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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Patrick's Happy Day 


I arose early this morning to take Patrick to meet his bus to go to Special Olympics. The rest of us joined him at the regional meet later so that we could watch him run the 50 meter dash. We all cheered as he sprinted down the track finishing fourth to go along with fifth place ribbon for the softball throw.

It was a beautiful, if slightly windy and chilly spring day. If you have never been to a Special Olympics day before I would urge you to have the experience. The feeling of warmth and humanity is contagious. Patrick had a great time hanging out with his classmates and participating in all of the events. We topped it off by going to the restaurant of his choice, Fuddruckers.

The state Special Olympics meet is a little over a month away and Patrick is already very excited about spending three days with thousands of special athletes from around the state. I'm very proud of him and very happy that he can be part of this.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Neck Deep 

I have two papers due on Monday and will sadly be unable to write the weekend roundup tonight. That is too bad because I've read some excellent posts in the past week. Of course, if I hadn't been reading them I might have my papers done already!

I'll stop back by tomorrow and give you a report from the Special Olympics. My young athlete is competing in the 50 meter dash and the softball throw.

Take good care of yourselves this weekend my friends!

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Midweek Meanderings 

It is midweek, I’m back at work, and we are rounding the last turn and heading for home.

I am still neck deep in writing papers and portfolios and will be for the next few weeks. I’m starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. It will probably come into view about the time my summer classes start.

Patrick is due to compete in the Special Olympics regional competition on Saturday. He is so excited. This event and the state meet are highlights of the year for him. We’ll all be there to cheer him on this Saturday.

I really enjoyed Walker’s post on “Rocky” and agree with every word he wrote. I remember when my dad come home from a business trip and said, “Guys, I watched this movie on the airplane that I want you to see.” He took us to see “Rocky” and I loved it. I know that it is sappy and that all of the sequels haven’t lived up to the grittiness and reality of the original, but there is a little Rocky in all of us. When I saw “Rocky Balboa” in the theater awhile back there were a couple of times when tears came to my eyes. It wasn’t because of a great dramatic scene but it was because of the underlying theme. You are never too old to chase your dream. Life can be so cruel and unfair but you can fight back, believe in yourself, and achieve your ideals.

Terri and both wanted to thank those of you who replied publicly or privately on the “anniversary” post. Your good wishes mean a lot to us.

We went to the park last weekend because Aubree had a strong desire to go walking. As we were walking we saw some people fishing at the small pond in the park. She said, “Dad, I want you to take me fishing this summer.” Fishing? I asked her, “would you bait your own hook?” She looked shocked and shook her head. “Take the fish off the hook after you catch it?” She didn’t want to do that either. She said, “that is what men do. I just want to catch the fish.”

I do hope we are able to take some camping and fishing trips this summer. I really enjoy spending time outdoors.

So how is YOUR week going?

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Uncertainty 

As part of a reorganization my school is being closed and merged with a nearby school. This was not totally unexpected. When I arrived there a year ago this was being discussed, but they decided to put the decision off for another year. The 7-8th graders that attend our school will move to a building that currently houses a 6th grade center to make a more traditional 6-8 middle school. Everyone who wants to work at the new school will have to interview to see if they fit in with the philosophy of the school.

My own position was already up in the air anyway. This was always a one year assignment with a future assignment to be decided at a later date. Now we have a new superintendent who is reorganizing the district and whose full plans are not known. I don’t know where I fit into all of this, what the new flowcharts, organizational changes, and plans will mean for me personally. I’ll have a job, but I don’t know what the position will be yet. I may not know until well into the summer. The gossip mill I used to be able to tap into is not functioning. The district has certainly invested a lot of time and money in my training and I have some faith that they will want to place me where I could do some good and in a position that takes advantage of my abilities. But is that a sure thing? Not at all.

Of course, now I have lots of company. Not a single person in my building knows what these changes will mean for them. Some of them may follow to the new school and some will not. In a large school district this happens sometimes. Still, it is difficult for any of us to have our future cloudy and unknown. I hope that in the coming weeks there will be some clarity.

Uncertainty is something that can be very stressful. I could see it in the eyes of my colleagues the past couple of days and I feel it in myself. You believe everything is going to be alright but there is a little part of you that wonders if this is going to turn out badly. Right now I am too busy to have too much time to worry. I’ve got multiple papers to write for my classes, a pile of work on my desk that could choke an elephant, and major state testing to prepare for.

I am certain that I love my work and my family. That makes this other uncertainty a little easier to deal with.


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Sunday, March 25, 2007

What A Difference A Year Makes 

Today marks one year since the time Terri and I first went out together. Neither of us could have imagined that a couple of high school friends going out to dinner could’ve turned into such a rewarding relationship. We are both living proof that life has a way of tossing curveballs and changeups at you when you least expect it.

I think back over the past year, all of the changes, the challenges, and where we are today and it seems truly mind boggling. Both of us were coming out of other relationships and we both had a fairly healthy dose of skepticism when it came to finding that right person. We both have a couple of marriages and some failed relationships in our past.

One of the things I really enjoy about her is that she can be as introspective as I am. We’ve had long, frank conversations about our past relationships, why they didn’t work, and our own shortcomings that contributed to that failure. I feel like all of our cards are on the table and we still feel the same way about each other. That is such a powerful thing, the knowledge that someone knows all of you and still loves you. People talk about honesty, but a lot of them don’t really want it. When you can truly have that in your relationship it is invigorating.

What else have I learned to love about her? She’s not the jealous type and this is a good thing considering my sometimes flirtatious nature. She is wonderful with the kids and is a fantastic cook. She’s sexy and fun to be around. She will sit and talk with me about politics and religion and we still like each other at the end of the conversation. She is thoughtful and generous and is a great listener.

She came into my life in the midst of change and rode the storm out with me. I think we can both agree that our lives are immeasurably better than they were a year ago. Many people, from my own kids to my online friends, have remarked about how much happier I seem now. This is true and she is a large part of that happiness. My scars are still there and I am no more perfect than I was before, but I’ve found someone who loves me for who I am and who I can return that love to. So simple, yet so elusive.

The song “100 Years” has these lyrics:

I'm 45 for a moment
The sea is high
And I'm heading into a crisis
Chasing the years of my life.

I am 45 years old and I suppose there will always be crises. The difference now is that I have someone to face them with me. The tide is high and we are sailing to our destiny together.

I love ya baby and I’m so grateful that you took a chance with me. I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring.


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Friday, March 23, 2007

Weekend Roundup 3/23-3/24 

Wow. Was that spring break I just spent? Time does fly, doesn't it? I've accomplished some things, left some undone, stayed up late a lot, and done a lot of reading I have slacked some on blogging and I haven't been good about returning messages this week. My apologies!

Terri and I are approaching the one year anniversary of our first date. To help celebrate the kids and I want to the big city and picked my seafood lover up some Alaskan king crab, crab cakes, and shrimp from the only decent seafood store in the whole area. She looked positively orgasmic while eating it tonight.

I did however take a bit of time to read some blog posts. I don't know if I was orgasmic like Terri was over the seafood, but I did enjoy reading. I think you will too.

Lil Bit lays down the law about her blog. Barn Goddess might want to lay down the law to her cat.

Ellen went back to school. Lime is going on a retreat.

Tara is counting down until her birthday. Red Headed Gal is counting seven months of sobriety.

Joan identifies the signs of spring in her own unique way. Rain identifies ten things she loves to do.

Kyleen writes about her grandmother. Margaret writes about having a melt down.

Carol celebrates her wedding anniversary. Jules does an artistic celebration of nudity.

Patrick has some thoughts on the glory of war. T. Marie has some thoughts on clothing sizes.

Irina went ice skating. Walker went to see “300” and writes a review of the movie.

Apple has a sick computer. Teresa has some television to watch.

Jerry’s basketball bracket isn’t looking so good. Karen’s wish list looks pretty nice.

Leslie is hoping for some sleep. Ashley is hoping to make some money from her posts.

Jack got some “fan mail”. Breazy got some pics of her new house!

Crystal shares some of the details of her weekend. Okie Lawyer shares some thoughts on the cost of college.

Susan has some new windows. Phoenix had a fish fry.

Aka Monty shares her daughter’s musical tastes. Janine shares someone’s dream.

Laine was feeling wicked. Restless Angel was seeing chipmunks.

Melessa shares a post from 2004. Sudie Girl shares some thoughts on John Edwards.

New Wave Gurly is in the middle of finals. Penny is savoring spring break. Enjoy it...it goes by quickly!

Enjoy the posts and let'em know how you feel.

Have a wonderful weekend my friends!

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Midweek Meanderings 

Wow. Midweek doesn’t have the same meaning when you are on spring break!

So what have I been doing with myself? Working on research papers and portfolio. Doing some work in the yard. Enjoying time with the kids. Watching some movies we rented from Blockbuster. Doing some recreational reading. Playing a game on the computer. All of the above!

I’m currently writing an article for one of my classes on the teacher behaviors and actions that promote positive relationships with students. This mostly involves reviewing the available literature and creating a plan for further study. Sound like fun?

Our flowers are now planted safely in the ground. We are really hoping that one of those freaky Oklahoma spring freezes doesn’t wipe them out. Terri is pleased to have her herbs planted as well and we are hoping they survive. I love the smell of fresh herbs!

I have a packet of paperwork to fill out to get Patrick in a job program next school year. He is soooo excited about the idea of making money. I wonder how excited he’ll actually be about the work he has to do? I teased him a little about having to pay me rent if he starts making some bucks. He didn’t care much for that idea. He was about as amused as Terri was when I ever-so-innocently asked if her bank gave its employees a spring break!

You really have to wonder about people when you read a story like this.

I smiled when I saw Ellen wrapped up in her new blanket.

I’ve been staying up later and sleeping later. There is going to be hell to pay Monday morning when I have to get back into my work routine.

After spring break it is a long haul to the end of the school year. There won’t be any more little breaks.

So how is YOUR week going?

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Yard Man 

Aaaah. The weather was beautiful on this spring break weekend. Although I have some major papers to write, I couldn’t resist spending much of my time outdoors. We decided to go get some plants and do some work on the yard. We trundled home with various plants and cacti, a few new gardening implements, a plan to beautify our yard.

I used to love to garden. I had a fondness for miniature roses and hollies and really enjoyed growing my own vegetables. I can remember starting a meal cooking on the stove, walking out into my garden, snagging some fresh tomatoes and onions, bringing them back inside, and using them in the dish I was cooking. There is something about watching something grow before your eyes, cooperating with nature in the endeavor to make the flower bloom or the plant to grow. I haven’t done much in the way of gardening in the recent past, so I felt a surge of excitement at the thought.

But first there was the matter of mowing the yard, where unwanted grasses and weeds are already sprouting up. I had two flat tires on my ages-old riding mower. Why do the tires on that mower always go flat? Experience has taught me how to repair them so I fixed the flat tires. Then I checked the oil and gas and fired the mower to life. After a couple of passes around the yard it came to a stop with a dreadful clunk that didn’t sound good at all.

For the record, I am not an expert in small engine repair, but when I opened the mower up I saw oil spewed everywhere and knew that this was not a good sign. In five minutes the mower had lost all of its oil and the motor had seized. Closer inspection revealed a blown seal. Uh oh. So I spent the better part of two days feverishly working on the mower, making multiple trips to the hardware store, lubricating the various motor parts, and trying to bring it back to life. I turned the key and it roared to life. Yay! But I celebrated too soon. It wasn’t leaking oil anymore but the motor came to a grinding halt that sounded even worse than before. Metal on metal. The sound of broken things inside. It had oil now, but the damage must’ve already been done.

So off we went to buy a new mower. I now have a freshly cut lawn and a new toy sitting in my backyard. I’ll be cutting the grass in style this year.

While I was playing at being a mechanic, the kids and Terri planted some beautiful cactic in a barrel in front of the house and did some major work on the plot in the back where our herbs and flowers will go. She and the kids worked very hard and it is impressive what they got done. We have dirt under our fingernails and are all a little tired but we feel ever so accomplished! We celebrated tonight by grilling steaks and chicken legs.

Now about those papers I was supposed to be writing……….


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Friday, March 16, 2007

Weekend Roundup - Spring Break Edition! 

Aaaaah...Friday, pay day, and the beginning of spring break! It doesn't get much better than this! Well, there are those papers to write, but lets not think about that.

Lets start spring break off with a bang. Wanna see what I saw?

Melessa wonders if she should stay in her church. New Wave Gurly wonders if she swallowed sandpaper.

Irina was talking about karma. Apple was looking at some old newspaper headlines.

Karen left a surprise for the baggage checkers. Phoenix leaves some tough questions in her “Serenity Challenge”.

Lime is a pure nerd..and that’s a good thing! Michael is a movie reviewer and he shares his review of “Sand Pebbles”.

Barn Goddess writes about boots. Ellen writes about the “why me?” question.

Jules thinks we’re fucked. Teresa thinks she sees signs of spring.

Used To Be Me didn’t like it when a strange woman gave her kids Pedialite. Patrick liked it quite a bit when his book was prominently displayed in the bookstore.

Mary Lou has a new play to direct. Thomai has thoughts about rhythm.

Janine was tired of waiting. So was Leslie….and she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl!

Kathi is not a people person. Breazy is ready to have the keys to her house!

Jerry pays tribute to the band “Boston”. The newspaper payed tribute to Susan by putting her on the front page!

Red Headed Gal needed to get out of her head. It seems Aka Monty can’t get Craig Ferguson out of hers.

Margaret treated herself to an espresso. T. Marie’s car repairs are going to be worth quite a few espressos.

Tara shares some of her “hates”. Jack shares some of his favorite blogs.

Carol got her taxes filed. Sarah got reviewed.

Rain shares the words of a former slave. Steph shares how her bracket is doing.

Walker tore a muscle. Restless Angel was ready to tear up a reckless driver.

Sudie Girl has a messed up sleep cycle. Funky Cowboy has a new romantic interest.

Sea Rabbit wonders when it is time to give up. Snav wonders where all the snow came from.

Okie Lawyer reports on credit card companies. Lisa reports on her husband’s purchase of a Wii.

Splendid wishes she had been smarter earlier in her life. I wish I could’ve joined John and friend at the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Babs enjoyed teaching her class. Dee is enjoying learning happy grins.

I hope you enjoyed and I hope you have a marvelous weekend!

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Midweek Meanderings 

It is Wednesday, the day was beautiful, and spring break is only two days away. Do I love this life or what?

A former student came across this blog and commented on a few earlier posts, reminding me of an incident early in my career when a student hid in my closet for most of class and then jumped out. I didn’t think it was so funny at the moment, but thinking about it now made me roar with laughter when I read it. Thanks to this former student for making my day!

I’m afraid to ask how old this student might be now. That could make me feel really old!

The Battle of the Blogs has entered the final round and somehow I am still in there. You can vote for me or one of the other excellent blogs here. Thanks to Leesa for hosting the competition. I know it must have been a lot of work.

Did I mention that spring break was only two days away?

We had four boys slip out of school this week. They thought they were being so sly, but they didn’t know we caught them on videotape, furtively glancing around the corner, changing their shirts, looking out for adults, and dashing out the side door. Apparently one of them had access to a car, never mind that they are only in 8th grade. Another student told us what they were up to. They drove over to one of the alternative schools apparently planning to beat up this other kid they had a grudge against. The principal there ran them off and called us. They arrived back, put the car back where they found it, and tried to slip back in school. Alas, the security guards and police were waiting for them. The police found the car (apparently belonging to one of their brothers), but they all fiercely denied driving to the other school. But in the car was an office pass for one of them dated that day. Busted. Just another day on the job.

I don’t mean to make light of the aforementioned incident but it was kinda humorous to see their plan just fall apart before their eyes. One of the cops told me, “ever seen one of those stupid criminal videos? These guys could be in one some day if they don’t straighten up.”

Remember Aubree’s clothing budget? She used part of it very responsibly, getting multiple outfits from Wal Mart. Then she blew most of the rest of the wad in Limited Too. A denim skirt and a blouse set her back sixty bucks. I think she might be regretting that purchase later. It was actually quite interesting to spend a lot of time in that store, a mecca of adolescent girl fashion.

One of the salesgirls in the store had Aubree’s name, spelled the same way. You don’t often see that spelling and Aubree was excited. I went up to the girl and told her and she was even more excited, exclaiming loudly, “Aubree, you’ve got the best name and you even spell it right!”

I was amused by this article which discusses whether men like aggressive women. I certainly do!

Hey…its only two days until spring break!!!!

So how is YOUR week going?

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Textbooks 

I sat across from my principal as a curly haired first year teacher. “Brian” he intoned, “I expect you to cover chapters 1-26 in this textbook this year.” He placed a large blue American History text in front of me.

This time of year most schools are adopting textbooks for the next school year. Fancy demo kits with all manner of colorful goodies are in schoolhouses everywhere to be perused by teachers and administrators. The stakes are high. Textbook sales are a big business. In larger school districts the yearly textbook orders run into many millions of dollars. The handful of large textbook publishers compete fiercely for our business, offering all manner of extras if only we will choose their book over the others.

Textbook publishing is driven in a large part by the desires of officials in a few of the very large states….Texas, New York, and California. If they don’t approve a textbook to be place on the adoption list in their state it can cost a company hundreds of millions of dollars. When the state board of education in Texas sneezes, those companies catch a cold. The content of the textbooks is molded to the preferences of those states.

How political have textbooks become? History texts are the most controversial, but many other subjects have become political footballs. Competing ideological forces fight for control of the words kids read and the pictures they see. Practically every sentence in history textbooks is an effort to try and please the maximum amount of people without offending anyone. You can imagine how interesting something like that is to read for a typical adolescent. I love history, but history textbooks are incredibly boring. Where is the sweeping narrative, the grand stories, the introspective looks at people who made a difference, the compelling stories of minorities who struggled against the tide, the complex personalities that helped shape who we are today? You won’t find it in a textbook that has been written to try and not offend anyone. Rea

Then there is the content of the books themselves. “No Child Left Behind” mandated that states establish standards in certain curriculum areas and test kids for competency in those areas. Each state develops its own standards. Textbook companies try to meet most of the standards of the larger states. Those of us in smaller ones are left to scramble. My district aligned every textbook we have with state standards. The best books only align to about 80%, i.e., what it is that students are expected to learn and be tested on is absent from the textbooks in large chunks.

The answer is simple you say….just teach what isn’t in the book. This is happening more and more but there is a culture built around the textbook that can be hard to break. It is a lifeline for some teachers, providing ready made lessons that can be taught. Read Ch. 8. Answer the questions on page 94. Discuss in class. Go to the next section. Rinse and repeat. Many come of age in teaching being told that a large measure of the job you were doing was how much of that textbook you covered.

The mantra now is, “don’t teach the textbook. Teach the state standards.” But teachers are often not provided with the training or resources to do that and flounder along. If I could go back twenty years that large blue book would’ve spent a lot more time on the shelf as I used the plethora of other materials available to teach the concepts that matter to my students. I did that later in my career, but in those early years I was just thrilled to get to chapter 26 in May. Sure, I jazzed it up but the textbook was the foundation of what I did in the classroom. I didn’t dare skip those parts of Ch. 8 that were boring and bore little relationship to what kids need to know about history.

I wouldn’t necessarily advocate abolishing textbooks, but they are like having your kids use Funk and Wagnall’s encyclopedia for all of their knowledge. A lot of relevant information, but precious little context, and even less challenging kids to think, analyze, solve problems, and write. This is why you need excellent teachers in the classroom, those who can teach kids the facts they need to know and to challenge them to think beyond the pages of that $75.00 text. Most of you read this will not remember much from the textbooks you read in high school but you will remember those teachers who challenged you, made you think, and stretched your abilities beyond where you thought you could achieve.


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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Spoiled 

It occasionally comes up around here that my daughter “gets everything she wants.” My mom thinks so. Terri thinks so. Even Aubree thinks so. She wears it like a badge of honor…”my dad gives me everything I want.” This gives me pause. Does she really? Do I really? Am I spoiling my daughter? If so, is it doing her harm? No one wants to turn their child into a spoiled brat. It has got me to thinking about the concept of “spoiling” and what it means. After all, thinking about a spoiled kid makes you imagine a moment like this video:

*Shiver*. Of course I argue with all of them. I can name innumerable things that Aubree has asked me for that she has not received. There were times when I thought her request was ridiculous, other times when I simply didn’t have the money, and yet others when I didn’t think she was ready. If I truly gave her everything she wants she’d be chatting with friends on a new RAZR phone while applying makeup, surrounded by 300 stuffed animals instead of only 200, possessing a dozen pets ranging from birds to hamsters, and tapping away on her new laptop. I do say no…really.

But have I given her too much? Have I not said “no” often enough? I’d like to think that I have always been rational, evaluating her numerous requests for reasonableness, financial sense, and whether or not she would really benefit from what it is that she wants. But we all know it isn’t that simple.

Lets assemble the evidence. Telephone, computer, television, DVD player, and game systems in her room? Yeah. A wardrobe that Imelda Marcos wouldn’t have sneezed at? For sure. Overnight visits to or from friends almost every weekend? Check. A dad who shows weakness when she kisses him on the cheek and says, “please daddy?” Perhaps. Actually considering buying tickets and going with her to see someone named Akon? Yep. But I have turned her down for the cell phone, the laptop, many clothing items, and many other little goodies that she has requested.

I look back over the last few years and I do wonder if I have indulged her more than I should have. Even if I have said no many times, I’ve also said “yes” a helluva lot. Almost three years ago she and I were both torn up pretty bad when my marriage ended. In my desire to make it all better for her did I begin to give in too easily? Did I try to salve both of our wounds by tossing that toy into the cart? Maybe I did, it is hard to say.

There is always a fine line here for parents. Kids should certainly learn that you don’t always get everything you ask for, that life is often about making hard choices, that money must be managed and not spent frivolously, that some important things have to be worked for and not just given to us. But you also don’t want to make a fetish out of saying “no” just to be tough on your kids so that they will learn these lessons. Sometimes I just don’t know. If Aubree says, “Dad, I need some new bras”, how am I to know if she really does or not? I’m not exactly an expert on bras, how they fit, when they wear out, and when a girl might need a new one. If I say yes, am I just indulging a frivolity? If I say no, am I just being “tough” for toughness sake? Some things are easier. I don’t think she needs a cell phone at this stage and I won’t spend my money for one for her. If she wants to spend her allowance on a “pay as you go” phone I won’t stop her, but I also won’t be buying minutes for her either.

If I am too indulgent am I going to end up with a girl like that on the video? I certainly wouldn’t want that. I grew up in a house where we had the basic necessities of life but luxuries were hard to come by. My parents didn’t believe in buying us the latest “trendy” clothes. My poor brothers often had to wear my hand-me-downs. We didn’t go on luxurious vacations but we always had a nice home, clean and well maintained clothing, and good food on the table.

After much discussion I put Aubree on a “clothing budget” for the spring and summer. My exact words to her were, “spend this and I don’t want to hear from you until school starts this fall.” I was amused watching her today, going through price tags and evaluating whether she really wanted that blouse or not. She said, “I hate clothing budgets. I just wanna toss it in the bag!” Could I afford to buy her a little more? Probably. But I do want her to get used to the idea of sticking to a budget and to understand that everything has to be paid for. Of course this would require modeling the desired behavior and I am something of a clothes hound. J

We know that spoiling kids makes them ungrateful for what they have, encourages “bratty” behavior, and promotes financial irresponsibility. I want to be a good dad who provides for his kids AND teaches them to be responsible. Unfortunately, there is no training manual and no set-in-stone answers. We do the best we can and we live with the results.


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Friday, March 09, 2007

Weekend Roundup 3/9-3/10 

What a beautiful day today turned out to be. It started out rainy and dreary and turned into a gorgeous spring day. It would've been even better had I not had to work. But fear not...spring break is only one week away!


I did enjoy spending a little time perusing some of my favorite blogs. I think you'll enjoy.

Jack wonders if it is ok to be paid to blog. Incurable Insomniac was wondering about cell phone technical support.

Rain celebrates women’s history by quoting Sojourner Truth. Apple does the same by writing about her great aunt.

Used To Be Me shares a nightmare from her dark side. Susan shares memories of her trip to London.

Lime discusses the illnesses plaguing her family. Colleen discusses what books she has read.

Carol has a lot of quilting material to sell (scroll down). Ellen has a dislike for the color pink.

Irina talks about playing Jewish geography. Barn Goddess talks about her internet connection problems.

Leen is on the road. Thomai is deciding between Clinton or Edwards.

Funky Cowboy went to a three year old’s birthday party. Teresa isn’t going anywhere with older men.

Mona shares some very colorful photos. Kathi shares some of photos of a fun day with her boys.

Breazy is excited about the progress made on her house. Mary Lou is excited about the signs of spring.

Tammi wonders if you are enthusiastic about getting up and going to work. Pendullum wondered who that guy was…and then found out he was someone she knew in high school.

Walker writes about the Battle of Thermopylae. Vickie writes about the true meaning of beauty.

Patrick is getting ready for some book signings. Jerry is rounding up dead mice.

Kathy writes about the death of a sweet girl. Sea Rabbit writes about an enjoyable Friday afternoon.

Redneck Diva had a job interview. Katherine had a meal with her daughter.

Silent One doesn’t want her family to find her blog. Phoenix doesn’t want to lose to Carlo in the Serenity game.

Sass is grateful for several things. Melessa isn’t grateful for all the nit picking she has to do.

Anne discusses the current state of online music. New Wave Gurly discusses the fate of internet radio.

Roselle is having a hard time concentrating. Karen is heading off to Denver.

Jules was ready to go to London. Okie Lawyer was back from vacation.

Aka Monty has a new niece. Tara has an itch for spring.

Have a wonderful weekend my friends!

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Midweek Meanderings 

It is midweek and all is well. At least I think it is!

Somehow I managed to make it through to the second round of the Battle of the Blogs. You can vote for me or against me right here. I’m honored!

I’m the proud new owner of a very slick, highly techy Motorola Razr 3 cell phone. Now I just have to keep it away from Aubree! For those of you that have my cell number it has changed. Please email me for the new number.

We had a scare at school this morning. A man identifying himself as the father of one of our students called and said his son had left home with a gun. The police were called and we grabbed and searched the kid as soon as he got to school. No gun. As it turns out he doesn’t even live with his father and hasn’t seen him in over a year. After investigating we decided it must have been a prank and not a very funny one.

Terri and I are mulling possible destinations for an early summer weekend getaway. The kids will be spending a week with their mom and we want to take advantage of a rare opportunity to get away. The kids are very excited at the opportunity to spend some time with their mom.

I have several major papers to write in the next few weeks. I’m going to be a very busy guy.

So how is YOUR week going?


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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

After Midnight 

Last night Terri and I attended the Eric Clapton concert in Oklahoma City. Because I had a late faculty meeting we got there in time for Clapton but missed the opening act, Robert Cray. I saw Clapton ten years ago and if anything he was better this time. We arrived home after midnight, tired but invigorated from the performance.

He opened by playing some of his newer material including “Who Am I Telling You” and “Ride The River” , segued into an unplugged set that included one of my favorites, “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” and finished up with the tender “Wonderful Tonight” and a high energy version of “Layla”. He came back for an encore and played “Cocaine” and then brought Cray out to duet with him on “Crossroads.”

Anyone who has read this blog for awhile knows of my affinity for Clapton’s blues/rock. I loved the guitar and keyboard solos and the energy his much younger band brought to classic songs. I could probably write for awhile about the songs he didn’t play…favorites like “Bell Bottom Blues”, “Malted Milk”, “Before You Accuse Me”, “Change the World”, “For Your Love”, or “Rock Me Baby”. I think if he played all of the songs I would have wanted him to play we’d still be there listening.

I love live concerts. Sure, you can listen to the music on CD’s or view live performances on DVD. But there is something about the energy of the crowd melded with the music that leaves you feeling high. I only once smelt a slight drift of marijuana in the crowd, but the music provides a much better high than any drug can do.

It is somewhat eerie to watch artists like Clapton perform, knowing he is advancing in age and concerts like this won’t be around forever. The musicians I grew up listening to are older and some of them aren’t around anymore. But for as long as I am able I will enjoy evenings like this.


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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Pleasant Frustration 

One of the topics in class today was the development of video games that promote student learning. There are universities working on taking course content objectives, plugging them into a video game, and making the game interesting and challenging enough that kids will play the game and learn along the way. We all know how much many kids enjoy playing video games. The thought is that you harness that enthusiasm and create games that will engage the student in high level problem solving.

One of the articles I read on the subject referred to something that is a necessity in all video games….pleasant frustration. If the game is too easy a person loses interest quickly. If the game seems impossible to complete a person will throw up their hands and walk away. There has to be a challenge, a frustration, but yet it must seem possible to complete the task or find the answer. This type of challenge is invigorating.

We made the inevitable comparison to sex. If you quickly go straight for the main event it is not as pleasurable as when pleasant frustration precedes the reward. If it seems impossible to get there you might as well see what is on cable TV.

Whether it is gaming, learning, or even sex, we all need a bit of a challenge, and it is a fine line between “pleasant frustration”, facile easiness, or discouraging impossibility. We need to feel that what we want is within our grasp if only we can overcome a few obstacles. Think about the things that have brought you the most pleasure in life. Many of them had obstacles that stood in the way, but you were able to get there anyway.

“Pleasant frustration” is one of life’s underappreciated pleasures.

P.S. Thanks to those of you who wrote, concerned that I didn’t post last night. I was busy getting ready for this weekend’s class.

Have a wonderful weekend my friends!


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Thursday, March 01, 2007

One Year 

Dad,

It is been a year since you left this world and went to the next. It is really hard to believe that a year has passed since that day. In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago and in other ways it seems like it just happened. We're all doing ok. After all, you prepared us well to live in this world.

I’ve thought about you often dad. How could I not? How many times have I caught myself thinking, “I should tell dad about this”, before catching myself? How many times have I wanted to talk to you about my job, my doctoral classes, or the latest ballgame? How many times have I just wanted to see you smile that patented smile and chuckle at something silly the kids have done? How many times when I’m all alone does a tear come to my eye when I realize yet again that I won’t be able to do any of those things?

I think about the last time I saw you. You were in such pain and discomfort and asked me to help you maneuver in the hospital bed. We were all alone when you emphatically told me that you wanted no resuscitation attempts to be made. You shook your head vigorously when I said, “Dad, are you really sure?” You had a determination in your eyes that I have often seen over the years. You saw the look on my face and you patted my arm and smiled. I told you I would come back late that night but you waved me off saying, “Brian, I’ll be fine. Take your kids home.” I told you I’d be back to see you in the morning. I didn’t know that I wouldn’t get the chance. I missed your last moments on earth by just a few minutes.

Everyone knew you were a great guy Dad, but those of us in your family knew even better. You were no act when you interacted with others on your many basketball or soccer teams, on boards and organizations, and at church. That man that others saw in public was the same thoughtful, generous, and kind father we knew at home. All those kind things that people came up and said to me and the family at your funeral rang so true. They knew my dad and what they said was true.

So many memories Dad…so many. I remember being a little boy and watching you in the evening after dinner. You sat in that recliner, methodically working your way through the evening paper. You often still had your tie on your neck, still looking meticulous even relaxing at home. You would pull out charts of things I didn’t understand and fill legal pads with notes and equations that I couldn’t possibly comprehend. I wanted to, you know. I wanted to understand my dad’s life. You tried to explain, futilely of course, but I loved it that you tried. Then you would pull out a story book that I could understand and read it to me.

Its funny how little things remind me about you. Matt and I were driving the other day and noticed a treehouse. We remembered how you bought a treehouse from a guy down the street with full intentions of putting it up in the giant oak tree in our backyard. You and our grandfather scratched your heads over and over again about how to do it. In the end you felt like there was no good place in the tree that was accessible to us but yet safe enough to put the treehouse up. So the treehouse became a clubhouse for years, sitting UNDER the tree in our backyard.

I remember you dealing patiently with the grouchy lady next door when I yet again let our ball go over the fence and into her yard. As I stood back a few feet you quietly explained, “I’m very sorry but when boys play ball they do get carried away sometimes.” She tried to grumble some more, but your quiet demeanor eventually put a smile on her face. She ruffled my hair and smiled as she walked back into the house.

I remember the post-game conversations we had after almost all of my basketball games growing up. You were never critical, but would sometimes offer up suggestions. You would remember things I didn’t even remember…”Brian, I loved that move in the second quarter when you used a head fake and got past that guy.” Do you have any idea how good that made me feel? I’m guessing you do.

I remember our conversations about sports, about great books, about political philosophy, about science, about money, about women, about how a suit should hang and how a tie should be tied, about religion and faith, about history, or about what it means to be a man. I especially loved the stories of your childhood, growing up during the Depression, how your family pulled together in hard times, how you persevered. I was amazed that you had graduated from high school at 15 years old and college at 19. I loved the stories of your teaching and coaching career and all the tales from your foreign travels.

I miss it Dad. I miss you. I understand that all of us die eventually and that you are in a better place, but I miss the moments that helped define who I am, from the earliest memories of watching you set up croquet in the backyard to that final night at the hospital.

I’m not alone. We all miss you Dad and will forever treasure the immutable difference you made in our lives. You were one of a kind and I am so damned proud that you were my father.

Brian


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