Thursday, May 28, 2015

Love is a Battlefield

They say love is a battlefield…. and so is education.
Education is love AND a battlefield.

The equipment isn’t there, the numbers are great, the man power has been taken, and the missions seem to be changing if not impossible.

And if education is a battlefield,
then the End of Grade Testing is the American Revolution.
It can be the turning point for schools everywhere.

Never mind if schools have large numbers of students who have inadequate nutrition, missing attendance, and little home support.   Never mind, children who have learning and attention challenges.  Imagine every noise as a distraction.  Imagine words and letters reversing as you try to struggle through lines and lines of reading that don’t make sense.

One thing about war, it’s unfair.

I know the battle well.  I volunteered to serve.

How many times have I, as Commander and Chief, barked orders at my young soldiers:  'You better pay attention, or you won’t pass the EOG.  You could be sitting here next year’.
Fear makes us say stupid things.
What my heart was saying, ‘I know you are smart, but your whole year rides on one test, and I don’t want it to show anything other than OUR hard work’.

I privately cried for two days before Connor started third grade.
Plain and simple I was sending him into war with few weapons.
He wasn’t a fluent reader.   He couldn’t sit still.   The pace would be too quick.  His confidence was low.
I wasn’t sure his chosen Commander in Chief(s) were the right fit.

This had all the ingredients for a losing battle (ok... we were probably about to get a Liam Neeson butt kicking).
Forget the kids, I was the one with the belly ache on Open House.
I overheard one parent say to another ‘Third grade is hell’.

I thought it was pretty poetic.

Still, there is a saying… 
in battle the military is only as strong as the other institutions supporting it.  
With each passing day, that statement rang true.  
I came to appreciate the organization and the hard work of all of Connor’s educators.
They had to help me do what I couldn’t do alone.  

The battle started out pretty harsh, we took a few hits.  
My child froze the day before the beginning of the year EOG.  He didn’t answer ONE question on the 30 question practice.  ‘Why?’,  he said with big blue eyes filled with tears, ‘it looks like Chinese.’
Yep, that was a bullet to the heart.
The battle wounds were nursed by us all.  There were miscommunications, meetings, tears, calls, and more tears.

The state does not realize, some students need much more time and intervention before reaching specific benchmarks.

The thing about warriors is, they don’t give up.  
The teachers, the parents, the child… marched ahead.  
We were down but never out.

That is why it felt pretty darn good to finally realize, that we were winning the war.  
The day we achieved a grade level status was so exciting.  It was like we won The Battle at Galveston.  Who knew?  Everyone gave their very best, and there were some pretty incredible results.

So excuse my language but really, the EOG can bite me. 
I don’t care about it.  
I don’t even have to tell Connor ‘to do his best’.  He had teachers who have taught him to do his best, who have only taken his very best.

Dear teachers, 
THANK YOU for fighting for your students.
Thank you for giving children precious gifts they can never understand and that can never be measured by one score.
THANK you for being brave enough to go into the field without the support you need.
Thank you for helping my son be all that he can be.

I want to share my story because attention all teachers:  we need you.   

You really do make a difference.

Take a look at this growth in 16 months:
This is a video (a bit long) of Connor reading in second grade.  Although, this is a beginning first grade reader.  We were happy to see some more emerging skills getting stronger.

November 2013

This is a video of Connor reading the same reader and a grade level reader about the Everglades (fresh read in this video).  I had to pay him $5.00 to tape.  Hey, I wanted to record my fluent reader emerging!

April 2015
And we are proud.

You rock little man.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Dog Days of Summer

Today our family enjoyed the Dog Games.

Things you should take with you to Dog Games:

1. sunscreen
2. full tank of gas 
3.  water
4.  cash money
5.  cell phone
(these are things we didn't take with us..... that we could have really used...we are never prepared.)

If I were a dog, this would be me.
Check out those jewels!

Dog Diving

Oh YEAH, catching some air!

Carlee really wanted to compete.

Sweet Advertising
It was hard not to adopt.

Carlee thought this was a horse.

Complimentary shades from Pedigree.

Connor trying to adopt all dogs without parent consent.

It was so hot, we needed an icy break.

Obstacle Course

There was little shade, 
but these pups are pros.
I broke into a sweat watching.

Kid Crafts
All donations went toward emergency pup medical bills for low income patients.

All ready to perform.

Mad Again

Frisbee Catch

Happy Dog Days

Friday, May 15, 2015

Field Trip

Today we all needed some time to replenish and renew.
We needed time to be ourselves.
We needed time to love, and laugh, and enjoy things God made.
Each little person has a story.
They are brave.
They are good.
I was inspired.
God is Good.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Treasures

These Two Treasures.... 
as opposite as night and day 
but share the same looks and remain as stubborn as stone!

Speaking of Stone, 
This weekend was filled with Mother's Day Treasures.
This year I encouraged Darren to help the children remember Mother's Day.
It's good for children to remember a little token of appreciation for different holidays and family members.

Perhaps I should have used better wording than 'a little token' .

Treasure #1:  Connor picked out this paperweight for me (yes, this lovely rock is all mine).
He explained that it would make me think of him (my beloved son) and the Holy Spirit of course.

Treasure #2:  Carlee picked out this angel for me.  Connor explained 'not because I'm an angel but because I like to read'.   
I've named her Scarlett (because of her green dress).

They thought it would match my Willow Tree Figures.
(I may have special place for Scarlett, a place where company can't find her).

Darren said they almost bought me a 'gag gift'.  Boy, I am so glad they went with the serious gifts.

Treasure #3:
They also each picked out a card for me.  Connor's card was equally as touching, a dog with a vacuum.

We've had a good time opening and closing that vacuum.

Carlee's card sums up her personality nicely:

This is the Fashion Diva room I was cleaning while everyone was shopping for me.  

Today in service we learned about the importance of being Mother, meanwhile Connor was coloring me a Hot Wheels Mother's Day Treasure #4.

The preacher encouraged everyone to fill in 'I Am Thankful for Mother Because'.....
Connor made a rhyme
'My mom is the best of all, 
because she takes me to the mall.'
very emotional

Treasure #5:
Baby A's Birthday 
(who is no longer a baby)

We had a BEACH BLAST.  
The day was just perfect for bubbles, laughter, and birthday cake.
Happy Birthday #3 A.

Treasure #6:
I hate my dress because you picked it out MOM.

Treasure #7:
Coffee Out & Gorgeous Mornings 

Treasure #8:
While Carlee and Darren were off to visit  MeMa, Connor and I had a picnic after service.

Treasure #9:
I took matters into my own hands and purchased this new 10.00 nail gel I wanted to try out.
Once I got it home, I realized you had to have 12.00 remover and a special red light for it to GEL.
Not it has to go back to the store.

Treasure #10:
At least I had a special dessert.  After the Beach Bash, the kids got a gift bag and THE MOMS got a gift bag.
Check out that tote and cheesecake.

Am I rich in treasure or what!?!

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
-Psalm 127:3