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Quote About Dandelions

"You fight dandelions all weekend, and late Monday afternoon there they are, pert as all get out, in full and gorgeous bloom, pretty as can be, thriving as only dandelions can in the face of adversity."

-- Hal Borland

Monday, October 13, 2014

On animals in the city

I’ve been blessed with an array of animal encounters that most who are raised in the city miss out on. While I may not have the advantage to having grown up on a farm, I make up for it in my experiences.

I made a list of creatures that have been permitted to live in my house over the years:
  •         Dogs
  •       Cats
  •       Snakes
  •      Turtles
  •          Fish
  •          Snails
  •          Rabbits
  •          Mice
  •          Rats
  •          Squirrels – they were babies that fell out of their nests
  •          Shrimp
  •          Frogs
  •          Lizards
  •          Bees
  •          And the latest addition: chickens

I’ve begged for chickens for years and been turned down every time. But on the occasion of my sisters + mother rescuing one from the middle of a very busy road a few weeks ago, they are now chicken owners.

She’s a very nice, albeit spoiled, chicken and she needs a nice chicken house. I spent hours designing an awesome coop yesterday, only to be informed that we were picking one up from a friend. At least my limited math skills got a little workout...

But this coop is going to need some TLC before it can be handed over to Miss. Chelsey (oh yes, she’s got a fancy-pants name.)

The friend’s goats were not impressed at my attempts to lure them closer.

Chickens are allowed in the city where I live, but we still have to be careful due to the many possums, raccoons, cats, and hawks that would eat a chicken up in a heartbeat. This will be a great adventure for my younger sisters as they learn how to care for a few chickens (Dad doesn’t know it but there will be a small flock soon) and how much responsibility a few small animals take.

In the meantime, I’ll applaud from a distance and be willing to console if something goes wrong. This isn’t my project, but I’m proud of how my sisters are willing to step up.

♥ Sarah

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Our Precious Lasts

There's a rapidly circulating article on a lovely young woman named Brittany who is choosing to end her life on November 1st, 2014 in order to avoid a painful death due to brain cancer.

I spent a solid 30 minutes sobbing after I read about her on A Cup of Jo - I have been "blessed" with the ability to feel strongly other people's pain.

My stance on the issue is not in line with Brittany's, but I feel for her. I am empathetic to how terrifying her limited number of days is. I understand how big that vacuum inside her heart is when she thinks about death and what comes after.

However, this post is not about her choice to decide the time and place of her death - that is not a topic I wish to carry out on social media – and others have done a much more eloquent job than I ever could. This post is about living.

As I scrolled through the comments on A Cup of Jo, one in particular stood out. Another woman who has been diagnosed with an illness made the point that today's society is so caught up in having amazing *new* experiences before we "kick the bucket" that we fail to think about how precious our *last* experiences will be. We as a society are disengaged from our elders, missing out on the opportunity to witness and participate in "lasts." We take the time to photograph or otherwise document a child’s thousands of “firsts”, but aren't an elderly person’s “lasts” just as important? 

The end of life is not what most would consider beautiful; it lacks the aesthetic nature of birth and childhood. But in so many ways, it is more so. The last days we have on this planet are our parting gifts to humanity. Our flourished - or scribbled - signature on the letter we wrote as we lived. The punctuation mark at the end of a sentence. And they are fleeting. 

I know from personal experience what a terrible thing it is to waste lasts. I grew up paying short visits to my great grandmother every year, but I was so much more interested in watching her TV or playing with her dogs and cats that I can only remember a handful of things she said before she passed away. In retrospect, she was one of the strongest, most unbiased, and loved-filled women to ever grace this planet. Her heart and home had room for everyone, even those society would consider unlovable. I completely missed out on learning from her, instead I only have snatches of her essence, so to speak, to remember her by. I would give so much to go back and talk with her, ask her questions, or just listen to her gently laugh at the antics of her large family.

I’ve thought about this over and over today, and wondered how I can change my thoughts on firsts and lasts. How I can mold my sense of appreciation to accept the nearing end of someone’s life. How I can learn to see it as beautiful and not something to be shut away and mentioned in hushed tones. How I can prepare to experience lasts in mine and other's lives. 

Because life is beautiful, and terrible, and hard and as it draws to a close the finale should be abundantly celebrated. It should be cherished. It should be brought out in the open and talked about – it is something we will all face and we might well face it with as much vigor as we can.  

 ♥ Sarah

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Adventures in Student Observing

There have been so many little adventures over the past few weeks that I've been observing at a local high school. I am required to write a journal-type report after each visit and I thought it would be fun to share my latest writings.

*All names have been changed in order to protect students' privacy
In order to accomplish the necessary planning for the lesson I am to teach in Vet Science, I am keeping track of where my CT is with her lessons and I have spent time with her going over the objectives. The lesson I will be teaching is on animal nutrition and reading feed labels. My CT employs several strong teaching techniques into all of her lessons and I will be sure to do the same. She has a portion where she introduces the new vocabulary and has students come up with definitions in their own words and then she teaches them mnemonics to help them remember the meanings. I plan on using some of her strategies and then combining them with some of my own. I am also consulting another agriculture teacher who is a recent graduate and using his ideas to inspire my lesson.
I enjoy the time before classes start and in-between classes because the teachers take time to talk with me about what works and what doesn’t in their classes, and how they deal with different situations in the school system. The CTs offer opinions on everything you could think of and I am enjoying being in their company. On the other hand, I have noticed that they enjoy the classes they teach because there is not too much pressure on them to have fantastic test scores on standardized tests, and because of this they don’t teach material as well as they might otherwise. This influences a n increasing concern I have - that I will fall into the mindset that agriculture classes don’t really matter and I’ll become too lax in my approach to teaching. The best way I can see to avoid this is to stay current in both global agricultural news and educational news. I will need to constantly remind myself and my students the real-world impact of what they are learning.  
I’ve discovered over the past five visits how careful I need to be with the words I speak to teachers and students. If I am too approachable for the students, I lose authority and have to backtrack to regain it. If I am not careful, my willingness to participate in instructing the class can be misinterpreted as overstepping my bounds and I have to work to regain the teacher’s acceptance of my help.
I have been on the lookout, so to speak, for the effects of the “No Bully” program. Today I witnessed a scene in my third-block class that both warmed my heart and made me angry. The turf class is composed of junior and senior guys who are fairly well behaved. There is one boy (I’ll call him, “Ian”) who is usually in special-education classes due to mental development issues, but because he helps his father with his landscaping business he requested to take the turf class. Today another classmate - “George” - swiped Ian’s hat in-between classes and hid it from him in the classroom – I didn’t realize what was going on until later or I would have stepped in at this point. Ian came into the class red-faced and upset because he couldn't find his hat. George sat and watched Ian get more and more upset, until yet another classmate - “Phillip” - noticed what was going on and demanded that George return Ian’s hat to him post haste and dared him to even think about picking on Ian again. The hat was returned, albeit some eye-rolling, and no more was mentioned of the matter by the boys. I was more than a little upset that someone would pick on a special-needs student – or any student for that matter – but I was excited to see that there were students willing to stop the bullying head-on. Now, as to whether or not that student stepped up because of the program, I am not sure. I will ask around next week to get the teacher’s input.    

            Something else that has been very encouraging to me is the principal’s encouragement for me to continue coming even after I am finished with my ten visits. Ms. C would like for me to stay involved with the agriculture program at her school. I talked with the teachers and we’ve agreed that I will start attending their FFA meetings so that I can both learn about how that club works and stay involved in the school.