Saturday, August 16, 2014

Transitions Are Not Always Easy: Guest Post by Lara Neves

dealing with school transitions

Watching your kids grow up is hard. As much as I adore celebrating birthdays with my children, a little part of me hates it. I hate seeing them grow older because I desperately miss their past selves. Sometimes, when I am watching family videos from several years ago my heart just aches to hold my babies again, or to see my adorable toddlers again, or even just to have them be six years old again! Man, this mommy business is difficult!

When my eldest daughter went to her first day of Kindergarten, I was a mess. How on earth was I going to hand my little 4-year-old (yes--FOUR--she didn't turn five until October) to someone else for the day? I stayed as strong as I could while getting her situated in her new classroom, but as soon as I got in the car, I bawled all the way home.

This year, that same daughter will be starting her first year of HIGH SCHOOL. I don't even know what my life has come to because I am definitely not old enough to be the mother of a high school freshman!

These kinds of big school transitions are especially difficult for parents because they are just as new for us as they are for our children. And let's not forget that these transitions are not usually easy for the kids, either, which gives mom and dad even more anxiety about the whole thing.

It doesn't have to be that way, though. Growing up is unfortunately necessary, and we can't keep our children little forever. We need to help them through these transitions as best we can without creating extra difficulty because it is hard for us. Here are a few things that have helped me:

Talk to Parents Who Have Already Been Through It

Part of the problem is that everything is so unknown, as I mentioned before. This year, my middle daughter will begin middle school. I am not nearly as angsty about this transition as I am about my eldest starting high school. Why? Because I know what to expect. Bria did not die from attending middle school, and so I am fairly confident that Chloe will not die, either.

If this is the first time you are navigating the educational transition as a parent, find other parents who have done it before. (Preferably parents whose children are attending the same schools yours are.) Ask them as many questions as you can think of. Seriously, dump all your worries on them--they'll be happy to answer because they know what it's like. It's nice to know what you and your child will be facing well ahead of time.

What are the teachers like? What is the homework policy? How does the busing system work? What are the extracurricular activities like? Etc.

Communicate With Your Child

Chances are that you aren't the only one with anxiety. Kids aren't sure what to expect during these transitions, either. Spend a good portion of the summer just talking with them and finding out what their concerns are. And then do your best to resolve those concerns.

My daughter was so worried about memorizing her locker combination and being able to even open her locker when she first went to middle school. Our solution was that we would go in a couple days before school started (in our district you are allowed to do that) and practice until she felt completely comfortable.

When my youngest daughter was just starting Kindergarten, she was very worried about taking the bus home by herself after lunch since Kindergarten was half-day and she wouldn't have her older sister with her. I called the school to find out the protocol and we discussed it every day for several weeks before school started. When the bus dropped her off that first day, she was a very triumphant 5-year-old because she had been prepared.

IMG_1049 Sophia bus_ web

I have found that by working to alleviate my children's concerns, that my own are resolved in the process. Part of my worry is that my kid won't be able to unlock her locker or get home on the bus, so when I help her work through it, my own worries dissipate. It's kind of amazing.

Rely on Family Traditions--or Create New Ones!

Finally, I have found that when I work hard to make the beginning of the school year memorable for my kids, I don't have to think about all my worries as much. We have a few diehard traditions at our house for the beginning of the school year and they get the whole family excited about what could otherwise be a really anxious time.

Our favorite Back-to-School tradition is having our Back-to-School Feast the night before school starts. We introduce a family theme for the school year, have an amazing meal, and then do a fashion show where the girls model what they will wear on the first day.

The year Bria, my eldest, went into middle school I wanted to focus on that big transition with our family theme. So it was "I Can Do Hard Things." I loved the way she internalized it, as did my other two children. It helped me a lot that year, too. We can do hard things--and watching our kids grow up is hard, remember?

We can do hard thingsHard things

Last year, my youngest had recently had a diagnosis of Celiac so we focused our theme more on healthy eating:

IMG_6837 BTS Feast 2013 web

If you don't already have Back-to-School traditions, it's never too late to start! Ice-cream for breakfast, special school supply/clothes shopping dates, fancy dinners--anything wonderful you can think of to help you and your child look forward to school starting.

Even though Bria is a lot older than she was when we first started our Back-to-School feasts, she still wants to wear the silly homemade crown I make for them. She loves it. It's something to cling to.

And it's something for me to cling to as well.

I'll just have to think of something really amazing for her next educational transition: College. Thankfully, I have four years to digest that information.

Here's to an amazing school year for the kids AND the parents!

Lara is the mother to three beautiful, brilliant and bossy daughters. She’s married to The Maestro, Orchestra Conductor extraordinaire. When she isn’t working on her mother of the year status, you can find her singing professionally, teaching voice lessons at the University, taking lots and lots of photographs, listening to opera, finding a good deal on groceries, or reading a good book. (that is, if she’s not blogging). She blogs at, where she writes about parenting, home organization, photography, gluten-free living, and all of the other things that comprise her overstuffed life.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Okay or Not Okay?

I want you to watch this video before you read this post:

Now that you watched (you did, right?)....what do you think?  If you couldn't view the video...go to Outrage at ESPN.  Think about that while you read my take.

Here's my take:  I have three boys.  I have always told them that there is no reason in this world to ever hit a girl.  NONE!  That has always been my rule.  I don't believe that boys should put a hand on a girl...ever.  I found out recently that my ex had David convinced that it was against the law to ever hit a girl.  Well, it worked.  He believed his dad.  

But let me say this:  While I still do not think that a man should ever hit a woman because he thinks he can or because he thinks she did something to deserve it, I think a man should be able to defend himself just as a woman should be able to in the same situation.  If a woman is being abused and she decides enough is enough and strikes back, usually she is completely vindicated because the man is, well, a man and he was abusing her.  This is true even if she kills the man.  But...what if a man has been abused by a woman?

Yes, it happens.  If the man strikes back, would he then be vindicated or would he be put underneath the jail?  If a woman comes at a man because she is angry and she is railing on him, should the man just take it?  Should he just lay there and let her beat the crap out of him or should he stop her?  One hit that stops her?  Is that okay?  You can stop someone without beating the hell out of that acceptable?  Or is it unacceptable for a man to defend himself in any situation? 

So what do you think?  Leave me a comment.  Let me know what you think about this subject.  I'm sure there are many opinions out there.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Let's Get to the Bottom of Things

Word around town is that tomorrow, there will be indictments handed down from the Jefferson County District Attorney's office and the special grand jury that was impaneled to investigate BISD. 

These indictments are said to be just the first in a line of indictments that are expected to be handed down by this grand jury.  The ones tomorrow are said to be complicit in not only fraud and collusion, but they are said to have had a hand in creating and hiding monies that belongs to BISD.  I have to say my curiosity is peaked.

Months ago, when the FBI first began its investigations and it came out that $4 million dollars had been embezzled, I heard a much larger number than that.  The number I heard was closer to $16 million dollars, maybe even more.  I also heard many other names than those who were eventually found to have taken the $4M...I can only think that some of those names may be indicted this week or indictments may be coming for them. 

All I really know is that this will not be complete if the investigations and indictments do not touch the right people.  If someone is left out because of connections, it will not bode well for the new DA.  He has shown himself to be ethical so far, so we expect great things from him. 

Word is also that there will be those in the Jefferson County Courthouse who will be affected by these indictments.  We all know that things have been going on down there that are less than ethical, so we hope that those persons will feel the wrath as well.

I don't have any concrete knowledge about any of this....this is just little things I am hearing and reading and I always keep an ear out because I care about Beaumont and BISD.  I just hope that now that the BOM is installed, things will soon be back on track.  Getting to the bottom of the problems will be a tremendous help and part of that includes making sure those responsible for the gross mismanagement are held accountable.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Big Brother...Yes I Watch!

So, every summer, I watch Big Brother...and every year there's that one person who is just a total annoyance.  This year, no one is really standing out as a that person...but Caleb is close.  This boy...I gotta tell ya...he's a little looney-toons.  He doesn't look like he's a little off....see:

He's cute.  He has massive tattoos, but I can deal with that.  But, man...he has lost his mind over another house guest, and it's getting into his game a little too much.  Caleb has fallen head over heels for Amber.....

Granted, she is gorgeous and smart, but there's one thing that is wrong with this situation...Amber doesn't like Caleb, much less have the kind of feelings for him that he has for her.  It is so sad to watch.  He keeps tabs on her in the house, like who she is with and if she's thinking about him.  Whenever anyone tries to talk game to him, he talks about Amber.  He agreed to be put on the block to save her, which he did by throwing the POV competition, and now he thinks she owes him in some way.  She didn't ask him to do that...he volunteered.

But he's stuck on her none the less.  The biggest hitch in his infatuation......

Cody.  Currently this week's HOH, Cody is Amber's best friend in the house.  FRIEND being the operative word.  They are they sit and talk and rub shoulders and cuddle...yeah, but still friends.  Caleb, just tonight, walked in to the HOH bedroom just so he could see if Cody and Amber were in there and what they were doing.  It was so obvious that's what he was doing because he walked in, sat down, stared at Cody and Amber, didn't say a word, and then got up and walked out.  The boy is obsessed.

He needs to go home. 

I may blog once a week or so about Big Brother now, so watch for the posts.  I will choose one person to blog about, so stayed tuned.  And leave me comments to let me know if you're watching and what you think!  I like comments!!  

Friday, July 18, 2014

I Am A Sucker...Yes I Am!

In this house, we are dog people.  This is because I am highly allergic to cats.  If I go to my sister's house I have to take Benadryl so that my eyes won't swell and itch and my sinuses won't get so stopped up that I cannot breathe.  I even had an allergy attack one night many years ago when I went out to the garage to retrieve a quilt that was in a storage box, but that apparently a cat had gotten into.  Now, mind you, I didn't know this at the time I brought it inside, took it to my bedroom, shook it out and put it very carefully over my bed.  Well that didn't last long: within minutes I was in the shower washing the dander out of my eyes and hair and trying to make sure it was gone and not going to cause me any further problems.

Why am I telling you this?  Because of this:

This little baby was walking down highway 105 one day.  If you know anything about 105, you know that big trucks travel this road all day long and they sometimes don't even stop for traffic signals - especially at 105 and Tram....which is very close to where said baby was running down the shoulder.  Being a sucker, I pulled over to the shoulder and backed up to a point where I could see the baby and told David to get out and catch it.  After trapping him in a ditch, I got a towel from the car and we put it over him and picked him up.  At that point we didn't know if he was too wild to keep or if he was flea infested or what.  We just knew he couldn't be left on the side of the road.

Fast forward a few weeks, and here we are:

 He sleeps on my desk.

 He sleeps on my pillow.

He even sleeps in a box on top of my printer.  He can sleep anywhere.

As for the resident baby of the house, Coal puppy, well he hasn't been too receptive to the invasion.  For the first week or two, he didn't even want to be near the kitty.  He did allow him to get close, though, and I have proof:

"Don't get any closer, Kitty.  I don't like you."

However, things have gotten to a point where Coal doesn't mind the kitty so much...even though Kitty bites his legs while he eats and slaps his ears with his claws out...and then there's this:

"Touching isn't so bad, now is it?"

Kitty will hopefully be going to live with Sheri (her of the cat filled house) at the end of the month.  Of course this is all dependent on the resident kitty at her house, Miss. Priss Butt, accepting this sweet baby. 
"We wear Christmas collars...can you deal with that, Kitty?"

Kitty's new name (I think) is Bruno Butt.  Yes I know...but if you're a cat living in casa de Sheri, you have Butt somewhere in your name.  It's a pre-requisite. 

How am I dealing with the intrusion?  Not so bad, actually.  Other than a few times when my eyes have gotten itchy after kitty has slept on my shoulder, my allergies have been in pretty good check.  I know that will change when he gets older.  I haven't ever had an issue with kittens, just cats.  He's a good kitty, but I think we will stay dog people around here...I mean after all, how can you not love this face?


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Because I Can't Afford To

I read an article just this week about a mom who drove her Mercedes to pick up food stamps (actually WIC) and how she was looked at when people saw her drive up in that particular car.  The article was in the Washington Post and was titled "This is What Happened When I Drove My Mercedes to Pick Up Food Stamps."

This article hit home for me.  Why?  Well, I don't drive a Mercedes, but if I did own one and it was the car I needed to drive at that particular moment, it would be the car I would drive.  No, it hit home for me because I have been asked a question similar to one she was asked..."why don't you sell the car?"....but in my case, it's "why don't you sell your house?"

My answer to that question is simple:  Because I can't afford to sell my house. 

This mom was driving a car that was paid off that her husband had purchased before they were married and had twins and a home....and before her husband lost his job two weeks before she gave birth.   This car wasn't a slap in the face of those who drove up to that same church in cars that were maybe barely running or that were much older and much less extravagant as a Mercedes.  It was the car that was running that day.  It was the car she needed at that time. 

I was asked by a very good friend why I didn't just sell my house.  He asked me this as I was in the middle of yet another crisis at my hot water because the water heater was leaking.  It costs money to fix things like hot water heaters and appliances and a/c unit, which right now I don't have the money to spend on such things.  So why don't I sell my house?  Why don't I just rid myself of the stress of worrying about broken appliances or water heaters or other such things that go wrong when you are a homeowner?

Because I can't afford to sell my house.

Right now, my mortgage payment is $770.95.  Yep.  That's what it is.  There are few three bedroom apartments in Beaumont, and even if I did want to move in to one, they rent for over $1000 a month.  My monthly child support is all we live on right now.  That's $1500 a month.  I can't afford to live anywhere except my house right now.  That's why I don't move. 

Not because I just want to stay in this house and deal with crises when they arise.  I stay in this house because I can't afford to sell it. 

Before you look at people who may be in the same situation as either me or the mom in this article, maybe stop to think that the situation isn't one we choose to be's just what we do because we can't afford to do differently. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

On Being a Facebook Group Admin

As an admin on several Facebook groups, I have learned many things about being an admin that I would like to pass along to anyone who is going to start a Facebook group.  Many of the things are simple, but others are important to the integrity of the group.

How to deal with spammers
Facebook groups are a favorite place for spammers to try to get people hooked to their crap in a way that seems safe because, hey, we are part of the same group that is interested in doing good in our community so why would someone use this group to phish for gullible people?

So how do you deal with this?  First of all, if you are going to be the only admin, you need to be the only one to control who is added to the group.  This can be done in the settings.  Allowing anyone to approve adding people to the group gives control away and allows the group to become something you never intended it to be.  If you started the group, then you admin the group and only you approve who joins.

What should the settings be?
My rule of thumb is that my settings are as controlled as possible.  Depending on what the group is for, you may want to set it to secret - no one can even find the group if you don't tell them about it.   I used this for a neighborhood group (more on that later) that was just for people in our neighborhood so we could communicate.  There's also a setting that is private that allows anyone to see an entry page for the group, but they have to asked to be added, and the admin is the one who can approve.  This is useful for, say, class reunion groups.  Then there's the least restrictive setting that is open.  This setting allows anyone to see the group, who is in it, what people have posted...and this is the one that needs the control for who is approved for the group.  Unless the setting is changed, anyone can add and anyone can approve people in the group.  Just decide what the group is for and what the target audience is and you will know what settings are appropriate.

How do I know who not to let into the group?
This is the tricky part.

In an open group, you might want anyone to be able to join without restriction.  I admin a group for a youth sports league.  I don't want to restrict who can see what is happening with the league, so anything but open is not what I want.  I do, however, want to be the only one who is the admin so that if someone slips in that should not be there, I have the option to remove them from the group - this includes spammers.

How do I know they are spammers?  If you see that someone has posted something that looks like an ad, and you have no idea why that particular ad would be on the group page, then this is usually a spammer.  You can also tell if you go to that person's wall.  If this individual has just joined Facebook or doesn't have any friends...or isn't connected to anyone else in the group in any way, then this person is a spammer.  Go to the list of members, search for this person, and then block them.  You may have to do this over and over, but eventually it will be less and less often.

Now that I have a group, how much control do I actually have?
You have all the control.  Facebook links groups you created to your personal page.  This makes you responsible for everything posted on that group page.  Comments that can be construed as racist or pornographic can come back to you.

THIS IS IMPORTANT: You can delete anything you deem offensive or anything that is not appropriate for the group.  I know people will cry censorship, but you have the right to remove any inappropriate comments from any group you admin.  Some would say you have an obligation to do so.

I ran into this in the neighborhood group I started.  When I created the group, I intended it to be for all of my neighbors...even those with whom I had no desire to be friends.  That wasn't part of my intention.  I don't have to be friends with everyone to allow them to be part of something that is for a neighborhood.  I intended for the homeowners to be able to communicate with each other, and it worked really great at when cars were being broken in to, or when the pool had to be closed for maintenance.  But there were times when some people decided to use the page to slander others and this was unacceptable.  Posts were deleted, and people cried foul....and it always happened to be the 30-something dead-beat son of a homeowner who was living off mom and dad because he is just a loser (my opinion, deal with it).  You have to deal with people like him, but you don't have to be bullied by them.  It is your group, your Facebook, and therefore, your right to censor if need be. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Falling Down Around Me

I had a horrible day yesterday.  By the time I got in bed, I couldn't breathe and felt like the world was falling in around me. 

The day started off with me waking to find that the SCOTUS had ruled that a business can deny birth control as part of its insurance plan.  I had a day long debate about this on facebook with a friend of a friend.  I got into things about my personal life that he had no business knowing but that I felt were good examples of what he was arguing.  He argued that women just want birth control so they can go out and get laid all they want and be loose and not have to worry about getting pregnant.  (Can you say Rush Limbaugh influence?)  I took great offense to this.  He said he also didn't believe that insurance could pay for Viagra, yet he didn't answer me what his thoughts on that would be if someday he needed it.  He just didn't get it. 

He said that women should just go find another job if they work for say, Hobby Lobby, and disagree with the ruling.  I told him that women making $10/hr can't just change jobs if the job they have provides them insurance.  It just isn't that easy.  He said they should just pay for the birth control themselves then because $40/month really isn't that much to pay if it something you think you really need.  That's when I got to the point where I felt the world was falling down around me.

See, each month, my child support is $1500.  My ex doesn't trust me to make the mortgage payment so he makes that payment out of my child support.  After my mortgage payment is deducted, I am given $665 a month.  That money has to pay my electricity, water, phone, cable, and internet bills.  (No comments on my cable and internet.  It's all the entertainment we get, and the internet helps with job searches.) Those bills usually total around $650/month.  I don't even have money to feed my kids.  Our cars have no insurance.  Yesterday, my mom spent $240 on two tires for Nicholas' car....and since she has been buying our groceries, I don't know that I can ask her for more this week...and we only have one more night of food left in this house.

Now, since I have told you all of that, let's go back to the woman who is making $10/hour.  Before taxes, that's $1600 over four weeks....before taxes.  My mortgage is much lower than rent on just about every one bedroom apartment in Beaumont.  If this woman is offered insurance at her job, and that insurance will allow her to get birth control for $10/month, that's $120/year as opposed to the $480 a year if she has to pay for it herself.  What is she supposed to go without?  With the math at my house, there's already no food unless the electricity bill isn't paid, and then that will only get one week's worth of food...but then there's no electricity in the house.  So where does the cut need to be made?  See.  He just doesn't get it. 

Then on top of all of this, I sat in front of my television last night and watched a room full of people cheer when the BISD board of trustees did not approve the RIF that would have laid off 110 teachers.  This made me sick.  The state appointed conservator was appalled at what was happening in that room.  It's like no one understands that when the state comes in to take over that the cuts will be more broad and deeper than what the incompetent board members were suggesting.  I know that the feeling is let the BOM do the job because the BOT is not doing the RIF fairly, but really people?  This is not going to be pretty.  It is not going to be nice and sweet and the ones who will suffer the most (yes, more than those who are laid off) will be the students.  You all just cheered that the education of our students will be at much greater risk than if the RIF had been approved last night. 

I can't handle days like this.  Too much stress and too much ignorance. I need to get out of this town and I can't even escape for a day. 

.....and we still have a kitten.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Look!!! I Added Something New!

I learned how to add social networking icons to my page today...I am so proud of myself.

I also learned how to take a picture like this:

And make it transparent, like this:

May not seem like a big deal, but when working in Photoshop, it makes it easier to create things because there aren't white boxes around pictures.  It works no matter what color you are trying to get rid of in the background, so it's really good to know.

But now I am going to bed.  I am tired after having stayed up all night last night. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Little Something I Tried

(I totally stole this design, but used different fonts and stuff, but I still needed a template to go here it is.)

I saw this invitation on Pinterest today.  So wait, if we are supposed to steal things from Pinterest, did I really steal it?  Anyway, I spent the majority of the day making this invitation.  I think it turned out pretty close to the one on Pinterest.  Nicholas said it did.

I want to show that I can do things like design invitations, or make banners, or pretty much whatever you want.  I have been doing stuff like this for a long time.  The invitation I did in Publisher with fonts I found online, and then I added the frame and the banner across it with photoshop elements.  I would love to get a job that utilizes this skill as I am pretty good at it.  It uses my grammar and spelling as well as my design skills with the desktop publishers.

You can see some of my Facebook covers and banners for my blog here.  I can design one for anyone with any theme.  They also work for Twitter.  If you're interested, let me know.  I will give you pricing if you ask.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Traffic is Up!

Since I started posting my blog to Twitter and Facebook, the page views on this blog have gone up exponentially.  In numbers, there were 200 page views last month.  Considering there were only 1200 posts over a year's time, I doubled my monthly readers!  I'm impressed.

I am going to start doing a little more here, like loading pictures and talking about more than BISD.  I hope I keep you interested.  If you like what you read, please leave a comment to let me know.  I like reading and responding to comments.  That's part of what makes a blog fun.

Thanks for reading!!  Come back often!!  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

You Do Not Speak For Me

I sat here at home last night watching the disgrace that happened in the administration board room at BISD.  I clapped sometimes at comments made by the public...and then I wanted to vomit when the vote was taken to fire over 200 teachers. 

I sat here yelling at my screen when Zenobia Bush, in all her ignorance, made the following statement:

"I try to be respectful and listen to what you have to say, but the reason I asked how many of my constituents are here is because there are some of you who are under the false assumption that you represent all of Beaumont, Texas, and I'm sick of hearing it," she said. "There is more than just one side to a story.
"You cannot make me go home," she replied to vociferous booing, "and until a board of managers comes here, I am going to be sitting right here. I'm going to make the decisions that I make, and I'm going to go home and sleep well."

This woman is so ignorant of what is going on around her it blows my mind.  This is what I have to say to her:

Ms. Bush,

Respectfully, you don't speak for me.  You speak for the people of your district who elected you to that seat.  Those people are going to be the most affected by the decisions that you and the board made last night.  Your agreement that over 200 teachers be fired and that students be bused across town to a school was a blow to your constituents. 

You stated in one meeting something about "people who look like you" being disenfranchised by the 5-2 plan. Ma'am, with all due respect, the "people who look like you" disenfranchise themselves every time they do not go to the polls to cast a vote.  I have a friend who is a black man who told me once that black people do not go out to vote because they feel they are not being afforded the equal rights when they try to vote as white people.  Whose fault is that?  If a person over the age of 18 is registered to vote and that person decides not to go because they feel they will be turned away or their vote won't be counted, that is not the problem of the people who do vote.  Just because a plan was passed that you disagree with, you cannot blame it on us.  Why not go out and talk to the "people who look like you" and encourage them to go out and vote if you want a different result?  Why not get in your car and take the elderly in your district to the DPS office if they need an ID so they can vote?  Why not be proactive instead of being reactive when things do not turn out the way you want them to?  I get so tired of this argument from the black community.  The only people holding the black community back are the black community.  Fight for it if you think you are being disenfranchised.  Fight for it at the polls, not with money that doesn't belong to you but instead belongs to the students of BISD. 

I have been as respectful as I can be on this issue.  I have not attacked individuals, but the entire system that has gotten completely out of control.  It it time that the "people who look like you" start taking responsibility for what happens to them.  Were they at the meeting last night, maybe...maybe not.  If they truly supported you, why weren't they there to speak up for you?  They had the same opportunity to speak that others had and the same means of asking to speak.  No need to go to the admin building, applications were online; and, if they really wanted to speak and had no way to get there, I'm sure you would have helped them out....right? 

Your asking during the public comment portion of the meeting was not only an ignorant thing to do, it was inappropriate.  It doesn't matter in which district those in attendance live.  What matters is that those are the people who truly care about every student in BISD.  Not one of those people can say they are only fighting for the children of the district in which they live.  They will tell you that they are fighting for every child, every teacher who will be unemployed, and even for you...for your vote last night hurt all of Beaumont.  Those are the ones who have been out at admin every meeting making their voices heard...the problem is that you and the other four board members were not listening.  You have not been listening for the last three years.  You didn't listen last night.  You will, however, be listening soon when the commissioner asks you to vacate that seat that you cherish so much. 

What you do not seem to understand is that nothing matters in all of this except the students.  You also do not understand that at some point, you need to do what is right, not what you believe the people in your district want.  Have you asked them?  Have you gone out to see how they are being affected by your decisions?  If you haven't, you have failed them. You have failed the voters and you have failed their children.  Your inability to see that is what truly disturbs me.     

Saturday, June 14, 2014

My Resume

As you may have noticed, I am updating my blog to better network myself.  I have added a link to the posts about BISD that I have written, plus I have added a page telling you a little about me and one that shows where my footprint can be found online.

Today, I added a page that has my resume on it.  I'm not sure this will help me get a job, but maybe if someone actually read my blog (which I hope someone is) that maybe if they see my resume, something will click and it will help me get a job somewhere.

Friday, June 13, 2014

What I'm Reading

This is what I am calling my summer reading list.  It's more like a "I want to read these books" list as I really don't have just summertime to read.  I could honestly get all of the Alex Cross books by James Patterson in order and just sit and read until I am finished.

I read a lot.  Probably more than the average person.  Most of what I read is what I refer to as "crap"....meaning it isn't classic literature and it isn't going to enlighten me to how to fix my life.  I just read what I like...and most of it is, well, not crap, but fun and meaningless.

Janet Evanovich is one of my favorites.  I have read the entire number series.  I am patiently waiting for June 17th so I can start Twenty-One.  I also like Debbie Macomber.  I don't have any of her books on my list right now, but I am sure I will read something by her soon.  I just got into Patterson's books.  I have to admit, for such a prolific writer, he is awesome.

"Wicked" is a book we have had for a while.  I didn't get it for the longest time, but now I do.  Not getting it kept me from reading it, but now that I understand, I want to try again.  I really want to see the musical and hopefully one day I will. 

I wasn't as impressed with "The Fault in Our Stars" as others have been.  I don't even want to see the movie now.  It was good...just not what I was thinking it was going to be.

Maya Angelou has always been someone I admired.  She worked her way up from nothing to become one of the most influential writers/poets in the world.  That's why I want to read her autobiography.

The other one....well, that's one of my "fun and meaningless" books.  I have read the Fifty Shades series, and this pre-dates those, so I thought why not.

What are you reading?  What are your favorites?  Leave me a comment if you want to share.     

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Fine Arts Matter

I have talked before about the problems in the Beaumont Independent School District (BISD).  Recently, the school board voted to declare a financial exigency that will allow them to put forth a reduction in force (RIF) that is going to negatively impact not only the lives of the teachers and their families, but also the lives of the students in BISD.

In Beaumont, we have three high schools - Central, Ozen, and West Brook.  During the school year, these three schools compete on the football field, the basketball court, and in numerous other athletic/academic areas.  West Brook is a 6A school; Central and Ozen are 5A.  The schools only compete to get bragging rights for the year.  The competition is fierce and you know for an entire year who won the Beaumont Bowl trophy most recently.  The students are separated by neighborhoods, but they share the same churches and out of school activities.  They may be rivals, but they are also neighbors and friends.

Those students came together this week to make their voices heard by the school board.  Students from all over the city came together as one to support their teachers and to let the school board know that what they are proposing is too drastic.  Most drastic among those cuts is the proposal of cutting so many fine arts positions that in some cases entire programs at schools will be gutted.  Fine arts consists of band, choir, orchestra, art, theater,dance.  These programs enrich the lives of the students in ways academic classes can't.  They allow the students to show their individual personalities and to use their talents to express themselves through music or art.

According to the MENC (Music Educators National Conference) in their Journal Of Music Education, "Students in high-quality school music programs score higher on standardized tests compared to students in schools with deficient music education programs, regardless of the socioeconomic level of the school or school district." Additionally, the College Board Profile of College Bound Seniors says that students enrolled in fine arts classes score between 11 to 13% higher on the SAT than students not enrolled in any Fine Arts classes.  These aren't statistics that need to be ignored.

I was proud as I stood on the grounds of the BISD administration building as I watched the students come together for a common goal.  The protest of the proposed RIF transcended the boundaries of race, religion, neighborhood, school, was a true representation of our city and one that showed the board that the city has not divided as they had hoped it would.  Instead, their continued malfeasance brought the city together and their voices were loud and clear.  FINE ARTS MATTER!

Is the fight over after yesterday?  No.  The fight continues as long as there are teachers whose jobs are on the long as fine arts programs are in long as those who should be working for the best interest of the students continue to work for themselves instead.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Parenting is a daily work in progress.  It isn't easy.  It is the hardest job in the world and one of the most rewarding.  I have been at it for 21 years now and I still wonder sometimes if I make the right decisions about things. 

I have decided to live by the rule that some things just aren't worth the fight.  If the dishwasher doesn't get unloaded at night, then I will do it in the morning and not make a big deal about it.  If a bedroom is a mess, as long as it isn't a hazardous mess for everyone in the house, I don't have to live in there and if that's the way they want to live, so be it.  It has taken me a long time to get to this point.  It has been a long tunnel to get through, but I finally see the light.

I listen to parents talk about how their kids don't want them to volunteer at their school or be around them because they will embarrass them...yeah, we probably will embarrass you, but you don't have a choice.  This is something I think my kids learned early on.  When Brenham started Kindergarten, I started volunteering on the days when Nicholas and David were at MDO.  I was at the school doing things like making copied and delivering things to classrooms.  I helped with parties.  I was homeroom mom.  I was there.  There were days when I took Nicholas and David with me, and then when Nicholas started continued with taking David.  By the time David started Kindergarten, all three boys were in the same school, so I was really spending a lot of hours volunteering.  I think the secret to being at the school and not having the boys tell me I couldn't was that I didn't hover around them while I was there.  If I saw them in the hall, I may or may not have said hello to them.  I didn't follow them around school.  They knew I was there, but they really didn't see me. 

When Brenham entered middle school, I started going to the middle school to volunteer as well.  I think a lot of parents think that once elementary school is over, so is the opportunity to volunteer.  That is not the case at all.  Middle schools and high schools need volunteers just as much as elementary schools do.  I went on field trips and band trips and choir trips.  I served on the PTA board and not only went to dances, I was the one organizing them.  I served ice cream and made copies and eventually became a sub for the district. 

When high school rolled around, I became a band mom pretty much full time.  For two years I had kids in three schools on three different sides of town and I managed to be at each of them at some point during the week.  By that time they knew telling me I couldn't wasn't even an option.  I never had one of them ask me not to be somewhere.  They knew I wouldn't listen to them anyway, so why even waste the breath? 

I had hard years.  The first years after my ex left to work in Virginia (we were still married then) were hard.  Brenham was starting middle school and that was enough of a change without having it compounded with dad not being around.  I had panic attacks and days when I didn't think I would make it.  But I did.  Not only did I make it, I think I did so very well.  Those years when the kids are at that age when hormones take over the innocent babies we want them to stay are not fun, but there is a light at the end of that tunnel.

How do you get there?  Stop being your child's best friend.  Be his parent.  But do so with love and respect and they will return the love and respect.  Remember that some things are not worth fighting over.  If it isn't going to hurt them, it isn't going to hurt to let it go. 

I tell people all the time I had the strangest teenagers I have ever known.  They never really fought with me.  They made/make good grades.  They didn't get in trouble in school.  They haven't been reckless drivers.  They don't run the roads at all hours.  They are home before 10:00.  They don't give me grief.  I really don't know where they came from, but I know that the young men they are now is from hard work on all our parts.  I know I probably have an outlook that is different from the way things really were, but I also know I have some pretty darn good kids.

And that just gets brighter and brighter!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou

If you read this blog at all, you will notice that the first sentence in my "About Me" blurb is a quote from Maya Angelou.  It is one that has defined my life....from where I have decided to worship to what I have learned from being suddenly single again.  In case you haven't actually read it, I am posting it here so it can be seen front and center:

When I first heard this quote, I knew that there were things in my life that I needed to do better.  There were also things in my life I knew that I had also done better.  Maya Angelou always had the most insightful things to say.  She was wise and educated.  She loved to teach and to mentor young people.  She loved to help women understand that they don't have to be walked all over by men.

Maya Angelou was only the second poet to ever recite a poem at a presidential inauguration.  She was well respected by many.  She will be missed by this world.  We lost a marvelous soul today. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Proud Mom Moment

This coming Saturday, my oldest child, the one who has been with me the longest, is going to be on stage in a recital hall in the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin for his Junior Recital.  When he first told me that this would be happening, I was amazed at how fast time has gone by.

It seems like just yesterday I was seeing him off on his very first solo trip to Austin for freshman orientation.  That day, I was supposed to go with him but realized that I couldn't just go and leave Nicholas and David at home.  I mean, what was I thinking?  So, I did the only thing I could do...I put my trust in God and in Brenham and I waved goodbye to him as he started on his journey.  He did fine that week.  He went to lots of orientation information meetings, he made friends, and he realized that Austin was where he was supposed to be.  He had found his new home.

Now, three years later, he is a junior and is hosting this recital for everyone to come enjoy.  Not only has he found his home, he has grown exponentially in his music studies.  He has had an amazing teacher who has nurtured his voice and it shows.  I always knew he was talented, but the extent of his talent has gone beyond anything I ever imagined.  He sings opera.  Opera.  I don't know very many opera singers who weigh about as much as a feather.  The voice that comes out of him is phenomenal.  It shocks everyone when he sings.

So on Friday, Nicholas, David and my self will be heading to Austin to listen to this wonderfully talented young man sing.  I am so very proud of him and all of his accomplishments.  If you are in Austin this weekend, please come hear him.  The recital is free and there will be a reception afterward.  He would love to have a full house. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Turning Over a New Leaf

I haven't posted much since December, with reason.  A lot happened in December and the new year hasn't been much different.  But here's my post to turn over a new leaf, yet again.

Beaumont and the BISD has been going through a lot of turmoil for several years.  Led by board members who are more concerned with control and race than with working for the best interest of the students, the board spiraled down until, today, TEA Commissioner Michael Williams responded to reports by two different committees with the announcement that he will appoint a board of managers and a conservator to take over BISD.  As was expected, our delusional board members responded with claims of political bias and racial bias.  The following is my response to the comment made by Woodrow Reece.  (His comment included.)

"I recommended a conservator but not the death penalty. We didn't do anything as bad as El Paso or other districts that were taken over. I know there are powerful people in Beaumont who wanted a takeover. And he (Commissioner Williams) is a Republican, bless his soul. The kids will be okay. But at the end of the day, you bring some folks in here, you'll further divide the community. This community is still split. When the TEA leaves, the community will be split again." ~ Woodrow Reece

I have a reply for Mr. Reece:

Not only was a conservator necessary, the "death penalty" for the board and superintendent was also necessary. When a majority on the board, backed by the superintendent and their attorney, consistently ignore the voices of the voters, it's time for action from higher authority. Yes, there are powerful people in Beaumont who wanted BISD to be taken over...they are called the voters who decided that a 5-2 board was what they wanted.

When the current board, you included Mr. Reece, decided that it didn't matter what the voters wanted, you showed your blatant disregard for the will of the voters. No matter that the majority of the votes came from one part of town, that is not the fault of the voters who took the time to cast their votes. If it was truly the will of the majority in Beaumont, a majority you say is black and in charge of the schools, they would have gotten out to vote and defeated the initiative. That did not happen. Since that vote, it has been shown that the Gof4 on the board had no intention of implementing the will of the voters.

But the problems go back farther than the vote. The problems go to the constant disregard for the entire city of Beaumont. You and your Gof4 put a name on the stadium that was only intended to create was a "we can do what we want" moment for your little group and it only caused more pressure to be placed on the board to make changes that needed to be made. You and your friends feel like you have been wronged in the past so now that you have "control" you will use it to the detriment of the entire district. I have heard many times "the white people did it, so why can't we" so many times....but instead of just trying to "stick it to the man," why not be a bigger person and just do what is right for the students of BISD and not let your hurt feelings get in the way?

Your new allegation is that this take over is happening because Mr. Williams is a Republican...really? The people who have been calling for change for years are racists and Mr. Williams is a Republican and those are the only reasons for wanting things to be better in BISD? When will you and the rest of the Gof4 realize this is about you and your need to control, not any racial or political agenda on the part of the citizens and voters? You are afraid of people being brought in from outside of the area that you can't control. You are afraid that this Republican is going to appoint white people to tell you what to do.

This community is still split. On that one issue, I agree with you. The split is there because of people like you who make such divisive statements as the one you made today. You and Ms. Bush came out talking about what is happening to you. Mr. Neil came out and talked about how it could have been prevented and how, even though he will feel the brunt as well, he acknowledges it is for the best and will do whatever he can to help in the process. It's a shame that you and Ms. Bush, Ms. Ambres, and Mr. Williams cannot just acknowledge your roles in this debacle. Instead you whine and call names and show your true colors.

Maya Angelou stated "When people show you who they are, believe them the first time." I believed who all of you were when not one of you chastised Ms. Bush when she talked at the board meeting of "people who look like" her. That was as racist of a statement as has ever been uttered in the BISD board room. That is who you are. That is who all of you are. I believed it then, I believe it now. It has been your mantra for over 20 years. It will be your mantra for the rest of eternity. Until people like you decide that it is time to do away with that attitude, this city, this state, this country will never move forward and there will never be true equality for everyone in this country.

If you don't want this community to be split when the TEA leave, it would behoove you to not try to be re-elected to the board. None of the board, including Mr. Neil and Mr. Neild, should try to become a board member again. Not only would that cause further division and more fighting and waste of funds in litigation, it would just be in poor taste. The time the TEA will be in charge is not a time-out. It is a game over for you. Your game is over, Mr. Reece and the rest of the Gof4. Pack up your things and vacate the board room. Your presence is no longer needed.