Saturday, May 17, 2008

David Cook Comes Home

American Idol contestant David Cook's homecoming last Friday turned out to be one of the most memorable of my life. I reveled in my students successes and triumphs while I was teaching, but seeing David achieve his dream on a national level has given me immeasurable joy!

I haven't seen David since he was a sophomore or junior in college, though I have thought of him from time to time (as I do many of my students), wondering how his band (whose other members were also my students) was doing. Being David's teacher was a privilege and joy -- He was a solid, responsible student -- quite personable and tremendously talented. American Idol aside, David is a student I will never forget.

Part of Friday's enjoyment was seeing the culmination of all the excitement and buzz his AI success has brought to Blue Springs. Tuesdays nights a local bar and grill has held watch parties for about the last six weeks. It is a noisy crowd until our hometown boy performs, and the judges critique him. The place erupts in cheers after David sings and more cheers or boos follow, depending on what the judges have to say. At 8:00, cell phones flipped open, we begin voting. (Once I'm home, I use my cell phone and our house phone to get in as many votes as possible! My husband used the word possessed!)

On Wednesdays, conversations at the grocery store, the doctor's office, the beauty shop center on David's performance and how many times a person voted. People of all ages sport David Cook t-shirts, which draw remarks and questions: "Do you vote?" "Are you related to David?" "Look, Mom, a David Cook shirt!" Even wearing my shirt while out of town last weekend solicited comments: "He's my favorite!" "I vote for him every week." "I hope he wins!"

The local Fox channel followed David with cameras all day. He was stunned by the crowd that gathered in downtown Kansas City for a mini-concert, but he was emotionally overwhelmed at the 10,000+ fans who welcomed him home during a parade and another mini-concert at Blue Springs South High School's football stadium.

These past weeks I've prayed for David, for as fun as this is, he's also been thrust into the limelight and a celebrity culture that offers many temptations and few guidelines on how to handle them. His older brother is ill with cancer, and for David to be away from home right now offers its own challenges. I've prayed for his family as they deal with the excitement of David's success and the battle against Adam's cancer. I've prayed that someone will help David stay grounded and humble, but at the same time, he will enjoy this great opportunity.

Listening to him on television and in person reassured me; he is still the David I loved like a son. Asked to sing the National Anthem at the Royals' game Friday evening, he declined when he learned that doing so would bump a middle school choir's opportunity to perform the song. Asked what was the best gift he'd received in the past weeks, David said it was a letter and picture from an elementary teacher who uses video of his performances in lessons for her special needs students. She sent a picture of her students who had written "give back" on their palms, following David's example during a performance to remind the audience to donate to "Idol Gives Back." That he could be a motivation to these students humbled him.

He shook hands, gave hugs, posed for pictures, and signed autographs, humbly thanking all those who support him, acknowledging "I 'owe you guys the world.'" AI planned a surprise visit to David's elementary music teacher's classroom. The kids crowded around him as he spread his arms and welcomed them all to draw closer.

It was a picture in Saturday's paper of David and Mrs. Gentry in a heartfelt embrace that evoked the strongest emotion of all. I don't know Mrs. Gentry, but as a teacher, I know how satisfying and rewarding it is to see a student succeed and to be acknowledged and remembered by a student, by someone who has become a star -- an American Idol -- well, that just topped off the whole experience.

Pictures from

Monday, May 5, 2008

Button, Button, Who Has the Button?

With one small, pink button, Kara and I enjoyed hours of entertainment during my visit in April.

First, we played "I Spy." One of us hid the button while the other one closed her eyes. Then as we moved about the room, the hider would direct us with hints: "You're very cold." told the seeker to move to another part of the room. "You're getting warm." let us know we were headed in the right direction. "You're hot!" tipped us off to exactly where the button was!

We tried to play "Button, Button, Who Has the Button" with Mama and Daddy, but they could only play a few rounds of passing (or not) from person to person before becoming occupied with making dinner or changing a diaper, so Kara and I devised our own version.

We would put the button behind our backs and place the button inside a closed fist. Then placing our closed hands in front of us, we waited while the other guessed which hand had the button. If guessed correctly, the guesser earned a point. If we fooled the other, the button holder earned a point.

Even though I observed, Kara almost always placed the button in her left hand, and she almost always guessed the button was in my right hand, she somehow beat me 11 games to 1. Every guess was accompanied with a giggle and the repeated question, "How many points do I have now?"

I'm so thankful for the joy found in simple things, of making memories, of being Marmee.

Friday, May 2, 2008

6 Things Meme

Caroline tagged me for a meme, which I always enjoy doing.

Here are the meme rules:
1. link to the person who tagged you.
2. post the rules.
3. write six things about yourself.
4. tag six people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
5. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their sites.
6. Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

Following Caroline's line of thinking. . . Six things on my mind today.

1. I don't like change, and in the coming weeks, I will be facing a lot of it! At the end of June, a dear, long-time friend is moving to Kentucky; my pastor and his wife are moving to a different church almost in Missouri's boot heel (seven hours away); and a colleague/friend from the writing project is moving to California! BUT one good change is the addition of a granddaughter to our family at the end of May -- I pray for her safe delivery.

2. Identity theft: ABC news is running a series on this topic, and I'm about ready to close every online account, cut up my credit cards, and find a identity protection service. The reason for my paranoia is that several months ago I received a phishing email that looked like it was from Pay Pal, and I stupidly replied to it, providing some personal information. Also, recently, I received a writing submission that came to my personal address, and the sender's contact info was sketchy, so I did not answer it. I feel like my identity has been compromised. It creeps me out!

3. David Cook, one of the top four contestants on American Idol, was my student in creative writing and American literature. He also played baseball for my husband's American Legion summer team. It has been so fun to watch him succeed on AI and have his dream come true. I get mad at Simon and people on community boards who label him as arrogant. He's one of the most talented and amiable people I know! More on him later!

4. My husband is mowing the lawn right now on a riding lawn mower he bought for me! Isn't he sweet? You see, I like to mow the lawn, but I can't use a walking mower because it aggravates problems in my neck and shoulders. Our new home has a bigger yard, which justifies a riding mower. The problem? I have not used it once! I always have some excuse -- this is the summer though -- I'll report back when it happens.

5. Here's another thing I have procrastinated doing: painting some iron wagon wheels that are set into the ground by our front porch. They need painting -- just ask my mother -- she tells me that every time she and Dad come over. In 2005, I told her I'd have them painted by the end of the year . . . It's always too windy, too cold, too hot, too wet, too something . . . Here's a picture. You can't see the chipped paint and rust because of the snow.

6. I look like a Weeble! Twenty pounds has settled around my stomach and my hips! It is not a pretty picture, but I'm dedicated to lose this weight in the next few months. More on that later! Here's a picture of a Weeble in case you are too young to remember the '60s.

I tag Joyce.