Tuesday, April 29, 2008

On Your Mark...

At the beginning of the month, I posted a list of things that I would like to do within the next year. Tonight, I took my first steps towards one of, if not THE, most difficult of the goals. Tonight was registration and orientation for a training group to prepare me for the half marathon! I am pretty excited! It is going to be a lot of fun but also a lot of work as well. I cannot wait to get started. We begin on Monday with Hills (every Monday's workout). One Wednesdays we will work in circuits and Saturday mornings will be our long runs (I'm talking about an hour and a half on average). I've been trying to run to get myself back in the habit but we will see. For all I know, this may kick my rear end from here to Timbuktu. On the other hand, it may turn out to be a new favorite.

Ready or not, here I come!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Trama in the First Grade

Our district has put into place that just about every elementary grade level observe a real life cycle. First grade get to hatch chicks every year. For 21 days, eggs incubate (is that a word?) and then we get to watch them come out. In an ideal world, this would be wonderful. However, this is reality and it hit a little too close to home today.

We came in this morning and there were our eggs - fresh and untouched after 26 days in the incubators. We were supposed to throw them out on day 22 if they had not hatched but we couldn't. Our kids had literally been praying for them. We held on to hope until this morning. Classes started and my co-worker came in to get me (I'm in charge of the incubators). A chick had poked its little egg tooth through and then stopped. At lunch, it was still the same - silent and still.

As the one in charge of this project (not by choice, mind you), I got the task of helping birth the chick. I pulled back a portion of the shell and there it was - black feathers, little feet, and dead as a doornail. My stomach turned. I was so upset that I couldn't even finish.

To make matters worse, we had to remove it before the kids came back in the room from lunch. As I put it in a box, closed the lid, and made my way outside, I felt my stomach in knots. It was horrifying. Now we had to figure out what to tell the kids. We got a game plan in place.

After school, we had to get rid of the rest of the eggs. We decided to check them and, thankfully, none had even gone past about day 4 of development. Guess who got to check the other 15 eggs? Yep, lucky me.

Lesson learned today? I'm not cut out to be a vet.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

By George, It Was a Good One!

So after a few less than happy posts, here are some things that really made me happy this week:
  • Starbucks and Kolaches for breakfast
  • The constructions men that looked like Oompa Loompas in their reflective vests
  • Car dancing to Toby Mac
  • Leaving work at 4:30 three out of five days!
  • Finishing an amazing book that I couldn't wait to read each night
  • Making a weekly menu that stayed in the budget, worked for the entire week, and tasted good
  • Hugs from little kids
  • Trying desperately to see through egg shells to check on the chicks in the incubators (you had to be there but we laughed SO hard!)
There were some definite tough things about this week but these were a few highlights. Hope you had some silver linings along the way!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Debbie Downer Strikes Again

So I realize that many of these posts have been pretty negative lately but I promise that there are several good things going on. The next post will be more upbeat - promise. For the moment, I just need to vent for a second.

What in the world is up with people who have to throw their negative two cents in to every little thing? I mean, why can't people celebrate the good, accept a compliment with "Thank you", or just be nice?

I have a person in my life that I truly believe thinks that I am as inept as they come. I have no doubt that they believe that I would be better suited for another position or even occupation. It makes me SO mad that I could spit nails! I feel belittled every time I have any contact whatsoever with this person.

Breathe in, and........out. Only five more weeks........

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

They'll Break Your Heart

One thing that I have loved about teaching first grade is their absolute innocence. They have such a curiosity about the natural world around them. They are SO loving and desire nothing more than to love and please. This world is so much more beautiful through their eyes.

Or so I thought....

Over the past few weeks, I've been allowed to see exactly what my sweet six year olds are exposed to. Here are a few examples:

  • One boy lost his mother about two years ago. He has been such a discipline issue! However, since my other girl has moved on, I've been able to really see him for the first time. He wants a mother's attention so badly that he's been reaching out for mine any way that he could get it. Now, if I can praise him nonstop, he is SO good but it not, he will do whatever he can to experience the maternal attention he doesn't have at home.
  • A few weeks ago, one of my little girls was SOBBING on the way to the bus. It was her dad's weekend to have them and he hadn't made arrangements to pick them up from school. It was the second week in a row that he didn't show. We had to literally pick her up and put her on the bus with her sisters. It broke my heart.
  • Yesterday, I had to write a kid up for threatening to "kill you when we get back to the apartments". He told another that he was going to "blast his head off" and looked at a girl VERY meanly while making a slashing motion across her throat. The face he made scared me! Lovely....
  • Today, a student was sent to the office to eat with the AP for making his pizza rolls have sex. Then he left without permission and told her that I had punished him (I hadn't).
  • On top of that, I can't get my boys to quit talking about their body parts and poop. Even my sixth graders didn't do that! I guess that is what happens when you put 12 little boys in the same room with only four girls.

On top of them, I have been very upset by what is going on with the children from Eldorado. What will happen to these little ones? What has life been like so far? If I had the training and financial means, I would strongly consider taking one in.

I've also been reading a book which revolves around foster children and the system. It is fiction but I find myself going to bed a little earlier every night so I know what is happening to this sweet little boy.

They are all children! They are supposed to be worried about losing teeth and scraped knees and wanting dogs for Christmas. My heart breaks for their loss of innocence. They should not know these words, actions, or lives. The needs are so great that there is not enough love to fill every need.

Thank you, Father, for watching over these little ones! Continue to call them to you!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Granny and Jane Austen

All day I've randomly thought about Granny. This afternoon, one of my students was talking about her grandmother painting something for her. Mine did that. Then tonight, Grandma made instant potatoes with dinner. Granny did that. Then I got a forward of an email from my uncle in Florida who I haven't seen since her funeral. I've been thinking about her randomly a lot today. To top it all off, something random about her just hit me.

Granny called me Lizzy. It drove Mom crazy (so she once told me). Mom would say that my name is not Lizzy but Dana. Granny got Lizzy from my middle name - Elizabeth. It never seemed to bother me. This makes me wonder if Granny knew something that I didn't. You see, my all-time favorite character from literature is Miss Elizabeth Bennett (aka Lizzy) from Pride and Prejudice. I think that she is AMAZING. I'll be called by her name any day of the week.

Thanks, Granny!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Daily Smile

Each day, I pass an apartment complex on my commute to work. It is pretty early on in my drive and each day it makes me smile. I've seen it every day since August but I still look forward to it. The way that the complex is set up, the upstairs units have a fireplace. On each side of the fireplace is a window and right below it, a first floor unit has a large window. When you put is all together, it is a face. To me it looks like a modern Mayan face but I have an overactive imagination. What is even better is that there are several units in a row that look onto the street where I drive. I feel watched! I've thought about showing it to you several times and I finally remembered my camera this week. It isn't the best shot but that is alright. It was pretty early in the morning and I was getting some strange looks for taking pictures out of my car window while we waited for the light to change. Anyway....Here's smiling at ya!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Vanity and Peer Pressure

I guess I have to admit a need for affirmation. The first time I wacked all of my hair off, the first thing I did was call Jamie in a very high pitched, shocked squeak of a voice. He told me to come by work and show him so I did. I remember being SO nervous about it and he wa fully aware that his reaction would make or break my feelings on what I had just done. I saw his feet first and he slowly peaked around the signs on the door. He responded very well and all qualms went away. I just needed to know that I hadn't just made a huge mistake. Then as I walked into the house, I felt the same levels of apprehension until I got Mom and Dad's reactions. Again, they responded very well!

The same thing happened this time. Erin and Gregg gave me the initial boost right after the hair cut but I guess I still doubted it so much that I needed more. (Sorry Erin!) However, today at work definitely calmed me and I have actually grown to like it. Everyone, including the two men on campus, were really sweet about it. (Sidenote: I've never been called brave about any one thing so much! You would think that I had just completed some grand task. Kinda funny!) I'm still going to grow it out but until then, I'm going to enjoy the extra 10 - 15 minutes I have every morning NOT maintaining my hair. :) I have decided that I am a very sad individual for needing to be told I look nice.

So, I am giving into peer pressure and posting a couple of pictures of the new hair. Sorry for the school shirt and tired eyes. Hope you enjoy!


About a week and a half ago, I decided it was time for a hair cut. The ends were bad and it was just time. I made my appointment and went to see Thu yesterday after school. I walked in thinking about going short enough to still have a ponytail. I walked out with something completely different.

As I sat in the chair, many things started running through my mind. I thought about running this summer in the muggy, humid Houston heat. I started thinking about the time I spend each morning on doing my hair. I thought about the amount of shedding I do each day because it is SO long. Then, what weighed on my mind the most was one of my little girls. She lives in a flea infested apartment and each day, discovers another one on her body, hair, or clothes. On Wednesday, she was showing me and it jumped on me. GROSS!

As I thought about all of these things, I heard myself say, "Do it" and the next thing I know, the scissors are going and it is too late to turn back.

I remember a while back when Erin came home with a cute hair cut that she didn't want. She cried and called Gregg. Mom and I laughed. I'm not laughing now. As silly as it sounds, I miss my hair! I'm not good at doing hair and now I look like I did when I was growing it out last time. It isn't a bad cut at all but I just wish I hadn't asked for it. I thought about posting pictures of it but I just really dislike it so much that I don't want to. I know that it is only hair - keep some perspective, Dana!

Oh well, here we go growing it out again...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Seeing God

It seems that within this past year or two, I have been able to see the hand of God working so specifically. I have seen Him move me both in maturity and spiritually. I've often wondered why it is now that I can see the daily work of our God. I've reached two conclusions.

First, I've been praying very specifically to see and hear Him in very obvious ways. I know that by asking for spiritual eyes to be opened, God will be faithful in His answer to those prayers.

The second conclusion that I have reached is that seeing God is, on some level, a choice. Throughout our day, we meet joys, obstacles, ups, and downs. I think that if we will stop and give credit to the one who is in control of the good, we will see God. Likewise, if we lean on Him in our hour of need, we will know His strength in our weakness. To know and see God is to seek Him. This is not a new thought by any stretch of the imagination. However, I have misunderstood the fullness of seeking God. Yes, seek His will and His work through His word but look further. Look into the daily grind to where God steps before us or beside us. If you give God credit for everything good thing, you will miss none of His blessings. If you hide is His shelter in the storms of life, you will miss none of His power and strength.

That is one of the biggest things I have learned in the past two-ish years. It only took a quarter of a century. No matter how slow I am to learn, He is faithful in His lessons. What a blessing!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Lost and Found (sometimes)

Alright friends, I seriously think that I am losing my mind! I don't know what the deal is but this week, I cannot find anything. Nothing, Nada, Zero, Zilch! It doesn't matter what level of importance it is, I can't find it. From insignificant to the utmost importance, it's gone. I can't find a thing. I've torn my apartment and my classroom apart multiple times looking for various items and each time I come up empty. It hasn't been fun. Honestly, my second most often prayed prayer this week has been for God to reveal where something is. It has been said multiple times daily for about six days.

If my head weren't attached to my body, it would be missing too - I know it!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!

This morning, I was about to begin checking homework and folders when my phone vibrated. Knowing exactly who it was and what it was about, I ran into the hall to answer it. My kids have never seen me move that fast to their little eyes shot open as they watched me through the window. My phone is always off and put away. This was very strange. To them, I must have looked insane. There I was, a grown up, standing in the hallway listening to my cell phone, and jumping up and down. I'm sure they couldn't figure out why I was acting so crazy. What they didn't know was that I was on the phone with my sister being told that her baby waved at her.

Yep - My sister and brother-in-law are pregnant!

After having to keep it a secret for about a month, I ran in the room, turned the phone off, put it in the closet, and grabbed one of my students. Her mom is due in July and so I knew she would understand the joy of waiting for a baby. Her eyes got really big. She said, "You are going to be a really BIG, big sister!" I just laughed and told her that I am going to be an aunt.

Yep - I'm going to be an aunt. Not only am I going to be an aunt, but I'm going to be the best aunt this little one has. Really, I will be the favorite. As it's only aunt, it really doesn't have many options.

This is why I said I want to pamper my sweet Erin at least twice over the next year.

So now the fun begins!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Revamping the List

I've been thinking about things I would like to do quite a bit lately. Some big things and some small. Over a year ago, September 2006 to be exact, I blogged a life list. A list of things that I would like to do before I die. Today, I went back and looked at it and was surprised that I am not as attached to some of those goals as I was a year and a half ago. So I have decided to revamp the list. This time, however, it will be a little different. Instead of a life list, here is a list of things that I would like to do before April of 2009:
  1. Lead a healthier, more active life.
  2. Finally get out from under this credit card!
  3. Visit the new co-cathedral.
  4. See the Pompeii exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts.
  5. Run Houston's Half Marathon in January.
  6. Pamper my sister at least twice.
  7. To see, know, and love God better than I do today and to share that with others.
  8. To become a better swimmer.

Eight goals for 12 months in no particular order. They are all attainable and all something that I feel a deep desire for. In a year, I can look back at this and say that I did or did not meet these goals. There is no high and lofty "One day . . ." type of ideas. They are real and they are going to happen. A few of them are already in the works and I'll be writing more about those later. Until then . . . .

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Odd Day

There is a little girl in my class that I have been working with all year. She has been a handful to say the least. It was in the plans to get her moved to another campus starting on Monday but today was quite a day. Talk about meltdowns like we haven't seen all year long. After several of those, one of my co-workers told me that she has been suspended from school for the next two days. Basically, we were saying goodbye in a matter of two hours, NOT two days! It was crazy trying to get everything packed up and all of the farewells said. I actually got two hugs which can be either a relief or very unexpected depending upon the day.

I always have a hard time saying goodbye to my students - no matter how much work they are. We had a pretty big ARD for her today (11 in attendance) and it was such a blessing. We were talking about where she was in relation to how we started the year. We could actually see progress! It was bittersweet because we had been so busy just trying to survive the last couple of weeks and we somehow missed all of the growth that had occurred. Unfortunately, it just wasn't enough.

So today was the first goodbye of this first year in first grade. She is on to better things and we will be too. So many of my thoughts (and a part of my heart) go with her.