Saturday, April 18, 2009

Weather and Windmills

Two great things to take pictures of...
Sarah Lee and I went to the college to collect Claye for the weekend. On the way home, it was threatening rain, and the sky was lovely. I kept stopping, so Claye and I could take these pictures.
Spring skies are simply too beautiful to resist.
After we downloaded them, I spent an hour tweaking, taking out telephone lines and cropping etc. , but the subject matter is just that beautiful by itself. God is an amazing artist!

Guess Who's Grandchildren Came for Easter?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pushing too Far

I just came back from the gym, and I'm still a little angry with what I witnessed there while I worked out. ..

A young, thin mother sat on the exercise bike, pedaling very slowly and leisurely while her daughter--an equally slender child who appeared to be eight or nine years old--walked on the treadmill beside her. The big-screen TV was alive with cavorting, cone-faced cartoons--flat like paper dolls. Although the sound was on, it was impossible to distinguish any words because the radio was also blaring--a obnoxious, stuttering song about how it "must have been the alcohol", then various advertisements, and a noble-sounding tune with lyrics which reflected on the fact that we climb many mountains and it doesn't really matter what's on the other side because all meaning is in the struggle...the climb.

Meanwhile the little girl was ordered by her mother to set the treadmill high enough so she could run without holding the rails. After about fifteen minutes of running, the child asked if she could stop. She said her ankle was hurting. Her mother told her she couldn't stop, but had to keep going. She asked again, and the mom again told her "no". (It seems she had to run a mile first.) The ensuing conversation went like this:

Girl: "but my ankle really hurts"
Mom: "then slow it down to 3.5 and walk"
(She slows the treadmill to a fast walk)
Mom: "Weenie. Just be a wimp."
Girl: "but it hurts"
Mom: "then how come you didn't quit during soccer? It can't have been hurting."
Girl: "It didn't start hurting until after soccer."
Mom: "Was it hurting during gymnastics?"
Girl: "Yes"
Mom: "Did you wear your brace? It would never have hurt if you had been wearing your brace like you are supposed to, so it's your fault if it hurts."
Girl: (Silence)
Mom: "Well don't quit until you've walked the rest of your mile."

After a few more minutes of this: sullen child slogging along and mom gently peddling the bike and watching flat cartoons, the girl switched off the machine and got an immediate response:

"No, you can't stop; you have to cool down. That's the most important part of the workout. You can't just quit; now turn that machine to 2.5 and cool down for three minutes."

She complied, head down, tears just under the surface.

Finally, the ordeal was over. The little girl picked up her things and walked out the door without saying a word. The mother stopped her bicycling--without doing any cool down--and followed silently, only pausing to stop the battling noises of television and radio.

I sat shaking my head. What is America doing to its children? Here's a child who went to school all day, played soccer, went to gymnastics, and is commanded to run a mile before she can rest. Was the ankle hurt badly? Probably not, but what does it matter? Why does she need more than one sport a day? What inherent need drives a mother to push her child like this? Is she hoping to raise a great who will say, "It was my mother who kept me going"?

Most likely things won't turn out that way.

Two Extremes

Last night, as he struggled with typing another unit of lesson plans, my son, the student teacher, who had suffered a particularly trying day at the mercy of that lethal triangle: high school students, administration, and parents, bemoaned, "I don't know why anybody in his right mind would actually choose to teach high school as a profession!" This was quite a switch from his formerly-held views on the subject, and, hopefully, just a reflex reaction to a bad experience.

This morning, on the way to school, my student riders bemoaned the fact that they had so many years of school left. When I teased them, saying I had taught here for seventeen years and never got to graduate, they responded with: "Yeah, but it's really easy for you. You just write something on the board, give us an assignment, and sit over there and eat!"

No fair! I never eat in class. True, sometimes I drink a cup of coffee, and some days I give them a writing assignment, but what about all the lectures, and stories, and discussions, and grading, and tailor-made tests, and reading books to put on the accelerated reader program? What about directing plays, and academic team practices and tournaments; running concession stands and suppers for class sponsorships; holding parent conferences; typing letters and press releases; inputing grades; earning continuing education credits and doing self-studies for school accreditations.....

Ah well...they are young and innocent, and I like them that way so I think I'll just give them an assignment and sit over here and eat a cracker...after I scribble something on the board.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Junior/Senior Fun Day

Here's a bunch of pictures from our annual junior/senior skip day. If you don't know these kids and my school, feel free to skip this one. I guess, really, you're free to skip any you wish...since it's only a blog and not an assignment. Sigh.

Three of the girls were too adventurous in their hiking choices and ended up stuck high on a cliffside. Fortunately, they had cell phones with them and texted us a "help". Their classmates were eager to help; they solved the problem by making a human chain both above and below the girls and handing them down. It doesn't look very scary in the picture, but that's because you can't see how high it really was.In this picture, one of the girls is already down.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Look Who's Walking?

Six months from the terrible accident that befell our school, the teacher and driver of the Suburban involved is now walking. This is a wonderful thing. We didn't know if Patty would ever be able to walk again, or even have legs. It's great to see her smiling face in the halls, for the last couple of months in a wheelchair, and now--for short little trips--on her own legs and feet. God is good to us.

Update: A year later