Thursday, October 24, 2013

If I Were Miley Cyrus's Agent...

If I Were Miley Cyrus's Agent...

yes, yes, I know I'm not but IF I were I would have gone in a different direction.

Can Miley sing? YES! Is she beautiful? YES! Can she dance? YES! But so can hundreds of other girls, girls we sadly watched become women... women we shield our children from.

Miley's different though... or she could have been. Miley had the very rare gift of comedy and she had beauty  and acting to add to it. Have you ever watched Hannah Montana? She was brilliant (yes I know you're laughing at me, but I liked it.)

Miley reminded me of another beautiful woman who had the ability to always make me laugh...

Lucille Ball had a wildly long & successful career in modeling, acting and even producing.  She was unique, classy and loved by all.

So, Miley, you are heading in the wrong direction. You are just another provocative, singing star that will have a brief career no doubt. It's not too late, use your unique gift of humor and comedy, go down the road with Mr. Robert Frost...the road less traveled.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

This & That

 Chap made an apron in Preschool then wanted to cook. Sadly, his idea of cooking is like mine - opening a can.

We went and watched a dear friend play volleyball, entertainment in the stands.
Uncle D had another birthday :)

Banner Boy Sandwich - best kind to have!
Bo's creative photography.
Chapel helps feed Deacon's football team... bunch of monkeys!
 Deacon and his friends went to OKC to play in an airsoft war. They spent all day in this abandoned packing plant. There's NOTHING he would rather be doing... he's sharpening his soldier skills (scary thought for a mom!)
Watching the Go-Pro videos of the airsoft war.

Found this picture at my mom's. Now seriously, my sister was NOT that sweet... and I was not that fat! Just a reminder - my sister is an amazing author for Bethany House Publishing and you can read more from her here.

Enjoyed getting to see my grandparents compete in the Golden Age Games in Bolivar.

Happy 9th Birthday Jakin!!!

Enjoy these beautiful fall days!!!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Standards Based Grading & Common Core

My goal is to give a VERY brief update on Standards Based Grading (SBG)  and Common Core in my hometown. I know this is a very heated battle being fought all across our country, experts on both sides can give MUCH more detailed information. That is not my intent. My intent is awareness to the few who read my blog. My hope is that upon reading this, people will research on their own and make their own conclusions. I encourage free thinking, I am not telling you what to think but I am telling you to think.

 About a month ago it was brought to our attention by some middle school students that our school was starting a Standards Based Grading system. 
The teachers’ objective is that the students would reach mastery of certain standards. The teachers continually teach, re-teach, assess (test) and re-assess students until they master the standard. 

There are several things I fundamentally disagree with about this but wanted to be open-minded, so I started researching and trying to learn what I could. Repeatedly I ran across the phrase Common Core, and this is where my freedom-radar goes off.

From what I understand, the federal government promised states additional funding through a stimulus package… tied to this was the concept of Common Core Academic Standards. The states agreed to allow the federal government to set the standards in exchange for money.

There will be national testing and national funding dependent on how well students do on the standard-ized testing, how well students master the national standards. (*Race to the Top Fund) Next year we will do away with our state test and switch to a national test. Light-bulb moment… SBG makes sense mostly through the lens of reaching Common Core Standards.

I’ve already heard from several people who are excited about there being a “national standard.” The goal is “no matter where you are in the country, the same academic standard will be taught.” I understand how and why this seems good.

So what is wrong with Common Core?

There are plenty of ideas out there, some are super scary, some are probably invalid, some aren’t. I’ve heard Bill Gates private foundation is involved in setting the standards???  I've read that they will be collecting data from our children.  Who knows, please research and decide for yourself.

What I do know is that generally the closer to home you get, the more you understand and know what is best for someone. For example…

Family knows best.
2nd a teacher.
3rd an administrator/School Board
4th the state government
5th and last, the federal government

It boils down to this… I don’t want the federal government setting standards for my children. We give them our money through taxes and now we have to follow their rules for our schools to get it back?? Why do they know more than our local authorities?

Yes I know standards are already set at the state level, I don’t love this, but at least the state is closer to home. Years ago local school boards and administrators set the standards, now it will be done by bureaucrats in Washington.  Do you know of any power that Washington has ever given back to the people? Before long we will wake up and not even have a need for local school boards or administrators. Our teachers will be evaluated by students' national test scores. Everything will be done federally, everything will be done the same, we will all be common.
"I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts."  - Ronald Reagan
 So you see, I don’t consider this as a battle between the parents and the administrators/school board. We believe in our school, we believe in our teachers, we believe they can do BEST for us… until they hand their authority over and it is no longer them making the decisions.

I often hear our sports team do a cheer,

We are… BOLIVAR!

I love this town. Ever since the day I came to SBU as a college student, I’ve loved Bolivar.

There’s something special about Bolivar. It can be done Better in Bolivar! So don’t just think how you are told or led to think. Think for yourself, research, discover and never quit learning.

Would all Liberators please stand and liberate our school from the common!

Additional Notes and Links - 
Race to the Top FundAwards in Race to the Top will go to States that are leading the way with ambitious yet achievable plans for implementing coherent, compelling, and comprehensive education reform. Race to the Top winners will help trail-blaze effective reforms and provide examples for States and local school districts throughout the country to follow as they too are hard at work on reforms that can transform our schools for decades to come.

Standards Based Grading - This is the video our school showed us to explain SBG.

Common Core Standards - Official Website

Missouri Coalition Against Common Core - This is my go-to site right not. It easily explains a lot and gives practical ways to get involved.

Many states have already started measures to take back their schools from the federal government. This is a link showing those details.

Sunday, September 29, 2013


If you are a personal friend, you know it's been a long month for me. I can't and won't go into every circumstance, but if you're reading this, say a prayer for me... a prayer that my dependence, approval and happiness is in the Lord.

Two stories I will share with you are about treasures. Last weekend Boss and I went to the CMH Burgundy Ball. It was fantastic like always! I picked my dress and once again Boss AMAZED me with his ability to pick-out my shoes. If you've never heard, he's quite the fashion/color expert. Someday I plan on doing a whole blog around his hidden talent.

ANYWAYS, after about an hour of being home I realized the diamond from my wedding ring was missing. Correction: not just the diamond but the whole "head" - diamond, prongs and 2 tier diamond halo around the diamond. UGH, we have looked and looked, including using a metal detector. As Jase on Duck Dynasty says "He Gone" I will tell ya "It Gone!"
Twice Boss had offered to replace my wedding ring with new and bigger. Twice we both agreed the original diamond he had chosen was special and perfect. Now, sadly, we have no choice.

Story #2: When I was 12, I lost my precious Grandma to cancer. Less than a year after that my Grandpa married Carol. Carol and Grandpa immediately "re-did" my Grandma's house. All new things, all new furniture, it was Carol's house now (and rightfully so.)

Nothing in the house was familiar. Nothing was Grandma's.

Carol had a style about her, she still does. She had expensive furniture and designer decor, it was NOT child-friendly. Carol wasn't mean but she wasn't use to kids, she had never had any of her own.

There was one thing of Carol's I was drawn to, one thing I loved and looked forward to seeing, one thing I could count on to make me feel "at home" and that was a big, fat Aunt Jemima cookie jar. Aunt Jemima wore a red, polka-dot dress and she had warm, friendly, loving eyes. She seemed like a real Grandma to me. She hardly ever held cookies, but it was always fun to hope. Over the years, Aunt Jemima helped Carol seem like a Grandma to me.

And over the years, my love for Carol grew. She has taken amazing care of my Grandpa, she has taught me spiritually, she allowed me to stay with them some through college. Recently she has taught me a lesson on loving others, even when they seem un-love-able. When having a bad day, I love to stop by her assisted living apartment in Bolivar and get a hug, she always has a kind, Godly word for me... and guess who else I got to see??? Aunt Jemima!

Yesterday, my mom and dad came to town and we were helping Carol move some more things from her house to her apartment. Upon leaving, I noticed something was gone. "Carol, where is Aunt Jemima??" She quickly replied "Oh I want you to take her if you want her, she doesn't really match in here (still stylish), goodness knows you've earned her with all the help you give me." Carol produced my Aunt Jemima from under the counter.

My mind immediately started racing about where I would proudly display her, also wondered if she would be offensive to anyone? As soon as I got home, I placed her on the counter. Chapel had to go to a party so mom and I rushed out the door with him. We hadn't gotten to the party yet when my phone rang,

(long silent pause)
"I dropped your lady"

My heart sunk (and still does). Aunt Jemima sat safely in Carol's house for YEARS. She didn't make it in my for longer than an hour.
So what is the moral to these stories? I keep thinking of the verses

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

And they are true! Somehow though, and maybe you can help me, I don't feel like they apply in these situations. Our world, and especially me, is so guilty of not valuing anything. Everything seems replaceable, throwaway and get new. 

I'm thinking the lesson for me is to value and appreciate things more, not to make them a god, but to take care of things, appreciate the memories and especially the people that are tied to them.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Winning Isn't Everything... or Is IT???

I have always claimed to be non-competitive, which drives Boss (Dwain) crazy. Every time I say it, he cringes, he corrects me and he hopes to goodness none of his Banner boys inherit that attitude from me.

So last year after deciding to run a local 5K, he started preparing me. Now keep in mind, he doesn't run... AT ALL.  So his preparation consisted of "coaching" me on something he had little knowledge of, "but why even run a race if you're not gonna try and win???"

"Game Day" was here and on the way to the race he was planning my strategy: "You're gonna be able to run WAY faster because of your adrenaline, so find Mrs. Bandy (whose goal was 21 minutes!!!) and stay right behind her. You got this!!!"

Bo was running the mile the in the same race, we were pumped up, coached up and ready to run.

Being the people-pleaser I am, I wanted to make Boss proud. I had set a personal goal of 24 minutes although I knew he expected better... and I secretly wanted that too. I took off strong and somewhere around 2 miles I DIED. Now I don't mean I slowed to a 9 min pace... NO, I WAS GOING TO PASS OUT if I didn't walk.

Finally, a long time later, I crossed the finish line. Boss had a stunned look on his face??? What happened? Where did you go?

I started explaining "I started too fast, I tried to stay up, I'm not use to this heat (treadmill runner), I should have eaten."

Nothing I could say made sense to Boss, he doesn't understand "losing."

(Mrs. Bandy in the pink shirt won the race, of course! My smile was fake.)

Now before you get mad at him like my friends did, before you remind him how often he races (or even exercises for that matter) PLEASE know, he has the best intentions, he seeks the best out of everyone. At least he had Bo to be proud of, he won his race :) We now laugh about this, about how I choked, and how Boss thinks you have to win to be successful. If you see him, remind him otherwise please.

A couple weeks ago another local race rolled around. Considering I had my wisdom teeth removed that week, there was no hope for redeeming myself (I'll try that out-of-town with my friends & no coach, heehee). Bo & Chapel were however, ready to compete.

Once again, Boss coached them up and I encouraged them to have fun. 

Bo won his 5k, beating his friend by a millisecond. As soon as he crossed the finish line, he threw up. Boss was SOOOO proud, "now that's a sign he gave it his all!!!" 

Chapel (with dad's prompting) made the "Mile Fun Walk" a race. He beat all those sucka's, they didn't realize it was competitive... they don't have Dwain Banner on their side. 

(Chapel & Boss on the front page, Bolivar Free Herald)

Thankfully, the Banner boys don't take after their mother when it comes to competitiveness. They share their dad's urgency to WIN...

to be #1!

So for now, I'll stay in MY role as cheerleader, and grandparent/fan entertainer...
on the sidelines, reminding my boys to have fun... WHILE WINNING of course.

(Small member of People of Wal-Mart, looking down at the medal he earned as well as the toy dad bribed him with to win the race.)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

ObamaCare, How I See It

Let me start by saying,

I am not a politician. I am not an insurance agent. I am not a lawyer. I am not a doctor. I am not a healthcare administrator. I am not a college graduate.

To fully understand ObamaCare you have to be one, if not all of the above. So as you read this, keep in mind this is my take on it, and the way I see it affecting those around me.

I am a small business owner so I will see things from my point of view. I have visited with doctors and healthcare administrators, but I don't understand how it affects them (although I've heard it's not good.) I have visited with insurance agents, but I don't understand where this will leave them (most of you don't care.)

Creator Designs employs approximately 35 full time employees. For about 10 years now we have been providing health insurance for our employees.... these wonderful people!

In March we met to go over our annual insurance review. We meet with our agent and he shows us how the rates will change for the upcoming year. Sometimes we cringe and sometimes we hi-5.

Several things determine if our rates change. Get this in your head...

Insurance companies need to make money. They are not non-for-profit. They are not a government organization. They are in business to be profitable, and contrary to what some think, this is not a sin, and this is not against the law. 

So, when our group's health care costs are higher in a year, we can expect a raise in our rates the next year. From 2012-2013 ours didn't raise at all, we have a young healthy group. On an average companies rates go up about 12% At this dreadful March meeting, we were told to expect 30-50% increase on our rates.


Wasn't Obama's goal to HELP people in the area of healthcare, to encourage businesses to cover their employees?

So I started researching and asking, if we were already providing coverage, shouldn't we be rewarded? or get a pat on the back? at least an ole atta-boy? too much to ask??? Ok, then, just leave us alone, we don't need our  rates to double!!!

Oh those evil insurance companies! They know they are losing some customers to ObamaCare so their raising our rates so they can keep their jets and vacation homes, right??? Well, the more I researched the more I discovered, they are being forced to play with a new set of rules. Rules that in many cases won't apply to large companies, just small business.

1. Thou shalt not charge a higher rate for child-bearing, hormonal women over simple, vigorous men.
2. Thou shalt turn down no one for pre-existing conditions.
3. Thou shalt make broader the benefits and lesser the limits.
4. Thou shalt charge the young & healthy at least a third of what thou charges the old & cranky.
5. Thou shalt provide dental & vision to all who apply.

I could go on and on, but you get what I'm saying. ObamaCare is making the rules, the insurance companies are still attempting to make a profit... and this leaves us with an increase in rates. Which in the future, leaves us to stop offering health insurance to our employees. Now we're hoping to aid them in some way financially, but in most cases this will force them into the "exchange" and out of private insurance.

*Nothing is free, someone always pays.

If Mr. Obama wants the uninsured to be insured, how can he accomplish that? By taking a little of what you currently have and giving to someone that doesn't.

So, after all that, what you started reading for...
How I See It...

Ending thoughts... This blog post could have gone on and one. There are so many angles and so much more to say. I know I'll read over this tomorrow and want to add 100 things, and I might just blog about it again. Several people private messaged me about what ObamaCare is doing to them. The majority of them told of how they were losing coverage from an employer or their premiums were going up. Even one was told that his coverage would drastically change and not to expect the same treatment for his Stage 4 cancer once 2014 arrived. These stories need more attention and I hope to find time to tell them.

*Is Salvation and forgiveness free? No! Jesus Christ paid the price.

Now back to baseball games and silly boy stories. :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Lunch Cart - Back to School

What's the worst thing you're likely to find in the school cafeteria?
The food!

The food in our school cafeteria is perfect.
If you're a bug!

How many of you loved school lunches?  I'm guessing not many. Me however, I loved it. Eating out was a treat and that was like eating out to me :)

Ever since I've had kids in school (9 years now, whoa!) I had the rule they had to eat school lunch 4 days of the week. THEY could pack THEIR lunch on the 5th if they wanted to take it. Over the years, I've heard numerous times...

"Emme's mom lets her take her lunch every day."
"Hunter's mom packs his lunch for him."
"Jace's mom brings him lunch every day."

And I'm sad to say, but at the end of last year, I broke down and gave in, "FINE, if you want to take your lunch every day YOU have to pack it every day."

And that is where the madness began!

Mornings were never the same. It was a continual state of rush, stress and chaos. We never had the right thing, we were out of drinks, we were low on PB, the meat was old, the chips were stale, the yogurt I bought yesterday was devoured hours after it hit the frig, there was no fruit to add (and I didn't want the lunch room attendant judging me.)

Finally, I had enough! This is when I thought of the LUNCH CART!

(insert singing angels here) AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

And now all my mornings have been solved! THE lunch cart holds what the boys need to pack a decent lunch. There is a key to the lunch cart so that I can lock it up and they won't "snack" on everything after school. (I love that part!!!) 

On top of my lunch cart is a mini-frig which holds Powerades, lunch meat, cheese and yogurt. 

All of this stays in my pantry for easy lunch-packing. The boys can now take their lunch every day, every day THEY choose to pack it.

The top drawer holds the infamous "brown bag" and 2 size ziplocks - snack & sandwich. Of course the bread is in the pantry as well as the PB. They make their sandwiches in the pantry, then use the ziplocks here.

The second drawer holds beef jerky and fruit snacks.

Third drawer down is fruit, mainly mandarin oranges and pineapple. Sometimes I get ambitious and cut up fresh fruit and have it in the frig ready for them, but this drawer's contents are always ready to go!

Fourth drawer holds some dairy, pudding and cheese crackers. Plastic spoons are readily available in the pantry.

The favorite drawer contains treats! YUM!!! On a good day I'll make them brownies or cookies but these are the standby.

Last but not least, the biggest, bottom drawer is overflowing with chips. If we're running low or I have the time, I will pre-ziplock bags of chips.

So there you have it, the success to our mornings. You can buy one of these carts at Sam's here or make something of your own. I love this cart mainly because of the lock. This one is also a good option if space is an issue. It could set on top of the cabinet somewhere.
Yes, they are tool boxes but stainless steel is in right now and I love the butcher block top.

If you have any other ideas that go along with this, or tips on great school lunches or tips on children not driving parent's crazy these last few days before school starts...  please share!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Chapel's Thoughts on Baptism

Many people baptize in different places. Before our church had a baptistery, we would all meet at a river or pond.

 I loved this, the thoughts of my ancestors doing this years before in the same way... honoring and obeying God in the beautiful place He created.

Some churches meet at a swimming pool, maybe a river or pond isn't accessible?
Or maybe they prefer water that animals haven't occupied? :)
Wouldn't this be nice?
Baptism in the ocean! Now that sounds "heavenly"!
But now our church has a baptistery, it's not built in, we just roll it out and fill it up when needed. The boys always notice when it's out and ready.
Last Sunday was one of those days. Chapel excitedly proclaimed,
"The Bathtub is out! Who is getting Bath-tized"?
We tried so hard to hold our giggles... but failed.

Friday, August 2, 2013

I'm a lil Behind... Last Summer

As I was cleaning off my old phone, switching to my new one, I found several pictures/events that never got shared from last summer! Either they slipped by or I had dreams of a BIG fancy blog post on the event but for whatever reason, they didn't make it. So stick with me on this randomness - in no certain order....

Chapel can always find ways to entertain himself at Creator Designs!

Excited and surprised, I was named to Springfield Business Journal's 40 Under 40

Our friend, Mr. Martin, gambled on a trip to the country with his ice cream truck... needlesstosay it paid off!

We had a fun time at the annual Austin family reunion - camping and playing in the river.

Deacon's team won the A World Series!!! We stayed in KC for the week and we had SO MUCH FUN!!! It was the highlight of our summer.

Bo's team won the Springfield City League.

Jake's team got to be introduced with the Springfield Cardinals.

The boys had so much fun playing with their cousins in Eldon. Girls just don't run in the family.

Unc D turned 40!
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