Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Back to School Primer

One thing my mother would NEVER allow was for me to be TARDY for school. But here in Moore County, North Carolina, there have already been two days of school and I’m just now composing my “Back to School” blog. So I apologize for my tardiness, but I wish a happy, tear-free opening of the new school year to all my student, parent, and teacher readers. And believe me, I know all of those groups might have reason to shed a few tears.

But I went from being a student who passionately dis-liked school to a teacher who loved school. That doesn’t mean I liked getting up before 6 a.m. or grading papers till 11 p.m. or planning lessons on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. But I got an incredible return on everything I put into the job. And my philosophy that you can turn work into play was what allowed to me enjoy it even at the end of my 33rd year. Every wonderful hour spent with our grandchildren is like a small, informal learning laboratory. And I’m learning as much as they are.

Now, before I stray too far from my topic, I want to share some words of encouragement for the educators carrying the most important work of our society: preparing our next generation to sustain and improve the world we brought them into.

“Great schools are the result of great cooperation. Let’s remember that it takes both the white and the black keys of the piano to play ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’” ~ Anonymous

“Any time you see a turtle up on top of a fence post, you know he had some help.” ~ Alex Haley

“Teach your students to use what talents they have. The woods would be silent if no bird sang except those that sing best.” ~ Anonymous

“There are three things to remember when teaching: know your stuff, know whom you are stuffing, and then stuff them elegantly.” ~ Lola May

“The world is a great university. From the cradle to the grave we are always in God’s great kindergarten, where everything is trying to teach us its lesson.” ~ O. S. Marden

“Teaching that impacts is not head-to-head but Heart-to-Heart.” ~ Howard G. Hendricks

God bless you all in your challenges and successes this year.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Baghdad Bad Boys are Back!

Saturday, August 13, a group of veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom held their third annual reunion at Beulah Hill Baptist Church.  While deployed, these soldiers found common ground through their faith and their music, and used it to encourage one another as well as minister to others.

This photo is from their first reunion two years ago. 
 Several of the original bunch were in attendance once again.

The church welcomed the opportunity to provide a meal and hospitality to these who have faithfully served our country in both peace and war.

My good friend Steve and I were ready
for good food and good music.

As good as the food was, the Bad Boys were eager to circle up and crank out some of the songs they jammed to while deployed.

Greg Rawlings was the mastermind behind founding the Bad Boys as well as coordinating the reunions.  He led out on several numbers with his mandolin.

Friends were welcome to join the Bad Boys.  John Santa, well known for four decades in Triangle music circles, used a variety of instruments: dobro, guitar, harmonica, and cello, to mention a few.  His vocals were a major contribution, too.

My pal Ray, who assists me with music at area rest homes, was eager for a chance to join in this session.  Ray can play anything he hears.

I tucked my keyboard in an out-of-the-way corner and mainly provided some rhythm.  I appreciated the Bad Boys making an exception to the "no electronics" stipulation.

The listeners were free to go on chatting or eating while the musicians played.  In fact, if the crowd had all stood on their heads I'm not sure the fellows would have noticed, so intent were they on the songs.

John Santa gets a big hug from Faye Williams, who provided plenty of the food for this occasion.  John once "proposed" marriage to Faye based on her banana pudding. 

There were a lot of kids present, too, and the weather was fine for them to enjoy a bouncer the Men's Sunday School Class had rented for the day.  Although many of the young folks were meeting for the first time, they struck up friendships easily, snacking, playing, or strolling the church grounds.

I'm happy to display my friendship with these fine folks.

Jack Short thanks our friends not only for the entertainment,
but for their service in our armed forces.

It was a great day of celebration, with the spirit and enthusiasm
matching that of the previous reunions.

I'm including one video which features beautiful harmony
on "Down to the River to Pray."

Even when still deployed, the Baghdad Bad Boys had shown their appreciation for the support of our Men's Class with the gift of this hand-stitched wall hanging.

Made by Iraqi craftsmen, it now hangs in our Sunday School class as a constant reminder of this sweet relationship we have.

When I photographed the wall hanging, it struck me that our current series of lessons focuses on the very region where these soldiers have served.  It's been a war-torn land of turmoil through the centuries, and the root of some of the world's biggest problems today.
Peace may never come to that area, but the dedication of thousands of our troops have brought renewed hope to many.  Perhaps it is not too late.
The Baghdad Bad Boys have certainly given it their all.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Commentary. Or not.

A close friend has requested commentary on this blog.  It was implied that my thoughts in the realms of politics and education would be welcome.  Before venturing upon those often controversial slippery slopes, I think it prudent to ponder a favorite scripture for guidance.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-- think about such things.

Thank you for the advice, Paul.  I guess that rules out blogging about politics after all.  As for education, I'm gathering my thoughts and hope to share soon.  If you have topics of concern you'd like me to discuss, leave a comment or e-mail me, please.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Roll 'em: Action Videos with Claire and Evan

During a recent afternoon with Claire and Evan,
I had the opportunity to shoot some short videos
that show the energy and vivacity of this lovable pair.

In the first one (15 seconds) Claire sings "God made me . . . in my Bible book . . . God made me."  There may be more words, but she gets the point across simply and sweetly.

As Claire warms up to being a screen star, she sings "London Bridge is Falling Down." (17 seconds)  No sooner does she finish than she inquires, "You ready to watch it?"  Judy and I smile broadly every time we watch it.

Evan treats us to 53 seconds of bouncing in his, er, bouncer.
When he slowed down I "stimulated" him by nudging it with my foot.
I hope this doesn't make you dizzy-- the camera has to keep re-focusing
to keep up with Evan's antics.

Evan has a rousing good time with a green plastic Slinky
that I had gotten the kids months ago. 
 He gives it a real workout. (51 seconds)

Can you imagine anything cuter than Claire
singing "Jesus Loves Me."  It ends rather abruptly
when she applauds her performance.
Now if you persevered to the end, don't you agree
that this 4 minutes was a better value than either
The Smurfs or Harry Potter?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Brianna and Hunter

This blog features recent activities with Brianna and Hunter as its companion post featured their cousins Claire and Evan.  I hope you enjoy both.

Smiles abound when Brianna and Hunter come to Grandma and Grandpa's house.  Bri now calls us Mama (she calls Amanda Mommy) and Papa.

Hmm.  What's this picture all about? 
Well, if you look in the dead center, you'll see tiny little Hunter
standing up against the refrigerator.  This was when he was first
starting to pull up.  I watched him crawl purposefully from the
living room to the kitchen until he arrived at his destination.

Hunter: "Of course I can do puzzles.
How else would they ever get done?"

Hunter: "Don't I look ferocious with all these sharp chompers?
Oh yeah, I've gotta lose the smile."

Grandma: "Of course this book is rated E for everyone."

Hunter: "No, I can't find middle C, but I can
sure play a mean bass."

Hunter: "I'm the Barber of Seville . . ."

Bri loves cuddling with Mommy.

Mixed with a little "Where Am I?"

Hunter: "Well, this is how I shuffle cards."

Hunter: "Grandpa, I don't think your piano has
the same notes as ours."

Brianna: "Mama, when we're watching the birds,
do you ever get the feeling someone's watching us?"

Yes, Bri.  Someone IS watching you!
And we'll keep on watching, cuddling, and playing
with our happy and lovable grandkids.

Claire and Evan: Summer Days

No matter how many pictures I share of our grandchildren, I inevitably find myself falling behind occasionally.  This blog post will catch me up on Claire and Evan.  The next post will get us up to date on Brianna and Hunter.

Evan: "Of course I can juggle.  Can't all babies?"

Claire: "Grandpa, I hate to tell you, but I think this toy shrunk since last time I tried it."

Grandpa Ken: "That's right, Evan.  Show them your 'feeding time' face."

Claire still loves one of her early "peek-a-boo" books. 
Especially if Mom is there to share it.

At Claire's house we witness that she gained
the architecture/engineering gene from her daddy.

Grandpa Ken: "Claire, lie down beside the blocks so we can see how tall you are.  Hmm.  This might be harder than I thought.  But great pose."

Together, we got the tower upright. 
Then, she painstakingly disassembled every block.

Evan: "Yes, I love my little computer. 
But sometimes I forget the password."

Evan: "What do you mean This isn't Carowinds?"

Evan: "Anyway, if Claire's here, this is where I wanna be."

Evan: "'Come into my parlor,' said the spider to the fly."

Evan: "I don't know which is more fun, the slinky or the air conditioning vent.
But they're both educational."
And grandchildren are educational, too.
I've still got a lot to learn.  After all, shouldn't we ALL
be life-long learners?