Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Taking the Earrings Out

Let me make two things clear:

1. I am about to rant because I'm really angry.

2. The title of my post is what a teacher friend used to say when kids talked back to her. She was much loved (seriously).

If you haven't already heard, the school board fired the entire staff of Central Falls High School in Rhode Island. You can find the story at the Providence Journal. As a teacher, I most certainly have an opinion of this drastic action taken by this school board.

I believe this is an outrage. It is absolutely absurd to fire an entire staff (93 people!) because of failure rates.

Teachers are not the problem; the system is. The town where Central Falls High School is located is stricken with poverty. These students could care less about doing well on standardized tests, because they are more concerned with where they will sleep that night, where their next meal will come from, if they will ever find a job. I don't blame them- if I were in their position I wouldn't care either. However, our current system requires students to care about standardized tests. Tests that have little to nothing to deal with real life, from these students view points. The test material isn't current; they try to put in "racially diverse" names so the students will identify better with the questions. I mean seriously? Give me a break. Perhaps it's time we started looking at these kids REAL LIVES and stopped trying to fit them into our upper-middle class mold.

I did all of my field placements and 7 weeks of my student teaching in Title I schools. I then taught in a Title I school for 2 years. As a teacher, you always feel pressed for time, you never feel like you have all the materials and information you need, you are drowning in paperwork, and you deal with more discipline and social issues in a day then most grown adults deal with in a year. We have no idea how much these kiddos deal with when they go home. As a teacher, I worked at minimum 60 hours a week (if you don't believe me, ask my husband). I spent hours looking for new ideas and creative ways to make the test more fun and relatable. But despite all of my hard work, I still had kids fail. And to be honest, there was NOTHING I could do to get these kids to pass a standardized test.

Let me explain how this test works, at least in Texas. I taught reading, and my test started at around 8:15 am, and I had students, yes plural, who did not finish until 5:00 pm. The only break they got was 30 minutes for lunch. In case you don't know anything about kids, their attention span is about 20 minutes at age 10. If that. But the state seems to think they can work all day on a single test and do fine, if I've done my job. Anyone else see the flaws in this logic? Because apparently the government doesn't.

And don't even get me started on how our system works against special education students. I had a student who read on about an early 2nd grade level on a good day (I taught 4th grade), and she was required to take the regular, on grade level reading TAKS test. She did not pass.

The answer is not to fire teachers. The answer is professional development, and creating a system that actually considers real kids, not fake kids who have no cares in the world except to pass the state test.

The question now is, how do we change our system? How do we make education a priority in America again?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Exorcism of Libby Mae Keene

Okay, before you freak out that I'm really about to write about an exorcism, let me clear the air. I'm not going to write about a real exorcism. Rather, I am going to write about how my little miniature schnauzer Libby puked her guts out last night. So, if you do not like a good puking story, stop reading now.

If you do, continue on.

Last night we went to Adam and Debbie Wiel's house for pizza. It was a ton of fun- Justin and I finally feel like we have some friends here in B-town. After an enjoyable evening, we got home, played with the dogs, and were relaxing watching the Olympics. Justin looks at Libby and asks me what she is doing. I had no idea. I never know what this dog is doing- she's crazy.

Let me pause for a minute. Libby is a crazy, wack-o dog. She jumps around, whines, yawns, grunts, etc. constantly. Therefore, you never really know if something is wrong or if she's just being herself. As I write this she is whining/grunting as she walks around. And trust me when I say nothing is wrong with her at the moment. She's just crazy! Here's the little culprit:

Okay, back to the puking. It seemed as though Libby was just licking her lips for whatever reason. We figured she found a bug or a piece of fuzz on the floor and was eating it. This is also a normal occurrence. Next thing you know, Libby's pulling a Linda Blair. She is throwing up like you wouldn't believe! It gets all over my leg, my couch, the floor, and the tile by the front door, as my wonderful husband grabs her and tries to get her outside. Needless to say it was disgusting.

We spent the next 30 minutes cleaning. We had to shampoo the carpets on the spots where her previously digested food was, and had to clean the couch. On a side note- I highly recommend microfiber couches! That's what we have, and it came totally clean using the soapy stuff it came with. I'm amazed honestly.

As we were cleaning we discovered she had also puked in her crate while we were gone, and we found the tag from the towel that went in her crate. Basically, Libby has been chewing and eating this towel, and last night she suffered the consequences. Really we all did. It was miserable.

After cleaning and stressing out, we went to bed, exhausted. But did I sleep well? No, because I was worried all night that Libby was dying. (This is how my mind works.) Obviously, she did not die.

And this shows me, yet another reason, why I'm not sure that children are in my future.

Just sayin'.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Getting Fit

Earlier this month I posted about running. I've really been thinking about running, so I am going to try it for sure. A couple other girls have agreed to join me in this endeavor, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to sign up for the 5K Livestrong Challenge in Austin, TX at the end of October! My husband, Justin, is going to do one of the cycling races in the Livestrong Challenge, and I'm going to go with him anyway, so I figured, why not sign up?!? The only difficulty is that I'll have to raise $250, and that's a little intimidating. I know it doesn't seem like much, but I don't know who to even ask. But we'll see! Perhaps I can, and it's definitely worth it. I really like Livestrong, and the money they are giving to cancer research.

All in all, I really do want to get healthy. Teaching was really stressful and time-consuming the last two years, and exercising and eating right fell to the wayside. But now, my job isn't nearly as stressful (no state testing!), and I have the time and motivation to do this. Plus, I know that when we have kids some day it will be even harder to create new healthy habits, so now is the time.

I have two problems with eating healthy:
1. I never feel satisfied.
2. I hate cooking.

I need suggestions for cookbooks or recipes that are substantial and delicious, and easy and fast to cook. Also, I need suggestions for good running gear. I have some shoes that I like and think will work well, but what about clothes? I mean, this is a great excuse to do some shopping right? I want stuff that's comfortable and sweat absorbing, plus cute. I am a girl after all.

Hopefully your suggestions will be wonderful and before you know it I'll be like an Olympic athlete!

Well, maybe not, but one can only dream right?

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Reading Women Book Club

Alright, despite lack of comments on my actual blog, I believe many of you would like to do an online book club.

I've started a separate blog for it. It's

Check it out! And keep reading my personal blog too.

Enjoy and, happy reading!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Book Club

I've always wanted to be in a book club. I was in one, and we met once. I was the only one who had read the book. And we never met again.

Book clubs are tricky! You have to get people in it who are willing to read almost anything, and who will actually read the book. You also have to get people who will talk about what they've read without being stuck-up or over-bearing. It's a difficult thing, I tell ya.

So, I have this idea. What if we tried an online, blogging book club? Anyone who wants to be in it could, and we'd pick a book every month or we could each read a book of our own choice every month, or whatever. Then, when it comes time to "meet", we could discuss via the comments section of our blogs, create a blog together, or some other sort of social media. I figure in this digital age with all of this technology we could pull this off.

I don't know if it would work, or if it would be too impersonal. But, if you are interested, please comment, and tell your friends! Or if you have another idea, please let me know.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I have a confession: I absolutely love candles. I would even go so far as to say I'm obsessed. People always say that candles are a cliche gift to give, but I am thrilled when I receive new candles. There's something about them that make a room more cozy, more comfortable. When a room is looking drab, I go grab one of my candles and presto! the room is no longer drab.

So, here are a few of my favorites. And no, I'm not getting paid by anyone to endorse their products. I really truly love them.

1. Woodwick: These candles are fabulous and probably my favorite on the list. Not only do they look cute, they smell amazing! And it gets better! The wick is made of wood, so it makes a crackling sound, like a fireplace. They've started making these new "fusion" candles. They come in pretty jars, and they can really add a nice pop of color to any space. It's so hard to throw the jar away when the candle is all used up! My favorite scents are Currant, Fireside, and Applewood.

2. Tyler: Another great smelling candle! And the leopard print top is super cute. I also really like the size of these candles, because they can fit nicely on a shelf, or in a smaller space. Some of the candles have multiple wicks too, which creates a nice glow and last a really long time. Also, these are great to put on a candle warmer, which if you have kids (or dogs, like me) it's much safer. I like much of the same scents as I do in the Woodwick.

3. Yankee: An oldie but a goodie. Everyone loves Yankee Candles because the smell is to die for! The only thing I don't love is the label on the jar. I prefer the label to be on the lid, or to be minimal, because I like the jars. But the smell definitely makes you melt. They have a ton of options on scents too. Also great on a candle warmer.

4. Slatkin and Co. What a discovery these were! You can buy them at Bath and Body Works. Great scents, and they offer various products aside from candles, which are really nice. For instance, you can get a candle and a wallflower scent that match for a double whammy! I'm thinking these are great for teenage boys rooms. I don't have a teenage boy, but I don't need one to know how badly they can smell.

5. Nature's Wick: I might not have that product name correct. You can purchase these at Target, and they have a wood wick, just like the Woodwicks candles! There aren't as many options, and the scent isn't quite as strong, but they are a great deal. Nice for a budget.

I know there are so many more candles out there, so let me know what your favorites are. And remember, a good candle is not a cliche, cheesy gift.

However, if you receive a candle and you find it to be a cliche, cheesy gift, I can send you my address. I'll take it.

Monday, February 8, 2010


On Saturday night a few girls and I got together for a "girl's night". It was good for my soul. I need friends, and it was great to actually feel like I have someone here other than my husband that I can talk to and share with, and basically do life with.

While we were talking the topic of running came up. I feel like I have an absurd amount of people in my life who are runners, and good, fast runners at that! All of my cousins are into running, two of my dear friends in Lubbock (Joy and Laura!) are runners, and I just feel like running is cool. And if you know me at all, I'm all about being cool.

Okay, so maybe that last part wasn't so true, but I do think maybe there is something to this running thing. So, I'm thinking that, come spring, I'm going to try it. I know you have to push through the beginning, and train your lungs or whatever to actually maybe enjoy the pain you are putting yourself through, but eventually you love it.

Right? Well, we'll just have to wait and see.

I'm thinking I'm going to try this with those same girls, if they decide to actually risk it. And believe me, there is great risk involved here. I mean, what if this running bliss is simply an illusion created by runners, trying to fool themselves into not revolting and throwing themselves off a bridge as they are running. That would be bad...

Anyway, I digress. Running: We'll see about you.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Love is a Choice

Since it is February, and everyone is currently obsessed with love and relationships, I thought I would share some lessons learned. Having only been married for two and a half years, I certainly don't claim to be an expert on love and compromise. But I do know a few things from my own experience and the experiences of others.

1. Don't get married just because you are in love with the person. "Love" lasts for about... 6 months. Then it's gone. And the daily monotony and routine of life will tear your relationship apart before you know it. Initial love is usually infatuation, and if that's all there really is, the marriage isn't going to last long.

2. Stay positive. I was actually reading through some old blog posts of people I subscribe to on Google Reader (totally recommend by the way), and Don Miller had an interesting post about love. It came from some science magazine, and it said that the key to a successful marriage was staying positive. Now, clearly, you can't save a marriage by simply smiling and claiming everything is alright, but trying to maintain a positive perspective and outlook on life will benefit you, and your spouse.

3. Communication is Key! Just ask Carrie Wiley! :) Communication is vital to any healthy relationship, and especially in marriage. If you don't tell your spouse what you are thinking or feeling, they won't know! Talk it out! Make it work.

4. Keep dating. Don't stop dating your spouse. Just because you're married doesn't mean that you can spend every weekend watching TV and eating take-out. Do things together. Surprise each other.

5. Create a story together. Another lesson from Don Miller. When you are living a great story, you want to keep pursuing it. You want to keep living it. You don't want to leave.

So, bottom line: love is a choice. If you don't choose love, it won't work. And love is worth it. It's worth working at. It's worth choosing.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Here We Go!

Well, I guess blogging is the thing to do now, because here I am, jumping on the bandwagon. Blogging has quite a bit of appeal. An open forum to express ideas and opinions (which I have plenty of). An outlet for writing. A way to feel heard.

But who knows? We'll see how this goes.

So, for now, let me know what you want to hear about from me. I'll talk about anything, so let's have it. What do YOU want me to blog about?