Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rising Above Circumstances

Being that this is week one of the KCCT, I am finding myself yet again full of emotions (both negative and positive).

I guess my biggest "beef" with the whole testing process is the idea that some students just have it so much harder than others. We, as educators, are expected to hold all students to the same expectations (which I agree with), but in all honesty, how can you expect a student who was taken from his mother, has never seen his father, doesn't get enough sleep or food to eat, and struggles to fit in at school to perform at the same level of the student who lives in a "normal" household?

This raises another question: what is normal? Growing up, I always thought that I came from a normal family with normal goals and aspirations. However, this belief appears to be quite jaded the older I get and longer I teach. I am realizing that I have always been "abnormal" in the sense that I was "normal." There are more students in my classes that come from broken homes than those that live with both parents. There are more students in my classes that have seen things I have only heard about in movies. There are more students in my classes that know and understand more about struggling to make ends met than their own parents because they are the ones responsible for making dinner at night. I have actually had students tell me when responding to my questions about why they do or believe certain things, "My family is crazy. That is just how we are." There are days that I wonder how I can even contend with all the baggage they bring to my classroom door.

It is so hard to feel pity for these students and to lower expectations when you know how hard they have it outside of the classroom, but I also know that my job is to teach them to rise above their circumstances. God didn't make us all alike and He hasn't allowed us to all travel the same path, but He did give us each unique characteristics that make us exceptional in some way and the freewill to exhibit those qualities. So while a student may come to school in tears because dad was taken to jail that every morning, it is my responsibility to show him or her that there is a positive way to look at the situation: Everyone is given a choice and it is up to us to make the right one. Her daddy may not have made the right one, but that doesn't mean she can't.

I am always so proud of my students this time of year because I know how hard they have worked and how far they have come (whether it is to proficiency or not). Deep down I know they all have it in them to be "distinguished" students, it's just getting them to see it for themselves and rise above their circumstances.

Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance. ~ Bruce Barton

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Best Gift

Easter 2011 was a terrific occasion for the Donovan family. Not only did we get to visit with family and make memories, but we were also able to reflect on the great sacrifice that was given so that we could live the blessed life we live today. I find it so amazing to really ponder how great the gift of salvation is and how selfish I am in comparison to He who constantly forgives and is alive in me today. One thing is for sure, I would not make it an hour in this world without knowing that God is alive and guiding my every step. I pray that if there is any one thing that Kermie and I are successful at in this life is that we are able to show our children God's love and compassion.

We were able to spend the entire weekend visiting with family. On Saturday, we went to spend the day with Kermie's family. And, although it was a bit soggy, the kids really enjoyed hunting for eggs inside.

Sunday morning, we woke up and the kids opened their Easter baskets. Please notice how we had all just rolled right out of bed.

After church, we headed down to mom and dad's for Easter pizza and another egg hunt. The kids had a terrific time and have enough candy to last several months!

I hope everyone had a terrific Easter!

“The highest act of love is the giving of the best gift, and, if necessary, at the greatest cost, to the least deserving. That’s what God did. At the loss of His Son’s life to the totally undeserving, God gave the best gift – the display of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.” [John Piper]

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter Bunny

Today, mom took Ella and Grayson to see the Easter Bunny at the Fayette Mall. Mom has always been so good about making sure the kids get all of their holiday pictures taken and I am so thankful! It's hard enough doing everyday errands let alone making a trip to the mall just for a picture. I am always so excited to see how the picture turns out and hear everyone's reactions. This year was no exception! Both kids loved the big bunny and managed to smile for a picture.

Ella and Grayson are both growing so fast so I also wanted to take a few minutes to blog about what's new with them.
  • Ella just started a new gymnastics/dance class. She is part of the 4 year old class where the kids do a 45-minute half gymnastics and half ballet class. I am not allowed to go in which I think will be a huge plus!
  • Grayson is a crawling machine. He started crawling right around the 7 month mark, but didn't take off like a mad man until a few weeks ago!
  • Ella has a personality to fit a queen! There are days that I love her too death and others that I am wondering what I've gotten myself in to! I'm assuming she is much like I was as a preschooler with all the button pushing and testing of limits, but she most definitely has her daddy's stubborn/hardheaded/argumentative traits!
  • Grayson is also pulling up on everything he can get his hands on. He scares me too death, but is impossible to stop! His poor head has been bumped so many times.
  • Ella is a terrific big sister. She loves to help, make Grayson laugh, and kisses him a bazillion times a day.
  • Grayson is cutting more teeth. He's getting two more at the top at the moment! I wish they didn't have to go through that.
  • Ella is learning to read a little at a time. She has all of her uppercase letters down and is working on mastering lowercase. She is getting better about putting sounds with the letters and is great with telling a story through pictures! We will continue to work with phonics and writing her last name.
  • Grayson is eating tons of table food! He has officially been given dairy and seems to tolerate it just fine! :) He's loving the big boy food.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spring Break 2011: Disney and Cocoa Beach

Friday after school, we all headed home to finish packing for our much anticipated Disney vacation! We finally had everything together and headed out around 6:30 or so. The plan was to drive through the night while the kids slept and it worked fairly well until about 2 am or so. Grayson was becoming uncomfortable and kept waking Ella up. We decided to stop to sleep, but there were no hotels to be found in the state of Georgia! So, we ended up taking a pit stop at a rest station with Kermie holding Ella and me holding Grayson in the front seats. Not ideal, but it worked. We arrived in Orlando around 9:30 Saturday morning and drove around until our hotel was ready. Kermie and Ella visited Orange World (which looked very promising), but was not worth the stop. Finally, around 2 pm our room was ready and we headed over to check out the resort.

The rest of the day Saturday was filled with unpacking, sleeping on Kermie's part, playground visits, a little swimming, and a trip to UNO for pizza. We were very pleased with our hotel considering it only cost us $400 for the week. There was a nice living room for the kids to play, full kitchen, laundry, a screened in porch, huge bed, Jacuzzi tub, and shower. They have multiple bedroom units, but we chose a one bedroom. For anyone who works for the government and wants a great place to stay for cheap check out . This is the website we used to find our resort

We spent most of Sunday and Monday poolside and went to Downtown Disney for the evening. Ella enjoyed the music being played and danced with the other children for a good hour! She also visited The World of Disney store. Grayson and Ella both loved the pool. Ella usually found a friend to play with and Grayson would get in for a while, play on the deck, and nap.

Tuesday was our Magic Kingdom day. We knew ahead of time that it was going to rain and Kermie insisted that it would be the best day to go as far as crowds are concerned. We had gone to Wal-Mart the day before and bought ponchos and a tarp for the stroller. We were prepared to say the least :) As soon as we stepped off the ferry boat, the storms rolled in and lasted a few hours. We rode every ride we wanted without a wait! It was perfect! Ella's favorite was Peter Pan :)

Wednesday was spent at the pool again. We had our pool day routine down pretty well by this point. Wake up, be at the pool by 9, swim until lunch, eat lunch, put the kids down for nap, I got to go back by the pool for about 30 more minutes, shower, and go to dinner :) We also took the kids to the playground when we got home that night to play.

On Thursday, we headed over to Animal Kingdom since we had completed Magic Kingdom on Tuesday. We had a little scare Thursday morning when we thought we had lost our ONLY car key. We searched the room upside down (or so we thought), called for a shuttle to pick us up, looked into having a new key made ($160), and figured out how to tow the car to the car place ($$$). Finally, after doing some laundry and a lot of praying, I moved the door to find the key under the door! We did a little celebration and headed to Animal Kingdom. Animal Kingdom was a little crowded, but we had a blast. The Lion King show and Nemo Musical were awesome! Ella loved them both. We waited in line for about 70 minutes for the safari, but it was well worth the wait!

Friday was our last full day of vacation since we would be driving back Saturday and Sunday. We decided to head to the beach in order to "kill two birds with one stone." The last time we went to the beach, Ella did not enjoy it for the most part. She didn't like the sand, mainly because it was full of shells and was terrified of the waves. This time she LOVED it... every part of it! Grayson didn't show much emotion either way. He's always just along for the ride :)

After showering, we went out to dinner one last time at Downtown Disney. I could spend hours there, but Kermie isn't a huge fan of the crowd! We took the kids to the Once Upon A Toy store and then headed back to pack up.

Overall, our trip was a total success. It is difficult being in the car for 14 hours with small children, but coloring books, toys, food, and movies help to make it a little more bearable. I managed to squeeze in the backseat between the two kids and spent the majority of the time there while Kermie drove. We were smart on the way home and reserved ourselves a room about 9 hours in. Hopefully, the next time we head somewhere that far it will be more convenient to fly! I hope everyone else had a fabulous spring break and yay for 30 some days of school left!! :)