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This & That

Posted by Texas Education on April 21, 2009

I know I’ve been a bit AWOL. I’ve been tired, working full time can wear a person out…and, there is a lot going on. Last Tuesday’s City & State had a great article by Lisa Falkenberg, who, I must say, in person, is very funny! She talks about the stimulus money, which I am most interested in due to the fact I hope it gets me gainfully employed! See, they tend to cut out tech stuff, but with some money…well, crossing fingers, anyway! I have to agree with her on this one, she says, “can you still call it ‘stimulus’ if it’s being used for a purpose no more stimulating that maintaining the status quo?”

Also, on that front page is an article on sex ed in the doctor’s office. Talks about mother’s taking their daughters to the gynecologists to do the talking for them. That’s a tough one for me, I have a daughter, 17, so again, this one is a bit near and dear (for lack of a better way to say it.) I don’t wish to comment on that one, don’t know what to say, really. I found this part interesting though:

“If you say: ‘Are you sexually active?’ They say: ‘No, I only have one boyfriend.’ If you ask, ‘Are you having sex?,’ they say no, but when you ask them about the last time they had sex, they say a month ago,” said Sinacori, a Memorial-area obstetrician/gynecologist.

Then on Thursday of last week, Humble filled up the Kingwood/Humble section, well actually the whole section. Front page “An ‘A’ for extra effort.” This talks about how the mentoring program and how successful it is. I believe that, seems like a no brainer, if you put anything into it…should come out positive. One part in the article about Waymond Wesley, the AP at Humble MS, he is quoted as saying:

“I never saw my father, so I learned from others,”

260xstoryGotta say, that pretty much sums up my childhood. (Ok, some may TMI here, but I feel I can talk about my successes just like Mr. Wesley.) I also feel I can connect with some of the students because of my background.  That paragraph goes on to say:

“They conveyed to me that I could do whatever I wanted. The more they shared of themselves, the more confidence I got in myself.”

I don’t even feel I had it THAT good. I was not real good at anything, but I did well in school, but didn’t have anyone to convey anything, share, nor give me confidence. I pretty much did it on my own, looked at role models, etc. Hey, I’m not crying here, just telling it like is was. School was my sanctuary, and I’m thankful for that, and try to make it that way for any student I come across.

Another article with a great mug of Dr. Sconzo! “District finds ways to turn hard issues into success stories.”  Pretty much sums up the article. They didn’t put that one on-line though, sorry!

And rounding out that section, the “Report Card.” The school I’m currently at did extremely well, looks like, most of the schools in Humble did well, also. We must be doing something right, eh?

You can check out your schools “Report Card” here.


Posted in Abstinence Education, financing, FYI, Good Stuff, In-the-news, learning, mentoring, Sex-education | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Capturing Kids’ Hearts is coming to Humble ISD

Posted by Texas Education on April 16, 2009

Well, not exactly, but…I got an update from the last Board meeting, sorry I missed, that they are…well here’s the update:

Capturing Kids’ Hearts Professional Development

The entire Summer Creek High School staff will be pursuing Capturing Kids’ Heart professional development training. This special training in affective development techniques will cost $67,900 and will be paid for with Federal Title II grant funds.

This is such a wonderful, and I must say, surprising thing. My heart believes so strongly in Capturing Kids’ Hearts. I do believe it has made me a much better teacher and has given me the hope, that all of us need, to know that every child deserves the best from his/her teacher and this program/philosophy does just that.

In other action, the Board approved:

  • Design development plans for elementary school #26, Turner Stadium renovations and additions, and Community Learning Center renovations and additions.
  • Boundary option 1 for Lakeshore Elementary. Details
  • The annual AVID Membership Renewal for 2009-10 for all secondary campuses. The $42,574 is paid through the State High School Allotment fund.
  • Declaring a corner lot across the street from the old Bender High School in Humble as surplus property. The Board authorized having it appraised and advertising it for sale.
  • Population And Survey Analysts to begin its total Demographic Study focusing on the southeast area of the school district at this time.
  • Lemons Auctioneers to provide online auction services for 31 surplus portable buildings.
  • Chick-Fil-A to provide pre-packaged, ready to serve chicken sandwiches at all middle and high schools.
  • SBWV as the architect for the Kingwood High softball field design work.

Posted in Good Stuff, leadership, teachers, teaching, teen leadership | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

CommUNITY Youth Protection Fair

Posted by Texas Education on March 13, 2009

girljumpWow, was browsing around Humble ISD website and came across this. The Humble ISD Council of PTAs is hosting a youth protection fair at Oaks Elementary, Saturday, April 18 from 10 – 2 p.m. Youth Protection Presentations from: Crime Stoppers, Laura Recovery Center, Local Emergency Units & Predator Check.  Presentations on dog safety and bicycle safety will begin every hour. They will have a lot going on like: immunizations, preventative programs-Crime Stoppers, Missing Children Organizations, alcohol and tobacco awareness, and door prizes, just to name a few. Check it out!!!

For information contact: H. Gordon @ 281-852-4610 or HGordon639@aol.com or www.humble.k12.tx.us/pta.htm

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Humble ISD – update 3/10/09

Posted by Texas Education on March 12, 2009

Just in – update from Humble ISD. I missed Tuesday night’s meeting, and it looks like there was much covered. The trustees voted on next years calendar, so you will need to synchronize your calendars with your children’s. Elementary #25 gets a name Lakeshore Drive, oops, my bad, it’s just Lakeshore, I guess…Elementary. And Wood Creek for the newest middle school, ummm….that one is going to be hard to get used to, to open in 2010. Also, a regional program for the deaf, in conjunction with New Caney ISD, great idea! I’ve always assumed things would come to this, sharing with other districts. It’s come up in past budget meetings, and it’s not a bad thing! Using a commissioning agent for ES# 26 and future construction projects? ES #25 cost us $30,000, no comment! Then Dr. Sconzo’s comments, he goes on about the bond and the PSF, oh, not so good. And finally, the board’s comments. We are working hard at bridging that huge gap between school districts and the Lege. I’m feeling optimistic too Bonnie.

2009-2010 School Calendar
The Humble ISD Board of Trustees approved the school calendar for the coming year. The 2009-10 calendar mirrors this year’s and includes a two week Winter Break, a one week Spring Break, and a three-day Thanksgiving holiday. School starts on August 24, 2009 and ends on June 2, 2010 for students. View/Print the new calendar

Elementary #25 gets a name: Lakeshore
Lakeshore Elementary is the name selected for Humble ISD’s 25th elementary school. The name was chosen based on preferences expressed by parents, students and community through a web site survey and the review of the Board’s School Naming Committee. The school opens in August 2009. It is located at 13333 Breakwater Lane, Houston.

Woodcreek Middle opens in 2010
Woodcreek Middle will be the name of the school district’s eighth middle school. The name was selected based on the preferences expressed by parents, students and community through a web survey and the review of the Board School Naming Committee. The school will open in August 2010. It is located at 14600 Woodson Park in Houston. It is near Beltway 8 and West Lake Houston Parkway.

Establishing a Humble ISD regional program for the deaf
The Board approved a shared services agreement with New Caney ISD to establish the Humble Regional Day School Program for the Deaf. In this agreement, New Caney will pay tuition to Humble ISD for serving its deaf education students. This is expected to be a more comprehensive and cost efficient way for both school districts to provide services for deaf children.

In other business, the Board approved:

  • United Healthcare as Humble ISD’s new third-party administrator for our Health Care Program.
  • Using a commissioning agent for elementary 26 and future construction projects. A commissioning agent adds a level of professional review of design documents, assurance that operating systems function properly, pre-operation reviews and recommendations, start-up testing with verification of system’s efficiency, one year follow-up assessment, etc. The total cost is $.30 per square foot. For Lakeshore Elementary, the cost was $30,000.

Superintendent’s comments
Dr. Guy Sconzo noted that the last bond sale from Bond 2005 and the first sale from Bond 2008 were planned for this month, but will be delayed. The state’s Permanent School Fund (PSF) is not available to guarantee school bonds at this time. The problem is that there has been no Federal action to approve the increase in the eligibility cap for securing bonds with the PSF yet.

One of the negative ripple effects of the current economy is the demise of all bond insurance companies. Purchasing bond insurance instead of having the PSF guarantee is no longer an option. Without the PSF guarantee or insurance for bonds, Humble ISD would pay a significantly higher interest rate on bonds sold. This is why a delay in selling bonds is necessary.

Dr. Sconzo noted the need to avoid losing ground on “must have” bond projects that need to begin this summer. Losing ground could mean up to a year’s delay in necessary roof and HVAC replacements, Community Learning Center renovations and additions, ES #26, and Turner Stadium renovations. The immediate amount required to begin and/or complete these critical projects is $12.9 million.

To avoid the interest costs of short-term borrowing, the district plans to temporarily redirect a significant portion of unencumbered balances in Bond 2005 projects to fund the “must have” summer projects. Humble ISD’s financial advisors believe that the climate will be better for the planned bond sale in September or October 2009. In the worse case scenario, the school district might have to consider conducting the bond sale absent the PSF guarantee at that time.

Dr. Guy Sconzo reviewed the progress of the Citizens Boundary Advisory Committee and the Summerwood community’s representatives regarding Lakeshore Elementary’s boundaries. Action on this is expected in April.

Comments by Board Members
Humble ISD Board members have been actively working with legislators in Austin to increase funding for education and to provide more equitable funding solutions for Texas. Charles Cunningham, chair of the Board’s Legislative Committee, noted that Board members have talked with at least half of the House and Senate Education Committees’ members and have received a warm response and an invitation for the superintendent to “have a seat at the table” to help legislators work through funding solutions.

Board members Dan Huberty and Dr. Bonnie Longnion expressed cautious optimism about the response from legislators. Huberty noted that it is difficult for legislators to argue that the current funding formula is equitable when districts like Katy and Humble with their similar demographics, have such disparate funding.

Longnion stated that she is especially pleased with our local community’s enthusiasm and public engagement. She noted that the Humble ISD Legislative Committee’s work is especially energetic and that we must keep up the effort.

For complete information about this Board meeting, see the board packet .

Note: the complete packet is posted by the end of the day after the meeting. If you would like to be on the list to receive this report by email every month, please visit Your Schools Insider and sign up!

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Texas PTA Legislative Update – Bills of Interest

Posted by Texas Education on March 11, 2009

Blogging from a remote location…computer too slow, driving me crazy. Just in from Texas PTA. Lots here, pay attention!! 🙂 HB3 and SB 3 filed, everyone’s abuzz on VOTER ID BILL COULD IMPACT LEGISLATION IN SENATE, I’m certainly interested in SHAPIRO SEEKS TO END TOP 10% RULE, another concern of mine VOCATIONAL TRAINING SEES SUPPORT,oh, not so good STIMULUS PACKAGE STALLS LEGISLATURE, LEGISLATION AIMS TO TAKE FINANCIAL TOLL ON GANGS, do we really want to know about?- POLITICS 2010, and our good buddy Rep. Scott Hochberg HB 1297 Relating to optional flexible school day program courses offered by school districts to enable students to earn course credit under certain circumstances. Oh, and LEGISLATIVE REPORTS See below:

Texas Legislature considers changes to school accountability system HB3 and SB 3 Filed
Public schools may get relief from the high stakes of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills in a proposed overhaul of the way Texas measures how well they are doing. The legislation would minimize the importance of the much-criticized standardized tests and instead encourage schools to prepare students for success after high school. Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, said school districts would be able to decide some of their own criteria for assessment.

The new system, which was called a work in progress, would be made up of two parts. One level would grade schools based on student achievement, completion rates and the district’s financial performance. The second level would grant “distinctions for excellence” based on measures like growth in student achievement, fine arts, physical fitness, second language learning and work-force readiness.

The 128-page bill would grade schools on students’ progress over time rather than on a one-time passing rate on state tests. It would eliminate the school ratings of exemplary, recognized, acceptable and unacceptable. Here are other features of the bill.

Schools would receive “accreditation status.” Districts and schools would be designated as accredited, accredited-warned and accredited probation. Those labels would be based on a variety of factors, including improvement in student test scores, drop-out rates and the financial accountability rating of the school as determined by the state.

Schools could also be evaluated on how they serve special populations, such as special education or limited-English students, and the effectiveness of their career and technology programs.

Students would not necessarily be required to pass the TAKS to be promoted. Districts can determine who is eligible to move on to the next grade.

Schools could earn “distinctions for excellence” in various areas including academics, work-force readiness, second-language learning, fine arts and physical fitness.

Three tracks for graduation would be created. The Texas and advance diploma would require four years of math, English and science. A standard diploma would allow students to take only three years of math. Physical education would no longer be a high school requirement, and students could take eight electives.

The higher education commissioner could award a grant up to $1 million to a college or university to develop advanced math and science courses to prepare high school students for jobs in high-demand fields. Associated Press

The Senate is poised to debate the contentious issue of voter ID on March 10th. In a surprise move early in the session, the Senate voted along party lines to make an exception to the way they determine what bills may be heard on the floor of the Senate, identifying the voter ID bill as the only bill for which a 2/3 vote of the members of the Senate would NOT be required in order to hear the bill on the floor. The likely outcome if the bill is passed is a decrease in the collegiality for which the Senate is known, and the possibility that the session may descend into partisan fighting over most if not all legislation for the remainder of the session. In short this issue could negatively impact much of the proposed legislation this session. According to the current schedule the full Senate will likely vote on the issue by St. Patrick’s Day. The lawmakers are expected to vote along party lines.

The Top 10 percent rule actually hurts Texas universities according to Sen. Florence Shapiro. The current bill filed by Shapiro marks the third time she has filed legislation to revise the 10% rule. If passed the proposal would limit the number of students admitted under the Top 10 percent rule to half the admitted class. Last session, the Senate passed its own hybrid version, with 60 percent admitted under the Top 10 percent rule. The bill was rejected in the House.

Lawmakers have filed two bills which would strengthen vocational training programs in the state. Sen. Chris Harris’ bill would set up a fund to reward technical and community colleges that offer high-quality vocational and technical courses with grants. A second bill would create high-quality courses for high school students through a “best practices” clearinghouse and also reward school districts that support the development of vocational courses.

With the possible injection of $17 billion in federal stimulus to Texas the current session has shifted form. Over six weeks ago lawmakers were worried about tapping into the over $9 billion rainy day fund to balance the budget. With this reversal the question now seems to center on how the money will be spent and when. Speaker Straus said publicly this week that it “would be up to the budget-writing Appropriations Committee to act on the recommendations of a newly formed panel, led by Democratic Rep. Jim Dunnam of Waco that is reviewing agencies’ plans for spending the stimulus dollars.” Adding to the confusion, Gov. Perry’s aides have said that they believe he can block some of the funds from the legislature, while lawmakers contend they have the authority to override any such decision. This could lead to a veto by Perry on any extra spending or programs he sees as unnecessary.

A Texas lawmaker has proposed new legislation to crack down on crime stemming from Mexican drug cartels. Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, filed a bill Thursday that would allow civil lawsuits against gangs, stiffer penalties for online gang recruiting and mandatory rehabilitation programs for young gang offenders. Carona, chairman of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security, said his legislation would allow businesses, communities and parents to seek civil judgments and penalties against gangs to “cripple them financially.” Gov. Rick Perry urged the Legislature to pass the bill and to spend $135 million to continue crime-fighting efforts along the Texas-Mexico border. (Statesman)

Democrat Tom Schieffer launched a committee on Monday that allows him to raise money for a possible run for governor. A former owner of the Texas Rangers, his bid has already hit its first impediment. Schieffer is a former Bush appointee (Ambassador to Japan) and that does not sit well with the base of the Democratic Party. David Mauro, a party activist and son of former state official Gary Mauro, recently created a website to draft Sen. Leticia Van De Putte as a candidate for governor saying, “I am very hesitant to let a Bush appointee use our place on the ballot when there is so much at stake for our state and for our party”. In what is already the most anticipated race of 2010, Schieffer is seen as the first serious challenger from the Democrats.

For information on all the bills being tracked by Texas PTA please click on the following links:

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Education! Education! Education!

Posted by Texas Education on March 10, 2009

President Obama delivered his Education Plan at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce today, watch it in its entirety here. Grab a cup o’ joe, it’s over 3o minutes long. But, of course, I like what he has to say, and I only hope we can accomplish a portion of what he says.  I’m glad to see Education being put first, finally! Stimulus, mimulus, some are saying to put health care and education on a back burner (what have we been doing for the last 8 years?) and work on the economy. “WE CAN’T AFFORD TO PUT EDUCATION ON THE BACK BURNER ANY LONGER.”

He mentions 50 different benchmarks, crazy, I know! Why do we have that?  He is

“calling on our nations Governors and state education chiefs to develop standards and assessments that don’t simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test, but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem solving,  critical thinking, and entrepreneurship, and creativity, that is what we’re gonna help them do later this year. When we finally make NCLB live up to it’s name by ensuring not only the teachers and principals get the funding that they need, but that the money is tied to results.”

He even mentions Houston, in a good way, I kid you not! He goes on to say,

“Of course, raising standards alone will not make much of a difference unless we provide teachers and principals with the information they need to make sure students are prepared to meet those standards. And far too few states have data systems like the one in Florida that keep track of a student’s education from childhood through college. And far too few districts are emulating the example of Houston and Long Beach and using data to track how much progress a student is making and where that student is struggling.”

Houston, an example? I’m sorry, but am I missing something? I certainly don’t mean to diss our great city, but I  seriously don’t get it. Maybe I’m in a situation where I only see the negative. We really have to work to find out “what is right with this situation,” or what is “good.” I’m all for what he is saying, I only hope we see some sort of change, progress, help even.  I also hope to be a major part of this enormous undertaking.

I totally agree with President Obama about tracking a student’s progress throughout his school career, instead of testing him/her – a good friend of mine, teacher, her own son called her from home throwing up on a TAKS day – on a day or two, judging whether he/she moves up to the next grade or judges a whole school based on a student’s test scores on one day’s testing.

I do hope our childrens’ futures will be brighter. I’m trying to see the glass as half full.

As most of you know, if you have received an email from me,“To achieve your best, get in over your head and rise to the top.” – Dr. Richard Tapia Professor of Computational Mathematics, Rice University. This is still my mantra!!!

Obama’s vision for a new education system

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Update on Humble ISD Legislative Committee – 3/9/09

Posted by Texas Education on March 9, 2009

Not a real busy night at the admin building. I was late because I was all a mess with the time change – yeah, sure 😉 But, most importantly, our message is…well, just that, our message. We are pulling our hair out trying to figure out how to get the message to the Lege…FUND OUR SCHOOLS!!! But…we must get our message out to the community to get our message out to the Lege. Well, thanks to Karen Collier, she’s quicker than me, some links to help you and more sample-letters-to-legislators to use to send to our legislators.

Here are links to the House and Senate Education Committee members:
House Education Committee (pdf)
Senate Committee (pdf)

Our group is following, and supports two bills:

1. House Bill 1555 – Rep. Diane Patrick, Ph.D. and the House sponsor of the only school finance bill filed at this time – HB 1555 (which is identical to SB 982). Rep. Patrick, which she titles “The Texas Public Schools Investment Act”. According to her, this act returns to a formula driven system where every student wins. The act is a fiscally responsible option for legislators to consider.The bill also:

· Restores local control through meaningful discretion

· Meets all three criteria of TEA Budget Rider 89

· Increases funding per weighted student (WADA)

· Cuts calculated recapture (Robin Hood) in half

· Provides method for property tax reduction

2. Senate Bill 982 – sponsored by Senators Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio), Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), and Royce West (D-Dallas)

Learned about a new website at the meeting to, to keep you updated on School Finance Equity & Adequacy in Texas called Equity Center.

Read more about HB1555 here and SB 982 here

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Yes!!!! Eliminating TAKS???

Posted by Texas Education on March 2, 2009

scaredmonkeyOk, I’ve been a bit bored, unenthused, and lacking any desire to blog. Yes,I said it, but I have had a bit of a spark lit in me, as of late. One, I took the test for the BCIS (yes, no one ever even knows what that stands for, but when I say “business,” they shake their head in undertanding – for the record it stands for Business Computer Information Systems).  I’m actually surprised I passed, I got sick the week before the test and was still a bit sick on test day. The second thing is, well, I’m back! I had a very good week last week subbing, have been painting my laundry room (ok, maybe that is getting a bit personal and off topic).

But, what I’m all excited about is this article “Texas lawmakers’ plan would replace standardized tests.” Are you kidding me?? Could it be???

Two Republican lawmakers plan to introduce legislation next week that would replace the state’s current school accountability system based on annual standardized testing of students with one based on charting an individual student’s progress over time.

I like the sounds of that…

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Texas PTA Day at the Capitol and Centennial Kick-Off

Posted by Texas Education on February 23, 2009

This just in from the Texas PTA:

Texas PTA to underscore legislative priorities and celebrate 100 years of advocacy efforts for children

AUSTIN – More than 500 people are expected to attend Texas PTA’s Day at the Capitol on February 26, 2009 at 11:00 A.M. on the south steps of the Capitol.  Texas PTA holds this event bi-annually to bring attention to its very ambitious legislative agenda for the children of Texas.  Senators Kirk Watson and Jane Nelson, Representatives Jim McReynolds and Jim Pitts and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples are scheduled to speak at the rally.

PTA Day at the Capitol encourages its members from around the state to set up meetings with the legislators in their district.  Some of the issues include improving air quality in school buses, restricting cellular technology for driving teens, strengthening child passenger restraint laws and expanding the sales tax holiday to include school supplies.

This rally also marks the beginning of Texas PTA’s 100th Annual Convention.  Jan Wilkerson, Texas PTA President, will welcome convention delegates to the Austin Convention Center, Ballroom A, on Friday, February 27, at 7:00 p.m.  The Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Joe Straus along with his wife and daughter are scheduled to attend to greet convention attendees and to reaffirm the Speaker’s support for Texas PTA, and guest speaker, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, will welcome PTA delegates to Austin, show her support for expanding the sales tax holiday and reiterate her long-time commitment to Texas children and nutrition.

Convention activities will continue throughout the weekend, including an exhibit hall with dozens of vendors, Texas PTA market, exciting training and advocacy workshops and Centennial activities to help Texas PTA celebrate its 100th birthday!  In addition, the event includes the official business meeting of the state organization, whereby delegates vote on bylaws amendments and legislative positions and resolutions.

Texas PTA is the largest child advocacy organization in the state with more than 600,000 members. Through events like PTA Day at the Capitol and the 100th Annual State Convention, Texas PTA continues to fulfill its mission to be a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for the education and well being of every child.

For more information on the Texas PTA, visit www.txpta.org or contact the state office at 800-TALK-PTA.

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Is school finance back on the table?

Posted by Texas Education on February 5, 2009

Sorry, to be a bit awol lately. There has been lots to rant and rave about, but I’ve been a bit under the weather, makes y0u kinda not want to do much. But, with the brisk weather, along with coughing less and feeling a bit better, onto more important things:

There is an article out of Austin By Kate Alexander from the AMERICAN-STATESMAN.

It usually takes a judge to compel Texas lawmakers to tackle the thorny issue of school finance reform.

But several key legislators say there is no reason to wait for a lawsuit to fix the well-known flaws in how Texas pays for its schools.

“I would like to get off that treadmill,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said Wednesday.
The aim will be to pass legislation that addresses the immediate problems and sets a course to remedy the long-term issues that often land the state in court, Ogden said.

Education Committee Chairwoman Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, also backed the idea of addressing the fairness issues in the school finance system now.

Can it be, can it really be true???? Not to say I’ve given up hope, but I feel I’m running out of steam, in more ways than one. Beating your head up against the wall is not my way of encouraging, nor is it fun.

Read the rest of this entry »

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