Sunday, December 28, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Here are Brandt and Michelle still in Ethiopia. They said how wonderful the people of that country are: friendly and so very giving. We, in the USA, take so much for granted. We are truly blessed.
Monday, December 22, 2008
It is December and time to decorate the tree in the basement and the rest of the house, too. Cousin Dale is staying for the weekend, so that means the fun and the teasing will begin. I hear mom upstairs in the kitchen mixing the Ivory soap to make the make-believe snow for the tree. Glancing at the tree filled with red and silver balls and the bright twinkly lights makes me feel warm and safe.
"Hey, Dale," I scream up the stairs, "Bring down the soap so we can put it on the tree."
"Only if I get to start first," he yells back at me. I can't believe he is doing this on Christmas. He always has to be first and the best. Why can't he let me do something first once in awhile?
As he gallops down the stairs, I see the gleam in his eyes and know I am in for a challenge. He thrusts his hand into the glop and brings out a large amount of the "snow". In one swift motion he swings in onto the tree. There it lands with a plop. What a mess!
Slowly, I move over toward the bowl in his arms. I quietly dip my fingers into the soft foamy soap. It is cool and sticky on my hand. I lean over to the tree and gently drop small blobs onto each branch. I do it again and again and again. Then I step back to look. Yes, it does look like snow.
"Man, that really does look like snow," Dale exclaims in amazement as he looks over at me with a grin. Did I really hear what I thought I heard? We both step back and turn off the overhead, bright lights. The twinkly lights reflect off the snow. Maybe Christmas will be bright with Dale here after all!
Connected to Two Writing Teacher's blog.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I can't believe it was thirty-five years ago that I was blessed with this new life. He has been a joy and I am thrilled to be part of everything he has done. I am so fortunate to have such a handsome, brave son! I love you, Todd!!!
Monday, December 15, 2008
She shared George Ella Lyon's poem and then we wrote our version of it. Here is what I wrote this morning:
I'm from growing up in the country on a very small farm with ponies and rabbits and chickens.
I'm from going to church every Sunday morning, evening and Wednesday nights.
I'm from riding my shetland pony on the road to my friend's house who also had a pony.
I'm from making my bed every morning, doing the dishes every night and cleaning the house on Saturday mornings.
I'm from spending hours in the small town library sitting in the corner reading teen romances.
I'm from listening to Yankee baseball games with my dad and talking about the players and scores when I'd miss a game.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
As a second grade teacher in a rural school, I was fortunate to be able to study under people like JoAnn Portalupi and Carl Anderson. I became a fan of process writing where children had a voice and a choice. I watched in awe as young children put words on paper that allowed them to come alive...to speak from the heart and make a difference in the world around them. They suddenly had power. This was a new concept, but I was fortunate to have administrators that saw children going deeper and thinking at a higher level because they had a share in their own education. They allowed me to continue with my teaching of writing. I became a bit of a rebel for this new cause.
Now, as a facilitator in one of the biggest urban school districts in my state, I have been sucked into the jargon of The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, otherwise known as No Child Left Behind. The concept is a good one, but it still comes back to the kids. The tests we are required to give are for formative evaluation. They are for driving our instruction and figuring out how we can better help children. I understand that and even believe in that. But still, teachers make the difference, not tests. We have to remember that.
Last week, I had a part in frustrating one of the best teachers I have seen in a real long time. She is me. She is what I was. I look at her and her kiddos and remember how I felt back in a time. Then I took a real long look at what I was becoming and I did not like it one bit. I won't do it. I will not give up on what I believe to be best for kids. It might mean my job. It might mean I get called in for not following district procedures. I no longer care. I will fight for what I believe.
I have to rememeber over and over again: Teachers make the difference NOT tests. What power---what opportunity--lies in those hands. (This came from Penny!) I can't wait to hear her this week. I hope to become even stronger in my belief!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
What a week it has been! First we want to thank all of you for your prayers and words of support, we really appreciate it. We appreciate your e-mails too, you have all been so supportive and encouraging. We found out today that we are going to be able to go get Meron next week!! It has been a roller coaster few days. Last Thursday, our agency called and told us that they were trying to expedite our papers for the visa appt. so we could travel early and be home for Christmas. That was an incredible surprise! We were told we would know for sure on Monday, but then on Monday we were told we would know on Tuesday. Then on Tuesday we were told that we wouldn't have a definite answer until Thursday or Friday, because they were waiting on the final papers for Meron's passport to go through. They told us it was still a possibility to go next week, but to plan on going over Christmas. So today we didn't expect to hear anything and were preparing ourselves just to go in two weeks when we got the word that everything was all set and we get to go next week. (Hopefully we will keep our sanity through all of this!) Needless to say we are ecstatic ( if not a little panicked) and the kids are thrilled that we will be home for Christmas. We have been so greatly blessed. We fly out of Indianapolis Monday morning and arrive in Addis Ababa Tuesday morning. It will be a very long flight filled with anticipation! I guess it will give us some time to learn some Amharic phrases though. Hopefully we will meet Meron next Tuesday!! Our visa interview is on Thursday at the U.S. Embassy. Then her travel visa could be ready on Friday, but we have to stay through Monday because sometimes they aren't ready until Monday. We will start heading home on Tuesday and should arrive in Indianapolis on Christmas Eve. We hope to have the opportunity to send out an e-mail or two while we are in Ethiopia. We ask once again for your prayers for Meron, as this transition could be quite traumatic for her. She will be taken away from every security that she knows. We pray that she will quickly bond with us and feel safe and loved. Please also keep us in your prayers for safe travels (I'm not a huge fan of flying). And please keep Ty, Lane and Shelby in your prayers. Even though they are very excited, these next couple of weeks will be quite a roller coaster for them too.
Thanks again for all of your prayers.
Brandt and Michelle
Sunday, December 7, 2008
We are so blessed to have had so many years together. Happy, happy birthday!!!!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
- Leaving home at 6:20 a.m. was tough for me. It was COLD and DARK! Still Sandie and I headed for Kendallville where we connected with the next leg of our journey. We went to Nappanee for the Carl Anderson workshop. It was great to see our NYC friend and hear parts of his new series of books on conferencing. A great day with friends!
- At exactly 4:45 p.m., a group of us met at the Eckhart Public Library for a photo shoot. Several of us had been in NYC staying in a suite in Manhattan when our friend, Barb Morrow was visiting her editor. She had several suggestions from the editor and we all met in a deli in the heart of Times Square and had a peer conference.Yes, all eight of us. Barb dedicated her book to us and wanted us in the publicity shot for the newspaper. We will be in the Sunday edition of the Evening Star. Check it out! AND, look for Mr. Mosquito Put on His Tuxedo coming out in January.
- At the end of the day, Julia, Mindy, Sandie, Crystal, Natalie, Barb AND Carl all went to the Italian Grille for supper. We had a wonderful time catching up with each other. It had been years since some of us were together. Just spending time together made us want to take another trip to NYC soon. We made Barb promise to take us with her when she edits her next book!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Hi everyone,We are overjoyed to announce that we passed court today and Meron Grace Douglas is officially our daughter! Thank you so much for your prayers and support, we are truly grateful to have such wonderful family and friends. The tentative date for our visa interview is on Christmas Eve. They will let us know more in about a week. Hopefully Meron will be in the arms of her parents for her first Christmas. We have attached a picture of Meron for those of you who have not seen her yet. It's the picture we received with her referral. She was already named Meron when we got her referral. In Ethiopian it means Gift of God. We thought that was perfect. We couldn't wait to share the news! We will keep you updated as soon as we know more. Thanks again for your prayers,Brandt and Michelle
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Check out other Slices of Life at the web site of my friend, Ruth and Stacy: Two Writing Teachers.