Saturday, January 31, 2009

Everything I needed to know, I learned in first grade...

One of my favorite things about teaching is that you can give 19 students the exact same materials for an art project, and every project turns out totally different.

Then, you can lay them out without names, and every student can find his own masterpiece without a pause.

It always reminds me of a cartoon I saw once of a room full of penguins. The one penguin is pointing out his girlfriend in the crowd. "Not that one, the pretty one!" he exclaims.

Every student is absolutely convinced that his or her project is, quite simply, The Best.

Several things I have learned from teaching?

  • You can say, "Put your name on your paper", sing the "Name on your paper: first thing!" song (to the tune of "Shave and a Haircut") until you are out of breath, have the student's neighbor touch a paper as a signal the name is missing, ask students to check ONE MORE TIME to see if a name is on the paper and...when you go to check the stack of papers, four papers are guaranteed to be without names.
  • When you pull out a camera to take a picture, children's hands immediately morph into bunny ears to put behind a classmate's head.
  • When a child comes to tell on another student, the first question you must ask (after hearing The Long Story) is, "What did you do?" Usually, there are slight omissions in the actual retelling of the incident. They would be details involving the teller.
  • I must keep a supply of vases in my classroom, because I am presented with flowers and plants (often with roots still attached) on a regular basis. Dandelions brought to the teacher clutched in a chubby fist are more beautiful than a dozen long stemmed roses.
  • The teacher is often quoted to the parents as The Leading Authority on Everything in the World. ("Well, Mrs. O said....") I am very careful of what I say.
  • I am given an endless supply of jokes like: "Why didn't the skeleton cross the road? He didn't have any guts!" Oh, that one still cracks me up. Even after 20 years of hearing it.
  • I am given credit that I do not deserve. Over the years, I have had various students think that I invented Playdoh and Silly Putty because those two substances (which have never met a carpet they couldn't ruin) are not allowed in the homes of six year olds. Only the classrooms, apparently. Where your tax dollars pay for the carpets.
  • At some point, every six year old in Texas discovers that our major grocery chain, H.E.B., is named after a man whose last name is "Butt". This always sends them into gales of laughter that are contagious, and can shut down learning for entire afternoons.
  • The song "Jingle bells, Batman smells" will never go away. Ever.
  • Do not tie wet shoelaces.
  • Never question or doubt the words, "But it's an EMERGENCY!"
  • Always look them in the eye when they are telling you a story. That is half of the fun.
  • The invention of glue sticks is God's reward for all the years teachers had to put up with Elmer's "liquid" glue.
  • Rounded student scissors can still cut just about any surface, with speed and efficiency.
  • Glue sticks feel an awful lot like Chapstick in my recess coat pocket.

Teaching. The pay is not great but the rewards, blessings and knowledge gained in a classroom of children? Priceless.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like... 90% Off

Every year at this time, I have a very odd little game I play. It is called, "What Christmas merchandise is left a month after Christmas that will not even sell at 90% off?" Take the lovely fur trimmed stocking above. Originally $35, but not moving at $3.50 for some strange reason. Perhaps all the Martians have already purchased their items hung by the chimney with care.

And then there is this stunning collection of Santas. A bowling Santa. A fishing Santa. And everyone's favorite: a tractor riding Santa carrying his pig.

Nothing says Merry Christmas like Santa in civilian clothes.

I am speechless at these decorations. Without words that they did not sell to frog and banana collecting Christmas customers.

And finally, these little left-over baubles. I guess those decorating with turquoise, magenta and red feathers did not shop at Hobby Lobby this year.

It occurs to me that we blame many people for the problems we are having with our economy.

I submit we consider some of the prime suspects might be the merchandise buyers.

Their punishment?

How about a metallic silver holiday decorating scheme, accented with frogs, bananas and all manner of Santas dressed for after-Christmas shennanigans...heavy on the red feathers.

Only 332 shopping days until next Christmas. You're welcome.

Monday, January 26, 2009

On the threshold of dreams...

Have you ever seen so much happiness in one small picture?

This is my dear friend, M, with her three lovely daughters: A, L and K.
M and I were college roommates, stood at each other's weddings and raised our babies together. Now those babies are all grown and going out into the world to do Great Things. All at one time, it seems!

This photo was snapped Sunday at a wedding shower for L. She is getting married in March and beginning a new life as a wife.

K is graduating from high school in May, and waiting to hear from colleges to see what the fall holds for her.

A is graduating from college in May and weighing out her options in the film industry. (And wasn't it just yesterday she was in my kindergarten class?)

I think my favorite thing about growing older is watching children grow up well in the Lord. Journeying toward that future and hope that He has for each one of them.

This is one family that has trained up three beautiful girls in the ways that they should go. They've all run well the race that has been set before them. And I know that they will continue to press on toward their goals.

Thank you for sharing your joy with a room full of family and friends. We can't wait to see your futures continue to unfold before you. You've blessed us all mightily over the years. Godspeed, A, L and K. We rejoice with you all.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

Like I told you in previous posts, Branson, Missouri, has everything.

Here we find K posed with O in the heart of Branson. (Since he is about to become president and has no internet privacy issues, I will refer to him by his full name in the future.)

Teaching my first graders about Martin Luther King Jr., segregation and the significance of Barack Obama becoming president has been an eye opening experience. In their innocence, they have no idea what I am talking about.
And I realize that is a good thing.
Because things have changed so drastically since my elementary school years in the 60's.
The words I speak about the past sound like fairy tales to them.
Without the happy ending.

In full disclosure, this is not the candidate I voted for.
But this will be the president I support and pray for. We all know the climate and economic turbulance of America.
May God bless President Obama with wisdom for our country.
And may He bless America again.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Lifting up Harper

Click on this stamp for more information about Baby Harper. She continues to need our prayers.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Price of Vanity

What is the price of vanity?


That is what I just paid so there is NO LINE on my first prescribed pair of bifocal glasses.

And it was totally worth it.

Monday, January 12, 2009


We arrived in Branson, Missouri on the last day of The Season. The little town swells from 6,000 to include 8.5 million guests from March until the end on December. This store owner seems very happy about his three month vacation. The foreign tourists in front of us tugging on the locked door? Not so much.

There were some more cheerful signs. We are glad to see that the ice cream that makes Brenham, Texas famous (and all of Texas happy), is also available to the lucky people of Missouri.

There are also many curious signs. Across the street from the Titanic Museum, the four story go-cart ride and the Hobnobbing Hillbillies' Theater, we saw this sign. Branson clearly has something for everyone. Sometimes under the same roof.

My sister's favorite sign: Andy Williams' Theater and Moon River Grill. Made us miss our grandmother who had us watch Andy's Christmas special every year while we grew up. Until Andy's wife left him for that skier that she accidentally shot and killed, and then ran off to Mexico with her defense lawyer. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn't it?

Some memories are better left unexamined.

Some signs bring back our childhood. Roy and Dale. Happy Trails. And Trigger. Who is now stuffed for time and eternity and residing in this building. You can examine him for $28.00. We did not.

And, the best sign of all, taken in Branson Missouri on December 28, 2008.

They know how to party like it's 1999.
In gas prices, anyway.

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Family Heirlooms

Every family has its favorite holiday recipes. Here are some of mine, a little worse for the wear after 30 years. These recipes were given to me by my former mother-in-law: Cheese Blintzes, Russian Teacakes and Iced Brownies. There is never a special occasion that goes by in my home that they are not served. When I visited my married daughter last month, she was also serving them as part of her Christmas celebration.

Recipes. The gift that keeps on giving. Just like family. My former mother-in-law, R, also gave me so many other gifts during the years she has been in my life. I was raised in a family whose picture must accompany the definition of "dysfunctional" in the dictionary. So, I spent many years watching R. From her I learned to entertain, decorate and nourish long term friendships. She influenced me in the really important things (raising my children), the small but important things (give thick, luxurious white towel sets as wedding gifts), and the immensely important small things (Frango mints from Marshall Fields in Chicago.)

Some of my favorite possessions were gifts from her. Two beloved nativity sets I carefully unwrap and display each Christmas. A necklace she purchased on a long-ago vacation when my grandfather passed away. And the Cheese Blintz recipe that I've entered in so many contests I should be embarrassed. But it always won!

Recently, she had to have some serious surgery. She is a very determined woman and I have no doubt that she will emerge as strong and as gracious as ever. And I'll bet she managed to have the same desserts on her holiday table, even post surgery.

Thank you, R. You are truly a God-given gift to my life.

Ruby's Cheese Blintzes
2 loaves square shaped white sandwich bread
2 large packages soft cream cheese
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 sticks margarine
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon

Remove crusts from bread. Roll thin with rolling pin. Mix soft cream cheese, egg and 1/2 cup sugar. Spread on bread slices. Roll up and press ends. Melt margarine. Dip bread roll in margarine, then in sugar and cinnamon mixture. Freeze on cookie sheet and store frozen.
To serve, remove from freezer amount needed. Do not thaw. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.