Online Education

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I have long been a fan of online education. Over the high school years each of my high school aged children took a few online courses to finish up their school. Now that Covid-19 is here, my now University aged children each came home and finished up their University courses online.

During those high school years, I felt that our local school board underutilized online education. I know that everyone does not do well with online education, but it works well for some students. Our Premier was criticized for encouraging online learning in high school, but I think he just jumped on a good idea – and oversimplified things. Online education is a wonderful tool, and it can be cost saving, but it’s not for every student.

We are always building, maintaining and then tearing down schools. Just imagine if we needed fewer buildings? And online courses already exist – they are just not readily available to all students. Why not? What if we had standardized objectively graded, clear to follow courses for anyone who wanted to try them?

What I learned about online education while my chidren were in high school

Here are few things that I can conclude after following my children’s 7 overlapping years of high school……….

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When online education is well laid out and organized, the deadlines and reading assignments are identified. It’s easy to see what needs to be done and when and not fall behind. Some types of learners benefit from just following a to do list moving through the course material. My oldest is like that. He’s happy to learn the material and follow instructions free from the distractions of his classmates.

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Some learners need more assistance – interaction with teachers and support – this was typically available with next day response in many of their courses. Online classes aren’t always “live”. Sometimes the student does some work, gets stuck and emails the teacher a question. The teachers often answered questions overnight – I wondered if they were in another time zone?

One of my children was never identified in class as having a math learning disability. Working one on one with him, we realized that he understood each math unit perfectly, but couldn’t connect the different topics. I don’t believe that ever would have been found in the standard classroom. The Vice Principal of his high school had suggested he not take math, and did not agree with him taking math online. He said that some kids aren’t meant to go to University. That may be true, but it shouldn’t be up to someone with limited imagination to decide when a person is being stopped from his goals because of one subject.

The other side of it is that not all children have the ability to get support in certain subject areas at home. It would be wonderful if online education could be offered together with one on one tutoring for students who are struggling, to help them get through the course material. When there is support at home, or available via private tutoring, or even by Zoom video chatting, online education can be a way for a student who struggles with some in-class subjects to focus and succeed at their own place.

One of my children was a little more rebellious with in online education, fighting deadlines and instructions. The benefit for this student was that the same teacher personality clashes over deadlines were minimized! It WAS NOT fun for me though!

A major advantage of online education is the avoidance of bullying and social anxieties. The negative of course is the lack of socialization and personal instruction. Children develop socially during their time in high school. It can be a wonderful time or an incredibly painful time.

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Online education can reduce the possibility that our students are treated and marked subjectively by their teachers. Our classroom teachers are not all perfect. Don’t get me wrong. I love teachers, just not all of them. My mother was a high school teacher, my oldest wants to be a teacher. But if I had left it up to every teacher who gave me advice, the three boys would all have been medicated for ADD, even though they have 3 completely different personalities and behaviours. ADD and it’s medical treatment may be a real thing, but it’s not the answer to every behaviour.

The fact is that some teachers may like certain students more than others, and judge students based upon their appearance. These can be subtle judgements, teachers not even realizing what they were doing. One of my children looked much older than other children and was expected to behave more maturely than the cute small children. He was not treated respectfully by his teachers particularly in English, although he is a student that appreciates all types of literature, and we could see that more fashionable students or female students were high achievers. He couldn’t help being 6′ 3″ and capable of growing a dark beard by grade 9. Does this make him incable of being a feminist or understanding literature?

Another teacher used terms in a parent-teacher interview that insinuated that my daughter was “fluffy” and “airheaded”. I’m sure it was nothing to do with her being model tall and thin and blonde. This particular teacher was the head of the “Gifted” program. My daughter had tested off the charts on a standardized test and been placed without our knowledge in a “gifted” class, in which she just plain didn’t fit in. Incidentally most of the students in the class were children of teachers and even school trustees. Was there influence in getting into this class? I have an idea, but she was out of that class the next day.

(Oh dear – I seem to have gone off on a rant about my children and their teachers. Don’t worry, they all turned out fine after high school – I was just hoping to let parents of younger students know that it’s Ok to push the envelope with their chidren’s teachers and try new things like online learning.now I’ll try to get back on track……)

I should mention a more positive note – sometimes there are teachers who just completely “get” your children. One of my boys just ran into a teacher all my children had had for first grade. Our student athlete reminisced that she was the only teacher who ever recognized that he needed to be physically active to pay attention during class. She actually let my 6 year old out for a run in the country schoolyard several times a day. She was awesome.

There are different types of labels that we apply to students – and online education can prevent students from being judged based upon their appearance, habits, socio-economic factors or behavior and all those other things. All students deserve to be educated with respect regardless of their teacher’s opinions.

Online courses are not consistently offered as a learning opportunity to all students in all locations. One of my children attended a smaller rural high school. They were not able to offer specialty subjects as they didn’t have enough students to support additional teachers. The school offered students the opportunity to enroll in online courses through another school board. These were extremely well structured with responsive teachers. Apparently every student in our province of Ontario at the time had the right to choose these courses, but my other 3 children in another school were not offered this opportunity. Attending a course in another school board would affect their home school’s funding.

Online education can provide extra mental stimulation for students that need it. One of my children wanted to take extra courses during high school and took an online course at the same time as a full in-class course load. He was a confident, competitive student looking for additional math classes. The school board would not allow him to do this a second year as it was against policy. We ended up paying for him to take a private school online class, which he enjoyed. This is another example of education that is not available to everyone, but should be. When a student is motivated to achieve, who are his teachers to hold him or her back?

Online education provides flexible study schedules. One of my children travelled alot during high school for sports. He was able to mix his in-class studies with a few on-line classes.

Towards the end of our students’ time in high school, our school board started to offer online courses that they had developed. I didn’t understand this investment in development as other Ontario school boards already had fully developed versions of the same key courses.

This creates the question – if there are already so many developed courses out there that meet the Provincial Curriculum requirements, shouldn’t they just be standardized and made available to everyone? Do we need to keep spending money to satisfy someone’s ego, or keep funds within a schoolboard or school?

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How do students take online exams without cheating? One of the challenges in online education is final examinations – for some courses my students needed to have an “proctor” for final exams. This is a teacher or school board employee who downloads the exam, observes the student writing the exam, times the examination period and submits the exam back to the online teacher. Other exams were just time based, with the student printing out the exam at home, and scanning it back to the teacher within the time frame. There is no guarantee that students aren’t getting extra help, but if online teachers have been regularly interacting with students during the course period, they can generally tell if there is a change in the student’s work. There is also the possibility of online teachers using Zoom or other video services to observe the student during the exam. None of my students have experienced this during high school or University, but a similar method was used for an Ontario SmartServe course that one of my children took. (a certificate for serving alcohol for serving staff).

Accessibility of technology and internet in all communities and households is a problem which needs to be overcome. In many northern communities students from remote communities must move from their families to billet houses in central communities to attend high school. This leads to horrific outcomes for many students and I can’t believe that it still occurs today. This last week one of my children was finishing an assignment writing about the Seven Fallen Feathers. ” from 2000 to 2011, seven Indigenous high school students died in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The seven were hundreds of miles away from their families, forced to leave home and live in a foreign and unwelcoming city.” What if these students didn’t have to leave their home communities to study? This important subject is well beyond my comprehension, and deserves so much attention, but it is fresh in my mind and I needed to offer this.

Some courses were designed to require students to watch and attend classes at a particular time of day and ask questions just during this time period with marks for class participation. I feel that this type of course is designed to act like traditional classrooms, as opposed to being designed to allow the student to work at their own pace. Designing courses for online education requires teachers to think outside of the box. Courses should allow students to attend according to their own schedule, and class participation can be achieved through online forums. The teacher enters a question or theory, and each student is required to respond or comment and perhaps comment on other student’s comments.

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The above comments were just a few of my ideas about online high school education. Now my thoughts about University online education…….

Each of our four (now) University Students’ schools announced closures throughout the day on March 13th, 2020. Physical classes were suspended, and courses were to move online. I thought it would be fun to interview these 4 students about how their schools administered online learning, and their experiences. I asked each of them how their courses changed when they went online, what they thought about online education and what do they miss about attending school.

To be fair, as they each have taken online classes previously in high school, and they have all been in University for a few years, the switch to online education was not much of a stretch for any of them. Their study skills have all evolved and improved over the years, and they are over that first year away from home socialization (misbehaving) stage.

Student 1 – Just Finished History Degree – Applying to Teacher’s College

I have taken quite a few online University courses over the years, these usually are already setup with documentary style video links to watch, online class participation assignments, weekly assignments and final scheduled exams – usually multiple choice. The courses were usually first year style courses – introductory and could support a lot of students. The courses are not “live” video, just weekly materials, assignments, forums and quizzes.

When the University closed and classes went online, it was late in the school year, so most of my classes just posted the lecture slides online and we had a few assignments (essays) to hand in. I wouldn’t say that the professors put a lot of effort in to finishing up the courses.

One of my classes used TopHat – a paid membership application to have online participation, some video lectures and assignments. This was fine, but I resent this professor using a paid application when the University already has an available online learning management system to achieve the same end. My final exams ended up being online multiple choice and 2 long essays. I miss my Varsity sports, but I don’t miss commuting to University. I hope there will be a graduation ceremony in the fall!

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Student 2 – Almost finished Political Science

My University has a well developed online education system and already offers Video on Demand for many classes (for a fee), so the transition when all classes went online wasn’t difficult. Two of my five classes filmed videos and posted them online,so we could watch when we wanted. Some professors did Zoom Videos classes – live classes where you watch as it’s broadcast and class-members sign-in, but you can’t watch later. One of my professors made participation mandatory. Class-members sign into Zoom to be present – you can ask questions, but it was mostly about getting a participation mark for signing in. This class was already being marked based on participation anyway prior to COVID-19. I still had assignments to hand in, did 3 take home exams, and 2 final papers – so pretty much the same thing! One exam was going to be a take home anyway. 2 exams changed from formal exams to long papers.

The transition to online education was not problematic. In Political Science we tend to have thesis essay style assignments and class participation to discuss issues anyway. It worked well enough for me. Some of my friends were more dramatic about the situation. The only thing that I thought was an issue was that some professors were not being that responsive to student’s questions. There is no excuse for that! This made some people stressed. For me it’s easier to take courses online because I can choose what to do with my time. I don’t think I missed the social interaction with friends in my class – after a few years of being at University, my friends are in the community I live in – not so much in the classes themselves.

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I was happy to go home and concentrate on finishing up my assignments without any social events to have to go to.

The University offered the ability to be marked based upon a pass/fail grade or a proper mark. Most of the people going for the pass/fail grade weren’t going to classes and doing well anyway (just my opinion).

The University has been complaining about the lack of funds and enrollment declines. I have heard the opposite. I have heard that more students than ever have enrolled in summer courses because they are not working or going out. I am going to enroll in several, there are more courses than ever available, but I’m finding them full already! I think this is going to be more profitable for the school – increased student enrollment with less support for students!

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It’s sad for people who are graduating this year or were maybe getting their “first year” away from home “frosh life” -but as a student finishing up, it was easier to finish up the courses at home – more space and quiet I miss my waitressing job, but then I’m not spending as much money going out at school either.

Student 3 – Social Sciences/Legal Studies

I take a 60% course load as I am training as an athlete and have to squeeze my courses in between training sessions. I also have a part time job in a sporting facility. The training and job also ended shortly after the classes were cancelled, so without the training, there is no point being away from home anyway. I returned home to Ontario after I shipped my training equipment home and stored some of my furniture at a friend’s house.

I had 3 courses to finish. Class cancellation happened so close to the end of the semester, they didn’t really change the courses for online education, they just wrapped it up. With no classes, we just read the textbooks and lecture slides. Only one of my courses offered Zoom lectures, but they didn’t record them, so you couldn’t watch them later, but they were basically just reading the slides and the textbook anyway. We already have an online learning system that most of the professors use from Desire2Learn. The professors put schedules, quizzes, assignments, marks and slides in there.

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In the Zoom class, I could ask questions, and this was a 200 student sized class, and if the cameras were on I could see most of the attendees. I could also listen with camera off. My three exams were open book, 1 essay style, and 2 multiple choice. You can’t really prevent people from looking at their books and conversing, so if we are all offered open book it’s fair to everyone!

Online education is harder because you have to learn the material yourself, so its probably a better way to learn. I have trouble paying attention in class anyway, but I’ve improved my studying over the past few years.

I miss being out of the house going to class, but honestly it’s less stressful not having to run between classes and catching up with school on my own schedule. I’m going to take some courses online this spring and summer because I’m going crazy at home anyway. I’m concerned about my sporting events next year, but I’m cycling, running outside and doing core exercises at home right now!

Student 4- Business Administration

To be honest I thought that the in-person lectures were a bit of a joke anyway. Not that the professors aren’t working hard, but they are covering material from the textbook. If you read the textbook you get 100% of the material, there were only one or two lectures that I really was happy I went to this year (year 3 of 4). I never really felt that I had one on one with the professors anyway. With online classes I know that some kids won’t necessarily do as well on assignments but I still did fine.

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I had 5 courses at the time school went online. One professor posted video lectures, but he was just reading off of his lecture slides anyway. They were good, but there was really no point. The other classes just posted the slides on line. Two of the professors just said “no more assignments for this year – we’ll just use the grades so far”. Two of my business courses cancelled the final exams and one made a last assignment count for more marks. I only wrote two final exams, my music elective, and a financial modelling multiple choice exam. Financial modelling is an Excel spreadsheet class, so the value was in the labs anyway. Having a multiple choice exam seemed a little awkward. I felt that the professors could have put a little more effort into final evaluations, but it’s not like I wanted to do more work. I already had good marks, so this didn’t affect my final grades, and I am starting a work term next week so I am glad to have finished school up.

Maybe one or 2 professors had made a difference for me in my academic career. The real value in having professors is in the extra-curriculars and networking – I’m not losing much in terms of education by not attending classes. I don’t like paying tuition to professors telling me about what’s in the textbooks – I love my school though. Professors are extra help in most cases.

Summing it up……

It seems like these four students from four different Canadian Universities, didn’t feel that they suffered too much from having to turn to on-line learning, and it seemed like even though there are lots of tools for professors to accommodate online learners, there wasn’t a consistent level of effort provided. If our children are only getting socialization, networking and extracurricular events from their expensive Universities, do we really need bricks and mortar schools at all?

There are now fully online Universities available, but these currently tend to look a little less impressive on a resume. Perhaps our Covid-19 quarantines will help schools and Universities evolve into providing more and better quality online education soon.

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Source: Online Education

When University Students Return Home

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We are at an interesting time in our lives. In our house, we are blessed to be able to stay home and have four of our young adult children home with us for the time being. They came home gradually from four different Canadian Universities, where they had not only school, but jobs, athletic pursuits and social lives. Their 4 schools announced closures like dominoes on March 13th. Their part-time jobs lasted a few more days, and then shut down one by one.

They have all stayed at home since their arrival, although now that the travellers are beyond their 14 days of quarantine, they have walked the dog, gone for runs and bike rides – all still physically distancing. It has been remarkably calm here. I’m not sure why…….

They have kept themselves mentally busy so far with finishing their studies online, socializing in group chats with their friends online, and gaming with each other or with their online friends.

It’s been a few years since we had our four students home at the same time for more than a few days at a time. Our daughter has not been at home at all during the summer for 3 years. Last year we all visited her for a summer vacation. One of our sons usually arrives for Christmas and leaves Boxing Day for an athletic event.

University/College students are a different species altogether…….

They live by completely different time-clocks. After we go to bed, there may be hours of on-line gaming, group video-chatting, watching of reality TV, or possibly even studying? Then there is the sleeping in ’til all hours. How can we complain that they are sleeping in if they are getting their schoolwork done, staying home safely and have no jobs to go to? Making breakfast at 3pm just isn’t right.

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They Think My Laundry Room is a Laundromat. My kids left home, not having had responsibility for their own laundry. They have returned from houses full of young people where the washer/dryer is shared. Apparently it’s a big deal to leave the wash in the machine. I have never shared my machine, and so work at my own pace. My laundry room seems suddenly like a public laundromat, where I have to keep an eye on my laundry or a major incident will evolve.

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There are Always Dishes in the Sink. My children have all told me horror stories over the years about their roommates leaving unwashed dishes in the sink. They all apparently are the ideal roommate and always do their own dishes. This is very confusing for me, as I am now doing 3 dishwasher loads daily and the sink is always full.

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We never get the right groceries. Our designated shopper is trying to go to the store just once a week. It seems that he never gets the right things. They are used to trendy city grocery stores with funky produce. The Tofu needs to be extra firm. They uncomfortably whisper about the lack of craft beer……

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They cook strange things. They are used to preparing their own meals now with inexpensive ingredients, but live on $6.50 coffees. Back in my youth (otherwise known as the good old days) I remember preparing Kraft Dinner with tuna or frozen vegetables. That was about as adventurous as it got with cheap student food. The second youngest cooks instant potatoes and pasta, and made a gumbo with imitation crab meat. Our daughter lives on avocados and tofu, Our youngest, who returned home the most recently, shared pictures of his most recent creations – Vegan Macaroni and Cheese with Vegan Manhattan Meatballs, Vegan Chocolate Cake Shake, and Fish Tacos. He is not vegan or even vegetarian. He just found sales on vegan items in his local grocery store.

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese with Vegan Manhattan Meatballs
Apparently Vegan Chocolate Cake past it’s best before was on sale, so this inspired a milkshake?
Fish Tacos with Red Cabbage? I could never get any of them to eat cabbage before they went to school

They have become creative cooks, willing to try things that they were never willing to eat before they moved out, and this helps with our pandemic cooking feasts, where we make food with what’s on hand. There are only a few complaints, but they eat all day long, and definitely scrounge for food long after midnight.

There is Clutter Everywhere. None of the children brought home their furniture, thank goodness, but they each brought buckets and buckets of clothes, books, bedding and dishware. It’s quite crowded in the living areas. There have only been a FEW complaints. Why does our sister watch reality TV all day long? Why do the boys need to talk to their computers loudly while they are gaming?

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All in all, everyone seems to be doing their schoolwork, enjoying Zoom work meetings, video-chatting with Apps like Houseparty, and gaming with their friends. If they are able to get all of their schoolwork done online at home, and chat to their friends online all day long, why do they need to live away from home to attend University anyway?…..

Video chatting in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38110913

I am posting this to make light of our current situation. The whole world is holding it’s breath waiting in hope, and my family is at least blessed to be mostly together at home. Let’s hope this isolation at home is over soon. Please stay safe and healthy everyone.

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Source: When University Students Return Home

Carnival Elation Cruise Ship Review

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Oh Ship! It’s a Mother Daughter Trip!

My Mom exposed me to cruising as a teenager when we took our first Carnival cruise to the Bahamas. Over the years, we have sailed to Bermuda, Cuba, and all over the Caribbean aboard Norwegian and Royal Caribbean cruise lines. I chose the Carnival Elation because the ports to Grand Turk and Amber Cove were destinations we have never visited.

Stateroom

We were on the Upper Deck (6) with an ocean view. I prefer natural light in the rooms.

Cabin U161 Aft section by the elevators.

Carnival allows door decorations. Christmas day is my Mom’s birthday, so the steward showed some love with a few gift certificates and on board credits.

Decks

The Lido Deck 10
21 and up Serenity section on Deck 9
Christmas and Hanukkah in the Atrium lobby deck 7
Carnival Waterworks on Deck 11. I preferred the lounge area on Deck 11 more than the cramped up Serenity loungers. Best view for sunsets.

Food

The food on the Carnival Elation was better than what Norwegian offers. The buffet area was called Tiffany’s. The two dining formal areas had the same menu except one was for cruisers who selected their time and the other was “Your Time Dining.”

The buffet food tasted better than the dining rooms. Other choices were a deli, Guy’s Burger, and the BlueIguana Cantina. One drawback to having the Guy’s Burger on the Lido deck is constantly smelling beef during the day. This would annoy me if I were vegan.

The highlight of our dining and overall Elation experience was paying additional for the Chef’s Table. We savored a 13 course meal in an intimate setting that began with a champagne toast in the Atrium.

We moved to the galley to see where 320 chefs and servers operate the ship’s culinary operations.

Liver pate (tastes like caramel)
Fresh parmesan and olives
Salmon and rosemary
Shrimp with bacon infused ice cream
Melting Chocolate Cake preparation

After cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, the Sous-chef led us into a special room for a VIP dining experience.

Personalized menu
Tweezers used to make the perfect presentations.
Spring Peas & Matcha Soup. We mixed the herbs with sprigs of chives held together with a cherry tomato and pineapple top.
Honey butter with pastry
Berkshire Pork Belly, Shrimps
Lamb, beets, pumpkin squash
Smoking cloche for veal
Veal, crushed green apples in light cheese broth
Olive oil poached sea bass, white asparagus & white miso
Quail, wild rice made with 5 variations of mushrooms, parmesan and pepper threads

Red and white wine pairings were flowing for each course leading up to the two desserts. We were given the option of coffee and tea to cap off the evening.

Citrus Cream- lime snow, elderflower caviar
Chocolate Hazelnut- basil moss, cocoa logs, chocolate soil

The servers presented each of us with the recipe for Carnival’s popular melting cake and group photo copy taken at the beginning of dinner.

Cruise Fashion

Most cruises have a formal night on the 2nd full day of the sailing. Because it was the holidays, Mom and I wanted to be classy on every night.

Mom in Duke’s piano bar

We made the most of our 5 days aboard the Elation. For a ship that has been refurbished in 2018, there is still room for improvement. I saw other Carnival ships in the ports and they looked kinda rusty as well. This was never my experience on Norwegian or Royal Caribbean.

Also, the dress codes were not enforced. I saw durags, hair bonnets, PJs, and swim attire in dining areas. Getting hand sanitizer was optional prior to touching serving utensils. There were two family spades tourneys going on at the dining tables. I had a flashback to college dorm days with cards slapping and trash talk.

Some of the teens were unruly and running all throughout the ship. They talked crazy to the stewards and lacked home training. On the bright side, all of the staff were very friendly. Unless it is a new, mega ship this will be my last cruise aboard Carnival.

Seas ‘n Greetings

Kelsie Lou

Source: Carnival Elation Cruise Ship Review

Thankful for Miles

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My Mom had a 48 hour notice about the Lake Wales YMCA Turkey Trot. I gave her the option to participate based on how she felt on Thanksgiving morning. She said if it was too hot, she was not doing it.

The 8:00 a.m. start is later than what she is used to for her daily walks. The temperature was only 67° which is mild for Floridians.

For a smaller race, my goal was to place in my age group. I needed to push through because I was dealing with a sinus infection. I told my Mom I would complete my race, then go back and find her on the course.

I got a dose of my own medicine when a young lady hawked me down at the finish. I beat her crossing the line. I knew her chip time would come in faster because I started ahead of her. She beat me by a 10th of a second. I was 20/324 overall, 3rd place Female overall, and 1st place Masters Female.

Next, I had to walk towards the lake to get my Mom. The rising sun and 97% humidity was making it difficult. We walked the last mile together. I stepped aside so she could own her moment of running across the finish line.

Alice Smoot completing a 5k at age 75.
AKAs running circles around you
Kelsie Smoot 1st Place Masters
Mom was 5/10 in her Age Group

I am thankful for a mother who exposed me to various sports in my youth. She drove me to the Eastside of Detroit to practice with the Motor City Track Club. I am thankful for my Dad’s genes. Phillip L. Smoot Sr. was the captain of the Scott High (Madison, WV) basketball team, team MVP, and averaged 20 points his senior year in 1962.

Forever thankful for my parents and enjoying the views of their retirements:

🌞Kelsie Lou🌞

Source: Thankful for Miles

It’s Fall Good

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Over the last few months my focus has been setting the tone for a successful school year, keeping a foster care routine, and getting settled into my new home. It is important to set high expectations and to remind my Smootents of them daily. Students cannot learn in the midst of chaos. I don’t do chaos or clutter.

People often ask me if I still run. The answer is: Yes. I will always run as long as I am able to. I average three to four miles a day with a 5-6 miler on the weekend. Regardless of mileage, a proper running shoe is mandatory.

The Brooks Ghost and Glycerins in my rotation were on their last cushion. I used some GO365 bucks to order the Glycerin 17 from Amazon. The newest model would not let me “run happy.”

I went to Fleet Feet for a foot scan. I learned from the Volumental 3D foot scan that my feet are almost in the narrow width. After trying several brands, I decided to go with the Hoka Clifton 6. They are very lightweight despite the heavy cushion.

Hoka One One Clifton 6

Cute running gear makes the time on my feet more fashionable and enjoyable. I don’t know how long Goodr sunglasses have been around, but I discovered them last summer. I bought a pink and green pair called, “Flamingo on a Booze Cruise.” I needed a Fall neutral, so I picked up these:

The last weekend of daylight savings time was the perfect opportunity to visit my Grandma. I treated her to a day pampering with a pedicure, hair cut and eating all the shrimp she wanted from Red Lobster.

Chillin’ with Grandma Lucy L. Smoot
The Little Coal River steps from my family’s property.

My visit happened to fall on the same weekend of the Marshall University Marathon/Half Marathon. I did not want to risk injury of pushing through 13.1 miles without the proper training, so I registered for the 5k.

The race website mentioned how all 5k participants would receive a finisher’s medal and only the Top 3 male and female would win additional awards. I drove from Madison to Huntington with no expectations of winning anything. Boy was I wrong.

The MUM and half races started at 7:00 a.m. with 31° temps (28° real feel). There were runners from 44 states. I spoke with a lady from Florida who needed a WV race for her 50 State Challenge.

Marathon and Half Marathon runners braving the cold temperatures.

I warmed up in the Joan C. Edwards Stadium parking lot before the 5k started at 7:15. We took off and right away, there was a young lady putting in work by my side. We were neck and neck for 1.5 miles until she stopped for water.

Next, I had my sight on a lady in green. I was feeling confident about being able to pull off a strong finish. I didn’t want to hawk her down too early though. The last half mile of the race took us through the campus of Marshall University. I saw the Memorial Fountain that stands as a tribute to the lives lost in the 1970 plane crash.

I thought there was another woman who was with the speedy runners who jolted out of my view after the first turn. I ran onto the football field a few steps behind the woman I tailed. She didn’t take the football, but I did.

Volunteers handing out footballs as runners enter the field.

Running with the football gave me a super charge. At that moment I wished I was wearing cleats. In my mind this was not a 5k; I was on a punt return. I did not want to slip and fumble on the AstroTurf. Once I made that loop towards the end zone, it was all she wrote. My running tights rolled down on me and everything.

A volunteer told me I was the first woman to cross the line in the 5k. I was like, “Nah, there was a lady in pink way ahead of me.” Again, she said she was sure I was the first one. I checked the results, and 24:11 was enough for me to win it all! Ten men finished ahead of me, placing me at 11/316 overall.

Blenko Glass Award. 1st Place Female overall 5K: Kelsie Smoot. I thought I was Serena Williams holding my award.
2019 MUM Shirt, Medal and Overall Award. Marathon/Half Runners received jackets and custom Goodr glasses in their packets.

I ran the MUM Half Marathon in 2016 and placed 2nd in my age group. This course holds my personal best record of 1:41:54. I felt very accomplished on the ride back to Louisville. I was able to brighten my Grandma’s weekend and this race experience was a bonus.

‘Til next time. Expect the unexpected.

🍃🍂 Kelsie Lou 🍂🍃

Source: It’s Fall Good

Grandma’s 95th Birthday Celebration 🎉

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My family will be gathering for the 90th annual Smoot Family Reunion in Madison, WV soon.

While the fellowship amongst family since 1929 is a rich tradition, the milestone of my Grandma, Lucy L. Smoot, turning 95 is also worthy of a celebration.

Lucy L. Smoot

My Mom and Dad flew from Florida to show some love.

My parents were married in this house 53 years ago.

Although my family came from humble beginnings, there was always an abundance of love in this home constructed by my Grandpa, the late Boyd Smoot.

4 Generations of family from Charlotte, Detroit, Winter Haven, Morgantown, Dunbar, and Louisville

My Aunt Shelia recognized the sacrifices my Grandma made to care for her seven children with the reading of Proverbs 31:10-31.

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

My Grandma loves to share a story about me when I was around five years old:

She and my Mom had me hyped up to go shopping in downtown Madison, WV. I hopped out the car and looked around. I said, “This ain’t no damn downtown!”

Regardless of the rural setting, it was always a privilege to travel from Detroit to visit my grandparents.

Kelsie Smoot, Sassy since birth.

Grandma kept it classy as the Birthday Queen for the weekend.

Gratitude is greater than regret…
Phillip L. Smoot Sr, The oldest of 7.
Two of my lifelines.
Matthew 18:20

Happy 95th Birthday, Grandma. We all love you! 🥳

💚KelsieLou💚

Source: Grandma’s 95th Birthday Celebration 🎉

Long Time, No Sea

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Summer Break in Full Effect

I just returned from a two-week visit with my parents in the Sunshine State. 

Summertime Fine.

It was a chilled-out vacation with a visit from our family who lives in Morgantown, WV.  We were game ready for the NBA Finals. 

Dad, Aunt Shelia, Jameer, Taylor, Kelsie, Sidney, Uncle Danny

I skipped the few running races that were in the area.  It feels good not to be in training mode and to exercise simply for the health benefits.  Besides the usual shopping, dining out, concerts, etc., I wanted to explore some of the Florida beaches that I have never visited. 

Honeymoon Island State Park

My Mom and I drove to Honeymoon Island State Park which is off the coast of Dunedin, Florida.  This park was packed with boats, jet skis, kayaks, cyclists and walkers.

Honeymoon Island has a few beach areas to choose from.  One beach allows pets if they are on a leash.  The Oasis Beach was the most crowded.  It was interesting to see how narrow the shoreline was compared to other Florida beaches.

Honeymoon Island State Park Main Beach
Honeymoon Island Oasis Beach

Another area of Honeymoon Beach is covered in rocks that are sure to ruin a pedicure or cause injury.  Despite the rougher terrain, people made their way to the north side of this area for safer swimming.

Caladesi Island

The Caladesi Island beaches were much nicer than Honeymoon Island.  We watched the boats come and go in the Gulf of Mexico.   

I wanted to get my steps in for a Go365 challenge.  I walked south until the sand disappeared.  My Mom enjoyed the 86 degree gentle waves.

Walking South on Caladesi Island
Fun Fact: The White Ibis spends most of the day eating and resting. Less than an hour per day is spent flying.
Some brush I climbed over in order to continue walking another 50 yards.

Caladesi Island has a nature trail that started off all cute when I saw a gopher tortoise minding its business.  Things turned ugly when I was attacked by mosquitoes. There was also signage to warn of rattlesnakes. I only made it about 15 yards into the trail before I ran out.

Caladesi Island Nature Trail.

I can cross these two Florida beaches off of my list.

Mom getting off of the ferry.

“If you never go, you will never know.”

Kelsie Lou

Source: Long Time, No Sea