Book Fair Week!

This week my school is hosting a Book Fair. I absolutely LOVE Book Fairs! I don't typically buy from them, as I have a GREAT library system here, but I ALWAYS look at the books to see what new ones are out. There are SO MANY new books out that I have started a new list of books to read! It is SO exciting!

Tonight my school also held a Grandparents Night, and it was SO MUCH FUN to get to work at the book fair! I was on one of the registers ringing up book purchases and it was wonderful to see the support of the families at my school. It was AMAZING!

My favorite part was when one of my students brought her Grandmother over to meet me. Last Christmas Break and into the Spring, I spent some time praying for her Grandmother who had been in a coma. It was GREAT to see her up and moving!!! God is so cool to hear our prayers and answer them like that! I had never met her before, but it was so cool to see the fruit of my prayers. I obviously wasn't the only one praying for her, but it was cool to see her tonight. VERY cool!

Yep, with each day that passes, I am feeling a little more at "home" in my school.

*grin*

Life.
Is.
Good.

7 Little Words

Today I was talking to someone at work about an idea God had put on my heart a few nights ago, but I didn't present it that way. I simply presented part of the idea, as the Lord had told me to do. The person looked at me and said, "You wanna take it over?" I just grinned. That was what God had told me to do!

As I was about to walk away I heard 7 of my favorite words in a short phrase that made me *grin* all day.

"You are an answer to my prayers."

I had no idea that the person had been praying over the project. All I knew was that God wants me to be a part of it!

Our God is one INCREDIBLE God!

*grin*

LIfe.
Is.
GREAT.

A New View

About six months ago, my next-door neighbors moved out. They were really nice people, and due to a series of unfortunate events, God moved them on to a different season in their lives. I will be honest, I really miss the young boy who lived next door. He was a sweet boy who walked with Jay and me regularly. I really cared for him a lot.

The interesting part of this story is that the family left behind a van. I am not really sure why people would leave an actual vehicle other than the fact it probably didn't work. So, each day as I would leave for work, I would walk out my door and see this van. I will be honest, I didn't like the van because it blocked the view of my street on one side. That being said, the van had been in that space for over a year, because they never drove the van anywhere. It just sat in the driveway. (I live in a townhome.)

I was hoping that it would be towed away, and various neighbors had tried to have it towed, but since no one wanted to pay for it to be towed, it just sat in the driveway.

Last Wednesday, I came home and there was a HUGE U-Haul in the driveway! I introduced myself to the new neighbors who seemed really nice. Of course, there was a U-Haul in the driveway, so I didn't really know what it would be like without the van there.

The next day the U-Haul truck was gone when I got home from work, and there were cars parked there instead. At first it felt weird to not have the van there. But, the next day when I left for work, I came out of my house and LOVED the new view! My neighborhood looks SO different TO ME as I walk out my front door. I know it's the same neighborhood, I mean, nothing has changed. My view has changed though. My street looks very pretty as I walk out of my front door now.

It has made me ponder how we choose to look at things in life. We have a choice to see the van and only see negative, or we can see what's past the van and see the beauty all around us all the time. Sometimes we even have to move the vans in our own lives in order to be in a healthier place emotionally, spiritually, or physically.

I know in the span of one week I now feel better just walking out my front door. Now I see trees, houses, and nothing blocked from my view. I know it's nothing HUGE, but it means something to me.

Kinda cool.

*grin*
Life.
Is.
Good.

Sign Language Class and Podcasts

For the first time in YEARS I am sitting on the other side of the teachers desk, playing the role of a student. On Thursday Evenings, I get in my car and drive about 25 minutes to a SMALL community college in Independence. I'll be honest, I had never even heard of the college until I started searching for Sign Language Classes after I returned from Camp Barnabas this Summer.

During my time out at Camp, my heart was stirred for individuals with Hearing Impairments. I came back determined to learn more Sign Language. I honestly don't know what God is leading me to do with my new love of the language, but I do know I REALLY enjoyed my time out at camp learning about the deaf culture and growing in their language! So, I enrolled in TWO Sign Language Classes this Fall.

Now, let me be completely honest here. The classes are not for credit. While my heart is stirred, I still have NO IDEA what God is preparing me for in this season. So, I went the cheap route and am in "Beginning" and "Intermediate" Sign Language Classes. Well, the first 7 weeks are Beginner and the following 7 weeks are the Intermediate Class.

So far, what we've been taught, I already know in Sign Language, which is weird. I feel like the gifted kid in class. I work INCREDIBLY hard at not being a showoff in class, as I know how annoying that can be. The class is (honestly) somewhat boring, as we sit there and go sign-by-sign and say it out loud as we sign it, three times. Yes, so that means, "tree, tree, tree". It isn't the most exciting class, but I find that I am remembering the signs and study very little in-between classes. That is honestly great, because I am still a full-time teacher with full-time responsibilities.

I went back to school the day after my first Thursday Night class, and my students asked how it went. (I have been sharing with them the love of Sign Language. They LOVE learning the signs. Too bad the MAP Test doesn't cover Sign Language.) I was honest with them and said, "Guys, I hate to break it to ya, but not every class is exciting and fun. My class is pretty boring, but we're learning a lot. Sometimes you just have to sit through boring classes to learn things." Needless to say, they weren't happy about that! *grin*

Another bonus of this class is that I have about 50 minutes in my car. Now that I have an ipod, I have discovered the world of podcasts. For those of you not in the world of Podcasting, let me fill you in. Basically, you can go online and download things to your ipod that you can listen to at your leisure. When I first got my ipod from Scienceguy, I put some of Louie Giglio's Podcasts on my ipod. Louie has always been a favorite of mine, and these podcasts have really been ministering to my heart in a deep way.

Last night's podcast was about Life's Twists and Turns. It was really good. It amazes me how I will think I'm no longer wrestling with something, and BAMMO, God will tell me something through someone else and I'll think, "Wow, I am still wrestling..." I am sure you've never felt that. *grin* Needless to say, today I have spent a lot of time pondering and praying. It's been really good.

I look around at people this side of Heaven and so many people just aren't healthy emotionally. I am praying daily that I am a healthy person emotionally. And I am constantly amazed at how God can use ANYTHING to reach each of us in our own way. Last night I got back here and thought, "Okay, thanks God. I'm walking this side of Heaven, with You. I trust You."

Ah...a night class, and God talking to me to and from the class. Not a bad way to spend a night if you ask me.

I can't wait to see what God for me as I grow in Sign Language. I really believe that whatever it is, it's gonna be GOOD!

Life.
Is.
Good.

Dog Tired

Today I woke up, and it was cloudy. That makes it incredibly tough for me to get up. I laid there a moment, and told Jay all I wanted to do was sleep. I didn't though, as we had a faculty meeting before school. I don't mind having our meetings before school because it's better than at 4:15 after kids have left for the day. The pitfall is that I have to be up earlier than usual.

I made my feet move and got to work. My day was pretty good. Not great, as I had to deal with some drama, but it wasn't bad at all. Every time I walked by windows though, it looked like a great nap-day or curl-up-with-a-good-book-day. I felt tired all day.

Tonight, I have been dragging. I almost went to bed at 7:30! (I'm not far from it now!)

It's raining, so Jay and I didn't get to walk.

It's raining, thundering, and lightening. I LOVE to sleep when it storms!

Ah....did ya hear that? That's my bed calling my name!

'nite!

*grin*

Life.
Is.
Good.

Quotes for the Quote Book!

Today I had two kids say funny things to me that I thought I would post tonight.

The first one came while I was in a Regular Education Math Class. I go in and assist several students during the lesson and then I take them to my room after the lesson is taught and we complete the assignment given during class.

The Regular Education Teacher told the the class that they wouldn't have homework tonight, and one of my students turned to me and said, "No homework tonight, she's nicer than you are." I looked at her and said, "Hey!" She just grinned. I'm mean, but I don't think I'm THAT mean!

After that exchange, MizzouKid said, "Yeah, and the only homework we should have his Sign Language Homework." That one actually made me grin. On Fridays, I spend the last 10 minutes of class giving Sign Language Lessons to the students who have their Take Home Journals done. It makes me happy that MizzouKid is enjoying the lessons, I just hope I can transfer that enthusiasm to math, reading, and spelling.

*grin*

Life.
Is.
Good.

Rounding Decimals and Whole Numbers

The fifth graders in my building are working on rounding numbers. I don't recall having difficulty with rounding numbers, I really don't. It all just made sense to me. My students, on the other hand, are confused in the rounding game. One teacher even found a Rounding Wrap that I thought would make it easier. It didn't.

Today we were working on it, and the kids understand the whole 0-4, 5-9 rule, but they don't understand what number that applies to. Some examples include:

Student: Do you round the number next to it?
Me: No, you are ROUNDING this number.
Student: Oh. I don't get it.

Student: Here, will you check this?
Me: Well, you rounded the right number, but you have to write the ENTIRE number on the line.
Student: Why?

Student: How about if I just add a whole bunch of zeroes? Will that work?
Me: Head hits the table. I say a silent prayer in my head.

So, here's the deal, I love my job. I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, love my job, so if you believe in prayer, please say one for me. I want these kids to get it, but I have a feeling it will take all week before they get it.

*grin*

Life.
Is.
Good.

Quote of the Day!

So, my favorite quote for today came from my friend Slim, who drives shuttles with me. He said, "Hey Pleasant, you remember the movie It's a Wonderful LIfe?" I said, "Yep" and he said, "I am having a wonderful life."

I grinned.

That's being added to my quote sidebar here on the blog.

The more I thought about it as I drove tonight, I can honestly say it too.

I am having a wonderful life.

*grin*

Life.
Is.
Good.

What Others Think...

I think it's cool how each day God teaches us something new. If you're open to it, He does.

Today I had an interesting thing happen that my seem minor, but God really spoke to me in it.

This morning I got ready for work and put on my staff shirt.

Now, let me explain this to you in girl talk. I received my staff shirt in my mailbox yesterday, and realized it was short sleeve! Then I remembered, yes, that's what I had ordered! I was a tad bummed, as I FREEZE in the school everyday. So, last night as I was pondering my clothing choices for today, I decided to wear a nice, long sleeve t-shirt, under the staff shirt. Seems reasonable, right?

Well, this morning I put it on, stood in front of the mirror, and thought, "Hum...I like it. I wonder if others will think it's tacky? Well, I like it, so I'm going to wear it like this."

Now, if you really know me, you know that I really don't care about fashion. If I could, I would wear wind pants and a sweatshirt to work everyday. I care more about comfort than fashion.

When the day started, no one said a world about my shirt. I liked that! Later in the morning, people started saying how they liked how I wore my shirt. Okay, let's get real, three people said it. But still, I wound up smiling, as I knew what I was pondering this morning as I stood in front of the mirror. One gal even said she was going to buy a shirt for under hers because of how good mine looked.

I have pondered the experience today, and God has really spoken to me in it.

I thought I was past what others thought of me. I guess in some ways I truly have, as I know there are people in the last chapter of my life that have an opinion of me that isn't completely correct, but that's their loss, not mine. Life goes on.

But in other ways, I think it's a work in-progress. After all, I am 37, and I debated about whether or not to wear the shirt with a long-sleeve shirt under it because of what others might think. In the end though, I did what I LIKED. I believe that's an important place for a person to get to in life, this side of Heaven. I imagine some people never really get there.

Okay, so it wasn't a huge deal, but God really spoke to me in it. Sure, it was just a shirt. Tomorrow, it may be something bigger. And, I know that God doesn't give us big stuff until we pass the little tests first. *grin*

Kinda cool.

*grin*

Life.
Is.
Good.

It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

I remember being a kid, and making some decisions that got me in trouble, and I wound up thinking that whatever it was that I had done seemed like a good idea at the time. I'm sure you have some of those stories of your own that you could share.

I will share this story, as long as no one will use it against me! You promise? You can't read on unless you promise!

When I was in the third grade, I made my first bad grade. Well, let me explain that. It was back in the day when we earned "E", "S", and "U". Meaning, Excellent, Satisfactory, and Unsatisfactory. I had earned a "U" on an assignment, and I was supposed to take it home and have my parents sign it and bring it back the next day. Yeah, you see where this is headed.

So, I took it home and fretted all night. I didn't want to show my parents. I can still recall what I did that night, as odd as that sounds. I didn't want to show them for two reasons. The first one was obvious, I didn't want to be punished. I lived in a world where I was held accountable for stuff, and knew there would be consequences. The other one, which I couldn't really vocalize to my parents, was that I didn't want to let them down. Up until then, I had made good grades, and I didn't want to let them down by making poor ones. I really cared (and still do to this day) what they thought about me.

I will never forget my Dad sitting down with me and talking with me the following night after my teacher had called my Dad AT WORK. My Dad and I had what I now call "Come to Jesus Chats" in which I learned what my Dad expected out of me. I also remember losing all TV privileges for a period of time.

Looking back, living without TV seemed like the end of the world, but it wasn't.

Losing my Dad's trust, broke me. I had to earn it back, which took time. It took a lot of time.

Over the years, I made other mistakes. (If you think you're getting more dirt, you're nuts!) There is a point to all of this, believe it or not...

At the time, signing my Dad's name to that paper I thought I was making a good choice AT THE TIME. Okay, well, I knew it wasn't right, but I thought it would be better than being in trouble or letting my folks down. As a third grader, it made sense.

I was wrong.

I wonder how often we do things as adults that aren't much different.

Throughout this week, I have pondered the whole No Child Left Behind (N.C.L.B.) Law. Yes, that's quite leap. I went from a third grade forged signature story to NCLB. I took a little time each night this week and actually read through the MANY pages of NCLB.

For those of you not familiar with NCLB, I will give the Reader's Digest Version of the Law. (If you wish, you can read pages upon pages on the DESE, MO website like I did!) Basically, our goal is to get each and every child reading, writing, and doing math on their Grade Level by 2014. They will assess that on statewide assessments given in grades 3-8 in each state. Any schools not performing up to standard will have changes made to them.

I read through the pages, and it ALL sounds GREAT in theory. It really does. None of us WANT a child to do poorly academically. None of us want to look like idiots compared to other nations. See, it sounds GREAT. Let's get all students up to grade level in all academic areas!

My reality (and my personal opinion) is that it's not that great. I WANT all my children to do well on the tests, but honestly I want them to become life-long learners. I don't want them to have to read on "grade" level, I want them to learn how to learn and teach them the skills needed for reality, this side of Heaven.

As I read through the Law, I kept thinking that in an ideal world, it would be a reachable goal. However, I don't live in an ideal world. I live in a fallen world where students are living with imperfect people. I am also living in a world where the test isn't given on an even playing field. I have some students with Learning Disabilities that have DIFFICULTY learning, and read below grade level because of that.

I'm not really sure how I am going to get these kids where they need to be, but I am definitely determined to be the hardest worker in our building to raise these test scores. This week I have poured over test scores, and I am working my tail off to raise my student's scores. By 2014, I need to have all students scoring in the "Advanced" or "Proficient" range. I'm not so sure it's a reachable goal, but I want to be able to say I gave 110% to help them reach that goal.

So, I am left with one thought.

In 2014 when reality sets in, and not ALL students are working on grade level, what will happen? Will the people who wrote the law say "Welll, it seemed like a good idea at the time..."

I wonder...

Regardless,
Life.
Is.
Good.

Miscellaneous Ramblings

So, today was a pretty relaxing day. Let me give you a couple random moments:

Jay woke me at 9am. That's right people, 9AM!!! Highlight of my day? I think not. After trying to play dead, I gave up. He knew I was awake.

We went to the Dog Park this afternoon, and he did a good job of hangin' out with two other dogs. Okay, Good Job may be an overstatement. He managed to not acknowledge the other dogs and pretend that they weren't there. It worked though. He wasn't hiding behind me or under the bench, so it was a success in my book. I think I'll try it again next week and see how he does.

I went and drove shuttles tonight. I tell ya, Sundays are fun because it's the same team driving each Sunday. It's a lot of fun. Cherokee and Slim keep me smilin' as we drive. It's cool.

Kentucky always blesses me because he lets me go into service each week. I enjoyed worship, and Rich Stevenson preached tonight. Rich preached over Genesis 24. He only preached on that one chapter, and I love that! It gives me depth to what I'm reading, which I really enjoy. When someone takes a chapter, and focuses on it, it brings the word alive to me. I love that!

After service, I helped shuttle people back to the Overflow Lot and the GPR. At the end, I prayed for a gal who just moved here. It was really cool. One of my favorite things about driving shuttles is getting to pray for people. Tonight was really cool...

After parking my shuttle, I went into the Prayer Room. I haven't spent any extended time in there in a while, so it was nice. I wound up reading Mockingjay while I was in there, so it was cool.

All that being said, you're probably wondering what my highlight was today. While the day was good, the highlight wasn't any of the things listed above.

My highlight happened this afternoon, when I logged in to FB and Ronni's Mom had posted a brief, one sentence line on her page that made my entire day. It stated that my picture is on their refrigerator and she talks to me sometimes...
Priceless...

Life.
Is.
Good.

Smilin'

In my classroom, there are things done daily that leave us all smiling or laughing. I often come home at night, and will remember something from the day that just makes me smile. There is one thing today that I have thought about today and grinned each time I thought about it. I'm not sure it will translate the same via the blog, but I am hoping that it will make you smile.

My new classroom is located next to one of our common areas, and sometimes the regular education classes go out into the area for activities. The other day there was a class out in the commons area doing an activity, and my two students at that time said it was too loud and wondered if they could shut the door. I said "Sure."

Smileykid stood up to shut the door when RockStarPara entered the room. Smileykid got on his knees to beg her to shut the door. The funny part is that she didn't hear him asking her to shut the door, and she walked up to him, and said, "I Dub you a knight," did the sword action with her hands to dub him a night, and kept on walking.

I started laughing, and so did RedheadedKid.

Smileykid stayed knelt down in his position looking at her as she kept walking.

RockStarPara said, "What?"
SmileyKid said, "I wanted you to shut the door."
RockStarPara followed with, "Oh, I didn't hear what you said."

Then we all started laughing.

Okay, well, maybe you had to be there...

*grin*

Life.
Is.
Good.

Light Up the Sky

I find it amazing how God gives us exactly what we need, when we need it, and most of the time we get it before we even realize that we need it.

God repeatedly does that for me through music. I go through phases, sometimes I only listen to CD's (Okay, my ipod, let's get real here, I doubt I'll ever use CD's again!) and sometimes I listen to K-Love Radio. I find that when I listen to K-Love, a song will come on that will hit me right in the heart where I need it. Sometimes it's a slow, intimate song that touches my heart. I am finding though, that during this Chapter of my life, that I am enjoying JOY-FILLED songs. A little over a week ago I heard The Afters song, "Light Up the Sky" and I liked it from the first time I heard it. It is peppy, fun, and above all, it has helped draw me close to God in the past week.

So, on the way to and from work (About a ten minute drive) I listen to it. It helps me keep my eyes, ears, and heart focused where it needs to be. It also helps remind me that I'm not alone this side of Heaven. I know that I'm not, but after hearing this song I find myself smiling, as I can see God lighting up the sky just for me. He's not, but it's an incredible thought. Besides, I doubt He minds me pretending that He does. *grin*

Here are the lyrics. I hope you take a moment and check it out. There are several ways to hear it online. It will make ya smile, I promise!!!

Light Up the Sky
By The Afters

When I'm feeling all alone
With so far to go
The signs that know we're on this road
Are guiding me home
When the night is closing in
Is falling on my skin
Oh God, will you come close

You light, light, light up the sky
You light up the sky to show me that you are with me
And I, I, I can't deny
No I can't deny that you and right here with me
You've opened my eyes
So I can see you all around me
You light, light, light up the sky
You light up the sky to show me that you are with me

When stars are hiding in the clouds
I don't feel them shining
When I can't see beyond my doubt
The silver lining
When I've almost reached the end
Like a flood you're rushing in
Your love is rushing in (your love is rushing in)

You light, light, light up the sky
You light up the sky to show me that you are with me
And I, I, I can't deny

No I can't deny that you and right here with me
You've opened my eyes
So I can see you all around me
You light, light, light up the sky
You light up the sky to show me that you are with me

So I'll run straight to your arms
You're the bright and morning sun
To show your love there's nothing you won't do (nothing you won't do)

You light, light, light up the sky
You light up the sky to show me that you are with me
And I, I, I can't deny
No I can't deny that you and right here with me
You've opened my eyes
So I can see you all around me
You light, light, light up the sky
You light up the sky to show me that you are with me

*grin*

Life.
Is.
Good.

Lessons from Flashpoint

One of my favorite TV shows right now is the show Flashpoint. It's a show about a team of Strategic Response Unit Officers (SRU) that go into hostage situations and (usually) rescue hostages from various situations. I know, I know, it's an odd show to like from that one sentence description, but I am intrigued by it and look forward to it every week.

The main theme that runs through it is that they must "connect" with every person who holds the hostages captive so that they can get them to surrender the hostages, as well as themselves. They often say "You must connect with the person..." I like that. I found myself thinking about that yesterday.

My new kid was having his first "off" day and I felt that connecting with him was going to be INCREDIBLY important. And, it worked. It took a while, but in the end, the kid was joking and laughing with me. I LOVED it. And, it appeared to turn his day around. The rest of the day he was fine and I was pumped!!!

Today he had another tough day, and I attempted to connect, but it didn't work. However, tomorrow is a new day, and I am praying that he'll come in with the "New Day" outlook and will do fine.

I think for this kid to connect is a risky thing, in his mind. He's been through more "stuff" than I could imagine. So, my prayer is that I can be a consistent adult in his life that he can trust. I realize it will take time, but that's okay. The journey is half the fun, because on the other side of all this, he will become a young adult that will see that there is someone who is able to love him unconditionally and consistently. He will also learn that connecting is a good thing, and that he won't always get hurt along the way.

And the best thing is that I'm also praying for him each day too! *grin*

Life.
Is.
Good.