Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rain


Today a random rain storm blew threw our town. In a moment, the heavens seemed to open up and let it's rain pour out. The drops were heavy and beautiful. They looked like flood waters rushing down. I was at work, walking kindergartners through the hallway during the densest part of the downpour. The rain sounded as a roaring drum roll on our one story building. Each child stared out the doors and windows at the rain as we passed by. Their other teacher, leading the way, scolded "Come on, you've all seen rain before! Keep walking!" But I couldn't stop looking at it either. Yes, I have seen rain. I have played in heavy summer rains. I have wished away many a rainstorm. But today I couldn't stop looking at it. The rain was beautiful. I was mesmerized by the magnitude of water falling on the ground. The big drops of water were so pure and mighty. I felt like a child staring out into the courtyard. But I realized that it was OK. I have the heart of a child. I see simple things that God has created and I wonder at them. God gives us those moments of beauty where He wants us to marvel at His creation like a small child. It's simple and complex at the same time. God is glorified through it all.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Introducing Mr. and Mrs.Collins

May 23rd, 2009
Jenny Pickett married Patrick Collins. These are two of our very close friends and we were so excited to share in their beautiful wedding day! I was a bridesmaid and Michael played guitar for the ceremony. The weather was hot and sunny, the colors were bright and beautiful, and best of all they drove away as husband and wife.

The rehearsal dinner was at Claires at the Depot in Warrenton, VA. Isn't she so pretty?

The next morning all the bridesmaids met up at the Pickett house to get ready. Here's Jenny getting the final touches made to her ensemble. She looked stunning!

Before heading off to the ceremony site, the sisters pose for some pictures in the bedroom. This is the last picture I have of Jenny Pickett.

The ceremony and reception were both held on Lake Ritchie in Bealeton, VA. This is the only picture I took of the wedding before my camera was put away. I enjoyed the wedding and let the pros take all the pictures! I can't wait to see them, they will be amazing!


The new couple headed off to Savanah, GA for a week long honeymoon!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ashleigh Graduated!

Last Sunday marked the end of college for Ashleigh. We are so excited that she made it and finished strong.  Despite countless struggles, the Lord helped her through! We love you Ashleigh!!!

Here's Michael's sister Sarah about to walk down the steps of the Rotunda. She majored in Linguistics and French! And she is preparing to go to Africa!!!

Ashleigh and Christopher walking down the steps:

Center aisle of the Lawn:
McIntire Dept. of Music Diploma Ceremony. Go Ashleigh! They had the nicest, most organized and entertaining ceremony of all the UVA majors.


Best Friends and UVA Alumni!






Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A busy Saturday

Saturday before UVA's graduation, we spent the day with the larger Daubert family. It was so delightful! We spent the whole afternoon celebrating Sarah's graduation at King Family Vineyard eating BBQ, wine tasting, listening to bluegrass and bathing in the sun.

The graduate and her parents:

We all enjoyed a game of bocce ball:

After KFV we stopped at a family friend's house in Afton for a wonderful evening of dinner and thunderstorms. We all went on a walk to see a gorgeous house and countryside.

There are a lot of us.

The brewing Storm that chased us.

Michael, John, Sarah and David sitting on the front porch watching the storm begin. It was so windy!


Friday, May 15, 2009

Peacock

video

Yesterday morning I was running out the door, late for work as usual, and I yell back one last, "Goodbye! I love you!" I take two steps then scream with delight, "Peacock!" I dash back in the house looking for my video camera and camera and anything else that I could use to document it. Michael was still waking up through his cup of coffee and morning reading. Needless to say he was very confused. This beautiful peacock made my morning. He was clearly out of place in our little neighborhood. I know some people get the delight of having a peacock for a neighbor in their cottage during their first year of marriage, but I never got to see that one. I only read about them in children's books. 
I really wanted this beast of a bird to open his tail feathers wide but unfortunately I was not arousing enough for him. My neighbors told me later that day that he was dancing on people's roof tops and making a scene for a bunch of people. Man I'd love to see that. He is still wandering around our streets. It would be nice to keep him.
There is something special about seeing a "zoo" animal on your street. Imagine if you walked out side and saw a rhinoceros or giraffe? You would think it's fantastic too! 


*******Disclaimer to previous post*******

I do not in any way think that my husband is boring! I made that comment before he told me what he was writing about. He only mentioned education. He is super smart, has great ideas, and has a heart for reform. I will support him because I love his passion and intelligence. 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Miseducation of JC DeyquaShawntayLandria Le-A

Guest Blogger for the Day - Michael

Michael here.  Ever notice how every election, every year; from mayoral races to presidential campaigns, one of the main platforms is Education Reform or some derivative of Educational Change, Support, or Enhancement?  Every candidate wants to increase student achievement, decrease the achievement gap and improve the effectiveness of teachers, right?  

If this is such an important issue and so many people clamor about finding the best teachers and holding teachers accountable and testing the students, why does nothing seem to change?  Why is the dropout rate still so high?  Why are there still 25% of kids failing a simple, 70 question SOL test on basic History questions like "What factors helped create the Atlantic slave trade?"  Why are there students in high school with a 4th grade reading level?  

There are two big areas that create large problems for the educational system as a whole: Elementary Education and High School Education.  Part of the problem with all of the "solutions" like standardized tests and federal accountability is that the problems run deeper than those efforts can reach.  We need localized action that will begin rebuilding the educational system from the ground up and we need the patience to wait 5 to 10 years to see if elementary efforts work and persistence to fight for the high schoolers who need so much help.  I have ideas for both areas and will come up with something much more  in depth this summer, but here is a summary of what I think will jump start educational reform and improvement:



Elementary Ed. - 5-year olds who can't write should not be pushed through to 1st grade!  This seems like common sense, but school districts are almost forced due to teacher shortages and student surpluses to keep the students moving.  This creates a weak foundation and lays the groundwork for a terrible educational career of low achievement and decreasing effort in the face of growing obstacles.  If we make sure that kids start their educational careers with the strongest basics, then we can insure that no one gets to high school without being able to read.

High Schools - I call this the Chuck Wood Reform Package because I stole a lot of these ideas from a long conversation with the head wrestling coach.  The basic premise is that the students need to have a lot more accountability and responsibility for their academic careers.  There is no reason why a 17 year old junior should arrive at school with no paper, no pencil, no homework and no clue what's going on in class.  They either take up space or become behavioral problems.  What's a solution?

Based on college's "academic probation", create a system that essentially puts low-performers on academic probation.  Also, lower the mandatory school age to 16.  These 2 efforts would allow schools to deal with non-performing students in a stronger way.  Give them some safety nets like a strong alternative school, a technical school to learn a trade or a work program to move into the work-force before kicking them out, but there must be an alternative to writing 50 referrals for an 18-year old who's been screwing up for 4 years and has no chance at graduating.  

Now these are very short and not nuanced thoughts on education.  I plan on expanding on these and creating some real, solid ideas that could be implemented at a local level in order to improve the educational system that is graduating seniors who think that Columbus discovered Africa and answer IDK on essay questions they think are too hard.  

We must begin coming up with better options and solutions in order to make sure that our children grow up in a stronger country. 

Ok, that's all I've got for now.  If you've read all the way to here, thank you and let me know your thoughts.  Megan said "Oh no, this is going to be really boring" so let her know how un-boring this was to read.  Adios!


Thursday, May 7, 2009

UVA haters


Recently I noticed that when my identity concepts are breached in any way, I get offended and defensive. Not qualities that I am proud of but God has work to do in all of us right? This past week some co-workers of mine began to bash UVA college students - in front of me. They were complaining that the students were filtering into the "city" too much. Some exact quotes are:
"I saw some walking on the downtown mall and I was like, "Whoa! Go back to your corner of the world."
"I hate when they're all dressed up in those dumb shirts and ties and sundresses. What is that about?!"
"They need to stay on the Corner and they have bars there. Stay away from mine."

Needless to say, I did not contribute to their conversation but rather, fumed quietly inside my head. Want to know what I think? Here it is: If it wasn't for the University of Virginia school and it's medical center, this town would be nothing more than an isolated valley filled with country-glam horse breeder's wives, hippies, goths, granolites and rednecks. UVA and all that comes with it provides the heartbeat of this city. Yes, it's nice and quiet here during the summer, I am not disagreeing with that. But the professional and continuing education crowd that UVA draws here pumps life into Charlottesville. 

As far as dressing up goes, there is a huge misconception about that. Yes there is an old time tradition of dressing up for home football games, but less than half of the student body participates and there are only 6 home games a year. Hmm when else would we dress up? Oh, date functions, formals, graduation.....sounds pretty similar to every other person in the US to me. We students don't stroll around in sundresses and pearls on a regular basis. I don't even own pearls.

Lastly, UVA students are some of the brightest young minds in the country. Steps above most other Virginia state schools. We all know it, statistics show it, you can't deny it. Ranks in the Top 25 public universities in the nation??? JMU is awesome (my beloved sister is currently being educated there) but I've been told that it stands for Just Missed UVA. Over the top maybe, it just so happens that these smack talkers went to school there.  But seriously, next time you're sipping your freshly squeezed mojito at Mono Loco and a group of UVA students walks in the door, welcome them with open arms and be thankful that they are here to keep the economy alive in this small town. 


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

This is pretty cool

I don't normally do this. Well, neither do I "normally" know someone sort of famous. But check out this music video from the group Parachute formerly known as Sparky's Flaw. It's a legitimate music video and it's up for Vh1 Top 20 Video Countdown up against Britany and Lady GaGa. Many of you know them, but these men are from Charlottesville and some went to UVA with us. We are house sitting/dog sitting/high school senior sitting for the lead singer's family right now. The other night we were all watching TV and all got excited because the new Nivea commercials feature Parachute's songs in them. So does One Tree Hill. Buy anyways, we hear Will's voice on TV then the next minute he walks in the door and is like "hi." Weird but fun! They are actually really good. I didn't follow them in college, I just thought they were another local band. But look at them now! I'm excited for them and hope that they can go far! It doens't hurt to support those you use to know. 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Post May Day

Does anyone celebrate May Day? I want to. 

May 3rd and there is not that much for me to blog about yet. We are house sitting for the next two weeks. They have two big dogs....who like me a lot...but I don't care for them that much. They are cute and really obedient. Unfortunately, animal fur is not my best friend. I am slightly, very allergic.  And seriously, me? Walking them both on leashes? They practically drag me. Here are the sweet pooches:

We have been dining out on the weekends lately. We are trying to enjoy the last couple weeks in Charlottesville with our closest friends before everyone leaves for good. (I'm really quite sad. I'm afraid I'm ignoring a future issue of loneliness.) We went to 12th Street Tap House and it was great. There wasn't a big crowd on a Friday night, they had plenty of seating, and the food and beverages are reasonably priced. I'd go back.

I must go and feed the pups some green beans. 2/3 for the bigger dog and 1/3 for the smaller one. I'm getting better.