Monday, May 31, 2010

Once Upon a Time...
we lived in Colorado Springs, CO.  We enjoyed life there in the shadow of Pikes Peak.  It was there that I first experienced mountain biking.  I bought a mountain bike (one of the originals, it's probably an antique by now!) and started cycling with a friend in the cold, dark, early morning hours on streets that were like mountain roads (because we lived in the mountains, duh!).  But our lives abruptly changed one spring with a move to Houston, TX.   While I loved the heat and the humidity of the South, it did not foster an active lifestyle!  I got lazy - choosing instead to soak in the sun at the swimming pool or retreating into the cool, air-conditioned house when not at the pool.  Fast forward several years and we found ourselves relocating to Utah.  The altitude and extreme cold (remember, we had spent 12 years in southern Texas!) proved too much for me.  I did try skiing for a couple of years, but it wasn't the same as when I was in college.  
Fast forward again, September 2009.  Dave and I took a much needed vacation to Coronado Island. We had a fabulous time.  Our days were filled with sunshine, ferry rides, ocean breezes and each other!  One of the most fun activities was renting bikes and cycling around the island.  These were single speed cruiser bikes and I loved them! 
I dreamed about having a simple bike like that ever since. I did not want to hunch over handlebars anymore. I did not want to have to figure out what gear I was in.  I just wanted a bike to ride for the fun of it.  However, we live in the foothills and a single speed bike is very impractical, since the only place I really could ride it would be in my driveway!  Thoughts about My Bike increased in direct proportion to the thermometer outside - as the days became warmer, my desire for a bike got stronger.   We went looking "in earnest" on Saturday.  I even took some on test rides.  I came home and researched more.  And today, after careful consideration, I went and bought My Bike!  
Gary Fisher Simple City 8
Isn't it pretty?  The picture doesn't really show it, but the basket and the fenders are a soft, minty green.  I love it!  Everything about it is easy.  I am not technically savvy, so I can't write in detail about all of the cool features the Simple City has, like internal hubs and rapid trigger shifters, and stuff like that. But, I do know it is easy to ride and easy to shift.  It has eight gears so I can climb moderate hills - hopefully, that will get easier with practice!
Oh, and in my research I have discovered several paved bike trails relatively close by.  I'm looking forward to many fun times on my new bike!  I feel like a little kid, and it feels great!

In Memory...
of all those who have made the idea of freedom a reality.

God Bless You and the U.S.A.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Golden Rule
is a terrific tool...
It says Do Unto Others as You Would Have Others Do to You.

I remember teaching my kids this song when they were little.  I learned this principle in church and home.  Wasn't everyone taught this at some point in their lifetime?
I am beginning to wonder if it is a principle that's being thrown out that proverbial window.
Do we really believe and live the Golden Rule?  Or do we merely pay lip service to it?
Do we really treat other people how we really would like to be treated?
Do we extend to others the same mercy we would like to have extended to us on any given day?  Or are we quick to judge, not taking the time to try and understand?
Do we recognize that most of the time, most people really are putting forth their best efforts and take the opportunity to acknowledge that?  Or are we impatient and unfair in our demands?
Do we truly accept people for who they are and what they can contribute, regardless of their personality, appearance or income level?  Or, do we quickly judge someone through our limited frame-of-reference and assume we are right because, well... we are?

Most of us are not guilty of being outright rude or hurtful to people.  Some of us may even be so good as to never gossip openly about others.

But, what happens when we are given one of these?

Can we maintain the same standards of mercy, kindness, fairness and compassion that we might if people knew it was us who was making the judgements?  Is it easier to be unkind when no one knows it's us?

Anonymous surveys can be dangerous things.  When completed fairly and carefully they can be valuable tools to help an organization make improvements.  However, they can also become an easy way for people to let off some steam.  Just go to any news site on the internet and read the comments people make to see how stupid some people can become when masked with a shield of anonymity.

So, the next time you are given a survey to respond to, take a minute, take a breath and think about that Golden Rule.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

at my work do not "wind down" with the end of the school year.  In fact, they get busier and busier the closer we get to that beloved last ring of the dismissal bell.
(this is not me!)

First, I make sure ALL students take these:

Grades 2 & 3 take two tests (2 sessions each), grades 4-10 have three tests (2 or 3 sessions each.)

Doesn't sound too bad, until you start multiplying everything by hundreds of students!  Fortunately, I have some fantastic teachers that do most of the administering of tests.  I just have to keep track of it all (I make the State Department of Education happy when I do this well), make sure the accommodations happen for those students who need them, and of course provide opportunities for students to make up the tests if they were absent on test days.   
Public Service Message to parents everywhere: Please, don't take your kids on vacation during state-mandated testing windows.  It creates unnecessary complications.  Thank you.

Next, I coordinate the return of thousands of these:

(at least it seems like thousands, I should count sometime. Not!)

Today I was reminded that I need to print off one of these

for each of the elementary students to take home next week 
and make an additional copy for each student's file. 
(someone else files them, thank goodness!)

The students and teachers no sooner vacate the building, than I start to fill teacher requests for:

and more

And whatever else they need for the coming year!

 And guess what?  
I might be really tired,
and my brain may feel like mush by this time of the year; 
but, overall, I really love my job.  
Being in a place that is having such positive effects 
in the lives of children
 gives me a brighter outlook on tomorrow.
Kudos to all teachers who care and who put forth the effort to make a difference!  I hope you all have a wonderful summer.  You deserve it.   

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Molds are useful.  
There are many types of molds...

candy molds
cake molds
jello molds
antique molds

Unfortunately, we sometimes confuse people with jello or cake.  Not literally, of course.  But if we aren't careful we can be guilty of trying to "mold" people into a form that is pleasing to us, instead of accepting them simply for who they are.  We can introduce people to new opportunities, or suggest ideas that may inspire them to want to make positive changes in their lives.  However, our love and acceptance of them as human beings can not be linked to whether or not they make those changes.  All people, regardless of age, nationality, gender, religion, etc... are loved by One greater than all of us combined.  We would do well to follow His example, for that is where true happiness will be found.