Hallelujah Highway

Celebrating the Journey

Why I walk: Happy Sweet Sixteen to my March of Dimes Baby! ~ Rae

16 years ago on this very day, March 10th,  I almost died.

I know that may sound dramatic. Usually if asked, I tell people my first pregnancy was a little rough and my baby was born a month early.

BUT, 16 years ago I did almost die.

My pregnancy started off perfectly. I did everything right; I formulated every last detail. I had dated my husband for 3 years before we married. We then waited another 3 years for our first child. I planned my delivery for April, the perfect teacher pregnancy schedule, because I would be able to get 5 months off with the baby. I even gave up my one vice, soda, for my child’s well-being.

I had it all figured out. If I had a girl, she would be named “Audrey Rose” because of my admiration of Audrey Hepburn and my love of reading (there is a really twisted book titled Audrey Rose- don’t judge me!). My potential boy’s name would be “Blake Edward” after my father.

I wonder if God chuckled at all “MY” plans.

I was determined to be the toughest pregnant woman ever with no complaining or whining. I was not going milk my condition, because women have babies every day. So, I read all the books; I quietly bore the Charlie Horses; I endured the strange cravings. When I had to pull over on the freeway and open my door to hurl or dash frantically from my classroom to the bathroom, I never grumbled. I did everything the doctor told me (although someone could have warned me about the first ultrasound visit with the wand- YIKES!). I tried not to get frustrated when the sonogram was inconclusive about the baby’s gender even though I really wanted to know. As long as the baby was healthy, I took it in stride. I fully accepted all that came with being pregnant.

I never griped at the doctor’s office either, which is why my condition almost went unnoticed. My 22 week appointment started as usual. The nurse dutifully recorded my blood pressure and weight. The doctor measured my belly and in 5 minutes we were finished. As she walked me out, she asked how I was feeling. I exclaimed everything was great…except I was a little swollen. She told me that was normal but for some reason she decided to check how much. She took me back into the exam room and really looked at me.

You know those super cute pregnant women with adorable bellies and fashionable clothes? YA- soooo not me!  I gained weight everywhere. I am not kidding! My ankles, my face, and even my fingers became enormous. In addition, my 1998 fashion forward maternity overalls were not kind to the Pillsbury Dough Boy look alike I had become. By the middle of my pregnancy I was uncomfortably huge. I began wearing my husband’s sweatpants and tennis shoes with the laces removed.

It is never a good sign when a doctor gasps as mine did when she noticed my legs. She consulted my chart and actually read my results. My blood pressure was off the charts high and I had gained 10 pounds in 3 weeks. She had me come into her office (again not a good sign) and informed me that I was suffering from Preeclampsia, commonly known as Toxemia. She put me on bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy. I nodded my head like I understood what she was saying. Preeclampsia meant that the baby would probably need to be born early to prevent a stroke she explained.. I nodded again and went home in a stupor.

Actually, the rest of my pregnancy became one long daze as I worried about my baby’s well-being and progress. Here are a few highlights I remember: I had a sonogram every week and never once could the baby’s sex be revealed (the BRAT!). I continued to gain weight and looked like a character from Eddie Murphy’s Nutty Professor movie. At 24 weeks, I had to register at two hospitals for delivery- my local hospital and the hospital nearest me that had a NICU capable of dealing with a baby born before 32 weeks. I recall each week being a milestone: 24 weeks meant the baby had a 50% chance of survival; 27 weeks meant a 95% chance of survival with intense medical support; 30 weeks meant the risks of birth defects, vision issues, and cerebral palsy decreased, but lung development would be an issue.

At 30 weeks, my blood pressure remained high and I had immobilizing headaches. My pregnancy brain felt like it was filled with fog from San Francisco. I remember thinking I should pack my hospital bag, but since I could barely function- that never happened. On two occasions I was nearly admitted to the hospital for inducement. Yet, every day the baby was allowed to stay in utero was another day of much needed development.

Suddenly, on March 9th there was no more waiting. I was losing consciousness and Magnesium Sulfate was no longer keeping my blood pressure under control. I was on the verge of Eclampsia. My platelets were so low that if I started to bleed, I would not clot. The baby was 36 weeks old. I was admitted and my labor was induced at 3:00 pm on a Tuesday afternoon.

The doctor told me two “wonderful” pieces of news:
1. It could take up to 3 days for the labor to fully take hold.
2. I could have no epidural because my platelets were too low.

That was when I virtually lost my mind. No pain meds?????? UGG. I was not one of those brave women who wanted to have a natural birth. Nope, I jokingly and repeatedly asked my doctor if she could knock me out and wake me when it was over. By 6:00 am on Wednesday I was fully dilated (so much for the 3 day theory). At 9:23 am, my beautiful baby burst into this world angry and crying. There was no better sound than her shrieks.

Her head fit into the palm of my hand.

Her head fit into the palm of my hand.

My Audrey Rose was born 4 weeks early, weighed in at 5 pound 13 ounces, and was 19 inches long. She was small and jaundiced, but she was able to breathe on her own. Though this journey had not followed the map I made, the destination was nevertheless paradise.

I found out later that the medical tests and treatments Audrey and I received were developed in part by the research funded by the March of Dimes. It breaks my heart to think about what would have happened to both of us if I went through this pregnancy 50 years ago. The March of Dimes charity impacted my life without me even knowing it or asking for it. While my case had a happy ending, there are other babies and families that need the March of Dimes to continue their important work to save babies lives!

Audrey is why I walk in the March for Babies campaign. Your child is why I walk. I walk so that all babies are given a fighting chance for a healthy start.

I walk because Love is a Verb and what doesn’t kill me makes me motivated.

For more information: http://www.marchofdimes.com/

To donate to my campaign: http://www.marchforbabies.org/RaeDunn

sweet sixteen

Sweet Sixteen!


Well Mr. Know it all Frost – What if there are more than 2 paths? ~ Guest Blogger Kory

 Welcome – Special Guest Blogger Kory. She is a fellow traveler on the highway who both Kristi and Rae adore! 

As I have been traveling my life’s roathe road not takend, I’ve recently come to a standstill in the middle of a fork.  Yet instead of two different options, it had several.  Which one to choose?  I was confused!  I was excited!  It was troubling as conflicting emotions were running both through my intellect and my heart.  I was indecisive.  

Let me say that again…I was indecisive.

That has never happened to me before.  I usually have a goal in mind and that’s the road I travel.  I may glance at the other roads as I saunter, but I never doubt my decision. I live in the now.  Yet as I gaze at these multiple roads before me I realized I needed help; I needed advice. So I sought out my confidants…my girlfriends.

After their initial remarks such as, “We’ve never seen you like this” and “this is weird”, we finally got down to business…how do I solve my dilemma? As I listened to their input I realized they were just as puzzled as I was.  However, there was one prominent question that stuck with me:  “What do you want in the long term? What is your final goal?”  I pondered the answer to this question for hours and I finally came up with an answer: I don’t know.  I don’t have one.  And in fact, I don’t want one.  This was quite a shock to me.  As a teacher I always direct my students to have both short term and long term goals and now I’ve become a hypocrite?!?  Will my life now fall apart and I will go on wandering aimlessly?  Ironically- I’m quite content and happy with the right now.  So what if I don’t have a long term goal?

What I’ve discovered is that I am a pseudo-professional student.  I love to learn!

  • Take more university classes to get certifications and credentials?  Check.
  • Take more workshops to get a deeper understanding of teaching and curriculum?  Check.
  • Go to advisory council meetings to bring county and state goals to my classroom?  Check.

And there’s many more.  Then I thought back to another question that stuck with me “How do these help me reach my long term goal?”  Well…it doesn’t…Since I don’t have one.   Still, I live in the now and they help me with the now.  My long term goals have not appeared to me yet…no apparitions, no glimpses, no anything.

And for once I’m totally fine with that.

When I reflect upon my life I realize that I’ve always been a short-term kind of girl.  Those kinds of goals are more attainable, there are more of them, and thus more celebrations of achievement!  Conversely, long term goals are fussy, so far off and thus seem almost unattainable.  I want to live a long comfortable live, full of the wealth of family and funds.

Yeah…unattainable?  kory

Or only attainable at retirement age?

That is just too far off.  I like celebrations of achievement!

So as I stared at the all the roads ahead of me I didn’t choose the “one less traveled”.  My roads all looked the same.  That’s when I realized that it didn’t matter which road I headed down, they are all me “living in the now” and they are all “short term”.  So as I embark on the first step down my chosen path, I can still see the others running parallel to me on my journey.  Will they disappear forever?  I don’t think so.  They will still be there.  We will have our intersection again.

So screw you Robert Frost.  My roads are all bright and sunny and inviting.  So no matter what I choose I will be happy and live a full life.  And that has made all the difference.

road not taken 2

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You’re Not the Boss of me! ~ Rae

I have never seen myself as a “boss” or even a potential boss. The thought actually scares me. I feel that I am in no position to tell someone how to do their job or to get lost if they don’t do it right. When anyone asks what I do for a living I still say high school English teacher, because in my soul that IS what I am even though I haven’t been in the classroom for the last 4 years.  Officially I should say I am a school district administrator, the Coordinator of Secondary Education. Sounds so fancy right?

Whatever my title may be I see myself as a minion, a person who’s job is to help my fellow teachers with their jobs. I am comfortable with the idea that my purpose is to serve those brave teachers who battle against ignorance every day. That job feels noble and honorable.

Yet, I have heard some people say I am their boss. My friends make the joke but some teachers have said it in seriousness. It makes me shudder.

I am not sure what makes me so uncomfortable with the idea. Maybe it’s the idea that some equate being a “Boss” to having “Power”. I do not crave power nor need it. The concept of having “power” makes me think of when I taught my former students the moral of the play Antigone, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  I have had bosses in the past who were worthless and made my job harder than it needed to be.  It worries me when I work with those who seem power hungry. Being a “boss” seems to have the potential for someone to lead by fear and not example.


Hmmmm —- LEADING. Maybe that is the difference between a tyrant and an inspiration – the way a person leads?  Some individuals lead by example, some lead by non-example and others lead by domination or apathy.

While I cannot see myself as a boss, I can see myself working on becoming a better leader.  And if I am to be any sort of leader I will choose to be a Servant Leader. I do not want to tell others what to do. I would rather come alongside them and work with them towards solutions or completion of tasks.

 I would rather work with a large group of individuals with differing opinions that strive to come to consensus than dictate what I, in my simple limited view point, think everyone should do. True – sometimes having too many “cooks in the kitchen” can seem tedious. However it is often the outlier who brings the most creative idea or who sees the flaws in the plans of the many. As a Servant Leader I would like to make sure everyone is heard before decisions that affect everyone are made.

I realize there are times when decisions must be made, and there are times when co-workers are not holding up their end of the job. There does need to be a boss who can make the hard choices and hold accountable all who work together. We all get that.  Perhaps it is a balance between knowing when to direct and when to listen? Perhaps it is the flexibility to move from decision maker to conversation starter?

Maybe being a decent boss is about being able to tell when to lead, when to follow, when to guide, when to decide and even when to ignore….

I still have a long way to go before I feel I have mastered any of that. For now I will continue to try to be a servant leader and if I ever do feel confident enough to become a “BOSS”, I pray I will have the balance and not search for power but instead search for ways to lead that inspire.  For now my heart still believes being a teacher is the calling I have no matter what title I may have.

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Is It Time?~ Kristi

My daughter and I, as her greatest cheerleader and guide, entered third grade three weeks ago with a darling black and white stripped dress, a matching “I Heart Nerds” Hello Kitty lunchbox, and a new pencil box overflowing with mechanical pencils and crayons. We were filled with excitement and anticipation for the challenges of third grade, which is a transitional year for elementary students. The curriculum is moving away from learning to read to reading to learn. Math is complicated by multiplication and division. There is cursive, essays, and projects.

As my daughter skipped off through the front gates of her award winning elementary school, backpack bouncing behind her, I prayed. “Please, God, bless this year. Let this year mold my daughter into who you want and need her to be. Let me be a useful instrument for this transformation as I help her navigate the waters of public school system. Bless her teacher. Bless the support staff. Bless the administration. Most importantly, bless my little girl because her heart is big, her soul is deep, and her energy is high. Amen!” With that, off I went to open my classroom door for the 200+ high school students I would serve this year.

She came home as excited as she always does about school. Since she is a talker, she rambled off things about her day at a rate of about 20 thoughts per minute. I struggled to follow the unpredictable twists and turns of the conversation and answer the random questions that popped up as she reflected upon the events of the day.

My daughter is a good student academically. She is naturally curious, quick to ask questions if she is unclear or wants further knowledge, and can whip through most work with minimal effort. She longs to please people she respects. If given clear expectations for success, my daughter will work very hard at achieving them because she has a heart of gold and wants to do the right thing.

While my daughter’s academics are strong, her behavior is her challenge. She has too much energy for one little body to contain, which leaves her jumping, leaping, flinging, flopping, and fidgeting. Impulse control is more challenging as her brain is moving so fast that there is little to no time to think about a thought or action before it happens. She moves at a pace that exhausts most people, including me, and that leaves little room for sustained periods of focus. She is a natural leader and wants people to follow; therefore, she is in a constant battle for control. She needs to feel heard. If she doesn’t feel heard, she will get louder and repeat herself over and over and over until her opinion is at least acknowledged. 

The traditional school system punishes this type of behavior because classroom control is a top priority. There are too many kids and one teacher. Conforming to “sit down and be good” norms are rewarded with awards and ribbons because instruction is easy when students are sedentary and quiet. Bodies that need to move and be stimulated are punished and shamed because they are disruptive to the educational process.

My daughter has been punished by the school system’s clip charts, recess punishments, and detentions. I reinforce these punishments at school by scolding her, taking away privileges, and by putting her on restriction because that is what a “supportive” mother does. Conversely, I reward improvements through reward charts where she earns special outings or gifts. 

She and I have worked on her behavior since she started preschool, but the improvement is minimal. The root of the problem is still there—she moves too fast, has too much energy, doesn’t think behaviors through, and is unorganized. 

All of these traits are characteristics of Attention Deficit Disorder and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, which research shows that symptoms become more evident in the upper elementary school years.                 

This well-meaning mommy has to get really honest. My daughter might have ADD/ADHD and what I have done up to this point is not working. I cannot punish the behaviors out of her. I have tried all the tools I have in my toolbox.  The reality is medication might have to be an option. 

The war has begun in my head.

On one side is my hippy, granola-side who likes zen, eats organic food, does yoga, meditates, and limits harmful chemicals.  The thought of medication makes me feel like a failure. The pharmaceutical companies’ wallets grow fatter as more and more kids, including mine possibly, are placed on “focus-enhancing” drugs. What are the long-lasting effects of these drugs on the kids’ minds and bodies? Will the alternative therapies like bio feedback and diet restrictions help avoid medication?

The other side hears my daughter internalizing the shame and saying: “I am just a bad kid who can’t do anything right” or “Everyone just blames me for things I really didn’t mean to do.” I hear the chink in the self-esteem armor and that terrifies me. As a high school teacher, I have lost too many students to decisions made out of low self-esteem. I don’t want my daughter to be a statistic and if giving her some medication helps lessen the frequency of these shameful punishments and protect her self-worth, I am on board.

A part of me wants to go into denial where hope and wishful thinking reigns. There, I can hope that this teacher will work with me to get her to a point where her maturity helps her make better decisions and that she can run around at recess enough to burn off the excess energy so focusing is easier for her. I wish with all my might that I can find the magic solution that would lessen these challenges.

So, my daughter and I had a heart-to-heart conversation. I explained that her brain is the type of brain that will make her very, very successful as an adult. She will be able to work on many projects simultaneously because her brain moves so quickly and does so with great accuracy. But, the school system is not designed for brains like hers.  They want brains that are organized, controlled, and easy to conform. The system rewards students who play within the box. 

She looked me straight in the eyes and said, “But, Mom.  I am too big for that box.”

With tears streaming down my cheeks, I said, “Yes, I know you are too big for this box. You have to learn to play in the box though, baby, because you have to go to school. We don’t have any other options.”

A part of me died in that moment.  I told my talented, intelligent, kind baby to play small to fit into an institution I belong to and perpetuate, AND I might have to medicate her to do so. 

A very jagged pill to swallow as I question: is it is time?

The initial appointment with the pediatrician has been set for September 23rd.  

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She is not Mine ~ Rae

she is not mine


When she grew inside me

I whispered to her

The great plans I had

And how I would always keep her near


When they placed her on my chest

I clutched her close

And swore to always

Protect her and guide her


When she toddled by my side

I held onto her hands

To support her and steer her

To exactly where I wanted


When I watched her walk down long halls

With a backpack much too big

And then sit at her first desk

I admit I cried a bit


When she ran off to middle school

And began to think about boys

I bit my tongue

And tried to listen more than talk


And now as I watch her reach for the steering wheel

I wonder where the future will take her

And what path she will take

How I wish I could pick it for her


But she is not mine alone anymore

She is becoming her own

And while that is a beautiful thing

My empty arms ache


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Purple Crush~ Kristi

Purple Crush“When we send our kids to play organized sports—football, soccer, swimming, whatever—for most of us, it is not because we’re desperate for them to learn the intricacies of the sport.  What we really want them to learn is far more important: teamwork, perseverance, sportsmanship, the value of hard work, an ability to deal with adversity.  This kind of indirect learning is what some of us like to call a “head fake….  [the] head fake… teaches people things they don’t realize they’re learning until well into the process.”  (39)  from The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

I have placed my daughter in sports since she was eighteen months old.  At first, sports practices were spent chasing her on the soccer field in the mommy-and-me soccer program.  Then, we moved into basketball through parks and recreation.  Her first season was spent twirling on the sidelines, climbing the miniature basketball hoops, and trying to scale the curtain that separated the courts.  She would dribble down the court, pass, and commence her signature “baller-ina” antics.  The next basketball season she came back with a vengeance and was the most aggressive player on the court.  She decided she was going to take down anyone—boy or girl, friend or foe—who had the ball.

Over the years we have progressed into AYSO (soccer) and NJB (basketball)—both are leagues that are competitive, but not too competitive.  For some reason, age ten is the magic number where it seems reasonable for more competitive leagues, like club.  At this point, I want her to: enjoy the challenge of sports, have fun while learning the fundamentals, make good friends, and to falling in love with the game(s).  I am committed to reminding her she doesn’t have to be perfect player and developing her into a well-rounded athlete as I am not willing to focus her to one sport despite the teammates that do.

Last winter, she decided that she wanted to play softball.  We signed up at the local grocery store, tried out, and were placed on a team—Purple Crush.  I found the $200 to buy the helmet, left-handed glove, ball, and bat.

The first practice was a shock.  At the end of the first practice, her coach asked the huddle of girls, “What sized trophy do you want?  BIG or little?”  The girls screamed, “BIG!”  I knew participation ribbons and guaranteed playing time was gone.  This was a more competitive league, and Jaylah was entering the sport later than the other sports she has played.

Her coach was intense.  He demanded a level of focus from his players that was not in my daughter’s bouncy, energy-everywhere repertoire.  In fact, I decided when she was in first grade that my job was to enforce “focus” in her seven hour school day and I vowed that I would not scream at her in the after school activities for focus.  Her coach did and it was a daunting task to hold the protective momma bear at bay, especially at the game where he ripped her out of right field and benched her for not paying attention.  Her lips and shoulders sagged in shame as she sat in the dugout.  As a former athlete, I knew this was a valuable lesson, but I wanted to run in to the dugout, hug her with arms of acceptance, and whisper how awesome she was in her ear.

Her U8 (under 8) team was young and inexperienced.  We had two six-year olds moved up from tee-ball and most of the girls were seven.  Almost half of the girls were rookies.  The girls’ practices in the beginning looked like a good blooper reel.  The coach reprimanded the girls for not getting in front of the ball, not putting their gloves in the dirt, for not putting their back foot on the chalk of the back of the batter box, for throws that were ten feet to the left or right.  The assistant coaches ran hitting stations while the coach ran fielding practice.  A mom or dad would catch the pitchers.   Everyone worked hard—parents included—two times a week for two hours.

During the season, we lost more games than we won.  The girls were humble and kept working.   Slowly the girls stopped hacking at pitches that were over their heads and swinging at pitches that were in the strike zone.  The outfielders, my daughter included, started backing up the bases so when the ball was overthrown, a girl was there to chase it down.  The pitchers threw more strikes than balls.  We were improving, but not winning consistently.

The last two games of the regular season the girls bats came alive and we won.  A mom leaned over and said, “This is the perfect time for the girls to peak.”  Despite our peak, playoffs started with a disappointment.  We lost.  In the team meeting after the game, the girls wanted their team cheer to be “Championship!”  The coach snarled, “Yeah, the championship from the loser’s bracket” and changed the cheer.  The parents laughed.

But then, we started winning.  Three games in one long, arduous week.  We gave team after team their second defeat, which knocked them out of the playoffs.  The girls would show up, warm up, hit, field, run the heck out of the bases, and cheer for each other.  We started thinking, “What if we were champions out of the loser’s bracket?”  We were getting closer and closer.

On a very warm, 95-degree Saturday morning, the girls showed up to play a six-inning championship game from the loser bracket.  Our team took an early lead.  4-1.  12-2.  Then, the other team started catching up.  At the bottom of the sixth inning, it was 12-11.  Bases were loaded and there were two outs.  The hitter hit and the girl playing second base caught the ball off the bounce and threw it to first base a few milliseconds before the runner hit the bag.  The throw was slightly off and the girl playing first base dropped it.  The other team won and crushed our ‘champions out of the loser’s bracket’ dreams.

At the team meeting after the game, the coaches and parents put on their sunglasses to hide the welled up tears of pride.  Our girls, huddled together in a circle of softball sisters, had improved so much.  My daughter learned how to throw a ball, which revealed an arm that could throw from right field to home plate with pretty good accuracy, and hold a bat that would not swing at pitches that were too high or too low.  Each girl had their little triumphs and improvements, which almost caused an upset.

I am grateful for the coaches who spent countless hours running drill after drill.  When one coach would yell at a girl, another would step in after, pull that girl aside, explain what they could have done differently, and build them back up.  I appreciate that the girls showed up to every practice and ran the same drills that reinforced the fundamentals with focus.  They played every game with heart and worked on implementing what they learned.  They supported one another with cheers and little dances.   I am thankful for the parents who drove 15-miles further to a field that would have room for all of the stations two to three times a week.  Each parent stepped up and had a job.  Some were snack bar moms and scorekeepers.  Some were team moms and some got the meaningful coaches gifts.  Some sat on a bucket and placed ball after ball on the tee.

This was the season that I have prayed for.  My daughter learned what it takes to be a part of a team with remarkable chemistry that never gave up, worked hard with focus, and had fun playing the game of softball.  Also, she felt the sting of a second place victory, but the satisfaction of knowing second place is an admirable place to be.  This team’s legacy will be the standard to which all other teams will be compared.  Congratulations on your 2nd place victory, Purple Crush!  I am beyond proud of you and your accomplishments.


A softball sister hug with Coach Dan

Purple 2

Jaylah and her proud momma (after the championship game)



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The Bionic Woman ~ Rae


A few years ago, I was a high school English teacher, new teacher support provider, Department Chairperson, Yearbook Advisor, wife, and mother. The yearbook company representative teased me about how much I had on my plate and asked me where my cape was. I pointed to the pink Superwoman cape hanging on my wall and said, “Right there!”  While laughing so hard he almost cried, my rep told me he had been using that line for years and I was the first one to actually have a cape.

It still hangs in my office.

In March, I had neck surgery to have a cervical disc replaced with a synthetic disc made of titanium and gel (So darn amazing!).  Now, I joke that I am the bionic woman.

There are many articles, websites, blogs, and commentaries that explore women trying to be a “Superwoman” but then they ended up being overwhelmed, exhausted, grumpy, and overextended. These articles and commentaries sometimes berate men for not stepping up to the plate or bemoan the fact that women must do it all.

I totally get it. I do that. Sometimes.

Sometimes my depression kicks in and I am a bump on a log.  

But …

What if I like doing it all?

What if I want to be a heroine like Wonder Woman? 

I learned something about myself during my time of recovery after my surgery: When my body forced me to rest and do nothing for a month, I ended up resting and doing nothing for 3 months. Now that I am back to work for the last 3 weeks, I have 15 major projects and umpteen little ones and I am almost back to my old self.

It’s as if Newton’s “Law of Motion” is like real or something!  My body and mind do tend to stay in motion once I get myself going.

My old self does include sometimes running around like a crazy person.  I am working on Power Points to present to new teachers that could really take 15 minutes, but I am adding all the bells and whistles to try to make it interactive and funny.  I am filming beginning of the school year videos
that really don’t need to be done, but they are so much more fun than the other real work I am supposed to be doing.

I am going to let you in on a little secret. I LIKE my cape. I like being busy because the busier I am the more organized I HAVE to be, which is a much better version of myself than the bump on a log. I like the feeling that I am somehow “saving the day”.

All Moms are super!

All Moms are super!

Ironically, while in the process of writing this piece, I was assigned another project.  This new project involved some heavy lifting and just about sent me over the edge. My OMG rant when like this, “I just had surgery. I can’t lift over 20 pounds. Dear Lord, what am I going to do?  I am NOT She-Hulk.”

After my internal rant, it became clear to me. I may want to be superhuman, but I must be ready to admit when I can’t be. So I asked my team for help and every single member offered assistance. It was a magical moment stronger for me than the titanium in my neck. I learned I have to set boundaries and keep everything in balance: my work, my hobbies, my family, and my time of rest.

So I will:  wear my cape proudly, take it off when I need to, and admit when I need help.

P.S. I look good in that cape.


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Daring Greatly~ Kristi


Last summer, I read Daring Greatly by Dr. Brene Brown.  The words transformed me into a Daring Great action hero—shame: the nemesis; failure: the arch enemy; and my super power: vulnerability.  Life provided me the opportunity to do just that as the Advanced Placement World History* teacher at my high school accepted a teacher leadership position at a middle school.  I was approached to teach the class.  (Although I have been an English teacher for the last twelve years, I have a history credential too.)

This was my opportunity to ‘dare greatly’ and move into an extremely challenging teaching position that carries immense responsibility.  A few years ago, my school district was awarded “College Board AP District of the Year” for extraordinary test scores and AP class accessibility for a middle-sized school district.  Great test scores, which are defined as a 50% passage rate, are the expectation.  The students and their parents desire a passing score because it means units in college.  And, the formal College Board AP World History training was over for that year.

The stakes and expectations were high.  I could succeed.  Or… I could fail.

I strapped on my action hero cape of vulnerability, took a leap of faith, and said “yes.”  As expected, there were growing pains.  I taught differently than the previous, very effective teacher.  Students thought the class expectations were too high, and it was my fault.  Parents heard the students blaming me and became advocates.

Failure was the boisterous student sitting in the front row and shame was the class clown in the back corner.  Both were seeking my attention.  To combat these two vile characters, I became more militant and demanding, a contrast to my usual encouraging and upbeat demeanor.  When I was not getting my usual results, I realized I changed my style of teaching because I was afraid.  I needed to revert back to what worked.

So, I worked harder.  I was learning 6,000 years of world history and learning the nuisances of the AP World History test.  In every free moment, I worked on my AP classes.  Most mornings, I was up at 2:30 am working on lectures, developing assignments, or grading.  I would go to school, teach my classes, host tutoring/study sessions after school, take my daughter to her sport practices/games, go home, make dinner, and fall into bed.

Then, one lesson about the Triangle Trade shifted the currents of the class as we found synergy.  The culture of the class was shifting from a blame game to one where we all took responsibility for learning.  From that point on, we replicated the conditions that caused success and continued to learn from the failures.  Asking questions was not a sign of academic weakness, but a sign of engagement and inquiry.  The class was still extremely difficult, but the students and I were navigating the challenges together.

Dr. Brene Brown wrote in Daring Greatly, “Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. Being all in. (2) Unfortunately, my students and I knew both victory and defeat.  We were engaged and working as hard as we could to get the best possible outcome.  Through my tears on the last day of school, I said, “There are some classes that a teacher will always remember.  You guys are one of them because of our experiences together.  I know this year had so many obstacles for you and me, but I am so proud of you because you didn’t give up.  You showed up every day and kept working.  You improved.  You trusted the process of this class and you did it.  I am so very, very proud of the effort and work you put in.  You inspire me.”

This previous school year gave me the best feeling ever—the feeling of accomplishment and success.  I am very proud of the work I did.  The year was not filled with the usual polished lessons that have been refined by years of experience, but the lessons had heart—like I had when I first started teaching.  It was nice to find that passion and to teach history, the other subject I love so much.

This year demonstrated the following Daring Greatly quote.  Theodore Roosevelt stated:

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again.

Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…” (2)


Oh, yeah!  59% of the students who took the AP World History test passed.  We did it!


*Advanced Placement is a program sponsored by College Board where students take a college level course level in high school.  They can take a proficiency test in May, and if they pass, colleges will award them college units for the AP class.

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The Road Turned, And….


Then the road turned, and…

I stopped writing.  Life got busy, and I hate writing about being busy.  All of us are busy.  We all have obligations that tear us in different directions and what reader wants to read about another woman’s busyness.  I took on a new teaching assignment, was finishing a teacher leadership program, and handling my responsibilities at home.  In order to keep my sanity, I let writing (and exercising) go.  I dug in and worked hard, and now I am back to writing on the blog with my soul sister, Rae, because writing is a part of who I am.  It helps me make sense if the world around me and it captures my life’s journey. ~Kristi


 The road turned, and…

I was pulled over by LIFE. My spiritual PEACE officer handed me a hefty citation. Apparently, I was driving too fast, too hard and something had to give. What gave was my body. So for the past 4 months I have been healing physically (and emotionally). Fortunately, I live in an era with remarkable health care. Likewise, I have an amazing support system at home and at work that have allowed me to get out of the driver’s seat for a while and focus on my health (and sanity).  So, now equipped with a bionic neck and a clear head I am merging back onto the highway.  I hope you will be willing to ride along with Kristi and me as we maneuver through this crazy, never predictable next leg of life’s winding road.                                                                                           ~Rae

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Better than “Good” Friday ~Rae


“Good” doesn’t really seem to cover it does it?

We say “Good Morning” every day. The word good is used too commonly to accurately express what today really represents.

The day that changed the universe is not merely “good”.

Think about what God did 2000 years ago: Would you? Could you?

I know I would die for my child. I would hope all parents would. As an educator I am even willing to die for your child. In a heartbeat I would be willing to sacrifice myself for others.

But could I sacrifice my child for someone else? Gulp. Would I let my child die if I knew that her death would save many others? Double Gulp.

Nope, I couldn’t. You couldn’t. We are not wired that way. My child is, well, MINE. A huge part of my purpose on this planet is to make sure both my daughters are safe.

That is what makes this more than just a “Good” Friday. That doesn’t even come close to covering the magnitude of this day. It is better than good; it is better than best (all the English teachers of the world just shuddered at my improper use of comparative adjectives – sorry my brethren).

This really should be called “Perfect Friday”, because God made the ultimate sacrifice: His adored son for me, His only child for you. God allowed His child to pay the ransom for all: Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, or Jews; straight, gay, or celibate; the believer, the atheist, the young, the old, the persecuted and the persecutor. “For God so loved the world”- the WHOLE world- the perfect sacrifice was given freely because of His perfect love.

Happy Perfect Friday!


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