Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Open Letter to Senators Scott and Graham

I try to stay away from the political on here. However, after reading Senator Scott's comments today when voting yes to send Mrs. DeVos nomination forward to the full Senate, I wrote him a real life letter, that I am going to print and snail mail to him, plus I have e-mailed it to him and to Senator Graham (whose letter is only slightly different).

I wasn't going to share it here, then I figured, it's my blog, I can complain if I want to, and who knows, maybe one of their staffers will be Google searching for their names and come across it (doubtful, but hey it's worth a shot.)

Patricia L. Cleveland

Senator Tim Scott
520 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

January 31, 2017
Senator Scott,
I am writing to you today to express my extreme displeasure and dissatisfaction with your decision to vote for Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. I am a South Carolina resident, and educator with over 20 years of experience in this field, and unlike your implication, I did my research on Mrs. DeVos before picking up the phone and sending you e-mails about the fact that she is unqualified. Which by the way I have noticed that you have chosen to not respond to.
In your statement, today in the HELP committee, you implied that teachers and other concerned citizens of South Carolina are basically too dumb to have done our research on Mrs. DeVos, and that we do not understand how the position of Secretary of Education works. I assure you Mr. Scott, I have done my research, and I do know how it works! I am still gravely concerned! Mrs. DeVos has too many private investments in companies that are out to run education to be considered a good Secretary of Education. As I know you are aware, she must divest of over 100 business interests to even take office. However, no one can answer the question of if her family also must divest of these interests. I do not know why any of us ever thought that you would listen to the people of South Carolina, whom you represent, considering how much money you took from Mrs. DeVos and her family. My question is why is a Senator from South Carolina taking $50,000 in campaign money from a family in Michigan, if not to ensure his yes vote on her nomination?
Instead of “school choice”, how about this novel idea, we properly fund all schools in South Carolina, and across America, so that teachers aren’t purchasing school supplies out of their own pockets, and EVERY child gets an equal education? I personally spend over $200 a month on average for supplies for my classroom.
Instead of “school choice”, how about we pay teachers a living wage? Then maybe, we can dedicate all our energy to providing a better education for the children of America, rather than having to work two and three jobs just to make ends meet and pay our student loans.
Instead of “school choice”, how about we work from the ground up and get into the communities of the poorer neighborhoods and offer education programs that help all the residents of those areas?
Instead of “school choice”, how about we lower class sizes, so that the teachers can concentrate on each child’s individual needs?
Instead of “school choice”, let’s look at bullying, and school violence, and come up with real solutions instead of blaming the teachers.
Here are my questions for you, and the advocates of “school choice”:
How are the economically disadvantaged students who want to attend a “school of choice” going to get to and from the school? I’ve worked in the 100% free lunch, Title I schools that you claim you can improve by offering “school choice”, and Mr. Scott, you are so wrong. Do you not realize that many of those families would have no way to transport their child to the “better school”? The parents that have transportation, use that transportation to get to and from work, they don’t have the time or the money to drive 20 miles to the “better school”.
If you propose offering “vouchers” for students in underperforming schools to attend their “school choice”, who is going to make up the difference in cost?
If a child is on an individualized education plan, or a behavior management plan, are the “school choice” schools going to be made to accept them?
What happens when there is an issue with behavior with a student? Is the “school choice” school going to be made to “deal with it” or are they going to be allowed to kick the child out?
What checks and balances regarding the quality of education that “school choice” schools are offering will be in place?
Did you know that teachers on average have over $30,000 in student loan debt (approximately $450 a month repayment), and only earn about $32,000 a year as a first-year teacher in South Carolina? Did you know that to keep our certification current teachers must take a minimum of two graduate level courses (six credit hours, at approximately $1,602.00 per class at USC) every five years, adding to our debt? Did you know that most of us have advanced degrees beyond our bachelors, so that we can advance our students knowledge through our own research, and the “raises” we get for obtaining these advanced degrees does not compensate for the costs?
I am greatly concerned over the future of American Education with people like Mrs. DeVos in position of power such as Secretary of Education. I wish that you would take the time to sit down with those of us that are in the field of education, and on the front lines fighting this battle every day, and LISTEN to what we have to say and our concerns.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

1/26/17 The Three F's

Faith~The ability to still hope in the promise even when you can not see the proof....Rejoice when you consider the promise.... Pastor Steven Furtick 

Finances~Last payment for the one credit card went out today. Now we will just have it for emergencies. Saying lots of prayers that we will not need it at all. Honestly, I am keeping it open to buy Jerry's plane tickets home with the next time he comes, but I plan on having the money in the account to use to pay it off right away. 


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

1/25/17 The Three F's

A friend of mine shared this after learning of Mary Tyler Moore's passing today. I thought it was pretty darn spot on, so I am sharing it here. 

Faith~ I spent part of the evening listening to Pastor Steven and Elevation Worship at Liberty University. 

One thing that jumped out at me, and I may have already shared it, but I think Pastor said it differently tonight is this: 

"Most of us are not living at the level of our potential. We are living at the level of our preparation." 

Just think about that for a minute. 

We need to better prepare ourselves for things to come. 

Finances~ February budget is set. I need to do a grocery store list, and stick to it. I think one of the things that kills us there is not being prepared for what we are going to have for dinner, so I just stop on the way home and buy whatever sounds good. So one of my goals for this weekend is to plan out our meals for the month. I've done it before and it has worked well. The actual day that we have the meal doesn't matter, just as long as we know we are having x, y, and z during that week.

My Uber goal for this week is on weekdays 2-3 rides, and then Friday night, Saturday and Sunday going out for 4-6 hours and getting what I can get in that time frame. 

I was approved to start Lyft today, it hasn't opened here yet, but I will be interested to see the differences between the two companies once it does.

If anyone has any hangers, clothing racks, etc that they would like to donate to my Lula room let me know! ;-) I think that is going to be the second biggest expense, is getting those types of things. I'm just over a week into the waiting game, so I probably have a good month left to go before I get the call. 

Fitness~ Short walk today. I was fighting a sinus headache so I didn't go far, but at least I got one in. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

"Make a masterpiece of a life so full of hope and love and joy that it lights up the whole world!"

Today, was the Kid President video "I think we all need a pep talk" four year anniversary. 
On Brad's (Robby's brother-in-law and creator of Kid President) post about the anniversary, he shared another video that he had recently made. 

This line jumped out at me, and I had to play it again so I could write it down in my journal....

It fits in so well with the rest of my devotional study that I am doing. So I am counting that as my Faith for today. ;-)

Finances- With the month of February I will have completely paid off two of our lines of credit (one credit card that we will keep open for emergencies, and one furniture store card), and make a significant payment on a third. I figured out what the minimum payment was for every bill for the month and then moved the extra that we have been paying towards paying off the smaller bills, just as Dave Ramsey says to do when snowballing your debt payments.

I've started to use this plan before, but have always been too scared to follow through and completely cut everything down to minimum payments and throw all the extra at one bill. However, this year, I am going at it full force! 

This month two bills paid off, next month another one, then by May we should have at least one more gone, and another on it's way to being gone. Once those five are paid we start hitting bigger amounts of money that will take a little longer to see results (car and student loans). 

With the Federal hiring freeze (Thanks, Mr. President), the threat of freezing our raises and pensions, and the possibility (probability because a Republican Senate is not realistically going to vote against the President's nominee) of a woman who has her hands in the education loan business (collections) as our Secretary of Education, we need to get everything paid off as soon as possible! I have complete faith that we can do it as long as we stick to our budget. 

However, it makes my driving for Uber, and starting LulaRoe even more important, so I can add more income to what we already have coming in to help pay off these bills even faster. I have faith that we can do it, especially now that I've taken the last month and documented where our money goes each month (eye opening, try it if you haven't lately!) So I know where I personally (along with the kids) need to work harder at not spending as much money (supplies for school, eating out, entertainment). 

Fitness- Today was a flop. No excuses, it just didn't happen. I can't wait for my gym to open! You have to sign up for the classes, and if you no-show they charge you, so no excuses!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Three F's 1/22/17

What an interesting day today ended up being.

I'm going, to be honest right up front, and say I didn't work on one of my Fs... I didn't work on Fitness today, it was raining, and we went through a series of watches and warnings throughout the day. I could have snuck something in there, I am sure, but until my gym opens in March, I don't have an indoor space. I've learned that I need that human element if I am going to do anything other than walking/running.

Finances.... I worked on updating our budget today. This month I am focusing on keeping track of our spending, so we can see where the money goes each month. It has been enlightening. Like the fact that in 20 days, I had already spent more than the allowable teacher tax break of $250. Um... we eat out too much (and really this month, the kids and I have been better about it, but I started this month's budget on my last payday of 2016 while mom was still here, so there are a couple of meals from that). A big part of our money this month has gone to entertainment, but I included the Biltmore trip, and Boy Scouts in there. So yeah, things to think about and keep in mind as we move forward with it.

The other morning we got an email saying that one of the Scout leaders was offering the Stamp Collecting merit badge today and it was only open to the first ten boys to email to sign up. This is one that isn't offered very often here in Columbia. I asked Declan if he wanted to go and he said yes. Today was a different story... Oh you would have thought I was killing him, or punishing him, or something. I managed to get him there on time, but he didn't want me to leave. He needed money though for purchasing lunch and any stamps he might wish to buy from the show (the merit badge workshop was part of a stamp and postcard show). By the time I got back with money for him, one of the other boys from his troop was there and he was fine. I stuck around until the first break, gave Declan his money and left, getting home just in time for the Facebook Live sermon from Elevation Church.(See I know you were wondering what this had to do with my three Fs!)

Faith... When people say that God moves in mysterious ways, and gives you what you need to hear, when you need to hear it if only you are willing to listen, they know what they are talking about.

When I started journaling again (because I know that I don't have an audience anymore on here, and I don't need one. I am doing this for me) I talked about how Pastor Steven said in his message last week, that you need to have a focus, an aim for your life and if you aim for it with all of your might, and you make that the focus, God will work through you.

That's where my three Fs came from... my focus words for this year...my goals that I am working on with all of my might...

Today Pastor Steven's message was full of phrases and meanings that screamed at me.

 I took 8 pages of "notes" during the online sermon. I put notes in quotation marks, because it is more unconscious free-form thoughts about what he is saying.  Then tonight in small group when we watched the sermon again (from a different service, but the same basic sermon) I took another 4 pages of notes... this time picking apart what I needed to write down, what stood out in that moment.

Some of the things that stood out to me...

A lack of confidence doesn't have to be the death of your calling.

See your victory so you can SEIZE your victory!

Make this your year of Action!

Open the Windows of Opportunity! Don't look at your limitations look at your opportunities!

Every arrow need an Aram. The reason God gave you your calling is for your conflict. Your problem is your purpose! Face your enemy, declare your victory.

Be committed to the victory. Be fully committed and don't stop.

 Put the effort into the work in order to have something worth investing in.

God has put you in this season of life to prepare you for what he has planned for you.

Persistence is proven when you don't see the point but you do it anyway. Trust the teacher, take the class when the class doesn't look like the calling. Trust...

Persist in the Purpose

If you have a calling you don't need a "kickstart" you will do it anyway.

God's preparation sometimes comes packaged as pain. What you have called a failure was a foundation for your victory.

Trust the Process...

The battle is decided in your attitude before it begins...

Sometimes we do just enough to survive. You need to keep going in order to completely succeed.

Quit asking God to take the stress away, ask him to show you how to handle it.

The preparation doesn't always look like the promotion.

You may not see the point, but you must proceed in the process. Nothing you've been through was for nothing.

Prepare to prevail, stay with it.

Go to http://live.elevationchurch.online/ to see the entire sermon by Pastor Steven, I don't think you will regret it, I know I don't.

An interesting thing happened on my way home from small group tonight. I got in the car and started the Uber app, not really expecting to get any riders, but you never know. I ended up getting one before I turned on the main road leading to our house. The lady I picked up started talking to me about Uber and what I like about it, and what I don't necessarily like (riders can't tip in the app, and to end a ride I have to rate them right then). Turns out she is a recruiter for Lyft, which as of right this moment doesn't operate here in Columbia. However, she is in town specifically to recruit drivers and riders, and sent me the application (plus gave me some swag). I've filled it out, now I am just waiting to hear back.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Avere Fede... Have Faith... Three F's 1/21/17

Avere Fede... Have Faith... I saw this bracelet at the downtown market today, and had to have it. I told the guy that makes them that it is one of my three focus goals for the year. I stepped out in faith that our voices will be heard by the people in power in Washington DC, as well as here in Columbia.

What an amazing day today was. If you haven't seen how I spent the morning, look at my last post. 
I shared the following on the Facebook pages of my Senator and Congressmen, as well as emailed it to them: 
Today women from around the world, and on all seven continents held rallies and marches to support equal rights for all humans, and to PEACEFULLY protest some of the proposed changes under the new administration. We stood united to make our voices heard regarding LGBT rights, Woman's reproductive rights, Equal pay, Affordable Care, Education, and our disgust over the past actions of our newly inaugurated president. These people in these pictures are the people you represent! Please listen to what we have to say and support the people you represent! Say no to Betsy DeVos! Protect the rights of all South Carolinians! https://www.facebook.com/scienceesl/media_set?set=a.10155009622203169.1073742018.538713168&type=3&notif_t=feedback_reaction_generic&notif_id=1485046666113802

I've seen some posts, disparaging those of us that marched and rallied today. I pray those of you that think that the peaceful rallies were "stupid" and "unneeded" never have your rights jeopardized by our government. No, my rights, right now aren't in jeopardy... but the rights of some of the best people I know are.

Today I saw men and women of all races, religions, and sexual preference standing, walking, talking, hugging, thanking and enjoying one another.

I saw the pro-life sign carrier hug a pro-choice sign carrier, I heard them talking and having an honest discourse about what they meant by their signs. Turns out the pro-choice sign carrier wasn't just meaning pro-abortion, she is pro women's health, which the pro-lifer could get behind. I talked to women who marched in the sixties, who were devastated that all they marched for back then is in ruins.

I talked with both women and men veterans, who are worried about healthcare, and women's equality. The one gentleman told me, that he approved of the Secretary of Defense nominee, but was worried about health care because his son will lose his health insurance if ACA goes away. So he wasn't there necessarily protesting Trump as President, but some of the actions he has already taken.

Personally, for me, I was out there marching not only for the rights of adults, but the rights of our children. The right for all of the children of this country to have an equal education.

And honestly, some of the people that I see "hating" on the people that marched today and stood as one, were some of the biggest complainers, who supported the protests and riots 8 years ago. Hypocrites much?

Finances... Another good Uber day. I would go a few minutes without picking up a rider, and start to head home, only to get a rider on the way home that would lead to four or five more in the drop off area. Met some really neat people, especially the international students. Two from Scottland that I picked up from the British bar, and two Chinese students. They were all very interesting to talk to and learn a little about in a 10-minute car ride.

Fitness... I only got in a 3 mile walk before the rains came in. We had some pretty severe storms this afternoon, with tornado warnings and all.

Columbia SC Woman's March 2017

Today women from around the world, and on all seven continents held rallies and marches to support equal rights for all humans, and to protest some of the proposed changes under the new administration. We stood united to make our voices heard regarding LGBT rights, Woman's reproductive rights, Equal pay, Affordable Care, Education, and our disgust over the past actions of our newly inaugurated president. 
These are just a few of my pictures from the Columbia SC rally and march.