Animoto

Why yes, it is WAY TOO LATE/EARLY for me to be awake. . .but I just finished my last Animoto for a teaching event on Thursday. I wanted to share them in case you know of a 5th-9th grader who might need some technological coercion to read a book AND ALSO, because Animoto is COOL and FREE (the shorts ones at least) and SO, STINKIN’ EASY!!!

http://static.animoto.com/swf/w.swf?w=swf/vp1&e=1319007674&f=bUMhBhxiuh8XUj2DdejVMA&d=125&m=a&r=360p&volume=100&start_res=360p&i=m&options=

http://static.animoto.com/swf/w.swf?w=swf/vp1&e=1319007691&f=JGUBjya0Mygs1XpiFq0v3A&d=149&m=a&r=240p&volume=100&start_res=240p&i=m&options=

http://static.animoto.com/swf/w.swf?w=swf/vp1&e=1319007718&f=nI0f0BizqFodvuWryVVYEw&d=220&m=a&r=240p&volume=100&start_res=240p&i=m&options=

Here’s one I made to show my kids the first day of school.

http://static.animoto.com/swf/w.swf?w=swf/vp1&e=1319007881&f=1ifL7vnx8toz6TBvnpTeIQ&d=183&m=a&r=240p&volume=100&start_res=240p&i=m&options=

And this is the one Tony made for HIS students. (His is FUNNY.)

http://static.animoto.com/swf/w.swf?w=swf/vp1&e=1319007944&f=RmkV2Ec99V7ijZDaqPjayg&d=318&m=a&r=240p&volume=100&start_res=240p&i=m&options=

Goin’ Goth

The things we do to engage our learners. Today my team dressed in Goth to teach Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.” As one of my students put it, “That is a pretty gruesome story.” She is VERY correct. But they couldn’t argue that it was boring or stupid.

Reactions varied to my “new” appearance. My own children hated it. I tried out the darker lipstick and black eyeliner Sunday night after church. Victoria told me I looked stupid (and she REALLY meant it to say that), while Thad turned his back and refused to give me a second glance after the first glimpse of me. It was as though he would turn into the proverbial pillar of salt if he had to lay eyes on me once more in THAT get-up.

This morning my Sonic gal greeted me with my large diet coke and a, “Well, don’t YOU look pretty today.” Hmmm. . .what do I NORMALLY look like? Of course, she does usually see me before I have on ANY make-up, but STILL. My students ranged from, “Miss, you look pretty/Mrs. Langley, I like your makeup/You look nice today” to shrieking/physically jumping BACK from me/telling me how freaky/scary/wicked/evil I looked.

Here is Liz–a strawberry blond who was rockin’ the black wig and a crow. She is married to one of Houston’s Finest and has a little boy that loves Legos as much as mine does.

Jen–I LOVE the way this app transformed the poster behind her into somewhat of a crown. I think she looks lovely–the tilt of her face makes her look like she is being turned into a cameo. She has a baby boy–wonder what HE thought of Mama in her Goth makeup.

Carrie–the baby of the bunch. She was born my sophomore year in college. She is WAY cool and has the most gorgeous ash blond hair you have EVER seen.

The kids got home before I got my makeup off. Thad wouldn’t look at me. Victoria pretended I wasn’t wearing it. But I am HAPPY to report that my husband DID like it–and Victoria bequeathed a “That is SO COOL!!!!” upon this photo once it was transformed somewhat.

Now–I got them to listen to the story. . .if I can just get them to do the WORK that goes with it.

Serendipitous, Happenstantial Providence

Things I do not believe:

“There are no accidents.” Yes. There are. My Daddy losing his leg was an accident. He was where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be there, and someone who didn’t know he was there turned on a switch, and presto–accident.

“Everything happens for a reason.”
No. They don’t. Sometimes things just happen. See above.

“It was God’s will.” Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn’t. It is God’s will for babies to be born. It is not God’s will for babies to die. Actually, it is not God’s will for ANYONE to die. Thus the Garden of Eden (which people screwed up), and then sending Jesus so we NEVER have to die–not really. I do not believe it was God’s will for Daddy to lose his leg. But God let it happen. And Daddy continued to believe in God and serve as a wonderful (if imperfectly human) testament of how to deal with tragic accidents by leaning heavily on the grace of God.

Things I DO believe:

God uses accidents to bring about His purposes.

God uses things that happen to bring about His purposes.

God is with us in accidents and in things that happen for no particular reason other than the fact that we live in a fallen world where death and accidents and “things” happen.

God exerts and exercises His will through earthly happenstance every single day, and we can SEE Him doing that if we take a moment to open our eyes–if we “treasure” and “ponder things” in our hearts as did Mary, the mother of Jesus, so that in the fullness of time, we can look back and see the loveliness of God’s hand taking the ashes we are given by a fallen world, and turning them into beauty.

I say all of that to say, that forty-four years ago, a baby was born in Sweden. Her parents had an unlikely meeting. I think that she, like me, would say that the eventual ending of their marriage–though not surprising–was tragic. But that brought this Swedish lass to the United States–more specifically to the birthplace of her mother in Texas. There, in Texas, she met a boy. They really, really liked each other a lot and got married and had two wonderful sons who have yet to make their final, indelible mark on the world, but are working on it every day.

She followed this boy that she met to a small, Christian university in Arkansas. There was another girl there–one who had been born in a tiny, back-water town in Louisiana. And through some serendipitous happenstance (that both girls believe to this day was God exacting His will) they met.

You see how murky the waters can become.

falling in love and having a beautiful baby girl=good
divorce=bad
family splitting up across an ocean=bad
meeting your future husband=good
meeting a friend=good

But if you know that God sees through the murk, and you focus your eye on the light He shines through the dimness and uncertainties of life, then you see Him all over the place.

See the photo below? Click on it.

Chances of Stephanie meeting Roxanne=infinitesimally small (cuz, DUDE, that ocean is very, very large)

The Mighty Google=”We could not calculate directions between Lund Municipality, Sweden and Bastrop, LA.”

God=INCREDIBLY, GIGANTICALLY, MIND-BLOWINGLY HUGE and WAY SMARTER than Google.

Accident. . .happenstance. . .a mere “thing”. It matters not. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. So says James, the brother of Jesus, who should know and who was inspired to say so. Therefore, our meeting is classified under “God” as far as I am concerned.

Today is Stephanie Gabrielle’s birthday. But I (and the rest of the world too) am the one who got the gift of her presence.

Thank you, God, for my lovely, lovely friend. She is a blessing and a treasure, and you knew how much, how long, and in how many ways I would need her over the course of my adult life–from the very beginning to now and, hopefully, for much, much longer.

Happy birthday, my unlikely, God-given friend. The Atlantic Ocean turned out not to be so big after all. And I think you rock.

Cross Country

So. I’m not much of a runner. I’ve tried it a time or three (watched Victor Borge tonight with the kids–inflationary language ya know) and it just never worked right for me. The last time I really cut loose at full tilt, I had to make a choice between colliding with a newspaper dispenser on the sidewalk outside my apartment at Harding or taking out my knee. I picked the knee. It hasn’t forgiven me yet.

I prefer to walk. And I do it well. And I can walk a fair clip. But Victoria has been running Cross Country, and I am so proud of her I can barely stand it. It is a GREAT sport for her, because she’s on a team and the only person against whom she competes is herself. I can’t say enough good things about her wonderful coach. . .the other kids. . .how they support each other. . .how she has grown by participating and excelling in this sport.

I have been photographing the team each week. We didn’t go to the first meet (nor did any of the kiddos) due to the fires, but Victoria has made the cut for every meet since. I love watching these kids run–the ones who come in first nearly every race and the ones in the middle of the pack and the ones that trail along toward the end. I love it, because each of them is giving it their all–even if they walk some, they ALWAYS finish. And they finish STRONG.

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Here they are in order if you want to see them a little bigger.