Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Fantastic Four

We have been married for four years.

Four years!! I know that isn't really a long time...but it seems like I walked down the aisle a couple of days ago. I still feel like we're newlyweds. I think we have been married longer than Jessica Simpson was married to Nick Lachey. Hmmm...there's a goal I always wanted to accomplish in life...

Being married is awesome. Being married to my best friend is incredible. Who else could make me laugh at 2 a.m. about the dumbest things imaginable? Hanging out with Jeremy is truly one of life's greatest blessings.

Here's to us, S.B. One day when we're old (and arguing over Hitler's reasons for suicide, vitamins, and water aerobics) we'll remember the days when we lived in our little condo and were wild and free. ;) Love you.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Things I Re-Learn in Summertime

1. Vacation Bible School awakens nostalgia. There is something about the sight of VBS signs in front of churches that brings back memories. I hear the clang of the New Bridge/Straightway pianos banging out "Onward, Christian Soldiers." I remember the Bible studies and songs about Jesus that I can still recite/sing to this day. I remember my ineptitude at crafts, the pleather of the church bus, and the amazing happiness that two sandwich cookies and a cup of Kool-Aid brought to my face. The memories are bittersweet - I can't remember them without picturing my Grandpaw right there beside me. He was an integral part of my childhood summers. Sometimes I miss him so much I ache.

Switching gears...

2. Wasps love pool water. They constantly hover over pools (at least they do this at Mom's) to get them a drink of water. This was Dad's theory, anyway. He always said that whenever the sight of a wasp sent me or my sister into a panic. "Leave 'em alone! He's just gettin' 'em a drink of wutter!"

And, while we're at it...

3. Sweat bees are pure evil. Plain and simple. Before I vote, I would like to know Obama and McCain's plans for sweat bee termination. Maybe CNN can do a Gallup Poll. Hmm. Ahem. Back to my plan for sweat bee annihilation: I plan to attack them and their horrid little underground nests one day...if I can ever find them. You may think I'm being a little melodramatic (me? NEVER!), but if several of them sting you one day you will map out your sweat bee termination plan, too.

Then, of course...

4. The world relaxes. People go on vacation. Businesses take breaks, too (you should see Longstreet the week they's like Armageddon hits Gainesvegas). The high tides of restaurant patrons around Christmastime ebb away during the summer. People head to the lake (or what's left of it), the pool - or to a barbecue in their own backyards. Flip-flops become kosher. It's a great time of year.

Let's not forget...

5. Pools are awesome. I happen to know this because my mother owns one. I could go to a pool every day of summertime and be happy. D'Anna, Spanky, Layla, and myself are planning some great times hanging out by the pool. We're going to listen to the 97.1 The River and pretend we're cool enough to know all of Boston's songs.

Oh, and ...

6. Strawberries are divine. YUM! What would I do without a good strawberry? I'll take them in shakes, smoothies, raw, or in a salad. Summertime strawberries are the best. I hope that they can stay salmonella-free this summer. Oh, and while I'm at it - ice cream is sooooo amazing in summertime. I could live off the stuff.


7. There are a few great bugs on this earth. Really! I love the sound that crickets make during those hazy summertime nights. One of the things I miss the most about living in a rural area is hearing the crickets. They practically put me to sleep at Mom's. Lightning bugs are fun, too. I love watching a summertime dusk that is glazed over with the remnants of day, because this is when little lightning bugs feign the incoming starlight. Ahh, just the sight of those little critters takes me back to childhood.

Okay, that's all I have to say for now. I know, I never shut up. What can I say? Summertime makes me happy.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Oh, NBA (Not Basketball!! Again??).

LeBron, Dirk, Kobe, Shaq, Peja, Larry, Michael, Carmelo, Derick, Dwayne.

No, these are not the names of my family members. These are the names of people who are in the NBA.

These are the names of people I never knew until I met Jeremy C. Farr, my wonderful husband of almost four years.

My husband loves the NBA.

This is a special year (if you believe in those) for the NBA. The Boston Celtics are playing the L.A. Lakers in the NBA Finals. The NBA Finals are like the Superbowl of the NBA for those of you that are luckily NBA-illiterate.

Jeremy, in fact, is so pumped about the Lakers/Celtics Finals that he has 1) played out an XBox NBA Live match-up to see how the games might play out 2) watched all of the old Celtics/Lakers match ups on ESPN Classic in preparation for the game 3) changed his Facebook status numerous times, all giving his infinite NBA wisdom and, of course, he 4) watched all of the windbags on ESPN rant and rave about who might win.

Now, some may think this borders on obsession, but I think he's just a really devoted fan. :)

As for myself, I equate the Lakers/Celtics NBA Finals to the finest episode of "Saved by the Bell: The New Class." Both are things that I have heard of, things I don't really care to watch in my lifetime, things that portray terrible acting, things that last forever, and both are fairly reminiscent to watching paint dry. (The only difference is that one of them has Screech, which somehow might make the NBA a little better than Saved by the Bell 2.o....)

The whole concept of the NBA is one that I find a little tenuous and long-winded. First of all, its season lasts for way too long. As soon as one NBA season ends, training begins for the next season. The play-offs never end. Each round can have up to SEVEN games. The finals, of course, can have up to seven as well. The seasons typically last from October to June (and I am not being the least bit sarcastic here). There is always an NBA game on, and you can hear it before the channel even comes into focus. The infamous squeak-squeak sound of sneakers on hardwood floors haunts me at night.

Secondly, the drama that infiltrates the NBA is simply ridiculous. It's all about the drama - faking injuries to get a charge called, acting like a baby so that a foul will be called - I mean, enough with the drama! Case and point: I had to endure the NBA Finals last night, and some guy for the Celtics named Pierce was carried off the court because of a knee injury. Ten minutes later, he's back! He feels great! He's just fine! He wins the game for the Celtics!! HUH??

I just find it somewhat ludicrous that someone gets paid millions of dollars for acting like a self-centered, spoiled brat on television. I could find some 8th graders to do that - and play for free!

Thirdly (Jeremy likes list his points this way, so I'm doing it), the NBA is overrated. Yes, that's right. You heard me right. You know why? What kind of talent is required to be in the NBA? I mean, sure - you have some good players, but you have some iffy ones as well. If I was a 7-foot male, I could probably shoot some hoops, too! If I was as big as Shaq, how else could I make my living?? What else would Shaq do with his life?? Rap?? Sell salad dressing?? Go to Harvard Law School??

Finally, does anyone around here actually care about the NBA?? Do we ever really hear people talk about the NBA finals?? No!!!!!!! There are two reasons 1) the NBA stinks and people prefer college basketball and 2) the Atlanta Hawks had a winning season the last time Paris Hilton admitted to being narcissistic.

I mean, if someone is going to pick a sport to love, let them pick college football. College football players compete with guts for glory alone - and dazzle the heck out of their audiences. I get excited just going to a Georgia game and seeing the pure passion out on the field. I watch an NBA player and I just want to roll my eyes at a hyper-inflated premadonna who whines about his million dollar contract.

So, all of this to say....

My dear Jeremy - I love you. I really do. I know I will watch the NBA for the rest of my life because you love it so much. I will hopefully do this with a smile (and a book in my hand) because I know it makes you happy to watch these games. (But...after reading this...don't you see my point?? I mean...come on...isn't college football way better???...Oh, wait...I digress...I love you. :)

But, just to be a little mean...


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Coming Out of the Dark

Today is a special day.

My beloved East Hall Middle School, for the first time in No Child Left Behind's (controversial, torrid, and angst-ridden) history, has made Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP. It has taken eight years to get to this point.

Eight long years.

For those of you that do not speak teacher, No Child Left Behind basically requires that a percentage of students pass state-mandated tests. The goal is for all students to pass all tests by 2014. Schools have to have show that students have made a certain amount of gains each year to make AYP.

But, for those of you that speak teacher, you know that NCLB is short-sighted. It labels schools like mine as a "failing school" when the school doesn't make the progress it is required to make within a year. Often, schools that lack diversity or that do not have special-education populations make the bar. The more diverse a school is, the harder it can be to attain the title of a "passing school." As a school with large special education, ESOL, and economically disadvantaged populations, East Hall has had to fight an uphill battle.

This battle was fought for eight long years. Some of those eight years were very dark for our school. I can honestly say that my school had to endure situations and devastations that no school should ever have to endure. The label of a "failing school" and other incidents wounded the psyche of my school.
There were moments I never thought we would make it. There were moments when I never thought I would see this day. As someone with a political science background, I have often thought that the SYSTEM needed to change - not our school. I have watched our teachers work their fingers to the bone, demand more of their students, and raise standards as high as they could - all while dealing with an age group that many define as "unteachable."
Now, however, I hope that our teachers, our community, and our students will usher in an era of change. We made it! We did what few in our county thought we could do. It is a day to celebrate and be thankful!
Through all of this, I am directed back to the words of Jesus, who says in John, "Did I not say to you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" Through my abject pessimism, it has been hard to see. Through the daily work and grind of my life, it has been hard to see.
But hindsight has always been the most thorough way I view the world. I now understand God's hand in my school's hard work and our drive to make our community a place that our students not only admire, but take refuge in.
I have prayed for a school that offers broken children (and so many of them are broken) a place of hope.
I believe my prayers have been answered.