Graduation!!!!!

The amazing graduation day has come and gone now. Here are our pictures from the Liberal Arts graduation on May 16th, and the next day for the university-wide graduation.

The Liberal Arts graduation ceremony on May 16th was amazing! I feel my mom was able to watch from heaven as I crossed the stage. I teared up some and it is still kind of unreal in my memory. My name was called and I crossed the stage, shook hands with the Dean of Liberal Arts and took my “congratulation letter,” and then I walked a little further and was greeted by my favorite professor ever, Carlos Amador. I didn’t even know he was there until I saw him standing there to give me a hug! I gave him a hug and then moved down the steps where we stood in front of a green screen to have our pictures taken again by the professional photographers, and then I went to sit back down and wait for everyone else to go up on stage. There were probably 800-1000 graduates total. It was amazing to see all the graduates and all the parents, friends, and relatives there!

The next day, we went to campus for the University-wide graduation ceremony. We took some pictures around campus and went to the Texas Exes “Great Exit” celebration where we had sausage in tortillas & popcorn & where Samantha danced with Bevo. We were originally planning on staying for the commencement speech and fireworks, but decided against staying because of the heat and because of how long we would have to stay to wait and get a good seat. We ended up watching the ceremony online & I was glad we didn’t stay after seeing everyone there online. I’m not very good with big crowds and there were A LOT of people there since it was for all graduates! Even though I’m sure only half of the nearly 9000 graduates were there, that’s still a ton of people with everyone there watching too.

It’s still pretty unreal to me that it happened and I actually have my Bachelor’s degree now. I know I still have to do student teaching before I can accept a job as a teacher, but it’s amazing to know that I’m actually done with my degree and that I’ve actually followed through and finished!!

Now…. to have a relaxing summer and prepare for student teaching next semester!

Posted in Family Fun, Happenings, The University of Texas at Austin | Leave a comment

Graduation is almost here . . .

gradcountdown

 

Earlier this semester, I found a countdown app for my phone that would count the days until graduation. The above pic is from that app this morning. I truly can’t believe it’s almost here!!

Our daughters helped me the other night to decorate my cap for graduation. cap

I remember going to my sister-in-law’s graduation a few years ago at UT and seeing some people with decorated caps. I thought it was kind of odd and never expected to decorate my own cap when I graduated. However, after all the hard work I’ve put in over the last 4 years, and also realizing it could be something the girls could help me create, I decided to go ahead and decorate my cap. That way I can have it forever and it will actually mean more than just being a blank cap. Since I’m in the UTeach program, I wanted that on there, especially since the graduation I’m participating in is for Liberal Arts and for the Spanish program and not really for UTeach. Because of the Spanish, I wanted to represent that somehow, so we added the sombrero to Bevo, the longhorn logo, and the maracas too. Because of teaching, I found the other stickers that we added of a bell, the globe, books, apples, and chalkboard. I cut out a template of the longhorn logo and traced it with the glitter glue, although it’s not exactly symmetrical. We had fun deciding what to do and where to put things. It will be a fun thing to have from graduation.

I realized last week that I was the same age when my mom got her Bachelor’s degree that our oldest daughter is now when I’m graduating. That kind of hit me as ironic because I know my mom has been helping me and pushing me and encouraging me from heaven these last 4 years. I hope she’ll be watching as I cross that stage on Friday.

Although I know it’s coming up and although I’ve planned for it in my mind, it still seems unreal to me that it’s actually happening. It probably won’t feel truly real until I cross that stage.

Posted in Happenings, The University of Texas at Austin | Leave a comment

Heart Soaring – I’m Graduating in May!!!!

gradMy heart is soaring right now! When I started this odyssey toward my ultimate dream in August 2010, it seemed like it would take forever to finish even going full-time. Even after getting my Associates at ACC in May 2012, it seemed like the Bachelor’s was a long way away. Last year, I found out that I’d have to add an extra semester in order to finish all my coursework at UT, so my initial thought of graduating in May was pushed back to graduating in December 2014 instead. 

I honestly didn’t really think it was that bad to only add one semester and still finish in 2014, so I just planned on that when this semester started. Then one day in my UTeach class, someone mentioned that she was graduating this semester and then just coming back next semester to do student teaching. I was shocked because I didn’t even know that was an option. I met with the UTeach director just over a week ago to talk to him about it and he said it’s really just a personal preference, especially if I have enough coursework done. The student teaching semester counts for 9 credit hours, so there are sometimes people who need those extra credits to graduate. However, I don’t need them because I have enough credits this semester. He said the only thing that might happen is that I might have to submit an appeal for Federal Financial Aid to cover the tuition for next semester since I’ll technically be a graduate, but he said he’s filled them out before and students don’t have a problem still getting the financial aid, especially when it’s not grants. 

Anyway, when he said it was possible, it just seemed kind of unreal to me & I didn’t realize until that point that it really did make a difference in my mind and with the thought of achieving this massive dream if I could graduate in May. Therefore, I decided to do my application for graduation. I just got the email (above) today to confirm that I can graduate in May (as long as I pass my current classes). In the grand scheme of things, it kind of doesn’t matter because I still have to do student teaching next semester and still can’t start working until after that. However, it feels absolutely amazing to say that I will technically be a college graduate 4 years after I started (instead of 4-1/2), which is truly amazing for anyone these days, especially someone like me with a family. 

I’m planning on taking my Spanish teacher certification test at the end of March (I hope) and my PPR (Pedagogy) teacher certification test in April, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that when I graduate I will also have my certifications done. This summer I’m doing AP training, so by the time I start student teaching, I’ll be a graduated certified teacher who is also certified to teach AP Spanish…….. and I can start working as soon as student teaching is done in November. 

In just under 15 weeks, on May 17, 2014, I will officially be a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin with my Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Teaching!!!! 

I am beyond grateful to Heavenly Father and to my loving & amazing family for the support through this awesome odyssey of being a Mom Scholar. I couldn’t have done it without Him or them (especially this semester when our older daughter & my husband are helping me with my math homework)!! I’m also eternally grateful to my mom and other relatives who are in heaven cheering for me and pushing me to finish. I KNOW they are there for me too! A few days ago when I submitted my application for graduation, I thought of how I’ll need to find the old picture of when my mom went back to school when I was growing up and got her Bachelor’s & I’ll have to do a side-by-side pic when I graduate. I know she’ll be there with us in spirit that day! I’m grateful to her for being an amazing example of following her educational dreams when I was growing up, so I can do the same for our daughters (and for myself) now. Years ago, when we got married and were focusing on Richard’s degree and career and I never thought I’d go back to school, I never thought it would matter that much. However, now that I see it a stone’s throw away, I’m amazed at how important it really is to me. Looking back, I realize how much I’ve quit in life because of the thought that I couldn’t do it, but achieving this and being able to do what I truly love (besides being a mom) is absolutely amazing and lifts my self-esteem an awesome amount and lets me know that I really can do whatever I set my mind to accomplishing. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for Heavenly Father, my family & friends & professors & cooperating teachers – and even for the bus drivers of the city buses – because without all this amazing support I wouldn’t be soaring with the clouds right now!! 

Michelle

Posted in Happenings, The University of Texas at Austin | Leave a comment

Spring Semester in Full Swing

The Spring Semester of college started back on January 13th, but the first week wasn’t really “full swing” yet since a couple classes canceled the first day of class and others didn’t meet for the whole class time because we just went over the syllabus. It also wasn’t as hectic as normal because I hadn’t started my high school observations yet either. It was a pretty easy first week.

This past week was a little more “normal” except it was cut short because of the MLK holiday on Monday and a snow/ice day on Friday, so it was still a little odd. However, a little more normal because I had to start doing readings and homework and I also started my high school observations.

This semester I’m observing Ms. Mondragon at Vista Ridge High School, which is in the same school district we live in and it’s nice to be close to home for observations. Ms. Mondragon teaches Spanish III Pre-AP and Spanish IV AP. Because of how their schedules are, I’ll be observing one of each of those levels, but when it’s time for me to do my teaching, I’ll only teach the Spanish III Pre-AP class because I’m not yet certified to teach the AP level and also because the AP class is focusing more on sample AP questions and such to prepare for the test in May.

I’m really looking forward to being in the high school now. This semester is really making things more real to me since I’m actually observing in a high school and getting closer to taking the teacher certification tests and graduating myself. It’s kind of odd not taking any Spanish classes at the university this semester since I finished all my Spanish requirements last semester, so my observations will be my main exposure to Spanish now.

I have Math on Monday, Wednesday & Friday. When I was going to ACC, I originally only thought of applying to Texas State University so I followed their transfer plans, which included College Algebra for the math requirement for Liberal Arts, so I took College Algebra at ACC. However, when I decided to apply to UT and was accepted, I discovered that UT didn’t accept College Algebra as the math requirement for Liberal Arts majors, so I would have to take another math course instead. I was really not looking forward to another math class because math is NOT my strong point! It was also hard to get into last year because many seats are saved for freshmen when registration opens, so I had to wait until now to take it. It’s a class called Introduction to Mathematics and it is designed for Liberal Arts majors with the thoughts that most Liberal Arts majors don’t like math a lot. So far, it’s actually a quite interesting course. Doctor Schurle explained that although we are going to do some algebra and deal with some x’s and y’s and such, it is more a class to help us expand our minds to see how math is used all around us. He said that we will be thinking hard about small & simple things. Of course, since math is not my thing, our older daughter and my husband had to help me on my first homework assignment — it’s the first time my child has helped me on my homework instead of the other way around!! However, I am finding the class enjoyable so far.

Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have UTeach, Biology, and UGS (Undergraduate Studies). UTeach is my class all about teaching. It is a 6-credit course this semester, so we meet for 3 hours both days. We talk about ideas of things to do in our classrooms and also go over all the pedagogy rules and regulations to prepare us to take the teacher certification exams. My class is for all the LOTE (Languages Other Than English) majors in the UTeach program. This semester there are only 6 of us. Three of us are Spanish majors, and then there is one each of French, German, and Arabic. It is a very interesting class and the 3 hours seems to fly by usually.

My Biology class is also a class geared more toward Liberal Arts majors instead of Science majors, so it is not quite as technical as classes for Science majors would get. It is mainly about Ecology and Evolution, although so far we’ve just talked about introductory Science terms and the Chemistry that relates to understanding matter and organisms. Dr. Takata has some pretty interesting stories about his times in Africa and the work he has done there. The only “issue” I have with that class is that the TA is from France and has a VERY strong accent because this is her first year in the USA. Luckily, she only teaches the discussion session once a week where we talk more about what Dr. Takata taught in class, so hopefully it won’t be a huge problem. I did leave the first discussion session with a huge headache from trying to understand her though. I’m crossing my fingers that it will get easier to understand her throughout the semester. I’m really enjoying the actual Biology class though.

Everyone who attends The University of Texas has to take one Undergraduate Studies class in order to graduate. They are geared more toward freshmen, but transfer students have to take them too. There are UGS classes for just about any topic under the sun. Last semester, I registered for one that I thought would be “okay” and fit my schedule. However, it ended up delving more into the subject than I expected and I was uncomfortable in the class, so I dropped it and decided that when I signed up for another one I would make sure it was something I knew I would be interested in and not just one that fit my schedule. The one I’m taking now actually falls in line with my major and has already opened my mind more to an issue that potentially influences my future students. It is Latino/a Migration Narratives. I guess growing up in upstate NY and not in an inner city really made me ignorant to the immigration issues in our nation. This class has already opened my eyes more to the complicated issues and made me want to learn more. I have always been a fairly non-political person and have not involved myself in a lot of political things, mainly because I don’t like conflict. However, the things we’ve been reading about already in this UGS class have really made me quite angry about the situation of undocumented immigrants and how we treat them. I am ashamed that I lived my life not knowing about these things going on in a country I profess to love, and want to know how to get involved to change the current policies and help better the lives of other human beings who deserve more than they are getting now. We have had some very interesting discussions in class and I can see this class getting even more thought-provoking as the semester progresses.

This semester is going to be very hectic, especially since there will be weeks when I have to teach twice a week in order to fit all my teaching sessions in that are required. However, I am thoroughly enjoying all my classes this semester and look forward to the next 14 weeks!!!

Michelle

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Amazing Missionary Song

Last week on one of the pages I follow on Facebook, Supporting Our Missionaries, someone posted a new song for missionaries. As soon as I heard it, I was flooded with emotions and remembrances of my own mission & also thought of the amazing missionaries that are currently serving from my ward. I’ve listened to this song many times since I first heard it last week and each time it sinks deeper into my soul. Although it was written with LDS missionaries in mind, I feel it can apply to missionaries from any Christian religion because it echoes the sentiment of many who are serving Christ in some way. Those who are familiar with LDS music, know of “In The Hollow of Thy Hands” and “Window to His Love” which are classic LDS missionary songs. I truly believe this song is the best song about missionaries since those others and that it is even more powerful in some ways.

The sad thing about this song is that it came about because of a tragedy of a missionary who died while serving his mission. Despite the tragedy, I’m grateful for this song and grateful to a loving Heavenly Father who inspired this song as a comfort to this family and become a new amazing song for anyone who has ever served a mission, is currently serving a mission, or will serve a mission in the future. It is also wonderful for member missionaries or anyone who wants to share the Light of Christ with others. You can read the whole story of the song at the songwriter’s blog – To Lift and Inspire. There is a link in the post at her blog to download the file as well if you would like to have the MP3 file.

Here is the YouTube video for the song – I Will Serve Him

Here are the lyrics –
I Will Serve Him
by Sara Lyn Baril
sung by Daniel Beck

Joshua said, “Choose ye this day
whom ye will serve”
I will let go of all my pride
and promise to serve God,
that perhaps I may be an instrument
in His mighty hands
and find peace in bringing hope
and peace to all I can.

I will serve Him.
I will testify of Jesus Christ.
I will give my whole heart,
in building His kingdom,
sharing His love;
I will serve Him.

I’ll heed the call,
trusting in God and His wisdom.
I’ll share His word,
laboring in the vineyards of the Lord.
My heart is full with the love of God;
in faith I’ll teach His way.
I will give all that I am.
My hands are His today.

I will serve Him.
I will testify of Jesus Christ.
I will give my whole heart,
in building His kingdom,
sharing His love;
I will serve Him.

I’ll not glory in myself,
but glory in the Lord;
rejoicing in the light of Christ unto life.

I will serve Him.
I will testify of Jesus Christ.
I will give my whole heart,
in building His kingdom,
sharing His love;
I will serve Him.

I will serve my God.

The songwriter and family hope to spread this song throughout the world. Therefore, feel free to share the YouTube link and the songwriter’s blog page with the download to anyone you wish to share it with. My heart goes out to the family who lost their missionary and my heart is full of gratitude, once again, for absolutely amazing music to soothe and uplift our souls. I’m eternally grateful to Heavenly Father for the experiences I had on my mission, which have helped to shape my life since then. I’m grateful for the deep testimony I have that Christ loves us all and died for each of us. I’m grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who guides my life daily and knows everything I’m going through. I’m grateful for this beautiful song that encourages me to do better and be a better testimony of Christ to those around me each day.

Michelle

Posted in Spiritual Health | Leave a comment

Another Semester Done

Well, this post is a bit late, but at the beginning of December, I finished another semester at UT. There are times when I feel like it will never be over, but other times when I can’t believe I only have 2 semesters left! 

This was a good semester overall. I started out taking 3 Science classes and 3 Spanish classes. I ended up dropping one of my Science classes – Physical Geology – because it was too hard and I wasn’t doing well in the course. I knew that by dropping it, this coming semester would be harder because I’ll need to take 15 credits instead of 12, but I felt it was better than potentially failing and having to re-take it anyway. I also ended up changing one of my Spanish classes – Latin American Jewish Writers – because I personally felt the class was boring and when I was taking it on my most packed days, I didn’t really want a completely boring class with 5 classes in a row! I was able to find another Spanish literature class – Animals, Ecology & Disaster in Southern Cone Literature – that was at the same time period, so I easily switched classes. That new literature class ended up being my favorite class of the semester. The professor was amazing and I learned a lot about society and helped expand my Spanish vocabulary too! 

Here’s my summary of the semester as far as grades go, which I also updated on the “My Grades” page.

Fall 2013 (August – December 2013)

OVERALL GPA AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN = 3.25
OVERALL GPA FOR SEMESTER = 3.47
BIO 301L – Molecules to Organisms = B
GEO 302D – Age of Dinosaurs = B
GEO 401 – Physical Geology = Q-drop – dropped the class because I wasn’t doing well in it.
SPN 375 – Animals/Ecology/Disaster: Southern Cone Literature (Spanish) = A-
SPN 367K – Advanced Oral Expression for Teachers (Spanish) = A-
SPN 364L – Applied Linguistics (Spanish) = A


As always, there were classes and professors I enjoyed more than others. The Age of Dinosaurs class was just as interesting as I thought it would be, but it was a lot harder as far as memorization of different dinosaur names and their characteristics and relationships. I sat in the front row and enjoyed talking to the professor, which also helped my grade in the end because he does a curve to the grade. I enjoyed the lectures and kept thinking of The Land Before Time (my all-time favorite dinosaur movie) during the whole semester. It wasn’t necessarily as “fun” as I thought it would be because of all the memorizing, but it was interesting – even though I’m still not sure I believe that birds are dinosaurs (the “theme” of the class). It will definitely be one of my “most remembered” classes of my college career!

As mentioned earlier, the Spanish literature class was my favorite this semester. We read theoretical articles in English that related to our main readings in Spanish, which were mostly poems and short stories. We also watched a few movies in Spanish throughout the semester. The professor, Carlos Amador, will go down in my list of “favorite teachers” because he was very animated and loved the subject. He amazed me with his in-depth knowledge of the texts we read and helped me push my thinking as well. We laughed and joked and had a fun time, which was great since it was in the middle of my 5-class stretch. It helped wake me up for the rest of the day!


The other class that was fun was my Biology class. The professor made it interesting, even though he confused a lot of students by adding a lot of information in his lectures that weren’t on his PowerPoints. Apparently, this was the first time he taught a “non-majors” Biology class, so he was used to lecturing with a lot more detailed information. I felt he was fun and I could tell he really enjoyed Biology. He reminded me a lot of Ms. Nolan, my high school Biology teacher, who will always be on my list of favorite teachers. Even now, 20+ years after taking her class, I remember her gumption and gusto in class and her love of the subject. Even though I don’t remember what she taught anymore, her spirit lives on as an example of the kind of teacher I want to be. Professor Bargmann emanated that same spirit of the love of teaching and love of his subject. He required us to go to one lecture during the semester that was out of class time. I actually ended up going to 2 of them (we had a choice of 3), and took my family because it was a series of talks called “Hot Science, Cool Talks” that UT has each year that are geared to involve children too. There was a pre-lecture fair with activities for kids & then the lecture. The first one we went to was about Curiosity, the rover on Mars, and the second one was about how animals use different colors for different functions in nature. At the second one, at the pre-lecture fair, there were different kinds of animals for the kids to see & hold. It was fun to do with the family and I was glad to find out about the lectures because of the Biology class. Many times I feel like I miss out on a lot that UT has to offer as far as that kind of thing since I don’t live on campus and since I do have a family & only one car. It’s hard to go back to campus once I leave in the afternoons. It was a fun way to involve my family in my university life though and show our daughters the value of education in a different way.


It’s hard to believe I’m now done with my Spanish requirements for my degree. It will be odd not going to at least one Spanish class on campus. I’ll have the high school class that I’ll be observing, but that’s not the same.


Next semester, which starts January 13th, I’ll be taking 15 credit hours. I have a 6-credit UTeach class, where we have a 3-hour class on campus twice a week and then I will also be observing and teaching in a high school Spanish class for 45 hours throughout the semester (about 3-4 hours per week); another Biology class (since I dropped the one Geology one this semester I still needed one Science class); my Math requirement (which I’m not looking forward to); and the Undergraduate Studies requirement, which I was actually able to sign up for something that relates to my major – Latino Migration Narratives.


It will be another semester where we have to do some interesting finagling with the car because of my schedule, but we’ll work it out like we always have. I think getting into the high school for observations & teaching will make things a lot more real for me. It was odd this semester not being in a classroom like that since I was the last 2 semesters with the UTeach program. I had to take a semester off of the program to finish my other coursework since I have to be done next semester with all my coursework in order to progress to Student Teaching next fall.


Anyway, I’m glad this past semester is over, and I’m looking forward to the coming one. I’ve enjoyed my break between semesters & am starting to study more Spanish grammar so I feel better prepared for the teacher certification test that I’ll be taking sometime next semester.


Michelle

Posted in Happenings, The University of Texas at Austin | Leave a comment

Some Family Fun

Things are still pretty crazy for me, especially while nearing the end of the semester, but we’ve been able to sneak in some family fun recently. A couple weeks ago, we went to an open scrimmage for the Austin Toros (NBA D-League that feeds into the San Antonio Spurs) and our younger daughter got to play a game between quarters where she had to wear a player’s shoes and put on a uniform on the go and then make a basket. She was competing against a boy about her age. She lucked out and won after her ball teetered on the hoop and rolled in before he could make a basket. She won a Toros t-shirt, Spurs t-shirt and Toros lanyard. After the scrimmage, the whole team & one coach (who is an ex-NBA player) signed her t-shirt. 

Last weekend, we went to the botanical gardens and took lots of pictures & enjoyed walking around & relaxing as a family. 

Here are just a handful of pics from those events . . . . . 

Posted in Family Fun, Happenings | Leave a comment

Spanish Makes My Heart Sing

I have LOVED Spanish since the first day I stepped foot in Señora Cabrera’s 7th grade class in 1987. That love has continued to grow day after day, month after month, year after year since that time. This semester I’m taking my last 3 Spanish classes as well as 3 science classes (2 Geology and 1 Biology). Needless to say, I’ve been just a wee bit (insert extreme sarcasm) stressed lately, especially with midterm exams and papers and other projects having to be turned in this week and next week. 

Because of this extreme stress, I asked Richard to give me a priesthood blessing last night. No matter what is going on, a blessing always helps me more than just prayer. Anyway, the blessing was very special last night and confirmed to me even more how special Spanish is to me. Through the blessing, Heavenly Father told me to keep going, do my best and rely on His help to remember things for my classes. Even more special though is that I was reminded that it would just be a short time before I would achieve my goal of becoming a teacher, and not just being a teacher, but teaching a subject that “has always made your heart sing.” 

Tears rolled down my face at that point because music and Spanish have always been two of the most important influences and special things in my life (besides my family), and to hear those words come out in a blessing was more confirmation than I’ve ever had that I’m supposed to be a Spanish teacher. It also validates feelings I’ve had for so long about my love of Spanish and how I feel like I’m Hispanic of Heart & Soul (which doesn’t sound as cool in English as in Spanish). I still wish I knew the language better than I do and still wish I was more comfortable with it than I am. However, hearing the connection that Spanish makes my heart sing and that Heavenly Father knows that, makes everything stronger now. 

I’m so very grateful for the power of the priesthood on the earth and for having a worthy priesthood holder in our home so that I can call on that awesome power when I’m overly stressed out or when I’m sick or other things are happening. It is so comforting knowing that Heavenly Father knows me and loves me and wants me to achieve my goal too. My heart is full of gratitude for my family and for Heavenly Father. 

Posted in Happenings, Spiritual Health | Leave a comment

The New Taboo Word . . . . HOMEWORK

homework-cartoon-0092

(cartoon found on http://edum-5650-abbie-foristal-synthesis.wikispaces.com/Cooperative+Learning+%26+Homework+and+Practice)

I’ve thought of this topic off and on for the last few years and have thought of doing a blog post about it various times . . . . like when my cooperating teacher last semester said that parents got mad at her and complained if she gave homework on Fridays . . . . or when I read the blog post, “Worst End of School Year Mom Ever” and many of my friends agreed with that blogger. However, after each of those instances, I didn’t end up writing about it because things got busy and I forgot about it after a while, even though I voiced my opinions to my loving, tolerant, caring husband. 

The subject came up again after a friend posted how much she hated homework on Facebook . . . especially since she had already done homework when she was in school and now she was dealing with her kids’ homework. I commented wondering why she was doing her kids’ homework and mentioned how Richard and I are always here when our daughters need help, but we don’t overly push and we don’t get overly frustrated with it and they’re both mostly “A” students. Another friend commented saying that every kid is different and some need more help than others. The conversation continued with many people saying how much they hated it, or “just wait until high school,” and other various comments to the effect of how terrible homework is (or was) for them.

This whole conversation got me thinking again. You see, I often feel I have different opinions than my friends and associates regarding many topics, and the highly dreaded word – almost more-so than a curse word – HOMEWORK – is no different. I see this word, and all it entails, with various perspectives. I understand this post may step on some toes, which is NOT my intention, but I feel it’s important to share my perspective. 

I was a student for elementary, middle school, and high school. I have been a college student various times in the past. I am currently a college student. This leads to PERSPECTIVE #1 – STUDENT. . . . . I can’t say that homework was necessarily “fun” as a student growing up, or the first time in college, or even this time around. However, I did see it as generally helpful to my learning. Of course, there were times (especially in high school) when I’d say an assignment was “stupid” or that I didn’t understand why I had to do such-and-such assignment because it was “pointless,” which was more the teenager in me talking than any kind of rational thought process. Deep down, I did know that even those “stupid” assignments were good in some way. Since I’ve pretty much always wanted to be a teacher, I think I may have also looked at homework in a different way than some students even 20-30 years ago. I loved learning from my teachers and taking things away from their lessons and how they taught. Maybe that’s one thing that just makes me the oddball out too. Even today, I was complaining to Richard about how an assignment didn’t make sense, but while expressing my opinion I also mentioned that I understood why I needed to have that particular experience for my teaching career even though I wished it was more fully explained as far as what the professor expects. I’m not trying to say that I haven’t ever complained about homework, because that would be an outright lie. However, I feel I have always understood the importance of homework in education even as a student. I also did not have excessive help from my own mother during my elementary, middle school, and high school years, which could also give me a different perspective than others regarding the amount of parental involvement. 

Next – I have been a parent now for 13 years. Our oldest daughter is now in 8th grade. She also participated in a half-day pre-K, so I’ve basically had almost 10 years of being a parent to someone who has had homework . . . Yes, even in the pre-K they had their version of homework. This leads me to PERSPECTIVE #2 – PARENT. The only time I ever really remember complaining about our daughters’ homework is when they were given a large project to do that had to be done within a timeframe that I considered unreasonable (like a few days) and with no information far enough in advance for us to add supplies for it to our budget. There have been plenty of times when I’ve had to wait until Richard got home to help the girls because I don’t do well at math. There are other times when I’ve had to rely on Google to help me out so I could help them with homework. However, for the most part we have not had to help them on a daily basis with homework. We have helped teach them the skills to do homework for themselves, and the school district has also taught them many resources for help and for being self sufficient in many ways. They have learned where to look for help in books or online, and they know they can ask us for help also. 

Finally, I have always wanted to be a teacher, and I’m currently in college to pursue that dream and to become a high school Spanish teacher. Therefore, PERSPECTIVE #3 – TEACHER, comes into play. As a soon-to-be teacher, especially a foreign language teacher, I see immense importance in homework. It is nearly impossible to learn a foreign language with only an hour of class per day and no homework and/or practice. There are too many vocabulary words, grammatical structures, verb forms, colloquial expressions, cultural information, etc., to master it simply by coming to class each day. Not only do I know this as a soon-to-be teacher, but also as a Spanish language student. As tedious as vocabulary memorization and practice may be, it is essential to the success of speaking the language. As horrible as I may sound (or may have sounded as a middle school or high school Spanish student) speaking the language in a very broken manner, it is an imperative part of learning to speak and improving fluency. Homework is a necessary tool in learning a foreign language, especially if someone plans on actually USING the language during their lifetime. Even if someone is taking a foreign language just to fulfill a requirement and has no intention on ever using it, there are still very valuable lessons that can be learned and applied to other aspects of life by means of homework accomplished during that foreign language class. I learned to respect other cultures and to see similarities in different groups of human beings by doing projects about other countries in my Spanish class. I learned that learning science terms could be tackled in the same way as Spanish vocabulary. I learned that there are a lot of interesting historical events in Hispanic countries just as there are in the United States. I even learned to look at math in a different way because of my Spanish classes. Therefore, as a soon-to-be teacher, I see the tremendous opportunity that homework opens up to students and the immense importance of that taboo word in broadening the horizons of life.

After all is said and done, please understand that I do completely understand that there are children who need more help than others. I do not want to belittle children with learning disabilities or other challenges. I do not want to downplay the importance that parents have in the lives of their children and in encouraging them to excel. My point in this post is to share my own opinion and perspectives according to the different roles I’ve played, and continue to play, in my life, and also to express concern that there are parents out there who do way too much for their children and can hinder their learning instead of helping it grow. I know there is a fine line when trying to discover that line for yourself as a parent and I completely understand that each family and each child and each situation is different and unique and special.

From a student, parent, and soon-to-be teacher who does not fear (and actually appreciates) the word HOMEWORK!!    

Posted in Happenings | Leave a comment

16 Months Post-Op – down 100.8 lbs!!

This is a cross-posting with my weight loss blog too, but I’m so excited about hitting this milestone that I wanted to share here too! 

My official 16-month mark is next Saturday, the 14th, but this past week I hit a huge milestone – being down 100.8 lbs since my pre-op diet, so I decided to go ahead and do pictures & measurements today. I still have about 20-30 lbs to go to hit my own personal goal, but I’m so happy to see the scale at 178.8 lbs now!!! 

I used a different camera, but hopefully the difference is still seen. :)


Here is my new favorite outfit…… a size 16/18 blouse & actually a size 14 skirt (with one of my favorite Paparazzi Accessories necklace sets – check out www.thriftytrinkets.com for my Paparazzi products)!! 

I still struggle with my body image and sometimes get hung up on the last 20-30 lbs, but I have to keep reminding myself how far I’ve come and how much more awesome my life is now! We went to Sea World as a family last month & I never would’ve been able to spend the day there & fit in the rides & be comfortable at the shows and never could’ve walked around all day without being completely in pain and wiped out for 3-4 days later when I was 280 lbs! It was a tiring day, but not overly so and I wasn’t in pain after walking all over the place for 12 hours! I’m so happy with how my life has changed & know I’ll eventually meet my own goals even if it takes another 6 months or more to do so. 

Posted in Happenings, Health/Weight Loss | Leave a comment