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May 2010 entries

Good Night Stories

Last night, I was reading Aidan one of the new "Beginning to Read Alone" books that Miss Hopkins gave him.  One was cleverly titled, "Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!"  and was about-- you guessed it -- bugs.  We read happily along, learning about the praying mantis that eats flies and the special wasp that actually paralyzes and kills tarantulas and lays its eggs in their decaying flesh.  The cheery read continued, singing the praises of various bugs and their food sources. 

Until page 14, and I quote, "An assassin is a person who kills another person on purpose.  The assassin bug is a bug that really lives up to its name."

Trying to control my laughter, I skipped over the handy yet age-inappropriate operational definition of "assassin" and continued:  "When it catches another insect, it injects the insect with poison.  The poison turns the bug's insides to soup.  Then the assassin bug sucks up the soup!". 

I couldn't take it anymore.  Everything I read after this book became incredibly funny to me.  Even "Animal Hospital", a tale about the miraculous recovery of a poor injured duck named Jemima.  Gabrielle has, for no apparent reason, a zero tolerance policy on laughter and kept scolding me, "Stop it, Mommy!  Stop it!" but I just couldn't help reflecting on the absurdity of a line like, "An assassin is a person who kills another person on purpose" being in a children's book.  What's next?  "A prostitute is a woman who . . ."  or "A drug dealer is a person who . . . "?

Nevertheless, I am sure Aidan's night was filled with sweet dreams of poisonous bug soup and deadly Postman butterfly caterpillars whose dinners turn their flesh into poison for potential predators.  What more could a 5 year-old boy ask for?

G is for Gabrielle

Recently, we were at a friend's graduation party (tis the season) and Gabrielle saw a sign that, she was convinced, said her name on it.  It was taped to a large, black bin.  "Look, Momma.  G is for Gabrielle!  That says my name."   I asked her to spell out the other letters: "G-A-R-B-A-G-E.  Gabrielle."

'Ray Bucknell!

In May of 2007, I graduated from Bucknell with a Master's of Science in Education, and while I searched for jobs, Mike started the application process to begin graduate study himself.  We both had good news in no time -- I landed the job at MHS and Michael was accepted into the graduate program at Bucknell.  Because a music teaching certificate is kindergarten through twelfth grade (secondary English is grades 7-12), Mike had to take courses like "string methods I and II" and "woodwind methods" through Lycoming College -- meaning, we had to be pretty creative with finances since those extra courses were not covered by his graduate scholarship funds at Bucknell.

There were times, to be honest, when it seemed like Mike would never be done with school.  He kept lamenting, "How did you get done so much faster?"  I would point to the difference in our degree requirements time and time again, reminding Mike that he is certified for 7 more grade levels than I am. 

But, today we saw the fruition of Mike's hard work and perseverance: he graduated with his Master's of Science in Education and K-12 music certificate. 

Bucknell Graduation 2010 025

The ceremony, though lengthy (nearly 900 students commencing) was inspiring.  Leading neurosurgeon Benjamin Carson spoke to the graduates, encouraging them to remember that the processes that occur in their brains are part of a universal miracle of creation.  And yes, he really meant creation.  He consistently credited God with blessing his life from a poverty-stricken childhood to an astonishingly accomplished adulthood.  Among his many accolades as a doctor, he even once traveled to Africa where he led a surgical team which was the first to separate a pair of conjoined twins.  The children were joined at the head.  It was a medical and political triumph.

His was an incredible story, and his speech affected the audience, which stood to applaud the doctor as he closed his oratory. had this summary of his wisdom to offer: Dr. Carson's books include a memoir, Gifted Hands, and a motivational book, Think Big. Carson says the letters of "Think Big" stand for the following:

Talent: Our Creator has endowed all of us not just with the ability to sing, dance or throw a ball, but with intellectual talent. Start getting in touch with that part of you that is intellectual and develop that, and think of careers that will allow you to use that.

Honesty: If you lead a clean and honest life, you don't put skeletons in the closet. If you put skeletons in the closet, they definitely will come back just when you don't want to see them and ruin your life.

Insight: It comes from people who have already gone where you're trying to go. Learn from their triumphs and their mistakes.

Nice: If you're nice to people, then once they get over the suspicion of why you're being nice, they will be nice to you.

Knowledge: It makes you into a more valuable person. The more knowledge you have, the more people need you. It's an interesting phenomenon, but when people need you, they pay you, so you'll be okay in life.

Books: They are the mechanism for obtaining knowledge, as opposed to television.

In-Depth Learning: Learn for the sake of knowledge and understanding, rather than for the sake of impressing people or taking a test.

God: Never get too big for Him.

Worthy words for a worthy day.  Congratulations, Michael!  The kids and I are so proud of you!


Never a Dull Moment

Today, the majority of my juniors are at taking a Physics final at HersheyPark.  It's a quiet, calm, peaceful day.  I'm getting grades done and making some serious progress on my notoriously neglected to-do list.  And then, there interposed not a fly but a bird.  Somehow, a bird got in the building and was flying around the second floor.  Luckily, the Eagle Scout who led us all around NYC claiming his merit badge in map reading would get us to Little Italy was in my study hall at the time.  He caught the thing with his bare hands.


and then he ate it.  

OK, OK.  I made that last part up.  But he really did catch it.  :)

Wow...what a weekend!

After an awesome trip to Collegeville to see Katie graduate, I had a chance to visit my aunt, uncle and two cousins.  Then, after singing two masses on Sunday, it was time to attend the Williamsport Community Theatre League's second annual Ray of Light Awards.  Similar to the Tony's, the Ray of Lights program is designed to recognize excellence (or, according the pastry chef who decorated the post-party cake, "excellents") in high school theatre. 

The play I directed with assistants Chris Bower and Jaclyn Gilbert, Arsenic and Old Lace, had the honor of two nominations -- one was for best featured performer, Ryan Looke who played Dr. Einstein, and the other was for best supporting actor, Cole Black who played Mortimer Brewster.  Unfortunately, those awards went to other schools, but it is still really great that they were nominated!  We had twice as many nominations as last year, and it's only our second play.  The highlight of the evening for us was winning the Ray of Light award for "Most Improved Dramatic Production".  I'm so proud of what we've accomplished, and I can't wait to get started on next year's play.  I've decided on Our Town

The Ray of Lights is a wonderful program for our students and community.  It's a formal event complete with a catered reception afterward and it's held at the beautiful Community Arts Center.  It's a chance for kids to see snippets of other shows (each school performs a number from their musicals) and it's a chance for them to get to know each other and create friendships that will no doubt last for a long time.  I was so happy to see my friends and colleagues awarded for their hard work and diligence -- Jersey Shore and Milton brought home well-deserved awards for their shows. 

All in all, it was a great night!  Thanks, CTL, for creating this neat program!

Red carpet 1

Yes, Michael is growing a beard. chuckle.  He trimmed it today.  I think he's having a thirties crisis. 

Award acceptance

and this is a silly one with Kyle Wilson, the incredibly talented student director from South Williamsport.  South Side took the top honor again this year for best overall theatre program. 

Silly rol

And that's his proud papa in the background.  :)  A loyal reader of fading embers and a dear friend of mine.

Road Trip!

Today, I am going to a road trip.  My dear friend, Katie, is graduating from Ursinus College in Collegeville, PA tomorrow.  While I'm trying to ignore the fact that I met Katie and her family when Katie was oh . . . eight? nine?  (So, if she's 10 years older, how is it that I've not aged a bit??) I am SO incredibly proud of her!  She was worked her butt off in extremely challenging pre-med classes in addition to working as an EMT and student emergency responder.  And, as it should be, she's been accepted to the medical school of her choice, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. 

I can't wait to spend a couple of days with her and her family, to meet her boyfriend for the first time, and to watch her cross the stage to accept that well-deserved diploma!  Mazel Tov, Katie!  :)  


No . . . we still don't know, but two nights ago, as I put Aidan to bed, he told me, "You know, Mommy, I hope the baby is a girl."

I was suprised -- he's been gung-ho on a baby brother for so long.  I asked why . . . and he said, "Because girls are beautiful like you and Gabrielle."

[Cue music -- "Smooth Operator" perhaps?]