Friday, May 29, 2009


For teachers, it ranks right up there with Christmas. It really feels like just yesterday when it was the first day of school. Here are the highlights of my last day at school.

1. I went for my normal Starbucks run this morning, but a little later than usual (I like how my arrival at school creeps later and later in the last weeks of school.) As I waited for my skinny vanilla latte, I spotted two cute girls looking especially happy. Apparently I look like a teacher these days and I can also tell when other people are teachers. These girls looked like teachers. On the last day of school. My suspicion was confirmed when I saw the tell-tale "Field Day 2009" t-shirt on one and the apple key chain on the other. I feel like when you're a teacher you're in some sort of club where everyone knows everyone else. I had a compulsion to go up to them and say "I'm a teacher, too! Happy last day of school!" But thankfully, I didn't.

2. When I arrived at school, I didn't get any gifts, but I did get two really sweet notes. One note was from a girl who had taken it upon herself to write me a small book stapled together. When she handed it to me, she said, "There are probably LOTS of misspelled words. I wrote it at 11:00 last night." haha. Well, she was right about the misspelled words, but the story was so cute! She wrote "The Night Before the Last Day of School" and modeled it exactly after "The Night Before Christmas". It was so cute. My favorite line was: "Our poetry books were hung by the white board with care, in the hopes that the last day of school soon would be there." I promptly began crying, and that was the theme for the rest of the day.

3. We had our last "family gathering" of the year. This is when the whole grade gets together for a mini-assembly. At the assembly, the teachers sat back while the students ran the whole thing. My team teacher and I sat in amazement thinking about the kids who were terribly behaved, low in skills, and less-than-stellar leaders at the beginning of the year. And here they were, leading a meeting for the whole grade. That's a good feeling. Then one of my students stood up to give a "shout out" to all of her teachers because she "really didn't want to go to YES, but because of her teachers, doesn't want to go anywhere else now." And I cried again.

4. We passed out TAKS results at the end of the day. I have one student who got kicked out of YES two years ago. She went to another school for a year and then came back to YES. She failed 7th grade at YES and repeated the grade. This year, she struggled and began failing again. She was constantly in trouble. Then, she began to improve. I found out today that she passed all of the TAKS tests - reading, writing, and math. And - get this - she got a 100% on the math TAKS!!! She was ecstatic, and it really reminded me what is possible.

5. To add a little comic relief to the day, the kids did the traditional middle school last day of school activity: writing on each other. I don't know why kids do this. But they love it. I guess we used to do that? Anyway, it's a tradition that is still going strong. Today I signed: about 50 t-shirts, a binder, a backpack, a book, and a pair of pants. Yes, a pair of pants. The kids were all signing shirts when I looked up and found that one of my special students had asked other kids to write all over her jeans. I took a picture to prove it. Good thing I'm not her mom. And apparently it's a new trend to wear a lock on your pant loops. No comment on that one.

When I left the building, I saw this, and I just had to take a picture and I had to laugh. I sure hope everything I taught them stuck in their brains, because here is what is left of their classwork!
Overall, my heart is happy. Glory be to God! This job is hard, but more often than not, my heart overflows with praise and gratitude. Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to do this job. It is truly a dream.
Happy summer, all you teachers! I'm off to have a margarita. Or two.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dear Reality TV

Dear Reality TV,

You've betrayed my trust. Again. Yes, I know I am foolish for trusting your shady ways. I know that your episodes are contrived and your scenes are scripted. Yet, you still call yourself "reality", and in my eagerness, I believe you. That's right, I believed you back when I watched "Newlyweds". I even bought the DVDs. Don't tell anyone that. I was so happy to see a Hollywood couple married and in love. I just knew they were going to be role models. Not.So.Much. When I found out Jessica & Nick were divorcing, it really upset me. I threw away the DVDs and swore off Hollywood. I canceled my subscription to "In Style" and stopped going to movies. That left me with... TV.

And you struck again. I got caught up in American Idol, Project Runway, Top Chef, So You Think You Can Dance... and the list goes on. These shows treated me right. No one's life was terribly altered by your schemes. Sure, people lost game shows about singing and fashion, but in the end, everything was OK. I began to slowly dip my toes into more serious reality shows. I got hooked on a little show you may know: "John and Kate Plus 8". You really had it in for me with this show. For two years, I watched, I laughed, I cried. But I always cried out of happiness. I loved their kids. I longed for the newest episodes to pop up on my DVR. I recommended the show to friends. I thought, "They are a great family. They are showing what it is like to be devoted to family and make the best of a tough situation. They are Christian parents and have a strong marriage." But that was just what you wanted me to think... wasn't it?

So recently, amidst plentiful negative press surrounding Jon & Kate, I have held fast, saying, "Those are just tabloids! They are doing fine! They will never break up. Don't say that about Jon & Kate!" Well, reality TV, my words were worthless. Last night, I settled in with a delicious dinner and the season premiere of Jon & Kate. From the moment the show started, I hated it. It felt weird. Terrible. Awful. Depressing. I actually said to Brent, "Turn this off!" It was horrid. It was far worse than I thought. Their family is falling apart before our very eyes on cable TV. And you, reality TV, were gleefully cheering from the sidelines and handing Kate Kleenex as she sobbed on camera about her marriage falling apart. REALLY?! Do we really need to see this? My stomach sank. I was wrong. They are not perfect. They are not even fine. Here's where I REALLY have a problem with you, reality TV.

Not only are you NOT reality, but you make the stars of your shows feel as if their filmed life actually IS reality. You create a warped reality both for the people on the show and the people watching the show. I know that nothing can be perfect, but I really wish you wouldn't portray that, only to dash our hopes with a horrible, tear soaked episode. Now, I know it's not all your fault. There ARE the stars of the show to blame... what are they thinking? Jon & Kate totally bought into the false reality that their show gave them. Kate loves the fame, the makeup, the clothes, and the book tours of her new famous life. She loves them so much she is willing to sacrifice her family. That is not OK. Jon, on the other hand, has become overwhelmed by his new life, so he has decided to run off and leave his family. Are you kidding me?

Last night's episode was a sober reminder to me that satan is hard at work to destroy every good thing God has given us in life. No, I'm not talking about you, Reality TV. But the shows you air are about life and marriage and family, and satan is certainly trying to destroy all that. I can no longer watch your shows and think of them as an escape. I now have to think about the REAL reality behind the shows.

I'm tempted to give you up all together. But I know that my boycott alone will not bring down your multi-trillion dollar empire. So I will probably keep watching. Maybe. But don't disappoint me again. Please. Thank you.


Monday, May 25, 2009

And the Angels Sang

I have a secret (or maybe not so secret) love for organizing. I love to clean things up and organize them. It's compulsive sometimes. Like when I was in high school, the remote control to my stereo had to be parallel to the edge of the table. Stuff like that. The one problem: I've never had a good place for my shoes. The closet in the new house is big enough, but has no shoe space. Thank goodness I have a husband who also loves organization. He loves it so much that he was willing to buy me a super sweet shoe rack at IKEA this weekend. He put together the frame and I popped in the shelves. The result is nothing short of a dream. When I look at it, I can almost hear angels singing.
Shoes before:
Shoes after:
Can you hear it?


Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Maybe you missed it. Maybe you didn't watch American Idol last night. Maybe you thought it looked silly. Maybe you've never heard of it before. Maybe you're burned out on High School Musical. I'm sure you have some excuse for not watching Glee last night... but it's not good enough!! You've got to check it out. It's currently my favorite TV show for fall.

The makers of Glee preyed upon people just like me - people who swoon over American Idol and walk around thinking maybe, just maybe we could do that!!! There have been commercials for Glee for the past few weeks during American Idol. They figured they would get all the people who like cheese and drama and singing, preferably all together. Since Brent is out of town this week, I have a little more leeway in my TV watching. I'm pretty sure once he finds out about Glee, it's going to be relegated to the DVR, so I enjoyed it while I could.

I was kind of embarrassed to watch it, to be honest, and I was glad to be home alone. It started out a bit slow, but by ten minutes in, I was HOOKED. I love the characters, I love the premise of the show, I love the music, I love the dancing, and I love the irreverent teacher jokes. The show is about a glee club (show choir) at a high school. The glee club used to be good back in the day, but now it's terrible and a hangout for nerds. There is a super hot new teacher at the school, though, and he (surprisingly enough!) has a passion for glee club! Imagine the luck! He persuades the principal to let him take over the club, but the principal thinks he's crazy and actually makes him pay $60 a month to keep the club. He quickly discovers that the glee club is REALLY bad. They've got the obligatory preppy girl-next-door, large African American girl that sings R-E-S-P-E-C-T for her audition, an Asian girl, a jock, and, wait for it... a kid in a wheelchair. The whole show is about them trying to find their place in High School and actually be good at singing and dancing.

They definitely got good really quickly, because they were choreographed and in tune at the end of the pilot episode. So I'm not entirely sure what the rest of the season is going to be about, but I'm in. Now I have to wait till like September for the real season. Ugh. I'm not going to lie that I really liked the song at the end of the episode. Teaching. Singing. Dancing. Yes, please.

You can watch the entire episode at, which I highly suggest. Or you can watch the trailer below.


P.S. Fire up your DVRs! So You Think You Can Dance starts tomorrow! Get ready to leap down the hall when no one is looking!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Oh, things have been crazy. I'll let you know where I've been and what I've been up to at some point soon. For now, I have a few thoughts on nails. I've been randomly thinking a lot about nails lately, culminating in one of the coolest things I've ever heard. Here are my thoughts on nails:
  • They built the amazing house I now live in. I LOVE this house, and I love that it is ours. I also love the hard work, time, and love Brent put into buying this house for me.
  • They hang things on the walls of this house that make it more than just a house. Things on the walls make the house feel like Brent and Katie's home. And it couldn't be anyone else's.
  • They made the cross that my savior was killed upon. They held together God's plan for my salvation that I need so desperately.
  • They held my savior's hands and feet to the cross to complete the work that I couldn't do myself. They inflicted the pain that I will never have to bear. Lately I've been needing to be reminded of this fact again and again - that I am forgiven and free.

So amid all these thoughts of nails, we had a meeting after school on Wednesday that included (randomly enough) nails. At YES, we do something crazy called home visits. That means that we personally visit the home of every single student who will come to our school next year. This is mostly incoming sixth and ninth graders. Every teacher at our school is responsible for visiting about six homes after school and on weekends. It sounds like a huge pain, but it has always been one of my favorite things we do. I mean, who does that?? So every year we get a packet with the list of kids we are supposed to visit. On the visit, we answer questions about YES, go over logistics, and have the parent and student sign our contract committing to our school and everything that goes with it. Most parents greet us in their church clothes with some sort of food set out. It's a big occasion. One time, I arrived at a home to find that the family had photocopied their son's acceptance letter (acceptance is by lottery) and literally wallpapered their living room with it.

Anyway, this year we found a ziplock bag full of nails painted orange and blue (our school colors) in our home visit folders. I was intrigued. Nails? At a home visit? Our school director went on to explain what the nails were for. At the end of each home visit (with eleven year olds!), we are to give each family two nails - one blue and one orange. These nails could be tucked away in a dresser drawer for six years, or, better yet, nailed prominently into the wall of the family's home. What are they for? One is for the student's high school diploma, and the other is for their college diploma. Goosebumps? YES. That's the kind of thing that makes me want to get up tomorrow.


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