May 21, 2007

My First Flower Bed!

So, I am typing this post just so I can put up the new pics of the front of our house. Yesterday Ben and I put in a new flower bed and some brick stones for a walkway from the driveway to the deck steps. I think it looks pretty darn good if I do say so myself! Hope you enjoy the pictures!

May 18, 2007

Beauty of Math!

Please read and enjoy these fascinating calculations!
1 x 8 + 1 = 9
12 x 8 + 2 = 98
123 x 8 + 3 = 987
1234 x 8 + 4 = 9876
12345 x 8 + 5 = 98765
123456 x 8 + 6 = 987654
1234567 x 8 + 7 = 9876543
12345678 x 8 + 8 = 98765432
123456789 x 8 + 9 = 987654321
1 x 9 + 2 = 11
12 x 9 + 3 = 111
123 x 9 + 4 = 1111
1234 x 9 + 5 = 11111
12345 x 9 + 6 = 111111
123456 x 9 + 7 = 1111111
1234567 x 9 + 8 = 11111111
12345678 x 9 + 9 = 111111111
123456789 x 9 +10 = 1111111111
9 x 9 + 7 = 88
98 x 9 + 6 = 888
987 x 9 + 5 = 8888
9876 x 9 + 4 = 88888
98765 x 9 + 3 = 888888
987654 x 9 + 2 = 8888888
9876543 x 9 + 1 = 88888888
98765432 x 9 + 0 = 888888888
And finally, take a look at this symmetry:
1 x 1 = 1
11 x 11 = 121
111 x 111 = 12321
1111 x 1111 = 1234321
11111 x 11111 = 123454321
111111 x 111111 = 12345654321
1111111 x 1111111 = 1234567654321
11111111 x 11111111=123456787654321
111111111 x 111111111=12345678987654321
By the way, I did not come up with these. They are from M. G. Movassaghi, who is a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington.

May 14, 2007

What Was That?

I think it is hilarious when my students ask me if they can go to the "Lie Berry" for a book. I always say to them, "It isn't a 'lie berry'. It's not a fruit!" After having said this so many times, I was laughing with my lady friends that I eat with on Wednesday nights. They are also teachers and have said that they feel the same way about the word "lie berry". We got to joking and I said that next time I go to Sonic I am going to ask for a "lie berry" ocean water. I wonder if the people working will get it, or if they will even ask what a "lie berry" is...but, it is funny to me!

On another note.....Ben has been umpiring games out at the ballpark and making some pretty good money. It is fun to watch him because he is very animated and very loud when he makes his calls. It is good, though because I am so tired of having umpires on the field who never make a sound when someone gets thrown out. I always wonder if the player is safe or out....with Ben making the calls, there is no wondering!

Ben has been diligently trying to finish up our house so we can sell it. It is time for us to move on to something bigger and better.....well, BIGGER at least! I hope it is better! I love our house and we have been here 9 years now, but we are too big for this little starter home. This past weekend Ben put a covered deck on the front of the house, and I think it looks pretty darn good. I am hoping we will have our house on the market by the end of this month, and I also hope it sells quickly.

May 13, 2007


After months of having two loose teeth, Jacob finally lost them last night. It was not an easy feat, though. I had to hold him down while Windy pulled the first one, and then he worked on pulling the second one for a full 45 minutes before I said that was enough and just jerked it out. He looks totally different now and feels better too. The teeth were hurting him because the adult teeth behind them were already pushing through. He did say that he doesn't want to go back to school until the other teeth grow in, but I told him he can't miss that much school!!

May 10, 2007

Jacob Monster

So, my week has not been good....anybody figured that out yet??? What I didn't tell you when I chronicled last Friday-Tuesday was what was going on with Jacob Aaron. Last week I was in Vegas, and on Wednesday Ben had a flat tire on the way to pick the boys up from school. He was pretty late picking them up, but had called the school to let them know what was going on. Apparently during the time the boys were waiting Jacob decided to play on the computer that the school uses to "check-in" parents or tardy students. After he had been asked to stop, he continued and this resulted in a write-up and a trip to the principal's office~~which Ben and I only found out about because we received a copy of the write-up in the mail. Apparently the principal conferenced with Jacob and told him not to play with the computer anymore and to follow other teachers' directions. I was a bit upset that my 1st grader has already had his first trip to the principal's office, but was sure it wouldn't be the last. True to my expectations, he not only got written up again this week, but also got ISS (in school suspension). Wow! Add that to my already horrible and stressful week, and you have Caci--a basket case who can't stop crying and has a migraine that is making her nauseus! I am not a really fun person to be around this week. Jacob was playing on the playground and his story is that another boy was infiltrating their "club" and hurting other students, so Jacob felt the need to annihilate the boy. He put his hands on his shoulders (close to his neck, mind you) and began pushing him. The other boy bit Jacob on the finger. When sent to the principal's office, Jacob refused to show her what he did, so the other boy showed her that Jacob choked him so hard he couldn't breathe. Jacob denied doing that but still would not show her what actually did happen (typical Jacob) and earned ISS. The other boy, I hear, got to go back to class because he was "just defending himself". Ummm...since when is biting an appropriate form of defense? Don't we teach them from about 1 year on not to bite? And if it is a SCHOOL RULE that you have to keep your hands to yourself...the rule Jacob broke thus earning him ISS....wouldn't it also follow that you should keep your teeth to yourself? I'm not saying Jacob didn't deserve ISS, I am just wondering. If you remember last year, Jacob forged his dad's signature on a note sent home, this year we have two office referrals and ISS. What will the future bring???

No Dentist Left Behind

This is an interesting take on "No Child Left Behind". Teachers will enjoy it, parents will be informed and politicians should consider it.

No Dentist Left Behind

My dentist is great! He sends me reminders so I don't forget checkups. He uses the latest techniques based on research. He never hurts me, and I've got all my teeth. When I ran into him the other day, I was eager to see if he'd heard about the new state program. I knew he'd think it was great.

"Did you hear about the new state program to measure effectiveness of dentists with their young patients?" I said.

"No," he said. He didn't seem too thrilled. "How will they do that?" "It's quite simple," I said. "They will just count the number of cavities each patient has at age 10, 14, and 18 and average that to determine a dentist's rating. Dentists will be rated as excellent, good, average, below average, and unsatisfactory. That way parents
will know which are the best dentists. The plan will also encourage the less effective dentists to get better," I said. "Poor dentists who don't improve could lose their licenses to practice."

"That's terrible," he said.

"What? That's not a good attitude," I said. "Don't you think we should try to improve children's dental health in this state?"

"Sure I do," he said, "but that's not a fair way to determine who is practicing good dentistry."

"Why not?" I said. "It makes perfect sense to me."

"Well, it's so obvious," he said. "Don't you see that dentists don't all work with the same clientele, and that much depends on things we can't control? For example, I work in a rural area with a high percentage of patients from deprived homes, while some of my colleagues work in upper middle-class neighborhoods. Many of the parents I work with don't bring their children to see me until there is some kind of problem, and I don't get to do much preventive work. Also many of the parents I serve let their kids eat way too much candy from an early age, unlike more educated parents who understand the relationship between sugar and decay. To top it all off, so many of my clients have well water which is untreated and has no fluoride in it. Do you have any idea how much difference early use of fluoride can make?"

"It sounds like you're making excuses," I said. "I can't believe that you, my dentist, would be so defensive. After all, you do a great job, and you needn't fear a little accountability."

"I am not being defensive!" he said. "My best patients are as good as anyone's, my work is as good as anyone's, but my average cavity count is going to be higher than a lot of other dentists because I chose to work where I am needed most."

"Don't' get touchy," I said

"Touchy?" he said. His face had turned red, and from the way he was clenching and unclenching his jaws, I was afraid he was going to damage his teeth. "Try furious! In a system like this, I will end up being rated average, below average, or worse. The few educated patients I have who see these ratings may believe this so-called rating is an actual measure of my ability and proficiency as a dentist. They may leave me, and I'll be left with only the most needy patients. And my cavity average score will get even worse. On top of that, how will I attract good dental hygienists and other excellent dentists to my practice if it is labeled below average?"

"I think you are overreacting," I said. "'Complaining, excuse-making and stonewalling won't improve dental health'...I am quoting from a leading member of the DOC," I noted.

"What's the DOC?" he asked.

"It's the Dental Oversight Committee," I said, "a group made up of mostly lay persons to make sure dentistry in this state gets improved."

"Spare me," he said, "I can't believe this. Reasonable people won't buy it," he said hopefully.

The program sounded reasonable to me, so I asked, "How else would you measure good dentistry?"

"Come watch me work," he said. "Observe my processes."

"That's too complicated, expensive and time-consuming," I said. "Cavities are the bottom line, and you can't argue with the bottom line. It's an absolute measure."

"That's what I'm afraid my parents and prospective patients will think This can't be happening," he said despairingly.

"Now, now," I said, "don't despair. The state will help you some."

"How?" he asked.

"If you receive a poor rating, they'll send a dentist who is rated excellent to help straighten you out," I said brightly.

"You mean," he said, "they'll send a dentist with a wealthy clientele to show me how to work on severe juvenile dental problems with which I have probably had much more experience? BIG HELP!"

"There you go again," I said. "You aren't acting professionally at all."

"You don't get it," he said. "Doing this would be like grading schools and teachers on an average score made on a test of children's progress with no regard to influences outside the school, the home, the community served and stuff like that. Why would they do something so unfair to dentists? No one would ever think of doing that to schools."

I just shook my head sadly, but he had brightened. "I'm going to write my representatives and senators," he said. "I'll use the school analogy. Surely they will see the point."

He walked off with that look of hope mixed with fear and suppressed anger that I, a teacher, see in the mirror so often lately.

May 8, 2007

An In-Depth Look

This post is more for my stress relief than anything else, but if you would like an in-depth look at my day to day life then keep reading. I will start with last Friday since that was my first day back from Vegas and my only day to work last week. I will be telling about a particular student whom I will refer to as Roger since we all know there is no possible way any student at my school would ever be named Roger. Please note that times are approximate.
8:00--Roger enters classroom calmly and eats breakfast.
9:00--Class goes to cafeteria for Cinco de Mayo celebration.
9:05--Roger kicks chair of kid in front of him and tells him he is going to blow his head off since he can't see around him. He then continues to kick chairs and boo the performers.
9:15--Roger leaves cafeteria kicking chairs on the way. I follow him to monitor his behavior. He wanders aimlessly through the school, janitors closet, and into another classroom knocking over desks before he safely locks himself in a stall in the boys bathroom. (While he is wandering, our counselor is looking at me with the "don't get me involved in this" face and does not offer to help). I get a hand from another staff member on campus and she asks for the principal. I get the principal who talks Roger into coming out of the stall and then puts him in her office.
10:00--assembly is over and Roger is put back in my line to return to class with me.
10:05--class meets with Spanish dancers who teach them how to dance and yell. Roger is ok during this activity, but does not participate much.
10:30--we return to class and Roger tucks himself under the table in the front of my room yelling at the students to "go suck a turtle" and "shut-up" and many other things about their mama's. I get the same staff member from earlier to call the office for me and the principal comes and removes Roger from my room once more.
12:30--I pick class up from lunch and Roger is allowed once again to return to class with me. He climbs on my other students and hits them. I get the Special Ed teacher to take him with her and he reluctantly goes.
1:55--P.E.--Roger is told he cannot attend PE since he has been in trouble, so the Special Ed teacher says she is taking him to the office. I am not in my room since it is my conference period, but I have 2 boys who are in the room cleaning it up for me and getting it ready for dismissal.
2:30--one of the boys in my room comes running out yelling because Roger has come in and is hitting him. I remove the boys from the room, Roger climbs on top of them and continually slaps them in the face. It takes me and another teacher to pull him off of the boys and get him back down to the office.
3:20--Principal tells us our TAKS scores are in for the second round of reading and I go to look at them. I am a bit disappointed at the outcome, and am very overwhelmed from the events of the day so I start crying. The principal gives me a pep talk about how I need to accept that Roger is just a "quirky kid". I go home exhausted, frustrated and angry.
4:00--sleep until 6:00 and then go to my boys baseball game.

Monday morning was about the same as Friday with Roger coming in calmly and eating his breakfast calmly, then came restroom break.
8:30--Roger refused to get up and get in the line for restroom break. He threw 3 pencils and a shoe at another student, so I went and got the principal. She took him to another classroom and left him there.
11:50--Roger joined my class again for lunch. He gave kids wedgies on the way down the hall and continuously slapped them in the line.
12:30--on the way back to the classroom he continued the wedgie giving and slapping of other students. He then refused to enter the classroom and when I closed the door he beat on it and kicked it repeatedly yelling that he was going to "kill us all". I got him back in the other classroom he had been in earlier and left him there.
2:25--it is my conference period and I am out of my room, but I return for a paper and find Roger on top of a table throwing baskets across my room and barking at me like a dog. My lifesavers are also missing from off of my desk (they were given to the teachers for teacher appreciation week). Man, I need to start locking my door.
2:45--dismissal time and Roger puts another kid in a headlock and throws him to the floor. I have another teacher watch my class while I walk him to the office for parent pick-up. He throws himself on the floor in front of the principal and I go back to my class.

I also had my summative conference today where I found out that I need to learn to be less emotional when speaking with the students and get a little tougher (meaning don't cry like I did on Friday). I don't know, but I figure that in just these past 2 days I have described, I put up with more than most people would have put up with in a year.

Tuesday-- (today)
8:05--Roger enters class.
8:20--Restroom break. Roger fills his hands with staples from the bulletin boards and proceeds to stab other students and me with the staples. He refuses to give up the staples or follow any directions given by me.
8:35--Roger runs around the classroom stabbing other students with staples and asking them if it hurt. If they say no, he scratches them with the staple and laughs. He put the staple in one kids' eye and told him he was going to scratch his eye. I got the staple from him that time before he could do it.
8:40--I evacuate my classroom and wait for help to arrive. He is taken by another teacher.
10:30--He returns to class and continues stabbing others with staples and pencils this time. He runs through the classroom and will not follow directions. He then leaves the class and cannot get back in because I have locked my door, so he kicks the door and beats on it and yells that he is going to kill us all (sound familiar?) When I try to open the door, he pushes it back on me and stomps on my foot.
10:35--another teacher calls for help and Roger leaves the building. He walks across campus and out the gate at the back of the school. The principal comes out and starts talking to him and I go back in to my class.
11:55--lunch time...Roger comes and lines up with my class. He has ink marks all up and down his arms where he has drawn on himself. He then starts to draw on my other students. Another teacher is able to take the pen from him. He then puts another students' head between his knees and jumps up and down pushing the other child's head into the floor. He is laughing the entire time. I finally get between them (there isn't a teacher on duty at lunch line) and am holding Roger off of the other student while the principal comes to get him.
Thankfully, he did not come back in my classroom today during my conference period, but that could be because I had my door locked today.
On top of all this, we got our Math TAKS scores and found out we will be academically unacceptable this year. This is not good news, however I am not surprised by it. It is almost impossible for me to teach with days like this, and I have only described 3 out of the entire year.
If I have bored you to death, I am sorry, but I actually feel better having written it down.

May 6, 2007

Back Home!

Well, my trip to Vegas was fun and eventful. It all started a week ago on Sunday. I flew out of Longview at 4:45 p.m. and arrived in Dallas at 5:50 p.m.. After a 3 hour layover, we boarded another plane headed to Las Vegas. We arrived in Las Vegas at 9:50 p.m. their time (but 11:50 p.m. my time) so I was exhausted. When we checked into the hotel the lady at the front desk informed me and Aunt Patti that she upgraded our room to the Impanema Suite because it was available. That didn't mean anything to us, but we soon found out that since our room was on the 20th floor, we needed to use our card to get there! Wow! We felt special! Our room was very nice, and after checking out the nickel slot machines we went to sleep to get ready for our meetings the next day. Most of our meetings were pretty good, although some were very boring and long. On Tuesday night there was a Gala event poolside at Caesar's Palace and we were bussed over there at 6:30 p.m. There was live music and lots of food. On Wednesday we toured 2 elementary schools and saw lots of good things going on at Magnet Schools in the Las Vegas area. Wednesday night we took a shuttle to the strip and saw the moving statues in the Caesar's Palace Mall. We ate at Margaritaville and had some great shrimp. I got blisters on the bottoms of my feet from walking so much, and was totally exhausted by the time we got back to our room. We flew home on Thursday, leaving Las Vegas at 7:20 a.m. (arriving there at 5:00 a.m.) and arriving in Dallas at 11:45 a.m. At 2:00 we were informed that our flight had been overbooked and the 6 people flying from my school would be the first to be kicked off the flight. The next flight home would be Saturday morning. I told them I could walk home by then, so I called my Dad and asked him if he could drive me home. He was too busy with teaching Bible study that night, but Lynn was more than happy to take me. Ben decided he would meet us in Canton because he was ready to see me and so were the kids! I got to see them around 5:30 p.m. which was only an hour and a half past the time I would have seen them if the flight had worked out. As it turns out, the ones who got on the flight had to wait to board because of weather and didn't make it into Longview until close to 6 p.m. anyway. I was just glad to be home and get lots of hugs from my babies!! Las Vegas was fun and VERY busy....but it is not a place I would take my family for vacation~ that's for sure! I added a video at the end that I took while I was at the Gala at Caesar's Palace.