Monday, December 30, 2013

Paint, Blankets, and Trolls

[Update:  I may have said some kind of inflammatory things when I got on a roll last night.  It is NOT my place to be the Facebook and/or Twitter police of other people's children.  My children aren't perfect and I am not a perfect parent. I apologize for being insensitive and judgmental.]

Covering a lot of ground tonight so buckle up and hang on tight! 

I got a wild hair to paint. [For those of you that know me, you know that when I paint I make a HUGE mess.  This time was no exception.]  Emma's been wanting to redo her room.  We bought  a new comforter.  We bought stuff to go on the walls.  We bought stuff for Pinterest crafts.  All we needed was the paint.  

Craig doesn't paint.  He is really good at painting.  [He doesn't make a mess. He doesn't like messes.  I don't know why he married me.]  He hates to paint. I don't mind painting but I hate the before stuff: taping, covering the floor, being neat.  I usually just skip all of that [and it shows...on the floor, the trim, my butt, my fingers, my knees] and this time was no exception.  Thank goodness Emma's carpet was already a plethora of various spills and blue fit nicely.  [I was able to cover a few places with furniture but let's be honest - this is Emma we are talking about...she is me up one side and down the other.]

Paint project number two was our micro-bathroom.  Honestly, with the step stool open I could not turn around.  We choose a bright color with the hopes of making the tiny space appear bigger [I am not sure that was achieved] and my assumption was that I painted Emma's entire room in about 3.5 hours so this itty, bitty lavatory would take me about an hour.  HOLY COW BATMAN!  I am still painting after almost 6 hours in the john.  [I will say that this experience has brought me intimately closer to the toilet than I ever care to be again.]  Its almost as if someone was behind me [and we know that isn't true because the space isn't really big enough to turn around in and forget it if you drop something because you are going to hit your head and/or your backside] and in a very mocking manner, pulling the paint right back off the wall.  The stuff wouldn't cover!! My arm is permanently damaged from painting [not really but I am a weenie and it is sore] and I still have painting to do.  Next time? Won't be a next time.

The same person that was pulling the paint off the walls also followed me around tonight and pulled blankets out and put them on the couch.  Good grief! We could cover the Great Wall of Kings Mountain with all the covers we got here!  We have fuzzy blankets and Tar Heel blankets and Kings Mountain blankets and Christmas blankets and an afghan [that would be one that my sweet Granny chrocheted just for me and not a person from the middle east] and comforters and quilts and OH MY GOSH!!!  We constantly have a blanket out, somewhere,  that is covering up with someone [or Gabe's shoes or my keys] or laying around aimlessly.  We refuse to get cold here at Casa de la Shortie.

What is a troll?

[Not the ugly little things that live under bridges or the ugly little dolls that were popular sometime in the past or the guy you went to the prom with back in 1987] 

A troll (/ˈtrl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people,by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional responseor of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

I am DONE with these people that troll Facebook and Twitter, looking for someone they can disagree with about some big news or controversy.  As I've painted [for three hours] tonight, I've thought a lot about a person that just proved to me that they are the biggest troll on Facebook [and no, I'm not friends with them but they seem to find their way onto my news feed by commenting on the status' of folks I do follow that are from different parts of my that whole 6 degrees thing with Kevin Bacon...or just bacon in general] and its got me all on the soap box tonight.

I do not share political views [I am not smart enough for that] but I do not mind sharing the gospel.  I am proud to call myself a Christian but even more proud to stand boldly for my beliefs.   

Ephesians 2:1-7 says, "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us,God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus."

I stand up for what I believe because I am a sinner who has been saved by grace.  I do not deserve eternal life.  I am not perfect.  I have made numerous mistakes in my life.  I have been on my knees begging for God's forgiveness.  I have to work hard to follow Christ's will for my life because I get in the way.  

I do not agree with a lot of things in this world. I see a world of selfish, indignant, and sinful people [myself included] who have lost all sense of morality.  

Ephesians 4:17-32 gives Christians instructions for living like Christians:
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

As a Christian I am commanded to boldly stand.  There is no fence to straddle my friends. You either stand or you don't.

So why is it when Christians stand, be it on Facebook, or GQ magazine, or in a classroom with others  who are NOT Christians or are "Christians" that only believe certain parts of the Bible, then we are open game for public scrutiny, often degradation, and stupid reminders to "love everyone" and "respect differences" by those that disagree?  

How easy is it to talk out of both sides of your mouth?  

Phil Robertson is asked a question: What, in your mind, is sinful?

He gives HIS response: “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

And all of a sudden there is a firestorm from all sorts of folks about Christians and how everything that is said is laced with hate:
  • Christians don't appreciate diversity.  
  • Christians think they are perfect.
  • Christians want everyone to believe what they believe.  
  • Christians think they are better than everyone.
The man was asked a question, he answered it [with a Biblical answer] because this is what HE BELIEVES!!!  And my guess is that he truly doesn't care if you or you or you or you or you or me agrees with him.  He is a Bible believing Christian who quoted scripture. END of DISCUSSION. 

If you don't believe or agree with him then no one cares.  Those of you out there that are not believers [I believe the phrase used on Facecrack today was, "I don't follow Christianity"] that is your business.  

You disagree with Phil?  Good for you.  
You disagree with me?  Good for you. 
You disagree that moon reflects the light of the sun?  Good for you. [You are wrong but good for you.] 
You disagree and say that Josh Hamilton is not the best looking man in baseball?  Good for you. [And you are wrong again.] 

STOP BEING TROLLS!  This guy I am talking about is a troll.  He searches for things to "disagree" with on Facebook [and I am sure in life] because he wants EVERYONE to know he isn't a Christian.  We get it.  

Good for you.  

That is a choice you make.  Do I agree with you?  Doesn't matter.  It's your life and because of God, you have free will.  Choose away my friend.  Try to disparage every single thing about the Bible if you want and post it all over Facebook, the side of your house, and the moon for all I care. 

Your opinion of Christianity does not change who I am and what I believe.  

You have EVERY right to stand BOLDLY with whomever you choose to stand with and every right to stand up for what you believe.  No one is telling you not to do that...BECAUSE FRANKLY, WE DON'T CARE!

That is what kills me about this whole situation.  The folks that disagree with Phil Robertson want those of us that agree to change our minds.  They certainly do not want to hear any of that Bible stuff or our beliefs but want to shout it from the rooftops and write it in every status update and tweet:
  • "Just respect diversity." Okay.
  • "Just respect my right to choose whom I want to marry." Okay.
  • "Just respect equality." Okay
  • "Just respect me." Okay.
[I am on a roll...this feels good...]

It is easy to clang loudly, like a cymbal, because you want others to simply acknowledge YOU. Anybody can do that.  I am guilty of that myself.  

So many out there that disagree want us [Chrisitans] to embrace diversity? You want us to love everyone and respect differences but you are not willing to do the same?  You want us to stop sharing the gospel because it offends you.

It is super easy to talk out of both sides of your mouth.

Christians are not welcomed to share beliefs.  

Anyone else?  You are fine.  

Attach "as a Christian" to it and you will instigate a firestorm so be ready. 

By the way, to the Facebook troll that says he doesn't "believe the Bible to a T", I know how the story will end.  

We win.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Can I Just Become a Hobo?

I have put off writing this post for a few months...not because there is anything catastrophic about what I am going to write but mostly because I feel like I've failed. [I ain't fishin' for your compliments just bein' totally honest.]

Middle school has been really tough this year.

And not much fun.

I am struggling in a big way.

I love teaching.  I love the excitement of being in the classroom when the kids "get it".  I love talking to my classes about my own children and the getting to know them.  I love introducing them to my 80s Pandora station and them making jokes about my age.  I love their humor and quirks.  I love science. [Nerd Alert]  I love talking to the kids in my classes when we are walking back and forth to lunch.  I love when they laugh at my corny jokes. 

This year is different. I've never seen so much defiance and entitlement from children.  I've never felt so small and insignificant as I do this year. [Please don't get me wrong here.  I am not looking to be recognized or thanked for anything.]

Aretha said it well...R - E - S - P - E - C - T.  

Be respectful.  

Be nice.
Be kind.
Be thankful.
Be considerate of others.
Be responsible.
Be ready to suffer consequences for negative actions.
Be resilient. 

We are creating a generation of people that can't simply "be" anymore because that is too hard.  There is a sense of entitlement that says they don't have to be respectful if the rules do not mesh with the circumstances at hand. [Imma do me.] There is no resilience and determination to find the answer, to solve the problem, to be challenged. [Imma do me.]  Simple rules of etiquette and manners flew out the window. [Imma do me.] And certainly, there is very little push to make consequences match negative behaviors. [Imma do me.]

Excuse me if I'm wrong or out of line [I was at least one time before] but when did simply being 13 or 14 entitle you to say or do anything you feel when you disagree with an adult? my house and the house I grew up in that would be....NEVER. 

We have children questioning the tone we use with them. Really?  Are you kidding me? In my house that only got you into more trouble. In the house where I am the parent that gets you into trouble.  No, my parents were not perfect but they had expectations for me and taught me to have them for myself.  My own children do not act like baffoons at school because they know the consequences will be worse at home.  BUT above all, they are respectful to adults, even if they disagree.  

Actually heard a parent say, just recently, "Well so and so is going to smart off if your tone insinuates that you are trying to be smart." So and so is 13! So and so doesn't get to decide that the tone of an adult's voice is not what they like and then make a choice not to listen.  If a child is asked to stop, to listen, to sit down, to follow directions, to get to class, to stop being loud at the lunch, or to do the task at hand then the answer is ALWAYS, "Yes ma'am." or "Yes sir."  END of discussion.        

No consequences.
No sense of responsibility to anyone but yourself.
No desire to be challenged.

The sad thing about all of this is that I am literally beating myself up over all of this and how to "fix" it. I am a pleaser.  A fixer. My hair is falling out.  I cannot sleep.  My stomach hurts.

I pray about this all the time. I know God hears me. There are positives and I am desperately trying to hang on to those things.  

And I know that I am not going to be some kind of hero and save them all and make them love science. [Or me.] 

But I do know that....

Everyone can be respectful. 
Everyone can be considerate.
Everyone can choose to reach their potential.

Stop making excuses for why you aren't following directions and simply do whatever is asked of you. 
Stop trying to do everything under the sun except what is being asked. Get to class on time. Sit up and pay attention.  Get some sleep at home so you can stay awake in class. Do your work.  Pick up your trash instead of walking right past it.  Take some initiative.  Get motivated. Bring a pencil to class. Follow directions the first time instead of when you are ready. Stop waiting for someone else to do things for you.  

Prove me wrong. I am waiting.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

But I Already Took My Bra Off!!

OK ladies. I know you can relate.

It's been a long day at work.  You are tired.  Your feet hurt.

You take off your bra and the day goes with it.  

[Some of you just said, "Wait a minute...seriously? Is she talkin' about her undergarments?" Yes. Yes I am.]

The other night, Craig wanted me to run to the store [probably for some cookies or something else to add pounds to my thunder thighs....I think he's trying to put me on Biggest Loser or The Victoria's Secret Models You'll Never See Christmas Special] and my answer was simply, "I already took my bra off. Sorry."  For some reason that response made him laugh, hysterically.  In fact, he found it so funny that he told me today I should write a book with the title, But I Already Took My Bra Off.  [I am 99.9% sure it would be a best seller.]  

So there you have it people.  Now you know what happens at Casa de la Shortie. 

That, my friends, is why you always call before you come to my house.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

I have been absent for a while because, quite frankly, my attitude sucked. [Might as well not beat around the bush.]  For the better part of a year I've been battling this inner turmoil...

You are too fat to be successful at running....give it up.

You are ugly.

Why would anyone want your help?

You are a terrible mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend teacher coworker....

So what did I do?  I listened to those things, so much so that I began to believe it all.  Then, this past Saturday, it was like someone literally hit me upside the head [who knows...might have been Gabe...or Craig...] and His voice said, "Good gravy girl!  Snap out of it.  I love you ~ what else matters?  Do it all in My name.  Do it for Me."

So what else is a girl to do when God is talking to her as she travels down 74 to the Pancake House in Shelby? I tell you what she does ~ she listens.  She says, "OK Lord.  I need your help because I am tired of who I've become.  I don't want to be this girl anymore.  I know that you love help me love me."

Life ain't easy. [Thanks Captain Obvious]  Since hitting 40 I've felt so insignificant, old, and basically, washed up.  But what has been more apparent than anything else is that I am in control of nothing if I don't give it all up to God.  I have proven:

I cannot do this by myself.

Along with that nice little toe-stepper Saturday, then the sermon on Sunday was written just for me.  I wrote down one point and underlined it:

Your character affects your influence.

I need to reflect Godly character at home, at my job, with friends, everywhere. That cannot be done without being in tune with Christ.

That  cannot be done alone.

I need to give it all to Him.

I heard the hymn, It is Well, as I was getting out of the car for Sunday school yesterday morning.


Goodbye to looking for something that can't be found ~ Utopia...Emerald City ....Easy Street.  

It is well with my soul.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Hot Tamales and Homecoming

[It's been a while.  Forgive me.  I will explain later but now isn't the time.]

Gabe has kept us on our toes this school year.  He frequently gets his clip moved. [Back in my days of teaching elementary school we turned cards and gave stings. Now, thanks to Pinterest, we are a little more crafty.] Unfortunately, his clip is being moved down instead of up....not good for him. One day it was for teaching the other 1st grade boys how to fart with your hand in your armpit [or armpips as Gabe calls them].  When asked the next day if he continued to do this he answered, "Yes but today I made sure my teacher wasn't around." At least he's honest.

Another time his clip was moved for talking in the hall.  He told me that the whole rule about no talking in the hall was crazy.  My reply was, "Well so is your daddy but I still have to do what he says." But it was the next issue with him that nearly sent me over the edge.  

I get a note saying that he peed in the floor. [Yes, you read that correctly, he peed in the floor.]  Good gravy....He's in first grade!!!  Upon further investigation, I found out that he peed in the floor of the boys bathroom.  Here is his story: Well there is always wet stuff around the toilet and I didn't want to get my shoes dirty. I just backed up, but didn't touch the door with my butt, and I peed.  I tried to hit the toilet but I was too far away. My response:  If you ever, EVER think about doing something like this again then I will sent diapers and wipes to school with you.  [I will have a serious ulcer by the time he gets to middle school.]

I have threatened him with no baseball if he continues to act like a bafoon at school.  Being the meanie mommy that I am, I told him he would show up and tell his team why he was sitting then he would sit and watch them play.  So far, so good.  We'll see how long this lasts....I am not going to hold my breath.

He did share with me that he thinks one of his first grade classmates is pretty. This was the conversation:
Gabe: ***** is one hot tamale! [As always, unless you are a Shortie, names are withheld to protect the innocent.]
Me: Well don't ever tell a girl she is a hot tamale.  You can tell her she is pretty but don't call her a hot tamale. 
Gabe: Oh I won't but I did ask her to be my girlfriend.  
Me: Well what did she say?
Gabe: She told me no but that's OK - I'm gonna bug my way in!
Craig: That's my boy!!
And that is our youngest ladies and gentlemen.....

[Now on to the normal child of the Shortie clan....]
My sweet Molly was a part of the homecoming court this past Friday.  She was the FCA representative. Even though she didn't make the top five to be considered for homecoming queen, she had an absolute blast.  She was simply super excited to be a part of the celebration.  

I wasn't ever considered for homecoming in high school.  I was more your nerdy, wall flower type. [Funny how nothing changes...] She is the only senior that has been a four year member of FCA so she was the logical representative.  At first, she wasn't totally into this idea of being a part of this "popularity contest" but when she found out there was crafting involved, she jumped in feet first!  [Girl loves some crafts.]  "Momma I get to make a tshirt and a poster!!  Why wouldn't anyone want to do this?!"  That's my girl :) 

Picture from the Shelby Star Facebook Page
My favorite coach and his favorite girl 
In all honesty, she could have absolutely, 100% cared less about being considered for homecoming queen.  She is content with who she is and isn't the least bit interested in what everyone else thinks about her.  And, to make all of this spectacular, her bestest friends were all on the court too.  What a fantastically awesome night of fun.  God is so good and she is so blessed to have these wonderful girls in her life.  

She did come in first runner-up for Carrousel Princess.  I was a little sad for her that she didn't win but, as always, she responded with, "I never win anything so I am stoked about being first runner-up!  This isn't my thing - I've never been princess material and I am first runner-up!"  

I love her humility. 

I love her. 

Which brings me to a bit of a soapbox moment.....

Molly has been applying to college in the last month or so [I just wiped a lot of tears from my eyes] and I am super shocked at how many people want to share opinions on her college choices and test scores. [I have said this many times but it is worth sharing mess with my kids and you will see 7 different kinds of crazy. You've been warned.]

Molly knows what she wants from a college.  She has no desire to go to a big college.  She wants a small school that is close to home. [Bless her....she will live with us forever...and that's OK.]  Her top choices are North Greenville, UNCC, App State, and possibly GWU.  Her choices were made based on the fact that these are close to home, relatively small compared to NC State and UNC, and they have what she wants to study.

And as her parents we approve of her choices and are extremely proud of all that she has done.  She is ranked high in her class, she has done well on the SAT and ACT [but those things are not really anyone else's business].  Best of all, she loves the Lord.  She is genuine - what you see is what you get.  She isn't one Molly at church, another Molly at home, and then another Molly around all of her friends.  She is the same Molly all of the time.  

Hopefully, we've taught her to ignore these negative comments and move on with her dreams.  Molly's college choice doesn't really affect anyone but her and it is her choice.

On the same token, I am not overly concerned with where other kids are choosing to apply to and I certainly don't care what their SAT scores and class rank are [some parents get very consumed and want to publicly share that information whenever they are given a platform...or they create a platform...or they think someone else is listening].  I love to talk about my kids and their accomplishments but I try to be humble. [And if I'm ever not then please feel free to knock me down a notch or four.] I just feel like some things are private and talking about them with such bravado makes one look shallow.

[That and $.25 might get you a cup of coffee.]

As always, life as a Short couldn't be better :)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Weenie Bandit

There is a weenie bandit alive and kicking in Kings Mountain.  We have experienced this bandit here at our house. [I promise I am telling the truth.] 

Back in May, Short and I had the entire family over for Mother's Day.  [When I say entire family then I mean aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.  You know how rednecks are about Momma.]  Before everyone came over we worked like dogs to clean up our yard. We bought and put out about 10 scoops of mulch. [This was one of the days where  we were especially thankful that Coop is a manchild.  We expected big things from him - he delivered.  We feed him...A LOT so he owed us.]  

As we were moving mulch near the side of the house, we saw it.  

A weenie. A cooked hotdog sitting precariously on our AC unit.  

Craig saw it first...."Why is there a hotdog on our AC?" My answer? [Sarcasm inserted.]  "Hmmmm...well Craig, we were going to have hotdogs for dinner but then I decided to leave them on the AC."  Why in the heck would I know why a wayward, ant-covered Ball Park frank would be laying on our air conditioner? 

Yesterday, the bandit struck again.  

Molly, Emma, and I were leaving the house [at an obscene hour on a Saturday morning after a really late Friday night] to head to SC for a little fastpitch softball when we saw it.

The weenie was mocking us, sitting by our mailbox [which, incidentally, is still being help up by duct tape after some ding dong decided to plow it over a few weeks ago...we choose not to hide our brand of redneck] as we pulled out of the driveway.  This one did not appear to be the mild Ball Park we happened upon back in May.  

This one was red. A red hot dog, sitting at the end of my driveway.  

I am not sure if someone is trying to drop us a hint [or perhaps a snack] but what are the chances that a person finds not one but two cooked weenies outside of their home unless they are having a cookout? 

Our grill doesn't even work.  

We had BBQ at our last cookout.  

I mean, back in my day [that is a classic old person line], we used toilet paper in people's yards but I don't ever remember going to "weenie" a yard. [I do remember some weenies that deserved to have their yards rolled but that is whole 'nother post.]  I guess times have changed. [Or perhaps there are weird folks that think dropping hotdogs in my yard is cool.  You never know these days.  I teach 8th grade.  I know weirdos.]  

As always, life as a Short [even after being hit by the elusive Weenie Bandit] is awesome.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I am Just a Teacher

***DISCLAIMER:  I spelled choose wrong - twice.  I teach science - not English.***
I didn't go to college to become a teacher.  I went to college to study biology. [As it turns out, upon graduation, I had taken just a little bit of everything....literally.....that UNCC had to offer.  I was indecisive.  Sue me.]  I wanted to work in a lab at Duke Power [where I interned for five years] and do these ultra cool things I was learning about in the summer.

Then reality struck. Duke Power wasn't really looking to hire biologists - they had some already.  I wasn't too sure what I would do with just a biology degree.  I could teach, go on to medical school [except I HATE blood], go on to dental school [other people's teeth gross me out], do something else. Now let's clear up any confusion...medical school and dental school were NEVER on my radar...I ain't quite smart enough for either one of those. [My lucrative childhood career of being a truck driver by day and a detective at night seemed like a good choice when asked the question, "What are you studying in college?"]  Honestly, by the time I got through organic chemistry [Holy Guacamole!] I didn't think that a biology degree was in the cards for me either.

Allow me to digress for a moment....I graduated 21 out of my high school class so I wasn't stupid. I did decent on the SAT, placed into science and engineering calculus as a college freshman, and basically felt like I could do ANYTHING.

I failed to mention one minor detail....high school did NOT prepare me for studying. [I did have one teacher, Mrs. Kirby, who taught us the value of studying.  Kudos to her.  Still one of my faves.]  I was not good at studying.  At all.  I was good at pretending but you can't "pretend" to study in college.  You actually have to be good at it....I was not. [Give you a true story....I took the science and engineering calculus.  I was lost from DAY ONE.  On the final exam, worth only 100 points, to make a  D- in the class I had to earn 150 points on a 100 point test. #SuckedAtStudying]  There I was, a college failure. Before college I could count on 1 finger the Cs I'd made as a high school student [10th grade English...I still hate English and sentence diagramming and vocabulary tests] and now I was looking at an F.

As an elective class, to take a small break from all the chemistry and biology, I took an introduction to education class taught by Dr. William Britt.  The man was amazing.  He never cracked a note, never opened a book, but he taught me so much about teaching.  He made me think back to Jane Morton, the world's greatest teacher.  She made me love the night sky and the stars and the planets.  Dr. Britt's class made me think back to that 3rd grade classroom.

I wanted to teach.  [Which also meant that I would have to change my major.  And basically, start over. That was NOT a good conversation with the parentals over the phone.  At all.]  I remember my dad driving to UNCC [with a Sundrop as a peace offering] to try to talk me out of changing my major. I remember his words so clearly, "You know teachers don't make any money."  I knew.  But that didn't make me change my mind.

I didn't choose my road. I wouldn't recognize until years later that my decision to teach was not my own but a push from God. I truly, truly believe that I was called to teach.  That decision, all those years ago, would be such a blessing for many years [and still is] to come.

I married a teacher. [I convinced Craig to take Dr. Britt's class and pursue teaching after he changed his major to history.]  We did everything backwards...had a baby, got married, graduated from college. Craig started his career at Cherryville High School while I finished up at UNCC.  I began teaching just a year after he began teaching.

Both of us have taught in several schools and school systems.  Craig was fortunate enough [though I am not sure how our young marriage survived] to get the opportunity to coach with one of his own high school mentors.  He found his passion [and discovered, during a heated football game, that getting ejected from a JV game then launching water bottles about 50 yards to the end zone on your way out of the stadium is not a good idea] with coaching.  My Molly, looking at going to college in another year, learned to walk on a football field and called her daddy "Coach" has grown up being a coach's kid. We loved [and still do] football Friday night [to quote the movie Radio, "I love Friday night's when you're lookin' for a win...and Saturday mornings when you found one."] but more than that, somewhere along the journey, we fell in love with teaching.  Both of us have our Master's degrees, we share ideas in the classroom, we help each other out, we vent over frustrations, and we lift the other one up in prayers about classroom situations, students, and colleagues. We are happy teaching.  

If I had to go back and do it again, I wouldn't do anything different [well, except not get fat and never cut my hair on a whim] and I would still teach.  

The older I get, the more I am learning about people's motivations and attitudes.  In recent months, I've also learned that public education, at least here in NC, and educators are given very little respect for what we do in classrooms. [This isn't another sermon about salaries so hold still.]  Recent things I've heard or read:
"You've got it made. You're government employees with a pension and healthcare."
"Parents just want what is best for their kids and it appears that with so many options for other schools that public school just isn't doing its job."
"Sure you went into your job for the money. Everyone wants to get paid." 
"You can retire at 30 years."
"You only work 10 months."
"Want something to change? Vote out those people that are making the laws against public schools."

And its actually comical that all of these things were said by people who are not teachers, do not work in a school or school system, and really have no idea [besides the media] about the job of educating the masses.  I cannot begin to tell you the number of times I've had people tell me that my job is easy.  I wasn't aware that so many folks performed my job duties at their job. Amazing.  It is truly amazing all the "educators" we have in the world that seem to think that my 4 year degree plus another 3 year MEd. plus my National Boards doesn't really qualify me to actually know anything about the current lack of support for our public school system.  I mean, I guess, since I am a teacher that I just don't know about the state of my own profession.  

I am not asking anyone to agree with me.  But explain to me why it is OK for people to be very vocal about their plights and situations in other careers beyond education but when an educator attempts to plead our case or bring to light true inequities then we are treated like idiots? I am truly perplexed that so many know so much about what goes on in education yet you've never, EVER stepped foot in a classroom.  Oh, that's right, because we aren't working in the private sector we have it made as government employees.  I forgot that we were supposed to play that whole My-Job-Trumps-Your-Job-When-It-Comes-To-Real-World-Issues Game with the "other" people who aren't workin' for the government. 

I feel inferior. [I am not fishing for your compliments.] I always felt like teaching was a calling for me and not a job.  But now, honestly, I feel like the degrees and the time spent [much of it on my own dime and time] are worthless because I am not in some fantastically awesome private sector, money making job.  I am just a teacher.  I can't possibly understand politics. I am just a teacher.  I can't truly expect to make as much as people in private sector jobs with degrees and training less than or equal to my level of education. I am just a teacher. I can't possibly know anything worthwhile about how children learn the best or the latest trends in increasing classroom performance. I am just a teacher.  I am judged by test scores no matter what happens in my classroom. I am just a teacher.

I didn't choose my road.  

I have two choices here:  I can continue to let this eat away at me or I can rise above.  I can prove "them" wrong.  The choice is mine.  

Colossians 3:23 reminds me for whom I am working and it is not for the praises of men.  

I am just a teacher.  


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

This is the Stuff Only Dreams are Made Of

This one will be short and sweet tonight....

In spite of a wretched summer, where lawmakers in NC proved [once again] that public education is the whipping boy of the state and in light of the recent stirrings on Facebook [and Twitter and the newspaper, etc.] about folks like Kelly Hastings these last two days have bee sort of magical for me.

I've been able to decorate my classroom and have planned the entire next two weeks [unbelievable for the girl who flies by the seat of her pants most of the time] with very little stress.  Everything has gone smoothly [with the exception of a few minor glitches like the 8th graders that can't open lockers and the strange looks when I told a group of parents I don't give homework].  I feel like I've hit some sort of school teacher groove or something [is that possible?].  

I know that it is nothing that I've done [and certainly we cannot blame a pay increase or for that matter, a little respect from our elected-but-you-best-enjoy-it-now officials] but something that God has blessed me with....yet again.  I'm not dumb enough to think that things will be all fantastic this year - this is still the "honeymoon" phase with the lovelies BUT I just know that God can do so much more than I could ever hope or imagine [Ephesians 3:20] and He is making a way for some big things to happen.  I am just ÜBER excited about teaching this year.  

[Sidenote: I've been out of the loop for a bit.  Just haven't been motivated enough to write....but things are changing.  Please keep reading.  My last post about education here in NC had 527 views but I am more excited God has given me this passion to write from my heart.]  

URGENT Prayer Request:  A former student [and hero in my book] Scotty Hill, is in a ferocious, uphill, seemingly insurmountable battle with cancer right now. He and his family desperately need our prayers.  Please stop whatever you are doing right now and pray for him.  God hears our prayers and He has moved so much in Scotty's life.  He will continue to move. Just pray for peace for this brave, brave young man and for his family.  

As always, life with the amazingly awesome and Jesus-filled Shorties is too good to be true...somebody please pinch me....


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Just Keep Swimming

If you follow me on Facebook [and if you don't you should - I am awesome] then you know there has been a major storm a brewin' here in North Cacalacca over the budget.  I do not talk politics for several reasons: 

1. I don't know much about politics.
2. I care but I ask people I trust to get explanation. 
3. I truly believe that 99.9% of them are just in it for themselves and the agendas of the person who has the most money to give their party or campaign.

But over the last several days, I have stuck my toe in the water. [Well, in one case with Mr. Kelly Hastings, I jumped in and just told him he was a pathetic idiot....I will get to that in a minute.]  Most of you know that I am a teacher and have been for 16 years.  This budget may have catastrophic results for education in North Carolina.

We have not had a pay raise since 2007.  In fact, we haven't made a significant step up since 2007.  We used to get a small increase each year....not since 2007.  I have been teaching 16 years, with a Master's degree AND my National Board certification, and I do NOT make the average salary for a NC teacher yet. I am STILL below the average salary. Two years ago we got about a $100 a month increase between the two of us but we ended up losing $40 a month because of increased insurance premiums....long story short: That piddly little increase COST us money.The budget Nazi [aka my favorite coach] just recently told me that our take home pay has stayed basically the same, give or take $20 or $30 here and there, since 2008  Explain to me what is not to get upset about with this situation? 

[There are other issues like teacher assistants losing jobs, money being funneled to charter schools and vouchers for private schools, performance based pay,loss of funding for supplies, etc. I only feel qualified to talk about no pay raises for educators.]

Fast forward to the last 36 hours or so.  A local representative, Kelly Hastings, has a reputation of being rude and disrespectful, especially with local educators, people defending education, anyone disagreeing with his positions, or basically, anyone wearing skin. This situation was no exception.  Several months back, when the budget was first brought to the public's attention, Craig emailed Mr. Hastings, [as we were asked to do by some of our NCAE reps] and he was appalled at the response to his questions. Mr. Hastings was rude, telling Craig his opinions really didn't matter in the grand scheme of things.  He never answered questions or gave any explanations for the cuts in the budget.  He was very short and not humble at all.

Fast forward to a month or so later when a fellow coach also inquired about the impending budget cuts, this time on Hastings' Facebook page [which is not private and where he boasts about things like renewing his NRA membership and all that he has done to save the world by being a NC rep] and once again, he was met with hostility on the part of Mr. Hastings. This coach's son, very active and knowledgeable about politics, also began to ask questions [his mother is an educator] and Mr. Hastings rudely cut him off, questioning this young man's experience and knowledge of the classroom. Again, he refused to answer any questions and eventually blocked both this young man and his dad from his Facebook page. [And I must say that this was such a gutsy move that took serious kahunas.  Way to go Mr. Hastings.  Good thing your middle school antics kept you from answering questions of the people that you represent. Yes. I am qualified to call your antics middle school like since I teach 8th grade.]

Yesterday I also posted a comment on said Facebook page.  Guess what? Yep, I am now blocked from looking at this page also, along with the wife and daughter of the above football coach, several other educators, and even other non-educators who questioned his stance on the budget.  Really?  I guess his next move will be to take all his toys and go home.  Tattle on us maybe.  

Yes. You can do whatever you choose with your Facebook page. I have no problem. But if you are dependent upon the votes of the very same folks that you are being rude to, in a very public forum and in a day and age of once its out there then someone has seen it, then what are you trying to do?  We are all very confused [also very amused] at this situation.  

I mean, I am no genius or political guru [though I do play one on TV] but that is a very funny way of getting votes. It seems as if we do not get on his page and give him an "atta boy" then he has no use for us.  Take for instance this little conversation, just this afternoon, found on his page [I am blocked but I am not stupid.  There is more than one way to skin a cat ya know.]:

  • Kelly Hastings 4 hours ago near Cherryville On my way home from Raleigh today, I stopped to help an African American family who had a serious wreck. Two of the kids were seriously injured. I was one of the first on the scene and immediately told another man not to move the injured family; they probably had neck injuries. Next, we calmed the children down and made sure they weren’t bleeding out too much. We gathered some of their belongings to make them feel comfortable. As soon as I got home, some people were complaining because they did not get exactly what they wanted in the state budget. After seeing this injured family, I would like to ask those of you who are whining to quit whining on my page. Thank God you have a job and suck it up and drive on. When you start to whine, think about what our military men and women are going through, and think about people in the private sector who are losing their jobs and their homes. Like · · Share Kelly Hastings and 74 others like this. [Just a simple pet peeve of mine but who "likes" their own Facebook status?  Is your back bruised from all the patting you've been giving it?]
  • Response 1: Thank you for all you did this session Rep. Hastings. Good job! Now go home and enjoy your family, you earned it. If you come down to Brunswick County give me a call (***-***-****) and I'll buy lunch. 4 hours ago · Like · 2
  • Response 2: Hear yee Hear yee!!! 4 hours ago · Like
  • Response 3:  May the Lord bless you for your courage and spirit of serving. 4 hours ago · Like · 
  • Response 4: I am one of those who is VERY unhappy about the budget and am in the private sector and MAY loose my job because THE NC GOVERNMENT continues to fund 3 and 4 year olds in the PUBLIC SCHOOLS and NOT in the private sector. We are a 5 star facility and jump through hoops to maintain a high certification and the school system continues to get SMART START funding. I agree that the PUBLIC SCHOOLS need more money... I have family members who are life long teacher.. and the cuts there are unheard of... as they are in the child care area. But my final note on this is THANK YOU for stopping and helping. I do not have to agree with what you are voting for...but I do agree that as an elected public servant... we should be able to reach you and express our thoughts and concerns... even if you consider it whinning.... 4 hours ago · Like · 
  • Kelly Hastings: Which provision of the budget upsets you? 4 hours ago · Like
  • Response 5:  I was always told that Compromise Is successful when no one is happy. Must be a good budget. 4 hours ago via mobile · Like · 
  • Response 6: You remind us of the parable of the Good Samaritan which is a parable told by Jesus. 4 hours ago · Edited · Like
  • Kelly Hastings:  I have to say, it felt good to comfort the kids. 4 hours ago · Like · 2
  • Response 7:  Yes indeed 4 hours ago via mobile · Like
  • Response 8: Amen....good for you!!! 4 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Response 9: Kelly Hastings this is heart warming. This family will never forget you. I know that the wonderful folks that was with my **** at the wreck, held his hand and comforted him means so much to me. Thank you for your kindness. Sometimes people only think they have problems. 4 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Response 10: Amen 3 hours ago via mobile · Like
  • Response 11:  Bravo! Sometimes it is harder to comfort an injured person and to wait helplessly than it is to be that person yourself. That family is blessed that a person like you was willing to stop and help them in their hour of need. We should all be so fortunate.
  • Response 12: Thank you for the reality check. 3 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1
  • Response 13: Thanks for being a good Samaritan to this family. And thanks for putting a halt on the crazy spending that has been going on in Raleigh for years. Our taxes have been so high NC is known as the "Taxachusetts" of the south. Plus the unbridled spending that was going on, if continued, would just end up bankrupting the state. We don't want to follow down the path of Detroit, now do we? 3 hours ago · Like
  • Kelly Hastings:  Actually, it was a black SUV. I think it was a Chevrolet, but it was badly damaged and I really did not pay attention to that. I just know the SUV was black. 2 hours ago · Like
  • Response 14: Glad you were there to help those children. Praying for healing for all those involved. 2 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2
  • Response 15: Thank God you was there to help them Kelly.. Sometimes we take life for granted when we should be thanking God for what we do have. I f we would just stop look around and think every now and again we would see and realize that There are a lor of other people in this world who are a lot worse of than we are. about an hour ago · Like
  • Response 16: TGIF..You were placed there at the right place and time..Consider it a god send..Does matter about the color of skin ..We all should be helping each other..Doesn't have nothing to do with any thing political..People can be so cruel........Thank you for all you do for us... about an hour ago · Edited · Like · 1
  • Kelly Hastings:  As for race, mentioning African Americans was not about politics. There aren't many African Americans in House District 110. We stopped to help them regardless of the color of their skin. It was an emotional day for me and I felt like sharing it. I am sorry if I offended anyone. 36 minutes ago · Edited · Lik
  • Response 17: Your heart was speaking, Kelly. You do not owe anyone an apology. God knows your heart and that is all that matters. 27 minutes ago · Like · 
  • Response 18: Kelly, I was a volunteer fireman for 15 years and had the opportunity to help a lot of people in some very bad situations. I can attest to the feeling of being able to make an impact especially on children. Thanks for doing the right thing. You guys...See More a few seconds ago · Like

I am by no means belittling his service to this family.  Kudos to him for being a good Samaritan.  

However... I suppose bravado [a little ELA literary term that means to display real courage or pretend to have courage] will get you a long way with many folks. What about all the comments asking for his explanation of current budget issues, particularly those that are affecting local educators?  Oh yeah - he deleted them and then blocked ANYONE that disagreed or challenged him to explain his positions. 

To me this speaks volumes to his character as a representative.  He is willing to take all the praise but none of the criticism that comes with holding a public office.  I believe in one conversation a word came up that describes him perfectly - pretentious. [Which means making unusually justified or excessive claims; showy] 

Use it in a sentence: Kelly Hastings is pretentious and not in touch with the voters.

I read that he hung up on a voter that he represents.  He called his voters "whiners", in a public forum.  He immediately patted himself on the back for pumping money back into the state through tax breaks [thank goodness those millionaires will get the much deserved the relief they so desperately need]. He refuses to answer very simple questions posed by his voters. 

This is the kind of person making very big decisions for the education of our children.  Ultimately, educators will continue to do all they can to make sure their students succeed.  If anything, this has made me more determined in my classroom.  I will not give up on the job that I love, that I was called to do. Short and I will continue to plug away at extra jobs to make ends meet, while raising four children [on a little money and a lot of faith].  

In fact,[put feet to those promises], Mr. Hastings [and anyone else at the state level making decisions that affect my students] has an open invitation to visit my classroom.  I can assure you that unlike him, I will be cordial, respectful, forthright, and confident in my abilities that I am doing the very best for the the students I am serving.

It amazes me how much negativity is thrust at educators.  I spent a large part of today reading through commentary and articles about the budget. I guess that it isn't important to note that public education means just that - public. We teach everyone.  We do not turn away children based on behavior, disabilities, lack of money, etc.  We are responsible, many times for meeting more than academic needs - we feed them, clothe them, make sure they have school supplies, etc.  Many times, through no fault of anyone, parents expect schools to do these things and more times than not, educators take on these burdens because that is what we are called to do.  But based on things I read today, teachers are the cause of the decline of education in NC.  It is totally our fault that students do not graduate. It is our fault that test scores do not increase. It is our fault that parents sometimes choose not to take part in their own child's education.  [Where did I get a lot of this information?]  Apparently, in one commentary I read, teachers and schools tell parents that what they believe and want for their child is not important enough to be valued.  Honestly, I was stunned when I read this one ...I have worked in many schools - highly affluent to exceptionally poor - and I have watched countless administrators, teachers, assistants, district office staff, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, etc. bend over backwards and cut flips to make sure the needs of children are being met and are fully in line with parents. I just don't see this as the rule of thumb for public schools in NC. Am I naive enough to think this doesn't happen?  No. But is it the rule, enough to be written in a commentary. I just don't see it.  [Oh yeah, I am a highly-involved-don't-mind-rockin'-the-boat-kind-of-parent so I have more than one perspective.] Mind blown was what I was after reading things today...
educators just seem to have no value at all and certainly, according to people like Kelly Hastings, have no room to voice any opinions.

Its almost as if public schools are the whipping boy for much of society's lack of responsibility to our children.  None of us can raise the little boogers on our own - none of us.  I need my children's teachers to guide them and challenge them. I value my church and the tremendous influence of the Godly people who help me guide the spiritual growth of my babies.  I am in awe of grandparents [Mom and Dad to me] that advise and nurture all of us. I love my husband for being a man of integrity that they see and can imitate.  I am an honest, hard working, Christian woman who makes dinner, shuttles kids to practice, braves the elements for ball games, and who is thankful for all that she has, including her job as a teacher.  And I am not bragging when I say this so please don't take it like that, but I see my kids many times as the exception to the rule and I will tell you why:

Society tells us its OK to quit when it gets hard.  When this happens in the classroom it often becomes the fault of the teacher.  Society tells us that everyone deserves a plaque and a trophy and recognition.  When this doesn't happen in a classroom then the teacher doesn't like a child or isn't treating them fairly.  Society tells us that its OK to make our own rules. When rules are not followed at school consequences are often challenged or even worse, changed to fit individual needs. Society tells us its all about us - this "Imma do me and you do you" crap.  When we try to teach cooperation and diversity and respect of individuals then we are stifling this notion that its your world, we just live in it.

I am not raising my children to the standards set forth by society and I certainly am not relying on anyone, including educators, to raise them for me.[No. I am not a perfect parent.  I screw up on a daily basis. But I know that according to Ephesians 3:20 that God can do immeasurably more than we could ever imagine.  That gives me hope that I do not have to fear society's ever present push to let everything else be in charge of teaching my children...God has me in His hands.]  

If we want schools and educators to simply save the world and raise children according to the rules of society then I quit.  I can go work a 9-5 job that requires nothing of me past quitting time like extra conferences, sporting events, or PTA meetings and make as much or more than I am making now. 

I am not giving up.  I am not giving in or compromising my beliefs about my job and my responsibilities.  But I refuse to believe that our desire, as educators, to be treated with dignity and respect, is asking too much.  

I am not a number on a data sheet. I am an educator who follows standards and creates lessons to engage and challenge my students.  I am their biggest cheerleader and advocate in my classroom. 
I am not a growth score at the end of the year. I am an educator trying desperately to infuse a love of science, but more than that, a love of learning, into every student that enters my classroom. 

I am not the enemy when a student is struggling or a punishment is handed down. I want to help. I want to teach them to help themselves. I want students to be successful, not for me, but so that they feel a sense of accomplishment. 

I am not a "whiner" who is constantly begging for money.  I just want to be considered a professional, like my peers in other professions that have the same education that I have.  

I am not looking for votes. [Though I am not opposed to anyone sending money to me.]  I am not looking for pats on the back. I write what I feel - like it or leave it. 

As always, even when being "blocked" by Kelly Hastings, life as a Shortie [and a teacher] is good and I will keep swimming...just keep swimming.