Monday, August 20, 2007

Year 28

Today I start my twenty-eighth year of teaching, minus two years of leave. It's hard to believe. I taught nine years at McDonald Elementary in Seffner, Florida, then six years at Lincoln Sixth Grade Center in Plant City, and I have been at Tomlin Middle School since 1995.

Tomlin is a great place to work. We have hard-working administrators, and although I don't agree with every decision they make, I know that they truly care about our school. I respect the load they carry and the work they do, and I'm really glad I don't have to do it. My colleagues are the best people in the world to work with, especially the teachers on my team. They are dedicated to their profession and have a heart for teaching kids. And of course our students past and present make our vocation the most rewarding in the world. Don't believe what you hear on the news and through the rumor mill. Most of our children are truly angels in disguise.

Teaching is one of the great joys of my life. It is my gifting and calling. It is what I do and who I am. I love kids, and the best part of the school day is when I'm standing at the board or seated in my rocker in the the reading corner with my students gathered around. I want my students to become passionate readers of whatever genre they enjoy and lifelong learners and lovers of knowledge. I want them to learn about grace, and empathy, and diversity, and acceptance so they will become contributing citizens of the world.

Everything in public education is not wonderful. I don't love bureaucracy, No Child Left Behind legislation, added work days and hours, educational "reform," the ever-increasing paperwork, grouping and tracking students, and of course the FCAT and the multitude of tests and assessments that nebulous committees dream up for us to administer. But the negative issues in education are for another post. Today I remember why I do what I do, and that's what really matters.

I'm going to get up, shower, and get dressed. Then I'll grab my backpack and throw it in the car. And on the way to school I'll call Mama and Daddy for our traditional first day of school prayer. I'll enter my classroom feeling blessed to be a member of the greatest profession in the world, and I'll confidently await my new crop of angels.

How can one man be so blessed?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Nathan and Family Are Safe

A word of thanks to all the people who are concerned about Todd, Carla, and Nathan being in Jamaica with Hurricane Dean headed right toward them. They are not in Jamaica. They are safe and sound in Plant City. If you read the previous post, you will remember that they came home last weekend for a missions retreat in Texas. They returned to Florida last Friday night. They were scheduled to return to Jamaica on Monday, but of course the airports are shut down. Their return flight has been rescheduled for Wednesday, but Carla doubts the airports will be open even then. I'm not complaining. It has been great to have the Hoods home for a while. We've been eating out a lot, and Nathan and I went to see Underdog yesterday. He has also been enjoying time to play with his cousin Jacob and friend Seth. Carla plans to bring him out to visit me at school one day this week like she used to do two years ago before Nathan started school himself.

Thanks again to everyone who has been concerned for my family's safety. And yes, Rhoda, I am still painting.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Short, But Sweet!

To make a long story short, the Hoods missed their connection to Tampa in Miami because they had to go through customs. This type of thing is typical with air travel today. So they did not arrive in Tampa at 7:00 PM; they arrived at midnight. DeeDee, Grandaddy, and I went to Outback without them, then met four hours later to head for the airport. It must have been karma from when Carla and Todd picked me up at midnight in Orlando last summer when the Holocaust trip was aborted due to the Israeli conflict with Lebanon.

We parked and met them in the terminal. Airport parking is free for the first hour. Todd was carrying Nathan when they got off the shuttle, and I thought Nathan was asleep, but then he turned around and got down. I was the first one to get a great big hug and kiss! I told him I wasn't gonna let him go. It was great to have him back in my arms again. Todd and Carla took DeeDee and Grandaddy's car to get some things from their barn, so they and Nathan rode with me back to their house. I gave Nathan the picture of us in a frame that he wanted, a Bridge to Terabithia book (because he loved the movie), a Buzz Lightyear DVD, and some cross pendants from Israel for his jewelry collection. I didn't get home and in bed until almost 2:00 AM.

I met Todd, Carla, Nathan, and Todd's parents for breakfast at Fred's Market Restaurant. Nathan was there in body, but he didn't want to be. He did not eat breakfast and was lying down on three seats the whole time. But it was good to see him again.

I had to report to school, and April took my whole family to the airport. They flew to Dallas for a missions conference this week. I called Daddy as I was walking to my car after school, and they had just arrived at the resort where the conference is held. They return this Friday night, and we will have Saturday and Sunday together before the Hoods fly back to Jamaica on Monday. Nathan and I have already made some plans to be together.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Bad News: Still Painting! . . . The Good News: NATHAN IS COMING HOME!

I painted all day yesterday, and the kitchen/dining area is basically done. It looks great! I'm very pleased with the way it is turning out. So why did it take so long to complete one average room? It's not the painting. In fact, the walls take the shortest time to roll, but the edging and trim take FOREVER!

Not only that, it's the other precious tasks that go along with the painting such as having to take down the kitchen window blinds, remove the brackets so I can get complete paint coverage, re-caulk the kitchen window, put the blinds in the bathtub to wash away 19 years of dust, Windex the windows and window frame, re-install the blinds brackets, and finally re-hang the blinds.

On to the refrigerator! I had to "roll" the refrigerator out, all the while dreading what I would find behind it, vacuum and scrub the tiles behind the frig, scrape old caulk from the last time the house was painted between the floor and trim, and try to remove green oxidation that I assume dripped from copper tubing under the refrigerator (it didn't come up).

For the rest of the kitchen/dining area I had to take pictures off the wall, remove all the light switch plates and electrical outlet face plates, take down my antique fire extinguisher, take down a dusty shelf and the dusty kitsch on it, tape EVERYTHING so I could edge and paint the walls, remove the tape and re-tape so I could do the trim, remove the trim tape, re-hang the pictures, return the switch plates and face plates, re-hang the fire extinguisher, dust the shelf and kitsch, re-hang the shelf, rearrange the kitsch, touch-up where the tape ripped off the paint, scrape paint off the tile by the trim, and . . . you get the picture! Surprisingly, one of the easiest jobs was edging between the walls and the lovely popcorn ceiling. It was almost fun, but not quite. They say popcorn ceilings cover a multitude of sins, but I say popcorn ceilings are a SIN!

Today I am looking forward to painting the laundry closet. NOT! That involves moving out the washer and dryer, taking down a shelf and everything on it, and scrubbing more tile. Intercede for me please! Honestly, it sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but I'm just taking it in stride. What gets done, gets done, and what doesn't can wait until tomorrow. I'm really glad I decided to paint. It's going to make my house look so much better when it's done.

Now on to the BEST news! Nathan (and Todd and Carla) are coming through Tampa tonight on their way to a missions conference in Texas. Mama and Daddy will be going with them when they fly out tomorrow morning. They return next weekend, and we will have a couple of days together before they head back to Jamaica. It goes without saying that I am so looking forward to seeing my nephew and spending some time together, and most of all getting some SUGAR! The best in the world!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I'm Painting My House (Inside)

I spent the better part of yesterday picking out interior paint. I'm tired of looking at these beige, scuffed walls. I'm using KILZ one-coat guarantee paint from Wal-Mart. The living room, kitchen, hall, guest bedroom, and office will be Dulce De Leche (tan), the master bath, Wetlands (mossy green), the hall bath Canary (yes, it's yeller!), with Autumn Breeze (cream) trim throughout. Who comes up with these color names?

Plant City Wal-Mart did not have enough base paint on hand to mix my colors, so I had to run to North Lakeland last evening. After I ate supper, I got started on the hall bath because it was a small space. First, I removed the old caulking in the crack between the wall and the vanity. The caulking removal tool worked okay. Then, I ran a bead of caulk and used the smoothing tool along the crack. Now that little gadget worked great! You've never seen a more straight, smooth, and uniform caulk job. It was almost fun. I guess I didn't realize how much trim and edging and how many tight spaces there were in that little bathroom, but in the process I learned that blue tape works better than the edging tool for if you want clean lines. All in all, the painting went pretty fast. The paint is thick, so there are few drips, and true to its claim the KILZ paint gives great coverage.

I'm going to start on the master bath this morning, then attack the rest of the house. I've got three full days to finish the job before I have to report for work on Friday. Yes, Friday! Just one more great decision by the Hillsborough District School Board. But that's another topic for another time. I need to get off this computer and get busy. I'll try to post pictures later.

Friday, August 3, 2007

My Nephew, the Model

The week before Nathan went to Jamaica, while I was in Wyoming, my cousin Kendra took Nathan out for a photo shoot with her daughters and Nathan's cousins Kelsey and Emily. She needed some shots of a redhead for her portfolio, and who better for the job than the cutest redhead I know.

Kendra is an amateur photographer who is well on her way to becoming a professional. She has studied photography for many years, and her pictures have continued to improve over time. I have taken some great pictures of Nathan myself, but none compare to the photos from this session. These photos have great composition, clarity, and of course subject matter. What surprised me the most is how well Nathan took direction for the poses. I don't know what Kendra promised him. He usually ducks or turns the other way if he catches me trying to snap a candid shot.

I could see these pictures in a model's portfolio, so I stayed up late one night and designed one on Snapfish. DeeDee and I both ordered copies, and they arrived within a few days. They look so professional. I know you may never get to see the real books, but you can click here and see the next best thing. If there are any modeling agents out there who want to sign Nathan to a multi-million dollar contract, get in touch with me. I'm his agent.

You did a great job, DeeDah (Kendra)!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Eyes Wide Open

Just wanted to let everyone know I'm working on a couple of new blogs. The first blog, Eyes Wide Open, is up and running. The second blog, Clips, Notes & Quotes, is still under development. More about that one when I get it going.

When I started Nathan's Uncle I knew I would eventually discuss books, music, and movies, and I thought I would include those postings here. Last night I decided I wanted a separate forum for that subject matter, so I initiated Eyes Wide Open at WordPress. Eyes Wide Open will focus not only on the arts and media, but also on the issues they raise. Be advised that there will be discussion of controversial subjects, and you may beg to differ with some of the opinions posted by other readers and myself. That is okay. We can learn through the process of agreeing to disagree. I invite you to post your comments to the site, as well.

Today's post on Eyes Wide Open focuses on Sicko, Michael Moore's newest documentary about the healthcare crisis in America. With their permission, I have included an email conversation between my cousins April and Doyle. As you will see, they have a lot to say.