Parenting

Gaffigan and Giggles

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That is one happy girl! Tickets to Jim Gaffigan’s “Noble Ape” tour.

She waited a long time for this night, since April in fact. We asked her what she would like for her birthday – something tangible or an experience – weeks in advance and she chose an experience. Before her birthday arrived, the chance to do something we knew she enjoyed came up on Groupon so we took the opportunity to get something she would enjoy. We knew she would enjoy it because she has enjoyed every one of the Jim Gaffigan’s specials on Netflix. So, now was her chance.

It was hard for her to wait, I mean, it was almost six months before she could enjoy her birthday present. She has watched him on Netflix over and over. She has listened to him on Spotify over and over. She has been patient, though it was hard. But the tour had finally arrived in Seattle and off we went! And as we went, she played DJ in the car and we listened to tunes the whole trip.

First Stop

Our first stop was for dinner. I asked her about where she wanted to stop but she didn’t have too many ideas. I mentioned a couple of places, but nothing sounded like it was a winner with her until I mentioned a place we have gone to several times for different trips to “the big city.” We didn’t want to battle too much downtown Seattle traffic so we decided to grab a favorite just north of town. It’s cheap, it’s greasy, but it is fairly tasty.

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It just so happened that this evening there was also a Washington Husky game in town, so there were lots of people in the parking lot and a wide variety of people to watch as we downed our food. It was certainly a happening place while we were there…but it was also dinner time too!

Seattle Center

After dinner we headed down to Seattle Center. We knew we would have time to kill so we found some parking and wandered around the iconic area, the place of the 1962 World’s Fair.

As it turns out, there was a festival going on with people wandering around with aromatic food and colorful clothing. There was music too! Again, there were lots of different people to watch and we found an art gallery that was open so we wandered that to start with.

We saw the sights, we took pictures, we “played tourist” as she said.

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Jim Gaffigan – The Noble Ape

We stood in line and did the now ever-present security check to get into the event. This process was a little different from what I was used to going through at a sporting event, but we made it through fairly quickly and made our way to our seats in Key Arena…our seats clear up in the “nose bleed” section (second row from the top, if you must know). I actually expected to have a little better seats than we got for the price I paid, but I guess that is for another discussion, another day.

We watched people come and go. We discussed the music the house was playing – all seeming favorites of hers, all very current. We talked about the other artist’s tours that were coming and which ones she would like to go to. We just had a nice time visiting. Laughing. Joking. Testing each other’s knowledge of the music.

Then came “the warning.” The warning about not filming or taking pictures during the performance (yeah, like that is going to be happening…I mean, not me of course…) so we took some pictures before it started. Really, there wasn’t much to see in the one I took. (I tried to scale it to what it actually looked like instead of blowing it up and making it look like something better than it was.)

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Inside Key Arena – view from our seats

The opening act (can’t remember his name) was pretty good and we laughed. I am not sure how much she totally got – I mean, he was talking about being a guy in his 50s and the aches and pains that go along with age so she couldn’t really relate, but I could. I think she enjoyed watching me laugh at the jokes. I could be wrong. I am, after all, her dad…

We both really enjoyed Gaffigan though. Even for as much as we have watched and listened to him prior to the performance, he really did have mostly new material. There was only a little bit that was a repeat from other shows and, as my daughter put it, “he expanded on the topic a little more tonight.”

What I loved was watching her. What I loved was watching her laugh uncontrollably with a smile as big as her face. She giggled. Her eyes sparkled. She was having a good time and memories were made, that was the goal.

It was over too fast. The performance, that is. It seemed like it had just gotten started and then it was over and time to file out of The Key like cattle. We walked back through Seattle Center and stopped to take a couple more pictures, specifically one that would kind of encapsulate the whole evening – an early and late picture of the Space Needle (almost three hours apart).

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Space Needle – 6pm & 9pm

We piled back into the car and made our way back north to home. We talked about what we liked best about the show. She can be rather insightful when she wants to be! The conversation didn’t last long though. She was ready to play DJ once again and we rocked out to a wide variety of music (even some old 80’s music “just for me,” but she likes it too).

As she gets older, and busier, I cherish these times. I know they will get fewer and farther between, but for tonight it was perfect. Just giggles, smiles, and laughter perfect.

9/11: Inside and Outside Perspectives

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So we may never forget…

Every year as a history teacher I used to be faced with the reality that the anniversary of 9/11 also came very close to the beginning of the year. I was always challenged with the question, What do I do to commemorate the anniversary in my classroom this year?

It actually is an easy question, aside from the myriad of choices I had at my disposal. I mean there are a plethora of sites, organizations, and materials that are available to these days so there is no shortage. But, the harder part was always what can I use to help students who were barely alive, at the time of the attack, understand the scope of the attack while also helping them to understand the feelings of the day. That is a much harder task because helping students connect to historical events is really tough. So, I had two videos that were really the mainstay to my instruction and let to larger, more in-depth units later in the year or even to following year.

In most cases, I would start their exposure to the subject during their junior year since I had them for US History. It is, of course, an American historical event. The following year, as seniors, I would pick up where I left off in their exposure and delve more deeply into the background and aftermath of 9/11 via units in my Contemporary Issues class. This would allow them to develop a deeper understanding with a more complete history of the event instead of just a simple moment of commemoration.

Two invaluable resources are shown above and each are briefly described below.

Inside Perspective: 9/11

There is of course really only one video that can be used for this purpose. What was it like inside the Twin Towers that day? While this can’t be fully known, there is only one surviving video from inside the towers that day and it is the one shot by the Naudet brothers, Jules and Gedeon, as they were recording a documentary about become a New York firefighter. The video, 9/11, is or should be essential watching, really for all Americans.

Perspective. Always an important thing to consider. There is no better video to show students what it was like inside the towers. I really believe this is a MUST SEE for students.

If you would like to see this video (if you haven’t, or want to remember) you can see it on YouTube, in its entirety (here / here / here), though it is hard to tell for how long as it is copyrighted. I have included several links just in case one or more becomes unavailable. It is also available for sale from many of the popular shopping sites.

Outside Perspective: 9/11 Day that Changed the World

Again, I believe there are questions that have to be answered and students often wonder after watching the first video, What was going on outside the buildings and what were our leaders doing while the attack was happening? This video answers both those questions with incredible insight so this was also an important video for them to see.

This video takes actual news footage, firefighter and police radio broadcasts, phone calls, hijacker cockpit radio transmissions, air traffic control conversations, and weaves it together with interviews of the most important people (except President Bush) who had a role that day. This video was put together by the Smithsonian Channel for the 10 year anniversary of the attack, therefore giving the people who were responsible for running the country and cities a chance to put a little time and perspective into their insights. The video is extremely powerful as it bounces between cities as the timeline of the attack unfolds and then incorporates the interviews of the officials

This video is currently available on YouTube as well (here / here). It is also available to order at the usual places online.

Final Thought

It is important to remember 9/11. We can never forget what led to it, and the profound affects it had on our nation moving forward from it. There were implications in and to all facets of life. We must never forget – ever.

 

**Please be aware that both of the videos deal with sensitive topics and show some alarming scenes. Do not let that discourage you from showing them to students, however be sensitive that each student may handle to emotions differently and react differently. It is always good to follow up each viewing with a discussion to process what they saw, what they felt, and how it impacts them.**

America’s Failed Spelling Test

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America, you have some work to do in the spelling department. Some of you, more so than others!

Wisconsin…I don’t think there is a single excuse for you…too much cheese maybe?

Most of these words are middle school level and should have been learned a long time ago, while others are at worst twelfth grade level.

If you know these words without looking them up in Google, A+ for you!

 

Missing the Good Stuff Sucks

Missing the good stuff in life isn’t something I relish, especially when it involves my kids. I want to be there for the things they do, whether it be sports or drama or choir or a community function or major things like graduation and moving up ceremonies. Those things are important and the support of knowing your parents are there to support you is one of the best things to help your kids feel safe and secure in this world. I know I really appreciated that my parents made it to as many things as possible when I was a kid. I didn’t always express my appreciation like I should have, but it did mean a lot.

Today is tough for me because I am missing something I feel I should be at. Instead, because of my job, I am missing it. So, instead of doing what I should be doing I am taking a moment to vent my frustration. I doubt it will help me feel better, but I just can’t help it. What’s worse about this whole thing is that it is because of my job that I am missing it and it is my profession that makes it more difficult on people, specifically parents.

You see, today my son is “graduating” from the 8th grade. It is really just a moving up ceremony and in the grand scheme of educational things it isn’t that important. BUT, it is important to him! Unfortunately, I am missing it. Missing the good stuff sucks.

Why am I missing it? Well, I am a teacher and work for a completely different school district than both of my school aged children. What that means is that I end up missing many of their school related activities. Parent/teacher conferences, concerts or performances that take place during the school day, celebrations at school, graduations/moving-up ceremonies…you name it, I probably have missed it because I was fulfilling my teacher duties somewhere else. I am not sure why school districts schedule things during the work day. It doesn’t make sense to me and I am sure there are reasons I don’t know of, but either way it is frustrating. I am sure there are many parents who are missing the ceremony today because they have work obligations, that is the unfortunate thing schools do.

Anyway, all that to say I am proud of you, son. You have grown up so much over the last few years and this transition will be a big one for you. You worked hard this year, made some mistakes and grew from them. You worked hard this year, learned some new things about yourself and the subjects you were studying. You worked hard this year and experienced some great successes as well. You have tried new things, some you liked and some you didn’t. You are moving up in this world and I can’t wait to see where life continues to take you.

Congratulations, and I love you.

A Forever Family Needs Help!

Help bring Chloe home!  *Regulations say I can't show you her face yet*

Help bring Chloe home!
*Regulations say I can’t show you her face yet*

The beautiful little girl above has the opportunity to go home to her forever family this year! But, she needs help. FAST!

I have written about this adoption before, If Ever There Was A Good Cause, but that was before there was an actual, real face and child to think about. The idea was there and there was a goal, but it was just so unreal and seemingly intangible. Well, things have changed and there is now a very real, very tangible goal in mind. But time is short, so anything you can do (no matter how small it may be) helps bring this pretty little girl one step closer to her new home in Hawaii with an amazing family.

They are trying to raise funds in a very short amount of time to help defray the costs of the adoption, which includes traveling to China to meet her for the first time and bring her home. With about two months to go, they could use some help, like right now!!

I am including the links to their fundraising efforts so that you can help them be successful! But most of all, for a little child of God to come home to a family that has loved her for a long time without even knowing her. Again, there can be no greater cause than this.

GoFundMe

MyThirtyOne.com

purecharity.com

Thanks so much for considering this as a way to change the world, one life at a time. Be the difference in one life.

Rock the Vote (at least three times!)

Yesterday in class one of my seniors announced that she voted in the school levy election of our community.

I was like, “YES! Way to go.” It made me happy that she exercised her right to vote and that she also had been listening to me all year while I have encouraged the seniors to vote when they had the chance. I have even used class time to allow them to register to vote online because I think it is that important. But then, she explained what happened…

She said that her dad sat her down and told her to open the ballot. He then proceeded to instruct her on how to fill it out, like exactly which answers to fill in.

My students said the comment from her mother was, “As long as you live in this house, you will fill out your ballot just like your dad.”

I was, admittedly, speechless at first. I protested and said she should have filled it out herself. But then, what could she really do? She was stuck in a hard place. I haven’t ever heard of a parent doing that before. I hope there aren’t more out there like that.

Hopefully, she gets a voice (of her own) in the next election.

Anyone out there expect their children, wife, or other family members to vote the way they do? If so, why?

If Ever There Was a Good Cause

THIS IS IT!!

My life has been affected by adoption. I have two beautiful, amazing, and strong Korean born sisters. They came to this country so long ago (when they were 13 months and 6 months old) that it is hard to imagine that they were not originally part of the family. I was 12 when my first sister arrived and I was excited for the new change in my life. I was going to have a little sister! When my second sister arrived, I was just as excited to have another little sister. My parents made the choice to adopt two little girls out of a Christian run orphanage in Seoul, South Korea. I AM SO GLAD THEY DID! I am immensely proud to call them my sisters and love them dearly.

If Ever There Was a Good Cause

That is where the Van Notric family comes in. You see, they too have a desire and a dream to adopt a little girl. Not just a little girl, but a special needs little girl. What a challenge that God has lain on their hearts! They are an amazing family and they need help to make this dream come true. For them it is a mission, a calling, if you will.

They have been working on this adoption for a long time and have faced many a challenge along the way. Doors have opened and doors have closed. It would appear as though another door is close to opening but they have some final hurdles to get over still. Why adoption has to be so expensive is anyone’s guess. I mean, if you are doing good in this world, why would the cost of adoption stand in the way of that?

If Ever There Was a Good Cause

Typically, I get a little annoyed with the “GoFundMe” campaigns that I get invited to view or that randomly appear on my Facebook feed. However, this is NOT one of those times. This is one of those time that you just feel compelled to do something. I don’t have a ton of funds to offer, but what I do have (though limited, admittedly) is a platform in which I can spread the word and maybe help this family on their journey to making the world a better place.

Please visit their GoFundMe site and read their story. I think you will be impressed and I think you will want to help them.

http://www.gofundme.com/waitingforchloe

Afterall, who doesn’t want to make the world a better place? Even if we have to do it one person at a time, it is worth it. You can help that happen. And, even if you can’t afford to help financially, maybe you know someone who can or someone that has a passion for adoption or someone that likes making dreams come true or someone that can share their story too. All the help they can get is appreciated, I know. I know them personally and they would be very grateful.

Thank you. Thank you for helping in one way or another. Thank you for making a difference. Thank you for help a special little girl have a permanent home and family.

Thank you.

Parental Detention (or, I’m Making a Point for My Child)

 

In thirteen years of teaching, I haven’t ever had what happened on Friday afternoon after school. I had a parent “own” his child’s detention (child stayed too) and he wasn’t apologetic for it either. I am not really sure how I feel about it and I am still trying to process it. How would you take it?

Background

It was the 6th period of the day and there was only an hour left of school. The bell had rung and all the students were in their seats as we started. We had been talking and reading about the origins of the Vietnam War when Student A’s cell phone make a beeping noise, a text alert.

Now, we have a cell phone policy in our school that doesn’t allow for the use of cell phones during class. Generally though, most teachers don’t really follow the policy any longer because we would spend all of our time “policing” cell phone usage and very little time teaching. Plus, getting into conflict over a cell phone generally isn’t a great way to build rapport with a student. It’s an issue, but not one to die over. These days, I have taken the policy of letting them use it (unless blatantly disrupting their learning or someone else’s) because they are responsible for their learning, not me. If they are distracted by it, then it is on them. Plus, I actually require they use them occasionally for taking a survey by text or whatnot. However, I do draw the line when a cell phone becomes audible. Then I confiscate the cell phone for the class period and return it to them as they leave class. This all seems to work fairly well most of the time.

Student A’s cell phone make a sound after receiving a text. I asked her to bring it up. She protested a little with, “But Student B sent me the text!” Everyone in the room laughed because Student B is in the room too and she got her friend in trouble. Student A brought her phone up to me and while she did so I said that Student B needed to bring me her cell phone since she was the one who sent the text. Student B said she wouldn’t bring it to me. So, I went to the back of the room, held out my hand, and asked for it again. Student B flatly refused again saying, “No, I’m not giving it to you. My dad said to never give up my phone.” Now everyone in the room is watching and I’m thinking, “Well, this is interesting. Never would have expected this from her.” (Mostly because she is a GREAT student, straight A’s, always compliant, helpful, and respectful.) I asked again saying, “Come on, give me your phone. Is it really worth getting a detention for?” Student B’s response, “My daddy said to never give up my phone, so yes.” OK. I promptly turned, returned to the front of the room and wrote her name on the board. The class moved on as though it didn’t happen. After class and on her way out of the room she asked, “What time will you be here until today? My dad wants to come talk to you.” I gave her a time and Student B left the room.

The Parent

I was half expecting the riot act when the parent got there. But then again, this is a really nice family and all the kids are great kids so I wasn’t really sure what to think was going to happen. I was pretty sure, however, that I was going to get protestations about how the detention was unfair.

When the parent walked in all he said was, “I’m here for my detention! Where do you want me?” I responded that he could sit anywhere. Then he said, “I just want you to know that I am here to serve the detention since my daughter was following my instructions. With my background in law enforcement, I have instructed all my kids to never give up their phones. We will be dealing with her texting in class when we get home.” I said, “You know this is a bit unusual because I didn’t expect her to say ‘no’. We have a school policy of no cell phone usage in the classroom and if you need to get a hold of your student you can call the office and they will forward a message OR now you can actually call into our classrooms directly if needed.” His response was simply, “I know. that is just our rule for our kids.” Then he turned and chose a seat and sat down with his daughter. They sat there quietly talking for 25 minutes.

The End

There were a few minutes left in their 30 minutes and so I decided I should probably explain why she had gotten a detention a little more plainly that what his daughter had explained to him. So, I addressed Student B as I sat in front of them,” Student B I want to explain why you got the detention and how surprised I was that I had to give you one. The fact is that I like you and you are one of the best students I have in the junior class, that being said, I also can’t treat you differently than I would treat the other students in the room. The fact is, if you refuse to obey the instructions given to you by a teacher, I can’t just let that go. It sets a bad precedent for the others to see. You didn’t get the detention for using the cell phone. The detention was for refusing to give it up.” She said she understood.

Then her dad spoke up, “Listen, I understand why you gave her a detention and I am not happy with her because I had to rearrange my schedule to be here. I am not happy that she was using her cell phone during class and we will deal with that when we get home. But, I have to say, that I am proud of her for sticking up for what she had been instructed by her father to do, even in the face of adversity. We often wonder how our kids will react when they are put in a situation where they have to stand up for what they believe and when there is pressure to conform. She acted as I hoped she would, not in just this situation but hopefully in even greater, more serious situations. I am sorry she violated your policy and refused to give up her phone. That’s on me, but I wouldn’t want her to do it any differently. You did what you had to do and I respect that.”

We exchanged a few pleasantries about the weekend and out the door they went with a, “See you on Monday, Mr. Grenz!” from Student B.

My Questions

How do I take this? Was this a lesson for the child or was this a parent response telling me how ridiculous he thought it was that I gave his daughter a detention?

I am inclined to think it is the former, but there is still a part of me that thinks it is the latter. The words spoken seem to indicate this was a lesson for the student, but the tone in some of the words makes me think it was a lesson for me. I can’t quite put my finger on this and I haven’t quite settled on an answer.

So, tell me what you think? How would you have reacted to the teacher? How would you have taken this whole thing if you were the teacher? You can respond via the poll or in the comments.