Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What is your favorite thing about kids?

I love their creativity,

 their sweet spirits,

their mischievous smiles,

their wacky faces,

 their beautiful imaginations,

their portability,

 their pensive moments,

their laughter,

 their view of the world,

 their love of ice cream,

 their friendships,

 their hair,

 their missing teeth,

their love of books,

 their love of the pool, 

 their happy take on life.

 Their never ending enthusiasm.

Tell Gary we need some more...

Monday, August 29, 2011

the best teacher story I know

I read this story to Kaish last night before his first day of school.
I cried like a baby.
The first time I heard it I was at church.
I remember it was powerful.
I was only in elementary school at the time,
but I remember thinking about the kids in my class that stuck out
because they were not as cool.
I vowed to be nicer.
I can't remember if I kept my vow or not,
but I do remember thinking I would never forget this story.
 I have not.

An Inspirational Story by Elizabeth Silance Ballard
There is a story many years ago of an elementary teacher. Her name was Mrs. Thompson. And as she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children a lie. She looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. 

But that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard. Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he didn't play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath.
 And Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big "F" at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise. 

Teddy's first grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners…he is a joy to be around."

His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student, well-liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle." 
His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken." 

Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class."

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. 

She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy's. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing and a bottle that was one quarter full of perfume.

But she stifled the children's' laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist.

Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom, used to." After the children, left she cried for at least an hour,. On that very day, she quite teaching reading, and writing, and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children.
Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became on of her "teacher's pets."

A year later, she found a note under he door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life. Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, second in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was little longer. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D.
The story doesn't end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he'd met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit I the place at the weeding that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom. 

Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

They hugged each other and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson's ear, "Thank you, Mrs. Thompson, for believing in me. Thank you so much for make me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference." 
Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, "Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn't know how to teach until I met you." 

Please join us at Communal Global's link up!
Tuesday around the world.
We are making some changes over at Communal Global.
If you haven't been to visit for a while, 
won't you come and check it out today?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The perfect couple


Once upon a time, a perfect man and a perfect woman met. After a perfect courtship, they had a perfect wedding. Their life together was, of course, perfect. One snowy, stormy Christmas Eve, this perfect couple was driving their perfect car (a Grand Caravan) along a winding road, when they noticed someone at the side of the road in distress. Being the perfect couple, they stopped to help. There stood Santa Claus with a huge bundle of toys. Not wanting to disappoint any children on the eve of Christmas, the perfect couple loaded Santa and his toys into their vehicle. Soon they were driving along delivering toys. Unfortunately, the driving conditions deteriorated and the perfect couple and Santa Claus had an accident. Only one of them survived the accident. The mind numbing  question is: Who was the survivor?
Scroll down for the answer...

The perfect woman survived. She's the only one who really existed in the first place. Everyone knows there is no Santa Claus and there is no such thing as a perfect man. Women stop reading here. That is the end of the joke.
Men keep'a scrollin'...

So, if there is no perfect man and no Santa Claus, the perfect woman must have been driving. And that explains why there was a car accident. By the way, if you're a woman and you're reading this, this illustrates another point: Women never listen, either.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

When the world says, "Give up," Hope whispers, "Try one more time." Unknown

Did I want to go to a men's shelter and shoot?
This is what my favorite newspaper editor,
Len Lear, called and asked me in June.
The Chestnut Hill Local was doing an article
on DePaul USA shelter in Philadelphia.
Would I go there and shoot the men for their article?
I wasn't sure this was a good assignment for me.
Now, as a social worker, I had been to a few shelters.
I had never been to a shelter just for men though.
I was leery.
I decided to go because I love stories.
I love people.
I {sometimes} love getting out of my comfort zone.
I had ideas of what I would see.
I had ideas of why the men were there.
You can just imagine the ideas I had.
I was wrong about many of my perceptions.
The men I met at DePaul USA changed me.
They changed me
because they made me realize
we could all be there
if circumstances were different.
If we didn't have a net of family and friends
to catch us when life is overwhelming.
If we lived in intense poverty.
If we were surrounded
by violence and negativity and despair
day in and day out.
We could be there too.
But for the grace of God, we don't live in a shelter.
The men I met at DePaul USA are hard workers.
Many of them work 2 or 3 jobs a week.
They are not high income earners
 because many don't have high school diplomas.
These men are not only earning income while at DePaul,
 they are earning their degrees.
They are starting a new life with a new outlook.
I love that these men are at DePaul
and they are making positive changes.
They are trying to make better choices.
Trying to write new chapters in the story of their life.
I know they will.
These men will be forever ingrained in my heart.
I have prayed for them daily since meeting them.
We are richly blessed.
May God bless these men and the lives they are recreating.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

DePaul Shelter Philadelphia, PA

"I walked a mile with Pleasure; 
She chatted all the way; 
But left me none the wiser 
For all she had to say. 

I walked a mile with Sorrow; 
And ne’er a word said she; 
But, oh! The things I learned from her, 
When Sorrow walked with me." 

 Robert Browning 
More pictures to come soon.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

You don't raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they'll turn out to be heroes, even if it's just in your own eyes. ~Walter M. Schirra, Sr.

Hat Hair
Yesterday I wrote a post about Kaishon's hair.
My friend Pam left this story about hair in the comments:

My brother is 4 years older than me 
He was a teen in the 70's. 
Bald hair and long hair
You know, when long hair was cool 
(and when "long hair" meant 
anything past your ears, pretty much). 
Curly hair
My dad was a "Greatest Generation" man 
and he thought that my brother 
should have a flattop haircut. 
Even when my brother was 16 
and all the other boys had long hair. 
Snazzy hair
Hair was something they could not agree on.
They fought about hair.
It was not worth the hurt and anger...never. 
Hair created a chasm between them 
that they never could bridge. 
Soccer hair
When my dad was hit by a car and died, 
my brother wept 
because he didn't know 
if Dad knew that he loved him. 
And a lot of that grief was caused by hair. 
Kaishon hair
lots of kid hair
It grows back. 

Barbie hair
It changes color.
Summer hose hair
It disappears (my brother is now bald, just like my dad). 
Baby hair
NEVER let hair get in the way of love...

Golden hair
Pam blogs at Life by the Creek.
Her facebook fan page can be found here: 
Please be her fan.
I get sort of sad that there are so many people who are stingy with their facebook likes.
I want to shake them. : ) 
In a nice and friendly way of course!
I try to like someone's facebook page every day.
It sure doesn't hurt me...and it sure encourages them.
If we can't encourage others, what is our problem?
Seriously. Think about it.
Be nice. Be kind. Be encouraging.
Buzz. Buzz.