23 November 2010


Earlier this week Cheryl Morgan and I took nine 3rd and 4th graders to visit the Homestead Soup Kitchen. The President of that organization, Mrs. Juanita Smith, is one of the most important figures in recent Homestead history. Our students were able to meet her for a second time (she visited Atala last week) and actually see how the whole operation works. Liam, who has loved to cook with me since he was in preschool, is now interested in cooking in a facility like for a job down the road. I love his attitude--he just wants to help people. Being around the kitchen and cooking/baking/eating means a lot to him and now he wants to share it with others.

The last two days I have had the great pleasure of making butter with every single child at Atala Montessori School. Livya was so excited this morning (about the butter and our trip) that she could barely contain herself and kept jumping in with all the answers to my questions. We had a blast--jumped around, talked about fat globules, and generally caused a lot of noise for a great cause. Every student successfully made butter in partnership with at least two other students. Awesome!

Today we left school at 1 pm to drive 20 hours to get to Texas for Thanksgiving. We made it I-90, around the bend of Lake City, and will drive the rest of the trip tomorrow. It's an especially important Thanksgiving in that my nephew, Drake, is battling cancer for the second in his short 14-year-old life. He's had a tough road, but has an amazing ability to see the good in nearly everything. Our kids are very excited to see their cousins (all of them!), even if it is for only about 8 hours.

Despite all the chaos the last few weeks, I feel very blessed in so very many ways. A very Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Count your blessings and take nothing for granted. Life can change on a dime.

Spread your wings!

09 November 2010

A New Era

I have finally moved on...FIU cut off my email account. Ah well, I'll survive on Gmail (personal contact) and Squirrelmail (Atala contact). 

And by the way, my next book is going to be a collaborative effort with the students at Atala--Jokes for Kids (need a better name, but I bet Sonya can help with that...). That will be an awesome Summer project!

Spread your wings!

06 November 2010

My Crazy Awesome Life

My posts are getting further and further apart. It's been up and down the last three weeks. We're on a roll now. So much has happened with Atala. Kids are loving it, parents are loving it, staff is loving it. We had our first big fundraiser on October 29. In 2.5 hours we made over $1600! All of this money will go to scholarships and playground equipment. Couldn't have done it without help from everyone at Atala. I think that's why we're all having so much fun and are seeing such quick success. There's no one person "in charge." We all work together, listen to one another, and pull for a common goal--the children.

So much is so very, very positive. We had a rainy, but fun picture day this past week. Colby says the is good luck--we had rain at our Grand Opening, rain at the Chili Cook-Off, and now rain on Picture Day. Oh well...at least the grass will stay greener a bit longer. This month we'll have Thanksgiving celebrations and then we're practically at the end of the year!

On a strange and weird note, we have had a number of "visitors" to come see us. Apparently there are people out there who are questioning our existence and calling everyone and anyone in authority who might listen. It's turning out to be the Boy (or Girl) Who Cried Wolf as everyone of these "visitors" leaves our campus with great praise and a handshake. There may always be someone/something trying to keep you down. But if you're doing what's right, you'll eventually win. Keep moving forward with conviction and ignore the negative energy. It's not worth a second thought.

Going on six months away from FIU. At this point I rarely think about academic life until one of my friends sends me something so outrageous I can't resist actually reading the story or looking at the picture and laughing. It's amazing to me how silly academics can be. Do you realize in the past weeks I read a story in the Chronicle of Higher Education (the journal that all serious academic administrators read religiously every week) on how 2 Ivy League Colleges "outed" undergraduate seniors who refused to donate money to their senior fund? The colleges (supposedly the cream of the crop) actually tried to shame these students into giving money to the college by publishing their name and stating that they wouldn't give!

Looking forward to a great trip to Texas for Thanksgiving! We'll drive right after school is out and hit Texas the day before turkey day. Then we'll drive home on Saturday straight through as far as we can go. Whirlwind at best, but it will be nice to spend more time with Colby's family. Hope you all are planning an awesome Thanksgiving, too!

Spread your wings!