Sunday, August 29, 2010

We love football!

Last year when we had to bring Margaret Anne to football games, she couldn't walk yet. I was a little worried about taking her this year because I thought she would be all over the place. Well, she had so much fun and wanted to stay right with my dance line and dance with them and the awesome Cougar Band! Even though CCHS lost their first game of the year, we had a blast at the game.
For example... my sweet dancers loved dancing with her and showed her how to shake her poms and do a body roll. Uh Oh!

I am really glad she enjoys it, because there will be many many games in her future!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My new favorite book...

I started reading this book last night and could NOT put it down. I had cried and laughed out loud SEVERAL times by page 33. I am not one to love football books, but I do love God and like (not quite LOVE unless its Auburn) football, so it really hit home with me. I get SO annoyed at Hays sometimes during football season because I feel like football unintentionally becomes more important to him than anything, including air and food. He knows I feel this way. This book kind of gives me an understanding that its not just him!
Chad is a friend of mine, and I am so impressed with his ability to be witty and honest and godly at the same time. I always knew he was hilarious and I am glad other people can experience his wit and wisdom too! You can order this book online at Amazon and Books a Million and Barnes and Noble. I was NOT asked to blog about this, but I was SO taken in by this book and I just really wanted to share it with you all. If you live in or around the Birmingham area, Chad is going to be signing books at Alabama Booksmith in Homewood on Friday, August 27th from 4-6. I plan on being there and getting all of my copies signed!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Student Teachers

This article was written by a friend of mine. I think he speaks the truth about teaching and our students in a way that I can't. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Student Teachers

Brandon Renfroe

After teaching in public schools for a few years, you learn things. Not everything, mind you. Certainly not the inner workings of the adolescent mind (as if that mystery could be fully plumbed). But small things. Quirky things.

I know, for example, that the paper towels in the boys’ bathroom will be long gone by noon, and will not be replaced for the rest of the day. But I also know that an unused towel or two will often fall, unnoticed, into the top of a (mostly) unused wastebasket, thereby making itself available to the restroom-savvy (and brave) individual. Too, though generally not very good with my hands, I know more about the inner-workings of large copiers than one might expect, and can clean out a copier jam with a cool precision approaching ferocity.

The beginning of a new school year is always a bit unnerving. No matter how comfortable a teacher is in the classroom, regardless of how well-prepared an instructor may be, there will always be “hiccups” the first few days. Those who prefer an orderly environment await the upheaval as new students arrive, schedules change constantly, and chaos is the order of the day.

Every year presents its own unique challenges. As everyone knows, communicating with teenagers can be difficult on good days—and that is when we speak the same language. But when new students arrive from foreign countries, the language barrier becomes much more pronounced. Upon informing a young woman fresh from Germany that she would need a calculator for class, she responded: “What’s a ‘calculator’?” (As I later learned, what I should have said was der taschenrechner.)

With over one hundred and fifty youngsters under my charge (169, but who’s counting?), I often give my students a brief “information sheet” to fill out on the first day of school. Basic information is solicited: parent names, contact numbers, and other pertinent data. On the back of this paper, I ask the kids to tell me something about themselves. Though I do not pry, I encourage them to inform me of anything they might want me to know but would be uncomfortable sharing in front of their peers. (For, be it remembered, of all God’s creatures, none is more image-conscious than the teenager).

What I have learned from these papers over the years has been an education within itself. Most students happily comply with my request, eager to inform me of what makes them unique. One young man is an aspiring musician, even having (unless he is pulling my leg) an in-home recording studio. Another describes himself as a “gear-head,” with a passion for working on old automobiles. I enjoy learning these tidbits about my students, as it helps me become better acquainted with their interests.

Not all, however, are compliant. Rarely, a student will simply refuse to participate, sharing nothing except for the basic contact information. Of course I realize that some students are shy, or are otherwise hesitant to divulge personal information. (For, be it remembered, of all God’s creatures, none can be more standoffish than the teenager.) Still, it is usually the case that a student refusing to share lighthearted trivia is revealing more about themselves than perhaps they intend. Though it is unfair to stereotype, these students will typically be the ones who have an “attitude.” Wise teachers do not write these students off; rather, they know it will take a concerted effort to break through the student-imposed barriers.

On the other hand, I could wish that some students were not quite as forthcoming. To my dismay, one young woman recently listed her favorite hobby as “smoking.” Whether she thought her response would pass unnoticed is debatable; still, it was something I could not let go unmentioned. Calling her to my desk on a later occasion, I asked: “Why did you write this?” “Because I like to smoke,” she said. “But it’s not good for you to smoke,” I countered, before adding: “But even so, do you think that was a good thing to share with your teacher?” She was unmoved. “I just tell the truth.” “Well,” I said, “it is good to tell the truth—but you don’t have to tell everything you know!” The jury, I am afraid to say, it still out on this one.

Unusual responses aside, what I have learned from these information sheets has been eye-opening, and even moving, on more than one occasion. One sweet young woman suffers from Hodgkin’s disease. Though she will be absent for treatment on occasion, she still plans on participating in all the class activities she possibly can. Her determination is an example for all of us; how frail and pitiful our excuses seem in comparison!

Many students have experienced tremendous loss, even at a tender age. One informs me that she lost both parents in one fateful month, two years ago. Though she doubtless mourns, I have yet to see her without a positive attitude, and a smile that instantly brightens the room. More than one child speaks of having anxiety for loved ones serving in the military, all the while assuring me that a distant look is not intended as disrespect. Over and over again I am reminded: We rarely know the burdens others are called to bear.

If there is another recurring refrain that emerges, it is this: the absolutely critical role parents play in the lives of their children. Perhaps most alarming is that of all my students, a grand total of one praised his home life: “I have awesome parents,” a young man boasted. He is the happy exception: the vast majority of students confess their bitter disappointment in absentee parents. “My father is not the kind of dad he should be,” one writes. “I rarely see my mother,” another laments. While some teenage angst (or exaggeration) is to be expected, there is no denying that many homes in our nation lie in shambles.

The impact of this domestic destruction is readily seen in our schools—and in our congregations. To say nothing of the physical and emotional turmoil it generates, many teachers have seen firsthand the practical problems it produces: a lack of discipline in the classroom. The first reaction of most teachers to defiance is predictable, and understandable: we take it personally. “How dare you defy my authority,” we inwardly think—if not forthrightly say.

The truth is, in many modern homes the teenager is the authority. I do not make reference to unfortunate “modern” households in which the “tail” (i.e., the kids) wags the “dog” (i.e., the parents)—though this problem is an increasingly common one. Rather, I am speaking of those children who are, for all intents and purposes, de facto parents to younger siblings. Many kids leave school at the end of the day and go directly to a job—not for extra spending money, but to provide the necessities of life for their dependant families. It can be difficult for these grown-before-their-time adolescents to shift seamlessly from being the “authority” at home to a “subordinate” in the classroom. Though the rules still apply, experienced teachers understand that extenuating circumstances often color situations that otherwise seem clear-cut.

No one who is introspective can fail to learn much about himself (or herself) from daily interaction with students—and much of it is humbling. While most church members see their local preacher only a few times per week, and rarely in unguarded moments, students see their teachers every day—for better or worse. To be certain, any notions of perfection are quickly disabused in the classroom. As the inspired writer could have told any prospective teacher: “You have need of patience” (Hebrews 10:36).

Thus, while it may seem that our youngsters are often “tuned out” or are otherwise unobservant, do not be fooled: those little eyes are watching, and making careful note of what they see—and do not see. Thoughtful parents and teachers everywhere, take note: the future of our homes, our nation, and—in a very real sense—the church of tomorrow, is at stake.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dancin' with Dora!

This post is for Margaret Anne's Uncle Jordan (Hays's brother). He gave her this Dora doll for her birthday and she was a little scared of it at first, but we tried to reassure him that she would like it after a little while. Hays and I knew she would love Dora eventually, but I don't think Jordan believed us. Well, it only took her 3 days, because now she LOVES her dancing Dora doll! Here's your proof, Uncle J!
Disclaimer: It's a little long and on my phone so I don't know how to edit it. Also, please ignore the crazy Mommy voice in the background.

She is also wearing her new apron that she loves! And I don't know if I should be admitting this, but Dora kinda scares me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Menu Monday!!

Am I REALLY back in school? Yes, I am. After the whirlwind of the last few weeks, this first full week of school with kids may be difficult. I think that I can manage to cook a few meals though. Hence the Menu Monday post. This will require a trip to the grocery store though!
Sunday- Chicken Beef Bacon, rice, lima beans
Monday- Spaghetti
Tuesday- HOPEFULLY a Whole Foods Happy Hour Cheese Pizza (yum yums!!) PLEASE, Hays??
Wednesday- Sour cream pork chops
Thursday - leftovers from Tuesday or Wednesday
Friday- Shrimp hibatchi fried rice
Saturday - Hair Night at Tina's, woot woot!! Mexican feast cooked by Jill!

I cannot WAIT to get into a normal routine. It feels like my last few weeks have revolved around Hays and I doing work to get ready for MA's bday party. It stinks that half of it went unnoticed because all of the outside fun and splashing was rained out. Hays worked really hard in the backyard, too. Oh well. Best laid plans...
Let me know in the comments if you are doing a Menu Monday!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Party Party Party!

We had Margaret Anne's second birthday party yesterday. It was a blast! We had planned for it to be outside, but I guess Margaret Anne wanted a tropical storm for her birthday because it POURED down rain all morning. SO the party was inside. I had NO idea we could fit all of those people into our house, but it ended up being a great party. It was a little chaotic... but I think Margaret Anne had so much fun!

Pictures of our fancy elmo decor ;-)

Making a wish!

Margaret Anne is a lucky little girl. She got so many wonderful gifts. She was excited about EVERYTHING! She has no idea how lucky she is to have so many nice things.

Aunt Lulu loves Aerosmith, so MA got an Aerosmith tee.

She has so much family that loves her! Even though we missed those that weren't able to make the trip, we had lots of fun with the family that we were blessed to see, and we are very thankful to have so many people that love Margaret Anne.
Uncle Jordan


Her sweet cousins Bentley and Carter

Margaret Anne and Mommy

Margaret Anne and Daddy

Margaret Anne and Nonna

Grampy! Margaret Anne had SO much fun with Grampy while he stayed with us this weekend. He taught her some crazy fun tricks!

She also had lots of friends come celebrate!
Thomas N. got a little crazy and got in the refrigerator (the kitchen was MA's birthday present from Mommy and Daddy).

Lots of playing happened in MA's room since all of the outside fun was rained out. They didn't seem to mind at all!

Margaret Anne and Reece

Bentley and MA having tea. Obviously we are still loving our tea set and our table and chairs from Nonna and Grampa!

Charlie Hill seemed a little concerned about something... :-) He is SO cute!

Thanks again to everyone who was able to help us celebrate! It was a lot of work, but it was so worth it to see her having so much fun. We love you all!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

To My Big Girl

Margaret Anne,
Today you are two years old. I cannot believe it has been 2 years since you came into our world. You are definitely not a baby any more. You are developing such a wonderful personality and showing us how independent you can be. You melt my heart every day. I can't believe how much you've changed!

August 14, 2008

Your one year picture

Two years old!

Right now you are amazing me with your ability to learn and put together words! When I picked you up from daycare on Thursday, you ran up to me and said "MOMMY, I POO POO!" And you sure had! Whew! I think potty training will be in your near future. You say things like "Sorry, Daddy" if you think you've done something to be sorry for. When I walked down the stairs the other morning, ready for my first day with students, you said "Purdy Mommy!" You just always know how to be SO sweet! You make me laugh in the car, because you always want to hear music, and you always want to dance! If we are listening to the radio and the song ends, another one better come on quickly or Mommy has to turn on the iPod, because you won't stop saying "Mommy? Dance! Pease!" These days you are digging some Michael Jackson.
You are completely obsessed with your tea set right now and we are having tea and coffee and cake (Thank you Fran, Phillip, and Lucy!) all of the time. You love to have tea with me, but especially with Daddy. I think Daddy likes to have tea with you too.
You love to see your friends. When we are on our way to daycare, you call out Granvon's name and all of your daycare friends' names, too. When we pull up to see Charlie or Thomas, you always call out their names and get so excited!
Your words are getting so much clearer. You say "Granvon" instead of "Ga-ga" and "Elmo" instead of "Belbo," and I can't decide if that makes me happy or sad. I'm glad you can speak clearly but sad that you are losing your babyness.
Margaret Anne, you have such a sweet heart. You are a beautiful little girl, inside and out. You show us every day how your love is unconditional and unlimited. I see so much of God's grace in you. When I do something I shouldn't, you forgive me and understand without question. So does our Lord, and I know He has placed you in our lives for many reasons, and showing me His love for me and you is just one of those reasons. I have a much better understanding of His love for us, his children, because my love for you grows exponentially each day. I am so grateful for you, my precious daughter. Daddy and I love you so much.

Happy Birthday!

Monday, August 2, 2010


Hays had a birthday.
I made him a cake, like I always do :)

Margaret Anne was interested in blowing out the candles... kind of.

Kind of blurry, but neat.
He's lucky he still has a year left in his twenties!

We went to a party for our good friend, Steve, who is getting married.
It was fun to see old friends and get out of the house. Thank you Nonna for keeping Margaret Anne!

This is what Daisy looked like when we got home...
MA gave Daisy her "stickers of approval." Poor Daisy! Anyone who has ever met Daisy should be very impressed that she lets Margaret Anne this close to her!

Now my summer vacation is over. I started a workshop today that will last until school officially starts back. I am so thankful that I had such a blessed summer, and I am optimistic about this school year!