A little faith and a lot of love go a long way…

An Open Letter to Betsy Devos

Well, well, well…welcome to public education Mrs. Devos. I hear you don’t have much experience in our field. None at all, to be exact. Since this is the case, I thought I’d take a…

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An Open Letter to Betsy Devos

Well, well, well…welcome to public education Mrs. Devos. I hear you don’t have much experience in our field. None at all, to be exact. Since this is the case, I thought I’d take a moment to educate you right from the trenches.  If you truly do care about your country’s children and their education, you’ll listen closely.

See, you and I actually agree about something.  There is a big problem when it comes to American education. Where we disagree is what that problem is and how to fix it.  Since you and your own children have never experienced public education for yourselves, let me, someone who attended a public school, sends her own children to a public school and is an actual public school teacher (who has proudly earned two educational degrees) in a Title I school, tell you a little bit about our problem.

The overarching problem that needs to be addressed first is how our culture, American culture, views public education. I’m sure you’re familiar with the term “self-fulfilling prophecy.”  For example, when someone is told repeatedly that they are a failure, they become a failure. (See what I did there? I gave you an example to help you comprehend in case you didn’t have that prior knowledge. Teachers are known to do that.)  Perhaps that’s why public education is perceived by Americans as a failure – because they believe it to be so.

*GASP* “WHAT? Oh, no, I am an American who does NOT believe public education is a failure! I respect our teachers!” said 90% of Americans not named Betsy Devos. (Statistic totally made up by the way…let’s just call it an alternative fact, shall we?)

Truly though, let’s take a minute and get comfortable with an ugly truth. Americans won’t like it but it needs to be said.  Have you ever found out someone is a teacher and responded with a giggle and, “Oh! How nice to have your summers off!” because why else would anyone teach, right? Or perhaps you’ve judged your teacher friend on Facebook who publicly acknowledged he was hoping for a snow day this winter.  “Why ask for a snow day? The rest of the real world doesn’t get a day off for snow! In fact you have the whole summer off!” Maybe you were the person who commented on that news article about the local contract negotiation that “teachers are overpaid!” Was there ever a tough day at work when you wondered if you should just go back to school and become a teacher so you could just “play all day” and only work from 8 am – 3 pm?

Maybe you were the parent who glanced at the letter your child’s teacher sent home requesting donations for classroom supplies and you simply tossed it without a second thought. Have you ever met a friend or two for coffee or lunch and the conversation turned to your children’s education?  Did you participate in that discussion that bashed a particular local teacher while sipping your Starbucks? Did you gossip about what’s happening in your child’s classroom?

Perhaps your child came home and told you his/her version of something that happened at school. Rather than contact the teacher directly to respectfully find out more information you went right to an administrator or maybe you just decided to go ahead and write that nasty e-mail or make that rude phone call.  Oh, and of course you’d have to post about it on all of your social media sites. Speaking of, when a teacher or principal or school board makes any decision that you don’t like, especially when you’ve made no effort to gather all the information except maybe from the daily gossip gals at the bus stop or at the monthly PTO meeting (if you even attend those), are sure to voice your opinions about all that publicly on Facebook so everyone knows what you would have done if you were the teacher?  (Which why aren’t you? We just play all day and have summers off! AND WE ARE RICH!)

If you’ve done any of these things, you’re part of the problem and you don’t fully respect educators.  In fact, I’ll just go ahead and say it.  The majority of Americans do not value and respect American education or those who work in public education. How do I know? I see it daily. I have experienced it for 12 years. Every time I have to defend and explain what I do. Every time I am told how nice it is to have my summers off.  Every time I overhear parents disrespecting their children’s teacher.

THIS is the overarching problem with American education.  Are there other issues? Oh yes, and I’ll address some of those in my next post! However today, it needs to be said again:  American culture does not value or respect public education and educators and therefore will never see us as being successful.  (Pro tip Betsy – when a teacher repeats something as I just did, it is an indication that it’s important and should be written down in your notes.) Sadly, this is even more evident with your confirmation as our Secretary of Education.

So while you’ll decry public education and funnel monies into vouchers and private Christian schools, I will continue making our public schools a SUCCESS.  I will be the difference along with the hundreds of thousands of other American public school educators who dedicate so, so much of their heart, time and energy into loving and educating America’s future.  I will be the one to finally say it’s time to turn our country around, not necessarily with school choice, but with first taking a long, hard look at ourselves.

For the record, you do not have to agree with everything a teacher, administrator or school board says or does but you DO need to always remember that WE ARE ON YOUR SIDE.  It’s not us against you or you against us.  We are a team. You know your children best and just like you, we want the best for your babies.  In fact, many of us are even parents ourselves! We get it. We need you.  We CAN make public education a success in the eyes of the American people, but we need you.  We are in this together.

So there you are Mrs. Devos. Your first lesson in public education.  We need you too, Betsy.  We need you to stand up for public education.  To lead the shift in how our culture perceives public education.  To recognize and respect all that we do.  To acknowledge that yes, there ARE problems but there is SO. MUCH. GOOD.  So much good happening in America’s public schools.  We want you to be a part of that too.  I hope you decide to truly reform education and America in just this way.


Hide and eat breakfast

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Get ready for my vlog…

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Meant for more

I mentioned in my last post that I come from a long line of fighters and survivors.  On Friday, July 15, life gave me an unexpected reminder of this fact.

Those who know my birth story know that it’s pretty much a miracle that both my mom and I survived on January 2, 1983. Since that day I’ve encountered a variety of obstacles, physically, mentally, and emotionally, yet much like the Energizer Bunny, I just keep going, and going, and going…

Last Thursday, at my doctor’s request, I had routine bloodwork done since it had been over 2 years since I’d had any. First thing Friday morning I got the call that there was something abnormal about my results and the doctor needed to see me as soon as possible.

I raced to the office, panicking the entire way. Every worst case scenario that you can think of clouded my thoughts. As soon as I arrived, a nurse escorted me quickly to the scale and then right into an exam room. She took my blood pressure and noted that it was rather high…odd considering I’m typically on the low end. She inquired as to whether I was nervous and I nearly screamed, “YES!” As she exited the room she reminded me to think positive thoughts. Well meaning but not happening lady!

Almost immediately my doctor rushed in with my paperwork in hand and gave me the news. Everything was fine except my hemoglobin. “Thank God!” I exclaimed. “I thought I had cancer!” His reply? “I can’t tell if you have cancer with these results.” Thanks, Doc.

He continued on by explaining that my hemoglobin level was half the minimum it should be which made me severely anemic. He asked a few questions about my periods and diet and I reminded him of my gastric bypass. He rattled off some symptoms and asked if I’d experienced them. Um, YES. I’ve been attributing them to other health concerns, one of which I had just seen him for earlier this week! 

“You could collapse at any moment. This is bad, Kari. Your levels have probably been dropping for awhile now and you’ve just gotten used to feeling the way you do. We need to get you to the hospital for a blood transfusion immediately. I’m going to make the calls now.” He was out of the room almost before I could blink and the well meaning nurse returned with another set of paperwork in her hands.
“You’re going to have to deliver this to the hospital now.” She handed me the sheets, gave me directions on which entrance to use at the hospital and sent me on my way along with the instruction to pick up my prescribed super strength iron supplement as soon as I was finished at the hospital.

I texted my mom and asked her to meet me at the hospital. I filled Big Daddy B in but he was with the kids and I didn’t want them to worry. At the hospital, I approached the registration desk and when they saw my name they told me they were waiting on paperwork which I promptly handed to them. “We’re getting your blood ready now,” I was told and within 5 minutes I was registered and taken back to a room filled with “comfy” chairs and a few patients already receiving fluids of some sort.

The first couple hours were spent taking my vitals, drawing more blood to make sure they had a match for me, drawing blood again to double check the match, and playing a super fun game called, “Find the Vein.”

Side Note: I’m an expert at this game. I hide my veins so well that it’s more likely I’ll be poked 5 or more times until someone finds a vein than getting it on the first try or two. This happens almost every time a medical professional needs to find a vein. My record so far is 8 sticks in one sitting. My arms were covered in bruises the next day and that made for some entertaining public outings, especially since I was pregnant at the time. I’ve met all sorts of IV teams and anesthesiologists because of this game.  This particular visit however, they finally found a vein on the 5th poke.

The vein they were finally able to find was small however and the nurses were worried about pushing so much blood through it. At this point though, they were out of options and so decided to begin. While the first bag of blood was coursing through my tiny hidden veins, one of the nurses informed me that she checked my hemoglobin levels from my bloodwork and was surprised I was alive and standing. She also noted that she thought I’d be back for another bag or two of blood because the two that were ordered for me probably wouldn’t help as much as everyone was hoping considering how low my hemoglobin was. Thankfully my rising anxiety was quickly stifled as she handed me a menu so I could order lunch. 

I spent 7 hours at the hospital. I met some very kind people along the way. I was able to have my mama by my side. And perhaps most importantly, I felt so much appreciation for those who donated blood and saved my life. 

Which brings me to a deep realization. It still blows my mind that the blood of a kind stranger or strangers is coursing through my veins. My heart pumps the blood of these good Samaritans and I know nothing about them other than the fact that we share a blood type. I can’t tell you their race or gender. What’s their religion? Political affiliation? I have no clue. Whoever they are though, they saved me. And I will be forever grateful to them and anyone who donates blood.

So in August I head back to the doctor to follow up. It will take months to fully recover. However the day after my transfusion, I already felt so much better. Since Friday I’ve had much more energy, many of the symptoms I was experiencing have subsided and perhaps my most favorite…every night beginning Friday I have been able to fall asleep quickly! And I wake up so much easier (not easily…just easier!) and actually feel somewhat rested. WHO KNEW?!?

So get out there and donate blood. Or if you can’t, at the very least do a random act of kindness for someone. Take a deep breath. Look around you. Really look. This is your life. How are you living it?

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Save yourself

First of all, I feel the need to update the nicknames I’ve used for my kiddos the past couple years as they have changed and grown and developed their own little personalities. So let’s start there.

Gorilla is a typical firstborn. Strong-willed, rule follower, bossy, responsible, funny, and super smart. He’s a thinker, always has a million things on his mind, a little worrier who thrives on routine, structure and preparedness. I shall call him…El Presidente (or EP) from this day forward.

Binxy has grown into quite the feisty young lady. She knows what she likes…and what she doesn’t. Sometimes she speaks and it appears she is either a 17 year old or a 43 year old trapped inside a 4 year old’s body. She takes no crap and is hilarious. Her name shall now become…Sassy Pants (or SP).

Now that that’s settled, I can continue. Sassy Pants chose a Barbie book at the library today, (of course she did). We returned home and immediately she demanded that I read it to her. As I read through the story, I couldn’t help but notice that the two main female characters ended up being rescued at one point by two minor characters who happened to be male. 

Hold up. I am not ok with that and it’s not a message I choose to relay to my daughter. So as she asked me to read it the story to her three more times, I changed that part…”and then the girls saved themselves.” And since then, it’s been on my mind and heart.

My mother is a very independent, strong woman. One thing she was sure to teach me was that it is important that I am always able to stand on my own two feet. Shit happens and life throws curveballs and she said I needed to be sure I could always take care of myself, and my kids if I chose to have them one day, which obviously I did. That stuck with me. I come from a long line of fighters and survivors and I don’t plan to stop that lineage with myself. 

Something that has become increasingly more clear to me as I age is just how messy and complicated life can get. We are conditioned not to talk openly about that as a society just as we have been conditioned as little girls that men rescue us. These are two things I strongly disagree with.

I think more than ever it’s important for us to openly discuss tough topics and I believe girls need to know they can save themselves. They do not need a man, or anyone else for that matter, to rescue them. 

Jennifer Anniston recently penned an essay in which she declared,

“Here’s where I come out on this topic: we are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies. That decision is ours and ours alone. Let’s make that decision for ourselves and for the young women in this world who look to us as examples. Let’s make that decision consciously, outside of the tabloid noise. We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own ‘happily ever after’ for ourselves.”

We get to decide our own “happily ever after.” How powerful. I want my daughter to embrace her own happily ever after, whatever that may be. Perhaps for Barbie and her friends, being rescued by hunky male twins is their own happily ever after, and if so, good for them. But SP will know that there is more than one way to be rescued, and sometimes saving yourself is exactly what you want or need to do. There is no shame in that, no shame in walking a less traveled path, as long as you keep moving forward.

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Protected: Write about what hurts

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Edit: I did not originally intend to write this post. But the words spilled out, so here it is.

I’m sure by now it’s obvious I’m back in the classroom as a regular education teacher and no longer a specialist since I haven’t posted in awhile. Transitioning to a new position takes even more time and effort than fine-tuning each year as we all know since we’ve all had at least one and usually more “first years.”
The thing I always find so interesting when it comes to any big change is how people always ask which you enjoyed more – being a coach or a teacher? Single or married? Kids or no kids? It’s natural to ask that I suppose, I mean I find myself asking the same question to others experiencing changes however for me, the answer is typically the same for it all…its not that one is better than the other, it’s just that they’re different. It’s a different set of rewards and problems in each situation.

My dad was married 3 times, the longest to my mom, his 3rd and final wife. He was also almost 16 years older than her. Now that I’m an adult, I’ve learned more about my parents’ marriage and all they survived as a couple and my mom has revealed to me that my dad had told her (as he had also told me early in my own marriage) that when you want to throw in the towel and call it quits, to remember that when its all said and done and you’re with someone else, you’ll just find a different set of problems with whoever you end up with next. Nothing is perfect.  

My husband and I have often discussed this. We were the first to marry in our circle of friends and the first to add kids to the mix. We’ve been through more than most couples at our age and stage in life. There have been times when we’ve both wanted to throw our hands up in disgust and despair and just walk away.   

Thankfully, we haven’t both wanted to give up at the same time. And we both have taken my dad’s words of wisdom to heart. We’ve begun to build a life and family together during our nearly 8 years of marriage. We both have several good reasons to justify walking away from the other – if we really wanted to. But we know our set of problems and we know if we abandoned what we’ve started, we would just eventually walk into a new set of problems. A different set of problems.  

So we choose to stay. We choose to love each other thru the ugliness…and oh, is there ugliness some days. Maybe most importantly, we show each other grace and forgive. Not all the time – I mean, we aren’t saints! But when it counts, when it’s big, when one of us knows deep down the other is so unlovable but needing our grace and forgiveness more than ever, that’s when we choose to show it and forgive.

This isn’t an easy task. We aren’t that couple that doesn’t fight or forgives easily.  Basically what I’m saying is that neither of us married Jesus. But we keep trying. We keep choosing to forgive and love even when deep down we are feeling like maybe the other doesn’t really deserve it. And while it isn’t easy at the time, for me at least, it does get a bit easier with time. Because when I have those moments when I’m faced with the choice to either explode with rage or respond with love, I’m often flooded with memories of the moments when Big Daddy B could have easily stomped all over my broken pieces but instead chose to pick me up and put me back together.   

So while I’m not typically an emotional person, in fact I’m not really a fan of having feelings at all, a time in my life has presented itself in which I need and want to publicly acknowledge my husband for being my rock, forgiving me, and loving me when I was at my most unlovable thus far in my life. For better or for worse and oh my, have we seen some of the worse my love. But we can survive anything. I ❤️ you.

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Growing up

It happened. My baby boy grew up. He’s officially a kindergartener. 

He has been so excited to start school. It probably helps that his mama is a teacher who has had him tag along to her classroom numerous times, especially during the summer. He could. Not. Wait.

I’m not typically a crier but today, I shed some tears as his bus pulled away.

The best part was hearing about his day after I picked him up when I got off work. He was so excited about the magic playdoh he used that changed color when he made a wish. He loved sharing the Pete the Cat book they read today. Oh, and remember the first day teacher gift we made? The Gorilla was ecstatic that his teacher thanked him and PATTED HIS HEAD when he presented it to her. He gushed out how she loved it. And to top it all off, he ended by telling me how he can’t wait to go back to kindergarten tomorrow! I am so great fun for his teacher who made today such a special day for him, and for us. 

He even had a special friend meet him when he arrived home from school! (Our dog!)  

I also checked in with Binxy to see how her day went without her sidekick. 

She reported that she had a good day with daddy but she missed her brother!! My heart melted when she confessed that!

I have so much more to write, but not much time so more updates to come later!!   


Still got it!

The end of the summer is near.  It’s bittersweet for me. It’s no secret I’ve had a tough time since losing my dad, but the past few weeks have almost…almost…felt normal. I guess it’s my new normal since things won’t ever be the same without my dad, but it’s something. It’s hope. I haven’t had that since December 2013, right before my dad’s mass was found, so I’ll take it, and cling to it, and pray things continue to look up.

Enough of the sappy crap. On to more Pinterest!! I can’t even believe I forgot to mention a certain recipe in my previous post because it was the biggest hit of them all!

I made stuffed French bread and it was beyond delicious. I think. I can’t truly tell you because I only got a very small portion of the 2 foot long loaf that I stuffed and then Big Daddy B ate the rest.  Thanks Big Daddy B. 😏 He was pretty excited about that meal though and it’s definitely one I will make again.

So on to my classroom adventures! It turns out my partner teacher who will focus on ELA is AWESOME! She’s been a huge help in my transition to a new building and position, even entertaining my kids in her classroom while Big Daddy B and I worked tirelessly to unpack and organize everything! She’s been so patient with me too, because I haven’t even been able to focus on any of the curriculum and procedural planning than happens before a new school begins because I’ve been so anxious about the physical state of disarray that my room has been in.

Thankfully, my room is about 95% ready to go as of today. Here are some before photos…   

  So. Many. Boxes. 😂

And now for the after photos, including my finished “focus” sign! ***Special shout out to Big Daddy B – I would not be so close to being ready right now without his help and support. ❤️❤️❤️***



I’m using both tables and desks this year. I’m excited to see how that works!

Besides working in my classroom, I also put together some first day of school gifts for my kids’ teachers. I got the idea and free printable here 

I included the following items inside each mason jar:

Chap stick, hand sanitizer, Tic Tacs, Rolaids, Tylenol, a nail file, cute post its, milk and dark chocolate

I’m on a ROLL!