Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'm Here, I'm Here!

I know, I know...I have made a shocking return to blogland! Don't worry, I haven't gone anywhere, just neglected my bloginating duties recently, for like the last month. So, to quickly catch you up, here are the top 10 things I did while on my unintentional blogging sabbatical.

10. Survived a harrowing drive through Iowa and Minnesota to come home to my parent's for Christmas.

9. Made venison sausage.

8. Had a Christmas miracle when my car heater started working again after giving me a scare!

7. Pierced my nose. Well I didn't do my own, some tattooed pierced guy at a tattoo shop pierced it. I love it.

6. Drank lots and lots of coffee.

5. Went to Conover for Thanksgiving and met Janlee, whom I like.

4. Survived the week before Christmas break festivities with 19 7 year olds and a speed eating contest.

3. Got a cordless drill for Christmas.

2. Began packing for my move in January.


1. Got a dog named Truman. He's not a democrat though, I'd say he's more of an independent.



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank You.

Grandpa.Uncle Richard.Uncle Bob.Uncle Jack.Uncle Duane.Luke.Laurel.Andy.Ramsey.Bill.Uncle Milton.Tommy.John.Sean.Random man who lives upstairs.Pastor Jack.

Take a minute and thank a veteran today.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Chester's Letter

I got this email from Chester the Turkey. My response will follow tomorrow!

Dear Name Giver,
This is one of the happiest days of my existence. I was released outof my isolated spot in the closet and allowed a "front-and-center" spot on the floor where I wish I could be forever. Oh, I know that I am part of a tradition, but I still dream of that day when I am set free. I needed to let you know since you are responsible for my best name ever. Thank you for that name - it was a long time ago that you did that for me. I hope to see you soon - very soon. Be sure to say hello to me when you come to my place of habitation.


PS I allowed someone else to write this for me - my "fingers" don't do well on the keyboard. I think she is the one who ties me up every year.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

99 Balloons

Actually Sir...

I went to my first bigger Compassion event. I don't know if you all know, but I am now a child advocate for Compassion International. I have felt a strong pull on my heart to be involved in some kind of ministry involving children, and I didn't really want to volunteer at Awana or something like it, because I teach all day long, and that would be too much time with kids. I'd probably end up running around with my hands over my ears. So when God brought this opportunity to me, it seemed like a great fit.

I went to a youth pastor's conference, along with Naomi, another child advocate here in Wichita. We drove up to Salina Kansas, and proceeded to spend the next day manning our table and talking with people about what Compassion does.

One of the speakers was a professor at the Southern Baptist seminary in Fort Worth Texas. During one of the breaks, he came up and briefly looked at our table.

He picked up one of the child packets and the set it down. "That girl is the same age as my granddaughter," he commented. "How sad."

Without blinking an eye he walked away. As Esther says, I bit my tongue until I tasted blood, because what I really wanted to say was this:

"Actually sir, it's not sad. What is sad is that you walk around here with your name brand clothes, your blackberry visibly clipped to your overpriced belt that's holding up your pants over your ample stomach, and yet you turn away and do nothing. This child is not sad, she is in a project that will help her develop in more ways than one, and she is waiting a sponsor. The sad thing, sir, is not this child. It is the fact that overfed, overclothed and overindulgent Christian Americans, like yourself, would rather spend more money on coffee or dining out, than on making a difference in the life of a child. You sir are what's sad."

I didn't. As much as I take after my father, I am learning when to get on my soapbox and when not to.

Naomi commented on the drive back that it was very hard not to judge those people.

I agree.

Monday, November 03, 2008

If you vote, Starbucks buys your coffee

Go Vote. And then get some coffee and enjoy the day fully caffeinated. Whatever the outcome, whether your candidates and issues win or not, God is still in control.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I am not vocal about my political opinions. However, this year, I am being pretty outspoken about the Bond Issue that Wichita Public Schools desperately needs to pass. I even hung up a sign, the first outspoken expression of my political views. There are many people opposing the Bond here in Wichita, and I understand their reasoning for the opposition. But please, just for a second look at it from my point of view. I work at a school with 818 kids as of Friday. Added to that, over 100 staff, parent volunteers etc, and on any given day we're pushing 1000. In a school built for 600. We are incredibly overcrowded, and this bond issue will help that. But the opposition is critical of the swimming pools and tennis courts, and the technology funding in this bond issue...but don't our kids deserve schools with great athletic facilities and up to date technology? I think yes. So, I am saying, vote Yes for Kids. And yes, I can promise you that your taxes will go up, but not so significantly that you will have to alter your lifestyle. So when you Wichita voters go to the polls, think critically about your vote on this issue, and ask yourself this question: do these kids deserve an excellent education in excellent and safe facilities with excellent teachers?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Where is God?

I'd have to agree with Bono.

"God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them."

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Vanessa, Laurel and I had a garage sale this weekend.  I had 3 big tubs of stuff that I sorted out and decided I didn't need.  It felt so good to get rid of some of the excess that we, as Americans, tend to have.  

Last weekend, while I lounged by the pool in Dallas with Jenna I was reading through Real Simple and they had an article on recycling and donating used goods.  They listed these two places to donate glasses and shoes.  We have so much stuff in our lives, it so often clouds what we really need to be focusing on.  Many of the things that I purged were things in perfectly good condition, but that I just don't use anymore for whatever reason.  Maybe I wanted a newer lamp, or the shirt shrunk in the wash, or I wanted new shoes.  Whatever the reason behind it, I am living in excess.  So, maybe the challenge should be not only to purge some of the excess and pass them along to people who have genuine need, but also to really think about and consider the things that we buy so that we aren't constantly living in excess.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Let The Baby Boom Begin

Kaylee and Dusty started the baby boom (in my friend circle that is) when they welcomed Lila Jane into the world on October 1st. Congratulations you guys, she's a keeper!

Monday, September 29, 2008


They sat across from me. He had a big belly, his shirt was stained and dirty and stretched across it. Her hands bore the evidence of hard work, callouses and chipped nails. Between them sat my student, a huge grin on his face, typical. To my right, our translator, my lifeline to the parents.

The conference went normally, questions were answered; I had some concerns about academics I said, they agreed. Towards the end I knew there was something I was forgetting, but I couldn't remember what. Oh, right, his glasses. I knew he wore them last year, and he's had an eye test twice this year and failed...were they planning on getting him some? Did they get the phone call from the secretary?

They ordered them, they were in, but they couldn't afford to pick them up. He had his health card up until last year and no longer qualifies. I learn that his middle school sister also needs them, one of her eyes goes off this way they say, pointing. A lazy eye. I ask where they went, and they show me the information. Hmm, I say, that's the same clinic I go to. I know they are expensive, I don't even buy my glasses there. I have a sinking feeling that they didn't understand because of the language barrier.

Do you mind if I call them I ask. Can I take the doctors information? Would you they say...thank you. I promise to call the next day.

I call the next day and leave a message for the doctor. She calls back. I explain who I am and the situation. Can they afford $100 each she asks. Honestly, no I say. They are genuinely poor I can tell. They aren't just "using the system". What about $30 a pair she asks. I think they could do that I say, thanking her. Our secretary calls the mom. I get an email later that day. The mom says that they can afford that. They will go on Friday when they get paid to pick them up. She says to tell me thanks. I really don't want it, I just did what I knew was right. Christ calls us to be a voice for those who can't speak for themselves, literally and figuratively. I was the voice for this family, the advocate some would say. I like to think that I was a living Jesus to them. I like to think that they will someday bless someone else because they were once blessed.

Today, a proud little 7 year old boy wore his new glasses to school. The gift of sight, so precious. He looked around at stuff like he was seeing it for the first time. What a beautiful world, everyone deserves to see it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

You Know Your Lesson is Over When...

...a student says "Oh my gosh! My pants are on backwards!".

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Kathy, my dear friend and coworker, experienced a great loss this weekend as her father passed away. He hasn't been well for probably 6 months or so, and in the last month has really gone downhill fast. It has been hard on her, and rightly so. Her parents live in Indianapolis, a 15 hour drive, and several layovers if you fly. She leaves tomorrow to go be with her mom and brothers, and to say a final goodbye to her father on Saturday.

Bekah, my dear friend from church, is about to pop. She is almost 8 months pregnant. We had a book shower for her and her baby Levi, who we are all very excited to meet.

Two different people, two different ends of the life spectrum. Great reflection and revisiting of memories, and in a strange way relief for one; great anticipation, preparation and joy for the other. Life is happening all around us. Are you paying attention?

Starbucks, as always, passed on some good perspective that I shared with Kathy today.

The way we get to live forever is through memories stored in the hearts and souls of those whose lives we touch. That’s our soul print. It’s our comfort, our emotional nourishment at the end of the day and the end of a life. How wonderful that they are called up at will and savored randomly. It seems to me we should spend our lives in a conscious state of creating these meaningful moments that live on. Memories matter.

~Leeza Gibbons
(Television and radio personality)

Friday, September 12, 2008

September 11

It is strange waking up on September 11th, 7 years later, thinking about what happened that day in 2001. Where I was, what I was doing. September 11, 2008 was much more ordinary. I worked, thinking and praying about the families of the victims throughout the day. I talked briefly with my students, who were either infants or in utero in 2001, explaining briefly what the day was about and what it signified. We read The Man Who Walked Between the Towers . I met up with Vanessa and Laurel for Bible study. A very ordinary Thursday.

On my way home from Bible study, I noticed a flag flying at half mast, and wondered why it was lowered. Then I remembered the date. I felt guilty at first, for not remembering, for it not being more significant or out of the ordinary. But then, the more I thought about it, the more I felt that doing my ordinary things in my ordinary life while thinking about that day quietly, in and of itself is honoring to those who lost their lives that day. I am so thankful for my freedoms, and perhaps enjoying them in this ordinary way on September 11, 7 years later, is the best way to give tribute to those who lost their lives, or who are still fighting for our freedoms.

From The Man Who Walked Between the Towers:

Now the towers are gone.

But, in memory, as if imprinted on the sky, the towers are still there. And part of that memory is the joyful morning, August 7, 1974, when Philippe Petit walked between them in the air.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Creepy Crawlies

It was a rough day. Not anything in particular, just a whole bunch of stuff. My day started with not being able to get onto the highway because someone decided moving over for me was not a top priority and just went downhill from there. Grant and Vanessa came over after they had youth group, bearing smiles, laughter and ice cream. We also decided to have some Gewurz...my new favorite after wine tasting in Sonoma with Zach this summer. We were sitting, chatting and laughing, and I took a sip, then noticed this. Not nearly as bad as Cheri's black widows, but equally ewwie considering I drank out of that, and at that point it was still alive. Although, that's probably not the worst way to go.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Decisions, Decisions

Yes, this is a horrible picture of me. But the concept I think is funny. Vote Bob Barr.

Something New

So I am trying to become a more consistent blogger. I love blogging, but often am so overwhelmed and exhausted when I get home that I don't sit down and blog. I got this idea from one of Zach's friends, Kristi, who has a picture of the day blog. I have decided that I am going to keep my camera handy throughout the day and try to get a picture of the day (without students, privacy stuff) of my class or my life.

We had our family night tonight. The kids made hats to remember to come. I got to talk because I was voted loudest. Thanks mom and dad. I am on the parent involvement committee at school and so I kind of made this my baby. I made copies, powerpoints and flyers, all of which have to be translated into Spanish of course. Whew, exhausting, but I am really proud of what I did. My team and I are all happy to have one of our 2 family nights out of the way for the year.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Cut Your Ears Off

My students got their hearing checked this week.  Turns out that they can hear me, so their inability to follow directions, even simple ones such as STOP TALKING must be due to the fact that they are 7 years old.  Oh, to be 7 again.  I don't know if I specifically remember being that age, but I remember the era.

I have to keep telling myself that the fact that they never stop talking and can't follow directions is because they are 7 and they can't help that, so I can't get frustrated.  This is by far, the lowest class I have had, and I am looking at it for a great opportunity to work with these kids and see great growth.  There is amazing room for potential.  

One of the kids, upon learning that we were going to get our hearing checked responded with "Is she going to cut off our ears?!?" 

No, but at least they're starting to get my sense of humor.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Breakfast Product in a Biscuit

I forgot to eat breakfast today. It was the first PLC (profesisonal learning community), or as I like to call it, Pathetic Losers Club, of the year. We meet as a team at 8 every Wednesday from now until eternity, and it being the first one threw of my morning routine and I left the house with only my lunch in tow. Realizing this halfway to school caused me to pull into a Macdons to get some kind of food to tide me over until lunch. I went inside, the drive through line was insanely long, and ordered a breakfast product in a biscuit and coffee. While I was waiting for my breakfast product in a biscuit, I observed the caliber of society that ascends upon a Macdons near my school in the wee hours of the morning. There were lots of men getting their morning coffee, and them being there seemed normal or fitting almost. There were some older people taking their time eating their finely crafted cuisine, and they as well were not out of place.

And then I saw them.

The family.





Stuffing their faces...and I (ashamedly) thought to myself "and the fat get fatter."

So much for not judging today.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Chair

On the corner of a street near my school there is a little yellow house. This little yellow house has a porch. On the porch there is a simple wooden kitchen chair. Most mornings there is a man on the chair. He looks quite old, somewhat frail and from my distant observation he's lived a good life. He's African American and he always is wearing coveralls. When I pass him on my way from Starbucks to school he waves. I wave back.

I am so intrigued by this man. I want to know his story. I want to take a black and white picture of him sitting on his chair on his porch. I want to sit down with a glass of iced tea and watch the world go by from his chair on the porch, I want to learn from him, to see what he has to share with the world and leave with us once he's called home. I probably never will, and that's okay. I am busy collecting ideas for my someday to be written children's book, and this man and his porch just might be it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Street Drummers

I deleted the video I took of these guys, so I am so glad I found this. They're awesome!


Yesterday was the first day of school, which will be reserved for a future post. Some wonderful friends (Vanessa and Grant) here in Wichita invited me over for dinner, so I was happy to oblige. Not having to cook is always a great plan, but don't worry, they are coming over on Saturday to have a fiesta! Anyway, all that is beside the point. After dinner we went to Barnes and Noble to meet some more friends (Luke and Laurel and their foreign exchange student Chris) so that Laurel, Van and I could research Bible studies.

The boys got coffee while we perused the Christian inspiration section, and finally narrowing down some choices we joined the boys in the Starbucks. The next two hours were filled with laughter, teaching Chris to pop straws and all kinds of other noisy activities. At one point I said that we were probably being too loud and might get kicked out. A few minutes later, the girl who was working the counter behind Starbucks came over and had cheesecake samples, which we were happy to take off her hands. As she was standing there she said to us how much she appreciated our laughter. She said that she could tell we were having a great time and that our laughter had made her bad day better.

This stuck with me for some reason. We weren't doing anything out of the ordinary for us, really for me I was just spending time with people who I feel like I am truly in community with, accountable to and just who I can be myself around. Being the "unmarried" of the group has never made me feel uncomfortable or awkward. I can have great conversations with Luke or Grant as well with Van and Laurel. I am so thankful for these friends and their ability to be transparent, and to let me be transparent with them. And I am thankful that we laugh together, lots, and that on one random Thursday night, our laughter brought a smile to another person's face.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Better Left Unsaid

The world is too fragile for people to be untrue. There's too much at stake and life's too short for lies. And you're the worst kind of person in the world because you wasted my heart.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

World On Fire

How To Summarize?

Zach and I have returned from our roadtrip, and I've been putting off posting anything on the blog; partially because I am doing laundry and getting readjusted to life in Ta of Wichi, but also...I don't know how to describe our trip.

I've seen a few people since getting back, and talked to even more on the phone, and they all ask the same thing "how was your trip???" with great enthusiasm. It's only after I have bored them to tears with an hour of stories that I think they begin to regret asking that question. Okay, so no one has cried...yet.

How can I describe to anyone that wasn't there what the trip was like and how much fun we had, an all that we experienced? The variety of things we did is amazing, and I tried to savor each and every moment, knowing that unfortunately our time on the road would come to an end.

On my trip I sat in the moonlight next to a fire and smoked a cigar. More than once. I saw a bear. I hiked up into the mountains 6 miles and camped on mosquito mountain. I laughed. I talked with God. I watched sunsets. I ate noodles and luna bars. I read 5 books. I felt the heat of 110 degrees in the desert. I looked up into the sky at the sequoias and redwoods and marveled at their size. I got sore muscles. I ate clam chowder. Twice. I wrote lots of postcards. I filled the car with gas. Countless times. I listened to a wide variety of music. I watched an entire season of The Office. I perfected french braiding my hair. I got a tan. I felt the coolness of the ocean on my feet and the heat of the sun on my skin. I made memories.

I am so thankful that I took this trip. Like Zach said, there are lots of girls that would give their two front teeth to have a trip like that with their brothers. I think I take our relationship with him for granted, and this roadtrip was a great reminder of how blessed I am with my family. If I could change anything about my trip, I would bring Christi with too. She's coming next.


You're beautiful
Every little piece love, and don't you know
You're really gonna be someone, ask anyone
and when you find everything you looked for
I hope your life leads you back to my door
Oh but if it don't, stay beautiful

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cardboard Testimonies

My friend Vanessa showed me this yesterday, and I thought it is incredibly powerful.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


As I am sure you've noticed...I haven't been blogging lately. Not much happening in the summer. I am going to be leaving on Wednesday for a road trip with my brother. We've got big plans and ambitions, lots of National Parks and lots of hiking! I'll try to update with pictures and thoughts along the way!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

End of the Year Celebration

We had our end of the year assembly and celebration today. Students with great attendance were honored, and then the students wrote something for their teachers as well. Here is why my students think I am the best teacher.

"Ms. J is good at teaching math. She tells us funny jokes and always makes us laugh! She helps whenever we need it for our centers or morning work, and lets us watch movies and compare them with the book. She brings things and people to show and tell, like her iPod and her Mom and Dad from Wisconsin. Ms. J tells us stories, and we wonder if they are true! She brought us cheese curds and kumquats for us to try-those are both foods. She is very nice, and sometimes acts silly and funny. You're the greatest!"

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Being Nasty, But Nicely

How to be passive-aggressive: An out-of-stater's guide

I've always thought that the ultimate passive-aggressive move for people who grew up in Minnesota is to act like they don't know what passive-aggression is. "Me? I am not. Whatever that is. Gee you look tired."

It's a natural outgrown of the non-expressive communication style of the Scandinavian, German and British cultures. All those built-up toxins have to be released somehow. Web definition: "Indirectly and unassertively expressing aggression towards others, masking resentment or hostility." American Heritage: "Of, relating to, or having a personality disorder characterized by habitual passive resistance to demands for adequate performance in occupational or social situations, as by procrastination, stubbornness, sullenness and inefficiency."

Thank goodness the American Psychological Association took passive aggression off the list of personality disorders as "too narrow to be a full blown diagnosis." Narrow is what it's all about, and besides, it's not a disorder---it's a way of life.

Body language is an important tool. When delivering an insecure compliment, cock your head, raise your brows slightly and hold your mouth in a half smile while delivering the compliment. The recipient will know you didn't mean it, yet you needn't fear reprisal as you've just said something perfectly lovely.

A play book for the novice passive-aggressive:
"Well, I hope everything works out!" (Translation: "I can't wait till your plans completely fall through and you return a total failure so I can say I told you so.")
"That's an interesting dress." (Translation: "If only you would stop following trends and just shop Talbot's like a grown up.")
"You look tired, are you okay?" (Translation: Out late again last night hmmmm?" or "You're just not aging as well as I am are you?") By the way, this is NEVER, under any circumstance, and appropriate thing to say, except by a parent to a child. If you really care about the person try "What can I take off your plate today?" instead. Then actually do it.

Taken from the Star Tribune - May 21, 2006

As funny as that article is, and as much I as I appreciate the truth in it (being from the Midwest) I am learning that I tend to be a bit on the passive aggressive side. I can make snide remarks that serve no purpose other than to get a dig in and pass the blame. I had a friend tell me once, after I said I was just joking, that there is truth in every joke. I am working very hard to not be this way, because it always comes back around to bite me in the butt.

Friday, May 09, 2008

For My Mommy

Dear Mom,

I don't know where exactly to start, so I am just going to jump right in. I don't know if I have ever told you, or if I tell you enough, but you are one of the most amazing people I know. I am so blessed to have an example like you. I was thinking back recently over my many memories of you, and I don't think I can remember a time where you have complained about anything. You exude grace and humility in each and every situation I see you in, and despite any obstacles or challenges, you take them on fully with a positive attitude.

I remember all throughout growing up and especially living in Czech and having you be a constant in my life. I know that all of our experiences there were lived together as a family, but you are a huge ingredient in what held us and continues to hold us together. You have made choices, that other people may have seen as not the ideal, to stay home and be first and foremost a wife and mom. Thank you. I hope that Zach and Christi and I are living examples of your years of work, love and dedication to our family.

Thank you for making me pay back the grocery store man when I stole from Bonson's. Thank you for picking me up after I skinned my knees riding my bike in my swimming suit. Thank you for letting me swim in the lake when there was still ice on it, for cooking crayfish and for encouraging my imagination. Thank you for teaching me to read. Thank you for cooking so many dinners and making meals a family time. Thank you for taking me to church. Thank you for letting me ride the bus alone in Chomutov. Thank you for letting me skip nature school after my one and only horrible experience with it. Thank you for sitting through long, monotonous swim meets. Thank you for letting me have FCA at our house. Thank you for letting me make mistakes. Thank you for helping me move, countless times. Thank you for being the voice of reason in my many emotional moments in life. Thank you for supporting me in all I do. I could go on and on, but I don't think that there truly are words to express to you how grateful I am to you and for you.

Mom, one of the things that impresses me most about you, is your perseverance. You have never given up, never thrown in the towel when things got tough. Instead, you hold your head up and keep going. I am so proud of you! You are truly an amazing person, and all those who come into contact with you are blessed by your quiet grace and Godly example.

I love you Mom, Happy Mother's Day!


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A Delicate Balance

It is important to our friends to believe that we are unreservedly frank with them, and important to friendship that we are not.
— Mignon McLaughlin
Friendship, well relationships in general, are a delicate balance. I think we all are learning this constantly. It is interesting to learn how you can interact or act around certain people, and how with others those same comments all of a sudden become hurtful or cause tension in the relationship. I've seen this with myself and friends lately, not our interactions with one another, but our friendships with others. My team and I can act a certain way and it's all in good fun, but those actions don't always transfer over to my other friendships. Beyond that, I think that good intentions can cause pain and misunderstanding between friends. The delicate balance is, how then exactly do we be honest and transparent with one another without causing pain.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

P.S. I Hate My Dog

My kids are writing letters to the Dale House Interns where my best friend Anna works. I try to regularly supply Anna with letters and care packages, and she said that some of the other interns were jealous of her frequent mail-joy. So, I put my 20 squirmers to work writing letters to the lonely Dale House Interns. I read them before putting them in the envelope, because I wanted to see what they wrote. One student in particular wrote a lovely letter to one of the interns, asking questions and talking about himself. After signing his name, he'd included a P.S. It was little and squished on the bottom, and when I looked a little closer, I saw that he'd written "P.S. I hate my dog."

Gotta love 'em.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Zach!

My brother, one of my best friends and partner in crime for the past 23 years turns 26 today. I am trying to do birthday posts for people, and so today I was trying to think of a fun memory to share of my brother. There are so many to choose from. I can't really put into words what having an older brother is like, and I think everyone who has an older brother would agree with me. He let me tag along with him and his friends growing up, he was my safety net when we had to ride the bus together to school in Czech, he was my ride places in high school and he is now a friend who pushes me to be the best person I can be. I think every girl should have an older brother.

When I think of growing up with Zach, one of the first things that comes to mind is what we now fondly call "the dweeb era." This was the part of our life that takes place in the home schooled, cartoon van driving, red pants wearing, grape pop drinking time. We built forts, went swimming a lot and tried to sell crap to our parents. It was during this time that my Barbie was forced to marry Bravestar, and we always had a difficult time finding a place for them to live because the lincoln logs could only build houses that were so high. Poor Barbie had to duck to fit through those doors.

Anyone who knows Zach can appreciate and understand his genuine spirit and care for others. He builds people up and challenges them with his actions and words. He is someone what I am so proud to not only know, but call my brother. Happy Birthday bro!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

In Other News

I've fixed the pencil sharpener. When it broke I told my kids that if it didn't get fixed they'd have to sharpen their pencils with their teeth. I think they are happy it's working again.

Searching for Space

I have been challenged recently to find some space in between my life at school and my real life. My job is so intensive that I have a hard time leaving work at work and truly separating myself from that. I remember last summer when I went home and spent the summer in Minnesota with the family that I nannied for throughout college. I had a hard time just relaxing and letting go of my job, I felt a little lost, like I always should be doing something.

Anyway, I have been trying to not just leave work at work during the week in a physical sense (I haven't been bringing my school work home to do at home except for planing on the weekends) but mentally as well. I am trying to do things for me, just for me, things I want to do. I have been going to the Y more than I had been, listening to some good tunes on my IPod while I run. Running is not my favorite thing to do because it is hard and hot and sweaty, but it does clear my mind. I started going tanning (yes I know, skin cancer kills) but I am tired of being pasty white when it is warm enough to be wearing skirts and flip flops. I have also devoted Thursday evenings to be a night where I get some quality girl time with friends. It has been just Laurel and I for the past few weeks, but tonight my friend Vanessa from work is going to join us. We're going to Oeno in downtown Wichita...it should be fun.

Why is it that we let our work consume us? Don't get me wrong, I love my job and I believe it is such a ministry and with that aspect of it, my work becomes something I am emotionally connected to because of how passionate I am about what I do. However, my job is not who I am. That does not define me. I am, and will always be, an individual regardless of my job and what I do. I think about my parents and the past year. It has been a tough ride for them with jobs and searching for what the next step will be. Perhaps this is because we as a family were so emotionally tied to the job they had, and maybe in that we let it define us a little bit. Our jobs shape us, but they are not who we are. And beyond jobs, many things can cloud who we are. How many of us when introducing ourselves say "I am married to so and so, or I have 3 kids, or I work at such and such a place." These material things can all disappear.

So then the question becomes, if my job is not who I am, then who am I?

Time for some soul searching...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Drama, Drama, Drama

My motto for the week - Leave the drama for your mama.

It's going to be a doozy, I can already tell.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Feel Good Stuff

There are moments in teaching when a student does something that warms your heart and reminds you why you do this day in and day out. I call this feel good stuff. Here is my latest addition to my feel good stuff. (I kept the original spelling)

"My luky day is when I first moved to cloud. Because my teacher was nice and prety and had lots of style. And be funky."

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


I took this picture, and I am very proud of it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Stuff White People Like

The subtitle could be "Stuff Bethel People Like". This blog is extremely satirical, which is my sense of humor completely...and I am definitely white as I like my nalgene, coffee, dogs and expensive sandwiches.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

For Zach

We miss you, as does the miniature chicklet and the smoking boy.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Friday, March 14, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Beautiful Thing

I am posting from school, which I never do. I just was enjoying the beauty of the morning time, writing to be exact. My students are all silently working on their animal projects, and we are listening to Minnesota Public Radio (classical) streaming online and it is a beautiful thing.

It's picture day, which is a blessed event that happens twice a year when students go uniform-free. My urchins all look lovely.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Backpack Saga

I kicked a student's backpack this week. Not because I was angry or frustrated, but because it was laying in the floor in the middle of my doorway to my room. It wasn't a full blown kick, more like a firm shove with my foot.

A parent from another class saw the backpack being firmly shoved with my foot and called the school to complain. I had to have a little chat with one of our assistant principals.

Lesson learned. Don't kick backpacks. But, if kicking the backpack is the worst decision I make during my career as a teacher, I don't think I'll be too bad off.

In other news, I am pretty sure I'll be staying at my school for year 3. I really truly believe that for whatever reason, God has this job for me at this point in my life. It's not what I had planned when I packed up and moved down here, but do our plans ever really end up being the best for us? I am trusting God and so excited to see what is in store for me in this season.

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Way I See It #279

Seeing as I haven't done a Starbucks post in a while, I figured it was time.
Happy Friday Starbucks day to you all!

"Beware of turning into the enemy you most fear. All it takes is to lash out violently at someone who has done you some grievous harm, proclaiming that only your pain matters in this world. More than against that person’s body, you will then, at that moment, be committing a crime against your own imagination."
-- Ariel DorfmanNovelist, playwright and essayist.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Teacher's Salaries

I got this email today from a fellow teacher, I think it's something interesting to think about. I don't feel underpaid...yet. But I do think that overall teachers are a little overlooked. And yes, there is a hint of sarcasm.

Teachers' hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year!

It's time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do--baby sit!

We can get that for less than minimum wage. That's right.

Let's give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked, not any of that silly planning time. That would be $19.50 a day (7:00 AM to 3:30 (or so) PM with just 25 min. off for lunch).

Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children.

NOW...How many do they teach in a class, 30? So that's $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day.

However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! We're not going to pay them for any vacations.

LET'S SEE....That's $585 x 180= $105,300 per year.

What about those special teachers and the ones with master's degrees?

Well, we could pay them minimum wage, and just to be fair, round it off to $7.00 an hour.

That would be $7 x 6 1/2 hours x 30 children x 180 days = $245,700 per year.

Wait a minute--there's something wrong here!

Average teacher salary $50,000/180 days = $277/per day/30 students = $9.23/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student.

A very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even try - with your help - to EDUCATE your kids!

WHAT A DEAL.... And the parents don't even have to buy us pizza!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Quotes Of The Week

"I'm choking!"

"You played Bingo without me?"

"Can we do the Electric Slide without you?"

"Panda bears make their babies live in wooden nests."

"I won him!"

As you can tell, there was much educational value to all that I taught this week, including the Electric Slide.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Doctor Is In

I had strep throat two weeks ago. My prescription - amoxocillin for 10 days. I have a bronchitis thing now. My prescription - codeine, prednisone and a Z-pack.

I love my job, just not the side effects.

I will be spending the remainder of my day preparing for the heavily anticipated Valentines Festivus at school tomorrow. May the force be with me.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Then It All Makes Sense

I had a parent tell me today at conferences "Thank you for teaching my daughter." This is, to date, the first and only thank you I have received for doing my job. And, it was one of those moments, in the midst of chaos and stress that made me stop and remember that the reason I do this is because of the kids. All that I love about teaching happens in the classroom, and everything that frustrates me about teaching happens outside the classroom.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Parent teacher conferences are quite interesting. I learn why the children are the way they are, sometimes good, sometimes bad, occasionally ugly. For example, I was told the following comment by a parent at a conference.

"I don't understand this s--t you send home for homework."

Well then, where do you go from that??? Awkward laughter, definitely. Offering a 2nd grade refresher course, perhaps. Smile and nod, sometimes. Turn it around so that some good comes of it, of course.

I am learning that the challenges of parent teacher conferences are not so much telling parents what their children need to work on, or even that their child has a horrible behavior problem. It is more that I have to respond to comments like that in a positive, gracious and professional way. That's hard. I didn't really want to have to deal with that particular incident, especially since a comment like that tells me that school is probably not the top priority in this parent's mind. But somehow I manage to graciously turn around even the most crude of comments, so that the parents leave feeling encouraged, the student leaves feeling smart and I smile and walk them to the door hoping my message, or even a fraction of it, has been understood.

Time will only tell.

Little Known Abi Facts

I’ve been tagged by Cheri.

I am to list 7 random facts about myself…

  1. My favorite sandwich is a BLT.
  2. In college I was in a lip-syncing contest to a Romanian pop song, inspired by this man
  3. I have not shopped at Wal-Mart in 6 months, and never intend on spending my money there ever again.
  4. My hair has never been dyed or permed. It is like baby hair.
  5. On Saturday mornings I try to drink an entire pot of coffee while watching the food network.
  6. I've had head lice.
  7. If it were up to me, I would wear flip flops year round, even in a foot of snow.
I, unlike Cheri, don't have as many blog friends, so I am going to tag Jess, my fellow Romanian pop star wannabe. We'll see if she rejoins the land of the blogging.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Dirty Laundry

I am the proud foster-owner of a washer and dryer! My friends are lending me their washer and dryer until they move somewhere with hookups. Since my apartment has washer and dryer hookups, they asked me if I could keep them for a while. Hmm, no question there! I now can do laundry like a normal human. What a blessing!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary Gramma and Grampa J! Thanks for being great role models!

Seasons Of Life

I lead our girl's Bible Study this week. I talked about seasons of life and tried to challenge them to think about what season of life they are in, and what God is teaching them within that season. I used season of singleness as an example, and had hoped that it would in turn encourage them to share their particular season and it's lessons or struggles.

It turned into a marriage advice seminar, not exactly what I was going for.

Do married people feel bad for us singletons? I don't feel bad for myself, I really love my life and where I am. I can spend my money how I choose, do what I want, stay up late, sleep in, leave my kitchen a mess if I feel like it; it's really great. I am learning so much about myself as well, I wouldn't trade this season of life for the married season or really any other season at all.

Maybe I make other people feel uncomfortable because I am so comfortable with myself and my life.


In school news, we are enjoying another snow day (and this time it really snowed) and I am staying in. We have conferences next week, that should be hectically busy. I also was the lucky recipient of strep throat this past weekend, which allowed me to spend my weekend a combination of places, urgent care, the pharmacy, my bed and the couch. Thanks to amoxicillin I am feeling much better.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Books You Should Read

I've been making a mental blog for the past few days. I do that a lot, I come up with a blog in my mind, and usually forget to put it out there, so it's amazing I remembered this one. It's not much, but just a short list of books I think you should read, for various reasons.
  • Harry Potter - whether or not you agree/disagree with the content, you should read this/these book(s). They are well written, and my opinion is that if you are going to strongly disagree with something, you should at least know what you are disagreeing with and why.
  • I'm A Stranger Here Myself - For anyone who has ever been overseas...Bill Bryson's thoughts on returning to America.
  • Twenty Someone - Transition...especially in your 20's. Great perspective and thoughts.
  • Early Bird - Honestly, it's just a funny book.
  • Other People's Love Letters - Reminds you of a time when someone saw the real you and loved you for it.
  • I Sold My Soul on eBay - Really interesting...ask my parents. I read it while they were here visiting, and couldn't put it down. It is written by an atheist, and is a lot of his perspectives about what is right and wrong about Christianity/organized religion in general.
  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane - Yes, another kid's book. BUT...I have to say, this book gives me goose bumps every time I read it, and is just a wonderful story about a rabbit who learns to love. Similar in some ways to the Velveteen Rabbit, but better I think. Children's books are much better written now than when I was a kid.
  • Marley and Me - If you only get one of these books to read from my list, this would be the one I recommend. Read it with a box of Kleenex.
Read more, pretty much everything on TV (but the food network) is junk anyway.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Here's To Blindness

I had a nice long weekend. I used it to do laundry, attend a friend's wedding, go to a movie and get an eye check up. All in all it was fantastic.

I was told at my eye check up that I shouldn't be driving with my contacts, and was kindly given a new pair in my new (nearly blind) prescription. I also decided to head on over to Target afterwards and get some new glasses, it had been about 4 years since my last pair, and I knew they were having a sale. I've returned to my roots, buying a turquoise greenish pair, the same color as my first pair (that I picked out, thank you very much) that I got when I was 8. Aren't they nice?

Sorry to the angry masses that I have been delinquent in my blogginating. I feel like I've hit a dry spell...any blogging ideas? I am open for suggestions.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


The first person to correctly translate these "bilingualisms" that my students like to say, wins! At least my admiration...sorry I don't have any real prizes.

"My tooth fell."

"She was yarning."

"Ms. J, I won him!"

Part of my job is trying to decipher what my kids really mean, and it's amazing I don't just start talking like them!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Back To Work

I went back to work today, the kids come back tomorrow. Oh, what joys I will have...I can already smell the weekend.

The picture is from my break at home.