Saturday, May 24, 2008

It. is. over.

Finally I can officially type those 3 little words that make me so happy this year. Tomorrow I'm off to the warm, sunny, beaches of Florida. I'm so happy to have the following things (checked) off my list:

* ipod loaded with summer songs

* new camera set up and packed with manual so I can figure out how to use it

* bags packed

* books and magazines ready

* pedicure and manicure complete with fresh summer color!

* new towels, flip flops, and bathing suit purchased

Maria Sue Chapman

Maria's funeral is today at 11:00a.m. here in Nashville. My heart has been aching for this family all week. If you would like to give on behalf of Maria, they have set up a special fund here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pray for Steven Curtis Chapman and his family...

I just heard tonight on the local news that one of Steven and Mary Beth Chapman's son's accidentally ran over one of their adopted daughters tonight at their home. She was pronounced dead at the hospital. As you may know they have adopted three beautiful daughters from China and have a wonderful organization called Shaohannah's Hope which provides grants for adoptive families and also supports orphans in a wonderful way. I was blessed to receive a $3,000 grant from them this year. I'm sure more information will follow tomorrow, but I can not imagine their intense grief and sadness over such loss. Also remember to pray for his son who will be dealing with intense guilt over this accident. May the peace of God which passes all understanding be theirs now...
Update: Maria was the daughter who was killed. She was the most recent daughter adopted in 2004 and I think was the youngest. The accident just happened around 5pm tonight. You can see the story on his website here.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

It's the End of an Era...

1984 Lincoln Town Car, Signature Series
Complete with Plush seating and Indoor Paneling
(NO DVD Needed when traveling in this car!)

In 1984 I went with my mom and dad to the local Lincoln dealership in town. I was only 9 years old and didn't realize I would witness a virtual phenomenon take place right before my eyes...I saw a man pay CASH for a brand new car! That man was my dad, Mr. Cash Only, man! I knew we were not rich, however he always carried a money clip with a lot of cash on it. He died in 1992 and I've never seen money since!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He paid a little over $20,000 for this car and I've kept the receipt to show my kids some day. $16,000 CASH and $4,000+ in a cashiers check. I would love to know what the conversation was among the salesmen when we left. My dad was short, almost completely bald, and a little chubby...he must have looked like a member of the mafia that day!

Anyway, today we had a moment of silence and let the tow truck take it away forever. Mom decided to donate it to Habitat for Humanity. They send out a tow truck and make any repairs necessary before they sell it. All profits go to HforH. So it's a good cause and hopefully it will be a good car for somebody.

Good Ole Betsy was a mere 24 years old with less than 150,000 miles on it. Unfortunately she hasn't run for a few months. She needs a battery and maybe some power steering fluid. Besides that the doors are so heavy you can hardly open them and the seals are worn around the windows. Take her through a car wash and you won't need a bath for the day! The A/C doesn't work and my favorite part is that she is about a mile long...a true bat mobile!

If my dad were alive today, he'd be amazed at people getting car loans for 5, 6, or 7 years! He NEVER had a credit card and died at a young 45 years old not owing anybody a penny! I wish I could do that!!!!

Beach Countdown!

Only 8 days until my feet hit the beaches of sunny Florida! I. CAN'T. WAIT.!!!!!! Thank you, Jesus for:
summer break
time away
summer break
summer break
summer break
summer break
summer break
time off
summer break
(To all the teachers who ROCK out there, have a GREAT summer break...we deserve it!)

Friday with Maddie

I have skipped a few "Thursday with Maddie" field trips either because of rain or meetings I've had scheduled for the end of the year. So I caught up last night while mom and I kept the kids for Eddie and Ambre. I'll also have plenty of time with her this summer while I'm out of school!

As I was trying to take her picture and get her to smile for the camera, she said "Please....Amy", in other words stop taking my picture and drive!!!

I gave her the cutest little ladybug "purse" to keep her money in while we have to teach them early!

She loves rides of any kind!

She's a pro!
She picked out a green stroller, but of course wanted to get out frequently. But I didn't let her...I stayed firm! Remember the library incident?? I could just see her running all over the mall.
We were in Williams Sonoma, my favorite store! I was showing her all the 'cooking stuff'. She loves to cook with me and to watch Food Network in the afternoons. Her favorite is "Barefoot Contessa", mine too. When it comes on she always says 'black shirt' because Ina usually wears a black or dark blue button up shirt to cook in. Maddie always notices the colors of clothing.
Her favorite thing was this waterfall and flower bed outside of the mall. She would not turn around for pictures. They would have been so cute if you could see her face!

Friday night I had girls night with Madison! We went to the mall to ride the carousel (major fun!), I needed to go shopping for a few things, and we had supper at Chick fil A! She loves any individualized attention she can get, so as soon as I get home from school it's all about "Amy". She will even leave her 'snack' to the rest of the kids at daycare in order to come inside the house with me. She KNOWS she has me wrapped around her little finger! This summer will be so much fun, but I have to spend more time with Little Eddie too.

We went to the Disney store and Build a Bear while we were at the mall. Then we left and went to Baskin Robbins for chocolate ice cream with sprinkles and Dunkin Donuts for some 'munchkin' donuts for Saturday morning breakfast...healthy eating, right???

We came home around 8:00 p.m. and she was all ready for bed. Mom and I thought we'd try her in the guest room this time because neither of us wanted her to sleep with us (because you can't sleep with her tossing and turning). She went right to sleep and didn't wake up til morning! Baby Eddie didn't either. Ambre and Eddie had a date night and a full nights rest as well!

Friday, May 16, 2008

The countdown continues...

Only 5 more days of school until my blissful 10 week summer vacation! One of the best perks of being a teacher is the wonderful schedule and as I've mentioned before after this particular school year I deserve it! After my therapeutic session of writing the 'countdown' post I had an 'anonymous' comment left on the comment section. Evidently my harsh and seemingly insensitive tone struck a nerve with someone. I thought about her comment for a while and had many thoughts.

First of all I write my blog in order to chronicle my life as a whole. It started as a way to pass the time during the paper pregnancy stage of the adoption, but later I realized it will include my journey through adoption, my family, my career, my spiritual life, and so much more. After I started blogging I realized it was a healthy way for me to record my feelings about life and where God has lead me, what God is teaching me, and how I'm measuring to speak. I'm not perfect, never claim to be, never will be. I make mistakes and I've made a lot of mistakes this year in my classroom. I'm human.

However, I still believe passionately in my calling to be a teacher in public school. I believe I do make a difference. My students have made tremendous academic, social, and personal gains this school year and will leave my classroom a better person than they were.

I love my kids and I love my students...THAT is why I care so deeply about all of the situations that I wrote about. I know I wrote with a sarcastic tone...sarcasm and humor is how I write and how I speak sometimes. So please don't get offended at how I may describe my students. After this school year ESPECIALLY I don't need to be criticized because I can promise you I've put up with a lot more than what most people could have dealt with.

In her comment she wrote "have you ever considered you are in the wrong profession"...absolutely not! Just because I've had a bad day, a bad week, or a bad year doesn't mean I need to find a new career. Interestingly enough, that is exactly what most teachers do though. They get burned out, feel unappreciated and quit, they move on. Many of them are excellent teachers or have the potential to be excellent, but our school systems and society beat them down so hard they can't get back up.

I am a Middle Childhood Specialist with the highest credentials a teacher can achieve (
National Board Certified Teacher). I'm proud of my career, my achievements, and I will continue to teach and hold the bar very high for my students. They need a challenge and they need high expectations. We should not accept anything less that their best.

There is always room for improvement and that is why I'm so glad I get to start each August new and fresh with a different class...a different set of challenges. (Hopefully this year it won't be quite so many challenges!) I spend my summer "vacation" reading and researching the web for new teaching strategies, new behavior management techniques, new and fresh ideas. I never recreate the same class experience from one year to the next.

What I would love to know is who 'anonymous' is and how you found my blog just out of curiosity. Thanks to the two other ladies who commented on that post! Your thoughts are very encouraging! In the future if you don't like what you're reading on a blog, just don't read it. And please don't pass superficial judgements on people because of what they write when you don't know them personally.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Earthquake in China

Keep this terrible catastrophe in your prayers. My heart is heavy as this is the homeland of my daughter who may not even be born yet. Also, as I think of the many families in China experiencing overwhelming heartache at the loss of loved ones. My thoughts also go to adoptive families who may be in the country in the process of adopting now or families still at home waiting for travel. Just knowing your child may be in an uncertain situation is more than a parent can handle. So I encourage you to pray for all of these people directly affected and if you feel so lead, make a donation to Half The Sky a wonderful organization who has quickly stepped up and created an emergency relief fund for children affected by the terrible and tragic earthquake in China. The selfish side of me worries that this may be another hold up in my own adoption timeline as China takes time to clean up and regroup itself.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Let the Countdown begin...

Yes folks, I have only 10 more days of school and I'm counting the hours and minutes until I can walk out of that classroom. One of those days is an in service day, one is a 1/2 day, and one is Fun Fest, so if you are really talking about real "instructional" (and I say that loosely as we all know the last week of school is about me giving kids busy work so I can somehow complete the mound of paperwork required to send these kids on the to next grade) time I only have 7 days left. The mere thought of finally being rid of this particular class makes me break into a fine rendition of "If you're happy and you know it clap your hands..."!!! In two weeks when I head off to the beach I'll be changing the lyrics to "If you're happy and you know it have a cocktail"...I'm not a lush, so don't go AA on me but this year has been really difficult.

For all of the non-educators out there, I know you find this hard to believe. How could 8 and 9 year olds be so difficult. They shouldn't be, but this in a nutshell is what I've been battling:

* 5 boys that have made up their own gang, complete with graffiti, hand signs, and a name...this has been going on all year. They are B.A.D., rude, disrespectful, and just plain unlikeable. Sorry people, I'm being honest here. All year long I cannot get a complete sentence out of my mouth (maybe that is one reason they cannot write a complete sentence...they've never heard one) before they are looking around at each other sharing hand signs and laughing. I told them all if I see them them put their hands in any kind of funny 'sign' I would give them so many write offs their pencil would be permanently stuck to their hand as they go into 4th grade next year. Do you think that kind of discipline is going to win me any 'Teacher of the Year" award??

* 3 ADHD kids NOT on any medication. I'm not a proponent of drugging our children, just drugging them when I'm expected to teach them something. I promise if any of the parents in question had to actually be with these kids for 7+ hours a day and if they were held accountable for actually teaching them a skill they would do something about their children's lack of ability to sit for longer than 10 seconds. These kids will be whisked away to daycare and/or summer camp before you can say "School's out!" and next year the teacher will have the exact same problems I've had. The parents will promise to do something, but yet do nothing. Perpetuating the problem so the kids will have virtually no success in school and will begin hating it. This could lead me into a whole other topic of 'if parents could actually parent and discipline their children we wouldn't have to medicate them' but that is another story.

* One boy came to our room in December and quickly 'joined' the aforementioned gang. He is repeating 3rd grade after he should have gone to summer school. He decided not to get up and attend so therefore he has to repeat the whole grade. He comes to school when it's convenient for him, usually he chooses "bankers hours" know he'll roll in about 9am after we are finished with at least one subject for the day. He's smart, in fact so smart he knows how the system works so he knows he can't fail again no matter how lazy he is. He'll be a great citizen because of these wonderful lessons he's learned from watching his parents raise him so well. (notice my sarcastic voice here)...I'm thinking of nominating his parents for 'Parent of the Year'.

* One boy in my room is involved in a custody battle between mom and dad. I was subpoenaed into court one day to testify in this situation.

* One boy has severe emotional issues and has an undiagnosed mental illness that makes it impossible to function in a typical school day. It's 'undiagnosed' because mom has refused testing for so long that nobody wants to fight her about this. It's hard to tell her the truth because she has only an elementary education herself and thinks with every conversation that we're just wanting to 'put him in resource'. Really that is not the goal here, the goal would be that your son had the communication and social skills of a 10 year old (he's been held back before too) and not a 2 year old. The goal would be that your son could go to recess and play with other children instead of stand and cry and scream for no apparent reason. The goal would be that I could get through the day without some adult asking me what is wrong with this which I have to respond "don't know". This 5-star mom sent me a note with the last report card (in which I gave the kid a D+ in Reading) and it said how I was an awful teacher and I hadn't "learned him anything this year" everything he has learned she taught think, because I couldn't tell???????????????

* Another boy has major problems at home with crazy parents and as such deep emotional problems he can't control or doesn't control his need to go to the bathroom. He has a BM on himself every day, several times a day in fact. He wears pull ups (now) and misses a lot of class because he spends his time in the bathroom or nurses office changing himself each day. It's so sad, again I could explain a lot here but it would be TMI!!

* One girl saw her dad die of a drug overdose last year and her mom gave her up to live with her grandmother. She's lived through a lot!

* One boy is a kleptomaniac, steels anything within reach. He gets mad frequently and pushes his books off his desk and throws his desk and chair around. MAJOR problem, but I actually kind of like this kid.

* One girl in my room lost her mother this year, she and her 2 siblings moved in to live with an aunt who is fabulous, but not her mom. She's buried her mom, moved to another state, changed schools, moved into another living situation, and has earned straight A's all year...she's a superstar! But, still I haven't had time to help her deal with her life because of the other idiots in my classroom.

Do you see why I need a drink on my vacation???????? These are just the problems I'm rambling off at the top of my head. I haven't even gotten to the actual teaching part. After I've dealt with these emotional and behavioral problems I love the fact that I have 10 minutes left in the day to teach the other 7 subjects! I really have some (very few) students who are super sweet and well behaved. I want to tell their parents I'm sorry their child has had to deal with such...but isn't that a good life lesson for them?

As I close, I want to tell all of the fabulous teachers out there "Happy Teacher Appreciation Week"...did you know you should have appreciated the teacher in your life this week? Probably not because it's warped in with Mother's Day, Graduation, Nurses Day, among other Hallmark created events. I'm so lucky that my school did 'appreciate' the teachers by creating a 'spa' in one of our vacant portables. We were able to go during planning for a massage and yummy food. Our wonderful administration gave us a school logo polo shirt and said 'Thank You". Sometimes that is the best gift of all..

If you are a teacher in need of a great laugh or just love teacher stories, check out this blog. It's so funny and I can usually relate to everything she has said.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Today I hosted a Mother's Day Brunch for all of the 'mothers' in my life. I invited my mom, sister in law, grandmas, and aunts over for an afternoon of good food and lots of laughter! We had a great time and I really enjoyed planning it all.
A few months ago I got a new cookbook from one of my fave Food Network Cooks and she had a great menu selection with everything decorated with Daisies. Then I went to Target and they had a new spring line of Daisy plates and other accessories for the table. Completely Adorable!!! So that set the theme to my mothers day brunch. Next I planned the menu...typical 'girl food'...chicken salad, pimento cheese, fruit, croissant, and desserts! YUM!! I made everyone a nameplate at their setting with the name of their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren on it with a famous quote about mothers. The one pictured is of my favorite mothers quote by Jacqueline Kennedy..."If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters very much.”

The huge arrangement of flowers are all from my Granny's garden. They were so pretty and made a great centerpiece. We had a great time and everyone left with a goodie bag filled with a 'woman' magazine, a packet of daisy flower seeds, pictures from our Easter picture shoot, and a bag of homemade cookies. I hope to make this a least until I become a mother.
I hope all of the mothers out there feel loved and appreciated on this Mother's Day! You deserve the all the best!!!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

cinco de mayo family feast

Ingredients for a yummy Mexican feast!

A work in progress...

The table is ready for dinner...

Chicken Enchiladas, Corn Casserole, Steak Fajitas, Black Beans, Homemade Guacamole and Chips...

Fudge Brownie with ice cream for desert! YUMMO!!

Do we have to learn this now, daddy?

Eddie is our (non) resident mower, he keeps all of our land nicely mowed and manicured every summer in keeping with the tradition that his dad and grandpa taught him. (I'm so thankful because I don't do yard work!) Tonight he put Baby Eddie on the lawn mower for a quick lesson...I think he needs a few more years though!

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Sunday afternoon we visited Granny's beautiful flower gardens. She has a 'green thumb' like no one else and all of her flowers are so beautifully in bloom right now. We've been so fortunate this spring to have had a good amount of rain which makes everything so green and lovely. We are especially enjoying it since the drought of last summer! I hope you are able to enjoy some springtime cheer wherever you are today!

Lingerie Shower

This weekend I went to a lingerie shower for my long time best friend, Carey. We were in Elementary School together and remained school mates until High School graduation. She was the smart one and I am embarrassed to say I copied her Wordly Wise homework throughout most of High School. I never read a book that my English class read, but I read Cliff notes and would discuss the 'high' points with Carey and a few other very smart friends so I knew enough to pass the quiz or test. You see, I was smart but I didn't make the best grades because it wasn't intrinsically motivating for me. (Sad yes, especially since I'm a teacher!) I figured out the system and while I should have been reading and studying I was averaging my grades to find out the minimum I had to make on a test/exam to still pass the class. Since I always had best friends who were honor students everyone thought that I was too! And, as a bonus my older brother was also a straight A student so the High School teachers assumed I was equally as brilliant. By the time they figured out I gave little effort in class, I had already won them over with my personality so they loved me anyway! Score!!! I spent my time in High School working and making money that I spent foolishly, however I had a great wardrobe! I was the social party planner of my 'friends group' and so while I didn't make the grades they did, they loved hanging out with me because I made them laugh! We all went on to graduate High School and went to separate universities where I continued my 'do as little as possible to get by' mindset. We all graduated in four years, got jobs, and became teachers! (Sidebar: I did actually put effort into classes that I enjoyed and was interested in like the education classes and such)
Carey and I also lived close by each other in our school days. We spent a lot of time at each others houses where we would plan our futures and talk about the perfect guy. I would give her dating advice, which I didn't really know what I was talking about, and she would listen. Somehow our lives didn't turn out like our plans on paper dictated, however she did finally meet her match and now they are getting married. I'm so happy for them because they are really great people and besides that...we are 33 years old! It's our time!
Her lingerie shower was very nice, held at a friends house that was totally adorable. You can't see the words on the gift I gave her, but I always give my teacher friends this frumpy T-shirt for their lingerie gift and tell them to wear it on the first night of the honeymoon! It's really unattractive, but the words are so cute..."Teachers make great lovers..."I'm sure the guys appreciate it! I have one for myself too, I hope I can use it someday!!!!

Goodwill Finds...

I've recently been re-introduced to the joys of shopping at Goodwill courtesy to her and her. As I was checking out their blogs and their beautiful homes I noticed the very cute things they 'claim' are from Goodwill. My aunt and grandma also go there weekly. So Friday after work I ventured out to see what kind of treasures I could find. My first impression was they were overpriced actually. But I did rummage through to find the adorable pink Bunny to hold Easter Eggs next year, 2 jars to hold paper clips and rubber bands, and a crystal pumpkin for the fall. Now, if I can remember where I put them when these holidays come around I'll be doing good! I am going to continue my search for the perfect home items every now and then...if you could see our garage and attic you would definitely ask why we need anything else in the house!
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