Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My How We've Changed

I just read a story on Coach Dayne's blog that took me back many years. Probably about 30 years to be exact. It was Christmas Eve night. We were making our annual trek to my husband's parents' farm to celebrate Christmas with his large family. Our car was packed with presents along with precious human cargo, our family: our two little boys, our cocker spaniel,Rusty, Larry and me.

It was about 8:00, already dark, and we were a few miles outside the small town near my parents-in-law's home. As we approached a crossroad in the middle of nowhere there was a man seeking a ride. We pulled over, found that he just needed to go a few miles to meet his brother. Soon we had one more passenger with us, went the few miles, and deposited him. That night, that Christmas Eve, we didn't hesitate to pick up a neighbor.

We look back on that night and shiver in disbelief, both my husband and myself. Would we do that today? No way. Would we recommend that anyone pick up a stranger these days. No way. If my kids are reading this, don't you EVER pick up anyone! But that was 30 years ago and it was a different world.

Still. There could have been a very different outcome to that evening. Don't like to think of that. There really is no moral to the story. It just came to me. It's more a lesson in what not to do although at the time it felt good to help someone out.

If you haven't visited Coach Dayne's blog, Coach Your Mind, go over and spend some time there. It does the mind good and we need that. I'm passing along an award I got from Boutique Stitches to you, Dayne. Grab it off my sidebar. Thanks for the good stuff.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Blog For A Cure

Today we all have a great opportunity to help out a very worthy cause. Through Blog-For-A-Cure we can support Lani and help her reach her goal of $2400 to be donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Lani has a very good friend/family member who was recently diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. A young, healthy mom with a beautiful daughter, whose life, as well as her entire family's life, has been completely turned upside down by this disease. Lani adds "I can't imagine what it must feel like to fight for your life, can you?"

I also have a very good friend with leukemia. I'd like to honor Don with this effort as well. I know you'd like to participate too so go to Lani's blog for all the details and how-tos. You'll be glad you did. Thank you!

And Another Thing....

Ok.  Enough about math.....right after this post.  No matter, math always brings up a story for people.  Usually not such good memories, but,  ocasionally someone will say, "I really liked math." or "I was good at it." 

If your children love it, you don't need to read the rest of this.  Just don't brag to your friends because it is a tearful subject in a lot of homes. 

I'll confess that I flunked a math class in college.  Actually I made a D+ but you can't do that in your major so I had to take it again.  Lots of reasons for that.  But I know the pain of not having a clue and just not getting it.

If you have little girls, encourage them especially.  Girls are as good at math as boys.  It's not "ungirly".  A smart, girl geek can be quite sexy!  A lot of the time girls don't get that push in this subject.  My niece just finsihed GA Tech and is in Italy right now finishing her masters.  She is as sexy and smart as they come....and blonde! Remember Winnie, the cool girl on The Wonder Years?  She is now a mathematician among other things.

Parents say, "I wasn't good at math so my kids aren't either".  What's that about?  It just means you understand that it's hard for them.  By telling your children that, it gives them permission to be so-so when they could be better. We don't mean it that way.  We just mean to be encouraging. I don't mean to pressure them.  Just realize that your experience isn't theirs. 

Math struggles at your houses?  Find out why.  Meet with the teacher and counselor. Get extra help early in the year.  Support them and encourage them to stick with it, ask questions, sit in the front, do their homework, don't miss class and on and on.  It's still early in the school year.  Now is the time to jump on any problem areas and make sure your child has the support he or she needs to be successful.

Ok. I'm off my soapbox.  Got it out of my system.  Go play! No more math! I get that.


Monday, September 28, 2009

A Mathy Monday

Every now and then I just have to throw in a little mathy stuff.  It's good for when your mom or dad gave you medicine when you were little.  I just read a business ad for a company that specializes in "testing and tutoring".  It played on the emotions of parents whose kids struggle with math.  It referred to the "failure chain" your child might be in.  Of course, they had the solution for you.  And they really might. Or not.

Math is probably the first time kids have to deal with the abstract in school.  Algebra, taught abstractly, is very tough for many kids to grasp.  One way to work with this at home is to keep math as concrete as possible in the beginning...and for as long as possible.  Most parents are so excited when their child can count to ten, and then later when they can count way high.  I remember one of mine getting a prize because he could write numbers in order until there was no more paper left to fill! I was excited and I still have the paper to prove it!

I would encourage you to even make learning to count concrete.  Calling out numbers means nothing more than having a good memory.  Attaching meaning to those numbers--now that is understanding. 

Try this.  Put some pennies, maybe 20 or so, on the kitchen table. If your child is very young, just use five pennies.  Have your child actually touch each one and slide it to the side as he says, "One penny, two, three, four, etc....".   Something else to try after this.  Stack up 20 or 30 pennies in stacks of 10.  On the other end of the table, spread out the same number of pennies.  Ask your child which is more...the stacked pennies or the spread out ones. Depending on their age, of course, you will get different answers.  Try having him or her compare pennies that are in a big pile to pennies that are spread out one at a time.

Obviously you want them to consistently realize they must count the pennies each time to find the answer.  The abstract question has become concrete.

A young teenage student trying to learn algebra who never got the concepts concretely will surely struggle now that it is all abstract. Just food for thought.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What Is Your Favorite Name?

Since so many of my new blogging friends are young mothers (and VERY creative), I thought I would share one of my artsy fartsy interests with you. Always and forever I have wanted to be an artist. I've always thought you were either born an artist or you weren't.  I didn't know that you can also LEARN to be an artist, but you can. I have been studying drawing for 8 months and I will start oil painting very, very soon. Yes, I am excited, excited, excited....and it's never too late to do what you love.

What I am going to share came years ago when I was a young mother like lots of you are now. It was a time  I loved... being a SAHM, but I had more time than money, and started doing these for gifts. It was more like doodling really. I did it when my kids took their naps and soon friends began to request them. First thing I knew I was at an arts and crafts fair and ended up with way too many orders to create "before Christmas". Fun though and gave me a focus, that's for sure.

These drawings are bright watercolors done in primary colors or sometimes girly colors. Occasionally I will still do one on request. Just thought I'd show them to you. Some of you may do the same thing. It isn't art, more like cartoons. Anyway,here are a few samples. Some are not painted but you get the idea. You might like to try it yourself.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Childhood Never Has To Completely End

As long as there are not too many hills, biking is one of my very favorite things to do! Something that you learn in childhood and never have to let go. This old guy was out riding this morning, and just like an 8 year old, rather than avoid the puddle from the overnight rain, he chose to ride through it. Splash. Splash. It's just more fun that way. Still.

"Never will I bike again without a helmet". That is me speaking now. About a year ago I took my bike in to have a flat tire fixed. I left it and came back in a couple hours to pick it up. Great! I throw it on the rack and home I go. Once home I decide to take it for a little spin and on the way down the driveway I lost control and wrecked about the time I reached the street.

"What happened?" you say. Well, the nice folks at the bike shop gave my bike a quick check up and tightened the brakes. Problem is they didn't tell me. I used my usual squeeze on the hand brakes and OMG they were tight. Threw me right off, down onto the street. Helmet? Who needs a helmet? Lesson learned! My head hit the street. I heard it hit. I lay there awhile. Surely someone would see me and come to my rescue! But no one came. "Where is everyone?" My Larry was sleeping or watching the ballgame. He had no idea. The neighbors were nowhere to be found. So I decided nothing was broken, hoped I didn't have a concussion, and hobbled inside.

It only takes one crack of the skull against pavement, damage or no damage, to convince you that wearing a helmet is important. I have a very cool one now just like this picture except mine is pink.

I spent this morning bike riding too... through the village, down by the beach, through quiet, shady neighborhoods....and splashing through the puddles like the old man.

There's no better way to spend a cool morning than on a bike with nowhere special to go and no time special to be there. Just peddling. A piece of childhood that doesn't have to end.

What do you do now, as a "grown up" to remind you of your childhood? Click to see what else I just thought of and tell me what you are thinking. I promise to get back to you.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Walk AT The Beach, Not ON The Beach

Took a long walk around the island yesterday in observer mode and here is what I saw! The first picture explains why I wasn't walking ON the beach. If you plan to actually walk on the beach during high tide, think again. Not happenin'. Come back in 6 hours for sand between your toes!

Is your little one missing a shoe?

Flowers in a window box even I could grow!

Ooooh, my hubby is jealous now! HaHa! I fit right in with this fun bunch of guys. I don't know any of them but they are mighty fine! They loved the photo op too. All their wives are out shopping and they, these men, are sitting around "talking". When their wives return I just betcha the women will take over the talking and the guys will suddenly fall mute.

My favorite new shop on the island! It just opened in May and is just divine...smells even better than divine. It's called Dutchmans Casual Living Store. You will love it too.

Here is Laura. It's her store! She has a blog about it too. Go visit her in person next time you are in St. Simons. If you can't make it in person, go visit her blog.

Oh, it's another shoe!!!! Now if i could just find the child!
It's interesting what we see when we are in observer mode and actually take time to look around us. Once I even found a diamond ring!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why I Blog

1. Bloggers take time to smell the roses! This is it folks. We take time to sit down and think our thoughts. We don't run around like a Chinese fire drill, or if we do we still take a few minutes to cogitate each day.

2. Bloggers are never bored! Wouldn't you agree? There is always something new to learn, something new to try, something new to add to your page, a new blog to visit. Like now I am trying to learn to leave a signature at the end of this post!

Anybody know how to get rid of the box?

3. Bloggers are funny. We may not be funny every day or every post but you can always find a good laugh from a fellow blogger to uplift your spirit. If they need uplifting, this is a good thing. Cheaper than Prozac. :)

4. Bloggers love an audience! Bloggers have an audience! Nuff said.

5. Bloggers are never lonely. I mean, really. I have 48 new, supportive friends I can talk to anytime I want.

Leave a comment. You know I like that... and I reciprocate! Why do you like to blog?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Atlanta Flood Pictures

Seems like it's rained in Atlanta now for ten straight day. I don't mean just a regular rain. I mean really pouring all day. The first few days it's like, "Oh well. Rainy day. Just drive carefully." After a few days of this it's like, "Man, what is going on? It can't be raining again today? But it did rain again. Roads are still flooded out, power is still out in some places, schools are still closed. The good news is today it did not pour down rain all day today in Atlanta! Things are getting better.

Me? I am not at our home in Atlanta! Yea! I am high and dry. Well, not really high. That's just an expression. I am sitting on the balcony of a lovely condo at St. Simon's Island off the GA coast. The night is clear. The waves are crashing and making that luscious sound of water slapping against the coast. The breeze is fresh and slight. I am actually high on life right now....not sloshing through any water or any problems. I plan to have sweet dreams tonight. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rainy Days At The Beach? Oh No!

It is wild down here in the South today. Y'all just wouldn't believe in a million years how much it has rained! For a week now it has rained hard every day. One suburban town got 10 inches in the last 24 hours! It's really true!

Now here's the funny part....or not so funny part. This is our week to go to the beach. Yes, we are on our way to the beach with the same weather forecast going on there. Just thinking of all the fun we will be having cooped up in our condo! Not! You save for a whole year and then you have....rainy days at the beach.

Go look a couple posts back and you will see my current child, Buddy. He is the only furry child we have and we spoil him. But we did leave him at home this trip. We have unfurry children too who are grown up and one of them is coming out to our house to dog sit. He will get a vacation at the same time so it's a win-win.

We are on the road. Phone rings. "Dad, the Interstate is closed. How do I get to the house?" "Closed?", my husband asks. "Yep. It's flooded!" "Okay let's think about a detour." And they devised route after route, each one ending in another phone call and another flooded out roadblock. Here we are in South GA by now, our furry beloved is home alone, and no one can get to him for all the rain and flooded out bridges and roads!

The phone calls kept coming. Buddy did get rescued. Our fearless son found a way although the bridge he crossed was barely over the rising water. Schools closed early because of rain! Never heard that before. No school tomorrow either.

Hey, we are going to the beach come hell or high water. Well high water is here. I have my bathing suit, suncreen, sunglasses, and visor. Hubby has his golf clubs. That's all we need. We are still going to the beach. We have reservations! We can't cancel. We're going. I'll let you know what it's like there. Pray for sunshine in the Deep South!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Can Jon and Kate Make Up?

Kate was a guest host on The View this week. Unless you've been living under a rock for the last six months, you know who "Kate" is.Kate,the mom on Jon and Kate Make 8, is the suddenly single mom of 8 kids well on her way to a final divorce decree from her husband of 10 years or so.

It seems Jon felt controlled and abused, wanted out, got out, and is enjoying his new life. Kate seems sad to me.

Here is what I want to see happpen: I want Jon to get all the partying out of his system and then go to Kate. I want him to ask Kate to forgive him and to tell her that he went temporarily insane and has now come back to planet Earth. He really does love her and wants to be back home with her and the kids. Will she take him back?

I want Kate to realize her part in the drama, forgive Jon, and take him back, and go back to being the happy family they once were. Once Jon is back home I want Kate to treat him with respect and not like another child.

I want Kate to get a part time job in TV, which she seems to really like, and Jon to get a job back in his field of computer technology. I want the kids to get off TV and have a normal life like other kids their age.

It sounds impossible but no more impossible than the first time we heard Jon was cheating. Could be. Stranger things have happened.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I Didn't Realize I Was Lost Till I Started Looking For Myself!

I started this blog back in the spring for the math students I was tutoring privately... so my early posts are all about math. They are great posts, if I do say so myself, but no one ever looked at them. Imagine that! And I was having such fun! My son finally said, "Mom, math is really boring and nobody wants to read it". After I sulked for awhile I came out of the dark closet and admitted he was right. I knew it all along. It's not like there have ever been long lines to get a front seat in math class. I think it was just part of my transition into retirement and realizing that even though I was a teacher for a long, long time, that is no longer who I am.

Sooo the blog began to evolve a little bit along with me. For awhile I decided it should be "worthy", a place where people could learn a little something new each day even if it was completely useless information! Maybe I was really feeling that since I didn't "work" any longer, I should do something "worthy" every day? Hmmm. Ouch.

Art is currently my first love so you'll probably hear about that and I welcome any and all help from you artists out there and anybody else who has an opinion about the art I post. I love spirituality so that might show up. I adore my family and friends so you may meet some of them. Oh, and here is my puppy in today's post! I love him! See what you have to look forward to....(work with me here). LOL!

And I have a funny streak I have kept in check way too long too! What the heck was I thinking? I realized that part yesterday when I lunched with old friends I once taught with. Even though the food was mmmm mmmm good, it was the hilarity and laughter that made the day. Need more of that!

So followers, be patient. Please don't leave me. We're not getting a divorce. I just want to be FREE and let my hip hoppety brain go wherever the heck it wants to. That is what feels good to me. So stay tuned to see what's next because I actually don't have a clue!

And nobody has to learn anything if they don't want to! And I don't care if I end a sentence with a preposition or start it with a conjuction! HaHa!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Listening To Learn. Learning To Listen.

This blog is always about learning new things in some round about way, right? Listening is a blazing way to learn new things. Here's the secret. Hang around with people who are smart and who know things you don't. Take today for example.

I went to the lake with my 3 BFFs to celebrate a birthday and go boating on the lake. The baby of our group is Karen. She is a holistic nurse working in a hospice facility so I learn all kinds of things about health and wellness, and, well, dying (in a good way) from her. When the group's baby is 58(oops! she's really only 53) that kind of tells you something about us, huh? Judy, another BFF, is a truly magnificent cook, expert shopper, (a skill developed by repeated exposure to EBay), and also a gardener with a really green thumb, so obviously I learn a lot from her. My other BFF is Carole, with an "e". She is a spiritual teacher and life coach. I would say she is a minister(which she is) but that would really paint the wrong picture. So, OMG, the things I have learned from her could fill volumes. Actually they do fill volumes. She is the author several books you might want to check out on her site.

I learned all this stuff just today--just from listening:

1. KoldKare is the very best thing to take the minute you feel sick with a cold.
2. Edgar Sawtelle, the Oprah book, is about dogs and has a dramatic and less than happy ending.
3. New Zealand is a laid back country with lots of wide open spaces and not densely populated.
4. When you go hiking, remember to save half your energy for the trip back and go uphill first.
5. Elephant ears plants will keep over the winter if you bring them but they won't look so good again until next spring.
6. Ferns do better with a lot of water, more than mine get.
7. CosCo has the best shrimp salad.
8. You don't have to be put to sleep to get dental implants but it probably helps.
9. The northern part of NZ is hot since it's near the equator and the southern part is near Antarctica so, you guessed it, it's very cold.
10. A half a whole wheat and peanut butter sandwich is a great dinner for husbands.
11. You can have a delightful time going boating without ever leaving the dock or getting wet if you have the right company.
12. Winter fruit contains apples and is sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg. Summer fruit is berries and pineapple.
13. Lexus will give you a NEW loaner car to use if your Lexus breaks down.
14. Serena Williams had a melt down in the U.S. Open last night.
15. A Spanchon is a King Charles Spaniel--Bichon mix.
16. Yellow jackets do not go come back to the same location every year. Isn't that good to know.
17. You can take a real estate class on line or in a classroom setting but you better study for the test either way. It's not easy.
18. Among the 3 of us we have 13 TVs.
19. Dr. Andrew Weil recommends "astragulus" to build the immune system against the flu.
20. We only had one question in our minds at the end of the day. We don't know if L-tryptophan is bad for you or not. Anybody know?

I said we went boating didn't I? Well, when you are boating with your BFFs, we learned that you really don't even have to crank up the boat! You just sit on the boat at the dock. Because when you are with your friends it really doesn't matter where you are. The very, very best thing I learned from today is how lucky I am to have such wonderful friends to love and who love me back. I hope you do too!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fun Way To Learn New Words

In October I will be speaking to high school math teachers about teaching reading and vocabulary in math. I want to leave them with all the practical strategies I can so I was surfing the net to see what's new. I found a site that was new to me but maybe not to you. Are you familiar with a Wordle? I wasn't or at least I didn't call it that.

At this site you can just play with vocabulary words. It's a free site which is nice too. All you do (this is so easy) is type in the vocab words you want to learn. You can vary the font and the color. The program will arrange the words in various random ways until you find an arrangement you really like. Then you can print it and save it.

This artistic, fun creation is only step one of learning the words but it is a fun place to start.

It doesn't have to be school oriented. I just made a birthday care for my friend, Karen, using this program. Have fun with it, and if you or your child are in school, you just might use it with spelling and vocab words too.

Friday, September 11, 2009

From Comment To Short Story

This is such an outstanding comment! It is really a short story. I wanted to share it with you. It is worth your time to read it through. BTW, as I've said before, storytelling is a very effective teaching strategy. Stories engage and stick in your mind. Here is one we can all relate to.

From Guest Blogger: Shirley Meek Williams

Eight years ago today we were in a hotel room in Washington DC (about 3 blocks from the White House) when we heard a loud noise. We looked out the window to see what it was but didn’t see anything except guys washing windows across the street. You always see that in big cities. I think it’s a permanent part of city landscape. I was mesmerized by their scaffolds. I was sure those men were dangling and my fear of heights kicked in. I was certain one of those guys was about to splatter all over the hot concrete below. I’d witnessed one such scene and never wanted to witness another. I quickly forgot about the loud noise. Noses pressed to the glass of our room, we watched them with intensity as we waited for my husband, Carl, to come back from paying the bill.
I was homeschooling Josh at the time and several days earlier we had embarked on the Mother of all field trips. I knew the eight grade curriculum included an in-depth study of the Holocaust. We had read the Diary of Anne Frank and had done our homework. What better place to experience the Holocaust than the newly erected Holocaust Museum in Washington. You see, that is the beauty of homeschooling. You can plan your vacations whenever you want, around holidays, weather etc. This was to be a special vacation. We were going to spend several days in DC and then head to New York City. We wanted to do something for our other son, Matt, as well since he had just graduated from high school and taking someone with his musical talents and interests to see Julliard was as good as it gets for him.

Matt had only been to NYC once and that was when we took him and his friend, Eddie, all the way up to the crown of the Statue of Liberty when they were about 8. Josh had never been to NYC. We wanted them to see as much of it as possible. We had reservations at the Crowne Plaza in downtown Manhattan, right there in the heart of Broadway. We wanted to take them to the top of the Empire State Building but so many people suggested the Twin Towers instead for a better view. We hadn’t decided yet but it would be one of the two. we wanted them to see a Broadway show, Wall Street, and eat hot dogs off a cart.

We took a family vote and decided to drive all the way from Atlanta to DC in one day. We had reservations that first night in a different place than the other remaining nights. As we entered the DC area, (without a Garmin!) we searched for the hotel and discovered that it was very close to the Pentagon. The teacher in me surfaced with a vengeance and I embarked on a long epistle about the Pentagon, the shape, how many people worked there, and why we even needed a Pentagon in a city with so many other buildings. Little did we know, as we circled around the building in the dusk, that we would never see it quite like that again, that it would soon be covered up in ashes and tears. What lay ahead of us was something more than a nightmare but ignorance is bliss, something I can attest to now.

We spent three days in Washington DC. It is a city alive with excitement and electricity. Adrenalin flows abundantly. I love Washington DC. In earlier years, I had spent a lot of time there. The first time I saw the White House, I squealed, “Look how white it is!” In 1974 I found myself standing in front of that very white building with throngs of curiosity seekers and reporters as our 37th President, Nixon, resigned. Once, in the Kennedy Center, I was on an elevator with Henry Kissinger. And there was the time I stood in front of Gerald Ford’s home in Alexandria while he was inside packing to take over his new job, 38th President of the United States. He didn’t have long to pack, under the circumstances.

So here I was, back in the city that excited me like no other. We visited monuments by night and museums by day. On the morning of Sept 11, we had one place left to visit: the FBI building, something I knew the boys would enjoy. We had moved to another hotel and this time we were only a couple blocks from the White House. In fact, we could step outside and see part of it’s black wrought iron gate. In those days, you could walk up quite close. I’d done it many times and once even got to peer in the Oval Office after midnight.

That day, Sept 11, we planned to walk to the FBI building, have a bite of lunch, and then head off to New York City. Our DC hotel would hold our bags for us downstairs until we were ready to leave. Carl had gone to check out and I was getting our bags together. What was taking him so long??? We waited for what seemed an eternity and soon he came back, telling us he had gotten caught up in some news story on TV in the lobby about a plane crash in NYC. “What happened?”“I don’t know. Some little plane hit a building. It’s probably on TV.”

Not wanting to waste much time, I turned on the TV to see Katie Couric squirming and stuttering about this plane crash saying they didn’t know for sure what kind of plane it was nor how it could have run into a building, etc. ( I later learned she was stuttering because she new more than she was telling us) Good grief, I thought to myself. Dang pilots can’t even see a tall building in front of them. What kind of idiot would do that?

Down the stairs we went and out to the sidewalk where, before we could walk 20 steps, were greeted by a Routers News reporter. “You people are obviously tourists.” (REALLY? Was it THAT obvious?)“How is this news going to affect your plans?”“We are just going to proceed with our plans with caution”, answered my husband.(And could you kindly move out of our way so we could PLEASE just PROCEED???? I need to get to the FBI building! It’s on my agenda. It’s my Mother of all homeschool trips and I must get on with my plans!)Apparently I mentioned the FBI thing out loud because a by-stander said, “Honey you can’t go to the FBI building now.”“Really?” (Move out of my way lady, I’m goin)We crossed the street, grabbed some water at a corner fountain, and headed to the FBI building. We walked about one block and then it all happened.

Have you ever had something said or happen to you when you thought you had heard it wrong or maybe you had seen it wrong?“There’s a fire on the mall!” someone yelled.“There’s a car on fire in front of the Capital”“You cant’ go that way”, people screamed. And as we looked ahead, I saw a sight I will never forget: a sea of people…and I mean a sea of people, all coming our way. Because a plane was headed to Washington DC to do more damage, all of the office buildings had been evacuated. All ten billion people were headed our way, on foot. They could not get to their cars. They were just told to get out of the area as fast as they could.(What in the world is going on? Good grief!)

Carl told me we had to turn around. “WHY?” I asked.“ Because they say we are under attack.”REALLY???Now don’t ask me how or why, but I had not one iota of fear. I was mad because I could not get to the FBI building. Dang it. Drove all the way up here and now I can’t’ do it. We’ll just go on to NYC earlier than planned I reasoned. It’ll be fun. I’ll find something EXTRA for us to do on the way. Maybe Annapolis??????

We turned around slightly ahead of the masses. Some people went flying by, running, screaming, etc. Some were crying. Many were on cell phones. And then it happened. The fighter jets began to fly over our heads. Carl knew they were fighter jets but I didn’t. I don’t have a thing for airplanes so what did I know. It was just loud noise to me. The boys? Well, Matt was enamored with an old gray-bearded dude leaning up against a concrete statue smoking weed. Matt wanted to take a picture (which he did). Here the whole world is falling apart in front of our very eyes and this guy is just cooling his heels and Matt is taking it all in. He thought it was terrific. Josh was just in tow, like his mom, taking in the sights.

OK, I thought. All these ten billion people have to go somewhere. They can’t get to their cars, the subway is closed. Where will they all go?? They are all going to want a hotel room. MY hotel room!!!! They are all going to want food and the food is going to give out since the beltway is closed. No food trucks can get into the city. (I promise you, this was forefront in my mind). We took off running at this epiphany and got our room back. We went to the pay phone but the lines were as long as the Honeybaked Ham lines on Christmas Eve morning. We'd better eat. All the food is going to be gone.

The restaurant at the hotel was a corner, glassed in at a major intersection. We had front row seats to one of the most historic days in the history of our country. Sirens, sirens, sirens, sirens, ambulances, Walter Reed, fire trucks, fire trucks, screaming, running, gridlock, and many long black limousines (with flags on the front) riding up on the sidewalks. No telling who was in the limos but they were being rushed to safety and we weren’t. That picture is etched into my memory. Just mass chaos.

We witnessed history that day. We didn’t make it to the FBI building. We still had no idea about the gravity of NYC. All we knew is that something really bad had happened in several places, that the U.S. was under attack and that we would not be able to get to NYC. Later that afternoon we were able to get out of the area after many long, long lines of traffic jams. For miles after we left the area, we could see dark smoke rising over the cityscape of DC, and fighter jets combing the skies. It wasn’t until we were in a little Holiday Inn in rural North Carolina that we saw the incredible footage of those two tall buildings falling. OMG….. OMG……. OMG……… OH MY GOD. Look at that……….. OH MY GOD….GOD HAVE MERCY.

We slept fitfully that night. No one wanted to sightsee on the way home except me. Everyone wanted to go back home…it was church night. We all wanted to be in church. We drove that white van hard and fast to get back in time for church. We didn’t even change clothes. We walked in to a lot of hugs and prayers for us. People had been really worried. But we had been saved. Some really nice guys in a big plane over the fields of Pennsylvania had answered the, "Lets Roll" call, and had saved our lives on September 11. God must have something else He wants us to do. We were never so glad to be in church as we were that night.

I have a lot to be thankful for today…and everyday. I hope to never repeat history like that again. To be sure, it was the Mother of all field trips.

Where Were You On 9-11?

We all remember the day. It was one of those days that you tend to remember where you were, who you were with, what you were doing, and maybe what you had on. The brain remembers keenly those things which are linked to our emotional response and sensual feelings. That is why teachers and ministers will often "set the stage" invoking the senses and anchor our thoughts and feelings so we will remember them, hopefully, forever. This is one of the key elements of learning. Another is repetition. As we think back to when "9-11" happened it was reinforced over and over on TV using repetition, storytelling, and emotion. That is how we learn and remember long term. It works whether you want to remember or not. If you are a student or a teacher, linking that which you want to learn or teach to these same key elements of learning will move them into your long term memory so information is not learned just for the test but becomes a part of your knowledge bank.

Where were you on 9-11? I hope you will share your story in the Comments section below and read others' stories. I was in a public high school in the media center. My automatic thoughts told me the first plane crash was a horrific accident. Then came the next and we all knew differently. I was not supervising students but my mind immediately went to them as many of their parents traveled in their work and I knew the anxiety level would be off the charts for those kids. My Principal's daughter, MiMi, an attorney, worked right across the street from the towers. She called her mom on her cell to say she was running across the Brooklyn Bridge with hundreds of others in a haze of smoke and ash.

The loss that day was incomprehensible. The children who have grown up since then and the families who have built new lives are testament to the human spirit. Honor what has been and love them forever and continue building a better life as they would want us all to do. I also went to a birthday party that evening. I couldn't decide whether to go or not. Was it unpatriotic and unfeeling or was it affirming the life we have that no one can take away, no matter what. I was glad I went. Hugs and laughter were important that day.

Where were you on 9-11?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What President Obama Said!

I just watched the President talk about Health Care Reform. I'm so sick of all the banter between the political pundits, all the spin both ways, and all of us out here who listen to these spin doctors trying to figure out the truth. It has set neighbor against neighbor. Who can even believe this behavior? So I listened tonight to decide for myself. I took notes. This is what I heard the President of the USA say with my own ears.

1. Medicare is safe. It will not go away. It is a sacred trust from generation to generation.

2. Health Care will not cover illegal immigrants.

3. Federal dollars will not cover abortions.

4. Senior citizens will receive good care. No one will who gets treatment and who doesn't.

5. If you like the insurance you have now, you can keep it.

6. You cannot be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

7. Nothing will be added to the deficit.

8. We will have choice and competition.

If you didn't get to hear it, I promise you straight out, this is what he said.

Nine Things To Do On 9-9-09

9 Things To Do Today:
1. Eat 9 fruits and veggies.
2. Get 9 hours of sleep.
3. Exercise at least 9 minutes.
4. Name 9 things you treasure.
5. Communicate with 9 people you truly like.
6. Write down 9 things you still want to do in 2009.
7. Think of 9 healthy foods you love.
8. Write down 9 things that bring you joy.
9. Leave a comment for your favorite 9 bloggers.

Here's where I am:1. Already had watermelon, tomato, lettuce, potato so far. Need 5 more.....
2. Yes. Done.
3. Not yet. Plan to ride my bike for 9 minutes after while.
4. My husband, my family, my dog, my home, my job, my security, my flowers, my friends, my the top of my head.
5. I'm doing that right now.
6. I want to swim in the lake, bike ride, begin oil painting, see Trip, lose 8 pounds, build my businesses, spend a whole weekend with my girlfriends, go to a Falcons game, celebrate my birthday.
7. Cherries, black seedless grapes, whole wheat bread, bananas, roasted peanuts, coffee, veggie salsa, baked potatoes, broccoli salad.
8. Babies, good sweet watermelon, friends and readers, vacations, a good book, good vibes, lots of comments on my blog, inspiration, great sleep.
9. Just about to do that!

Make your list!

Monday, September 7, 2009

What Is A Learning Disability Anyway?

Learning disabilities are all over the place! In reality, according to the Natl Inst of Health, about 1 out of 7 of us have them. What the heck is a LD anyway? Technically, it is the label applied when a student does not perform at a level consistent with his ability after all extenuating circumstances have been ruled out. In other words, the student is smart and still has a terrible time at school! Many things cause students to “way underperform”. Drug use, family problems, insomnia, frequent moving, death in the family, changing schools frequently, parent in Iraq, divorce, boyfriend breakup, pregnancy and on and on and on.

When a student consistently performs way under what is expected based on his IQ, and none of the above factors are present, it is suspected the student may have a LD. At this point the school will order screening. If this shows a "large" difference between his IQ and his actual performance/grades/achievement, further testing will be ordered. If the difference is not “large enough” the school system will not test them. The size of this difference varies among the states. I believe it is 50% in NY if it has not changed recently.

Every student who is under performing does not have a LD. In short, LD students are smart. They must have average or higher intelligence in order for the performance to vary enough from their ability to qualify as LD. Whew! If an individual has a low IQ he will struggle in school and he will have lower grades, but he will not have a learning disability. LD is very socially acceptable and often parents, especially affluent ones, want the LD label for their kids. They want the extra services and modifications that the LD student is entitled to. Other parents feel that being in Special Education is a stigma and do not want it.

We hear many famous people had LDs such as Susan Boyle, Tom Cruise, Whoopi Goldberg, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, and Gen. Patton and George Washington. Most certainly all of them did not. What we really know is that they all had trouble in school even though they were extremely brilliant in other areas.

Howard Gardner, author of Multiple Intelligences, says there are 7 areas of intelligence: Verbal, Mathematical, Spatial (Artistic), Musical, Bodily/Kinesthetic (Athletics), Spiritual and Naturalistic. Acknowledge your area of intelligence. Help your child find and acknowledge his. Don’t freak out if it is not the traditional academic area. Too many of us are still feeling "not good enough" because of a school experience without fully recognizing and valuing the gifts we each have.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Happy Birthday Caligula! Toga On!

"Last week the world commemorated the birth of the inventor of the toga party! Had he lived (that is not been daggered to death by his own personal body guards) Caligula would have been 1997 years old on August 31st. Let's start getting ready now for whatever it is you call the second-millennium-anniversary coming up in 2012! Toga! Toga! Toga!" by Guest Blogger Richard Croker, Author of T0 Make Men Free, No Greater Courage, and The Boomer Century.

Now I never would have known about old Caligula except that my friend Richard is a brilliant historian. Speaking of his book on the Civil War, a fan writes, "It was one of the best reads and most researched books I've read in a few years. Thank you for your efforts....I look forward to your next book. I would easily compare your work to that of Michael Sharra or John Jakes. Well done."

And I shall add that togas are really just lots of white cloth, or dark if worn in mourning, wrapped and folded, not sewn or fastened at all. Roman nobility, men only, wore them. Women who wore togas were thought to be prostitutes. Now that's not fair! Things change, thank goodness. Today's togas are more fun, don't have to cover every bit of skin from neck to feet, and don't get women carted off to jail. They are more likely to denote a party in the air than any hint of class or sexism. Toga on!
Thanks Richard!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Is Graffiti Art?

Well is it? The debate goes on. What should determine whether a piece of original art on a building should be "erased" or whether it should be highly prized and the artist rewarded? I am not talking about bathroom stall type graffiti or giant initials and names, but mural-like art that might spring up overnight without permission.

Some towns have established committees to look at each piece and decide. Another town has shifted its viewpoint and now actually contracts with graffiti artists to produce a look that fits in with the surroundings and environment.

I remember once when a senior girl and boy I knew very well spray painted a huge smiley face on the surface of the street in front of the high school the night before the last day of school. It was well done and gave everyone a big smile, literally, when they went home for summer. There was trouble over it but not big trouble. Oddly enough it was "painted over" with black paint which turned this light hearted painting into an ugly mess...but it was covered up!

I'm thinking that with a few guidelines perhaps this untamed art form, that has been around since ancient Greece and Rome, could be accepted for what it is: a personal representation of thought. I guess art is in the eye of the beholder after all, huh?