About Me

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I am 36 years old and a mother of two beautiful little girls. Kevin and I have been married for 11 years. He is a stay-at-home dad who runs his own business from our home. I am a part-time 3rd grade teacher and have been teaching for 15 years. I live no more than 10 minutes away from my parents, in-laws, sisters, nieces, newest nephew, grandparents, aunts, and uncles... I wouldn't want it any other way!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Library Additions

Those of you who know me or have read this blog for awhile know that I have a pretty extensive children's library set up in a section of our basement. Well, I recently made two additions to the library...alphabet letters for the wall and a brand new reading rug!

I knew I had to have those alphabet letters the very first time I saw them in the Land of Nod catalog. Now if you know me at all, then you know I would have real problems stopping at letter "S" like you see in the picture. The picture doesn't show it, but letters "T-Z" are on the adjacent wall above the oversized reading chairs and bean bag chairs. It really pulled the two walls of the library together.

I have had my eye on that rug forever. I saw it at Target at least a year ago, maybe longer. I thought it was a bit too expensive. Guess what was on sale this weekend? Oh yeah, I grabbed that baby up! The colors are a perfect match for the library.

Since my original library post, I also set up a pink, Disney Princess tent (not in the picture). I set it up near the reading chairs and it is one of the girls' favorite places to read. They feel like it is their own little reading nook where they can get away from Mommy and Daddy to have some quiet time.
I think the library is finally complete...other than more books!
I couldn't be happier with how it turned out!

Costume Party - Round 2

The girls had their 2nd opportunity to dress up in their Halloween costumes today. Our golf course hosted its annual "Boo-fet" and party. We started with a very kid-friendly lunch buffet- mac & cheese, chicken fingers, fries, fruit, carrots, make-your-own pizza station, make your-own caramel apples, and much more! After lunch, there were so many wonderful activities for the kids. The girls enjoyed dancing, hula hoops, giant inflatable slides, an inflatable bounce & jump, balloon artists, juggling shows, stilt walkers, and a variety of games.

I was so proud of Katelyn today. She won a game and was able to select a prize. Instead of choosing a prize for herself, she went over, got Kennedy, and told Kennedy to choose a prize. Kennedy chose a prize that Katelyn would clearly have no interest in, but Katelyn didn't mind. She really wanted that prize to be for her little sister. Katelyn has always been one to think of others on an emotional level. I cannot even tell you how impressed I was. The best part of the entire thing is that I was off in the background watching everything unfold. Katelyn did all of this completely on her own, without any adult coaxing.
How is that for selfless giving!

My School Girl

I bought this outfit for Katelyn's 1st day of kindergarten. But, it was way too hot to put the entire ensemble together back in September. Now that the weather has cooled down a bit, I couldn't wait to put my girl in this adorable "school girl" outfit. I thought I would have to work on convincing her to wear the knee socks, but she loved them! No convincing needed, she was on board right from the start. She also wore black Mary Jane shoes. They were the perfect compliment to finish off this outfit.
The shirt says, "C is for Cute"...
I think she is the epitome of cuteness!
(if I do say so myself : ))

Friday, October 24, 2008

I Am Joe the Plumber

I am “Joe the Plumber”…Well, not exactly,
I am “Joey the Teacher” (and a small business owner)

1. I am a first-generation college graduate. From the time I was a small child, my parents had hopes of college and a better life for me and my siblings. My parents showed each of their children, through example, the importance of hard work and personal responsibility. I grew up in a family that did not have health insurance. My parents did not complain or feel that they were entitled to health insurance for our family. Of course, it would have been very helpful if they had health insurance, considering that they had four children. Instead of feeling entitled, my parents worked that much harder to ensure that their four children would work hard in school and go on to college. They knew that education was the key to finding a job that would offer health care benefits. As a result of the values they instilled in me and my siblings, I graduated 8th in my high school class. This is a huge accomplishment coming from a family where no one had ever gone to college before. Not only did I go to college, but so did each of my siblings. I maintained a 4.0 in my graduate work and now have a Masters’ degree in education. I will continue my education throughout my life because of my passion and thirst for learning.

2. Growing up, my parents lived paycheck-to-paycheck. In order to attend college, I had to work my way through high school and college. I started working during high school in order to start saving for my college, as well as to pay for my car insurance, gas, and spending money. There were definitely times when I was envious of my friends who did not have to work during the evenings, weekends, and summers. But, I knew that the sacrifices I was making would pay off for me down the road. When it came time for college, I did have some small scholarships. However, the majority of my college tuition, books, room, and board was paid solely by me.

3. I have been a teacher now for 13 years. I am a teacher who tries to instill a thirst for learning and the value of education in all of my students. Education and hard work, not entitlement, are the keys to success. I differentiate my instruction to meet the needs of each and every student in my classroom. I do not promote mediocrity. I find ways to challenge the thinking of my high achieving students. At the same time, I find multiple ways to provide intense interventions to my struggling students. I want every child to achieve his/her highest potential, not to simply meet the status quo. Under Obama’s plan, why would someone have the desire to succeed and achieve more, only to be forced to share their wealth? Hard work should be rewarded, not punished. I pray that we do not put someone into office who devalues hard work and success in order to reward others who continue to lack a sense of personal responsibility.

4. Our ancestors immigrated to the United States to achieve their dreams of work and success for themselves as well as future generations…the American Dream. In our grandparents’ generation, jobs were seen as a privilege and people worked hard to keep those jobs so that they could put food on the table for their families. My husband’s grandfather grew up poor and dropped out of school in the 8th grade to help support the family. He later enlisted in the military and married our grandmother. They were so poor that the only wedding picture they have is one that a complete stranger took of them outside of the courthouse where they were united in marriage. Shortly after the wedding, Grandma and Grandpa loaded up all of their worldly belongings into their car and drove across the country to start their married lives together here in Ohio . They obviously didn’t have much, considering that absolutely everything was able to fit into the back of one car. After working at Wright Patterson Air Force Base all day, Grandpa would come home and work on literally building a house for his family. He built every nook and cranny of that house with his own two hands so that he could afford to own his own home. The house that he built is the same home he lives in to this day, at the age of 96.

5. Additionally, my husband and I are small business owners. We own and manage student rental properties near the University of Dayton . 90% of the actual work is completed by our own hands…painting, structural repairs, remodeling/updating kitchens, replacing windows, plunging toilets, unclogging drains, etc. It isn’t glorious work, but it is a way of making a living that allows my husband the flexibility to stay at home with our daughters. We are living the American Dream. We must pull together to spread the truth during this election in order to preserve America as we know it. The American Dream is a precious gift that we need to protect and preserve for our children and future generations.

6. John McCain is the man who is best qualified to lead this nation. I am saddened that Americans have been so taken with Obama’s charm and charisma. I can see how many have fallen for him. I for one, look beyond the charm and into his policies. I do not like what I see. As a matter of fact, I am terrified by what I see in Obama! Let’s stand together as Americans to SPREAD THE TRUTH, NOT THE WEALTH!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Presidential Election 2008

This year's Presiential election has captured the attention and passion of so many. I, myself, am completely into this election. I feel so passionate about my views and what the candidates represent. (Oh yeah, I even got Sarah Palin's autograph at a recent rally!) I have decided to put my thoughts and campaign points out there for all to see.

Top 3 issues with the campaign:
1. Personal Responsibility
2. Abortion
3. The War in Iraq

Personal Responsibility
I am very troubled with Obama’s socialist views. “Shared responsibility” is a nice euphemism for socialism, but it is socialism nonetheless. I have been teaching for 13 years. In the beginning of my career, I wanted to “save” everyone. I wanted to take care of these families and hold their hands. Well, as time goes by, I have realized that there are people who do not want to help themselves. They just want other people to do it for them. Many of these people are flagrantly irresponsible and expect to be taken care of. It is as if we (society, schools, etc) owe them something. For what? I am all for helping someone who is working towards a better life or for someone who is physically or mentally unable to care for themselves. However, this is not the case with so many Americans. The lack of personal responsibility is out of control. Our society is plummeting at a staggering pace. I am terrified of where our society will be in 25 years if responsibility is punished even more than it is now and irresponsibility rewarded more. I do not want to be penalized for being responsible. This is America. Hard work and responsibility, not entitlement, should be the key to a successful future.

This is a philosophical difference that I find extremely important. I think that Roe vs. Wade should be overturned. As a matter of fact, the woman that Roe vs. Wade was based on would herself like it overturned. I agree with McCain that the question of abortion should be returned to the individual states, as a BEGINNING step to ending abortion.

At the very least, late term abortion should be banned. If a woman feels that she has a right to make a choice to abort her baby, then she had better make that decision early on. I am a pro-life supporter. However, if a woman does choose an abortion, for whatever may be the reason, I do not see why she would need to wait until late in her pregnancy. If there is a medical problem with the child, I personally do not support abortion. However, I realize that this is a difficult decision for a woman to be faced with. If a woman did choose to abort a baby with severe medical problems, then even those problems can be recognized early on in the pregnancy. If a woman declines early prenatal screenings for abnormalities (which I chose to decline), then she may not find out about an abnormality until the 20-24 week ultrasound. Well, by declining the earlier testing options, she made her decision to keep her baby, regardless of health. So, in my opinion, that would not constitute a reason to have a late-tem abortion. I realize that there are some women whose pregnancies may endanger her own health. Once again, this can be determined at an early enough stage to avoid a late-term abortion. If the medical problem does arise later on, there can be provisions in the law that would allow the woman to choose an abortion; by the way, McCain supports this provision.

Being the mother of two premature babies, it sickens me to think that a woman can choose to abort a baby that could be saved if it had been born at the same stage of pregnancy in which it was aborted. Neither of my girls were any less of a baby because they were premature. I had a student in my classroom that was born prematurely, at 24 weeks gestation. She has no physical disabilities and only a mild learning disability. Her IQ is within the average range. Partial-Birth abortions were “invented” by a doctor right here in Kettering , OH, Dr. Martin Haskell. The clinic where he practices this horrendous procedure is right down the street from where I work. I drive by his clinic every day on my way to work. It is an atrocity what is happening in that building. He literally sucks the child’s brains out, and smashes the skull as the child is being delivered/aborted…SICK!

Obama is a pro-choice supporter and supports late term abortion. My greatest problem with Barack Obama is that he does not even oppose infanticide. So, if a poor, helpless baby actually survives an attempted abortion, the child is left in a pile of soiled sheets and towels to die. I read an article written by a nurse in one of these procedures where it took the child 45 minutes to die. The baby was literally tossed in with the soiled laundry until he expired. Obama has voted to support the fact that doctors are not required to provide medical care to a baby that survives an abortion.

The War in Iraq
I think that we must win Iraq . Regardless of whether you feel that war in Iraq was justified or not, we are there now and must not leave until the job is done. If we are to win, how can we have a set withdrawal date? Additionally, it would be irresponsible to pull-out of Iraq on an arbitrary date if Iraq is not able to defend and govern itself. Cleary, such a withdrawal would add tremendous instability to a region of the world that is already on the brink of chaos. We would be leaving more of a mess than had existed before we entered this war. We need to be there until the job is complete to add stability the region. John McCain is prepared to stay in Iraq until the job is done. Obama is ready to pick an arbitrary date and leave.

Problems I have with Obama
1. His record of indecisiveness
- Obama has voted “present” nearly 100 times in his relatively short political career. It is as if he is afraid to vote one way or another in fear of making the wrong choice or offending others. Get a backbone and stand up for what you believe in. Make your vote count. Represent your constituents. Do something in addition to just show up and be “present”. A president needs to make monumental decisions regarding the nation’s security, economy, etc. I like how John McCain put his campaign on hold and went to Washington to help with the financial crises. I was less that impressed with Obama’s attitude of, “If you need me, call me.”

2. Questionable friends - Jeremiah Wright…need I say more? I liked Obama prior to the Jeremiah Wright mess. How can I support a man whom I saw with my own two eyes look right at the camera and lie? It reminded me of when Clinton said that he did not have sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. I saw Obama look into the camera and say that he “did not recall” being at the services where the racial remarks were made. He said that if he were there, that he would have told his pastor that he disagreed. Then, come to find out, Obama admitted that he was there for some of these sermons. Obama said he did not share Reverend Wright’s beliefs. How could he sit in that church for 20 years listening to that kind of preaching? I know I wouldn’t spend 20 years listening to someone who is supposed to be my spiritual mentor unless I agreed with what he was preaching about. I surely would not have someone I differ with so drastically perform my marriage or baptize my children. After he changed his story and admitted that he was present for some of those sermons, I just completely changed my views of him. At the very least, surrounding himself with people with questionable and/or radical views (i.e. Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, etc.) demonstrates poor judgment.

3. Off-Shore Drilling - Obama opposes off-shore drilling. McCain and Palin are in favor of off-shore drilling. I think that we should explore and make use of our own natural resources while we explore and develop alternative energy sources, which will take years to develop. Drill, baby, drill!

4. My next problem with Obama is a personal opinion; I think that he is fake. He is wooing America with his incredibly charming personality. Once he is in office, and I think he will win the election, we will see a whole new side of Obama. I do not think we are going to like what we see. If he wins, I think we will become a country even less stable financially and militarily, and even more divided. On the up-side, I do not think that he will win re-election in 2012 and will create a huge political shift to the right, the same way Carter led to 12 years of a Republican presidency. So, at least we only need to survive Obama for 4 years.

5. Taxes - I don’t like how Obama keeps saying that he will make income tax cuts for 95% of working families. I don’t dispute that he will, indeed, cut income tax, but no one seems to grasp that Obama plans to raise taxes in other subtle ways (gas tax, energy tax, business tax, etc.). We will all pay more in taxes than we did before he takes office. He isn’t lying about the income tax cuts. I am sure he will follow through on his word. But, he hasn’t discussed all of the tax increases he will push for and how much it will cost working families. It is like how Ohio Lottery money is supposed to go to benefit Ohio schools. Well, we do get money from the lottery as promised, but funding was cut from other educational budgets, so we were left with less money. Obama’s income tax cut is just a way of shifting money around to make things look good. Speaking of taxes, I also do not like that small business owners will have their taxes increased since they fall into the $250,000 + tax bracket. Small businesses are failing and closing up shop around the country. Business owners should not be penalized for working toward their American dream…especially since these people are actually WORKING.

6. Government-run healthcare - I do not think that having the government run/sponsored healthcare will help most Americans. I think it will lessen my healthcare options as a patient and put my personal health at risk. I do not agree that more government helps healthcare. There is a reason people with the most serious medical conditions leave their own country (many of which provide “free” healthcare) and come to the U.S. for treatment. The U.S. has the best healthcare in the world and government involvement will make it worse.

7. Lack of experience - I also have to say that I am quite impressed with McCain’s life story and leadership experience. John McCain has far more foreign policy experience and experience with economic policy than Barack Obama. There is a lot to be said for experience. I know from teaching that if you can find an experienced teacher who also is also current on best practices, he/she will outperform a fresh-out-of-college, idealistic teacher every time. There are just some things that you learn through years of experience that cannot be learned by reading it in a book or simply hearing it from someone else. You simply must have had the experiences for yourself.

Obviously, Obama picked Joe Biden as his running mate to make up for his complete lack of foreign policy experience. I think Joe Biden was an excellent choice for VP for Obama. Actually, I would be far more comfortable with Joe Biden as President than Barack Obama. Unfortunately, the people most qualified for an elected position rarely get elected (or run for the office for that matter).

I feel that John McCain is the man who is best qualified to lead this nation. I am saddened that Americans have been so taken with Obama’s charm and charisma. I can see how many have fallen for him. I for one, look beyond the charm and into his policies. I do not like what I see. As a matter of fact, I am terrified by what I see in Obama!

Vote McCain/Palin on Nov. 4!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Costume Party - Round 1

We had out first costume party of the season last night. We got together with some good friends that we met during Katelyn's first year of preschool. All of the parents and kids have remained friends ever since. It was great for the kids (and parents) to have a reunion since they go to several different schools now.

Kennedy is a monarch butterfly this year and Katelyn is a fairy princess (although I think Katelyn looks a lot like Mother Nature.)
I'll be posting pictures of our upcoming costume party at our country club as well as the real deal...trick-or-treating!

Kennedy Beth

The last time I blogged about Kennedy, I mentioned that we call her "Ken-Bear." We still use that nickname, which is often shortened to just "Bear" or even plain ol' "Ken." But, over the summer, I started calling her, Kennedy Beth. This isn't really a nickname since her name is actually Kennedy Elizabeth, it just seems to be what I call her more than anything else right now. So, here is what Kennedy Beth is like at 2 years and 7 months old...

She is so into purses and "pink make-up." She never has just one purse either. She fills up and carries around as many purses as she can hold at one time. As for the "pink make-up," that is what she calls Mommy's MAC Lip gloss. The girl absolutely loves the stuff! She insists on putting it on whenever she leaves the house. She was in the bathroom this morning putting on her pink make-up before we headed out for some errands. When I walked in to do my own make-up, she quickly told me, "You're gonna have to wait your turn."

We say prayers every night at bedtime and during most dinners. Last week was the first time I heard my baby recite the bedtime prayer mostly by herself. It sounded so darn cute in her sweet little baby voice. She also does a nice job with our prayers at dinner too. One of her favorites is a prayer they say at preschool. "Hands, hands, hands, thank you God for hands. Food, food, food, thank you God for food. Friends, friends, friends, thank you God for friends...Amen."

I love her little baby voice with grown-up words. It is so much fun watching her vocabulary develop. She has been pretty verbal since before her 2nd birthday, but now her words and sentences are getting more sophisticated. Here is an example,... She started to drink after her daddy the other night. I told her not to or she might get the throw-ups again because daddy wasn't feeling good. I asked her if she wanted to get the throw-ups again and she replied, "Oh no, that would be terrible!"

I love her running around the house in her cute little panties. Neither of my girls are big fans of clothes. Katelyn actually peels off all of her clothes, except for her panties, right when she walks in the door from kindergarten every day.

I also love all of the connections that she is making right now. A most impressive connection she recently made was when she heard Sarah Palin on the radio. When she heard Palin talking, Kennedy got very excited and said, "I go see her and John McCain. I sing Happy Birthday and wave my flag." You see, Kevin had taken the girls to see John McCain approximately 5-6 weeks prior...on the day he announced Sarah Palin as his running mate. It also happened to be John McCain's birthday that same day, so the entire crowd sang Happy Birthday. Not only was I impressed that she remembered that day so clearly and made the connection just by hearing Sarah Palin's voice, but I must say that I was one proud Republican Mama that day! You go my little 2 year-old!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pumpkin Patch 2008!

It's that time of the year again when I dress the girls up in their festive pumpkin wear and we head out to the pumpkin patch for a day of good ol' family fun. They really enjoyed picking out the perfect pumpkins. Katelyn wanted the biggest, most perfectly rounded pumpkin that she could lift. Kennedy was in love with the "baby" pumpkins. She tried to load a wagon up with as many "baby" pumpkins as she could. She was even happier when we went inside the barn as she found the real "baby" pumpkins...the itty-bitty decorative pumpkins.

The girls always enjoy the farm animals. This year, there was a donkey, horses, cows, goats, pigs, and lots of cats. They even got a chance to ride Petals, the very calm and sweet horse.

Finally, we always end the day with a family hayride. Katelyn really was enjoying herself, despite the face she is making in this picture. It was actually the sun in her eyes causing her to squint...it was a beautiful day!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Yes, You Are Indeed Special!

Katelyn and I were working on homework one evening. I was quite impressed with her reading comprehension skills. I told her that she is very lucky because learning isn't so easy for all kids. She replied, "I know. I look like a normal kid on the outside, but I'm really special because I have a special birthmark from God, I have a big heart, I'm nice, I'm funny, I'm pretty, and I have a big brain." She was so serious and matter-of-fact. Confidence is not an issue with this girl of ours.

I know that I'm her mom, but I do have to say that Katelyn is such a cool kid. I would have to say that her sense of humor and her empathy for others are quite unusual for her age. She keeps everyone laughing because she always comes up with the funniest things.

She is also such a smart little cookie. Here is a story that shows what a smart little problem-solver she is... We had a fly in the house and it was driving us crazy. Katelyn suggested that we get a frog to eat the fly. We told her that then we would have a frog in the house. She said, "Then we'll get a snake to eat the frog." I told her that I definitely didn't want a snake in the house. She said that we would then get an owl to eat the snake. You can see where all of this is going. I was thinking to myself, "What eats an owl?" But not Kate, she had it all figured out. When I asked her what we would do about the owl in the house, she said that we would get another snake. She said that we would put that snake outside. Then, when the owl flies out to get the snake, we would shut the door! Problem solved!

Katelyn, you truly are all of the things you mentioned, and so much more! And yes my Kate, you are indeed special!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Holiday Dresses...A Family Tradition

Many of you know that the Jack family is overwhelmingly female. My poor brother grew up with three sisters. Then, my parents had four granddaughters. Finally, this past July, a boy was born! Needless to say, we were all excited...especially my dad and brother. Well, when you have a family of little girls, you can have a lot of fun dressing them alike. That is just what my sisters and I have done. Take a look at these cuties all dressed alike.

These first two pictures were taken Easter 2007

Christmas 2007

These next two pictures were not holiday pictures. They were taken in early August, 2006, shortly after Emily was born. My mom couldn't resist buying the girls their very first matching dresses. She actually bought these dresses even before Mindy brought Emily home from the hospital.

Look how proud Katelyn was holding her newest baby cousin. I can't believe how much all of the girls have changed in 2 short years.

Well, now we get to include a little man. This doesn't change our desire to dress the kiddos alike. I already have my ideas of what the kids will look like. Actually, I have already bought my girls' Christmas dresses. My sisters are going to get my nieces' and nephew's clothes this week. I will be sure to post this year's holiday photo of matching girls with a very handsome, well-coordinated little man, right in the middle of them!