Friday, January 30, 2009

No Title For This One

I don't even know where to start.

I've been crying all morning.

The kind of crying that is loud.

And ugly.

And you're surprised the sounds are coming from your mouth.

Got a text from my friend this morning in the middle of a staff meeting.

I forgot to turn my phone off.

The beeping surprised me.

I grabbed my phone to turn it off.

And saw her text.

I had to leave the meeting because I couldn't push the tears away.

One of the dear, sweet, innocent babies I met in South Africa just got test results back.

Full blown AIDS.

12 weeks old.

My heart is broken.

I can't stop the crying.

I'm so mad.

I am so angry.

I am so, so sad.

And so today I work at my desk, but my mind is with him.

My chest feels heavy while I fight back tears.

I sit in a meeting, but don't listen.

I remind myself to breath.

Because I don't know what else to do.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

This Is NOT Okay

(photos courtesy of Charity: Water)

We can no longer say "it is too overwhelming" or "we don't know what to do."

Yes ... we do.

And yes ... we can.

If you need somewhere to start, start with $20 a month.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Practicing. Again.

My 5th grade neighbor is practicing his clarinet.


If I hear Hot Cross Buns one more time, I'm going to scream.

Now I know what my mom went through when I practiced!

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Relishing EVERYTHING ...

... in South Africa.

Wide smiles and genuine giggles ...

Getting interviewed ....

Spending quality time with each other ...
Absorbing each and every second.

Not a second goes by that I wish I was still there.

My mind, my heart, my memories my thoughts.

All in South Africa.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Buying Time // Band Aids

My 1st graders complain of feeling sick (or having some type of ailment) all the time.

Like ...




It's really hard to gauge when someone is not feeling well.

Unless I see blood or tears, it's truly hard to tell.

Most of time ... I try to buy some time (or give them a band aid).

It works like a charm.
"My leg hurts" - Have a seat and tell me if it still hurts in 5 minutes
"My tummy hurts" - Get a drink of water
"I don't feel good" - Try going to the bathroom
"I have a cut" - Let me get out my microscope to see
"I bumped my arm" - Here ... take this ice pack (yes, I keep ice packs in my class)
"I fell during recess" - Be sure to tell the recess teacher when that happens
You get the idea.

I was pleased to know that I'm not the only one that does this when injuries are not-so-obvious.

After lunch recess today, two of my girls came up to me and said, "We fell during recess."

Before I could say any of my buying-time phrases, one of the girls quickly said, "The recess teacher says we should go back to our classroom and sit down."


Growing In Numbers

"When the story of these times gets written, we want it to say that we did all we could, and it was more then anyone could have imagined." - Bono
300 Voices is currently 79 strong.

Looking for 300 Voices this week.

And there will be no stopping the ripples of clean water ...

Join us.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

300 Voices

You know I think about WATER all the time ...

I think about Africa every day.

So now I'm helping to spread the word for 300 Voices ...

We need 300 people.

300 people to make a commitment to 300 Voices .... Water For All Season.

This will be a commitment of $20/month.

Water For Christmas (WFC) will stay open all year. We get 300 people to commit to $20 a month for 2009 and that's an additional $72,000.

Did you get that?

That is 15 wells.

That's a lot of money ...
As always, 100% of your money goes to charity: water. They use 100& to drill fresh wells and clean water solutions.

But beyond that, the idea is to keep water on our hearts and minds of a 300-person team.

So we will give all year.

We pray, we dream, we plan.

And then in November 2009 we kick off Water For Christmas with a team of 300 that have been serving all year.
LinkHere's how it will work: is being developed and will be ready to launch later in the year.

For now, go HERE to sign up. Give us your name and location. We'll start a list of people around the country who are committing to Water. You can do your donations for $5/week, or $20/month, or $240 donation for the whole year. We will not bombard you with emails ... but if you want monthly or weekly reminders to donate we will do that. If you don't do online giving, and would like to mail in checks, you can still do that by making checks payable to Charity Global with Water For Christmas in the memo line. Please mail checks to: Charity Global - 150 Varick St. 5th Floor, New York, NY 10013. We will even send you a set of 12 envelopes if you would prefer to send a monthly donation by mail.

We will have a counter showing how close we are to getting 300 people.

300 Voices.

There is a new blog badge for 300 Voices ... use it if you want.
Anyone can join.

Talk about it.

Blog about it.

At this point, all it means is a $20/month commitment. The giving is just to force us to put action behind our causes. And provide clean water for thousands in the process.

Ideally, in November 2009, we have people whose treasure has followed their heart and they are ready to go. We reach 300 times more people with awareness about clean water.

The money is multiplied.

And clean water will erupt from the dirt of Africa's floor.

We will be one voice ... 300 strong ... for clean water ... for life.


You want in?


Sign up.

For more info, updates and inspiration ... visit Jody's blog HERE.

It looks like Jody may even be able to give us updates personally ... from the ground in Liberia. So we can see how our money is changing and saving lives.

Let's keep it fresh in our hearts and minds.

Even if it's only $20 a month.

Times 300.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Letters To The President

On Inauguration Day, the kids wrote letters to our new president.

I found a great unit about the government online at

The format for the letter was:
Dear Mr. President:

Congratulations, President Obama! I read about how Presidents help run the country.

One thing I think you should do for America is ___________.

I think this is important because ___________.

Sincerely, _____________
I just love the imaginations and creative of 6 year-old children. Here are some of my favorite letters.

One thing I think you should do for America is:
  • ... make America a better place and make America nicer because we don't want people to get hurt or shot.
  • ... help the world be better because everyone is equal.
  • ... raise money for schools because you are making America a better place.
  • ... ban robbers from the country because people need their stuff.
  • ... tell people not to hurt animals because some animals are nice enough to help the world.
  • ... to stop the war because I do not want people to die.
  • ... make sure that everybody is OK because everybody should be OK.
  • ... for everyone to be happy like Martin Luther King Jr. because everyone needs you, and hope and love.
  • ... run the country because if we didn't have a president the world won't be a better place.
  • .... don't let people cut down trees because animals live there.
I'm mailing them off to the White House next week (anyone know the address?).

We'll see if we get a response!

Waiting ...

For food ...
Yep ... my mind is still in Africa.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Processing (still)

We had our team reunion last night.

Lots of feelings and memories bubbling to the surface right now.

Especially when I got home and looked through the CD of pictures that Kinsey gave us all.

Some pictures evoke so many emotions, that I can't find the words to express myself.

Like this one ...I'm clearly still trying to process ...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chap Stick Like an Oak Tree

I love the things my students say. Here is one from today ...

Cafeteria conversation ....

Student: Ms. Diederichs, I have some lip stick that smells really good.
Me: Oh ... cool! What does it smell like?
Student: It smells like a fresh oak tree branch
Me: Oh wow ... how do you know what a fresh oak tree branch smells like?
Student: Well, I don't really, I only imagine it.

And then in the classroom ...
Student: Do you want me to show you that lip stick I was telling you about?
Me: Absolutely!
Student (taking the lid off and making me smell it): See! A fresh oak tree branch!
Me: Indeed. Delish!

Note to reader: It was the Melon Medley (green) chap stick in the Fruit Smoothies pack. You know ... in case you wanted your lips to smell like a fresh oak tree branch.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Filled With HOPE

These pictures are beyond words.

6 year-old children saying the Pledge of Allegiance, while our new president addresses his nation.

I of course stood in the back of the classroom to hide my tears.

I am filled with HOPE ...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Are Looking For Me?

If you're looking for my face (or the body that's attached to it) ...

it will be inside the pages of this book.


Until it's done.

I was warned.

And they were all correct.

I can't put this book down.

And I may just be in love with Edward.

P.S. Do you think it would be wrong to call in sick tomorrow so I can finish this book? Joking ... but don't think it didn't cross my mind.

Leotards & High Heels

Whenever I hear this song ... I can't get this image out of my head.

So funny ....

Watch more My Video videos on AOL Video

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Gift of Life

The past four years, I've had the same neighbors.

I live on a corner, so I have one side neighbor and one backyard neighbor.

My backyard neighbors are very sweet. They keep to themselves. Though I don't talk to them much, I see them often.

They are in their late 30's and have two young boys. The wife's elderly mother lives with them.

Over the years I've seen the boys grow up ... summer afternoons spent in the front yard running through the sprinkler. Spring afternoons spent helping their mom plant seedlings for the summer blooms.

I've watched their puppy turn into a dog, and I've watched the boys bound from their house into the car ... fully dressed in their karate robes while practicing a few quick kicks.

All of these coming-and-going activities have been done under the watchful eye of their Grandmother.

She often spends her afternoons on their front porch .. soaking in the sun ... drinking tea ... rocking in her chair ... and beaming with pride over her two grandchildren.

She watched as her grandsons taught their puppy to sit.

She watched as their hands got dirty from planting.

She watched as their hair glistened in the sun and dripped with fresh drops of water from the sprinkler.

Due to the cold winter months ... I haven't seen them in a while.

Last week while passing my window, I glanced outside as they arrived home.

I was struck by how much their Grandmother had aged.

When did this happen?

This passage of time.

She was weak and frail.

Helped into her home by her daughter ... and the use of a wheel chair.

I stood there stunned. Where has time gone? Was I to busy to notice time passing and people aging?

All last week I was mindful of their family. The immense blessing of having their Grandma live with them as she aged.

A gift to those boys.

And most certainly a gift to her.

Yesterday she passed away.

My heart is broken for my neighbors.

But how wonderful to spend all those years together.

Even in death ... they are blessed.

Rest In Peace my sweet neighbor Grandma.

Thank you for all your gentle 'hellos' over our fence. You touched my life in innumerable ways and I am better because of you. You taught me the importance of taking care of our family and reminded me of the sweetness of simply being.

You will be missed.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bonnie B-23 UPDATE!

Because I know you're all dying for it ...

...visual proof of Bonnie's awesomeness.

Correction ... it was written with a Bic-style ballpoint pen ... NOT the Sharpie I thought!There ... now you can all rest peacefully.

MTV Cribs - Dishwasher Edition

I used to think it was really cool when you got to look in the refrigerator of a famous person's house on MTV Cribs.

It was like a little glimpse into their lives. Never mind that it was all staged.

I loved seeing what they ate and drank!

This morning as I was putting away my cereal bowl, I noticed that my dishwasher was a lot like the refrigerators of famous Hollywood stars.

You can tell exactly how I live ...

  • Many cereal bowls due to my daily breakfast
  • A few plates left over from dinner
  • Assortment of silverware used to prepare & consume said meals
  • A plethora of wine glasses
  • NO drinking glasses because I always use my water bottle
  • NO pots or pans because I try to limit the amount of times my dishwasher gets used ... those babies are hand-washed
In summary ... I eat cereal and drink wine.

* Cooper is fully aware that he is NOT allowed to lick dirty dishes. In this particular picture, he is totally taking advantage of the fact that I'm busy doing something else while he sneaks in for a quick lick.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Random Fact #5

Officially the worst dog toy ever.

Like, ever, EVER!

It's made out of hard plastic.

This means that as your dog tries to get the treats out of the center ... the toy crashes into your molding, rolls over your hardwood floors, and smashes into all furniture legs.

And that's not even the worst part.

It's also the loudest toy I've ever heard.

And I swear Cooper only plays with it when I'm watching TV.

Bonnie B-23

I am soooo not judging on this one.

I love it!

I opened the freezer in our staffroom today to get some ice for my water ... and noticed a package of Slim a Bear ice cream sandwiches.

No big deal.

Here's the good part.

"Bonnie B-23" was written on the front of the box in a large Sharpie pen.

Which means ... the bus driver (Bonnie) for bus B-23 put them in our freezer.

Which means Bonnie B-23 likes to grab an ice cream sandwich when she drops her kids off at our school.

Which officially makes Bonnie B-23 my new favorite person.

Because if I was a bus driver ... I would so do the same thing.

Random Fact #4

I do not ever where lipstick.

I do wear lip gloss.

And when I put lip gloss on, I never put it on my upper lip.

I put it on my lower lip, then rub my lips together.

I have no idea why I do this.

I just noticed it this morning.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Losing It

Jay and I are totally losing it.

And when I say "we," I really mean "me" but Jay joined my club yesterday which was reassuring and a bit frightening at the same time.

Here are a few examples:
  • About a month ago, I put my milk away in my cupboard.
  • A few weeks ago while trying to leave for work, I couldn't find my cell phone anywhere. I had scoured the house. I left, without my cell phone. Or so I though. It was in my pocket.
  • When packing for an overnight on New Years Eve, I looked desperately for well over 20 minutes (complete with frustration and swear words) and could NOT, for the LIFE of me find my brown sweats. Found my black sweats. Found my blue sweats. COULD NOT find my brown sweats. THEY WERE ON ME. I was wearing them.
  • Jay spent 10 minutes looking for his cell phone charger yesterday. When I walked into the room he was mumbling frustrations under his breath. I asked, "What's wrong?" He said, "I can't find my charger anywhere! I've looked everywhere!" Casually glancing across the room, I said, "It's plugged into the wall." You know, the same wall & outlet he always uses to charge his cell phone.
Yesterday, Jay looked at my totally serious and said, "I really need to slow down."

Hmmmm ... words I need to listen to!

An Open Letter To My Mighty Mouse

Dear Mighty Mouse,

You and I have had a long-standing relationship, which is why I feel comfortable telling you this ...

You are driving me nuts!

Are you trying to test my patience?

Why do you insist on your Scroll button not working?

Here is the part that really frustrates me:
  • You let me scroll down
  • You let me scroll left
  • You let me scroll right
Do you have any idea how irritating that is?

And I think you sense my mounting frustration ... because this morning, you're only letting me scroll DOWN about 50% of the time.

This relationship is not healthy for me.

I've tried to be patient with you.

But it's time.

I'm breaking up with you.

I'm calling the TECH department and having you replaced.

I'm sorry.

I know you'll find love again ... perhaps with someone who only likes to scroll left & right.

Yours truly (when you do your job),


Monday, January 12, 2009

Keep Calm & Carry On

For my last post, I used a picture from KEEP CALM & CARRY ON.

Then I randomly started doing research on it's origins, and found this (hopefully you can click on it to view it larger) ...

And also found this original picture ...


Feeling "Off"

I was actually happy to see Monday roll around this week.

I had a VERY 'off' weekend.

Lot's of thoughts and feelings which I let consume me.

Dealt with my anxiety (which I usually keep under control) a lot this weekend.

Let things bother me that usually don't.

Had a hard time staying 'outside of my head.'

Unexpected situations arose that caused me to deal a lot with feelings carrying over from a past relationship.

An overbooked schedule which didn't allow me to rest at all.

I know ... this too, shall pass.

And for that ...

I am thankful.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My David Bag Is Here!

I am so excited!

I got my David bag on Thursday! The bag was made in Freetown, Sierra Leone (West Africa) by David. Click on his name and read all about him.

My dear blogging-friend Jody sews the Africa's on them.

All proceeds go to the Word Made Flesh team in Freetown which helps them to continue training and impacting kids like David and Sheku. If you'd like to read about the Freetown team, click HERE. If you'd like to read about Word Made Flesh, click HERE.

The bags are brought to the US by people visiting Freetown. They end up at Jody's house. She sews on the Africa patch. She sells the bags. You give (a minimum) of $50. All money goes to Word Made Flesh. Kids get training! You get a bag made with love.


Jody is hoping to get another shipment soon. Check out her website for more info.

More Africa Pictures ...

More pictures from Africa ...

Indian Ocean - Durban, South Africa

The kids loved interviewing us. They asked such wonderful questions. "Lisa, so you're a teacher, what made you want to be a teacher?" "Why did you want to come here, so far away from home, to see us?"

Beautiful ...

Our last day. One last group picture at a market in Durban before Natalie and I leave for the states and the rest leave for a safari to be nearly eaten by an elephant. (l to r) Natalie, myself, Jodie, Tami, Kelly, Jonathan, Kinsey. Random side-story ... I wore my Obama t-shirt (in this picture) on the airplane on the way home. While going through security in the airport in Johannesburg, the security personnel CHEERED for my shirt. It was pretty funny!)

My heroes ... the entire iThemba Lethu crew ... (with our group scattered about the picture). The change they make in children's lives is close to unspeakable. Words are not enough to explain their impact on the young adults of Durban. I am in awe of everything they do.

Leading worship. Natalie, myself, Jonathan.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Favorite Holiday Kick-Off

My favorite holiday is coming up.

Martin Luther King Day.

I am totally infatuated with EVERYTHING Martin Luther King.

I've been looking through all my teaching material the last few days ... getting ready to teach my favorite unit to my students.

An entire unit dedicated to Martin Luther King and everything he represents.

There is so much good that has come from him ... and so many teaching points for a teacher.
  • Equality
  • Respect ... for EVERYONE
  • Fight with love ... not words
  • Its what's on the inside that counts
  • Feelings
  • Equal rights
I could go on and on.

And I will ... in the days to come!

I am in awe of his courage, determination, drive, love, and strength.

To start off my unit, I'm reading THE ROUGH-FACE GIRL by, Rafe Martin to my students today.

I strongly suggest you get it and read it with your kids. There are a ton of talking points and lessons in this book.


Not This Chick

Everybody is talking about the Marley & Me movie.

Have you seen it yet?

Chances are you have ... or you're super stoked to see it.

Not this chick.

Have you read the book?

Is it not the SADDEST ending you've EVER read?

Being a dog-lover, I simply cannot submit myself to seeing this movie.

I am in 100% denial that Cooper will ever die.

I have never, ever, ever cried so hard at the ending of a book as I did reading Marley & Me.

And I distinctly remember it, because I was on a plane ...

... and I was sobbing.

Like, the UGLY CRY sobbing.

It wasn't good.

Or pretty.

So no thanks ... have fun seeing it ya'll ... and I'm gonna live in my blissful world of denial for a bit longer.

It's nice here ... and no one dies.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Saw this commercial tonight.


THINK about it.

I know I am.

Breast Is Best

This video is particularly fun for me because my new friend Shannon (whom I met in South Africa) is in this video. She is the woman who 'reads' the baby its rights towards the end.

Thanks for finding this video Natalie.

Good message (from iThemba Lethu) ... great actress (Shannon!).


A few years ago, a friend of mine told me of a personal goal he had set for himself.

He had decided for the entire 1990's (1990-2000) he would not eat ONE thing from McDonald's.

I was totally jealous.

I wanted to NOT do something for a decade too!

How cool to say, "I didn't go to _____ for an entire decade!"

His rationale for picking McDonald's was that he really liked it, but knew it was bad for him.

Man ... this was gonna be hard.

So ... I set about making a goal for myself.

However, when I finally got around to setting my goal, it was already 2003.

So technically I had to think of a place I hadn't been in the last 3 years.

It know, it's backwards ... and not the same as Bobby's goal.

But come on ... I was copying him and copying someone isn't ever the same as being the 1st one to do it.

So ... I decided ...

For the entire 2000 decade, I would NOT go to Kohl's Department Store.

Isn't that stupid!

I laugh every time I think about it.

Because I pretty much picked a place I'd never go anyway.

Consequently ... I also think of Bobby whenever I go to McDonald's.

However, I'm happy to report, that by setting my standards low, and dumbing down my goal ... I only have 359 days until I successfully meet my decade-long goal.

Maybe next year I'll pick McDonald's.

Monday, January 5, 2009

They Fit

You know when you see someone and you think, "Man ... she would look way better if her pants were just one size bigger." -- (or maybe you don't, but I do -- and if you say you don't, maybe you're not being honest).

Well, I'm (not-so) happy to report:

I'm that girl today.

Let's just say that I didn't hold anything back in the eating department this holiday season.

Cookies? Sure! Ice cream? Yep! An extra helping? Why not! Pizza for breakfast? I'll try anything! The 4th cookie for dessert? Why not, it's Christmas! Macaroni & cheese w/hot dogs? Yummers! (oh yes, so true!). The one-millionth Peppermint Mocha? Love it! Cheesy nachos for an afternoon snack? You bet!

You can only imagine how apprehensive I was about putting my work clothes back on this morning. Or maybe you can imagine it. Where you feeling the same way?

But ... I was pleased as punch that my khakis fit this morning.

Now let's get something straight ...

They fit ... but they're tight.

They fit ... but barely.

They fit ... but I'm terrified to sit down.

They fit ... but I dare not breath deeply (shallow breaths are best for not expanding the waistline).

They fit ... but I may bust a button at any minute.

They fit ... but they're shorter (you know ... because of excess hip cargo).

Maybe all those fitness/buy our product/exercise more/eat these foods/have them delivered to you house for 3 easy payments/buy now, don't delay - infomercials are telling me something.


Just maybe.

But for now ... they fit.

P.S. If you need me, I'll be on my treadmill.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Tee Off Against Trafficking

2nd Annual Tee Off Against Trafficking

The 2009 date has been set!

Join us ...

Won't you?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Years Resolution

I'm not one to make New Year's Resolutions ... but I think I'll give it a try this year.

I've been thinking about it for a few days now.

And while I was unpacking from Africa today (yes, I know I've been home for 18 days!) ... my two New Year's Resolutions came to me.

1. I am going to be (even more) environmentally-minded this year.

I already do many things
  • turn off the water while I brush my teeth
  • recycle, recycle, recycle
  • use cloth instead of paper napkins
  • use leftover water in glasses to water my indoor plants
  • collect recyclable items that the school does not recycle, and take them home to recycle
  • use environmentally-friendly soap
  • eat as organically as possible
But one thing I am terrible about is remembering my reusable shopping bags before heading into the grocery store.

Little things like that.

I'm going to make a conscientious effort to think of little things that I can do.

2. DO SOMETHING about my passion for clean drinking water.

Everywhere I look I see water.

Puddles, lakes, ocean, shower, bath, teeth brushing, water glasses, water bottles, boiling water, dishwasher, washing machine, drinking fountain.


And every time, I think about the millions of people who do not have clean drinking water.

It disgusts me.

I think about clean/dirty water at least 10 times a day.

No joke.

I can't get it out of my head.

So ... this year, I want to listen to my inner tugging. The voice inside of me that desperately wants to make a difference.

To help.

To do.

I'll keep you posted on this one!

Snow in Washington

Washington state was covered in a blanket of snow, nearly ALL month.

Parts of the state received record breaking amounts. Spokane broke a snowfall record that was set in 1950!

Here are a few pictures from the month of December.

My house ...

My backyard ... this amount of snow is VERY rare ...

This picture was taken at Jay's parent's house in Spokane ...

More Spokane snow. Look at the depth of the snow ...
Can't wait to see what January brings!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Prom 1989

Here are some more pictures from New Years Eve.

We went to an 80's prom party. Our prom theme was ALMOST PARADISE which we all slow-danced to at midnight (of course!).

I crimped my hair & wore a hair scrunchie. I wore a green crushed velvet dress with matching crushed velvet shoes.

Jay wore a mullet wig, an over sized sweater, pants which he pegged at the bottom and a sports coat.

Here he is towards midnight. I told him I wouldn't dance with him OR give him a midnight kiss unless he took of his mullet wig. It creeped me out.

A few of us girls: Licia (Jay's cousin Kyle's wife), Ashley (Jay's cousin), Jodie (Jay's cousin), Danielle (Jay's cousin), Sarah (Jay's cousin Marc's wife) & myself ...

Girls, girls, girls ...

Our prom picture ... aren't we attractive?!?
Happy New Years everyone!