History told in First Woman

I’ve been quiet over here, but my head has been so very loud. I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts about what is going on in our country right now, so that someday, when my words are gone, my children will still have my thoughts.

Last week started out so very exciting. I originally voted for Bernie Sanders in the primaries, but since his loss to Hillary Clinton, I have been 100% on the HRC bandwagon. I’m not really going to go into the why behind that since this is not a persuasive essay and at this point, because she lost, it’s moot. I just liked her as a candidate and the bonus was that she is a woman.

I was so excited to vote for a woman. I didn’t really realize just how excited I was until I was standing in line to vote. The week was a busy one and it was only Tuesday: we had parent/teacher conferences for both Eddie and Charlie plus I had parent/teacher conferences at school. On top of that both Eddie and I were scheduled to get flu shots that week. It was busy. When I made my list of things to get done, voting happened to just be an item to do and then check off.

Until I got in that line. I walked up all smiles and filled out my little card with my name and address and hopped in line. It wasn’t a long line; I had maybe a 5-10 minute wait. As I slowly made my way to the table to get the actual ballot, I looked at the faces in line. I saw a mom with a little girl and something went funny in my throat. A huge lump formed and I struggled to keep the tears from falling.

I thought of my grandmothers who were born before women even had the right to vote.

I thought of the messy history of women’s suffrage and the racist white women who ended up getting us the right to vote in the first place.

I thought of how I wept when I voted for Barack Obama the first time, and how I had blamed it on the pregnancy hormones.

I thought of all the divisiveness that our country is going through with this election, and how I answered Eddie’s questions about who I would vote for by telling him I made my choices based on who I thought would help us be kinder, more unified, and more helpful.

I thought about the time a year earlier, when Eddie asked about presidents and Cortney told him there had never been a girl president before. Eddie’s response was, “WHAT!?! Well we need to vote for one! We need a girl president!”

I thought about all the times he corrected people when they used “girl” as a put-down by saying, “hey! Your mom is a girl! Your sister is a girl! Your grandma is a girl! Do you really think girls are bad? NO! My mom and sister and grandmas are AWESOME and SMART.”

I thought about all those things and the tears started to trickle down my cheeks. I tried to quickly brush them off, but I felt a hand on my arm. When I looked up, a young lady was smiling and nodding. “Me too,” she said. “Me. Too.”

I nodded and smiled. Then I took my ballot and went to the available booth.

I don’t always vote straight ticket, but I could have on this particular ballot. But I didn’t. I wanted to color in the bubble next to her name: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

After voting, I snapped a quick selfie, and went to Office Max, picked up Eddie, and then picked up the Littles just as planned. Then I went home and made us dinner, and helped with homework, and put kids to bed.

As I went to bed, I had a sinking feeling my candidate did not win.

But I hold tight to that feeling of seeing a woman (actually TWO) on the ballot, and knowing there is a long list of hope and possibility for our future.


Since last week’s election, my hope has been severely tested. Every time I think I have it processed enough to write about it, more happens. I pledge to put it all down here though, because these are the stories that will someday be history. I want my children to have this when I don’t have the memories or words to tell them about it anymore.

A New Day…

Today, for Project 365, I took two pictures. I just couldn’t help myself.

First, I need a picture of our media center. Today I took my students to RIF (Reading is Fundamental)–a program that is sponsored by local businesses to put free books in the hands of public school students to promote reading. This program is very near and dear to me as an English teacher. I become increasingly aware each year that I teach, that the way I was brought up–with a drawer busting at the seems full of books, read to whenever I wanted, watching my parents as life-long readers–is just not the reality of so many students.

A couple weeks before Christmas, frustrated with the complaining and lack of reading at home for homework, I asked my class how many of them had a pile of books as a kid. Three kids in the class (A students, by the way) raised their hands. I asked how many grew up watching their parents/guardians read for fun–either the newspaper, magazines, books. No one raised their hands, but one kid joked, “do the classifieds count?”

So for my students, these books are like gold. Some have been turned off to books forever and don’t really appreciate the donation, but many eat the books up like manna from heaven.

So I had to take this picture. In the background you can see the band playing because the theme of this month’s RIF is music. You can also see the huge screen in the background. This leads me to my next picture…

Today we welcomed a new president. My students were ALL excited about this huge event. To accommodate as many students as possible, all teachers showed the inauguration speech/swearing in, but since it happened at noon (lunch), the media center was also open to those who wished to watch. Many students sat quietly–all on their own accord–to watch our first minority president get sworn in. I saw tears in the eyes of many students today…something that put a lump in my throat.

The reason I thought these pictures went together today was because I believe in our future as a nation. I firmly believe that the students I teach today can make our tomorrow better. I also believe that today will forever be seen as historic for the new start and the new hope that was brought to a struggling nation.

I don’t think it matters if you are a Democrat or a Republican, today was a great day for our nation. Let us all join in prayer for our new administration that our nation may be lead out of the hard times, and into a brighter future with the help of the next generation.

The Excitement of Election Day!

Today I took the day off. Not because it was election day, but because I was up WAY too late grading and I was feeling terrible.

A little begrudgingly I decided to check my email to make sure my inbox wasn’t getting out of control. I was greeted with updates of how all of my friends’ voting experiences were going. Normally, this would be boring, but since all of our friends live in different states, it was quite amusing.

For instance, Phil and Liz live in South Carolina and voted in a double-wide with an antique tractor pull in sight. BUT they DID have touchscreen voting. Erin and Brad, who live in North Dakota, voted a while ago because almost everyone in the state votes absentee due to the fact that each county only has one poling station. Mat, in Chicago, walked to the end of his block where there is an elementary school and took 3 minutes to get all over with, while most of our friends had long waits (including Erin P on the east side even at 7:00 am!)

I waited for Cort to get home from work today to vote. We voted at Community Reformed Church around 4:30. I think the think took a total of 10 minutes. They do scantron forms here (like the ACT in high school).

Overall, I feel really good about voting today! I am excited to watch the results tonight and hope my candidates all win, of course!

If you haven’t already, you still have an hour…GO VOTE!!!!

An Uneducated Voter is a Dangerous Voter

While I don’t usually bring up politics on this blog, I feel the need to reach out to all of my fellow American citizens of voting age.

I am not going to try to convert you into a liberal-minded voter, fear not! What I am merely urging you to all do is to turn off the annoying mud-slinging that is happening on TV, Fox News, CNN, and all the ridiculous email forwards out there–most of these things have very little truth in them–for any of the candidates or proposals.

Instead, I urge, encourage, and beseech you to educate yourself before you head to the polls on November 4th.

You need to decide for yourself–regardless of party affiliation–what issues you think are going to be the most important in our next president’s term in 2009. What are the biggest things–in your mind and heart–that America needs to face and deal with to turn around this horrible dive we are in.

Then you need to educate yourself on ALL of the campaign promises and views of the candidates.

A good way to do this is to find your local county’s website and read the proposals for yourself (instead of trusting the ridiculous verbiage of the latest commercials), and to also find a non-biased webpage (NOT WIKIPEDIA) that can tell you about the candidate. Obama and McCain’s OWN websites are not going to be non-biased, sorry.

If you live in Ottawa county, you can find all of the proposals on our ballot as well as the rest of the candidates for positions other than the presidency here:

Happy reading…I hope everyone who is EDUCATED finds their ways to the polls on Election Day. If you know nothing of what you are voting for, please stay home and watch the results from the couch! 🙂

Politics: Can’t We Just All Get Along?

I notice something funny as a teacher of teens: teenagers claim to be one political affiliation (republican or democrat), but their beliefs and what they stand up for sometimes lean another way. How many other people do this?

I found a little quiz on line that doesn’t ask you specific party-related questions, but more fundamental belief questions. It then tells you where you fall in the liberal/conservative span of things. It also tells you which famous people/politicians fall into your same category. I fall into the lower, right-hand corner of the map (near Ghandi), in case you were wondering 🙂 I knew I was more liberal than conservative, but when faced with the statements they gave me, I found out I was actually MUCH more liberal than I orignally thought!

Here is the quiz! Have fun – you might find out something new about yourself!