Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Seven Things You Don't Really Need to Know About Me

This is a first for me. My new "Twitter" friend, Kelly tagged me, so here we go! Seven things? Ummm....Oh, the pressure to be interesting!

1. I am a follower of Christ. As a public school teacher, I realize that some may consider this a conflict of interest, but I consider this my calling in life. I believe that God has gifted me to serve Him in the public schools. My prayer is that someday I will hear my Savior say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

2. I have four incredibly different children. My oldest is a freshman in college, majoring in, would you believe it?, education! Number 2, is a senior in high school and is an incredible cross country runner. Registered for his first marathon in March. Number 3 is my most challenging, but most fascinating child. She is the poster girl for the strong-willed child, and yet is an eager, enthusiastic learner. My prediction is that she will greatly surpass any expectation I have for her. The baby, Number 4, is the light of all our lives. Mr. Six Year Old just lost the first of his two front teeth. His favorite thing to say to me is, "You're never too old to hug your mama!"

3. Sometimes I sing to myself while driving. Loudly. I love music and am often brought to tears when a certain song speaks to my heart.

4. Three years ago, I founded an organization called Reach Them to Teach Them, in the hopes that every child has the opportunity to reach his/her maximum potential. In the almost twenty years I've spent in the classroom, I have seen a definite shift in focus FROM teaching STUDENTS, TOWARD teaching to the TEST. My experience has taught me that without a foundation of mutual trust, respect, and personal investment, our efforts to teach SKILLS are in vain.

5. Confession time. I am an ice-aholic. That's right. I'm addicted to Sonic ice. I buy an 8 lb. bag of pellet ice twice a week! I like it best with unsweetened Milo's tea, but I'll take it straight if tea is unavailable. Yes, I know it's bad for my teeth, but I figure it's better than drinking, smoking, or bringing strange men home!

6. I live in a log house. With four kids and a new puppy, we need something indestructible. I think we've found it.

7. I have a long list of favorite books. Here are just a few: Crazy Love by Francis Chan, Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer, The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter, The Traveler's Gift by Andy Andrews, and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo.

So there you go! I can't wait to read what my other friends write about themselves.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Crawford Christmas 2008

My first few days off were spent frantically shopping for Christmas gifts. I decided to create Wordles for my two sisters and parents. They seemed to like them. Big thanks to Jack and Sue Wickstrom for allowing me to create them from their business computer. I also met with Rodney Russell for the purpose of sharing PowerTeaching, but our time together ended up being more of a brainstorming session on what needs to be done to improve education in Knox County. He has a plan to bring teachers to the table to discuss what they need to be effective in their classrooms.

Mom and I made a trip down to the Mast General Store, and I was able to squeeze in a quick breakfast with Angela before she headed to Spartanburg for Christmas.
Christmas Eve was spent in anxious anticipation of heading up to Grandmom's house for dinner. This was a year of trying new things and our Christmas Eve dinner consisted of Lasagnae. The kids were not happy! They wanted the traditional mashed potatoes, turkey, dressing, green beans, etc. Another new attempt was having the kids draw numbers for Dirty Santa game. Again, they were not happy, but as it turned out, they enjoyed the game and all ended up with something they liked. Well, Lauren wasn't happy with her double-dutch jump rope, but she didn't stress about it too much. Drew ended up with our $15 movie card and Ty Beanie Baby, Chelcie got a $25 gift card, Sam got a can of red and green gumballs and a $25 mall gift card, Addie got a super cute "Praise Board." Everyone got along and we shared some laughs and funny pictures.

Taffy, the elf, spent his last day curled up around the M&M cookies Sam had left out for Santa. The kids went to bed fairly easily while Chelcie and I went to Becca's to pick up "something." I was afraid that the kids would be disappointed with their gifts, but they were thrilled! More about that in a sec...We woke up very early Christmas morning and headed to Volunteer Ministries to prepare breakfast for about 80 homeless people. Drew and Charlie did a great job cooking the eggs, Sam and I handled the biscuits, Chelcie and Addie cracked and stirred the eggs, while David and Dee Pickle worked on the sausage. Once the prayer was said, Drew and I scooted out the door before we would be missed. Courtney and Chuck were there working hard too, but Natalie got sick just as they were walking out the door, so Lori stayed home with her.

Drew and I got a little headstart and were able to make sure that indeed Santa did come to our house while we were gone. All was set and ready for frenzy of opening gifts. When Tom, Chelcie, Addie and Sam arrived, everyone had smiles on their faces and a few surprises they hadn't anticipated. As the dust settled and the wrapping paper burned in the fireplace, we all heaved a sigh of satisfaction. Then I noticed...THE NOTE!

Under the plate of cookie crumbs, there lay a note on white paper. Taffy had left a memo for our family that was divided into individual parts for the kids to read. Here's the note:


Date: December 25, 2008

To: The Crawford Kids

From: Taffy the Elf

Re: Santa’s message for you
(Chelcie read this outloud)

Chelcie: Chelcie, Addison, Samuel, and Drew
Santa has left something special for you
This special something requires lots of care
This special something is something you’ll share

Drew: But Santa was clear when he left it with me
That this wasn’t something for under the tree.
He gave me instructions and clues for you too.
And that’s why I wrote out this memo to you.

Addie: The first clue to figure out what Santa left
Is found in the pantry on the first shelf
You’ll find a big box wrapped in paper that’s red
You just might guess it by using your head.

Sam: Don’t open the gift yet, let’s round up them all
Our next clue is found under the bench in the hall.

Chelcie: We now have two gift clues. We’re close, we’re ‘bout there.
Our third clue is found right under the chair!

Drew: A duck or a pheasant? Now what could this mean?
Do you have a guess yet, or must it be seen?

Addie: I’ll open this gift and then I’ll give the first guess
I just hope that I don’t make a big mess.

Sam: Last night Santa flew through a terrible fog,
And I think that he left us a new Crawford ________________!

Look in the bathtub in the bathroom for a BIG Surprise!


After the excitement at home, we napped for an hour or two, then headed to the Baines for a little Christmas brunch. I hope to document that momentous family occassion next time!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

R.I.P. Buffet Crawford December, 1995-December, 2008

A lot has happened in a week. Of course, Christmas came and went with all of the excitement that surrounds this most special day of the year, but the most memorable event of the week occurred this morning. I'll try to recount the day's events as accurately as my limited memory will allow.

I woke up early. I think it must have been around 5, as Tom got up to work in Jasper, Georgia today with Drew. Marley stirred a little in the bathroom, but for the most part, remained calm and went back to sleep. Sometime around 6, Buffet came over to my side of the bed and nudged me. I knew she needed to go out, so I got up and figured I should take Marley out too. As soon I stepped foot in the hall, Buffet began to throw up. She retched all the down the hall. I barely got the kitchen door open before she started getting sick again. I knew she couldn't help it, but I was not looking forward to getting it cleaned up. I left both dogs outside and got an old towel to soak up the mess. Then I grabbed the mop and some floor cleaner and got it clean. Sweet Buffet, she tried her best to keep it on the wood floor.

Once the mess was clean, I put Marley back in her kennel, and let Buffet in to sleep by the kitchen door. I remember being struck by how incredibly thin she had gotten in just two weeks. I tried to grab a few more minutes of sleep before starting the day. At some point, Buffet went into Addie's room and climbed up on her bed with Addie and Morgan still in it! Buffet was drolling quite a bit. The kids got up early about 8 (Addie, Sam, and Morgan) and were watching TV. They came back to bathroom to let me know that Buffet just had diarrea on the floor. YUCK! I grabbed another old towel and prepared to tackle the next mess of the day. I noticed this mess was black and very sticky. It was hard to get out of the carpet. Poor Buffet! I had made plans to meet Jane Manning for breakfast at Cracker Barrell at 10. After my shower, I checked on Buffet and she just lifted her head and blinked at me. I could tell she was in very bad shape. I woke Chelcie to tell her that Buffet was not doing well, so she'd know to call me if things got bad again while I was out with Jane.

When I checked on Buffet again, I just didn't have the heart to leave her. Her legs were splayed in an obviously uncomfortable position on the mat by the door. I went into Addie's room to get an old blanket for her to lie on when I noticed that she seemed to be struggling to breathe. I talked to her and tried to let her know that I was there with her. Then I broke. I knew I could not stand to see her suffer any longer. I called my dad to ask if he'd go with me to have her put down. While I was on the phone with him, I watched Buffet look up at me, then take her last breath. It surprised me to know that she was gone so quickly and seemingly, easily. I tried to close her eyes and petted her head to be sure she was gone.

Mom got there first. She helped me pull Buffet onto the back porch and clean the mess from where she died. Dad came to help too. We decided it would be best to use a plastic Rubbermaid tub as her coffin. As Mom and I lifted her into the tub, I couldn't believe that she was already heavy, cold, and stiff. Memories of a healthy Buffet flooded my mind. Jumping in leaf piles with kids, stealing Katie Cutcliffe's shoe in the yard, playing with her at Lakeshore, walking around Cades Cove and having to "improvise" a leash by using Mom's Brighton belt whenever the rangers came by. I remembered teaching her to jump over Chelcie and Drew by making them get down on their hands and knees. The "Bang!" trick was awesome, and was her specialty- holding a piece of cheese on her nose until I told her it was okay to eat it. There was one time when the kids were roasting marshmallows outside and decided it would be funny to stick a melted marshmallow on her nose. You can be sure I put a stop to that trick! But it WAS funny watching her try to toss it in the air, only to have it remain stuck right on the end of her nose! We never had to worry about Buffet. There was one day when I had her loaded up in the back of the old Dodge truck headed to the mountains when she decided to jump out onto the highway! She enjoyed just being with us, no matter what we were doing. Even as she got old, she'd still get so excited to think that she could go for a walk with us. Buffet and I logged many miles walking to Weigles and back. I always knew that she would protect us. Tom knew it too, Tom left me at home with a door-to-door salesman one time and although I was furious with him and terrified that the salesman could have hurt me, Tom said he knew Buffet would protect me.

Buffet tolerated more than a lot of dogs. She weathered the storms of two new babies coming into the house. She became best buddies with Tom's brother, Chris, when he lived with us for a while. Buffet waited patiently for us to return from numerous family vacations. She even let Sam ride her a few times. Truth be told, Buffet was the first dog that I ever considered "my dog." I trained her. She and I had a special bond, but Buffet made everyone in the family feel like she loved them the most. I'm going to miss the sound of the blinds being rattled whenever she wanted to go out. I'm also going to miss her persistent "nudging" on the edge of the bed whenever she was ready to get up and we weren't. Already once today, I thought I heard her shifting her position under the kitchen table. When I looked around and she wasn't there, my stomach hurt and tears came to my eyes.

Back the story, Mom and I knew that we could not bury Buffet ourselves, so I called Ed to see if he could help us by digging a hole for us. We picked a good spot and started digging. Ed showed up about ten minutes later and things picked up speed considerably from that point on. Dad looked at the ground a lot, while Mom and Ed got the job done. I tried, but basically got in the way, I think. We were all covered in mud by the time we finished. When I went inside to check on the kids, Sam was crying and said, "I have known her my entire life!" They were all crying for a little while.

I'll have to post the Christmas blog another day. I'm not feeling as "festive" as I should for that one. Bye, Buffet. You were a great dog!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Here Comes Santa Paws!

Posted by PicasaIt's officially official! We've picked up our "pick of the litter!" Her name is Marley, after Jacob Marley in "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, although I'm sure a lot of people will think she's named "Marley" after the new "Marley and Me" movie that is set to be released later this month.
Lucky for us, Becca Jones agreed to "puppy-sit" for us until Christmas Eve. I'm not sure she knows what she's gotten herself into! Chelcie and I dropped at the sitter's house this aftenoon, but stayed for about an hour because we couldn't bear to leave her. She was having a blast running around playing with Becca's puppy. Chelcie left her t-shirt in Marley's bed so she could get used to the scent of us!
On a sadder note, I'm out of money and I just got paid yesterday. I had a little shopping spree today. My larger purchases were a rug for Addie's room, a new computer monitor for Tom's computer, and few little surprises for the kiddies! There is just not going to be a lot of "stuff" under the tree this year, and I'm hoping and praying that the absence of stuff will keep us focused on the real meaning of Christmas. It's home-cooking for the Crawford family until the end of January! Can you say B-U-D-G-E-T?!
We had a cut-throat game of Pictionary tonight and surprisingly everyone played and everyone got along. We even finished the game. Of course, the girls soundly beat the boys as we knew we would before we even agreed to play.
I've been struggling to finish Breaking Dawn, but I think I'll go ahead and put myself out of my misery and finish it tonight. Church at NorthStar tomorrow! I can't wait!

Spoiler Alert to any of my family members who may be reading this blog! Stop reading NOW and walk away. You don't want to ruin your Christmas surprise! Still reading? STOP! NOW! You can always come back and read next week.
Oh! One more thing worth noting-I came across a great website: wordle.net. I love it and hopefully, Mom, Lori, and Katie will too once they receive their Christmas gifts from me this year. I also hope that they are steering clear of the Crawford Chronicles this week.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Top Secret! Do NOT Read This!

School was a lot of fun today, but again I am getting home completely wiped out! We worked on Readers' Theatre. The kids enjoyed it and I could see an immediate improvement with their fluency and expression. After school, I headed home to pick up Drew and Chelcie. We made a quick stop at PetSmart to pick up a little red and white thing-y that we just might have to use when we pick out our little, furry, black...other thing-y.

Fortunately for us, we were able to find someone who had black lab mix puppies that have been spayed AND have had their shots AND have been de-wormed for the super low price of $0.00! Sounds too good to be true, no? Well, Missy, the poor young lady, who has acted as the liason between puppies and adoptive owners, has 12 dogs in her apartment! She has 3 dogs of her own, and there were NINE puppies. Four of the puppies were females and we got the first pick of the litter! Our yet to be named puppy was temporarily named Noel. We took some pictures to tied us over until Christmas Eve, and began thinking of possible names. Drew suggested Oprah, Whoopie, and other "black" names. He always makes us laugh. We've yet to make our decision. I'll record some possibilities here as we get closer to making our decision. Ideas? Feel free to send them to me! Hurry!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Start Spreadin' the News...

Okay, so maybe I'm NOT heading off to New York, New York just yet, but I did get my 2 minutes in the spotlight tonight on Hallerin Hill's Primetime Education Special. I was in the presence of some truly influential individuals! I was excited and nervous whenever I thought about the show airing today. I was hoping I didn't look old and wrinkly (like it matters), and I was hoping I didn't say anything that would embarrass myself or my family! All in all, it went well, especially considering that I was the only guest who does not have experience being in front of the camera.

My prayer now is that we will continue to honor God with Reach Them to Teach Them, and that He will continue to bless our efforts and provide more opportunities to grow.

Just had to share one of the most exciting things that has happened this week. Okay, it was THE most exciting thing that happened this week...so far! Gotta be an optimist!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Missing Christmas

I would like to share a wonderful Christmas Message, by Jeannie Headrick.

His voice was clearly speaking: "Missing Christmas once again?"
Confused, I whispered in my heart: "When did I miss it? When?"
His answer came so softly, I began to comprehend.
Just how I've missed Christmas; time and time again.
I missed the real Christmas, lingering near the tree.
Looking for presents, specially marked for me.
Then once again I missed it, by wasting precious time.
Preparing for my parties, cluttering up my mind.
Another time I missed that day, because of my concern.
That spending for the perfect gift, was more than I could earn.
So here I am again, this special day has come.
Will I see its Holy Truth, the birth of God's Own Son?
Oh, it's not in gaily-colored gifts, or trees adorned so bright.
But in Christ The Lord and Lamb Of God, The Way; The Truth; The Light.
It's not in parties or Saint Nick, not in spending all you earn.
It's in His Word, His Holy Word; and through His Truth we learn.
That Christmas Day is so much more; A Savior has been born.
God sent the gift of Christ to all, that special Christmas morn.
The wise men came, the Angels sang; the shepherds bowed their heads.
Peace On Earth, Goodwill To Men; was what the Angels said.
And so I bow before my King, the Sovereign God above.
I now can see and hear and feel, the wonder of His Love.
I'll miss Christmas not again, for now I really see.
The Love God has; He gave His Son, for all humanity.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Family Festivities

'Tis the Season...

My thank you note to Emmette Thompson, the Executive Director of the Mission of Hope:

Hi Emmette,

Well, I went on my first MOH delivery today. I went to Fairview School with Central Bapt. Church of Fountain City. Honestly, the first thing I noticed when I walked into the building was the large, prominently displayed, framed picture of the Ten Commandments. But there was little time to take in my surroundings; we had a tractor trailer full of toys to unload, unpack, and sort into designated rooms!

Once the gifts were sorted and displayed, we all met in the gym for official instructions and a story. One thing that caught my attention was the number of children and adults coming in with lightweight jackets even though the temperature was below freezing. There was snow on the ground, so much so that school had been canceled on Friday. Many of the kids wore plastic "Croc-style" shoes with no socks. Many parents' shoes were full of holes. I tried not to notice how warm and comfortable my feet were in my new fuzzy boots. I felt almost sick about it. I have so much more than I need.

My "job" was to help 6th, 7th, and 8th graders choose two gifts for themselves. When James told me that he was the quarterback for his football team and his team was Number One, I saw his eyes light up. Would you believe he asked me if we had any cologne because he wanted to smell good for the ladies! James said his dream was to go to college at UT. Then it hit me. What if James were MY son? What if I had been the mother who bundled up the kids and got them to school on a Saturday morning so that they would have a Christmas? What if MY son had shared his dream with a stranger from the city? I couldn't help notice as James left the school that his mother had her hands very full with several young children and a baby in her arms. I did battle with my thoughts as I considered that it was probably better that her hands were full, rather than empty. ...I wondered if James had the undivided attention of anyone besides me today. Then I met the principal, Mrs. Smith.

Mrs. Smith told me that she herself had grown up in Scott County and has been principal at Fairview for ten years. Although she mentioned she was looking forward to retirement, I could tell her heart was completely sold out to the children who darken the doors of Fairview every day. She knows that education is their only chance to break the cycle of poverty. She took me on a tour of the school and talked candidly about the violence and poverty her students experience on a regular basis. When I mentioned how neat and tidy the classrooms were, she said that her kids need a place where they know what to expect because they don't have that at home.

My goodness, Emmette! How can I thank you for allowing me to play such a small part in extending the hope?! I have received so much more than I have ever given! Thank you for coming by my classroom last Tuesday. Thank you for being such an encourager of my dream. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share the hope with my students at West Valley. Thank you for allowing me to go along on a MOH delivery. I saw God today in the faces of innocent, vulnerable children, in the faces of desperate, proud parents, in the faces of faithful, generous volunteers, and in faces of the committed, dedicated staff at Fairview School. You've given me the best gift I'll ever get for Christmas.

Thank you! May God continue to bless the ministry of the Mission of Hope and its fearless leader, Emmette Thompson! http://tinyurl.com/6sa67m

Amy Crawford