Monthly Archives: December 2012

2012 in review

This is kind of cool.

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 65,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

You’ve got to be kidding me?!

First thing this morning I fell while walking the dog. In case you haven’t heard, the winds were blowing 50 mph this morning. And it was freezing!

So there I was walking Emmie, and BOOM! on the ground. This isn’t anything new really. In fact, it’s fair to say it’s MORE a surprise that I didn’t fall before today.  I fell across the street from a student’s house. Sometimes the student’s dad is outside in the morning. Fortunately that was not the case this morning. 🙂

To be honest, though, I didn’t really think about him at first. My first thought while I was lying there on the asphalt of Easy Street (yes, really) was OHMYGOD Governor Perry wants to make it legal for me to carry concealed to school. I’m not the clutziest teacher I know. Think about that for a minute and be afraid, very, very afraid.

Scary days. Scary days indeed.

Lesson 5,000,012

teacherdeskI saw his name on my roll sheets and groaned. See, he’d spent a semester with me the year before explaining how he was switching schools and talking about yearbook and how much he wanted to be on staff. BUT it was a lot of talk. A lot. In fact, it was about ten (million) times more talk than actual work. On top of that he’d earned a trip to the alternative campus. And his writing…I don’t have the words to explain.

So, yeah, I saw his name and groaned. I even took out my shiny new red pen (thank you, Office Depot) and crossed his name off the list then started to take it to the guidance office to say “No way.”

But as I started out the door I remembered my decision to give any kid who wanted to try staff, who agreed to the contract terms including after school lab time, a chance.

Day 1: He shows up to class excited and ready to work. I tell him he can stay “on probation.”

Day 2: He asks to switch to newspaper. (much internal groaning commenced, but smile stayed firmly in place as I said, “suuuuure,” all the while thinking yeah, right.)

Day 3: He asks to take photos also because he kind of stinks at writing. (acknowledging the problem is the first step to fixing the problem)

Day 10: He decides photography won’t work. It takes too much time outside of class.

Day 15: He turns in first draft. On time.

Day 16: He frowns when I say open the draft so we can talk. But goes to work right away looking for professional examples of stories like the one he’s trying to write.

Days 17-40: New draft every other day. Editor works with him, encouraging, cheering him on, telling him to get buys and stop talking.

10 drafts in he submits a publishable story. It’s awesome. We add two drafts to our presets for him, but he gets it done. We high five and I tell him he’s earned the prize for most revisions ever, an award as impressive in my mind as best story ever.

Day 60: Next story in. Another multi-draft work. Another great job.

Day 77: He finishes his page in the magazine before anyone else.

He’s done more work than this, but these are the high points. These are the points that retaught me the lesson about expectations and the importance of “want to.”

It’s been a great year. I’m proud of him. I’m proud of all of my kids. And I’m ready for a break!

Two days and counting.








Happy Anniversary!

Me and DH. 18 years and going strong. Happily Ever After.

Me and DH. 18 years and going strong. Happily Ever After.

Dear Darling Husband,

I love you. I don’t know if you remember, but way back when we first started going out (for real, not that time we met in speech class), I was thinking maybe I’d just sell Mary Kay and go to school later. School was hard. I worked all the time. DD was a baby. Mary Kay made me happy. You became my you-can-do-it cheerleader.

When I started teaching, that was tough, too. And once again, you cheered me on.

Last year when I let negativity overwhelm me, you helped me reclaim my positive viewpoint. When I wanted to let ON come live with us, you didn’t even blink.

When I went on yet another diet, you went along with it no problem.

I can’t list all the times you’ve proven to be the best husband ever. It would take too long. Just know, I love you. You make me a better person. You make me laugh. You make me feel secure. Your hugs are the best ever, and you’re kisses…well, you know.

I love you.

18. That’s an awesome number.

Happy anniversary.



Peace: Love Wins

Today one of my Facebook friends commented on a post and it reminded me of a story a former student told. Her friend had passed away the year after they graduated. Before the funeral, the friend’s grandmother sat down with all the girls mourning and passed around her granddaughter’s picture, then said “You’ll always remember her like this. She’ll never hurt, never be sick, never know heartbreak. She’ll always be the laughing girl you see here. As you age and go through the pain life brings, she’ll stay exactly the same.”

My student said the words comforted her like nothing else could. Tonight, I’m going to hold on to that. And I’m going to remember that love wins.  At small group week before last someone said darkness isn’t the opposite of light, it’s the absence of light. We must be the light. Hate and anger destroy light. I refuse to hate. I give my anger to God.


Photo Used under creative commons license.

No Fear

Flags fly at half staff at the Dec. 14 4A state semifinal Rider vs. Lancaster game at Northwest ISD Stadium following President Obama's directive after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 26 students and faculty members dead.

Flags fly at half staff at the Dec. 14 4A state semifinal Rider vs. Lancaster game at Northwest ISD Stadium following President Obama’s directive after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 26 students and faculty members dead.

An hour after I’d taken a camo, guns up photo with my newspaper editor one of my students ran into the newsroom and said we needed to turn on the TV. I logged on to CNN, saw “school shooting,” and we turned the station from our school feed to 27.

We’re on December deadline for the magazine and yearbook, but all work stopped as we watched Anderson Copper walk through the horrifying facts he knew. A minute in he said elementary school and 20 dead, more feared, and for the first time in my career as a media teacher, I said “Turn the news off.”

I told the students if they wanted to follow coverage, they could log on to news sites. No one argued, and most quickly sent I Love You texts to their families then went back to work in the room immersed in black and gold state semifinal football game excitement. I prayed silently at my desk, then pushed the reality of the world away and focused on ROHO (Ride on Honorable One) and OFOT (One Family, One Team), two of my school’s unifying concepts. The pall of the events unfolding in Connecticut simmered beneath the surface, but for the most part we purposefully wrapped ourselves in the bubble of avoidance.

After the game, one of the best I’ve ever seen other than the fact that we’re not moving on to State, I sat, soaked and freezing, and posted that I was turning my phone off because I didn’t want to lose the bubble. I made it 45 minutes, and then my news addicted personality took over.

I devoured the New York Times coverage of the shooting and prayed some more. When we got home around 1 a.m. I jumped in a hot shower, prayed again, and went to sleep.

This morning I woke up angry and horrified and so incredibly sad as I thought of those babies and their teachers and that principal and those guns that fire so many bullets so fast. The police press conference added to that anger because the man speaking had to request that the media leave the parents alone when the names of the dead children are announced. It won’t be long and politicians will add to the anger because they’ll turn this into a Republican vs Democrat soundbite opportunity.

Now I’m sitting here on the computer, blogging once again about an unthinkable tragedy brought on by violence and brokenness. Once again I have to say we can’t let the monsters win. We can’t live in fear.

Monday, we’ll have to talk about this in my classes. I’m a media teacher, and this is life.

I’m thankful for yesterday’s bubble. I’m thankful for OFOT and ROHO. I’m thankful for prayer, my school, my students.

I won’t live in fear. I’ll still go to school, to the movies, the mall, to New York City on an airplane. I’ll still dress in camo on Camo Day, I’ll still “get my guns up” and scream “Go, Raiders.” I’ll still pray silently at my desk when the unthinkable happens.

I won’t live in fear. Not ever.

Size 14 is Not Fat

Woo hoo!

Woo hoo!

I started Atkins the last weekend of Spring Break 2012. Several friends had been talking about their health success cutting sugar from their diets and how their doctors were absolute in their advice that it was the only way to control diabetes. I’m not diabetic, but I was obese and miserable.

Losing weight is no new thing for me. This blog is testimony to that fact. (I think I started it almost a decade ago to help keep track of my weight loss.) I can’t remember a time I wasn’t on a diet. One of my earliest pictures is me at 4. I’m holding a ball and dressed in red, white and blue. My brother is a year younger than me. Our pictures stood side by side for years. When people saw my brother they always said “What an angel. Look at that curly hair and those eyelashes!” When they saw me they said “Look at that chubby baby. You’re so cute.”

I think I was on a diet then.

Yo-yo weight has been a part of my life. My closet used to have from size 10-20 in it. When I started Atkins and committed to a low carb lifestyle, I was a TIGHT size 22. I was probably a size 26, but I refused to buy over 22. I’d gotten down to a 16-18 the year before with Weight Watchers and Zumba, and I’d gained every bit of that weight loss back plus some.

To lose weight without a special diet, I have to work out 2-3 hours a day. No joke. The last time I got to a 10, I went to the Y and worked out on the elliptical for 2 hours then walked and ran for another hour or spent the last hour in the weight room. I was in amazing shape. I’d been there before. And just like before I gained the weight back because that level of workout is miserable for me. I lose life outside of work.

With Weight Watchers, I gain weight back when I stop counting points, and I crave foods. By cutting sugar, I’ve lost the cravings. I don’t have to worry about 32 Cheez-Its and how much they count because they just aren’t part of my life.

This month, I added berries to my diet. At the next size, I’ll add whole grains. But I won’t add sugar.

I used to say I could look at cookies and gain five pounds. Atkins helped me see that’s not exactly wrong.


If you like my blog, check out my books on Amazon! I write Christian romance as Mary Beth Lee and Young Adult as Elizabeth Lee.






Teacher Magic Rarely Planned


The best teacher I’ve ever worked with started one of her best lessons with the N-word on the board.

By the time the lesson was done, several other vile words were on the board. Words of hate and intolerance. Words that destroyed.

A master teacher, she engaged her students in discussion about the words they used daily with little thought. She taught about the power of hate speech, about how different cultures had embraced hate words and claimed them as their own under the belief that by doing so the speech would lose its power.

By the time she was done, every kid in the room took part in a lesson that would last a lifetime.

As the students made their way through my class that day they shared their shock at the honesty of the lesson, their excitement at its reality. They couldn’t believe how much they’d learned, and quite honestly, most felt guilty about the way they’d so easily thrown around the words she’d written on the board.

She was a master teacher who didn’t shy away from tough topics.

That was 1997.

I’ve talked to some of those students and they STILL remember that day, they still think before they speak.

I wonder if the same lesson could be taught today.

I hadn’t thought about that lesson until last week when I read a story on HuffPo about a teacher under fire for writing “You can’t be a democrat and go to heaven” on the board.

Her superintendent said the statement wasn’t part of the curriculum.

I don’t have a clue what the teacher was doing when she wrote those words on the board, but I know I certainly heard those words during this election cycle. I know those words could be a great starting point for a lesson on politics and the angry rhetoric that is so much a part of our political world today.

I don’t think the words would find their way onto one of the tests that run our curriculum these days, but I know real learning can take place in classrooms led by a fearless teachers who dare to engage in discussion about real world issues instead of how to choose the best answer: A, B, C or D. I know because I see those real life lessons every day conducted by fearless teachers across my campus.

The master teacher I worked with in 1997 didn’t PLAN her lesson. She heard the students dropping the words in the hall as if they were no big deal, and she decided in a moment to change what they were doing in her classroom that day.

Great teachers can do that.

It’s scary to think our current education culture could ruin those moments of spontaneity, those moments of teacher magic that can’t be measured and don’t have anything to do with objectives or TEKS or common core standards.

I don’t know what took place in the classroom in the linked story. I do know I want my students to think critically, problem solve and question the answers. Maybe I’ll start my day Monday with the words “You can’t be a democrat and go to heaven” on the board.

***Photo Link: used under creative commons license.


Books out now: Letting Go and Grace is Enough by Mary Beth Lee; Honor and Lies and Dead Girl Walking by Elizabeth Lee. Available in kindle format or from book stores everywhere.