Sunday, December 11, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011


Going through documents as a part of our preparation-for-moving-clean-up, we found one of my favorite messages from Cade ever.  This is from the beginning of our relationship, before we were engaged.

"Dear Tamara,
I have compiled a list of things that I don't love more than I love you.  They are as follows in no particular order.
  1. Any kind of insect bites
  2. Meat loaf
  3. Anything written by e.e. cummings
  4. The board game chutes and ladders
  5. After dinner mints
  6. Anything made out of silk i.e. shirts and boxer shorts
  7. Cliff diving
  8. Riding in the car with Chris and Tracy listening to Star Wars music
  9. Homework
  10. And anything else I can think of your the best I LOVE YOU very much"

And from our first Christmas together:

Card text:  "I don't have any wishes left for Christmas.  You already came true."
Cade's message:  "Here would be the place in the card to write sappy things about loving you and first Christmas's together.  However you will show the card to everyone and we can't have that.  Thank you for your understanding.  Love, Cade."


A silly card from shortly after we got married.  I went to El Salvador with my dad, and Cade stayed home and broke his foot, so sometime in January 2001.  The picture of the card is a rooster with a guitar on a cat's back.  

Cade's message: 


I am so lost without you.  I missed you so much.  All I could think to do was give the chicken a guitar have him climb on the cat's back and sing.  I am so glad you are back the chicken doesn't have a good voice.  Welcome home, I love you so very much.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dogs: An unusual guide to school reform

Publication Date: 2010-08-13

By Marion Brady

This column was a guest appearance on Valerie Strauss' Answer Sheet

at the Washington Post

, August 12, 2010.

Marion Brady is a veteran teacher, administrator, curriculum designer

and author. Don't miss his website


Driving the country roads of Scotland, Ireland and Wales, I have

sometimes been lucky enough to be blocked by sheep being moved from

one pasture to another.

I say 'lucky' because it allows me to watch an impressive performance

by a dog -- usually a Border Collie.

What a show! A single, mid-sized dog herding two or three hundred

sheep, keeping them moving in the right direction, rounding up strays,

knowing how to intimidate but not cause panic, funneling them all

through a gate, and obviously enjoying the challenge.

Why a Border Collie? Why not an Akita or Xoloitzcuintli or another of

about 400 breeds listed on the Internet?

Because, among the people for whom herding sheep is serious business,

there is general agreement that Border Collies are better at doing

what needs to be done than any other dog. They have 'the knack.'

That knack is so important that those who care most about Border

Collies even oppose their being entered in dog shows. That, they say,

would lead to the Border Collie being bred to look good, and looking

good isn't the point. Brains, innate ability, performance -- that's

the point.

Other breeds are no less impressive in other ways. If you're lost in a

snowstorm in the Alps, you don't need a Border Collie. You need a big,

strong dog with a really good nose, lots of fur, wide feet that don't

sink too deeply into snow, and an unerring sense of direction for

returning with help. You need a Saint Bernard.

If varmints are sneaking into your hen house, killing your chickens,

and escaping down holes in a nearby field, you don't need a Border

Collie or a Saint Bernard, you need a Fox Terrier.

It isn't that many different breeds can't be taught to herd, lead

high-altitude rescue efforts, or kill foxes. They can. It's just that

teaching all dogs to do things which one particular breed can do

better than any other doesn't make much sense.

We accept the reasonableness of that argument for dogs. We reject it

for kids.

The non-educators now running the education show say American kids are

lagging ever-farther behind in science and math, and that the

consequences of that for America's economic well-being could be


So, what is this rich, advantaged country of ours doing to try to beat

out the competition?

Mainly, we put in place the No Child Left Behind program, now replaced

by Race to the Top and the Common Core State Standards Initiative. If

that fact makes you optimistic about the future of education in

America, think again about dogs.

There are all kinds of things they can do besides herd, rescue, and

engage foxes. They can sniff luggage for bombs. Chase felons. Stand

guard duty. Retrieve downed game birds. Guide the blind. Detect

certain diseases. Locate earthquake survivors. Entertain audiences.

Play nice with little kids. Go for help if Little Nell falls down a


So, with No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top as models, let's set

performance standards for these and all other canine capabilities and

train all dogs to meet them. All 400 breeds. All skills. Leave No Dog


Two-hundred-pound Mastiffs may have a little trouble with the

chase-the-fox-down-the-hole standard, and Chihuahuas will probably

have difficulty with the tackle-the-felon-and-pin-him-to-the-ground

standard. But, hey, no excuses! Standards are standards! Leave No Dog


Think there's something wrong with a

same-standards-and-tests-for-everybody approach to educating? Think a

math whiz shouldn't be held back just because he can't write a good

five-paragraph essay? Think a gifted writer shouldn't be refused a

diploma because she can't solve a quadratic equation? Think a

promising trumpet player shouldn't be kept out of the school orchestra

or pushed out on the street because he can't remember the date of the

Boxer Rebellion?

If you think there's something fundamentally, dangerously wrong with

an educational reform effort that's actually designed to standardize,

designed to ignore human variation, designed to penalize individual

differences, designed to produce a generation of clones, photocopy

this column.

If you think it's stupid to require every kid to read the same books,

think the same thoughts, parrot the same answers, make several

photocopies. And in the margin at the top of each, write, in longhand,

something like, "Please explain why the standards and accountability

fad isn’t a criminal waste of brains," or, "Why are you trashing

America's hope for the future?" or just, "Does this make sense?"

Send the copies to your senators and representatives before they sell

their vote to the publishing and testing corporations intent on

getting an ever-bigger slice of that half-trillion dollars a year

America spends on educating.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Missions in Orthodoxy: My friend James

A while ago, an anonymous poster asked if there are any missions in Orthodoxy.  Now, I have a current example of this being the case.  My friend James has been traveling the US, seeking support both prayerful and financial, and now he's making final preparations to travel to Africa.  Here's his latest update.  I especially like the  reflections on the commissioning service at the very end.

Dear Friends,
Safiri salama!
This phrase, which translates as "May you travel in peace" is what I  
ask each of you to wish me on Wednesday, April 14th of this year 2010.
That date is the answer to the question many of you have asked over  
these past two years-- a question that I've often asked myself. That  
is the date of my departure for Tanzania!
Exactly one month before departure, on Sunday March 14th, I was  
commissioned to serve as a long-term OCMC missionary at my home parish  
of St Elizabeth Greek Orthodox Church in Gainesville, Florida. I was  
commissioned by my priest, Father Nikitas Theodosion, as well as  
Father David Rucker of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center. As a PS  
to this email I'll reflect a little on the prayers of commissioning,  
and on what this new stage in my life will mean.
Thank you.
Here's what the next few months may look like:
April 4th: I hope to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ with the  
faithful of St. Elizabeth Greek Orthodox Church at home in Gainesville.
April 14th: Departure for Africa from Washington, DC
April 16th: Arrival in Mwanza
May 3rd: Language school begins in Dar es Salaam, on Tanzania's east  
July: By this time, if God wills, missionaries Felice Stewart and  
Katie Wilcoxson may join me in Dar es Salaam. They hope to start  
beginning language courses as I continue my Swahili study at an  
intermediate level.
August: I hope to finish advanced-level Swahili courses by the end of  
this month as missionary Michael Pagedas (and possibly Maria Roeber)  
join Katie and Felice in language school. As my colleagues continue  
language study, God willing I will be able to move to Mwanza and begin  
my assignment with the local Church there.
There is much more than this to say, and I'll say more in the PS. God  
is good. By your prayers and faithfulness, I'm on track to receive all  
the financial support necessary to keep me on the field long-term.  
Most of this comes from a team of about fifty supporters, each giving  
roughly $50 monthly through 2012. A few supporters are giving a little  
more, and many are giving $10 - $15 per month. It is humbling and  
exciting to watch God multiply these offerings as He did the loaves  
and fishes to provide for his servants. Thank you for your  
participation in this work.
Please stay in touch. I look forward to reporting from the field  
By your prayers,
There is a service used by Eastern Orthodox Christians of every  
diocese and background in the United States for the commissioning of a  
new missionary to long-term overseas work. It's short-- litanies, the  
hymn for Pentecost and the hymn for Ss Cyril & Methodius, Scripture  
reading, and the prayer of commissioning itself. As Fr. David and Fr.  
Nikitas placed their stoles over my head, here is the assignment that  
was given me:
O God, our God, Who Sent Your only-begotten Son for our salvation, and  
at His bidding gave to His disciples the Holy Spirit, send down Your  
Holy Spirit upon this your servant James and commission him for this  
present ministry of proclaiming Your Good News and sharing Your love.  
Travel with him as You traveled with Your servant Joseph and deliver  
him from all agitation and slander and all devices of the evil one.  
Keep him strong in body and soul so that he may be light to those  
still in darkness. And grant that he may fulfill in all righteousness  
Your command to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them  
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and  
teaching them to observe all that You have commanded. May his service  
be pleasing in Your sight that he may praise and glorify Your most  
Holy and magnificent Name, of the Father and of the Son and of the  
Holy Spirit, now and forevermore.
This is also the assignment that was given to the faithful present at  
my commissioning, and it is what I ask each of you to join in as you  
are able. Over the past year, I have met many of you face-to-face, and  
bear witness to the great love and faith that you practice in your  
parishes and communities throughout North America. As I bear witness  
to the glory of God being proclaimed here on American soil, I am able  
to carry to Africa this message and faith that God has shown me  
through you. It is by your prayers, friendship, encouragement and  
material support that I am sent to participate in the apostolic work  
of the Orthodox Church in Tanzania. In a very real way, my assignment  
is only to be a vehicle of your love and faith, faithfully  
transmitting to Africa what you have given me here.
As I learn to participate locally in God's glory, it is each of you  
who will be proclaiming the glory of God in Mwanza and throughout  
Tanzania. So I ask for your continued involvement in this work. Please  
keep giving. Please keep writing. Please keep calling (I'll have  
Skype). Keep me accountable. And most of all, please keep me before  
the face of God in your holy prayers. Through your prayers, I have  
already been borne along over the past year. God's grace has been  
abundant. The challenges of adjusting to a new language and culture in  
this next year will call for a continued abundance of that grace.
Please also be patient. In order to meaningfully participate in the  
life of the Church, I have to listen to people. In order to listen to  
people, I have to learn their language and their culture. This takes  
years.The very first line in my job description states that my  
"primary responsibility the first year will be language acquisition  
and enculturation." And a year is just the tip of the iceberg.  So you  
won't be hearing dramatic stories of my impact on Tanzania any time  
soon. You might just hear some stories about Tanzania's impact on me.  
By your prayers and if God wills, in the next five to ten years I  
should have begun to learn the language and culture well enough to  
play a role in what might be called "meaningful results." This  
vocation as a missionary is a long-term commitment, and I'm grateful  
for your patience and friendship as the process begins.
Tutaonana baadaye! Seeya later!
In Christ,
Yonder are the crowns, yonder the punishments.
-- St. John Chrysostom 
If you're interested in offering financial support to James through this venture, please contact him at the address below.  I know he'd appreciate any prayers.
James Hargrave
c/o OCMC
220 Mason Manatee Way
St. Augustine, FL
239 464-6515 (cell)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Aunt Beth's Pics of Mara

Posted by Picasa

Aunt Beth's Pics of Mara

Proving two things: Aunt Beth is an amazing photographer, and Mara is a beautiful subject. (I'm so proud of the ladies in my life!)

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sunday of Forgiveness

Before we enter the Lenten fast, we are reminded that there can be no true fast, no genuine repentance, no reconciliation with God, unless we are at the same time reconciled with one another.... We do not travel the road of Lent as isolated individuals but as members of a family. Our asceticism and fasting should not separate us from others, but should link us to them with ever-stronger bonds.

The Sunday of Forgiveness also directs us to see that Great Lent is a journey of liberation from our enslavement to sin. The Gospel lesson sets the conditions for this liberation. The first one is fasting—the refusal to accept the desires and urges of our fallen nature as normal, the effort to free ourselves from the dictatorship of the flesh and matter over the spirit....

The second condition is forgiveness—“If you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you” (vv. 14-15). The triumph of sin, the main sign of its rule over the world, is division, opposition, separation, hatred. Therefore, the first break through this fortress of sin is forgiveness—the return to unity, solidarity, love. To forgive is to put between me and my “enemy” the radiant forgiveness of God Himself. To forgive is to reject the hopeless “dead-ends” of human relations and to refer them to Christ. Forgiveness is truly a “breakthrough” of the Kingdom into this sinful and fallen world.


Forgive me, a sinner.

Mara's New School

I can't begin to tell you how much we're all enjoying Mara's new school. As an arts-based school, arts education is seamlessly integrated with core curriculum, offering multiple ways to explore and absorb new concepts. The school suits Mara perfectly, and I haven't seen her this relaxed about school since Kindergarten.

One of the best things about the school is the concept of publishing student work. As a teacher, I know this last step of the writing process is important, and we teachers are expected to post samples of student work regularly. I think most schools do that. However, Mara's new school goes beyond this rudimentary requirement. Each grade level has a big project each year. Maybe more than one, but we haven't been there long enough for me to know that for sure. When completed, all the students in the grade will present their project to the rest of the school during the school day, and then later in the evening, to the parents and community. When Mara came home from watching the 3rd grade presentation, she described to me in detail what she saw and why she was so impressed. "They made these big puppets for the show. It must have taken them years to make the puppets!"

During science fair week, the same reaction happened. Mara didn't enter, as we didn't have time to create a project and put it together after joining the school. After seeing all the other projects, Mara was so disappointed to miss it, but even more profound to me is that she sat down and started mapping out science fair projects she could put together for next year.

So, the concept of publishing the student work for the entire school, in performances and displays that the other students get to see and enjoy, becomes a motivator for the other children. Mara thinks of how she'll be involved next year, envisions herself in her place, proudly demonstrating her project or participating in the class effort. We haven't seen this level of excitement for learning come from a school in so long. What I'm witnessing is what I've wanted to see in Mara's schooling all along. The new school is a place that gives Mara the freedom and the opportunity to pursue her own interests, directing her towards learning objectives that expand her horizons.

I couldn't be happier!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Mara's Christmas Wish List--2009

LPS and LPSO stuff
Furel pet
Siens and craft stuff, crayola
my littel pony
building stuff
amaraken girl stuff
tinker bell and the lost tresher move/dvd