Monday, November 29, 2010

No better way to refocus the living...

I think I had posted some time before that one of my professors was battling cancer. She passes away the weekend prior to Thanksgiving. She was only 54 and left behind a husband and three daughters, the youngest of whom is a senior in high school.

I went to her memorial service today. It was a wonderful two hour celebration of her, her life, her spirit, and a worship service. She was the daughter of a minister, the wife of a missionary/preacher, and a very strong woman. I only sort of knew about how she got involved in academia, but today I learned more.

She was a strong woman. A woman who was a great host. She had a gracious spirit. Even when she was in the hospital she was the one who was comforting me and not the other way around.
One of the comments in the service today was that there is no better way to refocus the living then to have someone die. The person who was talking was talking about bringing people to Christ. However, ever since I really let it sink in that she was dieing I have really been thinking about priorities.

She only had less than five years from the time she finished her doctorate until she passed away. She had this whole other life prior to when she began teaching. She brought the same zest and humor to all areas of her life.
My heart is sad for her passing, joyful that she is free from the pain and weariness of the cancer, and trusting that I can remember the lessons I learned from her.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wall o' Sweets

Thanksgiving was great. We had a very good time at Nana and Pop's house. The kids had fun because Nana wanted to get a jump on holiday baking and wanted to try out some things with them.
We made cake balls (make a cake, crumble it, mix in frosting, form it into balls, freeze, dip in chocolate). The kids got to mold chocolates, frost cookies, and more. Andy, my king of quantity and variety, really went to town on molding chocolate. Where Doug and Josie each had one small container...Andy has two large containers.

So when we got home I managed to clear off some more counter space (woohoo!) from various coupons and papers that had collected and we stacked up all of the goodies. I called it the "wall of sweets" and now Andy has picked up on the name. He is my boy who, when given the option of making a wish, will wish for "something sugary." So he has made it his mission to eat down the wall of sweets.

I just keep reminding him that we have plenty of time. There is no rush. Most of the goodies will keep until Christmas and we can eat them slowly so that we do not get tummy aches.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Andy's tooth

Andy lost his tooth at dinner on Friday night. Unfortunately, I didn't think to warn him so he took a bite of meat, realized it was gone, and of course...he'd swallowed it.

So after some discussion and a "call" to Aunt Ann (who has children older than mine and who would know about children losing teeth) I convinced him that the toothfairy has strong enough magic that she could summon the tooth.

Andy wrote a letter explaining the situation. He left the letter under his pillow.
Andy's letter said,
Dear Toothfairy,
I swallowed my tooth. I love you. It's yours. Love, Andy

It was a lot of letters for a little boy, who does not particularly like writing, to write. However, it was worth it.

The next morning the letter was gone and a dollar coin was in it's place.

He came out with shining eyes and just glowing with excitement.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Something I care passionately about

I watch politics. I keep somewhat abreast of what is going on. I care about it...but I am not often moved to become vocal about politics.
One of the students in the gifted education class I am teaching posted a link to the documentary Race to Nowhere. I have not seen the documentary, but I did watch the trailer for it. Between that, things that I heard at the recent conference I went to, and just my general feelings as I have learned more working on my doctorate I was moved to use the White House website to send a letter. I do not know if it will make a difference, but at least I have sent it.
Here is the text of what I sent. I would have said more, but you are limited in the number of characters you can submit through the website.

It is on my heart to write to you about our education system. We need to stop ignoring differences and treating children as if they are widgets. We cannot do “X” with a child and always get “Y;” as you would with a computer or a machine.

Teachers are not the only reason that children fall behind. Research has shown that not all children reach developmental milestones at the same time. Parents impact their children… when will parents be held accountable? Will parents have their children removed from them because the child is not performing at grade level? Politicians are willing to tell school systems and teachers what to do…but if children are not performing as expected will politicians’ pay suffer?

If we are truly going to make a difference, then we need to fundamentally change our antiquated education system. Stop using tests that were meant to measure whether a child was performing at his or her potential as measures of teacher success. Why must our education system still place children in a grade level based on age and not readiness? Why must we count credits for graduation when some children demonstrate proficiency well before their senior year and others would not reach it until well into their twenties?

I realize that society demands a minimum mastery standard for each student to reach. However, we are creating a society where convergent answers are what is expected. I do not personally know of anyone who makes his or her living from taking multiple choice tests.

I also hope that everyone, including my doctor, my lawyer, my plumber, my mechanic, and my child’s teacher, can problem solve and innovate within their field of knowledge. We are losing the creative productivity that helped to make this nation great…and which has a greater relationship to success as an adult then scores on a standardized test.

I also wonder if some of our financial woes might have been due to a decrease in emphasis on teaching responsible citizenship. If the leaders of our big businesses are more worried about their bottom line then about whether their employees are making a living wage or whether their product is killing people, then why would an intelligent society choose them as leaders?

I am both a teacher and a parent. I care deeply about our education system. Frankly, I wonder why anyone would go in to education at this point in history, and I am scared that my children will lose their creativity and imagination as they progress through public education.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wiggly teeth

I went to the dentist this morning. He said it was still a bit wiggly but that he was just going to keep watching it. He did a check with something that was cold. The main tooth that was moved had a delayed reaction to feeling the cold. So it is definitely not quite what it should be but is still alive.

In other teeth news, I was helping Andy brush his teeth last night and discovered that he has a loose tooth. It is the first loose tooth in our house. It does not surprise me because it is actually one he bumped last spring. The dentist had told us that the root was already dissolving and that usually kids start loosing teeth around ages 5-6. So at 5 and a half we are right on schedule. It also does not surprise me that it is Andy, because whenever the boys would get new teeth in as babies Andy would go first and then Doug would follow about a week afterward.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It could be could be worse

So the other major thing I had yesterday was my proposal "pitch" for my dissertation.
In the bad news department- they decided to call it a prospectus (the step before a proposal...not all departments require one). The significantly made changes to my research plan and I have a lot of rewriting to do. It puts me one semester back from where I thought I was. However, the more realistic finish date (as opposed to the ideal one) is the same.

In the good news department- the study was deemed too ambitious for a dissertation and they scaled back what I am to do. No more looking at 36 3 hour observations, 12 interviews, etc. Now it will be much smaller.

I keep reminding myself that this is a process and I am learning still. I also keep reminding myself that you do not earn a take it. So right now I am just trying to remind myself to keep on truckin' on.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Motherhood should come with a warning- your body will never be the same

I have a numb upper lip. He pushed my teeth back into place. Then sent me down the street and an orthodontist put a band across the back to support the tooth while it heals. I go back for a recheck on the nerve to see if it is still looking okay in two weeks. I get the band off in 4-6 weeks. Then for a minimum of 6 months (and possibly longer) I get to watch the tooth to see if it shows signs of dieing.
If it does die then I get a root canal... oh, joy.