What Students Really Need to Hear

This is a wonderful article to read, both as an educator, and someone working with immature adults. There are much harder things in this life than the homework you are assigned, or the task your boss expects you to complete. There is hard work to be done, and you will not rise to the top by blaming others for your mistakes and/or laziness. I love how the author was able to put his thoughts and feelings out there so clearly for us, and I hope that his students were able to glimpse how much love this teacher has for them.

It’s 4 a.m.  I’ve struggled for the last hour to go to sleep.  But, I can’t.  Yet again, I am tossing and turning, unable to shut down my brain.  Why?  Because I am stressed about my students.  Really stressed.  I’m so stressed that I can only think to write down what I really want to say — the real truth I’ve been needing to say — and vow to myself that I will let my students hear what I really think tomorrow.

This is what students really need to hear:

First, you need to know right now that I care about you. In fact, I care about you more than you may care about yourself.  And I care not just about your grades or your test scores, but about you as a person. And, because I care, I need to be honest with you. Do I have permission to be…

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Aced my observation, and the cookie dough talks to me

As a teacher you know it’s going to happen every year, that time when the principal comes in to observe. You just never know how the kids are going to behave. Most of the time, they are angels, but you always have one or two that you know are secretly plotting ways to make you look bad. Like the year I was a sixth grader. I had a terrible teacher. She spent most of her time sitting on her big rear laughing at the boys in our class instead of teaching. So when the Superintendent showed up to observe her, those same boys she found so amusing all the time took every opportunity to mouth off, disobey, and cause a problem. At one point, one even told her that her teaching “sucks worse than a Hoover vacuum cleaner!” Too bad she got such a good report back, she made sure to show us all that our behavior hadn’t affected her.

Anyway, I had my observation earlier in the week, and the student I was working with at that particular time was wonderful. I received a wonderful evaluation from the principal, with comments applauding me as a team player, and for my continuing education classes. Those comments meant a lot to me. It’s nice to know that someone observes the fact that I try hard to improve our school and myself.

I have a feeling that it isn’t the first part of this post’s title that got you interested in reading, though. You are wondering what is up with the cookie dough, right? Well, as I have probably mentioned before, LM, my youngest, has food allergies. She can’t have any diary products, peanuts, or soy protein. Which makes cooking and baking a bit of a challenge at times. It’s hard to bake without milk and margarine. I’ve gotten pretty good at substituting, though!

One of the things I started making for her was an edible cookie dough. I substituted Crisco and vanilla almond milk for the milk and butter, and it turned out really good. So good, in fact, that a single batch doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s dangerous stuff. I make it, and I have to have it! I can’t stay away from it! I try to simply have a spoonful and put it away, but I hear it calling me from the refrigerator. Especially in the middle of the night, or after the kids go to bed when I make my nightly cup of coffee.

“Come, take me, lick my sweet deliciousness! Cellulite be damned!” I look at it’s container, hearing its tempting call, and I give in, hiding behind the refrigerator door as my spoon delves into its creaminess!

Yes, it’s sad, I know. I promise I only make it about once a month. My butt couldn’t withstand any more often without requiring me to go up a pant size or two. And yes, it is the only thing in my fridge that talks to me. If there was anything else in there talking to me I would probably need to seek professional help. Though I do think I have a few things in the that are old enough to vote!

Ranchers in the making!

It’s bull sale time! Early spring always brings about bull sales so that ranchers can continue to improve their herds. Bulls are a big business, you have to have them in order to continue breeding cattle, they are kinda of an important part! Yesterday my husband decided it was time to start looking for a new bull for our herd, so he and his uncle traveled over an hour to a new bull producer’s sale, leaving the kids and I home to check the calving cows and clean house.

I love checking cows! I remember as a young girl begging and nagging my dad to take me out with him to check cows as much as I possibly could. I love the smell that cattle and warm hay mixed together produces, I love being outside in the crisp spring air, and I love watching the miracle of life! It’s such a rejuvenating thing to watch the birth of a new calf; watching as the wet little thing takes his or her first breaths while the momma licks them clean and dry. It’s life in it’s most pure, honest, and real state.

Yes, I have romanticized the whole thing just a bit. There are times when calving season can be heart breaking. Not all babies make it to summer pasture. Cows can miscarry and have complications just like humans. Babies can be born dead. They can also get sick, and they can die because of the weather. And I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a calf seriously injured or killed because of an abusive mother. Domestic abuse is not singular to the human race.

Ranching is an excellent lesson in life. You have to take the good with the bad, and I’m proud to say that my children are learning these lessons, just as my husband and I did. Ranch kids learn early on how to appreciate the beauty and miracle of new life, and just how precious and fragile life is. They also learn how to deal with death and loss, and that other life goes on, even if we ourselves do not.

After my husband left yesterday, the kids and I took care of our chicken chores and worked on laundry and dishes. I was in a bit of a spring cleaning mood, and my kitchen is now cleaner than it has been in months! Right after dinner my dad pulled into the yard and picked up the kids and I so we could check and feed the cows. My dad owns about two-thirds of the cattle that my husband and I care for, and he hadn’t seen them in a while so it was a treat to have him with us!

The five of us piled into his 1989 regular cab Chevy and proceeded to drive through all the calving cows. Two new calves had been born, and they were up and suckling. Good, strong, and healthy calves! After touring the rest of the herd we went back to the yard and filled the pickup box with “cake”.

“Cake” is a protein supplement that is fed to cattle. The cubes are a mix of protein and molasses, so they taste sweet to the cattle, and they act as if you were feeding them candy. We took the cake to the yearling heifers, our next generation of breeding cows. As we crested the hill to the meadow pasture where they are currently kept, the sound of the pickup brought all 125 head scrambling in our direction. Like children chasing the ice cream truck on a hot summer day, we were soon surrounded! My dad shut off the engine and helped my two older kids into the box of the pickup. Wading amongst the cake cubes, they giggled as Grandad told them to start pitching the cubes out for the cows.

As the cows licked the cubes from the ground, and a few even from the kids fingers, my dad told me that it was this that makes ranchers. The memories of caking and calving, and merely going along for the ride. These memories keep kids wanting to come back for more, and soon it is they, much like it now is me, who are taking their children along to do the ranching chores, too. My dad laughed and reveled in the kids excitement.

We moved on then to do the same with the yearling steers. These calves will soon go to market, so it is important for them to get the protein as well. The kids were able to help again. When getting back into the pickup after feeding the cake they told me how lucky they were, how they got to have way more fun than LM and I, since LM spent most of the trip napping in my lap!

What a wonderful day! We returned to the house in time to gather 6 eggs from the chickens and finish a bit more house work. After having so much fun out with the cows, no one was real thrilled about cleaning! My husband got home soon after, victorious in his efforts to get a new bull, and thankfully for a reasonable price. The kids filled him in on getting to feed cake and how much fun it had been, so we were all the more thrilled when we got to go back out, check cows, and move the mommies and new babies over to fresh pasture.

I am so happy to live where I do, raising my little ranch kids to be strong and responsible people. I don’t expect them to grow up and take over the ranch, I will love and support whatever decisions they make for their future. The life lessons they learn here are preparing them for whatever the world may throw at them, and at the same time preparing them to carry on the legacy of their parents and grandparents if they so choose.

Until later,

To the real bullies of the world (mom bloggers)

Hi, my name is Mee, and I am a mommy blogger. Most of my posts revolve around my kids and jobs with kids. I know how some moms can be, shaming others for their choices, and I try to follow the philosophy of moderation in all things. It’s okay to dabble a bit into the world of the super-mom when you can and have time, and it’s also okay to kick on the Disney channel and open a bag of Cheetos once in a while. The problems lie when we criticize and belittle others for their decisions without thinking about what life is for that particular family/mom. I feel that as long as the children are clean, loved, and cared for, it doesn’t matter what or how the parents get them there. We need to focus more about what happens in our own backyards, and less about the mommy next door. This blog was a nice reminder of that, and I couldn’t help but pass it on.

Jane Eyre Likes Cupcakes


0. Cover & Gateways.indd

You are part of a blogging community that rivals, if not exceeds, the size of my own: indie authors. I’m not going to lie and pretend that I make a point of reading very many parenting blogs. If I happen to know the author, or there’s a really interesting hook, I’ll devote the time to it. But I’m not a mom, and I don’t plan on ever becoming one.

“So what?” you might reasonably ask. “You aren’t a lot of things, but I’ll bet you still read about them.”

While I’m not entirely certain I’m comfortable with you arguing with me on my own blog, it’s a fair point.

But I have another reason for avoiding most mom-themed blogs: They tend to be overly judgmental. Bear in mind, that this is a newspaper editor and wanna-be indie author saying this. I’m…

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Testing, the way of the future, or just one big lucky guess?

This is testing week. I am in charge of administering the achievement tests in out local elementary. It is a computer based module that we currently use, and though I believe we need to have a way to determine where our students are achieving, I hate the fact that 90% of the time, students are guessing.

I know that testing is where education is today. Thanks to government, and whomever else you’d like to blame, we are forced to put our students and selves through the stresses of breaking routine, putting them in front of uncomfortable computers in uncomfortable chairs, and expecting them to prove up to whatever standard someone from outside our school has determined to be acceptable. To top it all off, the scores are determined by multiple choice questions. I sat with a student today because his IEP stated that he could test in an alternate location. We sat in a nice, quiet room, and though I couldn’t help him, I sat and watched his responses. The last 10 questions in the test (out of 57) the student chose the middle solution to, and 8 of those 10 ended up being correct! Now tell me that this a fair and accurate way to assess our youth! I watched students buzz through these tests, barely reading the questions, and still score in the average range!

Then there is the other problem I have with these “high stakes” tests: teachers teaching to the test. I watched my colleagues hover over their students during the tests to see what the questions were so they knew what to teach next time. I helped out in classes last week as students were getting ready for the tests. Teachers would ask me to take groups of kids and teach them skills that they hadn’t been over yet just because they had seen it on the test last time. Mind you, these are skills that these particular students were not ready to learn. We were skipping important steps in their learning to try and quickly teach a skill that they weren’t ready for, and wouldn’t be able to remember.

If you can’t tell by now, I’m not a fan of this type of testing. It produces skewed results, places undue pressure on teachers and students, and takes time away from skills that students really should be learning. I know that I am more of a 3 R’s kind of teacher. I believe that reading and math are the two greatest skills students need to become successful; if a kid can read, they can do anything! Next comes writing and science, and not necessarily in that order. We need students with a strong science background in order to lead our world into the future. We need students who are going to be able to tackle cures for cancer, the preservation and care of our planet, and our next great technological breakthrough. Then they need to be able to intelligently write about their findings in order to share them with the world. Instead of focusing on these skills, taking the time to make sure students are getting the basics down pat, we sail through and skip content because there happened to be a question on some stupid test.

Thank you for listening to my ramblings. It’s time to start the next test.

Life is short…

I heard from my mom this morning that the father of a friend of mine passed away last night. I called that friend to see how he was doing. He was on the way out to check his cows, a job he shard with his dad. He said the sun was coming up and a new day was starting; they had to keep on living. There was such truth and strength in that statement, and it gave me a new found respect for this person who has been in my life for so many years.

The loss of this man makes me sit back and realize, as most deaths do, just how very short our time here on earth happens to be. It makes me quite glad that I was able to visit with him when he stopped by our studio the other day, and a little guilty that I didn’t take more time for him. I continued to work through the majority of his visit, not giving him as much time as I now wish I had. It also makes me want to rethink my priorities. My son has asked me to take time to play with him for the last several days, and I haven’t. There have been dishes that needed washing, meals that needed fixed, chores that needed done, but now I wonder how important that all these things really are. Should I die tomorrow, would my son remember that I had kept the dishes washed and the meals fixed on time, or that I never played Legos with him? I’m betting the Legos would win.

Then there are my grandparents. One set lives four hours away, and we see them twice, maybe three times per year. Though I talk to them more often now than I ever have, I know it should be more. My other set of grandparents live ten miles away, though it may as we’ll be four hours. I don’t spend as much time with them as I should, either.

I believe it’s time for me to change my ways. Tonight I’m playing Legos with my kids, and reading Junie B. Jones books with all the voices. I am calling my grandparents on my way home from work, and hugging my parents when I see them tonight. As my friend said, we have to keep on living. Supper has to be made, dishes have to be done, but I can learn to make more time for those in my life that I really care about. We never know when we have seen our last sunset, read our last book, felt our last raindrop, or have seen a loved one for the last time. Cherish the moments that you have, don’t waste your time on trivial things, and always tell those you care about how much they mean to you. It may be the last chance you have.


Yesterday was a day filled with firsts.  My daughter LM, at sixteen months old, used the toilet for the first time!  A simple thing for many, but as a parent, that first time marks the beginning and end of many things.  On the plus side, you are that much closer to getting rid of diapers!  Whether you choose to wash your own or buy disposable, the time, the expense, the smell…these are easy things to let go!  Yet, your baby is getting bigger.  That helpless little bundle you have spent hours, days, and months giving everything of yourself to, is now becoming independent.  Though you are happy for the progress, it hurts a little to let go.

The next first for the day was the birth of our first calf of the season.  There is so much hope and joy that comes from watching that first baby wobble to his feet and start to suckle his momma.  It is a very exciting moment for our family.  However it too comes with it’s heart tugging moments.  My husband tends the cattle, and must be out at all hours to check the cows to make sure the birthing goes like it should.  Where he has to be out so much, he doesn’t sleep with me for over two months.  Last night was the first night he left me for his “calving bed”, a fouton next to the wood stove.  I miss having him next to me in the middle of the night, yet a king sized bed all to myself isn’t necessarily a bad thing!

So my day of firsts came with many highs and lows.  It was wonderful to cheer on my baby girl, knowing that my last child is growing up.  It was exciting to see the first baby calf born safe and healthy.  And it was quite fun to make love to my husband on his fouton, then go snuggle up in my king size bed and go to sleep!

Until later,


Yesterday I turned thirty. I really didn’t know if I was ready. It’s the point in your life when you have to sit up and realize that you aren’t a kid anymore. Not that I have been for some time. As a working mom with three kids, I grew up a while ago! However, there have been a few revelations take place in my mind.

The first and greatest revelation has been that I have to start taking better care of myself. No more going to sleep in my makeup. I need to become better about washing my face every morning and night, and moisturize! So last week I got myself in gear and I have done well so far. I have a day and night cream, and even started playing with an under eye serum. It’s going well so far. I am starting to see a dewier (if that’s a word!) complection and I feel that I look better.

I also started getting better about flossing! A trip to the dentist spurred me to action when my new, very kind, dentist told me that if I didn’t improve my flossing habits I’d end up having cavities. So, for the last three weeks I have painstakingly made time to floss, and nagged my kids into better flossing as well.

Turning thirty has made me appreciate my friendships, and I have decided that though I love my children more than anything else in this world, I need to take a break from them now and again. My husband and I have spent more time with our friends in the last two months than we have in the last five years, and it has been good for all of us. It doesn’t hurt the kids to go spend a few hours with their grandma or aunt, either.

I also want to say that I appreciate my husband. There are days when I feel like I am carrying the weight of the world. I have three kids to get up, fed, dressed, and ready for the day, as well as myself. I do all of this myself. I go to work all day, then I come home to homework, supper, dishes, bath time, stories, and bedtime. I do this myself as well, though he does jump in to fill plates and dry off the children. I can get frustrated, because I am the one doing it all, but I have to sit back and remember the things that he is doing for our family, as well. He feeds and takes care of the cattle that make up the majority of our income. He maintains our vehicles and equipment so that we can continue to take care of our cattle and drive from place to place. He keeps the wood stoves and wood boxes full so that we can stay warm. He washes laundry when he comes in from outside so that we aren’t all naked. Most importantly, he loves me and our children.

Thirty is just the beginning. I got called “over the hill” yesterday, but I have to say that there is a whole lot of hill left to go. I welcome the changes and the experiences yet to come.


Well, I’ve introduced myself, so let the bitching begin!  I worked at school today.  Had teachers in my face about how we were doing our testing this semester.  Some were unhappy about how I scheduled them last semester, and proceeded to inform me as to how they thought it should be done this time.  Do they want to be in charge of this project, no, but they want to complain, bitch, and bully me around so they get what they want.  Well, I didn’t take the crap today.  Instead I followed my chain of command, and the higher ups have my back!  Boy is it nice to have higher ups who care!!

On another front, things at my other job are a little messy.  As I said in my previous post I am a wildlife artist.  That is the politically correct term for taxidermist.  This is not a gruesome or disgusting job!  It’s highly scientific and artistic.  It takes a special person with special gifts to be good at it.  You must remember, without taxidermy, there would be nothing cool to look at in museums, and Cabela’s and other sporting goods stores would be naked and boring.  It can also be a very lucrative job.  My family owns and operates such a studio.  We are in our 6th year in our current location, and have added on to our building in the last 6 months because we need the space to work and for showing off our creations.  I like doing the work.  I’m very good with deer.  Sometimes working with family can be hard.

As I said, things are messy here.  A cape, or animal hide, came in to us in questionable state.  After going through the tanning process in order to make the cape into leather, the cape turned sour.  It not only soured itself, but another cape as well.  We now have to contact the clients and let them know that there was a problem.  This doesn’t mean that we can’t go ahead with the projects, we just need the client’s okay to find another cape to use with the original antlers.  This happens.  It’s normally caused by someone waiting too long to bring us the cape.  It’s generally just a book keeping issue.  In this case, we also have to clean our machinery to get the sour smell out!  It smells like a washing machine does after you have left a load of laundry in it for two or three days in the summer. Stinky but not unbearable.
I’m working on a coyote mount and the rear-end of a deer this week. Yes, a deer’s butt! Just the butt. We’ve done several. Some people find them funny. I have more work to do on the coyote. She needs some extra work on her eyes to make her look feminine, yet strong.

Here she is. She has pins in the hide to prevent the leather from moving as it dries.
That’s all for today, LM is trying to climb up on my kitchen table!
Until later,

Let me introduce myself…

Hello potential readers!  For the purposes of this blog, I would like to introduce myself as Mee.  This is a shortened version of my first name, and how I sign notes to my husband when I leave them on the table!  I am a mother of three, working two part time jobs in rural Nebraska.  My husband and I will have been married 10 years in May, and it is for him that I have decided to take on writing a blog.  I need an outlet.  There are so many emotions and stresses that go along with the things I have in my life right now.  I don’t want to always take them out on him, or my children.  That is why I have called this blog Just Mee.  You probably won’t learn much here, but I hope that you can appreciate the life I have made, the lessons I am trying to teach my children, and gain some enjoyment from the ups and downs of someone else’s life!

My husband and I live on 480 acres of land that we bought from my parents this summer.  It has been my dream since I was 5 to have the ranch that I grew up on, and now, I have a piece of it!  Three days a week I work as a teacher in our local school system.  I work with those students that need an extra boost in order to keep up.  The rest of my week is divided up between my family, the ranch and cows, and working at the wildlife artistry business my family operates.  My careers are on totally different ends of the spectrum, one focusing on achievement and learning, and the other on creativity and the preservation of memories.  And both have a whole heaping helping of drama!  More on that later!

My children are J, K, and little LM.  J is a rambunctious 7 year old boy.  He is incredibly book smart and artistic.  He loves to draw, build with legos, and test his mother’s patience!  I love him dearly!  K is a bright, giggly,5 year old girl.  She is my right arm!  She knows where everything is at all times, and she loves to be helpful.  She is bossy to her siblings, and tries to be to me, but I don’t know what I would do without her!  Little LM is 16 months old.  She was our surprise baby.  LM has taught me many things. She was the only baby I was able to breastfeed. She has a wonderful attitude. She is allergic to a ton of food items, and she has wild blond hair that will never stay put. She has taught me patience I never knew I could have, and I’ve become a much better cook because of her allergies. She is my bright spot.
My husband was my first real boyfriend, my first kiss, …my first and only. We’ve been through so much. An accident that took away his sight in one eye, ups and downs with jobs, his parents’ divorce, three c-sections, going deep into debt for our place, the list goes on, as it does with any long-term relationship. I love him deeply and unconditionally. He is the only person in my life I can completely forgive for things that he does. I forgive him almost instantly. Besides my children, who have never made me that upset, he is the only person I can do that with. I’m one of those people who takes a long time to anger, but when I do, I’m mad forever. But not with him. I think that’s how a marriage should be.
If you are reading this, thank you for being my sounding board. Again, the purpose of this blog is just for me to get my feelings out, and maybe to entertain you with someone else’s problems. Until later,