Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Love this

Consider two scenarios:

If you live a sedentary life, gorge yourself on high-fat foods, and puff two packs every day; your doctor will likely lecture you about your lifestyle and assign you some homework – diet, exercise, and no more tobacco. If you ignore the lecture and neglect your homework, next time you visit your doctor chances are you won’t score well on tests of blood pressure, body fat index, or lung capacity.

No halfway intelligent person, giving the situation a moment of thought, would blame your doctor for your ill health. Your doctor merely has the skills, means, and job to make your ill health visible.

Now consider a 16 year-old kid from an inner city where crime is a given, fathers are an endangered species, and cocaine is a food group. Born into poverty, this kid never saw a book until first grade. His elementary school years were marred by spotty attendance because of chronic illness – lung infections from the mold and rodent excrement in his housing project. When he did attend he struggled to concentrate, having had no breakfast and often no dinner the night before. Now he skips school more often than not, and when he does attend it's only to peddle drugs for his gang, or get high himself; like he did the day of the standardized test. Having missed most instruction and being too lit to read the test, he failed.

The teacher didn’t create the poverty this kid was born into, nor run off the kid’s father, nor encourage the kid to join a gang or use drugs. The teacher didn’t chase the kid away from school four days a week. It took 16 years of neglect and misfortune to create the mess who walked into that teacher's classroom. Out of 16 years, the teacher's cumulative influence totaled maybe 24 hours.

What halfway intelligent person, giving the situation a moment of thought, would blame the teacher for that kid's test score?

Apparently quite a few, since people nationwide cling to the notion that thousands of teachers – all college educated, licensed, and having years of experience – suddenly need to be fired. Count U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan among the “fire the teachers” zealots. When a Rhode Island school board fired the entire staff of Central Falls High School, Duncan praised the move. “Education officials are showing courage and doing the right thing for kids” Duncan said. Others might say that school board showed political posturing; rallying their anti-teacher support base for the next election.

Placing blame for the achievement gap on social conditions, rather than on teachers, is a slap in the face of political correctness. The mere suggestion that factors outside the school setting influence achievement only brings more blaming, shaming, and even name-calling from anti-teacher factions.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Payton's Half Birthday

Poor Payton's parents didn't plan out her birthday very well.  (Uh... planning pregnancies just isn't our thing.)  Her birthday is January 5th.  This is usually the day we go back to school after winter break.  Everyone is tired, fat, tired, and with the onset of school...tired.  (did I already mention that one?)   We have done it once before and it worked out so we decided to again throw Payton a half-birthday party rather than one actually ON her birthday.  For the past year Payton has been telling me wants  a Minnie Mouse party.  This was just fine with me since I had this Disney cartridge for my cricut and was dying to use it on something.  So we invited our friends, got ready to go and had a Minnie Birthday!  It was all very cute.  I made the kids their mousekatool box that they would need throughout the party.  Inside were the 'tools' they would need.  For example: there were coloring books set out on the table.  But uh oh!  There were no crayons!  What do we do?  Oh toodles???  Inside our Mousekatools?  CRAYONS!   Or, when we went to eat.... there were no cups! What do we do!?  Oh Toodles??? (You get the idea)  I made the ears and pretty much everything else you saw.  WE served the kids hot-diggity-dogs and had an Ice Cream Sunday Bar. They jumped on our bouncy slide and played balloon games and best of all... I didn't have to paint a giant princess castle made out of boxes or hang up a circus tent in my living room or cover the walls of my foyer so the kids could finger paint Curious George style.   We had a blast!

 Couldn't help but post a picture of my little man! Thank you Stephanie for bearing him for me!


Swim Team.  This has been the longest season of my life.  Well, that may be exaggerating a bit, but that's what it feels like.  Practice EVERY morning and meets on Thursdays.  It's exhausting!  To start off, Payton made her way on to the swim team this year and completely skipped the bubbles and went straight on to the team.  She was swimming the length of the pool unassisted from June on.  She came in last most weeks, but as one mom from an opposing team snidely remarked to me when she failed to decrease her time in an event, "She's ONLY four!"  Ok Ok I got it lady!  She did great though!  I was so proud of her all season!  Emma was also still in the 6 and under age group this year.  Being that she is 6, she should have done very well and she did!  She wasn't the best on her team but she improved her times each week and did great.  There is one particular girl on our team who is a phenomenal swimmer.  Fiona. 
She really is great and her and Emma are the same age so they are constantly swimming the same events.  At the second swim meet after swimming against each other all night and Fiona winning they were both slated to swim the Butterfly.  This is an even that doesn't occur until about 9:30 so Emma was EXHAUSTED!  Neither girl had a time for this event so they both had to swim in Heat 1 and happened to be the only swimmers in the pool.  I wasn't expecting much as I had never seen Emma swim fly successfully but she thoroughly surprised me and and did GREAT! She stuck with Fiona the whole time and only lost by less than 2 seconds!  She ended up coming in 3rd in the entire race which is great especially since it is an 8 and under event!  However when she got out of the water the poor girl just started crying.  It was partially due to being overly tired, but her tears stemmed from defeat.  "I always lose to Fiona!"  I felt bad for my little girl and struggled between wanting to push Fiona in the pool make everything better yet also wanting her to learn that she isn't always going to win and sometimes it just stinks.  Throughout the summer I have tried to stress that swimming is in some cases an individual sport where you try to beat your own times and not worry so much about everyone else.  I also told her that Fiona was a great swimmer who really worked hard and she should challenge herself to work that hard and maybe one day she could win.  That doesn't mean much when you aren't getting blue ribbons though.  Fast forward to the last week of swim team.  After swimming at a friends house and seeing that indeed Emma could be competitive if she wished to be, I challenged her before she swam back stroke to really want to beat the person next to her.  She was swimming in lane 6 and if you know anything about swim team lane 6 is not where the winner of the race normally swims.  (Hint: it's Payton's signature lane!) However, tonight was different.  Fiona was in lane 4 and when the race started Emma came out strong.  Halfway through Eric and I realized she had a chance and when the race was over we were looking at our FIRST 1st Place Win!  Emma ran over to us and the only thing she could say was, "I beat Fiona!" and then in a softer wisper, "but I didn't tell her that."  She was so happy and it really was a great way to end the season.  Unfortunately it didn't end there.  The 7-8s on our team really aren't that great.  There aren't many of them and they couldn't do all the strokes well (hence Emma's 3rd place win in fly).  Due to this our Medley Relay (an 8 and under event) was made up of all 6-yr-olds.  
This being the case Emma was asked to go to the county meet simply to race in the medley relay.  Mind you they swim against a bunch of kids 2 years older than them so we weren't expecting much.
This past Sunday we traveled down to Georgia Tech, which really bothered Emma.  She wasn't happy about all the yellow and blue.  She was mad at her coached for picking such a place for this meet.  (I tried to explain it wasn't their fault).  Hers was the third event and despite a very late start for Emma her team placed 2nd in their Heat of 5.  So I guess that means they didn't come in last!  Pretty respectable if you ask me!
We really did have a great season.  We all learned a few things and most importantly we had a lot of fun!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It's Summertime and the Living is Easy!

It's a NeW day!  

I have a new outlook. 

I have a new organized house 
 (ok... so the frames don't have pictures yet... I'm getting there!)

I have a new TAN!  
(pictures to come)

After school let out we headed to Charleston. 

 Photo By:  Emma Danley- Battery Park, Charleston, SC

We ran into my favorite family in the world, the Mullers.  
(Seriously, these people are my second set of parents and my 3 little sisters.)
 It was surreal to see these "little girls" with my little girls. 
I had the pleasure responsibility to teach Emma about the Civil War.  Despite her disappointment that the south lost... (after all... she's a southern girl!) she was interested to learn more about it... 
and this crazy looking flag! 

Then we went to Hilton Head! 
 Oh my

 She wore an itsy-bitsy teenie-weenie yellow polka dot bikini

Our yearly tree picture.

I still remember the first one
 (Don't judge.. gained 70 lbs with Emma and this was only 8 weeks later!)

We came home to a busy weekend full of friends, friends and watermelon baby carriages?!  
We were able to take a trip to see my grandmother.
 (on the hammock)

  I love how the "country" brings out the country in the girls! 

Best picture ever this week!

Then... on to a very relaxing first few weeks of summer spent at the pool.  
So far... Emma has placed 4th and 5th.... 
Payton.... didn't come in last!  

Top 10 List list of reasons why I love summer break:  

10. Organizing the house in the hopes of putting it on the market
9.  Celebrating mine and Amanda's birthday at Cinco's
8. Hanging out at the pool with friends old and new!
7. Watching Payton learn to swim 
6. Reading 5 6 books so far!
5. Watching the Hills with Alina 
4. Seeing DEBBIE!
3. Watching Emma become more competitive (this was a close tie with number 1)
2.The ability to spend so much time with two awesome little girls!

and the number 1 reason why I love summer break... 



God is so good. 

(Stay tuned for an upcoming post devoted to Taylor Lautner and the ladies who love him... coming soon...)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ever Wondered...

I just got the "Buddy Mail" for this week.  For those of you readers who don't go to Grace then you should know that it's the message our pastor sends out each week to let us know what the sermon is going to be on and where his heart is.  This week is especially intriguing to me considering the week I have had.  It starts out...

Ever find yourself in unfamilar territory? 
Sometimes things do not turn out the way we thought they would. 
Sometimes things take a turn that we did not anticipate. 
Those kinds of turns tend to disorientate us. 

Have you ever felt disorientated?  I can tell you that right now... I'm feeling it.  Things I thought to be true have been proven false.  Walls I thought I could lean on turned out to be curtains.  Yet, through it all I'm not shaken!  I have learned this year 3 things.  One:  I love my husband more than words can express. (Even if I can't always show that)  Two:  Good friends are there no matter the cost.(even if it is REALLY expensive popcorn)  Three:  God has a plan for this life of mine that I am not even aware of (yes hopefully it will involve more kids in this house in some fashion!)  Even without numbers 1 & 2, number 3 makes it possible for me to walk when I can't see the path.

So regardless of the twists and turns in my life, I know that everything is going to be ok.  God has blessed me in this life more than I can even imagine.  I have a great husband, great kids, great friends and a great job.  Remember the important things in life as you head into your weekend.  Love others and never take them for granted.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

April First Update


April First was a big day... not only was it the Oratory Recital... but it was Emma's birthday!
I can't believe I have gone from this...

to this...


Before school on this particular morning, Mr. Lussi (see article here) asked to have breakfast with Emma for her birthday. So we got to go to Chick-fil-a and eat with him. What a special treat!

Then, Emma did wonderful... er uh.... got through... her poem. We were so proud of her though. She was so nervous and they made the Kindergartners go first!! I was so nervous for her, and although I have seen her recite it better, she got up there on stage and went through it flawlessly. So proud!

(Please note the blackbird in the nest on her head)

After that I got to stay for lunch and have cupcakes with her and her class!

(Please Note the Birthday Hat on her head)

Can I just say how much I love PCA? Before they ate lunch Mrs. Carter had Emma come to the front of the room and had her pick two students to pray for her. They came up and said a little prayer for Emma on her special day.

Then it was on to the party!
We had a spa party!
(if interested go to www.pamperedprincessparties.biz)

We also had some of the girls spent the night!

It was a fun...er uh... interesting... uh... exhausting day!

Spring Break.... a month later

I haven't had a time to reflect on Spring Break yet so I shall do that now. We had a great time in Hilton Head with our cousins and good friends. It was great to reconnect with Jamie and spend time with my two most favorite Meek sister-in-laws! I didn't want to leave and I can't wait to go back in 4 weeks! WOOHOO!
When we got back we had the staph infection debacle, strep throat, antibiotic allergies and a excema flare up that still hasn't subsided... so yes, I would rather be at the beach. Having great kids at school this semester has definitely made it easier to come back though! Seriously, I don't want this bunch to leave. I love them. I'll post pictures soon, but if you want to follow the class then head to www.danleylanguagearts.blogspot.com.

Ok Spring Break.

Garrett was very excited to get to the beach.
He reveled in finally getting there!

Emma had to kick the waves for Grammie and Poppa

We got our picture on our favorite tree!

I still remember our first one...

(technically Payton was in this too since I was pregnant with her)

We swung!

and we swam!

I found out what a great little man my Aidan is turning into....

And how much we have missed our good friends...

Despite the mishaps...

and the tears...

We had a great time!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Oratory Recital

Many of you may recall how I told you about Emma's Oratory Recital. I'm not sure whether I told you that the winner of the class would have to preform in front of the K-4th grades and their parents. I didn't mention it because I was sure it wouldn't matter. I just wanted Emma to be able to say her poem without freezing or getting upset. I didn't even send in a prop or give her a costume... I know... bad mom!
I received a call from her teacher this morning stating that Emma had been chosen (along with her friend Carson) to go forward and say her poem in front of the bigger crowd! How exciting... and nerve racking (is that supposed to be spelled with a 'w'?)! She said Emma did great at reciting her poem. I was so proud of her! Now we get to go see her recite it on April 1st! Yay Emma!!
(I was told to get her a costume and a prop... any ideas?)

Edit: The poem is titled "Seven Blackbirds in a Tree"

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Golf Lessons

Well... it has been a busy two days! YEsterday the girls had their second golf lesson and were excited to keep practicing when we got home. Afterdinner we headed back out and the girls practiced their driving and chipping towards the cul-de-sac. They had to run to the street to get the balls before they went down the drain. I too got the itch to hit so I grabbed some of the wiffle type golf balls and started driving using my mom's old clubs. I however was not as careful as my children and ended up wacking Emma in the eye at close range with one of the wiffle balls on the best shot I had all day! IT wasn't pretty, but there wasn't any blood; just a very puffy and red eye. THis morning we woke up and although it was still a little swollen we sent her off to school for her "Boosterthon Fun Run" day. (This was a PCA fundraiser. Emma got pledges of dollar amounts per lap and today was the run) At about 8:30 I received a phone call from the school nurse and they said that Emma told her she was seeing spots. I called the ophthalmologist and finally got her an appointment for this afternoon. (She was able to run the fun run and ran 35 laps! The most you can run! WOOHOO!) The Eye technician asked Emma to read the eye chart. She started it about halfway down and Emma didn't respond so she moved it all the way up. Emma then told her that was an 'E'. She then moved it down a few and again Emma didn't respond. By now, I was starting to panic about the possibility that she really wasn't able to see. But then we moved it back up a line and singled out one letter and she was able to see it. We moved it back down and again. Silence. At this point I asked her if she could see it. "yes, I can see it!" "Well, what does it say then!" "Well, I'm trying to sound it out but I can't figure out the word!" Oh wow. I have never breathed a sigh of relief and laughed so hard at the same time. Poor girl has never had her eyes checked before! She didn't know she wasn't supposed to make words out of all those letters! Ahhh parenthood is so funny at times. Emma's eye is fine. She just needs some steroid drops for the next few days. Hope the school nurse is ready for that!!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


We received Emma's report card in the mail this week, and she has DRAMATICALLY improved! I see so much change in her at home too. I am so excited about her growth, yet I also know that it is all God. Lessons learned in parenting are all about being willing to listen and admit mistakes.
She is still a drama queen! So if you have any tips on how to handle extreme sensitivity in 5 year old girls let me know!

Payton on the other hand LOVES to learn. I know that it is because she is wanting to keep up with Emma, but the other day in the car she started reciting the pledge to the American flag, which she has memorized at school! I was floored, and immediately felt guilty because I rarely ask he what she is learning at school. So, I asked her what else she knew. She started reciting the pledge to the Bible and the Christian Flag. I was now just laughing at her abilities. Second Child Syndrome at its finest! She asks all the time to read and go over numbers and letters. She is going to be hard to hold back.

Emma has an Oratory Recital at school where she has had to learn a poem to recite to her class and a panel of judges. She does great with me and Eric but freezes in front of others. Payton has also learned the poem due to Emma reciting it so much and does fabulously in front of others. She will have no problem at her first Oratory Recital... but please keep Emma in your prayers on March 22!

Love my girls!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Switching Gears

Well, since Eric isn't here... I guess I'll just talk to the keyboard. Wow, my life is sad these days. I wonder sometimes if my mom ever felt this way when my dad worked late, and then of course I realize...NO! How could she? I mean I was at home with her right!? Thank goodness for my own kids. Otherwise, the nights would be super lonely.
Ok... so it seems I'm wallowing in self-pity tonight. I need to snap out of that!

So, we had Emma's 3rd Quarter conference the other day and it was less than stellar. It was disappointing. I guess I knew that Emma was struggling at home, but I didn't realize it had transferred to school. The sad thing is, I take the blame on myself. I have pushed her so hard that she doesn't want to do anything! Who can blame her... In case you don't know me... I'm a wee bit aggressive. All in all the whole thing has been a wake up to me as a mom. I have learned that all people aren't me. (shocker right!) Emma has a different learning style and motivation than I have and I need to learn to meet that. I can say that since I have had this little enlightenment and changed my way of addressing her there has already been a turn around even in the short few days since the conference. Example: Tonight she took the book out of my hands and told me to stop reading because she wanted to do it. That is HUGE! Woohoo!

All in all, I was crushed, but not defeated. I think that I needed it for the sake of my relationship with Emma. As parents I think we are called to be their cheerleaders. Who else is going to do it if we don't? So, I'm switching gears. We shall see if she reaps the rewards.