Mrs. Dykowski... hops on a high-stakes soap box

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I have no first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to take a standardized test in elementary school. 

As a homeschooled kid, the first standardized test I took was a practice test for eighth graders — I was in sixth grade at the time. No one saw the score but my parents. 

I passed. Or that’s what I was told. 

It wouldn’t have mattered, but my mom was happy to be reassured that my brother (who actually was in eighth grade) and I weren’t falling behind our peers. 

I wasn’t worried about it because I thought the questions were really easy and I knew the outcome didn’t matter, especially since I was testing two grades ahead of where I was supposed to be. 

That was the TAAS test, one of many high-stakes state tests imposed on students throughout the past few decades. 

It wasn’t a hard test, but it was stressful for my peers.


One Reporter's Ramblings: The comfort of a concrete floor

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Have you ever looked at a concrete floor and thought, ‘Wow, that will be much more comfortable to sleep on.’

If not, you’re not used to the sites where Katie and I have set up our tent. (Pro-tip: mountain camping is rocky because... you’re camping on a big rock.)

Having just ended the holiday season, Katie needed a holiday — one that wasn’t full of schedules and tasks and family drama. 

Even though she hated the idea when we got together, it’s become her favorite way to unwind, away from electronic screens and neighbors.

Since camping is pretty inexpensive anyway, we decided to rent out a screen shelter and leave the tent behind.

For anyone that hates the idea of tents but can’t afford an RV or trailer, we heartily recommend reserving a cabin. 

Although the Mineral Wells shelters looked small, it would have easily fit four of the picnic table that was included so we didn’t even move it outside.


The Publisher's Desk: The 'bomb cyclone'

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Does anyone else think the name “bomb cyclone” was kind of a ridiculous name? 

Who comes up with these names?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand this is a serious storm for a lot of people. Seventeen people had died as of Jan. 4. Florida was expecting record snow. 

In Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, it hasn’t been this cold since the late 1800s. 

This is record-breaking weather.

This is serious stuff. 

It’s also not that uncommon. 

Meteorologists tell us that while most people aren’t familiar with the name bomb cyclone, the weather pattern is fairly normal. 

“Jet streams” bring cold, dry air from Canada and collides with warm, moist air from the Southern coast, NPR reports. 

This creates energy and a decline in air pressure. 

It’s called a bomb by TV meteorologists because of the rapid drop in air pressure, apparently.

It’s technically called a baroclinic midlatitude cyclone.  


One Reporter's Ramblings: I don't get the message...

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I have a few friends who communicate mainly through Facebook. 

That wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t mean that I have to use Facebook to talk to them at night and during the weekends.

I check it often during the work week because it is almost a requirement of being a reporter. That makes it far less desirable during my off hours, especially since approximately 99.999997831 percent of my feed is news and advertising and not updates about my friends and their lives. (The percentage may be slightly lower but not by much.)

This leads us to New Year’s Eve as Katie and I are planning to attend a party. I go out shopping and pick up some food and text Katie that I have got some snacks.

“Great! Send a message to the group.”

I try to do so but first, my phone spits back, “You must install Messenger.”


I notify the group of the snacks as soon as it is installed.


Mrs. Dykowski... Tis the stock show season

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This weekend was the Erath County Junior Livestock show, and I’m happy to see so many Dublin and Lingleville kids competing. 

I was a stock show kid, and the lessons and experiences I gained from participating in that still help me today. 

Scrubbing a pig’s feed trough outside with a sprayer, when the windchill was in the single digits, is not my fondest memory. 

But the self-sacrifice of soggy, frozen feet so that the animals who depended on me were able to eat without getting sick, in a very small way prepared me for motherhood. 

When, as a third grader, in my sheep-showing debut, my finewool lamb jumped up and caught me full force in the chin with his small but sharp horns, I learned that the show must go on, even if you want to quit. 

I also learned that the embarrassment of crying in front of what felt like a million people was something I could survive. 


The Publisher's Desk: Bravo! JH One Act Play

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Ya’ll, I’m so impressed with the junior high One Act Play cast and crew. 

You really don’t expect to see such talented acting from such a young group of kids. And the director made it obvious they are also a very hardworking group of kids. 

I did One Act Play in high school. I can tell you, I was not that talented. 

Actually, let me clarify. I tried out for One Act Play and was given the prestigious role of curtain drawing. 

Literally, that was my entire job. 

Now, for the kids who do that — I’m not knocking it. If you don’t open the curtains, the best play in the world could take place and the judges and audience would never know it. 

But I wasn’t given it because I was particularly talented — it was just a pity role because I was so bad at acting. Not these kids. 

I also was technically the understudy for a minor role — the love interest of the main character. 


Mrs. Dykowski.... plans for a baby in the new year

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It’s a new year, Dublin! 

Actually, as I write this it’s still 2017, so this is past Sarah writing to future Dublin about the future. 

Sounds like something from an ’80s movie.  

Time gets a little skewed when you work for a weekly paper.

On Dec. 27, we’re already focused on what you’re going to read on Jan. 4. 

Combine that looking ahead with pregnancy brain, and I almost never know what day it is. 

I have to also check my calendar when I check the date on the milk carton. 

It’s an odd quirk that comes with my job and limited mental capacity.

Although today (as I write this) is still in December, my mindset is already in January. 

Today (as I write this), also marks the first day of the third trimester of my pregnancy. 

Has this pregnancy flown by to you? It has to me. 

That means it’s time to focus on getting ready for baby Audrey’s arrival. 


Mrs. Dykowski... receives sweet surprises

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This holiday season the Dykowski family has been especially blessed by neighbors and friends. 

I’m running out of room to display our Christmas cards. 

I want to take a moment to single out a few sweet people who really went out of their way to make us feel special. 

Our neighbors, Wayne and Jan Rutledge, let us know how much they like reading about our struggles with home ownership. (Yes, the squirrel still lives in our attic, and, yes, I am strongly considering investing in a BB gun.) 

They bought us a copy of “The Money Pit,” which I had heard great things about and have never had a  chance to watch. I love Tom Hanks, so I am really excited about it; I’m thinking we’ll find it very relatable. 

They also let us know that we’re not alone in the squirrel wars.

Maybe we should get organized and form a BB gun militia. 


One Reporter's Ramblings: Time + care= magic

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Merry belated Christmas everybody!

I hope it was filled with treats and time with loved ones because now we enter the time to work off all of those calories and catch up on all of the lost time at work.

Time is a precious commodity, and as we get older, it becomes one of the greatest gifts we can give each other. 

Yes, we’ve got work to catch up on, there’s that show we want to watch, we got a brand new gizmo we’re still trying to figure out — but we can still make time for our friends and family.

It’s also one of the few gifts we can never get back.

If that’s not enough evidence of the magical nature of time, I offer up the meals we had at Christmas with my parents and my in-laws.

My wife is on a strict diet that allows no lee-way for splurges so, fatty meats are just not an option ever again.


Mrs. Dykowski... versus all the boogers

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that when the weather changes drastically during a busy season, someone in my house will feel at least a little sick. 

I’m writing from my home office, a.k.a. my kitchen table, while a congested, coughing Darci babbles at her Princess Aurora and Prince Charming dolls who are boarding Noah’s ark with some imaginary birdies on the floor. 

Aurora is nagging the prince to help her get the birdies on there — I wonder where she learned about nagging. 

Surely not from me. 

Add it to the list of things I need to work on. 

Today, my primary job seems to be booger wiping.

“Mommy, want some tea?!” Darci asks. 

“Uh, sure! Thanks so much!” I respond, relieved I don’t actually have to ingest the imaginary tea, since the only thing I can see on her face is a steady stream of mucus. 

A swift swipe with a lotion tissue restores her sweet soft expression and the working tea party can resume. 


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