Thursday, April 28, 2011

Odd Insect Behavior

It's spring time in the south so that means quickly changing weather from nice to cold to hot and humid, and back again to cold.  We have also had sunny, unusual windy days, rain, and tornadoes all of which have occurred in the course of one month.

Yesterday, I witnessed the oddest behavior from some bees.  As I was leaving the parking lot at work a swarm of bees came from out of nowhere and flew off.  It was the strangest thing.  The bees were huddled together in thin air communicating with each other the way bees only do.  I backed my truck out of the parking space, glanced out the side window, and that's when I noticed them.  I could only stare at wonder and curiosity.  I had never seen anything like it before.  At first I wasn't really sure what I was looking at.  I questioned if it were bees or something else.  This all happened in a matter of seconds.  Then they lifted higher and proceeded to fly away together.  After finally coming out of my dazed state, I drove forward and noticed some of my coworkers in the same state I was just in.  I quickly rolled down my window to ask if they saw what I did.  They did, and we left as fast as we could.

I was still thinking about those bees when I arrived home.  Something just didn't seem right, and I couldn't figure it out.  I now think those bees were a warning sign of what was about to happen that evening. 

That evening the weather began to change.  It had been cloudy, warm, and humid all day.  The rain began and turned into quite a thunderstorm.  Now, this type weather is not at all unusual around here in the south so I went about my normal evening activities.  As I listened to the storm outside I could tell it was getting worse.  An aunt called as I was finishing dinner to ask if I had seen the news.  I told her no and asked why.  She suggested that I turn on the news because it looked like a tornado was about to touch down in my area. 

Naturally, I started panicking and when I turned on the TV I discovered just how bad the storm really was.  There were tornadoes touching down all around my area.  Luckily, the tornado my aunt had called to warn me about was not coming toward my house, but I did call a friend because it was around her area.  She and her family were waiting out the storm in their closet.

In the meanwhile, I continued to listen to the weather forcast while checking my facebook at the same time.  And, facebook was buzzing with activity during the storm.  Funny how one can find out what's happening and how everyone's doing just by checking facebook.  I sometimes think I get the important news firsthand from my friends instead of the TV.

After a few hours everything outside started calming down, and my family and friends were safe.  That was one crazy night, and I have learned to never question odd insect behavior again.  So, if you ever happen to see a swarm of bees doing unusual activity, be aware and take caution because something is up.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Road Trip

Drove from Louisiana to Arkansas.  Here is a recap of my trip on the way there.

First hour:
  •  Left home at 5:30 p.m.
  • Spent first 30 min. setting up GPS, getting gas, cash, and food for everyone at Sonic.
  •  Sang off key with hubby to Footloose playing on the radio.

Second hour:

  •  Chris gets a speeding ticket in Bradley, AR.
  •  Had contest with Chris and Caleb in who could hold an atomic fireball the   longest in their mouth.
  •  Made a prediction with Caleb as to what time we would get there. I said 8:30 pm. He said 8:20 pm. 
  •  First bathroom stop.

Third hour:

  • Visited Bill Clinton's 2nd childhood home in Hope, AR.
  • Played a math mind game which Caleb started and totally amazed me that he could guess the correct number I was thinking of.
  • Sang along to Queen.

Fourth hour:

  • Realized the GPS is taking us the long way.
  • Texting with Caleb on our cell phones when we had a signal.
  • Praying that we don't hit a deer on the long, desolate, dark, eerie highway.
  • Roll windows down because Caleb is passing gas.
  • Caleb asks, "When are we going to get there?"
  • Finally arrive at destination at 9:15 p.m.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Freedom of Speech

Today I have the need to speak on the topic of freedom of speech.  "The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the rights of freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference."  The second component of this amendment targets freedom of speech and allows individuals to express information, ideas, and opinions freely in the United States of America.

That being said how does one interpret this Amendment of the Constitution when dealing with social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace?  It appears that expressing one's thoughts and ideas in writing on a public networking site has a different set of rights.  Why is it deemed ok by society to speak one's mind to others orally, but when it comes to putting those thoughts into words then all of a sudden it's wrong? 

One example of where this has become a gray area and where words can get blown way out of proportion is the workplace.  I get that some things should never be discussed such as confidential information or comments made about one's boss or even coworkers.  But, what about expressing one's opinion toward specific situations if it doesn't involve hatred or threatening remarks?  Should an individual be forced to limit his freedom of speech if another individual disagrees or doesn't think a topic should be discussed?

I find it ironic that the purpose of social networking is to do some networking and get to know people, but then you add friends and are then limited to speaking your opinion for fear of offending them.  Unfortunately, I have no answer to the ever growing issue of when freedom of speech is no longer free to speak.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Professional Paperworker

It's auditing time for the special education department in my school system.  This is the time that new forms are added for us to do not at the beginning of the year, but the end of the year.  You would think that this time of year we would be wrapping things up with teaching.  Not in special ed.  You get to find out what paperwork should be done next, and it should be done ASAP! 

I think I'm going to add to my job description the following statement: Be able to fill out an enormous amount of forms for every single thing you do during the work day with a child.  If a form has not already been made for you then feel free to make up your own form! 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Life That Chose Me

It all began with my birth to my parents, David and Ann, in the summer of 1968.  I'm sure I must have enjoyed being an only child for a couple of years. Two years later though my sister arrived followed by my brother 4 years after that.  Now, we were a family of 5.

Dad, Mom, and Todd

Me and Susan
Growing up, I had a pretty easy childhood.  My sister and I got along for the most part, as well as any typical sisters do.  We had our share of sibling rivalry, but we also had moments of sisterly bonding.  My brother was born with Down Syndrome.  My mother explained to us when he was born that he was a special brother that God sent to us.  Although he couldn't do some of the things we could or that a typical brother does this never mattered to me, and I grew up accepting Todd as he was. 

I have always been told that we are put on this earth for a reason, and I believe my brother was born into my family with a special purpose for me.  Unknown to me at the time, I believe the experiences I had with my brother and what he taught me (consciously and unconsciously) helped prepare and shape my future.

Prom 1986

Fast forward to high school.  I first met my husband Chris when we were seniors in high school.  We met in coach Thompson's World History class, and his pick up line was, "Hey babe, when are we going out?"  I responded by rolling my eyes and saying, "Never."  You know the saying never say never?  Well, I have learned never to say never.  A few months later our senior class had its senior party.  It was here that I finally gave in and we ended up going on our first date.  We went on a few more dates, graduated, and then it fizzled out as we went our separate ways to different colleges.  I enrolled at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches majoring in Speech Pathology, and Chris went to Kilgore College in Texas to major in Radiology Technology (Think X-rays).  I'm not really sure why I chose speech pathology as my major.  The fact that my brother had communication issues may have drove me in that direction.

A year later my days at Northwestern came to an end.  Sadly, the speech pathology program was dropped from the college, so I returned home and enrolled at Lousiana State University-Shreveport in the same program under education.  Another year later guess who I met up with?  You guessed it.  Chris had graduated from Kilgore and had returned home. 

Me and Chris

Chris and I began dating again.  He found a job at the VA Hospital in Shreveport, and I completed college with a degree in speech pathology.  Here is where things began to change.  Chris and I were married in the spring of 1992.  My next plan was to earn my Master's degree in speech pathology.  I had expected to just enroll and begin classes, but due to a waiting list to get into the program at the time my plans abruptly changed.  While waiting to get into graduate school a friend, who was also waiting to get into the same graduate program, told me about her plans to teach special education.  I'm not sure what led me in this direction.  It could have been the fact that I just needed a job at that time, but I'm pretty sure this was God's plan for me.  Before I knew it, I'm back in school taking special education classes while teaching one at the same time.  In the meantime, Chris began learning how to do ultrasounds, and as a result this changed his career.


Three years later, Chris and I were blessed with a son.  My son, Nicholas, was born with Down Syndrome.  I remember the day he was born so clearly.  I think the first feeling I had was shock.  I had no idea and had not even thought about the possibility of having a child with Down Syndrome.  The first few days were filled with sadness and a grief period so to speak.  The grievance of not having a "normal" child and thoughts of what would come next.  This period of sadness soon went away.  I had the chance to reflect on what I knew about my brother who had Down Syndrome, and the opportunity to meet some tremendous parents in the same situation through the support group Up With Downs.  Nicholas is now 16 years old.  I would not trade him for the world.  I don't know why God chose to place Nicholas in my life.  Perhaps it was to show what unconditional love is.  Maybe it was to teach me patience.  Whatever the reason I just feel blessed and love him more each day.


In 2000, Chris and I were blessed again with a second son.  Caleb was born and Nicholas now had a brother.  I knew Nicholas was going to be a challenge, but little did I know how much of a challenge my second child would be.  Caleb is the complete opposite of my easy going Nicholas.  From the moment Caleb came into the world he was a force to be reckoned with.  Full of energy and strong willed, he can test my patience daily.  Despite the challenges, I can also look at Caleb and see a passionate, sensitive, and smart child.  He brings to the family his own personality and is loved for who he is. 

At the same time I was busy having a family, I was also still teaching.  Instead of going back to school and finising my speech pathology degree I finished my education degree and earned a special education certification.  I have been teaching special education now for 19 years and in that time I have also received a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction and my Reading Specialist certification.  The challenges of teaching special needs children are many, but it is also rewarding and meaningful.  Being a special education teacher requires a lot of patience.  The fact that I have stayed in this profession for as long as I have tells me that I made the right decision. Each year brings new challenges with each class.  I work hard to try and give each of my students what they need and hope that I am making a difference in their lives.

As I reflect back on the last 40 years of my life, I am amazed at where it has taken me and where I have ended up.  All the experiences I have had in the past and present have made me into the person I am today.  From the family I was born into to the person I married and had children with, all have been a meaningful part of my life.  This is the life that chose me, and one I will always be thankful for.

Monday, April 4, 2011


It's been 27 days since Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, and 27 days of no coffee for me.  Yes, this year I decided to give up coffee!  Now mind you, I'm not an avid coffee drinker in the sense that I drink it morning, noon, or night, but I do like to get my mornings started with a good cup of brew.  I also like the occasional stop to Starbucks.

So, I'm more than half way through Lent and doing good, but today was really hard.  I am just now coming off spring break which meant I had a whole week to sleep in, right?  Well sleep in until the kids woke up, which thankfully was 3 hours more than I normally get since I usually get up a 5a.m. 

Today, I'm back at work teaching, and it was so hard to not have that cup of coffee.  Not only did I lose my 3 extra hours of sleep, but Nicholas didn't want to sleep at all which means mom didn't sleep.  You don't know how bad I wanted to just give in and make that pot of coffee.  I even thought of stopping at my favorite coffee place, Starbucks of course, where it was already made for me, but I didn't.  I pushed it out of my mind and went to work without it.  I somehow made it through the day.

So, this is kind of a long story to get to the point, but I'll do that now.  I came home and eventually got to sit down and talk to my husband briefly about our day.  I mentioned the coffee thing and then he told me something that just left me stunned.  Did you know that the six Sundays in Lent are not counted?  I had no idea!  Now granted I did not grow up Catholic.  I became a Catholic while dating my husband and before we were married 19 years ago.  My husband on the other hand has been Catholic since birth. 

Anyway, I looked at him skeptical and asked why, but he didn't know why.  That was just something his mother had always told him.  Today, after my long, exhausted day at school I came home and started thinking about what I gave up for Lent and about Sundays not counting during Lent.  I decided to search the Internet to see if my husband was right.  Lo and behold, I discovered that it's true!  I learned that the six Sundays during Lent are not counted because each one represents a "mini Easter."  There are other religions that observe Lent too, and the forty days of Lent may be counted different.

So I learned something new today.  The only thing I can say is that I wish it wasn't Monday!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring Break 2011

My spring break is coming to an end which means it's back to school tomorrow.  I've enjoyed this week with my kids.  We have slept late, went swimming at an indoor waterpark, began challenger league with my oldest son, and did some spring cleaning.  It's been a good break!