Category: Random ‘Munchings”

I just finished reading an article in my local paper, The Magnolia Potpourri on Oct. 15, 2008 and had to write about it. I don’t usually write two entries on one day but I just couldn’t pass up on this one.

The title of the article is “Blogger takes virtual bike ride through Tomball” by Dustin Bass (dbass@hcnonline.com) The article is about Clifford Walk who is using Google Maps new walking directions feature to chart his course from baseball stadium to another baseball stadium. He climbs on his exercise bike and pedals away until he reaches the appropriate mileage, then makes a blog entry about the special baseball events that occurred at that stadium. He’s combined his love of baseball with exercise and brought it into the virtual world! (Unfortunately, the link given in the article didn’t work and I couldn’t locate the article link online so you will have to email Dustin Bass above for more details.)

I can see grandmothers bicycling to their grandchildren’s homes, boyfriends making their way to their girlfriend’s house or even just virtually pedaling my way to the local coffee shop! First, I will need a bike, tho! Perhaps this will start a few more rider/bloggers out there!

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

Here we are one hour NW of Houston and we encounter another hurricane experience! The storm began its assault around 1 am on Friday and by 3:30 am, we had lost power. I swear I didn’t get any sleep all night as the wind and rain beat on the house. We had eight guests upstairs (four adults, four teens). I’m sure they heard a different cacophony of the same thing. A couple of times I thought there was a tornado nearby as I could hear a low rumble for a certain period of time. As Ike passed over our house it was a weak Cat 2 storm. Don’t let the word “weak” fool you! I can tell you exactly when the barometric pressure was the lowest as my fingers, lower arms and toes all felt like someone was squeezing the bones. I was almost in tears both times the pressure dropped.

We had various small branches down in our front yard and lots of little loose stuff all over. One of our small pine trees now leans way to the south. That was the extent of our damage but others in the neighborhood weren’t so lucky. There were trees down in fields, over fences and a couple just barely missing the nearby house and our neighbor’s tin barn is in a pile.

We had two other families out here for two nights from Sugarland. It was a bit crazy during the day of the storm with four dogs and four teenagers. The dogs were the worse. We had opened the doors for ventilation which meant ‘free-for-all for the dogs who tracked in lots of leaves. The teenagers thought it was cool to run out shoeless in the rain and wind then needed towels to dry off. Luckily, the ants didn’t start to come to the surface until well after the storm so no injuries. The kids will probably have fond memories of the time which makes me smile about it all.

One of friends stayed for a breakfast of pancakes and bacon cooked on our propane stove in the house. It took far longer than expected and every bit of it was gobbled up by ten o’clock. We cleaned up and one family left as they found through a neighbor that they had power to their home. Our other friends stayed overnight. Their power did not return until three days later.

Dave and I were without power for seven days and 14 hours. I started and finished “The Life of Andrew Jackson” (400 pages) and “The Puritan Dilemma, Story of John Winthrop” (284 pages). We decided that it was much like camping on a sailboat only with a couple more amenities. Except for oven and microwave and running water, our kitchen was quite functional. Dave and the teens had filled our three bathtubs with water and I had purchased 48 bottles of water to prepare. By the time our power came back on, we used up 3/4 of the one tub downstairs and about 30 bottles of water.

For power, we hooked up a generator that we bought from our friends who moved to Nigeria recently. What a lifesaver! We kept all the contents in both refrigerators cold as well as hooking up a TV and a box fan. As time went on, we hooked up cable and the internet before we actually got power back. We didn’t have the gas issue like most of you saw on TV. By the time we needed more gas for the generator, most neighborhood stations were up and running.

It was a long seven days! There is just so much that you want to do with the temperature hovering between 80 and 90 degrees outside and inside. After about two days we had a nice routine going, fire up the generator to run for two hours, turn on the drink cooler, watch a little local news on a snowy channel, retrieve a few things from the frig or freezer to eat, cook, wash dishes after warming up water, rinse and repeat.

You can still see the indentations from the extension cords in the carpet but otherwise, things are back to normal. The going joke from Dave was that “the power would be on a nine.” He was wrong, though, it came on a six. Dave was out of work for the entire week which was about as close as I want to be to him retiring any time soon. I was about ready to apply for any job just to have something to look forward to.

Since we’ve lived in the south, we have lived through four hurricanes. Alicia (25 years ago), Katrina, Rita and Ike. Maybe there was more, I just don’t remember them. Alicia was our first experience. We had just moved to Houston and I was eight months pregnant. Can you believe that prior to that hurricane, I had considered naming my baby Alicia? Adam was born late September, he’s turning 25 this year.

I just peeked at my roses, they have a few beautiful blooms on their branches. We mowed the yard this morning leaving a few chopped up dead leaves. I power washed the porches and carport to clear the green leaves and short twigs. (Really, the leaves looked like they had been swirled in a food processor for two short bursts, then stuck to the sides of our white pickup, windows and doors the morning after the storm.)

Looks like we’re back to normal here. Thanks to the utility workers and garbage pickup!

Random 'Munchings"

Dave and I just got back from our two week vacation visiting relatives, friends and acquaintances. This trip started out relaxing, and then just stayed that way. One of the neatest things we did was floating down the North Platte River near Laramie, Wyoming. My uncle is the best! He is a Fish Biologist for the Wyo Game and Fish. Dave teased him that he had one of the neatest offices in the world, especially when you consider that it includes all the lakes and rivers in the region. On our float, we saw numerous deer, ducks and geese. We floated under a mature bald eagle and a juvenile bald eagle who just stared at us. The most interesting thing we saw was something that looked like a cross between a muskrat and beaver. My uncle is showing the pictures that I took to a wildlife biologist for identification.

We thoroughly enjoyed visiting with my grandfather, who will turn 95 in a few days. Dave got him to chuckle with the comment, “I’d like to see the guy who buys a truck with 120,000 miles hauling dead animals.” (Inside joke, I guess you would have to be there.)

We also learned that his mother got to take control of a plane with some Air Force guys she knew when she was a young woman back in the 30’s. Everyone thought is was my grandma, until I asked “What was Mom’s name?” Apparently, her Air Force friends also flew from Alaska to come to her funeral and that made a big impression on my grandfather.

Dave had a fantastic time at his 30th class reunion. About 40 classmates showed up for some part of the festivities. Dave got a sunburn during the golf tournament, visited with his closest buddies and ate a really good steak cooked on a huge open fire at a chuck wagon dinner. We adopted my sister-in-law’s son, Keagan, for the weekend. What a great kid! Gifted, for sure!

The last few days of the trip involved some heavy-duty relaxing. Dave’s aunt and uncle have a place on Seminole Lake. First of all, forget everything you know about lakes. This one has NO TREES! Only bushes. This was quite a shock for me having camped as a kid in the Rockies in Colorado.

Dave’s mom and step dad also joined us at the lake. I had never been fishing on a boat. Growing up, we only fished from the shore. Dave’s mom caught the biggest Walleye! My fish-intuition told me that I’d be lucky if I fished. I was. I caught seven fish, outnumbering Dave by two. Dave’s uncle deftly skinned the fish and his aunt cooked them. Walleye is a pretty good eats!

If you haven’t gotten enough about the trip, stop by my Flickr account for pictures. I’d love to hear about your summer adventures!

Returning to Earth: I also just finished a three day workshop at Texas A & M. Every time I am out on that campus, I am impressed with the programs and people. I started to explore the idea of working on a doctorate within their gifted program if things don’t work out for a teaching position.

That’s when I figured out that my summer is flying past…..fast…..

Fun Stuff Random 'Munchings"

I helped E find his ring! It may seem like a little thing to you but to E it wasn’t. The ring his grandmother gave him had flown off his finger onto the SW Colorado forest floor late in a “capture the flag” style game during our week long archeology field trip. Two classmates and I looked for about 20 minutes at dusk with no luck. I promised E that we would try again the next morning. It would be our last chance before returning to school. During this trip, it seemed that each student had their own ‘need’. For D, it was a slow reveal of his true self to others who think like him. For M, it was to be accepted by the crowd. For A, to show she was all grown up. For E, it was just to find that ring.

Most all the bags were packed and sitting by the bus parked in front of the lodge early the next morning when E reminded me about the promise I made the night before. He and I made our way up the path into the underbrush and looked for the marker we had chosen the night before and we began our search. Amazingly, I found the ring within about a minute of arriving. How we missed it, I will never know. E was relieved and happy. I could also feel his trust in me as his teacher had risen 100% that morning. He could tell that I truly cared about him.

This year, out of all the lessons coming out of the classroom, building trust with the class was the one for me. (Each year seems to have its lesson for the teacher.) Trust is wrapped up in the little things we do from day to day in our classroom. It’s fetching that special type of card stock paper for a project, remembering to bring in an ingredient for a recipe, smiling, chatting, following through with promises, and a zillion other things.

During a conversation the first week in May, a co-worker mentioned that sometimes it takes him nearly half the school year to build trust with his new class of students. It became clear that this was the issue in my class. This group of children was taking longer than most to develop that certainty that I was going to lead them, teach them and expose them to learning situations without embarrassing them, without stretching them too far beyond their needs or belittling them when something goes wrong. A big chore for any professional!

After some fits and starts, I can say it took well into February when the students began to trust me. Situations, attitudes, perceptions, stresses along with school culture and teacher experience all played a role in our slow development. The last part of the school year was the most productive for my students in many ways other than just in their class projects and assignments. We had quality discussions, inside jokes, playful fun. All these things the students will remember more than any lesson on grammar or ancient history that I taught.

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been spending most of my extra time in a car carpooling back and forth with my husband to work. It’s the time of the year in the field of education that one thinks about their plans for the fall. Should I continue teaching or not? For some, the decisions is pretty easy, for me it’s always a big decision. I elected to make education my field of choice and have all the credentials to be considered ‘highly qualified’. But with finding out I have been dealing with several mild but annoying health issues for the past 20+ years hasn’t helped make the decision any easier.

The other day I conferred with the new Principal at my school about the conundrum. I remember mentioning that I needed to ‘manage the stress’. My husband pulled up just as our meeting was over and we started our hour long journey back home.

I’m up at 2 am in the morning with a neck and back ache writing this entry waiting for the medicine to kick in. The reason: the five car collision that Dave and I was in right after the meeting with the Principal. It was on the feeder road just before entering the Interstate. We were completely stopped, the car directly behind us was completely stopped. I don’t know the status of the third car, but the fourth car hit the third, third to second, second to us. By the time the momentum got to us, we just got a good bump with no damage. The car behind us got a back dent in the fender area. The other three cars were totaled and had to be towed.

I just sat in the front seat of our car after the accident and marveled at the thought that anyone could manage stress.

Random 'Munchings"

I just checked the stats on my website through Google Analytics which I do periodically. One of the keyword search phrases that someone used to find information regarding gifted was, “how to make my child gifted”. Wow! That is one for the books! Just to clear the air on this one – you don’t make your child gifted after they’re born! You can expose them to lots of learning very early which many people do, but research wavers on whether this makes one smarter than their age peers or just stresses out the child.

There’s not much you can do except contribute your X’s and Y’s early on and do your best to nurture your child as they grow and develop. Without going into much detail (and knowingly without exact references), I’ve read/heard somewhere that researchers believe that the gifted brain is just wired differently. It functions more efficiently and it absorbs information at a faster rate. And it will develop if given the opportunity to.

Have you ever spent any time reading about the lives of gifted individuals who lived in the past? You will find that some came from highly affluent homes, some came from very poor settings. Some endured hardships such as child abuse, others were mentored and cared for every step of the way. The book Cradles of Eminence gives excellent examples of individuals from all walks of life. http://www.gt-cybersource.org/Record.aspx?NavID=2_0&rid=12825

I’m far from the expert on this topic but I’m pretty sure you can’t ‘make your child gifted’. Before you wish you could make them gifted, be sure to do your research on the down-sides of being gifted such as perfectionism, out of balance development(asynchronous), being under-challenged, boredom, feeling alone, just to name a few.

…..and that’s all I gotta say ’bout that…..

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Gifted Education Random 'Munchings"

My husband and I are just about to close a chapter to a portion of our life. We’re moving out of our downtown Houston apartment and putting everything in our house in Magnolia. This might sound insignificant to you but to us it means the last of our ties to Hurricane Katrina.

We had ‘set up shop’ in the apartment just two weeks after Katrina hit so my husband could work in Houston while I stayed in Mandeville for eight months to finish my teaching contract and my Masters Degree. We traveled back and forth between Mandeville and New Orleans repairing our house and looking for a new one. Stressful times, now that I look back on it.

There are still many out there who were directly affected by Hurricane Katrina waiting to close their chapter. There is still much to do to undo what one large storm did to one large area in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Random 'Munchings"

It’s holiday time and I’ve caught another cold (fourth since Thanksgiving). This really puts a damper on all my plans to be so productive during my holiday break from teaching. Reading and sleeping have been about the only productive thing that I’ve done the past two days. I’m halfway through a huge novel called “The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett. Being plopped right smack dab into the early middle ages following the building of a stone cathedral is much better than dealing with a cold!

Just today, I felt good enough to sit down to the computer. I’ve been just cruising around, visiting some favorite blogs, trying out some new blogs. I even visited my own (leaving your own blog alone so long in cyberspace is not good) and I noticed a comment left by Michelle at http://www.michellehix.blogspot.com/. She has a really cool site with a few neat widgets on it. The best one is Shelfari and, of course, with me being a teacher of English, I could not pass on it!

I have to get my son to figure out why the widget won’t load up in my sidebar. It’s probably something very simple but it’s New Year’s Eve and I don’t want to bug him. He’s out with friends getting ready to celebrate the new year. My daughter is out in Jackson Square in New Orleans, my husband went to our friends in SW Houston, my sister is in Times Square and I’m sitting in front my laptop with my box of kleenex. I’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

Another interesting toy that I’ve had time to play with is Google Reader. Now, I can keep up with the news and actually have something interesting to add to casual conversations without becoming a news-junkie like a few people I know.

Somehow, I feel like the little kid who got all these toys for Christmas but ended up playing in the cardboard box that the new washer came in. These two ‘toys’ were free (actually not quite free. I ((my husband)) paid for the internet connection, the electricity, the kitchen table, the lemonade in the Pizza Hut Fred Flintstone glass we bought when we were going out together 25 years ago….I think you get the picture.)

Anyway, here’s wishing everyone a Happy New Year and lots of new ‘toys’
Angie

Random 'Munchings" Uncategorized Writing Entries

It’s been a busy 3 weeks. I’ve set up a classroom, read through pages and pages of curriculum and designed a program for students who range between 8-13 years in age. Their abilities range wildly, too. All the differentiation research that I’ve done over the past year will come in handy.

It will be some time before my next weblog entry. I need to rethink the purpose of it. Meanwhile, continue to check out the Gifted Education news and the educational sites that I will continue to add.

Most importantly, keep me posted on activities/programs designed for the gifted child in the Houston and surrounding area. These students are very deserving!

Gifted Education Random 'Munchings"

I’ve been to several blogs lately that have an entry regarding the latest release of the Harry Potter books. The blog entries all read just about the same: “you won’t be hearing from me for a while, I’m reading Harry Potter” or “don’t spoil it for me”. I hate to admit that I joined the ranks. But I am happy to report that not only did I read and finish the book this past week, I did several other things at the same time.

Amber’s home from France now and we’ve been preparing her for her final year at Tulane. We went through the house looking for things she can use in her first apartment and we decided to refinish some old furniture that we had been saving in hopes that one of our kids would need it. She’s the lucky winner! We’ve sanded and painted several pieces and now I have the job of making new cushion covers while she is gone once again (France for 3 weeks). We also went to New Orleans to see her new place and visit with old friends in Mandeville. I did not read in the car, but I did read every minute of free time that I had.

I’ll forever connect Harry Potter and the St. Louis Hotel on the corner of Bienville and Royal now. I finished the book on Sunday morning. Just like everyone else, I feel just a little sad that the story is finished. I find myself thinking about the story and the characters as I go about my everyday activities. And I do have a few questions which may be enough of a motivation to start reading the series again from the first book. If I do, I’ll let you know because you won’t be hearing from me for several days!

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

While Dave and I were in France visiting Amber in April, I purchased three black and white prints of children in the streets of Paris. One is of a small boy happily carrying a fresh baked baguette, one is of a line of children crossing a busy Paris street holding onto the coat tails, dresses or shirts of the child in front of them, and the last is a girl peering over a wire fence at a fork in a canal system. All the pictures were taken in 1956, 1952 and 1972. One of the artists caught the eye of Roxane’s mother, Josslyn.

In broken English or through translation provided by Amber, Josslyn told me that the one photographer, Doisneau was a popular favorite of hers. Turns out, he was also quite prolific. Amber arrived back in the States just before our sailing trip bearing gifts for all of us from the Lalandes (Roxane’s parents). My gift was a very thick, small book filled with black and white photographs taken by Doisneau. During my down times, I picked up the book and thumbed through it. Every time I do, I see something different. There are so many layers to Robert Doisneau’s work. For a taste of it, try this website or come visit me in Magnolia to look through my book! http://www.staleywise.com/collection/doisneau/doisneau.html

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

Yesterday was an interesting day, now that I look back on it. It was pretty much a normal day until I made the daily trip to the post office box where I found an invitation to a wedding. You know how sometimes companies create a junk mailing that tries to imitate a fancy event. That’s what I thought this was because I didn’t know of anyone getting married.

I had no idea what is was for…it took reading all the way down to the young man’s name when I realized it was an actual wedding announcement for a young man whom we’ve known since living in Mandeville. We were neighbors from about the time he was 5-6 until he was a senior in college. The interesting thing about him is that he is highly gifted. As a boy, he was intense. My son played with him from time to time and always came away stressed but happy. What is so rewarding about receiving this invitation is the young man that he’s turned into. He had a little sister born when he was in high school. The affect on his emotional and social growth was phenomenal. He’s going to make an excellent husband and father.

When you are a parent of a gifted child, all you can think about is getting through each day doing the best that you can to meet their academic, social and emotional needs. I never thought about having young adults, meeting that special someone getting married, securing a job. Gifted children do grow into gifted adults.

Later, when I got online for my email we received another wedding announcement. I know I have never received two announcements in one day. We had just seen this couple, sailing for ten days with them and 13 of our other friends. Our history with Sabrina started when we agreed to host a German student for an entire school year. She was 16 at the time. Sweet, curious, independent, flexible and very willing to share her culture with us and to partake in our culture. She eventually became the big sister for both my own two children and nearly an adopted daughter for us. We are super excited for her and Michael!

To round out the day, we had supper and drinks with several more friends. One young man, around 22 years of age, came with a friend. After our introduction, I learned that he had been in the Marines and had been married and divorced once already. During the discussion, I remembered that in a few days, Dave and I will be celebrating 25 years of being married to each other. I even mentioned how my grandparents had been together for over 70 years now during our conversations. All the day’s events caused me to reflect on the broader aspect of how and why some humans of the past select one individual to live with for a great length of time and how that way of thinking may be changing with the present culture in our world. Information, technology, scientific discoveries, increased population will affect our relationships with one another. It will be a challenge for our children to live with the same expectations that we had in our generation. But hopefully, the notion of caring deeply for another will remain foundational. I wish the best to every young couple out there thinking of making a lifetime commitment. It will take work, patience, cooperation and knowing that the ‘grass is greener’ right where you are!

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

I had an interesting thing happen on my way to Baton Rouge to help my son pick out a new apartment for the fall semester at LSU. I left Houston around 11 am and had to make two stops during the four+ hour drive. The first stop went off without a hitch. I’m still left wondering when will gas stations create a pump handle that does not require one to use two hands to keep that costly gas pouring into a gas tank. It had been lightly raining for most of the trip but the last 20 minutes was a solid downpour and I needed another stretch break.

The second stop at a Shell convenience store found me following a skink (or lizard, for all ya’ll not from the south) down the potato chip aisle in the convenience store. Mind you, he was dressed for the occasion, dressed to match the motled brown and gray tile beautifully. I happened to look up at the cashier and said, “Did you know you have a skink running down your potato chip aisle?” She thought I said ‘a snake’ and ran completely around the checkout counter, all the while saying, “if there is a snake in this store, I’m leaving.” Now, I’m a very soft spoken person so I could understand her confusion, so I was nice enough to say in my most effective teacher-voice, “no a lizard.” She calmed right down and laughed at the confusion. I poured my self a cup of hot coffee, looking for the well-dressed patron but he had scurried away somewhere. As I approached to pay for my beverage, I noticed a local policeman chatting with the cashier. It’s a good thing I didn’t take advantage of my accidental diversion….

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

I want to announce to the whole world that I’m proud of my grandparents! They are celebrating their 70th year together as husband and wife on May 10th. My grandpa was 22 when he married my grandma of 18 in dusty Kansas in 1937. They have been directly responsible for the lives of three children, eight grandchildren and oodles of great grand children. My grandpa has a great sense of humor and my grandma can discuss baseball and politics with the best of them. If you think times are rough for relationships now, try living through the Dust Bowl or working in the lead mines in Colorado while supporting a young family (with orange crates for furniture). They’ve come a long way and planned well for their later years. Picture Caption: That’s me in my daddy’s arms.

My grandparents

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

Last night, during a pretty busy storm, I got to thinking about what the ideal gifted school would look like.  I’m sure there are schools out there that do some or all of this or have found that one or two of the ideas just simply don’t work in real life.  In any case, these are just my ‘mind munchings’ on the matter (in no particular order).

  •  Students would work 1/2 of the time on academic issue related to standardized testing, the other 1/2 of the time on topics, projects, research that interested them.
  • Teachers would work in the area of their speciality or passion and not be asked to teach anything else, i.e. a teacher highly interested and skilled with working with ADHD gifted children would do just that.  A teacher with a passion for teaching Language Arts would do just that for any and all grade levels.
  • Teachers are specially trained or knowledgeable about issues such as autism, Augbergers, profoundly gifted, ADHD, etc.  Mechanisms are in place in the program that show that these special needs are being met or dealt with in the classroom curriculum and activity.
  • Programs are divided by the type of gifted child.  Example: the introverted, highly focused child versus the kinesthetically driven, constantly moving child, the overachiever or perfectionist, the dual exceptional child.  Their teacher would be highly skilled on how to motivate that particular type of gifted student.
  • Active informational programs for the parents in active programs dealing with the issues their particular child has or is experiencing at the time.
  • A smooth integration of new gifted students to the program.  Pair up the child with a buddy, provide a place for the student to ‘digest’ his or her new surroundings.  Scaffold the social experience until the child is comfortable in the new school situation.
  • Provide an active place of learning and also provide a place for reflection and thinking.  Encourage each student to do both during the day.  Students need time to reflect on their learning.  Also provide plenty of time for independent play or social play to explore new found knowledge or extend social skills.
  • Portfolios for each student.  A culminating portfolio of all the students best work over the course of the time they are attending the school.  Student projects, assignments, tests, writings plus scores on various standardized testing and a discussion on the student’s strengths and weaknesses from the teacher, parent and child point of view.  Some of the folder can be confidential, some can be for student view.  The portfolios would be documentation of the student progress and thinking.
  • Field trips are sorted by topic, not by grade level.  They are mapped out for the entire school year.  Students are required to attend one field trip in related to each discipline: Math, Science, Fine Arts, Language Arts, History, Social Studies, then they are encouraged to attend as many field trips in their field of interest as financially possible.  This approach would round the individual, yet encourage their passions.  Make sure that each trip is fully described so the parent and student can choose the ones that best suit their interest and needs at the time.  Interest drives their choice.
  • Give the student more control over their own learning.  Use brain based motivational ideas rather than extrinsic motivation to empower the student to move ahead in their learning.  Allow for more choice within a set of guidelines.
  • Have a way that students can show and share their products resulting from their own interests outside of the classroom.  Encourage other students to view and discuss these products.  Value the student work and creativity, share it with others.
  • Provide interactive websites that are playful yet educational.  Students need choices and guidance in choosing sites that have educational and play value.
  • Provide a safe playground. Have students track incidents of accidents and what they can do to reduce those accidents.  Extend this type of real-life learning to other areas of concern within the school environment.  Teacher should bring into the classroom as much real-life learning as possible.

Gifted Education Random 'Munchings"

I’m preparing to go on a vacation to see my daughter who has been studying in France for her junior year in college. Wow, what an experience for her! She’s written about the food, people, culture mishaps and the interesting sites. It is almost positive that she feels a real connection to Paris because she really doesn’t want to come back to Texas. And really, in the long run she may end up living and working there in her future. But first, she has to finish her degree at Tulane. I picture her like a baby bird peering over the safe edge of the nest, eager to jump out and try her wings. She just needs a little more time and knowledge and she’s on her own.

My son, however, is at a decision point in his life right now. He’s out looking for employment in far away places like California and New York and Austin. His progress has been more like the contented puppy lingering next to familiar places and people. It’s his time! We’re excited for him and for all the possibilities out there that are open for him.
Raising dependent young children to independent young adults. How did we get from one point to another? I wish we could bottle up whatever we did and sell it to anyone who has concerns about getting their children from point A to point B. I wish we could bottle up this, refine it and require it for all those struggling parents and struggling children. But then again, maybe the struggle is the most important part.

While Adam and Amber struggle with life changing decisions in their future, I get to watch. I’ve made some life changing decisions in my past and they worked out ok. I’m sure their decisions will too.

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries


IMG_1252

Originally uploaded by afrench2.

The biggest landscaping project Dave or I have ever done is finally finished. You can see the walkway and three of the planters from this view. There is one more planter just out of the picture. The stones were laid mostly by me, the sand between the stones was done by me. All the heavy stuff and lots of loads of sand and dirt were brought over by Dave.

The plants are all Native Texas plants because I figure they need the best start I can give them. I don’t necessarily have a green thumb. I just hope that all these plants like their new home. I chose white and pink blooming flowers with one deep red bottle brush just in front of the trees.

Big project! It feels good to have designed it and completed it with my husband. We make a great team! I hope your sping projects have gone as well. If not, I give you what’s left of my energy and enthusiasm. You can do it!

Random 'Munchings"

I was spurred by an entry at David Schenck’s weblog (http://geniusblog.davidshenk.com/) entitled “The Myelin in All of Us” so I wanted to share my comment to it here.

His entry brings to mind a ‘random munching’ I dwelt on for a few months. “What if I wanted to play the piano like Horowitz, lead an army like Patton, or cook like Julia Child? Would I have been able to, if I were trained to do so from a very early age? Is it too late now for me to become an expert in a field like astrophysics (I’m 46). With intensive training and practice, how far would I progress to be a tennis star? Can an expert tell ‘right off the bat’ that I wouldn’t do well in ballet (even if my general build indicates that I would be?)

In the eons to come after all this research, I envision that every field of endeavor’s criteria so well documented that no time is wasted on training that doesn’t fit the individual’s natural tendencies. Another direction might be capturing all knowledge and information in a tiny chip and installing it in an individual’s mind. Schools might only be used for teaching morals and good social behavior. Then I could be that expert in whatever field I choose for today, and then, tomorrow I could choose something else. But would I still be limited physically and mentally?”

It’s food for thought.  Where will all this research take us?

Gifted Education Random 'Munchings"


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Originally uploaded by afrench2.

It is so nice outside right now. If you haven’t been outside to enjoy the nice weather, shame on you. It won’t wait for you. If you live in the south, you only have a few days to be outside. It’s now or never!

We’ve picked an outside project to try to complete before the weather turns hot. This our front circle. Those stones…we moved them all. I moved the little ones, Dave moved the bigger ones. That dirt and sand, we moved it too. We still have several loads of dirt to bring over, several loads of flagstone and some planting to do. It’s expected to rain Wednesday and Thursday this week, just like it rained last week Friday and Saturday. Those prints you see in the walkway is the neighbor’s dog. He’s huge and he’s only a puppy. We’re hoping that the fencing (we are adding a 24 inch high wire fencing to the railings) will keep him out and our dogs in. That is the other spring project.

So, get outside! If you need something to do, head over to Texas. We got plenty!

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

Looks like nearly all zillion school districts in Houston go on spring break the same time.  Dave says the office is really quiet this week, workmate’s and their families are off skiing somewhere, probably.  I was thinking about how important a break is to teachers.  Some people think that a teacher’s yearly schedule is ideal; working shorter days, getting three months off.  That’s not really true.  Teachers need that break from the intensive day to day demands and schedule in their classroom.

To show for my spring break, my husband and I have nearly completed the landscaping in our front circle.  It has large square rust and gray colored stones outlining a curvy walkway that leads in and out of the circle.  It will soon be filled with flagstone that is reddish in color peppered with white leftover limestone from the house.  We’ve made a large garden bed and filled it with native Texas plants and so far, they are still alive.  And I’m hoping that the small white concrete bench will lend the area an informal invite to walk the path and come sit for a while.  The whole project has been quite enjoyable.  Lugging large stones and next to a zillion loads of dirt and sand into the space, planning the design and spending the money hasn’t been a drain on my mental and physical system, it’s been a boost.

The other thing we have to show for this spring break is a fence.  Now, we aren’t doing the work ourselves but we sure are paying for some quality work out there.  The 3 rail white vinyl fence (just like you see in the country magazines)  is being installed by a master.  You can tell.  He wastes no movements, works methodically, checks his work frequently and talks little.  In an essay I wrote for an undergraduate course, I called this type of person a ‘maestro’.  Someone who is a master of his/her chosen field.  My goal is to someday be a maestro in the field of education ….. but it is hard to give up days working at my own pace, creating something visibly pleasing.

Taking breaks are part of the process of becoming a maestro.  It gives one time to regroup, rethink and reflect on their live’s goals.  Spring break is a necessary thing if we, as a society, want to increase the quality of teachers working with its students.  Problem is, most teachers are working even harder during their break catching up on unfinished projects, housework, appointments or working with their own children.   What teachers truly need is a break from all their responsibilities.  A trip somewhere, time to sleep in, time to read a book for leisure (instead of planning lessons for the next week or month), time to work towards something they enjoy.  We all need it, whatever field we are in!

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries