of tiredness
*a bright, new, shiny shed
*thank you's
*"I'll come see you next year"


Friday, May 27, 2011

A Little Disturbing

I really appreciate my upbringing.  I truly do.  I know it sounds cliche'd, but the older I get the more I realize how much wisdom was imparted to me in my youth, and I'm so thankful for that.  It makes me grounded, and allows me to look at others through a different lens.

I guess that's why a conversation I had this week was so disturbing to me.  It was with a fellow christian.  I was talking about how alarming it was to be out of the States for 10 years, only to come back and see some of the shows that are on TV.  The shows the glorify pregnant teens is particularly disturbing to me.  In this conversation, I relayed my disappointment in how some of the girls my boys were interested in behaved.  They either tried to hang on them constantly, or expected them to drop everything and have the boys' worlds revolve around them.  (My point was that they were only going out, they weren't engaged.)  This person's response was that she told her kids they were not allowed to marry someone who's parents were divorced.  It stunned me into silence.  Aaaakwaaaard.

See, one of the things I was taught was that there's this little thing called grace.  It should be abundant in us, because it's been shown to us. In my opinion, and knowing this lady and others like her, this was about appearances. But I have to confess my own thoughts when coming to this realization.  It's a tad bit judgmental.  So how do I discourage this woman's thinking, without being confrontational, and in a way that will be received? 

I think, for me, it is to live an imperfect life.  Not a life with freedom to make mistakes without consequences or to flaunt and celebrate them, but to lay bare my struggles and show I am not perfect, but living under grace myself.  It's a huge risk, especially if critics abound.  However, I do believe it's the only way others can learn it's OK to let their imperfections show:  to see it lived out on a daily basis.

A friend recently wrote, "The process of emotional healing is only for the weak, the needy people broken and tired of who they have been, the ones who finally know their deep inner ugliness and will let God and others readily see it..for as long as it takes. And trust me, this will take some time."  

Time and courage.  Live a REAL life. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Quiet Moments

"Be still and know that I am God."

It's hard to be still these days.  Truly.  There is so much going on in the world around us, so much to think about and so much to think ON.  Our pace is fast, we go here and there constantly, and we get upset when we actually have to wait for any length of time.

My prayer for all of you today is a chance to be still.  Think.  Reflect.  Worship.  Be thankful.  God created today, and His mercy is new each and every day.  Enjoy.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

It's the quiet ones you have to watch

At first glance, he's very serious and professional.  He's intense about anything he does, whether it's yard work, backpacking, fixing cars, building things.  He always looks like he's got a lot on his plate, and has places to go and people to see.  And he's quiet.  He really doesn't speak a lot if he's not spoken to.  He's a lot like my big brother that way.  In fact, if you put those two in a room together, not a lot would be said, and they are completely OK with that.  But that's who Big Dad is. If the first glance is all you're going on, you can miss a lot.

You have to listen.  Even after almost 23 years, he still catches me off guard with his comments.  They. are. stinking. hilarious.  He has these random comments that he makes in response to things HE'S listening to, and believe me, he's always listening.  Responses to commercials and conversations, or even responses to his own thoughts, happen all the time.  They aren't mean, he's just participating with his own brand of humor.  When we hear him, we usually just bust out laughing. And that happens just about every day.

Our kids have stories and stories about Big Dad and his youth.  They've heard them a lot, and love hearing them.  They love telling them, too.  At this point, Big Dad's youth is legend around here.  The boys' friends hold him in reverence.  

We love having him around.  That's good, since he's my husband and the kids' father.  But his humor is one of the things that makes our family culture what it is, and it's what brings us together.  We think we'll keep him.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Rough week, but then not

This has been an exhausting week, both emotionally and physically.  It has been a week of tough cuts within our school district, and my position has been slated as one to cut.  Well, it's not just me, but they are cutting 10 positions down to 5.  In the end, I was one of the 5, but it's a bittersweet thing.  The group of people that make up our team are phenomenal women and teachers.  Our tight little group just got smaller, and we are going to miss those friends desparately.  They aren't jobless, mind you, but they won't be applying their talents where they are used best, either, and that makes me sad.  They'll be missed something awful.  There's also a bit of survivor's guilt going on that doesn't help things!

On the physical side, it's been a week of staying late on a daily basis.  Relay for Life was Friday night, and the prep was pretty rough, but again, so fun when working with such amazing women.  It's a lot of fun participating in that kind of work with crazy women.  I can say, though, that I've had nappy time visits regularly this weekend. I'm so thankful for a husband who let me sleep, took over cooking and cleaning so I could rest, and just let me recoup.  He's so thoughtful that way.

Next week will be busy, too, but not as much.  Testing is not my favorite thing (it's extremely boring from the teacher's perspective!) but I can't wait for these kids to show what they know.  They're ready.

At the end of this exhausting week, I count myself blessed, and can finally look forward to planning for next year.  It will be a good year. 

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Who needs marbles with these thoughts rolling around in my head?

I don't know how I can have any deep, meaningful thoughts lately.  Work is keeping me so busy (I'm not complaining, mind you!), that I'm doing a lot of the "standing at the refridgerator door trying to figure out what I was looking for," or walking all the way to the office, only to forget the very thing I needed to bring.  There are a lot of noble causes, mind you.  However, lately I've found myself with a lack of clarity in my daily life.

But my sons and I have had some amazing talks, especially about spiritual matters, and the role of christians in everyday life.  Here in the states, we are programmed to think that only ministers are doing God's work, and those in ministry are the only ones in God's will when it comes to serving God.  But who are ministers serving?  That's been the "rolling around" thought.  Ministers in the states tend to serve and minister to christians.  So who reaches out into the communities?  Churches have the tendency to become inwardly focused.  Their lives become full of being around other christians.  How many christians intentionally put themselves out there to be around non-christians? 

What if a church set up a table outside Walmart that said, "Such and such church wants to pray for you" and accepted anonymous prayer requests?  Then, they actually spent time praying for those request?  What if we hosted sporting events for the community?  What if we were really out there?  What if we used our jobs to minister to others?  To let the idea of doing a job and doing it well serve as a testimony to those around us?  What if we kept our word and did what we said we were going to do?  It just might be revolutionary!

But these thoughts haven't been just about adults.  The American church tends to protect our kids and try to keep them from the evil of the world by schooling them ourselves.  I've been wondering, though, if that is how we need to be raising them?  We often complain that our kids have no values, that they are too into themselves and can't think beyond themselves.  I wonder if that's because we've taken away the opportunities that would allow them to grow?  I think about seeds, and how important gravity is to their growth process.  The root part of the seed grows with gravity, while the plant part grows against it.  The seed actually needs resistence to grow properly.  Are we protecting our children so much, that we're taking away that resistence? 

I've not solidified my thoughts here, but this is what's in here. *sigh*  Sometimes it's just exhausting!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


I was thinking about my friends today.  I've always said I hate working with women.  It might be sexist to say it, even though I am a woman, but it's been my experience that working with a lot of women always brings with it a certain amount of drama.  And that amount of drama tends to be a bit more than I can tolerate.  I don't understand creating drama for drama's sake, and I have little respect for anyone who feels it necessary to try to alter another person's reputation for their entertainment or drama addiction.  The amount of damage that is done in careless fashion truly deserves solid consequences.

I like straight shooting, genuine and kind people, and value them immensely. The combination of qualities is important, because I've known straight shooting people, but the element of kindness wasn't there.  The idea of "I will say what I need to say and it's up to you to deal with it" is just an excuse to be mean.  Or, I've known people who were extremely kind, but so much so that they couldn't be straight with people for fear of being unkind.  Honest, real and nice is so valuable in today's world and is a rare combination.

Until now.  Now I find myself in the midst of people like this.  It's caused me to rethink my stance on working with women.  When it works, it works well.  Women have the ability to challenge each other and bring out strengths.  We can bear each other's burdens while at the same time encouraging each other without fear of being outdone.  We can be friends in the truest sense of the word.  We can set our agendas aside and rally around each other.  And we can put some of those other people in their place by not taking part in the pettiness and meanness.  It speaks volumes.

I don't know how long I will have the privilege of being around these women, but the lessons I've learned from them and the spirit of unity I've been a part of is something I will cherish and take with me for future friendships.  I'm proud to know them all.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

My new writing venture...


We'll see how this goes.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A New Venture

I recently had the opportunity to start writing for an online source about gifted education. I decided to take it.  I'll post about it at some point, I'm sure.  Right now I'm just figuring things out, but I posted my first article today entitled, "Looking Out for our Gifted Students."  We'll see how it goes...

Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Blogging Meets Classroom

Awhile back I took part with in some photography challenges with some of my blogging friends I met online.  Carmi, Anna and Mike (all amazing photographers!) would submit these amazing photos, and I learned so much from their perspectives.  The challenges each week were things like Project Blue, Project Black and White, and Project Look Through.  The way that these photographers interpreted these challenges was just fun and brought out so much creativity in the rest of us.  We learned a lot through them.

So I decided to take what I learned from them and bring it to the classroom.  Last week, just for fun with no grade attached, the kids can participate in our own little project for the week.  The theme this week is Project Green.  Already I've received a picture of a cat's eye (the most beautiful green you've ever seen!), grass, a recycling bin, okra....they are just eating it up.  Now I'm thinking about what to do with the pictures!  A collage is an easy fallback, but I want to display them well.  We will spend about 30 minutes in the computer lab and I'll show them how to use some editing software so that we can really bring out the greens in the picture, and maybe do some cropping.  We'll see.  We're all learning as we go!