Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I am the vine

Today's lesson for my logos class is John 15 where Jesus teaches that he is the vine.  I have an idea for getting this across to them and will let you know how it goes.

Update:  I think it went very well!  I sketched a tree with roots and five main branches and then 3 smaller branches from each of the five.  I had the kids list 5 things that are very important to them on the main branches and then 3 reasons why that is important to them.  I then had them label the trunk as Jesus and the roots as the Bible.  Then we read John 15:1-17.  Then we discussed our trees.  Each child told us one thing that was on their tree.  I told several things that were on mine.  We talked about how there might be times that we would need to prune some of our branches and why.  I loved this lesson!  It was very humbling for me to see my tree and realize that I have a lot of pruning to do on my tree.  I know that the Lord has been pruning already and I can see that there is much more to be done.  Bearing good fruit is the goal!

Beautiful Day

Thank you Lord for a beautiful day!  Today brings much happiness to me and I know that You are the source!  I am thrilled to report that my mom had an excellent follow-up visit with her doctor in Dallas yesterday.  Also, some things that had been weighing heavily on me have been lifted.  It has been a firm reminder that I am not the one in control, no matter how much I would like to think that I am!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

new blog

I decided if I am going to participate in the Iron Craft Challenge, then I need to separate the crafting from this blog.  So a new blog was made and can be found here!  So if you are here looking for craft, you should try the new blog.  I'm sure I will have enough to say for both blogs!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Step one

I set up the Flickr account in preparation for joining in on the Iron Craft challenges.  You can find me listed as theresplendentbeauty over there.  I know that is the name of the jewelry line I create but I hope that some of my craft ideas will result in jewelry creations.  I have already uploaded some of my craft picture but you have probably already seen most if not all here on this blog.  I still have to figure out how to link the flickr with this blog.  I think the problem is that I am using 2 different email accounts.  More to figure out for another day.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Do you know what it means?

to miss New Orleans?  It seems that this weekend was the weekend to head to NOLA or at least it does on my FB feed.  No less than 3 friends were there and reporting back on where they were eating and what they were doing.  It brought back so many memories.  Most of them were good.  The culinary ones definitely were good!  So in response, I wanted to share a page from my art journal.  I'm not a great artist and I don't pretend to be one so be kind.  The page was created this past September as we marked the 5 year anniversary of Katrina.

Here is the text: 
Katrina came in 2005 and made a mess of my beloved New Orleans.  Now 5 years later, there is hope that the grand city will recover.  She will never be the same, but she will be something new.  I am sad that the homes which welcomed my oldest two children home are no more.  But we still have the memories and better yet - our family is thriving and prospering because the Lord has plans for us that are good, just as His plans for NOLA are good!  Sept '10

Fashion Fails

I'm not sure what they were trying to prove with this set of images but please!  Just because a celebrity wears a dress that is less than $200 doesn't mean it is a great dress!  These things were awful imho.
The first tragic ensemble is here.  Numbers 6, 7, 9 and 10 were truly hideous.

I'm in!

I just discovered Iron Craft.  A weekly challenge blog for crafters and I think I will have to join in!  Fun!  There looks to be crafters at every level participating in the fun.  Some are quite accomplished and others are just out there having fun.  I'll try to blog my creations each week here as well.  This week's theme is 'hometown'.  I don't know if I will get to my home town but certainly my home state.

Now I need to go set up a Flickr account so that I can join in on the fun!  To see more for yourself, check out this site:  Iron Craft

Friday, February 18, 2011

busy weekend

It's another busy weekend in our house!  DS will be serving and cleaning up at Disney fundraiser / pancake breakfast tomorrow.  He has to be at the restaurant at 6:45 tomorrow morning!  That is early on a Saturday!  Then our oldest DD will be singing in a competition tomorrow.  She has 4 pieces, 2 musical theatre and 2 art songs to sing.  This is her first competition for Dr. Beasley so I hope she does well.  Her times are 9:30 and 9:40 tomorrow morning.  Then later in the day is another fund raiser for the Disney trip.  This time at Shaggy's Burgers and Tacos.  They are donating 20% of sales if you mention AAA Stars and Clowns with your order.  I am hoping we will have our taxes filed today too.  Woohoo!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Schools again...

Excuse me again whilst I take another detour. The leader of the local NAACP spoke at a press conference today about the state of the Huntsville City Schools. I cannot comprehend the comment that the problem with test scores lies not with the students or the parents but with the schools themselves. As a parent of children who attend a racially balanced school, I cannot accept this statement. This is no more true than saying that every white child is smart. Every child is different. I do not know the teachers in the schools to which she was referring but I know that some if not most of these teachers are there because they believe they can make a difference for these children. Learning does start at home. Parents have to model the behavior and set expectations for their children. Schools can help, but the re-enforcement from home is so important.

Spend a little time with Mark Strong and learn about the Lincoln Village Project. See how these children truly suffered from a home enviroment that was not conducive to learning. This group of volunteers went into Lincoln Elementary to mentor and tutor those children. They modelled for them the way to study and commit to learning. If it does not come from home, someone must teach them these things. Now that Lincoln and MLK have merged, the hard work is starting over. The teachers must be won over and the new students taught what was learned at Lincoln.

I have been raised and have tried to raise my own children to know that the color of a person does not matter. What matters is character and moral values. The Lord does not look upon our exterior but on our hearts to see who we are.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Funny things they say

I was getting in the car last night with my oldest DD when I heard a familiar song on the radio. It was Rock This Town Tonight and so I said, "Oooh, Stray Cats!" Her reply? "Where?"

Love my kids!

A great article on Huntsville and our lurking problem.

This story from the Huntsville Times is a good one. It really points out how wonderfully we are positioned for growth but that we still have a problem with which we must deal.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentine's Day

I've been trying to come up with a cute Valentine card for my baby. This will be her last year to exchange Valentines with her class and I would love to have a cute idea for her. The class will be having an ice cream social for a party so maybe an icecream cone idea would be cute. Time to get the wheels cranking!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Revisiting the Grand Experiment

I want to take a moment to revisit my earlier post
where I discuss cutting off the cable. We are now 6 months out and still doing great. Instead of a pc box in the master bedroom, a new hdtv (small mind you) found its way to the room. It allows us to watch netflix via the internet. And then at Christmas, Santa brought the DH an HD antenna so that we could watch broadcast TV again. Perfect! The new combo gives us access to news and weather quickly and who knew there were so many new channels out there!

As for the other benefit of the Grand Experiment, well that seems to have diminished somewhat. DS has taken to playing more computer games, specifically MineCraft, and we have to limit the computer time for him.

In all, I still consider the Grand Experiment to be a success. We saved money and have truly not missed what cable brought us in terms of content.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What's the fix?

Okay - I'm going off the path again so I'm going to beg your favor while I bend your ear about a subject near and dear to me. That's right! The current state of Huntsville City Schools has me worried and concerned for my children's education.

Huntsville is a city that has so many things going for it. We have a large military installation that is growing. We have a NASA center. We have multiple colleges and universities, including UAH which is a leading research school for science and technology. We have multiple research parks. One would think, and rightly so, that we have a very well educated populace. They say we have more engineers per capita than any other place. I don't doubt that at all. And the number of residents with advanced degrees is staggering.

I have barely scratched the surface of things that are great about Huntsville. When we relocated here in 1998, we rented a house for 1.5 years. That time allowed us to find our place in the area. We knew where my work would be, and then we found child care. And soon we had found a church. Our oldest enrolled in a dance program. And then we began to work with a realtor to find a place to purchase. We looked in the city of Madison. We looked out in the county. We checked out neighborhoods all over. The traffic in Madison was a nightmare and I don't see where that has improved at all in the past 13 years. If anything, it has become worse with the influx of new citizens.

Madison county, and to some extent Madison city, have mushroomed. Cotton fields have become subdivisions almost overnight. The county does not provide the services that come with city living and the zoning laws are not very strict. You could find your new home downwind of a pig farm if you weren't careful. They are the growth areas and it seems realtors often start their clients in these areas. But because we knew after 1.5 years that Huntsville is where we wanted to be, we were able to narrow our focus.

Huntsville will continue to find most new residents gravitating to Madison city and county if we don't fix the problems with Huntsville City Schools! What problem? The debt that is hanging around our neck like a millstone! The current total is $19.5M. That is not small change. Things have gotten so bad that the state board of education has threatened to step in and take over.

So now we find ourselves faced with difficult choices. We have already had a significant round of cutbacks at the schools. For instance, my children's school only has a part time assistant principal and a part time counselor. We have to share these administrators with the other magnet school (k-8). It makes it very difficult to arrange a conference when the person is out of the building. And that is just small sample of things all over the city. We also closed several schools this past year. There were hopes that at least one of the buildings would sell quickly after the school closed. Now over 1 year later, these building still sit empty with taxpayers still covering the utility bills that are required whether the buiding is in use or not.

Then comes word that our board is over paid! This has been going on for 2 years! Even with the cut back in pay to the max allowed, we have the highest paid board in the state! Incredible! If only our schools reflected that.

So now things are coming to a head. A former state superintendent is being hired to come in and help the current superintendent make the decisions necessary to balance the budget. Mind you, the current superintendent is a lame duck. She has resigned her post and will leave as soon as an interim can be put in place. It is hardly fair for an interim to handed this problem and told to make the cuts.

So what happens now? Rumors are swirling all over town! Some say the magnets will be targetted but they are still part of the court ordered desegregation. Unless the order is lifted, there is no way for the magnets to be cut. It is said that ASFL has the highest number of locally paid staff. I'm not sure what that means for them as certainly, the locally funded positions are being targetted. Non certified staff are going to be cut as well. Does that mean fewer aides in the classrooms? Fewer custodians to clean? Fewer maintenance workers to maintain an aging set of buildings?

I don't have any answers but I am following the debate closely. Like many other parents and homeowners, I will be watching to see that my children continue to receive a quality education in an environment that remains safe and nurturing for them. I am watching to see that cuts are made equitably. It is not fair to target one side of town and not the other. It is not fair to cut programs that advance our children's education. I believe that the arts make a difference. I believe that gifted education is vital. I believe that foreign languages are a requirement for success in a global society. I believe that learning a trade can put an individual on a path to success. I believe that our schools are a tool for growth. If Huntsville expects to benefit from BRAC, our schools must be fully funded and flourishing.

I would love to know what you think about this. Do you have ideas to improve our schools? Have you met with resistance before? Maybe now is the time to put those ideas into practice.